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Aiming to Launch Tesla Model Y Challenger in 2021, Fisker Searching for Plant Site

Electric SUV planned at "below $40,000."

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.18, 2019

The Fisker SUV will adopt an SUV style and offer more interior space than the typical ute by placing key components under the floorboard.

Long-time automotive designer and entrepreneur Henrik Fisker is readying a challenger to the upcoming Tesla Model Y that will be ready for production during the second half of 2021 at a price of “below $40,000.”

With a range estimated at “around” 300 miles, Fisker Inc. plans to produce it at a factory in the U.S. and is currently searching for a plant site in one of eight states, the Danish-born executive told TheDetroitBureau.com in an exclusive interview. The company is putting an emphasis on acquiring an existing factory, preferably one of the many abandoned auto plants around the U.S.

Beyond the Headlines!

“We hope to pick a site within the next eight to 10 weeks,” Fisker said, noting that a Midwest site with ready access to existing suppliers is high on the priority list, though the final choice would also be impacted by available incentives.

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Cadillac’s New CT5 Revealed Through a “Sensory Symphony”

“We’re very much committed to sedans,” says brand boss Carlisle.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.18, 2019

The Sport edition of the 2020 Cadillac CT5.

Hoping to rebuild momentum for its struggling turnaround strategy, Cadillac has been putting a premium on SUVs, rolling out new models like the XT4 and XT6 this past year and preparing to upgrade the older XT5 and Escalade models, as well.

That’s a logical move, considering utility vehicles now dominate the luxury car market. But General Motors’ flagship brand isn’t abandoning its more traditional product family. The CT5, the new midsize sedan that will be replacing the old CTS, is making its debut today through a broad social media campaign it is calling a “Sensory Symphony,” ahead of its more formal appearance at the New York International Auto Show next month.

Product News!

“We’re very much committed to sedans. Let me clear the air about that,” said Caddy President Steve Carlisle said during a media background briefing.

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Mustang Electrified?

Ford counter-programs debut of the Tesla Model Y and hints of a high-performance CUV to come.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.15, 2019

“Hold your horses,” or so said Ford Motor Co. in a tweet not-so-coincidentally timed to reach the social media world just as Tesla CEO Elon Musk was getting ready to debut his company’s new Model Y battery-electric SUV.

The Ford post featured that short blurb and a blue version of the Mustang logo against a black background, nothing more. But it does hint at several projects that Ford has already confirmed are in the works. That includes both a hybridized version of the pony car, as well as a Mustang-influenced all-electric SUV that Ford announced during the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Electrifying News!

An early player in the electrification field, Ford has fallen behind not just Tesla but conventional rivals like General Motors and Volkswagen, both investing heavily in long-range, battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs. Ford officials say they are going to make a push to catch up and have confirmed that the first entry into next-gen electric technology would be a performance-oriented crossover tentatively named Mach 1 and due to market about when the Tesla Model Y hits the street about a year from now.

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SEC Suing VW, former CEO, for ”Massive Fraud” in Emissions Cheating Scandal

Lawsuit "legally and factually flawed," the automaker responds.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.15, 2019

Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn faces legal problems in Germany, as well as the U.S.

Volkswagen’s ongoing efforts to end a scandal triggered by its cheating on diesel emissions testing just took a turn for the worse, the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing both the automaker and former CEO Martin Winterkorn of committing a “massive fraud” on U.S. investors.

The automaker has acknowledged it used “defeat devices” to rig its diesel engines to illegally pass emissions tests and has so far laid out over $30 billion in fines and settlements. It is still facing other legal headaches, including a separate lawsuit by investors and ongoing investigations in Europe, one resulting in the arrest and jailing of the former CEO of its Audi subsidiary. But it responded to the latest challenge by declaring the SEC lawsuit “legally and factually flawed.”

Breaking News!

The SEC lawsuit, filed in San Francisco, claims the automaker and former CEO Winterkorn concealed the depth of the scandal – and the potential penalties – from both investors and federal regulators. The Thursday complaint noted that in the year before the cheating was discovered and publicized by the EPA Volkswagen issued $13 billion in bonds and securities in the U.S. Those value of those financial devices were directly impacted once the carmaker’s subterfuge was revealed.

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As Tesla Model Y Debuts, Musk Asks: Do You Think We’re “S3XY”?

New Model Y to be offered in four distinct versions – but economy buyers will have to wait.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.15, 2019

The Tesla Model Y is likely to look quite familiar to fans of the earlier Model 3 sedan.

The long-awaited Tesla Model Y made its formal debut on Thursday night, with CEO Elon Musk declaring it takes an already attractive line-up and makes it “S3XY.” The inside joke adds the new electric SUV to the automaker’s existing line-up of Models S, 3 and X.

