Government agencies such as the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration that are thinking of moving to iPhones for their mobile communications might want to wait until the iPhone 5 is released.

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Magna E-Car Systems Opens Plant In Michigan To Build Hybrid, Electric-Vehicle Parts

The Detroit Free Press (4/17, Snavely) reports, “Magna E-Car Systems today held a grand opening event for its plant in Grand Blanc Township where it employs about 100 to who will make components for hybrid and electric” vehicles. The “plant is making electric motors, converters, powertrain controllers and battery management systems for the Ford Focus Electric and Fisker Karma.” Despite the weak demand for electric vehicles, chief operating officer Kevin Pavlov “said automakers must continue to make advances in hybrid and electric cars in order to meet future fuel economy regulations.”

Ford Quietly Rolling Out Focus Electric.
The Detroit Free Press (4/17, Priddle) reports, “Ford’s new Focus Electric, with its $40,000 sticker price, is in the midst of a quiet rollout focused on California, New York and New Jersey, then 19 targeted metropolitan areas before it goes nationwide.” Ford’s lead marketer, Jim Farley, said, “The marketing of the Focus Electric is to people who buy electric vehicles, not to you and me. We’re focused on the people who buy them.” According to “Paul Venn, president of client services with Team Detroit, Ford’s advertising agency…customers in a major electric vehicle market are aware of the car.”

Poor Sales Not Deterring Manufactures From Unveiling New EVs.
The Detroit News (4/17, Shepardson) reports that despite lackluster electric vehicle sales, “automakers show no signs of pulling back their multibillion-dollar bets: They need electric cars to meet tough new fuel-efficiency standards.” Roughly “a dozen new plug-ins and fully electric cars will go on sale in the next year.” As gas flirts with “$4 a gallon nationwide, most consumers remain reluctant.” Furthermore, drivers remain worried about EVs’ range.

Volkswagen To Build Audi Plant In Mexico

The Detroit News (4/19, Tierney) reports, “Volkswagen AG confirmed Wednesday that it will build a factory in Mexico to assemble premium Audi SUVs starting in 2016. Volkswagen already has a VW-brand plant in the Mexican city of Puebla and a new one in Chattanooga, Tenn., and it has been mulling an Audi plant for North America for several years.” The company “sold 117,561 Audis in the US in 2015, up 16 percent over the previous year. It’s targeting annual US sales of 200,000 Audi vehicles by 2018, when Volkswagen expects to be the world’s largest automaker.”

AFP (4/19) reports, “The exact location for the plant would be selected later this year.” Rupert Stadler, chairman of the board of management of Audi AG, in the statement, “Good infrastructure, competitive cost structures and existing free trade agreements played a significant role in the choice of Mexico.” Bill Visnic, a senior analyst from automotive website, said, “Production in North America is a critical factor in Audi’s play for higher sales volumes in the United States and it also acts as a buffer from currency fluctuations that can negatively affect profit margins and price competitiveness.”

Also covering the story are the Wall Street Journal (4/19, Rauwald, Subscription Publication), Reuters (4/19, Cremer, Burger), the Financial Times (4/19, Thomson, Reed, Subscription Publication) and other media sources.

Ducati To Be Bought By Audi For $1.1 Billion. The Los Angeles Times (4/19, Carpenter) reports, “Ducati, the famed Italian maker of luxury motorcycles favored by celebrities and the rich, is being acquired by Volkswagen AG’s Audi division for $1.1 billion. The Ducati purchase would add to the German automaker’s premium motorsports lineup.” The automaker “also owns Bugatti and Lamborghini, the latter of which hired former Ducati North America Chief Executive Michael Lock in March.”

The AP (4/19) reports, “Ducati, based in Bologna, has some 1,100 employees. Last year, it sold about 42,000 motorcycles and had revenue of some €480 million ($630 million).”

Also covering the story are Reuters (4/19, Cremer), Bloomberg News (4/19, Reiter), AFP (4/19), BBC News (4/19), MarketWatch (4/19, Rauwald) and other media sources.

EPA Announces New Source Performance Standards For Oil, Gas Production Operations

The New York Times (4/19, A20, Broder, Subscription Publication) reports, “Oil and gas companies will have to capture toxic and climate-altering gases from wells, storage sites and pipelines under new air quality standards issued on Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.” The Times reports, “Industry groups said meeting the proposed standards would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and slow the boom in domestic natural gas production.”

The Los Angeles Times (4/19, Banerjee) reports that the oil and gas industry expressed concern “that if a national standard went into effect this year, there would not be enough companies providing the green completion technology to meet the increased demand, making the rule more expensive to comply with.” Ultimately, “the rules are expected to affect the approximately 11,000 new wells annually that undergo hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and another 1,200 or so that are re-fracked to boost production,” the Times said.

USA Today (4/19, Vergano) adds that EPA official Gina McCarthy said “half of all new fracking wells already collect gases from the initial drilling of the well…but only Colorado and Wyoming explicitly require such green completions.”

The Wall Street Journal (4/19, A3, Tracy, Subscription Publication) reported that the delay in the implementation of the rules suggests that in an election year, the Obama Administration was cautious about taking any steps that the oil and gas industry may have perceived as an attack.

The Washington Post (4/19, Eilperin, Mufson) also covers the story.

Manufacturers: More Regulations From EPA Will Hamper Job Creation. In a press released, the National Association of Manufacturers (4/19) President and CEO Jay Timmons said, “President Obama continues to tout the importance of manufacturing. However, the Administration’s actions signal the opposite, as these new costly regulations on energy producers hurt manufacturers’ competitiveness and delay job creation.” Timmons also said, “These regulations will add to the cumulative regulatory burden facing manufacturers – making it unnecessarily harder to create jobs. There is no doubt that small energy producers and manufacturers will be disproportionally affected by these new regulations from the EPA. Most unfortunate is that these new rules will only increase energy prices in the long run.”

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