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Is Ford Ready to Drive Out of South America?

J.P. Morgan reports Ford execs considering alternatives to stanch “unacceptable losses.”

by on Nov.22, 2017

Ford CEO Jim Hackett continues examine the company's operations, including a potential exit from all or part of South America.

Stung by heavy, ongoing losses that seem to have no end in sight, Ford Motor Co. reportedly is looking at options that could include “selective exits” from emerging markets, notably South America.

Such a move would echo the strategy taken by General Motors since Mary Barra came aboard as CEO nearly four years ago, the automaker pulling out of markets including Russia and India. Since assuming the chief executive post at Ford in May, Jim Hackett has promised to rethink the automaker’s entire strategy, leaving open the prospect of some radical moves.

Industry News!

Among the options, Ford leadership is considering, “an out-of-the-box transformational plan to stanch what it deems as unacceptable losses in South America which we expect could be announced over the short-term. Ford is evaluating strategies in relation to doing business in emerging markets overall,” J.P. Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman wrote in a note to investors. “It could also entail selective exits from certain markets.” (more…)

Uber Under Fire as It Belatedly Admits Hackers Stole Data

Ride-sharing service paid off hackers, waited a year to reveal theft affecting 57 million riders and drivers.

by on Nov.22, 2017

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has faced one problem after another since his arrival at the company.

Just when it looked like Uber had put the worst of a very bad year behind it, things have taken yet another turn for the worse, the ride-sharing giant acknowledging that hackers stole personal data from around 57 million user and driver accounts.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Uber officials went on to acknowledge they paid the data thieves $100,000, allegedly to destroy the information they had accessed, and then kept the news secret for a year. With memories of how consumer data firm Equifax kept its own breach quiet for months, Uber is coming under intense criticism, with regulators in the U.S. and Europe already threatening investigations.

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Consumer News!

“You may be asking why we are just talking about this now, a year later. I had the same question,” wrote Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in a blog. “None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” added Khosrowshahi joined the embattled firm in August following the ouster of founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick who was embroiled in a variety of scandals.

(more…)

Aston Gets in Gear With Launch of New Vantage

Vantage GTE race car also makes its debut.

by on Nov.22, 2017

The new Aston Martin Vantage has been rebuilt from the ground up, sharing little with its predecessor.

For a brand that could go years without even a modest refresh of its line-up, Aston Martin is certainly kicking things into gear. The British marque has been busy rolling out a procession of new products, including two versions of the DB11, a track-ready Valkyrie, its first-ever electric car and now two all-new versions of the Vantage, one for the street and one for the track.

Expected to start at somewhere around $150,000 once it lands in the States, the two-seater is being positioned to take on the more powerful versions of the Porsche 911, and is a critical link in the broad expansion plan envisioned by CEO Andy Palmer when he come onboard at Aston three years ago.

Product News!

“A true sports car with a sharper look and a keener dynamic edge, the new Vantage is the Aston Martin pure driving machine enthusiasts have been waiting for,” proclaimed Palmer. “Creating a worthy successor has been a challenge,” he added, considering the outgoing Vantage was “the single most successful model in Aston Martin’s history.” (more…)

Are You the New Infiniti QX50?

Luxury marque teases “most advanced car ever” ahead of LA Auto Show.

by on Nov.21, 2017

Infiniti teases an important new offering it will reveal at the LA Auto Show next week.

Well, we do know we’ll see the Infiniti QX80 at the Los Angeles Motor Show next week, after it made a world debut at the Dubai Auto Show earlier in November. But that doesn’t tell us much about the curious teaser Nissan’s luxury brand sent out today.

We’ve already been told that the vehicle whose grille and headlight we see will be the brand’s “most advanced car ever,” but it almost certainly isn’t a sedan or coupe. The nose is just too tall and upright. So, that would suggest the automaker means a car-based crossover.

Filling in the Blanks!

“As with all Infinitis,” the latest release tells us, in the words of global design boss Alfonso Albaisa, “we have been inspired by our desire to drive, expressed with power and artistry. With this all-new model, inspiration comes from striking the perfect balance between lust and logic. At a glance, seamless and sculptural, getting closer to the car reveals an ingenious blend of proportion and space.”

(more…)

Lincoln Refreshes, Upgrades MKC for 2019

Targeting one of the luxury market’s fastest-growing segments.

by on Nov.21, 2017

The 2019 Lincoln MKC gets a major refresh to ensure it's keeping up with the competition in the quickly growing segment.

Long-struggling Lincoln is betting big on the crossover market, hoping to rebuild its once-lofty image with a wave of new and updated crossovers and more traditional SUVs. Following the rebirth of its biggest ute, the Navigator, Ford Motor Co.’s luxury brand is giving a significant refresh to its smallest model, the MKC.

Product News!

Set to roll into showrooms next summer, the 2019 Lincoln MKC picks up on some of the brand’s latest design cues – starting with a Continental-style grille – while adding a number of more upscale details and an array of the latest in safety and convenience technologies.

