Light Vehicle Sales Strong in February But Down YoY on 2017 U.S. Light Vehicle Sales

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If the forecasts are correct, there will be light vehicle sales of 1,331,787 in the U.S. in February for an estimated Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate – SAAR – of 17.6 million. This is a 17% increase in sales from January 2017, but a 1% decrease from February 2016. February is historically a slow sales month, except for the President’s Day holiday weekend when auto sales are roughly 20%% than an average February weekend. Continue reading

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Jeff Gordon to Drives Camaro ZL1 Pace Car at Daytona 500 on 2017 Daytona 500Three-time Daytona 500 winner and four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champ Jeff Gordon will lead the field to the start of Sunday’s Daytona 500 behind the wheel of the new 2017 Camaro ZL1 pace car.  Gordon has led the field at Daytona at much higher speeds than the pace car will run at, although the first three cars on the grid behind him are Chevrolets or rather cars that are decaled to look like one. In addition to winning the Daytona 500 in 1997, 1999 and 2005, Gordon shared the overall win last month at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. (Cadillac Wins the 24 Hours of Daytona) Continue reading

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Hiroto Saikawa Chosen as Nissan Chief Executive Officer on New Nissan CEO SaikawaHiroto Saikawa will assume the position of Nissan Chief Executive Officer as of 1 April 2017, replacing Carlos Ghosn who remains as Chairman of the Board. As Chairman of all three Alliance companies, and as Chief Executive Officer of the Renault Group, Mr. Ghosn concentrate on the expansion of the Alliance, as its Chairman and CEO.  This planned management shift  follows Ghosn’s recent expansion of the Renault-Nissan Alliance to include Mitsubishi Motors, which positions the Alliance among the top automotive groups in terms of scale. (Ghosn Defends Mitsubishi Bailout in Face of Criticism, Nissan Buys 37% of Scandal-Beset Mitsubishi Motors for $2.2B, Renault-Nissan Alliance Sells 9.6 Million Vehicles in 2016) Continue reading

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Drones – FAA Releases Updated Sighting Reports on DronesThe Federal Aviation Administration or FAA today released an updated list of pilot, air traffic controller, law enforcement and citizen reports of potential encounters with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – more popularly called “drones.” The latest data cover February through September 2016. (FAA Belatedly Issues Rules for Some Drones, FAA Finally Announces Registration Rules for Drones – UAVs, Ineffective FAA Sits By as Drones Take Over U.S. Airspace)

 Reports of possible drone sightings to FAA air traffic facilities continued to increase during FY 2016. There were 1,274 such reports from February through September last year, compared with 874 for the same period in 2015 – a 46% increase. A report by Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone, found that 327 incidents between December 2013 and September 2015 posed a “proximity danger” where an unmanned aircraft got within 500 feet of a plane, helicopter or other manned aircraft or when a pilot determined a drone was dangerously close. Continue reading

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BMW Group, Mobileye to Crowd Source Digital Maps for Autonomous Vehicles

The road to fully autonomous vehicles is long, but milestones will be model year by model year with new technologies unthinkable a decade ago.

BMW Group and Mobileye  signed an agreement introducing Mobileye’s Road Experience Management data generation technology in newly developed BMWs in 2018 to create digital maps. This agreement to “crowd-source real-time data” using vehicles equipped with camera-based Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) technology is needed for autonomous driving through next-gen high-definition (HD) maps aimed at making driving safer and more efficient for consumers.

An emerging, show-stopping problem with autonomous vehicles comes from the state of the roads and existing GPS maps. Roads are inconsistently marked, in various states of disrepair and subject to camera and sensor fouling weather conditions. GPS maps aren’t accurate enough. Autonomous vehicles will require HD maps that can identify and update changes in the environment with near real-time speed, enabling very short “time to reflect reality.” Continue reading

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Trumped? Hyundai Motor Names David S. Kim as Lobbyist

AutoInformed on Hyundai Motor Lobying and Donald TrumpHyundai Motor Company today announced that David S. Kim will join the Washington, D.C. office as Vice President of Government Affairs. In this role, Kim will lead Hyundai’s U.S. government affairs program at the federal and state levels. Kim most recently served as Deputy Administrator at the Federal Highway Administration, where he had previously served as Associate Administrator of Policy and Governmental Affairs.

Kim also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary, Governmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation and as Deputy Assistant for Congressional Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Hyundai of course has a lot to lose if Trump can get a border tax through Congress even though it has a manufacturing presence in the U.S. Kim has broad experience in dealing with Transportation issues.
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Meeting: IG Metall, Opel Works Council, PSA Group on GM Selling Opel/Vauxhall on PSA buying Opel Vauxhaul

“PSA’s ambition is to make cooperation with employee representatives a key factor in the success of the company,” said Tavares.

