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Daimler, Bosch Partner as Latest to Offer Self-Driving Ride-Sharing Service

Pilot set to launch in San Jose in late 2019.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.09, 2018

Daimler and Bosch will led pilot users ride in comfort, in modified Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans.

Daimler AG, the parent of Mercedes-Benz, has announced plans to launch an autonomous ride-sharing pilot program in San Jose, California starting late next year.

The carmaker, along with one of its lead technology suppliers, becomes the latest to enter a space that is expected to account for a significant share of the miles Americans clock on the roads each year by the end of the next decade. Waymo, the Google spin-off, is set to transition its own pilot program to a commercial venture this year, while General Motors is looking to launch a similar service.

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“The pilot project is an opportunity to explore how autonomous vehicles can help us better meet future transportation needs,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

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Nissan Profits Fall 8% in First Half of Fiscal Year

Sales hit in North American while China grows.

by Michael Strong on Nov.08, 2018

Nissan CFO Hiroshi Karube reported the company's profits fell 8% overall due to falling sales in North America and Europe.

Nissan Motor Co. reported an 8% drop in quarterly profits due to declining sales in its biggest markets, North America and Europe, as well as hits on raw material costs.

The Japanese automaker reported quarterly profits of 130.4 billion yen, or $1.1 billion, on Thursday, down from 141.6 billion yen the same period a year earlier. The automaker noted that quarterly sales fell nearly 3% to 2.82 trillion yen, or $24.8 billion.

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However, this dip in profits wasn’t enough for Nissan to revise its forecast for the fiscal year through March for a 500 billion yen, or $4.4 billion, profit on 12 trillion yen, or $106 billion, sales. (more…)

Is Toyota Next to Pare Back its Passenger Car Line?

US CEO “taking a hard look” at model mix in the era of the SUV.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.06, 2018

No longer #1; the Camry is just one of the Toyota passenger car models losing momentum.

With the exception of the Mustang, Ford is winding down production of passenger cars. Fiat Chrysler has eliminated almost all of its sedans and coupes, as well. In an era when SUVs have come to rule the roads, could Toyota be far behind?

While we’re not likely to see the Camry or Corolla nameplates vanish anytime soon, the Japanese giant is also rethinking its model mix and could toss some of its sedans, coupes and hatchbacks as it puts more of an emphasis on sport and crossover-utility vehicles, according to the head of its North American operations.

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“We are taking a hard look at all the segments we compete in, to make sure we are competing in profitable segments and that products that we sell have strategic value to the brand,” Jim Lentz told the Wall Street Journal.

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Toyota Earnings Soar on Global Sales Surge

Automaker lifts full-year forecast.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.06, 2018

Strong demand for Lexus, especially in the Chinese market, helped Toyota deliver strong earnings.

Toyota Motor Corp. reported a 28% increase in its net profit for the July-September quarter, earnings buoyed by strong demand in key global markets, including the Americas, Asia and Europe.

The Japanese giant also advised that it expects to see earnings push past earlier forecasts for the full year, in part driven by unexpectedly strong demand in China. Sales of the Lexus brand, have been booming there, despite a slowdown in the overall Chinese market.

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Sales gains were only one of the factors that propped up Toyota’s bottom line, said Senior Managing Masayoshi Shirayanagi. Referring to aggressive cost-cutting efforts, he said, “We are steadily making progress toward achieving our challenge-level target.”

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Subaru Profits to be Hit by Inspection Scandal, Recalls

Japanese maker struggling to get inspection issue resolved.

by Michael Strong on Nov.05, 2018

Subaru plants in Japan are still struggling with false inspections, which will impact its yearly earnings.

Subaru continues to struggle with recall issues, saying it would recall more vehicles sold in the Japanese market due to newly found instances of inspection cheating. Coupled with its recent engine recall and other actions and the company’s profits are expected to be cut by about 25%.

The company plans to recall about 100,000 vehicles, including its popular Impreza sedan, after it was found the final tests for components including brakes were not conducted properly. Vehicles sold overseas will not be affected. 

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“It’s unforgivable that these inspection-related issues are continuing,” CEO Tomomi Nakamura said. According to Reuters, he repeatedly added he believed that the latest recall would be the last related to testing misconduct.  (more…)

Ford, VW Discussions Now Far More Wide-Ranging Than Originally Planned

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.02, 2018

Ford and VW initially wanted to discuss cooperation on light commercial vehicles.

