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Mercedes-Maybach is Coming Back

Super-luxurious crossover being built in Alabama.

by Michael Strong on Mar.18, 2019

Mercedes-Benz plans to build the new Mercedes-Maybach GLS at its plant in Alabama for global distribution.

The Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is already churning out the GLS and a few other models, but the German automaker is adding one more to the line: The Mercedes-Maybach GLS.

Introduced in China last year as an EV concept, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS will join the next-generation sport-ute getting ready to hit dealerships later this year, according to Autonews. The plant will build the new Maybach for global distribution, the automaker noted.

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Ultra-luxurious crossover is obviously playing up the theme from the original Maybach, which had its admirers, but didn’t sell in large enough numbers to build as a regular model in the 1990s and early 2000s. (more…)

BMW Reassigns Key Management Responsibilities

Moves designed to make company leaner.

by Joseph Szczesny on Mar.18, 2019

BMW's Harald Krueger noted the company's recent shuffling of executives should make the company leaner and more competitive.

The BMW Group is reorganizing its Board of Management to create what Is described as a new leaner, future-oriented management structure.

“We are restructuring our divisions to give us the best possible foundation for the future. It sends out a clear signal that our organization is lean and efficient throughout the company,” said Harald Krüger, chairman of the BMW AG Board of Management, speaking in Munich on Friday.

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The moves come at a time when carmakers the world over are facing sweeping change and major financial pressures. In fact, BMW recently announced plans to alliance with archrival Mercedes-Benz to address technical issues with autonomous vehicles. German carmakers, such as BMW, also are still reeling from a losing bet on diesel technology that has cost them dearly. (more…)

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.

(more…)

Penske Takes on Daimler Electric Trucks for Deliveries

Trucks travel about 60 miles on a charge.

by Joseph Szczesny on Mar.15, 2019

The brand-new FUSO eCanter, the first all-electric light-duty truck in series production, is now being used by Penske for deliveries.

Penske Truck Leasing is preparing plans to operate electric trucks from Daimler AG’s Japanese affiliate Fuso for urban deliveries in California.

“With its Fuso brand Daimler was able to gain knowledge and experience with e-trucks globally in various markets,” said Hartmut Schick, head Daimler Trucks Asia.

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“We are very proud, that now with Penske, a huge commercial customer in the U.S., will also operate the Fuso eCanter for urban delivery – next to its Freightliner brothers. Penske will benefit from the global know how and experience network within Daimler Trucks,” he added. (more…)

What to Expect When Tesla’s Model Y Rolls Out

New electric-SUV could double sales of Model 3.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.14, 2019

The Model Y debuts tonight and will be more expensive than the Model 3.

In a market where SUVs and CUVs have overwhelmed traditional sedans and coupes, there’s a yawning gap in the Tesla line-up that the upstart automaker intends to fill in the months ahead.

And the process will begin this evening when CEO Elon Musk pulls the wraps off the Tesla Model Y. Set to become the fourth product in the automaker’s portfolio, the battery-SUV could outsell all existing Tesla products combined, at least if a recent forecast by CEO Elon Musk proves accurate.

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“We will probably see higher volumes for Model Y than Model 3, (perhaps) double,” the 47-year-old exec said during a late January conference call with auto analysts and journalists. (more…)

Audi Planning Dozens of EV Concepts, Production Models

But shift threatens familiar models, like the TT.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.14, 2019

The Q4 e-tron appears to be about the same size as the current Q3, and is expected to hit the road in 2021.

Few automakers have decided to plug into electrification like Audi, the luxury arm of Volkswagen AG showing off an assortment of concepts and production models over the last year. Now, the automaker says, its push is ramping up, with as many as three dozen battery-electric products in the pipeline.

Audi is echoing the direction being blazed by its parent, VWAG CEO Herbert Diess yesterday announcing the company’s dozen passenger brands expect to sell a collective 22 million battery-electric vehicles by 2029, a 50% increase from its previous forecast.

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But the transition to electric won’t come cheap. The billions of euros Audi and its parent are investing in electrification will drop the luxury brand’s own operating return on sales to between 7 and 8.5%, officials said during a meeting at brand headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, compared to a long-term Audi goal of between 9 and 11%. (more…)

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…)

Fiat Chrysler Eyes Extending Diesel Run in Europe

CEO Manley says consumer demand will determine final decision.

by Joseph Szczesny on Mar.13, 2019

FCA CEO Mike Manley said the company may rethink its diesel plans in Europe if demand is strong.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. could wind up backtracking on the company’s earlier pledge to eliminate diesel from its passenger cars in Europe by 2022.

In a conversation on the sidelines of the Geneva Motor Show, FCA CEO Mike Manley indicated that the company could reconsider its decision to eliminate diesel engines from its passenger car models if public demand for the vehicles remains strong.

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“We don’t want to say we got rid of diesel, and by the way, it also came with a 15%, 20%, 30% drop in our sales,” Manley said. (more…)

Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance Reconfigures Board of Directors

Ghosn denied board meeting appearance by judge.

by Michael Strong on Mar.12, 2019

The leaders of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi celebrate the reconfiguration of the Alliance's board of directors.

Former Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Chairman Carlos Ghosn may be free from jail, the leaders of the three-headed monster don’t want him free to exercise any more influence over the company in his role on the board of directors.

Fortunately, a Tokyo court gave them what they wanted, banning the former boss from taking part in the meeting of the board of the directors.

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“Mr. Ghosn is disappointed that the Court denied his request to attend the Nissan Board of Directors meeting,” according to a statement issued by a spokesman.  (more…)