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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Ford, General Motors and Toyota Motor

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 24, 2017 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Ford (NYSE: F – Free Report ), General Motors (NYSE: GM – Free Report ) and Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM – Free Report ).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ”Buy” stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free .

Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

Shanghai Auto Show Goes Electric

The Shanghai Auto Show has opened to the public today and will continue through Apr 28. It is a huge affair with over a thousand automakers participating and expected to attract over 100X that number in car enthusiasts. There will be 1,400 cars on exhibition, of which 159 will be new energy vehicles (NEVs), including fully electric and hybrid cars. Given the Chinese government’s focus on clean energy, 96 of these 159 cars will be of Chinese make and the rest of foreign make.

A Little Background

Today, China is the world’s largest auto market having lapped up 28 million cars in 2016 itself. Four-wheel SUVs were 40% of this while NEVs were less than 2%. The reason for low NEV sales is similar to the U.S.: less variety, limited distribution and relatively cheaper fuel costs boosting demand for SUVs. This year, the Chinese government might be the cause of a fourth reason: reduced subsidies on green cars by a fifth to ultimately phase out subsidies altogether by 2020 with the goal of creating an independent EV market (this will, however, increase cost of manufacturing and therefore raise prices).

This year, the Chinese auto market growth rate is expected to drop off from last year’s 13.7%, but it will still be a decent 5%, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The drop-off isn’t so much a question of weaker demand as the fact that tax incentives on smaller engine cars are being rolled back.

It isn’t clear what percentage of this year’s sales will be NEVs. But it’s worth noting that China is also the world’s largest market for fully electric cars having grown 65% last year to 400,000 units (state-owned Beijing Automotive Group and Warren Buffett-backed BYD were the largest players). Moreover, in September, the government proposed a credit system that would require automakers to make NEVs 8% of sales this year, going up to 10% in 2019 and 12% in 2020 (a downward revision in these targets is expected).

Bottom line: Automakers have to balance the high demand for SUVs with the government demand for NEVs while factoring in the increased cost/lower subsidy. It’s expected that more stringent fuel efficiency standards will in any case drive manufacturers to greener alternatives.

Tales from the Show

Not all cars are production ready, and where they’re not, there are promises of things to come over the next few years:

Ford : Ford (NYSE:F – Free Report ) expects to launch a plug-in hybrid sedan called the Mondeo Energi by 2018 and is also working on a fully electric SUV over the next five years. Its luxury brand Lincoln launched its first gasoline-electric hybrid based on the MKZ midsize sedan model. It also had a concept SUV called Navigator that will start selling later this year.

Ford has a Chinese JV partner in Chongqing Changan Automobile Co Ltd., with which it expects to launch hybrid or fully electric versions of all models built in China by 2025. But the company isn’t in any hurry with company executives maintaining that the volume of cars sold is dependent on things like government subsidies, regulatory policy, as well as cost and refueling speeds of these vehicles.

General Motors : General Motors (NYSE: GM – Free Report ), which operates in China through a JV with state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp (SAIC) announced the Buick Velite 5 plug-in hybrid. The Buick is very popular in China as a premium brand but GM will be discounting it by 36,000 yuan ($5,233) because of uncertainties about the amount of government subsidy that may be allowed this year. GM is targeting the launch of at least 10 NEVs by 2020 and has already built a battery assembly plant in Shanghai to deliver battery packs next year.

Volkswagen : The Volkswagen I.D. Crozz four-door coupe-style vehicle will also have self-driving technology. It expects to have 13 NEV models by 2020 and 30 by 2025, by which time it expects to sell a million cars annually. The company is also in talks with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC) to form an NEV JV in China.

Audi : The company showcased the e-tron Sportback electric car concept that will launch in 2019, after the electric SUV called e-tron that is expected to launch next year. The car uses Volkswagen Group’s C-BEV electric car platform. Earlier, the company said that it would have three electric cars by 2020 and thirty by 2025.

Toyota : Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM – Free Report ) will begin testing its hydrogen fuel cell concept later this year with the tests expected to continue through 2020. As part of the project, it will open a hydrogen refueling station at its Chinese RD center to take care of fueling aspects. Hydrogen cars emit only water vapor, so they are very good for the environment. As a result, Toyota has made this technology a key part of its long-range powertrain plans.

The company also has plans for the EV segment where it plans to build plug-in hybrids at home in Japan and then sell into the Chinese market. The hybrids are expected to ship next year, but the company hasn’t yet allotted a timeline for its fully electric offerings.

Renault : The French company showed off the RS2027 Vision concept car for formula one racing in ten years from now.

Lynk Co : The Chinese company’s Volvo Cars brand, bought from Ford in 2010, will launch an all-electric car based on the economy-size CMA platform in China and the rest of the world. The car will start selling in 2019.

Conclusion

China is the world’s largest auto market and also one of the fastest growing. Plus government initiatives to drive NEVs are creating a new market. But because of the protectionist economy, many of the largest car makers are partnering with local players including government-owned entities. This definitely seems like the way to go.

Will You Make a Fortune on the Shift to Electric Cars?

Here’s another stock idea to consider. Much like petroleum 150 years ago, lithium power may soon shake the world, creating millionaires and reshaping geo-politics. Soon electric vehicles (EVs) may be cheaper than gas guzzlers. Some are already reaching 265 miles on a single charge.

With battery prices plummeting and charging stations set to multiply, one company stands out as the #1 stock to buy according to Zacks research.

It’s not the one you think.

