Toyota invests $1B in Uber's Asian ride-share rival

The Car Connection News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 14:16
Toyota on Tuesday pumped $1 billion into Grab, the Singapore-based ride-sharing firm that bought out one-time rival Uber in Southeast Asia. The investment makes Toyota the largest global automaker involved in ride-sharing. By comparison, GM has invested about $500 million in Lyft in the U.S. MORE: Uber costs less than driving in some cities In the...
Categories: Property

Investment Association splits property fund definition

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 13:15
The Investment Association has split its definition of property sector funds into two – ‘UK direct property’ and ‘property other’.
Categories: Property

Airbnb growth continues in London despite legislation

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 13:01
Airbnb has increased its share of the overnight stay market in several major European cities, despite the increasing trend for authorities to legislate against the holiday rentals platform.
Categories: Property

Green light for second phase of Crawley 'Boulevard' regen

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 12:58
Developer Westrock has secured planning permission for phase two of its Crawley’s ‘Boulevard’ regeneration project which forms part of the council’s £60m Crawley Growth Programme.
Categories: Property

Deliveroo unveils UK expansion plans

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 12:39
Deliveroo has announced plans for a major UK expansion, adding 5,000 restaurants to its delivery platform and extending its network by around 50%.
Categories: Property

Crompton Place bought by Bolton Council as regeneration plans pick up pace

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 11:57
Bolton Council has bought the Crompton Place shopping centre from Santander pension fund for £14.8m as part of its £1bn town centre regeneration plans.
Categories: Property

LEVERTON secures Savills Studley team up

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 10:47
US-based Savills Studley has signed a global partnership agreement with proptech company LEVERTON in the latest expansion of their augmented lease administration and portfolio planning platform.
Categories: Property

M&S headquarters hits the market

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 10:36
The Marks and Spencer’s let Waterside House has been put on the market by owner Gaw Capital.
Categories: Property

Higher annual bonus boosts pay for British Land's Chris Grigg

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 09:20
British Land chief executive Chris Grigg’s total pay has risen from £1.9m to £2.2m driven by a sharp increase in his annual bonus.
Categories: Property

Pure Retirement takes space at Paradigm

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 09:13
Scarborough International Properties and Legal & General have secured a 12,575 sq ft letting to Pure Retirement at Thorpe Park Leeds.
Categories: Property

Heavy falls for housebuilders drag on FTSE 100

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 09:12
Trading updates from housebuilders Crest Nicholson and Bellway led to a significant fall from the duo, alongside peers Barratt Developments, Berkeley, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon, and an overall 33 point drop for the FTSE 100.
Categories: Property

RLAM acquires Cambridge Research Park for £78m

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 09:08
Patrizia’s Rockspring has completed the off-market disposal of Cambridge Research Park to Royal London Asset Management, on behalf of The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society, for £78m.
Categories: Property

2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Review: Pista! Pista!

Motortrend News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 09:00

In the time it takes you to read this sentence aloud, the new Ferrari 488 Pista can accelerate from a standstill to 124 miles per hour.

Let that spin your head for a second. Or 7.2 seconds, for that matter.

That’s the sort of asphalt the Ferrari 488 Pista can ripple, thanks to its 710-hp, 567-lb-ft 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8. It has variable torque curves mapped—depending on which gear you’ve selected—moderated by changes in boost, injection, and spark advance. In other words, there’s flop-sweat power in any gear, at any rpm.

I’m sitting shotgun beside Ferrari chief test driver Raffaele de Simone at Ferrari’s legendary Fiorano Circuit test track. For those of you who’ve never been, Fiorano isn’t out in the middle of nowhere. It’s in the middle of town, embraced by the sprawling factory grounds as well as residential Maranello itself. Raffaele is gently warming the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup K2 tires and reacquainting me with the track’s layout before I take the wheel.

