Blogs

Look out! Still water ahead

Posted 4:30 pm U.S. ET, July 1
blogs Jesse Snyder is opinion page editor at Automotive News.
 
June was another good sales month. We’ve had a good first half, and a great six-year run-up. But expect to start seeing some separation among competitors. As sales growth slows, margins thin a bit and rivals eye each other’s customers, we’ll find out which businesses are fundamentally stronger. June U.S. light-vehicle sales rose 3.9 percent, and three forecasters have bumped th ...
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The (technology) pluses and minuses of a GM-FCA deal

Posted 11:15 am U.S. ET, June 30
blogs
Cadillac's CT6 plug-in hybrid. Access to GM's hybrid technologies would perhaps solve Fiat Chrysler's largest product development problem. (GM)
RICHARD TRUETT:  Technology -- or the expensive lack of it -- is, I believe, at the heart of all this merger talk coming from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Except for the battery-powered Fiat 500e, available in just two states, and the stop-start system offered in certain versions of the Ram 1500 pickup, FCA’s electrification efforts are years behind most competitors’. The company has no hybrid cars on ...
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Why Toyota can set the car-tech agenda

Posted 1:28 pm U.S. ET, June 29
blogs Dave Guilford is a news editor at Automotive News.
 
Alix Partners, the turnaround firm, last week assessed the ability of automakers to pay for the cool but expensive technology about to flood into vehicles. You know, stuff like autonomous driving, connectivity, rearview video screens, lightweight materials and electrified powertrains. One chart was particularly noteworthy. It ranked automakers by their EBITDA margins and market caps -- in other ...
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Self-driving cars already have ethics

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 28
blogs

GABE NELSON:  SAN FRANCISCO -- Car companies aren’t usually involved in philosophic debates, but right now they’re facing a big, thorny question: how the self-driving cars of the future will decide who will live and who will die. This week, Bloomberg came out with an excellent story on that point, discussing how automakers have sought help from Stanford University researchers in devising a new ethi ...
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2005 vs. 2015 -- similar SAAR, different story

Posted 3:13 pm U.S. ET, June 26
blogs Nick Bunkley reports on Ford for Automotive News.
 
By the numbers, the U.S. auto industry just had its best spring selling season in a decade. But that’s rather misleading. June 2015 is far better than June 2005. In June 2015, automakers are healthy and scrambling to keep up with demand for their most profitable vehicles. In June 2005, they were overflowing with inventory nobody wanted and desperate to get rid of it at any cost. That&rsq ...
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Colorado, Canyon target 'best' marketing claim

Posted 3:00 pm U.S. ET, June 26
blogs
The Colorado ZR2 Concept, featuring a 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel, previews what Chevrolet says will take off-roading to the next level without sacrificing fuel economy.
MIKE COLIAS:  DETROIT -- Soon, Chevrolet and GMC will gain a coveted marketing claim: Best fuel economy of any pickup. General Motors invited reporters this week to drive a Chevy Colorado and a GMC Canyon equipped with 2.8-liter, four-cylinder Duramax diesel engines. The trucks go on sale this fall. The GM engineers on hand were confident that the trucks' highway fuel-economy rating will clear 30 mpg -- possi ...
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3 steps to regulatory compliance

Posted 12:15 pm U.S. ET, June 24
blogs Hannah Lutz is a staff reporter covering finance and insurance for Automotive News.
 
Dealers: To stay out of trouble with regulators, clean up compliance. It sounds like an obvious solution, but what do dealers need to do to be sure compliance is up to par? Invest in a strong compliance management system, says Nick Smyth, a financial services regulatory attorney at Reed Smith law firm. Dealers should: 1. Hire enough compliance staffers. 2. Separate those staffers from sales a ...
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Removing the fear when passing a big rig

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, June 23
blogs

JAY RAMEY:  Overtaking a large truck on a two-lane road is easily one of the most harrowing maneuvers drivers face, especially if they are accustomed to roads where passing isn't allowed. Samsung has created a system that could take the guesswork out of passing large trucks that one cannot see around. The company's prototype Safety Truck features a large screen on the rear door that is connected wirelessly ...
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'Multiphysics': Engineering's new frontier

