Prince of Wales at Aston Martin Lagonda St Athan

AutoInformed,com on Aston Martin DBX

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Aston Martin Lagonda yesterday received The Prince of Wales to its new manufacturing facility at St Athan in Wales. A group of Aston Martin apprentices and also school children from the local area who came along to see the new facility. Aston Martin Lagonda, St Athan now also bears a plaque, commemorating the Royal visit.

Aston Martin Lagonda currently employs 93 apprentices across its operating sites. The last step in the manufacture of every Aston Martin is the application of the marque’s wings badge to the car. A pre-production DBX had the Prince of Wales apply its wings. Continue reading

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Wells Fargo to Pay $500 Million for Misleading Investors

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged California-based Wells Fargo & Co. for misleading investors about the success of its business strategy at a time when it was opening fake accounts for unknowing customers and selling unnecessary products that went unused. The SEC’s order finds that Wells Fargo violated the anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $500 million to settle the charges, which will be returned to investors. The $500 million payment is part of a combined $3 billion settlement with the SEC and the Department of Justice.
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Daimler Facing Profit and Sales Declines Reorganizes

AutoInformed on Daimler reorganization.The CFO of Mercedes-Benz AG, Frank Lindenberg, will leave Daimler and on 31 March 2020 under a sweeping reorganization announced this week in Stuttgart. It’s just the latest example of the changes that are being made industry-wide as old-line automakers confront the capital and profit  destroying aspects of the rapidly emergence of 21st century autonomous and connected vehicles.

Compounding the problem is that governments will now dictate the designs of vehicles. As part of the so-called Ambition 2039 sustainability offensive, Mercedes-Benz AG plans to make its entire new car product portfolio CO2-neutral. Shorter reporting lines in the new structure will help in this effort, it’s hoped. (BMW Group and Daimler Mobility Hoping to Profit on Joint Ventures. Monetizing a Monopoly or a Joint Survival Bid?Capital Punishment Day for Auto Workers at Daimler) Continue reading

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Politics of Racing – Aston Martin Balks at Valkyrie Program on Aston Martin leads 2019-2020 GTE Pro world championships at halfway stage.

The Vantage GTE so far in this year’s WEC GTE Pro and Am championships, has four class victories in four races.

Aston Martin Lagonda said today that is has postponed development of its World Endurance Championship (WEC) Hypercar race entry, following the decision by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and the International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) to harmonize the Hypercar class with the so-called LMDh prototype category in the WEC from 2021 and the US-based WeatherTech Sportscar Championship from 2022. This means the oft-hyped Valkyrie Hypercar will not make its WEC debut at Silverstone – home of British racing in August 2020 or compete in the 2021 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
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Aston Martin Valkyrie: Formula One Drivers Get First Laps on Aston Martin Valkyrie

“Of course it’s still in the development phase but you can already feel the pace, which compared to a normal car is… pretty different!…

A public relations stunt combined with, perhaps, some engineering development sees Aston Martin Red Bull Racing drivers Max Verstappen and Alex Albon get a turn behind the wheel of the pending Valkyrie hypercar VP2 (verification prototype) and VP3. Also, on hand for the drives at Silverstone in the 6.5 liter naturally-aspirated V12 engine with an additional power boost from  hybrid system, were Aston Martin high-performance test driver Chris Goodwin and Aston Martin Racing FIA World Endurance Cup drivers Darren Turner and Alex Lynn. (Aston Martin Valkyrie Cosworth V12 Rated at 1000 Horsepower, Aston Martin On GTE Pole, Ford 2nd, Corvette 3rd at Le Mans) Continue reading

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EU Passenger Car Registrations Decline in January 2020 on EU Sales SlumpDuring January 2020, the EU passenger car market contracted by 7.5% to 956,779 units. ACEA claims that major taxation changes announced by some EU member states for 2020 pulled registrations forward into December 2019, explaining the January drop. Ford, Renault and Mazda are all struggling.

