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Ford Replacing CFO Shanks with Amazon Veteran

Numerous other changes announced by Detroit automaker.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.21, 2019

A 42-year Ford veteran, CFO Bob Shanks had previously signaled his plan to retire.

Ford veteran Bob Shanks is stepping down, with his replacement as chief financial officer coming in from the online community.

The well-regarded Shanks, who spent 42 years at the Detroit automaker, will hand over the ledger to Tim Stone who has been serving as CFO of social media venture Snap. The 52-year-old Stone previously spent two decades at Amazon.

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“Bob will leave a remarkable 42-year legacy at Ford,” the automaker’s CEO Jim Hackett said. “As a CFO, he’s been relentless in driving for results and pushing the company to greater heights. Bob’s leadership was integral to Ford’s comeback during the great recession, and he has been an invaluable partner as we transform Ford to succeed in the next era.”

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BMW Warns Profits Will Fall in 2019 After Tough 2018

A disorderly Brexit could impact German automaker's bottom line.

by Michael Strong on Mar.20, 2019

The BMW Group warned that profits would be down again in 2019, and at higher levels than 2018.

BMW Group officials are predicting that this year will be tougher than last year and plans to implement a more than $13 billion plan to cut costs and improve efficiency by 2022 to offset technology development investments and currency costs.

The company saw profits drop 7.9% in 2018 and expects that to rise to 10% this year. As a result, it’s looking to improve efficiency levels and find ways to cut costs as Brexit issues are likely to make for a bumpy ride for European-based automakers.

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Additionally, the need to plow more money into electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle development is driving the $13.6 billion, or 12 billion euros, plan to trim expenses. However, BMW officials admit it’s an aggressive response to only a potential problem. (more…)

SEC Says Musk’s Response to Lawsuit “Borders on the Ridiculous”

Regulators tell court Tesla CEO failed to clear a single tweet with automaker per settlement.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.19, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk shown during last week's unveiling of the new Model Y.

Federal regulators have shot back at Tesla CEO Elon Musk in their battle over a contempt-of-court lawsuit, claiming the 47-year-old executive’s legal argument “borders on the ridiculous.”

The case stems from a tweet Musk filed last month declaring that Tesla would produce 500,000 vehicles this year. The Securities and Exchange Commission considered that “material” guidance which, under terms of a separate case last year, required the CEO to first get the approval of the company. But, the SEC said in a new filing, Musk has not cleared a single tweet with Tesla as he had agreed to.

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The lawsuit is being heard by U.S. Judge Alison Nathan who could hold Musk in contempt and levy fine or other forms of punishment. The Tesla executive was already forced to relinquish his post as chairman and could now be removed as the automaker’s chief executive officer.

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SEC Suing VW, former CEO, for ”Massive Fraud” in Emissions Cheating Scandal

Lawsuit "legally and factually flawed," the automaker responds.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.15, 2019

Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn faces legal problems in Germany, as well as the U.S.

Volkswagen’s ongoing efforts to end a scandal triggered by its cheating on diesel emissions testing just took a turn for the worse, the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing both the automaker and former CEO Martin Winterkorn of committing a “massive fraud” on U.S. investors.

The automaker has acknowledged it used “defeat devices” to rig its diesel engines to illegally pass emissions tests and has so far laid out over $30 billion in fines and settlements. It is still facing other legal headaches, including a separate lawsuit by investors and ongoing investigations in Europe, one resulting in the arrest and jailing of the former CEO of its Audi subsidiary. But it responded to the latest challenge by declaring the SEC lawsuit “legally and factually flawed.”

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The SEC lawsuit, filed in San Francisco, claims the automaker and former CEO Winterkorn concealed the depth of the scandal – and the potential penalties – from both investors and federal regulators. The Thursday complaint noted that in the year before the cheating was discovered and publicized by the EPA Volkswagen issued $13 billion in bonds and securities in the U.S. Those value of those financial devices were directly impacted once the carmaker’s subterfuge was revealed.

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VW Drafts Plan to Cut 7,000 Workers in Europe

Automaker looking to offset rising EV development costs.

by Joseph Szczesny on Mar.14, 2019

Volkswagen AG COO Ralf Brandstaetter said the company will be cutting thousands of jobs in Europe.

Following in the footsteps of some American automakers, Volkswagen AG is preparing to trim costs by eliminating thousands of jobs in face of a slowing European economy, and profits across the industry begin to slip while the high cost of shifting to electric vehicles and self-driving cars adds up.

