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2020 Kia Soul Teased Ahead of LA Auto Show Debut

New platform, new longer-range EV, more tech - but a familiar design.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.14, 2018

Kia's quirky crossover will likely grow slightly larger when the gen-3 model hits the road.

The annual L.A. Auto Show is approaching fast and that means manufacturers are starting to drop hints about all the new models they’ll be debuting in the City of Angels later this month.

The latest to weigh in with a teaser image is Kia, which will pull the wraps off the 2020 Soul at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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Official details about the 2020 Kia Soul are sparse, the Korean carmaker noting only that “the Soul is all new for 2020 and will come to market with a bold, immediately recognizable design.”

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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…)

Automakers on Edge Over Possibility of New Tariffs

Commerce Dept. findings key to Trump administration's plans.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.14, 2018

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is leading the Section 232 investigation into whether or not imported automobiles and parts represent a threat to the United States.

While the U.S. midterm elections have passed, carmakers are waiting on a final decision from the Trump administration on the Section 232 investigation. Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 allows the White House to use national security grounds to impose tariffs on vehicles and auto parts imported into the U.S.

The industry’s lobbyists have said they were expecting the U.S. Department of Commerce, which is responsible for the investigation, to issue its ruling soon, perhaps this week well ahead of the February deadline fixed by the statute. The general assumption is the report will offer Trump a chance to impose new tariffs on autos and auto parts made in Europe and Asia.

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The 232 query has become a major issue for the Japanese government of Shinzo Abe, which has spent weeks trying to defuse the administration’s threat to impose tariffs that could have a major impact on the Japanese auto industry. (more…)

Faraday Future Insists it Isn’t Going Away

New plan calls for leaner management, second product, even an IPO – if it can stay in business long enough.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.14, 2018

In better days: Jia Yueting and Nick Sampson, helped unveil the FF91 at the 2016 CES.

Only a matter of weeks ago, battery-carmaker Faraday Future seemed ready to turn out the lights, co-founder Nick Sampson resigning and then declaring in a blog post that the company was “effectively insolvent.” But, despite a seemingly endless series of crises, including one that forced it to cancel a planned assembly plant in Nevada, Faraday’s new management team continue to project a surprisingly bullish take on their future.

Late Tuesday, in fact, the California-based company released a statement outlining its plans for the future, which included a new, “lean management” structure, and “fortified product plans” that not only include the original FF91 supercar but a second, more mainstream crossover.

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Of course, there is the minor issue of finding the necessary cash. Faraday’s latest crisis was kicked off when China’s Evergrande Health Industry Group backed out of a deal that was supposed to generate as much as $2 billion in capital. For the moment, the automaker says it is on the hunt for $500 million to get it back on track.

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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…)

Lexus Launches Key Holiday Advertising Campaign

The originator of the "holiday" sales push, kicks off its latest round.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.13, 2018

Lexus, which essentially originated the holiday season ad campaigns for automakers, is kicking off its latest round of ads.

The traditional American holiday season, stretching from Thanksgiving to New Year, has long been marked by parties, celebration and football but in recent years it also has become a critical period for selling cars, SUVs and trucks.

For the 19th consecutive year, Lexus, one of the brands instrumental helping make the holiday season in into a major period for marketing vehicles, is launching its annual “December to Remember” Sales Event this week.

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The marketing campaign began with three national spots, showcasing how the gift of a Lexus during the holidays offers experiences throughout the entire year. It has since been copied by others in the industry such as Mercedes-Benz and GMC. (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…)

Toyota Teases New 2020 Corolla

Critical debut comes as Japanese automaker considers paring back passenger car line-up.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.12, 2018

Toyota will pull the wraps off the new Corolla during a webcast at 7 PM PST Thursday.

Earlier this month, Toyota’s top U.S. executive confirmed that the automaker is considering ways to pare back its passenger car line-up as the market continues shifting to SUVs – but you won’t see the long-popular Corolla going away any time soon, as this new teaser image suggests.

Toyota isn’t saying much beyond promising that, “The world’s most popular car is about to get greater than ever,” with the Japanese automaker set to reveal the 12th-generation sedan version of the Corolla during a livestream webcast on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. Pacific time.

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Toyota clearly needs to rebuild the buzz for the compact Corolla which has been around in sedan form since 2014. Sales fell 11.6% during the calendar-year-to-date, and 14.2% in October alone – and that’s despite supplementing the familiar sedan version with a hatchback model this past year.

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