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China Epicenter of New Development in Car Industry

Zetsche says push for EVs, size of market make country crucial.

by on Mar.21, 2017

Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said the company plans to build and sell the newly unveiled EQ brand of electric vehicles in China.

China will likely serve as the stage where the auto industry’s future plays out in the years to come, two key executives from Daimler AG told a Beijing Forum organized to discuss the future of the Chinese economy.

“The automotive industry is experiencing fundamental change: connectivity, autonomous driving, sharing and electric mobility. Each of these has the power to turn our entire industry upside down. And I truly believe: China can be ‘the turbo’ of this transformation,” Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche told the forum as he outlined some of the key trends re-shaping the auto industry.

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“Electric mobility, for instance, is developing quickly here. And we are aiming to further contribute to this development by planning to produce our new generation of electric Mercedes-Benz models also in China. We are committed to delivering innovation and believe to have a common target with our partners: a both sustainable and highly fascinating auto industry in China,” Zetsche noted. (more…)

Trump Continues to Threaten Foreign Automakers

President tells crowd that there will be "consequences."

by on Mar.20, 2017

President Donald Trump continues to threaten foreign automakers, including German companies, with a border tax.

President Donald Trump continues to make veiled threats against Germany’s automakers, which are among the most successful in the world, apparently as part of a key tactic in negotiating new and more advantageous trade agreements with European countries.

“Germany has done very well in its trade deals with the U.S., and I give them credit for it,” Trump told a White House press conference. “Virtually any country we do business with — it’s not exactly good for our workers.”

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“The U.S. has been treated unfairly and that’s going to stop,” he told reporters at the White House. During a meeting with representatives of both foreign and domestic car makers in Detroit last week Trump urged them to build more vehicles in the U.S. (more…)

In a Class By Itself: 2017 Volvo XC90 E-AWD

Plug-in hybrid puts the emphasis on performance.

by on Mar.17, 2017

The design of the Volvo XC90 balances ruggedness with a modern, wind-swept appearance.

Say the word, “hybrid,” and you’re likely to think of a small, quirky little sedan or hatchback that trades performance for mileage. That might fit traditional gas-electric models like the Toyota Prius, but if you’re talking about the 2017 Volvo XC90 T8 E-AWD you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Sure, this plug-in hybrid gets some great mileage numbers, at 54 MPGe. But the T8 version of Volvo’s flagship SUV also happens to be its most powerful, delivering performance that matches up to what key competitors are delivering with far less efficiency.

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The Volvo XC90 T8 anchors the unique strategy that Volvo outlined a few years back and which it is now rolling into place with the completion of the 90-Series and the debut of the new XC60 at the Geneva Motor Show this month. Unlike competitors who largely rely on V-6s and 8s, especially in their bigger models, Volvo has an all-four strategy. And, as we learned during our time behind the wheel of this SUV plug-in, small really can be beautiful.

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Uber Pushes for Arbitration in Intellectual Property Suit with Waymo

Move keeps sensitive information out of public eye.

by on Mar.17, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has his hands full these days, including the latest legal action.

Uber will try and force arbitration rather a face a trial court over charges that it has stolen intellectual property and proprietary technology from Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving car subsidiary, which has taken a prominent role in the development of autonomous vehicles.

Arturo Gonzalez, the prominent San Francisco trial lawyer representing Uber, told a federal judge that he planned to file a petition demanding arbitration of Waymo’s claims of trade secrets theft.

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Arbitration, a legal procedure that side steps open court, allows a third party to review the evidence and decide the case rather than a judge. It’s also less drawn out than a trial and usually less expensive but both sides must agree on the person, often a retired judge, who will serve as the arbitrator in the case. (more…)

Marchionne Changes Course, Claims No Interest in VW Tie-Up

However, FCA's CEO did say he would listen to any pitch from VW.

by on Mar.16, 2017

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne says he's not interested in a merger with Volkswagen.

After preaching for years about the need for a broad consolidation in the global automobile industry, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has reversed course or perhaps gotten cold feet.

Following a meeting with President Donald Trump, Marchionne told reporters that he had no interest in pursuing a possible merger with Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker and the top automaker in Europe where FCA’s European brands are facing the potential of more intense competition from combination of Opel/Vauxhall and PSA.

