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VW Turns Bigger-than-Expected 2016 Profit

Company took a $6.8 billion charge related to diesel scandal.

by on Feb.24, 2017

VW CEO Matthias Mueller said the automaker was well-positioned for the future.

Volkswagen AG executives must be thrilled that the company acquired Audi and Porsche many years ago because it was those two brands that led VW to a record underlying profit for 2016 of $15.5 billion, up 14% from 2015.

The record comes despite larger-than-predicted charges the maker needed to take due to its ongoing diesel emissions scandal. The tab for that has shot past the $21 billion mark going forward, and as a result it missed its operating profit predictions.

Earnings News!

VW took a bigger-than-expected charge of $6.8 billion for the emissions-test rigging scandal. Predictions were a charge of about $4.5 billion. (more…)

US New Car Sales Expected to Rise Slightly in February

Incentives climbing as makers seek more buyers.

by on Feb.24, 2017

New vehicle sales in February are expected to rise slightly, led by the country's ongoing love of trucks.

February auto sales in the U.S. are likely to follow the same tepid pace from last month’s results when makers saw sales dip ever-so-slightly; however, this month they are expected to rise ever-so-slightly.

Industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive believe U.S. sales will rise less than 1% in spite of record levels of enticements aimed at new vehicle buyers. February U.S. new vehicle sales will be about 1.35 million units, up 0.6% from a year earlier, the consultancies said. Analysts at Edmunds are seconding the observation.

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The seasonally adjusted annualized rate for the month will be 17.7 million vehicles, up from 17.6 million last February. The Power and LMC expect U.S. sales to eclipse last year’s record of 17.55 million units with 17.6 million in 2017. (more…)

Mercedes May Enter U.S. Pickup Market, After All

If so, American production is likely, says senior Mercedes exec.

by on Feb.24, 2017

The underlying platform for the X-Class comes from Nissan, everything else is pure Mercedes.

Mercedes-Benz will roll its Concept X truck into the Geneva Motor Show early next month, the prototype for its all-new X-Class pickup.

Developed on a platform provided by alliance partner Nissan, the midsize X-Class was intended for markets in Europe, South Africa, Australia and South America, but Mercedes has, until now, said it had no intention of bringing the new truck to the world’s largest pickup market, the United States. But it appears to be rethinking that decision.

Keep On Truckin'!

“In the past year the (U.S.) mid-sized truck market has come back a bit,” Volker Mornhingweg, head of the Mercedes-Benz Vans division, at a Friday news conference. Pointing to the success of two revived General Motors models, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, Mornhinweg said, “We are watching developments very closely, and we will take a decision at the appropriate time.”

(more…)

Waymo Sues Uber for Theft of Intellectual Property

Uber's problems continue with suit.

by on Feb.24, 2017

Waymo's new LiDAR sensors have dropped in price 90% but still cost around $8,000 each.

With the company already under fire for tolerating blatant sexism and its take no prisoners internal culture, Uber was jolted again this week when Google’s self-driving car subsidiary, Waymo, filed suit in U.S. District Court, charging the ride-hailing service with stealing key intellectual property.

The Waymo legal complaint and subsequent blog post on the company’s web site outlines in dramatic fashion allegations that Uber used the $680 million acquisition last summer of a Silicon Valley start-up company called Otto, which was founded by a former Google employee, to pull off the theft.

In the Know!

Uber, which only this week brought in former Attorney General Eric Holder, to investigate the company’s problems with sexism, was slow to respond to the Waymo charges. (more…)

PSA Eyes Big Savings in Potential Opel Deal

Negotiations on sale are ongoing.

by on Feb.24, 2017

PSA CEO Carlos Tavares believes the acquisition of Opel could net $2 billion in savings.

PSA Group’s proposed acquisition of Opel would create savings of as much as $2 billion from the General Motors’ European division’s turnaround, the French carmaker’s Chief Executive Carlos Tavares said during a session with reporters and analysts.

Tavares said adding the German Opel and British Vauxhall brands to PSA’s portfolio would bring new customers to the company who have been reluctant to buy French cars, Tavares told said, while generating savings from shared technical underpinnings.

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“There is significant complementarity in terms of customer consideration between the German Opel brand and our three French brands,” Tavares said, referring to the French group’s Peugeot, Citroen and DS badges. (more…)

Volkswagen Manager Arraigned on Diesel Charges in Detroit

Schmidt one of six managers being investigated.

by on Feb.23, 2017

Another former Volkswagen executive was arraigned in court: one of six under investigation.

