Blogs

How GM's 'shampoo princess' is restoring Opel's image

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Feb. 4
blogs
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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Papa Uno hits the block

Posted 2:00 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 20
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During a U.S. visit by Pope Francis in September, Fiat's modest four-door 500L hatchbacks contrasted sharply in papal motorcades amid a lineup of jumbo-size SUVs carrying the pope's security detail and entourage. (REUTERS)
LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE:  A Fiat 500L made famous by a high-profile user -- I know, it’s a big club, but I want to leave you guessing -- is going on the auction block for charity this month in Philadelphia. A black Fiat 500L used in September in Philadelphia by Pope Francis during his first visit to the United States will be auctioned off Jan. 29 during the black-tie gala prior to the start of the city’s auto ...
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Efficiency, compliance still trump shorter visits to F&I office

Posted 12:30 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 20
blogs Hannah Lutz covers finance and insurance for Automotive News.
 
Speed in the F&I office, while a priority, may not be dealerships’ No. 1 goal anymore. A quick visit to the F&I office makes a difference, especially in pleasing those consumers who expect immediate gratification. But ease and transparency in the process seem to take precedent for retailers. When I leased my car in September, the transaction from start to finish took about three ho ...
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The danger of being a pioneer

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, Jan. 19
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Ford CEO Mark Fields at the Detroit auto show, where the automaker disclosed plans to launch a platform called FordPass that gives users the ability to reserve parking, pay for transportation costs through their vehicle or phone, earn rewards and call a “FordGuide” for free help reaching destinations. (BLOOMBERG)
RICHARD TRUETT:  There’s been an almost nonstop din of pronouncements from automakers on apps, connectivity, electrification, autonomous driving, car-sharing and mobility. Since the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas two weeks ago and now the Detroit auto show, automakers haven’t had much to say about how they plan to continue improving quality and fuel economy, reducing emissions, making cars saf ...
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Dragging my feet and getting shamed into fixing a Jeep

Posted 3:26 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 15
blogs
One of the half a dozen or so notices from FCA and Jeep received by the author. (RICHARD TRUETT)
RICHARD TRUETT:  At the Detroit auto show this week, I ran into a friend who works at Fiat Chrysler. After we exchanged pleasantries, he asked me very seriously if I’ve taken my vintage Jeep Grand Cherokee to the dealer for an inspection and possible trailer hitch installation. As a matter of fact, no I haven’t. And it’s not Fiat Chrysler’s fault. FCA has been a nagging but well-meaning ...
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The enigmatic life and death of Julie Nguyen Brown

Posted 11:29 am U.S. ET, Jan. 15
blogs Philip Nussel is online editor at Automotive News.
 
It didn’t surprise me that the death of longtime supplier executive and entrepreneur Julie Nguyen Brown took place without a public obituary or announcement. She was born in 1950, but we don’t know her exact age or the cause of death. And that’s exactly the way this enigmatic executive would have wanted it. Brown founded parts supplier Plastech Engineered Products Inc. in 1988. ...
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Seeing double in Detroit

Posted 3:15 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 14
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Volvo XC90, Kia Telluride crossover concept
WES RAYNAL:  DETROIT -- The 2016 edition of the Detroit auto show is packed with the usual introductions, concepts and good gossip. This year, more than in previous years, though, we can’t help but notice some of the sedans, coupes, crossovers and trucks are all starting to run together: Bentleys and Continentals, Impalas and LaCrosses. Some are new and some have been around a while. Here are five exa ...
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Is Toyota turning the Mirai into a mobile network server?

Posted 12:45 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 14
blogs
Shigeki Tomoyama, senior managing officer for Toyota, with a Mirai research car equipped with an advanced Kymeta antennae for data transmission. (REUTERS)
WESLEY WREN:  DETROIT -- Toyota Motor Corp. displayed its latest in-car connectivity at the Detroit auto show this week. Partnering with American-based flat-panel antenna developer Kymeta, Toyota aims to alleviate the data bottleneck that happens while using a standard mobile network, which is what connected cars currently use. In anticipation that bandwidth demand will only get worse in the future, Toyota sl ...
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Lexus trumps Toyota for valued floor space at Detroit show

Posted 12:11 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 14
blogs
More than 400 people flooded the LC 500 unveiling Monday afternoon. (Bloomberg)
HANS GREIMEL:  DETROIT -- Kudos to the hardworking crew that set up the Toyota display at this year’s Detroit auto show. Normally, workers would spend days prepping a stand in advance of the event. But this year, they had to tear down a booth and create a new one virtually overnight Monday. That is because the Lexus luxury sibling brand commandeered the expansive Toyota brand space on Monday as the unvei ...
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Jeep waves green flag for Hellcat Grand Cherokee

Posted 2:15 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 13
blogs

JAKE LINGEMAN:  DETROIT -- A 707-hp Hellcat Jeep Grand Cherokee is coming before the end of 2017. We'll just let that sink in for a few seconds. Jeep brand head Mike Manley confirmed the information to writer/driver Brian Makse this week at the Detroit auto show; in turn, he broadcasted the news through his YouTube channel. Fiat Chrysler's Hellcat franchise, anchored by a 6.2-liter supercharged ...
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