Automotive News Table of Contents

April 16, 2018

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'Holy grail' platform coming into Focus
Author: Nick Gibbs

The new Focus compact that rolled out in London and China last week debuts Ford's global version of Volkswagen's much acclaimed MQB modular architecture, a central element of Ford's stated aim to achieve $4 billion in engineering efficiencies over the next five years.

A battle that goes beyond tariffs and trade policy
Author: Eric Kulisch

For all the hubbub about tariffs and trade wars, it's Washington's increasingly aggressive investment policy toward China that could pose the biggest challenge to the auto sector in both countries.

GM brings Cadillac back into the fold
Author: Michael Wayland

In ousting Johan de Nysschen and replacing him with Steve Carlisle, a company loyalist in the vein of CEO Mary Barra, GM appears to be signaling its desire to bring Cadillac back into the fold under a single, unified corporate vision that emphasizes speed and measurable return on investment.

VW CEO's sights set squarely on U.S.
Author: Christiaan Hetzner

Elevated to the top job at Volkswagen Group last week, Herbert Diess has a reputation for delivering on his restructuring targets — and high on his to-do list is ending the string of losses in the United States.

GM puts its data edge to work for dealers
Author: Michael Wayland

New tools are intended to boost dealer profits and cement a more transparent, trusting relationship between factory and retailer.

Report: Dealerships leaning more on incentive money to turn profit
Author: Hannah Lutz

Dealerships' average net profit was more than 15 times the size of total operating profit last year, showing just how much they rely on automaker incentives.

A week of sparring for Musk and Tesla
Author: Shiraz Ahmed

After the carmaker waged a public war of words with federal safety regulators, CEO Elon Musk picked a Twitter fight with a newspaper and may have improperly revealed financial information

How Lear is adjusting its seat strategy
Author: Lindsay Chappell

Lear the seat maker, anticipating connected vehicles, is out to become Lear the smart-seat maker.

Subscription plans have automakers walking a fine line
Author: Michael Wayland

They're trying to avoid getting passed by competitors, without alienating the franchised dealers who have been the foundation of their retail operations for more than a century.

Two encouraging approaches for dealing with a shortage of mechanics
Author: David Kushma

A chronic shortage of well-qualified automotive service technicians is alarming. But it's reassuring to see how some industry players are responding to the challenge.

Developing Jaguar's I-Pace required tough choices
Author: J.P. Vettraino

Wolfgang Ziebart has a pretty good idea of what a Jaguar needs to be.

Service Counter

What do folks spend money on in the service department?

Ford store hit with big verdict for not properly recommending repairs
Author: Eric Freedman

A dealership's failure to advise a customer to replace worn ball joints on a 2004 Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup proved a costly omission — nearly $7.5 million awarded by a jury.

Peugeot to speak at Europe congress

Xavier Peugeot, director of product planning at Citroen, will be among the speakers June 6 at the Automotive News Europe Congress in Turin.

Porsche plans network of 500 fast chargers for U.S.
Author: Amy Wilson

With multiple electric vehicles coming, buyers need a strong charging network to alleviate range anxiety, the brand's U.S. boss says.

Mitsubishi Electric aspires to be one-stop shop
Author: Hans Greimel

A new CEO wants to leverage the supplier's strength in everything from semiconductors to communications.

Supreme Court ruling exempts service advisers from overtime pay requirements
Author: Eric Freedman

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that exempts service advisers from overtime pay requirements may be limited by tougher state laws and congressional action, lawyers say.

Do the right thing: Say no to GAC

I was astonished and disappointed that “Courtship begins for Chinese brands” included this response from a general sales manager: GAC “might be the next Hyundai.”

GM's action is just a poor excuse

Regarding “GM to stop reporting U.S. sales monthly, switches to quarterly release”, many thousands of people in the auto industry look forward to monthly sales reports.

Nissan's repair ninjas help dealership techs solve tough problems
Author: Richard Truett

As part of a new program called "Fixed Right First Time," Nissan has created what it calls its Last Line Defense Team. When a dealership shop can't fix a vehicle, even after checking with experts who staff Nissan's Tech Line, the last line goes into action.

Rewarding innovation that benefits consumers

What happened in the engineering labs of Bosch, Cooper Standard, Visteon, Toyoda Gosei and the other 2018 PACE awardees is already rippling across the industry.

Subscription tests show industry's novel thinking
Author: Keith Crain

The idea has traction, though there are a bunch of questions and many problems to be sorted out.

What did Obama's EPA get so right?

