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DETROIT — A little executive bloodletting can sometimes ease the pressure on an embattled chief executive officer. But Jim Hackett is unlikely to see any letup from Ford Motor Co.’s board following the surprise early retirement of one his two top lieutenants. Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s 53-year-old automotive president, will leave on March 1 after almost two decades with the company. As a rising star under celebrated former CEO Alan Mulally, he was put on the fast track to be a potential heir to the top job. With Hinrichs out of the picture, Ford is elevating Jim Farley, the company’s only…

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WASHINGTON — A U.S. House panel will hold a hearing Tuesday on autonomous vehicles as lawmakers try to hammer out legislation to advance self-driving cars. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee overseeing automotive issues will hear from officials of trade groups representing automakers and tech companies, as well as safety advocates and a San Francisco transit official. Congress has worked for four years on legislation that would remove regulatory barriers but has not reached agreement. Last summer, a bipartisan group of lawmakers released sections of a draft self-driving car bill for discussion. The bills that have been under consideration would clear…

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LONDON — Jaguar Land Rover will reduce or stop production on certain days at two of its British factories over the next few weeks as the U.K. automaker pursues cost-cutting measures in response to falling demand. JLR posted a 2.3 percent drop in retail sales in the three months to the end of December and has targeted billions of pounds worth of savings to tackle falling diesel demand in Europe and a tough sales environment in China. The company will halt production on selected days over a four-week period from late February at its Castle Bromwich factory in central England…

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Auto supplier Continental said it plans to start construction this year on a new plant in New Braunfels, Texas, that will manufacture products for advanced driver-assistance systems.The German company said on Thursday it will invest $110 million in the new 215,000-square-foot facility over the next three years.The plant will produce radar systems and will add more than 130 new jobs to the region, according to a press release. “Advanced driver-assistance systems save lives,” Frank Jourdan, Continental’s board member for autonomous mobility and safety, said in a statement. “Continental is one of the world’s market leaders in this area. We are…

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TOKYO — Honda Motor Co. is considering keeping operations suspended for longer than planned at its three plants in the Chinese city at the center of the new coronavirus outbreak, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Thursday. Honda said that the Nikkei report was not based on information provided by the company. The Japanese automaker has suspended production at its plants in Wuhan, Hubei province, through Feb. 13, but the Nikkei said that it was reconsidering plans to restart operations on Feb. 14, without citing sources. Output at most of Honda’s other plants in China has been suspended through Feb. 9. Automakers and…

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STOCKHOLM — Automotive technology supplier Veoneer on Wednesday said it trimmed its quarterly operating loss and forecast a return to organic sales growth and improving results in 2020 despite a likely further decline in global car production. The Swedish company — which makes radars, vision systems and software for advanced driver assistance systems — said its fourth-quarter operating loss narrowed to $72 million from $75 million a year ago, beating the 107 million loss seen by analysts according to Refinitiv data. “Our operating loss was lower than expected at the beginning of the quarter, primarily due to continuing cost control activities across…

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It’s difficult to determine the program’s exact financial impact on the retailer’s bottom line, but the dealership sold 14,000 new and 13,000 used vehicles in 2019. Beans Gilbert says management knows it helps sales. For the past 10 years, for example, customers have been able to double their available points for redemption in December and use them as a down payment on a vehicle purchase, giving the group’s year-end sales a boost. Last December, Fred Beans sold 3,054 vehicles — a one-month company record. Out of those sales, 1,035 customers redeemed points, Beans Gilbert said. “Recently, a customer who was…

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A prolonged outbreak of the coronavirus that has forced automakers to extend plant shutdowns could reduce first-quarter light-vehicle output in China by 1.7 million, or 32 percent, IHS Markit said. If the outbreak forces automakers to idle plants through mid-March, the potential impact of the virus on output would be on top of a 10 percent decline in first-quarter production IHS predicted before the crisis, the consultancy noted.  The forecast was made after Chinese provinces and municipalities extended the country’s Lunar New Year holiday by a week to help contain the spread of the virus.  As of Friday, 11 of…

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DETROIT — Building on success can be tough. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Uconnect infotainment platform has garnered a sterling reputation for its ease of use. There was no need for designers to reinvent the wheel for the fifth-generation system, which is slated to debut later this year. The team took an evolutionary, not revolutionary, approach. FCA took consumer feedback to heart on how to improve the system and focused on making often-used functions such as seat heaters easier to find, said Vince Galante, the automaker’s chief designer of user experience. At a media preview of the new Uconnect system, Galante spoke…

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