Toyota's R&D Arm to Form $800M Investment Fund

First Up 09/10/20

Chairman's Blog: The New Normal

In his latest blog post, Chairman Jason Courter is discussing dealers’ “new normal.” No one is thrilled to be living in this new normal, but it’s the reality we must navigate, for now. That’s why Courter says he is taking this moment, after 9 months of tumult, to say, “Nice job,” to fellow dealers. This new normal will require from dealers a new type of advocacy. One big thing you can still do under social distancing guidelines is hold a Virtual Dealer Visit with your Representative at your store. With AIADA’s help, you can set up an online meeting between your lawmaker and your employees, give your member of Congress a virtual tour of your store, and help him or her understand the value you bring to their district. Another easy, but impactful, action is to be an online advocate for your business. Use your personal or business accounts on Twitter and Facebook to share the good work your stores do with the hashtag #DealersDoGood. Visit AIADA’s social media toolkit for more ideas on what you can share. Together, we will show Washington, D.C., just how well dealers are adapting to the new normal. Read more here. 

Toyota's R&D Arm to Form $800M Investment Fund

Toyota Motor Corp.'s research arm said Thursday that it would create an $800 million global investment fund, reports Automotive News. The fund called Woven Capital is to invest in companies in areas such as autonomous mobility and smart cities, Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development said in a statement. Earlier this year, the Japanese automaker unveiled a plan to build a prototype "city of the future" called Woven City at the base of Japan's Mount Fuji, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and functioning as a laboratory for autonomous cars. "With diverse projects such as Arene, the Automated Mapping Platform, and Woven City, the Woven Planet Holdings Group has set ambitious goals for itself, and we will need a variety of partners and technologies to achieve those goals," James Kuffner, CEO of TRI-AD, said in a statement. Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 

Mercedes Teams Up with Microsoft to "Redefine Automotive Maintenance"

Mercedes-Benz is teaming up with Microsoft to create what it is called a “mixed reality automotive maintenance system” to change the way repair shop mechanics work, especially when they might run into a problem requiring assistance from the factory, reports The Detroit Bureau. The Mercedes-Benz Virtual Remote Support system will let mechanics share real-time images, as well as sounds with technical specialists back at the factory who could help solve a sticky problem. In the process, the automaker said while announcing the new system, problems will be addressed more rapidly and with less likelihood a customer might have to return to the service shop again. “It’s like having an expert on your shoulder,” said Christian Treiber, vice president of Customer Services at Mercedes-Benz USA. “This is a massive shift in the way we do business – helping us to serve our customers more quickly – and is especially timely with the new realities of COVID-19 and our desire to keep employees safe.” Read more here (Source: The Detroit Bureau). 

Electric Vehicle Start-Up Lucid Unveils Air Sedan to Take on Tesla

CNBC reports that electric vehicle start-up Lucid is touting its all-electric Air sedan as a more efficient, faster and spacious vehicle than the Tesla Model S, a car the company’s CEO Peter Rawlinson helped develop. “What we’ve got is a breakthrough in electric cars,”  he told media ahead of the Air’s unveiling on Wednesday. “That’s not just due to batteries, it’s due to a whole host of big picture thinking that’s added up.” Rawlinson, who was the Model S chief engineer and vice president of engineering at Tesla from 2009 to 2012, claims the high-end version of the Air is 17% more energy efficient than Tesla models, allowing for more range with fewer cells.  The Air heavily resembles the prototype models and a concept of the car, which Lucid previously unveiled in 2016. The company made small changes to the exterior since, including larger side mirrors to meet regulations, as well as curved screens in the interior. Read more here (Source: CNBC). 

Miami Dealership Group Puts Employee Health First with Wellness Programs

Each month at South Motors Automotive Group in Miami, employees focus on a different aspect of their health. Depending on the time of year, the dealership group's 1,200 staff members could be participating in voluntary wellness programs that target cardiovascular health, stress relief, diabetes, eating disorders, or a gamut of other activities designed to improve their overall well-being. "It makes a difference to them and has made a difference in their lives," said South Motors CEO Jonathan Chariff. The group has 10 rooftops in South Florida and retails six brands — BMW, Ford, Honda, Infiniti, Mini, and Volkswagen. It sold about 20,000 new and used vehicles in 2019. One of the group's most popular wellness programs is a diet challenge in which individuals and teams compete to lose weight. As part of the incentive, South Motors gives out about $30,000 to winning participants throughout the entire company each year. The largest prize awarded to an individual was $3,500, Chariff said. Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 

Webinar TODAY: An Update on COVID-19's Impact on U.S. Auto Sales

Cox Automotive Senior Economist Charlie Chesbrough returns to AutoTalk for an update TODAY, September 10, at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

Topics to be reviewed include: 

  • Economic forecast and impact going into the fourth quarter 

  • Consumer sentiment and buying behaviors 

  • Stock market, interest rates, and employment 

  • An outlook for vehicle sales 

  • Current view of new and used retail sales and prices

Click here to register. 

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Ford Maverick Test Mule Exposed Spy Photos of Rear Window [Autoblog]

Maserati Unveils Its First Supercar in 15 Years [CNN]

Hear From the CEO of Porsche Cars America on Electrifying the Sports Car [Tech Crunch]

Auto Stocks Bounce Back as Virus Seen Fueling Travel by Car [Yahoo! Finance]