Without warning, he stabs the throttle midcorner, causing the Pista’s back end to jar sideways in a vicious slide that he easily catches (with some help from the very sophisticated new traction electronics). For the next lap and a half, he rarely lifts from full-mash throttle or brake, providing an expert’s demonstration of the limits of the most powerful road car Ferrari has ever built.

Look, I’m pretty quick around a track. But I’m not Raffaele quick. Not even close. And let’s face it, likely neither are you. But the magic of the 488 Pista is that you or I can play at being Raffaele, and this magnificent supercar will forgive us our trespasses without an unfortunate meeting with gravel or Armco. Really, you have to be blindingly stupid to wad this machine. Some cars can smell fear and prey upon your hesitancy and twitchy hands. The 488 Pista can sense it, as well, but instead of snapping back upon you, it reacts with reassurance.

So let’s get to the basics of what Ferrari changed from its already impressive 488 GTB, which won Motor Trend’s Best Driver’s Car contest last year.

Although the GTB verily leaped forward with 660 hp, Ferrari engineers generated 50 more horsepower from the gorgeous midship engine (covered in Lexan for easy viewing). And if a 7.6 percent gain doesn’t sound like much, in this aspect it’s the difference between slingshot and rifle. What changed? About 50 percent of the part numbers, including redesigns to the valves, springs, and cam profile for starters, not to mention the intake and exhaust runners.

Having 710 cavallini under the hood puts ungodly stress on mechanical parts. So Ferrari redesigned the cylinder heads, pistons, and DLC-coated piston pins for greater durability, all while lightening pretty much everything, from the titanium connecting rods to the crankshaft and flywheel. The cylinder liner walls are thinner, saving precious grams, said Gianfranco Ferrari (no relation), the Pista’s powertrain project manager.

But you can’t simply create 50 more horsepower without some associated engineering challenges—namely, dissipating the heat from the entire engine bay rather than the engine itself. Enter Ferrari’s thermal management specialists, who redrew the ducting at the front, as well as the rear spoiler and diffuser. Engine-air intakes have moved from the flanks to the rear spoiler, where they feed directly into the plenums—with the side benefit of making room for larger intercoolers.

While they were in there, Ferrari made the engine sound inside the cockpit 8 decibels louder. There’s no acoustic trickery, just plain old ripping out of sound-deadening material (which also saves weight). Why not make the glorious engine song louder to passersby, too? “Well … ” says ingegnere Ferrari, “there are laws about that.” Listening from trackside, the Pista’s notes at speed nonetheless shred the air with a menacing alto of furious purpose.

Thanks to all this engineering excellence, the Pista engine won the International Engine of the Year trophy—a threepeat for the prancing horse marque. (If you want to geek out further about the engine changes, check out technical editor Frank Markus’ teardown of the 488 Pista engine here.)

Nicola Boari, Ferrari’s head of product marketing, said the Pista has the best weight-to-power ratio of any road-going Ferrari. And it isn’t all about the engine and raw power. There’s weight savings galore, about 200 pounds over the GTB.

With bodywork and chassis, the Pista makes extensive use of carbon fiber as a replacement for aluminum—from the body panels to the 20-inch wheels. At $17,500, this is an option box worth ticking. These are pounds, not grams, we’re talking about here.

Combine the reduced weight with improvements in aero—an 18 percent improvement in downforce with negligible drag penalty, for 528 pounds of downforce at 124 mph—and the Pista can stay well mannered when handled roughly.

So what does all this power and lightness mean in the hands of a gentleman racer? Well, Ferrari makes its bones in ride and handling, as well. Having a fast car that doesn’t turn triggers a frowny emoji in terms of customer loyalty.

In other words, Ferrari took extensive measures to give drivers more confidence while cornering (and often save themselves from ham-fisted mistakes) via an evolution of the Side Slip Control system (SSC 6.0).

