Dealers in Florida Panhandle Prepare as Hurricane Michael Strengthens to Category 4

First Up 10/10/18

Dealers in Florida Panhandle Prepare as Hurricane Michael Strengthens to Category 4
Dealers in the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday were preparing for Hurricane Michael, which was barreling through the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 4 storm, according to Automotive News. Ted Smith, president of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, said he was on his way to the southeast part of the state in anticipation of the storm potentially hitting Tallahassee. "Hopefully this storm won't have the kind of property damage that we've seen with other hurricanes," Smith said. "We're pretty geared up to respond." Preparations included securing inventory, closing stores, and sending employees home. Some stores, such as Panama City Toyota, announced they would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. "We apologize for the inconvenience, but we want to keep our employees safe and allow them to take the measures necessary to ensure the safety of their families," the dealership announced on Facebook. The storm's path so far is taking aim at a part of the state where there is a lighter density of stores, Smith said. Read more here. 

Tariffs Have Already Cost Ford $1B; Now It's Planning Layoffs
Ford will be making cuts to its 70,000-strong white-collar workforce in a move it calls a "redesign" of its staff to be leaner, have fewer layers, and offer more decision-making power to employees, the company announced. The number of jobs that will be axed is unknown at this point. “A lot of the (reorganization) is about making different choices about strategy,” Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told NBC News, adding that the goal isn’t just to slash spending but to improve the “fitness” of the company. However, a recent report by Morgan Stanley estimates "a global headcount reduction of approximately 12 percent,” or 24,000 of Ford's 202,000 workers worldwide. "Such a magnitude of reduction is not without precedent in the auto industry,” analysts wrote in the investment note. Ford has already warned that President Donald Trump's auto tariffs have impacted the company to the tune of $1 billion, and the president’s trade policies threaten to play havoc with Ford’s ongoing reorganization. Read more here. 

Volvo Seeks Communication Norm as Autonomy Advances
Volvo Cars calls for a new, global standard in how autonomous vehicles safely can communicate with all other road users as it introduces its 360c autonomous concept. According to WardsAuto, it says autonomous technology will be introduced gradually rather than overnight, and fully autonomous cars will operate in mixed traffic where cars without a human driver will share the road with other road users. In such a traffic situation, it will no longer be possible to make eye contact with and learn about another driver’s intentions. As part of the development of its 360c autonomous concept, Volvo Cars’ safety engineers studied how to establish a safe means of communication between fully autonomous cars and other road users. The focus was to create a universal standard so other road users need not consider the make or brand of individual autonomous cars. Read more here. 

NHTSA Rebuffs Tesla's 'Safest' Claim for Model 3
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is taking exception to Tesla Inc.'s characterization of the agency's safety ratings, reports Automotive News. On Sunday, Tesla Inc. released a lengthy blog post saying that it engineered the Model 3 to "be the safest car ever built" and that NHTSA's tests show that it has "the lowest probability of injury of all cars the safety agency has ever tested." But in a statement Tuesday, NHTSA said that its crash tests combine into an overall safety rating and that it does not rank vehicles that score the same ratings. "A 5-star rating is the highest safety rating a vehicle can achieve," the agency said in the statement, which did not name Tesla. "NHTSA does not distinguish safety performance beyond that rating, thus there is no 'safest' vehicle among those vehicles achieving 5-star ratings." NHTSA guidelines for the use of its crash test results in advertising and communications warns that using terms such as "safest" and "perfect" to describe a particular rating or an overall score are misleading. Read more here. 

Average Age of Americans' Cars Higher Than Ever
The average age of vehicles driven by Americans is reportedly at an all-time high, reports The Drive. Deriving data from the United States Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and National Household Travel Survey, Wolf Street found that typical vehicles on America's roads have been getting older since about 1980 when trucks averaged about 6.5 years of age and cars just under seven. Today, they both average more than 11, and according to the most recent data, cars could approach 12 years of age by the end of the decade. Its prior study, dated 2009, found that there were far more vehicles younger than 10 years of age on the road than older, but the trend has reversed as of 2017 data: cars 10 or more years old now outnumber those newer. Both studies noted fewer eight-year-old vehicles on the road than vehicles aged nine to 11 years of age, 2017's study expanding that group to 14 years. Less than a third of the vehicles in use today are five years old or newer, while less than one percent are 25 years of age or older. Read more here. 

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Around the Web

Next-Generation BMW M3 Spied [Autoblog

A Look at the Pros and Cons of the Latest Small Luxury SUVs [USA Today]

Auto Exec Becomes a Global Runner [Detroit Free Press]

Top Auto Dealer Says Robo-Taxi Hype Has Reached 'Peak Absurdity' [Bloomberg]