Managing Automotive

News, knowledge, and insights for the automotive industry.

Managing Automotive
Industry Interests
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Tesla’s Huge Battery Deal Suggests Sales Could Quintuple Within 4 Years

Tesla Motor Co. awards Panasonic a new 4-year supply agreement for 2 billion battery cells, or close to 300,000 vehicles. Analysts believe Tesla is poised to reach in excess of 100,000 vehicle sales in the final year of the agreement, which is nearly five times the 21,000 vehicles expected to sell in 2013. According to the Tesla press release, “Panasonic and Tesla have developed a next-generation battery cell technology that provides the highest energy density and best performance cells in the market. Panasonic’s cylindrical cell is a customized technology designed specifically for optimizing electric vehicle quality and life.” [Forbes] [Read the Press Release]

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Industry Interests
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Treasury says taxpayers’ GM bailout loss now $9.7B

The Treasury Department calculated a $9.7 billion loss on the $49.5 billion 2009 GM bailout. Taxpayers held 60.8% of GM in exchange for the bailout loans. The report states: “Through a series of stock sales, Treasury has divested its preferred stock and most of its common stock, reducing its stake to 7.3 percent. Because the common stock sales have al taken place below Treasury’s break-even price, Treasury has so far booked a loss of $9.7 billion on the sales.” The Treasury will conduct another selling round and anticipates to divest all its shares by the close of the first quarter. [USA Today]

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Regulatory
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California Zero-Emission Push Grows to 8 States, 3 Million Autos

California’s push for automakers to sell zero-emission vehicles expanded to include seven other states: New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Maryland, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The eight-state agreement signed by the governors of each state strives to get 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. The eight states account for 23%of U.S. vehicle sales according to California’s Air Resources Board, and their main goal is to expand consumer awareness and demand for zero-emission vehicles. [Bloomberg]

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Litigation
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Toyota Must Pay $3 Million for Oklahoma Crash, Jury Says

An Oklahoma City state court jury decided Toyota Motor Corp. must pay $3 million in a lawsuit involving a 2005 Camry sped unintentionally and out of control off an Oklahoma highway exit, resulting in injuries to the driver and killing her passenger. Bookout v. Toyota Motor Corp. is the first test of a claim a defect in the vehicles’ electronic throttle-control system is at fault. [Bloomberg]

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Industry Interests
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Tesla hires Apple VP to lead vehicle development

Tesla Motors Inc. hires former Apple Inc. executive, Doug Field to be Vice President of Vehicle Programs. The former Apple exec who oversaw the development of products such as the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iMac, began his career at Ford Motor Co. as an engineer, and later moved on to become Chief Technology Officer at Segway. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a statement: “Doug’s experience in both consumer electronics and traditional automotive makes him an important addition to our leadership team.” [Reuters UK]

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Employment, Industry Interests, Litigation, Recalls, Regulatory
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Managing Automotive

The latest issue of Managing Automotive is out!

Managing Automotive is an email and online publication offering insights and industry interests for the automotive industry.

Rundown of the latest happenings in the automotive industry after the jump.

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Litigation
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American Honda Settles Class-Action Suit Over Oil-Burning Defect

American Honda Motor Co. agreed to settle a federal class action lawsuit affecting 1,593,755 vehicles (2008-2012 Accords, 2008-2013 Odysseys, 2009-2013 Pilots, 2010-2011 Accord Crosstours and 2012 variable cylinder Crosstours with six cylinder engines). Plaintiffs Alex Soto and Vince Eagen filed the suit in March 2012 wherein they claimed Honda hid the fact particular vehicles had a “systematic design defect that enables oil to enter into the engine’s combustion chamber” which led to “premature spark plug degradation and engine malfunction.” Under the settlement, Honda agreed to extend the powertrain limited warranty for up to 8 years after the original sale or lease and not oppose fees exceeding $800,000. [Automotive News]

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Industry Interests
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Sonic Automotive Inc. Announces “One Sonic-One Experience” Initiative and Plans to Open Pre-Owned Specialty Retail Stores

Sonic Automotive, Inc. announced a new customer-centric guest experience called “One Sonic-One Experience’ which allows guests “to complete the buying transaction through one individual,” and to allow guests to control the process and pace so that once their vehicle has been selected, they can expect to be on the road in their new vehicle in under 45 minutes. Additionally, Sonic announced plans to open dedicated used-vehicle outlets apart from its existing 105 stores with its first “pre-owned specialty retail store” opening in Denver, Colorado late next year with plans to expand country-wide thereafter. [Press Release]

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Industry Interests
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Self-Driving Car Demand Seen Boosted by Japan’s Aging Population

Japan’s rising number of elderly drivers injured or killed in motor-vehicle accidents appears to spur demand for safer, self-driving cars. According to Japanese automotive data from last year, out of 4,411 vehicle fatalities, over half were drivers 65 or older. Zhou Lei, auto-industry consultant at Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting Co. in Tokyo said, “Driver-assistance and autonomous-driving technologies will definitely help stimulate demand among the elderly by assuring them driving can be very safe.” [Bloomberg]

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Recalls
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RECALL: Toyota Recalls 803,000 Camry, Avalon, Venza Sedans in US

Toyota is recalling 803,000 US-made sedans from model years 2012 and 2013 due to defects with air conditioning condensers where water may leak from the unit onto the airbag control module and cause the airbag to inflate and deploy at the wrong time. Power steering may also be affected by the leaking condensers. Globally, the recall involves 885,000 Camry, Avalon, and Venza sedans across Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and 15 other countries. [Reuters]

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