Automotive News Europe Blogs

Aston's clever distractions

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Feb. 27
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The Aston Martin Vulcan produces more than 800 hp and will start at 1.8 million pounds. The racetrack-only car will debut at the Geneva auto show.
NICK GIBBS:  Aston Martin is cleverly covering up its biggest weakness -- its money-losing, aging lineup -- by creating headline-grabbing limited-edition models. The British automaker is counting on a recently announced hypercar and a concept car created specifically for the world’s best-known spy to maintain momentum at the brand until its next all-new model arrives in late 2016. Both vehicles feature ...
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Has diesel peaked in Europe?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Feb. 16
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RICHARD TRUETT:  Driving into Paris a few years ago in a Peugeot diesel hatchback, I became lodged in a long line of traffic. I started coughing violently. It was so bad, I nearly couldn't drive. Thankfully, I had a bottle of water, which helped. I blamed diesel fumes. Pollution is one reason why the diesel engine has perhaps peaked at 50 percent of new-car sales in most of Europe. Politicians are criticizing dies ...
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Did VW pick the wrong U.S. state to build the Passat?

Posted 5:48 am U.S. ET, Feb. 11
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Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER:  Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear has a message for any German carmaker or supplier considering expanding into the South: Labor unions are welcome, at least in his state. With 1.2 million vehicles built in 2013, Kentucky ranked third behind Michigan and Ohio for most vehicles produced in a U.S. state. Ever since Ford started assembling the Model T in Louisville in 1913, Kentucky has a century of ...
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Ford Mondeo hybrid may benefit from diesel backlash

Posted 7:53 am U.S. ET, Feb. 10
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The Mondeo hybrid will boost Ford's green credential in Europe.
NICK GIBBS:  Ford does not expect its Mondeo hybrid to be a big seller in Europe but the environmentally friendly car could benefit from a backlash in some countries against diesel cars. The latest generation Mondeo is currently rolling out in showrooms and the midsize car has a hybrid variant for the first time. Ford says the hybrid will account for just 3 percent of the Mondeo range’s sales in the UK ...
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Has VW scored an own goal bankrolling its soccer club?

Posted 10:05 am U.S. ET, Feb. 6
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Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER:  With Volkswagen looking to save 5 billion euros in costs at its core VW brand and key wage negotiations with its German workforce just starting, is it sensible to use shareholder money to subsidize a soccer club’s ambitions for a top-flight title? Carmakers love soccer as a marketing platform for their brands -- just think of the $559 million Chevrolet is spending to have its bowtie emblazo ...
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Qoros should ditch Europe ambitions and focus on China

Posted 5:47 am U.S. ET, Feb. 6
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Qoros has said it aims to sell 10 percent of its cars in Europe. Pictured is the Qoros 3 compact hatchback.
YANG JIAN:  Qoros Automotive Co., a young partnership between China's Chery Automobile Co. and Singapore-based Kenon Holdings, is embarking upon an ambitious plan to reinvent itself. The company has revised its product plans and shifted its manufacturing footprint within China. And now it has hired a new CEO: Phil Murtaugh, a veteran automotive executive who once ran GM China. I have some advice for Mr. Mur ...
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German auto industry feels ripples from Paris terror attacks

Posted 5:53 am U.S. ET, Jan. 30
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Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER:  The January killings of journalists at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris have brought home to Germany the difficult issue of Jihadi attacks, with the debate now reaching the economic pride of the country, its carmakers. Up until now, Germans largely have felt they were safe from bloody reprisals because their country had refrained from joining the Iraq War -- as had France. The bombings i ...
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Zetsche done taking beating for Daimler double duty

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 28
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Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER:  Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of both Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, has been the whipping boy of the German premium auto industry for years. Analysts, fund managers and the media have blamed him for Mercedes’ declining fortunes in relation to the brand’s luxury rivals and many critics are convinced a major part of the problem results from Zetsche splitting his time between his role as CEO of b ...
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Why VW is closer than ever to global No. 1