“You shouldn’t feel the difference, but you’ll end up going faster,” said Stefano Varisco, vehicle dynamics and control engineer. Essentially, he’s saying Ferrari wouldn’t have built a car with this much power if it didn’t have a dynamics system capable of handling it.

Before I hit the track, I skitter through the hill towns of the Modena region, snaking around endless delivery trucks in steaming swelter and seeking picturesque spots to highlight the skills of photographer William Walker.

A race-bred car can be a chore to drive in city traffic. But the Pista—Italian for track—is quite manageable in tight urban settings. In basic Sport mode, shifts are calm and smooth, the carbon-ceramic brakes are predictable rather than chalky, and steering is light. I very much appreciate the “bumpy road” suspension setting (carried over from the GTB) to tame the district’s disinterested attitude toward road maintenance. While dodging the occasional nonna strolling across a blind corner, we find the odd chance to let loose—to about 50 percent of the Pista’s abilities. But the roads are tight and narrow, the traffic too unpredictable, and the car too quick for the conditions to play it fast and loose. The prescribed route never puts us on the autostrada for a high-speed blast. Pity.

A couple of notes as we burble along: There’s an engine drone at around 3,000 rpm and a gurgling when you feather the throttle at 4,700—both of which get old quick. But otherwise, the engine is a symphony of whirs, whines, and whistles that remind you you’re driving a very exotic machine. Although grippy, the Michelins do create a substantial amount of high-register tire noise on coarse-aggregate roads. And I still need to get used to the horn buttons being integrated into the 10-and-2 of the steering wheel rather than the center airbag pad. Lastly, proving the supercar can coexist with the realities of the modern age, the navigation system is excellent in providing directions through villages that would merit scarcely a mention on a map.

“The Pista is about technology transfer from the track to the road, not a track car where we just hand you the keys,” Boari notes. Well said.

With thunderheads threatening, we dash back to Fiorano for my track time. Following my slithery session with de Simone, I take my own shot at this legendary circuit. Carrying speed through fast corners, I happily discover that banging redline doesn’t result in a twitchy, oscillating fuel cutout; rather, it simply maintains revs and power output (though a string of red lights across the top of the steering wheel strongly reminds that it’s a good idea to upshift). After all, if you reach max horsepower at 6,700 rpm, you should have sufficient time to flick the sensuous aluminum shift paddles before you hit the 8,000-rpm limiter.

I experiment with the manettino dial on the steering wheel to change the various traction settings. At Fiorano, there’s a narrow short chute that overpasses the main straight. It has an undulation at the precise point you’d hammer the brakes before entering a sharp right-hander. Normally this would upset a car’s balance, but in both Sport and Race modes, the Pista tracked straight and true. (With de Simone behind the wheel in CT-Off mode, things were considerably more wiggly, but never was it a water-in-shoes moment.) Get on the power too early, and the back end steps out quickly, but if you trust SSC 6.0 to keep things in order, you won’t suffer the dreaded tank-slapper. Under pressure diving into corners, the carbon-ceramic brakes are as good as your confidence level allows. Trail-braking into the right-hand sweeper at the end of the screaming-fast front straight? Not an issue. Want to wait for the last marker before testing your nerve? The brakes are ready.

All too soon, my session is over, limiting my chance to explore the 488 Pista. I could make up lots of excuses for why I wasn’t quicker—the fog of jet lag, rustiness on a long-forgotten track, my being the last track car out on possibly cooked brakes (though I felt no evidence of that), or wanting to be a kind escort to their pricey sheetmetal. I wish Ferrari had granted us more than four laps to sample the goods under their harshest inputs. The assembled journalists agree that four laps was the perfect amount to get settled into a rhythm, ready to really breach the Pista’s limits—only then to frustratingly see the “pit in” board come over the wall.

But that’s the magic of luxury-goods PR: always give a taste but leave them wanting more. It’s a $345,000 check to write to take that next step. Ferrari could not clarify whether that sticker includes destination charges or gas-guzzler tax, but those are rounding errors. Time to check your 401(k) balance.

