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China Tariffs on Hold as Trade War Talk Recedes

Two countries putting a deal together.

by on May.21, 2018

The Trump administration is backing away from proposed tariffs on a variety items imported from China.

The announcement by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin that the Trump administration will suspend any plans to impose tariffs on Chinese imports lowers the risks for American and European carmakers, fearing the impact of a trade war.

Companies such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, which export American-made vehicles to China, will apparently be spared, facing the substantial tariffs the Peoples Republic of China had proposed imposing on vehicles exported from the United States.

Financial News!

Importers of vehicles from China, such General Motors, also will be spared American tariffs on vehicles from Chinese factories. (more…)

Chevy Escalates Truck Engine Wars with Four New Offerings

A new Duramax diesel coming in 2019.

by on May.19, 2018

The 2019 Silverado RST comes standard with an all-new, advanced 2.7-liter turbo engine active fuel management and stop/start technology.

Chevrolet is firing another round of salvos in the ongoing engine wars between the Big Three truck makers, debuting four new powerplants including a four-cylinder turbo, ultimately resulting in six new powertrain combinations.

The brand unveiled a 2.7-liter turbocharged four cylinder as well as two new V8s: a 5.3-liter and a 6.2-liter, both of which use Chevy’s active fuel management system. The system uses four, six or eight cylinders depending upon the demands on the engine. Push the pedal to the floor, the driver gets all eight, but if cruising along the freeway, it drops to four and improves fuel economy.

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The 2.7-liter will be the standard engine for the brand’s high-volume trucks, replacing a 4.3-liter V6, which remains available. A new 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel will also be available in 2019. EPA mileage ratings for the new engines are available yet. (more…)

In Final Move as FCA CEO, Marchionne Expected to Order Massive Shift in Product, Manufacturing Plans

Small Fiat models likely to be dropped, brand may leave U.S.

by on May.18, 2018

Could FCA pull the Fiat brand out of the U.S.?

As Fiat Chrysler Automobiles prepares for life beyond its founding chief executive, CEO Sergio Marchionne is expected to announce major shifts in the automaker’s product and manufacturing strategy, according to several reports.

During a June 1 meeting meant to reveal FCA’s next five-year plan, the 65-year-old executive reportedly will announce that the Fiat brand will abandon two of its base models, the Punto and Mito, while shifting emphasis to more up-market models. The automaker also will put more emphasis on its Jeep brand which, Marchionne said during the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, could help Fiat Chrysler double its earnings during the next five years.

The Last Word!

One of the key questions hanging over the Euro-American automaker may not be resolved during a meeting bringing together analysts and journalists from around the world: who will replace Marchionne as CEO? He has dropped hints that his successor will come from FCA’s current top management ranks, which means no women or outsiders are in the running.

(more…)

Mercedes Tooling Up French Plant to Take on Tesla Model 3

Compact EQA model will be one of 10 all-electric models coming by 2022.

by on May.18, 2018

The Mercedes-Benz Concept EQA made its debut at last autumn's Frankfurt Motor Show.

Daimler will invest 500 million euros, or $588 million, to tool up a plant in France that will produce an all-electric vehicle targeting the Tesla Model 3.

The German automaker has announced major plans for entering the battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, market. That includes products like the compact concept vehicle Mercedes-Benz revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show last September.

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The French battery-car will be based on that EQA prototype. By 2022, the new Mercedes-EQ sub-brand will be selling 10 BEVs. That’s on top of the electrified models to be offered by Daimler’s Smart brand. (more…)

Mercedes-Benz Restarting SUV Production in Alabama

Maker one of four impacted by fire at Michigan-based Meridian plant.

by on May.18, 2018

Mercedes-Benz officials said its SUV plant in Alabama will resume operations next week.

Mercedes-Benz said it expects to resume production of sport utility vehicles at its assembly plant in Alabama next week.

“We have worked with our supply base to reestablish part flow and we anticipate getting the first round of parts next week to slowly begin ramping up SUV production operations.

Product News!

“We are optimistic that as we go forward we will be able to add more production – gradually getting back to our normal production operations,” Felyicia Jerald, spokeswoman for Mercedes-Benz U.S. International said in an e-mail to AFP. (more…)

Tesla’s California Plant Shutting Down for Six Days

Soros buys $35 million in convertible bonds.

by on May.16, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk plans to shut down the Fremont, California plant for six days later this month.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn’t just sleeping on the plant floor at the company’s Fremont, California plant hoping a solution to increase Model 3 production will come to him by osmosis — he appears to be trying.