I read “On emissions rule, we got it right in 2012” expecting to see some factual data on why Gina McCarthy believes the previous administration “got it right.” Did they properly consider the fleet mix, gas prices, the economy, etc.?

Are CFOs ready for a changing business model?
Author: Gary Silberg

Entering the mobility service or any service business market is a profound change. For the office of the CFO it will mean a radical difference in how they operate.

Ken Garff's pioneering partnership breaks up
Author: Jamie LaReau

Ken Garff Automotive, a pioneer in private equity partnerships, will buy Garcadia Auto and its half interest in 28 dealerships from Leucadia National.

Our cars seem to invite distraction

Regarding “Keep your eyes on the road, hands off the doughnuts”: What did the industry think was going to happen when we made phone usage easier and added cupholders, visor mirrors and other distractions to our vehicles?

Sales staff seen as plentiful, disposable

James B. Treece's “No experienced personnel need apply at this dealership” confirms my view that in automotive retailing, salespeople are considered readily available and easily disposable.

Service departments face renewed pressures to recondition used vehicles
Author: Alysha Webb

As new-vehicle sales -- and profits -- slump, franchised dealerships are placing greater emphasis on selling used cars and trucks. Inevitably, that also means a renewed focus among service departments on cutting the time and cost of reconditioning used vehicles for sale.

Huge promotion floats customers' boats
Author: Ken Wysocky

It's anchors aweigh for three Kia dealerships in Florida that build repeat business by giving sales-event customers a free cruise aboard a luxury liner.

Inventories stay high, but days-supply levels drop
Author: Larry P. Vellequette

Strong sales in March dropped industrywide days-supply levels at the beginning of April, but total inventory levels remain high.

Detailing often overlooked, but critical, element of reconditioning
Author: Jenny King

Detailing is an often overlooked element of reconditioning a car or truck, but fixed ops experts say it can make a big difference in used-vehicle sales.

Car wash and detailing facilities are dealers' latest battleground
Author: Alan L. Adler

Car wash/detail centers are the latest battleground in the war between dealerships and independent providers for aftermarket business.

N.J. dealer sees new revenue stream in detailing for service customers
Author: Jim Henry

A GM dealer in New Jersey sees a profit center in keeping reconditioning and detailing work in house instead of outsourcing it

John Hennessey wants to become American McLaren
Author: Peter Sigal

Don't expect to see Hennessey-branded hatchbacks or SUVs. John Hennessey's target is McLaren, the British company with a racing heritage.

Mitsu COO sees alliance enabling big strides
Author: Vince Bond Jr.

Trevor Mann foresees the automaker flirting with the 300,000 mark as it introduces new products such as the Eclipse Cross and begins to roll out vehicles on platforms shared with Renault-Nissan around 2021.

Shops have potential for better word of mouth advertising
Author: James B. Treece

Dealership service departments receive lots of customer endorsements -- but could get even more, a new survey suggests.

Hitachi, Clarion have pipeline of parking advances
Author: Jim Henry

Hitachi, Clarion are working on self-parking innovations beyond what's only now reaching the market.

Hyundai Mobis taps first non-Korean leader to drive autonomous investment
Author: Hans Greimel

South Korean supplier Hyundai Mobis wants to leapfrog from fast follower to leader in autonomous driving technologies by 2025, and is preparing to infuse its division with more expertise and money.

JUST ARRIVED: 2019 Infiniti QX50

A look at the new Infiniti QX50 and its crossover competitors.

Nexteer maps large-scale shift to steer-by-wire
Author: Lindsay Chappell

Nexteer Automotive's new suite of autonomous-driving technologies promotes steer-by-wire in various applications. Jeff Zuraski, executive director for Nexteer, spoke with News Editor Lindsay Chappell about the outlook.

Retooled QX50 fills Infiniti's 'biggest void'
Author: David Phillips

Infiniti has turned its aging QX50 into a true competitor in the compact premium crossover space, with an advanced engine, new safety technologies and an attractive sticker.

Tech that powers bitcoin helps make collision repair data more secure
Author: Alex Kwanten

The technology that makes bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies possible is poised to become an everyday part of collision repair.

Toyota powertrain boss feeling the pressure
Author: Hans Greimel

Hirohisa Kishi says he's tackling one of his biggest challenges yet — how to keep internal combustion engines competitive in the age of electric vehicles.

BMW opens center on Marine base to train leathernecks as service techs

BMW of North America opens a training center at Camp Pendleton to prepare Marines to become service technicians, address chronic industry shortage

New-era technology stands out in PACE Awards
Author: Lindsay Chappell

Autonomous driving, better data communications and electrified and lighter vehicles were the driving factors in the 2018 Automotive News PACE Awards.

