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Trump's Big Border Tax: Answers for Car Shoppers
President Trump has threatened escalations in tariffs on foreign-made goods if U.S. manufacturers, including automakers, don't bring more manufacturing stateside. About 60% percent of U.S. light-vehicle sales in 2016 came from cars and trucks built in the U.S. AutoPacific's Dave Sullivan says "[a] 35% tariff on anything — [even a] 10% tariff on an $11,990 car, takes away from a car, from having a new car that people can afford."
Hefty Truck, SUV Profits Fuel U.S. Auto Industry Investment, Jobs
Automakers are pushing new investment in U.S. production of trucks, crossover and SUVs to tap into the higher profit margins they yield. The reason: they make automakers a lot of money. AutoPacific's Dave Sullivan says automakers spend about the same amount to make a vehicle, whether it’s a crossover or truck or sedan. Additionally, says Sullivan, “We haven’t really hit the theoretical ceiling for what consumers are willing to pay for pickup trucks. So the margins just keep growing.”
2018 Camry: The more things change …
Toyota's Akio Toyoda introduced the 2018 Toyota Camry at the NAIAS in January, saying "We view this as an opportunity to reignite the midsize sedan market...why should SUVs get all the glory?" Calling the vehicle "sexy," and the sport model "very sexy," drew some laughs from the crowd. AutoPacific's Dave Sullivan said, "It is a very evolutionary change...a vehicle design for what Camry buyers know and love. They are definitely pushing the envelope in how far they can take the Camry without it looking like a wild child."
Ford Bronco, Jeep Wagoneer: Will Trump bring gas guzzlers back from the dead?
Automakers are reviving hefty sport-utility vehicles and trucks. The wave of new, or old, vehicles may reflect a perception that the Trump administration will curb fuel-economy standards, freeing automakers to sell more high-profit vehicles while undermining the environment by increasing carbon emissions and accelerating climate change. Analysts think they could be big moneymakers. AutoPacific's Dave Sullivan says, “Automakers are looking to cover every bit of 'white space' in the market with vehicles coming back, like Ranger and Bronco."
In race to get driverless cars on the road, Ford speeds ahead
Ford Motor Company recently revealed an ambitious strategy to make fully autonomous cars available for sale by 2021 - at first used for ride sharing and ride hailing, with sales to individual drivers an indeterminate number of years after that. AutoPacific's Ed Kim comments on the significance of this goal: “It is a great technological accomplishment to be able to offer such a level of autonomy in such a short amount of time.”
Kia's Latest Cadenza Brings Flair To A Shrinking Large Sedan Segment
AutoPacific estimates that large sedans will make up just 2.3% of the light vehicle market in 2016, selling just over 400,000 units. So what does Kia, which prides itself on being a dynamic and edgy brand, see in continuing to compete in this segment? AutoPacific's Ed Kim recently drove the all-new for 2017 Kia Cadenza. A vehicle he says, "stands out as a very well differentiated product" among its direct competitors and "is well deserving of an audience among the young-at-heart, if not actually young."
Startup Otto Aims To Leapfrog To First In Self-Driving Vehicles With Big Trucks
Otto, a self-funded startup operating out of a 50,000-square-foot San Francisco warehouse, is currently readying a technology option for truck owners that they say would allow 18-wheelers to drive autonomously on U.S. highways. AutoPacific's George Peterson says, “Truckers are limited by their log books in terms of how much driving they can do so this would be appealing. Not just for individual owner operators, but big trucking firms and companies like Amazon would obviously want this capability."
Test Drive: Ford's Fusion offers mainstream consumers a taste of semi-autonomous functions
It could be years, maybe even decades, before you regularly catch rides in a completely self-driving car. But semi-autonomous features are making their way into mainstream vehicles. Some midrange cars will automatically brake if they sense an imminent collision or steer back into a freeway lane if the driver allows them to drift. "We're definitely in a state right now where we're starting to see these features become more common in mainstream cars," said AutoPacific's Ed Kim.
Musk’s Master Plan Misses the Mark on Tesla Profitability, Investors Say
Auto analysts and Wall Street investors responded largely with skepticism to Musk’s "Master Plan" announcement on Wednesday. The statement was a bit vague and unclear on the automaker’s strategy to become profitable, critics say. AutoPacific's Dave Sullivan said, "The main thing that was missing was any type of commitment to shareholder return or to actually become profitable. If you have shareholders, you have an obligation to them. … There was no discussion on how to become profitable.”
Fatal crash of Tesla Model S in autopilot mode leads to investigation by federal officials
Following Tesla's announcement that federal regulators opened a preliminary probe into the autopilot feature on a Tesla Model S after a fatal crash involving the technology, AutoPacific's George Peterson shared his comments on autopilot technology issues and the crash's potential impact on Tesla customers. "Tesla seems to be a Teflon company,” he said. “...there’s a huge group of Tesla fans out there. I don’t think it’ll put them off – I think it’ll make them more cautious when they’re using autopilot.”