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, June 23
blogs

RICHARD TRUETT:  Okay, so now it is rocket science. I spent two days recently with the engineers and software developers who write and use the simulation programs that virtually all automakers use in product development. The creation process that was once fairly simple -- design blueprints to prototypes to testing to validation to production -- now is often extremely complex, involving engineers from several dis ...
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UAW chief's credibility, legacy on the line with Tier 2

Posted 12:25 pm U.S. ET, June 19
blogs
Williams said the UAW has studied the Unifor model and others.
DAVID BARKHOLZ:  UAW President Dennis Williams flashed an unmistakable determination to solve the union’s Tier 2 dilemma during this year’s contract negotiations with the Detroit 3. In a final press conference on Thursday before entering radio silence, Williams said his members expect him to close the wage disparity between entry-level and more-senior workers. He said he intended to deliver on the pro ...
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Who was Kirk Kerkorian? He was a money man

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 18
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
It was always about the money for Kirk Kerkorian, the auto industry provocateur who died Monday at 98. Maybe that’s the naked reality of high-stakes business. Kerkorian, a Las Vegas speculator and takeover mogul, took a powerful investment position at Chrysler Corp. in the 1990s. It looked to Kerkorian like a promising return. Kerkorian pressed Chrysler’s board to use its cash to pay ...
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Why FCA's merger quest will test loyalties

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 17
blogs Larry P. Vellequette covers Fiat Chrysler for Automotive News.
 
Nearly a decade ago, I had a memorable, life-altering conversation about loyalty with a guy whose entire career was spent in human resources -- mostly in the auto industry -- negotiating labor contracts on behalf of companies. The man, now deceased, seemed to live his life on a combination of cigarettes and coffee, yet he possessed an uncommon wisdom about his craft that came with deeply thinking ...
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The advantages for going online with F&I

Posted 12:00 pm U.S. ET, June 17
blogs Hannah Lutz is a staff reporter covering finance and insurance for Automotive News.
 
To reduce the push and pull around F&I product options and avoid surprising consumers with unexpectedly higher monthly payments as F&I products are added on, dealerships should introduce F&I online. Monthly payment cost is on the top of consumers’ minds when buying or leasing a vehicle, according to Jason Barrie, senior director of market performance at Dealertrack Technologies. ...
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A case for breaking the 300% rule

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, June 17
blogs Jamie LaReau covers the automotive retail beat for Automotive News.
 
Most F&I folks subscribe to the “300 percent rule”: Offer 100 percent of the products to 100 percent of the dealership’s customers 100 percent of the time. But a recent conversation with a friend makes me think the rule doesn’t apply to 100 percent of cases. My friend just bought a new sedan. He shopped a few dealerships and was well-researched on prices. He knew what ...
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How the Detroit 3-UAW can solve Tier 2 on the cheap

Posted 4:38 pm U.S. ET, June 16
blogs David Barkholz covers labor for Automotive News.
 
The UAW’s thorny Tier 2 problem with the Detroit 3 is so daunting I now expect the parties to avoid structural changes to Tier 2 with an extra contract signing bonus that placates entry-level workers. Neither of the two obvious ways to “bridge the gap” between the $16 an hour starting wage for entry-level Tier 2 workers and the $28 an hour earned by longtime UAW members works pa ...
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Kerkorian-Iacocca tag team hit Chrysler execs with a reality check

Posted 1:45 pm U.S. ET, June 16
blogs Neal E. Boudette is a reporter for Automotive News.
 
The news rocked Chrysler Corp. headquarters. It was April 1995, and Las Vegas financier Kirk Kerkorian was taking a run at the automaker, launching an unsolicited $20 billion takeover bid. Perhaps even more astounding was whom he had teamed up with: Lee Iacocca, the legendary former Chrysler CEO, whose prolonged on-again-off-again retirement in the early 1990s had left lingering tensions with th ...
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A fantastic and revealing story of Kirk Kerkorian

Posted 1:36 pm U.S. ET, June 16
blogs Jamie LaReau covers the automotive retail beat for Automotive News.
 
