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Archive for the ‘Driverless Vehicles’ Category

Ford Earnings Slide – But Still Exceed Expectations

Strong truck sales overcome a “volatile environment.”

by on Apr.26, 2019

Retiring Ford CFO Bob Shanks, in his last quarterly earnings call, warned of a "volatile" environment.

Ford Motor Co. saw first-quarter earnings slide by more than a third during the first quarter – but the number still managed to handily exceed Wall Street’s expectations, sending shares soaring in after-hours trading.

The automaker gave much of the credit to surging demand for its F-Series pickups, but also pointed to efforts to cut costs and improve productivity. But Ford officials also warned that an assortment of new product launches scheduled for the rest of the year, combined with a variety of challenges, could pose challenges for the rest of 2019.

Beyond the Headlines!

Ford faces a “volatile environment with very strong competition,” said Bob Shanks, Ford’s retiring chief financial officer, during a conference call with industry analysts and reporters.

(more…)

Waymo to Re-Use Old Detroit Plant to Build New Autonomous Vehicles

Google spin-off to partner with supplier American Axle.

by on Apr.23, 2019

Waymo plans to use a facility on the north side of Detroit to convert Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids and other vehicles for its Waymo One fleet.

A major Silicon Valley tech firm is setting up a base in Detroit, Google spinoff Waymo taking over a plant in the Motor City where it plans to convert vehicles to operate as part of its autonomous ride-sharing service.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik first announced in a blog post Tuesday that the company will lease an unused factory owned by American Axle & Manufacturing on Detroit’s north side. It will be used to convert such vehicles as the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan that will be a mainstay of the expanding Waymo One ride-sharing service.

Business News!

“There has been a real risk that the shift of the automotive industry could move from Detroit to Silicon Valley, and we’ve been fighting that every step of the way,” Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan said after learning about Waymo’s plans. “I think a major statement was made today in the battle of Detroit and Silicon Valley that a major Silicon Valley company has said the future of vehicles in the city of Detroit.” (more…)

Tesla Investors Fret as Automaker Prepares to Release Q1 Earnings

Expected poor sales with no turnaround in sight causing worry.

by on Apr.23, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is bracing for tough first quarter results. Investors aren't optimistic.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has already signaled that first quarter earnings weren’t going to look good. Just how bad they might be is the big question that has investors and analysts alike in a frenzy.

The automaker won’t report earnings until after the final bell on Wall Street on Wednesday, but based on the poor Q1 sales numbers it revealed a few weeks back, the general consensus isn’t very positive. Analysts polled by FactSet are forecasting a consensus adjusted loss of $0.99 a share.

Business News!

On the plus side, that’s significantly better than the $3.35 a share Tesla lost during the first quarter of 2018. But that was during a period Musk described as “production hell,” when the automaker was struggling to fix issues at both its Reno Gigafactory battery plant and its Fremont, California, assembly line. With those problems largely resolved, Tesla managed to pull a profit for the final half of 2018. (more…)

Tesla CEO Musk Set to Announce “Full Self-Driving” Vehicle Today

But what that means remains unclear.

by on Apr.22, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company will have a fully autonomous vehicle on the road by the end of the year.

Today could prove to be a transformative day for Tesla and the auto industry at large, at least if Elon Musk delivers the “full self-driving” vehicle that the battery-carmaker’s CEO Elon Musk has promised to unveil.

Tesla has long been a proponent of autonomous driving, its Autopilot allowing limited hands-free operation on well-marked, limited-access roadways. Although the automaker has so far been faint with hard details, it has dropped plenty of hints that the updated Autopilot system could operate without direct driver involvement in most, if not all situations.

Product News!

If that proves to be the case, observers suggested, it could put Tesla in the forefront of an extremely competitive field, leapfrogging key players like Google spinoff Waymo and General Motors. But considering the problems the original Autopilot system has had, there remain plenty of skeptics. (more…)

Ford Shakes Up Senior Management Ranks – Again

Move meant to help “accelerate” its “transformation.”

by on Apr.10, 2019

Joe Hinrichs and Jim Farley shown together during the launch of the Ford Shelby GT 350.

Ford is shaking up key elements of its top management team, the automaker announced on Wednesday morning, a move it says will “accelerate” the changes that began with the appointment of Jim Hackett as CEO two years ago, with an emphasis on “smart vehicles for a smart world.”

The changes will see Hackett’s two top lieutenants, Jim Farley and Joe Hinrichs, take on broader responsibilities. At the same time, Ford’s highest-ranking woman, Marcy Klevorn, will retire from her post as head of mobility services after 36 years with the automaker.

