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BMW Warns Profits Will Fall in 2019 After Tough 2018

A disorderly Brexit could impact German automaker's bottom line.

by on Mar.20, 2019

The BMW Group warned that profits would be down again in 2019, and at higher levels than 2018.

BMW Group officials are predicting that this year will be tougher than last year and plans to implement a more than $13 billion plan to cut costs and improve efficiency by 2022 to offset technology development investments and currency costs.

The company saw profits drop 7.9% in 2018 and expects that to rise to 10% this year. As a result, it’s looking to improve efficiency levels and find ways to cut costs as Brexit issues are likely to make for a bumpy ride for European-based automakers.

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Additionally, the need to plow more money into electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle development is driving the $13.6 billion, or 12 billion euros, plan to trim expenses. However, BMW officials admit it’s an aggressive response to only a potential problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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

by 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. Read the rest of this entry »

Suppliers, Dealers Express Concerns About Stability of Industry

New studies show trade uncertainty of trade policies worry groups.

by on Mar.20, 2019

Auto dealers and suppliers are concerned about the state of the industry despite winter sales coming in as expected.

Even though sales of new vehicles have met expectations for much of the winter, a sense of unease is creeping through the auto industry, according to new surveys of suppliers and dealers.

The OESA Automotive Supplier Barometer from the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, which is a numeric measure of suppliers’ outlook on the automotive industry, continues to reflect a negative sentiment, the group reported this week.

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“There is no question that it’s going to be an interesting year. As dealers look ahead, they have a less-than-positive view of growth in the future,” said Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke. Read the rest of this entry »

Ford Increasing Large Sport-Utility Production

Automaker adding 550 jobs to handle increased output.

by on Mar.20, 2019

Ford is increasing the production output at its two sport-utility plants in Kentucky to meet demand for the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.

Ford Motor Co. is planning to increase production of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator as both vehicles continue see sales rise in the large SUV segment.

Boosting the production of the Expedition and Navigator after the annual summer shutdown in July will raise the output at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Kentucky. as much as 20% as it puts more pressure on archrival General Motors, which has dominated the full-size SUV segment for nearly 15 years.

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Raising production requires more people to build the two popular vehicles so Ford is adding 550 jobs at the Kentucky Truck Plant and moving approximately that same number of employees from the Louisville Assembly Plant, Ford’s other assembly plant in the state of Kentucky where it builds the new Ford Escape and Lincoln Aviator. Read the rest of this entry »

Mercedes-Benz Provides Early Look at New GLC Coupe

Automaker to debut new model at New York Auto Show.

by on Mar.20, 2019

The new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe makes its world's premiere at the NY Auto Show next month.

Mercedes-Benz continues to reshape the definition of a coupe with the introduction of the new 2020 GLC coupe that is almost more sport-utility than it is car. The car will make its world premiere to the public at the New York International Auto Show next month.

The 2020 GLC borrows from its predecessor in its exterior appearance. The pronounced front end screams Mercedes while the rest of the vehicle is clearly becoming the German automaker’s hallmark design for the coupe going forward. Not the typically low-slung, athletic-looking two-door, instead the four-door GLC is a mix of performance and capability.

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Highlights at the front end include the powerfully contoured diamond-block grille with an integrated star and single louvre typical of a coupe, complemented by the distinctive air intakes and the new contours of the standard LED headlamps, the automaker notes. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiat Chrysler Without Fiat?

Brand’s future in U.S. market increasingly uncertain.

by on Mar.19, 2019

Could FCA be ready to pull the Fiat brand out of the U.S.? There are indications it could happen.

When the Fiat brand made its return to the U.S. market after a quarter-century absence it seemed a no-brainer; after all, a weak economy and soaring oil prices had Americans trading in their big sedans and SUVs for small, fuel-efficient products like the Fiat 500.

After some initial launch problems that led to the complete shake-up of the brand’s management team, Fiat started to gain traction, sales jumping to nearly 44,000 in 2012 and growing another 5% by 2014, just as the brand began to roll out additional product. But that bubble quickly burst and, last year, Fiat brand sales fell to barely a third of their peak just four years earlier, raising questions about whether it has any staying power in a market that is largely snubbing it.

