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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…)

Range Rover Wires In Teaser ahead of New Evoque Debut

Fleshed-out SUV coming to Los Angeles – and could feature new Transparent Hood technology.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.15, 2018

Land Rover created full-size, wireframe versions of the second-generation Range Rover Evoque.

Land Rover took a dramatic turn with the 2011 launch of the Range Rover Evoque, moving away from its traditionally boxy SUVs to deliver something far more sleek and sinuous. With its distinctive, sloping roofline, it quickly became the brand’s big seller, attracting a wide range of new buyers that might otherwise have ignored the British brand.

Eight years in, the automaker is getting ready to roll out a new version of the Evoque at the Los Angeles Auto Show, with a sneak peek coming a week earlier. To give us a hint of what’s coming, Land Rover has released a group of unusual teaser images.

Auto Show News!

Unlike the usual teasers that cross our desk, these aren’t carefully cropped or shadowed images but, rather, wireframe renderings that clearly lay out the exterior dimensions of the new 2019 Range Rover Evoque. And, we’re hearing, there very well could be a secondary meaning to this approach, hinting at a major new feature that could debut on the new SUV.

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2020 Kia Soul Teased Ahead of LA Auto Show Debut

New platform, new longer-range EV, more tech - but a familiar design.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.14, 2018

Kia's quirky crossover will likely grow slightly larger when the gen-3 model hits the road.

The annual L.A. Auto Show is approaching fast and that means manufacturers are starting to drop hints about all the new models they’ll be debuting in the City of Angels later this month.

The latest to weigh in with a teaser image is Kia, which will pull the wraps off the 2020 Soul at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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Official details about the 2020 Kia Soul are sparse, the Korean carmaker noting only that “the Soul is all new for 2020 and will come to market with a bold, immediately recognizable design.”

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Ford Partnering With Walmart on Autonomous Deliveries

Initial pilot taking place in Miami.

by Michael Strong on Nov.14, 2018

Through the collaboration with Walmart and Postmates, Ford is exploring how self-driving vehicles can deliver many groceries and other goods.

Ford continues to grow its mobility business, announcing a new partnership with Walmart to use autonomous vehicle to make deliveries to Walmart customers.

The automaker will partner with San Francisco-based Postmates, a delivery service company, to develop the delivery service initially using vehicles driven by people to deliver goods. Those initial delivery runs will help develop the routing for autonomous vehicles.

Business News!

“Before self-driving cars can go mainstream, we must get a better sense of how people want to interact with them,” Tom Ward, Walmart senior vice president for digital operations, said in a statement on Thursday. (more…)

Faraday Future Insists it Isn’t Going Away

New plan calls for leaner management, second product, even an IPO – if it can stay in business long enough.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.14, 2018

In better days: Jia Yueting and Nick Sampson, helped unveil the FF91 at the 2016 CES.

Only a matter of weeks ago, battery-carmaker Faraday Future seemed ready to turn out the lights, co-founder Nick Sampson resigning and then declaring in a blog post that the company was “effectively insolvent.” But, despite a seemingly endless series of crises, including one that forced it to cancel a planned assembly plant in Nevada, Faraday’s new management team continue to project a surprisingly bullish take on their future.

Late Tuesday, in fact, the California-based company released a statement outlining its plans for the future, which included a new, “lean management” structure, and “fortified product plans” that not only include the original FF91 supercar but a second, more mainstream crossover.

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Of course, there is the minor issue of finding the necessary cash. Faraday’s latest crisis was kicked off when China’s Evergrande Health Industry Group backed out of a deal that was supposed to generate as much as $2 billion in capital. For the moment, the automaker says it is on the hunt for $500 million to get it back on track.

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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.

Product News!

“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…)

Daimler, Bosch Partner as Latest to Offer Self-Driving Ride-Sharing Service

Pilot set to launch in San Jose in late 2019.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.09, 2018

Daimler and Bosch will led pilot users ride in comfort, in modified Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans.

Daimler AG, the parent of Mercedes-Benz, has announced plans to launch an autonomous ride-sharing pilot program in San Jose, California starting late next year.

The carmaker, along with one of its lead technology suppliers, becomes the latest to enter a space that is expected to account for a significant share of the miles Americans clock on the roads each year by the end of the next decade. Waymo, the Google spin-off, is set to transition its own pilot program to a commercial venture this year, while General Motors is looking to launch a similar service.

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“The pilot project is an opportunity to explore how autonomous vehicles can help us better meet future transportation needs,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

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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…)

Volvo’s Care Subscription Program Key to Growth Plans

VCNA chief acknowledges reliability concerns but says problems, warranty costs, are tumbling.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.08, 2018

Volvo Cars North America CEO Anders Gustafsson with images of some of the first workers at the automaker's new Charleston plant.

U.S. new vehicle sales are on course to post their second consecutive decline as 2018 draws to a close, but you’d have a hard time telling that if you were just looking at Volvo’s numbers.

The Swedish automaker has posted a 27% jump in demand through the end of October and, with more products ready to land in U.S. showrooms, Volvo Cars USA CEO Anders Gustafsson said Thursday he is optimistic the company can keep its momentum growing.

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Several factors could give meaning to his forecast, including not just the launch of the new Volvo S60, but the start of production at the Chinese-owned automaker’s first U.S. assembly plant in Charleston, South Carolina. Then there’s Care by Volvo, the subscription program the carmaker launched late last year.

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