The German carmaker said Wednesday it will eliminate as many as 7,000 positions – with measures including early retirement and not filling vacant positions – to achieve an annual profit gain of 5.9 billion euros $6.7 billion starting in 2023.

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GM recently cut 4,000 white-collar job and plans to close five plants while Ford is in the midst of an $11 billion restructuring plan that will include cutting a slew of salaried personnel, plus the announced closure of its plant in Brazil, resulting 2,700 losing their jobs. (more…)

Ford Officials Confirm Looming Salaried Employee Cuts

Numbers of white-collar jobs to be slashed not revealed.

by Michael Strong on Mar.13, 2019

Ford plans to cut thousands of salaried jobs as part of an $11 billion restructuring taking place between now and next year.

With General Motors caught square in the crosshairs by critics chastising the recent salaried job cuts and plant closures, Ford Motor Co. officials may be the next target, confirming today they plan to cut an unspecified number of salaried employees.

The job cuts were announced last year as part of an $11 billion global reorganization. However, no specifics were applied to how many or where they would occur. Ford officials even now won’t confirm how many.

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Said Deep, a Ford spokesman, declined to tell Reuters say how many jobs are being cut but said the company expects the process to be completed by the end of June. He said the restructuring “has resulted in some separations of salaried employees and the reassignment of others.”  (more…)

VW Expects to Sell 22 Million EVs Over Next Decade

CEO’s new target marks a 50% jump.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.12, 2019

VW CEO Herbert Diess is shown here with the I.D. Crozz and Buzz concept vehicles.

Germany’s Volkswagen AG expects to sell 22 million battery-electric vehicles over the next decade, CEO Herbert Diess said during the company’s annual meeting on Tuesday.

The carmaker has been on an aggressive push into electrification and has outlined projects expected to cost it close to $100 billion by 2025 alone. But, until today, Diess had set a target of selling just 15 million battery-cars. Either figure would mark a massive increase considering VW sold just 50,000 all-electric vehicles last year.

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“The supertanker is picking up speed,” Diess said Tuesday in a speech to shareholders gathered in Frankfurt. “We are aligning Volkswagen with e-mobility like no other company in our industry.”

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Tesla Backtracks on Store Closures; Raises Prices 3% Instead

$35K Model 3 exempt from price increase.

by Michael Strong on Mar.11, 2019

Tesla announced it will only close half of its stores and offset that by raising prices 3%.

Tesla buyers looking to walk into a store to buy a new vehicle were disappointed recently when Chief Elon Musk said the company would close the stores to cut costs — now they can rejoice.

In a blog post, the company announced it would only close about half of the stores across the country, after a spate of negative feedback about the move initially.

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“Over the past two weeks we have been closely evaluating every single Tesla retail location, and we have decided to keep significantly more stores open than previously announced,” the electric carmaker said.  (more…)

Jaguar Rethinking its Line-Up as Market Continues Shifting to SUVs

Automaker launching two major cost-cutting programs in bid to return to profitability.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.04, 2019

Jaguar's U.S. leader Joe Eberhardt said the speed with which customers moved from cars to SUVs was problematic.

While the surge in SUV and CUV sales has been underway for more than a decade, few could have guessed the pace with which that shift has accelerated during the last few years. And while that’s good news for one of the company’s brands, it has been a major challenge for the other half of Jaguar Land Rover.

Add in what a senior executive calls external “headwinds,” and the Indian-owned automaker posted a loss of 281 million British pounds, or $371.5 million, for the final quarter of 2018. That’s triggered a two-prong turnaround program that, U.S. CEO Joe Eberhardt said, is aimed at making the company “sustainable.”

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“I don’t want to say the speed of change took us by surprise, but they were too quick for us to react to immediately. It takes time to transform ourselves to the point we can be profitable again,” Eberhardt said during an interview. (more…)

Tesla Readying to Lease Model 3s to Employees

EV Maker's general counsel departs.

by Michael Strong on Feb.20, 2019

Tesla is readying to offer leases on its new Model 3 to employees to help boost demand for the sedan.

Tesla Inc. is readying for the next step in the evolution of its Model 3: leasing.

According to Electrek, the Palo Alto, California-based EV maker is looking to boost demand for the new mainstream sedan by offering employees a leasing program for the vehicle. Initial reports suggested the program would be in place in as little as two weeks.

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The leasing availability was outlined in an email to employees. However, the company denied it will be ready that quickly, although did confirm it was coming. (more…)