Automotive News Table of Contents

July 27, 2015



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As dealership sales climb, margins slide

On the surface, second-quarter results from five publicly traded dealership groups last week were solid. But behind the gains lurked a disturbing trend: At all five, profit margins on new-vehicle sales fell.

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Dodge cancels unfilled '15 Hellcat orders, doubles '16 output

Dodge will more than double Hellcat Charger and Challenger production for 2016. But about 900 unfilled 2015 orders will be canceled.

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Mitsubishi throws in towel on fading era

Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s decision last week to sell its only U.S. assembly plant illustrates an emerging new-world order in car production. Mitsubishi's Normal, Ill.

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At last, Honda and Toyota prepare for turbo charge

After years of setting the pace in fuel economy without relying on technologies like turbocharging, direct injection or CVTs, Japan's big three will spend the next several years playing catch-up.

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Hack attack vs. FCA shows flaws with rush to connectivity

By the time it was publicized last week that hackers managed to take over a Jeep Cherokee, Fiat Chrysler had posted an urgent security patch on its website and was scrambling to further lock down the system.

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R&D HUB

Honda flexes research muscle with new Silicon Valley center

Honda last week opened to journalists its new 35,000-square-foot Silicon Valley r&d lab, where it has united once-disparate strands of its research work and connected them with a technology incubator for other potential research partners.

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Cars add bling, value versions to fight crossovers

As rising sales of crossovers continue to pull buyers away from middle-of-the-road sedans, automakers are scrambling to make their high-volume, mainstream cars a little less boring -- or at least more affordable.

NEWS ANALYSIS

Chasing profits, JCI jumps out of seats

Johnson Controls' spinoff of its $22 billion seats-and-interiors unit, announced last week, underlines an uncomfortable truth for suppliers: Sometimes it's not enough to be No. 1.

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Wiping out U.S.-EU rules disparities would yield big savings

Automakers are pushing governments to streamline safety regulations in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership free-trade deal the U.S. and E.U. are negotiating.

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Audi performance unit kills manual gearbox, naturally aspirated V-8

Audi's quattro GmbH performance division is slaughtering a few sacred cows among sports car enthusiasts.

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Fiat working on Abarth variant of 124

Fiat plans a high-performance version of the upcoming Fiat 124, Alfredo Altavilla, COO of Fiat Chrysler's Europe, Africa and Middle East region, told England's Auto Express in an interview.

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Here come the Kia crossovers

Kia is gearing up for a run at the fast-growing subcompact crossover segment with a dedicated hybrid model, spy photos suggest. About the size of a Honda HR-V, the unnamed Kia is likely to share a platform with a Hyundai model.

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Infiniti uncovers its A3 fighter

The production version of Infiniti's Q30 compact hatch unveiled last week stays faithful to the striking, and somewhat polarizing, looks of the 2013 concept.

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GM profit weathers China slowdown

General Motors' second-quarter results offered a sigh of relief - at least temporarily - to investors and other market watchers worried about slowing growth in China.

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The Big 3

Auto industry titan and racing mogul Roger Penske, right, was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame last week, along with longtime Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo, left, and Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of India's Tata Sons Ltd.

TrueCar works on relationships

TrueCar's dealer relations ranks are getting a tune-up this summer, with a longtime industry insider leaving and two new execs joining the company. UPDATED: 7/28/15 5:23 pm ET - corrected

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BRADFORD WERNLE

Autonomous vehicle explosion brings challenges

Conundrum is defined by Webster's New World College Dictionary as a puzzling question or problem. The exploding autonomous vehicle phenomenon is presenting the automobile industry with a thicket of conundrums.

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BEST PRACTICES

Tomes' 10-foot rope a measure of success

At Bob Tomes' Ford and Subaru stores in McKinney, Texas, any staffer who gets within 10 feet of a customer must greet them and ask them about their experience and whether they can help.

EDITORIAL

Car hacking is real, and auto industry must respond

When two hackers took command of a Jeep Cherokee while journalist Andy Greenberg was driving it on public roads, an exploit revealed last week in a Wired magazine story, everything changed. Car hacking got real.

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JASON STEIN

Store renovation blues are back

If you think you've just been transported to February 2012, you're right. Dealership renovations are hotter than the dealers who are steaming mad about them.

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J FERRON

Thinking outside the customers' box

Innovation drives the automotive industry.

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VINCE BOND JR.

A proving ground for collaboration

Could the smartphone -- the source of so many deadly driving distractions -- prove to be an auto safety device? That question has been in my head ever since I rode along on a Honda demonstration of a safety system that integrates connected-car and...

