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New 8th-Gen Rolls-Royce Phantom Fit for an Oligarch

Enjoy "The Embrace."

by on Jul.28, 2017

The new Rolls-Royce Phantom boasts the longest-running nameplate in the auto industry.

There’s a new king-of-the-hill, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos being named the world’s richest man, ahead of long-time moneybags and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. With Forbes estimating his fortune at $90 billion – even with free shipping – we just might have the perfect car for the online entrepreneur.

After a surprisingly long, 14-year run, Rolls-Royce is finally giving its flagship Phantom “saloon” car a complete makeover, the new model being unveiled at the British marque’s Goodwood factory today.

Product News!

Few cars have been around as long, the original Phantom debuting way back in 1925, and with its waterfall grille and “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament, few are as readily recognizable. Only the eighth version of the Phantom since the nameplate was launched 92 years ago, the new model offers plenty of lavish features designed to appeal to the world’s richest and most discriminating motorists – from the new 6.75-liter V-12 engine to the “Embrace” it offers rear seat passengers.

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Marchionne Hints FCA May Sue Former Labor Chief Over Alleged $2.2m Theft

A “most egregious breach of trust.”

by on Jul.27, 2017

General Holiefield, left, UAW vice president, and Alphons Iacobelli, right, former FCA union negotiator.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne spoke out angrily about the scam allegedly hatched by its former labor chief and three others to steal $2.2 million in labor training funds.

Describing the case as a “most egregious breach of trust,” Marchionne said FCA was considering filing a lawsuit aimed at recovering some of that money from former labor chief Al Iacobelli. The 57-year-old Iacobelli was named in a federal indictment handed down Wednesday, along with Jerome Dunden, a one-time financial analyst for the automaker. The scheme also appears to have involved a former executive with the United Auto Workers Union. Now deceased, General Holiefield’s widow was also charged by the government.

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The Journal of Record!

Echoing comments made by UAW President Dennis Williams, Marchionne sent a note to FCA employees on Thursday “expressing my disgust at the conduct alleged in the indictment which constitutes the most egregious breach of trust by the individuals involved.”

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What’s Gone Wrong With Jeep?

Iconic brand’s sales tumble – but is it just a temporary glitch or long-term setback?

by on Jul.27, 2017

A Jeep Cherokee body rolls down the newly renovated line at the Belvidere plant.

It is one of the most iconic automotive brands on the market and, until recently, Jeep could be counted on to deliver sales growth and a steady stream of profits to parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

So, what has gone wrong this year? Jeep volume was down 13% for the first half of the year, with the numbers off 11% in June, and another year-over-year slide expected to be revealed when July numbers are tallied up next week. While FCA reported strong second-quarter profits on Thursday, it took a solid performance by the maker’s other brands, including Maserati, to offset Jeep’s weak numbers.

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Beyond the Headlines!

The question is whether Jeep’s setback is a temporary one or something that could hurt it longer-term. The real test will come in the months ahead, especially once renovation work on the Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio is completed and production of the brand’s next-generation flagship Wrangler model begins.

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Fiat Chrysler Earnings More Than Double During 2Q, Despite U.S. Slowdown

But debt remains worry for analysts, investors.

by on Jul.27, 2017

A slowdown in Jeep sales has been worsened by ongoing shifts in production capacity.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles saw its second-quarter net earnings more than double, to $1.35 billion, with foreign demand and improvements by the Maserati brand offsetting weakened sales in North America.

FCA delivered earnings of $0.81 per share, well ahead of the $0.53 consensus forecast by 28 analysts tracked by MarketWatch. The maker’s profit margins reached a record 6.7% for the quarter, up a full percentage point, and margins climbed to 8.4% in North America, despite the slowdown in demand that has particularly weakened the Jeep brand.

More Then Just Numbers!

“It was a strong quarter,” Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer said in a conference call with analysts and investors. “With the progress we’ve made in the first half of the year, we are confirming our full-year guidance.”

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America’s Love Affair With the Car Hasn’t Ended, Finds New JD Power Study

“Many automakers are getting better at consumers what they want.”

by on Jul.26, 2017

Porsche led the latest APEAL study overall, three models, like the 911 also winning their segments.

It’s become conventional wisdom that Americans have fallen out of love with the automobile and would just as soon click on a smartphone app to call a ride-sharing service as actually own a vehicle.

But that doesn’t seem to pan out when you read the results of the latest APEAL study by J.D. Power and Associates. If anything, a summary of the report suggests “car owners’ love affair with new vehicle is stronger than ever.”

Power to the People!

“Many automakers are getting better and better at giving consumers what they want in a vehicle,” explained Dave Sargent head of global automotive research at Power. That’s especially true in mainstream market segments, he added, as “non-premium vehicles” add more and more of the safety and infotainment technologies traditionally reserved for high-line products.

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Toyota Long-Range EV Could Bring Battery Breakthrough to Market

New solid-state batteries could increase range, radically reduce charging times.

by on Jul.25, 2017

The batteries powering the Prius has been the closest Toyota's been to a pure EV since it retired the RAV4 a few years back.