Talks between Ford and Volkswagen are covering far more territory than originally planned, when the two signed a memorandum of understanding in June that initially focused on joint development of commercial vehicles.

While Ford officials have told TheDetroitBureau.com there is no thought to an exchange of equity, virtually everything else seems at least open for discussion, with a number of key ventures being considered. According to various U.S. and European sources, these include joint development of a small pickup, cooperation on electrified and autonomous vehicles and possibly even collaboration on sales and marketing in trouble-spot markets, such as Europe and Latin America.

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Several reports have suggested that a major announcement could be in the offing, and a source close to the talks told TheDetroitBureau that “There could be an update by the end of the year.” But that person stressed that not all the discussions underway are likely to be resolved immediately, and could be spread out over months, even years – even “if everything (being negotiated) comes true.”

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GM Offering Buyouts to Salaried Employees to Cut Workforce

Automaker may terminate employees if buyout doesn't achieve results.

by Michael Strong on Oct.31, 2018

General Motors is offering buyouts to 18,000 employees as it seeks to streamline its North American operations.

After reporting a better-than-expected third quarter, General Motors is being “proactive” and offering voluntary buyouts to about 18,000 salaried employees in North America.

The offer is being extended to workers with 12 years or more experience and are designed to get ahead of rising costs, particularly in China. Employees were informed via a newsletter emailed Wednesday.

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The automaker reported a net profit of $2.53 billion during the July-to-September quarter, or $1.75 a share. A year ago, it lost $2.98 billion, or $2.03 a share, though that figure largely reflected the cost of completing the sale of its European-based Opel subsidiary to France’s PSA Group. (more…)

GM Handily Beats Earnings Forecast, Buoyed by Truck Sales

Shares soar in pre-bell trading.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.31, 2018

GM's Renaissance Center headquarters in Detroit.

General Motors delivered a positive surprise to analysts and investors on Wednesday morning, delivering significantly stronger earnings than had been forecast, buoyed by surging demand for its light truck line-up, including the completely redesigned Chevrolet Silverado pickup.

The announcement stands in sharp contrast to rival Ford Motor Co. which, last week, reported a significant decline in third-quarter income, despite strong demand for models like its F-150.

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GM said it earned a net of $2.53 billion during the July-to-September quarter, or $1.75 a share. A year ago, it lost $2.98 billion, or $2.03 a share, though that figure largely reflected the cost of completing the sale of its European-based Opel subsidiary to France’s PSA Group.

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Faraday Future “Effectively Insolvent,” Says Co-Founder

Battery-carmaker confirms second round of job cuts.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.31, 2018

Nick Sampson, (r), one of the Faraday Future founders, is shown with investor Jia Yueting, (l) at the debut of the FF91 concept in January 2016.

The California-based battery-car company Faraday Future is “effectively insolvent,” according to co-founder Nick Sampson who resigned on Tuesday.

His departure comes as the once-promising company prepares for a second round of mass layoffs, a Faraday spokesman advised TheDetroitBureau.com late Tuesday evening. Faraday had already laid off a sizable number of its approximately 1,300 employees last week as it struggled to find enough cash to continue operating.

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“There is a furlough pending,” said spokesman Jacob Brown, adding that Faraday needs to take “drastic measures, but the executive team wants to keep the company running.”

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Fiat Chrysler’s Q3 Profits Dinged Due to Diesel Emission Charges

Record earnings before diesel issue may mean dividend payment.

by Joseph Szczesny on Oct.30, 2018

Fiat Chrysler's third quarter earnings were hurt by charges tied to possible diesel emissions violations.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles net income dropped 38% during the third quarter despite record adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of 2 billion euros, or $2.27 billion, opening the door for the company to pay its first dividend since it was re-organized in 2014.

However, net profit decline 38% to 600 million euros, or $681.16 million, including a 700 million charge related to U.S. diesel emissions matters. FCA is now under investigation by U.S. Department of Justice for the company’s failure to disclose software on about 104,000 diesel-powered pickups and SUVs that regulators said could be similar to the “defeat devices” Volkswagen AG used to cheat emissions-testing on millions of its diesel-powered vehicles.

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FCA’s worldwide shipments increased by 3% and net revenue grew by 9% to 28.8 billion euros during the quarter. Despite cost of the diesel penalties, FCA’s adjusted EBIT in the North America region grew by 51% with margin at 10.2%, according to the financial information released by the company. (more…)