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Archive for November, 2013

Chrysler IPO Not Happening until 2014

UAW trust's unwillingness to sell stake holds up offering.

by on Nov.25, 2013

Sergio Marchionne's planned IPO of Chrysler has been delayed until the first quarter of next year.

Investors looking to buy shares of new Chrysler stock as part of an IPO this year are going to have to rethink their investment strategy, as the company won’t be conducting that offering until next year.

Fiat – which owns 58.5 percent of Chrysler and assumed management of Chrysler in 2009 as part of the Auburn Hill automaker’s bankruptcy restructuring – said today that Chrysler’s board “has determined that it will not be practicable” to launch and complete the IPO before the end of the year. Chrysler will continue readying for a first-quarter 2014 launch of the IPO.

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“No assurance can be given as to whether or when an offering will be launched, as any launch will be subject to market conditions and other relevant considerations,” Fiat said. (more…)

New Cadillac ATS Coupe to Get Detroit Auto Show Debut

One of many new models under development.

by on Nov.25, 2013

Cadillac is prepping a new coupe version of the ATS.

Gone are the days when a luxury manufacturer could get by with just a handful of different product lines.  These days, high-line makers are racing to fill in all the white spaces they can think of.  Just think BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

And while Cadillac officials say they won’t try to match their German competitors model for model, General Motors’ flagship brand is well aware that it, too, needs to expand what has been, in recent years, a fairly narrow line-up.

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A number of new products have been launched of late, the new Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid and CTS sedan just the latest. But you can bet there are more on the horizon – including an all-new coupe version of the compact Caddy ATS that, we’re hearing, should make its debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show less than two months from now.

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November Car Sales Show Moderate Upward Momentum

But some makers could slide well into the red.

by on Nov.25, 2013

November sales are expected to be up 4% compared with year-ago figures, but some makers are expected to see a slide in their monthly sales.

U.S. new car sales are expected to continue their upward trend for November, though preliminary figures suggest some makers could slide into the negative column as the rate of the industry’s recovery seems to be slowing from the torrid pace earlier this year.

New vehicle sales, on the whole are expected to be up about 4% for November, according to data crunched by J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive.

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“Consumer demand for new vehicles remains strong,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. (more…)

Compact Crossovers Commanding Big Car Prices

Pushing $110,000 with the new Porsche Macan.

by on Nov.25, 2013

Porsche reveals the new Macan at the LA Auto Show.

American motorists have long lived by the mantra, “bigger is better.” And that’s been fine for automakers, as well, as they’ve traditionally tied prices – and profit margins – to the size of the vehicles they’ve sold.

But with the steady run-up in fuel prices, Americans are downsizing at a pace not seen since the twin oil shocks of the 1970s.  Indeed, compact crossovers have become the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. market – echoing trends in other key markets around the world.  And while you can still get a reasonably good bargain on some of these smaller, mainstream CUVs, the industry has been fracturing the traditional equation that measures price by the pound and inch.

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That’s especially true in the luxury end of the spectrum where manufacturers are charging into the compact crossover segment.  Just last week, Lincoln and Porsche entered the fray at the L.A. Auto Show.

Porsche has had a history of challenging conventional wisdom.  It proved naysayers wrong when it launched its first crossover-utility vehicle for the 2004 model-year, then did it again with the four-door Panamera – today, the brand’s best-selling models.  Now, it’s hoping to score again with what’s been called the “baby Cayenne,” the compact Macan.

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Skeptics Doubtful About Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

Infrastructure lacking, and will hydrogen be as clean as promised?

by on Nov.25, 2013

Honda revealed a prototype of its own next-gen hydrogen car during the LA Auto Show.

With three different automakers announcing production plans for new fuel-cell vehicles at the L.A. Auto Show, hydrogen power is back in the headlines. But even with Honda’s global autos chief Tetsuo Iwamura calling the technology the “ultimate” solution in the search for clean mobility, not everyone is quite convinced.

With only a handful of fueling stations yet available – and plenty of questions left about how to even produce hydrogen efficiently — some skeptics argue that fuel cell technology remains, as the old adage goes, “the fuel of the future and always will be.”

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Among the many skeptics is Elon Musk, the CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors, who recently asserted there is “no way” hydrogen can become a viable alternative to battery power, never mind the well-entrenched internal combustion engine. Fuel cells, he argued, are too complex, too costly and there’s a complete lack of a production and distribution network.

