More Than 80% of US Businesses Don’t Employ People?

AutoInformed.com on Non-Employee Businesses

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The U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns (CBP) data includes only data on businesses that have employees on their payroll. But, in 2016, only 23.8% of the 32,570,855 establishments in the United States had paid employees. This means the remaining 76.2% of establishments were non-employers or establishments that don’t have any paid employees. And those data come from the 2016 Non-employer Statistics (NES).

The three states with the largest number of non-employer establishments are Texas (79.5%), Georgia (79.4%) and Florida (79.0%). North Dakota is the only state where more than 30% of the establishments have paid employees. Continue reading

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Genesis 2019 G70 – $48,000 Four Cylinder?

AutoInformed.com on 2019 Genesis G70

Is the Korean pricing too aggressive?

The 2019 Genesis G70 goes on sale this week with either a 2.0 liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder (252 hp /260 lb.-ft.) engine or a 3.3T V6 twin-turbocharged engine (365-hp / 376 lb.-ft.). There are an endangered species 6-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic. The newest Genesis models are ambitious in sales goals,albeit reasonably equipped but face, arguably, the most intense competition in history from such storied brands as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and even Cadillac.

G70s equipped with the 2.0T four-cylinder engine are available in six semi-confusing trim levels, including a special manual transmission Sport package, with a starting price of ~$36,000. The G70s equipped with the 3.3T engine are available in four trim levels, plus two limited production – either by sales reality or maker decree – Special Edition models, with a starting price of more than $44,000. You can spend roughly $55,000 on a plush Genesis model. Sales numbers ultimately will decide if the pricing strategy is too ambitious. Continue reading

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Saudi’s to Finance Lucid EV

AutoInformed.com on Saudi Lucid Financing

So here comes (maybe) another global luxury electric car company based in Silicon Valley. Nice website, glowing promises and worse than ailing Tesla, no production.

Lucid Motors says it has executed a more than $1b investment agreement with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (“PIF”), through a special-purpose vehicle wholly owned by Saudi Arabia. Under the terms of the agreement, the parties agree to carry out the transaction subject to the usual regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. No financial information was disclosed.

The deal claims to represent a major milestone for Lucid. It will provide it with the necessary funding to commercially launch its first electric vehicle, the Lucid Air in 2020.   Continue reading

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2019 Lexus UX – Another Compact Crossover

AutoInformed.com on Lexus UX

Lexus, the world leader in luxury hybrid vehicles, applied its engineering expertise to the 2019 UX 250h with a new-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain.

The 2019 Lexus UX, another compact crossover, enters a segment as crowded as the A Train in Manhattan during rush hours. With a 103.9-inch wheelbase , 177-inches overall length and a claimed best-in-segment 34-ft. curb-to-curb turning diameter it should  make the boxy Lexus UX easy to maneuver and park.

When it appears at dealerships during December 2018, the UX 200 will have a starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of more than $33,000. The UX 250h hybrid will follow in January 2019 with a starting MSRP of more than $35,000, adding all-wheel drive, increased power and better fuel efficiency, for $2,000 more. There will be other optional packages as well and AutoInformed bets the first ones will be packed in the  $45,000-$50,000 range. Continue reading

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Joys of Crossover Trucking? Largest Subaru Ever

AutoInformed.com on Subaru Ascent

A formidable entry from a company that has now set nine straight years of sales increases.

Subaru of America has a new creative campaign centered around the launch of the all-new 2019 Ascent. The new advertising spots showcase the automaker’s latest three-row crossover/station wagon – the largest Subaru in history designed to compete with crossover SUVs. The ads state the obvious about the whole growing category – versatility, comfort, and safety.

