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Vauxhall flexes its muscles

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 14
blogs Nick Gibbs is UK Correspondent at Automotive News Europe.
 
Opel and Vauxhall’s harmonious relationship was tested recently by the naming of their new minicar. Vauxhall fought against using a name that just wouldn’t work in Britain -- and won. Germany-based Opel picked the name Karl for the brand’s budget minicar, which debuts next year. Opel and Vauxhall have shared vehicle names since 1995, but the German-sounding, German-spelled Karl ...
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Montezemolo's Ferrari departure no laughing matter

Posted 4:48 am U.S. ET, Sept. 12
blogs Gilles Castonguay is an Automotive News Europe correspondent in Italy.
 
After announcing his departure as Ferrari chairman at a news conference Wednesday, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo put his hands on Sergio Marchionne's shoulders and gently pulled him away from a scrum with journalists eager to ask more questions. "After Cernobbio, I have to keep an eye on him," he joked. Montezemolo was referring to Marchionne's criticism of Ferrari's lack of Formula One succe ...
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Montezemolo's magic touch

Posted 7:20 am U.S. ET, Sept. 10
blogs
Montezemolo has led Ferrari to record-breaking success both on and off the racetrack.
LUCA CIFERRI:  When Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo officially steps down next month the supercar maker will lose its No. 1 salesman. During his two decades in Maranello, he was the main reason why Ferrari always sold out its high-margin limited-edition supercars even before they were unveiled to the public. He did this – and a whole lot more – by enhancing Ferrari’s magical plac ...
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Nissan, Renault, Dacia and Lada benefit from low-cost car vision

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 5
blogs
A Renault Duster with Moscow's St. Basil's Cathedral in the background.
LUCA CIFERRI:  The global reach of Renault’s budget-car program, which was dreamed up by former Renault CEO Louis Schweitzer in the late 1990s, was very much in evidence at the recent Moscow auto show where seven models underpinned by the automaker’s B0 low-cost platform were on display. The entry-level cars are sold in global markets under four different brands: Dacia, Renault, Nissan and Lada. In ...
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Mazda MX-5 restores love at first sight

Posted 6:28 am U.S. ET, Sept. 4
blogs
The fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 goes on sale in Europe next year.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC:  The fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 instantly reignited a fire in this longtime Miata co-owner. It’s a feeling that the current model -- with its odd-shaped hood and gaping mouth -- could never muster. Our Miata joined the family fleet in 2001, which was about three years into the second generation. The car traveled with my wife and me when we relocated to southern Germany from Florida a year ...
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Tough times for Carlos Ghosn

Posted 4:49 am U.S. ET, Sept. 2
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
It has been a tough 13 months for Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. Since August 2013 he has had three highly skilled leaders leave the alliance. Nissan Chief Planning Officer Andy Palmer is the latest 50-something executive to depart. Palmer, 51, who will become CEO of Aston Martin, follows Johan de Nysschen and Carlos Tavares out the door. De Nysschen, 54, quit his post as Infiniti CEO in July ...
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Hollywood glamour, Parisian chic and the Peugeot 308

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Aug. 26
blogs
The 308 features in car chase scenes in the Hollywood movie "Lucy."
BRUCE GAIN:  PSA/Peugeot-Citroen's survival as a company largely hinges on the company selling at least half of its cars outside of Europe compared with about 40 percent now. As a glamorous means to that end, PSA is using Luc Besson's Hollywood film "Lucy" to give the Peugeot 308 a marketing push in more than 50 markets around the world. The 308 is featured in a scene in which Scarlett Johansson, one of the b ...
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Why Korea could be next to crack down on foreign brand pricing

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Aug. 20
blogs Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.
 
Could China's crackdown on perceived price gouging by foreign automakers trigger a domino effect next door in South Korea, where sale of overseas brands are heating up? Authorities there are already getting tough on the pricing of auto parts. And public opinion in Korea apparently supports China's ongoing probe and favors sterner measures at home. Pressure on foreign brands in South Korea could ...
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Why Beijing's antitrust crackdown has little to do with protectionism

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Aug. 17
blogs Yang Jian is managing editor of Automotive News China.
 
