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Three game-changers in the Automotive industry in 2018

New data-driven services, strong light-weight materials and a rapidly built out infrastructure for EVs (Electric Vehicles) are trends impacting the automotive industry throughout 2018.

Stefan Issing, the Global Industry Director for Automotive at IFS, presents his industry predictions for the year ahead.

1) Service revenue in Automotive will increase by 30 percent during 2018

When German car manufacturers Opel first launched in 1863 they made sewing machines, switching to cars in 1899. Peugeot milled corn and then steel for eighty years before turning their hand to cars in 1891. So although it’s sometimes seen as conservative, the auto industry has change woven deep into its DNA. Today’s automotive leaders need to show the same resilience, agility and adaptability so as not to fall behind when their competitors invest in new digitally-driven services.

Take the Schaeffler Group, one of the world’s largest suppliers of bearings, clutches, torque converters and transmission systems to the automotive industry. In 2016 it sold automotive parts worth US $10.88 billion and announced a new digital strategy for its automotive operations. In October 2017 Schaeffler acquired autinity systems GmbH, a German IT company specializing in digital condition monitoring and machine data recording.

Schaeffler CEO Klaus Rosenfeld said to US trade weekly Automotive News, “The scenario we prepare for assumes that in 2030, globally, 30 percent of the 120 million vehicles produced in the world could be purely battery-driven. Change is nothing new to us. We have great experience with changing our product portfolio with new technology.”

And Schaeffler is not alone. One IFS client, a major automotive supplier, recently finalized an important new contract in which it not only produces and supplies parts for the OEM, but collects data from the parts too, using it to carry out aftermarket services for dealers. This includes providing data for spare parts that may be needed for recalls, and completing the spare parts documents directly at the dealers. If it sounds futuristic, think again. The supplier starts implementing the contract in one month’s time. But it is a radically new scenario. Going from just producing components to producing customer schedules, and handling and managing spare parts throughout for the OEM, including warehouse management, requires connected business systems and thinking. But as Klaus Rosenfeld points out, the clock is ticking.

Start today. Tomorrow will be too late: Today’s gasoline cars typically require around 30,000 parts. EV cars require around 10-12,000. Britain and France will both begin phasing out gasoline cars by 2040, Paris has said it will ban gasoline cars in 2030, India wants all EVs by 2030. For manufacturers of components like exhausts (that don’t even exist in EVs), servitization is a lifeline. But they need to start counting backwards from 2020, 2030 and 2040 today — and get ready. It takes time to integrate the kind of enterprise software that will ensure the agility and capacity for this change. Waiting is no longer an option.

2) New lighter, stronger materials like CFRP will be the new silver bullet

What’s it going to be — lightness or safety? And why can’t we have both? Well, we can. But for many years automotive manufacturers have faced a dilemma, as they’ve tried to satisfy conflicting demands: One for lighter vehicles (that produce less CO2 emissions), and another for safer vehicles (that, paradoxically, require heavier components.)

In 2018, we will see an accelerating uptake of a new generation of materials that are lighter and safer — meeting tougher regulatory demands for safer vehicles that simultaneously emit less CO2. Materials like aluminum and high-tensile steel will become standard. And the exceptionally strong, safe engineered plastic CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic), currently used mainly in sports cars, will start to be used more in other vehicles. Also called carbon-fiber laminate, CFRP is made of woven layers of tough, almost pure carbon fibers, bonded by a hardened plastic adhesive like epoxy resin.

Increased RD in CFRP will bring down costs: The new materials are expensive. A new study from Goldman Sachs, Cars 2025, shows CFRP is currently 40 times more expensive per kilo than normal steel. Plus it takes more specialist skills and equipment to produce. But developers are collaborating with universities across Europe on research in new plastic and carbon laminate materials. As uptake in regular vehicles accelerates, costs for high-tensile steels and aluminum could well fall, and ultimately the cost of CFRP too will come down as new production methods emerge. What will not change are regulatory demands on emissions and safety — and these materials are the solution to that.

3) 1 in 4 new cars will be an EV by 2022, and complete electrification could occur by 2027

Recent fluctuations in the fortunes of EVs are important, with 7.7 percent fewer EVs being sold in 2017 than in 2016 (when, famously, sales passed 2 million worldwide). The overall trend toward wider EV uptake is solid. But even in in China, where a strong, central government has legislated clearly for EVs, two major roadblocks remain: a lack of standardized charging stations, and battery capabilities.

