Xpeng Motors Gets Production License for Zhaoqing Factory

AutoInformed.com on Xpeng P7 Sport Sedan

A serious competitor for western automakers with the world’s largest vehicle market as home.

Xpeng Motors, an electric vehicle and technology company, says that it has received the official production license from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for its newly-built, wholly-owned factory, the Zhaoqing Xpeng Motors Intelligent Industrial Park in Guangdong Province.

The approval will accelerate the production of the “super-long range” sports sedan Xpeng P7, a pure EV, the company’s second production model, ensuring customer deliveries scheduled for 2Q 2020 at ~$32,400 – $49,200.

“The Zhaoqing manufacturing plant is an essential component of our vision to build a smart mobility ecosystem, from in-house R&D to smart manufacturing to customer services. Obtaining the production approval for the plant will hasten our progress in producing and delivering best-in-class products and services for our customers,” said He Xiaopeng, Chairman and CEO of Xpeng Motors, which also built the plant.
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Two Spanish Nissan Plants on Strike over Job Security

AutoInformed.com on Struggling Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance

COVID-19 continues as a Global disaster.

Workers at two Nissan auto plants in Barcelona are on indefinite strike due to a lack of clarity about the future of Nissan operations in Spain, according to the global union IndustriAll. The Barcelona factories shut due to the corona virus lockdown in mid-March, and partially reopened on 4 May, only to be hit almost immediately by strike action over a failure to confirm a commitment to maintaining employment levels. (2020 Nissan Frontier – Hinting at a Next Gen Version)

The workers are striking due to Japanese media reports that Nissan intends to reduce its staff by 20% globally and shut the Barcelona plants. Nissan could in theory shut all its European plants, as the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance continues its post Carlos Ghosn struggles. Nissan plants in the UK, Spain and Russia produced about 600,000 vehicles.

On 14 May, the Nikkei Shimbun published a speculative story on Nissan’s future production strategy. “Nissan in fiscal 2019 produced about 55,000 vehicles in Spain, accounting for about 10% of its European output. It will shift its Barcelona production to Renault plants in France and elsewhere,” said the Nikkei,

“Nissan has not made any official statement on this subject. Nissan’s midterm planning is in progress and has not been concluded yet. As announced earlier, Nissan will announce a revised midterm plan along with fiscal year 2019 financial results on May 28,” said a Nissan statement.

“Nissan unions have been in communication with the company since last year about the global business plan and the future of the factories in Spain. These are still under consideration and no decisions have been communicated. European works council representatives confirm that they had not been consulted on any restructuring plan,” according to IndustriALL.
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US COVID-19 Crisis = Struggles with Healthcare, Housing, Food

The first results from the new U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey released today show that many households have experienced loss in employment income, are concerned about food security, and have deferred decisions to access health care.

The data provide some dreary insights on employment status, spending, food security, housing, education disruptions, and health. In this initial release, the Household Pulse Survey Interactive Tool provides data for select indicators at national and state levels. National data also are available in table format. Census subsequent weekly releases through late July and will include additional estimates for states and the 15 largest metropolitan statistical areas.

The results might be skewed positive to current Republican Wishful thinking, rather than stark reality since the Trump Administration perverted the Bureau as part of a failed ploy on  Republican Repression of Voters by dictating unprecedented questions on the Census designed to discourage less affluent people from participating.
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2020 Nissan Frontier – Hinting at a Next Gen Version

AutoInformed.com on 2020 Nissan Frontier - Chicago Auto Show Debut February 2020

Both the engine and transmission are key elements in the next-generation Frontier.

The 2020 Nissan Frontier is an example of how regulations are now dictating auto design by either delaying or pulling ahead or revising vehicle updates to comply with a bewildering set of global regulations that are not in sync with one another. The Renault Nissan Alliance is due to announce a global production revision next week that will determine where products are made and how many of them are built. With all-new 3.8-liter V6 and all-new 9-speed automatic transmission, Frontier originally due this spring will now appear in US showrooms at the end of July. Stay tuned.

Along with the 49-horsepower improvement compared to the previous Frontier V6, fuel economy is expected to increase. Also contributing to the 2020 Frontier’s improved acceleration and fuel economy is the all-new 9-speed automatic transmission. These alone make it a credible entry into the compact, now mid-size pickup truck segment, long the pick of younger buyers.

