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Geely Buys 9.7% of Daimler AG for $9.2 Billion

Chinese company now Daimler's largest shareholder.

by on Feb.23, 2018

Geely Chairman Li Khufu purchased 9.7% of Daimler AG for $9.2 billion.

Li Shufu, Geely’s chairman and majority owner, continues to sample different flavors from the automotive industry buffet, spending $9.2 billion for a 9.7% stake in Daimler AG.

The purchase, which was revealed in a regulatory filing, makes Shufu Daimler’s largest single shareholder ahead of the Kuwait Investment Authority, which holds 6.8%. Nearly 71% of Daimler shares are held by institutional holders, like Shufu.

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“We are delighted, with Li Shufu, to have won over another long-term investor who is convinced of Daimler’s innovative prowess, strategy and future potential,” a Daimler spokesperson told Reuters. “Daimler knows and respects Li Shufu as a Chinese entrepreneur of particular competence and forward thinking.” Read the rest of this entry »

Lawmakers Look at Alternatives to Gas Tax as Highway Infrastructure Crumbles

Rebuilding America’s roads will be costly – per-mile fees may be one solution.

by on Feb.23, 2018

President Donald Trump is backing a 25-cent increase in the national gas tax to pay for infrastructure improvements.

Lawmakers in Hawaii have taken the first step towards adding new fees for owners of electrified vehicles, a move a Senate committee chairman describes as a way to get hybrid and EV owners to “pay their fair share” towards maintaining the state’s bridges and roads.

With the U.S. transportation infrastructure crumbling and state and federal highway funds running short, lawmakers and regulators are searching for ways to raise new money. President Donald Trump, who made a massive infrastructure program a cornerstone of his campaign for the White House, has gone so far as to suggest federal gas taxes might need to be more than doubled.

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That proposal has gotten a cold reception from Congress, no surprise after Republicans barely pushed through a tax cut late last year and now face a tough midterm battle to retain control of both the House and Senate. But with taxpayers also demanding road repairs there’s growing interest in finding alternative solutions, such as pay-as-you-go fees. And even though Congress decided to retain tax credits for zero-emissions vehicles, that could be offset with new registration and usage fees. Read the rest of this entry »

First Drive: 2019 Hyundai Nexo Fuel-Cell Vehicle

An Olympic effort: Hyundai’s 2nd-generation hydrogen car delivers mainstream manners, 400-mile range.

by on Feb.23, 2018

Hyundai offered Winter Olympic visitors a chance to test drive the new Nexo outfitted with its latest Level 4 autonomous drive

With the winter games heading into their final days, busloads of tourists have been flowing through the gates of Pyeonchang’s Olympic Village, but on this crisp, sunny morning, a steady stream of visitors veers off shortly before reaching the turnstiles, detouring to a small, downtown corner where a cluster of new SUVs are parked.

With a little patience, they’ll have the chance to go for a test drive in what some are calling the vehicle of the future – in this case, twice over. The slate gray Hyundai Nexo SUVs are not only powered by zero-emission hydrogen fuel-cells but use the Korean carmaker’s latest Level 4 autonomous vehicle technology.

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I climb into the shotgun seat alongside a Hyundai engineer assigned to serve as a backup “operator,” just in case something unexpected happens along the 10-minute route, In passable English, he explains that the Korean carmaker hopes to have its first hands-free vehicle on sale “in a couple years.” But the Nexo itself, he quickly adds, will be in showrooms in barely a year.

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Nexteer Opening New Plant in Morocco

New facility to be open in 2019

by on Feb.23, 2018

Nexteer Automotive is opening a new plant in Morocco in 2019.

Nexteer, the Chinese-owned automotive supplier organized around the steering-gear business that once belonged to General Motors, plans to open a plant in Kenitra, Morocco.

The new 18,000-square-meter factory will be the company’s first in Africa and is scheduled for a ground-breaking ceremony in late March 2018. Once the facility begins production in 2019, it will be counted as Nexteer’s 25th plant in its global manufacturing footprint.

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Analysts consider North Africa, with young growing population and low vehicle density, a potentially lucrative market for global automakers. Read the rest of this entry »

New Vehicle Sales Expected to Drop in February

Only Toyota, VW and Audi expected to see small increases.

by on Feb.23, 2018

Sluggish sales in the U.S. are expected to continue into February.

Carmakers are quick to point out that one month of sales figures don’t represent a trend, but analysts are now predicting that new vehicle sales are poised to slide again in February, following the drop in January.

Edmunds, a leading car shopping and information platform, is predicting 1.27 million new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. this month for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate or SAAR of 16.8 million.

