Automotive News Table of Contents

June 29, 2015



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After 'chicken tax,' a flood of foreign trucks?

Two free-trade deals the U.S. is trying to negotiate would roll back the so-called chicken tax. Critics of the tax say it has priced imported trucks out of the market, shielding the Detroit 3's biggest profit machine from robust foreign competition.

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Ford builds in Silicon Valley -- and talent comes

Ford's Silicon Valley research center is helping the automaker attract employees with different backgrounds and perspectives than it usually gets at its home campus in Michigan.

NEWS ANALYSIS

Why talk of GM-FCA tie-up just won't die

Few auto industry pundits seem to be taking Sergio Marchionne's awkwardly public pursuit of a merger with General Motors very seriously. And yet, there must be some reason why the idea keeps resurfacing.

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Dodge to build more Hellcat engines

Fiat Chrysler plans to substantially increase production of the popular 707-hp Hellcat engines.

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How Mexico could color UAW talks

When the UAW and Detroit automakers open contract talks next month, Mexico will be hovering over the proceedings and influence the outcome.

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Message to NHTSA: Reform first, funding later

In previous congressional hearings on auto safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's shortcomings in major defect cases were largely cast as the result of corporate deception and a lack of agency resources.

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Toyota's own glass house

Toyota last week unveiled architectural renderings of its new North American headquarters campus in Plano, Texas, which will house some 4,000 employees from divisions now scattered among operations in California, Kentucky and New York.

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Leaf to get a big boost in driving range

Nissan, fighting falling sales of its Leaf electric vehicle, plans a midcycle update as early as August that aims to deliver a big boost in the EV's driving range, a person familiar with the project said.

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Mini gets serious with the new Clubman

Mini will take a more serious tone in marketing for the new Clubman, which it is aiming at premium compact buyers.

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Next-gen Prius may be ill-timed, but not ill-fated

While the timing isn't ideal, dealers, analysts and Toyota itself are all bullish on the prospects for the next-gen Prius. They credit the strength of the Prius brand, its promising looks and what's shaping up as a solid backup plan.

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Chasing Jetta, Chevy equips Cruze with a new turbodiesel

Chevrolet isn't just sticking with a diesel offering on the next-generation Cruze - it's talking tough about challenging Volkswagen for passenger-car diesel leadership in the U.S.

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Chevy pulls ahead timetable for Bolt EV

General Motors has accelerated development of the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle as the automaker tries to have the first mainstream brand with a long-range EV on the market.

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GLE Coupe's goal: Style, not off-road use

Mercedes-Benz is targeting the GLE Coupe at style conscious buyers, not off-roaders. The Coupe won't be available with the Mercedes off-road package. It will be sold only as a high-performance model in the U.S.

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Jeep will keep Cherokee's 'spot on' shape, styling

The popular Jeep Cherokee departed from the brand's traditional boxy styling, and Jeep strategists plan to keep the polarizing look when the midsize SUV is freshened in mid-2016.

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Lotus Evora to resume U.S. sales

A scaled-down Lotus is preparing to leave the pits after sitting out the 2015 model year. The boutique British sports car maker says it will launch a fully compliant Evora coupe at year end.

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Alfa's high-power reboot

To revive Alfa Romeo, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, plans a performance-first approach.

Analysts doubt Sergio's lofty Alfa goals

Analysts are skeptical that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne can achieve his ambitious sales goals for Alfa Romeo. "Despite our love of Alfa's past, we're unconvinced by its future," said Max Warburton, an analyst at Sanford C.

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How Infiniti climbed quality chart

The entire auto industry got a little bit better on quality this year, but few brands jumped in the rankings of a closely watched survey the way Infiniti did.

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BEST PRACTICES

Dealer Wise goes the extra mile(s) for buyers

Let's say you're shopping at one of the Randy Wise Automotive stores in this area, and you decide to check out a vehicle from a different brand at another dealership owned by the group. Well, just sit tight.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

A role for dealers in lease transfers

I read with great interest about James B. Treece's experience in assuming the short-term lease of a Chevy Volt ("Mixed reviews are in after assuming lease for Volt," June 8). I agree with him. Dealers should have a role in the lease-transfer process.