See This Ticker Free

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Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Strong Stocks that Should Be in the News

Many are little publicized and fly under the Wall Street radar. They’re virtually unknown to the general public. Yet today’s 220 Zacks Rank #1 “Strong Buys” were generated by the stock-picking system that has nearly tripled the market from 1988 through 2015. Its average gain has been a stellar +26% per year. See these high-potential stocks free .

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Zacks Investment Research is under common control with affiliated entities (including a broker-dealer and an investment adviser), which may engage in transactions involving the foregoing securities for the clients of such affiliates.

Media Contact

Zacks Investment Research

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The SP 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
 
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Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/zacks-analyst-blog-highlights-ford-133001186.html

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Apple, Alphabet, Ford and Tesla

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 25, 2017 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL – Free Report ), Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL – Free Report ), Ford (NYSE: F – Free Report ) and Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA – Free Report ).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ”Buy” stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free .

Here are highlights from Monday’s Analyst Blog:

Will Self-Driving Cars Push Apple (AAPL) to New Highs?

Reuters said that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL – Free Report ) has “outlined” a plan to “train” self-driving car operators, giving an insight into its closely guarded self driving car/technology efforts. Reuters cited documents released exclusively to it by California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

For a while now, there has been tremendous speculation about Apple’s autonomous car technology development efforts, which is apparently codenamed Project Titan. As usual, Apple has refrained from commenting on the matter so far as it loves to maintain secrecy regarding projects it’s working on.

Per latest report from Reuters, Apple’s 41 page application submitted to DMV, CA, comprises a 10 page training plan that includes a document called “Automated System: Development Platform Specific Training Overview.” The objective of Automated System: Development Platform Specific Training Overview is “to train safety drivers in various automated driving conditions,” Reuters further adds. However, these documents don’t reveal a lot of things, like the kind of sensors attached to the vehicles or the self driving car platform mechanism.

Last week, it was reported that Apple had secured a permit to test self-driving vehicles. The permit is issued to test drive three vehicles (2015 Lexus RX450h models) with two drivers each, added DMV.

Apple’s Project Titan has been in the news since 2014–2015. Initially, it was reported that Apple was working on an “iCar.” There were numerous reports of the company making sound talent acquisitions as well as collaborating with the likes of BMW for the car design. VP of Product Design, Steve Zadesky was permitted to set up a 1K strong workforce for the project.

Later on, the “iCar” rumors lost steam as the project was reportedly marred by conflicts and management troubles. Following this, Apple decided to prune some of its 1K strong workforce assigned to the project. In Jan 2016, with the resignation of Zadesky, things became more blurred. However, reportedly, Bob Mansfield was brought on board to once again spearhead the project in July 2016.

It is now speculated that Apple may not be designing a full fledged car but an autonomous self driving car technology platform.

Apple’s fortunes remain tied to its flagship offering, iPhone, at least in the near term. With iPhone 7 and 7 Plus performing relatively well and the excitement building up for iPhone 8 (dubbed as a super cycle), Apple can breathe easy.

However, increasing competition from cheaper handsets is emerging as a big concern. Apple is under great pressure to introduce new products. Apple Pay, Apple Watch, Apple Music are some of the new ventures undertaken by the company.

Also, revenues from App Store are growing. Apple is also working on developing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality/ virtual reality (AR/VR), which are fast emerging as lucrative business opportunities. The company’s interest in the autonomous car project is understandable as this is now being labeled as a big business opportunity.

According to Boston Consulting Group estimates, the autonomous car market will be worth $42 billion by 2025 and $77 billion by 2035. Per Statista, the market for fully autonomous vehicles will grow to almost $6 billion while partially autonomous vehicles market will reach $36 billion by 2025.

Self-driving technology gained immense importance in the past few years with tech and auto behemoths like Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL – Free Report ), Ford (NYSE:F – Free Report ), Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA – Free Report ), Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, Uber and Lyft directing resources to develop this technology.

However, analysts are skeptical about self-driving cars being feasible before 2020, at least.

Zacks Rank and Stock Price Movement

Currently, Apple has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here .

Over the past year, shares of Apple have registered growth of 35.40% compared with the Zacks categorized Computer Mini industry’s gain of 34.86%.

More Stock News: This Is Bigger than the iPhone!

It could become the mother of all technological revolutions. Apple sold a mere 1 billion iPhones in 10 years but a new breakthrough is expected to generate more than 27 billion devices in just 3 years, creating a $1.7 trillion market. Zacks has just released a Special Report that spotlights this fast-emerging phenomenon and 6 tickers for taking advantage of it. If you don’t buy now, you may kick yourself in 2020. Click here for the 6 trades

Today, Zacks is promoting its ”Buy” stock recommendations. Get #1 Stock of the Day pick for free .

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Strong Stocks that Should Be in the News

Many are little publicized and fly under the Wall Street radar. They’re virtually unknown to the general public. Yet today’s 220 Zacks Rank #1 “Strong Buys” were generated by the stock-picking system that has nearly tripled the market from 1988 through 2015. Its average gain has been a stellar +26% per year. See these high-potential stocks free .

Get the full Report on AAPL – FREE

Get the full Report on GOOGL – FREE

Get the full Report on F – FREE

Get the full Report on TSLA – FREE

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/zacksresearch

Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Zacks-Investment-Research/57553657748?ref=ts

Zacks Investment Research is under common control with affiliated entities (including a broker-dealer and an investment adviser), which may engage in transactions involving the foregoing securities for the clients of such affiliates.

