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Lotus to Build Cars in China

Geely gets approval for new plant in Wuhan.

by Michael Strong on Jan.17, 2019

As it develops new products, like the 3-Eleven, Lotus needs more manufacturing space, and it's getting it – in China.

Geely Holding’s acquisition of a majority stake in Lotus in 2017 virtually assured the oft-troubled sports car company would survive well into the future, and at some point, some of its cars would be produced in China.

Well, the future is now.

Global News!

Lotus’s Chinese parent plans to open a $1.3 billion factory in Wuhan that opens up a world of possibilities for the super car producer. The company could build more over-the-top vehicles, i.e. faster and better handling, or it could simple build more, i.e. volume. (more…)

EVs Aren’t Ready to “Take Over the World,” Says Toyota’s Lentz

North American CEO warns “It’s going to be a battle” are models flood market but sales lag.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.16, 2019

Toyota's Jim Lentz believes the auto industry is putting too much stock – and money – into electric vehicles.

By various estimates, there should be as many as 100 all-electric vehicles on the market by the end of 2020, with scores more plug-ins and conventional hybrids already available. And that could pose a major challenge for automakers who are investing billions into the market to build battery-based vehicles. That includes Toyota which is investing about $1 billion to open up a new plant in U.S. in a partnership with Mazda that will, among other products, produce a new line-up of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.

The question is whether all that money could be going down a rathole. For the moment, at least, Tesla appears to be the only automaker making any money on battery vehicles, as a number of industry leaders pointed out during a series of events in Detroit this week.

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That included Jim Lentz, the CEO of Toyota North America, who warned that, “It’s going to be a battle,” as manufacturers struggle to grab customers in a market where “There’s not much growth.” (more…)

BMW Updates Flagship 7 Series

In an SUV era does it matter?

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.16, 2019

BMW's new flagship model, the 7 Series, is ready to hit the road, borrowing some styling cues from the X7.

In an era of exotic SUVs like the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, do sedans really matter anymore? Can a conventional four-door model still be considered a “flagship?”

That’s a question BMW is trying to answer with the launch of the updated, 2020 7 Series. But it’s takes just one look to recognize which side of the product line-up is influencing the other. With the all-new X7 set to roll into showrooms in short order, it looks like the SUV is setting the tone for the sedan.

Product News!

Just one glance at the image shown here and you’ll see what that means. As a midcycle update, there’s a limit to what the Bavarian marque can achieve, since it won’t be able to change the underlying platform for a few years. Nonetheless, you can’t miss the massive new version of the traditional BMW double-kidney grille that looks like it was lifted whole from the new X7. (more…)

Continental Boss Putting Brakes on Autonomous Vehicles

Degenhart believes self-drivers are farther away than automakers say.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.15, 2019

Continental AG Chairman Elmar Degenhart said he believes that self-driving cars are much further way than automakers suggest will happen.

While automakers may have you believe that self-driving vehicles are right around the corner, at least one auto supplier believes that it will be well into the next decade before autonomous vehicles will be capable of venturing beyond a well-defined area and take to the open road.

Instead, drivers will continue to adapt to advanced driver assistance systems, also known as ADAS, which will help make the transition to self-driving cars easier for uneasy vehicle owners.

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Elmar Degenhart, chairman of Continental AG, one of the auto industry’s leading suppliers of driver assistance systems, told reporters during the North American International Auto Show, that the adaptation of driver assistance systems such as blind spot detection has been encouraging.  (more…)

Ford, VW Announce 1st in Promised Series of Joint Ventures

Carmakers will focus first on midsize pickups, light commercial vehicles.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.15, 2019

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and VW AG CEO Herbert Diess downplayed the immediate impact their new deal.

Confirming months of rumors, Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen announced Tuesday that they will launch the first of what they suggested will be a series of joint ventures, focusing initially on midsize pickups and light commercial vehicles.

