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BMW, Daimler, Ford, VW Team Up on Pan-European Fast-Charge Network

System will “reduce charging times significantly” and simplify long-distance travel.

by on Nov.03, 2017

The Ionity chargers will use a common plug and deliver enough power to slash charging times.

Four of Europe’s largest automakers are teaming up to create a network of fast-charging stations across Europe, a move they believe will play “an essential role” in increasing the appeal of battery-electric vehicles by making long-distance travel quick and easy.

The new venture, Ionity, will open 20 high-power charging stations in Austria, Germany and Norway by the end of this year, spaced out at 75-mile intervals along major roads. The goal is to have about 400 of the Level 3 and 4 chargers in place by 2020.

Electrifying!

“The first pan-European (high-power charging) network plays an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles,” said Ionity CEO Michael Hajesch, adding that a critical goal is “to facilitate long-distance travel” by making it possible to charge up quickly, much as motorists currently can do while driving vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.

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Ford Investing $1b for Self-Driving Company Argo AI

Start-up aims to ensure Ford’s driverless vehicles reach market by 2021.

by on Feb.10, 2017

Ford CEO Mark Fields showing off a LIDAR sensor like the ones on its autonomous prototypes.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $1 billion over the next five years to take a controlling stake in an artificial intelligence start-up in its bid to bring driverless vehicles to market by 2021.

Pittsburgh-based Argo AI was launched only last November by two autonomous vehicle veterans from Google and Uber. Argo will now take over the software side of Ford’s driverless vehicle research program, though the automaker will continue to control the hardware side of that project.

The Last Word!

“As Ford expands to be an auto and a mobility company, we believe that investing in Argo AI will create significant value for our shareholders by strengthening Ford’s leadership in bringing self-driving vehicles to market in the near term and by creating technology that could be licensed to others in the future,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields during a conference call with analysts and reporters.

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Toyota Plugs into Ford’s New SmartDeviceLink

New open-source software will increase access to smartphone apps.

by on Jan.04, 2016

Ford will soon have Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and its own AppLink in its vehicles,

The push for connected cars is making for some strange bedfellows. In its push to let users access more of their smartphone apps directly through their car’s infotainment system, Toyota is turning to Ford Motor Co. for help.

Toyota will become the first maker to use open source software dubbed SmartDeviceLink. It’s essentially the same technology developed by Ford for use in its vehicles under the proprietary name AppLink. Ford wants to bring even more partners onboard, betting that it can set an industry standard that will make it easier for both carmakers and car buyers alike to access smartphone apps like Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio.

Tech Talk!

Ford is planning to offer an updated version of AppLink on its own cars later this year, making it possible to use smartphone navigation software in cars not equipped with a built-in navi system. But Ford is also rolling out Apple CarPlay and the similar Android Auto systems as part of its updated Sync3 infotainment technology.

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Ford Set to Invest $1.8 bil in China R&D

Playing catch-up; will VW problems provide an opportunity?

by on Oct.12, 2015

Ford CEO Fields has steadily expanded the maker's presence in China, including production and R&D.

Ford Motor Co. will invest nearly $2 billion over the next five years on its Chinese R&D operations in a bid to catch up to market leaders Volkswagen AG and General Motors.

A latecomer to what is now the world’s largest automotive market, Ford has rapidly gained ground in recent years as it has expanded both its Chine product portfolio and manufacturing network. Much of its growth has come at the expense of Japanese rivals like Toyota, but the current crisis that has tripped up VW could prove another opportunity for Michigan-based Ford.

Watching the World!

The new R&D effort will include the battery-based vehicles that Chinese regulators are demanding in an effort to deal with that country’s endemic smog problems. At a conference in Shanghai on Monday, Ford CEO Mark Fields said the maker will introduce both a hybrid version of the midsize Mondeo, and a plug-in, the C-Max Energi, in China next year.

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Takata Slapped with Second Class Action Suit

Latest filing in California also names Honda as defendant.

by on Oct.31, 2014

Takata's been hit with a second class action lawsuit and a fourth overall. The latest suit was filed in California.

Even before the dust has settled on the first class action suit against airbag maker Takata, the Japanese supplier has been slapped with a second class action suit. The suit was filed in California.

Hagens Berman, a national class-action law firm, filed suit against Takata as well as Honda Motor Co. alleging the two companies were more interested in their bottom lines than the safety of consumers.

The Automotive Journal of Record!

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claims that Takata may have cut corners to build cheaper airbags, and that Honda may have bought its airbags from Takata to reduce manufacturing costs. The result, according to the complaint, is that instead of saving lives, defective Takata airbags in Honda automobiles are killing and maiming drivers and passengers involved in otherwise minor and survivable accidents. (more…)

Three Chinese Automakers Expect to be Global Players

Industry official predicts exports to emerging markets.

by on Oct.16, 2014

The Geely Gleagle is one of the products that makes Chinese government officials believe three Chinese automakers will be globally influential.