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Honda Claims Retail Sales Leadership

Why a sale isn't always a sale.

by on Nov.22, 2013

The Honda Accord lags slightly behind the Toyota Camry - but it leads its segment if you look only at retail sales.

“A sale isn’t always a sale,” or so says John Mendel, the top American executive at Honda, which has long steered clear of the daily rental and other fleet sales that prop up many of its competitors’ sales charts.

Honda has traditionally focused its marketing efforts on the retail side of the market and there, it claims, it has been gaining ground. In fact, the Japanese brand claims to now be the retail sales leader in four of the largest non-truck segments in the U.S. auto market with the midsize Civic, compact Accord, Odyssey minivan and CR-V crossover.

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Those powerhouse product lines helped Honda achieve a 16.2% increase in retail sales for the first nine months of 2013, while capturing a 16.1% share of the American market. During the same period in 2012, Honda held a 15.8% share of the retail market.

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Mazda Planning to Introduce New Diesel in 2015

Mazda6 gets the new powerplant: a company first.

by on Nov.22, 2013

The Mazda6 gets a diesel starting next spring.

After seeing its sales surge this year, Mazda is looking forward to another sold year of growth in 2014 by adding diesel power to its product line for the first time. The diesel-powered Mazda6 will join the maker’s lineup next spring, which is later than many observers had expected.

But James O’Sullivan, Mazda North America president and chief executive officer, explained the company elected to focus its marketing muscle on the Mazda3 first.

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The marketing campaign for the Mazda3 will start in earnest with a wave of in-theater advertising during the Christmas holiday season. Television commercials will follow after that, O’Sullivan said. (more…)

VW Investing $114 Bil in Bid for Global Sales Leadership

New products to get majority of investment.

by on Nov.22, 2013

The new investment program will see the CrossBlue concept put into production.

With a goal of becoming the world’s largest automaker in mind, Volkswagen AG plans to invest $114 billion to upgrade factories and roll out an array of new vehicles for its more than a dozen different brands.

The maker, currently third in global sales behind Japan’s Toyota Motor Co. and Detroit-based General Motors, has set a goal of being the world’s “leading” automaker by 2018, the period covered by the latest plan – which calls for an investment of 84.2 billion euros. At the same time, the maker hopes to reduce spending on property, plants and equipment by 500 million euros annually.

“We will continue to invest strongly in our innovation and technology leadership,” Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said in the statement. “This will give us extra power on our way to the top.”

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Over two-thirds of the planned investment will go into product, according to Volkswagen, perhaps no surprise considering the wide range of brands the maker has added over the years. VW’s Automotive Group now covers everything from small and economy vehicles, with the Seat and Skoda lines, to luxury and ultra-premium models, with Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley.  Since Winterkorn  took the helm in 2007, it has added Scania and MAN trucks, the Ducati motorcycle company – and completed a challenging takeover of sports car maker Porsche.

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Kia Recalls 96,000 Sedona Minivans

Dealerships will fix corrosion problems.

by on Nov.22, 2013

Kia is recalling 96,000 Sedona minivan to repair a corrosion issue.

Nearly 100,000 Kia Sedona minivans are being recalled to fix problems related to corrosion in cold weather climates in the United States and Canada.

The recall affects Sedona minivans from 2006 through 2012 sold or registered in Canada and in 20 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., where salt is on the roads in winter.

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The salt may cause the lower control arms near the wheels to rust and break due to salt exposure, causing loss of control, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (more…)

3-Cylinders? Mini’s Just the Latest with Downsized Engine

A replacement for displacement?

by on Nov.22, 2013

The new Mini Hardtop may be a little larger but it will be a getting a smaller 3-cylinder engine.

Mini rolled into the L.A. Auto Show this week with an all-new version of its popular Hardtop model, but equally big news was the debut of two all-new engines.

And while the new Mini is getting a little more maxi – its overall length stretched by 4.5 inches – the third-generation Hardtop will now be offered with an engine smaller than ever, a new 1.5-liter three-cylinder package.

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There’s an old adage in the auto industry that, “there’s no replacement for displacement,” but while the big V-8 may remain the icon of American muscle, the reality is that motorists have been rapidly downsizing their engine choices in recent years.  Sixes have replaced eights; and now, it seems, a growing number of three-cylinder powertrains are coming to market to replace inline-fours.

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