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GM Declined Offer to Keep Lordstown Plant Open

Cleveland car dealer wanted Cruzes for ride-hailing business.

by Michael Strong on Mar.19, 2019

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra reportedly turned down a deal that would have kept the Lordstown plant open.

General Motors Co. could have avoided the latest round of flogging via Twitter from President Donald Trump about its Lordstown, Ohio plant if it had accepted an offer from one of its dealers.

Cleveland-based dealer Bernie Moreno reportedly met with GM officials last fall with an offer to buy as many as 180,000 Chevy Cruzes annually as part of a nationwide ride-hailing fleet to rival Uber and Lyft. The deal could have run as long as five years, according to a Detroit Free Press story.

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Moreno owns a dozen car dealerships across the country selling brands ranging from Lotus and Rolls Royce to Mercedes-Benz to Buick and GMC. However, GM officials studied the deal and then declined the offer apparently viewing it as not viable. The plant was idled last month as the last U.S.-built Cruze rolled off the line. (more…)

Over 70% of Americans “Afraid” to Ride in a Fully Autonomous Car

"The good, the bad and the ugly."

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.14, 2019

The fatal crash involving an Uber vehicle in Tempe, AZ has negatively shaped many peoples' view of autonomous vehicle technology, AAA found.

Almost exactly a year after an autonomous Uber prototype struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, a new AAA study finds more than seven in ten Americans “afraid” of riding in a fully autonomous vehicle.

That’s despite the fact that 100s of self-driving prototypes are plying U.S. roads on a daily basis, a number that could soon climb into the tens of thousands if Congress moves to approve proposed legislation designed to help make the technology a part of everyday life. Already, the first self-driving vehicle ride-sharing program has gone into operation, launched last December by Google spin-off Waymo.

Out of this World!

“Automated vehicle technology is evolving on a very public stage and, as a result, it is affecting how consumers feel about it,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering.

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Nissan IMQ “Signals the Direction” of Future Electric CUVs

A “seamless” blending of exterior and interior design.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.05, 2019

Nissan designers opted for a sharper and more angular approach to the design of the IMQ.

Think of the new Nissan IMQ concept vehicle as a rolling crystal ball. Following on the debut of the IMs prototype at the Detroit Auto Show two months ago, the Japanese maker says its latest concept “signals the direction of (its) next generation of crossovers.”

Make that battery-electric CUVs, for the concept vehicle that debuted today at the Geneva Motor Show reveals the next-generation e-Power system, an all-electric powertrain that you might think of as the familiar Nissan Leaf on steroids.

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Actually, that is a bit misleading, as the Nissan IMQ carries with it a 1.5-liter gas engine that serves solely as a generator, providing energy when the battery is drained. That’s the same approach BMW has taken with its little i3 city car. The internal combustion engine never actually provides direct power to the wheels.

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Lyft IPO Depends on an Autonomous Future

Driverless vehicles would eliminate its biggest expense.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.04, 2019

Lyft continues to grow, but to accelerate that, the company is looking to raise big money through an IPO.

Running in the red every single quarter is normally not a good formula for success, though Tesla has shown that deficits aren’t necessarily verboten with investors. So, despite losing more than $2 billion during  the last two years alone, Lyft is preparing to go public.

The federal paperwork it filed last week is loaded with cautionary notes, and it appears to be asking potential investors to keep their eye on one development that could transform Lyft – as well as competitors like Uber and Waymo – into a cash cow: the arrival of driverless vehicle.

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“We have incurred net losses each year since our inception and we may not be able to achieve or maintain profitability in the future,” the company said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (more…)

Peugeot Will Be the Brand of Choice for PSA’s Reborn U.S. Dealer Network

“This is not about speed,” says North American CEO. Re-launch could take until 2026.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.26, 2019

PSA's North American CEO Larry Dominque said the company will be very deliberate in its return the U.S.

The Peugeot brand is making its return to the U.S. and Canadian markets, parent Groupe PSA announced Tuesday, but the relaunch of its dealer network could take until 2026 to put in place.

The news comes 28 years after Peugeot pulled out of the U.S., a victim of rapidly declining sales. Rebuilding a market could prove challenging for the Paris-based carmaker, industry analysts warn, pointing to the troubles Fiat has faced since returning to the States after a two-decade absence.

