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No-Shows, But Tesla and Musk Still Have Strong Presence at NAIAS

But can California carmaker survive the new onslaught of competition.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.17, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed off a prototype Model S in 2010, the last time he attended the NAIAS.

Battery-electric vehicles may still account for less than 1% of the U.S. new vehicle market, but they have had a notable presence at this year’s North American International Auto Show – something that many credit to a manufacturer that was notably absent from Detroit’s Cobo Hall convention center: Tesla.

Cadillac made a major splash during the first media preview of this year’s show, when it not only revealed the new XT6 utility vehicle but announced that it will be the first General Motors brand to use the automaker’s new all-electric platform for another SUV debuting in 2021.

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Electrifying!

Throughout the show, automaker’s either revealed new battery cars and concepts or outlined their plans for an electrified future. Volkswagen, for one, announced plans to invest $800 million to add production of two new all-electric models at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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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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Cadillac Reshapes Line-up with new XT6 Crossover

Utility vehicle will replace CT6 sedan as premium offering.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.13, 2019

Cadillac's new XT6 will go up against a tough set of competitors, including the Acura MDX, the three-row Lexus RX and the new Lincoln Aviator.

Cadillac has been in the midst of a “renaissance” for nearly two decades, but it’s a turnaround that has never quite taken hold, especially in the home U.S. market where sales took another 1.1% dip last year.

The big problem has been the lackluster success of the marque’s sedan models, something that is leading to a sharp cutback over the next couple years, with the CTS and ATS models effectively being consolidated and the flagship CT6 set to vanish by the end of 2019.

NAIAS News!

The real test for Cadillac comes on the light truck side of the ledger where it has fared a bit better. The new XT4, its smallest SUV, has been a solid hit since its autumn launch. And now, Caddy is pushing upward, with the all-new XT6 that will essentially replace the CT6 sedan as its premium offering.

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Lexus to Debut LC Convertible Concept in Detroit

The coupe won rave reviews when shown a few years ago.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.11, 2019

The LC Convertible Concept is a smidge longer, but slightly lower than the LC coupe.

Toyota’s luxury brand won raves when it revealed the LC Coupe concept a few years back, and generated even more praise when it translated the show car into a production model. Now, it’s hinting it could do it again, with a convertible version of the sports coupe set to debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week.

The show car manages to maintain the sleekly aggressive look of the LC coupe, with its long hood, steeply raked windshield, high deck lid – and the most aggressive version yet of the familiar Lexus “spindle grille.”

Auto Show News!

“This concept takes the unmistakable design of the LC coupe and reimagines it as a future convertible,” Tadao Mori, Chief Designer of the LC Convertible concept, said ahead of the NAIAS debut. “It blends all the best aspects of the original coupe with the dynamic design of an open-air convertible.”

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Ghosn Indicted Again

This time Ghosn faces charges of “breach of trust,” as colleague Greg Kelly and Nissan also indicted.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.11, 2019

Former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, shown here in January 2018, reportedly has lost over 20 pounds while in detention.

Nissan’s former Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been indicted again, this time on charged of breach of trust, a development that could again delay his release on bail.

The once-powerful executive has been held in solitary confinement in the Tokyo Detention Center since his arrest on November 19 and already faces charges related to claims he underreported his income by about $44 million between 2011 and 2015. Prosecutors are reportedly looking at other potential charges that arose from a months-long investigation conducted by Nissan.

Breaking News!

Ghosn, who claimed innocence during his first court hearing earlier this week, wasn’t the only one to face a legal setback on Friday. Prosecutors also laid out charges against the 64-year-old executive’s former colleague Greg Kelly, as well as Nissan itself.

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Nissan Boosts Range, Performance With New Leaf Plus

World’s best-selling battery-electric vehicle breaks 200-mile barrier.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.09, 2019

The 2020 Nissan Leaf Plus.

It’s been the world’s best-selling battery-vehicle since its introduction nearly a decade ago, but the Nissan Leaf had been losing ground as competitors like Tesla have rolled out an array of new competitors.

Now, the Japanese automaker is aiming to regain momentum with the introduction of a critical update to the battery-electric vehicle, the new Nissan Leaf Plus set to increase both range and performance by about 50 percent. That will position the five-door model, to be sold as the Leaf e+ in most other markets, as the latest BEV to top the 200-mile mark.