China’s fast-growing automobile industry should be able to create at three strong globally competitive carmakers in the years to come, according to a Chinese government official this week.

Wang Xia, a senior official with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Automotive sub-council, acknowledged during a press conference prior to the opening of the Global Automotive Forum in Wuhan, China, that China’s homegrown auto industry has been rocked over the last several months by a steady loss of marketshare.

The Leader in Global Automotive News!

Up until about two years ago, Chinese brands held about 46% of the domestic sales across China. Since then, the Chinese domestic brands have lost about 10 points of marketshare to foreign brands. The big winners have been European brands as well as General Motors and Ford. (more…)

Automakers Report Robust Results for July Sales

Despite impressive results, makers fall short of predictions.

by on Aug.01, 2014

Ford sales were led, once again, by the F-150, but supported by the Fusion and Escape. The maker reported a 10% increase in July.

U.S. automakers enjoyed a strong sales month in July, but fell short of lofty analyst expectations. Toyota and Ford were the only makers to surpass predictions with increases of 11.6% and 10% respectively.

New car sales got a lift during July thanks to an improving economy, ample financing and the appeal of new products. Several companies posted double-digit sales increases, including Chrysler (20%), Nissan (11.4%), Subaru (27%), Mazda (17.1%), Audi (11.9%), Porsche (12.6%), Mitsubishi (21.4%), Land Rover (15%) and last, but not least, Maserati, which was up 315%.

News You Can Trust!

“Incentive spending in July was above this year’s average, taking transaction prices down about one percent,” said John Krafcik, president of TrueCar. “Other than GM and Nissan, every full-line automaker increased incentive spending over last year. With growing discounts and low-interest financing readily available, it’s a great time to buy a car.” (more…)

Ford Dropping Weight – But Raising Price – of New F-150 Pickup

Prices will jump by as much as $3,615 for 2015 “aluminum-intensive” truck.

by on Jul.28, 2014

Ford is making the 2015 F-150 lighter everywhere, including the owner's bank account. The new model is going to be more expensive than its predecessor.

While Ford’s new “aluminum-intensive” 2015 F-150 pickup will be going on a diet, it’s going to be heavier on the wallet, the new truck’s sticker price jumping by as much as $3,615, depending on the specific model.

But the Detroit maker is hoping that potential buyers still see the 2015 Ford F-150 as a bargain because of the anticipated fuel savings that will come with shaving as much as 732 pounds off the big truck’s mass. On average, the new pickups will come in about 625 pounds under the weight of the steel-bodied 2014 F-150 line.

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Ford is also defending the increase by noting it is adding significantly more content to the 2015 remake of America’s best-selling vehicle. There are new LED accent lamps, larger video screens, and other new features on most of the models. And top-line versions, such as the F-150 Platinum and King Ranch edition, get a level of standard equipment more normally associated with luxury cars than work trucks. (more…)

FBI Raids Home of Former Ford Engineer

Agents seize listening devices, email accounts.

by on Jul.25, 2014

Ford is the latest automaker subject to industrial espionage. FBI agents raided the home of a former employee seizing listening equipment and her email accounts.

Until recently, the biggest concerns U.S. automakers had about industrial espionage came from China counterfeiting their vehicles; however, a recent spate of U.S.-based employees caught using a variety of means to secure information has automakers on high alert.

The most recent incident involves a former Ford engineer, who’s home was recently raided by the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation. The agents also seized her personal email account and removed secret listening devices she planted in various places in Ford’s World Headquarters, according to a Detroit News report.

The Last Word!

A search warrant filed Friday in federal court shows the FBI seized Sharon Leach’s Gmail account, including all emails, drafts, photos, phone numbers, contacts and bank accounts tied to the account. Google provided the information Wednesday, the News reported. (more…)

Ford, GM Take Hits Due to Unrest in Russia, South America

Political unrest causing markets to slow, pinching profitability.

by on Jul.25, 2014

Ford isn't moving as many vehicles in Russia due to economic sanctions levied against the country for its involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.

Political and economic uncertainty in Eastern Europe and South America hit the bottom lines of General Motors and Ford during the second quarter, acknowledged executives the Detroit-area automakers.

The second quarter results from Russia and South America were disappointing but neither company showed any signs of walking away from either market.

The Leader in Global Automotive News!

Even Russia, which is embroiled in a conflict in the Ukraine that has led to the European Union and the United States impose economic sanctions that have slowed the Russian economy, neither company is prepared to walk away from their Russian partners or the substantial investments they have made in the Russian market. (more…)