Carl Icahn offers to purchase auto parts giant Pep Boys

Carl Icahn offers to purchase auto parts giant Pep Boys Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has done one better than Japanese tire manufacturer Bridgestone, as he has offered to buy auto parts company Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack for about $837 million, beating out Bridgestone’s bid of $810 million.

Icahn Enterprises’ offer of $15.50 per Pep Boys share in cash also edged out Bridgestone’s $15 per share in cash offer, as the company reported a 12.12 percent stake in the popular retailer. In addition, Icahn himself said in a statement that Pep Boys’ automotive parts retail business would be just right for Auto Plus, a competing company he happens to control.

“We are prepared to enter immediately into the exact same merger agreement that Pep Boys executed with Bridgestone Retail Operations LLC. In addition, we will enter into any reasonable further agreements that you may require in order to provide greater certainty of closing,” said Icahn Enterprises CEO Keith Cozza in a letter to Pep Boys management. “We believe our proposal is clearly superior to the $15.00 per share Bridgestone transaction and that our financial wherewithal to close expeditiously is indisputable. We are prepared to meet with you immediately to negotiate and document this transaction.” Neither Pep Boys nor Bridgestone were available for comment when pressed by media.

Interestingly, Pep Boys stock had cooled down, not long after it had traded above Icahn’s price; this is mainly because investors are wondering if there may be any further bids. “(Carl) Icahn buys and sells a lot of companies,” opined Robert Costello of Costello Asset Management in a Philly.com report. I don’t think he is going to stay in this business long-term; he’s trying to screw Bridgestone into paying more money.”

Earlier negotiations with Icahn had Pep Boys suspecting that the activist-investor may be “taking these actions to obtain negotiating leverage,” while also trying to stymie Bridgestone and its ability to resell the auto parts company’s assets at a higher price. Among other companies he controls, Icahn is a majority owner of firms like Apple, PayPal, and X-ray manufacturer Hologic.

Is REI move to sit out Black Friday a wise one?

Is REI move to sit out Black Friday a wise one?Consumers have been grousing about retailers and their Black Friday schedules for some time now. Some believe that holiday shopping is simply blown way out of proportion, while others, including some in the above category, feel that it takes away from the traditions of Thanksgiving, which involve spending time with family and staying home during an extended weekend. However, retailer REI decided last month to sit out Thanksgiving and Black Friday – good news for employees, who will be paid on both days, but what does it mean on a broader sense?

Last month, REI broke its long-standing tradition of being open on Black Friday by announcing it would be closed on that day, on top of Thanksgiving. It did, however, encourage employees and customers to embrace the outdoors and share photos and posts relating to these activities as part of its “Opt Outside” campaign. And while other major retailers will still be as busy as ever on Black Friday, REI has dared to go against the grain, which has been praised by marketing professionals for a completely different reason.

“REI earned a great deal of brand acquisition with a press release and a huge graphic on the homepage of their website,” said ReputationManagement.com president Bill Fish. “The story was covered by just about every media outlet out there. Guess what, they sell outdoor products, and they are asking that instead of shopping, you spend time with family and friends outdoors. That is by no means a coincidence.”

Indeed, REI’s move was a popular one, as 49 percent of consumers said that they aren’t in favor of stores being open on Thanksgiving in a recent poll from the University of Connecticut; in that poll, 34 percent were neutral, while a mere 16 percent were in favor.

REI has not been without some criticism. One Redditor said during CEO Jerry Stritzke’s recent Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) that the move was “BS,” sympathizing with REI employees who took to the AMA to complain about poor wages and benefits. Still, REI did emphasize that the feeling generated by its decision has been “warm,” and the fact remains that it isn’t as reliant on Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales as other companies are. That said, Fish and other experts believe that its move isn’t likely to inspire larger retailers to do the same and sit out two of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Chipotle E. coli outbreak now affects six states

Chipotle E. coli outbreak now affects six states

c/o Robert Galbraith/Reuters

Over 40 people have been reported to have been stricken with E. coli after eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants, as the food poisoning outbreak has now reached six states.

According to the latest report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, E. coli cases have been reported in California, Ohio, New York, and Minnesota. This comes mere weeks after the popular restaurant chain was linked to E. coli outbreaks in Oregon and Washington state.

In the new report, the CDC said that 45 people fell ill from the E. coli O26 outbreak strain, with almost all (43) of them getting sick shortly after eating at Chipotle restaurants. A total of 16 people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported so far. The latest reports of illness came from Turlock, California, Akron, Ohio, Amherst, New York, and Burnsville, Minnesota

E. coli was first associated with Chipotle in late October, with the outbreak initially reported in Seattle and Portland. The company closed all of its 43 restaurants in those two cities on Halloween, and after cooperating with authorities, deep-cleaning the restaurants, and ramping up safety measures, the units were eventually reopened last week. And in addition to the above measures, Chipotle has hired food safety consultants, and began testing food products and changing preparation procedures in the affected restaurants.

