Automotive News Europe Blogs

While others stand up, Italy stands aside

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 30
blogs Luca Ciferri is editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
Formula One tire supplier Pirelli will have a Chinese owner. Ferrari styling house Pininfarina could be acquired by an Indian motorcycle manufacturer. The icon of Italian motorbikes, Ducati, is already in German hands, as well as Lamborghini and the most renowned Italian design house of modern times, Italdesign Giugiaro. Fiat -- now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles -- next month will have its first annua ...
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With Volvo's help, Geely goes upscale

Posted 4:31 am U.S. ET, March 27
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Yang Jian is managing editor of Automotive News China.
:  SHANGHAI -- Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. launched sales last week of its new flagship car, the GC9 midsize sedan. This is not the first time that Geely Chairman Li Shufu has tried to build a premium product. During the Shanghai auto show in 2009, Geely unveiled a limousine that looked like a poor man's Rolls-Royce. At the same event, Geely launched the Emgrand brand to attract business custo ...
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Fiat Chrysler may find perfect partner is from Asia

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 23
blogs
Larry P. Vellequette covers Fiat Chrysler for Automotive News
LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE:  Sergio Marchionne wants a dance partner for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The financial media keep trying to fix him up with Volkswagen Group, despite his refusal to be courted by this particular German fraulein and his repeated attempts to douse the rumors. As a casual observer, with my back to the dance hall wall, I think Marchionne has his eye on a potential mate in Asia. To me, there are three au ...
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Porsche boss Mueller, 62, says he's young enough to be VW Group CEO

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 20
blogs
Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller: "I stand ready to take over any assignment.” (Reuters)
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER:  Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller says he’s young and fit enough to be a candidate to succeed Martin Winterkorn as head of the Volkswagen Group. During the Porsche’s annual earnings press conference in Stuttgart on Friday, the newest member of the VW Group’s top management board effectively announced his desire for the job, dismissing a report that he had no interest because he is in ...
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China and cutting CO2 tough tasks for incoming BMW CEO Krueger

Posted 7:15 am U.S. ET, March 19
blogs Luca Ciferri is Editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
Incoming BMW CEO Harald Krueger’s biggest challenges will be China and CO2 emissions, the automaker’s current chief, Norbert Reithofer, said. BMW’s high profits in China are at risk as the market’s fast growth adjusts to normal industry levels, said Reithofer, who steps down as BMW CEO on May 15. Double-digit growth in car sales in China will not last. In future sales wil ...
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Why Land Rover leads among China's second-tier luxury brands

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 13
blogs
Last year, more than 34,000 Evoques were sold in China, one-third of the model's global sales.
YANG JIAN:  For two years in a row, Land Rover has remained China's fourth-largest luxury brand. It's hard for the British marque to challenge the three German brands -- Audi, BMW and Mercedes -- that collectively own more than 70 percent of China's premium car market. But over the next few years, Land Rover seems likely to strengthen its position as the leader among China's second-tier luxury brands. Land ...
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How Michelin may give Europe's SUV craze even more traction

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 13
blogs Nick Gibbs is UK Correspondent at Automotive News Europe.
 
Michelin has developed a tire that could give even more traction to Europe’s SUV craze. Right now, most customers assume that their new SUVs come standard with all-season tires. That is not the case. “We are going to address that,” Chief Operating Officer Florent Menegaux told me last week at the Geneva auto show. The French company’s answer to the problem is a tire that ...
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Ford's Farley feels the squeeze in Europe's middle

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 11
blogs
Ford of Europe CEO Jim Farley hopes car buyers in the region will choose the Edge large SUV over comparable models from premium brands.
NICK GIBBS:  The squeeze in the middle of the European car market is getting worse for volume automakers, Ford of Europe CEO Jim Farley says, but he's confident the automaker has the right solution to the problem. “Luxury brands are now in all the key volume segments, and the number of the value brands is growing so the traditional space for the mainstream brands is not as big as it used to be. We're se ...
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Why McLaren can be profitable without an SUV

