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Canadian Auto Workers OK Strike at Detroit’s Big Three

Union demanding new investments but automakers want cost cuts.

by on Aug.29, 2016

GM has cut thousands of jobs in Canada, most recently by moving Camaro production to Michigan.

Union workers in Canada have overwhelmingly authorized union leaders to call a strike next month as contract talks with Detroit’s Big Three automakers race towards their deadline.

Negotiations have turned contentious in recent weeks as the two sides struggle to find common ground amidst conflicting demands. Unifor, the union representing thousands of Canadian auto line workers, wants General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler to commit to new investments that would keep the country’s auto plants open. But the Detroit makers are, in turn, demanding cost cuts they claim are necessary to remain competitive.

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Workers voted almost unanimously to approve strikes, and “With this clear mandate our members have demonstrated they are in full support of their bargaining committees and our direction in this set of negotiations,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias.

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It’s Getting Harder to Justify a Hybrid

Cheap gas, improved mileage offset one-time cost advantage over conventional vehicles.

by on Aug.26, 2016

The Toyota Prius hatchback no longer has a cost advantage over a similar gas model.

If you’re picking a new car, truck or crossover based on the bottom line, you may be in for a surprise, according to a new study. While hybrids tend to deliver better mileage than comparable gasoline-powered vehicles, you may actually wind up spending more in the long run.

Less than one out of four of the 29 hybrids covered by consulting firm Vincentric’s U.S. Hybrid Ownership study actually had lower costs than comparable gas-powered models. Lower pump prices are certainly a factor, but other issues play into the equation – notably including the fact that the fuel efficiency of non-hybrid vehicles has been fast on the rise.

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Add the higher cost of hybrid models, said Vincentric President David Wurster, and “Hybrids … may be losing their competitive edge.” (more…)

Bigger Isn’t Better When it Comes to Uber Profits

Report estimates leading ride-share service lost $1.3 billion.

by on Aug.26, 2016

A subscriber orders a car through the Uber app.

It may be the nation’s leading ride-sharing service, but that hasn’t helped Uber deliver a profit.

The Silicon Valley start-up lost a hefty $1.3 billion during the first half of the year, according to a report by the Bloomberg news service which cited sources with access to a conference call the company had with its investors.

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According to the report, Uber finance chief revealed that the ride-sharing service went $520 million into the red during the first quarter of the year, with another $750 million loss racked up during the April-June quarter.

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Dealers Latest to Settle With VW Over Diesel Scandal

Funds to be paid out over 18 months.

by on Aug.25, 2016

Livingston VW, of Woodland Hills, CA, is one of the maker's 650 American franchisees.

(This story has been updated to reflect the cost of the new settlement.)

Two months after agreeing to a $14.7 billion deal with federal regulators over its cheating on diesel emissions tests, Volkswagen has reached another settlement covering its 650 U.S. dealers.

The maker will pay about $1.2 billion over the next 18 months to cover the losses dealers claim to have run up as a result of the scandal, in large part due to a sharp drop in the maker’s sales. Along with cash payments, VW will provide “additional benefits” to those dealers. The announcement moves Volkswagen closer to resolving its ongoing legal problems, though it still faces a number of additional challenges, including lawsuits by shareholders.

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“We believe this agreement in principle with Volkswagen dealers is a very important step in our commitment to making things right for all our stakeholders in the United States,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North American Region, Volkswagen. “This agreement, when finalized, will strengthen the foundation for our future together and further emphasize our commitment both to our partners and the U.S. market.”

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Expansive Cadillac Product Plan Getting Squeezed

Product portfolio delayed, some models could be cut.

by on Aug.25, 2016

Cadillac smooths out the edges of its Art & Design design language with the Escala concept.

(This story has been updated to include additional insight into Cadillac plans, including the brand halo product frequently referred to as the CT8.)

Cadillac offered a hint of its future design direction last week, in the form of the Escala concept car unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. But plans to launch a large luxury sedan that might share that design theme have been delayed and could even be cut, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.

With General Motors’ flagship luxury brand struggling to boost U.S. sales, despite the addition of several new models, Caddy is facing the prospect that the aggressive product growth strategy outlined by brand boss Johan de Nysschen will be sharply paired back, according to various company sources and industry observers. Among the projects being delayed are the full-size sedan, which was expected to be called either the CT8 or CT9, but also the twin-turbo V-8 that would be used to power it.

What a Concept!

While the South African-born de Nysschen declined to discuss specific changes to the Cadillac product program, he did indicate there could be some slowdowns during a conversation following the reveal of the Escala show car. The twin-turbo V-8, for example, might not make it into production until “the next-generation CT6.” Since biggest sedan in Caddy’s current fleet just came to market, that might mean the high-performance engine wouldn’t be available until around the 2023 or 2024 model-year.

