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Negotiating Deal VW is a “Delicate Dance,” Says Ford CEO Hackett

First project could be announced before year-end.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.15, 2018

Ford CEO Jim Hackett described the talks with Volkswagen as a "delicate dance."

A deal between Ford and Volkswagen focusing on joint efforts in the light commercial vehicle market could come together quickly, but in his first official acknowledgement that the two carmakers are exploring a wide range of additional options, Ford CEO Jim Hackett said those negotiations involve a “delicate dance.”

Like a growing number of competitors, Ford has opened up to the possibility of teaming up with erstwhile rivals on a variety of projects. And, in recent weeks, sources have indicated it is discussing deals that also could see them team up on everything from autonomous and electrified vehicles to joint production and marketing efforts in markets such as Europe and Latin America.

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“(VW CEO) Herbert (Diess) and I had a great discussion” about a possible alliance on commercial trucks, Hackett said in an interview with the Reuters news service, noting that things are “going better than we thought it would.” (more…)

Aston Martin Confirms DBX Name, Shows New SUV Testing

Production model set for Q4 2019 reveal.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.14, 2018

Aston Martin is bringing the DBX sport-utility vehicle to market after showing a concept a few years ago.

File it under “No Big Surprise”: Aston Martin has confirmed that its first-ever SUV will retain the name of the original concept ute, DBX. That said, there have been plenty of significant changes since the prototype was initially revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2015.

For one thing, the original, three-door show car now has a more conventional, five-door layout, albeit retaining a coupe-like roofline that, while not as exotic as the new Lamborghini Urus is certainly more sporty than the stolid Bentley Bentayga.

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The pics here show what is described as a DBX prototype being put through its paces on a Welsh rally stage by Aston Chief Engineer Matt Becker. And, according to a statement by the British marque, “signifies the start of an extensive testing program, (o)ne that has begun in Wales, as a nod to Aston Martin’s new St. Athan production facility in the Vale of Glamorgan.” (more…)

GM Expanding Maven Peer-to-Peer Rentals to Include Other Brands

Other brands will be available in mid-2019.

by Michael Strong on Nov.13, 2018

General Motors Vice President Urban Mobility and Maven Julia Steyn said the company will be adding non-GM vehicles to its peer-to-peer rental fleet.

Maven, General Motors’ private ride-sharing service, is undergoing an expansion early next year. Before gig-based entrepreneurs around the country begin salivating, the expansion is product-based not geographic.

The company is going to allow non-GM brand products to be rented on the platform starting in the middle of 2019, a GM official revealed.

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According to Julia Steyn, vice president of GM Urban Mobility and Maven, said Monday during a presentation at the UBS Global Technology Conference in San Francisco, that Maven plans expand the platform to micro-fleet entrepreneurs. (more…)

New Mercedes GLC F-Cell: World’s 1st to Combine Fuel-Cell, Plug-In Hybrid Tech

New model gets a combined range of 300 miles.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.13, 2018

The new Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell combines two technologies to help mitigate worries about running out fuel.

The new Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell is designed to help motorists address one of the biggest problems facing alternative powertrain technology: a lack of infrastructure.

The new crossover is the world’s first production vehicle to combine fuel-cell and plug-in hybrid technology in the same vehicle. That means a motorist will be less likely to be stuck somewhere without a source of power.

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“The innovative plug-in fuel cell drive combines the advantages of both zero-emission drive technologies and, thanks to its intelligent operating strategy, continuously optimizes the use of both energy sources in line with the current operating situation,” Mercedes said in a statement announcing the launch of the new F-Cell, which will officially go on sale in Germany next spring. (more…)

CEO Says VW Ready to Build 50 Million EVs

German automaker expects to spend nearly $60 bil on batteries alone.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.12, 2018

VW's CEO Herbert Diess said the company made arrangements to buy 50 million electric vehicle batteries.

Even though it won’t launch its first long-range battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, until next year, Volkswagen’s CEO is forecasting massive growth in the sector, the German automaker already having “booked” plans to build 50 million BEVs.

Precisely how long it will take to hit that target Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess didn’t say during an interview with German trade publication Automobilwoche. But the VW Group is expected to sell 10.7 million vehicles this year, a figure that includes a broad range of powertrain technologies, primarily diesel and gasoline.

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The launch of a Golf-sized all-electric model next year will put Volkswagen in direct competition with Tesla, and the Germans are preparing to roll out an array of other BEVs, including a reborn Microbus set to be called the I.D. Buzz. Sibling brand Audi, meanwhile, just introduced its first BEV, the e-tron SUV. All told, the various VW Group brands, ranging from entry-level Seat and Skoda to high-line Bentley and Lamborghini, plan to have at least 40 all-electric models in showrooms by 2025. (more…)

Renault, Alliance Partners Boost Investment in France

Group invests $1.6B in the country in the past year.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.12, 2018

Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron, center, tour Renault's plant in northern France.

Renault plans to build new Nissan and Mitsubishi vans at plants in France, raising investment in the country as it continues to explore a tighter integration of the three-way carmaking alliance.

The announcement, which timed to coincide with a plant visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, “underlines the importance of France for the alliance,” Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi said in a statement.

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Renault will build a new Nissan NV250 delivery van at the Maubeuge factory in northern France, which has been hard hit by de-industrialization. The new van will be built on an architecture shared with its own Kangoo model that includes an electric version, the alliance said in a statement. (more…)

VW Reportedly Set to Undercut Tesla Model 3 Price with Entry Long-Range EV

Entry model could come in around $23,000, according to report.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.09, 2018

VW plans to have two dozen fully electric vehicles, like this I.D. Crozz concept, in production.

Volkswagen is set to launch a base-model, long-range electric vehicle for less than $23,000, according to a report by Reuters, a price that would undercut the long-awaited entry-level Tesla Model 3 by more than a third.

Initially reluctant to enter the electrified vehicle market, the Volkswagen Group has now laid out an aggressive strategy that will include more than 40 all-electric models, as well as dozens of hybrids and plug-ins, for sale through its dozen different passenger vehicle brands. Meanwhile, the Wolfsburg-based carmaker is in discussions with Ford Motor Co. that could see them cooperate on EV development.

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The VW brand itself will cover a wide range of model segments with pure battery-electric vehicles through a new sub-brand dubbed I.D. These will include a reborn version of its legendary Microbus set to be marketed as the I.D. Buzz, as well as mid-sized and smaller offerings. The base model, TheDetroitBureau.com confirmed, is being referred to internally as the “MEB entry.” (more…)

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…)

Denholm Replaces Musk as Tesla Chairman

Appointment could be temporary, as Musk can regain post after three years.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.08, 2018

Australian Robyn Denholm will succeed Elon Musk as Tesla's chairman, though he remains CEO.

Australian Robyn Denholm is Tesla’s new chairman, replacing Elon Musk as head of the board of directors following a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission that forced the South African-born exec to relinquish his role.

Musk, who will remain chief executive officer of the battery-carmaker, can attempt to regain the chairman’s post, as well, after a three-year hiatus mandated by the SEC settlement. The agreement was reached after the government accused the 47-year-old of lying to investors when, last August, he declared that he had arranged funding to take Tesla private.

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The move will position Denholm as one of the highest-ranking female executives in the auto industry, with General Motors’ Mary Barra the only other woman serving as chairman of a major car manufacturer. Denholm had already been serving as an independent director on the Tesla board since 2014. There is one other woman on the board. (more…)

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.”

(more…)