Universal City Nissan Sues Saudi Billionaire, Khaled al-Juffali and Nissan Motor, Among Others, over Payoff by Carlos Ghosn

AutoInformed.com on Ghosn Matter

Ex-Nissan president last June before he was forced to resign. This is starting to sound like Judy Garland singing The Company that Got Away. “The road gets tougher…

In a lawsuit filed in Superior Court of California in Los Angeles just before Christmas, a Nissan Dealership Group sued Nissan North America, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation, and Nissan Motor Company alleging that Nissan through Carlos Ghosn forced the bankruptcy of the dealerships as a payoff for a Saudi Investor that financed Ghosn’s losses during the Great Recession. (AutoInformed footnote 1 below)

The charges – among others – are:

  • Concealment
  • Breach of Contract
  • Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
  • Tortious Interference with Contract

Simply put: the plaintiffs’ – a 50-year-old family business operating Nissan and other dealerships – were the victims of Nissan’s unethical culture and dishonest business practices. Continue reading

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Honda Sets Monthly Record for Auto Production in China

AutoInformed.com on China Leads Honda Global Production - November 2019

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Honda Motor Company set a sales record in November for production in China at 153,000 vehicles, twice the amount produced a year ago. This makes China Honda’s largest single market by far. North America at 135,000 is second, and the home market in Japan at 53,000 is a footnote.

All told, Honda globally produced 4.81 million vehicles year to date. China now represents 29% of all Honda Motor production ytd at 1.4 million. Toyota Motor made 8.4 million – 1.3 million in China.
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RPM Act Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

AutoInformed.com on RPM Act

It’s not clear if RPM will affect NASCAR Cup which uses semi-stock bodies with aerodynamics packages to make high-speed handling less treacherous and evencompetition so that fans might see some passing.

H.R. 5434, the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2019 (RPM Act of 2019) has been introduced by Representatives Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) in the Democratically controlled House. The RPM Act allows the conversion of street vehicles into dedicated racecars and the motorsports aftermarket to sell products that aid racers.

The RPM Act reverses the EPA’s interpretation that the Clean Air Act does not allow a motor vehicle designed for street use – car, truck or motorcycle – to be converted into a racecar. In 2015 the EPA said that converted vehicles must remain emissions-compliant, even though they are no longer driven on public streets or highways.  Continue reading

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DOT Finally, Belatedly Admits Drone Remote ID Needed

AutoInformed.com on FAA Lagging in Issuing Drone Regulations

As usual, the hapless FAA is behind the power curve again.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced a proposed rule that would require Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly called drones, to be identifiable remotely. Pilots, law enforcement and first responders have been calling for such “transponders” commonly used in aircraft for a long time.  See AutoInformed.com on:

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COSCO Container Lines Fined $965,000 By CARB

AutoInformed.com on CARB Fines COSCO ShippingThe California Air Resources Board says that COSCO Container Lines Co., has paid $965,000 in penalties for violating the Ocean-Going At-Berth Regulation.

The diesel air pollution violations were discovered during routine audits of the Shanghai-based company’s 2014-2017 fleet visits to the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach and the Port of Oakland. COSCO Container Lines committed over 2,600 air quality violations during visits to California ports. Continue reading

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Shelby GT350, GT350R Heritage Packages on Sale

AutoInformed.com on Shelby GT350 Heritage Package - 2020 MY

The 2020 Mustang Shelby GT350  MSRP is $60,440, plus taxes, title, delivery and license fees; GT350R starts at $73,435. The Heritage Edition Package is $1965.

For 2020, Ford is selling  a limited run of Heritage Edition Mustang fastbacks in Wimbledon White with Blue side and over-the-top race stripes in a nod to the 1965 GT350 competition model developed by Carroll Shelby. (AutoInformed: Shelby GT350R Now Shares GT500 Chassis Technology, 700 Horse Shelby GT500 Strongest Street-Legal Ford Ever Carroll Shelby – Sports Car Racer and Builder – Dead at 89)

Briggs Cunningham used blue lengthwise strips over white as a racing color in the 1950s. The scheme was also used by Shelby, Gurney, NART, and Ford, Chaparral, Hendrick  Scarab and Chevrolet, among others. The colors were used to designate a U.S. entry – until commercial interests took over and advertising dictated the trim starting in the 1960s.  My former employer Road&Track documented this in the 1960s, as I recall, including American’s aversion to “unlucky” and ill-defined British Racing Green.
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Nissan Scandal – a Gift That Keeps on Giving – Executive Officer and Vice COO Jun Seki Unexpectedly Resigns

AutoInformed.com on Jun Seki - former executive officer and vice COO Nissan resigns

A top performer walks away from the Nissan Crisis.

