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Ousted Ford CEO Mark Fields May Get Nearly $60m Parting Gift

Payout likely to dwarf initial paycheck for new CEO Jim Hackett.

by on May.26, 2017

Former Ford CEO Mark Fields.

He may have lost one of the top spots in the auto industry, but Mark Fields won’t go away empty-handed.

Ousted Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields will receive a parting gift of as much as $57.5 million, according to a report by the Bloomberg news service, including pay, stock awards, retirement benefits and bonuses. That figure is expected to dwarf what his successor, Jim Hackett will make, at least during his first year at the helm of the second-largest U.S. automaker.

Officially, Fields resigned last Friday, though it was made clear to him that Ford Chairman – and the grandson of founder Henry Ford – Bill Ford Jr. was intent on replacing the 56-year-old company veteran with the 62-year-old Hackett, a former chief executive at Steelcase, the Michigan-based office furniture manufacturer.

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Elevated to CEO in July 2014, Fields saw Ford’s profits hit an all-time record last year. But the maker’s sales and market share have been sliding, and earnings tumbled 38% during the first quarter of 2017, to $1.6 billion. What may have sealed his fate was the sharp decline in the carmaker’s stock price. It dropped 40% since Fields replaced his mentor Alan Mulally nearly three years ago.

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Project 8: “Most Extreme Performance Jaguar Ever”

Only 300 to be produced.

by on May.26, 2017

The Jaguar XE SV Project 8 promises to make somewhere close to 600 hp.

Jaguar is working up what it promises will be the brand’s “most powerful, agile and extreme performance vehicle ever.” It will also be one of the most exclusive, the British maker planning to roll out just 300 copies of the Jaguar XE SV Project 8.

The 591 horsepower sedan is a product of the Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations unit that has been turning out a variety of other limited-edition models from the new technical center it opened in the U.K. last year. Earlier projects included the Range Rover Sport SVR, as well as the Jaguar F-Type Project7.

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“Our clients worldwide were thrilled by the F-TYPE Project 7,” said John Edwards, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations. “The time is right for SVO to produce the most extreme performance road car in the history of Jaguar,” he continued, adding that, “The new XE SV Project 8 takes aerodynamics and performance engineering to another level.”

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20 Years in the Making: the BMW 8-Series is Back

Concept set to become production model in 2018.

by on May.25, 2017

The Concept 8 is expected to translate quite closely into the newly revived BMW 8-Series.

Its been nearly two decades since BMW pulled its flagship coupe from production. Now, we’re getting a good look at the reborn 8-Series.

Set to replace the lower-level 6-Series, which BMW recently said will be dropped, a concept version of the new 8-Series is set to make its sheet metal debut at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este along Italy’s Lake Como over the weekend.

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“The BMW Concept 8 is our take on a full-blooded high-end driving machine,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, head of design for the Bavarian maker.

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Tesla Workers Suffer Injuries “On Regular Basis,” Reveals New Report

Rate of injuries declining, company says.

by on May.25, 2017

The Tesla plant in Fremont originally was built by GM and later run as a GM-Toyota joint venture.

Workers at the Tesla assembly plant in Fremont, California suffered injuries at a 31% higher rate than the auto industry average, according to a new study by the non-profit group Worksafe, and more serious injuries occurred almost twice as often.

The study could complicate Tesla’s challenges at its only plant – which is getting ready to start production of the critical new Model 3 battery-electric vehicle at the same time there is a push by some workers to create a local union.

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For its part, Tesla confirmed it has had problems, though it insists the issue is rapidly being addressed. “We may have had some challenges in the past as we were learning how to become a car company, but what matters is the future and with the changes we’ve made. We now have the lowest injury rate in the industry by far.”

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Ford Continues Management Shake-Up

New CEO names his own top team.

by on May.25, 2017

Raj Nair will shift from running product development to serve as head of Ford's North American operations.

Just days after Ford Motor Co. announced a new chief executive officer, incoming CEO Jim Hackett has revealed a sweeping realignment of his top management team, shuffling over a dozen senior executives into new position, ousting others, and even rehiring one Ford veteran who had quit to take a job heading Uber’s autonomous vehicles program.

Separately, Ford said that Hackett, the former head of furniture maker Steelcase, is now eligible for at least $13.4 million in compensation this year. That includes $1.8 million in salary, $7 million in stock-based compensation and various bonuses.

