Blogs

How Derek Zoolander raided FCA's Twitter feed

Posted 3:19 pm U.S. ET, Feb. 12
blogs
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander, seen driving a gold Fiat 500X. The ad debuted during the Golden Globes last month.
VINCE BOND JR.:  Derek Zoolander is making history today in his own flamboyant way. The arrogant supermodel, played by actor Ben Stiller in the Zoolander franchise, has “taken over” Fiat USA’s Twitter account -- the first time any Fiat Chrysler brand has let a celebrity do so. An FCA spokeswoman says Zoolander’s pre-written tweets are an extension of the co-branded marketing collaboration ...
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GM's rising faith in Opel

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Feb. 12
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
General Motors Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens expects that the U.S. automaker’s long-struggling European arm will break even in 2016, achieving a goal that has eluded the unit for more than a decade. GM has already made big changes in Europe including closing a factory in Bochum, Germany.  "Now we've got the right cost structure," Stevens said on Feb. 3 when announcing the autom ...
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I agree with NHTSA: E-shifters stink, but they're not defective

Posted 2:07 pm U.S. ET, Feb. 10
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The latest regulatory inquiry expands a probe opened in August addressing 14 complaints that 2014-15 Grand Cherokee vehicles had rolled away after a driver intended to park them.
LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE:  DETROIT -- I have something in common with the fine folks at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: I don’t like e-shifters, either. NHTSA this month expanded its investigation into the electronic gear shifters in the 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2012-14 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300. The agency said it received over 300 complaints from consumers that the vehicles can unint ...
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When a client dies, lender can make or break trust

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, Feb. 10
blogs Hannah Lutz covers finance and insurance for Automotive News.
 
A consumer’s death during his or her lease term isn’t a common occurrence, but how the lender responds to the needs of the consumer’s family members makes a lasting impression. Automotive News became interested in learning about programs for deceased lessees after we heard about a captive that required the lease customer’s widow to pay off her husband’s payments -- n ...
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Ford's Mexico expansion plans amount to a nice gift for Trump

Posted 3:12 pm U.S. ET, Feb. 9
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NICK BUNKLEY:  So as it turns out, Donald Trump was right about Ford Motor Co. Sort of. Last year, Trump criticized Ford for starting to build a new assembly plant in Mexico to take production away from the U.S. It hadn’t. He threatened to put a 35 percent tax on all the vehicles Ford would import from Mexico. He can’t. He also said Ford was closing plants “all over Michigan” to go to ...
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It's time to fully embrace the gasoline-electric powertrain

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, Feb. 9
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Honda's 2000 Insight hybrid.
RICHARD TRUETT:  I’m rolling down the road in suburban Detroit in the back seat of a 2014 Toyota Prius that has already seen 97,000 miles pass under its wheels. A thought bubble appears above my head: Isn’t it time for all gasoline-powered vehicles to be hybridized? Judging by the way this Prius sounds, feels and performs, you’d never know it has been driven a distance that equals nearly four tr ...
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Is this what the 2017 Buick Encore will look like?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Feb. 9
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The Encore will receive a major midcycle refresh for the 2017 model year, and may look like this rendering based on the Opel Mokka X. (AUTOWEEK)
JAY RAMEY:  The 2017 Buick Encore will debut at the New York Auto Show in April, but before that its European-market Opel Mokka X twin will premiere at the Geneva motor show. The Encore has been on sale since 2012 and has proven to be a hit for GM's luxury brand that isn't Cadillac -- Chevrolet even rolled out its own version for 2015. But product cycles are product cycles, and Buick's surprise bestseller wi ...
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Ford faces tough decision on B-Max

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Feb. 9
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B-Max sales were down 15% in Europe last year. Even more troubling is that the entire small minivan segment fell 11%.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC:  When Ford of Europe President Jim Farley says that the automaker must be even more selective on the segments where it competes, it makes me think that the B-Max’s days are numbered, which means changes loom at the under-utilized plant in Romania where the small minivan is built. B-Max sales were down 15 percent to 45,717 units in Europe last year. Even more troubling is that the entire smal ...
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Hyundai's Super Bowl blitz scored big

