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Archive for August, 2018

Aston Martin Rolls Out Limited Line of “Goldfinger” DB5s

Continuation models will offer plenty of gadgets like revolving license plates – but no word on machine guns and ejection seat.

by on Aug.20, 2018

The original James Bond, Sean Connery, with the original Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger.

“Bond. James Bond.” For those who’ve always fantasized about being able to speak that familiar line, they can now lay claim to another feature from one of Agent 007’s most iconic adventures.

Working with the special effects team from the most recent James Bond film, Aston Martin has recreated the classic DB5 that originally appeared in “Goldfinger,” and it plans to offer 25 full-size reproductions that, the British marque claims, will include an assortment of “working gadgets.” Those will include “revolving number (license) plates and more,” we’re told, though Aston isn’t ready to reveal whether that also includes the machine guns and ejector seat Bond had at the ready.

Behind the Scenes!

“The connection between Aston Martin and James Bond is something of which we are very proud and it is remarkable that the DB5 remains the definitive James Bond car after so many years,” said Aston CEO Andy Palmer. “To own an Aston Martin has long been an aspiration for James Bond fans, but to own a Silver Birch DB5, complete with gadgets and built to the highest standards in the very same factory as the original James Bond cars? Well, that is surely the ultimate collectors’ fantasy.”

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CEO Musk Risks Becoming Liability for Tesla

Stock plunges again after weepy interview, SEC probe revealed.

by on Aug.20, 2018

Musk has said he's been working up to 120 hours a week - but is that really benefitting Tesla?

(This story has been updated with a comment by former GM V.Chairman Bob Lutz.)

Since the era when Lee Iacocca was the seemingly ever-present face of Chrysler, perhaps no other automotive executive has been more closely linked with his company than Tesla’s constantly tweeting CEO Elon Musk – and Iacocca didn’t have access to the social media tools that routinely help Musk make headlines.

But the events of recent weeks have started raising questions about the 47-year-old Tesla chief’s role, some observers beginning to wonder whether Musk is starting to become more asset than liability. That has become underscored in recent days as backlash continues to mount over the tweet Musk posted early this month announces his goal of taking Tesla private and suggesting that the necessary funding had been “secured.”

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That has triggered a new probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was revealed last week, about the same time Musk sat down by an unexpectedly emotional interview with the New York Times that raised questions about both his health and his ability to remain at Tesla’s helm and, as this week begins, it has led to new warnings about Tesla finances, the automaker’s shares taking a sharp tumble as Monday trading began on Wall Street.

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NAFTA Negotiations Stalling Out Again

Auto industry concerned about lack of consistency.

by on Aug.20, 2018

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been holding talks with Mexico only these days.

Negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement are ongoing, but anxiety continues to grow inside the auto industry, which is looking for measure of stability, due to the slow pace of the talks.

While some progress has been made during bilateral talks between Mexico and the United States, key issues revolving around automotive content and an automatic, five-year “sunset” provision proposed by Trump administration remain unresolved.

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“I am less optimistic than I was,” said Julie Fream, president of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, which represents a broad cross-section of automotive suppliers. The critical content requirements for automobiles still haven’t been addressed, she said after a recent event sponsored by the OESA. (more…)

Woodward Avenue Dreaming

Over 1 million turn out, but the cars are the stars at the 24th annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

by on Aug.18, 2018

Bob Chesnicki and his wife have long wanted to make it out for the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise. They finally showed up in this T-Bucket for their 32nd anniversary.

It’s either “the world’s largest car show,” or “the world’s largest parking lot,” said Robert Angel, as he watched a procession of muscle cars, hot rods and sports cars slowly creep by on Woodward Avenue.

Angel was one of an estimated 1.5 million people who lined a 16-mile stretch of the eight-lane boulevard that bisects Detroit and its northern suburbs for the 24th Woodward Dream Cruise, an annual event that was expected to draw cars and spectators from as far away as New Zealand, Australia and the former Soviet Union.

Cruise Along with Us!

Angel, a former school teacher, only had to travel from Savannah, Georgia, but waited until he retired to finally get to see the Dream Cruise, he explained, because the school year in Georgia normally started in early August.

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Woodward Dream Cruisers Out Early and Often

Fans and cruisers get an early start on the event.

by on Aug.18, 2018

Classic car fans and owners began trekking up and down Woodward Avenue Friday in advance of the Dream Cruise.

The roar of powerful engines and the smell of exhaust began filling the air as the classic car fanatics began their annual trek to Woodward Avenue, north of Detroit, for the Woodward Dream Cruise.

The event begins today, but there is plenty of “pregaming” on the days leading up to the main event. On Friday afternoon, cruisers were out in force as car aficionados had already set up shop to enjoy the cars of their youth.

