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“Framing John DeLorean” Misses Mark, Still Must-See Movie

Saga of fallen former GM executive makes for compelling viewing.

by on Jun.19, 2019

"Framing John DeLorean" chronicles the rise and fall of the former GM executives.

“Framing John DeLorean,” the new movie about the fallen auto executive, has an awkward title and cinema purists are likely to be put off by its mix of talking heads, bits from news film and videos and scenes re-acted by actors.

It almost seems that the producers of the film couldn’t find enough archival footage to do a documentary but had nowhere near enough money to hire actors and find the locations necessary to serve as back drop for DeLorean’s biography.

Beyond the Headlines!

But the film, with Alec Baldwin serving at the narrator and commentator, manages to succeed in telling the dramatic story of rise and fall a Detroit-born auto executive, who left his name on what has become an iconic vehicle with a unique place in American popular culture. (more…)

First Drive: 2020 Ford Explorer

New model is roomier, more rugged than predecessor.

by on Jun.18, 2019

The 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum edition is bigger, roomier and more powerful than its predecessor.

Since starting life as something of an experiment by Ford Motor Co’s product planners more three decades ago, the Explorer has become one of the company’s major sources of revenue.

The Explorer might not have a following as large as the F-150 but the fan base is large enough and diverse enough to extend the line to satisfy an even broader range of customers with the sixth-generation Explorer that is beginning to reach dealers across the U.S. now.

Reviews You Can Trust!

The 2020 Explorer is larger, roomier, more power powerful and equipped with more technology than its predecessors. It’s also engineered to be more rugged and both the hybrid and XLT – the expected volume leader – versions of the 2020 Explorer that I drove easily mastered the short off-road course, which included steep downhill and uphill grades as well as a sweeping curve with a steep bank that I doubt very much previous generations of the Explorer could have handled. (more…)

Volkswagen Ready to Sell of Part of its Traton Truck Unit

Company looks to raise $2.1 billion with IPO.

by on Jun.17, 2019

Volkswagen is offering 10% of its Traton truck unit for and IPO. The company hopes to raise $2.1 billion.

Volkswagen AG is preparing to launch an initial public offering of shares in its heavy truck unit, Traton, that could raise as much as $2.1 billion.

Overall, the Volkswagen said in a statement that it would sell about 10% of Traton at a price that underwriters have pegged at between 27 euros and 33 euros per share in order to raise the offering.

Business News!

VW announced last month that VW planned to go ahead with the offering. Despite the uncertainty in global markets due to the economic slowdown in Europe and the spiraling trade war between the U.S. and China. (more…)

UAW Loses Organizing Bid at Volkswagen Chattanooga Plant

Union gets closer, but still falls short.

by on Jun.17, 2019

Volkswagen's hourly workers at its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant once again voted against UAW representation.

The United Auto Workers narrowly lost its bid to organize blue-collar workers at the Volkswagen AG assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The vote, 833 against the union to 776 for the UAW, was closer than the 2014 effort but still fell short. Some 51.8% of workers voted against the union, while 48.2% supported the UAW. In the 2014 election, the margin was 53.2% against the union and 46.8% for the UAW. The UAW did win an election among maintenance workers in 2016.

News You Can Trust!

The union organizing effort was attacked by Tennessee’s Republican political establishment, which is opposed to the union gaining influence in the state and hampered by corruption charges flowing from ongoing federal corruption investigation. A former UAW vice president is facing sentencing soon after pleading guilty to criminal charges from the investigation.  (more…)

Toyota Announces New Features for 2020 Model-Year Line-Up

Safety is focus of new upgrades.

by on Jun.14, 2019

For the 2020 model year, the Toyota plans to offer some upgrades across most of its vehicle line-up.

When Toyota Motor North America rolls out its vehicle line-up for the 2020 model year, they’ll sport two new features: Automatic Engine Shut Off and Automatic Park, as well as have options for a few others.

Starting with 2020 model year vehicles, Toyota will phase in an automatic park system, which is designed to help reduce the risk of roll-away vehicles. The feature will be available in vehicles with an electronic means of shifting and/or applying the parking brake.