China leads in the number of charging stations it has, with approx. 150,000 public charging points, and plans to install enough to support 5 million EVs by 2020. But lack of standardization on the ground presents a big problem for customers. A September 2017 Citylab article dives deep into how China handed out subsidies to a wide range of private companies to build charging stations — the result being that almost every station uses different payment models and takes anywhere from one to eight hours to recharge a vehicle, depending on its operator and which of the dozens of EV manufacturers it serves. One Chinese hybrid consumer said, “I’ve tried charging my car away from home, but couldn’t, either because the charger head would not fit or I had to buy a pre-charged card.”

It’s a clear warning to regulators, government and manufacturers that even in countries where EVs are actively being promoted, without standardized charging, EVs could take longer than previously predicted to reach their market potential. Batteries too remain an issue. Accelerating research into hydrogen fuel cells and recent Japanese government targets to significantly bring down the cost of fuel cells by 2025 are all encouraging. And the business potential for battery development too, estimated currently at US $240 billion, remains huge, and hard fought for. But right now there are no clear winners.

Manufacturers and OEMs need to keep their eyes on the big picture. A McKinsey July 2017 report on the car industry in China found sales of locally produced EVs would grow: “The domestic industry’s growing production share of EVs rose from 18 percent in 2016 to 23 percent in 2017, providing proof that Chinese brands may increase their presence in the EV segment as more car buyers recognize that Chinese carmakers produce acceptable EVs.” And McKinsey continues to keep China at the top of its Electric Vehicle Index. So the time has come for EVs. But batteries and standardized charging remain serious bumps in the road, holding up the speed of development the industry had previously aimed for.

Image Credit: MP_P / Shutterstock

Stefan Issing is the global director for the automotive industries. In his 11 years with IFS, he has been involved with automotive and supply chain management consulting, sales and marketing, and presales for IFS Applications. Stefan holds a diploma degree in computer science from the University of Würzburg, Germany.

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Congestion Plan for Manhattan Gets Mixed Reviews

The plan, which was outlined in a report released Friday, would create a congestion zone stretching from 60th Street south to the Battery, from the Hudson River to the East River. Trucks and commercial vehicles would be charged a fee of $25.34 to enter during peak traffic times. The plan would also impose a surcharge of $2 to $5 on trips in for-hire vehicles, including yellow taxis and Uber cars, in much of Manhattan.

While congestion pricing has been adopted in cities around the world including London, Stockholm and Singapore, it has never been tried in New York despite repeated attempts going back to at least the 1970s. Its basic premise is that traffic can be reduced by charging a fee or toll at peak hours that would serve as a disincentive to drivers. An effort by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2008 would have charged a fee of $8 to drive into Midtown and Lower Manhattan, but it died in the State Assembly without coming to a vote.

Mr. Cuomo said that he would review the task force’s report and discuss options with state lawmakers over the next several months. He can reject any or all of the plan.

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who is up for re-election this year, almost certainly faces a legislative battle over congestion pricing, especially with lawmakers from the boroughs outside Manhattan who fear that a congestion plan would hurt their constituents who drive because they have limited access to subways and buses. Mr. Cuomo once expressed doubt about the chances for congestion pricing before declaring in August that it was an idea whose time has come.”

In a statement Friday, Mr. Cuomo said that “as a born-and-raised Queens boy, I have outer-borough blood in my veins, and it is my priority that we keep costs down for hard-working New Yorkers, and encourage use of mass transit.”

Though the task force did not recommend lowering the cost of existing tolls on bridges in the other boroughs, Mr. Cuomo added that would be part of “any plan ultimately passed.”

The plan was embraced by subway riders, transportation advocates and business leaders who said that the worsening congestion was choking not just the streets but also the local economy.


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“Any plan will have critics, but there is an urgent problem that congestion pricing is intended to address: eight million New Yorkers are stuck on a transit system that is increasingly dysfunctional and unreliable,” said John Raskin, the executive director of the Riders Alliance, an advocacy group. “I challenge the naysayers to look subway riders in the eye and tell them we don’t need this money to modernize the transit system.”

In a shift, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has opposed congestion pricing, also seemed cautiously open to the plan. “This plan certainly shows improvement over previous plans we’ve seen,” Mr. de Blasio said during a radio appearance on WNYC, calling it “definitely a step in the right direction.”

But there were sighs and complaints from drivers who live or work inside the congestion zone, and others who said the proposed fees were unfair.

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Brian Flores, 43, a bank technician who drives in from New Jersey, said he found the idea of congestion pricing appalling. “I have to pay more to come into the city?” he asked. “Absolutely not.”