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“The leadership changes we are announcing today across our global business are important as we foster even greater teamwork, accountability and nimble decision-making,” the 62-year-old Hackett said in a statement released Thursday.

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China’s Geely Buys Controlling Stake in Lotus, Proton

Parent of Volvo plans to revive both struggling operations.

by on May.24, 2017

Lotus hopes the new Evora 400 will help put it back on the map after a series of disasters.

China’s ambitious Zhejiang Geely, already the owner of Volvo Cars, is expanding its automotive portfolio with the acquisition of a controlling share of Britain’s Lotus and Malaysia’s Proton.

The announcement forestalls the bidding war some had forecast for Lotus, the specialty car manufacturer that has run into a devastating series of setbacks in recent years. Proton has had its own challenges, its once dominant share of the Malaysian market collapsing due to cheap import competition.

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Geely is expected to pump significant capital into its two new subsidiaries, much as it has done for Volvo, which it acquired from Ford Motor Co. in 2012. The Swedish brand has gone through a complete makeover since then, winning kudos for new products and experiencing a sharp upturn in sales after a long slump.

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Tesla Back in Consumer Reports’ Good Graces

Models S, X rewarded for return of auto-braking.

by on May.24, 2017

Tesla temporarily disabled auto-braking when it revised its hardware before finish a software upgrade.

After slamming the automaker for some serious concerns over safety, Consumer Reports has upgraded two of Tesla’s battery-electric vehicles.

The non-profit publication slammed both the Tesla Models S and X last month when it discovered the recently updated EVs did not have working automatic emergency braking, or AEB, systems – something that was offered on the older versions of the electric sedan and SUV. Using over-the-air updates, however, Tesla has activated that technology on the newer models.

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“It’s uncommon for a newer vehicle to be less capable than an older vehicle, especially when it comes to safety,” said CR’s director of automotive testing, Jake Fisher.

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Subaru Set to Electrify Core Line-up

Wants EV options for existing models.

by on May.23, 2017

Subaru briefly offered a hybrid version of the Crosstrek. A future version could go all-electric.

Slow off the mark, Subaru is now looking to add electric powertrain options to a wide range of existing models, the automaker’s CEO said during an interview in Japan.

Subaru is ramping up its R&D efforts to record levels this year, with much of that going into new electric powertrain programs. That could prove critical, according to Chief Executive Officer Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, if Subaru hopes to be able to remain a viable competitor in an era of increasingly strict emissions and mileage regulations.

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In particular, Yoshinaga said in an interview with the Bloomberg new service, that could become critical in China, the world’s largest automotive market. Regulators there are pushing an aggressive electrification agenda that could eventually restrict conventionally powered vehicles.

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2018 Dodge Demon to Start at $84,995

Several key accessories to cost $1 each.

by on May.23, 2017

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon with its $1 optional Demon Crate.

Want to unleash your inner Demon? Dodge says it will cost you $84,995.

As it gets closer to launching the newest version of its muscle coupe, the Detroit automaker is revealing more about the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, starting with its price. The $84,995 figure — which is about $20,000 more than a 707-hp Dodge Challenge Hellcat — includes both delivery charges and the $1,700 gas guzzler tax.

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But a closer look reveals that it will “only” get you the 808-horsepower base version of the Demon, which made its splashy debut at last month’s New York International Auto Show. If you want to unleash the full 840-horsepower version, you’ll need to spend another $1 for the “Demon Crate,” which adds some key performance accessories.

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Diesel Fix Could Help FCA Avoid Showdown with Feds

Software would bring emissions into compliance, maker says.

by on May.22, 2017

FCA believes it has a solution to ensure its diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram trucks are compliant with emissions laws.

With federal regulators breathing down its corporate neck, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles says it has come up with a way to make more than 100,000 of its Jeep and Ram diesel models comply with federal emissions laws.

If the proposal is accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board it might avoid a showdown that would see the automaker dragged into court, accused of using an illegal “defeat device” on those vehicles. That’s similar to the accusation leveled against Volkswagen, which ultimately acknowledged rigging both its 2.0- and 3.0-liter engine, used on about 550,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. and more than 11 million sold worldwide.

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For its part, FCA has strongly denied cheating on emissions tests. “We’re trying to do an honest job here. We’re not trying to break the bloody law,” Marchionne told reporters during a media roundtable at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. (more…)