Jun Seki, currently executive officer and vice COO has resigned from Nissan Motor Company. Nissan had no choice in AutoInformed’s view to accept his abdication. Reuters said Jun Seki reportedly plans to join the Japanese manufacturer Nidec – a Kyoto-based supplier of automotive components as president and chief operating officer. Speculation has it he left because he was passed over for the top job in the thus far ineffective Nissan turnaround.

This is the latest fallout, and far from last of the Ghosn matter. He was arrested and charged last year on numerous financial fraud charges, ones that he denies, as well as illegal executive compensation schemes. Continue reading

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SEMA Lawsuit – NHTSA Issues Draft Replica Car Rule


We are not talking about the high volume performance cars sometimes introduced at SEMA –  with most parts available at a dealer or speed shops. This is a niche, but potentially extremely lucrative, job-creating market. Click to Enlarge.

Responding to SEMA’s lawsuit to allow production of replica vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued late last week before the holidays proposed regulations to implement the 2015 Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act. (AutoInformed SEMA Sues U.S. DOT for Stopping Replica Car Law)

SEMA sued the U.S. Department of Transportation last October for failure to issue required regulations. Not surprising here that an agency run by President Trump’s political appointees is allegedly defying a 2015 law – the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) – passed by Congress to let low-volume automakers sell up to 325 replica cars each year that resemble production vehicles manufactured at least 25 years ago. Continue reading

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PSA Group – Lease New Plug-In Hybrid and EVs at Free2move

AutoInformed.com on Peugeot 3008 SUV Hybrid

Coming to the U.S. if the FCA PSA merger doesn’t run out of charge?

New low-emissions vehicles (LEVs), offering either zero or low tailpipe CO2 emissions are now available from Free2Move. The leasing/finance arm of PSA now offers customers a choice between plug-in hybrid and full electric models, in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy.

“We are ideally placed to offer the wealth of forthcoming PSA LEVs to both existing and new customers, with DS Automobiles, Peugeot and Citroën having product available to order right now and Citroën in the near future,” claims Mark Pickles, General Manager, Free2Move Lease UK. (Mobility Roll of the Die – FCA and PSA Merger)
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Volkswagen Debuts 34 New Models Worldwide in 2020

AutoInformed.com on Volkswagen ID.R With Two Electric Motors on Record Lap at Nordschleife

Well, VW doesn’t have to cheat on diesel emissions with an EV.

The Volkswagen brand will be launching 34 new models worldwide next year, including twelve SUVs and eight electric or hybrid vehicles.

“We mean business with e-mobility,” said Volkswagen COO Ralf Brandstätter. The brand will be investing €19 billion in future technologies through 2024, €11 billion alone in the further development of e-mobility. Readers will note the lack of a qualifying adjectives – oh say, how about profitable – as VW starts the biggest electric offensive in the automotive industry.

Next year the ID.31 goes on sale in the summer, followed by the ID.Next2, VW’s first electric SUV. Vehicles and the VW group are to achieve a carbon-neutral balance by 2050. CO2 emissions from production are to be halved by 2025. Ambitious and subject to the whims of bureaucrats in Brussels, Beijing and Washington. Continue reading

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High-Speed Runs Finish McLaren Speedtail’s Development

AutoInformed.com on  McLaren-GT-Prototype - XP2

Zero-300km/h (0-186mph) achieved in less than 13 seconds? Part of the weight savings is the owner’s newly lightened wallet/purse.

