Blogs

A rare misfire for Subaru with new Levorg wagon?

Posted 10:39 am U.S. ET, April 17
blogs
The Levorg, which gets its mouthful of a name from an amalgam of Legacy, Revolution and Touring, attempts to fill a gap created by the discontinuation of the Legacy wagon.
HANS GREIMEL:  TOKYO -- Subaru, one of the hottest brands in the United States, may have chalked up a rare misfire with its newest nameplate -- a small wagon dubbed the Levorg. And I’m not just talking about the car’s tortured nomenclature. The direct-injection turbocharged sports tourer goes on sale in Japan in May. But advance orders of the Levorg have missed the company’s goal -- a rarity ...
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Some New Yorkers really want that Nissan cab

Posted 9:48 am U.S. ET, April 17
blogs
Despite a judge voiding Nissan's lucrative 10-year, billion-dollar Taxi of Tomorrow contract with the city in October, the company has gone ahead with sales here. (LINDSAY CHAPPELL)
LINDSAY CHAPPELL:  NEW YORK -- First a New York judge blocked a deal to make the Nissan NV200 the city’s official taxi last year. Now the cops want to write one of the van’s drivers a ticket. A stiff-upper-lipped Nissan is rolling out a couple of mock NV200 yellow New York taxis this week to carry visitors and VIPs around the city during the New York auto show. But the pretend taxis may look a little t ...
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At Chrysler Group, 2 brands seek new frontiers

Posted 7:15 am U.S. ET, April 17
blogs
Jeep: Poised to take a big but complicated step and build SUVs in China. (BLOOMBERG)
DAVE GUILFORD:  NEW YORK -- From the moment that Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne pulled off the audacious deal to gain control of a deeply damaged Chrysler Group in 2009, the new ownership has confounded expectations. The company’s very survival has surprised many observers, of course. So has its continuing streak of sales increases, now at 48 months of year-over-year gains. And the Ram brand, headed by Rei ...
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Inquiry into alleged CFPB bias picks up steam

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 16
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
The issue of whether, ironically, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau allegedly discriminates against its own employees has got legs. A subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee heard really scorching -- but totally one-sided -- testimony in a hearing earlier this month from Angela Martin, an attorney who works at the CFPB, accusing the CFPB of a “culture of retaliation an ...
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Brace yourself for 'velocity'

Posted 1:06 pm U.S. ET, April 16
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief for Automotive News.
 
NEW YORK -- There’s a new buzzword trending through the car business right now: velocity. It has been popping up in conversations and presentations for a while, and is on the lips of visitors here at the New York auto show. And it might be a good thing. In its new use, velocity simply means the speed with which auto dealers can process a customer from tire-kicker into a satisfied new owner ...
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Mazda throws a big birthday party for Miata

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 16
blogs
Mazda is heralding 25 years of the Miata at the New York auto show this week. (DAVID PHILLIPS)
RYAN BEENE:  On paper, the MX-5 Miata probably shouldn’t be that important to Mazda. Last year, the roadster accounted for just 2 percent of Mazda’s U.S. sales, with fewer than 6,000 units sold. Toyota sells more Camrys in a week. The market for sporty, two-seat cars is a shadow of what it once was since competitors have all but abandoned making the kind of affordable sporty cars that the Miata ep ...
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Why the Mustang II should get its due

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 16
blogs
The smaller and more fuel-efficient Mustang II rolled into Ford showrooms just weeks before several Middle Eastern countries declared an oil embargo.
RICHARD TRUETT:  One member of the Mustang family won’t have a very high-profile role at this week’s 50th anniversary celebrations: the 1974-78 Mustang II. But if you reconsider the case of the Mustang II, you may find it is time to give the car the respect it is due. Had the Mustang II not been a massive sales success -- more than a million were sold in five model years -- the Mustang story may have ...
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A mixed message about GM's PR -- but why?

Posted 3:44 pm U.S. ET, April 15
blogs Philip Nussel is editor of autonews.com.
 
