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GM Q2 Earnings More Than Double Even as Sales Slip

Globe’s 3rd-largest automaker ups full-year forecast.

by on Jul.21, 2016

GM has been rushing out an assortment of new models, including a remake of the Chevy Malibu.

General Motors saw its second-quarter profit more than double, reaching a record $2.87 billion, the maker announced on Thursday, handily beating Wall Street expectations.

The surge came despite the fact that GM has seen sales slip in recent months – even while the overall U.S. car market continues to grow. The results appear to validate the strategy of trimming back on lower-profit rental and other fleet sales in favor of growing the retail side of the sales ledger.

Breaking News!

“This was an outstanding quarter for GM,” said Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Our results were generated by strong retail sales in the U.S., record sales in China and a continued emphasis on improving the performance of our operations worldwide. We’ll continue to focus on driving profitable growth and leveraging our technical expertise to lead in the future of personal mobility.”

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China Shuts Down Autonomous Testing on Highways

Government finalizing rules for testing self-driving vehicles.

by on Jul.20, 2016

No Teslas will be running on Autopilot in China as the government has just issued a moratorium on on-highway testing.

The Chinese government has seen enough and the only autonomous vehicle testing activity it’s going to allow for now near the public is self-parking.

Officials warned automakers that there should be no on-road testing of self-driving vehicles until the rules for those exercises are finalized. Currently, the Ministry of Information Technology and police have an early draft of potential regulations, but nothing has been finalized, said She Weizhen, head of the ministry’s auto department, recently. There is no deadline set for when those rules should be ready, according to Bloomberg News.

We'll Keep You Charged Up!

China’s move comes as the U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced plans to release new guidelines for the ongoing development of self-driving vehicles later this summer. Read the rest of this entry »

Automakers Can’t Sacrifice Safety in Rush to Autonomous Driving, Warns Transportation Sec. Foxx

“People who start a trip” should “finish it.”

by on Jul.20, 2016

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said safety must be the top concern when it comes to the development of autonomous vehicles.

Safety, rather than the rush to be first to market, must be fundamental to the development of autonomous vehicle technology, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The government will move ahead with plans to release new guidelines covering the development of self-driving vehicles later this summer, Foxx said during a speech in San Francisco. But regulators are clearly keeping in mind the series of collisions that have involved Google autonomous vehicle prototypes and the May 9 fatal crash of a Tesla Model S being driven in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode.

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“We want people who start a trip to finish it,” Foxx said. And while “Autonomous doesn’t mean perfect,” he cautioned that, “We need industry to take the safety aspects of this very seriously.” Read the rest of this entry »

VW Delivers Profitable Surprise

Earnings “significantly higher” despite diesel scandal.

by on Jul.20, 2016

Regaining momentum: VW delivers a strong, first-half profit despite the costs of its diesel scandal.

Volkswagen AG beat its earnings forecast for the first half of 2016, delivering “significantly higher” profits even while setting aside another 2.2 billion euros, or $2.4 billion, to cover the growing cost of its diesel emissions scandal.

The news comes a day after New York and two other states filed suit against the embattled German maker, claiming senior executives had helped cover up the diesel emissions subterfuge. Last month, VW agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement covering its 2.0-liter diesel, a deal that includes $10 billion to buy back nearly 500,000 vehicles.  Most of the funds VW has so far committed to settle what it calls the “diesel issue” came out of 2015 earnings, however.

By the Numbers!

For the first half of 2016, VW said it had an operating profit of 7.5 billion euros, or $8.25 billion. That would drop to 5.3 billion euros after factoring in the latest charges for the emissions scandal, money largely related to legal costs in North America.

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GM’s Legal Problems Continue to Grow

Automaker likely to be center of Presidential campaign this fall.

by on Jul.20, 2016

Donald Trump's selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is likely to keep GM as well as Fiat Chrysler in the news. Pence was a critic of the auto baillout.

If you listen to General Motors executives, the company’s 2009 bankruptcy is an event from the company’s distant history. For GM’s lawyers, however, the bankruptcy and its aftermath is still very much alive.

Many of the creditors have never given up trying to recover the money they say is owed to them by what has come to be known as “Old GM,” and the trust that has liquidated assets, primarily real estate that the company abandoned, during its short trip through bankruptcy court back seven years ago.

