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Porsche’s Mission E Compounds Problems for Tesla, Could Cripple Model S

California EV maker facing margin crunch as it struggles to claw into the black.

by on Sep.25, 2017

Tesla's Model S is facing pricing issues, in part, due to increased competition, like the upcoming Porsche Mission E.

For Tesla, the good news is that there are more than enough buyers standing in line for the new Model 3 than the California carmaker can handle through at least early 2019. The bad news is that demand has been sliding for the older Models S and X, forcing Tesla to slash prices by as much as $30,000.

And the challenge could soon get even tougher – for both Tesla’s high-line and lower-end products – as a flood of new competitors enter the market.

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That includes the Porsche Mission E, the German maker’s eagerly awaited first battery-electric vehicle. Set to go on sale in 2019, the German automaker’s CEO this month said that it will enter the market with a base price of “an entry-level Panamera,” or somewhere just south of $90,000. That would position it right on top of the base Tesla Model S. (more…)

When it Comes to Jobs, Automakers Give – and Take Away

Industry announces plans for 12,000 jobs long-term, but cutbacks costing thousands now.

by on Sep.25, 2017

Mercedes is one of the automakers getting set to expand U.S. operations and create new jobs.

If you’re looking for a job at an auto assembly plant, hang tight, there will be thousands of new openings over the next several years. But for now, you might want to look elsewhere.

The auto industry was one of the sparks that helped set fire to the U.S. economy after the Great Recession, and since just the beginning of the year, manufacturers ranging BMW to Volvo have announced plans to add at least 12,000 new jobs as they add new U.S. assembly plants or expand existing ones.

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Lexus LS: Struggling for Relevance in a Rapidly Changing Market

Retaining an “upstart” mindset critical in an increasingly uncertain industry.

by on Sep.22, 2017

The 2018 Lexus LS 500 features bold new exterior styling, which has been the focus of the company's higher ups.

From automotive upstart to part of the industry’s elite — there’ve been a lot of changes since Lexus made its debut nearly three decades ago. Now, there are new players trying to shake up the established order and its Toyota’s luxury brand that’s on the defensive.

Nothing symbolizes the challenges the Japanese marque faces like the 2018 LS, the fifth-generation remake of its flagship sedan. Since Lexus made its debut in 1989, the LS has symbolized everything the brand stands for: affordable, elegant, high-tech – and green, the full-size sedan becoming the first in its segment offered with a hybrid drivetrain option.

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But at a time when SUVs, rather than sedans, have come to dominate the sales charts, is the LS still relevant? And is Lexus, more broadly, keeping pace with the changes reshaping the auto industry, including the race to electrify that has seen major manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz announce plans to offer battery-based options for every single product they build? (more…)

Jaguar Busting Stereotypes to Build Sales

Three SUVs, with more likely. Now add batteries.

by on Sep.21, 2017

Design Director Ian Callum gives the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace its U.S. preview.

Say the name, Jaguar, and you’re likely to picture a sleek sports car like the F-Type or a sexy sports sedan, like the big XJ. But reality for the British automaker is starting to look quite different.

Sure, it’s getting ready to roll out the $187,500 XE SV Project 8, at 592 horsepower the most powerful street-legal model it has ever produced. But when it comes to moving the sales needle, you need to look in the other direction, starting with the F-Pace, the British maker’s first sport-utility vehicle. After a long, downward spiral it almost single-handedly transformed Jaguar into the world’s fastest-growing automotive brand in 2016.

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Now, Jaguar is hoping to pull off a similar feat with the launch of its second utility vehicle, the smaller E-Pace, which it rolled out for a sedate U.S. debut on Thursday after a much more spectacular unveiling in London two months ago. A third ute, the I-Pace, will feature a pure battery-electric drivetrain, will come to market late next year.

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Volvo Downsizes With Debut of new XC40

New “Care by Volvo” program could redefine car buying, ownership, maker claims.

by on Sep.21, 2017

Volvo continues to expand its offerings with the new XC40 utility vehicle.

Volvo is rapidly fleshing out its showrooms, and with the launch of the new XC40 sport-utility vehicle it is taking aim at one of the world’s fastest-growing market segments.

The new crossover follows in the tire tracks of the well-received XC90 and XC60 models and marks the debut of an all-new Compact Modular Architecture, or CMA platform, that will be used for a range of additional, downsized products to come over the next several years. It also helps Volvo introduce the new “Care by Volvo” program that, the maker claims, could help redefine the car buying and ownership experience.

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“The XC40 is our first entry in the small SUV segment, broadening the appeal of the Volvo brand and moving it in a new direction,” said Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson during a preview of the new model in Milan on Thursday. (more…)

A Year Before it Opens, Volvo Set to Double Size of New Charleston Plant

Will start with S60; second model to be announced "soon."

by on Sep.20, 2017

The new Volvo XC60 is anchoring parent Geely's ambitious global expansion plans.