Stay Charged Up!

“This is a big psychological barrier,” said Denis LeVot, the CEO of Nissan North America, during the debut of the Leaf Plus at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Along with the improvement to Leaf’s traditionally anemic performance, he added, that should prove to potential buyers that “these are more than real cars.”

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Ghosn Pleads Not Guilty in First Court Appearance

“I have been wrongly accused,” says former Nissan chief looking gaunt but defiant.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.08, 2019

Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn shown during an appearance at the Paris Motor Show in October.

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn made his first public appearance since being unexpectedly arrested on financial corruption allegations Tuesday, telling a Tokyo court that he has been “wrongly accused.”

Ghosn has been held in solitary confinement in the Tokyo Detention Center since shortly after his corporate jet arrived at Haneda Airport on November 19th in a case that, while centered around claims of financial wrongdoing has also raised concerns about whether his arrest was influenced by Nissan’s desire to shake off the control of its alliance partner Renault. The French affiliate rescued the Japanese automaker from bankruptcy 20 years ago but has since dominated their partnership.

Breaking News!

“I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations,” the 64-year-old Ghosn said while wearing handcuffs tied to a rope around his waist. “I believe strongly that in all of my efforts on behalf of the company, I have acted honorably, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company.”

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Polestar’s First All-Electric Model Breaks Cover

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.03, 2019

Polestar hints that its first all-electric model will adopt a "fastback" shape.

Volvo’s electric performance division is finally charging forward, the plug-in hybrid Polestar 1 getting ready for production, while the sub-brand’s first all-electric model is set to be “fully revealed in the coming weeks,” it confirmed today.

According to a statement, “The car will go into production shortly after the long-range hybrid Polestar 1, which will enter production later this year.” The automaker also emphasized that Polestar 2 will take direct aim at Tesla’s Model 3.

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Breaking Product News!

The teaser shows an overhead view of the Polestar 2’s rounded back end, so not much to go on beyond the fact that it features very aggressively raked rear glass flowing into a rather short trunk lid. That would suggest either a hatchback or an edgy crossover design, Polestar calling it a “fastback.”

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Oil-Rich Norway is the Land of the Battery-Electric Vehicle

BEVs generated a third of country’s new car sales, a record, in 2018.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.02, 2019

Picture courtesy Norwegian Electric Vehicle Assoc.

Norwegians have roundly embraced EVs.

It has massive offshore oil reserves that have helped fuel its economy, but as far as millions of Norwegian motorists are concerned, they’d rather spend their money on an electric vehicles.

Battery-cars accounted for a record 31.2% of all new vehicles sold in the Scandinavian nation last year, according to the Norwegian Road Federation, up from 20.8% in 2017. And the shift away from gas and diesel is only expected to accelerate as Norway has set a goal of eliminating sales of vehicles using internal combustion engines by the middle of the decade.

Stay Plugged In!

Last year’s surge “was a small step closer to the 2025 goal,” Oeyvind Solberg Thorsen, head of the NRF, told a news conference in Oslo on Wednesday.

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Hit With New Charges, Ghosn to Remain in Tokyo Jail

Additional charges could follow as prosecutors push to retain exec in custody.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Dec.21, 2018

Nissan's one-time CEO Carlos Ghosn could face 20 years or more in prison with the new charges.

Barely a day after a Japanese court took steps that could have led to the release of Carlos Ghosn from a detention center in Tokyo, prosecutors have taken steps that will ensure the former Nissan chairman will be spending Christmas behind bars.

The 64-year-old executive, along with former Nissan colleague Greg Kelly, were arrested on November 19 and accused of a series of financial misdeeds, formal charges being announced last week. Now, however, Ghosn has been rearrested, prosecutors accusing him of breach of trust, a move that means they can hold him in the Tokyo Detention Centre for at least another 10 days. And further charges could follow, according to reports from Japan.

Breaking News!

Prosecutors said Friday that Ghosn alleged transferred losses from a private investment to Nissan, a move that reportedly saved him more than $16 million. The accusations also cover what prosecutors say was the transfer of another $14.7 million that benefited Ghosn and a Saudi Arabian citizen who helped create a fake contract.

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