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Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan Savior, Could Bring Their Alliance Tumbling Down

Under arrest in Japan, 64-year-old exec likely to lose his many titles, too.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.20, 2018

Carlos Ghosn remains Renault CEO — for now. Company officials appear to allowing the legal process to play out.

It took Carlos Ghosn two decades to transform three independent automakers into one of the world’s best-selling automotive alliances, but with the 64-year-old executive now sitting a Japanese jail, accused of a variety of financial misdeeds, that empire could come crashing down.

On Monday, Nissan broke its silence after completing a months-long investigation it said was “based on a whistleblower report.” Ghosn and another senior executive were arrested as they arrived in Japan from alliance partner Renault’s headquarters in France. The Brazilian-born Ghosn was accused of under-reporting his corporate income by as much as $45 million, while also misappropriating corporate funds.

Global News!

“I feel strong anger and disappointment,” Ghosn’s handpicked successor as Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa told reporters at Nissan headquarters in Yokohama. “I am very sorry.” (more…)

FedEx to Add 1,000 Chinese EV Vans to Delivery Fleet

Delivery service hopes to reduce costs, as well as emissions.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.20, 2018

FedEx plans to add 1,000 of the Chanje vans to its U.S. delivery fleet.

FedEx Corp. is plugging into battery power, the delivery service announcing today it will add 1,000 Chinese-made vans to its fleet as part of a commitment to reduce both energy consumption and vehicle emissions.

It joins a growing list of delivery services, including UPS and Deutsche Post, that are testing out the capabilities of fully electric trucks for use on both short and long-haul routes.

Green News!

“FedEx continually seeks new ways to maximize operational efficiency, minimize impacts and find innovative solutions through the company’s Reduce, Replace, Revolutionize approach to sustainability,” said Mitch Jackson, FedEx Chief Sustainability Officer. “Our investment in these vehicles is part of our commitment to that approach of serving our customers and connecting the world responsibly and resourcefully.”

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First Drive: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 2.7L

Can a small engine really power a big truck?

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.19, 2018

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado features a new 2.7-liter turbo four with cylinder deactivation.

It takes a big engine to make a big truck owner happy — or so went the conventional wisdom among full-size pickup manufacturers until recently.

That strategy has been changing rapidly, in large part reflecting the arrival of some surprisingly peppy, albeit downsized, turbocharged powertrain packages, such as those from Ford’s EcoBoost family. More than half of all F-150s now go out the showroom door with a six under the hood. Now, we’re beginning to see not only competitive V-6 options, but even four-cylinder alternatives, such as the new 2.7-liter Chevrolet is unleashing with the arrival of the 2019 Silverado.

Reviews to Trust!

An engine of that size, with or without a turbocharged kick, might have seemed entirely unlikely just a few years ago, but a day of driving the Silverado 2.7L through the desert badlands outside Phoenix last week proved that big things really can come in small packages. (more…)

Toyota Plugs In For Performance

Most powerful RAV4 is a hybrid; could a performance Prius follow?

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.19, 2018

The RAV4 is now Toyota's best-seller and for 2019 the hybrid becomes its most powerful model.

No car company has done a better job marketing hybrids to the American public than Toyota. Though sales have slipped a bit over the last several years in the face of cheap gas, Toyota’s Prius remains the country’s best-selling hybrid-electric-vehicle, one of many HEVs the carmaker now offers.

That list includes a new hybrid version of the RAV4, the sport-utility vehicle getting a complete makeover for 2019. The electrified version of the compact sport-utility vehicle is, as one would expect, the most fuel-efficient version of the new RAV4. But, in an unusual move, Toyota has also made the hybrid the fastest and most powerful.

Product News!

That’s a significant shift in direction for Toyota which long seemed to believe that one couldn’t combine performance and fuel economy. But it now appears to be responding to a broader industry shift that sees electrified powertrain technology being used to enhance a vehicle’s fun-to-drive factor. (more…)

Carlos Ghosn Fired by Nissan, Reportedly Arrested for Misconduct

Investigation triggered by whistleblower, automaker confirms.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.19, 2018

Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested Japan as part of an investigation about falsifying income and misusing company assets.

One of the most visible faces of the global auto industry has been fired and reportedly arrested, Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn accused of financial misconduct.

Once so popular after helping save the then-struggling automaker, Ghosn inspired a widely read Japanese comic book. But on Monday, Tokyo media reported, he was brought in before Japanese prosecutors who are questioning the executive about claims he both falsified income statements and misused company assets. A second senior executive is also facing allegations of corruption.

Global News!

“Based on a whistleblower report, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Nissan) has been conducting an internal investigation over the past several months regarding misconduct involving the company’s Representative Director and Chairman Carlos Ghosn and Representative Director Greg Kelly,” the automaker said in a statement. (more…)

Advanced Driving Systems Can Be Misleading and Don’t Always Work as Promised

Autopilot, ProPilot, Pilot Assist, names can confuse motorists expecting full autonomy.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.16, 2018

This Model X crash reveals the short comings of Autopilot and, potentially, other similarly named advanced driver assistance systems.