News Now!

It will automatically shift the vehicle into the “park” position and/or apply the electronic parking brake, in the event the driver exits the vehicle without placing the vehicle in “park,” Toyota officials said. (more…)

Nissan Recruits New Design Chief from Lincoln

Woodhouse helped to lead luxury brand's renaissance.

by on Jun.14, 2019

Dave Woodhouse played a key roll in Lincoln's renaissance and is now heading up Nissan North America's design team.

Nissan has hired away the top designer at the Lincoln brand from the Ford Motor Co. to serve as its new design chief in North America.

David Woodhouse, who has overseen Lincoln design during Ford’s recent efforts to revive the brand, will serve as vice president, Nissan Design America, Nissan announced.

Business News!

In this role, Woodhouse will lead all Nissan and Infiniti design activities in North America. He will also serve on the company’s Global Nissan Design Management Committee. (more…)

Hyundai, Kia Invest in Autonomous Software Startup Aurora

Investment expands Korean automakers autonomous program.

by on Jun.13, 2019

Hyundai and Kia are investing in self-driving startup Aurora to accelerate its autonomous program.

Hyundai Motor Co. said it plans to invest in self-driving car software startup Aurora along with Kia Motors Corp. to speed up development of autonomous vehicle technologies.

“With the new investment, the companies have agreed to expand research to a wide range of models and to build an optimal platform for Hyundai and Kia’s autonomous vehicles,” Hyundai said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Technology News!

Aurora said in a blog post that Hyundai and Kia’s investment is part of a series B financing round, which has now raised more than $600 million. (more…)

Ford Begins Testing Autonomous Vehicles in Detroit

Automaker working with Argo AI on self-driving program.

by on Jun.13, 2019

The new Ford Fusion Hybrid is a third-generation test vehicle that Argo AI is now testing in Detroit.

Ford Motor Co. has begun testing autonomous vehicles around its new engineering campus in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood with its AV partner Pittsburgh-based Argo AI even as it launches a new research center in Israel with an eye on developing new technology.

Peter Rander, president of Argo AI, said the new vehicles being tested in Detroit are equipped with a significantly upgraded sensor suite, including new sets of radar and cameras with higher resolution and higher dynamic range.

News You Can Trust!

When trying to see an object that’s very far away, a lower resolution camera may only be able to represent it as a pixel or two. But with higher resolution, you may be able to get a dozen pixels out of the same far away object. In concert with upgraded software, this means our vehicles are getting better at seeing what’s farther ahead and classifying what it is, Rander said in a blog post on the Argo website. (more…)

Toyota, SoftBank Preparing Launch of Self-Driving Venture

Monet looks compete with other autonomous entities.

by on Jun.12, 2019

Monet Technologies, led by CEO Junichi Miyakawa, will operate the new self-driving joint venture created by Toyota Motor and SoftBank.

Toyota Motor and its partner SoftBank plan to begin operating a self-driving venture, originated by Monet, in Southeast Asia in 2020.

The move would mark a shift for Japan’s third biggest telco as it looks abroad for growth and potentially bring it into competition with portfolio companies of parent SoftBank Group Corp. and its $100 billion Vision Fund, which has invested in major ride-hailing firms around the world.

Global News!

Monet, which is developing an on-demand self-driving service platform, is planning to export a basic version of the system, Chief Executive Junichi Miyakawa told Reuters. (more…)

Trump Criticizes GM Investment in China

Says company is having to pay more because of tariffs.

by on Jun.12, 2019

President Donald Trump criticized GM's investment in China on CNBC.

General Motors’ investment in China has come under fire from President Donald Trump who declared in recent interview it was a bad investment.

GM now sells more cars in China than it does in the United States and during the past two decades the company has insisted the investment in China has not hurt its operations in the U.S. Instead, profits from its Chinese operations has helped it invest in new products in the United States and helped it meet pension obligations.

News You Can Trust!

Only a small part of GM production of more than 3 million units is exported back to the U.S. and the Trump administration recently refused to roll back the tariffs on the Chinese-made Buicks GM sells in the U.S.  (more…)