PHOTOS: A night of PACE setters

From A123 Systems to Visteon, innovators from around the world gathered in Detroit for the 2018 PACE Awards.

Self-driving cars hitting red lights
Author: Shiraz Ahmed

Federal and state officials, once eager advocates of self-driving cars, now are pumping the brakes and demanding greater accountability and information that auto and tech companies may not be willing to provide.

BMW spends big on tech training
Author: Alysha Webb

BMW of North America is making a major investment in recruitment and training to expand the number of its dealerships' service technicians.

Dealer anniversary

This week's dealer anniversary is Dwight Nelson, dealer principal of Selma Mazda in Selma, Calif.

Dealerships ramp up sales of prepaid plans
Author: Jenny King

As automakers reduce or even eliminate free maintenance for new vehicles, dealerships are stepping up their promotions of prepaid plans for routine services such as oil changes.

Toyota looks for a breakthrough with reworked cars
Author: Laurence Iliff

The relatively low-volume Avalon and Corolla hatchback offer a preview of stablemates that are more critical for Toyota North America: the reworked Lexus ES, which will debut this week in Beijing, and the coming Corolla sedan.

Dealers' convention displays bounty of new products for the service department

A look at new fixed ops products and software that made their debut at last month's National Automobile Dealers Association show in Las Vegas

Magna delivers carbon fiber subframe prototype to Ford
Author: Hans Greimel

Magna International Inc. has delivered a carbon fiber subframe prototype to Ford it says will reduce weight and tooling costs and hopes to rule on mass production by year end.

New wiper tool gets into tight spots, but do techs really need it?
Author: Mark Elias

New wiper puller is designed to help technicians remove blade arms more quickly, but some techs question the need for the device

Service lags on technology

The potential of every dealership in America could easily be doubled if we took basic steps to retain our customers and protect our dealer brand and that of the OEM we represent.

Transferring calls the right way

Your December 2017 article “Bad Connection” gave tangible reasons for implementing practices to eliminate how business is potentially lost by not serving customers.

Crossovers, EVs will rule Beijing show
Author: Hans Greimel

When global automakers descend on Beijing next week for Auto China, they will be focused on two white-hot vehicle segments: crossovers and EVs.

Elevate the education of service techs to an undergraduate degree
Author: Richard Truett

Six Nissan North America executives behind the automaker's "Fix It Right the First Time" initiative invited me to join their freewheeling after-dinner chat. What sounded like a great idea emerged: raising the degree status of service technicians.

5 Minutes With ... Jim Blenkarn, senior manager, systems quality improvement, Nissan North America
Author: Richard Truett

How automakers respond to technical issues can seem a mystery. Some problems can be addressed with a technical service bulletin and redesigned parts, while others warrant a recall. Nissan's Jim Blenkarn peels back the curtain.

M-B subscription test will hinge on dealers
Author: Amy Wilson

Mercedes-Benz's vehicle-subscription pilots in Nashville and Philadelphia will run for at least a year and directly involve dealers in what CEO Dietmar Exler called an opportunity to learn.

Texas dealership turns its Facebook page into service marketing tool
Author: Stephanie Hernandez McGavin

Texas Kia dealer says Facebook works so well to promote his store's service department, he's been able to slash his ad spending on TV and direct mail

Shop talk
Author: Anisa Jibrell

What are you doing this year to reduce the time and cost of reconditioning vehicles in your shop?

Fixed Ops Journal forum in Atlanta

Fixed Ops Journal, in its third year as an Automotive News magazine, has scheduled its inaugural live conference on Thursday, Aug. 9, in Atlanta.

News items from the world of fixed operations

GM wants service menu pricing, hires OEC to develop system; Buick, Infiniti at top of J.D. Power service rankings; U.S. vehicle recalls fall to lowest level since 2013

A design freeze on the biggest Defender yet

Yet another outline of the next Land Rover Defender has appeared.

Fixed in time

As male workers left auto dealerships to fight in World War II, the women who took their places introduced a number of fixed ops innovations.

It sure sounds like a 707-hp Ram to us

If FCA US isn't planning to make a production version of its Hellcat-powered Ram Rebel TRX concept ... well, it certainly fooled us.

McLaren's 720S: Check out all that luggage space

The wizards at McLaren Automotive made an interesting discovery during the lifespan of their 650S supercar: Many of the car's wealthy owners used it as a daily driver.

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