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China Locks Down American-Made Mercedes SUVs

Brake problems cited, but move comes as trade war heats up.

by on Aug.10, 2018

China has placed a hold on U.S.-built Mercedes-Benz SUVs due to a "problem" with the rear brakes.

Chinese customs agents are holding up a shipment of American-made Mercedes-Benz SUVs, ostensibly due to technical issues, but the timing of the move raises questions, coming just as the trade war between the U.S. and China heats up.

Following a move by President Donald Trump to impose new tariffs on Chinese goods, the Asian giant responded with its own new duties, including an additional 25% tariff on vehicles made in the U.S. That move will impact not only products from Detroit manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors but also European carmakers with U.S. assembly operations such as Mercedes’ parent Daimler AG.

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According to the Chinese, two Mercedes models, GLE and GLS SUVs produced between May 4 and June 12 of this year, are being help up at the port in Shanghai due what customs authorities have described as a “safety risk.” (more…)

China Retaliates; New Tariffs Hit U.S. Auto Exports, Jobs

BMW, Mercedes, Ford, other makers could be hard hit, forced to cut American production.

by on Aug.09, 2018

The BMW X5 is the #1-selling American-made vehicle in the Chinese market.

The auto industry has found itself at Ground Zero as the U.S. and China escalate their trade war.

After the latest move by the Trump Administration to target Chinese imports, the Beijing government has announced it will strike back with 25% tariffs on $16 billion in imported U.S. goods. China previously enacted new duties on $34 billion worth of goods, bringing the total to $50 billion. And with the White House threatening to add another $200 billion to the U.S. list, the trade war could escalate rapidly.

Breaking News!

The latest round sees the Chinese Ministry of Commerce placing an additional 25% duty on a list of American products that includes coal, crude oil and metal scrap, as well as automobiles and motorcycles. A number of automakers could be hit hard by the new sanctions, including Ford Motor Co., Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

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European Automakers’ US Sales Fared Well in July

Mercedes-Benz still the luxury sales leader.

by on Aug.02, 2018

Mercedes-Benz saw sales fall more than 20% in July, but much of that was attributed to a computer problem during the company's busiest week.

With the threat of steep tariffs hanging over their heads, European carmakers enjoyed positive sales in July even though one of the leaders, Mercedes Benz, struggled a bit.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported July sales of 20,034, a decrease of 22.7% from July 2017 as archrival BMW sold more vehicles. Lexus appears to hold the lead in luxury segment with sales of 25,403 units, which dropped 12.1% on a volume basis.

Sales News!

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz Vans reported July sales increased 5.9%. On a year-to-date basis, sales of Mercedes-Benz vehicles totaled 178,882, giving it the lead in luxury vehicle sales for 2018. (more…)

Genesis Tops JD Power APEAL Survey

Korean up-start topples luxury mainstays, but Detroit mainstream brands also gain ground.

by on Jul.25, 2018

The Genesis brand aced another test, a month ago also topping Power's IQS.

Genesis, the upstart Korean luxury brand, has pulled off another surprise, this time landing the top spot in the 2018 J.D. Power APEAL study, surpassing such traditional highline brands as Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.

It’s the latest in a series of coups by Genesis, which was spun off by Hyundai just two years ago. And it comes barely a month after the Korean marque also landed in the top spot on Power’s widely followed In initial Quality Survey. But there were some other surprises in the APEAL report which measures how well individual brands and models are satisfying their owners. Mainstream brands, notably including some Detroit marques, are rapidly gaining ground on the luxury badges that have traditionally led in customer satisfaction.

Beyond the Headlines!

But the industry, as a whole, achieved record levels in the 2018 APEAL study – the name short for “Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout” – the second year in a row that has happened.

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Detroit Auto Show Moving to June in 2020, Adding Major New Features

Sponsors aim to revive what's been North America’s leading car show.

by on Jul.23, 2018

Toyota Pres. Akio Toyota is shown here revealing the 2019 Camry during this year's NAIAS.

The North American International Auto Show will move from January to June in 2020, a new timeslot that organizers are betting will help revive the flagging momentum of what had long been one of the industry’s most important annual events.

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association had signaled its intention of abandoning its traditional, mid-winter schedule, though a switch to October was also under study. But that would have conflicted with other shows in Europe and Asia, the dealer group’s Executive Director Rod Alberts told bingdb.info in an exclusive interview.

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In a background briefing ahead of today’s official announcement, Alberts said one of the advantages of a summer event is the ability to add new functions that expand beyond the confines of Detroit’s sprawling Cobo Hall convention center. “We realized we have to change the show (and) showcase Detroit, too,” said Alberts, who has been running the DADA for the past 28 years.

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Musk Denies a Quarter of Model 3 Orders Were Cancelled – But Reveals New Worry

Order rate, he reveals, has fallen behind increase in production.

by on Jul.20, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk denied claims in a recent analyst report suggesting that nearly a quarter of all Model 3 orders have been cancelled.