Media Contact

Zacks Investment Research

800-767-3771 ext. 9339

support@zacks.com

https://www.zacks.com/

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The SP 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
 
Apple Inc. (AAPL): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Ford Motor Company (F): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Tesla Inc. (TSLA): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
 
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Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/zacks-analyst-blog-highlights-apple-133001590.html

2017 Honda Civic Type R Sets FWD Nurburgring Lap Record [Video]

2017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-1082017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-108

Like the tech industry’s lightning-fast progression, the auto industry’s titles for Best, Fastest, or Quickest car are prestigious but often fleeting. Just ask the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S; its record as the fastest front-wheel-drive production car to lap the Nürburgring has just been crushed by the 2017 Honda Civic Type R, only months after it was set last October.

The Japanese automaker claims that the all-new Type R lapped the 12.9-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife in just 7:43.80. That is 3.39 seconds faster than the limited-run Golf GTI Clubsport S and 6.83 seconds faster than the previous-generation Europe-market Civic Type R, which had held the record before the Clubsport flared its nostrils (twice). There is one catch, however.

2017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-1102017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-110

This Type R was a preproduction development vehicle that Honda claims was “technically representative of production specification.” It wore Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires at the Nürburgring, Honda said, although the production model will get Continental ContiSportContact 6 performance tires as standard (Honda won’t yet say whether the Michelins will be a factory option in the U.S.). For safety purposes, a full floating roll cage was added to the Type R, but it supposedly did not add any extra rigidity to the vehicle. The added weight of the cage was offset by the removal of the display audio system and rear seats. Sticklers might take issue with that type of asterisk; we saw with the Lamborghini Huracán Performante just how skeptical people are of claims surrounding these records.

The heart of the new Type R is a U.S.-made 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that makes 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. And although some people have already been complaining that that’s not enough power, it’s the hot hatchback’s handling dynamics that really allow it to excel. The Type R is a claimed 38 percent torsionally stiffer than the previous generation.

“The cornering speed achieved in the new Type R is higher because the car features a wider track and tires, a longer wheelbase, a new multilink suspension in the rear, and optimized aerodynamics that improve stability,” the lead chassis engineer for the Honda Civic Type R, Ryuichi Kijima, said in a release. “For example, drivers typically enter the corner after Metzgesfeld at around 93 mph. Even at this medium-speed corner, the speed is around 6 mph higher due to the new Type R’s excellent stability. So, with improved cornering performance, we can increase the speed throughout the lap, helping the new Type R to achieve a much quicker lap time.”

Honda has yet to even release zero-to-60-mph times for the Type R, so this is the first indication of what the car is capable of.  With video below to document the accomplishment, it’s safe to say fanboys will be lining up for the Type R once it goes on sale later this spring.

2017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-REEL2017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-REEL

Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/2017-honda-civic-type-r-sets-fwd-nurburgring-lap-record-video/

April US auto sales seen down nearly 2 percent: JD Power and LMC


DETROIT U.S. auto sales in April likely fell almost 2 percent from a year earlier, with consumer discounts remaining at levels high enough to threaten the industry’s long-term health, industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said on Tuesday.

The consultancies also lowered their full-year 2017 forecast for new vehicle sales to 17.5 million units, from a previous forecast of 17.6 million.

April U.S. new vehicle sales will be about 1.48 million units, a drop of nearly 2 percent from 1.51 million units a year earlier, the consultancies said.

The forecast was based on the first 13 selling days of the month. Automakers are expected to report April U.S. sales results on May 2.

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate for the month will be 17.5 million vehicles, flat versus the same month in 2016.

Retail sales to consumers, which do not include multiple fleet sales to rental agencies, businesses and government, were set to decline more than 0.2 percent in April.

U.S. sales of new cars and trucks hit a record high of 17.55 million units in 2016. But as the market has begun to saturate, automakers have been hiking incentives to entice consumers to buy.

Fears that the U.S. auto industry has peaked were stoked earlier this month when automakers released sales figures for March that came in at an annualized rate of around 16.6 million, below market expectations of 17.2 million units.

“While industry retail sales pace remains high, it is being powered by elevated levels of incentive spending which pose a serious threat to the long-term health of the industry,” said Deirdre Borrego, senior vice president of automotive data and analytics at J.D. Power.

Excessive discounts can help sell new vehicles, but undermine resale prices.

The consultancies said consumer discounts averaged $3,499 per new vehicle sold, the highest ever for the month of April. The previous record was set in April 2009, during the height of the Great Recession.

But the average vehicle price also hit a new record for the month of $31,380.

Inventory levels at major automakers have also become a concern as sales have apparently hit a peak.

The average number of days a new vehicle sits on a dealer’s lot before being sold hit 70 in the first 13 days of April, the highest level for any month since July 2009.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Article source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-autos-idUSKBN17R1MP

What The Hell Is Going On With America’s Auto Safety Regulation


Photo: AP

Good morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.

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1st Gear: Do You Want To Run NHTSA?

So, believe it or not, we’re nearing the 100 day mark of Donald Trump’s fledgling presidency. Wooosh, time flies. Trump has signed a flurry of executive orders but what he hasn’t done is fill hundreds of jobs in his administration. There’s one in particular that’s pretty relevant to the auto industry, and that got some of Trump’s critics thinking: Is this guy going to appoint a car exec to run the industry’s regulatory agency?

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Rosemary Shahan, president of the Sacramento, Calif.-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety group, said she would not be surprised if Trump reaches out to an auto executive to fill the position of National Highway Traffic Safety administrator, vacant since Trump took office in January.

“He has a penchant of appointing people who have been regulated and allowing them to dismantle agencies,” Shahan continued. “You have all these companies who have been under investigations for safety violations recently. I wouldn’t be surprised if he appointed somebody from one of them. It would be consistent with his other appointments.”

