Blogs

Marchionne is so right and so wrong about consolidation

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, May 5
blogs
Standards for bumpers, headlights and other safety features vary from market to market, adding to engineering costs for automakers. (BLOOMBERG)
RICHARD TRUETT:  Fiat Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne is absolutely right in his call for industry consolidation. But he is absolutely wrong about what needs consolidating. In a call with analysts last week to discuss Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ first quarter earnings, Marchionne went rogue and launched into a discussion further pressing his case for automaker megamergers. Car companies, he believes, must ...
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GM sends another contract-year message to UAW

Posted 4:00 pm U.S. ET, May 5
blogs David Barkholz is a reporter for Automotive News.
 
How do you know UAW negotiations with the Detroit 3 have started in earnest? If you’d asked me a week ago, I’d have said when the UAW completes its special bargaining convention held every four years so the rank and file can talk tactics and make desires known for the upcoming negotiations. General Motors, though, has prompted me to add a corollary. Now I’m convinced it’ ...
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Piech's absence dominates VW annual meeting

Posted 6:43 am U.S. ET, May 5
blogs Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
 
Ferdinand Piech was absent from Volkswagen Group's annual meeting today after he quit as chairman last month, but he may cause VW's leadership more headaches than ever before. Since May 4 was Star Wars Day, permit a small comparison. In the popular science fiction movie Obi-Wan Kenobi warned his protege, Darth Vader, before their fateful light saber duel on the Death Star, "strike me down and I s ...
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Hooray for GM's 500 millionth vehicle?

Posted 10:39 am U.S. ET, May 4
blogs
GM CEO Mary Barra celebrates the company's 500 millionth vehicle earlier today. (Reuters)
MIKE COLIAS:  DETROIT -- General Motors CEO Mary Barra and other top brass are in Kansas City today to mark the company's 500th million vehicle. It must be hard for GM to decide when to celebrate its considerable corporate heritage, and when to pretend that it doesn't exist pre-2009. A GM press release ticks off an impressive list of innovations that have rolled off GM assembly lines among those half billion ...
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How auto dealers can get behind safer driving, 1 teen at a time

Posted 1:46 pm U.S. ET, May 4
blogs Larry P. Vellequette covers Fiat Chrysler for Automotive News.
 
In every city of any size in North America are auto dealers who compete with each other like crazy for new-car sales. Yet these same women and men are quick to set aside any differences and work together for the good of their communities -- when the need arises. This weekend, I experienced a program, born out of tragedy, that is tailor-made for local dealer cooperation. Be Responsible and Keep ...
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April like a dry day at harvest time - no time to sit back

Posted 5:15 pm U.S. ET, May 1
blogs Jesse Snyder is opinion page editor at Automotive News.
 
U.S. auto sales were good in April. Up 4.6 percent is about what we expected, right? Solid. Profitable. Gratifying. And yeah, a bit boring. Yet another month of just-fine-thanks. After all that frantic double-digit growth we’ve had, it’s tempting to wake up and just relax while pondering a second cup of coffee before heading to work. But we’d be better served taking a farmer&r ...
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Family takes Dave Smith name forward

Posted 1:58 pm U.S. ET, May 1
blogs Reporter Amy Wilson covers auto retailing out of Atlanta for Automotive News.
 
Ken Smith wants his dad’s name to live on. And it’s about to, in a much bigger way. With last week’s sale of Dave Smith Auto Group of Kellogg, Idaho, to RFJ Auto Partners Inc., the Dave Smith name will go out on the road. RFJ intends to brand future dealership acquisitions in the Northwest as Dave Smith stores. The name will even be considered as a brand for RFJ’s stores i ...
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Why Marchionne needs a powerful 'mother-in-law'

Posted 5:59 am U.S. ET, April 30
blogs Luca Ciferri is editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s latest call for industry consolidation looks like a husband seeking his mother-in-law’s help to solve a problem with his wife. The last time we saw this tactic employed Renault Nissan CEO Carlo Ghosn was in the husband role, activist investor Kirk Kerkorian was the mother-in-law and the goal was to get Renault-Nissan and General Motors ...
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Which approach to autonomous driving will win?

Posted 3:57 pm U.S. ET, April 29
blogs Dave Guilford is a news editor at Automotive News.
 
