Blogs

UAW troops air demands at convention rather than cast blame

Posted 2:54 pm U.S. ET, March 27
blogs
UAW rank-and-file anger at this week's bargaining confab was directed at the Detroit 3 instead of union leadership. (URSULA ZERILLI)
DAVID BARKHOLZ:  At this week’s UAW bargaining convention, delegate after delegate rose to a microphone to pillory the Detroit 3 for Tier 2 excesses, stingy wages and, in the case of General Motors, a dubious $5 billion stock buyback to placate Wall Street investors. I thought the affair was pretty darn raucous. Not hardly, according to a retired UAW executive, who asked to go nameless. He saw the conventi ...
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If dealers don't weigh in, they can't gripe

Posted 12:30 pm U.S. ET, March 25
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
Dealers have a chance right now to weigh in on what they like and don’t like about their lenders, and they shouldn’t miss the opportunity. The survey period for the J.D. Power U.S. Dealer Financing Satisfaction Study is at about the halfway point. Questionnaires went out via mail and email on March 1 and will be in the field through April. This year’s results should be published ...
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The latest tech is great -- until you have to replace it

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 24
blogs
It costs $380 to replace the menacing taillight on the 2015 Dodge Durango SUV.
RICHARD TRUETT:  At night, the thin band of bright red LEDs on the rear of the 2015 Dodge Durango stares back at the drivers behind like an evil-looking menace in a space helmet. It’s one of the most unique lighting signatures on the road today. Just don’t hit it. There is a downside to rapidly advancing automotive technology: Break something, and you’ll pay an eye-popping amount to get it fix ...
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That vroom-vroom … is it real or digital?

Posted 11:03 am U.S. ET, March 20
blogs
 
COLUMBUS, Ind. -- Andrew Pontius, Faurecia’s chief exhaust engineer, sat in the front seat of a BMW 328i sedan. With his finger on an iPad touchscreen and one foot on the accelerator pedal, he showed me how exhaust sounds will be generated in the future.  Pontius revved the Beemer’s 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. With a touch of the iPad screen, the engine emitted the sens ...
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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 today, 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 his ...
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Why March 30-31 might be the greatest two days of deals at FCA dealerships

Posted 3:52 pm U.S. ET, March 20
blogs Larry P. Vellequette covers Fiat Chrysler for Automotive News.
 
Monday and Tuesday, March 30-31, probably will be the most advantageous days of the foreseeable future for U.S. consumers to buy a new Fiat Chrysler vehicle. You see, those two days are likely to determine whether FCA US’s self-described “Iron Man” streak of year-over-year sales gains will reach five consecutive years -- or will stop at an impressive but awkward 4 years and 11 m ...
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India's Mahindra stills wants to sell in the U.S.

Posted 10:24 am U.S. ET, March 19
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
Pawan Goenka has not given up on the idea of entering the U.S. auto market. The head of automotive operations for India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, Goenka acknowledges that the company is “still in the middle of it” on the legal fallout from his first attempt at entering. Mahindra was scheduled to introduce an Indian-built compact pickup with a four-cylinder diesel engine throug ...
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There is a ton of dealer profit riding on FCA's Wrangler decision

Posted 1:58 pm U.S. ET, March 18
blogs
The Jeep Gladiator concept from 2005 still has legion of fans pining for a Wrangler-based pickup.
LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE:  Deep in the bowels of Fiat Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills -- or Turin, or London (it’s hard to tell these days) -- the automaker’s brain trust is making its final call about what to do with the Wrangler plant in Toledo, Ohio. On its face, the decision will be of intense interest in and around the plant, for obvious economic reasons. There are hundreds, if not thousands of poten ...
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Size of average tax refund makes a decent down payment

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, March 18
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
For anybody keeping track -- which is to say, anybody interested in subprime auto lending – U.S. tax refunds have fallen a bit more behind than they were a few weeks ago. Tax refund season is typically the high point of the year for subprime auto loans. The IRS reported in a March 12 update that it had processed around 54.3 million refunds -- valued at about $162.1 billion -- as of March 6 ...
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Small utility vehicles' big payoff

