BMW i Ventures Announces Investment in Zūm on Zūm and BMWBMW i Ventures is investing in Zūm, a provider of transportation for school districts and working families. The amount invested was unspecified. However, it is part of $40 million in so-called Series C funding from new global investors BMW i Ventures (lead), NGP Capital, Volvo Cars Tech Fund, Draper Nexus, and Clearvision along with existing investors Spark Capital and Sequoia Capital.  Dr. Ulrich Quay of BMW i Ventures becomes a “board observer.” The 4-year old company claims it wants to become the world’s safest and largest child transportation provider. Continue reading

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Ford Shakes up European and International Markets as CFO Shanks Retires. Restructuring Continues as Stock Languishes on Ford Volkswagen Alliance

Ford CEO Jim Hackett (left) and Volkswagen AG CEO Dr. Herbert Diess.

Ford Motor Company says that Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks plans to retire from the company at the end of 2019.  He will be succeeded by Tim Stone, a finance executive who served 20 years at Amazon Inc., and as CFO of Snap Inc., a social media and camera company. Stone, 52, will join Ford on April 15 as a company officer and assume the role of CFO on June 1. He is without even a drop of gasoline in his blood. He will report to Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett. Shanks, 66, will work closely with Stone on the CFO transition, and then work on special projects through the end of the year. Snap lost $575,637,000 during 2018. Continue reading

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Record Electric Car Sales in California. Taxpayers on the Hook

Fully Electric Audi e-tron on the Stand In LA. EVs, the new state bird flying on taxpayer money?

California is facing a budget crunch because consumers are applying for clean-vehicle rebates at a record pace as demand soared during the past year. Taxpayer subsidized electric vehicle rebates in California were 50% higher in 2018 than 2017.

Electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars are now 7.8% of all new car sales in California, and some areas such as Sacramento and San Luis Obispo counties, nearly doubled their EV rebates this past year. Known as the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), its potential impact on funding is now a matter of discussion among officials. Continue reading

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Ford Introduces Black Appearance Package for Ranger on Black Appearance Package for RangerWith the all-new Ford Ranger off to a good start since the trucks went on sale in January (+3000 Jan./Feb. 2019), more than two-thirds of the pickups are leaving showrooms optioned with either the Sport Appearance Package that adds unique wheels and Magnetic Gray-painted accents, or the Chrome Appearance Package with bright chrome wheels and chrome body accents. Continue reading

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About Face: GM to Add 400 Jobs for New Chevy Electric Vehicle after Critical Trump Tweets About Closing Lordstown on Chevrolet Bolt EV and Chevrolet Sonic vehicles

The latest Chevrolet electric vehicle is in addition to the existing Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Whether Trump’s bullying was a factor or not, GM now says that 400 jobs will be added at the Orion Township, Michigan, assembly plant to produce a new Chevrolet electric vehicle. The EV had been slated for non-U.S. production. The company also announced a new investment commitment of $1.8 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations across six states, adding a total of 700 new jobs.

The announcements came less than a week after a rabid series of tweets by Trump about the closing of Lordstown, OH (a swing state in the upcoming election), which was one of the four plants GM said in November that would be idled in its latest cost cutting moves. GM declined to say if these were replacement jobs from abandoned workers’ or new jobs. The United Auto Workers union is currently in court against GM saying that closings must be negotiated with the union. (General Motors Kisses Trump’s Butt, General Motors Revises 2015 Strategy to Slash Costs and Streamline Engineering as Market and Competition Toughen) Continue reading

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Ghosn Fallout – Nissan Changes American Senior Management

It’s going to be interesting watching Ghosn standing in front of a Japanese court.

Nissan in North America is changing leadership positions in R&D, Marketing and Sales Finance functions as part of the aftermath of the Ghosn scandal. The future of the so-called alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi is in question since November when Ghosn, then chairman of all three companies, was in Japan.

Japanese prosecutors have accused him of hiding his compensation and shifting personal investment losses to Nissan’s books. Ghosn denying the charges claims Nissan executives who opposed closer ties to Renault went to Japanese authorities with false charges. Adding to the intrigue, Ghosn remains on the Board of Directors at al three companies. Continue reading

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1,700 workers strike at Hankook Tire in Hungary

AutoInformed,com on Strike at Hankook’s Dunaújváros plant in central Hungary

Longer-serving employees are only receiving a 2-6% increase, recently-hired workers are getting as much as a 22% increase. The Korean ownership won’t talk.

About 1,700 workers at Hankook Tire in Hungary have been on strike for more than a week as the South Korean-owned company refuses to negotiate over a pay increase. IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Federation of Chemical Workers of Hungary (VDSZ), which represents workers at Hankook’s Dunaújváros plant in central Hungary, says that 70% of 2,400 shift workers have joined the indefinite strike that began on 12 March. Continue reading

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BMW And Tate Modern Unveil Major New Work by Anne Imhof on Anne Imhof

Imhof is known for staging complex performance projects such as “Faust.”

Anne Imhof’s dynamic installation “Sex” is the first project by a solo artist to occupy the full suite of spaces in the Tanks, 22 – 31 March at the Tate Modern. It’s the third annual BMW Tate Live. Anne Imhof is sometimes said to be one of the most pioneering contemporary artists of her generation, awarded in 2015 with the Preis der Nationalgalerie, a long-term partner of BMW, and winner of the prestigious Golden Lion at Venice Biennale in 2017.

