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Daimler Building New Plant in Russia; Opens in 2019

Mercedes is the country's top-selling luxury brand.

by on Feb.22, 2017

Daimler is opening a new plant in Russia. The new facility, just north of Moscow, is slated to open in 2019.

Daimler AG plans to establish its first passenger car production in Russia at the Esipovo Industrial Park, about 25 miles northwest of Moscow.

The new plant, which will cost 250 million euros, will be built with a flexible production system capable of building both sport utility vehicles as well as the E-Class Sedan cars when the plant opens in 2019.

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“Russia is of strategic importance for Mercedes-Benz and an attractive growth market. That is why we expand our worldwide production network with a new plant at Esipovo Industrial Park,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management. (more…)

Jeep Sales Likely to Flatten This Year

Retooling in U.S. may cost some sales while China, Brazil expected to be strong.

by on Feb.22, 2017

FCA is moving production of the Jeep Cherokee from Ohio to Illinois as part of its production overhaul.

After a long run up in sales, Jeep sales in the United States will probably be flat or down slightly this years as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. pulls back from sales to rental car fleet and moves through a series of new product launches that require closing key plants for model changes.

However, Mike Manley, head of Jeep Brand, also said that the Jeep brand could still post a modest sales increase in Europe, China and South America, particularly in Brazil.

Product News!

In China, for example, sales of Jeep branded vehicles increased by 131% last years to more than 147,000 vehicles. Manley said he expects another big increase in Jeep sales in China this year since it will have three different vehicles, the Cherokee, the Renegade and the new Compass, available for Chinese customers. Jeep will also have the capacity to build 350,000 units in China and could build more as demand increases. (more…)

Governments Catalyzing Growth of Autonomous Vehicles Globally

Japan, Dubai leading the way to more autonomous vehicle use, testing.

by on Feb.21, 2017

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chairs a committee reviewing a proposal that would set 2020 as the target for commercializing automated-driving technology.

The push to develop autonomous cars is increasingly taking on a global hue as activist governments around the world take a hand in making more space for self-driving vehicles.

For example, the Japanese government now aims to have self-driving vehicles provide transport to its rapidly expanding population of senior citizens and others with limited vehicle access by 2020 and is deliberately encouraging development of the self-driving technology to address growing social challenges, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Autonomous Tech News!

Meanwhile, Dubai has cut a deal for autonomous vehicles with Tesla. The country’s transportation authority announced a deal to buy 200 Tesla Model S sedans and Model X SUVs for the city’s huge taxi and limousine fleet, which now number numbers more than 10,000 vehicles. (more…)

GOP Flustered by Trump Administration on Trade Issues

President's ambiguity on agricultural issues causing problems.

by on Feb.21, 2017

President Donald Trump's "border tax" plan is getting a lukewarm reception from the Republican Party.

Republican concerns about Trump administration policies on trade and trade agreements continue to expand, according to The Hill, a political website that monitors Congress.

Trump’s “border tax,” which is part of what the President has described as an effort to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., has been meet coolly in the GOP controlled Senate even though it has been blessed by House Speaker Paul Ryan who sees it as a way to offset the revenue loss that follow a sweeping tax reform package Trump is also promising to deliver.

Trade News!

However, with the price of wheat, corn and soybeans falling, trade is also quickly emerging as a major issue for Republican lawmakers, who are increasingly worried about Trump’s promises to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement and his decision to scuttle the Trans Pacific Partnership. (more…)

GM Stock Could Pop on Opel Sale

Sale of unprofitable business could net shareholder windfall.

by on Feb.20, 2017

Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO, met with leaders in Germany to assuage concerns about the potential sale of Opel to PSA.

Shareholders reacted skeptically to last week’s announcement that General Motors was in discussions to sell off its money losing European operations anchored by the Opel and Vauxhall brands to the Paris-based PSA Group.

But the weekly financial magazine Barron’s gave the proposed sale of Opel a boost when it said GM’s share could increase in value by as much as 35% if the deal was finalized and GM succeeds in finishing the sale.

Global Auto News!

