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GM Appoints Bolt Boss to New EV Post

Fletcher named Vice President, Global Electric Vehicle Programs

by on Oct.13, 2017

Pam Fletcher, GM's electric vehicle chief, and North American President Alan Batey hold the Motor Trend Car of the Year trophy. for the Chevrolet Bolt.

With the pressure mounting in several corners of the globe to promote the use of electric vehicles on the road, General Motors Co. appointed Pamela Fletcher to the newly created position of Vice President, Global Electric Vehicle Programs.

Fletcher, who has spent a substantial part of her career with GM working on electric vehicles, led the team that launched the Chevrolet Bolt EV and “created the plan to accelerate us along the pathway to our vision of a zero emissions world,” the company noted.

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The Bolt has been considered a technical success and is considered an integral part of the company’s future fleet of autonomous vehicles and GM’s car sharing initiatives. (more…)

Asian Makers Sweep Green Car of the Year Nominations

Honda gets two chances at the title.

by on Oct.12, 2017

Honda's new 2018 Accord is one of the nominees for the Green Car of the Year Award.

The list of nominees for the 2018 Green Car of the Year award, which will be handed out in late November during the Los Angeles Auto Show press preview, is dominated by Asian automakers, including two nominations for Honda.

The 2018 models include the Honda Accord, Honda Clarity, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan Leaf and Toyota Camry, according to Green Car Journal. Noticeably absent from the list? Tesla Model 3.

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The all-new 2018 Accord champions style, efficiency, and performance with three advanced new power plants – two direct-injected and turbocharged 4-cylinder engines and the third generation of Honda’s two-motor hybrid powertrain. (more…)

Commerce Secretary Ross Optimistic about NAFTA Talks

President Trump still pushing to kill deal.

by on Oct.12, 2017

President Donald Trump continues to threaten to walk away from NAFTA, but officials are positive the revised deal can be completed.

While President Donald Trump continues to talk about walking away from the North American Free Trade Agreement if necessary, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he still expects to reach a deal with Mexico and Canada on revising the existing agreement.

“From time to time (the President) has expressed a total willingness to depart from NAFTA should that become necessary,” Ross, whose personal investment portfolio includes controlling interest a major automotive supplier with factories in Mexico told a panel in Washington D.C., according to TheHill.com.

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“We don’t hope it will, we don’t desire that it will, we don’t believe that it will, but it is at least a conceptual possibility as we go forward.” (more…)

Magna Joins BMW-Led Autonomous Car Consortium

Canada-based supplier customizing computer systems.

by on Oct.11, 2017

Magna International's Swamy Kotogiri outlines the parameters of the autonomous vehicle deal with BMW, Intel and Mobileye.

Magna International Inc., one of the world’s largest auto-parts suppliers, is joining the consortium launched by BMW AG, Intel Corp. and Mobileye to develop fully automated driving systems by 2021.

Ontario, Canada-based Magna will help customize computing systems designed by the partners to integrate technology and customize the controller designed by BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye.

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“Many of the autonomy challenges the industry is facing can’t be handled in isolation,” said Magna’s Chief Technology Officer Swamy Kotagiri. (more…)

Gas Prices Fall as Autumn Hits US

Hurricane Nate having no impact on gas prices.

by on Oct.11, 2017

Gas prices continued to fall last week despite Hurricane Nate making landfall.

Even though another hurricane swept across the Gulf of Mexico this past weekend, the average price that consumers pay for gasoline dropped again this week, according to AAA.

AAA reported that motorists are paying on average six cents less for a gallon of gasoline on the week with all states seeing prices at the pump either drop or hold steady.

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The national average is $2.49 per gallon, which is 18 cents cheaper than a month ago just after Hurricane Harvey had slammed in the Texas coast near Houston. The latest Energy Information Administration report shows gasoline demand at 9.2 million barrels daily, down 281,000 barrels per day from the week prior. This rate suggests that retail gas prices are showing steady promise of returning to pre-hurricane rates, AAA said. (more…)

NADA Chief Warns Makers about Unfair Sales Practices

Scarpelli says consumers will lose trust in brands.

by on Oct.10, 2017

NADA Chairman Mark Scarpelli told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit that makers must eliminate gimmicky incentives or risk losing loyal customers.