2019 Ferrari 488 Pista BASE PRICE $345,000 (est) VEHICLE LAYOUT Mid-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe ENGINE 3.9L/710-hp/567-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto CURB WEIGHT 3,200 lb (est) WHEELBASE 104.3 in LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 181.3 x 77.8 x 47.5 in 0-62 MPH 2.8 sec (mfr est) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 15/22/18 mpg (est) ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 225/153 kW-hrs/100 miles (est) CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.11 lb/mile (est) ON SALE IN U.S. Currently


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Categories: Property

2019 Volvo V60 First Drive Review

Motortrend News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 09:00

Volvo is sending the V60 wagon to North America even though it knows sales will only amount to a tiny fraction of those of the XC60 SUV. The fact that the V60 will make negligible impact on Volvo Car USA’s bottom line is of little importance, however: The V60 is coming to keep the faith. Although the wagon is increasingly seen as a niche product as SUVs and crossovers continue their march to global domination, it’s a vehicle that still defines the essence of the Volvo brand. Volvo without a wagon would be like Ferrari without red paint.

The new V60 is being pitched as the successor to the V70, the best-selling wagon in Volvo’s history, filling the space left by the V90’s move upmarket. The V60 shares much with its larger sibling. It’s built on Volvo’s highly flexible SPA architecture and has the same broad-shouldered stance and studied elegance. Sharp creases that gently arc over the rear wheels, and a greenhouse graphic that rises toward the D-pillar, as subtly playful as the red stitching around the buttonhole on a Savile Row jacket, are fraternal echoes of design elements from the XC60.

The 2019 V60 is 4.9 inches longer and 2.0 inches lower than the outgoing model. The wheelbase has grown 3.8 inches, though a lot of that has gone to deliver the exaggerated dash-to-axle dimension that’s become part of modern Volvo design DNA. But those extra inches have delivered substance as well as style: Volvo claims a 20 percent increase in load space over the previous V60, as well as the roomiest rear seat in the class. We can’t vouch for the load space, but we can confirm that a 6-foot passenger has no problem sitting behind a 6-foot driver.

The V60’s interior follows the design cues that were established with the S90 and have since cascaded through successive new Volvos. And there’s nothing wrong with that: The V60’s cabin looks elegant and upscale, more inviting than that of a BMW 3 Series, less clinical than an Audi A4’s.

The V60 will launch with the choice of two powertrains: T5, with the 250-hp turbocharged version of Volvo’s ubiquitous 2.0-liter four-banger driving the front wheels; and T6, with the 316-hp turbo- and supercharged version of the engine and all-wheel drive. Transmission for both is an eight-speed automatic. Volvo claims 28 mpg combined for the T5 powertrain, and 25 mpg for the T6. The T5-powered V60 will hit 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and reach a max of 140 mph; the T6 version is almost a second quicker to 60 and will top out at 155 mph.

Volvo will offer two trim levels at launch: Momentum and Inscription. The latter offers cosmetic upgrades such as driftwood inlays inside and standard 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as enhanced equipment such as a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and Harmon Kardon premium audio. Leather is standard on both, but the Momentum-spec V60 can also be ordered with chic plaid cloth seats.

The infotainment system—Sensus Connect, in Volvo-speak—has been given a 50 percent increase in processor speed. This means reduced startup time, faster access to the backup camera, better voice control, and quicker route recalculation by the satnav. Sensus Connect accommodates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, among other third-party apps (and none takes over the entire display), so satnav is an option. When fitted, the Volvo nav software enables the cruise control to access mapping data and adjust speeds through corners where appropriate.

As expected, the V60 comes standard with an armory of Volvo automated safety technology, including steering, braking, and lane-keeping assist functions to help drivers stay on the road and out of harm’s way. The V60 also debuts Volvo’s new Oncoming Braking function, a safety system of last resort that, should the car sense a head-on collision is inevitable, automatically activates maximum braking. The system goes into action two-tenths of a second before impact and can reduce vehicle speed by 6 mph. That doesn’t sound like much, but the resulting reduction in crash force can be significant, potentially life-saving.

