New Toyota-Mazda Factory to be Built in Alabama

First Up 01/10/18

New Toyota-Mazda Factory to be Built in Alabama
Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda have picked Alabama as the site of a new $1.6 billion joint-venture auto manufacturing plant, reports The Detroit News. The plant will employ about 4,000 people and will be built in the Huntsville area in Limestone County. Officials in Alabama are expected to hold a news conference Wednesday afternoon to announce the plant site. Alabama and North Carolina apparently were finalists for the huge factory, which is expected to begin operating in 2021. It will be able to build 300,000 vehicles per year and will produce the Toyota Corolla compact car for North America and a new small SUV from Mazda, the companies have said. Toyota and Mazda are forming a capital alliance and splitting the cost for the plant equally. Toyota and Mazda Motor Corp. also plan to work together on various advanced auto technology, such as electric vehicles, safety features and connected cars, as well as products that they could supply each other, they said. Read more about plans to build a Toyota and Mazda plant in Alabama here

VW Brand Accelerates Push to be EV Leader with New e-Mobility Division
The Volkswagen brand is creating an e-mobility division as it seeks to be the leader in mass-market electric vehicles, reports Automotive News. The division will be headed by company veteran Thomas Ulbrich, who moves to the role from his post as the brand's production chief, VW said in a statement. VW aims to become the leader in electric cars with five core EV models. The first two, the I.D. hatchback will go on sale in Europe in 2020 at a price similar to the diesel version of its Golf. The second, the I.D. Crozz crossover, will start sales in the U.S. the same year. The brand is developing the MEB electric platform for parent VW Group's mass-market EVs. It will also be used by VW Group's Audi, Seat and Skoda brands. In 2020, the production volume on the launch of the I.D. cars will be about 100,000 vehicles with least 1 million VW brand electric cars are planned for 2025, VW brand chief Herbert Diess said in a Nov. 18 statement. Under its Roadmap E plan, VW Group aims to sell 1.5 million pure EVs across its brands by 2025. Read more here

Amazon Alexa is Coming to Toyota Cars
Japanese automaker Toyota will integrate Amazon's Alexa voice assistant into some of its cars as the auto industry increasingly adopts the tech world's hottest offerings to improve the vehicle experience. According to USA Today, the deal reflects a partnership between two of the world's largest companies, each of which can stake a claim to having revolutionized their industries. Toyota, whose efficient manufacturing techniques transformed the auto industry, is turning to Alexa to bolster its voice-recognition capability. Many automakers have struggled with voice recognition software for years, causing a clunky or ineffective user experience. Amazon's technology will be offered in certain Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with special infotainment software beginning in 2018 and expanding into more models in 2019. The move will allow Toyota drivers to use Alexa's speech-command system to order navigation, pick entertainment options, get the news, add items to a shopping cart, and other services. For more, click here

U.S., California Regulators Meet to Weigh MPG Rules
Senior U.S. government officials held talks in recent weeks with California's Air Resources Board to discuss the goal of maintaining one set of national requirements for automakers, a move that will determine the fate of vehicle emissions rules. According to Automotive News, the Dec. 15 meeting held in California included William Wehrum, head of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Air and Radiation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration deputy chief Heidi King, and Mike Catanzaro, a senior White House aide on environment and energy issues, a spokesman for CARB confirmed on Monday. Automakers want the White House and California to reach agreement on revisions because a legal battle over the rules could result in lengthy uncertainly for the industry. They also want changes in the rules to address lower gas prices and a shift in U.S. consumer preferences to larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles. For more on the meetings, click here

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Wants to Spend Up to $1 Billion on Start-Ups Over Next 5 Years
Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn wants to counter an opinion common among entrepreneurs about working with venture funds backed by big companies. According to CNBC, the French-Japanese group of automakers plans to start a corporate venture capital fund intended to invest up to $1 billion over five years in start-ups developing appealing new mobility technologies. The fund expects to invest up to $200 million in start-ups making new mobility technologies, such as vehicle electrification, autonomous systems, connectivity and artificial intelligence. It is a step toward fulfilling the group's Alliance 2022 strategy to improve cooperation and cost sharing between the three companies, and boost sales. "We want to create a platform for a start-up to speak to the three companies, which was not always the case," Ghosn told reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The plan is to create a group that can enable the large corporate alliance to work nimbly and quickly with far smaller start-ups. For more, click here

Join Fellow Dealers in Las Vegas This Spring
AIADA’s 48th Annual Meeting and Luncheon, held March 25 in Las Vegas, is your chance to gather with likeminded leaders to consider what the future looks like for your businesses and the pressing issues you face going forward. During the meeting, we’ll introduce AIADA’s 2018 Chairman, Volkswagen dealer Brad Strong of Utah, and recognize the winners of both of our annual awards – the David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award and the Fritz Hitchcock Grassroots Award. Finally, we’ll hear from Volkswagen of America President and CEO Hinrich J. Woebcken on the state of our industry and the challenges he sees in the coming years.

If you plan to attend NADA’s convention this March in Las Vegas, please add AIADA’s 48th Annual Meeting and Luncheon, held March 25, to your schedule. You can register for the meeting by clicking here or by calling 1-800-GO-AIADA.

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