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EU Trade Chief Warns Trump Administration to Back Off Tariff Threat

Malmstrom comes to D.C. with a list of tariff targets.

by Michael Strong on Nov.15, 2018

Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU's top trade official, warned that if the Trump administration implemented auto tariffs on the EU, the union would respond in kind.

If President Donald Trump makes good on a threat to impose a 25% tariff on cars and trucks imported into the United States from Europe, the European Union is prepared to implement a new policy of its own: an eye for an eye.

Cecilia Malmstrom, the top trade official for the European Union, met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to talk about trade issues. After the meeting, she warned the EU would implement tariffs of equal size and strength on U.S. goods if Trump made good on his threatened auto tariffs.

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“It would be a rebalancing list covering a lot of different sectors,” Malmstrom said. “That would be ready if we thought those measures would hit us. We hope not.”  (more…)

Gas Prices Dropping Heading into Holiday Weekend

Abundance of oil is pushing down prices.

by Michael Strong on Nov.15, 2018

Normally a holiday weekend means a jump in gas prices, but not this Thanksgiving as they have dropped 7 cents in the last week.

This is the time of year that folks should be getting ready to enjoy Thanksgiving by piling into a car and trekking off to a family members’ house and celebrate the season — and paying way more for gas than normal.

“Should be” is the key part of that sentence, but this year appears to be different.

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Instead of taking their slow climb upward, gas prices are actually falling as the Thanksgiving holiday travel period approaches. Oil prices, due to an ample supply, are declining, which drives down the price of gas. (more…)

Porsche Takes Top Spot in 2018 Power Sales Satisfaction Index

Survey shows that dealers who text secure more deals.

by Michael Strong on Nov.14, 2018

Porsche took first place in JD Power's 2018 Sales Satisfaction Index, ahead of Infiniti and Lexus.

New car customers rated Porsche as the top brand in J.D. Power released its annual Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study today and Porsche took top honors overall while Mini was the leader in the “mass market” category while Porsche is considered a luxury car.

The study reviews the sales process, such as how the customer and the dealer interact. The average score was an 823. The big take away from this year’s study? Despite recent claims that people want to haggle face-to-face, Power’s results reveal that customers prefer to be contacted via digital communications such as text message, but it happens less often than desired.

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“These aren’t apples to apples comparisons by any means, but the scores are clear indicators of where shoppers and buyers are going, especially as the consumer base gains a larger mix of younger customers,” said Chris Sutton, Vice President of the Automotive Retail Practice at J.D. Power. (more…)

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.

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“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…)

Chinese Automaker Zotye Planning to Sell SUVs in US by 2020

Maker, which partners with Ford in China, doesn't specific what SUV.

by Michael Strong on Nov.13, 2018

Could this be Zotye's first entry in the U.S. market in 2020? An SUV will be first, the company said today.

The race to be first is getting tighter as a new contestant has entered the fray: Zotye Automotive says it will begin selling SUVs in the U.S. in 2020.

Zotye sells several SUV models in China, but did not reveal which one it plans to export to the U.S. Until today, it was best known as one of Ford Motor Co’s partners in China, but the two companies are not working together on this project, according to officials on both sides.

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The Chinese firm is establishing its U.S. sales and distribution arm in Lake Forest, California, and plans to sell vehicles in the United States through franchised dealers. Zotye USA is owned by HAAH Automotive Holdings, headed by President and Chief Executive Duke Hale, who has held top spots at several automotive import companies. (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…)

Former Tesla Employee Allegedly Embezzled $9.3M from EV Maker

Parulekar allegedly used suppliers to abscond with cash.

by Michael Strong on Nov.12, 2018

A former Tesla employee allegedly embezzled $9.3 million from the company.

A former Tesla Inc. executive was indicted by a federal grand jury indicted for allegedly embezzling $9.3 million by impersonating an employee at a supplier.

According the indictment, Salil Parulekar got Tesla to send money owed to one supplier to another supplier. Once the money was moved, by impersonating an employee at that company he shifted the money into his account.

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Parulekar, who worked for Tesla for four years until 2017, was responsible for overseeing Tesla’s relationship with certain suppliers for various parts and services related to the company’s electric vehicles, according to the Justice Department. (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…)

Driving to Thanksgiving Dinner? It’ll Cost More and Take Longer

Gas prices hitting five-year high, drivers up 4.8%.

by Michael Strong on Nov.09, 2018

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, drivers can expect to spend as much as four times longer getting to their destination.

For the past few years, more and more Americans have been racking up miles on their cars, trucks, minivans, etc., setting new records for miles traveled. That’s also been the case for big holidays and it’s expected to continue for Thanksgiving this year.

AAA predicts that more than 54 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles for Turkey Day later this month. That is a 4.8% increase over last year’s total.

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The 2018 holiday weekend – defined as Nov. 21–25 – will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in more than a dozen years (since 2005), with 2.5 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.  (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado RST Crew Cab

Laden with new tech, plenty of power and impressively quiet.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.09, 2018

GM is counting on the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado RST to be competitive in the full-size pickup sales battle.

The auto industry is a global industry and highly competitive. But few segments of the business are anywhere near as competitive as the pickup truck market in U.S. where Ford, Ram, Chevrolet and their respective corporate managers are engaged in intense contest for sales and bragging rights.

The contest of has gotten even more intense lately as all three manufacturers have introduced new trucks.

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I recently got to drive the new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado – a four-wheel-drive RST Crew Cab Silverado to be precise – and it is far cry from the old trucks that have helped make the American pickup into something of a legend and the object of enormous affection and desire. (more…)