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The figures reflects a 10.8% increase in sales compared with last month, but a 4.1% decrease from February 2017, Edmunds said. Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota Dominates Consumer Reports’ Top Ten Cars for 2018 – But Genesis is Number One Brand

Chevy Bolt named Best Green Car; "further proof" EVs are ready for the mainstream, says CR.

by on Feb.22, 2018

The Genesis G90 is one of the vehicles garnering attention in this year's Consumer Reports auto guide.

Toyota, a brand long known for its long-term reliability, overwhelmingly dominates the 10-best list from Consumer Reports magazine, nabbing four of the spots on the influential publication’s annual list of the best vehicles on the market.

But CR’s annual auto issue had a number of surprises, including the appearance of the Chevrolet Bolt battery-car among the industry’s best models. Equally unexpected was the debut of Genesis as the top-ranked luxury brand overall, the South Korean marque toppling Audi as the highest-ranked luxury brand.

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“Not many car brands have what it takes to deliver consistent quality across several models and through multiple new launches or redesigns,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of Automotive Testing. Read the rest of this entry »

UPS Orders 50 Battery-Electric Delivery Vans from Workhorse

Competition in the segment heating up.

by on Feb.22, 2018

UPS ordered 50 battery-electric vans from Workhorse Group. The company has 35,000 trucks that could be replaced soon.

Companies around the globe have been hustling to develop and produce a viable electric delivery truck, and it appears there is a winner: Workhorse Group Inc. The Ohio-based company just entered into a contract with UPS to replace 50 of the company’s delivery trucks.

“We see this vehicle as being a game changer in the electric truck arena,” Carlton Rose, UPS’ president for global fleet maintenance and engineering told Reuters. The deal calls initially for 50 trucks with a range of 100 miles each.

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However, the company has more than 35,000 vans that could be replaced as time and technology improve. UPS didn’t make the move due to some altruistic motive — at least not solely. Read the rest of this entry »

First Look: 2019 Volvo V60

New wagon bears striking resemblance to bigger V90.

by on Feb.22, 2018

The new Volvo V60 bears a strong resemblance to the maker's V90 wagon.

Volvo Cars unveiled the new V60 five-door, a midsize wagon with a sporty flair that will fit comfortably into the Swedish car makers portfolio, which emphasizes styling and practicality.

“The family estate driver is an important customer for our business and has been for generations,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars. “The new V60 honors that tradition, but also takes it much further.”

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The V60 combines a luxurious interior, ample space, advanced connectivity and Volvo Cars’ latest driver assistance features and other safety technology.  While the V90 will continue to offer a premium, luxury experience, the V60 is sportier alternative to older models. The car is expected to appear in the U.S. in 2019. Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomous EVs Will Drive Ride-Share Costs by 50 Percent

BP economist predicts vehicles will run twice as much, leading to price drops.

by on Feb.22, 2018

BP Chief Economist Spencer Dale predicts that the prices of ride-sharing companies will fall 50% with the arrival of autonomous vehicles.

With the first wave of self-driving cars expected to reach the streets in the early 2020, the price of ride-sharing trips offered by Uber and Lyft could drop by half, according an estimate from one of Great Britain’s leading energy experts.

BP Chief Economist Spencer Dale said at an International Petroleum Week conference in London that self-driving cars initially will be too expensive for normal people to buy and instead will be snapped up by commercial companies.

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“The vast majority of these will be purchased by commercial fleets offering mobility services, so think Uber or Lyft. The potential here — if you suddenly get an Uber or Lyft without paying for a driver — is that it leads to a significant fall in the cost. We estimate that could reduce the cost of that type of service by around 40% or 50%,” Dale said during his appearance at the conference. Read the rest of this entry »

New Backup Technology Takes Safety Several Steps Forward, Says IIHS Study

Rear autobraking can prevent a wide range of crashes.

by on Feb.22, 2018

IIHS said Subaru and Cadillac had the best rear autobraking systems of the versions tested.

Motorists risk getting into crashes anytime they move their vehicle, including backing into or out of a parking spot. While rear crashes are less likely to result in injuries or death, they can still generate significant repair costs.

That’s where an assortment of new rear crash prevention technologies are coming into play. These cover a range of alternatives, including rear-facing cameras, sonar parking sensors, radar-based cross-traffic alert, and rear auto-braking systems that can not only detect a potential obstacle but also prevent the car from hitting it, even if the driver doesn’t react quickly enough.

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“Let’s face it. Some days we all could use help backing up, whether that’s in a garage with pillars that obscure your view, in a crowded mall parking lot or on a busy downtown street,” said David Zuby, the chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety which, for the first time, has evaluated and rated the most advanced of these systems, rear autobraking, on six 2017 models. Read the rest of this entry »