The ongoing E. coli outbreak has been damaging to Chipotle’s press relations. Considering its long-standing reputation for serving fresh and healthy food and its slogan “Food with Integrity,” Chipotle has suffered quite a lot after this new report, which marks the third time the restaurant has run afoul of the CDC. Chipotle shares have also suffered, slipping 12.3 percent to $536.19 at the close of Friday’s trading.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Launched at Belle Isle – A Pony Car for Today’s Changed Times

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Launched at Belle Isle - A Pony Car for Today’s Changed Times

c/o The Verge

General Motors unveiled on Saturday the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, the first sixth-generation model, and arguably one of the most different Camaros ever launched.  The car made its debut at a press event held in Belle Isle, in downtown Detroit.

Back in the day, it was “go big or go home” if you were a muscle car aficionado – the bigger and more powerful the engine, the better your ride was.  That was very seldom the case with the Chevrolet Camaro, though this General Motors entry to the pony car sweepstakes typically came with V8 base engines.  Today’s Camaro, however, is a radically different one, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine serving as the base power plant.  GM claims that version will be capable of going over 30 mpg in highway driving.  Still, buyers can choose the Camaro SS trim, which comes with a 6.2-liter V8 engine that makes 455 horses.

Aside from the new fuel economy-centric powertrain selections, the 2016 Camaro is also substantially lighter than its predecessor, weighing 200 pounds less despite being longer and wider.  Its design, as teased in several promotional photos and Friday’s leaks, is both a tribute to the Camaros of the late ‘60s, and a more contemporary take on an iconic pony car.  Pricing has yet to be announced, but the outgoing model carries a base price of $24,700.

Indeed, it’s been decades since the original heyday of the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Dodge Charger/Challenger, and other muscle cars and pony cars.  But despite the changing times, these cars still remain relevant, throwing back to the past but looking and feeling modern enough in more than a few ways.

Tesla Hopes to Monetize Storage Battery Business as Company Keeps Losing Money

Tesla Hopes to Monetize Storage Battery Business as Company Keeps Losing MoneyTesla shares had dropped slightly on Thursday, though not enough to offset the past month’s gains, as the automaker is soon expected to announce its entry to the home storage battery space, a potential source of monetization for a company that has typically been in the red.

For most of April, Musk has been posting teases, mostly via Twitter, that it will be entering the home battery space, and announcing its entry in the coming days.  On March 30, Musk had tweeted that Tesla will be announcing a “major new product line,” adding that it is “not a car.”  The automaker is scheduled to make a major announcement at 8 p.m. Pacific time today, April 30.

Even prior to Musk’s late March tweet, Tesla had been teasing the possibility of a home battery launch, saying in February that the product will be ready for launch “within months,” with production beginning in the summer.  The new battery products may likely be based on the batteries used on Tesla’s popular Model S electric car.  Musk, however, has been very cagey about Tesla’s reveal, not saying what the battery will be used for, but merely dropping hints that it may be used as a generator should the power go out.

Tesla shares had closed today’s trading at $226.05, a drop of 2.75 percent, or $6.40 from the previous day.  In after-hours trading, TSLA is trading slightly lower at $225.85 as of 5:54 p.m. ET.

More 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Teasers Emerge Ahead of Debut

More 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Teasers Emerge Ahead of DebutThe 2016 Chevrolet Camaro will be revealed in a little more than two weeks than now, and while we have seen a few teasers for the next-generation Camaro, Chevy couldn’t help but let slip a few more.  The new teasers show off illustrations of the pony car’s rear fender and aluminum hood, though these obviously aren’t the real thing just yet.

Chevrolet will be using a lot of aluminum on the 2016 Camaro, and that allows it to be at least 200 pounds lighter than the present iteration.  The car’s suspension components will also use aluminum, and so will the instrument panel’s support beam.

Looking at the new teasers, the rear fender’s illustration suggests that Chevy will stick with its usual design language for the most part, but will make the new Camaro look a bit slimmer and more defined.  And while these elements weren’t included in the teasers, we also know that the 2016 Camaro will evolve from the previous generation, and will boast of a tough-looking front design and a high belt line.

As Chevrolet will be unveiling the 2016 Camaro on May 16, we can expect a few more teasers to emerge between now and the big reveal.

Almost 600,000 Fords Recalled as NHTSA Pressure Intensifies

Almost 600,000 Fords Recalled as NHTSA Pressure Intensifies With federal authorities applying more and more pressure on automakers, Ford announced today that it is recalling almost 600,000 vehicles in four separate recalls, with more than 80 percent of these cars and trucks being sent back due to steering gear bolt issues.

The largest recall involves 518,313 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans from the 2013-15 model years and Ford Edge crossovers from 2015, and is related to steering gear bolts that could possibly break, corrode, or crack.  This would leave the car in manual steering, which could result in steering problems at slow speeds, and potential collisions.  No accidents or casualties have been reported in relation to this large-scale recall.