The first car isn’t scheduled to roll down the assembly line at Volvo’s new Charleston, South Carolina assembly plant for another year, but the automaker already appears to be optimistic enough to plan for a second, $1 billion line.

The plant will become Volvo’s first assembly plant in the U.S., and will combine its capacity with two new facilities that have already opened in China. The Charleston facility originally was designed with just one line, and was expected to produce about 140,000 vehicles annually – relatively small by modern automotive standards. Sources indicate that will be boosted to more than 200,000 with the addition of a second line.

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“The factory is extremely important for Volvo,” Lex Kerssemakers, the CEO of Volvo North America, told TheDetroitBureau.com during an interview last month. Among other things, he said, when the original investment was announced “it sent a signal” to both consumers and dealers that Volvo was making a serious commitment to the U.S. market.

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Delphi, BlackBerry Partner on Self-Driving Car Tech

Once-time GM parts subsidiary hopes to have driverless tech in production by 2021.

by on Sep.20, 2017

Delphi has already teamed with BMW, Mobileye and Intel to develop an autonomous prototype.

Detroit-based mega-supplier Delphi is teaming up with BlackBerry Ltd., the Canadian company best known for its once-ubiquitous smartphones, to develop the underlying software needed to put autonomous and driverless vehicles on the road.

Once the auto parts unit of General Motors, Delphi has been rapidly shifting away from traditional, mechanical parts to focus on high-tech automotive systems. It already has developed a self-driving system called CSLP that could put it in direct competition with the likes of Google spinoff Waymo.

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But at a briefing at its suburban Detroit headquarters Wednesday, Glen De Vos, Delphi’s Chief Technical Officer said that the “incredibly complex” technology needed for tomorrow’s cars makes it difficult “to do this alone. We need partners.” (more…)

Ford Planning Temp Shutdowns at Five N.American Plants

Move reflects worsening U.S. new car market.

by on Sep.20, 2017

Lincoln dealers have 162 days worth of Continentals on lots, over twice the industry norm.

Ford Motor Co. plans to temporarily idle five North American assembly lines to cope with slowing sales and mounting inventories.

The closures are the latest in an expanding series of production adjustments the auto industry – primarily Detroit’s Big Three – has made since the beginning of 2017, the first year since the end of the Great Recession to suffer an auto sales downturn.

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Tens of thousands of U.S. workers have so far been impacted, some facing long-term layoffs, others idled for just a week or two at a time. Ford said the factories covered by its latest move employ over 15,000 hourly workers, though it did not offer a breakout indicating how many actually will be idled.

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Toyota Set to Reveal Electrification Strategy at 2018 Detroit Auto Show

Hybrids expected to remain key, even with new EVs in the works.

by on Sep.19, 2017

Akio Toyoda at the launch of the Toyota Prius V.

Toyota, the automaker credited with creating the world’s first mainstream gas-electric hybrid, plans to reveal its corporate electrification strategy at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next January, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.

Though it set in motion the push to battery power with the 1997 debut of the original Prius hybrid, Toyota has been slow to embrace more advanced forms of electrification, with only one plug-in model, the Prius Prime, currently in its line-up. But with governments around the world tightening emissions and mileage mandates – and even considering outright bans on the internal combustion engine, Toyota is expected to outline plans to add dozens of new hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric, or BEV, models to its line-up over the next decade.

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But don’t expect to see the Japanese giant abandon the time-tested internal combustion engine, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda cautioned during a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday. “EVs are in focus at the moment,” he said, “but customers and the market will ultimately decide which powertrains will be successful.”

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Toyota Turns Up the Heat With New GR Line of Performance Models

Gazoo Racing takes on seven models, including Prius Prime plug-in.

by on Sep.19, 2017

Toyota unveils the new GR performance line-up.

Hoping to pump a little more “passion” into the brand, Toyota is pushing for more extreme designs and, now, adding a series of new performance models.

The Japanese automaker’s Gazoo Racing unit is starting out with seven models in its new GR series, with even the Prius Prime plug-in getting a performance boost. But one model was notably absent during a Tokyo debut: the reborn Toyota Supra that is expected to make its return debut during next month’s Tokyo Motor Show.

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The debut of the new line-up comes as President Akio Toyoda continues his push to improve the “passion” quotient for both the Toyota and Lexus brands, the luxury division recently adding the new LC500 sports coupe to its line-up while also adopting a much more aggressive design for the flagship LS sedan. The Toyota brand recently adopted a much more sporty look for its top-selling Camry model.

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