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Forget Sports Cars, SUVs Set to Dominate Super-Premium Luxury Market

Utility vehicles likely to be best-sellers for brands like Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini, even Rolls-Royce.

by on Aug.24, 2016

Lamborghini first revealed the Urus SUV concept at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show.

They’re both known for their high-performance sports cars, but when Aston Martin and Lamborghini launch two of their most critical models ever, both in 2019, the focus of the two brands will shift to sport-utility vehicles.

If all goes according to plan, those two models, the Aston Martin DBX and the production version of the Lamborghini Urus concept, will generate at least 50% or more of their sales. But that’s far from precedent setting. Best known for sports cars like the 911 and the Boxster, it’s the Cayenne and Macan SUVs that already generate the biggest sales numbers for Porsche.

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Super-premium utility vehicles are “going to be the hottest segment in the luxury market,” said Simon Sproule, the chief marketing officer for Aston. “As with the mainstream market, that’s what people want to drive.”

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Tesla Cracks Through 300-Mile Range Barrier With New Models

Models S, X P100D push to eliminate range anxiety.

by on Aug.24, 2016

The new Tesla Model S 100D gets 315 miles on a single charge and will do 0 to 60 in just 2.5 seconds.

Tesla is determined to prove that everything you thought you knew about electric vehicles is wrong, the maker delivering Ferrari-like performance and more than 300 miles of range with a pair of new battery-cars.

The new Tesla Model S P100D will not only launch from 0 to 60 in about 2.5 seconds using the maker’s optional Ludicrous mode, but will also deliver up to 315 miles per charge. The Model X P100D will also deliver sub-3-second launches, but won’t quite crack 300 miles of range.

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The two new models counter conventional wisdom that battery-electric vehicles are slow and can’t travel nearly as far as a conventional, gas-powered vehicle. While Tesla hasn’t released specific details, early versions of the two battery-cars could get up to an 80% charge in less than 30 minutes using the maker’s high-voltage Supercharge network. (more…)

Zagato Volante Just a First Step for Aston Martin

British marque planning ambitious mix of sports cars, crossovers, EVs and more.

by on Aug.23, 2016

The $745,000 Aston Martin Zagato Volante will be one of a steady stream of specialty models.

It didn’t take long for Aston Martin to sell out the limited edited Vanquish coupe it revealed earlier this year, and despite – or perhaps because of – its $745,000 price tag, the British maker is hoping for a similar response to the Vanquish Zagato Volante that made its debut over the weekend.

The 592-horsepower convertible is the latest in a string of new models and variants from the long-struggling British maker best known for its long, supporting role in the 007 film series. Flush with new cash, its new management team has outlined an aggressive strategy that calls for a major expansion of the Aston Martin product portfolio which, by decade’s end, will include an all-new mix of sports cars, limited-edition exotics, and even a crossover and a battery-electric vehicle.

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“The plan is to replace all our existing cars moving onto a line-up that is all-new,” said Simon Sproule, Aston Martin’s chief marketing officer.

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Delphi, Mobileye Partner on Driverless Vehicle Tech

Partners want to have both fully autonomous and driverless vehicles on the road by 2019.

by on Aug.23, 2016

The first of the Delphi autonomous prototypes will be a modified Audi SQ5. Delphi and Mobileye will show off their new system at CES.

In the latest in a burst of announcements aimed at bringing fully autonomous, and even driverless, vehicles to market, automotive mega-supplier Delphi is teaming up with the high-tech Israeli firm Mobileye.

The two tech firms plan to show off their system during a preview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next January, and expect to have it ready for production as early as 2019. The news comes a week after Ford Motor Co. said it would begin building a fully driverless vehicle for use by car-sharing and delivery services in 2021.

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“Our partnership with Delphi will accelerate the time to market and enable customers to adopt Level 4/5 automation without the need for huge capital investments, thereby creating a formidable advantage for them,” said Amnon Shashua, chairman and chief technology officer at Mobileye. (more…)

Bugatti Chiron Makes First US Public Appearance

New ultracar not a “carryover” from predecessor.

by on Aug.22, 2016

The new Bugatti Chiron was on full display at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

While it officially debuted at the Geneva Motor Show last spring, Bugatti has been keeping the new Chiron ultracar largely under wraps ever since.

But the Volkswagen AG maker brought the Veyron successor out, appropriately enough, for this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and we finally got the chance to check it out up close – and with the help of Chiron Chief Engineer Willi Netuschil.

Product News!

While the Chiron picks up on key styling cues of the brand’s previous exotic, the Veyron, Netuschil made it clear that it is anything but a carryover. A closer look, he explained, reveals the significant updates made to ensure that Chiron can deliver a whopping 25% more power than the old Bugatti, something that should help it regain a number of world records, including power, torque and top speed. (more…)