If the deal goes through, it could net GM as much as $1 billion in cash, Barron’s says, citing analysts. However, the real value from the sale would come from offloading a money-losing business and refocusing on operations in China, Latin America and North America, it said. (more…)

Congestion Costing Drivers $1,200 Annually

Los Angeles tops "worst congestion" list.

by on Feb.20, 2017

A new study shows that the average American pays $1,200 in traffic congestion-related costs.

Traffic congestion costs American motorists an average of $1,200 per year, according to the Global Traffic Scorecard from INRIX, a leader in transportation analytics and connected car services.

The study also described Los Angeles as the metropolitan area in the U.S. with the worst congestion. New York and San Francisco came in second and third respectively on the INRIX index, followed by Atlanta, Miami, Washington D.C. and Dallas.

Beyond the Headlines!

Boston, Chicago and Seattle round out the list of top 10 most congested metropolitan areas, according to INRIX. (more…)

Ferrari Brand Value Soars 40 Percent

Toyota most valuable auto brand overall, rises 7%.

by on Feb.17, 2017

Since Sergio Marchionne took over for former Ferrari CEO Luca di Montezemolo and raise production levels, Ferrari's brand value has risen 40%.

The value of the Ferrari brand is steadily rising, according to a new study that ranks the world’s automotive brands by Brand Finance, a British valuation and strategy consultancy.

“The fact Ferrari has boosted revenues without compromising brand strength suggests that it has found the perfect formula to sustainably exploit brand equity to maximize shareholder value,” Brand Finance CEO David Haigh said.

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Haigh noted the strength of Ferrari’s brand is all the more impressive given its increasingly commercial approach and improving revenues. (more…)

Delinquent Car Loans Reach All-Time Highs

Record-setting fourth quarter followed record-setting third quarter.

by on Feb.17, 2017

New car sales set a new record this year. Car loan delinquencies also hit a record high in 2016.

The rate and amount of delinquent auto loans has climbed to its highest level since the end of 2008 when the U.S. was teetering on the edge of tbe Great Recession.

Car loans delinquent by 30 days or more grew to $23.27 billion, the most since $23.46 billion in the third quarter of 2008. They were up from $22.98 billion in the prior quarter. Roughly 3.8% of the loans were delinquent at the end of the fourth quarter, which is up from 3.6% at the end of the third quarter, according to data on consumer debt collected by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Financial News!

Seriously delinquent auto loans whose payments were 90 days or more past due jumped to $8.24 billion in the fourth quarter, which was just an extension of the third quarter of last year, when the previous high was set, according to the survey. (more…)

Ford Funnels $200 Million into New Wind Tunnel

Maker plans to "super-size" facility to accommodate large trucks.

by on Feb.16, 2017

Ford plans to spend $200 million on a new vehicle testing facility that includes and advanced wind tunnel.

The Ford Motor Co. plans to spend $200 million for new wind tunnel at its principal engineering center in Dearborn, Michigan.

“This investment in new world-class test facilities underpins Ford’s ongoing commitment to advance our capabilities to continue to provide our customers with high-quality vehicles,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development and chief technical officer.

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The new wind tunnel complex will sit on 13 acres next to Ford’s Driveability Test Facility in Allen Park, Michigan. The complex will house new technology that delivers state-of-the-art real-world driving simulations to advance improvements in fuel economy. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year. (more…)

GM, PSA Getting Pushback on Potential Opel Deal

German, British unions and governments against the sale.

by on Feb.16, 2017

GM is re-examining its European operations, specifically, the UK, in light of the "Brexit" vote.

General Motors’ plans to sell off its money-losing Opel unit is running into political and union opposition in both Germany and Great Britain.

GM is proposing to sell Opel to the French-based PSA Group, which it is assumed will move to reduce costs, shed some of the excess capacity and move to consolidate product lines. Excess capacity has long been identified as a major problem in the European auto industry but governments and unions throughout Europe have made it extremely difficult to close plants

Global Auto News!

Germany’s federal government and influential unions, which are already facing the threat of major job losses at Volkswagen in the wake of the diesel scandal, have moved quickly to criticize the proposed GM-PSA deal. (more…)