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SCREEN SAVERS

Automakers try integrated tablets to retain backseat business

It might seem strange that BMW's redesigned 7-series sedan, priced at $81,300 plus shipping, would have to compete with a $499 iPad from Apple.

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Making a car's sensors work like our senses

Autopilot systems like Cadillac's Super Cruise will rely on “sensor fusion,” in which supercomputers stitch data from many sensors into a 360-degree view.

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Car haulers fight driver shortage

Long wait times to pick up cars and paperwork contributes big-time to car-hauler driver job dissatisfaction. It is among the reasons the car hauling industry has a shortage of about 3,000 drivers.

Volvo, industry flex their CPO sales muscles

At the half-year mark, industrywide sales of certified used vehicles stood at 1,275,411, up 13 percent compared with the same period last year. The industry sold 212,843 certified units in June, an 18 percent increase over June 2014.

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Pickups, crossovers and powertrain dominate Japan 3 plans

Japan's big three of Toyota, Nissan and Honda have ambitious -- but divergent -- plans for the the next five years.

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Long-starved Scion gets a serving of new cars, crossovers

After years of neglect from parent company Toyota, Scion is finally seeing new products roll in. Two cars go on sale this year, and a subcompact crossover likely is headed to dealers in 2016.

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Toyota begins shift to global platform

During the next few years, will see many of Toyota's cars and crossovers will migrate to versions of the automaker's new modular global platform, starting with the fourth-generation Prius due out this fall. UPDATED: 7/27/15 1:31 pm ET - corrected

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A supercar, then a mini crossover for Acura

Next year will finally see Acura's long-awaited NSX hybrid supercar land in customer hands. After that, look for more turbo engines, and a new baby crossover in the lineup.

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Honda in line for plug-in, a turbo injection

Honda fans have plenty to look forward to in the near future, as the company looks to turbocharging, a resurrected truck, a dedicated plug-in hybrid, and even a sports car.

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Lexus arms for luxury battle with updated CT, new crossover

The next few years will see Lexus fill key holes in its lineup with a rethought entry-level CT, a new three-row crossover above the RX and even a high-zoot coupe at the top of its lineup.

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Nissan aims for volume sweet spots with rollouts

Four big model splashes will dominate Nissan Division's product rollouts for the next 12 months.

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Infiniti's bold overhaul begins next spring

Infiniti remains on course with a full slate of new models that it revealed over the past year, scheduled to roll out between early 2016 and 2018.

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Mercedes revamps supply chain to trim costs

Mercedes-Benz aims to reduce its logistics costs by about 20 percent per vehicle as the company invests hundreds of millions of euros in a global reorganization of its supply chain network.

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Dealers

Dealers featured this week include members of the Brasher family at Brasher Motor Co. (Buick-Chevrolet-GMC) in Weimar, Texas; Hilary Haron and Randy Haron of Haron Land Rover in Fresno, Calif.

SHAREHOLDER VALUE REPORT

Retailers, suppliers pace 2nd-quarter shareholder returns

Shareholder returns among global automakers in the second quarter drooped in a down global economy, but U.S. publicly owned retailers and global suppliers handily outperformed most indexes.

N.A. output rises 4.6% in June

Estimated North American car and truck production in June rose 4.6 percent from a year earlier to 1,608,369 units. It was the 47th consecutive month for production to exceed 1 million units.

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1,100-hp supercar's problem? 'Too powerful'

The founder of Denmark's Zenvo might have to go to a four-wheel-drive system for the next model, just to make the replacement for the 1,104-hp ST1 more drivable. “It's too powerful,” founder Troels Vollertsen told Automotive News.

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Driverless driving induces a range of anxiety on road

When Delphi engineers undertook a nine-day, 3,400-mile journey from San Francisco to New York in a driverless research vehicle in March, they got some interesting reactions from other motorists.

Energy prices, flood waters are no match for Group 1

From the outside, one might assume Houston's Group 1 would be hurting. But its adjusted net income jumped 20 percent to a second-quarter record of $47.9 million, as revenue climbed 8.6 percent to $2.73 billion.

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Pickups are picking up premium price tags

Last week, Ford introduced a Limited version of the F-150 that will start at about $60,000 and will likely top $70,000 when loaded with options. So what do you get when you max out other half-ton pickups sold in the U.S.

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Why Hall-of-Famer Penske did not succeed Iacocca

Roger Penske, who was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame last week, nearly replaced Lee Iacocca as chairman of Chrysler Corp. in 1991. But it became clear to Penske that Iacocca did not plan to retire anytime soon.


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