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 10
blogs
McLaren spends 300 million pounds (415 million euros) a year on new model development. Its latest supercar is the 675LT, which debuted at the Geneva auto show last week.
NICK GIBBS:  McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt says the supercar maker doesn’t need an SUV to generate the cash required to keep renewing its range. Flewitt made the point when asked by reporters at the Geneva auto show last week whether McLaren needs to follow fellow British brands Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce into the growing niche for ultra-expensive SUVs. CEO Andy Palmer said last week t ...
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No German-driven 'rat race' for Volvo

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 5
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
Volvo r&d boss Peter Mertens is not impressed with the proliferation of models at the Swedish brand’s bigger German rivals. “They are in a rat race. We are not going to follow them,” he told a small group of reporters at the Geneva auto show this week. He was referring to the intense need BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz have to match each other on nearly every derivative in the ...
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Leroy's Toyota Europe success brings reward

Posted 6:34 am U.S. ET, March 4
blogs Luca Ciferri is Editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
When Frenchman Didier Leroy was promoted to head Toyota’s European operations in April 2011, his goal was to return the region to sustainable profitability. He succeeded Japanese executives who were successful at pushing Toyota’s sales in Europe, Turkey and Russia to above 1 million units a year. But the sales gains came with substantial financial losses in Europe. A prolonged financia ...
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Ford, Farley hope for success in U.S.-Russian diplomacy

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 3
blogs Dave Guilford is a news editor at Automotive News.
 
GENEVA -- In one of those uncanny coincidences, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met at the Hotel President Wilson here Monday to discuss the ceasefire in the Ukraine. A few hours later, Ford Motor Co. held its pre-Geneva show reception at the same hotel. Jim Farley, newly installed as head of Ford of Europe, vowed that the money-losing unit is “ ...
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Aston's clever distractions

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Feb. 27
blogs
The Aston Martin Vulcan produces more than 800 hp and will start at 1.8 million pounds. The racetrack-only car will debut at the Geneva auto show.
NICK GIBBS:  Aston Martin is cleverly covering up its biggest weakness -- its money-losing, aging lineup -- by creating headline-grabbing limited-edition models. The British automaker is counting on a recently announced hypercar and a concept car created specifically for the world’s best-known spy to maintain momentum at the brand until its next all-new model arrives in late 2016. Both vehicles feature ...
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Has diesel peaked in Europe?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Feb. 16
blogs

RICHARD TRUETT:  Driving into Paris a few years ago in a Peugeot diesel hatchback, I became lodged in a long line of traffic. I started coughing violently. It was so bad, I nearly couldn't drive. Thankfully, I had a bottle of water, which helped. I blamed diesel fumes. Pollution is one reason why the diesel engine has perhaps peaked at 50 percent of new-car sales in most of Europe. Politicians are criticizing dies ...
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Did VW pick the wrong U.S. state to build the Passat?

Posted 5:48 am U.S. ET, Feb. 11
blogs
Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER:  Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear has a message for any German carmaker or supplier considering expanding into the South: Labor unions are welcome, at least in his state. With 1.2 million vehicles built in 2013, Kentucky ranked third behind Michigan and Ohio for most vehicles produced in a U.S. state. Ever since Ford started assembling the Model T in Louisville in 1913, Kentucky has a century of ...
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Ford Mondeo hybrid may benefit from diesel backlash

Posted 7:53 am U.S. ET, Feb. 10
blogs
The Mondeo hybrid will boost Ford's green credential in Europe.
NICK GIBBS:  Ford does not expect its Mondeo hybrid to be a big seller in Europe but the environmentally friendly car could benefit from a backlash in some countries against diesel cars. The latest generation Mondeo is currently rolling out in showrooms and the midsize car has a hybrid variant for the first time. Ford says the hybrid will account for just 3 percent of the Mondeo range’s sales in the UK ...
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Has VW scored an own goal bankrolling its soccer club?

