May 25, 2016
First 2017 Acura NSX Supercar Comes Off Line in Ohio
Workers cheered as the first 2017 Acura NSX — a highly anticipated supercar that is expected to boost sales of Honda's premium brand — came off the assembly line at a plant at its Marysville, Ohio plant on Tuesday. According to The Detroit Free Press, the event comes more than four years after Honda began preparing to build the car in Ohio and, Honda executives say, represents the pinnacle of Honda's manufacturing expertise and a new emphasis on performance and design for the Acura brand. Auto dealer and NASCAR racing team owner Rick Hendrick, who purchased the first NSX for $1.2 million, predicted the NSX will be a huge hit. "This is a halo piece . . . it's going to draw customers into our (Acura) stores that we would never see," Hendrick said. "You have built one of the finest automobiles I have ever seen in my life." Acura engineers are building the long-awaited NSX at Honda's 206,000-square-foot Performance Manufacturing Center — a low-volume manufacturing plant that is designed to build Honda's top-performing car and to be a test-bed of high-tech manufacturing processes for the automaker. Find out more about the new Acura NSX here.
Obama Reasserts Hope for TPP Passage This Year
According to The Wall Street Journal, President Barack Obama told a crowd of young Vietnamese entrepreneurs that he hopes to see a new 12-nation trade pact ratified this year. Mr. Obama, speaking during a question-and-answer session on the last day of his visit to Vietnam, said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will raise labor and environmental standards across Southeast Asia while giving the region an economic jolt. “The goal is, I think, to try to complete TPP by the end of this year,” Mr. Obama said. TPP is a centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s Asia policy of seeking to counter China’s influence by strengthening ties with its neighbors. The trade pact has stalled in Congress, however, and faces significant political hurdles. Read why the pact matters to international nameplate dealers here. U.S. lawmakers are divided over the pact, which isn’t expected to come up for a vote until after the November election, if then. The White House hopes Republican leaders will help pass the TPP in a lame-duck session before Mr. Obama leaves office in January, but it is unclear they will have the votes—and the deal is opposed by many Democrats. For more on President Obama’s hopes of securing TPP passage this year, click here.
Toyota, VW Announce Ride-Hailing Partnerships
Two of the world’s top automakers on Tuesday invested in companies that specialize in services meant to replace traditional car ownership. Toyota Motor Corp. said it will make a “strategic investment” and partner with Uber Technologies Inc. on a number of ridesharing services, while Volkswagen AG said it will invest $300 million in Europe-based Gett. According to Automotive News, the moves follow General Motors Co.’s January announcement of a $500 million investment in Lyft. Ford Motor Co. offers a Zipcar-like car-sharing service in London, launched an Uber-like shuttle for employees in Dearborn and partnered with Bridj, a van service in Kansas City. The Toyota-Uber pact will include a new leasing option that will let Toyota owners pay off their leases through money they make as Uber drivers, a project that will launch in the second half of 2016. VW says its investment in ride-hailing service Gett will help it make more money. Executives are expected to release more details at a joint event scheduled for later this week. Gett is available in more than 60 cities worldwide, including London, Moscow, and New York. For more on Toyota and VW’s partnership with ride-hailing services, click here.
Millennials Step Up Plans to Buy Cars
Ride- and car-share services are becoming more popular with millennials, but a new study finds they are finally warming up to owning their own vehicles, reports CNBC. According to new research by online exchange LendingTree, drivers ages 18 to 34 accounted for roughly 33 percent of more than 1 million auto-loan requests it received during the first quarter. That compares with roughly 27 percent in the same period of 2013, which is as far back as the firm's data goes. The results stand in contrast to prior auto industry rhetoric, which contends millennials are not interested in purchasing their own vehicles. The data also come a few months after a separate report found that Americans ages 17 and younger have a greater desire to buy a new vehicle than millennials did at their age. "With unemployment among millennials improving, coupled with lower interest rates and low gas prices, the share of millennial auto-loan requests is on the rise," said Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree. Yet millennials are more conservative than older generations when requesting financing. For those ages 18 to 34, LendingTree said the average auto-loan request was $14,825. For more on millennial car buying habits, click here.
Mitsubishi Names New R&D Chief, Restates Earnings
Mitsubishi Motors said Nissan’s Mitsuhiko Yamashita will become its head of research and development, part of a management overhaul in the wake of a fuel-economy scandal that also prompted the automaker to restate earnings. Automotive News reports that Mitsubishi Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko will also be president, taking over that role from Tetsuro Aikawa, who will leave the company. Nissan is preparing to take a controlling one-third stake in Mitsubishi, which is reeling from its third scandal in two decades. Mitsubishi has seen over $3 billion wiped off its market value after admitting last month it overstated the fuel economy of at least four of its models in japan, including two sold by Nissan. Yamashita, currently a senior technology adviser at Nissan, will take on the r&d role starting June 24. He was Nissan's executive vice president in charge of product and technology research and development until 2014, a position he had held since 2005. The executive has been closely involved with the development of Nissan’s electric cars, and helped lead the automaker's collaboration in fuel cell vehicles with Daimler AG and Ford Motor Co. He also previously headed the company's technical research center in the U.S. For more on management changes at Mitsubishi, click here.
Around the Web
Huge Sinkhole Swallows Cars Near Italian Tourist Spot [CBS News]
2017 McLaren 570GT First Drive [Autoblog]
How Brands That Support Social Causes Can Benefit Your Dealership [CBT News]
Hyundai Plans Electric Car with 200 Miles of Range for 2018 [WSJ]