The Detroit News notes this isn’t unusual based on Trump’s predecessors, but his critics have space to air this sort of thing because the president has, for instance, appointed a banking exec to run the U.S. treasury, an Exxon guy to run the state department, a former banker to run commerce. And… there’s no possible names for NHTSA’s top position floating around D.C.

No names for candidates appear to be circulating among industry and government insiders in Washington. Several have said it does not appear that filling the position is a high priority for the president, who has yet to make numerous appointments in the government.

But Shahan speculates on one potential candidate: General Motors Co. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.

“He seems to be very friendly with her,” Shahan said of Trump’s relationship with GM’s chief, noting he has named Barra to a Strategic and Policy Forum that advises him on economic issues and jobs growth, and met with her in Washington on at least two occasions.

The White House didn’t want to comment to the News, but hey, if you’re interested in the job, give them a shout.

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2nd Gear: Ghosn Spikes A Merger

Carlos Ghosn, man of many hustles, may have stepped down as CEO of Nissan, but the guy still holds the title of chairman at the automaker, as well as at Mitsubishi. Nissan recently announced it was acquiring a significant stake in Mitsubishi, which is set to face the cost-cutting wrath of Ghosn.

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But he has heard your talk of merging the two. And Ghosn says hell no.

“Full merger is not on the table. We want Mitsubishi to reform itself,” said Ghosn, who was attending the opening ceremony of a new Mitsubishi factory on the outskirts of Jakarta.

He also said it was likely for Mitsubishi and Nissan to cross-manufacture in areas where it makes sense.

Last year, Nissan bought a controlling stake in Mitsubishi for $2.3 billion after the smaller automaker admitted to cheating on mileage tests.

It has been a struggle for Mitsubishi, but Reuters says the automaker’s studying joint production of pickup trucks in Asia, and the company’s CEO optimistically estimates it’ll have a 10 percent cut of Indonesia’s car market by 2020. If it gets there, it’ll be doing it alone.

3rd Gear: China Wants To Sell 7 Million New Energy Vehicles By 2025

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China’s proposed regulation to have electric vehicles comprise a larger chunk of vehicle sales by next decade has been in the news frequently lately, and now the country’s government is saying it wants to have 7 million sold annually by 2025. From Reuters:

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a market “road map” that China’s urbanization drive and the overseas expansion of its automakers would help drive annual vehicle sales up around 25 percent from last year’s total.

Automakers in China, the world’s largest automobile market with sales of 28 million vehicles in 2016, are increasingly pushing into electric and hybrid vehicles to meet stringent new government quotas.

Sales of new energy vehicles should reach 2 million by 2020 and account for more than 20 percent of total vehicle production and sales by 2025, the ministry said. That implied annual NEV sales of over 7 million within the next decade.

Bring on the electrification.

4th Gear: Lyft Drivers Are In ‘Hell’

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Uber has a toolbox of secret hacking tools with goofy codenames, and one recent revelation showed the ride-hailing giant spared no expense to track drivers for competitor Lyft. The reason? To lure them to drive solely for Uber. That particular project went a tad further than what we reported last month, and it had a funny name of its own: Hell.

Now, Lyft drivers are suing Uber over putting them there. From Bloomberg:

Uber engaged in “illegal, surreptitious, and unauthorized remote electronic surveillance” and intruded on the privacy of Lyft drivers, according to the complaint filed Monday as a class action in San Francisco federal court.

From 2014 to 2016, the spyware allowed Uber employees or its contractors to pose as Lyft customers and access the location of as many as eight Lyft drivers at one time, through their unique Lyft IDs, according to the complaint. The goal was to identify drivers who worked for both companies so they could be targeted with incentives to primarily work for Uber, according to the complaint.

Ride-hailing’s a cutthroat world, and when you take a firm stance against regulation, Hell is fair play, I guess.

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5th Gear: Amazon Also Getting Into Self-Driving Cars

Last week, it was Apple. This week, Amazon revealed serious self-driving car ambitions of its own.

Amazon didn’t comment on the report from The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed people familiar with the project, but the newspaper said a team of about a dozen employees are serving as “an in-house think tank to figure out how to leverage autonomous vehicles.” The tech behemoth has no plans to build a vehicle of its own, according to the WSJ.

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But as Automotive News notes, the company’s worked to be on the forefront of the automotive industry.

Amazon consistently has been edging into the automotive space. It launched Amazon Vehicles, a vehicle-research portal, in August; it has long partnered with major aftermarket suppliers to deliver products; and its voice-activated virtual assistant, Alexa, has made its way into connectivity systems in Ford, BMW, Hyundai-Genesis and Volkswagen vehicles.

VW is directly integrating Alexa into a vehicle infotainment system, as opposed to Alexa being connected through a smartphone.

Amazon won a patent in January for autonomous vehicles to navigate lanes in both directions, so it isn’t terribly surprising to see the company’s self-driving ambitions are expanding. But the AV field is getting pretty crowded.

Reverse: RIP Alboreto

Article source: http://jalopnik.com/what-the-hell-is-going-on-with-americas-auto-safety-reg-1794624302

These auto show hotties know way more about cars than you do

This column will be about car models and their high cost.

But not Chevy Camaros, Maseratis or even the Lamborghini Centenario.

This is about models with names like Nicole, Sara, Caroline, Meghan and hundreds more who last week wore very tight dresses and high heels and talked about one of the roughly 1,000 cars at the New York International Auto Show.

These are more than just a bunch of pretty faces. They are experts on their specific car — and are able to talk with any of the more than 1 million New York auto show attendees about chassis, thrust and any other auto part that is a double entendre.