Right now there are ~300 nameplates on sale in the U.S. Coming in the crossover segment by the turn of this decade are another ~70 in a market forecast to decrease to 15.7 million units annually. This will ring the bell on a battle royale in the marketplace particularly when record numbers of off-lease vehicles are due to appear. Ad in expected rises in interest rates and a market free-for-all will ensue. Continue reading

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Off-Road Cruise Control on 2019 F-150 Raptor and Ranger

AutoInformed.com on 2019 Ford RaptorThe revised 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor  now has Trail Control, or cruise control for off-road driving. While this is old news – see AutoInformed.com on Active Damping Controls Ride on 2019 Ford Raptorthe suddenly super competitive performance truck market (oxymoron?) has makers scrambling for publicity.

The Colorado ZR2 Bison is Chevy’s first collaboration with American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), said to be a premium off-road aftermarket manufacturer. Bison joins Chevrolet’s mid-size truck lineup as an all-new performance variant, a sub-species almost unheard of 20 years ago. Now the U.S.’ most popular and profitable segments for the Detroit Three, Chevy has gained more than a quarter of all mid-size truck sales in less than four years in the marketplace after having abandoning the segment by dropping the previous compact truck. ( Tom Brady Refuses Chevrolet Colorado as Super Bowl MVP. Pickup Goes to Malcolm Butler,  Chevrolet Colorado Midsized Pickup to be Made in Wentzville as GM Tries to Forget Bankruptcy, Hummer and Shreveport, New 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Mid-Size Pickup Debuts in LA) Continue reading

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Fix! IMSA Takes Pro Wrestling Approach to Mollify Owners

AutoInformed.com on the Polotics of IMSA Racing Rules

After three straight victories by LMP2 cars, the IMSA Technical Committee determined that slowing LMP2 cars was necessary.

On the eve today’s two-hour, 40-minute America’s Tire 250 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the IMSA Technical Committee made craven changes to the LMP2 race cars that compete head-to-head with Daytona Prototype international (DPi) cars in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype class. Welcome to the politics of racing – not one where racing improves the breed, but rather racing improves the IMSA pocketbook.
Continue reading

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Experienced Pro Corvette Drivers Garcia and Magnussen Maintain Lead in the IMSA GTLM Driver Championship

AutoInformed.com on IMSA Sports Car Championship

Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, drivers of the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, take a 3rd place finish in the GTLM class.

One race after scoring the first global win for the BMW M8 GTE, BMW Team RLL delivered an encore performance Sunday in the America’s Tire 250 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. However, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, drivers of a Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, took a 3rd place finish in the GTLM class They won together in Monterey in 2013 and 2014.  (See IMSA – Looking at GT Manufacturer Championship Odds) Continue reading

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Lexus LY 650 Luxury Yacht Revealed

AutoInformed.com on Lexus LY 650 Yacht

Several ideas from the 42-foot concept have made their way onto the LY 650.

Lexus has dabbled in the realms of culinary, design, film what it claims are alternative opportunities to interact with the brand. As Lexus International President, Yoshihiro Sawa’s claims as his vision of Lexus as a brand that, “explores new ways to deliver innovative and amazing experiences for our guests,”

Now, Lexus returns to the water with its next expression of a Lexus yacht in the form of the LY 650. Said to be the most contemporary expression of Lexus design language, L-finesse, applied beyond the world of automobiles, the production LY 650 picks up where a Lexus Sport Yacht Concept left off This one floats… Continue reading

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Schuler and Porsche Start Joint Venture for Car Body Parts

AutoInformed.com on Schuler and Porsche Start Joint Venture for Car Body Parts

“The significant interplay between design, development, body planning, tool manufacturing and production within the Porsche Group will have a considerable effect on the quality of our sports cars.”

The Supervisory Board of Porsche AG has given the approval for a joint venture with Schuler AG, claimed to be a world-leading manufacturer of automation and press systems. On Tuesday, September 4, the companies signed a contract establishing the joint undertaking, which was approved by the European Commission back in mid-August. Approval from other competition authorities is currently pending.

The purpose of the joint venture between Schuler and Porsche is to build a Smart Press Shop. The intention is for the new, highly flexible press shop to produce complex body parts using pioneering technologies; the focus will be on aluminum outer skin panels, as well as the production of smaller batch sizes. Continue reading

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More Trucks – Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison

AutoInformed.com on 2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison

Bison has five skid plates (or fashion accessories?) covering the engine oil pan, fuel tank, transfer case and front- and rear -locking differentials.

