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Apple Brings Back Product Guru to Run Project Titan

Move suggest computer giant is producing a vehicle, not just software.

by on Jul.29, 2016

Apple appears to be readying to bring a car to the market with the recent rehiring of product guru Bob Mansfield.

Reports from Silicon Valley indicate that Apple brought back a trusted senior executive who helped bring to market many of the company’s signature products to oversee its efforts to build automotive program.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive officer, said last winter that Apple was preparing to enter the car business.

The Journal of Record!

But true to its corporate culture, Apple has remained highly secretive about its intentions and its project unlike its Silicon Valley neighbors Google and particularly Tesla and its founder Elon Musk, who seems to speak almost every day about new developments. (more…)

New Vehicle Sales Expected to be Flat in July

Many analysts believe sales run peaked last year.

by on Jul.29, 2016

New car sales are expected to flatten out in July, but makers are still tracking for a record year.

New vehicle sales are expected to drop 1% year-over-year to a total of 1.5 million units in July 2016, resulting in an estimated 17.5 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, according to Kelley Blue Book.

The estimate is in line with a growing consensus that sales of new vehicles peaked during the summer and fall of 2015 and the growth of sales has flattened out in recent months. However, the competition for those sales has intensified as the recent furor General Motors use of incentive “increases” revealed.

Auto Insider!

Chuck Stevens, GM’s chief financial officer, said the discounts GM offered over the Fourth of July was a “tactic” and not a signal that GM was preparing to make broader use of incentives. (more…)

Wyoming Most Expensive State to Own a Vehicle

Hawaii is the least expensive place to own a car.

by on Jul.28, 2016

Wyoming is the most expensive state in which to own a car, largely due to the fact it has the highest average gas price.

So often, car buyers are shopping for a payment. However, they often forget that the monthly outlay for a vehicle is so much more than paying on the note: insurance, gas, maintenance all add up in a hurry, and where you live can double some of those numbers, according to a new study.

The most expensive place and the cheapest place to own a car are pretty surprising: Wyoming and Hawaii. Wyoming topped’s list of priciest places to own a vehicle. Why so high? It has the highest average gas cost and to go anywhere in Wyoming requires quite a bit more driving than other states.

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Residents of the Equality State spend more time behind the wheel and pay more for gas and maintenance, the website noted. In determining what places were the most and least expensive, it factored in five expenses: gas, insurance, maintenance, registration and sales tax over a five-year period. (more…)

Mercedes Eyeing Market for Electric Vans, Trucks

Mercedes looking to compete with Tesla, Ford and others in segment.

by on Jul.28, 2016

Mercedes expects its next generation Sprinter to be capable of adopting a battery-electric powerplant and autonomous driving features.

The next generation vans from Mercedes-Benz will be capable of supporting both battery electric propulsion and autonomous driving features in the future into a competitive landscape where electrification is destined to play a larger role.

Mercedes isn’t alone in its plans to move into the electric van and truck segment. Tesla CEO Elon Musk surprised some analysts earlier this month when he announced that the electric-vehicle company he founded is now looking to enter the truck market with a battery-powered vehicle.

Keep on Truckin'!

Ulf Zillig, head of project VS30, which is developing the replacement for the current generation Sprinter, said the next-generation Sprinter due out in calendar-year 2018 will be about the same dimensions as the current Sprinter, but will have several improvements that will make it easier to drive. (more…)

Ford Posts Lower Than Expected Q2 Profit

Despite missing analyst estimates, company sets new record.

by on Jul.28, 2016

Ford Motor Co.'s second-quarter profits fell short of analyst estimates at $2 billion.

Ford Motor Co. second-quarter profits came in below expectations, as the company’s operations in South America lost money and Ford Credit’s profits fell due to a decline in the value of off-lease used cars sold at auction during the quarter.

Overall, Ford reported net income $2 billion in the second quarter, which was down $190 million from a year ago. Additionally, total company adjusted pre-tax profit of $3 billion in the second quarter, typically the industry’s most profitable, was down $293 million while earnings per share were 49 cents per share – down 5 cents per share from a year ago.

Earnings News!

The results fell short of analyst consensus estimates of 60 cents per share; however, company revenue was up by $2.2 billion to $39.5 billion, exceeding analyst estimates of $36.1 billion. (more…)

VW Q2 Earnings Hammered by Emissions Scandal

Subterfuge slams sales, as well as reputation; more hits to come.

by on Jul.28, 2016

Volkswagen AG saw its Q2 profits drop 86% compared with year-ago results.

