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Amazon Becoming Lead Investor in Rivian

Rumored GM investment could yet follow.

by on Feb.15, 2019

The Rivian R1T pickup will boast 400 miles range, according to the company.

Just a week after announcing a major investment in an autonomous vehicle development company, online retailer Amazon said Friday it will become the lead investor in a new, $700 million round of financing for Rivian, the Detroit-based battery-electric company.

Rivian is in the final stages of developing two all-electric models, the full-size R1T pickup and R1S sport-utility vehicle. It is aiming to challenge not only electric vehicle rival Tesla but the established Detroit automakers that have long dominated the full-size pickup market.

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Rumors of a deal between Amazon and Rivian began to circulate earlier this week, though some reports had suggested that General Motors would also come up with some financing. Sources tell TheDetroitBureau.com that this remains a possibility and suggest that Rivian could have more announcements coming. The automaker has scheduled a news conference for the New York International Auto Show in mid-April. (more…)

VW-Ford Continue to Run Into Problems With Alliance Plans

New report: sticking point centers around autonomous vehicle program.

by on Feb.14, 2019

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and VW AG CEO Herbert Diess downplayed the immediate impact their new deal.

When Volkswagen and Ford announced a joint venture focused on light commercial vehicles last month, the two automakers also confirmed they were looking at a variety of other possible partnerships – including autonomous and electrified vehicles – but there are growing signs that the negotiations aren’t going as well as expected in several areas.

As TheDetroitBureau.com reported earlier this week, talks on aligning VW and Ford electric vehicle programs are faltering because of significant differences in strategy – and now, reports the Reuters news service, there may be serious challenges surfacing that could prevent them from teaming up on the development of autonomous vehicles, as well.

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The key issue, the news service says, is Ford’s demand that the German carmaker invest at least $500 million in its own autonomous vehicle program. That would be in line with the investment Honda recently made when it decided to partner up with General Motors on autonomous vehicle research. (more…)

Audi Teases Q4 e-tron Concept Ahead of Geneva

Expected to be one of 12 all-electric models from luxury brand.

by on Feb.14, 2019

Audi's newest addition to its EV family is set to debut at the Geneva Motor Show, and the company gave us a peek a the new Q4 e-tron.

The Volkswagen Group last week confirmed plans to roll out “50+” battery-electric vehicles by 2025 and, it seems, fully a dozen of those will be sold through its high-line luxury brand.

The first of these, simply dubbed the Audi e-tron, is set to go on sale later this year, while a production version of the e-tron GT Concept unveiled at last November’s L.A. Auto Show will hit the road next year. And now, ahead of next month’s Geneva Motor Show, we’re getting a first look at the Audi Q4 e-tron that will follow by no later than the first half of 2021.

Product News!

As the Q4 name suggests, the next all-electric model will be a crossover, reflecting the fact that battery-electric vehicles won’t be immune from the rapid shift from cars to light trucks sweeping across the global auto industry. (more…)

BMW Pumps Up with New X3 M and X4M Utes

Competition package delivers 503 hp.

by on Feb.13, 2019

BMW will start delivering the new X3 M and X4 M to U.S. customers in April.

BMW is putting the emphasis on “sport” with two new sport-utility vehicles, the 2020 X3 M and X4 M.

The compact models get the BMW M treatment for the first time, and it starts out with a twin-turbo inline-six that, in Competition trim, will push as much as 503 horsepower to the pavement – enough to launch from 0 to 60 in just 4.1 seconds.

Product News!

Both of the new models will be assembled at the Bavarian automaker’s South Carolina assembly plant, BMW notes, something that should minimize the impact should Pres. Donald Trump authorize new tariffs on European auto imports, as he has been threatening. That said, don’t expect them to come cheap. (more…)

Shake-Up and Setback for Ghosn

Former Nissan chief cuts legal team; likely to lose Renault payout.

by on Feb.13, 2019

Carlos Ghosn fired his legal team, replacing them with a lawyer known as "the razor."

Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan chairman facing charges of financial corruption, has shaken up his legal team in an effort to reverse a series of setbacks that have resulted in his being held in solitary confinement in a Tokyo prison since last November.

Ghosn is replacing his lawyers with a new team led by a high-profile defense attorney known in Japan as “the razor,” for his ability to win acquittals in a number of high-profile cases. That’s relatively rare in Japan where prosecutors claim conviction rates of more than 90%.

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Separately, Renault is ready to scrap about $34 million in deferred pay and severance Ghosn stood to collect after tendering his resignation last month. Nissan’s French alliance partner is also expected to drop a two-year non-compete clause, which would free up Ghosn to join another automaker once released from Japanese prison, Reuters news service reported. (more…)

Toyota, Lexus May Still Rule, But Japanese No Longer Dominate Vehicle Reliability

Chevy delivers a surprise in J.D. Power 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study.

by on Feb.13, 2019

The Prius is one of the vehicles that helped Toyota lead the latest J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study.

