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Posts Tagged ‘paul a. eisenstein’

Ferrari Gives In; Marchionne Confirms SUV is Coming

CEO also appears to dismiss sale of Jeep brand.

by on Oct.10, 2017

CEO Sergio Marchionne basically confirmed that a Ferrari sport-utility vehicle is in the works.

Even Ferrari, a brand that has long dominated on track and street with its iconic sports car, can’t seem to resist the rise of the sport-utility vehicle.

Sergio Marchionne, who heads both the Italian automaker and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, appeared to confirm that a ute is on the way for Ferrari as he spoke to reporters at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. The sports car maker had been one of the few remaining holdouts as exotic competitors like Aston Martin and Lamborghini have begun work on SUVs of their own.

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“We’re dead serious about this,” Marchionne said during his comments, taking things a step further than he had gone during an August earnings call when he hinted a Ferrari SUV might “probably happen.” (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Kia Stinger GT

Sometimes it feels good to get stung.

by on Oct.09, 2017

The 2018 Kia Stinger GT features a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 pushing the rear or all four wheels.

It was a formidable line-up baking there in the Mojave Desert sun: an assortment of Audis, BMWs, Lexus (Lexii?) and, perhaps most intimidating of all, a Porsche Panamera. But we hadn’t driven out to the California badlands for a shoot-out among traditional luxury brands. Across the tarmac, poised like the new sheriff in town: a line-up of new Kia Stinger GTs sat waiting to challenge the established order.

Kia? Really? Yep, really. The brand, long known for its no-frills subcompacts, has made some surprising strides in recent years with larger, more lavish offerings like the Optima sedan and Sorrento SUV. It’s even tried its hand in the luxury market with the full-size K900 sedan. Kia has already kicked sand in the faces of some of the industry’s most exclusive brands, handily topping the charts in a series of recent quality and customer satisfaction surveys.

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And if any new model reveals what Kia’s plans for the future might be, it is certainly the new Stinger. First shown in concept form at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the five-door hatchback will be rolling into U.S. showrooms in the coming weeks with only the most modest of changes.

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More Tesla Trouble: Electric Semi-Truck Reveal Again Delayed to Focus on Model 3 Production Snags

Investors largely ignore concerns.

by on Oct.09, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company is diverting resources from its semi truck launch to Model 3 production, which is behind schedule.

Tesla’s troubles continue to mount, even as investors appear to be holding onto a long view of the company, largely ignoring delays that include the slow ramp-up of production of the critical Model 3 sedan.

The California-based battery carmaker is again delaying the much-anticipated unveiling of its first-ever electric semi-truck. The event originally was scheduled for September then pushed back to Oct. 26. It now will take place Nov. 16, said CEO Elon Musk.

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The latest delay comes because Tesla is “diverting resources,” Musk said in a tweet, to resolve problems that have resulted in extremely slow production of the Model 3. The company is still largely having to hand-assemble the electric sedan, according to several reports, pushing it far behind on the ramp-up of a vehicle that is expected to finally bring Tesla into the black after years of substantial losses. (more…)

List Grows as More Automakers Plan to Go Electric

Renault wants hybrids, EVs to generate half its sales by 2022.

by on Oct.06, 2017

Renault now plans to have electric vehicles comprise 50% of its sales by 2022.

French automaker Renault, a pioneer in the drive to electrify, now wants hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles to account for half of its global sales by 2022.

The carmaker is echoing the strategy of its Japanese alliance partner Nissan, which also sees a future increasingly dependent upon electric propulsion systems like the one used in its Leaf model, the world’s best-selling all-electric automobile. More broadly, some of the industry’s largest manufacturers, including General Motors and Volkswagen, as well as smaller and niche players such as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and even Aston Martin, have in recent weeks announced similar plans to shift to electric propulsion.

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“We are confident we can turn upcoming … challenges into significant business opportunities,” said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault, who also serves as chief executive of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. (more…)

Getting Connected: Nissan Latest to Link Up with Voice Assistant

“Alexa, start my car, please.”

by on Oct.05, 2017

Nissan owners can now ask Alexa to perform a variety of tasks, such as locking and unlocking doors.

Want to find your Nissan Murano in a crowded parking lot? Simply ask Alexa to honk its horn and then unlock the SUV.

Alexa is the wildly popular Amazon voice assistant more commonly used to check weather, set an alarm or play music. But with “her” ability to pair up with all sorts of devices linked to the Internet-of-Things, or IoT, Alexa is now finding fans in the auto industry where the race is on to connect cars to the rest of the world.

