Archive for May, 2018

Trump Slaps Tariffs on Canada, Mexico and EU

All impacted moving to retaliate.

by on May.31, 2018

President Donald Trump implemented tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

The Trump administration moved to raise tariffs to 25% on steel and aluminum from Mexico, Canada and the European Union, all of which promptly moved to retaliate against the U.S. raising the prospects of a trade war.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reported that the Canadian government had already prepared a list of goods on which it would be raising tariffs and the Mexican government also announced tariffs on American-made products.

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The European Union is expected to retaliate by imposing stiff new tariffs on American-made products, such as bourbon and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Harley is now struggling and is the process of closing a plant in Kansas City, Missouri. It could be shutting down more plant capacity in the U.S if sales continue to decline. (more…)

Trump Wants to Drive German Luxury Car Brands Out of the U.S.

Comment reportedly made during meeting with French Pres. Macron

by on May.31, 2018

An endangered species? Trump's tariffs would drive up prices for imports like the Mercedes S-Class. But Trump may try to ban them entirely.

President Donald Trump apparently wants to force German luxury car manufacturers out of the United States, reportedly telling French President Emmanuel Macron during a recent state visit that he wants to get to the point where there will be no Mercedes-Benz models driving down New York’s upscale Fifth Avenue.

While there has been no White House verification of the report that first ran in the German WirtschaftsWoche, the business magazine – like other media outlets picking up on the story – cited several U.S. and European diplomats.

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The news comes just a week after Trump ordered U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to investigate whether automotive imports constitute a threat to the country’s national security. Such a finding would allow the president to bypass Congress under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and directly impose new tariffs which, White House sources have indicated, could jump to 25% compared to the 2.5% duties imposed on most auto imports today.


Consumer Reports Validates Tesla Model 3

Retest of brakes gets EV a CR "Recommendation."

by on May.31, 2018

Consumer Reports revised its rating on the Tesla Model 3, offering its recommendation for the battery-electric sedan.

Consumer Reports said it would, and it did and now Elon Musk is happy.

The consumer advocacy magazine revised its rating on the new Tesla Model 3. After initially electing to not recommend the new four-door EV – Tesla’s ticket to mainstream success – the publication now recommends the car.

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The about-face came after its initial review of the vehicle where it “found plenty to like about the luxury compact sedan” that features “record-setting range as well as exhilarating acceleration and handling that could make it a healthy competitor to performance-oriented cars such as BMW’s 3 Series and the Audi A4.” (more…)

Waymo Set to Purchase 62k Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivans for Autonomous Ride-Share Service

Announcement follows news of a major investment in GM Cruise self-driving car program.

by on May.31, 2018

An early version of a Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan roams the streets of Phoenix.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo will radically accelerate their alliance, FCA announcing it will supply as many as 62,000 more Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to the autonomous vehicle spin-off of Google.

FCA previously committed to providing several thousand of the plug-in people-movers. Waymo has also committed to purchasing up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace battery-electric SUVs, and CEO John Krafcik has told that it expects to add still other models for use in the planned self-driving ride-share service that is currently in pilot testing in Phoenix. Commercial service will launch in that city later this year, Krafcik announced in March, and will eventually expand to “other” cities across the U.S.

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The FCA-Waymo announcement comes just hours after General Motors revealed that Japanese venture capital fund SoftBank is investing $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings, the carmaker’s autonomous vehicle unit. That news quickly sent shares of GM surging by 10% in early Thursday morning trading.


SoftBank Invests $2.25B in GM’s Autonomous Tech

Automaker also invests $1.1 billion in the deal.

by on May.31, 2018

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said no decisions have been made about its autonomous technology.

General Motors goal of having a self-driving vehicle on the road next year just got a $2.25 billion push toward reality courtesy of an investment from they SoftBank Vision Fund.

The automaker is throwing in $1.1 billion along with the Japanese tech investor’s contribution to GM Cruise Holdings. The investor community liked the news as GM’s stock jumped nearly 10% by mid-morning.

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The investment does have a curious dilemma tied to it: SoftBank is a huge investor in Uber while GM has a partnership with Uber’s top rival Lyft. No short-term answer is forthcoming, but GM CEO Mary Barra told reporters that GM has a lot of options in terms of ride-sharing and no decisions have been made as to how to bring autonomous technology to the market. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Acura RDX

Design, performance and tech add up in an appealing new package.

by on May.31, 2018

Acura has delivered an almost entirely ground-up remaker of its compact RDX crossover for 2019.