I never met Kirk Kerkorian, who died Monday at age 98. But I feel as if I knew him. I covered General Motors for Automotive News from 2005 to 2009. In 2006, Kerkorian’s Tracinda Corp. had such a large stake in GM that his lieutenant Jerry York was named his representative on the GM board of directors. Jerry and I started regularly lunching together. Sadly, he died in 2010 at age 71. But ...
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The dark side of electronics

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, June 16
blogs
A rebuilt engine control module introduced several new problems when the 1988 Fiero's engine was fired up. (RICHARD TRUETT)
RICHARD TRUETT:  There’s no doubt that advanced electronics have transformed every aspect of today’s cars. They are cleaner, faster, more efficient, safer, more connected and more capable than ever. Well, here’s the downside: As cars and light trucks get older, they could be more difficult and expensive to repair -- especially as high-quality electronic replacement parts become difficult to obta ...
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On Twitter, retail events and auto shows are marketing gold

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 12
blogs

VINCE BOND JR.:  New data show that retail events and auto shows are key drivers of consumer conversations on Twitter. The research, conducted by Canvs on behalf of Twitter, found that tweets in which people consider specific makes triple during retail events such as truck month or year-end sales. The same was true for auto shows, where consumers are bombarded with the hottest upcoming vehicles. Make-considerati ...
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Life or death decisions

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 12
blogs
This Audi A7 concept covered almost 550 miles largely on autopilot from Palo Alto, Calif., to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
LUCA CIFERRI:  In the near future I could be writing this column from the driver’s seat of my car while the vehicle steers itself along the highway. This highlights just one of the possibilities that self-driving and increasingly connected cars open up to people like me who are fascinated by any new technology. Audi’s sales and marketing chief, Luca de Meo, one of the brightest auto executives I hav ...
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Dealer putting Mayweather's big-ticket Enzo back on the market

Posted 4:15 pm U.S. ET, June 11
blogs

VINCE BOND JR.:  A familiar guest is back at exotic-car dealership Fusion Luxury Motors. The rare 2003 Ferrari Enzo supercar that boxer Floyd Mayweather bought from the dealership in January is going back up for sale. Obi Okeke, co-owner of the Chatsworth, Calif. dealership, said he will sell the car for Mayweather. He’s expecting to list it between $3.6 million to $3.8 million. Mayweather said during the ...
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Why Nissan Leaf sales surged -- and yet fell 33%

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 11
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
NASHVILLE -- A number of news sites reported last week that U.S. sales of the Nissan Leaf and other electric-drive vehicles looked good in May -- “surging” was one of the words they used to describe it. The opposite was true. Leaf sales fell 33 percent from year-earlier levels, and that’s dramatic. Nissan has its hands full with the car right now, and that’s what Automotiv ...
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Tesla sours on swappable batteries

Posted 4:03 pm U.S. ET, June 10
blogs
Gabe Nelson is an Automotive News reporter.
GABE NELSON:  PALO ALTO, Calif. -- When it unveiled the Model S, Tesla Motors Inc. crowed about its fast-swapping technology, demonstrating in 2013 that a depleted battery could be swapped for a fresh one in minutes. Later, it built a swap station in Harris Ranch, Calif., halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, to test the technology. But there’s a problem, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says: Customers aren ...
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Why credit bureaus' loan data vary

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, June 10
blogs Hannah Lutz is a staff reporter covering finance and insurance for Automotive News.
 
The three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax, publish their auto finance data in spurts throughout the year, usually a week or two apart from one another. But one thing always stops me when reporting the data: The trends are the same, but the numbers don’t match up. For example, TransUnion said the 60-day delinquency rate for auto loans during the first quarter was 0.99 ...
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A prescient meeting with Al Iacobelli

Posted 4:17 pm U.S. ET, June 9
blogs David Barkholz covers labor for Automotive News.
 
In 10 years of covering UAW negotiations for Automotive News, a face-to-face conversation I had with Al Iacobelli in 2011 stands above the rest. Iacobelli, who retired suddenly today as Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s head of North American employee relations, had taken me through all the facts and figures on why a still-mending FCA couldn’t afford to give its UAW-represented workers a rai ...
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