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White House Knew Key Justification for Cutting Mileage Rules Was False

Reducing fuel economy standards will increase, not cut, highway deaths, according to EPA data.

by on Aug.15, 2018

The Trump Administration claimed that cutting the mileage standards would save lives, but internal EPA e-mails show the opposite to be true.

When the White House announced plans to rollback Obama-era fuel economy standards earlier this month, administration officials claimed the move would lead to a reduction in U.S. roadway fatalities. But senior staffers at the Environmental Protection Agency actually warned that quite the opposite was likely, and that the regulatory changes would increase highway deaths.

Internal e-mails sent by EPA officials to the Office of Management and Budget, or OMB, raise new questions about the plans to freeze the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards at 2020 levels, well short of the 54.5 mpg target that was to be phased in through 2025. And the messages appear to give new ammunition to those attempting to block the rollback in court.

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The “proposed standards are detrimental to safety, rather than beneficial,” William Charmley, the director of the EPA’s assessments and standards division wrote to the OMB on June 18, the interagency e-mail indicating highway fatalities could be expected to increase by 17 annually.

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Lincoln Pushing Dealers to Split from Ford Stores

Company offering incentives to build standalone locations.

by on Aug.14, 2018

Lincoln is pushing dealers with twin Ford-Lincoln dealerships to split those locations up, creating standalone stores, like Lincoln of Troy (Michigan).

Lincoln is the latest luxury brand looking to exploit the advantages of this trend: stand-alone dealerships.

After escaping death at the hands of former Ford CEO Alan Mulally nearly five years ago, the company is asking owners of Ford-Lincoln dealerships in 30 major markets to build separate stores for the Lincoln brand.

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The concept isn’t entirely new as plenty of automakers have asked dealers to do the same throughout the years, the most recent being Hyundai and Genesis, although that program is in its infancy. Lincoln has a bit of history with stores separate from Ford-branded outlets from the days when it was Lincoln-Mercury. (more…)

Musk, Tesla Board, Move Forward on Privatization Plan

Carmaker hires Goldman, Silver Lake to advise.

by on Aug.14, 2018

Whether Elon Musk could justify tweeing "funding secured" is a matter of hot debate.

Even as questions mount about CEO Elon Musk’s plan to take the automaker private, the car company’s board is beginning the necessary steps to evaluate a proposal, with investment firms Silver Lake and Goldman Sachs brought in to offer advice on what appears to be a Saudi-funded buy-out.

Those developments come just a week after CEO Musk tweeted his interest in taking Tesla private while also hinting that “funding (is) secured.” Precisely where the funding will come from has become a central question, though Musk on Monday put up a blog post indicating he has been meeting with managers of the Saudi Arabian sovereign investment fund who have expressed interest in backing the plan.

Tesla News!

Tesla, meanwhile, now faces a probe by the SEC, as well as at least two lawsuits filed last week questioning whether the South African-born executive’s proposal was, in reality, a “nuclear attack” on by short-sellers.

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Ford Wants a Premium for All-New Ranger Pickup

Base model to start at $4,000 over Chevrolet Colorado.

by on Aug.14, 2018

Ford will offer a wide range of Ranger body styles, beds and powertrain configurations.

After a lengthy absence, the Ford Ranger is about ready to return to the U.S. market and shoppers now can price and build their own version of the midsize pickup at a special micro-site the Detroit automaker has launched.

Set to reach showrooms early next year, Ford will be offering a wide array of body styles, bed and powertrain options, ranging from the base, 4×2 SuperCab XL with a six-foot box, up to the more lavishly equipped 4×4 SuperCrew Lariat with a five-foot cargo box.

Product News!

But the heavily updated version of the global Ranger launched earlier in the decade won’t come cheap. The 2019 pickup will carry a starting price of $24,300 $1,095 in delivery fees. That’s about $4,000 more than its cross-town competition, the base, extended cab version of the 2019 Chevrolet Colorado starting at $20,500. And for truck buyers on a tight budget, the aging Nissan Frontier starts at just $18,900.

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Honda Adds Upgraded Safety Tech on 10th-Gen Civic

New option ups the safety factor for new Civic.

by on Aug.14, 2018

The 10th-generation Honda Civic gets a new "Sport" update as well as the Honda Sensing safety technology.

Honda is making its “Honda Sensing” driver assistance technology standard on the 2019 Honda Civic sedan and coupe.

The suite of safety technology, which includes collision mitigation braking with forward collision warning; road departure mitigation, incorporating lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control, is standard or available equipment on all Honda car and light truck nameplates, Honda officials noted.

Product News!