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“Fiat has certainly struggled,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst at IHS Markit. “Their current products are not in line with what people want. They have to do something.” Read the rest of this entry »

GM Declined Offer to Keep Lordstown Plant Open

Cleveland car dealer wanted Cruzes for ride-hailing business.

by on Mar.19, 2019

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra reportedly turned down a deal that would have kept the Lordstown plant open.

General Motors Co. could have avoided the latest round of flogging via Twitter from President Donald Trump about its Lordstown, Ohio plant if it had accepted an offer from one of its dealers.

Cleveland-based dealer Bernie Moreno reportedly met with GM officials last fall with an offer to buy as many as 180,000 Chevy Cruzes annually as part of a nationwide ride-hailing fleet to rival Uber and Lyft. The deal could have run as long as five years, according to a Detroit Free Press story.

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Moreno owns a dozen car dealerships across the country selling brands ranging from Lotus and Rolls Royce to Mercedes-Benz to Buick and GMC. However, GM officials studied the deal and then declined the offer apparently viewing it as not viable. The plant was idled last month as the last U.S.-built Cruze rolled off the line. Read the rest of this entry »

A New Partner for Fiat Chrysler? Peugeot Says Maybe

Peugeot family suggest FCA is a possible mate.

by on Mar.19, 2019

Could Fiat Chrysler be a good fit with PSA Groupe? A member of the Peugeot family says yes.

The late Sergio Marchionne spent much of his tenure searching for a partner for Fiat Chrysler, and now it appears a new mate for FCA is in the picture and creating buzz that Marchionne likely would have enjoyed: Peugeot.

Robert Peugeot, president of Peugeot family holding company FFP, told French daily Les Echos he would support a new deal, suggesting Fiat Chrysler would be among the potential partners.

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“With them, as with others, the planets could be aligned,” he was reported as saying about a potential merger. Read the rest of this entry »

First Drive: 2019 Dodge Challenger SXT AWD

Brand produces a modern-day classic.

by on Mar.19, 2019

The 2019 Dodge Challenger SXT is part of the group of muscle cars that have led to the renaissance of the segment.

Muscle cars have a durable appeal that survived the shift to Asian and European imports despite the reputation for quality problems that seemed to hover over American-made cars for years and even the ongoing shift away from passenger cars generally to utility vehicles and light trucks.

Moreover, in an era when electric and autonomous vehicles are threatening to remake the automotive landscape, American muscle cars have gone through something of a renaissance with the re-emergence of cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro, huge upgrades to the Ford Mustang and the splashy revival of Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger.

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Even with its lonely two doors, the Challenger, with its eye-catching exterior design and powerful V8 engine, could well be the epitome of the muscle-car revival. But the rebirth not only includes a sleek, sophisticated remake of the of the exterior sheet metal and a more efficient version of the traditional V8 but also a complete overhaul of the running gear that makes the ride and handling much better.   Read the rest of this entry »

SEC Says Musk’s Response to Lawsuit “Borders on the Ridiculous”

Regulators tell court Tesla CEO failed to clear a single tweet with automaker per settlement.

by on Mar.19, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk shown during last week's unveiling of the new Model Y.

Federal regulators have shot back at Tesla CEO Elon Musk in their battle over a contempt-of-court lawsuit, claiming the 47-year-old executive’s legal argument “borders on the ridiculous.”

The case stems from a tweet Musk filed last month declaring that Tesla would produce 500,000 vehicles this year. The Securities and Exchange Commission considered that “material” guidance which, under terms of a separate case last year, required the CEO to first get the approval of the company. But, the SEC said in a new filing, Musk has not cleared a single tweet with Tesla as he had agreed to.

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The lawsuit is being heard by U.S. Judge Alison Nathan who could hold Musk in contempt and levy fine or other forms of punishment. The Tesla executive was already forced to relinquish his post as chairman and could now be removed as the automaker’s chief executive officer.

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