The V60 is no 3 Series wagon. That much is clear from the first few corners. It’s a much more relaxed car than the BMW, happy and comfortable at seven-tenths driving through the twisties. It doesn’t exactly fall apart dynamically when you press harder; it just never quite flows down the road with the composure you’d expect. The front end is aloof; it goes through the motions but never clearly communicates what’s happening where the rubber hits the road. And the surly response from the transmission, even when nudged between ratios via the central shifter (there are no paddles on the steering wheel), means you never quite have the power you want precisely when you want it.

Volvo offers four drive modes—Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, and Individual—and not all are worth the electrons. Dynamic makes the steering feel more wooden and busies the ride slightly without any noticeable improvement in, er… the dynamics. The V60 does its best work left in Comfort, which is precisely where most owners will leave it. The ride is excellent, and suspension NVH well suppressed; smooth and quiet, the V60 might be a midsize Volvo wagon, but it has the decorum of a limousine. And that’s precisely what makes it a genuine alternative to the 3 Series wagon.

Though a niche product, Volvo will add to the V60 lineup through 2020. An R Design version will offer 18-inch alloy wheels as well as paddle shifters and unique interior and exterior graphics, plus the same tech and multimedia features as the Inscription. The 400-hp hybrid T8 powertrain is also slated for launch, and a V60 Cross Country, with jacked-up ride height and all-road capability, is coming to take on Audi’s A4 Allroad.

The first U.S.-spec V60s will roll off the line late this year, with cars arriving in the first quarter of 2019. No prices have been announced yet, but Volvo has revealed that the V60 will be available under the Care by Volvo subscription scheme that debuted with the XC40 crossover. Essentially a simplified lease deal, Care by Volvo will allow consumers to choose one of two specifications of the V60—along with their choice of exterior and interior colors—and drive the car for one or two years for a single monthly payment that covers maintenance, consumables such as wipers and tires, roadside assistance, 24-hour concierge, and insurance. Nothing down, drive away.

The redesigned Volvo V60 makes a compelling case as an urbane yet practical premium vehicle for those who don’t want to follow the herd. It may not be the ultimate driving machine, but it handles better and uses less fuel than many high-riding SUVs or crossovers, while offering a similarly configurable and capacious interior. And with available all-wheel drive, it’s only marginally less capable on all roads in all weather. But the Volvo faithful know all that.

The post 2019 Volvo V60 First Drive Review appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

AXA IM acquires €250m care home portfolio

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 08:39
AXA IM - Real Assets has acquired a portfolio of care homes in Paris, France, via financial lease agreements in a deal worth €250m (£219m).
Categories: Property

Octopus makes triple appointment & issues £10.7m loan

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 08:33
Octopus Property has announced three senior appointments and agreed a £10.7m loan to FRT Developments for delivery of 51 homes in west London.
Categories: Property

Volvo’s New S60 to Get the Polestar Engineered Treatment

Motortrend News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 05:00

After the Polestar 1 to be produced next year, the new marque goes all-electric, all-the-time, though Volvo will use that sub-brand to tune its own PHEV models beginning with the next S60 sport sedan.

Polestar Engineered is the new confluence of Volvo and Polestar. All Volvo models will be available with electrified powertrains by 2019, and the new S60 will be available with the T8 supercharged, turbocharged, plug-in electric 2.0-liter I-4. Polestar will tune that powertrain with a new engine control unit that boosts it to 415 horsepower and 494 pound-feet, up 15 horses and 22 pound-feet, the Swedish automaker announced in a release one week before it unveils the new S60 at the opening of its Charleston, South Carolina assembly plant, sole manufacturer of the new sedan.