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Once the PSA takeover of Opel/Vauxhall is completed later this year, it will be the second-largest carmaker in Europe. (more…)

Trump Signs Off on Review of CAFE Standards

While most makers cheer, Nissan-Renault, Honda offer indifference to move.

by on Mar.15, 2017

President Donald Trump acceded to the wishes of U.S. automakers, agreeing to re-open the review of looming CAFE standards for 2025.

As a first step to rolling back federal fuel economy standards, which are set to reach 54.4 miles per gallon by 2025, the Trump administration has agreed to re-open the review of the standards laid out by the Obama administration in January.

The review was immediately hailed by the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, which includes the BMW Group, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Car USA with Honda and Nissan-Renault being the notable exceptions.

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“We applaud the Administration’s decision to reinstate the data-driven review of the 2022-2025 standards. By restarting this review, analysis rather than politics will produce a final decision consistent with the process we all agreed to under ‘One National Program’ for GHG and fuel economy standards,” the Alliance said in statement. (more…)

Toyota Eyes Building Auto Plant in Saudi Arabia

Saudi government wants to diversify its economy.

by on Mar.15, 2017

Toyota is exploring the feasibility of helping Saudi Arabia build an auto plant in the country.

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to conduct a joint survey with the Saudi Arabian government to explore the feasibility of building vehicles in Saudi Arabia, according to a report in Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper.

To move away from being an oil-dependent economy, Saudi Arabia is aiming to diversify and nurture its industries, including manufacturing. It is particularly keen to attract the automobile industry, the paper reported.

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The automobile market in Saudi Arabia has grown steadily in recent years, with the number of car sales reaching about 880,000 units in 2015, making it larger than the markets in well-developed automotive cultures, such as Argentina and Thailand. (more…)

Trump Coming to Detroit Bearing Regulatory Gifts

President likely to announce plans to rollback fuel-economy standards.

by on Mar.14, 2017

President Donald Trump, center, met with the CEOs of Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler to discuss a variety of issues, including fuel economy rules.

President Donald Trump is expected to visit the Detroit area Wednesday and is expected to come bearing gifts for the Motor City’s automakers in the form of lower fuel-economy standards.

The move comes as automakers have been lobbying the new administration to roll back the tougher corporate average fuel economy standards set down by Obama administration just prior to Trump’s inauguration in January.

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The plan has not been confirmed officially by the Trump White House. However, the President and his selection to head the Environmental Protection, Scott Pruitt, have zeroed in fuel-economy regulations, saying they need to be revised. (more…)

Waymo Escalates Battle with Uber

Waymo claims former employee stolen intellectual property for autonomous technology.

by on Mar.13, 2017

Waymo is suing Uber to prevent the company from using or selling intellectual property it claims a former Waymo employee stole and gave to Uber.

Waymo, Google’s self-driving vehicle subsidiary, is escalating its legal battle with Uber Technologies and its subsidiary Otto Trucking by asking a federal judge to prevent the car sharing service from using or selling any of the technology that Waymo claims was stolen by a former Google employee who went on to start his own company now owned by Uber.

In documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Waymo is seeking a preliminary injunction prohibiting Uber Technologies, Inc., Ottomotto LLC and Otto Trucking LLC .

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The filing would prohibit them “from accessing, using, imitating, copying, disclosing, or making available to any person or entity Waymo’s Asserted Trade Secrets, including but not limited to the Asserted Trade Secrets as embodied in LiDAR systems that contain or are designed to operate with the printed circuit board depicted in the schematic attached as Exhibit 1 to the Declaration of William Grossman or any colorable variation thereof. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Toyota C-HR

New subcompact crossover designed to appeal wide audience.

by on Mar.10, 2017

The 2018 Toyota C-HR is designed to appeal to younger buyers looking for fuel efficiency and utility.

Conventional wisdom suggests American consumers don’t have much use for small vehicles — except for small crossover utility vehicles, and that is an awful big exception as carmakers move to offer new models that are certain to attract new buyers into small vehicles.

The 2018 Toyota C-HR, for example, was originally designed to fit into the automaker’s Scion line. But with Scion’s demise, Toyota expects the newest vehicle in its portfolio to appeal the youthful demographic of 20- and 30-something buyers with its contemporary styling, sophisticated technology, fuel-efficient performance, maneuverability and overall utility.

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The new C-HR was also designed as global vehicle – the one coming to the U.S. will be assembled in Turkey – It is built around one of Toyota’s new modular architectures and was basically can fit into heavy traffic anywhere or out onto back roads in Europe and North America. (more…)