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Despite Problems, Musk Promises Tesla Profit in Second Half of 2018

Stock up, but not everyone convinced.

by on Apr.13, 2018

CEO Elon Musk shown exiting the back seat of a Model 3 at its debut. Musk still needs to dig out of trouble caused by Model 3 delays.

It’s been a tough few weeks for Tesla, the battery-electric automaker again missing production targets, being accused of improperly firing nearly 1,000 factory workers and being scolded by federal safety regulators for its role in investigating a fatal crash involving its semi-autonomous Autopilot system.

But that has done little to dampen the enthusiasm of CEO Elon Musk. After earlier this week suggesting Model 3 production isn’t delayed but in a “time shift,” the South African-born exec on Friday tweeted a promise that Tesla will be both profitable and produce positive cash flow by the second half of this year.

Promises, Promises!

Musk’s latest tweet came in response to a harsh Twitter post by British news magazine The Economist, which warned Tesla would need to raise more cash this year. “The Economist used to be boring,” Musk responded, “but smart with a wicked dry wit. Now it’s just boring (sigh). Tesla will be profitable & cash flow+ in Q3 & Q4, so obv no need to raise money.”

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Mueller Out, Diess In at VW – And More Shake-Ups Likely

Automaker restructuring into three groups and may be readying spin-off of truck group.

by on Apr.12, 2018

New VW CEO Herbert Diess unveiled two EVs, including the Buzz microbus, at CEO.

Matthias Mueller, the executive often given credit with steering Volkswagen Group through the worst crisis in its post-War history, has been pushed aside, replaced as CEO by Herbert Diess, the head of the flagship VW brand.

The elevation of Diess comes at a time when Volkswagen is charting a path that calls for greater sales and profits, lower costs, and a decreasing dependence on the diesels that had been a foundation, albeit a troubled one, for the company. Diess will also oversee a restructuring that will reform the parent company into three groups and could lead to the eventually spin-off of its truck and bus division.

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Shaking Things Up!

The 64-year-old Mueller was elevated to CEO in 2015, following revelations that VW had rigged its diesel engines to illegally pass emissions tests. He “has done outstanding work for the Volkswagen Group,” the automakers said in a statement, work that included dealing with angry regulators, shareholders and owners and negotiating settlements, fines and buybacks that ultimately are expected to cost VW about $30 billion in the U.S. alone.

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Family of Tesla Model X Fatality Hires Law Firm, Plans to Sue

San Franciso-based law firm points to Autopilot as cause of death.

by on Apr.12, 2018

A fatal March crash involving a Tesla Model S in Mountain View, California. Pic courtesy KTVU.

As the investigation into the death of a Model X owner continues, Tesla is taking a familiar stance when it comes to where the fault lies in the collision with a concrete median: the driver.

Walter Huang died in a crash and vehicle fire in a Model X near Mountain View, California, last month. The family hired law firm Minami Tamaki LLP to explore legal options, and the firms said it believes the Autopilot feature in the electric carmaker’s vehicle probably caused his death.

News Now!

Tesla notes that according to its readings from the vehicle, Huang did not follow the procedure for using Autopilot. The company said he went longer than six seconds before touching the steering wheel. The system requires drivers to touch the wheel every five seconds. (more…)

Waiting to Take Delivery of a Tesla Model 3? You May be Caught in a “Time Shift”

Apparently, there are no “delays” in Elon Musk’s dictionary.

by on Apr.12, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the Fremont plant.

Last we checked, there were more than 400,000 folks waiting to take delivery of the Tesla Model 3, a potential problem considering the slow ramp-up of production. But even though some potential buyers might now have to wait until 2019 – perhaps beyond – they shouldn’t consider that a delay but simply a “time shift,” according to CEO Elon Musk.

The South African-born entrepreneur famously predicted his company’s Fremont, California assembly plant would go through “production hell” when it launched its first mainstream model last July. And, indeed, it had to largely hand-build them for the rest of the year. Tesla recently released numbers that showed first-quarter production reached 2,000 a week, but even that was 20% below the company’s target. And that’s leading some frustrated shoppers to cancel their advance reservations.

News You Can Trust!

“You’ll definitely get your car,” Musk declared during an interview on CBS on Thursday, suggesting customers shouldn’t think of what’s happening as a delay, but “a six- to nine-month time shift. That’s literally it, and three of those months have already passed.” (more…)

Uber CEO Says Autonomous Testing Done Until NTSB Investigation Complete

Company reached a settlement with victim's family.

by on Apr.11, 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company wouldn't resume testing its self-driving cars until the NTSB was complete.

Uber is tackling one issue at a time after one of its autonomous test vehicle collided with and killed a pedestrian outside of Phoenix last month, according to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

He said right now the company is cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the event.

Industry News!

