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Archive for July, 2012

Update: Former Caddy Boss LaNeve Links up with Ford

Will head maker’s Team Detroit ad agency.

by on Jul.31, 2012

Mark LaNeve during his tenure as GM's North American sales, service and marketing chief.

TheDetroitBureau.com has updated its original report:

Mark LaNeve, the ever-quotable former Cadillac boss and marketing chief at General Motors is back in Motown, but this time he’s hanging his hat at Team Detroit, the ad agency for GM’s cross-town rival Ford Motor Co.

The plain-talking native of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania led Cadillac during its nascent renaissance, nearly a decade ago, before moving up to the corporate suites as the head of GM marketing.  He left the maker as it plunged into bankruptcy.

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In his new job LaNeve will be the agency chief for the massive Ford account as chief operating officer for Motor City-based Team Detroit.  The unit brings together a wide array of global assets from WPP LLC, the giant ad conglomerate itself based in London.  LaNeve, in turn, will be the ad-side liaison working with Ford’s global marketing chief Jim Farley.

With both determined to amp up Ford’s marketing efforts, the move could see the maker engage in what one executive described as “bloodlust marketing” in a conversation with TheDetroitBureau.com.

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Chrysler Hot, Fiat Not

U.S. maker bails out its Italian alliance partner.

by on Jul.31, 2012

Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne during a recent tour of Chrysler's Belvidere Assembly Plant.

A day after the U.S. side of the trans-Atlantic alliance reported in, Italy’s Fiat SpA delivered some unexpectedly good news in the form of a 358 million Euro, or $440 million profit for the second quarter of 2012.

But the numbers wouldn’t have been nearly as good if it weren’t for Chrysler, which saw a 141% increase in its own year-over-year adjusted net earnings.  Take away the American automaker’s contribution and Fiat would have sunk 246 million Euros, or $302 million, into the red.

A year ago, Fiat reported earnings of 1.24 billion euro, or $1.52 billion.

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The contrast between the two arms of the alliance underscores the dramatic difference between each of the maker’s home market.  While the U.S. is still a long way from reaching past peaks, demand has been growing at a double-digit pace this year and Chrysler’s worldwide shipments – largely to North America — rose 22% during the quarter to 630,000 vehicles during the April-June quarter.  Fiat has been struggling under the worsening European economy which is rapidly dragging down the Continental car market.

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U.S. Warns Car Heat Sensors Not Effective Enough to Save Kids

Devices are prone to problems.

by on Jul.31, 2012

Devices like the Child Minder Smart Pad just aren't effective enough for parents to trust, warns NHTSA.

Sensors designed to warn parents who’ve left children in their car when the vehicle gets too hot aren’t reliable, the U.S. government is warning.  That means parents may get a false sense of security when their kids’ health and safety is actually at risk.

The aftermarket devices are difficult to install and prone to deliver false warnings that may encourage parents to ignore a signal when children really are in danger, warned David Strickland, director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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“While we feel these devices are very well-intended, we don’t think they can be used as the only countermeasure to make sure that you don’t forget your child behind in a car,” the nation’s top automotive safety chief stressed during a conference call with reporters.

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TRW Admits Guilt in Price Fixing

“Premature” to say if further charges could follow.

by on Jul.31, 2012

TRW pleads guilty and pays $5 mil fine.

TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. said its German subsidiary has agreed to plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Detroit to price fixing charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and pay a $5.1 million fine.

TRW Deutschland Holding GmbH of Koblenz, Germany has agreed to plead guilty for its involvement in a conspiracy to fix prices of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels sold to two German automobile manufacturers, and installed in cars sold in the United States, according to the Justice Dept.

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“By agreeing to fix the prices of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels, the conspirators eliminated competition for occupant safety parts in cars sold to U.S. consumers,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.

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First Look: 2013 Lexus LS 460

Putting some passion into the flagship.

by on Jul.31, 2012

Lexus delivers a more passionate take on its LS flagship, the new LS 460 F Sport shown here.

Few cars did more to revolutionize the market than the original 1990 Lexus LS 400, a flagship for Toyota’s new luxury marque and proof positive the Japanese really could go toe-to-toe with the best of the German competition.

In the nearly quarter-century since the LS line first appeared, however, Lexus has played it increasingly safe, especially when it has come to design, no wonder the big 4-door has lately lost ground to the more aggressive Europeans.  But during the preview of the smaller Lexus GS last year, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda promised to punch some more passion into the brand — and the 2013 Lexus LS 460 that debuted in San Francisco last night is a clear indication of what he meant.