If you are looking for someone to object to this sort of behavior, I’m going to disappoint you.

The women, as I said, are all well-equipped to talk cars — having gone to school on the technical stuff. And some guys might even be listening to what they have to say.

Entertaining the attendees is exactly what any car company worth its four wheels is aiming at. And that’s why the companies spend millions of dollars a year on these beautiful female “accoutrements.”

“It’s a great gig. It pays well,” says Meghan Tarmey, who had worked the auto show circuit for five years before founding her own New York City company called the Caddy Girls, which provides — you guessed it — beautiful caddies for high-end golf tournaments.

Tarmey says women can earn anywhere from $250 to over $1,000 a day working auto shows, depending on the brand they are representing. “The higher the price of the car, the better the pay.”

You may not know this if you are particularly New York-centric, but each year there are 66 auto shows — 41 of which are international in nature — run by Auto Shows of North America.

It’s like a traveling circus and, while some of the show dates overlap, it is possible for some models to work 18 of the larger shows during the car show season — which stretches from the Miami show in September to the grand finale, New York, in mid-April.

That’s a total of 96 days, meaning it is possible for the better-paid models to earn nearly six figures — or the price of a gently used Bentley.

Abeba Davis is another of the “product specialists” — one of the terms the auto companies insist that the women use when talking to customers (and journalists). Davis, who’s working for Infiniti, is extremely discreet about how much she makes, which is OK since I won’t tell her my salary either.

But she will say that the perks are great. In addition to bolstering her modeling and acting portfolio — which already includes Pepsi and other print ads — Davis says the car companies treat them well. “They take care of your travel, your expenses and your wardrobe.”

In the case of two models — er, “specialists” — working the Alfa Romeo display, that includes dresses shipped straight from Italian designers.

The carmakers don’t like to talk about their models (the women, not the cars) or the costs associated with this marketing maneuver.

They also won’t discuss why male models are seldom used. After all, 51 percent of attendees at the 2016 New York auto show were women.

“[The models] aren’t all women,” said a spokesman for General Motors. “We have men presenting as well.”

OK, OK. Back off. I said I don’t care.

And “we aren’t going to talk about budget,” this GM rep added. In fact, GM wouldn’t talk about anything since its auto show manager never got back to me.

But that’s OK. Others know the secrets of the women who do this kind of work.

Chris Hanna, who with his wife, Caryn, owns TSM Agency, provides a lot of “car show girls” as well as models for trade shows, auto races and anywhere else a pretty woman is deemed necessary.

Hanna says auto companies can spend thousands a week for “top tier” women for each show, especially since the models often work in teams of up to 24. Each one gets her own car — to promote, not to own— which she knows fender to fender.

“They spend a lot money on this. More than the average person would think,” Hanna says.

Just look at the TSM Agency Web site — www.tsmagency.com — and you’ll not only see how above-average the models are but, more important, you’ll also notice how many women want to caress cars at these shows.

There is one blemish on this pretty picture.

While it’s not quite a disaster yet, carmakers have been having a rough spell of late. March vehicle sales fell below expectations, and unsold inventories at companies like GM are rising faster than some experts think is healthy.

While this isn’t likely to knock the car models out of their pumps, some experts think they’ll end up on a fiscal diet.

Already the automakers are using women who live in the cities where the exhibits are being held to cut down on travel costs.

And some models are sharing Airbnb accommodations because the snazzy hotel accommodations are being downgraded to three-star ones.

Article source: http://nypost.com/2017/04/24/these-auto-show-hotties-know-way-more-about-cars-than-you-do/

Assetto Corsa review: PS4 Pro Boost mode makes this more of a match for GT Sport

Assetto Corsa seems to be a game that just gets better and better. Occasionally, players get treated to new DLCs with extra tracks and cars, and now it looks some gamers can get better graphics, too. A new patch means those with a PS4 Pro are able to get supercharged visuals in Assetto Corsa, and gamers are saying there’s a significant improvement.

To be clear, the new patch isn’t a PS4 Pro optimisation update, like we’ve seen from several developers, and instead comes from Sony itself. Simply put, it’s a universal Boost Mode that gives extra power to games that aren’t specifically optimised for the PS4 Pro, and it appears to have a big effect on Assetto Corsa.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a PS4 Pro to test this out, but several videos on YouTube are reporting a solid 60fps frame rate from the game when using Boost Mode – and that’s hugely important for smoothness and the perception of speed. It’s important to note that the 60fps mode in Boost mode is also constant when there are multiple cars on track.

Because this improvement is just a product of Boost Mode, Assetto Corsa doesn’t have any additional graphical improvements – like better shading, or lighting effects, but it still looks better than it used to. Is this another reason to buy a PS4 Pro, or a reason for PS4 Pro owners to look at Assetto Corsa? Check out the Digital Foundry video below.

Porsche Pack review

Assetto Corsa has been out for a few months now, and Kunos Simulazioni has begun to add new content to the game, in the form of DLCs. The latest DLC finally brings Porsche to the mix, and as you’d expect from Assetto Corsa, the results are incredible. Below you’ll find my review of the Porsche Pack Vol 1, and after that my original review of Assetto Corsa on the PS4. I’ve now also added a section about multiplayer.

Volume one of the Porsche Pack includes some legendary cars, along with a few Porsches you’re likely to see on the road in 2016. There are the relatively tame road-going cars such as the 911 Carrera S and the 718 Cayman S – but the rest of the pack include a range of vintage, exotic – and frankly crazy – cars.