The commission is both an exhibition by day and a series of six live performances by night. “Sex”, the work deals with fluidity between binaries – female and male, top and bottom, night and day – and the blurred line where two opposing zones meet. Continue reading

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How Many Doors does a Coupe Have? on Cayenne Turbo Coupé and Cayenne Coupé

Bring money: EUR 146,662 for the Cayenne Turbo Coupé in Germany.

Porsche says it is extending its Cayenne family with an  even sportier vehicle added to the third generation of this highly successful SUV range – the Cayenne Coupé.” Well, they certainly haven’t extended their automotive language skills. It’s actually a four-door hatchback. But in keeping with the fractured terminology of marketers, it’s a coupe.

“The (fill in the blank) includes all the technical highlights of the current Cayenne, but has an even more dynamic design and new technical details that position it as more progressive, athletic, and emotional,” claims Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG and a man with a mechanical engineering degree from Braunschweig University who has worked in enough body shops to know better. (eins, zwei, drei, vier, funf)    Continue reading

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People Choose Low Loan Repayments and High Interest Rates on consumer loans

Short term thinking leads to longer term, more expensive loans.

Why do consumers not minimize borrowing costs when taking out loans as traditional economic theory says they should? Using data on auto loans, Bronson Argyle and Taylor D. Nadauld of Brigham Young University and Christopher Palmer of MIT find that consumers are disproportionately willing to take on higher interest-rate loans to have lower monthly payments.

Borrowers appear to set targets for their monthly payment on rounded amounts like $200, $300, and $400, rather than choosing the most cost-efficient payments. When borrowers are offered cheaper loan terms, they are more likely to take out larger loans rather than pocket the savings. Continue reading

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Sebring Twelve Hours – Half the Daytona Race, 25% of the Rain on Sebring 2019

The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R won in the closest finish ever at Sebring – 1 second after 12 hours. 

It was another arduous Twelve Hours of Sebring last Saturday, made challenging by morning rain showers that also flooded the sports car racing earlier this month during the season opener at Daytona. (Daytona 24 Hours Discounted 50% as Rain Marks Down Race, Sebring This Weekend – Endurance Test for Sports Cars, Fans).

Nonetheless, Porsche demonstrated its Sebring dominance by taking its 96th win at the bumpy track/party grounds.  A  headliner field of 38 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams and many of the world’s best sports car racers put a race worth watching. Continue reading

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Group Renault Starts Piloting Vehicle-to-Grid Charging on Groupe Renault Starts Piloting Vehicle-to-Grid Charging

The U.S. –  mired in trade-war saber rattling and lobbyist-funded global warming deniers – appears to be missing the power of international collaboration here.

Group Renault, arguably the European leader in electric vehicles, is beginning the first large-scale pilot in reversible electric charging. Renault’s alternating-current technology has the reversible charger inside vehicles, so it just requires “a simple, inexpensive adaptation of the existing charging terminals.”

A fleet of fifteen Zoe vehicles with vehicle-to-grid charging will be introduced in Europe in  2019 to develop future offerings in reversible charging and lay the groundwork for future standards. Continue reading

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Volkswagen forms European Battery Union with Northvolt

The Volkswagen Group and partners from research and industry in seven EU member states are joining forces in the European Battery Union consortium. The EBU is looking for taxpayer subsidies for battery research. The new consortium is to be led by the Volkswagen Group and the Swedish battery producer Northvolt. Continue reading

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Michigan to Make First AVs, but Loses Ford Transit to Mexico on Production of Ford’s first autonomous vehicles will begin in 2021 for deployment in commercial services to move people and goods.

Production of Ford’s first autonomous vehicles will begin in 2021 for deployment in commercial services to move people and goods. Too bad about U.S. jobs. Above: pretesting underway in London.

That Giant Sucking Sound continues at Ford as the next-generation North American Transit Connect goes to Mexico under the proposed – but still not ratified – United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) or NAFTA Lite. (NAFTA Lite – US-Mexico-Canada Agreement Hurts US Workers, NAFTA Talks Stalled. Doomed?)

In a transparent attempt at spin – in AI’s view laughable and tragic – Ford is re-adding a second shift at Flat Rock. The plant will become the production home to vehicles from the company’s next-generation battery electric flexible architecture. These vehicles will follow, ahem, the all-electric performance SUV coming in 2020 from Ford’s Cuautitlan, Mexico, plant. Continue reading

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Robo-taxis – Hyundai Mobis MOU with Yandex in Russia on Hyundai Mobis

It is the first time that Hyundai Mobis has signed an MOU with a global IT company.

Hyundai Mobis (KRX:012330), a global parts supplier, says it is reinforcing open collaborative relationships to preemptively secure future vehicle technologies. It’s just the latest example of individual auto companies facing the ruinous invests involved during development of autonomous vehicles.

No surprise here that Mobis has a new link up with a with an IT company to develop an autonomous driving platform. Today Hyundai Mobis announced that it has entered into an MOU for joint development of an AI-based autonomous driving platform with Yandex, one of the Europe’s largest internet companies that builds intelligent products and services powered by machine learning. Continue reading

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