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Later this month, Alexa users will be able to activate a “skill” pairing the voice assistant to Nissan ConnectServices, allowing them to remotely control a variety of vehicle functions, including unlocking the car’s doors, flashing its lights or honking the horn. Other automakers, including BMW and Ford are going further, integrating Alexa directly into their vehicles allowing motorists, among other things, to order a pizza or a coffee to go. (more…)

Self-Driving Car Bill Clears Last Major Hurdle on Capitol Hill

Full Senate now set to vote on AV START bill.

by on Oct.04, 2017

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan) helped reach the compromise that won approval of the AV START Act.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday unanimously approved the AV START Act, a measure aimed at speeding up the development of both self-driving and fully autonomous vehicles.

The measure, which now goes to the full Senate for approval, is the upper chamber’s version of the SELF DRIVE Act passed by the House of Representatives last month. If, as expected, the Senate gives AV START its blessing, the two chambers will have to reconcile differences between the two bills before the push to promote self-driving vehicles becomes law.

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One key area where House and Senate will need to compromise is on issues related to cybersecurity. To satisfy Senate skeptics, the Commerce committee added language requiring automakers to develop security measures to prevent tomorrow’s smart cars from falling prey to hackers. (more…)

Senate Poised to Clear Roadblocks, Allow Widespread Testing of Self-Driving Vehicles

Critics still hope to derail measure citing fears for public safety.

by on Oct.04, 2017

The new U.S. Senate bill will eliminate a state's ability to establish different autonomous driving rules than the federal government.

A U.S. Senate committee appears to be the last major obstacle in the way of widespread testing of self-driving and even driverless vehicles on public roads.

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the SELF DRIVE Act, a measure intended to streamline the development process for autonomous technology by limiting state and even some federal regulations. Within three years, the measure would allow automakers and others developing self-driving vehicle technology to put as many as 100,000 prototype vehicles on the road annually.

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Proponents say the measure, which must now be approved by the Senate, will greatly reduce highway accidents, injuries and fatalities while also improving the flow of traffic in increasingly crowded urban areas. Critics, however, warn that the proposal will turn the public into “crash dummies.” (more…)

Leaner, Faster, More High-Tech, Ford CEO Hackett Outlines His Vision of the Future

Maker will focus on electric vehicle development.

by on Oct.04, 2017

Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett spent his first 100 days rethinking all aspects of Ford's business.

(Updated)

Ford Motor Co.’s new CEO Jim Hackett emerged from a 100-day review of the company’s challenges, capabilities and strategies late Tuesday afternoon to reveal a series of changes expected to yield billions of dollars in savings for the second-largest U.S. automaker while also driving up sales, revenues and margins by targeting new business opportunities in both the U.S. and overseas markets.

The former head of furniture maker Steelcase, Hackett said Ford has to prepare for the disruptions threatening the auto industry while using them to boost revenues. Joined at Ford headquarters in the Detroit suburbs by four of his top lieutenants, Hackett outlined a series of key goals and changes that will include, among other things a reduction in the number of sedans and conventional passenger cars while shifting capital to the development of more utility vehicles and electrified vehicles.

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Improvements in the product development and manufacturing process, meanwhile, will yield about $10 billion annual savings, said the 62-year-old Hackett. Acknowledging Ford had “fallen short on key targets,” the new CEO promised to deliver profit margins of at least 8%, up from the current 6.1%, a figure he said “simply (is) not good enough.”

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End of the Line: Australia’s Auto Industry All But Shuts Down this Month

Toyota closed Melbourne plant today, with GM to shutter Holden later this month.

by on Oct.03, 2017

The last Toyota built in Australia, at the company's Melbourne plant, is escorted off the line.

Australia’s more than century-old auto industry effectively shuts down this month.

As thousands of workers watched, some with tears in their eyes, the last car rolled off the assembly line at Toyota’s plant in Melbourne on Tuesday. General Motors will wrap up production at its factory Adelaide later this month. Other manufacturers, including Ford, have already pulled out of the country.

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Australia was once a significant manufacturing site for the industry, with products built there being shipped to markets as far away as the U.S. and Europe. But high costs and the government’s decision not to continue costly incentives, led the last automakers in Australia to pull out, a move that a report by the University of Adelaide has predicted will ultimately cost about 200,000 jobs. (more…)

Investors Hammer Tesla as Model 3 Production Hits “Bottlenecks”

Overall 3Q production sets record.

by on Oct.03, 2017

Tesla's CEO Elon Musk reported the company is having some production issues, or bottlenecks, with its new Model 3.

Tesla sales hit an all-time record during the third quarter, but what caught the eye of nervous investors was the severe shortfall in production of the company’s critical new Model 3 battery sedan.

All told, Tesla delivered 26,150 vehicles during the July to September quarter. But that included just 260 of the new Model 3 sedans, well below the 1,500 Tesla had originally forecast due to what the automaker described as “production bottlenecks.”

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Investors responded to the news by driving down Tesla shares by as much as 2% Tuesday morning. It didn’t help that Tesla has gotten yet another poor review from Wall Street. Researchers at Cowen and Co. on Monday warned that Tesla stock is likely to “underperform.” (more…)