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GM Looking at White Collar Layoffs Due to Low Buyout Acceptance

Company falling well short of hoped-for 7,000 early retirements.

by Michael Strong on Nov.20, 2018

General Motors is offering buyouts to thousands of employees as it seeks to streamline its North American operations.

We can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way — so what’s going to be?

That was the question essentially posed to thousands of General Motors Co. white collar employees by the company’s management, looking for at least 7,000 to accept an early retirement buyout. The automaker is looking to trim salaried workers as a proactive cost cutting measure.

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Those selected to participate in the plan have until noon Monday to decide; however, early reports suggest the company is going to get a little over half of its target, which means that GM likely will be laying off people in the near future to get that number. (more…)

Mini Unveiling New John Cooper Works Model at L.A. Auto Show

Fun brand also showing off four new customized models.

by Michael Strong on Nov.20, 2018

The new Mini John Cooper Works Knights Edition will make its debut at the L.A. Auto Show.

With the recent focus on “hot hatches,” it would be fair to assume that ever-popular Mini would be among the leaders in the segment. Not only is it fair, but also it’s correct with the brand’s John Cooper Works edition vehicles.

At this year’s Los Angeles International Auto Show next week, Mini’s going to roll out a series of new vehicles looking to generate some excitement, especially within the “need for speed” crowd.

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Starting with the Mini John Cooper Works Knights Edition, which will make its North American premiere starting Nov. 28. Joining that is the Mini John Cooper Works GP – first shown as a concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year – ready for launch in 2020.  (more…)

Automakers Cutting New Car Smell, Adding to the Bottom Line

Chinese buyers hate the smell and the causes of it are unhealthy.

by Michael Strong on Nov.19, 2018

Car interiors often put off odors related to the volatile organic compounds used to assemble them. The VOCs are unhealthy and Ford has found a way to deal with them.

Making a new car greener entails many things, including but not exclusively, improved fuel economy, lower greenhouse gas emissions and easier recyclability.

Automakers around the globe have been searching for ways to make the interior cabin better for occupants. By changing the materials they use for steering wheels, seats and other components, they’re lowering the volatile organic compounds that fill the cabin.

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Additionally, there are other chemicals and compounds used in the assembly of vehicles that add to the harmful nature, and ultimately the smell of new vehicles. Eliminating these VOCs makes for a vehicle that’s less harmful to occupants — and adds to automaker’s bottom line too. (more…)

Rivian Offers Short Video Sneak Peek at New Vehicles

New R1T and R1S star in new short film promoting the company's debuts.

by Michael Strong on Nov.16, 2018

Rivian's new R1T electric truck is blazing a trail to its debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show.

It wasn’t long ago that when an electric vehicle was going to be announced it was big news. Now, the declaration of a new EV, even a new company making EVs, requires a bit of flair to get attention.

Rivian Automotive went for the flair with the release of video of its new Rivian R1T and the all-new 3-row 7-passenger SUV will be named Rivian R1S “all-electric adventure vehicles.” They’ll debut at the upcoming Los Angeles International Auto Show.

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The 57-second video, entitled “The Electric Adventure Begins,” actually doesn’t reveal either of the vehicles until the end, and even then it’s a far away shot of the fast moving vehicle on a dirt road, kicking up dust. (more…)

Ford Issues Recalls for More Than 38K Vehicles

Actions cover sport-utilities and pickups.

by Michael Strong on Nov.16, 2018

The Expedition is part of the recall of more than 37,000 large SUVs.

Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 38,000 SUVs and pickups as part of four individual recalls covering problems involving seats, airbags, fuel system components and transmissions.

The largest is for 2018 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigators. The action covers large utes that have second row center bench seats. In that instance, the seats could be missing reinforcement brackets in the seat track assembly.

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If not properly secured, the rear seat may come loose. As of this moment, the company is unaware of any incidents or injuries. There are approximately 37,801 vehicles in North America, with 34,946 in the United States and federalized territories, 1,900 in Canada and 955 in Mexico. (more…)

Tesla Promises Model 3 Delivery by Dec. 31 to Meet Tax Deadline

Order by end of month, get by end of year, Musk tweets.

by Michael Strong on Nov.16, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company would deliver any Model 3 ordered by the end of November by Dec. 31.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims that Model 3s ordered in the U.S. by the end of November will be delivered by Dec. 31 — a delivery rate that is much faster than for earlier Model 3 sedans.

The edict, issued by Musk via Twitter, is designed to push sales to get them completed in time to take advantage of tax breaks for buyers. The move comes as Tesla and General Motors are lobbying government officials to extend tax incentives for EV buyers.

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“Tesla just acquired trucking capacity to ensure Model 3 can be delivered in U.S. by Dec 31 if ordered by Nov 30,” Musk tweeted on Thursday. He late clarified how they’re going to get this done. (more…)

EU Trade Chief Warns Trump Administration to Back Off Tariff Threat

Malmstrom comes to D.C. with a list of tariff targets.

by Michael Strong on Nov.15, 2018

Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU's top trade official, warned that if the Trump administration implemented auto tariffs on the EU, the union would respond in kind.

If President Donald Trump makes good on a threat to impose a 25% tariff on cars and trucks imported into the United States from Europe, the European Union is prepared to implement a new policy of its own: an eye for an eye.

Cecilia Malmstrom, the top trade official for the European Union, met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to talk about trade issues. After the meeting, she warned the EU would implement tariffs of equal size and strength on U.S. goods if Trump made good on his threatened auto tariffs.

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“It would be a rebalancing list covering a lot of different sectors,” Malmstrom said. “That would be ready if we thought those measures would hit us. We hope not.”  (more…)

Gas Prices Dropping Heading into Holiday Weekend

Abundance of oil is pushing down prices.

by Michael Strong on Nov.15, 2018

Normally a holiday weekend means a jump in gas prices, but not this Thanksgiving as they have dropped 7 cents in the last week.

This is the time of year that folks should be getting ready to enjoy Thanksgiving by piling into a car and trekking off to a family members’ house and celebrate the season — and paying way more for gas than normal.

“Should be” is the key part of that sentence, but this year appears to be different.

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Instead of taking their slow climb upward, gas prices are actually falling as the Thanksgiving holiday travel period approaches. Oil prices, due to an ample supply, are declining, which drives down the price of gas. (more…)

Porsche Takes Top Spot in 2018 Power Sales Satisfaction Index

Survey shows that dealers who text secure more deals.

by Michael Strong on Nov.14, 2018

Porsche took first place in JD Power's 2018 Sales Satisfaction Index, ahead of Infiniti and Lexus.

New car customers rated Porsche as the top brand in J.D. Power released its annual Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study today and Porsche took top honors overall while Mini was the leader in the “mass market” category while Porsche is considered a luxury car.

The study reviews the sales process, such as how the customer and the dealer interact. The average score was an 823. The big take away from this year’s study? Despite recent claims that people want to haggle face-to-face, Power’s results reveal that customers prefer to be contacted via digital communications such as text message, but it happens less often than desired.

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“These aren’t apples to apples comparisons by any means, but the scores are clear indicators of where shoppers and buyers are going, especially as the consumer base gains a larger mix of younger customers,” said Chris Sutton, Vice President of the Automotive Retail Practice at J.D. Power. (more…)

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…)