EDITORIAL

Fixing NHTSA's flaws is not NHTSA's job alone

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has systemic flaws that undermine its ability to police auto safety. Improving NHTSA will take work, but the basics are simple.

EDITORIAL

How dealers can protect themselves from bad actors

A blot on auto retailing is developing in Birmingham, Ala.

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JASON STEIN

Is Marchionne right? Let's find out

We were fascinated a few weeks ago when FCA boss Sergio Marchionne made his now-famous PowerPoint presentation to the analyst community. Whatever his motivation, we have decided to take Marchionne seriously.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

My Saturn stores were profitable

My company, Lucas Dealership Group, owned and operated 30 new-car dealerships between 1960 and 2000, including six Saturn stores. GM wanted to purchase them back, and it was willing to pay a goodwill/blue-sky premium.

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LOST IN TRANSLATION

NYC dealership must provide documents for non-English speakers

As part of a settlement with the New York attorney general's office, a New York City dealership group must begin providing translations of sales documents to customers who negotiate their vehicle purchases in languages other than English.

CarMax makes big plans for smaller markets

CarMax Inc. plans to expand its reach by opening smaller stores in smaller markets, said CEO Tom Folliard. He said the used-vehicle powerhouse has identified at least 80 markets that will support stores that are downsized from typical CarMax outlets.

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No seat unturned in flood-damage search

Since torrential downpours hit Houston in late May, Bob Sluss has been extra vigilant about leaving no stone - or seat - unturned when appraising used vehicles.

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Bosch positions for electrification growth

German supplier Robert Bosch and Japanese battery partner GS Yuasa are “on a good path” toward developing a lithium ion battery that costs half as much as today's batteries but has twice the energy density, a top Bosch executive said.

Gestamp along for VW's expansion ride in N. America

Gestamp Automocion announced plans last week to expand its stamping plant in Chattanooga to produce body panels, hot-stamped steel parts and chassis components for Volkswagen's new midsize SUV, which will enter production in 2016.

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GM tweaks Colorado, Canyon turbodiesel for cold weather

Because diesel engines can get cranky in cold weather, General Motors engineers have redesigned several key components in the 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel coming this fall in the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-sized trucks.

BB&T to launch flat fees; feds applaud

Auto retailers working with BB&T Dealer Finance soon can expect to be paid flat fees, rather than dealer reserve, for arranging customers' loans. BB&T will launch a nondiscretionary dealer compensation program on July 1.

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Dealers

Dealers featured this week include Chuck Anderson, dealer principal at University Mazda in Seattle; Don Gasgarth, dealer principal of Don Gasgarth's Charlotte County Ford in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Car-sharing plan cuts owner costs

Ford Motor Co. is entering the car-sharing market with a program that will cut Ford Credit customers' vehicle costs by enabling them to rent out their cars. The pilot program, Peer-2-Peer Car Sharing, invites 26,000 select Ford Motor Credit Co.

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On the streets of Cuba

Cubans have by necessity evolved a different relationship with cars than Americans have.

How U.S. chickens led to Japanese truck plants

The so-called chicken tax has played a significant role in shaping the U.S. auto market.

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'The Future' is now: Lexus will test hoverboard

It's been 30 years since the first Back to the Future movie was released, and Marty McFly only hopped on a hoverboard to evade his pursuers in the second installment released in 1989.

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Car guy Lutz still has the vision for flying high

Bob Lutz, the former General Motors product development chief who turned 83 in February and is getting married this summer, is still involved with sports car startup VL Automotive - and is still flying jet airplanes.

In CASE you missed it, here's the future of the car business in a word

Consulting firm AlixPartners has taken a shot at creating some shorthand to describe the coming investment crunch faced by automakers.

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Isn't it obvious? It'll be a Caddy crossover

General Motors announced last week that it will invest $245 million at its Orion Assembly plant in Michigan Lake Orion, Mich., assembly plant for production of an unnamed model.

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Passing a big rig? Don't sweat it, Samsung says

Passing an 18-wheeler on a two-lane road is pretty harrowing. Now, Samsung has created a system that could take some of the guesswork out of overtaking large trucks.


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