However, the $20,000 pickup is no more. Along with the Chevrolet Colorado and the Ford Ranger, the price of entry is now at least $28,000 ranging up to, gulp, $38,000. (Ford to Bring Back Ranger Pickup to North America, Off-Road Cruise Control on 2019 F-150 Raptor and Ranger, Chevy Marks Four Years of Colorado Sales with Sales Editions)
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CAR Launches Research Exploring the Auto Industry 4.0

The Center for Automotive Research has a new consortium-based research initiative, Auto 20/20: The State of Industry 4.0, to investigate the current business and propose recommendations for a path towards successful Industry 4.0 implementation. Auto 20/20 will chart a course for the 4th Industrial Revolution in the automotive industry by providing industry stakeholders a strategic understanding of the real-world challenges and opportunities in implementing Industry 4.0 initiatives.

CAR has assembled a consortium of funding firms, targeting partners representing critical aspects of the Industry 4.0 ecosystem, including hardware, data management, digital solutions, consulting, and cloud infrastructure. Accenture, Cloudera, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, PTC, and Rockwell Automation are founding partners of this consortium.
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First Virtual Look – 2021 Toyota Venza Two-Row Crossover

AutoInformed.com on the Screen debut of the 2021 Toyota VenzaTwo of the more than 50 debuts originally planned for the Covid-cancelled 2020 New York International Automobile Show were unveiled digitally by Toyota. The 2021 Sienna and an all-new 2021 Venza were shown for the first time online.

All Venza’s will be hybrids – supporting Toyota’s stated goal of selling 25% of its product line as hybrids by 2025 – and all will be AWD. More pertinent to buyers, the 219 horsepower, 5-seat Venza is projected to have an EPA combined mileage of 40 mpg (LE trim and Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive) when it goes on sale this summer.

Pricing is not released yet and could be critical to Venza’s success in the salesroom or as is likely online as the U.S. is far, far behind in social distancing and a national response. It does however lead the world in Covid plague deaths.
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Failed Pre-Collision – Ford Recalls Expedition, Navigator

Ford Motor Company is recalling more than 25,000 Expedition and Navigator models because the camera-only Pre-Collision Assist does not enable itself. Because of incorrect computer coding of interfacing modules, the Pre-Collision Assist feature is not enabled, and the driver cannot access the menu functions necessary to enable the Pre-Collision Assist feature. Obviously, this is a safety defect because if the driver is unaware that the Pre-Collision Assist system is not enabled, they may rely on a system that is not functional, increasing the risk of a crash or injury.
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Limit Vehicle Disease with Bacteria, Virus Resisting Materials

The COVID-19 plague has prompted a renewed look at the health risks in the shared mobility world. The interior of light-duty vehicles can easily allow for cross-contamination. The interior often includes multiple occupants in an enclosed space for extended periods, numerous frequent touch-points in that environment, and limited decontamination of the microbes.  This could result in a renewed interest in car ownership where the driver can control the environment. Mass transit could become unattractive, restricted or like the New York City Subway cleaning program that just started, unavailable at night

Shashank Modi a Research Engineer at the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan notes that drivers of Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing services are concerned about their own health and that of their passengers. Company guidelines recommend ride-hailing drivers to wear masks and disinfect their cars regularly. “But are these safety measures sustainable in the long run? Is there a better way to instill confidence in shared mobility?” asks Modi.
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Finally, Census Bureau Survey on Businesses

AutoInformed on COVID-19 Depression

A slow, fumbling start to address COVID means a slow, fumbling recovery.

The first results from the new U.S. Census Bureau Small Business Pulse Survey (https://www.census.gov/data/experimental-data-products/small-business-pulse-survey.html) released today show a large negative effect from COVID-19 for the majority (51.4%) of respondents; and an expectation that it will take more than six months for their businesses to return to normal.

The survey, conducted by email, is intended to provide weekly data on the impact of the COVID-19 plague on the nation’s businesses. Results are displayed as data visualizations. The Census Bureau defines small businesses as single business locations with one to 499 employees and at least $1,000 in annual revenue.
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Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac Expand Customer Care Marketing Initiatives With the ‘CLEAN’ Program

AutoInformed.com on GM CLEAN ProgramGeneral Motors today announced an initiative inviting U.S. dealers to participate in a program using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in the operations of their businesses. Why dealers have not done so already is a mystery to AutoInformed now that even the Republican White House is infested with COVID-19.