One of the six Volkswagen executives at the center of the automaker’s diesel emmissions scandal, Oliver Schmidt, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Detroit today.

Schmidt, 48, who was arrested in Miami while traveling from Cuba to Germany, is accused of being part of a collaborative effort to intentionally develop a device that could cheat on U.S. emissions test.

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The “cheat devices” allowed VW’s diesels to pass emissions tests in a lab, but then would shut off when the vehicles weren’t in “test mode.” This allowed for better fuel economy results, but the emissions levels could be as high as 40 times what’s allowable by law. (more…)

BMW, Mobileye Partner on Data Generation for Navigation

Mobileye can provide information like road hazards, traffic delays, weather information and parking availability.

by on Feb.23, 2017

Mobileye's technological capabilities may help BMW bring this type autonomous system to market.

BMW Group and Mobileye have signed an agreement that will bring Mobileye’s Road Experience Management data generation technology into newly developed BMW Group models beginning in 2018.

The REM system developed by Mobileye can provide information like road hazards, traffic delays, weather information and even parking availability from individual vehicles, which it will pool in the cloud, and then make available to other motorists, giving them a way to supplement pre-existing static HD maps with to-the-minute info from real-world driving.

Tech News!

The same data could be fed to autonomous vehicle systems in the future. Crowd-sourced real-time data using vehicles equipped with camera-based Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) technology is a critical enabler for autonomous driving through next-generation high definition maps aimed at making driving safer and more efficient for consumers. (more…)

Global Auto Sales to Grow This Year, IHS Predicts

Despite uncertainty of China, sales expected to rise.

by on Feb.23, 2017

While sales in North America may fall, IHS Markit expects global auto sales to rise in 2017.

Even with sales dropping in North America and uncertainty over the outlook in China, total global light vehicle sales will increase by 1.5%, according to a new report from IHS Markit.

However, industry risk in mature markets is at the highest level it has been since the Lehman Brothers collapse and global industry downturn from 2008 through 2010, and will be a key factor for the near future, the IHS forecast said. Total 2017 global light vehicle sales should increase to 93.5 million units, IHS Market said.

Global Auto News!

“Political uncertainty could cause a significant rift in light vehicle sales both in the U.S. and Europe, as both regions are undergoing fluctuations in policy, leadership and other dynamics,” said Henner Lehne, senior director, global vehicle group for IHS Markit. (more…)

Ghosn Stepping Down as Nissan CEO

Looking to find ways to improve the alliance.

by on Feb.23, 2017

Carlos Ghosn is now the former CEO of Nissan after stepping down. He remains chairman of the automaker as well as chairman and CEO of the Alliance.

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, is a man of his word. In 2012, he said he planned to remain as Chairman and CEO of Nissan for five more years, and now he’s stepping down as CEO of Nissan.

Longtime Nissan executive Hiroto Saikawa, who was Nissan’s chief competitive officer until last year when he became co-CEO of Nissan and chairman of the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association, replaces Ghosn as Nissan CEO. Saikawa has been with Nissan since 1977.

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“The change is significant. Carlos Ghosn has been an effective and strong leader for Nissan. In some ways, the degree of success future management has will reflect how successful Ghosn was in building the strongest management team,” said Stephanie Brinley, IHS Automotive senior analyst, in an email to TheDetroitBureau. (more…)

Tesla Posts Q4, Full-Year Loss

Company says Model 3 launching in July, full volume in September.

by on Feb.22, 2017

Tesla's Elon Musk dismissed concerns about possible delays involving the Model 3, which is slated to begin production this summer.

Tesla’s founder and leader Elon Musk dismissed concerns about the much-anticipated launch of its mainstream vehicle, the Model 3, this summer, noting the substantive differences between it and the preceding vehicles.

Musk noted during the maker’s Q4 earnings call, that the Model 3 is a much less complicated vehicle than its predecessors, lacking some of the gee-whiz technology like the self-presenting door handles.

Electrifying News!

Additionally, the company has a track record of success, in terms of production, so suppliers are providing the company with their “A-teams,” making for fewer problems and constraints. Finally, he noted that it’s the company’s fourth time through process and the learning curve will reflect that. (more…)