“Right now our total effort is helping them out and we’ll figure out what we do afterward,” he said, adding that self-driving cars “ultimately will make the world much, much safer.” (more…)

All-New Lexus ES Bound for Beijing Motor Show

New model meant to "radically transform the concept of comfort for luxury consumers."

by on Apr.11, 2018

Lexus is pushing even further with the "spindle grille" design on the next ES sedan.

We’ve barely gotten past the New York Auto Show but halfway around the world, automakers are getting ready for the season’s next big event. That includes Lexus, which has dropped a partial teaser of what appears to be the next generation ES model.

While many folks think of the ES as a fairly base-level vehicle, Lexus clearly has more upscale ambitions for a model whose name, after all, is short for “Executive Sedan.” And while Toyota’s luxury brand isn’t saying much about what it will be showing in China, it appears buyers have something to look forward to.

Product News!

The new ES, Lexus hints, “aims to radically transform the concept of comfort for luxury consumers all over the world.” That may explain why the brand saved the new model for Beijing where luxury buyers have, indeed, become some of the world’s most demanding.

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Volkswagen CEO Mueller Likely to Be Replaced by VW Brand Boss Diess

Mueller helped company weather diesel scandal, but Diess seen as change agent.

by on Apr.11, 2018

Prior to being tapped to head VW after its diesel scandal broke, Matthias Mueller ran Porsche.

Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller is expected to be forced out at a management meeting Friday, with VW brand boss Herbert Diess expected to replace him, according to reports out of Germany.

The shake-up, which has apparently been in the works for months, has the blessing of some of VW’s top shareholders, as well as its chairman and powerful labor chief. It will mark the most extensive management moves since shortly after the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal broke in September 2015.

Global Business News!

VW issued a short statement noting it is considering “a further development of the management structure of the group which would also be associated with personnel changes in the board of management.” The statement hinted that changes under study “could include” the naming of a new CEO, adding that Mueller himself “showed his willingness to contribute,” suggesting the 64-year-old executive might voluntarily step aside rather than fight to retain his post. He is currently under a contract set to continue through 2020.

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Ford Offers a First Look of its Next-Generation “Global” Focus

U.S. model remains under wraps.

by on Apr.10, 2018

Ford shows off the European line-up of the next-gen Focus. We'll have to wait to see U.S. versions.

Ford is lifting the kimono to give us a first look at its next-generation “global” Focus line-up – but it says it won’t reveal the U.S.-specific model until shortly before it goes on sale later next year.

The next version of the compact model will be offered in a range of body styles and trim levels, while adding a variety of tech features, including the new Ford CoPilot360 driver assistance suite. Expect roomier and more comfortable interiors, the automaker says, while adding that the next-gen Focus will feature new gas and diesel engines, as well as a new suspension.

Auto Show News!

“We’re evolving our successful One Ford strategy to find new ways to create a sporty-looking small car our customers will love,” said Jim Farley, president of Global Markets. “We’ll tailor which cars in the Focus line-up we offer in markets around the world to ensure we best meet customers’ different needs and preferences.”

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Popular Ford Escape Flunks IIHS Crash Test

Five of Seven small SUVs earn good ratings.

by on Apr.04, 2018

The Ford Escape received the worst score yet among small SUVs in the IIHS small overlap test.

Ford Motor Co. is setting sales records with its broad SUV fleet, but a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety could lead potential buyers to question the benefits of one of the maker’s most popular ute offerings.

The compact Ford Escape was the only of seven small SUVs to receive a “Poor” rating in the latest IIHS test for occupant protection, though the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport managed an only slightly better “Marginal” rating in the small overlap front crash test – which is designed to simulate what happens when a vehicle clips a pole, a tree or the corner of an oncoming vehicle.

Safety News!

Ford’s shortfall reflects a curious decision made with the update of the 2017 model-year, according to officials with the insurance trade group. The automaker upgraded the driver’s side of the Escape, which passed the small overlap test. But not the passenger side which was badly compromised and likely would have resulted in serious injuries if a human, rather than a crash dummy, was in the seat.

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EPA Rolling Back CAFE in Move Likely to Set Up Legal Battle with California

The Trump Administration wants to eliminate the California waiver and adopt one national mileage standard.

by on Apr.02, 2018

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt plans to rollback CAFE - and eliminate the CA waiver.

In a widely expected move, Trump EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has confirmed the agency will roll back the current Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, though by how much is not yet clear.

The news was largely hailed by the auto industry, which had challenged the 54.5 mpg target it initially agreed to under the Obama Administration. But the announcement drew significant criticism from consumer groups, environmentalists and, in particular, California regulators. Under current Clean Air standards, that state has the right to set its own standards which are normally even tougher than the EPA rules. But Pruitt signaled his intention of revoking that authority, something likely to touch off a legal battle that could delay any steps the EPA takes.

Breaking News!

“The Obama EPA’s determination was wrong,” Pruitt said in a statement Monday. “Obama’s EPA cut the midterm evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality and set the standards too high.”

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