Breaking News!

“In the past two years, we have made tangible progress in improving the fitness of our business, overhauled our regional strategies, created a winning product portfolio, and are working to transform Ford to succeed in an era of profound change and disruption,” CEO Jim Hackett said. “With this strong foundation in place for our auto and mobility businesses, we can now accelerate our transformation.”

(more…)

Ford China 2.0: Automaker Kicks Off Second Act in China

Automaker looks to better integrate Chinese partners into business.

by on Apr.03, 2019

Ford China President Anning Chen lays out the tenets of Ford China 2.0.

When it comes to its newest business blueprint for China, Ford Motor Co. is going by the numbers, specifically Ford China 2.0.

That’s what the automaker dubbed its reworked business plan for the world’s largest auto market where it has been perpetually behind its competition. However, Ford is pinning its rebound on an influx of new product and an increased reliance on its Chinese partners.

Global News!

Ford China 2.0 comprises five key plans and four centers of competence to accelerate the redesign of its business and sharpen its focus on the Chinese market. (more…)

Daimler Expects Acquisition Will Speed Up Launch of Self-Driving Trucks

Level 2 rigs to debut this year, with Level 4 trucks to follow.

by on Mar.29, 2019

Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc Robotics, (left) and Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, in front of the Torc headquarters in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Daimler Trucks, the parent of brands like Freightliner, has purchased a majority stake in Virginia-based Torc Robotics, a move it expects will help it speed up the commercialization of automated trucking.

No price tag for the deal was announced but Daimler board member Martin Daum said Torc will now be closely integrated into the German company’s broader push to develop self-driving vehicles, including both trucks and passenger cars. Torc, however, will focus specifically on the truck side of its program.

News You Can Trust!

“For our customers and our economy, (the) potential for autonomous driving is tremendous,” said Daum, during a media teleconference on Friday morning. (more…)

Volvo Raises $677M With New Bond Issue

Automaker taps debt markets again instead of IPO.

by on Mar.26, 2019

Volvo Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said that trade tensions between the U.S. and China as well as the EU were one reason to halt its IPO last year.

More than half a year removed from squelching a run at a stock market listing, Volvo Cars raised 600 million euros, or $677 million, with a new bond issue on Tuesday.

The new issue is the second in the last year for the Swedish/Chinese automaker, which is owned by China’s Geely, as it looks to find ways to fund its ongoing development of battery-electric cars and self-driving vehicles.

Business News!

Volvo said on the Tuesday the bond would mature in April 2024, pay a fixed coupon of 2.125% and have an issue price was 99.625, equating to a yield of 2.205% and a Euro mid-swap of plus 215 basis points. The settlement was expected to be April 2, and the bonds would be listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, Volvo said. (more…)

Tesla Sues Former Employees for Theft of Autopilot Code, Trade Secrets

Engineer swiped info before leaving to join Chinese company.

by on Mar.21, 2019

Tesla is now fending off corporate espionage from competitors like Zoox and Xiopeng by filing suits against employees for stealing corporate secrets.

Just days after bragging about the company’s plans in China, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is suing former employees for stealing from the EV maker as they left to join Chinese automakers Zoox and Xiopeng Motors.

The company filed two suits against separate sets of former employees in California. In the case of Zoox, automaker claims that four former employees stole “proprietary information and trade secrets to help Zoox leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations.”

News Now!

Scott Turner, Sydney Cooper, Christian Dement, and Craigh Emigh “absconded with select proprietary Tesla documents useful to their new employer,” according to the filing. Additionally, one of the four used the info to recruit other Tesla employees.  (more…)

Ford Investing $900M in Second EV Plant, AV Facility in Michigan

New operation set to open in 2023, add 900 workers.

by on Mar.20, 2019

Ford is planning to use its underutilized plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, to build electric vehicles starting in 2023.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $900 million in two Detroit-area facilities meant to focus on the cars of the future.

The bulk of the investment, about $850 million, will go to Ford’s now under-utilized Flat Rock facility that will become the automaker’s second source for pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, in the process creating 900 new jobs. The rest will fund what the automaker is describing as an “Autonomous Vehicle center,” where conventional vehicles will be modified to operate hands-free and even entirely without a driver.

Product News!

Ford was one of the earliest of the automakers to focus on battery-based powertrain technology, though it won’t bring out its first long-range all-electric model until next year, a “Mustang-inspired” SUV expected to take aim at the new Tesla Model Y. It will be produced at Ford’s first battery-electric vehicle plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico. (more…)