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Tesla Still in Red, But Loss Narrows

CEO Musk calls solving quality problems "the key thing we have to achieve."

by on May.04, 2016

Tesla CEO Elon Musk in front of an image of the Model X SUV - which has been plagued by quality problems since its launch last year.

Struggling to solve quality problems with its first two models while getting ready to launch the all-new Model 3, Tesla Motors rolled up another deficit for the first quarter of 2016, but the losses narrowed, taking industry analysts by surprise.

The battery-electric automaker said it went $282 million into the red for the first three months of the year, or $2.13 a share. Excluding one-time items and using so-called non-GAAP accounting, the lose shrank to $75 million, or 57 cents a share, which was better than Wall Street had forecast, according to a survey of analysts by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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Finances were all but the secondary topic during a teleconference featuring Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk and other senior executives. Much of the session focused on the upcoming Model 3 launch as well as efforts needed to resolve Tesla’s ongoing quality and reliability issues.

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Takata Ordered to Recall Up to 40 Mil More Airbags

Largest safety recall in history already impacting 24 mil vehicles.

by on May.04, 2016

High school senior Huma Hanif was the 11th person killed as a result of the Takata defect.

The largest safety recall in automotive history is about to get even bigger, federal regulators ordering embattled Japanese supplier Takata to recall as many as 40 million additional airbags linked to a defect already blamed for at least 11 deaths.

The previous recall involved about 24 million vehicles sold in the U.S. over roughly the last decade, with 14 manufacturers impacted. Virtually every other major carmaker will now be pulled into the latest recall.

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“This is the largest recall in American history, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Mark Rosekind told reporters on Wednesday.

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Mercedes Keeps Tops Spot in Luxury Car Sales Battle

Despite slow April, Lexus remains in second over BMW.

by on May.04, 2016

Mercedes continues to remain atop the luxury car sales standings in the U.S. for 2016.

Mercedes-Benz continues to set the pace for luxury car sales in the U.S. after it enjoyed a record-setting April while its primary competitor, BMW, took a substantial hit in what was a white-hot month for auto sales.

In fact, the hit was strong enough to allow Lexus to slide past BMW into second place in on the list by more than 3,500 vehicles year-to-date.

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Mercedes-Benz sold 29,236 vehicles in April, up 0.2% for the month, pushing its total for the year to 105,005 units. Overall, the brand is down for the year by 2.2% to 107,340 vehicles. Not surprisingly, the love of sport-utilities isn’t limited to non-luxury brands.  The GLA and GLC/GLK are up 15.9% and 76.9% respectively for the year. (more…)

French Government Fights to Lower Ghosn’s Renault Compensation

Officials voted against recommended payout; board overrules.

by on May.04, 2016

Renault Chief Carlos Ghosn's compensation is under attack from the French government, which believes it is too generous.

The French Government is taking aim at the compensation package of Renault Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn claiming it is too generous.

The French currently owns 18% of Renault, making it one of the company’s largest shareholders and France intends to maintain pressure on Renault to place some checks on Ghosn’s pay, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told reporters after a meeting of Renault shareholders.

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Shareholders, including the government of France’s Socialist prime minster, Francois Holland, voted against the chief executive’s 7.2 million euro ($8.3 million) payout for 2015. (more…)

Bentley Adding More Models; Likely to Go Electric

"Five models in five years" could equal double the sales.

by on May.04, 2016

With its new SUV, the Bentayga, ready for dealer showrooms, Bentley revealed some of its future product plans, including its EV options.

With the new Bentayga SUV ready to hit showrooms, British maker Bentley is starting to plan its next product offensive, and that not only will bring updates of existing models like the Mulsanne and Continental GT, but as many as two new ultra-premium luxury models.

Facing ever-stricter global emissions and mileage standards – as well as pressure to add new zero-emissions models  – Bentley is also giving serious thought to adding a fully electric drivetrain package. That would be on top of the plug-in hybrid version of the Bentayga set to launch late in 2017 or early 2018, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.