Toyota and its luxury arm Lexus captured the top spots among mainstream and premium brands in the latest J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, but the 2019 VDS also delivered more than a few surprises when it comes to how three-year-old vehicles are holding up.

The study placed Lexus at the top of the charts, followed by Porsche and then Toyota, but Chevrolet nabbed the fourth spot, a significant turnaround for a brand struggling to convince potential buyers it has overcome the quality and reliability issues of the past.

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The new Power VDS shows that Japanese automakers no longer have a lock on vehicle dependability. Tellingly, only Toyota and Lexus landed in the top 10 this year, while the list also included two American brands, four from Germany and both of the South Korean carmakers operating in the U.S.: Hyundai and Kia. (more…)

EV Truck Maker Rivian Reportedly in Talks with Amazon and GM

Deal could be announced this month, according to Reuters.

by on Feb.12, 2019

Rivian founder RJ Scaringe showed off the the R1T all-electric pickup at the LA Auto Show.

Battery truckmaker Rivian Automotive is reportedly in negotiations with both Amazon and General Motors on a deal that could be worth as much as $2 billion.

The deal would give the two companies a minority stake in Rivian, a start-up based in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth, according to a report on Reuters.

Breaking News!

The proposed deal could help GM, in particular, add a battery-electric pickup to its line-up, something archrival Ford Motor Co. has said that it is already working on. A senior executive at GM last month told TheDetroitBureau.com that the carmaker is “considering” an all-electric truck.

(more…)

Millions More Vehicles with Takata Airbags Yet to Face Recall

Automakers, regulators continue fix slowed by lack of replacement parts.

by on Feb.12, 2019

Takata's faulty airbag inflators have been linked to 24 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

Nearly 2 million vehicles have been recalled this month to replace airbag inflators blamed for dozens of deaths around the world, but millions more are expected to be targeted in the U.S. alone by early next year.

The problem was caused by faulty airbags produced by Japanese auto supplier Takata Corp., the inflators potentially failing over time. When that happens, they can inflate too aggressively, sending shrapnel spewing into the passenger compartment. So far, at least 23 people are known to have died due to the defect – most of them in the U.S. – with hundreds more injured.

News You Can Trust!

The Takata airbag recall is not only the largest safety-related service action in U.S. history, but also the longest-running recall, with the first advisories going out to vehicle owners back in 2001. It took years for industry leaders, regulators and safety experts to agree on the extent of the problem, but it is now dragging out due to a shortage of replacement inflators. (more…)

Ghosn Affair Hits Nissan’s Bottom Line, Along with Weak Sales

Automaker downgrades future earnings forecast.

by on Feb.12, 2019

Nissan is taking an $83.2 million charge against earnings due to the scandal surrounding Carlos Ghosn.

Nissan Motor Co. warned that its earnings for the fiscal year ending March 31, could be about the lowest the carmaker has seen in six years.

Nissan now expects to earn 410 billion yen, or $3.7 billion, for the fiscal year, a 45% year-over-year decline. It originally projected a 500 billion yen, or $4.5 billion profit.

Global News!

The second-largest of the Japanese automakers put most of the blame on sliding sales in the U.S. and China, its two largest markets. But it also revealed that it has logged an $83.2 million charge related to the scandal that began with the arrest last November of its former Chairman Carlos Ghosn. (more…)

Plugging In: An Inside Look at the MEB — VW’s Platform for an Electrified Future

A combined VW-Ford battery-car program seems to have come un-plugged, however.

by on Feb.11, 2019

An under-the-skin look at VW's modular MEB battery-car platform reveals the skateboard-like layout.

Volkswagen is plugging into battery power in a big way, the German automaker planning to launch 50 or more all-electric models by 2025, an aggressive push that will have it betting heavily on a single new platform it is developing. Dubbed the MEB, this flexible, modular “architecture” will be used to underpin the vast majority of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, that will be offered by VW’s dozen different passenger car brands.

The MEB has been a topic of discussion between VW and Ford Motor Co., the two companies recently launching a joint venture to develop light commercial vehicles. They also are exploring ways they may be able to work together on the development of electric vehicles, possibly using the new VW platform — though a senior Ford official cautioned that this might prove more difficult than originally hoped.

Beyond the Headlines!

“The future, for us, is really a dedicated EV platform,” said Matthew Renna, vice president of e-Mobility for Volkswagen’s North American Region, a platform “flexible enough to cover a broad gamut of products ranging from an entry level subcompact up to models like the ID. Buzz minivan and even midsize SUVs.

(more…)