“We recognize it takes a lot to attract a buyer from other luxury competitors, but the Lincoln MKC has that kind of appeal,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of the Lincoln Motor Co. “We believe that the new MKC will capture even more luxury clients.” (more…)

India’s Mahindra Opens Off-Road Vehicle Plant Near Detroit

A U.S. auto plant could be next "logical step."

by on Nov.21, 2017

A crowd gathers by the obligatory ceremonies at the new Mahindra plant just outside Detroit.

Mahindra Automotive North America has set up an off-road vehicle assembly line in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills – a move that soon could be followed by the Indian manufacturer’s entry into the U.S. automotive market.

The subsidiary of Mumbai-based Mahindra & Mahindra has been promising to set up shop in the States for more than a decade, going as far as lining up a dealer network before pulling back. The 150,000-square-foot facility is located not far from the headquarters of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and scores of automotive suppliers, and it becomes the first new auto plant in the Detroit region in a quarter century.

Global News!

Mahindra didn’t reveal the vehicle it plans to build at a news conference Wednesday, but Group Chairman Anand Mahindra told reporters it “will take us into a whole different orbit.” He also hinted at future plans. “I think a very logical step after that would be to get on-road.”

(more…)

Uber Buying Up to 24,000 Autonomous Volvo XC90s

Uber’s technology could allow fully driverless operation.

by on Nov.20, 2017

An autonomous Volvo XC90 used by Uber in San Francisco. The original test was cut short when Uber refused to get a state permit.

Uber will purchase as many as 24,000 XC90 sport-utility vehicles from Volvo as part of its push to become an autonomous and, eventually, a fully driverless ride-sharing service.

The Swedish automaker previously provided a small number of XC90 s for autonomous pilot programs Uber operated in several cities, including San Francisco and Phoenix. The non-exclusive and non-binding deal would take things a giant step forward and allow Uber to launch autonomous operations on a commercial level starting in 2019.

Tech News!

“This new agreement puts us on a path towards mass produced self-driving vehicles at scale,” said Jeff Miller, Uber’s head of auto alliances, adding that he was “thrilled” to expand the ride-sharing service’s alliance with Chinese-owned Volvo.

(more…)

Mercedes Gives a Glimpse of New CLS

A hard act to follow.

by on Nov.20, 2017

A first teaser shot reveals some notable changes to the nose of the next Mercedes-Benz CLS.

Few cars have had a bigger impact on automotive design than the original Mercedes-Benz CLS which introduced the concept of coupe-like sedans that seemingly every automaker has now copied.

First launched for the 2005 model-year, Mercedes took a cautious approach with the gen-2 CLS, opting for evolution over revolution. Now, an all-new remake will be making its debut at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show, and we’ve gotten two teaser images offering some hints of what to expect.

Auto Show Previews!

We’ve done a little work with Photoshop to pull some details out of the shadows and reveal a bit more about the face of the Mercedes-Benz CLS. But what you see is what we got in terms of the interior detail shot. And if that’s any indication of what to expect, it’s likely the CLS cabin where we’ll be some of the most dramatic updates to the new CLS.

(more…)

And For My Next Trick: Tesla’s Musk Suggests New Roadster May Be Able to Fly

Pushing the envelope or seeking a diversion amidst financial struggles.

by on Nov.20, 2017

Tesla CEO unveiled the new Roadster last week.

What happens when the head of your car company also runs a rocket business? If that person happens to be CEO Elon Musk he hints that the new, $200,000 Roadster Tesla unveiled last week also may be able “to fly for short hops” if a buyer opts for a “special upgrade.”

Musk isn’t the only one who envisions flying cars. A number of firms are working on that concept, including European aerospace giant Airbus. But the Sunday tweet by the Tesla CEO adds another twist to the tale of a company that not only is building cars but batteries, stationary power systems and solar cells. Musk is also the boss at SpaceX, the rocket company that has been supplying the International Space Station and soon plans to start launching humans into space under contract for NASA.

Behind the News!

Whether the latest tweet is serious is a question generating plenty of buzz across the Internet. While Musk’s many fans seem to believe he’s capable of just about anything, skeptics are asking whether the hint of a flying Tesla Roadster might be meant to divert attention away from the carmaker’s struggles – which include a disastrous third-quarter loss and ongoing problems getting the new Model 3 into volume production.

(more…)

Aston Aims for the Ragged Edge With Valkyrie AMR Pro

Only 25 track-ready hypercars to be produced.

by on Nov.17, 2017

Aston Martin's rapid pace of new models keeps going with the new track-only Valkyrie AMR Pro.

For a brand that often took years to simply update old models, Aston Martin has been extraordinarily busy lately, launching new products like the DB11 and its first-ever electric vehicle, the RapidE. It’s also working up a new hypercar, the Valkyrie, announced at the Geneva Motor Show last winter.

Now, the British marque revealed plans to produce a track-only version, the Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro, of which just 25 copies will be produced.

The Last Word!

“Valkyrie has always been about pushing the limits and redefining the possible,” said Aston CEO Andy Palmer. “The road car will set new benchmarks for performance, engineering and technology – a hypercar in the truest sense – and with the track-only Valkyrie AMR Pro those limits will be pushed further still.” (more…)