Posted 5:26 am U.S. ET, Jan. 21
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
Volkswagen Group has reason to celebrate after Toyota seemingly conceded the title of world’s largest automaker to its German rival 21 days into the new year. Toyota said today it expects its sales to slump 1 percent to 10.15 million in the current calendar year because of slowing demand in Japan and emerging markets. If that happens and VW manages a slight increase on the record 10.14 mil ...
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Farewell to an auto PR legend

Posted 8:17 am U.S. ET, Jan. 21
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One of Tom Kowaleski's greatest hits: Having Bob Lutz crash a Jeep Grand Cherokee through a plate-glass window at Cobo Hall during the 1992 Detroit auto show.
LUCA CIFERRI:  Nothing was impossible for automotive PR man Tom Kowaleski. Whether it was invading a beloved Italian landmark or literally crashing into the Detroit auto show, Tom dared to do it. I was there in the early 1990s when a photographer asked Tom whether it would be possible to take a picture of the first-generation Dodge Viper in front of Milan’s famous Duomo cathedral. Tom, who was leading th ...
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Jeep uses Paris boat show to gain traction

Posted 6:34 am U.S. ET, Jan. 16
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Jeep promoted the new Renegade at the Nautic.
BRUCE GAIN:  Jeep hopes its role as a marketing partner at the Nautic in Paris, one of Europe’s biggest boat shows, will help it get a leg up in the fast-growing small SUV market. The iconic U.S. off-road brand says it is considering partnering with the event this year after gaining “positive feedback” at last year’s show in December. Jeep France has not decided yet whether it will be ...
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So what is a Bentayga?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 14
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The Bentley SUV -- then named EXP 9 F -- when it was introduced at the Geneva auto show in March 2012. (BLOOMBERG)
BRADFORD WERNLE:  DETROIT -- When it comes to quirky names for SUVs, Volkswagen Group has the market pretty well cornered. This is the German company that dreamed up the Touareg, named for the nomadic Tuareg people of North Africa, and Tiguan, a combination of the words tiger and iguana. Both wear the Volkswagen brand. They’re the sort of names that send journalists scrambling to Google for a quick spell ch ...
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Zetsche, Tesla's Musk have similar timetables for self-driving cars

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 14
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe/
 
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have very similar timetables for when they think autonomous cars will be on the road. Musk said that in five years or less the technology will be advanced enough for fully autonomous driving to be a reality. Then it will take another two to three years to: 1) Prove that self-driving cars are safe. 2) Draw up the rules to regulate autonomous dri ...
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Why Jaguar's founder would love the F-Pace

Posted 12:25 am U.S. ET, Jan. 13
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So far only a partial shot of the F-Pace has been released. The crossover will be available in major global markets starting next year.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC:  Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum believes that company founder Sir William Lyons would approve of the first crossover in the automaker’s 80-year history. Callum said that Lyons, above all, was an innovator, so he thinks European Automotive Hall of Fame member would love the F-Pace’s “sportiness and pragmatism.” “He would think it’s absolutely right,” Ca ...
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Zetsche rejoices in U.S. rebound

Posted 5:20 am U.S. ET, Jan. 13
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Dieter Zetsche presents the Mercedes GLE Coupe in Detroit. (Reuters)
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER:  Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche expects the U.S. economy to see solid growth in 2015 and boost demand for new cars like the Mercedes GLE Coupe, despite plans by the Federal Reserve to end years of easy money policies that boosted demand for cars. The positive outlook for the U.S. economy is key for Daimler’s luxury car brand. Larger rivals BMW and Audi count China as their biggest market, but Me ...
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Is BMW 9 series a step closer?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 7
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BMW previewed a range-topping luxury sedan at the Beijing auto show last year in the form of the Vision Future Luxury Concept.
JAY RAMEY:  Will BMW field a production sedan positioned above the 7 series? The decision could be made by the company later this year, BMW Blog reports. The automaker previewed a range-topping luxury sedan at the Beijing auto show last year in the form of the BMW Vision Future Luxury Concept. At the time the company had not committed to building anything beyond the 7 series, even though a couple of company ...
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Nissan offers rare peek into battery making

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Dec. 12
blogs Nick Gibbs is UK Correspondent at Automotive News Europe.
 
