Archive for August, 2018

Ford Kills Focus Crossover from China Due to Trump Tariffs

New vehicle was set to hit U.S. in late 2019.

by on Aug.31, 2018

Ford killed the Focus Active after it was determined the company couldn't turn a profit on the small China-built crossover with the Trump tariffs.

One of the first steps in the shift of Ford Motor Co.’s product lineup from cars to trucks, sport-utes and crossovers has blown up, as the company killed the China-built Focus crossover due to the ongoing trade war between China and the U.S.

The automaker said the tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump make it impossible to make a profit on the new Focus Active crossover, which was expected to hit U.S. shores in late 2019.

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“Given the negative financial impact of the new tariffs, we’ve decided not to import this vehicle from China,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president of North America told the Detroit News. “The significant thing that moved was the tariffs going up substantially higher. We’re choosing to deploy resources elsewhere.” (more…)

Trump Rejects EU Offer to Eliminate Auto Tariffs Entirely

President's position could trigger yet another tit-for-tat trade war.

by on Aug.31, 2018

President Donald Trump spurned a "no tariff" trade plan offered by the European Union.

President Donald Trump has warned he’s ready to enact stiff trade tariffs on European autos, citing the EU’s tariffs on American automotive products. But Trump has now rejected an offer by European officials to eliminate auto tariffs entirely.

In turn, EU President Jean-Claude Juncker now warns that Europe will respond in kind if Trump follows through with threats to tag vehicles from brands like Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz with duties that could run as high as 25%.

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The question observers are now asking is why the White House would reject an offer that would effectively drop the EU’s barriers to entry for American-made vehicles, something Trump cited in the first place as the reason why he would threaten to trigger a trade war with one of America’s biggest trade partners. (more…)

EV Start Up Rivian Debuting Pickup, Large SUV at LA Auto Show

Company planning a three-row sport-ute too.

by on Aug.31, 2018

R.J. Scaringe, right, is ready to roll out a new pickup truck and three-row sport-utility vehicles.

Rivian, a California-based start-up company looking moving into a space coveted by Tesla, is planning to show off a battery-electric pickup truck and a three-row sport utility vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

R.J. Scaringe, Rivian’s founder and chief executive officer, said during a recent appearance in Detroit that the introduction will change the perceptions of EVs. The auto industry is on the verge of sweeping change. “Think about the tech industry in 1991,” he added.

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By the time, Rivian, which has raised $500 million in capital, launches in 2020, with a target of building 50,000 vehicles annually at the plant in Normal, Illinois, that it acquired from Mitsubishi. (more…)

Car Buyers Paying More, On Time as Lenders Raise Risk Threshold

Average credit score for new vehicles is 715.

by on Aug.30, 2018

Experian reports that new cars are more expensive than ever with an average monthly car payment of $525.

Americans are shelling out more than ever to buy new and used cars, on average, however, their also doing a better job of making those monthly loan payments on time, according to Experian.

Experian’s “State of Automotive Finance” report reveals that 30-day delinquencies dropped to 2.11% from 2.2% a year ago, while 60-day delinquencies dropped to 0.64% from 0.67% over the same time period.

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“As we monitor the health of the automotive market, delinquencies are one of the most telling metrics. If this downward trend continues, it can be an encouraging sign,” said Melinda Zabritski, Experian’s senior director of automotive financial solutions. (more…)

Dyson Building a Test Track for a $150M EV Car Campus

The 10-mile track to built at World War II-era airfield in western England.

by on Aug.30, 2018

Sir James Dyson is looking to build a 10-mile test track in western England.

Not wanting to be left out of the electric vehicle spotlight for too long, vacuum cleaner guru Sir James Dyson revealed he’s planning to set up a test track for his in-development electric vehicle.

The 10-mile track, which is part of a larger $150 million “campus,” is slated to be built on the site of a World War II-era airfield in western England.

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Dyson announced last year that he’s developing an electric car that should hit the road in 2020 or 2021. He’s counting on his company’s expertise in the production of innovative vacuum cleaners, bladeless fans, air purifiers and other appliances to translate to an electric vehicle. (more…)

Proposed Class-Action Suit Against FCA, UAW Dismissed

Judge says plaintiffs haven't exhausted contractual remedies yet.

by on Aug.30, 2018

Former UAW President Dennis Williams maintained that the collective bargaining process between the UAW and FCA wasn't tainted.

