MARYSVILLE, Ohio — Honda is slowing production of Accord sedans as car buyers continue to favor SUVs and trucks. The Japanese automaker says it will temporarily idle a second-shift production line in August at its Marysville, Ohio, assembly plant. The shift is expected to resume production in several years. Honda says the line being shut down produces about 55,000 vehicles a year, most of which are Accords. A company spokeswoman says that there will be no layoffs, but that Honda will offer voluntary buyouts to some employees. Honda says the reduction also will affect production at its engine and transmission plants in Ohio. Sales of the Accord this year are up 4.6% through March but fell nearly 10% last year. The Accord is a perennial favorite of consumers and automotive journalists alike, and the new generation that debuted in the 2018 model year has drawn particular acclaim. Trucks and SUVs have made up 70% of U.S. new vehicle sales this year.
FRANKFURT, Germany — Daimler is looking to make 6 billion euros ($6.75 billion) in cost cuts and efficiency gains by 2021 at Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and a further 2 billion euros at its Daimler Trucks division, Manager Magazin said on Thursday. Around 10,000 jobs will be cut at Daimler, the business-focused magazine said, without citing sources. The separations will likely be voluntary, as Daimler has previously ruled out layoffs until the end of 2020. Daimler declined to comment on the cost savings figure and on Manager Magazin's report. The magazine said the savings are being sought by Daimler's Ola Kaellenius, who will become CEO in May. Daimler said in February it would pursue cost saving measures after fourth-quarter operating profit plunged 22 percent, hit by trade wars, rising costs for developing electric cars and an industry downturn. Manager Magazin said around 30,000 Mercedes-Benz cars with faulty vehicle electronics were produced at its plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, requiring expensive reworking which was causing production delays. Those delays had led to a revenue shortfall of around 2 billion euros and could depress first quarter earnings by up to half a billion euros, the report said. Daimler is due to release first quarter earnings on April 26. Manager Magazin also said Daimler plans to become a carbon neutral company by 2040, ensuring that all new cars, production methods and suppliers work in ways which do not produce carbon dioxide emissions. Separately, Kaellenius will not renew common projects with French carmaker Renault and Nissan, letting an alliance between the carmakers lapse, the magazine said. The Infiniti Q30 and QX30 are built on a Mercedes platform. Mercedes plans to explore more collaboration with Geely, which is Daimler's biggest shareholder with a 9.7 percent stake.
SAN FRANCISCO — Uber's autonomous vehicle unit has raised $1 billion from a consortium of investors including SoftBank Group, giving the company a much-needed funding boost for its pricey self-driving ambitions on the eve of its public stock offering. Uber Technologies said on Thursday that the investment valued its Advanced Technologies Group, which works to develop autonomous driving technology, at $7.25 billion. SoftBank will invest $333 million from its $100 billion Vision Fund, while Toyota and automotive supplier Denso Corp will combined invest $667 million. Reuters had reported in March talks of the investment in ATG, which has locations in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. The funding allows Uber to transfer some of the substantial cost of developing self-driving cars onto outside investors. That is likely to appease some investor concerns over Uber's spending on the autonomous unit, which has topped $1 billion since the program started in 2016. The business unit brings in no meaningful revenue for Uber, which last year lost $3.03 billion. The company is not even offering free rides in the robot cars to passengers, like some of its rivals are, following a fatal crash last year in Arizona involving an Uber self-driving SUV. Uber released its IPO filing this month and is preparing to launch is "roadshow," when it will pitch its company prospective investors, the week of April 29, setting up for an early May debut on the New York Stock Exchange. Uber is expected to raise $10 billion at a $90 billion to $100 billion valuation, at least an 18 percent jump from its current $76 billion valuation. As part of the deal, ATG becomes its own legal entity but remains under the control of Uber with its financial performance folded into Uber's. A new ATG board will be formed, with six seats from Uber, one from SoftBank and one from Toyota. Eric Meyhofer, currently the head of ATG, will take the title of CEO and report to the new board. Such sizable deals are unusual for companies so close to an IPO, because bringing in large new investors changes the company's capital structure. The deal, however, will almost certainly require approval from the inter-agency regulatory group called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). A law enacted last year expands that group's powers to review minority stakes by foreign investors in startups with certain sensitive technologies, and self-driving technology is widely considered to have defense applications. SoftBank's investment in General Motors' self-driving car unit Cruise is still under CFIUS review and is likely weeks away from a decision, even though that investment was announced more than a year ago.
We reached out to Toyota and spoke to Senior Manager Nancy Hubbell about the La Coupe. She said that it’s an internal study from the carmaker’s Japanese division with no plans for getting it on the road. “It was just a concept study and they had to get some patents on it to show it in public,” Hubbell told Carscoops. “It was designed for Japan audiences and there's no talk of putting it into production.” (Update 4/18/2019)
The next-generation, 2020 Subaru Outback introduced at the New York Auto Show is quite obviously an evolution of the vehicle it replaces. Actually, we wouldn't be surprised if many folks can't tell the difference between the new and previous ones on the outside.
There are many improved elements, however, and one of them is the Outback's unique roof rack system that returns for a third generation. As before, the roof rails swing inward to be their own cross bars. There's therefore no need to mount and remove separate crossbars, or alternatively, keep them on the car where they'll create noise and hurt fuel economy. Considering that so many Subaru owners mount things to the roofs of their cars (bikes, kayaks, gear boxes, skis, tents, etc.), this is one of those things than can really make the Outback stand out from the hordes of compact SUVs out there, including the Forester. The fact that the Outback's roof is lower, and therefore easier to lift thing upon, certainly helps.