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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…)

Chinese EV Maker Nio Eyes $1.8B IPO on NYSE

EV maker joins other Chinese automakers on exchange.

by on Aug.16, 2018

Chinese EV maker Nio is preparing its $1.8 billion IPO for the New York Stock Exchange.

A Chinese electric vehicle start-up, Nio, which is backed by one of China’s largest technology companies, is preparing for a $1.8 billion initial public offering of its American depositary.

It represents the biggest U.S. listing by a Chinese automaker, according to reports from China.

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Nio is backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd, a company with holdings the internet, technology and gaming as well as other ventures, including the emerging automotive-oriented mobility industry, has is seeking a float of up to $1.8 billion, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It will go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “NIO.”  (more…)

Ford Spending $740 M to Revamp Dilapidated Train Station, Campus

Automaker hopes to get $250M in assistance for the project.

by on Aug.15, 2018

A rendering of what Ford's new campus, including Michigan Central Station, in Corktown will look like.

Ford recently unveiled its plan to move its electric and autonomous vehicle operations into a campus in southwest Detroit, anchored by a historic train station the company plans to refurbish during the next few years.

The move to reinvent the former Michigan Central Station was hailed by Detroit politicians and neighborhood advocates; however, other than a nebulous figure of $4 billion it planned to invest overall, no real dollar amount for the new campus was released.

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Ford disclosed Tuesday at a meeting with community leaders it plans to spend $740 million to revamp Michigan Central Station, as well as other neighborhood sites. The automaker aims to turn the building into a campus of offices for up to 5,000 employees. (more…)

Tesla Board Backs Consideration of Musk’s Privatization Plan

Six board members willing to look further at the plan.

by on Aug.08, 2018

Tesla's Elon Musk appears to have the support of the board of directors for his privatization plans.

Just a day after telling Tesla employees, and later the world via Twitter, that he wants to take the EV maker private, CEO Elon Musk appears to be getting support from his board of directors.

Six board members issued a statemen saying they were considering his proposal and that they’d met with him previously to explore the strategy, including “discussion as to how being private could better serve Tesla’s long-term interests.”

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Two other the board members, Kimball Musk, Elon’s brother, and Steve Jurvetson, a venture capitalist, were not part of the statement. Members of the board who signed the statement were Brad Buss, Robyn Denholm, Ira Ehrenpreis, Antonio Gracias, Linda Johnson Rice and James Murdoch. (more…)

Ford Charges Ahead With New Autonomous Vehicle Unit

New L.L.C. comes weeks after announcing new Detroit campus.

by on Jul.24, 2018

Less than a month after Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and Bill Ford, announced plans for a Detroit campus, Hackett unveiled Ford Autonomous Vehicles L.L.C.

Less than a month after inviting the world to look at the dilapidated former train station that will be the cornerstone of the campus for the company’s autonomous and electric vehicle operations, Ford charged ahead wih the endeavor creating Ford Autonomous Vehicles L.L.C.

The new organization is charged with accelerating Ford’s AV business to capitalize on market opportunities, and the company’s not just taking a flyer on this business: it plans to roll $4 billion into the effort.

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“Ford has made tremendous progress across the self driving value chain – from technology development to business model innovation to user experience,” said Jim Hackett, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Now is the right time to consolidate our autonomous driving platform into one team to best position the business for the opportunities ahead.” (more…)

Nearly 1 in 4 Tesla Model 3 Reservations Have Been Cancelled

Number could escalate as production lags, competition heats up.

by on Jun.06, 2018

After its debut of the Model 3, Tesla logged about 400,000 reservations for the mainstream sedan — at $1,000 each. Now a quarter want their money back.

While Tesla hasn’t given out precise numbers, it’s believed to have quickly logged about 400,000 advance reservations for the Model 3 battery-sedan, each putting down a deposit of at least $1,000.

But the lengthy delays in getting large numbers of the Model 3 into production have been causing serious problems for Tesla, not the least of which was the record loss the company posted during the first quarter. And the problems could grow worse, even though Tesla CEO Elon Musk told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on Tuesday that production will “quite likely” reach 5,000 sedans a week by the mid-year mark.