Kendra Hems, president of the Trucking Association of New York, an industry group, said the congestion plan would harm hundreds of trucking companies and increase the cost of deliveries for medical equipment to hospitals, food to restaurants, building materials to construction sites and orders to online shoppers. “Truck drivers cannot use mass transit to make deliveries,” she said. “They have no choice but to enter the commercial business district at the time that their customer requests.”

Several state lawmakers also criticized the proposed fees. “I will fight any scheme which punishes Staten Islanders as they commute to work,” said State Senator Andrew Lanza, a Republican. “The Manhattan elitists don’t want outer borough residents clogging their streets.”

Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senator John Flanagan, the majority leader, said that while the chamber’s Republicans would consider the report, they were “always wary of imposing additional cost burdens on hardworking taxpayers and doing anything that makes it less affordable to live and work in New York.”

Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Carl E. Heastie, the Democratic speaker of the Assembly, said they would be reviewing the report. “As the speaker has said, we need to develop a long term funding plan for our mass transit system,” Mr. Whyland said.

The task force recommended rolling out a congestion plan in three stages, beginning this year with investments in the public transit system in the boroughs outside Manhattan, followed in 2019 by a new surcharge on for-hire vehicles, including yellow taxis and Uber cars, which would be paid by passengers.


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The congestion zone — the last phase of the plan — would not begin until 2020. Trucks would be charged first, and after any problems were smoothed out, the congestion zone fee would be extended to all vehicles, except for buses and for-hire vehicles.

Drivers coming into Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge and Queensboro Bridge would not be charged if they headed north out of the congestion zone along the F.D.R. Drive. That is not possible for drivers on the Williamsburg or Manhattan bridges.

And those already paying tolls at the Lincoln, Holland, Queens-Midtown and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels would receive a credit against the congestion fee for the tolls.

Task force members said they suggested $11.52 because it is the round-trip toll for cars taking the Queens-Midtown and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels. That fee could go higher during rush hour, or lower at night, and be extended to weekends.

In total, the congestion plan would raise between $1 billion and $1.5 billion annually, according to estimates.

Bruce Schaller, a former city transportation official who has written about Manhattan congestion, said the task force’s plan was a good starting point for a larger public discussion as the details of a congestion plan are worked out.

“It’s a workable and effective plan and it’s going to take a lot of effort to get it adopted and implemented,” he said. “It will be worth that effort.”

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The 2018 Nissan Armada is overkill of the best sort

The 2018 Nissan Armada is overkill, and the roads of New England are better for it. The Armada is in its sophomore year of a second generation. The first-generation felt like an enclosed version of the Titan pickup, and that’s mostly because it was.

This long-due replacement is once again based on a platform shared with the Titan, but it finally differentiates itself. Yes, the new Titan is more refined, but the Armada feels more like the Infiniti QX80, its  luxury counterpart, more than ever before. In fact, the Armada is basically a re-badged version of the Patrol, an upscale SUV commonly found in the Middle East.

Climbing into the Armada, you quickly realize how elevated you are off the road. Your eye level is closer to that of big-rig divers than the lowly Honda Fit scattering along below. Luckily, the Armada provides ample visibility to see all these smaller vehicles.

Despite its massive size, the power driver’s seat does not slide far enough back for my long legs to fully extend, as they would in a Suburban. But the second row more than makes up for it, with plenty of rear legroom.

The Armada has an upscale cabin, similar to that of the related Infiniti luxury brand. —George Kennedy

In the cabin, the Armada features an upscale feel. The layout isn’t as clear as other modern vehicles, but it has some of the hand-me-down class of Infiniti vehicles from the past few years.

Trims for the 2018 Armada are SV, SL, Platinum, and Platinum Reserve, like our test model. The base SV is loaded up with new standard features, including 18-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, dark painted roof rails, heated front seats, Bose 13-speaker stereo, and a standard 8-inch touchscreen with integrated navigation system.

Platinum Reserve, which could be the best trim name on a new car, boasts heated second-row seats, heated and cooled front-row seats, a heated steering wheel, 20-inch alloy wheels, power sunroof, and leather upholstery. It also includes high-tech safety gear, such as blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision avoidance, lane-departure warning, and intelligent backup intervention, which will brake the vehicle if it senses you’re getting too close to an object.

Nissan is partial to using its 5.6-liter V8 in trucks and large SUVs, including the Armada. In this application, it makes 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. Power is routed through a new seven-speed automatic to the rear wheels, or available four-wheel drive.

The Armada makes more than enough power, and jumps off the line in a way that no twin-turbo V6 can replace. The V8 just has that telltale “lurch” that gives the Armada the “truck feel” that many buyers of large SUVs actually want.