The Porsche 911 RSR 3.0 is a well-balanced classic. As soon as you select the in-car view, it’s clear that Kunos Simulazioni has paid close attention to all the cars in the Porsche Pack. Subtle touches such as windscreen-wiper smudges and dusty dials make the 911 RSR and other cars here look amazing – and slightly better than the other original ones.

Then there’s the 935/78 ‘Moby Dick’, which couldn’t be more different. It’s the most powerful 911 ever made, and streamlined bodywork means it looks amazing – but huge turbo lag means it’s incredibly difficult to control. The Porsche 917/30 Spyder sounds fantastic, and does have impressive aerodynamic grip – but its turbo response can be measured with a calendar. To get the most out of these cars, you essentially have to tiptoe around corners and point them straight – if you’re still turning when the boost kicks in, you’ll probably end up spinning into the scenery.

The 918 Spyder and GT4 Clubsport are the final two cars in the pack, and both are impressive. As you’d expect from a GT4 car, the Cayman is extremely well balanced, and invites you to throw it round. When you do take things a bit too far, it’s pretty forgiving and easy to correct.

In contrast, the 918 Spyder is a beast, but in the best way. In real life it’s the ultimate Porsche in 2016, and uses a 4.6-litre V8 along with two electric motors to create a total power output of 654kW. In the game, it’s equally powerful – and Kunos Simulazioni has really captured the ridiculous power delivery you can achieve when combining petrol with electricity. There are three hybrid modes including hotlap mode, and you can change the percentage of energy recovery per lap. The only issue? It seems to have pitiful brakes, so you usually have to brake around 50m earlier than you’d expect.

Assetto Corsa review

The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has to be one of the most brutish racing cars around, and yet here I am, threading it round the thin, tarmac ribbon of the Nordschleife. Every year, drivers coax powerful GT cars like this one through the timeless curves of the Green Hell – and attempting the feat in Kunos Simulazioni’s Assetto Corsa is an incredible experience.

I’m tiptoeing around it at first, but the more I drive, the more I understand what the car can do. That’s when I decide to push the Mercedes that bit harder; I get on the gas earlier and earlier on every exit, touching the kerbs as I launch out, confident I can predict how the car will behave. After a while I’m braking hard, turning and wrestling the Merc through every delicate twist, taming its 6.2-litre V8 and using the manual gearing to my advantage. For the past 15 minutes or so I haven’t been thinking about racing – just driving instinctively. This is what playing Assetto Corsa is like, and it’s probably one of the best driving experiences around on the PS4 and Xbox One.

If you’re primarily a console gamer, chances are you’ve heard of Forza and GT Sport, but Assetto Corsa’s probably a little less familiar. That’s because for the past two years Assetto Corsa has been a PC-only game, developed by a small dedicated studio and a dedicated community of sim-racers. However, these niche, sim-based beginnings are glaringly obvious when you first boot it up, and they’re both a blessing and a curse depending on how you like your racing games.

For example, it’s clear that Kunos doesn’t have the budget or the manpower of the teams behind games such as Gran Turismo Sport and Forza Horizons 3, as Assetto Corsa’s menus look like something from a PS1 game. They’re pretty bare, too, but you’ll still find options for Time Attack, Quick Race and Hot Lap modes, along with a Multiplayer mode for racing online.

There’s also a Career mode here, but if you’re expecting something like F1 2016’s immersive decade-long career campaign, then you’ll be disappointed. The Career mode here is just a collection of tasks you get to unlock, but it does force you to drive in different cars. There’s a Special Events mode, too, but once again it’s only a superficial selection of tasks in different cars.

While races can be close, pushing you to nail every exit and work for your track position, the AI isn’t great. It’s not as bad as early Gran Turismo games, where your opponents would all drive in single file, but they’re often good at taking you out the race completely. At tracks such as Spa, I was spun out by the AI several times – so much so that I decided to play it safe after my tenth restart.

As for the graphics? Take a spin around somewhere such as Brands Hatch and Assetto Corsa looks nice, but it lacks the jaw-dropping visual we’ve seen in games such as Driveclub – or even the latest trailer of GT Sport. There are some nice touches – especially the reflection of the dashboard in the windscreen when it’s sunny – but overall Assetto Corsa just isn’t as lovely as you might expect for a simulation game. When combined with a total lack of Night mode, and no weather either – something most of its rivals included years ago – Assetto Corsa falls behind in presentation.

Assetto Corsa can’t compete when it comes to the sheer amount of content offered by other games, either. Where Project Cars and GT Sport put hundreds of cars and countless tracks at your disposal, Assetto Corsa gives you around 100 cars and only a few tracks.

That said, it’s probably a bit unfair to compare Assetto Corsa to the likes of GT Sport and Project Cars, because it’s a very different beast. Everything in this game caters towards those who love driving, and that has to be admired. Firstly, Assetto Corsa includes some unlikely but brilliant tracks that will appeal to petrol heads. Larger international tracks like Silverstone, Spa and Barcelona are here, but they’re mixed with legendary circuits like Nordschleife, Brands Hatch, and even Mugello.

It’s the same with the cars, too. The infamous 1989 Sauber C9 is here, and so is the Ferrari 458, a McLaren 650S GT3 and incredible Lotus 98T – by far one of the most powerful, unruly cars in the game. Each car feels different as well, and driving can often be a process of learning each vehicle.

A Mercedes-AMG GT3, for example, feels far less composed through corners than something as squat as an Audi R8 LMS car, and it’s down to you to adapt your driving style to get the most out of it. Playing with the incredible Lotus 98T is another thing altogether, and trying to coax the 1,000bhp, turbocharged car around Brands Hatch gives you an idea of just how good drivers such as Senna, Mansell and Prost really were.