The National Automobile Dealers Association defeated regulations proposed by the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that its dealers believe made it more difficult for consumers to obtain credit, NADA Chairman Mark Scarpelli told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

The CFPB recently finalized its recommendations that, among other features, requires lenders to make “ability to repay” determinations when extending certain payday, vehicle title and other loans to consumers.

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Although the proposed rule would have covered certain “high cost” vehicle finance contracts, the final rule generally excluded those contracts unless they have a balloon payment feature. A balloon payment is defined as at least one payment that is more than twice as large as any other payment, Scarpelli noted.  (more…)

Mercedes-Benz Implementing its Electrification Plans

German maker still sees diesels in its future.

by on Oct.10, 2017

The Mercedes-Benz Concept EQ A is the luxury brand's move toward an all-electric line-up.

Mercedes-Benz has a broad strategy for integrating electric vehicles into its product line, according to Ola Kaellenius, who is in charge of Group Research at Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz Car Development.

“In the road to emission-free driving we are continuing to pursue a three-lane drive system strategy: we are focusing on highly efficient high-tech combustion engines, systematic hybridization and battery-electric or fuel cell drive,” Kaellenius said.

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He offered up the insight in response to a series of questions prepared by Daimler’s public relations staff in effort to explain the company’s plans, which also include a role for internal combustion engines and diesel in the future. (more…)

General Motors Stock Soaring to Record Highs

Ford stock also on the rise in last two months.

by on Oct.10, 2017

General Motors stock prices has steadily risen in recent months, setting record highs as sales continue to grow.

The value of General Motors is setting new records as its value continues a climb that began last month as the company’s sales rose and the automaker unveiled plans for an aggressive push into electric and automated vehicles.

GM’s stock was given another lift Monday when it climbed 40 cents per share, closing at $45.33, a new high, following two announcements.

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In one of announcements, GM disclosed it had acquired, a high-tech start-up, Strobe Inc., which is based in Southern California for an undisclosed sum. Strobe has developed a unique, lower-cost Lidar system and Lidar is considered a critical element in a system used by automated vehicles.  (more…)

Allure of Russia Drawing New Investment

Automakers betting on Russian rebound.

by on Oct.09, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, listens as Nissan executives discuss plans to add 450 workers to its St. Petersburg plant.

The promise of a modest recovery in the Russian auto market continues to preoccupy car makers in emerging Europe, which are stepping up production and introducing new models to establish a strong position as the market recovers, according to a new analysis from BMI Research.

BMI, a division of the Fitch Group, said in a new analysis that automakers appear to be positioning themselves to capitalize on this with Russia accounting for 16 of the 22 investment projects announced in Emerging European markets – Turkey, Belarus, Czech Republic and Romania – during the third quarter.

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Ukraine, where the western-leaning government has been caught up in continuing strife with Russia, attracted only one relatively small automotive-oriented investment even though it is considered one of the most industrialized countries in Eastern Europe.  (more…)

US, South Korea Agree to Renegotiate Free Trade Agreement

Countries expecting to wrangle over automotive rules.

by on Oct.06, 2017

Negotiations between the U.S. and South Korea on a new free trade agreement will certainly include auto industry talks.

South Korea has agreed to renegotiate a five-year-old trade agreement establishing free trade rules between the two countries and automotive trade is very likely to be at the center of discussions, observers predicted.

The American and South Korean delegations met in Washington for a second round of talks on the deal, known as the KORUS FTA, this week, according to Newsweek magazine.

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“The two sides recognized the need to amend the FTA to enhance mutual benefits of the KORUS FTA,” South Korea’s trade minister, Kim Hyun-chong, who had been one the deal’s lead negotiators, said in a statement issued to media after the discussions. (more…)