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“The good news for us is PSA is not dependent on me to sell a single car,” Groupe PSA North America CEO Larry Dominique said in an interview on Tuesday. “The idea is to build the brand the right way.” (more…)

BMW, Daimler Launching New Ride-Sharing Service, Other Mobility Ventures

New partners open door to other participants.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.22, 2019

BMW Chief Harald Krueger, left, and Daimler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche are all smiles after announcing plans to merge mobility operations.

Nearly a year after announcing plans to combine their ambitious mobility services operations, Mercedes’ parent Daimler and erstwhile rival BMW have announced an array of new joint venture projects that will include car and ride-sharing operations that could challenge upstarts like Uber, Lyft and China’s Didi Chuxing.

The two luxury automakers plan to invest a combined 1 billion euros, or about $1.1 billion, to expand the five projects BMW CEO Harald Krueger and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche outlined at a news conference Friday, which also include parking and electric vehicle charging. The two newly minted partners also opened the door to cooperation with other automotive manufacturers.

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“These five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously,” said BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger. (more…)

Apple Cuts Over 200 Jobs at Autonomous Vehicle Project

Move raises questions about what will remain of Project Titan.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.24, 2019

Apple Tim Cook had called self-driving vehicles "the mother of all AI projects."

Apple has cut at least 200 jobs at Project Titan, its autonomous vehicle project, sources told TheDetroitBureau.com, a report now confirmed by CNBC.

The operation has been underway in near secrecy for several years and had previously gone through several upheavals, according to sources, as the tech giant tried to figure out exactly what its long-term goals would be. While it appeared committed to the idea of developing self-driving vehicle technology, the big question was whether Apple should also build the cars that would use that technology and, if so, how they would be used.

Breaking News!

“We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple,” a company spokesperson told CNBC overnight. “As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives, across all of Apple.”

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Waymo to Build Self-Driving Cars in Michigan

Company in the market for a used auto plant.

by Michael Strong on Jan.22, 2019

Waymo is moving east to Michigan to build Level 4 autonomous vehicles in metro Detroit.

More and more automakers looking to develop their autonomous vehicles are finding their way to Michigan, and now add Waymo to the list. The Google spinoff plans to produce robot cars at a to-be-determined location in southeast Michigan.

The company has been testing its self-driving vehicles largely in the southwest, and had planned to find a cold weather state (i.e. a state with snow) to continue testing. However, this plant will be the first-ever site to churn out Level 4 autonomous vehicles.

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“Waymo will first identify a facility in Southeast Michigan and, over the next few years, aim to create hundreds of local jobs in the community,” the company said in a statement. “We’ll be looking for engineers, operations experts and fleet coordinators to join our team and help assemble and deploy our self-driving cars.”  (more…)

Union, Activists Plan GM Protests Outside Charity Preview

Rally to call to light unfairness of plant shutdowns.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.17, 2019

The UAW plans to hold a candlelight vigil outside of the NAIAS charity preview to protest GM's planned plant closures.

The Union Auto Workers and union activists are planning demonstration ahead of North American International Auto Show charity preview to protest General Motors’ plans to close five plants.

The UAW is organizing a candlelight vigil at the Labor Monument on Jefferson a short distance from Cobo Center, starting at 4:30 p.m. “Recent announcements from GM concerning plants in the U.S. will have a devastating effect on members of the UAW family,” the union said in announcing the vigil.

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The union, along with Unifor, the union representing autoworkers in Canada, has been waging a letter-writing campaign to protest GM’s plans to close five assembly and manufacturing plants in the U.S. (more…)

Make Room in Your Garage for the Octocopter

Ohio start-up wants to have this 2-person drone in the air by mid-2020.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.16, 2019

The SureFly Octocopter is expected to cost $200,000 and could be airborne by 2020.

With highway congestion getting worse and worse in most major cities, there’s plenty of talk about flying cars and cabs that could leapfrog traffic, and a small Ohio start-up is determined to be the first one to take to the air.

More than 90 years after Henry Ford gave up on his Flying Flivver project, Columbus-based Workhorse Group is seeking FAA approval for its SureFly Octocopter, something that could come as early as mid-2020. The company is already taking orders for what is essentially a flying drone.

Winging It!

In fact, the Octocopter on display this week at the North American International Auto Show looks a lot like the popular drones marketed by DJI and could have just as many uses, Workhorse CEO Steve Burns saying his company is already talking with farmers, firefighters and the military – never mind individual customers who like the idea of having something so easy to fly.

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