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At a gathering of 500 invited guests from the San Francisco arts and design community, Lexus actually showed up four different versions of the flagship sedan: the “base” LS 460, the long-wheelbase LS 460L, the LS 600h and the new LS 460 F- Sport, a more aggressive addition to the line-up.

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Facebook Users Get 1st Look at 2013 Nissan Pathfinder

Maker plans official debut in Paris.

by on Jul.31, 2012

The production version of the new Nissan Pathfinder makes a Facebook debut.

While some may question the benefits of advertising on Facebook it’s clear industry planners love using the social media site to reach consumers – that includes Nissan which turned to Facebook to give potential buyers a first look at the all-new version of its Pathfinder ute.

Nissan revealed a show car version of the Pathfinder at the Detroit Auto Show last winter and those familiar with the concept version will find relatively few surprises here; as with the prototype the production Pathfinder evolves from a traditionally boxy SUV into a more sleek and sporty CUV.

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Indeed, the big changes are, in fact, hidden under the skin.  The next-generation Pathfinder follows such rivals as the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Ford Explorer by migrating from a conventional, truck-based body-on-frame platform to a lighter, nimbler car-based crossover design.

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Ewanick Gone, GM Plods Ahead on Manchester United Partnership

Chevy's name goes on ManUnited jerseys in 2014.

by on Jul.30, 2012

Chevy expands its ties to Manchester United, arguably the world's most popular soccer team.

Just a day after GM’s global marketing chief Joel Ewanick was ousted – according to numerous reports due to issues related to the maker’s mega-million-dollar deal with Manchester United – the automaker has taken a further step to cement its relationship with the soccer world’s most popular team.

GM’s Chevrolet brand will displace insurer Aon and have its logo plastered all over the Manchester’s familiar red player’s jerseys.  Chevy will be only the fifth corporate sponsor in the team’s 134-year history.

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When the basic sponsorship deal was first announced, in late May, GM notably hadn’t inked rights to plastic its Chevy brand on the high-profile uniforms but Ewanick insisted the partnership was still a great play considering the British team generates nearly as many eyeballs watching its regular season games as watch the season-ending U.S. Super Bowl.

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Chrysler More than Doubles Q2 Earnings

Make could “overshoot” profit target for 2012, says Marchionne.

by on Jul.30, 2012

Good news from Chrysler today for CEO Sergio Marchionne but things aren't likely to be so rosy when partner Fiat reports earnings on Tuesday.

Chrysler Group LLC reported a 141% improvement in its adjusted net income during the second quarter and a 23% increase in revenue over last year’s levels.

The company said preliminary second-quarter financial results, including net income of $436 million, show an $806 million improvement from the $370 million net loss in the same quarter last year, which had included a $551 million charge related to repayment of its government bailout loans.

Excluding the charge, net income increased $255 million, or 141%, period over period, as the company continues to achieve its business targets and improve sales across all brands, Chrysler said. The maker repeated earlier guidance saying it remains on track to report net earnings of $1.5 billion for all of 2012 – and an operating profit of $3 billion.

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“Our results reflect a tireless pursuit by the people of Chrysler Group to deliver the very best quality and value across our brands,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Group LLC chairman and chief executive officer, who now expects the automaker’s profits to exceed $1.5 billion for the full year. “Together, we are always striving to achieve more, to learn from the past and build upon our successes.”

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Owners Waiting Longer than Ever to Trade In

10 years, 150,000 miles the new norm?

by on Jul.30, 2012

Drive it til it drops?

American motorists are waiting longer than ever to trade in their cars, trucks and crossovers – with 10 years and 150,000 miles becoming the new norm, rather than the exception, according to a pair of new reports.

In the golden era of planned obsolescence, it became common for American new car buyers to trade in as often as every two to three years.  Perhaps that was no surprise in an era when quality and reliability were secondary to styling and automotive one-upsmanship.  But as quality and reliability become essential requirements for automakers consumers can be comfortable a car will last longer – something that has become a requirement as prices rise and the economy falters, analysts suggest.

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Nearly eight in 10 owners will now hold their vehicle for a decade or longer before trading in, according to a survey by AutoMD.com, while a Black Book survey finds that the majority of owners will not trade in until their vehicles have at least 125,00 to 150,000 miles on the odometer – with 200,000-mile trade-ins being anything but rare these days.

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