If you’re worried about difficulty levels, you shouldn’t be. Like most racing games nowadays, Assetto Corsa gives you a range of assists, from ABS to traction control to an ideal racing line – and you’re able to change the last two in gradients. This game is certainly playable with a controller, but pad players will only scratch the surface of the game’s physics and tyre simulation, so you’ll really need a steering wheel such as the Thrustmaster T300RS to get the most out of it.

While you’re taming each car, you’ll also experience some of the best engine noises in any game. When watching replays from the outside, engines growl and reverberate in the stands, while in-car engine noises are even better. Kunos Simulazioni has captured every whine of the transmission, every pop on the overrun, every whistle of a turbo, and the results sound incredible.

Multiplayer

I’ve been playing Assetto Corsa for the past few months, so it’s now possible to talk about the multiplayer mode – and on the whole it’s not great. Online races themselves can be fun, frantic and enjoyable – probably because of the type of player Assetto Corsa attracts – but everything else is slightly shambolic.

The lobby is pretty confusing, so finding a game itself is pretty unintuitive.  And once you do, it’s hard to know how to get into a race. You’ll often be trapped in qualifying sessions, only to find your car moved to the grid seemingly at random. There are no replays for online races either, so even if you do have a good race, there’ll be no way to relive it – other than your recorded gameplay. Sometimes Assetto Corsa feels like a game made by a huge studio, and other times it’s clear just how small the project is. Sadly, the multiplayer reminds you of the latter.

It’s a shame really, because the Assetto Corsa console community deserves better. On the whole, Assetto Corsa racers are great at close racing, and I was rarely punted off the track – if anything the AI is much worse. The racing is great, it’s just getting there that’s the problem.

Verdict

If you’re a casual racer and enjoy games such as Need for Speed and Forza Horizon, this isn’t a game for you. Even Forza 6 and GT Sport fans might find themselves wandering, so if you’re after a Career mode and lots of content and challenges, I’d suggest you look elsewhere.

However, while Assetto Corsa isn’t the most complete driving game on the PS4 and Xbox One, it certainly offers the best driving and racing feel by a country mile. If correcting slides, balancing the throttle, and fiddling with brake bias from corner to corner sounds like your idea of fun, Assetto Corsa has no equal on consoles.

Article source: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/games/1405068/assetto-corsa-review-ps4-pro-boost-mode-makes-this-more-of-a-match-for-gt-sport

Porsche Panamera Reviews

porsche panamera reviews

Our latest Porsche Panamera Reviews

Read all our Porsche Panamera reviews here. Porsche’s first luxury four-door sedan, the Panamera first hit the market just recently in 2010 to a barrage of criticism from the hardcore Porsche enthusiasts. Despite the noise, the Panamera continues to sell well, seeing a facelift in 2013, a variety of hybrid models, and in 2017, a wagon variant called the Panamera Sport Turismo that will likely cater more to families and less to the executive types the car was originally designed for.

First unveiled at the Shanghai International Auto Show in April 2009, the Porsche Panamera is the automakers first proper production luxury sedan. Porsche purists may disapprove of the idea of a four-door Porsche, but they also did when the Cayenne first hit the market over ten years – and the Cayenne is now the company’s best-selling vehicle. The Panamera finds a front-engine with two-wheel drive, with an all-wheel drive version also available. Three years after its Shanghai debut, the Panamera was offered in a hybrid and diesel version in 2011, and in 2013 a refreshed facelift was announced for the sedan; also a plug-in hybrid version -the e-Hybrid – began selling in the US in late 2013.

For 2018, Porsche introduces the all-new Panamera Sport Turismo: their 4-door saloon taking on more of a wagon look including seating for 3 in the back and redesigned rear styling unlike the other Panameras in the lineup.

Article source: http://www.tractionlife.com/new-cars/car-reviews/porsche-reviews/panamera-reviews/

Robots benefit the US industry – 261000 new jobscreated in automotive sector alone

The US automotive industry has installed a new record of approximately 17,500 industrial robots in 2016. In the last seven years, the operational stock increased by about 52,000 units (2010-2016). These are preliminary results published by the Statistical Department of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). During the same period, the number of jobs in the US automotive sector rose by 260,600 – according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.       

“The main driving force of this growth is the ongoing trend to automate production in order to strengthen the competitiveness of American industry globally, to keep manufacturing at home, and in some cases  bring back manufacturing that had previously been outsourced to other countries,” said Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics at the World Robotics IFR CEO Roundtable in Chicago.

Amazon creates new jobs

“The key message is the optimism about jobs in the future – especially with technology”, said Jon Battles, Amazon Director, WW Engineering Advanced Technologies. “We are so proud of announcing that we are going to create a hundred thousand new fulltime and full benefit jobs in the United States. These jobs are all across the country. I want to make a really critical point: We are doing this level of hiring after installing 45,000 Amazon robotic systems in our fulfillment centers. I don´t have any better success story to give than that and we a hiring in every job class and level.”

 Small businesses automate or vaporate

Prof. Dr. Howie Choset of the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute (ARM) emphasized the importance of automation with robots for small companies. 98.5 percent of all the manufacturing companies in the US have 500 or fewer employees. “These small companies – this is their phrase not mine – automate or vaporate. They know if they don´t embrace automation they will not be around in the future.”