An economic development group in Paris just issued a study predicting that autonomously driven “taxibots” will largely replace private vehicles. So you can add taxi driver to bookstore clerk, mail carrier and telephone installer on the list of digitally endangered professions. More significantly for the auto industry, the whole taxibot idea represents one extreme in the increasingly b ...
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Finally, a lender owns up

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, April 29
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
Auto lenders carefully avoid naming their competitors, especially when they want to criticize. It’s always the unnamed other guy who gets “aggressive” in approving loans, making life harder, and -- shudder -- potentially riskier for everybody else. That’s why it was refreshing this week when Jeffrey Brown, CEO of Ally Financial Inc., figuratively raised his hand on Tuesda ...
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Daimler mimics BMW with conservative profit outlook

Posted 6:17 am U.S. ET, April 29
blogs Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe Germany correspondent.
 
Daimler seems to have taken a lead from BMW in keeping its 2015 profit outlook conservative to avoid any risk whatsoever of potentially giving the financial markets an unpleasant surprise later in the year. The automaker reported Tuesday that quarterly EBIT increased 41 percent to 2.93 billion euros ($3.19 billion) with results from its cars, trucks, vans units and even its China joint venture al ...
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The F-150, Ford's heavy-duty profit hauler

Posted 2:33 pm U.S. ET, April 28
blogs
Ford made 60,000 fewer F-150s in the first quarter of this year than it did last year. CFO Bob Shanks says model changeover led to the lower output of the pickup, which had an impact on the automaker's profit.
NICK BUNKLEY:  Forget aluminum. Ford Motor Co.’s first-quarter earnings report is a reminder that the redesigned F-150 is still made of the same thing it always has been. Money. Ford CFO Bob Shanks said the automaker could have earned at least $1 billion more in North America if it had built the same number of F-150s and Edge crossovers as in the first three months of 2014. Instead, production of those ...
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The knock on higher octane

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, April 28
blogs
High octane gasoline opens the door to smaller, high performing engines that can yield real-world fuel economy gains of between 3 and 6 percent, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions about 2 percent, experts say. (BLOOMBERG)
RICHARD TRUETT:  Look for the debate over raising the octane levels at U.S. gasoline pumps -- perhaps making 93 octane the new regular -- to get a lot louder between now and 2017. Here’s why: Automakers and suppliers are spending record amounts of money on product development to meet the government-mandated 54.5 mpg fleet fuel economy average in the 2025 model year. They very likely will need higher octane ...
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Mercedes G-Wagen latest victim in China's clone wars

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, April 28
blogs
How affordable will this G-wagon copy be once it goes on sale in China? (NEWSPRESS)
JAY RAMEY:  Last week at the Shanghai auto show, Land Rover was coming to terms with selling the Range Rover Evoque alongside its half-priced Chinese clone, the Land Wind X7. Not to be outdone, Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. unveiled its own version of a western SUV, opting for the classic Mercedes-Benz G class. The relationship between Daimler AG and BAIC differs from that between Jaguar ...
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The president should have said 'Mexico'

Posted 11:23 am U.S. ET, April 28
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
Is China really the competitive threat that will spur Congress to sign off on the proposed new free-trade pact with Japan and other Asian nations? That’s what President Barack Obama recently said as he tries to win over Democrat and Republican skeptics in Congress. Obama warned that if the United States fails to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan, Vietnam, Singapore and eight ...
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Why Piech's departure is bad for the industry

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 27
blogs Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe Germany correspondent.
 
Of all the backdrops befitting a historic event for Germany’s auto industry, the least likely would have to be an insignificant airport in the city of Brunswick, a tiny satellite that orbits the massive VW factory in nearby Wolfsburg.On Saturday, however, it served as the meeting place where Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech, outnumbered five to one during a meeting of the board’s mo ...
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Uber might trump the cost of car ownership, but not leasing…yet

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 25
blogs Jamie LaReau covers the automotive retail beat for Automotive News.
 