If a company changes its head of public relations in the midst of a public relations crisis that stems from a recall crisis, does that not send a certain message? Yes, unless the company is General Motors. On Monday, GM parted ways with Selim Bingol, its head of public relations -- but, for whatever reason, said it was not related to the company’s festering public relations crisis. Rather, ...
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Waiting for Alfa. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Posted 10:46 am U.S. ET, April 15
blogs
The Alfa Romeo 4C already is well-known in Europe, but its appearance at the New York auto show will mark the first time since 1992 that Alfa has shown a vehicle at a major U.S. show.
LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE:  If you show up decades late for your own surprise party, are guests still expected to cheer your arrival? Maybe not for most. But it might be a different story if your name is Alfa Romeo. This week, the Alfa Romeo 4C will appear at the New York auto show, marking the sporty two-seater’s North American debut. There won’t be a formal news conference -- the 4C is already well-known in ...
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Autos' enthusiasm for emerging markets hits brakes

Posted 2:11 pm U.S. ET, April 15
blogs Dave Guilford is news editor for Automotive News.
 
NEW YORK -- It’s been common for years to hear that emerging markets will power global growth in auto sales. Global automakers have jostled to position themselves for that growth, particularly in the much-touted BRIC markets -- Brazil, Russia, India and China. But that growth formula has been looking a little less solid lately. Tension with Russia over the annexation of Crimea, with the pr ...
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With SportWagen concept, VW mulls awd for North America

Posted 11:39 am U.S. ET, April 14
blogs
VW says the new SportWagen's body shell is lighter than the current Jetta SportWagen and offers an enhanced crash structure. (VW)
GABE NELSON:  WASHINGTON -- A certain type of person went gaga when Volkswagen AG released details on the Golf SportWagen that it will show at the New York auto show this week. A station wagon? Oh, yes. With a diesel engine? Bingo. And a manual transmission? You bet your hatch. For those enthusiasts who take pride in going against the grain of the U.S. car market, it doesn’t get much better than that. W ...
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Mustang changed lives, inspired careers

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 13
blogs
Richard Truett: Impressed at a young age that someone at Ford cared enough to research the history of his 1967 Mustang GTA. (RICHARD TRUETT)
RICHARD TRUETT:  Kevin Laughlin lived across the street from me when I was growing up in Orlando, Fla. He made a living rebuilding air-cooled Volkswagens, Beetles, buses and Karmann Ghias. After school and on weekends, I was drawn to Laughlin’s backyard like a moth to a light to see what he was working on and, on some occasions, help in minor ways, handing him tools and assisting with engine installations. ...
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Why new world Tesla needs old world factory relief

Posted 7:27 am U.S. ET, April 12
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief for Automotive News.
 
Analysts, pundits and commentators have been mesmerized of late by two very big issues facing Tesla Motors. Issue 1: Will state dealer laws allow Tesla to go on selling its cars direct, without a retail franchise network? And Issue 2: How will little Tesla build its $5 billion “Gigafactory” -- a breathtaking plan to build batteries on a scale that vastly outreaches Tesla’s curren ...
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Compact SUVs to shine at Beijing show

Posted 5:58 am U.S. ET, April 11
blogs Yang Jian is managing editor of Automotive News China.
 
SHANGHAI -- Ten years ago, many Chinese families could not afford a car. Today, not only can they afford one, but they're getting picky about which vehicle to buy. SUVs, with their high seating position and wide view of the road, have won the hearts of Chinese consumers. Within the segment, compact models are the big sellers because they are less expensive and easier to maneuver on China's conges ...
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Subaru-sponsored study identifies safe dog harness

Posted 6:21 pm U.S. ET, April 10
blogs
Jamie LaReau is a reporter for Automotive News.
JAMIE LAREAU:  In the book Citizen Canine, author David Grimm examines whether dogs are on the edge of becoming legal “persons” in this country. For those who think the answer is, or is close to becoming, yes, Subaru of America has significant news: Only one of the 11 dog harnesses designed for use in cars can be rated “acceptable.” Subaru funded a study late last year with the Center f ...
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Why the UAW appeal at VW is a slippery slope

Posted 3:23 pm U.S. ET, April 9
blogs
Actor Danny Glover, flanked by union activists, came to the Detroit auto show in 2013 to press the case for the UAW's organizing efforts at Nissan's Mississippi plant. (JOE VERMILLION, UAW)
PHILIP NUSSEL:  The UAW better be careful what it wishes for. If the union convinces President Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board that it’s an unfair labor practice for political leaders to be publicly involved in an organizing effort, then organized labor risks diluting the power of its best weapon: public pressure. The UAW clearly has a case in contesting its lost election in February a ...
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Misleading sales ads hurt F&I

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 9
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
State and federal regulators have cracked down this year on misleading dealership advertising. In just about every case, their complaint was that the advertising failed to adequately disclose financial terms or hidden costs. The regulators’ complaints weren’t aimed at the F&I office. But customers don’t necessarily distinguish between a dealership’s marketing and F& ...
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Why GM dealers have a chance to shine

Posted 7:30 am U.S. ET, April 5
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief for Automotive News.
 