Long skeptical about lithium-ion technology, Toyota has confirmed it is working on long-range electric vehicles but a new report says the maker could be working on a breakthrough technology that resolves many of the problems associated with today’s batteries.

According to the Chunichi Shimbun daily, Toyota wants to bring to market in 2022 an electric vehicle that would shift to so-called solid-state batteries. That approach has been a Holy Grail for battery researchers because the technology is theoretically capable of both increasing range and reducing charging times, making electric vehicles as easy to use as today’s gasoline-power products.

Insight!

Whether Toyota can commercialize solid-state technology by early in the next decade is far from certain, but it isn’t the only manufacturer working on the concept. Henrik Fisker, founder and CEO of Fisker Automotive, told TheDetroitBureau.com on Monday that his company is also working on solid-state batteries, but cautioned, they are “at least five years out,” or roughly in line with the reported target date for Toyota. (more…)

Former VW Executive To Plead Guilty in Diesel Scam

Oliver Schmidt faced 169 years in prison on 11 felony counts.

by on Jul.25, 2017

Former VW manager Oliver Schmidt is the only official currently in U.S. custody.

Oliver Schmidt, one of nine current and former employees charged in connection with Volkswagen’s diesel emissions cheating scam, has agreed to plead guilty, according to a federal court spokesman in Detroit.

A one-time senior engineer based in Michigan where he ran VW’s U.S. environmental operations, Schmidt was accused of helping to cover up the automaker’s efforts to rig two diesel engines so they would illegally pass emissions tests. Since the ruse was uncovered in late 2015, the German automaker has had to pay out around $30 billion in fines, fees and for a buyback program covering about 500,000 vehicles sold in the U.S.

Clearing the Air!

Schmidt would be the second VW employee to plead guilty to charges related to the diesel scam, 62-year-old James Robert Liang the first to do so last September. Like Liang, Schmidt is expected to get a break by agreeing to aid the ongoing investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. Separate criminal investigations are underway in Germany.

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Fastest-Ever Factory Mustang Coming in 2018

New GT will blast through 60 in under 4 seconds – but still not the fastest Detroit muscle car.

by on Jul.25, 2017

The 2018 Ford Mustang GT is the fastest base V-8 version ever, at under 4-sec 0-60.

The pony car race is heating up, Ford Motor Co. the latest to give its sporty coupe a big performance boost.

Ford says the 2018 Mustang GT will be faster than ever, blasting from 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds, with its big V-8 jumping to 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. The 2018 Ford Mustang will also get a new drag-strip mode to ensure that all its power goes to the pavement when needed.

Performance News!

“Typically, when you shift gears, you give up time,” said Mustang Chief Engineer Carl Widmann. “In Drag Strip mode, the engine torque doesn’t drop when you’re shifting. You get peak engine torque and horsepower straight through thanks to our new Ford-built 10-speed transmission.”

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GM Earnings Tumble on Weakening U.S. Demand, Sale of European Ops

But numbers manage to beat Wall Street expectations.

by on Jul.25, 2017

GM CEO Mary Barra: "discipline" pays off.

General Motors reported second-quarter net income of $2.4 billion, down about 15% year-over-year, reflecting a variety of headwinds, including weakening U.S. sales, as well as the sale of the maker’s European Opel Vauxhall unit to France’s PSA Group.

On a per-share basis, GM came in at $1.60, though that rose to $1.89 by excluding  one-time charges, well ahead of the $1.68 consensus forecast by automotive analysts polled by FactSet. As a result, the maker’s shares began trading up slightly in early morning trading.

Breaking News!

GM’s declining net earnings came as no surprise, especially considering the ongoing slump in U.S. new vehicle demand. It reported an overall 5% decline in June, continuing this year’s overall downward trend. In recent months, the automaker has voluntarily cut back on low-profit fleet sales, but June’s retail numbers were also down 3% for June.

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American Motorists Overwhelmingly Favor Stricter Mileage Rules, Finds New Study

Fuel savings far greater than cost of more efficient technology, says Consumer Federation.

by on Jul.24, 2017

Gas may be cheap, but American motorists are still demanding better fuel economy, says new survey.

Nearly eight of 10 Americans – including 68% of Republicans – favor the strict Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards set to phase in between now and 2025, according to a new study by the Consumer Federation of America.

The non-profit group published the results of its findings as the Trump Administration prepares to reopen a review of the mileage regulations enacted under President Barack Obama. CFA officials also countered auto industry claims that the CAFE rules are too expensive, arguing that motorists would save more than $900 on fuel over a five-year period, or nearly three times more than high-mileage technology would add to the price of the typical vehicle.

News You Can Trust!

During a teleconference, CFA Public Affairs Director Jack Gillis said he believes the odds for a rollback are growing “weaker and weaker,” and warned such a move would likely trigger an intense legal battle.

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