In the obvious because “it wouldn’t have been released if it failed  department,” McLaren says that its GT prototype ‘XP2’ concluded high-speed validation by achieving 403km/h (250mph) more than 30 times during tests at the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

The engineering exercise concluded high-speed runs carried out at multiple test facilities worldwide, including Idiada in Spain and Papenburg in Germany. In Florida, McLaren chief test driver, Kenny Brack was at the wheel.
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Auto Industry Sets Record for Transaction Prices, Incentive Spending in December 2019. However, US Sales Falling?

AutoInformed.com on December 2019 US Sales and SAAR

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New-vehicle retail sales in December are expected to be down from a year ago, according to a forecast by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. Retail sales are projected to reach 1,272,300 units, a -2.8% decrease on a ‘selling day adjusted’ basis compared with December 2018.

Worse, reporting the same numbers without controlling for the number of selling days translates to a decrease of -6.6% vs. last year since December 2019 contains one less weekend and one less selling day than December 2018. New vehicle retail sales for the 2019 calendar year are projected to reach 13,717,600, a -1.7% decrease compared to 2018. Continue reading

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Toyota to Launch New Model Yaris in Japan in February

AutoInformed.com on Toyota Yaris Hybrid - Japan 2020 Intro

It is an important launch for Toyota because the next Yaris is the first model to adopt the TNGA platform  or GA-B. Toyota New Global Architecture: Toyota’s company-wide global program to structurally transform automobile design.

Toyota Motor Corporation says it will launch its new model Yaris on February 10, 2020 at Netz dealers nationwide, as well as Toyota Mobility Tokyo Inc. and Toyota NishiTokyo Corolla Company. The Yaris is also scheduled to be added to Toyota’s KINTO ONE car subscription service. The compact ranges in price from ~$12,800 to ~$23,000.

The new-generation compact car  from a world-leading  has WLTC (aka WLTP) test cycle fuel efficiency of 36.0 kilometers per liter (for the Hybrid X. See WLTP How Does It Work? Will it Work?), and the latest safety and security technologies. As such it has the potential to become a benchmark vehicle. Continue reading

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Mobility Roll of the Die – FCA and PSA Merger

AutoInformed.com on FCA and PSA Merger Proposal

Chairman of the Managing Board of Groupe PSA Carlos Tavares and FCA CEO Mike Manley handshake after signing a historic combination agreement that will lead to the creation of the world’s fourth-largest global OEM in terms of annual sales (8.7 million vehicles).

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (“FCA”) (NYSE: FCAU / MTA: FCA) and Peugeot S.A. (“Groupe PSA”) have today signed a binding agreement providing for a 50%/50% merger of their businesses, which will create the 4th largest global automotive OEM by volume, and 3rd largest by revenue. The new group’s Dutch-domiciled parent company will be listed on Euronext (Paris), the Borsa Italiana (Milan) and the New York Stock Exchange and have a strong business in France, Italy and the US.

AutoInformed readers likely realized that such mergers are difficult, and the road – looking backward – is littered with abandoned or failed promises of synergies and sales from such ventures. (FCA + PSA = Massive Job Losses, FCA-PSA Merger – Surviving Platforms and Powertrains)

For enthusiasts as well a workers there are other threats. How about a spin-off FCA’s expensive low-return Alfa Romeo/Maserati operations? Simple math here: It would provide funds for the new FCA-PSA group while improving its utilization rate.  Continue reading

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BMW Group and Daimler Mobility Hoping to Profit on Joint Ventures. Monetizing a Monopoly or a Joint Survival Bid?

AutoInformed.com on Chinese stake in Daimle

The services offered by the joint ventures will continue to be tailored to “customer needs” and clustered into three pillars. The question is what happens to shareholders?

Following the successful launch of the Your Now joint ventures in February 2019, BMW and Daimler claim that 90 million people currently use the mobility services for car-sharing, ride-hailing, parking, charging and multi-modal platforms, which are offered in more than 1,300 cities worldwide.

It’s just the latest example of the capital intensive, shareholder-value destroying transition to an ill-defined, but demonstrably expensive mobility company that all automakers are now pursuing. (Mobility Company Capital Destruction. Latest German JV Attempts to Lessen Negative Effects on Shareholder Value) Continue reading

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