A rare tour of Nissan's UK battery plant demonstrated how tricky it is to build the product. Nissan is very secretive about its commercially sensitive production processes. My visit this month was the first time Nissan let outsiders into the 420 million pounds (534 million euros) plant in Sunderland, northeast England, since it opened in 2013. Security was tight. No cell phones were allowed and ...
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Why loyalty leads to fewer dealership visits

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Dec. 11
blogs Luca Ciferri is Editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
A customer visited a dealership an average of six times in the UK before completing a purchase in 1994. That number dropped to 1.2 visits in 2012 and it’s still falling, a successful retailer says. “I think it is possible that at some point in the future we may go down to just 0.7 to 0.8 visits per dealership,” said Steve Penman, dealer principal at Elms Cambridge BMW in Cambour ...
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BMW's manufacturing arm also produces future leaders

Posted 6:44 am U.S. ET, Dec. 9
blogs Luca Ciferri is Editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
BMW's manufacturing division not only builds great cars -- it also produces the company's future leaders. With the appointment of Harald Krueger as CEO to succeed Norbert Reithofer, BMW builds on its tradition of appointing manufacturing experts from within the company to the top job. BMW has also picked a relatively young executive who can steer the automaker for years to come. Krueger is 49 a ...
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VW's Diess takes pole position to replace Winterkorn

Posted 6:30 am U.S. ET, Dec. 9
blogs Christiaan Hetzner is Automotive News Europe's Germany correspondent.
 
Volkswagen’s announcement that it poached BMW development chief Herbert Diess to run its flagship VW brand puts the 56-year-old manager in pole position to succeed Martin Winterkorn as head of what could soon be the world’s largest automaker. Winterkorn’s contract runs until 2016, but VW unions want him to stay through the end of 2018. Whenever he steps down he is the most likel ...
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Prepare to embrace McLaren's anticipate-and-act tactics

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Dec. 8
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
People in the car business are so used to being lectured on how they are doing things wrong -- social media, customer service, what have you -- that it’s notable whenever an automotive company sets a new benchmark for the rest of the world. Zoom in for a closer look at the McLaren Racing pit crews doing their lightning-speed maintenance work the next time you’re watching a Formula 1 r ...
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France is hurting its domestic automakers with diesel policy shift

Posted 5:55 am U.S. ET, Dec. 5
blogs Bruce Gain is an Automotive News Europe correspondent in France.
 
For environmental and public health reasons France is ending a government policy that has long promoted the purchase of diesel cars, but the move will hurt domestic automakers Renault and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen. Diesel models accounted for 71 percent of Peugeot brand sales through October, 68 percent for Citroen and 64 percent for Renault, according to industry analysts Inovev. The French carmakers ...
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FAW bribe scandal should be wake-up call for Beijing

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 28
blogs Yang Jian is managing editor of Automotive News China.
 
Beijing renewed a rule this month that foreign automakers seeking to build vehicles in China must form joint ventures with local companies. But allegations of rampant bribery at China FAW Group Corp.'s joint venture with Volkswagen should provide an urgent wake-up call to the government to abandon the rule. The government had hoped state-owned automakers would learn from foreign partners how to ...
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Why Audi over-engineered its fuel cell

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 28
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Audi says that without the plug-in hybrid system the A7 Sportback h-tron Quattro would be underpowered, offering the equivalent of just 136 hp.
LUCA CIFERRI:  Audi r&d boss Ulrich Hackenberg provided a concise answer when asked why the carmaker’s fuel cell also needs plug-in hybrid technology. “To make it a proper Audi,” Hackenberg told me last week at the Los Angeles auto show. Without the plug-in hybrid system the A7 Sportback h-tron Quattro would be underpowered, offering the equivalent of just 136 hp, and would disgrace the Q ...
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How to get the U.S. into diesels

Posted 8:07 am U.S. ET, Nov. 28
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is Managing Editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
European automakers and suppliers have been trying for years to get U.S. drivers excited about diesels. Experience has proved that a test drive can be a deal-maker. At least that was what I witnessed when testing a 2014 BMW X4 diesel with my father when he visited Germany from the U.S. a month ago. He couldn’t believe how powerful, responsive and quiet the X4 was compared with his last die ...
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