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Carlos Ghosn Formally Indicted – Could Face 10-Year Sentence

Former Nissan chairman accused of concealing income.

by on Dec.10, 2018

Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn was still running the show when he appeared at a news conference at the Paris Motor Show in October.

Things went from bad to worse for the long-time head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance on Monday, prosecutors in Tokyo formally charging Carlos Ghosn with financial misconduct in a scandal that has rocked the global automotive industry.

Ghosn, along with Nissan board member Greg Kelly, were arrested on November 19th after their corporate jet touched down in the Japanese capital and immediately taken to the Tokyo Detention Centre where they have been held in solitary ever since. Ghosn, in particular, has not been accused of hiding about half of his $88 million income during a five year period beginning in 2010. He may face additional charges related to more recent years, according to Japanese media reports.

Breaking News!

If found guilty, the executive who was given credit for saving a nearly bankrupt Nissan in 1999 could face up to 10 years in prison, a 10 million yen, or $89,000, fine, or both. Nissan, however, could also face potential penalties as high as 700 million yen, or $6.2 million, for failing to catch the alleged scheme.

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Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign Going Into Production and it Won’t Be Cheap

You have to pay for all that gold.

by on Dec.07, 2018

Nissan is celebrating 50 years of the GT-R with a special edition model: the GT-R50.

Nissan has traditionally billed the GT-R as an “affordable supercar,” the price tag for a 2019 model starting at $99,990. But if you’re interested in the special edition 50th anniversary model that the Japanese automaker has now confirmed for production, beware that you’ll have to add another zero at the end of that sticker price.

First revealed last June in concept form, the Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign will move right up there with some of the more expensive supercars on the market at a price tag starting 990,000 euros, the automaker says – a figure that, at current exchange rates works out to a cool $1,129,498.92.

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“The car’s exterior is virtually unchanged from the prototype first shown in July at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England,” notes a company release detailing its collaboration with Turin, Italy-based Italdesign. (more…)

Ousted Nissan Chairman Ghosn Expected to Be Indicted Monday

Japanese reports anticipate charges for financial misconduct.

by on Dec.07, 2018

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn is expected to be indicted next week by Japanese prosecutors.

After languishing in the Tokyo Detention Centre for nearly three weeks, facing regular grilling by Japanese prosecutors, ousted Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn is expected to be formally indicted on Monday, the Nikkei business daily is reporting.

Ghosn and Nissan board member Greg Kelly were arrested nearly three weeks ago as they flew into Japan, authorities responding to a report by the second-largest Japanese automaker that alleged the pair engaged in financial misconduct. Ghosn, in particular, allegedly failed to report millions of dollars in income while also misappropriating Nissan funds, among other things, to purchase homes in Rio de Janeiro and Beirut. He is Lebanese by heritage but grew up in Brazil.

Global News!

The Nov. 19 arrests, which marked the downfall of one of the industry’s most powerful executives, have stunned the automotive community. They have also generated a number of questions about why Ghosn was taken into custody and put in the position of possibly serving a decade in prison, rather than simply facing civil penalties. Some observers have suggested he may be an unwitting pawn in a battle for control between Nissan and the French automaker Renault which rescued the then-failing Japanese automaker in 1999. (more…)

FCA Set to Open New SUV Plant in Detroit

Move would come as GM prepares to idle three plants.

by on Dec.06, 2018

The converted engine plant will produce a three-row version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to open a new assembly plant in Detroit to expand its capacity to produce hot-selling sport-utility vehicles, according to several reports.

The automaker has yet to confirm that it will completely retool an old engine plant on Detroit’s east side, but company officials have, in recent months, indicated that they are strained to the limits of capacity at their existing light truck plants.

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The news comes at an awkward time for FCA’s largest domestic rival, General Motors. GM’s CEO Mary Barra on Thursday spent a second day in Washington trying to minimize criticism of the automaker’s plan to close three assembly plants building slow-selling passenger car models like the Chevrolet Cruze. That would leave what has long been known as the Motor City with only one working assembly plant within its borders, at least unless and until the new FCA truck plant were to come online.

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GM CEO’s “Open Mind” May Not Save Any of Five Plants Slated to Close

“We do have an overcapacity problem,” says Barra, after Capitol Hill meetings.

by on Dec.06, 2018

GM CEO Mary Barra has been meeting with members of Congress, explaining why five plants are being closed.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra told members of Congress she will keep an “open mind” when it comes to plans to close five plants next year, including assembly plants in Michigan, Ohio and Ontario, Canada.

The closures were announced late last month, along with plans to trim about 15% of the automaker’s white-collar workforce, as it addresses a variety of problems, including the ongoing shift from passenger cars to light trucks. But Barra also stressed that the automaker faces “limitations” on what it can do because “we do have an overcapacity (issue) across the country.”

