BLOG: Richard Johnson

Nissan's Munoz touts investment by megadealer Terry Taylor

Posted 2:40 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 12
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Jose Munoz with the Nissan Titan Warrior concept truck at the Detroit auto show this week. (Reuters)
DETROIT -- Nissan came under fire from some of its dealers recently, but Jose Munoz, chief of Nissan North America, says all the big groups that have invested in Nissan and Infiniti dealerships lately speak for themselves. Well, not all of them. Terry Taylor, the super-secretive Palm Beach-based auto retailer doesn't speak publicly at all. So Munoz is doing the talking fo ...
     Continue reading "Nissan's Munoz touts investment by megadealer Terry Taylor" » Jan 12, 2016 2:40 pm U.S. ET
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For big U.S. dealer groups, another plea to buy into China

Posted 4:30 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 12
DETROIT -- Global carmakers want the highly proficient U.S. public dealership groups to invest in China, and the publics simply aren't interested. Or so it seems. In 2012, then-Mercedes-Benz sales chief Joachim Schmidt made the first plea for U.S. groups to take the plunge and enter China. Four years later, Mercedes and the others are still waiting. "There are some ext ...
     Continue reading "For big U.S. dealer groups, another plea to buy into China" » Jan 12, 2016 4:30 pm U.S. ET
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Haunting memories of another Paris attack

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 23
A few weeks after I arrived in Frankfurt in the autumn of 1986 to become Automotive News' Europe reporter, the city of Paris was rocked by an act of terrorism. On Nov. 17, radical leftists shot and killed Renault President Georges Besse outside his home in the 14th arrondissement.There had been a wave of terrorism in Europe, much like today. Just a week before the assassin ...
     Continue reading "Haunting memories of another Paris attack" » Nov 23, 2015 12:01 am U.S. ET
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The view of the global auto market from Germany? Not so bad

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 17
How bad are things on the world automotive stage? Pretty awful, right? ‎Th‎e U.S. is the only bright spot in a global industry filled with turmoil.‎ At least that's how Americans tend to view the situation. But here in Germany things don't look so bleak. "There is always some part of the world where you have headwinds," said Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board m ...
     Continue reading "The view of the global auto market from Germany? Not so bad" » Sep 17, 2015 12:01 am U.S. ET
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The view of the global auto market from Germany? Not so bad

Posted 6:17 am U.S. ET, Sept. 16
FRANKFURT -- How bad are things on the world automotive stage? Pretty awful, right? ‎Th‎e U.S. is the only bright spot in a global industry filled with turmoil.‎ At least that's how Americans tend to view the situation. But here in Germany things don't look so bleak. "There is always some part of the world where you have headwinds," said Peter Schwarzenbauer ...
     Continue reading "The view of the global auto market from Germany? Not so bad" » Sep 16, 2015 6:17 am U.S. ET
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Why a Rolls-Royce ATV isn't a strange idea

Posted 7:32 am U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Rolls-Royce has all but settled on the styling of its first "utility" or "high sided” vehicle, which is planned to be on sale in a little over three years. But what to call the thing? An SUV, crossover, superluxury activity vehicle? "We haven't decided yet, but we're thinking 'all-terrain vehicle,'" said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos. A Rolls ATV? Really? ...
     Continue reading "Why a Rolls-Royce ATV isn't a strange idea" » Sep 15, 2015 7:32 am U.S. ET
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Why Mazda's Jim O'Sullivan is big on new subcompact CX-3

Posted 6:52 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 16
MONTEREY, Calif. -- Classic Car Week on the Monterey Peninsula is always extra-special for Mazda, what with the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca being a main attraction. Jim O'Sullivan, dean of U.S. import brand CEOs, seems to relish every minute of it, especially watching his guys Robert Davis, Jeremy Barnes and Weldon Munsey on the track. But the other thing that has O'Sul ...
     Continue reading "Why Mazda's Jim O'Sullivan is big on new subcompact CX-3" » Aug 16, 2015 6:52 pm U.S. ET
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When Johanna Quandt turned an ambitious Henry Ford II down

Posted 5:45 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 5
Her hair tied up in a tight bun, Johanna Quandt looked like a character out of The Sound of Music as she greeted Henry Ford II at her home in Bad Homburg, Germany, in the summer of 1987. The billionaire widow, whose late husband acquired the struggling BMW in 1959, died this week at 89. The meeting in 1987 took place just a few weeks before Ford died of complications fro ...
     Continue reading "When Johanna Quandt turned an ambitious Henry Ford II down" » Aug 5, 2015 5:45 pm U.S. ET
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Piech's career battles will be his legacy

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, April 20
Ferdinand Piech started out his career with a pretty serious rivalry -- tangling with cousin Ferdinand "Butzi" Porsche, designer of the 911. Now it appears he'll bow out in more or less the same fashion. At war. It's just his style. In fact, it will be his legacy. The dueling cousins went at it so hard that in 1971, a frustrated Ferry Porsche, Butzi's father, cast all fami ...
     Continue reading "Piech's career battles will be his legacy" » Apr 20, 2015 12:01 am U.S. ET
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A new Gold Rush sweeps over California

Posted 12:45 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 25
SAN FRANCISCO -- George Soros' people weren't the only nontraditional buyers of car dealerships prowling the NADA convention. Rick Kotzen and Ron Sompels, partners at accounting firm Crowe Horwath, held meetings here with several well-heeled groups looking for a piece of the considerable action in auto retailing. In the past year or so, Kotzen says the firm has been in c ...
     Continue reading "A new Gold Rush sweeps over California" » Jan 25, 2015 12:45 pm U.S. ET
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Lengthening loan terms get brokers', banks' attention

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Jan. 24
The best handicappers of the U.S. market may be the folks lining up to buy dealerships. They place bets in the form of the multiples of earnings they're prepared to pay for stores. "The goodwill numbers people are willing to pay have probably peaked," says broker Mark Johnson. "If you buy a store, you want to be able to forecast growth. That's how you get the multiple to ...
     Continue reading "Lengthening loan terms get brokers', banks' attention" » Jan 24, 2015 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Low gas prices - the good ... and bad for dealers

Posted 8:25 pm U.S. ET, Jan. 23
A lot of auto people can't seem to make up their minds about whether low gasoline prices are in the long-term best interest of the car industry, given that they may not be in the best interest of the economy at large.But none of those people are dealers, it seems. Just ask the dealers at the Moscone Center."It sure doesn't hurt," said Steve Germain, CEO of Germain Motor Co ...
     Continue reading "Low gas prices - the good ... and bad for dealers" » Jan 23, 2015 8:25 pm U.S. ET
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