From Polestar 2 on, the Volvo subbrand will build and market pure battery-electric vehicles only. But Polestar Engineered will lend its imprimatur to various PHEV models, including the new V60 wagon and XC60 sport/utility models.

Volvo says the Polestar Engineered ECU increases fuel efficiency while adding torque and power, and is emissions-neutral. The ECU also recalibrates the eight-speed automatic transmission.

Chassis mods include Polestar Engineered multi-link front- and rear-suspensions, featuring Ohlins shocks with dual-flow valves that allow stiffened springs and shocks with no affect on ride quality. The S60’s strut bar and adjustable shock absorber design are shared with the Polestar 1 performance PHEV.

The Polestar Engineered S60 gets Brembo mono-block brakes with six-piston calipers, cast in one piece and optimized for rigidity. A slotted design in the brake discs and the brake pads improve heat tolerance.

Gold is Volvo Polestar Engineered’s signature color. The Brembo calipers are painted gold, peaking out from new lightweight wheels for the Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered. Seatbelt straps are gold, too, and the car comes with Polestar emblems and black chrome exhaust pipes.

Polestar Engineered Volvo S60s, V60s, and XC60s will top each model’s range, above R Design cars. They will be available in 2019, with limited availability in Volvo dealerships and through the Care by Volvo subscription service.

The post Volvo’s New S60 to Get the Polestar Engineered Treatment appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

T Sportline Rolls Out T Largo Package for Tesla Model X

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 22:34

T Sportline can take a plain Tesla Model X and turn it into a “Yesla” Model X if you have a small pile of cash to burn.

The West Hollywood, California-based Tesla tuner transforms everything from old Roadsters to brand new Model S cars. Its latest offering is a limited edition T Largo package for the Model X P100D.

Naturally it starts with a carbon-fiber wide-body kit that adds two inches to each side, a new front apron, front bumper duct, wide-body over fenders, wide side skirts, rear diffuser, and a rear wing cover “crafted from pre-impregnated carbon fiber” we are told.

It rolls on stealthy 22-inch forged wheels and Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires. T Sportline states, “The T Largo was built for our most ambitious clients who like to stand out of the herd.” No doubt about that.

The company welcomes current Tesla Model X P100D owners for its new package treatment or it can help clients when ordering a new model from Fremont.

Depending how much you are willing to spend on your Model X, T Sportline offers many options for custom paint, interior upgrades, vehicle wrapping, enhanced audio systems, chrome delete, ceramic window tinting, and lots more.

As a bonus, each T Largo vehicle sports a custom laminated dash with vehicle number to let folks know how rare your new bird is.

The post T Sportline Rolls Out T Largo Package for Tesla Model X appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Tesla Slashes 9 Percent of Workforce

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 21:30

Tesla has dropped around 9 percent of its workforce as part of a restructuring plan, CEO Elon Musk revealed on Twitter today. Production of the Model 3 will not be affected by the cuts.

Difficult, but necessary Tesla reorg underway. My email to the company has already leaked to media. Here it is unfiltered:

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 12, 2018

“Tesla has grown and evolved rapidly over the past several years, which has resulted in some duplication of roles and some job functions that, while they made sense in the past, are difficult to justify today,” Musk said in a company email which he later posted on Twitter. “As part of this effort, and the need to reduce costs and become profitable, we have made the difficult decision to let go of approximately 9% of our colleagues across the company.”

The email says almost all of the workers cut were salaried. No production associates were included, which means we won’t see disruptions to operations surrounding the Model 3. The automaker is working to boost production of the entry-level sedan after missing targets for the first quarter of the year. By the end of the second quarter, Tesla hopes to be making 5,000 copies a week.

Tesla has never turned an annual profit since it was first established almost 15 years ago. Musk acknowledges this fact in an email, adding, “What drives us is our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable, clean energy, but we will never achieve that mission unless we eventually demonstrate that we can be sustainably profitable. That is a valid and fair criticism of Tesla’s history to date.”