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“I like the classic muscle cars,” said Charles Kinsley of Ann Arbor, Michigan. “I don’t care for the cars they remake.” Despite not being a big fan of the retro-based efforts of the Big Three automakers. Kinsley has attended almost every Dream Cruise since its inception in 1995. (more…)

New Vehicles Sales Fell in Q2, as Leasing Rates Rose

Mercedes-Benz boasts highest average lease price.

by on Aug.17, 2018

Leasing rates rose in the second quarter of 2018 with SUVs accounting for the largest portion of those leases.

Though auto sales were down overall in the second quarter of 2018, folks leasing instead of buying new vehicles were doing their level best to keep sales numbers high despite lower incentives, according to a new study.

Swapalease.com notes the average months remaining in leases rose during the second quarter to 28.8 months compared with 25.1 months in the first quarter. The rise is an indication that people were looking to get out of their leases early in search of a better vehicle or deal.

The Last Word!

Not only was that measure up, the average miles remaining fell from 23,115 to 22,617 left in their contract, which is only a slight decrease. The ratio of months remaining to miles remaining, according to the website, is an indicator that people are driving more. Those looking to get out leases early could have been creeping up on their contract limit, forcing them to make a move earlier. (more…)

Say Goodbye: 17 Models Going Away in 2019

But some nameplates will yet return from the dead.

by on Aug.17, 2018

Death is not permanent, at least in the auto industry. Some old nameplates will return in 2019, like Ford's Ranger.

We’ll be seeing a host of new models make their debut during the 2019 model-year, including Ford’s newly reborn Ranger pickup, the brand-new Subaru Ascent SUV and complete makeovers of the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500.

But there are also plenty of familiar products that will be waving bye-bye as the 2018 model-year wraps up or at some point during the 2019 season. The obituary list is rather extensive this year and, you likely won’t be surprised to learn, it’s primarily filled with sedans, coupes and sports cars, something that reflects the ongoing shift from passenger cars to light trucks.

Stay in Sync!

That said, some of the products that might be gone or going soon could stage a comeback in the future if market trends again shift. The Ranger is a good example. Ford killed it off in 2011, anticipating the demise of the midsize pickup segment. New arrivals, like the also-reborn Chevrolet Colorado, proved there was life left in the segment. Ford is also getting set to bring back the long-absent Bronco.

Here’s a look at the U.S. models about to drive off into the sunset:

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GM Partners With Shell to Offer In-Car Payment for Gas

Pay & Save makes getting gas easier.

by on Aug.17, 2018

Using Shell's Pay & Save app, GM Marketplace users can pay for gas from their car.

It’s an increasingly “mobile” world and General Motors is looking to make it a little easier through a partnership with Shell called “Pay and Save” allowing users to pay for and get discounts on gas using an imbedded app in the infotainment system.

Using the GM’s Marketplace app, users can now locate the nearest Shell station and pay for gas without having to get more than a foot away from their vehicle and without swiping a credit card or using a smart phone to complete the transaction.

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To use this feature, users will press the Shell icon within Marketplace and select their preferred station location. After a few taps on the in-vehicle touchscreen, a code will be generated that allows the user to activate a desired pump and start fueling. Payment is then automatically charged to the payment method on file, with Fuel Rewards savings applied. (more…)

Musk Laments “Excruciating” Toll He’s Faced at Tesla

But no plans to give up post as CEO.

by on Aug.17, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that he feels like this has been the toughest year of his life.

Forget the amusement park. Anyone who wants to ride a roller-coaster might be better off purchasing Tesla stock. But no one has faced more ups-and-downs during the last year than the automaker’s co-founder and CEO Elon Musk.

Even as Tesla appears to be resolving its production problems and seems poised to deliver a long-promised profit, the automaker and its CEO are facing a probe by the SEC, lawsuits filed by several short-sellers, additional investigations by the NLRB, NHTSA and the NTSB, and allegations of safety and quality problems by several self-styled whistleblowers.

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No wonder, “This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career,” Musk said in an interview newly published by the New York Times. “It was excruciating.” (more…)

Ford’s Autonomic Inks Deal in China With Alibaba Cloud

New deal boosts autonomous vehicle business potential

by on Aug.17, 2018

Liu Fei, director of Automobile Division, Alibaba Cloud (left) and Gavin Sherry, CEO and co-founder of Autonomic, after signing the deal.

Ford Motor Co. has taken another step toward bolstering its sinking operations in China with a new partnership to put autonomous vehicle technology into the Chinese market.

Autonomic, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Smart Mobility LLC and the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, one of the world’s leading Internet-oriented companies, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to bring to China the Transportation Mobility Cloud – a transportation and mobility solution for connected vehicles developed by Autonomic.

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“The TMC is positioned to help automakers succeed and meet growing demand for connected vehicles and mobility services in China,” said Gavin Sherry, co-founder and CEO of Autonomic. (more…)