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Deal with Mobile Gaming Company May Save Faraday Future

California-based EV maker to launch a “two-brand strategy” in China.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.25, 2019

Faraday Future has been at death's door for several months now, but a new deal with an investor may clear the way for its return to life.

Once again, struggling battery-carmaker Faraday Future may have found a way back from the abyss, this time with the help of Chinese mobile gaming company The9 Limited.

The California-based FF is getting a $600 million lifeline from The9 as part of a new, 50/50 joint venture that will target the Chinese market with a new battery-electric vehicle based on Faraday’s FF91 concept.

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Only a handful of details have yet to be released but the long-troubled Faraday said the plan is to produce up to 300,000 vehicles in China. It also said it will have the right to produce additional vehicles in China in the future. (more…)

Ford Investing $900M in Second EV Plant, AV Facility in Michigan

New operation set to open in 2023, add 900 workers.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.20, 2019

Ford is planning to use its underutilized plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, to build electric vehicles starting in 2023.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $900 million in two Detroit-area facilities meant to focus on the cars of the future.

The bulk of the investment, about $850 million, will go to Ford’s now under-utilized Flat Rock facility that will become the automaker’s second source for pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, in the process creating 900 new jobs. The rest will fund what the automaker is describing as an “Autonomous Vehicle center,” where conventional vehicles will be modified to operate hands-free and even entirely without a driver.

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Ford was one of the earliest of the automakers to focus on battery-based powertrain technology, though it won’t bring out its first long-range all-electric model until next year, a “Mustang-inspired” SUV expected to take aim at the new Tesla Model Y. It will be produced at Ford’s first battery-electric vehicle plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico. (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…)

Las Vegas Ponders Bet on Musk’s High-Speed Tunnel

Mile-long tunnel would ferry riders using high-volume cars.

by Michael Strong on Mar.07, 2019

Instead of cars, the Las Vegas version of Elon Musk's high-speed underground tunnels would use high-volume passenger cars, like a subway or train.

Sin City looks like it’s ready to indulge Elon Musk and his plans to build an underground high-speed transport system to ferry 1 million tourists back and forth across the city, starting January 2021, if approved.

Through the Boring Co., Musk will build the system, which is similar to what he’s proposed for Los Angeles, at a cost of $35 million to $55 million. The plan has already drawn the support of Las Vegas’ tourism agency.

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“It’s really innovative. I think it will be an attraction in and of itself, frankly,” Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, told The Associated Press. (more…)

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance Partnering With Google

Move marks beginning of post-Ghosn era.

by Joseph Szczesny on Feb.18, 2019

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is making plans with Waymo to find ways to exploit the ever-changing mobility world.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which is preparing to hang together in the post-Ghosn era, plans to join Google’s camp for developing autonomous taxis and other services using self-driving vehicles.

The automakers intend to work with Waymo, a Google spinoff that is among the leaders in technology for self-driving cars. The companies are in the final phase of talks, and plan to announce the arrangement as early as spring, according to a Japanese news service.

Global News!

The partnership would unite a car alliance whose global sales totaled 10.8 million automobiles in 2018 with a developer whose self-driving vehicles have traveled more than 10 million miles on U.S. public roads as of October. Waymo has forged similar deals with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover, but the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance boasts greater scale. (more…)

Amazon Becoming Lead Investor in Rivian

Rumored GM investment could yet follow.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.15, 2019

The Rivian R1T pickup will boast 400 miles range, according to the company.

Just a week after announcing a major investment in an autonomous vehicle development company, online retailer Amazon said Friday it will become the lead investor in a new, $700 million round of financing for Rivian, the Detroit-based battery-electric company.

Rivian is in the final stages of developing two all-electric models, the full-size R1T pickup and R1S sport-utility vehicle. It is aiming to challenge not only electric vehicle rival Tesla but the established Detroit automakers that have long dominated the full-size pickup market.

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Rumors of a deal between Amazon and Rivian began to circulate earlier this week, though some reports had suggested that General Motors would also come up with some financing. Sources tell TheDetroitBureau.com that this remains a possibility and suggest that Rivian could have more announcements coming. The automaker has scheduled a news conference for the New York International Auto Show in mid-April. (more…)

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…)

Ford, VW Announce 1st in Promised Series of Joint Ventures

Carmakers will focus first on midsize pickups, light commercial vehicles.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.15, 2019

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and VW AG CEO Herbert Diess downplayed the immediate impact their new deal.

Confirming months of rumors, Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen announced Tuesday that they will launch the first of what they suggested will be a series of joint ventures, focusing initially on midsize pickups and light commercial vehicles.

Moving forward, they anticipate adding projects that will pair their costly efforts on electrified and autonomous vehicles, while Herbert Diess, the CEO of VW, said during a joint teleconference that the new partners could work together on “other” products in the future.

Breaking News!

Alliances are becoming more commonplace in an industry where changing consumer tastes and emerging technologies are stretching thin the budgets of even the most well-funded manufacturers, said Diess, who added that, “In such an environment, it just makes sense to share investments, pool innovation capabilities and create scale effects that are clearly defined.” (more…)

GM Expects Bigger Profits, More Transformation in 2019

Company wants to make workforce changes during strong labor market.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.11, 2019

GM CEO Mary Barra is leading the transformation of the company's manufacturing footprint.

General Motors Co. expects earnings to grow in 2019 as it restructures, picks up the pace of moving towards what Chairman Mary Barra described as an “all-electric” future, and maintains its market share in China.

“We will continue to strengthen our core business and invest in the technologies that will transform the future of mobility. Managing both well is critical to position General Motors for success for generations to come,” Barra said, adding that it was better to tackle this restructuring during a strong labor market.

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“We are committed to driving significant shareholder value over the long term as we drive the transformation,” she added. (more…)

Ford and VW Ready to Announce New Partnership, Sources Say

Auto giants to form alliances in multiple areas, Reuters reports.

by Michael Strong on Jan.09, 2019

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and Chairman Bill Ford earlier confirmed the talks with Volkswagen. Might they announce a deal next week?

The lengthy talks between Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG to forge some sort of money-saving, product-expediting partnership appear to be coming to a conclusion with an announcement coming sometime next week during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“A global alliance is expected to be announced,” one person familiar with the talks told Reuters, adding that the pact will be unveiled next Tuesday during the Detroit auto show. Another official echoed similar sentiments to TheDetroitBureau.com earlier today.

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It’s possible that an announcement could come as early as this evening as Ford is hosting an event tonight in Detroit. (more…)