Tesla had 37,543 employees in its ranks by the end of last year, more than 12 times its workforce five years earlier, as the Los Angeles Times points out. Tesla also lost nearly $2 billion last year.

Amid the news, Tesla’s stock fell today. Although it had increased 6.9 percent earlier in the day, shares were up just 2.6 percent after the announcement.

Source: Tesla, Los Angeles Times, CNBC

The post Tesla Slashes 9 Percent of Workforce appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Cars Still Key to GM’s Global Business, CEO Barra Says

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 18:45

There was a bit of drama but no ducking questions at the 2018 General Motors annual meeting in Detroit where Chairman and CEO Mary Barra calmly updated shareholders on the company’s business.

This includes a commitment to building cars. In a briefing ahead of the meeting, Barra told Motor Trend that as a global company, GM is not following crosstown rivals Ford and Fiat Chrysler in systematically pulling out of car segments.

“Although we are seeing a shift in the United States and in other markets, there still is a very big car market globally,” Barra said. “We’re well positioned because we reinvested in the 2015-2016 time frame in both compact and midsize vehicles so we have a very strong platform that we can continue to provide customers with what they want for a very long period of time.” She later referenced investment in the Chevy Cruze and Malibu as key to keeping them relevant.

Globally the automaker’s GEM (Global Emerging Markets) architecture is bringing new vehicles and technology to emerging markets, in many cases for the first time, Barra said.

But the real emphasis is on electric and autonomous vehicles.

GM is increasing production of the Chevrolet Bolt and plans to introduce 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023 globally. GM continues to advocate for a single national standard for fuel efficiency requirements, wanting to avoid having to meet regulations for California that are more stringent than proposed federal CAFE regulations which the Trump Administration is expected to ease. But either way, GM is committed to an electric-vehicle future and would like to see EV tax credits extended.

The automaker is on pace to launch its self-driving ride-hailing fleet next year. The Cruise AV, which will not have a steering wheel or pedals, will be built at the Orion Assembly plant in Michigan.

Last month, GM announced a partnership with SoftBank which is investing $2.25 billion in GM’s self-driving ride-sharing technology. GM also acquired Strobe last year to bring down the cost of Lidar technology. GM uses Lidar in conjunction with cameras and radar to read the landscape for safe autonomous driving.

Wall Street is recognizing GM’s AV work, Barra said, including the fact the work is all being done under one roof. This work includes the development of the vehicle as well as the technology integration that involves modifying or changing 40 percent of the components to enable autonomous driving. And GM can mass produce the cars at the Orion Assembly Plant.

Ride-sharing was barely a topic of conversation five years ago, but today GM’s Maven ride-sharing service continues to expand and Barra said its vehicles are being driven four times more than an average vehicle.

GM has pulled back from Lyft, the ride-sharing company in which it has a 9 percent stake. Barra said while she has faith in its founders, “right now, though, we have no active projects underway.” After GM invested in Lyft in 2016, Ford announced its own collaboration last year for a fleet of self-driving vehicles by 2021.

On trade and tariffs affecting the auto industry, Barra said there are still a lot of moving pieces and negotiations, which are ongoing. “We need to let negotiations continue and be completed,” she said.

Turning to the business of the annual meeting, a proposal to have an independent chairman was defeated, garnering only 35 percent of votes, meaning Barra will continue to hold the dual titles of chairman and CEO. A similar motion at the recent Tesla annual meeting also failed to remove the chairman title from CEO Elon Musk.

There was a moment of drama as two female protesters starting yelling, “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.” They were asked to wait for the question period to make their point and when they refused the offer, they were escorted out of the meeting. A number of shareholders did use the question period to decry conditions at GM plants in Colombia, allegations which Barra said have been investigated and found to be untrue.

The post Cars Still Key to GM’s Global Business, CEO Barra Says appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property