Just a days after changing the company’s management structure to improve communication, he’s going to shut the entire plant down for six days at the end of this month to make changes with the goal of increasing production of Tesla’s first “mainstream” car.

EV News!

Earlier, the EV maker warned the plant would shut down for a total of 10 days to tackle manufacturing issues at the site. The issues have put Model 3 production well behind schedule, angering some who plunked down deposits and irritating shareholders and analysts. (more…)

Honda Kicks Off Production of Two New Models

Honda Insight, Acura RDX heading to dealers shortly.

by on May.16, 2018

Acura RDX production is underway at Honda's plant in Ohio.

Honda is celebrating the start of production of two new vehicle this the all-new 2019 Honda Insight in Greensburg, Indiana, and the 2019 Acura RDX at its plant in East Liberty, Ohio.

The 2019 Acura RDX is described as the first in a new generation of Acura products built around Acura’s “Precision Crafted Performance” brand direction. The new RDX was a clean-sheet, top-to-bottom redesign of Acura’s perennial top-selling five-passenger luxury SUV, brought to life through new capital investment of $54 million in new technologies and processes at the East Liberty Auto Plant.

Product News!

“This new RDX defines the future of Acura, and our Ohio team did an incredible job preparing this first in a new generation of Acura vehicles for our customers,” said Jim Hefner, plant manager at the East Liberty Auto Plant. (more…)

US Seeing Gas Prices Rise Across the Country

Jump in gas prices costing average American $450 annually.

by on May.14, 2018

Folks are going to be spending more on gasoline in the weeks ahead as Iran sanctions and summer blends are pushing prices higher.

The price of gasoline continues to climb with a gallon of gasoline costing 50 cents more than it did at this time last year.

At $2.87, the national gas price average jumped 6 cents on the week in part due to the White House’s decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran, according to AAA’s weekly survey.

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“The Administration’s move combined with the switchover to summer blend, growing global demand and shrinking supply continues to fuel pump prices as we approach the summer driving season,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. (more…)

10 Major Automakers Meet With Trump Over CAFE Today

Session could focus on opposition from California.

by on May.11, 2018

Former Ford CEO Mark Fields generated controversy last year when he warned Pres. Trump CAFE could cost 1 million U.S. jobs.

Senior executives from ten of the auto industry’s largest manufacturers will be meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House today to discuss the administration’s plans to roll back federal fuel economy standards.

A draft proposal developed by the Environmental Protection Agency would freeze requirements at 2020 levels rather than continuing a phase-in established by the Obama White House that was set to reach 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The new target would come in somewhere in the low 40 mpg range and hold through 2026.

Stay in the Loop!

But the meeting could prove to be an anxious one. Consumer and environmental groups have been ramping up opposition and any announcement from the White House would come at a time when fuel prices are surging to levels not seen in years. Meanwhile, any rollback could pit the Trump Administration – and the auto industry – against California which is threatening to effectively stall the cuts by using authority given the state under the Clean Air Act of 1970.

(more…)

Audi Out: Follows Growing Group of Automakers Abandoning Detroit Auto Show

NAIAS still studying possible date change to revive flagging fortunes.

by on May.11, 2018

Audi has traditionally used the NAIAS for major intros, like the Q8 Concept it debuted in 2017.

Already hit by key defections, the organizers of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit learned Thursday that Audi will also be a no-show in January 2019 – though the luxury arm of Volkswagen Group said it will “continue to evaluate” a return at a later date.

A once-regional event, the NAIAS became the most significant auto show in the U.S., and one of the world’s most widely watched, when it added the “International” designation in 1989. At its peak around the start of the new millennium, Detroit could count on virtually every manufacturer to participate, with some years seeing more than 70 new cars, trucks, concepts and crossovers debut.

Breaking News!

As the industry plunged into recession, things began to change. Some manufacturers, such as Nissan, pulled out temporarily, but others decided to abandon the Motor City event entirely. That included some of the most exclusive marques, like Ferrari, as well as mainstream and luxury brands like Mazda, which was a hold out this past January. Volvo had no corporate presence, though its local dealers did roll a few vehicles into Detroit’s Cobo Hall convention center. Now, it seems, the exodus is turning into a rout. Audi follows Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche in planning to stay home next January. (more…)