News Now!

Earlier this week, the dissatisfied creditors won the right from bankruptcy judge in Manhattan to pursue a $1.5 billion claim, stemming from the bankruptcy. Read the rest of this entry »

Ford Takes Shot with Jose Cuervo

Maker using bioplastic byproduct to make components.

by on Jul.20, 2016

Partnering with tequila maker Jose Cuervo, Ford takes what's left of these agave plants and turns them in to bioplastic-based components.

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila … Ford?

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker is teaming with Jose Cuervo to develop a new bioplastic that will be used for a variety of applications in new cars, saving the maker money and weight and lowering energy consumption.

The Journal of Record!

The byproduct of the agave plants harvested to make tequila will be used in vehicle interior and exterior components, such as wiring harnesses, HVAC units and storage bins. Initial assessments suggest the material holds great promise due to its durability and aesthetic qualities. Read the rest of this entry »

Land Rover Jumps In to Help Capture America’s Cup

Maker helping British team’s effort to win sailing’s biggest prize.

by on Jul.19, 2016

A Land Rover team of engineers is helping the Land Rover BAR team make its America's Cup entry faster.

America’s Cup is the pinnacle of sailing competitiveness. Teams spend upwards of $100 million just to sniff success and rumor has it Oracle Team USA owner Larry Ellison blew past that by nearly double when his team won it in 2013.

However, in an attempt to bring the Cup to Great Britain for the first time ever, one team is looking not to outspend its opponents, but to outthink them. The Land Rover BAR team is using the brains from one of its sponsors – Land Rover – to build a faster boat … faster because it’s smarter.

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The team borrowed a group of Land Rover engineers for more than a year so they could use artificial intelligence to find patterns in the boat’s performance data, which could be used to make it go faster. Read the rest of this entry »

BMW Delaying Launch of 2017 U.S. Diesels

Latest maker hit by fallout from VW diesel emissions cheating scandal.

by on Jul.19, 2016

BMW will delay the launch of its variously diesel models in the U.S. due to added testing.

Even as Volkswagen continues to face new problems related to its cheating on diesel emissions testing, other automakers are facing collateral damage.

The latest to be hit is BMW, the automaker confirming that it will delay the launch of its 2017 diesel models because U.S. regulators want to be sure they comply with federal emissions standards.

Breaking News!

While the maker said there has been “no indication” that its oil burners don’t meet federal rules, the testing process has been delayed, according to various media sources, which will mean that models such as the 2017 BMW 328d sedan and xDrive35d won’t reach showrooms at the same time as the rest of the ’17 line-up.

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Traffic Deaths Highest in Lenient States

Study shows lax states suffer with highest fatality rates.

by on Jul.19, 2016

A new study shows that there is a correlation between lenient driving laws and a high rate of driving deaths.

America’s in the midst of the 100 most dangerous days of the year for teenager drivers across the country, and a new study shows that lax driving laws directly correlate to increased traffic fatalities.

Conducted by the Auto Insurance Center, this new study shows that states with least restrictive laws related to teen driving, speed limits and other areas have the highest incident rates.

Safety News!

For teenagers, Wyoming reported the highest rate of deaths for teen drivers and the state has only mild restrictions on teen drivers. However, the next two states on the list, Montana and North Dakota, have some of the least restrictive rules for teen drivers, granting them full privileges at age 16. Read the rest of this entry »

New Legal Problems for VW, as NY, Other States File Suit

Three states bring new civil lawsuits over diesel emissions cheating.

by on Jul.19, 2016

The NY lawsuit claims that former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn helped cover-up the diesel cheating.

Less than a month after federal and California regulators announced a $14.7 billion settlement with Volkswagen A, New York and two other states have filed their own civil lawsuits charging the maker with covering up the fact that it had cheated on diesel emissions tests.

The new lawsuits could add hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs to the various settlements VW has been trying to work out. And it could make it all the more difficult for the automaker to put the embarrassing issue behind itself.

Clearing the Air!

The three states contend that VW managers, including former CEO Martin Winterkorn, knowingly covered up evidence of the subterfuge. The maker last September acknowledged it had installed a so-called “defeat device” designed to illegally pass emissions tests with its 2.0-liter diesel engine. It subsequently admitted rigging a 3.0-liter turbodiesel, as well.

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