VW CEO Mueller's Abrupt Exit Heralds Sweeping Change to Come

First Up 04/11/18

April 11, 2018

Mexico Awaits Details of Plan to Bring Auto Engines to U.S., Officials Say
A U.S. proposal that automobiles should be built in high-wage areas within the NAFTA region is partly aimed at increasing engine production in the United States, and more details on the plan are expected this week, Mexican officials said. Reuters reports that in an idea aimed at breaking a deadlock in talks, Washington last month suggested some automotive production should happen in areas of North America paying higher salaries. U.S. negotiators discussing changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) floated the idea that 40 percent of automotive production must happen in areas paying wages of between $16 to $19 per hour, Fausto Cuevas, the director general of auto industry group AMIA, said on Tuesday. The negotiators have also indicated a preference that motors be built in the United States, Mexican Deputy Economy Minister Juan Carlos Baker said. Mexico wants to see a firmer U.S. proposal before responding. “The United States has been changing its proposals, it’s better to wait ... and then later present a counterproposal,” said Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo. For the full story, click here.

VW CEO Mueller's Abrupt Exit Heralds Sweeping Change to Come
Volkswagen is set to promote brand chief Herbert Diess to CEO. Bloomberg’s Matt Miller reports. Volkswagen AG’s board abruptly ended the tenure of Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller, a caretaker who revived the carmaker after its worst crisis on record, turning instead to a leader who can implement deeper changes, people familiar with the matter said. Key stakeholders came to the conclusion they couldn’t afford to wait two years until Mueller’s contract expired to appoint a fresh CEO, as they deliberated an overhaul that will likely include a partial IPO of the heavy trucks division and how best to rapidly implement those changes, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing the private talks. For more on why Mueller stepped down, and Diess’s do-list, click here. In tapping the 59-year-old Diess for the top job, Volkswagen would elevate a senior executive from its own ranks, while handing the reins to someone who was not at the automaker when the diesel cheating began. For the full story on the shakeup at VW, click here.

Nissan Declutters Altima Interior, Aims for Serenity
To have less stuff or be better organized is a goal for many of us. Nissan too decided the interior of the next-generation Altima needed a paring down, with designers from both China and the U.S. aiming to make the space more open and serene. “There’s been a conscious decluttering and grouping – consciously reducing buttons but then also keeping (the ones that remain) away from each other,” Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president-global design, told WardsAuto in a recent interview. Generally speaking, as cars integrate new technology many people find it overwhelming, Albaisa says. “But a lot of these things are quite important; we need them,” so any effort to simplify them is worthwhile. An obvious change is the lack of a true center stack in the new ’19 Altima. A floating-style infotainment screen protrudes from the upper dash, replacing a smaller infotainment screen in the ’18 model (pictured below) that was placed lower. Click here to see the new Altima interior. The redesigned Altima goes on sale in the U.S. later this year. For the full story click here.

California Says a Car-Emissions Deal with Trump Could Be Doable
California’s top air-quality regulator sees hope for a deal with the Trump administration over fuel economy and emissions standards. Federal agencies have yet to translate their disdain for regulations into concrete proposals to roll back Obama-era rules intended to curb tailpipe emissions, meaning there’s still a chance for a consensus to emerge, according to Mary Nichols, the chair of the California Air Resources Board. “Reason could prevail,” Nichols said Tuesday at Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Energy Summit in New York. “There’s a way to get to success, unless your goal is to roll over California and not allow us to have any standards.” The future of mileage and emissions standards is only the latest hot-button, high-profile issue to put President Donald Trump on a collision course with America’s most populous state. As California jousts with the federal government over immigration and taxes, the fuel economy battle has significant implications for curbing pollution because of the contribution cars make to dirtying the air. For the full story, click here.

When Marketing Luxury Vehicles, 'Electric' is no Longer a Bad Word
Perceived (and believed) good fortune is spurring the world's millionaires and billionaires to make luxury purchases, based on a system of values such as reduced carbon footprints and sustainability, says Bentley Motors' new CEO, Adrian Hallmark. In fact,reports Automotive News, this new addition to the traditional considerations for buying a luxury car --performance, quality materials, and craftsmanship -- is manifesting so strongly among the world's top 1 percent that it is influencing Bentley's product planning for the next two decades. Click here to see the plug-in hybrid version of the Bentley Bentayga, whih debuted last month at the Geneva auto show. Top luxury automakers have been producing hybrid and electric vehicles for years, such as BMW's i8, Porsche's 918 Spyder Hybrid, and Mercedes-Benz's sold-out Project 1. "It is definitely high-performance with sustainability that resonates on a values and ethics level … with affluent and wealthy automotive buyers," says Milton Pedraza, founder of the Manhattan-based Luxury Institute, which studies trends of the world's rich. For more on how this new attitude is shaping automaker marketing, click here.

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