Posted 10:05 am U.S. ET, Feb. 6
blogs
Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER:  With Volkswagen looking to save 5 billion euros in costs at its core VW brand and key wage negotiations with its German workforce just starting, is it sensible to use shareholder money to subsidize a soccer club’s ambitions for a top-flight title? Carmakers love soccer as a marketing platform for their brands -- just think of the $559 million Chevrolet is spending to have its bowtie emblazo ...
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Qoros should ditch Europe ambitions and focus on China

Posted 5:47 am U.S. ET, Feb. 6
blogs
Qoros has said it aims to sell 10 percent of its cars in Europe. Pictured is the Qoros 3 compact hatchback.
YANG JIAN:  Qoros Automotive Co., a young partnership between China's Chery Automobile Co. and Singapore-based Kenon Holdings, is embarking upon an ambitious plan to reinvent itself. The company has revised its product plans and shifted its manufacturing footprint within China. And now it has hired a new CEO: Phil Murtaugh, a veteran automotive executive who once ran GM China. I have some advice for Mr. Mur ...
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German auto industry feels ripples from Paris terror attacks

Posted 5:53 am U.S. ET, Jan. 30
blogs
Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER:  The January killings of journalists at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris have brought home to Germany the difficult issue of Jihadi attacks, with the debate now reaching the economic pride of the country, its carmakers. Up until now, Germans largely have felt they were safe from bloody reprisals because their country had refrained from joining the Iraq War -- as had France. The bombings i ...
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Zetsche done taking beating for Daimler double duty

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 28
blogs
Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER:  Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of both Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, has been the whipping boy of the German premium auto industry for years. Analysts, fund managers and the media have blamed him for Mercedes’ declining fortunes in relation to the brand’s luxury rivals and many critics are convinced a major part of the problem results from Zetsche splitting his time between his role as CEO of b ...
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Why VW is closer than ever to global No. 1

Posted 5:26 am U.S. ET, Jan. 21
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
Volkswagen Group has reason to celebrate after Toyota seemingly conceded the title of world’s largest automaker to its German rival 21 days into the new year. Toyota said today it expects its sales to slump 1 percent to 10.15 million in the current calendar year because of slowing demand in Japan and emerging markets. If that happens and VW manages a slight increase on the record 10.14 mil ...
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Farewell to an auto PR legend

Posted 8:17 am U.S. ET, Jan. 21
blogs
One of Tom Kowaleski's greatest hits: Having Bob Lutz crash a Jeep Grand Cherokee through a plate-glass window at Cobo Hall during the 1992 Detroit auto show.
LUCA CIFERRI:  Nothing was impossible for automotive PR man Tom Kowaleski. Whether it was invading a beloved Italian landmark or literally crashing into the Detroit auto show, Tom dared to do it. I was there in the early 1990s when a photographer asked Tom whether it would be possible to take a picture of the first-generation Dodge Viper in front of Milan’s famous Duomo cathedral. Tom, who was leading th ...
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Jeep uses Paris boat show to gain traction

Posted 6:34 am U.S. ET, Jan. 16
blogs
Jeep promoted the new Renegade at the Nautic.
BRUCE GAIN:  Jeep hopes its role as a marketing partner at the Nautic in Paris, one of Europe’s biggest boat shows, will help it get a leg up in the fast-growing small SUV market. The iconic U.S. off-road brand says it is considering partnering with the event this year after gaining “positive feedback” at last year’s show in December. Jeep France has not decided yet whether it will be ...
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So what is a Bentayga?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 14
blogs
The Bentley SUV -- then named EXP 9 F -- when it was introduced at the Geneva auto show in March 2012. (BLOOMBERG)
BRADFORD WERNLE:  DETROIT -- When it comes to quirky names for SUVs, Volkswagen Group has the market pretty well cornered. This is the German company that dreamed up the Touareg, named for the nomadic Tuareg people of North Africa, and Tiguan, a combination of the words tiger and iguana. Both wear the Volkswagen brand. They’re the sort of names that send journalists scrambling to Google for a quick spell ch ...
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Zetsche, Tesla's Musk have similar timetables for self-driving cars

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 14
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe/
 
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have very similar timetables for when they think autonomous cars will be on the road. Musk said that in five years or less the technology will be advanced enough for fully autonomous driving to be a reality. Then it will take another two to three years to: 1) Prove that self-driving cars are safe. 2) Draw up the rules to regulate autonomous dri ...
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