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Even if it continues to increase for the rest of 2018, the Tesla plant in Fremont, California, will end the year far short of the 400,000 Model 3 sedans that were expected to be produced for the full year. And with many of those holding early reservations now likely to wait until well into 2019 before they can take delivery, nearly one in four has cancelled their order and asked for a refund. (more…)

Jaguar Land Rover Aiming for Off-Road Autonomy

Project Cortex “all-terrain, all- weather autonomous capability.”

by on Jun.04, 2018

Negotiating a rugged trail is difficult enough for humans, but JLR aims to make it possible for autonomous vehicles.

As a series of recent collisions has demonstrated, it’s not easy to develop cars capable of driving on their own on a regular roadway. Now, imagine the challenge that would be involved in programming an autonomous vehicle to operate off-road, as well.

But that’s precisely what Jaguar Land Rover is hoping to do with its new Project Cortex, the British automaker saying it will invest nearly $5 million to come up with vehicles that have all-terrain, all-weather autonomous capability.”

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“Self-driving is an inevitability for the automotive industry,” explained Chris Holmes, JLR’s director of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research. “It’s important that we develop our self-driving vehicles with the same capability and performance customers expect from all Jaguars and Land Rovers.”

(more…)

SoftBank Investment Triggers GM Best Share Gain Ever

Cruise Automation could be floated in IPO.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Chevy Bolt will be General Motors first fully autonomous car when it brings a self-driver to the market in the future.

Shares of General Motors posted their biggest gain in years, rising nearly 13% Thursday on news that Japanese tech investment fund SoftBank was investing $2.25 billion in GM’s autonomous vehicle development subsidiary, Cruise Automation.

SoftBank’s big investment was one of several major announcements yesterday that underscored the growing interest in self-driving vehicles. Waymo, the spinoff of Google, said it would purchase as many as 62,000 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid minivans for use in its planned self-driving ride-sharing service. Currently in a pilot program, it intends to begin commercial operations in Phoenix later this year and then begin a national rollout.

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GM plans to launch a similar ride-sharing operation through another subsidiary, Maven, using versions of its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV modified by Cruise. Mary Barra, the automaker’s CEO, said GM will look at “other opportunities” for Cruise that could involve alliances with other companies SoftBank has funded, including Uber and China’s Didi Chuxing. (more…)

More Products, More Volume, Bigger Margins: FCA Lays Out Aggressive, 5-Year Growth Plan

Morning presentation outlines plans for Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Ram TRX will be among the new models FCA will bring out over the coming five years.

(This story has been revised to update plans for Jeep’s pickup and a midsize pickup from Ram that, CEO Marchionne now says will come to the U.S. market.)

In a sweeping presentation designed to give analysts, investors, media and potential buyers a good look at its future, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives are spending a day detailing their plans for the company and its various brands.

At the midway mark, as they break for lunch, they’ve already lifted the kimono far enough to show what’s coming for the Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands and, in a nutshell, it can be summed up as more products targeting lots more volume and much bigger margins.

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The new five-year plan will be the last crafted under the guidance of Sergio Marchionne, the 65-year-old executive who helped pull off the pairing of two struggling manufacturers to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. His third five-year plan, Marchionne stressed that “The true finish line is the one always yet to come.”

(more…)

BMW and Mercedes-Benz Will Merge Their Mobility Services Operations

Goal is “seamless mobility from Point A to B” whether you’re driving, taking a train, even riding a bike.

by on Mar.28, 2018

A mobility enterprises, like Daimler's alliance with the Car2Go car-sharing service, are going to partner with BMW.

In what is being described as a “historic” move, traditional arch-rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz have announced plans to merge their many and varied mobility services operations in a bid to make it easier to get “from Point A to B seamlessly,” no matter what form of transportation you use.

The two German automakers are already big players in the emerging field of mobility services, among other things partnering with taxi fleets and parking structures while operating both car- and ride-sharing services in a number of cities around the world. The new joint venture will also work with mass transit systems and even with the public bicycle services popping up in many urban areas.

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“Our goal is to provide mobility services at levels so far unheard of,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW AG board member who helped negotiate the alliance. (more…)