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The one-time “shop rat,” who began working at GM as a co-op student said she told Congressional representatives from Ohio and Maryland on Wednesday that “These were difficult decisions – decisions I take very personally,” while adding in a statement that GM wants to “minimize the impact on the (affected) communities” by, among other things, offering workers a chance to switch to other GM plants, where possible or by offering outplacement services. (more…)

European Auto Execs Meet with Trump, Aim to Head Off Expanded Trade War

VW signals a second U.S. plant is in the works.

by on Dec.05, 2018

President Donald Trump met with the leaders of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen.

Even as President Donald Trump was backpeddling on earlier comments suggesting the trade dispute with China had been defused, the former New York businessman was meeting with European auto industry executives worried that they could become targeted by yet another front in the trade war.

The president has signaled he may enact duties of 25% or more on vehicles imported from Europe, even though his own Commerce Dept. has backed away from plans to declare imported automobiles a threat to national security.

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Trump “shared his vision of all automakers producing in the United States and creating a more friendly business environment,” the White House said in a statement that followed the meeting with officials from BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen. (more…)

Trump, White House Backtrack on Claims of China Car Tariff Deal

“White House officials are contorting themselves into pretzels” to not say the president lied.

by on Dec.04, 2018

President Trump is revealing that China's plan to cut tariffs wasn't actually plan, but a starting point for negotiations.

Just days after President Donald Trump emerged from a 2-1/2 hour dinner with China’s Xi Jinping claiming to have an “incredible” trade deal that would, among other things, roll back automotive tariffs, it appears that little to nothing concrete was resolved between the two leaders.

That leaves the auto industry in limbo as manufacturers on both sides of the Pacific try to figure out precisely what to do now, especially when it comes to bilateral automotive exports. Several manufacturers, notably including BMW and Volvo, have been hinting that if the trade war continues they may have to transfer some of their U.S.-based production to plants in China.

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Following the meeting with Xi at the end of the G-20 conference in Argentina last Sunday, Trump tweeted, “China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%.” But he and others in the White House have been forced to backtrack, Trump’s National Economic Council advisor Larry Kudlow telling Fox News a deal “hasn’t been signed and sealed and delivered yet.” (more…)

Chevy Rolls Out New Silverado HD

Third new Silverado in 18 months.

by on Dec.04, 2018

The 2020 Chevy Silverado HD borrow plenty of exterior styling cues from the Silverado 1500, but enhances them for a tougher look.

Chevrolet continues to expand pickup buyer options with the debut of the all-new, 2020 Silverado HD, the third version of the bowtie brand’s truck to launch during the last 18 months.

The big trucks shares many of the now-familiar design cues first seen on the light-duty Silverado 1500, but adopts a more rugged look, with a massive front grille that presents an imposing presence, especially when viewed in one’s rearview mirror.

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“We know the needs and priorities of heavy-duty customers are different than those of either light-duty or medium-duty customers,” said Jaclyn McQuaid, the Silverado HD’s chief engineer. (more…)

Trump Claims China Will Cut Tariffs on U.S.-Made Cars

A possible truce in trade war?

by on Dec.03, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping is temporarily reducing the tariff on U.S.-built vehicles coming into China.

Following a 2-1/2 hour meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, President Donald Trump said the two had agreed to a truce in the U.S.-Chinese trade war, the Asian leader agreeing to drop tariffs on American-made vehicles.

That would be part of a 90-day cease-fire that could lead to a rollback of broader tariffs that have been implemented in recent months, and a halt to the $200 billion in additional duties Trump had threatened to place on Chinese-made goods at the beginning of the new year.

Trade News!

“China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%,” Trump announced in a Sunday night tweet. But it was unclear if his social media comments were completely accurate given his history of misstatements and the fact that the official White House news feed differed with the president on some key elements of the trade talks with China during the weekend. (more…)

10 Best of the LA Auto Show

Cars, trucks, crossover and concepts worth a second look.

by on Dec.03, 2018

The long-awaited Jeep Gladiator pickup made for one of the splashiest debuts at the LA Auto Show.

We’ve been to some dud auto shows over the last year. The Paris Motor Show, which kicked off the 2019 model-year, couldn’t even fill up a half day on the media calendar, and the Detroit Auto Show didn’t stretch much further. But this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show delivered some sweet surprises with its mix of cars, trucks, crossovers and concepts.

As we’ve come to expect from the Tinseltown extravaganza, there were plenty of green machines making their first appearance at the Los Angeles Convention Center, but these weren’t the sort of slow and stodgy sedans and quirky hatchbacks of years past, covering a broad swath of territory including electrified SUVs, pickups and sports cars. And there were plenty of promising products that fell into more conventional categories.

Auto Show News!

Here’s an alphabetical look at 10 of our favorite debuts at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show:

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