Moving forward, they anticipate adding projects that will pair their costly efforts on electrified and autonomous vehicles, while Herbert Diess, the CEO of VW, said during a joint teleconference that the new partners could work together on “other” products in the future.

Breaking News!

Alliances are becoming more commonplace in an industry where changing consumer tastes and emerging technologies are stretching thin the budgets of even the most well-funded manufacturers, said Diess, who added that, “In such an environment, it just makes sense to share investments, pool innovation capabilities and create scale effects that are clearly defined.” (more…)

Ford Laying Off 1,000 Workers in Great Britain

Brigend Engine Plant loses half of its workers.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.15, 2019

Ford is cutting 1,000 jobs at the Brigend Engine Plant in Wales.

Ford of Europe is poised to eliminate more than 1,050 jobs at the Brigend Engine Plant in Wales, according to the British union representing representing them.

The company confirmed last week that it was poised to eliminate hundreds of jobs across its operations in both Great Britain and on the European continent. The Brigend plant currently employs 2,100 meaning the impending cuts would eliminate roughly 50% of the plant’s workforce.

Business News!

Ford is in the midst of a broad restructuring of its operations worldwide with analysts estimating the total number of job cuts could top 15,000 or more. (more…)

Volkswagen Building Electric Vehicles in Chattanooga

Automaker plowing $800M into new plant.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.14, 2019

Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess announced today that the company would build electric vehicles at its Chattanooga, Tennessee campus.

Volkswagen AG that it will spend $800 million to build two electric vehicles at its U.S. assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as part of the company’s global effort to broaden the appeal of electric vehicles.

“The U.S. is the world’s second-largest market for electric vehicles after China,” said Hebert Diess, Volkswagen AG CEO, who said the first U.S.-built EV, a crossover style vehicle will be ready by 2022 with the second vehicle to follow shortly afterwards.

Business News!

Diess hopes the company’s commitment building EVs in Chattanooga, and the large investment required to support it, will help keep at bay any threats of tariffs. “We are making a substantial investment in the U.S. with this announcement. We hope that counts for something,” Diess said. (more…)

Live From Detroit!

This year's event has some of everything.

by tdb on Jan.14, 2019

This year’s media preview of the North American International Auto Show may be wrapping up, but it had some intriguing — and occasionally surprising — debuts, including a flying car. Check out  complete coverage of the 30th anniversary NAIAS on TheDetroitBureau.com. (more…)

Nissan Shake-Up Claims First Victim: Former US CEO Muñoz

Is this the start of a “bloodbath” that will purge non-Japanese senior managers?

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.11, 2019

Jose Muñoz, Nissan's chief performance officer, parted ways with the automaker today.

José Muñoz, a widely respected Nissan executive and a protégé of ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn, is leaving the automaker just days after he reportedly took a leave of absence to deal with “special tasks.”

Muñoz, who had gone to Japan this week, was said to have resigned, according to Nissan, but several observers questioned whether his departure marks the beginning of a purge of senior managers linked to Ghosn. The 64-year-old executive was arrested on Nov. 19, and accused of a number of financial misdeeds, prosecutors on Friday indicting him for the second time.

Breaking News!

“José Muñoz has elected to resign from Nissan Motor Company, effective immediately,” Nissan said in a statement e-mailed to TheDetroitBureau.com. (more…)

GM Expects Bigger Profits, More Transformation in 2019

Company wants to make workforce changes during strong labor market.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.11, 2019

GM CEO Mary Barra is leading the transformation of the company's manufacturing footprint.

General Motors Co. expects earnings to grow in 2019 as it restructures, picks up the pace of moving towards what Chairman Mary Barra described as an “all-electric” future, and maintains its market share in China.

“We will continue to strengthen our core business and invest in the technologies that will transform the future of mobility. Managing both well is critical to position General Motors for success for generations to come,” Barra said, adding that it was better to tackle this restructuring during a strong labor market.

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“We are committed to driving significant shareholder value over the long term as we drive the transformation,” she added. (more…)