Dealers who enroll in the so-called CLEAN program have agreed to follow CDC guidelines and to use Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleansers in connection with the cleaning of their facilities, including high-traffic areas, and the cleaning of new, used and serviced customer vehicles. Dealers who enroll in the program have committed to following the CDC guidelines and practices upon enrollment. They should not inject or drink bleach of course. Continue reading

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MotorCities At Home – a Zoom Look at Hood Ornaments

AutoInformed.com on MotorCities At Home - Zoom Look at Hood Ornaments

Click to Enlarge.

Since we are all still staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, MotorCities is presenting a new series of virtual programs featuring members of our Speakers Bureau discussing interesting automotive history topics. Each program is FREE and presented as a live Zoom conference.

The series kicks off this Friday at noon with “Mascots of Motion” with automotive journalist Steve Purdy. His presentation has classic and collector car hood ornaments. Purdy says, the slide show accompanying the talk is a colorful exploration of about 50 of these images, from a Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Ecstasy” to a Stutz “Ra.”
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Half of Pandemic Layoffs Will Result in Permanent Job Loss

AutoInformed,com on Permanent Pandemic Job Losses

Even if the crisis is resolved quickly, many pandemic-induced shifts in consumer demand and business will linger. Therefore, they conclude that the reallocation of labor is likely to persist and estimate that 42% of recent pandemic-induced layoffs will result in permanent job loss.

The Hutchins Institute says that with large parts of the economy shut down, some firms are expanding in response to pandemic-induced demand shifts. Jose Maria Barrero from the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, Steven J. Davis from the University of Chicago, and Nicholas Bloom from Stanford find that the COVID-19 shock caused three new hires in the near term for every 10 layoffs. Continue reading

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Einride and Oatly to Electrify Transport in Sweden

AutoInformed.com on Einride and Oatly to Electrify Transport in Sweden

With electric trucks, Einride will support the transport of Oatly’s finished oat-based products.

Einride, a Swedish technology company that designs and develops technology for freight mobility, says it will be partnering with Oatly, the original oat drink company, to transition to all-electric vehicles in the Swedish market. The partnership will commence in Q4 of 2020 in Sweden, making Oatly one of the world’s first companies to electrify transportation on commercial routes.

“Road freight transport as it currently exists is a system that drastically needs to change. Nearly 7% of global CO2 emissions come from this road freight, a figure that will only increase if we do not switch to more sustainable,” says Robert Falck, CEO and Founder of Einride.
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VW: Three-Month Warranty Extension On New, Used Vehicles

Volkswagen is providing a three-month warranty extension on its New Vehicle Limited Warranty as well as its Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty set to expire in March through the end of May 2020. The extension is automatic and requires no action by the owner. If the New Vehicle Limited Warranty or Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty expire due to mileage rather than time, no extension will be provided.

Volkswagen and Volkswagen Credit (VCI) also announced an extension  of customer payment relief options put in place because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Audi is also providing a three-month warranty extension on its New Vehicle Limited Warranty as well as its Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty. Audi continues to offer payment relief for customers impacted by COVID-19 through June 1. Continue reading

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COVID Journal – Our Correspondents on Politics, Policy and Insights in these Medieval Times of a 21st Century Plague

Letter from Detroit – Vietnam All over Again with a Higher Body Count

Steve W homemade gym.

Dear Steve: Upon much shelter in place reflection, CORONA is really a simple problem to grasp. I note with irony here that a lot of my core personality traits have been shaped by similar events.

1: Sputnik which sent me and my ilk – virtually forced – into studying more of the sciences and the scientific method as the U.S panicked by realizing that the so-called Ike and Mami good years (Eisenhower) fifties prosperity had neglected the ability to fight the enemy and that prosperity could evaporate overnight. Sound familiar?

2: Vietnam and Nixon – when I was student deferred as a relatively prosperous white male, which kept me alive until the war ground down. During that time, it became apparent that the presidency and national leadership were lying to save their own political posteriors. Sound familiar? Continue reading

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