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It wasn’t all that long ago that Bentley was the proverbial one-trick pony. But it has scored huge sales growth in recent years with the addition of the Continental line-up. And with plans to have “five model (lines) in five years,” said Michael Winkler, CEO of Bentley’s U.S. sales arm, the British marque expects to do substantially better. (more…)

Takata May Recall Another 35 Million Airbags

Japanese supplier facing growing pressure to replace most or all of its airbag inflators.

by on May.04, 2016

A new report suggests that Takata may be forced to recall millions more airbags. The company's already recalled 24 million units.

The embattled Japanese supplier Takata may soon order the recall of tens of millions more vehicles due to potentially defective airbag inflators, according to a new report.

The move comes as pressure mounts on Takata to recall all of its airbag systems using ammonium nitrate inflators. A recent study warned that the explosive chemical may grow unstable over time, one of the apparent reasons why hundreds of Takata airbags have misfired, a problem now linked to at least 11 deaths.

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But whether such a move by Takata would satisfy the company’s critics is unclear. Some have called on the supplier to recall nearly 80 million airbag systems. Takata has already recalled more than 24 million cars, making it the largest safety-related recall in automotive history. (more…)

First Drive: 2017 Maserati Levante

Italian maker delivers its first SUV. Compatible combination or an automotive oxymoron?

by on May.03, 2016

The 2017 Maserati Levante starts out with the same underlying platform as the Ghibli sedan.

Say the name, Maserati, and you’re likely to picture a sleek sports car like the Ghibli, perhaps, screaming down the Autostrada. But bouncing along a rutted and rock strewn path that was old by the time the Romans packed it in?

That’s where we’ve found ourselves on a drizzly weekday morning, a couple hours outside of Milan, wandering our way through a course set up to train Italian mercenaries and special forces. Not the sort of place you’d traditionally expect to find a Maserati. Then again, the Levante isn’t your typical Maserati. The 2017 model is the maker’s first sport-utility vehicle. And we had come to Italy to find out if that was a compatible combination or an automotive oxymoron.

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Maserati has been toying around with the idea of adding an SUV to its line-up since 2003, when it showed off the original Kubang concept. The notion went nowhere until 2011, when a new prototype made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. After taking a few unexpected detours, the rechristened Maserati Levante is about to start rolling into showrooms around the world.

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US New Vehicle Sales Soar to Near-Record Levels

Makers still blowing trucks and utes out dealership doors.

by on May.03, 2016

Ford's SUV sales in April were red hot with the Explorer up 22% for the month.

Any concerns about a possible weakening for new vehicle sales this year have been set aside by strong demand for trucks and utility vehicles at near record levels last month.

Hungry buyers helped boost sales and transaction prices in April with Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Audi all posting sales increases for the month. Unsurprisingly, Volkswagen sales continued to slide, but General Motors’ drop overall sales was a surprise.

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Ford reported its sales increased 4% versus a year ago and retail sales also grew 3%, driving the company’s best April retail results since 2006.  (more…)

Car Crashes No. 1 Killer of Teenagers in US

National Safety Council provides suggestions for new drivers.

by on May.03, 2016

The top cause of teenage deaths in the is U.S. is car crashes. A few tips and some rules can help mitigate some of the causes.

It’s a rite of passage for every teenager: getting a driver’s license, or at least for many teens these days.

Part of that ritual is the inevitable lecture from parents about how driving is a big responsibility and that is not to be taken lightly. That sermon comes from a good place, even if most parents don’t fully understand how very important it may be.

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According to a new National Safety Council poll, 76% of parents don’t know that the biggest threat to their child’s safety is that 2,500-pound behemoth sitting in the driveway: car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens in the U.S. (more…)

FCA, Google Could Announce Autonomous Deal Today

First step: self-driving Pacifica minivan.

by on May.03, 2016

Chrysler wants to reposition the Pacifica as more than a minivan; autonomous tech could help.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Google could announce a joint venture as early as today, according to reports out of Milan.

The non-exclusive project would see FCA use the tech firm’s autonomous vehicle technology in several dozen prototypes based off the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan, according to a report by the Bloomberg news service. But several observers caution that a deal might take longer than expected, and note how a reported Ford-Google alliance failed to materialize, as many had expected, last January.

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It would mark the first official alliance for Google, which has said it prefers to find partners to use its autonomous vehicle technology, rather than going into the car business itself. Meanwhile, FCA would suddenly move to the head of the class, rather than lagging at the back of the self-driving pack.

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