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More Worries as Tesla Strains Finances Rushing to Launch Model 3

Stock analysts as analysts issue new warnings.

by on Feb.27, 2017

Investors are growing increasingly worried about Tesla's finances, sending its stock tumbling again.

Tesla shares took another sharp dip on Monday, continuing a decline triggered by the maker’s weak fourth-quarter earnings, and the admission by CEO Elon Musk that the battery-carmaker’s finances were “getting very close to the edge.”

Shares were off 4.2% at the end of Monday trading, to $246.23, as Goldman Sachs became the latest to turn on Tesla, analyst David Tamberrino downgrading the maker’s stock from “neutral” to “sell.” The market turned bearish when, last week, Tesla reported that it lost $121.3 million, or 78 cents a share, during the final quarter of 2016.

Beyond the Headlines!

That might have been taken in a more positive light, considering that was less than half the $320.4 million deficit posted during the fourth quarter of 2015. But Musk struck a cautious note when advising analysts and media during a conference call that the company has been burning through cash at a frantic rate as it prepares to introduce its new Model 3 sedan over the summer. (more…)

EV Makers Compete for “World’s Fastest” Title

Latest EV supercars top 200 mph.

by on Feb.27, 2017

The NextEV NIO EP9 delivers some impressive numbers both with and without a driver.

Battery-carmakers are intent on proving their products aren’t just short-range bricks. A number of new models are offering not only extended range but performance. Serious performance. And they’re laying conflicting claims for being the world’s fastest electric vehicles.

Among those in the hunt for that crown are Maryland-based Genovation Cars and Chinese-owned NextEV, as well as struggling start-up Faraday Future and, of course, Tesla. There’s even a new Croatian battery-carmaker hoping to gain high-speed bragging rights, Rimac Automobili.

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It’s a challenge to sort through all the claims, even when limiting one’s focus to “production” EVs, suggests Andrew Saul, CEO of Genovation Cars. “There is talk and there are results,” he said in a press release pumping the East Coast maker’s new GXE model.

(more…)

Takata to Plead Guilty, Set up Victims’ Fund

Three executives face criminal trial but remain out of reach.

by on Feb.27, 2017

At least 16 people are known to have been killed due to faulty Takata airbags.

Embattled Japanese auto supplier Takata Corp. is expected to formally enter a guilty plea in Detroit federal court on Monday, fulfilling the requirements of a deal with the U.S. Justice Department stemming from the cover-up of a deadly airbag defect.

The settlement will see Takata pay $1 billion to settle the case, including a $25 million fine, while also setting up a $125 million compensation fund for victims and family members. So far, at least 16 people are known to have been killed by the company’s malfunctioning airbags, with over 100 injured.

Breaking News!

The government also indicted three Takata executives for allegedly falsifying test reports in an effort to cover up the airbag problem. Dozens of different automotive brands have been impacted by the defect which has led to the recall of more than 42 million vehicles in the U.S. alone.

(more…)

Mercedes May Enter U.S. Pickup Market, After All

If so, American production is likely, says senior Mercedes exec.

by on Feb.24, 2017

The underlying platform for the X-Class comes from Nissan, everything else is pure Mercedes.

Mercedes-Benz will roll its Concept X truck into the Geneva Motor Show early next month, the prototype for its all-new X-Class pickup.

Developed on a platform provided by alliance partner Nissan, the midsize X-Class was intended for markets in Europe, South Africa, Australia and South America, but Mercedes has, until now, said it had no intention of bringing the new truck to the world’s largest pickup market, the United States. But it appears to be rethinking that decision.

Keep On Truckin'!

“In the past year the (U.S.) mid-sized truck market has come back a bit,” Volker Mornhingweg, head of the Mercedes-Benz Vans division, at a Friday news conference. Pointing to the success of two revived General Motors models, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, Mornhinweg said, “We are watching developments very closely, and we will take a decision at the appropriate time.”

(more…)

Mercedes to Drop New E-Class Convertible, Four AMG Models in Geneva

34 models and a VR look at others to come.

by on Feb.23, 2017

Mercedes plans to unveil 34 new models during the Geneva Motor Show using virtual reality, including this new C-Class cabriolet.

For those who want to look a few years into the future, Mercedes-Benz plans to turn to virtual reality at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. The German automaker says it will use a customized VR system to let media and other show-goers see what it’s planning for the new Mercedes-EQ battery-electric sub-brand.

But there’ll be plenty of sheet metal on the Swiss show stand, as well. In fact, Mercedes will have a tough time squeezing everything into its short news conference in Geneva, as it rolls out an assortment of 34 different concept and production models, ranging from the Concept X-Class to the limited-edition Maybach G650 Landaulet utility vehicle.

Product News!