But there’s a serious side to the launch. Tesla continues to struggle to right its balance sheet, plunging back into the red this quarter after earning money during the second half of 2018. The Model Y is expected to become Tesla’s best-seller, Musk declared, telling his audience “we’ll do more Model Ys than S, X and 3 combined.” And that includes not just the U.S. but also China, where Tesla is struggling to get a foothold in the world’s largest market for battery-electric vehicles.

Breaking Product News!

The Model Y will be one of the vehicles Tesla plans to produce once it opens up a new plant in Shanghai later this year. That will give it a way to hold costs down and also to sidestep any escalation in the U.S.-China trade war.

(Here’s our Model Y preview. Click Here to see how close we came.)

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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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SEC Prepping Response to Musk Over Tweet Dispute

Tesla CEO claims agency wants to restrict his 1st Amendment rights.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.13, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk emphasized his distaste for the SEC during an interview on "60 Minutes."

A federal judge has given the SEC permission to fire the next shot in an ongoing battle that could determine not only whether Tesla CEO Elon Musk can continue tweeting about company business but whether he may face new penalties for allegedly violating terms of a fraud settlement.

The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Musk of improperly publishing a tweet on February 19th outlining Tesla’s 2019 production plans. In technical terms, the agency referred to it as a “material” statement, one that could impact the company’s stock price. Musk later revised the tweet and then asserted that the information had been previously announced, anyway.

Beyond the Headlines!

The latest in an ongoing battle between securities regulators and the 47-year-old executive could have a significant impact if the courts agree with the SEC that last month’s tweet violated an agreement aimed at settling the fraud settlement stemming from Musk’s proposed plan to take Tesla private. He not only paid a fine but agreed to run material comments by the automaker’s legal team before posting them. As part of last year’s settlement, Musk was forced to relinquish his position as Tesla chairman. He could now face penalties including his removal from the CEO’s job, as well.

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Infiniti Set to Abandon Western European Market

Weak demand leading Nissan’s luxury brand to focus on Europe, China.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.12, 2019

The concept version of the Infiniti Q30 debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show as part of the brand's push to become an EU presence.

Infiniti has come to recognize there are limits to its global growth plans, the Nissan luxury brand announcing it will pull out of Western Europe by early next year.

Going forward, the brand will limit its scope to just two markets: the U.S. and China. Along with ending sales in Europe, Infiniti also will halt production of the Q30 and QX30 models at Nissan’s assembly plant in Sunderland, England. The parent company has raised questions about the broader viability of that plant as Britain struggles to manage its planned exit from the European Union later this month.

Breaking News!

A broader restructuring by Infiniti will see the luxury marque pair back on its overall product line-up, the brand’s new global CEO told TheDetroitBureau.com during an interview earlier this year.

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VW Expects to Sell 22 Million EVs Over Next Decade

CEO’s new target marks a 50% jump.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.12, 2019

VW CEO Herbert Diess is shown here with the I.D. Crozz and Buzz concept vehicles.

Germany’s Volkswagen AG expects to sell 22 million battery-electric vehicles over the next decade, CEO Herbert Diess said during the company’s annual meeting on Tuesday.

The carmaker has been on an aggressive push into electrification and has outlined projects expected to cost it close to $100 billion by 2025 alone. But, until today, Diess had set a target of selling just 15 million battery-cars. Either figure would mark a massive increase considering VW sold just 50,000 all-electric vehicles last year.

Electrification News!

“The supertanker is picking up speed,” Diess said Tuesday in a speech to shareholders gathered in Frankfurt. “We are aligning Volkswagen with e-mobility like no other company in our industry.”

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Green Car Finalists Revealed

Focusing in on connected and Earth-friendly powertrain technologies.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.07, 2019

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the vehicles up for the Connected Car award this year.

With automakers facing increasingly stringent mileage and emissions standards, automakers are rapidly ramping up production of more and more environmentally friendly products, from breakthrough gas engines like Mazda’s new SkyActiv-X to all-electric offerings such as the new Audi e-tron SUV.

Sorting out which products and technologies deserve notice can be challenging, but Green Car Journal has been honoring the best of the best with its decade-old Green Car Awards, recently adding several new categories to the list. And it announced today finalists in two of those categories, with winners to be revealed early next month at the annual auto show in Washington, D.C.

Breaking News!

The two awards focus on the technological side of the green car market, both in terms of connectivity and powertrains. Here’s a look at the finalists.

(Live from Geneva! Click Here for our complete auto show coverage.)

Finalists for 2019 Connected Green Car of the Year include: (more…)