The Colorado ZR2 Bison is Chevy’s first collaboration with American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), said to be a premium off-road aftermarket manufacturer. Bison joins Chevrolet’s mid-size truck lineup as an all-new performance variant, a sub-species almost unheard of 20 years ago. N the U.S. most popular and profitable segments for the Detroit Three, Chevy has gained more than a quarter of all mid-size truck sales in less than four years in the marketplace.

In consecutive years, Colorado introduced the segment’s first diesel engine (conveniently ignores other GM vehicles), an all-new V6 gas engine/eight-speed transmission combo, the ZR2 “segment of one” off-roader and now the Bison. The 2019 Colorado ZR2 Bison goes on sale in January 2019, modified for extreme off-road use and backed by a full factory limited warranty. Pricing? Not yet – just assume it will be more than the $42,000 ZR2 or similarly priced Tacoma TRD Pro. (New 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Mid-Size Pickup Debuts in LA, and New Colorado ZR2 – an Off-Road Performance Pickup) Continue reading

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Hack Attacks – Connected Vehicle Cyber Security Lags

Connected vehicles are unbounded security risks because hackers can penetrate them remotely and potentially create damage to multiple vehicles simultaneously. It’s relatively easy to unlock doors, turn on the engine, remotely operate the vehicle through OBD2 or mobile aps among other car invasions, according to Jeff Lebowitz, Vice President Market Development for Upstream Security.

These cyber security risks never existed until recently. But connected vehicles are a giant safety risk because hackers can easily penetrate them remotely and potentially create damage to multiple vehicles simultaneously. Hackers can unlock doors, turn on the engine, remotely operate the vehicle or vehicles through existing unprotected OBD2 or mobile aps. Continue reading

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U.S. Diversity-Visa Lottery Requests Near Record

The U.S. State Department says that since 2005, more than 200 million people from countries around the world have applied for the U.S. diversity lottery, which seeks to diversify the nation’s immigrant population by granting visas to immigrants from nations that are underrepresented among recently arrived immigrants. Overall, nearly 1% of people in eligible countries applied for the program. Irrespective of the program, and there are many ways to get a Green Card or Citizenship, immigration is vital to the economy of the U.S. and the automobile business.

Eight countries had at least a million applicants in 2016, accounting for more than half of the total: Ghana, Uzbekistan, Iran, Ukraine, Egypt, Nepal, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone. (2016 is the most recent year for which country-specific data on applications are available.)

Under a different, centuries old in many countries – and now a thoroughly politicized program, President Trump is and has been using rages against “chain migration” to feed his base (both the political sense and the moral sense). Trump apparently now wants to end family-preference immigration visas, after his his in-laws Viktor and Amalija Knavs were granted U.S. citizenship through the first lady’s sponsorship. Continue reading

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BMW i Ventures Takes Stake in Vera

AutoInformed.com

“With BMW i, we are building on the success of our core brand,” claimed Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW at the intro in February 2011.

BMW i Ventures (sic) has announced a “strategic investment in Vera,”  a company developing security technology for business. BMW says in a press release just issued that Vera has helped some of the world’s leading companies protect their most critical data, without sacrificing visibility and control.

Tests on the infotainment systems of automakers show that customer data is easily retrieved by third parties. The problem has existed for years and along with privacy and data ownership rights are major impediments to connected and autonomous cars. Continue reading

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Harley-Davidson, Tuscany Motor Tease Concept Pickup

AutoInformed.com on Harley-Davdson Concept Truck

No word on a production version.

Harley-Davidson and Tuscany Motor have collaborated on the build of an all-new custom 2019 Ford F-150 pickup truck. The concept truck will be part of the company’s 115th Anniversary Celebration now underway in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, beginning on August 29, 2018.

Co-designed by Tuscany and the Harley-Davidson styling team, the Harley-Davidson concept truck (www.HarleyTruck.com) takes cues from the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle. Continue reading

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