Over the last month, the National Development and Reform Commission has launched a slew of antitrust investigations into the pricing practices of foreign automakers. One might logically conclude that China's central economic planning agency is doing all this to protect domestic automakers. But this notion is misleading even though the NDRC has used questionable tactics to conduct its investigatio ...
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Ford Fiesta, VW Polo make big moves in Web world

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Aug. 15
blogs
The Ford Fiesta ranked No. 2 in 3 out of 4 measures of online popularity in Q2.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC:  The Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo were big Web winners during the second quarter. Other stars were the Land Rover Discovery, BMW X6 and Toyota Yaris. The Fiesta got a boost from being named Car of the Year by The Telegraph in May. The subcompact beat models such as the Volkswagen Golf, Range Rover Evoque and Jaguar XF. The British newspaper picked the Fiesta for its agility, comfortable ride, f ...
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Automakers to face intensified scrutiny over voice recognition

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Aug. 14
blogs
Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief for Automotive News
LINDSAY CHAPPELL:  The world's automakers are going to be doing a lot of cringing now that J.D. Power plans to criticize them for one of the most poorly executed technologies they peddle to consumers -- voice recognition. In brief, vehicle voice-recognition technology is awful. It was lousy when it emerged in the early 1990s. And after 15 years of inclusion in vehicles across the price spectrum, it remains as lousy ...
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Lamborghini's special power to punctuate popularity

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Aug. 13
blogs
The Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 looks like something dreamed up for a comic book superhero.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC:  Nothing can prepare you for the sudden popularity that comes with driving a Lamborghini. One minute you’re as average as white bread, the next minute you’re being photographed like a supermodel, chatted up by awestruck strangers and chased by kids who just want to get within a few feet of a supercar. Jon Maffei, the general manager of Lamborghini Sarasota in Florida, warned me about t ...
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Why China's NDRC has become country's antitrust watchdog

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Aug. 12
blogs Yang Jian is managing editor of Automotive News China.
 
Until recently, the National Development and Reform Commission, a ministry-level government body, was very friendly toward foreign automakers, approving numerous factory projects the companies sought. But lately it has begun investigating global automakers for suspected monopolistic behavior. What prompted the about-face? The commission suddenly feels it has to justify its existence by transformin ...
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Audi's war chest could buy Fiat Chrysler

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Aug. 7
blogs Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
 
If there is one thing that Audi’s first-half results prove, it's that Volkswagen Group’s premium brand earns so much cash it could easily swallow Fiat-Chrysler whole. VW’s 77-year old chairman, Ferdinand Piech, is known to be a fan of Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, and he wants to lead the company to industry leadership via an ever growing stable of brands sold across the globe. Recen ...
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For some investors, Fiat's meeting to approve Chrysler merger felt like a funeral

Posted 12:42 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 1
blogs Gilles Castonguay is an Automotive News Europe correspondent in Italy
 
Fiat shareholders were in a resigned mood Friday when they met to vote on the Italian carmaker’s merger with Chrysler Group. "Today we are attending Fiat’s funeral," said Marco Bava, a notoriously combative shareholder, as he went to cast his vote at the extraordinary assembly. The majority of investors voted in favor of the plan. Not only were the shareholders holding their last mee ...
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Fiat would find a safe haven in VW

Posted 4:59 am U.S. ET, July 29
blogs Guido Reinking is editor-in-chief of Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe.
 
Some things sound so improbable that you think that they just might be true. Reports that Volkswagen may buy Fiat-Chrysler (FCA) come under this category. VW patriarch Ferdinand Piech has always been interested in buying Fiat's Alfa Romeo and Ferrari units, but the likelihood of VW acquiring the whole of FCA seems absurd. However, the idea has its appeal: It would allow VW to overcome its weaknes ...
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VW, Ford, Nissan eye China's entry-level market

Posted 4:35 am U.S. ET, July 28
blogs
Nissan's Venucia R30 is the lowest-priced subcompact that any global brand has sold in China. (Nissan)
YANG JIAN:  SHANGHAI -- For a long time, global automakers have been reluctant to sell inexpensive vehicles in China because they didn't want to reduce the healthy profit margins on their products. But the landscape is changing and now foreign automakers are jumping into China's entry-level market. Nissan's Chinese joint venture last week introduced a rebadged Nissan March. Marketed as the Venucia R30, the ...
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With its new minivan, BMW ditches rwd for practicality