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, March 17
blogs
Jeep's Renegade. (BLOOMBERG)
RICHARD TRUETT:  Tiny crossovers and SUVs could be immune to America’s long-standing love-hate relationship with small cars. We love ’em when gasoline is expensive and shun ’em when it’s cheap. But gasoline is cheap right now, and the new crop of tiny SUVs and CUVs such as the Nissan Juke and Buick Encore is off to a fast start. U.S. consumers are gladly paying thousands of dollars more fo ...
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2016 Mazda MX-5 curb weight: 2,332 pounds

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, March 17
blogs
The redesigned Mazda Miata MX-5 is nearly as light as the original, yet with a power-to-weight ratio exceeding that of its predecessor.
JAKE LINGEMAN:  As fans of lightweight roadsters know, it’s hard for manufacturers to continually lighten and shrink cars, especially with changing safety and efficiency regulations. But Mazda’s still fighting the good fight -- and winning. The 2016 Miata MX-5 roadster will tip the scales at just 2,332 pounds. Mazda said the new MX-5's curb weight would be close to the first generation’s flab, ...
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Why suppliers need to think differently or face extinction

Posted 1:56 pm U.S. ET, March 16
blogs Daron Gifford is the partner leading automotive industry strategy consulting at accounting firm and consultancy Plante Moran.
 
One of the more advanced technologies used in cars today is the application of radar, lasers or cameras to sense what is happening ahead, allowing the driver, or even the vehicle itself, to react in a proactive way to avoid a potential crash. It’s this sense of predicting the road ahead that automotive industry leaders are going to have to build into their own thinking. Yes, looking ahead i ...
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Why the F-150 pricing 'gravy train' will eventually slow down

Posted 3:35 pm U.S. ET, March 12
blogs Nick Bunkley reports on Ford for Automotive News.
 
Even Ford Motor Co. executives admit being surprised at how fast transaction prices on pickups keep rising. Not that they’re complaining, of course. Ford execs are more than happy to find somewhere to stash all that money. (Though it could be awkward to show up at the UAW bargaining table in a few months with crumpled $100 bills falling out of their pockets.) But Ford also knows the pricin ...
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Let the car-hacking lawsuits begin

Posted 3:29 pm U.S. ET, March 11
blogs Gabe Nelson covers Silicon Valley for Automotive News.
 
Fear often outpaces reality. If any of your friends outside the auto industry have fretted that a computer hacker could take control of a car and plunge it off a bridge, you know what I’m talking about. I understand this fear. People are used to having their credit card numbers and passwords stolen by hackers, but that’s rarely a matter of life and death. This is different. It’ ...
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Congressmen get testy with CFPB chief Cordray

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, March 11
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its critics on the House Financial Services Committee traded jabs in a tense session last week as CFPB Director Richard Cordray presented the bureau’s semiannual report. Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, used the occasion to advocate again that a bipartisan committee should lead the CFPB, not a single director. Hensarling repeated the ...
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A test drive converts a Cadillac skeptic

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, March 10
blogs
The Cadillac ATS with a turbo 4 cylinder engine: A surprise to drive for one skeptic. (BILL TRUETT)
RICHARD TRUETT:  There’s one last item to address before we close the book on my recent column about General Motors’ latest efforts to reposition Cadillac. Thanks to central Florida Cadillac dealer Alan Starling, we tested my theory that a good way to obliterate Cadillac’s lingering dinosaur brand image is simply to let people drive the cars. In a previous column, I mentioned that my brother&rs ...
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Why it's hard to tally Sergio's pay

Posted 10:27 am U.S. ET, March 10
blogs
Media reports have put Marchionne's 2014 pay from as little as $8 million to $72 million and more. (GLENN TRIEST)
LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE:  Late last week, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles filed its annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission, setting off a flurry of stories about the compensation of its sweater-clad CEO, Sergio Marchionne. The numbers, from The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg and others, varied widely: from as little as $8 million to $72 million and more. Yeah, really. Admittedly, some of Marchionne& ...
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Why McLaren can be profitable without an SUV

Posted 11:45 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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Barra's management style signaled in Wilson negotiations

Posted 4:03 pm U.S. ET, March 9
blogs Mike Colias covers General Motors for Automotive News.
 
