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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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

BMW: The Leading US Exporter of New Vehicles

Automaker's SUVs extreme popularity give it the title.

by Michael Strong on Mar.08, 2019

BMW shipped more than 234,000 SUVs and coupes from the U.S.

Once again, BMW is the top exporter of vehicles from the United States. For the fifth year in a row, the German automaker’s X series sport activity vehicles took it to the top of the heap.

The company said it exported 234,689 units of its sport-utilities and coupes from its Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant during 2018, totaling more than $8.4 billion in 2018.

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“Despite…the ongoing uncertainty regarding trade and tariffs, plant Spartanburg is still positively contributing to the U.S. balance of trade,” said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing Co LLC. (more…)

10 Best from the 2019 Geneva Motor Show

Choices range from city cars to super cars.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.07, 2019

This year's Geneva Motor Show was smaller than in year's past, but there were plenty of debuts for the press to cover.

It may be snowy up in the hills outside Geneva, but things were decidedly green inside Palexpo, the sprawling convention center that serves as home to the city’s annual auto show. The event wasn’t quite as busy this year, a number of automakers choosing to sit things out, as has been the growing industry trend. That said, there were some significant debuts during the Geneva Motor Show media preview.

And green really was the word, manufacturers rolling out more than a score of environmentally friendly products. That included quite a few all-electric models, but also hybrids, plug-ins and even a breakthrough gas engine.

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As always, Geneva covered a broad spectrum of product segments, from little city cars, such as the Honda e, all the way up to hypercars like the 1,900 horsepower Pininfarina Battista. Here’s a look at 10 of our favorites among the new products that debuted at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show: (more…)

Hyundai Shows Off 2020 Remake for Sonata

South Korean automaker updates its flagship.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.06, 2019

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata has lifted some cues from several recent concepts, including the Le Fil Rouge.

Every so often, traveling down the highway, you’ll run across an old Hyundai Sonata and realize just how dramatically the Korean carmaker has changed its approach to styling over the course of barely a decade.

Get ready for another surprise as Hyundai prepares to roll out an all-new version of its flagship sedan at the upcoming New York Auto Show. Lower, wider, sportier and decidedly more upscale in appearance, it just might give pause to some of the folks who’ve been thinking about migrating to one of the company’s new SUVs.

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“Sonata celebrates innovative coupe-like silhouette,” said Sang Yup Lee, senior vice president and head of the Hyundai Design Center. “A short overhang, sloping roofline and low deck lid create a balanced feel, and Hyundai’s signature chrome accent now goes all the way into the hood, making it look even longer. It also has LED lighting built in. These cues bring the Sensuous Sportiness design to life.”

(more…)