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Archive for October, 2009

ICOTY Names Car/Truck-of-the-Year Finalists

Domestics take lead, Japanese notably absent.

by on Oct.29, 2009

The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro is one of three finalists for International Car of the Year. Notably ICOTY choose no Japanese products for either truck or car finalists.

The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro is one of three finalists for International Car of the Year. Notably ICOTY choose no Japanese products in either truck or car finalist categories.

Detroit overwhelmingly dominated the choice of finalists for the International Car and Truck of the Year awards while Japanese brands were notably absent from the top six picks.

The selection suggests that while the Big Three still have their struggles ahead, they’re beginning to put out a host of increasingly competitive products.

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. each placed one of the three finalists, with Hyundai and Volvo contributing the other picks.

The nominees for Car of the Year include:

On the Truck of the Year side, ICOTY’s judges picked:

(Click on the highlighted links, above, to read TheDetroitBureau.com’s own reviews.)

Your Hands Down Winner for News!

Your Hands Down Winner for News!

The ICOTY judges are told to look at a variety of features, including innovativeness, performance, quality, and that hard-to-describe emotionally compelling factor.

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OnStar Telematics to Launch in China

Joint venture will offer services in Mandarin this December.

by on Oct.29, 2009

Limited but ultimately an unlimited market?

Limited but ultimately an unlimited market?

Shanghai OnStar Telematics Company opens for business in China this December following an announcement more than two years ago by ousted General Motors Chairman Rick Wagoner.

Since then Toyota, Lexus, Nissan and Audi have offered telematics products to what is now an extremely small private market that is thought to offer great future sales potential.

OnStar services will be available first on some Cadillac, then Buick and finally Chevrolet vehicles as a roll out proceeds during an unspecified period.

This is the first OnStar operation outside of the U.S. and Canada since OnStar was formed in 1995. OnStar claims it is now a global leader in telematics with more than 5.6 million customers and 230 million customer interactions to-date.

Stay Connected!

Stay Connected!

The new venture is significant for GM in that it underscores the importance of the emerging Chinese market, now the world’s largest, as well as the need for GM to demonstrate it can expand sales and revenues so that it can pay back Canadian and U.S. taxpayer loans.

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Daimler Returns a Small Q3 Profit

Six billion in losses later, black ink returns.

by on Oct.29, 2009

Zetsche's team provides some postive results.

Zetsche's team provides some positive results.

After a run of heavy losses totaling almost $6 billion, Daimler AG expects to finish 2009 with a fourth quarter profit.

The German automaker finished the third quarter with a net profit of $60 million despite a steep 26% plunge in sales.

Daimler chief executive, Dieter Zetsche, Chairman crowed that, “In recent months, we have increasingly mastered the crisis. Daimler has been able to maintain its financial flexibility and has intensified the actions taken to enhance efficiency, while pushing forward with the development of new products and markets. We are now very well positioned and can look with confidence to the coming year, which will remain challenging due to the still-difficult situation of automobile markets worldwide.”

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Toyota Dealers Upgrading during Sales Slump

Will new, expensive buildings lead to higher satisfaction?

by on Oct.29, 2009

About one-third of Toyota's 1200 dealers have upgraded facilities.

About one-third of Toyota's 1200 dealers have upgraded facilities.

As other automakers reel under the pressure under the pressure of the recession, Toyota’s U.S. dealers are sinking more money into their showrooms and service bays.

As many buyers know since they provide the input, Toyota’s customer satisfaction ratings have never measured up to the company’s ratings for quality, reliability and durability. Critics and industry observers have suggested for a long time that the company’s customer handling skills need improvement.
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Ford’s “Replacement for Displacement” at SEMA

EcoBoost hot rod will make 400 hp from a 3.5-liter V6.

by on Oct.29, 2009

Ford's EcoBoost V-6 gives this '34 3-Window Coupe replica a high-powered, downsized alternative to the classic 302-inch V-8.

Ford's EcoBoost V-6 gives this '34 3-Window Coupe replica a high-powered, downsized alternative to the classic 302-inch V-8.

There’s an old adage, in the auto industry: “There’s no replacement for displacement.”  But in an era where even muscle car fans are paying attention to fuel economy, downsizing is rapidly becoming a way of life.

In an era when turbos and superchargers are gaining increased interest, Ford will offer its own alternative at the upcoming SEMA show, in Las Vegas.  Instead of a classic flathead V8, the customized ’34 hot rod that will make its appearance at the automaker’s stand will feature a tricked-out version of the new EcoBoost V6.

The new engine – which is just rolling out in an assortment of new products, such as the Flex, Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKS – is normally used in front- or all-wheel-drive applications.  Here it’s hooked up to the rear-wheels and makes a solid 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, rivaling the output of the 302-inch V-8 that might normally be used in the ’34 Ford.

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“EcoBoost technology shows that there is a viable replacement for displacement,” said Dan Kapp, director of Ford Powertrain Research and Advanced Engineering, and a speaker at a “Driving Green” panel discussion at SEMA – short for Special Equipment Manufacturers Association.

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Same Freight Load, Half the Energy?

New Council for Freight Efficiency says it will reinvent trucking.

by on Oct.28, 2009

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Burned by a snake-oil salesman approach to technology...