Soon after Tesla first introduced its Autopilot system in October 2014, videos began popping up on YouTube showing owners doing things like jumping into the back seat while their cars cruised down the highway. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk was shown in his Model S sedan, hands out of the window, rather than on the steering wheel.

After a couple high-visibility crashes, Tesla now takes pain to make sure its owners know Autopilot isn’t a fully autonomous system – at least not yet. But not everyone seems to be getting the message. And it’s not just Tesla. With Nissan adding ProPilot Assist to some new models and Volvo opting for Pilot Assist.

Product News Now!

The new car market is experiencing a flood of new advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, that claim to help drivers stay in their lanes, brake automatically, and even change lanes by simply tapping the turn signal. But testing by AAA finds that many of these systems don’t work as promised – at least all the time. And, worse, the names manufacturers have chosen may lead to a false sense of security, some motorists believing these systems can but drive all but fully autonomously. (more…)

In an SUV Market, Toyota Intent on Boosting Demand for All-New 2020 Corolla

Compact sedan gets new look, broad range of new, standard features.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.16, 2018

Brand boss Jack Hollis introduced the 12th-generation, 2020 Toyota Corolla.

It may be an SUV-crazed market, but Toyota is not going to cede ground in the compact sedan market without a fight, or so brand boss Jack Hollis declared during the unveiling of the all-new, 2020 Corolla Thursday night.

It’s no surprise that Toyota is intent on proving its prowess with the new sedan. Over the past half century, Corolla has been one of the cars instrumental in building the Japanese automaker’s reputation for quality, reliability and durability. But with other manufacturers, like Korea’s Hyundai and Kia, breathing down its neck, Toyota will have to show it can deliver more than the classic, plain vanilla design, Corolla has also long been known for.

Product News!

It hinted at a more expressive direction earlier this year with the launch of a new, and decidedly more sporty , Corolla Hatchback. Now, the mainstay sedan gets a complete makeover. And it is not only more stylish, but boasts more power and lots more features, including the latest version of the Toyota Safety Sense package which now will be standard on all Corolla grades. Key competitors, such as Honda, have chosen not to package these advanced driver assistance systems on many of their base models.

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All-New Honda Passport Set for LA Debut

Old name for a new truck.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.15, 2018

Honda says the new Passport will make its debut at the Los Angeles International a

It may not mean much to Millennials, but older motorists may get a sense of déjà vu when Honda lifts the covers on the all-new Passport SUV at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show.

Set to slot in between the Japanese automaker’s CR-V and Pilot models, what appears to be a three-row crossover borrows the name of what was Honda’s first-ever utility vehicle, a five-door that was actually produced by erstwhile rival Isuzu and sold in the U.S. under the Honda badge between 1993 and 2002.

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Brand News!

The new Honda Passport was designed and engineered – and will be assembled – entirely in-house, and will become the fourth model in the brand’s CUV line-up, lining up in Honda dealerships next year alongside the entry-level HR-V, as well as the CR-V and Pilot.

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Negotiating Deal VW is a “Delicate Dance,” Says Ford CEO Hackett

First project could be announced before year-end.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.15, 2018

Ford CEO Jim Hackett described the talks with Volkswagen as a "delicate dance."

A deal between Ford and Volkswagen focusing on joint efforts in the light commercial vehicle market could come together quickly, but in his first official acknowledgement that the two carmakers are exploring a wide range of additional options, Ford CEO Jim Hackett said those negotiations involve a “delicate dance.”

Like a growing number of competitors, Ford has opened up to the possibility of teaming up with erstwhile rivals on a variety of projects. And, in recent weeks, sources have indicated it is discussing deals that also could see them team up on everything from autonomous and electrified vehicles to joint production and marketing efforts in markets such as Europe and Latin America.

Insight!

“(VW CEO) Herbert (Diess) and I had a great discussion” about a possible alliance on commercial trucks, Hackett said in an interview with the Reuters news service, noting that things are “going better than we thought it would.” (more…)

Range Rover Wires In Teaser ahead of New Evoque Debut

Fleshed-out SUV coming to Los Angeles – and could feature new Transparent Hood technology.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.15, 2018

Land Rover created full-size, wireframe versions of the second-generation Range Rover Evoque.

Land Rover took a dramatic turn with the 2011 launch of the Range Rover Evoque, moving away from its traditionally boxy SUVs to deliver something far more sleek and sinuous. With its distinctive, sloping roofline, it quickly became the brand’s big seller, attracting a wide range of new buyers that might otherwise have ignored the British brand.

Eight years in, the automaker is getting ready to roll out a new version of the Evoque at the Los Angeles Auto Show, with a sneak peek coming a week earlier. To give us a hint of what’s coming, Land Rover has released a group of unusual teaser images.

Auto Show News!

Unlike the usual teasers that cross our desk, these aren’t carefully cropped or shadowed images but, rather, wireframe renderings that clearly lay out the exterior dimensions of the new 2019 Range Rover Evoque. And, we’re hearing, there very well could be a secondary meaning to this approach, hinting at a major new feature that could debut on the new SUV.

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