General Motors' swift, tidy resolution of Harry Wilson's advance on its board and balance sheet has GM CEO Mary Barra's fingerprints all over it. By that, I mean it was handled efficiently and inclusively, without raising the temperature or decibel level in the room, by all accounts. And it left the opposing side with nothing but nice things to say. "She ran an effective and efficient process," ...
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Jaguar will discover the magic of U.S. production

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 7
blogs
 
Do not hesitate to build that North American vehicle assembly plant, Jaguar Land Rover. You will be amazed. Trust me on this one. I can’t tell you how many times history has repeated itself on this count. The story always goes like this: Automaker X wonders whether it has the chops to build vehicles in the U.S., Canada or Mexico. Automaker X shyly doubts its own sanity. Automaker X fr ...
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Lexus gets lucky on House of Cards

Posted 5:11 pm U.S. ET, March 6
blogs Jamie LaReau covers the automotive retail beat for Automotive News.
 
When a fictional Russian president says, “I want the Lexus” while reminiscing about copulating with his ex-wife in one, it is either genius product placement or incredibly fortuitous for Toyota’s luxury arm that the writers of Netflix’s hit House of Cards like the brand. Turns out it was great luck. “This is totally organic, nothing we placed,” said Maurice Du ...
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Tesla is all smiles on 'gigafactory' progress

Posted 3:00 pm U.S. ET, March 6
blogs Gabe Nelson is a staff reporter for Automotive News.
 
For most car companies, a construction delay is an annoyance. But for Tesla Motors Inc., which is betting the company on a $5 billion “gigafactory” for lithium ion batteries in Nevada, it’s an existential fear. Tesla needs a steady supply of cheap batteries to launch the mass-market Model 3, which will be the make-or-break moment for Tesla CEO Elon Musk in his quest to take ele ...
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Why Renault should plan a U.S. return

Posted 2:07 pm U.S. ET, March 6
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
France’s Renault brand will eventually return to the U.S. market, I do predict. Not any time soon, I will concede. But sooner or later. To be sure, nobody at the Renault-Nissan Alliance has uttered a word publicly to indicate that this is being planned. And Carlos Ghosn, who runs both Nissan and Renault, has plainly stated that it will not happen. But sooner or later, you have to assume t ...
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BYD heralds its vehicle sales in Japan

Posted 1:04 pm U.S. ET, March 4
blogs Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.
 
TOKYO -- Can the Chinese succeed where the Koreans and Americans largely have failed: penetrating Japan’s auto market? BYD Co., the Chinese electric vehicle maker partly owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., says it has become the first Chinese automaker to sell vehicles in Japan. BYD ballyhooed the transaction as a breakthrough for China’s auto industry that crack ...
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America, land of big spaces, spurs Hyundai Tucson redesign

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 4
blogs
Hoping to appeal to American tastes, Hyundai designers pushed to increase the revamped Tucson's wheelbase, add a more upright grille and front end, and pushed the crossover's A pillars back. (DAVE GUILFORD)
DAVE GUILFORD:  GENEVA -- So how do you design a crossover with a name evoking the old West -- that cowboy, cactus, rugged desert terrain ethos? With a strong sense of the uniqueness of U.S. driving and lifestyles, says Thomas Burkle, chief designer for Hyundai Motor Europe. Burkle’s team redid the look of Hyundai’s Tucson in “very intensive cooperation” with design teams in California an ...
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