Most dealers probably don’t lose sleep with worry that Uber, the popular app-based service that pairs private drivers with riders, will usurp car ownership anytime soon despite Uber’s ambitions to make it so. In most cases, when a person drives more than 13,500 miles a year, car ownership is still ideal and ultimately cheaper than using ride-sharing, according to published reports tha ...
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Maybe NHTSA could use excessive force to fix old Jeeps -- or leg traps

Posted 2:25 pm U.S. ET, April 24
blogs Larry P. Vellequette covers Fiat Chrysler for Automotive News.
 
Editors note: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect model years of recalled Jeep Libertys. So the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering its options on how to speed up the repair rate on a couple older recalls, including one involving hundreds of thousands of old Jeep Grand Cherokees and Libertys. May I suggest leg traps? You know, those inhumane devices that ...
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Buick chief says new China duties won't distract from 'a lot more to do' in U.S.

Posted 6:00 am U.S. ET, April 24
blogs
Aldred: “We've got a good start, but there's a lot more to do.”
MIKE COLIAS:  SHANGHAI -- In the year since he took over the Buick and GMC brands in the U.S., Duncan Aldred has made a lot of fans among dealers. He's earned a reputation as a sales and marketing exec willing to try new things, such as a 16 percent cash-back offer tied to the 'Sweet Sixteen' during the NCAA men's basketball tournament last month. He also successfully pushed for a 50 percent increase in suppl ...
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Midsize with a four-banger or large and loaded? How auto insurance affects consumers' buying power

Posted 11:32 am U.S. ET, April 23
blogs Jesse Snyder is opinion page editor at Automotive News.
 
Want $7,700 more to spend on a new car? Move from Michigan to Maine before you insure it. That’s because U.S. insurance premiums on a new vehicle vary wildly by state, according Insure.com, from a high of $206 a month in Michigan to $67 in Maine. All else equal, a buyer can spend $139 a month more for car payments in the Pine Tree State than in the Great Lakes State. That adds up over the l ...
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Why the auto industry should root for Tesla's battery play

Posted 3:20 pm U.S. ET, April 22
blogs Gabe Nelson covers Silicon Valley for Automotive News.
 
When it unveils its first batteries for homes and businesses next week, Tesla Motors will no longer be a car company. It will be an energy company, competing against electric utilities just as it has gone after the car market. Any automaker or supplier that has invested heavily in electric cars or fuel cells should be quietly cheering for Tesla to succeed, because it would mean that car companies ...
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Toyota's message to critics who, um, pooh-pooh fuel cells

Posted 3:40 pm U.S. ET, April 22
blogs
Toyota's video was directed by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who directed and starred in the 2004 documentary Super Size Me.
VINCE BOND JR.:  Toyota has a message for critics who call bullsh*t on hydrogen fuel cells: You’re right -- in one sense. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, Toyota launched a new campaign today showing how cow pies are a viable source of renewable energy. The catch phrase: “We’re driving down the road, running on bullsh*t,” uttered by a dairy farmer as he wheeled the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fu ...
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Auto finance critic Warren stands firm on CFPB dealership oversight

Posted 11:15 am U.S. ET, April 22
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is once again calling for direct regulation of auto dealerships by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In a stinging speech last week, she also advocated for what amounts to a ban on dealer markup on auto loans and equated auto loans with “the pre-crisis housing market,” which helped bring about the 2008-09 recession. “It’s no coincidence&rdquo ...
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With 3-D printing, product development flies

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, April 21
blogs
An axle casing made of resin.
RICHARD TRUETT:  It’s not uncommon for an engineer or designer at Fiat Chrysler’s tech center in Auburn Hills, Mich., to see a prototype part deposited on his or her desk less than 24 hours after ordering it. That kind of speed -- never before consistently possible in the auto industry -- reduces development costs by cutting dramatically the amount of time and labor expended in the vehicle creation pr ...
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Who's using whom in the Mazda-Toyota Mexican marriage?

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, April 21
blogs
Scion's Doug Murtha reveals the Scion iA sedan in New York.
HANS GREIMEL:  TOKYO -- From the beginning, Mazda Motor Corp.’s deal to build a small car for Toyota Motor Corp. at Mazda’s new plant in Mexico was a marriage of convenience. But the debut this month of the vehicle, the Scion iA sedan, raises the question of which company is getting the better bargain. Mazda is loaning a rival one of its biggest brand assets: its distinct Kodo design language. Scion ...
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