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, July 20
blogs
To preserve its sporty image, BMW is targeting the 2-series Active Tourer minivan at outdoor enthusiasts.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER:  Even auto industry darling BMW has to obey the laws of physics: a rear-wheel-drive car that is compact yet roomy is a paradox. So for traditional fans of the luxury brand, the 2-series Active Tourer minivan is nothing less than a heresy on wheels -- the first modern-era BMW-badged car where power from a transversely mounted engine is applied to the front axle. The 2-series Active Tourer is perhap ...
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PSA may be better off without Thierry Peugeot

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, July 11
blogs
Thierry Peugeot, pictured on the large screen, was the Peugeot family strongman but has now lost his seat on the PSA board.
BRUCE GAIN:  PSA/Peugeot-Citroen’s future could be brighter following the departure of its influential former chairman Thierry Peugeot from the automaker’s supervisory board. Thierry’s departure signals the end of dissent among Peugeot family members over the automaker’s capital tie-up with China’s Dongfeng Motor, industry watchers say. Thierry publicly opposed the terms of Dong ...
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Gesture recognition makes dials, buttons obsolete

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, July 1
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
Buttons and dials may become obsolete to control your car's radio, heater and navigation system. That’s because those functions can now be managed with the wave of the hand. Gesture-recognition technology could appear in a production car as early as next year, SoftKinetic Chief Marketing Officer Eric Krzeslo told me on the sidelines of the we.CONECT Car HMI Concepts & Systems conference ...
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Will global automakers drop Chinese partners?

Posted 7:32 am U.S. ET, June 30
blogs
Yang Jian is Managing Editor of Automotive News China
YANG JIAN:  Under China's regulations, foreign automakers may not own more than 50 percent of their joint ventures with Chinese partners. But that may change. Since President Xi Jinping took office early last year, he has repeatedly pledged to shore up China's economic growth by opening up the domestic market. Heeding the pledge, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce said last year that the government wo ...
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BMW's iDrive earns high marks, but doesn't match Apple

Posted 7:37 am U.S. ET, June 27
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
BMW’s iDrive system ranked highest in Germany and Italy for user experience in a recent test, but the automaker and its peers have a long way to go to match Apple. The overall user experience score for automakers’ human-machine interface (HMI) systems was 4.3 out of a possible 6.0. By comparison, the iPhone scores well above 5.0, said Tim Bosenick, global head of user experience at G ...
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At PSA, Tavares echoes Renault's management template

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 24
blogs Bruce Gain is an Automotive News Europe correspondent in France.
 
PSA/Peugeot-Citroen CEO Carlos Tavares’s new global management structure for the struggling automaker is very much like the one he left behind at Renault when he was Carlos Ghosn's No. 2. Tavares has appointed six regional directors to help ensure that PSA is profitable in all its regions. When he presented his Back in the Race turnaround plan for PSA in April, Tavares questioned why the au ...
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Toyota exec ready to 'help' Nissan in Europe

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 23
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
Toyota Europe CEO Didier Leroy says he’s ready to “help” Nissan achieve its stated goal of becoming the top-selling Japanese automaker in the region by 2016. Why? Because Leroy says he puts profit before volume. Leroy says he recently joked with some counterparts from Nissan about the automaker's desire to pass Toyota in Europe. He says he told them: “You want to be the No ...
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Walter de Silva: Italy's loss, VW's gain

Posted 6:37 am U.S. ET, June 13
blogs
Walter de Silva was awarded an honorary degree in design from Bologna University this month.
LUCA CIFERRI:  Walter de Silva is finally getting the recognition he deserves from his homeland. The Volkswagen Group styling czar this month was awarded an honorary degree in design from Bologna University. It comes 16 years after he, like so many Italians, he had to leave the country to achieve global success in his field. De Silva’s departure could have been prevented. In 1998 he was looking for a new ...
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