The Armada features strong, accurate brakes — and despite its size — decent cornering and a respectable turning radius.

The 2018 Nissan Armada has an imposing presence from any angle. —George Kennedy

One major setback is fuel economy: The four-wheel-drive version of the Armada returns an EPA-estimated 13 miles per gallon in the city, 18 on the highway, and 15 combined. In our time of mostly city driving, we barely scraped 10 miles per gallon. Drivers of big SUVs have pretty much come to expect these kinds of numbers. Those same owners will be pleased with the Armada’s 8,500-pound towing capacity, which is at least 1,000 pounds more than its closest competition.

Base MSRP for the 2018 Nissan Armada is $45,600. Four-wheel drive brings the price to $48,500. An SL trim starts at $50,850, and a Platinum starts at $59,190. Our range-topping 4×4 Platinum Reserve clocked in at $63,485.

That’s quite a hefty sum to pay for a Nissan, but consider that the QX80 starts at $64,750 and can cost more than $82,000 with full options. But with the Armada in the lineup, you almost don’t need the QX80 — that’s how opulent and capable the Armada really is.

Under the Hood

Engine: 5.6-liter V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic transmission
Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
Power: 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque
Towing Capacity: 8,500 pounds
Also Consider: Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia, GMC Yukon

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Live updates: Government shutdown

Live updates: Government shutdown

POLITICO’s live coverage and analysis of Congress’ 2018 shutdown showdown

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Crowds swarm Detroit auto show on public’s first day

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Detroit — The excitement of seeing the latest and greatest domestic and international automobiles and other vehicles brought out crowds Saturday to the annual North American International Auto Show.

Crowds packed Cobo Center to see shiny new vehicles and high-tech features they had to offer on the first public day of the popular event.

Eric Smith and his wife Jessica along with their daughter and young sons were all smiles as they wrapped up their tour of the show.

“We were down here when it opened,” said Smith of Detroit. “I’ve been coming since 1976. It’s a little different. For the most part it’s still inviting.”

Smith said there was no special exhibit because he likes it all. His wife said she uses the show to comparison shop for new vehicles and prepare herself before she hits a dealership to buy a new car or SUV. She said she is looking to buy a Chevy Traverse this year so it helped coming to the auto show to get more information on it.

“You get all the pamphlet and it takes out the middle man (of car buying),” said Jessica Smith.

Sons Jaylen, and Justin, 12, liked the high-tech fun for youngsters their age.

Ariel Coursen and her husband, Doug, headed to the Volkswagen exhibit. A new Volkswagen Jetta owner, Ariel slid into the seat of a new model greyish-silver Jetta to check out what the German automaker was offering this year.

Doug Coursen said he likes that the car show gives automakers the chance to “show what they do” and show off their more “personalized” automotive gadgets and other accoutrements for consumers.

People crowded around exhibits Ford’s vintage 1968 Bullitt Mustang featured in the movie with the late actor Steve McQueen and also simulators like Acura’s one for the NSX GT3.

Rajeev Upadhye and his daughter Nitya, 12, stood in line for the chance for her to try out the simulated test drive for the car.

Rajeev Upadhye said gave this year’s show a thumbs up “so far.”

“They have more cars than last year,” he said.

(313) 222-2027

If you go

What: The North American International Auto Show

When: Through Jan. 28

Where: Cobo Center in downtown Detroit


■9 a.m.- 10 p.m.Sunday to Jan. 27. No admittance after 9 p.m.

■Sunday, Jan. 28, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. No admittance after 6 p.m.


■Adults: $14 per person

■Seniors: $7 (65 and older)

■Children: $7 (7-12 years old; 6 and under free with a parent or guardian)

Every child in a school group must have a ticket to enter the show.

For more information visit for more information.

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2018 will be critical for Slovakia’s automotive industry, sector representatives claim

This piece has been replaced with a story written by the Spectator’s staff.

Last year, carmakers in Slovakia again exceeded the magical level of one million cars produced, Slovakia still the biggest car producer per capita in the world. But representatives of the automotive sector fear that the accumulated problems regarding the lack of qualified labour, a malfunctioning education system unable to generate a labour force as well as intensifying pressure on higher wages could make Slovakia less attractive for new projects by carmakers. They are pinning their hopes on resolutions, upon which they agreed with the government in late 2017. If these are met, the industry will remain competitive.

“This year will be critical in terms of the sustainability and competitiveness of our economy’s key sector,” said Juraj Sinay, president of the Slovak Automotive Industry Association (ZAP) on January 16, when assessing 2017 in the country’s automotive industry. “If we fail to remove the main barriers in the development of the automotive industry, it won’t be possible to sustain these results for long and this sector’s productivity will take a downward turn.”