Posted 4:00 pm U.S. ET, Feb. 8
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Hyundai's "Ryanville" ad, starring actor Ryan Reynolds, one of four Hyundai ads that aired during the Super Bowl.
VINCE BOND JR.:  Hyundai wanted to make a splash in its first Super Bowl as the NFL’s automotive sponsor, but it didn’t just throw money around with reckless abandon. Every move was calculated to maximize impact on advertising’s biggest stage, and Hyundai made a little history as a result by becoming the first automaker to take the top spot on USA Today’s Ad Meter with its “First Dat ...
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How GM's 'shampoo princess' is restoring Opel's image

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Feb. 4
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Mueller ignored her father and joined Opel to help turn around a brand "rich in tradition."
:  With Opel posting rising car sales last year and set to break even this year after years of heavy losses, the full story of how General Motors' European division managed to reverse its fortunes would not be complete without mentioning the pivotal role played by one executive: marketing chief Tina Mueller. Opel had become in Germany something akin to Oldsmobile in the U.S. -- a domestic brand ever ...
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Chock this out: We may have jumped the shark on Recall-o-rama

Posted 12:58 pm U.S. ET, Feb. 3
blogs Larry P. Vellequette covers Fiat Chrysler for Automotive News.
 
In a sign of Fiat Chrysler’s new hypersensitivity to safety -- its efforts to keep on the right side of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration -- the automaker said today it would voluntarily supply owners of 441,578 Dodge Chargers from the 2011-16 model years in the U.S. with free wheel chocks. Wheel chocks. Let that sink in a minute. For the uninitiated, wheel chocks are larg ...
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F&I product add positions Cox for growth

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, Feb. 3
blogs Hannah Lutz covers finance and insurance for Automotive News.
 
F&I product sales could be the key to dealership profit, and by offering F&I products to its dealers, Cox Automotive is setting itself up for growth. Cox Automotive announced last week that it acquired a minority interest in F&I product provider SilverRock Holdings. Dealers who work with Cox Automotive’s NextGear Capital and GO Financial will be able to offer customers F&I p ...
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Despite a quirky January, industry is on the right path

Posted 5:11 pm U.S. ET, Feb. 2
blogs Jesse Snyder is opinion page editor at Automotive News.
 
Better run down to the local Asterisks R Us store and load up. The industry always wants January U.S. auto sales to foretell the year ahead, but it’s a lousy month for soothsaying. There’s truth buried in the numbers. But you must adjust for so many quirks, it’s hard to get a clear picture. There’s the usual seasonal stuff: weather, mood and the inevitable hangover from h ...
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Sergio's plan to sell rebadged Dart, 200 replacements could work -- if he chooses wisely

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, Feb. 2
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With upgrades to materials and power, SAIC's MG6 could be a suitable replacement for the Dodge Dart.
RICHARD TRUETT:  Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne's plan to replace the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 with vehicles built under contract by other automakers faces long odds. Can you name a captive import (a car built by one automaker, but sold by another) or rebadged car that has been successful? There are very few. The closest that comes to mind is the 1970-78 Mercury Capri. Ford Motor Co. sold more than 500,00 ...
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In Daihatsu deal, Toyota zigs while Detroit zags

Posted 11:14 am U.S. ET, Feb. 1
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Toyota President Akio Toyoda said he would build Daihatsu into a truly global brand. (Reuters)
HANS GREIMEL:  TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. is zigging while Detroit zags on a key question: How important are small cars and emerging markets to determining future winners and losers? Toyota last week doubled down on its bet on Japanese minicar maker Daihatsu, agreeing to buy the remaining 48.8 percent of the company it doesn’t already own. President Akio Toyoda said he would build Daihatsu into a truly ...
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Sales reporting transparency? Yeah, right

Posted 5:32 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 28
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AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson says the auto industry should have used six years of U.S. sales growth to change some of its reporting practices for the better, starting with aligning the industry calendar to the actual calendar and reporting results when the month really ends.
AMY WILSON:  In 2010, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson told me about being in the office of a sales executive at a domestic automaker years earlier on the closing day of the month. An aide walks in and asks whether the executive wants a rental car deal for 75,000 vehicles assigned to that month or the next one. The exec’s reply: “Hmm, I think we need it this month. Put it in.” Boom. The automaker ...
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Wait a minute. What? Jeep Wagoneer? Where did that come from?

