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BLOG: Dave Guilford
Posted 12:11 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 14
Posted 10:15 am U.S. ET, Sept. 29
Posted 2:15 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 14
FRANKFURT -- Carlos Ghosn and Dieter Zetsche’s annual press conference, known on the auto show circuit as “The Carlos and Dieter Show,” would be easy to dismiss as mere self-congratulation.
At the auto show here, the two CEOs once again spent an amiable hour recounting their companies’ joint projects. But in this year of feverish merger talk, it to ... Continue reading "The secret to the Ghosn-Zetsche alliance's success" » Sep 29, 2015 10:15 am U.S. ET Permalink
Sergio Marchionne’s biting criticism of the industry’s economic inefficiency will provide a contrarian undercurrent during this week’s Frankfurt auto show press days.
Frankfurt will have the normal auto show glitz -- pounding music, celebrity cameos, sparkling new cars -- and the monumental buildings that German automakers construct to mark their turf.
... Continue reading "Marchionne's numbers take the shine off auto show glitz" » Sep 14, 2015 2:15 pm U.S. ET Permalink
So I was driving an unfamiliar car with a telematics voice-communications system, and I accidentally brushed my hand against a control button on the steering wheel.
That turned off the music I had been listening to. Involuntarily I blurted out, “Oh, [bleep]!”
Next thing I knew, a voice came into the car, giving me a canned, Siri-like rebuke for funky language ... Continue reading "Another car-hack issue to ponder: In-car eavesdropping" » Aug 14, 2015 12:11 pm U.S. ET Permalink
Given Mitsubishi’s low U.S. output, it was not totally surprising to hear the Japanese automaker will end production at its plant in Normal, Ill.
More surprising was hearing company officials say that they have several prospects to buy Normal, including a Detroit automaker. For the sake of the plant’s 900 workers, I hope they do.
But I’m skeptical. Unle ... Continue reading "A new Normal? Don't bet on it" » Jul 31, 2015 12:54 pm U.S. ET Permalink
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 ... Continue reading "Why Toyota can set the car-tech agenda" » Jun 29, 2015 1:28 pm U.S. ET Permalink
Reaction to Sergio Marchionne’s campaign to spur mergers in the auto industry has focused on other automakers, who seem notably unenthused, at least in public.
But I wonder about the reaction in Marchionne’s own house, Fiat Chrysler.
I can’t imagine that the battle-weary troops in FCA’s U.S. headquarters and factories are loving the merger talk. T ... Continue reading "Sergio's merger talk could mean more heartburn for FCA workers" » May 28, 2015 1:29 pm U.S. ET Permalink
The latest “Henke Report” on automaker-supplier relations has just come out, giving us the most recent update on that perpetually tense realm.
That document, formally the “Planning Perspectives” report, grades each automaker on metrics such as sharing cost savings and avoiding late-breaking engineering changes.
That sounds logical. I’m sure ... Continue reading "The easiest path to good supplier relations? Meet your targets!" » May 19, 2015 11:30 am U.S. ET Permalink
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 extr ... Continue reading "Which approach to autonomous driving will win?" » Apr 29, 2015 3:57 pm U.S. ET Permalink
Maybe Sergio Marchionne is banking on a loss of institutional memory at General Motors. That’s the only way I can see that he might expect GM to consider buying Fiat Chrysler.
Perhaps Marchionne sees an opening because the Whitacre-Akerson administrations purged nearly all the old GM executive team. You know, the ones who twitch when they hear the words “GM-Fi ... Continue reading "Why we won't 'put' credence in GM-FCA merger talk" » Apr 15, 2015 10:26 am U.S. ET Permalink
NEW YORK -- Sandy Schwartz has been campaigning this year with a stump speech that drives home a simple message: Auto dealers have to change the way they do business, and today’s good times represent an opening to do so.
You could argue that Schwartz, as president of the vast Cox Automotive empire, has a vested interest in getting dealers to adopt new ways of sellin ... Continue reading "Cox's Schwartz urges 3 dealer changes" » Mar 31, 2015 5:15 pm U.S. ET Permalink
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 los ... Continue reading "Ford, Farley hope for success in U.S.-Russian diplomacy" » Mar 2, 2015 8:36 pm U.S. ET Permalink
Automakers don’t overreact to international tensions and currency fluctuations. They’re playing the long game, making decisions that many times will be in place for decades.
That’s why the comments coming from auto execs on the verge of the Geneva auto show are so striking. They indicate that, behind the hoopla and posturing at the show, automakers are p ... Continue reading "Russia, weak euro form backdrop for Geneva show" » Mar 2, 2015 12:28 pm U.S. ET Permalink
Everybody wants to know if the launch of Ford’s 2015 F-150 pickup is a success, and for good reason.
Huge volume. Huge profits. Aluminum body. New manufacturing processes. Tricky factory makeovers.
In the U.S. auto industry, this is high drama, indeed.
Ford, for its part, is playing up early results. CFO Bob Shanks said last week after the release of the company&r ... Continue reading "F-150 a winner? Too soon to tell" » Feb 7, 2015 12:01 am U.S. ET Permalink
Excruciatingly long product lead times have always challenged automakers, who have to figure out what will sell four or five years hence. But they’re tough on dealers, too, who face lengthy product droughts while hearing -- literally for years -- about the really sweet stuff that’s on the way.
Take Volvo, for instance.
At the National Automobile Dealers Assoc ...