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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…)

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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Aston Martin Confirms DBX Name, Shows New SUV Testing

Production model set for Q4 2019 reveal.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.14, 2018

Aston Martin is bringing the DBX sport-utility vehicle to market after showing a concept a few years ago.

File it under “No Big Surprise”: Aston Martin has confirmed that its first-ever SUV will retain the name of the original concept ute, DBX. That said, there have been plenty of significant changes since the prototype was initially revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2015.

For one thing, the original, three-door show car now has a more conventional, five-door layout, albeit retaining a coupe-like roofline that, while not as exotic as the new Lamborghini Urus is certainly more sporty than the stolid Bentley Bentayga.

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The pics here show what is described as a DBX prototype being put through its paces on a Welsh rally stage by Aston Chief Engineer Matt Becker. And, according to a statement by the British marque, “signifies the start of an extensive testing program, (o)ne that has begun in Wales, as a nod to Aston Martin’s new St. Athan production facility in the Vale of Glamorgan.” (more…)

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…)

New Mercedes GLC F-Cell: World’s 1st to Combine Fuel-Cell, Plug-In Hybrid Tech

New model gets a combined range of 300 miles.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.13, 2018

The new Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell combines two technologies to help mitigate worries about running out fuel.

The new Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell is designed to help motorists address one of the biggest problems facing alternative powertrain technology: a lack of infrastructure.

The new crossover is the world’s first production vehicle to combine fuel-cell and plug-in hybrid technology in the same vehicle. That means a motorist will be less likely to be stuck somewhere without a source of power.

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“The innovative plug-in fuel cell drive combines the advantages of both zero-emission drive technologies and, thanks to its intelligent operating strategy, continuously optimizes the use of both energy sources in line with the current operating situation,” Mercedes said in a statement announcing the launch of the new F-Cell, which will officially go on sale in Germany next spring. (more…)