A U.S. District Court has dismissed a proposed class action by autoworkers against car maker Fiat Chrysler and the United Automobile Workers that claimed the company and union colluded to sacrifice workers’ interests during collective bargaining.

The judge, following a long line of precedents, ruled that the workers who brought the suit have not exhausted contractual remedies and internal procedures to address their grievances against the company and the union.

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The lawsuit, filed by three UAW members, claims the union’s FCA contract was skewed in the automaker’s favor by the corruption of two top negotiators and alleges millions of dollars in dues collected from union members were “wasted on tainted bargaining.” (more…)

Tesla Under Assault as Wave of New EVs Come to Market

Mercedes-EQ’s first entry set to target Model 3.

by on Aug.30, 2018

Tesla's Model 3 production has been the focus of the company much of the year, but now Elon Musk is going to need to look over his shoulder.

Its been a rocky road for Tesla during the past year, the automaker struggling to get production of its critical Model 3 under control. But just as the factory in Fremont, California, gets into gear, Tesla is facing a new problem that could prove equally challenging.

Jaguar fired the first shot recently with the launch of its I-Pace battery-electric vehicle. Now, Mercedes-Benz is getting ready to plug in, but rather than target a pricey niche, the electric EQ C crossover the German maker will introduce next week takes direct aim at Tesla’s mainstream-priced Model 3.

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And the assault will only accelerate in the months to come, new long-range EV entries popping up at an ever-increasing pace over the next few years to the point that, by some estimates, there could be as many as 100 alternatives in U.S. showrooms by very early in the decade. (more…)

Lexus, Volvo Tie for Top Spot in New Brand Survey

Overall, consumers slightly happier with ownership experience.

by on Aug.30, 2018

Volvo tied with Lexus for the top brand honors in the latest ACSI survey, receiving its highest score ever.

Vehicle owners in the U.S. are slightly happier with their ownership experience this year than last year, according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index.

The index, which is the result of surveys of car owners on their overall service and product experience with specific auto brands, creates a score between 1 to 100. According to the latest edition, the industry-wide score for 2018 is 82, up from 81 in 2017.

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“Car owners are often highly satisfied—they’ve kicked the tires enough times that they’re happy with their decision when they buy,” said David VanAmburg, managing director at ACSI.  (more…)

Foot in Mouth? Musk Raises New Concerns About Leadership by Publicly Reviving Old Spat

Calls it “strange” that “pedo guy” cave diver hasn’t filed suit.

by on Aug.29, 2018

Tesla's Elon Musk is back on Twitter and raising more questions about his state of mind.

After slurring as a “pedo guy” someone who had been widely hailed as a hero, most folks would likely be pleased the case didn’t wind up in court.

But, it seems, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a very different opinion about his very public spat with Vernon Unsworth, one of the divers who earlier this summer helped rescue members of a youth soccer team trapped in a flooded Thai cave. At one point, Musk referred to Unsworth as “pedo guy,” slang for a pedophile, prompting the British diver to threaten to sue for slander. Musk subsequently apologized, but the fact that Unsworth hasn’t sued, the Tesla CEO said in a tweet this week, is “strange.”

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Bringing the issue back up might normally have gone by unnoticed, but it comes at a time when the 47-year-old executive’s actions are coming under much more scrutiny – and criticism – than normal. One reason is the way he handled the announcement that Tesla might take itself private, Musk going so far as to suggest “funding (is) secured,” though that assertion now appears quite questionable and has triggered several lawsuits and an SEC investigation. (more…)

Ford Smacked with Ratings Cut by Moody’s

Automaker's rating is just above junk now.

by on Aug.29, 2018

Moody's cut Ford's rating today from Baa2 two Baa3 — a level above junk status.

It wasn’t long ago that Ford Motor Co. executives were being lauded for having faith in their recovery plan, which included offering the Blue Oval as collateral, and enjoying the full support of the financial community.

That was then. This is now: Moody’s Investor Service downgraded Ford from Baa2 to Baa3, which is one step above a junk rating.

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In announcing the move, Moody’s noted the “erosion in the company’s global business position and the challenges it will face implementing its Fitness Redesign program.” The Fitness Redesign program is Ford’s $11 billion, five-year plan to revitalize the company. (more…)