Other contributing factors included weakening global economic conditions and uncertainty caused by the UK’s departure from the European Union. Continue reading

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First Glance – Czinger 1250 Horsepower 21C Hypercar on Czinger 21 C Hypercar

For the “One-Percenters.”

The Czinger brand and its 21C hypercar will debut at the Geneva International Motor Show 2020 early in March. Czinger claims that the 21C achieves 1250 horsepower (1233 bhp) and is capable of zero to 0-62 mph (0-100 kph) in 1.9 seconds. This performance is attained through Czinger’s own hybrid powertrain. An odd vehicle architecture is centered around a “driver-focused, two-person in-line seating configuration.”  Continue reading

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U.S. Sales in 2020 – SUVs Will Govern a Down Market? on U.S. Vehicle Sales

We are back to declining levels of job openings like during the Great Recession. China looms large as U.S. assembly plants start to shut down from lack of parts.

During 2019 in the U.S. SUVs faced their slowest year since the end of the Great Recession, rising 2.5% Year-over-Year. However, SUVs took more than 50% of sales in August, November and December, to end the year with a 48.8% share, according to consultancy LMC. LMC forecasts the total market 2020 market will fall to 16.8 mn Light Vehicles this year (-1.2% YoY), but hedges with the size of the unknown negative effects of the China’s corona virus epidemic. (AutoInformed: Global Light Vehicle Sales Slump. The Party’s Over?)

Compact SUVs during 2019 were the largest segment in the US and declined with the slowing market with a 19.2% share. For 2020, LMC forecasts 20%, thanks to the first full year of sales of the new Ford Escape as well as the ongoing popularity of the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
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Grand Touring? Bentley Mulliner Bacalar to Debut at Geneva

Bentley Mulliner Bacalar Debuts at Geneva

Well,  it’s certainly grand in size…

Bentley says it will reveal the future of coach-building at next month’s Geneva International Motor Show with the unveiling of the Bentley Mulliner Bacalar. Hand-built by Bentley Mulliner, the oldest coach-builder in the world, the Bacalar “represents Grand Touring at its most exhilarating.” In Bentley’s view “sustainable and ethically-sourced materials are fused with a beautiful, yet dramatic design inspired by Bentley’s centenary concept car, the EXP 100 GT.

The autonomous and electric EXP 100 GT has Artificial Intelligence in a car that is capable of being driven or being enjoyed in driverless mode. Allegedly sustainable future luxury is created through the use of 5,000-year-old copper-infused riverwood; exterior paint made from recycled rice husks; 100% organic leather-like interior textiles derived from wine-making; Cumbrian crystal interfaces; British farmed wool carpets and embroidered cotton interior finishes.
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Ford Rear Toe-Links Fracture from Driving

Ford Motor Company is issuing a safety recall for more than 220,000 Ford Flex, Ford Taurus Police Interceptor Sedan, Ford Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKT vehicles from the 2013-18 model years. Affected vehicles that are exposed to frequent full rear-suspension articulation (jounce and rebound) may experience a fractured rear suspension toe-link. A rear toe link fracture while driving increases the risk of a crash. (Ford Recalls 1.2M Explorer Models and Others for Defects)

Ford said it is not aware of any reports of accident or injury related to this condition for the specified vehicles. This potentially deadly safety defect affects 211,207 vehicles in the U.S. and federal territories, 15,281 in Canada and 1,396 in Mexico. It appears to be related to a larger Ford Explorer toe-link recall. Continue reading

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Data Retrieval Via a Universal Onboard Diagnostic Adapter

Carly says it can connect drivers with the information inside their cars through its universal adapter. Claimed to be the first of its kind application, the universal plug-in adapter works with a car’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) port and pairs with an “easy-to-use app.” The adapter is available for purchase today, with the Carly app available on both the Apple and Google Play stores. In the European market,  with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and more than 80,000 diagnostics are run daily.

Carly sees potential in the U.S. market. “We saw that there was already a lot of demand for a product like Carly in the U.S., with 30% of our existing sales coming from U.S. customers organically and our company seeing 50-100% growth annually,” said Carly founder and CEO Avid Avini. Continue reading

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Silverado, Sierra Software Recalled for Botched Older Recall on Chevrolet Silverado Recalls

2019 Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Shane Bieber with 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss.