Elon Musk has dismissed as “bs” a report that suggested a growing number of advanced reservations for the Model 3 battery-car are being cancelled.

The recent report from investment bank Needham & Co. isn’t the first to raise that prospect, which could make it difficult for Tesla to achieve its promised profit for the second half of 2018. Needham’s Rajvindra Gill joined a growing chorus of analysts this week in downgrading Tesla shares, triggering another dip in the stock, traded as TSLA.

“Dunno where this bs is coming from,” CEO Musk said in a Thursday night tweet – but by trying to support the idea that there’s still strong demand for the Model 3, the South African-born executive actually may have sent a signal that Tesla is facing longer-term problems. Musk indicated Tesla received 5,000 orders for the Model 3 last week, but that’s actually less than the production target for the battery-car in the months to come.

The Last Word!

According to a report Needham issued Thursday, 24% of the estimated 400,000 original Model 3 reservations have been cancelled. That’s slightly higher than the 20% figure reported by data tracking site SecondMeasure in June. Each reservation is accompanied by a $1,000 deposit, so, if Needham is right, Tesla has had to refund more than $100 million and risk the loss of perhaps $4 billion or more in sales.

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First Drive: Genesis G70

The Koreans finally deliver a real threat to Munich's vaunted sport compact.

by on Jul.16, 2018

Genesis tapped BMW's former M chief to help build some impressive dynamics into the G70.

Hard to believe but it’s been a full decade since Hyundai introduced what was then its most expensive and lavishly equipped model, the Genesis sedan going on to become the North American Car of the Year, among the many awards it collected. The four-door model also had a sort of Mini Me, the Genesis Coupe essentially being positioned as the Korean carmaker’s answer to the ever-popular BMW 3-Series.

Like so many other 3-Series wannabes, the Genesis Coupe wasn’t up to dethroning the king-of-the-sport-compact-hill, but it’s clear that Hyundai has kept that goal in mind and, a decade later, it’s come about as close to anyone to calling BMW’s bluff.

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The original Genesis siblings are gone. Indeed, the name itself has been repurposed for Hyundai’s new luxury brand. A couple months from now, the high-line division will get its third new entry since being spun off two years ago, and the 2019 Genesis G70 does a better job of justifying the Genesis brand’s existing than the two models that came before it, the midsize G80 and premium luxury G80. It also presents a surprisingly solid alternative to the 3-Series, as well as other compact European contenders like the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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Despite Sales Slump, Genesis on Target, Says U.S. Chief

Upturn linked to new products, standalone dealers, says Raphael.

by on Jul.11, 2018

Genesis steps things up by taking a shot at the vaunted BMW 3-Series with the new G70.

It’s not often that a senior brand executive is pleased to see his sales slide by more than 50 percent, but Erwin Raphael says the sharp year-over-year decline Genesis reported last month is pretty much right on target.

Two years after it was spun off by Hyundai as a standalone luxury brand, Genesis is in the midst of some major changes that will determine its long-term success. That starts with the upcoming launch of the 2019 G70, which targets the likes of the vaunted BMW 3-Series, as well as the first Genesis SUV expected to join the line-up next year.

Insight!

The Korean marque is also getting ready to launch its own standalone dealer network in the coming months, one that will see the number of Genesis outlets in the U.S. drop by more than 85 percent. But, as with sales, bigger numbers aren’t always better when you’re launching one of the first new luxury brands in decade, insists Raphael, the executive director of Genesis Motor America.

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BMW Inks Three New Deals in China

Automaker shifting some ute production from South Carolina to China.

by on Jul.11, 2018

Baidu Vice President Zhenyu Li, left, and Klaus Fröhlich, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development, celebrate a new deal.

BMW has signed three new agreements with key partners in China that it says will bolster the company’s presence in the world’s largest automotive market.

The BMW Group and the Chinese manufacturer Great Wall Motor inked an agreement to produce Mini electric vehicles through a new 50:50 joint venture, Spotlight Automotive Limited, dedicated to the development and production of electric vehicles in China.

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In addition, the BMW Group also expanded its successful BMW Brilliance Automotive partnership. In recent years, BBA has become a cornerstone of the BMW brand’s success in its largest market. As part of the expanded venture, BMW is now expected to move some production from its massive assembly plant in South Carolina to China.  (more…)

Magna Building New BMW Z4, Toyota Supra

New vehicles to be produced in Austria.

by on Jul.05, 2018

Toyota Supra Racing Concept is the basis for the new Supra that will be built by Magna Steyr.

Magna Steyr has received the contract to build the new sports cars developed jointly by BMW and Toyota.

Magna has confirmed its that it has signed a contract with BMW and Toyota to produce the new BMW Z4/Toyota Supra starting at the end of 2018. It said that production of the new BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra will be added to its production line in Graz, Austria, after upgrades to the production line are complete.

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Although, the production levels for the Z4/Supra are expected to be relatively modest the added output will further drive Magna to reach its production capacity of 200,000 units in early 2019, analysts said.  (more…)