Its been more than three decades since Acura helped redefine the luxury car market, the original Legend model proving a Japanese sedan could stand up against key European and American competitors. But what would Honda’s highline brand bring to market if it were to debut today? The answer is pretty much unambiguous: a ute. Or, more precisely, a crossover like the new 2019 Acura RDX.

It’s not just the names on the field that have changed since Acura’s 1985 debut. The luxury market has, like more mainstream segments, rapidly shifted from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs in a broad array of sizes and shapes. And the good news for Acura is that while its traditional passenger car models have lagged behind, it has done reasonably well with utility vehicle offerings like the big MDX. But it’s the compact CUV market where most of the growth is taking place, so it’s no surprise that Acura has put so much effort into developing the third-generation RDX model.

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The Japanese marque has focused on three key pillars: design, performance and technology. And the payoff is readily apparent. While there are limits to what you can pull off with a so-called “two-box” design, the RDX is one of the more handsome CUVs to reach market lately, while also delivering a fun-to-drive experience. Add to that an array of new comfort, convenience and safety systems – though not everyone is going to be enchanted by the RDX’s distinctive True Touch controller.


Drug Use Linked to Growing Number of Fatal Car Crashes

Motorists often found to be mixing pot, opioids and alcohol.

by on May.31, 2018

The differences between drunk driving laws and those involving drugs reveals concerning problems.

“Drug Driving is Drunk Driving,” or so declares the electronic road signs found along many Michigan roads in recent months.

In recent decades, authorities have aggressively cracked down on drinking and driving, but a new study by the Governors Highway Safety Association warns that a new danger may be facing travelers: rising use of opioids and marijuana, often in combinations that include alcohol.

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Where tests were performed, 44% of drivers fatally injured in a crash tested positive for drugs in 2016, up from 28% a decade earlier. Of those who tested positive for drugs in the latest study, 38% had used marijuana, 16% had used some form of opioid, and 4% tested positive for a combination of both. (more…)

Hyundai Investing $388M into New Alabama Plant

Company building plant to make enginesu

by on May.30, 2018

Hyundai is investing $388 million for a new plant to build Sonata and Elantra engines.

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama LLC plans to spend $388 million to build a new plant outside Montgomery, Alabama, dedicated to making parts for a new engine for two sedans.

HMMA President and CEO Dong Ryeol Choi announced Hyundai plans to construct a plant dedicated to manufacturing engine heads and enhance existing operations to support production of new models of Sonata and Elantra sedans. The investment will create 50 new jobs, he said.

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HMMA is preparing for the next-generation Hyundai engine, which requires new technologies and components as part of its assembly process. The capital investment will be spent on equipment for the engine head machining plant and updating technology in an existing engine plant.  (more…)

Tesla Sedan on Autopilot Slams into Cop Car

Latest crash intensifies criticism of semi-autonomous system.

by on May.30, 2018

A Tesla Model S crashed into a police car in Laguna Beach, California. Photo credit: Sgt. Jim Cota

A Tesla Model S sedan operating in Autopilot mode crashed into a parked and unoccupied police car Tuesday in Laguna Beach, California, the latest in a series of incidents linked to the carmaker’s semi-autonomous technology.

While at least two deaths have now occurred in crashes involving Autopilot, the driver of the vehicle in the latest incident suffered only minor injuries. But it is raising further concerns about both Autopilot and the way drivers are using – and possibly misusing – the system.

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A day after the latest crash, California-based Consumer Watchdog called on the state’s regulator to investigate what it described as “dangerously misleading, deceptive marketing practices” which, the non-profit group contends, can lead Tesla owners to believe Autopilot is a fully self-driving technology. (more…)

Gas Prices Level Off as Summer Driving Season Starts

Fuel costs averaging more than $3 per gallon in 17 states.

by on May.30, 2018

Gas prices have leveled off at the start of the summer driving season.

The start of the summer driving season, which normally sees motorists paying more for fuel, has brought some relief from rising gasoline prices.

AAA reported that during the long holiday weekend, the national gas price average held steady for five days at $2.97 per gallon, suggesting prices may be stabilizing as we head into June. This development comes as crude oil prices start to fall following some of the highest prices in three years.

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“At the start of the holiday weekend, reports indicated that OPEC may raise production levels to help ease global supply concerns. The announcement immediately brought down the price of crude – which has dropped nearly $3 per barrel since Thursday,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.  (more…)