Three other smaller recalls were also announced today, including one involving 50,157 Ford Focus, Edge, Escape, and Transit Connect units from the 2014 model year, and Ford Fiestas from the 2014-15 model years.  These vehicles have problems with the nickel plating on the fuel pump that could cause the vehicles to stall or refuse to start.  One accident has been brought to Ford’s attention in connection to this issue.  Also, 22,616 2015 Lincoln MKZ sedans are being recalled for unusually bright parking lamps, and 91 2015 Ford F-150 pickups may be affected by improperly installed or missing underbody heat shields.  No accidents or casualties have been reported for the latter two recalls.

The recalls come on the heels of a recent workshop organized by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administrator Mark Rosekind, where he expressed concern that automakers are not acting quick enough to address recalls and repair cars affected by these actions.  Earlier today, Rosekind told reporters that he will be going to Detroit on Thursday to meet personally with Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials regarding safety issues.

2016 Cadillac CTS-V Price is Official, and it Won’t Come Cheap

2016 Cadillac CTS-V Price is Official, and it Won’t Come CheapPricing on the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is now out, and the car said to be the most powerful Caddy ever will come at a premium price tag.

Including shipping costs, the new CTS-V for the 2016 model year will cost $84,990, but that’s going to get you a luxurious, yet high-performance sedan that cranks out 640 horsepower from its V8 engine and is capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in only 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 200 mph.  That also puts the CTS-V ahead of the competition, including BMW’s M-Series and its 4.4-liter TwinPower V8 engine.  If you’re looking for a CTS sedan that won’t cost you that much, the cheapest CTS on Cadillac’s lineup for 2016 costs $46,340 with destination, but that, of course, won’t come with the blazing speed of the CTS-V.

“V-Series represents the pinnacle of Cadillac, a brand that now makes drivers’ cars at the highest level,” read a statement from Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen. “The new CTS-V is essentially two cars in one: a luxury sedan with sophisticated road manners and a track-capable sports car with awe-inspiring performance.”

Government Nearing Decision on Reopening Jeep Fire Investigation

Government Nearing Decision on Reopening Jeep Fire Investigation

c/o Car Complaints

The government’s federal safety regulator should have a decision within two weeks regarding whether it should reopen an investigation into older Jeep models that have been involved in fiery crashes.

Assessing things at a Transportation Department recall summit, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head Mark Rosekind said that the “situation has gotten worse” due to newly reported fatalities in Jeep fires, following the recall of a host of models about two years prior.  He also lamented the glacial pace in which dealerships are repairing affected Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty models, calling the situation “horrible.”

Chrysler, which has since become part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles since the recalls, was asked to fix the defective Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty models by installing trailer hitches on the back of the SUVs.  This would provide extra protection in the event of a low-speed collision.  According to Chrysler, 45 percent of all Grand Cherokees and 27 percent of all Libertys, all from the 1993 to 2007 model year, have been fixed.  Still, Rosekind and the NHTSA are far from happy with this, saying that the pace of repair “has not met expectations.”

Jeep parent Chrysler had originally struck up a bargain with the NHTSA in June 2013, successfully appealing for a more limited recall than the 2.7 million vehicles regulators originally wanted Chrysler to recall.  This came on the heels after it was discovered that the SUVs are susceptible to igniting in rear-end collisions, and were responsible for 51 deaths in these accidents.  Unfortunately, several more people have been killed in rear-end Jeep crashes, the most recent one being a pregnant 23-year-old in November 2014.

Details on 2017 Jaguar XE’s U.S. Powertrains Revealed

Details on 2017 Jaguar XE’s U.S. Powertrains RevealedAlthough it won’t be another year or so before the 2017 Jaguar XE sedan makes its way to American shores, the British automaker has revealed details as early as now regarding the powertrain options U.S. buyers can expect from the new model.

The U.S.-spec 2017 Jaguar XE will be offered in XE 20d and XE 35t form, with the former coming with a 2.0-liter turbodiesel I4 rated at 180 horsepower and 318 lb/ft. torque, and mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.  All-wheel drive is available as an optional feature on the XE 20d.  Considering Jaguar’s long and proud history as a maker of performance cars, those figures aren’t that impressive at all, but it should save a lot of money at the pump as the first-ever diesel model Jaguar will be selling in the U.S. market.

The 2017 Jaguar XE 35t, on the other hand, won’t disappoint anyone in the performance department, as it is powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 making 340 horsepower and 332 lb/ft.  This is the same engine that powers the Jaguar F-Type and XF.  The engine is also paired with an eight-speed automatic, and the car itself will be offered in rear- or all-wheel drive.  According to Jaguar, the 35t should be capable of going from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, and reaching a top speed of 155 mph.

Those who may be disappointed by the diesel engine’s lack of power shouldn’t lose hope yet, as Jaguar hasn’t confirmed whether the gas-powered turbo four (estimated 240 horsepower) will be available for the U.S.-spec Jaguar XE.  Details on that should be available closer to the car’s spring 2016 release.