Posted 6:17 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 27
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A 1983 Jeep Wagoneer, one of many built before Chrysler acquired Jeep in 1987.
LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE:  So here’s a question for you to ponder: What’s a Jeep Wagoneer? In the middle of a lengthy yet remarkably detail free conference call on Wednesday about Fiat Chrysler’s plans to “realign” its North American production plan, CEO Sergio Marchionne dropped this little nugget: “I think it’s important for us to have found a home for the Grand Wagoneer family ...
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Suzuki shares surge on report of talks with Toyota

Posted 12:55 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 27
blogs Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.
 
TOKYO -- Suzuki Motor Corp. shares surged on the Tokyo Stock Exchange today amid speculation the minicar specialist is seeking a new alliance partner after its acrimonious breakup with Volkswagen AG. The new consort is the German automaker’s top global rival, Toyota Motor Corp., according to a report in Japan’s Nihon Keizai newspaper. Toyota and Suzuki are exploring various tie-up pos ...
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Beware the pitfalls of digital ads

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, Jan. 27
blogs Hannah Lutz covers finance and insurance for Automotive News.
 
To steer clear of illegal advertisements, dealers should be mindful of the pitfalls lurking in the digital space. There has been an industrywide push to put much of the car buying and financing process online, including advertisements. While that’s a good thing for consumers and auto retailers alike, dealers should make sure that online ads don’t come back to haunt them. State attorn ...
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Why the time has come for a Takata bailout

Posted 2:02 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 26
blogs Philip Nussel is online editor at Automotive News.
 
The Takata airbag recall crisis, which now is measured in terms of years and by the tens of millions in recalled vehicles, has devolved into a metastasizing cancer on the credibility of the world’s auto industry. With the fatality count last week growing to 10 -- we may never really know how many people have been maimed or killed by Takata’s exploding airbag inflators -- it’s ti ...
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Caddy CT6's lightweight body = big car, small engine

Posted 12:30 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 26
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The Cadillac CT6 at the Shanghai auto show in April 2015. (BLOOMBERG)
MIKE COLIAS:  RAMONA, Calif. -- Of the three engine choices available on the Cadillac CT6 sedan, it was the smallest that seemed to generate the most buzz during a media drive here last week. The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo kicks out 265 hp, shy of the 272 hp that the same displacement engine produces in the compact Cadillac ATS. But the relative featherweight construction of the CT6 left it with plenty of ...
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Will Volvo's S90L land stateside?

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, Jan. 26
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The Volvo S90 made its auto show debut in Detroit this month. (BLOOMBERG)
JAY RAMEY:  Volvo's revival of the S90 nameplate, dormant since the late 1990s, brings back the brand's aspirations for a luxury flagship to take on the Germans. Developed on the company's Scalable Product Architecture shared with the XC90 crossover, the S90 will battle the likes of the BMW 5 series, Mercedes-Benz E class and Lexus GS when it lands in stores later in the year. But is an even more ...
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GM shifts r&d role to meet new realities

Posted 12:30 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 26
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Jon Lauckner, GM's chief technical officer, outlined Chevrolet's connectivity initiatives in June 2015 in Detroit.
RICHARD TRUETT:  For most of its existence, General Motors r&d has focused on investigating technologies that might be deployed in automobiles decades down the road. In the 1950s, for instance, GM was already thinking about how to engineer autonomous vehicles. In the mid-1960s, GM engineers built the world’s first fuel-cell powered automobile, the Electrovan. About a decade ago, GM’s researchers ...
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Eight things to know about the new Hyundai Ioniq hybrid

Posted 1:02 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 22
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The Ioniq's handsome, understated good looks are enhanced by a coupelike silhouette, a squared-off front fascia and a planted, low and wide stance.
HANS GREIMEL:  SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor Co. is pitching its new Ioniq hybrid vehicle as the anti-hybrid hybrid: a green car with gusto and good looks. And the compact hatchback delivered on that promise during a test drive this week on the northern outskirts of Seoul. On largely deserted roads just outside the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone dividing South Korea from its communist neighbor to the north, the ...
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ZF executive 'remarkably comfortable' in one-on-one chat with Obama

Posted 3:21 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 21
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President Obama met with Johnson during his tour of the Detroit auto show on Wednesday. (Reuters)
BRYAN JOHNSON:  The most commonly asked question I’ve received in the past 24 hours is: “Were you nervous?” But I can honestly tell you that my 10-minute one-on-one conversation with The President of the United States, while being the pinnacle of my communications career, was remarkably comfortable. Wednesday afternoon I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explain to President Barack Oba ...
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