After reporting a rosy picture for the first half of 2016, a different reality has set in for Volkswagen AG, the embattled automaker reported today that second-quarter profits fell by more than half year-over-year, largely the result of its ongoing emissions cheating scandal.

The news came just days after a federal judge in California approved a $14.7 billion settlement to resolve the rigging of 475,000 vehicles with 2.0-liter turbodiesels to illegally pass U.S. emissions tests. That expense was largely covered by money set aside against 2015 earnings. But VW still has to settle a number of other lawsuits and solve problems involving its higher-end 3.0-liter diesel.

Financial News!

After taxes, VW said it earned $1.2 billion euros, or $1.32 billion between April and June, down from 2.7 billion euros the year before. On an operating basis, the figure many analysts prefer to focus on, the impact was less severe, though down 12%, nonetheless, at 808 million euros, or $895.5 million, compared with 914 million euros during the period a year ago. (more…)

Musk Flings Open Doors of Tesla’s Gigafactory

Musk believes Model 3s coming in 2018.

by on Jul.27, 2016

Tesla's Elon Musk said recently that if the automaker reaches its production goal of 500,000 units, it would absorb all of the world's current lithium production. Credit: Tesla

Tesla flung open the doors of its still-in-progress Gigafactory to show the world what kind of progress it’s making on what will likely be the birthplace of every battery stuffed into every Tesla EV sold for years to come.

The company’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, took the media on a tour of the plant, which is only 14% complete, and announced the facility would begin producing batteries at the end of this year. The first automotive power sources weren’t due to roll off the line, so to speak, until sometime in 2017. Tesla shareholders and owners will get a private tour later this week.

Tech Talk!

The plant is already producing Tesla’s Powerwall and Powerpack energy storage units, using cells from Panasonic Corp. The Japanese company is a partner, investing $1.6 billion into the site, which is expected to cost $5 billion once it’s completed in 2020. (more…)

Model S Speeding at Time of Fatal Crash, NTSB Says

Tesla parting ways with Mobileye in wake of accident.

by on Jul.27, 2016

The NTSB determined that Joshua Brown's Model S was traveling at 74 mph in Autopilot mode when it struck a truck. Photo credit: NTSB

The Tesla Model S that crashed into a semi-truck while operating in Autopilot mode was driving over the posted speed limit for the road, according to a newly released report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The agency said Joshua Brown’s Model S was traveling 74 mph with the Autopilot engaged when he collided with the truck, which was in the middle of turning on to the roadway. The speed limit for the road was 65 mph.

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“Tesla system performance data downloaded from the car indicated that vehicle speed just prior to impact was 74 mph,” the NTSB said in a preliminary report on its investigation of the crash. (more…)

High-Tech Safety Features “APEAL” to Consumers, Finds New JD Power Study

European luxury makers overwhelmingly dominate 2016 APEAL study.

by on Jul.27, 2016

BMW's new 750i is expected to bolster the company's sales, but it's also improving its image with buyers.

New vehicle buyers have come to expect – and appreciate – the latest in high-tech safety systems. And those manufacturers who offer such technologies as blind-spot detection and forward collision warning scored especially well in the latest J.D. Power APEAL study.

Designed to go beyond traditional quality and reliability numbers, APEAL probes buyers about what features they find most exciting – and which are likely to get them back into showrooms to buy the same model or brand in the future. The results of the 2016 study show European brands such as Porsche, BMW and Jaguar, that offers the broadest suites of safety gear coming out on top.

The Journal of Record!

“Technology-enabled safety features help drivers feel more comfortable and confident while driving their vehicles,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. (more…)

Mercedes Readies Metris for Major Market Push

Maker offering van for less than $30,000.

by on Jul.27, 2016

Mercedes-Benz is looking to expand its spot in the newly hot midsize van market with a sub-$30k Metris.

Mercedes-Benz is planning to bring out an additional version of the midsized Metris van as its expands its portfolio of vans that can be used to carry passengers, cargo or tools for under $30,000.

The Mercedes-Benz Van line-up in the U.S. now include the Metris Worker, said Mathias Geisen, the head of MBUSA’s van marketing effort, said during a presentation at the Daimler AG van plant in Charleston, S.C., which is now used to re-assemble vans built in Germany.

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Daimler announced last year it intended to build a $500 million assembly plant to make Sprinter vans in the U.S. to take advantage of the expansion of the market for “Euro” vans in the U.S. (more…)