“As a small business we experience every day where our customer base will move something for pennies,“ said Craig Hertig, Director of Engineering, Engineered Machine Products. “Automation is a very usable tool, it´s very flexible. It gives you the opportunity to be competitive in a global market.” As an example of how automation made the difference, Michael P. Jacobs, President of Applied Manufacturing Technologies AMT said: “I was at a friend´s plant just outside Detroit with stamping machines. That particular plant is not very large – he has got to have 30 to 40 robots there in automation. The plant had been shuttered in 2007 and he bought it in 2010. He now has over 200 employees in his plant because of automation. It is very doable by small companies.”

Education is key to reap the benefits of robotics

“We have about 8 million baby boomers exiting the workforce over the next five to ten years,” said Amazon´s Jon Battles. “It turns out the baby boomers are the most industrial trained part of the US workforce. We are heading towards a gap and I hope we all internalize the importance of inspiring this young generation coming up, retraining the people we have, giving them a great vision for careers in the future and following through on that. I am very optimistic about the future and the jobs and the technology. As long as we embrace it and train for it correctly we have an awesome future.”

The IFR strongly supports the idea that education and training systems must be adapted to enable current and future workers to reap the benefits of robotics. This task falls to both public and private sectors and requires strong cooperation between the two.

Statements on video

Please find the statements on video from the IFR CEO Roundtable experts in Chicago here: http://bit.ly/1GD61tT

Graphics for download

Please find the IFR graphics for download here: https://ifr.org/ifr-press-releases

New IFR data overview

Please find below an overview of the new IFR preliminary data about industrial robots in the US, worldwide and in China:

USA – new peak in 2016

·         Approximately 31,500 industrial robots installed in the US manufacturing industry – all sectors
        (+15% more than 2015)

·         Approximately 17,500 industrial robots installed in the US automotive industry
(+43% more than 2015)

·         US automotive industry is the main driver for automation – robot sales in 2016
reached an all-time high

·         US automotive industry - operational stock increased from 74,900 to about 127,000 units
in seven years = CAGR 2010-2016: +9%

·         US automotive industry - employment rose from 679,500 to 940,100 in seven years = CAGR 2010-2016: +6%

Worldwide  – new peak in 2016

·         Approximately 290,000 industrial robots installed worldwide
  (+14% more than 2015)

·         Outlook 2017-2019: estimated worldwide supply of industrial robots will rise from 322,000 to 414,000
(+12% on average per year)

China  – new peak in 2016

·         Approximately 90,000 industrial robots installed in China
(+31% more than 2015)

United States Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): https://www.bls.gov

About the IFR – The International Federation of Robotics: www.ifr.org

*Automotive World is not responsible for the content of this news release.

Article source: http://www.automotiveworld.com/news-releases/robots-benefit-us-industry-261000-new-jobscreated-automotive-sector-alone/

Automotive industry is driving job creation in Mississippi

By Glenn McCullough Jr.

 

A little more than a decade ago, Mississippi had never produced a commercial vehicle. Today, about 4 million vehicles assembled in the state are on the road around the world, and production is showing no signs of slowing down.

For Mississippians, more significant than production milestones are the contributions Toyota and Nissan have made to the state and local economy. These automotive manufacturers are responsible for the creation of thousands of careers and the investment of billions of dollars in the state.

This year, Toyota celebrates 10 years since the announcement it would locate in Blue Springs, Miss. Today, a Corolla, one of the world’s top-selling vehicle models, rolls off the assembly line every 71 seconds thanks to the Toyota Mississippi team. This team of Mississippi men and women assembled 500,000 vehicles faster than any other Toyota plan in North America, proving once again the extraordinary quality of our workforce.

Nissan’s Canton assembly plant produces eight models and is the global source for the Murano. The more than 3 million vehicles assembled at the Canton, Miss., facility solidifies the state’s position as a leader in the Southern Automotive Corridor.

More important than the number of vehicles assembled in the state is the economic impact companies like Toyota, Nissan and almost 200 automotive suppliers have on their local communities and to the state.

In a study published in 2016 by national think tank The Center for Automotive Research, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi is responsible for a payroll of approximately $307 million, creating $235 million in disposable income. Additionally, the report also estimates Toyota supports 6,700 direct and indirect jobs. Toyota’s Mississippi-made workforce also is responsible for assembling more than 850,000 vehicles, and the company expects to produce the 1 million mark by the end of 2017.

Mississippi State University’s National Strategic Planning Analysis Research center also recently published a study highlighting Nissan’s contribution to the state’s economy. NSPARC estimates the presence of Nissan in Mississippi contributes $2.9 billion to the annual state gross domestic product. The automotive giant is responsible for 25,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state.

Combined, Mississippi’s two original equipment manufacturers are responsible for an estimated 31,700 direct and indirect careers for hard-working people of our state. These careers create disposable income which is reinvested in our communities.

A vital component of the Mississippi Development Authority’s mission is to build stronger communities. In addition to our aggressive recruitment of global companies to the state like Continental Tire and Yokohama Tire, MDA is committed to developing local leaders. Strong leaders initiate community development, which leads to economic development. Successful communities are often the result of focused and forward-thinking leaders who create an environment where businesses can thrive. It is leadership at the state and local levels which resulted in Toyota and Nissan deciding Mississippi is the right location for their operations.

Today, Mississippi reaps the benefits of Toyota and Nissan’s investment in our state and our people. We all share the responsibility to ensure we position more Mississippi communities for success. Investing in the infrastructure of people means every Mississippian wins. Together, Mississippi, Toyota, Nissan and the many automotive suppliers are part of the winning team responsible for revving up Mississippi’s automotive industry. DBJ

 

Glenn McCullough Jr. is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority.

Article source: http://deltabusinessjournal.com/automotive-industry-driving-job-creation-mississippi/