The Rocky Mountain Institute announced this morning the inaugural meeting of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency.

The immodest goal is to reinvent the U.S. trucking industry to carry just as much freight on half as much energy.

RMI claims there is a “lack of trustworthy information evaluating different technologies” for fleets to make investment decisions.

Keep on truckin'!

Keep on truckin'!

The new group as part of RMI’s “MObility and Vehicle Efficiency” team (MOVE), will collect, assess, and circulate information on performance and efficiency benefits to technology developers, fleet owners, and truck drivers, said a statement from the transportation research and consulting team at RMI in Boulder, Colorado.

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Meals on Wheels Fights Hunger in America

Bridgestone supports volunteers with auto service discounts.

by on Oct.28, 2009

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One in nine seniors is facing the threat of hunger each day.

The numbers are alarming. One in nine seniors – five million people – is facing the threat of hunger every day, according to the Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA). It is projecting that 75% more seniors will be facing the threat of hunger by 2025.

MOWAA represents local senior nutrition programs in urban, suburban and rural communities in every state in America. Through some 5,000 independently run and operated meal delivery and congregate meal programs, MOWAA volunteers deliver more than one million nutritious meals per day to hundreds of thousands of seniors nationwide.

Constant News Feed!

Constant News Feed!

In an effort to combat this growing problem MOWAA and Bridgestone Retail Operations, (BSRO), have just announced a national partnership.

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First Look: 2012 Volkswagen Midsize Sedan

First new product for new Chattanooga plant revealed.

by on Oct.28, 2009

VW provides a first sneak peek at the 2012 Volkswagen Midsize Sedan, scheduled for production in Tennessee.

VW provides a first sneak peek at the 2012 Volkswagen Midsize Sedan, scheduled for production in Tennessee.

It isn’t much.  Let’s get that out of the way right up front, but it’s nonetheless the first glimpse we’ve been given of the midsize sedan Volkswagen plans to produce at its all-new Chattanooga assembly plant, which is still more than a year away from opening.

Volkswagen of America’s high-flying CEO, Stefan Jacoby, has set some tough targets for the automaker.  It’s aiming to more than double sales, by 2018, to 800,000 units a year, significantly better than it did even back in the days when the original Beetle dominated the subcompact and import market segments.

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Of course, it’s a very different VW today.  The so-called “New” Beetle is little more than a market afterthought, and the company now offers a wide range of products, from the compact Golf up to the big Touareg sport-utility vehicle.  But VW is betting that it needs to take a big step up from its current midsize offering, the Passat.

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Signs of Recovery at GM, Asserts New Sales Chief

Economy bottomed out, adds chief analyst, but recovery slow.

by on Oct.28, 2009

New General Motors Sales czar Susan Docherty would rather fight than have you switch to another brand.

New General Motors Sales czar Susan Docherty would rather fight than have you switch to another brand.

While the recovery is just taken hold, there are positive signs in the economy, and that’s translating into some measurable gains for the post-bankruptcy General Motors, company officials declared during a Wednesday meeting with the news media.

The struggling automaker expects to gain share, when the final sales numbers are counted for October, and those cars, trucks and crossovers are rolling out of dealer lots at a higher transaction price than a year ago, said Susan Docherty, GM’s new director of sales.  Residuals – industry speak for projected trade-in values – are rising and the automaker is hoping to “dial back” on incentives, which remain the highest in the industry.

But Docherty, who assumed her new post just nine days ago, also acknowledged that GM has some significant challenges ahead of it.  For one thing, it has to improve its standing in the annual and highly influential Consumer Reports magazine survey of vehicle dependability.  In a news conference just yesterday, CR editors said that GM’s performance is “inconsistent,” at best.

Keep Track of the Market's Momentum!

Keep Track of the Market's Momentum!

The carmaker’s mediocre performance is “one of the things that keeps me up at night,” said Docherty, who was previously in charge of the Buick-Pontiac-GMC brand group.
“Clearly, there are signs of an economic recovery from the worst recession in 70 years,” noted Mike Di Giovanni, GM’s chief market analyst, who joined Docherty for today’s briefing.  But he warned that while the worst may be over, the economy has a long way to go, and so does the auto industry.

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Toyota Output Drops 24% during first half of F.Y.

Good news, though, as overseas production increases slightly.

by on Oct.28, 2009

The Japanese automaking giant remains mired in the Great Recession.

The Japanese automaking giant remains mired in the Great Recession.

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) said in Tokyo this morning that its global production dropped more than 24% during the first half of its fiscal year, which ended in September 2009. Its export business from Japan is off 45%, which will put extreme pressure on financial results when they are announced next week.

Most analysts expect TMC to continue to report large losses for the near future.

However, sales for the Toyota brand in Japan during September increased for the second consecutive month. Sales of Lexus vehicles were 3,044 units, a 31.8% increase.

In Japan, Toyota now has a 44.4% share of market, excluding mini-vehicles, a 2.6% increase, and a record high for the month of September.

Domo!

Domo!

In a potential bright spot, TMC reported overseas production had its second consecutive month of increase, due to added production mainly in Asia and North America. Here, the strengthening Yen will cut into potential revenue from the increases, putting further pressure on profitability.

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