While early March saw Tesla facing challenges and cutting staff, mid-March sees good news in the form of increased investment in the US car industry.  
 

Toyota Increases Investment in the US 

Toyota announced additional investment in its US factory facilities this week to the tune of $749 million. The added investment will lead to an increase of around 600 jobs across five states. Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and West Virginia will all benefit from the boost.  In Georgetown W.V. the focus will be on hybrid production as sales of Toyota’s hybrid models (including the Prius and the RAV4) continue to increase in popularity. As reported in Auto News, CEO of Toyota Motor North America said “These latest investments represent even more examples of our long-term commitment to build where we sell.”  
 

Ford Reportedly Expanding its Self-Driving Program in Texas 

Ford seems to be in the early stages of expanding its self-driving car program to Austin, Texas. It’s part of a drive to increase testing before the proposed launch of a self-driving taxi and delivery service some time in 2021. This makes the fifth city in the US where Ford is operating autonomous vehicles. The other cities are Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Miami, and Detroit. Ford did not confirm the news, but as reported in Tech Crunch, has posted job advertisements in Austin looking for people to join the self-driving program. 

 
The US Auto Industry Rejects the Idea of Mandatory Tariffs 

Last week the news emerged that President Trump was considering a 25% import tax on all vehicles imported into the US to be sold. Such a tariff would have a severe effect on the German auto industry in particular – the USA is Germany’s biggest market.  
 

However, representatives from across the American Auto Industry have rejected the proposed tax, saying that it would have a knock-on negative effect on the domestic car industry. One reason for this is that many US manufacturers use parts from other countries in the world – and similarly foreign producers use US parts in their factories – and both would be hit by tariffs. Secondly, the 2 million “Made in America” cars that are currently exported every year would also be hit by the tax.   
 

James Bond goes Electric 

James Bond is famous for two things – his love of martinis (shaken, not stirred), and his love for Aston Martins. News this week suggest that Daniel Craig will once again drive an Aston Martin in his fifth outing as 007, but with one big difference – it’s an electric model. Media reports across the web say that the car featured in the 25th Bond movie will be an Aston Martin Rapide E, one of only 155 electric models to be made by the British manufacturer. It’s the first time we’ll see Bond behind the wheel of a zero-emission vehicle – it remains to be seen what effect this might have on the car-purchasing public.  
 

Record Revenues for Seat 

Seat – the Spanish car manufacturer owned by Volkswagen Group – has logged a 10% YoY increase in the number of cars sold in 2018, with 517,600 cars sold. This is the largest ever figure recorded for the company. It also logged a record turnover – 10.2 billion euros. It’s the 6th consecutive year of growth for the Spanish company. This increase is due in part to strong sales of the Tarraco and Arona SUV models and the launch of its Cupra Ateca range of SUVs. 

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