General Motors is recalling148,055 2019 model year Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 vehicles that may fail to conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 126, “Electronic stability control systems for light vehicles” and FMVSS 135, “Light vehicle brake systems.”

While receiving service at a GM dealership for an “unrelated” brake safety defect, these vehicles may have received the pre-launch version of the electronic brake control module (EBCM) software from TRW intended as the remedy in NHTSA Recall 19V889.* Continue reading

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Kroger Camaro On Pole for Daytona 500 on 2020 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., driver of the #47 Kroger Camaro ZL1 1LE, captured the Pole position to start on the front row in the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 race next weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., driver of the #47 Kroger Camaro ZL1 1LE, captured the Pole position (194.582 mph) today to start on the front row in the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 race next weekend at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Valvoline Camaro ZL1 1LE will join him on the first row (194.363 mph). The remaining starting sports will be determined during two qualifying races next Thursday at Florida’s most famous track. Continue reading

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Ford Motor Changes Top Exec Roles Again on Ford Executive Shuffle

The botched Explorer launch finds a scapegoat?

Ford Motor Company today announced that Jim Farley has been named chief operating officer of Ford, reporting to Jim Hackett, the company’s president and CEO, as Ford continues trudging toward self-proclaimed transformation into a higher-growth, higher-margin business selling smart, connected vehicles and services. Ford said that Joe Hinrichs is retiring as Ford’s President, Automotive after less than one year in the position. (2020 Ford Explorer – OK, Not Good in Crash Ratings, Two New Safety Recalls at Ford Motor – F-Series and Explorer, Driving 2020 Explorer: Big Size and Complexity, Bigger Price, Ford Shakes Up Top Management. Again )

The changes come as Ford is restructuring operations, investing in the product portfolio and reducing bureaucracy. Ford lost $1.7 billion (42 cents a share) during Q4 2019 compared to a loss of $100 million, or 3 cents a share, year-over-year.  This  included a previously disclosed $2.2 billion charge for underfunded pensions. Adjusted for one-time items, Ford said it gained 12 cents a share during the year, compared with 30 cents a share a year ago. Revenue fell 5% to $39.7 billion from $41.8 billion a year ago. Global sales, share, earnings, and profits all decreased, as new product launches such as the Explorer were problematic. (Ford Posts Weak Q4 Earnings Losing $1.7 Billion, Weak Ford 2018 Financial Results Prove Need for Shakeup)
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Midwest Automotive Media Pick 2020 Kia Telluride and Lincoln Aviator as Family and Luxury Vehicles of the Year on Lincoln Aviator - Matthew McConaughey ice-fishing ad

Matthew McConaughey’s ice fishing acting is as cold as the fish or is this the new luxury cool? Award winning ad campaigns don’t mean winning in the sales race, but Lincoln sales increased 8% to 112,000 in 2019. Click to Enlarge.

The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) announced today at the Chicago Auto Show that the 2020 Kia Telluride has been named the winner of its 10th annual Family Vehicle of the Year award. The 2020 Lincoln Aviator is the winner of the second annual Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year award.

To qualify for the award, vehicles had to have four doors, appear at one of MAMA’s two annual rallies, and be new or significantly updated within a year of the 2019 Spring Rally, which took place last May. ( on MAMA Finalists for Family Vehicle of the Year Awards, Midwest Automotive Media Association Family Vehicles of Year, Pacifica Family Vehicle of Year – Midwest Auto Media Assn)

Voting took place at both the Spring and Fall Rallies, which narrowed down the field of contenders. Mainstream finalists were the Ford Escape, Ford Explorer, Honda Passport, Hyundai Palisade, Jeep Gladiator, Kia Telluride, Mazda 3, and Subaru Outback. The finalists in the luxury category were the BMW X7, Cadillac XT6, Lincoln Aviator, Lincoln Nautilus, and Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS 53 Coupe. Continue reading

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