NASHVILLE -- There’s no getting around the fact that General Motors is taking a clubbing right now. A huge recall, several lawsuits, a blistering congressional hearing, apologies to consumers, potential criminal investigations -- it’s all bad. But then there are the retailers. The image of 2.6 million cars being recalled is ugly. But the prospect of 2.6 million GM customers queuing ...
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We need more bite from our safety watchdogs

Posted 3:59 pm U.S. ET, April 3
blogs
If David Friedman took any heat, it was more like warmth: sympathy from lawmakers for an agency that labors under a shortage of money and manpower. (BLOOMBERG)
KRISHNAN M. ANANTHARAMAN:  Over the course of two blistering hearings, General Motors CEO Mary Barra proved she has a lot to learn about the optics and political dynamics of Washington. For a lesson, she might call up David Friedman. The acting chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mostly charmed his way through two rounds of questioning on Capitol Hill this week that touched on the agency’s un ...
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Land Rover's vision of an expanded Discovery family

Posted 7:15 pm U.S. ET, April 2
blogs
Land Rover says the headlights on the Discovery Vision Concept SUV emit the closest thing to daylight than any other form of artificial light. (LAND ROVER)
DIANA T. KURYLKO:  NEW YORK -- Land Rover is taking its largest vehicle, the LR4 in the United States and the Discovery elsewhere, and making a family of it. The luxury SUV specialist said at the Geneva auto show in March that an expanded Discovery range would debut in 2015. The second part of the story is unfolding in New York this week with the introduction of the Discovery Vision Concept SUV. The use of only th ...
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Lawmakers want heads to roll, and won't excuse Barra

Posted 5:56 pm U.S. ET, April 2
blogs
Barra has agreed to return to the Senate and testify again. (BLOOMBERG)
GABE NELSON:  WASHINGTON -- Mary Barra survived back-to-back brushes with the U.S. Congress. But judging from the rough reception she got on Wednesday from the Senate Commerce Committee’s consumer protection panel, it was clear that this is just the start of General Motors’ reckoning on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers treated the CEO more roughly than their U.S. House counterparts did Tuesday. Led by subc ...
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If you like paying MSRP, then Tesla/Apple is for you

Posted 4:44 pm U.S. ET, April 2
blogs James B. Treece is retail news editor for Automotive News.
 
The next time you’re in an Apple store, try this. When one of the product geniuses who work there approaches you, ask him or her, “So, how much below list price are you offering this iPhone 5 for this month?” The answer will tell you why I roll my eyes at the suggestion that Tesla’s fight against the franchised dealer system is all about aiding consumers. You know what I ...
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Off-lease surge should spark even more leasing

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 2
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
Scheduled lease terminations are expected to grow again in 2014, providing a strong tailwind for additional leases this year and higher customer loyalty. Lease customers are more loyal than loan or cash customers to a particular brand or dealership. After all, the dealership has a built-in chance to sell or lease the customer another car when they bring in their off-lease vehicle. In 2013, lease ...
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3 things the GM hearing exposed: Leaks, blurred lines and a media circus

Posted 9:13 pm U.S. ET, April 1
blogs
GM CEO Mary Barra is sworn in before testifying at a House Energy and Commerce Committee oversight panel hearing in Washington on Tuesday. (BLOOMBERG)
GABE NELSON:  WASHINGTON -- If you boil it down, few new facts emerged from Tuesday’s frenzied four-hour U.S. House hearing on General Motors’ recall crisis, prompted by a faulty ignition switch that GM has linked to dozens of crashes and at least 13 deaths. GM CEO Mary Barra stuck to script beautifully. In two hours of testimony, she told members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee tha ...
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Auto companies are buying the creative souls of late night TV

Posted 6:42 pm U.S. ET, April 1
blogs Larry P. Vellequette covers Chrysler for Automotive News.
 
Two bedrocks of late night TV did something so unseemly last week it looked as though they had responded to an unholy informercial. Are you an artist looking to sell your soul, but don’t want to stand at the Crossroads waiting for the Devil? If you are, then we’ve got great news! Detroit wants to make you a counteroffer! That’s right: Cash-rich auto companies are looking to bu ...
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