Also on tap: four all-new AMG models, as well as the latest-generation E-Class Cabriolet. The midsize convertible will line up along the latest-generation sedan, wagon and coupe models to complete the new E-Class line-up. (more…)

Land Rover Velar to Add Coupe-Like Model to Range Rover Line

New premium ute aimed at the likes of BMW X6.

by on Feb.22, 2017

Land Rover wil show off its new coupe-like SUV, the Velar, at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

Land Rover is ramping up its aggressive product proliferation strategy, the British maker set to reveal an all-new coupe-like SUV at the upcoming Geneva Motors Show.

Set to slot in-between the top-line Range Rover and more mainstream Evoque models, the new Range Rover Velar will become the fourth model in Land Rover’s premium line-up. The maker is offering a first teaser image but only a handful of details. It promises to reveal more on March 1st, with the Velar itself set to make its American debut at the New York International Auto Show in April.

Your Auto Show News Source!

“We call the Velar the avant-garde Range Rover,” Land Rover Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern said in a statement accompanying this teaser image. “It brings a new dimension of glamor modernity and elegance to the brand. The Range Rover Velar changes everything.” (more…)

High-Tech Glitches Remain Long-Term Reliability Issue for Automakers, Says New J.D. Power Report

Lexus, Porsche tie for top spot in annual Vehicle Dependability Study.

by on Feb.22, 2017

New vehicle buyers are craving bigger, better and more interactive infotainment systems; however, they have no patience for systems that don't work.

Car buyers may crave infotainment systems and voice-controlled navigation, but they’ve also become frustrated with technologies that don’t work as promised, according to the latest annual Vehicle Dependability Study, or VDS, from J.D. Power and Associates.

Technical glitches now far outweigh traditional mechanical issues such as balky transmissions, rust and wind noise when it comes to the problems that motorists reported after three years of ownership – and with more cars offering such digital technologies, it was a key reason why complaints actually rose last years, according to the 2017 Power VDS.

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“The increase in technology-related problems has two sources,” Power Vice President Renee Stephens, who oversees U.S. automotive research. “Usability problems that customers reported during their first 90 days of ownership are still bothering them three years later in ever-higher numbers. At the same time, the penetration of these features has increased year over year.” (more…)

Honda’s Top American Exec, John Mendel Stepping Down

Jeff Conrad to take his place.

by on Feb.21, 2017

Honda's John Mendel accepted the North American Truck of the Year award this year. Mendel is being replaced by Jeff Conrad.

As part of a series of management changes announced Tuesday, 62-year-old John Mendel will step down as the executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co.’s automotive divisions.

A one-time Ford executive who joined Honda in 2004, Mendel was the highest-ranking U.S. member of the Honda team and given credit for not only delivering a series of record sales for the automaker but also for helping guide it through some potentially serious problems, including the recall of millions of vehicles equipped with faulty Takata airbags.

Best of the Best!

Mendel, well-regarded not only within the company but also by franchised dealers and the automotive media, will be replaced by Jeff Conrad, currently the general manager of the Honda division. In his new role he will, among other things, oversee the high-line Acura division. (more…)

Uber Hires Former US Attorney General Holder for Sex Harassment Investigation

Ride-sharing service facing new boycott threat.

by on Feb.21, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick called for an expedited investigation of sexual harassment charges by a former engineer at the company.

Facing new calls for a boycott in the face of sexual harassment charges, Uber has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an “urgent investigation” of charges leveled against the company by former engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti.

Over the weekend, Rigetti posted a blog, titled “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber,” alleging a climate at Uber that not only discouraged female engineers but showed no interest in pursuing their complaints and concerns through the corporate human resources department.

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The widely reported post came in the wake of a series of other embarrassing setbacks for Uber, including a brief boycott that resulted in thousands of the service’s users deleting their smartphone apps to protest connections between Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and President Donald Trump. New calls for a boycott, using the #DeleteUber hashtag, have emerged since Rigetti’s post began to go viral. (more…)

Tesla Under Scrutiny After Explosive Crash

Investigators question whether fire was result of battery-car design.

by on Feb.20, 2017

Tesla's in the crosshairs again after a Model S exploded in flames after a high-speed collision. The parent of one of the victims blames the car's batteries.

Tesla has come under fire in the wake of an explosive crash in Indianapolis involving a Model S battery-electric vehicle that took the life of a young woman and her boss.

The automaker had previously taken steps to prevent the lithium-ion batteries used in its vehicles from inadvertently catching fire. However, the crash raises questions not only about whether Tesla has gone far enough, but also if Tesla’s battery technology is inherently safe. Lithium-ion chemistry came under close scrutiny last year as a result of fires and meltdowns involving Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

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“Had she been in another vehicle she would have been alive for me to yell at her for driving after drinking,” Jon Speckman, the father of Casey Speckman, said during an interview with the Indianapolis Star. (more…)