The 10th-generation Civic line-up for the 2019 model year will also include updated styling and new Sport trim for both body styles. (more…)

Saudis Appear to Be Key to Taking Tesla Private

Facing lawsuits, SEC probe, CEO Musk offers more details on privatization plan.

by on Aug.13, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed a few details about the plan to take the EV maker private he teased last week.

In a Monday morning blog post, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has offered some critical new details about the plan, first announced last week, to take the battery-carmaker private, pointing to a Saudi sovereign investment fund as the potential source of funding — though he also cautioned it would be “premature” to offer full details at this point.

Last Tuesday, the 47-year-old chief executive set off alarm bells when he posted a tweet declaring his interest in taking Tesla private at a price of $420 per share. The news sent investors scurrying to snap up Tesla stock which quickly approached an all-time high before settling back two days later.

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With virtually no details offered, Musk and Tesla quickly came under scrutiny from analysts, investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission which has begun to probe his comments to see if they violate federal securities law. Tesla now faces two lawsuits, as well, alleging the Tuesday announcement was really a “nuclear attack” on short-sellers. (more…)

Can the Flintstones and Jetsons Sell America on EVs?

New ad campaign brings back two classic cartoon families.

by on Aug.13, 2018

The Electrify America ad campaign plays up the fun-to-drive aspects of battery-cars as much as their environmental benefits.

There’s an electrified revolution heading for your local showroom, with dozens of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles coming to market over the next few years. The challenge the industry faces is getting consumers to plug in. All forms of battery-based vehicles accounted for barely 3% of the total U.S. market last year.

Building awareness is a key goal for Electrify America, the project backed by $2 billion from Volkswagen, part of the settlement of its diesel emissions scandal. The 10-year effort makes its public debut this week with an ad campaign pitching the virtues of battery-electric vehicles. And to help get the message across, it’s borrowing the theme music from two Boomer-era cartoon shows, the Flintstones and the Jetsons.

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The first spot, dubbed JetStones, features a number of new battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, and will air on national and local cable television, with a radio version running in both English and Spanish. At the same time, Electrify America will begin placing a network of high-speed charging stations across the country.

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Geely Readying to Plow $1.9B into Lotus Expansion

Could a Volvo-based crossover be in the works?

by on Aug.10, 2018

Geely is rumored to be ready to grow the Lotus brand, giving the Evora a crossover sibling or two.

Geely appears ready to expand its sphere of influence once again. The parent company of Volvo and major shareholder of Daimler AG is rumored to be examining the viability of putting $1.9 billion into sports car maker Lotus.

Holding 51% of the ownership stake, Geely is considering growing the company’s physical and intellectual presence in England with the idea of adding to the brand’s product line-up, including a crossover or smallish SUV, Bloomberg reported.

The Last Word!

Geely isn’t just looking to increase the size of the brand, it wants to expand the size of its ownership stake. It’s buying shares from Etika Automotive, which owns the other 49% of the company. (more…)

Apple Brings Back Top Engineer for Project Titan

Field's return has some wondering if a full-on vehicle is in the works.

by on Aug.10, 2018

Is Apple CEO Tim Cook getting the band back together? The company rehired one of its former engineers, Doug Field, for Project Titan.

Apple rehired Doug Field, one of its top engineers, after he left Tesla Inc. last month and assigned him to report to the leader of the Project Titan team.

Field spent five years at Tesla as the company’s top engineer. He left the company this summer under unusual circumstances. His hire also creates a unique circumstance as well — is Project Titan now focusing on creating a full-blown vehicle again instead of just a self-driving car system?

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Field is returning to work for Bob Mansfield, who has been overseeing Project Titan for the past several years. Mansfield was the person who, reportedly, moved the Apple’s car project from a full-on vehicle to just a self-driving system. (more…)

Car Dealership Numbers Holding Steady in US

Online sales not hurting auto dealers yet.

by on Aug.10, 2018

Auto dealership levels are virtually unchanged year-over-year, according to a new report.

Urban Science released statistics and insights today from its 2018 mid-year Automotive Franchise Activity Report, indicating continued stability in the number of automotive dealerships in the United States.

As of July 1, 2018, there were 18,252 dealerships (rooftops), a 0.2% increase from the Jan. 1, 2018, total of 18,213. The number of franchises, or brands a dealership sells, also experienced a period of stability, slightly decreasing from 32,029 on Jan.1, 2017 to 32,024 as of July 1, 2018.

News You Can Trust!

Despite the shrinkage of “brick-and-mortar” retailing that has emptied shopping malls across the country and threats from online sales, car dealerships, the centerpiece of automotive retailing are holding their own, according to a new study by Detroit-based Urban Science. (more…)

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