Read also:Read also:Automotive industry keeps growing

The automotive industry is one of the pillars of Slovakia’s economy, accounting for 13 percent of its gross domestic product and 35 percent of its exports. It employs, directly as well as indirectly, more than 300,000 people.

The parameters defining Slovakia’s competitiveness for investors within the automotive industry are starting to near their limits, claims ZAP. As a consequence, suppliers of carmakers are pondering the building of new plants outside Slovakia. The absence of qualified labour may significantly affect decision-making by the managers of carmakers’ parent companies about where to place new investments and the extension of existing ones.

ZAP has identified five main barriers for the further development of the sector. The first is the lack of a qualified labour force and the malfunctioning education system failing to generate the labour force for the industrial sector in general. The low number of workers has caused an increase in wages.

ZAP estimates that the automotive industry will need approximately 14,000 workers by 2020. While it originally expected that it will be primary, the dual education scheme followed by the requalification and import of workers from abroad will generate new labour, now seeing foreign workers as the primary source of the labour force to fill the vacancies.

Thus ZAP requires the government simplifying procedures for employing workers from third countries. In the time being this lasts even as much as six months.

The Labour Ministry is planning a change for selected jobs for which companies are unable to find workers and in districts with the jobless rate below 5 percent.

“In such a case labour offices will issue approving stands for the foreigners’ police automatically,” Branislav Ondruš, state secretary of the Labour Ministry told the private TV network Joj. This change should become effective from the start of May.

Other barriers are social conditions, including measures the government is taking within its social packages; the underdeveloped research and development sector; as well as university education and new technologies in mobility, either alternative flows, connectivity or autonomousness so that Slovakia becomes a more suitable environment for their development.

“These five barriers will or could prevent the development of the automotive industry in Slovakia,” said Sinay.

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The unlikely partnerships that are shaping the car industry

Keep abreast of significant corporate, financial and political developments around the world. Stay informed and spot emerging risks and opportunities with independent global reporting, expert commentary and analysis you can trust.

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This CEO Is Racing to Be a Leader in the Auto Industry’s Future …

Car lovers will see a vast array of shiny new SUVs, trucks, and luxury cars at the Detroit Auto Show this week. And there will be plenty of talk about the new gadgets coming down the road.

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance, is one of the leaders talking about a “huge transformation” coming to the auto industry. Over the next five years, he says the automobile will be transformed from a “transportation device” into a “smart, intelligent mobile space.”

He also predicts that mass market, driverless vehicles will be on the road in four to five years. And he is racing to make sure some of those vehicles will be built by his giant automotive group.

One way he plans to do that is by investing in startups in the auto technology sector. Just days before the Detroit show, he announced a venture capital fund that will invest $1 billion in new developments in electrification, artificial intelligence, connectivity, and autonomy.

“We can’t do everything,” Ghosn says, adding that he’s turning to entrepreneurs because “they bring ideas, services, pieces of technology—things that take too much time for us to do, too much money for us to do.”

At the top of Ghosn’s to-do list is launching 12 electric vehicles by 2022 and moving boldly toward creating an autonomous, self-driving vehicle.

Watch the video above for more of our conversation with Ghosn.

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2019 Jeep Cherokee Video Review

CARS.COM — If you found the Jeep Cherokee a little funky for your taste in terms of styling, Jeep has made a substantial visual update to its popular SUV for the 2019 model year. The biggest change up front is the headlights: No longer are there driving lights that sit up high in a sort of fanglike unit versus the lower-positioned actual headlights; they’ve been consolidated into a single bezel that’s still a little fanglike, but it sits above conventional foglights.

Related: More 2018 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

Combine that with the redesigned taillights and we see a lot of similarities with the Grand Cherokee and the Compass, two other SUVs from the Jeep brand. We got up close to the updated-for-2019 Cherokee earlier this week at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

For more on the Cherokee’s interior, cargo space and performance specs, watch the video above.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey

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Tesla Model 3: Elon Musk’s mass-market car is a magic carpet ride …

Tesla’s Model 3 is the most highly anticipated car of the 21st century. It may be the most eagerly awaited car of all time.

More than 450,000 people put down $1,000 refundable deposits to reserve one of the “affordable” battery electric sedans after Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk unveiled the car and inaugurated the waiting list in March 2016.

Since then, online forums and automotive news websites have breathlessly reported every Musk tweet, production delay or postponed delivery date.

Now the first Model 3s are rolling away from the Fremont factory, and we were able to secure one for a long holiday weekend test drive.