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March 29, 2016 FacebookTwitterFlickrRSSSEND TO A FRIENDPRINT
Inside this issue
GM Deal is a Big Move in Autonomous Vehicle Quest
How Sharing Cars Could Actually Boost Auto Sales
Volkswagen Recalls 5,600 U.S. EVs for Stalling Issue
Takata Plans to Increase Capital as Recall Costs Mount, Report Says
How Mazda, Improbably, Is Leading The Field In Fuel Economy With Cars That Are Actually Fun
Report Says Automakers Finding It Easier to Be Green
Top Stories
GM Deal is a Big Move in Autonomous Vehicle Quest

California start-up makes 'highway autopilot.'

General Motors received quick regulatory approval of its acquisition of Cruise Automation, the three-year-old start-up that has developed a "highway autopilot" product that could accelerate GM's quest for a fully autonomous car. A spokeswoman for the Federal Trade Commission said the agency granted expedited approval, saying the transaction would not violate antitrust laws. While all major automakers have opened offices and hired software developers and robotics experts, this deal represents one of the early acquisitions by a traditional automaker of a company rooted and financed through northern California's rich venture capital community. What attracted GM was a device Cruise's employees have created that enables drivers to take a car onto the highway, then push a button that transfers control of the accelerator, brakes and steering. The company also has worked on autonomous features on farming tractors and mining equipment.
Source: Detroit Free Press

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How Sharing Cars Could Actually Boost Auto Sales

Uber could help Ford.

Technological innovation in the auto industry, from the advent of Uber Technologies Inc. to a future with self-driving vehicles, promises to change the game for commuters and carmakers. This shift towards on-demand, shared, and potentially autonomous mobility that's already underway addresses a glaring problem for drivers: Vehicles have a high up-front costs to own and depreciate swiftly, but they aren't necessarily heavily utilized. But according to analysts at Deutsche Bank AG, there are a myriad of misconceptions about how the on-demand revolution will affect automakers—chiefly, about their impact on sales volumes. "The consensus view is that auto sales will decline, and that this will be negative for U.S. original equipment manufacturers," writes Deutsche Bank's team led by Rod Lache. "We believe that the consensus view may be wrong." However, the analysts acknowledge that the proliferation of on-demand vehicles could ultimately reduce the number of cars on the road in the U.S. by more than 25 million, with population density serving as a key determinant of the size of the on-demand fleet.
Source: Bloomberg

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Volkswagen Recalls 5,600 U.S. EVs for Stalling Issue

Volkswagen AG is recalling nearly 5,600 electric e-Golf cars in the U.S. to address a battery problem that can cause stalling, the company said [Monday]. VW said the recall covers all electric vehicles it has sold in the U.S. since it launched it in November 2014. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the German automaker is recalling its 2015-2016 e-Golf electric vehicle because software in the "high-voltage battery management system may inadvertently classify a brief internal electrical current surge/peak as a critical battery condition," which could cause the car to shut down. VW, facing lawsuits and criticism after it admitted to installing software to allow 580,000 diesel U.S. vehicles to emit excess emissions, has been touting its electric vehicle efforts.
Source: Reuters

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Takata Plans to Increase Capital as Recall Costs Mount, Report Says

Takata Corp. is likely to seek more capital around September as it expects its finances to take a hit from a rise in costs to recall potentially defective airbag parts, Kyodo News reported [Tuesday]. Takata is expected to narrow down which companies to approach for investment, Kyodo said without citing sources, adding that candidates would include automakers such as top client Honda Motor Co. A Takata spokesman declined to comment, while a Honda spokesman said it had no plans to provide additional financial support to Takata. More than 50 million airbags around the world have been recalled to replace Takata's inflators, which can explode with too much force and spray metal shards inside vehicles.
Source: Automotive News

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How Mazda, Improbably, Is Leading The Field In Fuel Economy With Cars That Are Actually Fun

For automotive purists, fuel economy is a buzz kill. That goes doubly for manufacturers, who are trying to satisfy consumers traditionally wowed by horsepower and speed, and at the same time appease environmental regulators whose raison d’etre seems to be stripping the fun that is performance driving. Mazda seems to have figured out how to do both and at a price point that most of the market can afford. But this feat seems to have gone unnoticed until now. Is this the year that Mazda gains the notoriety and customers it deserves?
Source: Forbes

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Report Says Automakers Finding It Easier to Be Green

Industry experts seem to agree: Past concerns that tough environmental laws could force auto manufacturing from a “green” jurisdiction to a country or region with less stringent controls no longer seem to apply. In doing so, industry specialists are backing the conclusions of a new report from the world’s largest think tank, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development, which said following tighter environmental rules can be good business. The report, “Do Environmental Policies Affect Global Value Chains?” released March 10 at the London School of Economics, aims to counter the notion that stricter rules increase costs and damage business, especially in emerging markets. Instead, it argues, automakers can boost earnings through selling clean cars, leveraging investment in R&D through patenting innovation.
Source: WardsAuto

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        Quotable
        "GM is really saying we want to control our own destiny and get the software expertise needed for full autonomy. The competing manufacturers are going to have to respond to this. Either cooperate with Google or someone else."

            -- Egil Juliussen, an analyst with IHS Automotive, commenting on GM's acquisition of Cruise Automation, Detroit Free Press, March 29

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