Given the potential acquisition of Opel/Vauxhall by PSA Group, Carlos Tavares, Chairman of the Managing Board of PSA, and Xavier Chéreau, EVP Human Resources of PSA, met with Jörg Hofmann, First Chairman of IG Metall, and Wolfgang Schäfer-Klug, Chairman of the Opel/Vauxhall European Works Council.  General Motors Europe has lost more than $20 billion since 1999. (Win, Win? GM to Sell Opel to PSA)

There is, of course, a large amount of ceremonial ritual about takeovers. The acquired are treated differently once they are in the harem. Remember the falsely named “merger of equals” between Chrysler and Daimler, when Daimler basically took over the company, stripping assets on the way. Beijing Jeep in the world’s largest car market is now building Mercedes-Benz models.

“The maturity of social dialogue within PSA led to the signature in July 2016 of the “New Growth Momentum” agreement, with 5 unions on 6 representing 80% of employees,” said Carlos Tavares. Continue reading

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Jaguar Land Rover Largest Automaker in Britain on English automaker, Brext and Donald TrumpJaguar Land Rover is once again the largest automaker in Britain, accounting for more than 30% of all domestic car production last year. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says that UK car manufacturers set a record in 2016, producing 1,727,471 vehicles.

How this works out under Brexit remains to be seen. The importance of the UK market varies substantially for different automakers. Jaguar Land Rover, Honda and Ford have “strong exposure to risks,” says consultancy LMC. (Brexit Automaker Winners, Losers – Predictable and Surprising) In the U.S., JLR sold 105,000 vehicles, more than 2:1 Land Rovers, a 25% increase in the booming  light truck/SUV market. (What Auto Companies are at Risk Under Trump? Continue reading

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Toyota, Shell to Bid on California Hydrogen Refueling Network

The California Energy Commission is proposing taxpayer subsidies to support hydrogen refueling infrastructure. Shell in partnership with Toyota will be considered for the installation of hydrogen refueling equipment into seven retail stations in the stat and an award of $16,362,500 to develop those stations. Shell currently operates two hydrogen refueling stations in California, both located in Los Angeles. Continue reading

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Australia-Based CarRecord to Use NADA Values

CarRecord, an Asia-Pacific region vehicle history report, soon beinthe U.S. market and provide customers with NADA Values from J.D. Power Valuation Services. CarRecord offers a complete car history including values, written off vehicle register and PPSR or encumbrance status at up to almost half the cost compared to its two major competitors in the Australian market. It hs the only group of products in Australia that has reports on the entire collection of boats, jet skis, motorbikes, trucks, trailers, campervans and motorhomes.  Continue reading

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Honeycomb Cargo Shelf in Ford EcoSport SUV on EcoSport HoneycombRecycled paper honeycomb material give the new Ford EcoSport four-way parcel shelf what is claimed to be exceptional strength. The adjustable cargo floorboard is made from all-natural paper and water-based glue. Ford says the six-pound honeycomb floorboard can handle nearly 700 pounds of cargo. The technology came from honeybees, and was first introduced in household door manufacturing 50 years ago. It is now used in automotive and furniture design, as well as packaging. (Ford Rouge Complex Hosting 80,000 Honeybees) Continue reading

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Drones – FAA UAS Symposium Registration Opens on dronesThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) announced today that registration is underway for the 2017 UAS Symposium (drones) scheduled to take place at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, VA, from March 27 to 29.

The FAA and AUVSI are co-sponsoring this year’s event, which will bring together representatives from government, industry and academia to discuss topics of interest about drones and the UAS, aka UAV,  community. It will focus on industry partnerships as well as how to overcome technical challenges to the safe operation of drones.  (FAA Belatedly Issues Rules for Some Drones, FAA Finally Announces Registration Rules for Drones – UAVs) Continue reading

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Is Automotive Brand Loyalty Real?

The latest study about automotive brand loyalty in the UK says that consumers are habitual buyers, except when it comes to the brand of car. The survey of 1,000 UK consumers, revealed that for their next purchase an overwhelming majority of used (81%) and new (76%) car buyers would choose the same type – used or new – of vehicle again. Continue reading

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Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Goes 198 MPH

AutoInfromed on Camaro ZL1 High  Speed RecordA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe has a top speed of 198 mph (318 km/h) with 10-speed automatic on the High-Speed Oval at Germany’s Automotive Testing Papenburg proving ground. Compensating for wind speed, the top speed is the average achieved from running the ZL1 in both directions on the 7.6-mile (12.3 km) loop: 202.3 mph in one direction and 193.3 mph in the other. Continue reading

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Porsche Forms New Import JV in Taiwan

AutoInformed on Taiwan Porsche JVPorsche AG is forming an importer joint-venture with its long-time business partner, Universal Motor Traders (UMT). The new subsidiary, Porsche Taiwan Ltd, is expected to be inaugurated in 2018. Martin Limpert has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer. The formation of the transaction is subject to merger control approval by the regulators. Terms were not disclosed. Continue reading

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