Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Archive for April, 2015

Ford Planning Limited Run of Shelby GT350s

Only 37 track-ready GT350R models to be sold.

by on Apr.29, 2015

Get 'em while you can! Ford's producing just 37 Shelby GT350Rs for 2015.

They’ll be fast on the track, but the 2015 Shelby GT350R could be even faster launching out of the showroom.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Shelby, the maker plans to produce just 37 of the track-ready models in what it calls a tribute to legendary racer and entrepreneur Carroll Shelby.

Keeping You Up-to-Date!

Ford also plans a relatively limited run of Shelby GT350s wearing a 2015 badge, commemorating the first model to roll out in January 1965. That original helped transform the image of the first Mustang, and Ford is looking at the latest GT350 as a way to maintain that halo with the all-new pony car that debuted last year. (more…)

Amidst Management Turmoil, VW Delivers Strong Earnings

German maker takes a sharp knife to costs.

by on Apr.29, 2015

VW scored a strong hit with the launch of its latest-generation Golf family.

While its boardroom may be racked with turmoil amidst the ouster of its long-time chairman, Volkswagen AG managed to salve investors’ concerns a bit with news that its first-quarter earnings rose 19%, to $3.23 billion.

The maker says it was able to cut costs “in the low triple-digit millions” during the January-to-March period, addressing a problem that had begun to worry analysts – and raise concerns within its boardroom. The maker also benefited from the nascent recovery of the European market which is just emerging from its worst downturn in decades.

Your Reliable Source!

The numbers reported by the 12-brand Volkswagen Group came in ahead of what industry analysts had forecast and, with the maker forecasting continued growth ahead, it could bode well for the post-Piech era.

(more…)

Recalls Hammer Honda Earnings

Japanese maker’s net income tumbles 43%.

by on Apr.29, 2015

A Takata airbag after a crash.

The recall crisis that reached record levels last year has continued to hammer the auto industry, as Honda shows with the release of its weak, January-to-March earnings report.

The recall of vehicles equipped with potentially faulty Takata airbags led to a 43% year-over-year decline in the maker’s bottom line for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year. At $814 million, or 45 cents per share, the net income was well short of the market forecast of 59 cents a share, according to Zacks Consensus Estimate.

By the Numbers!

But Honda laid out a more upbeat forecast for the year ahead, projecting a nearly 10% increase in revenues and a more modest 0.4% increase in net income for the 2016 fiscal year.

(more…)

Motorists Make it Easy for Thieves by Leaving Keys in Cars

Theft with keys growing, even as overall car thefts dip.

by on Apr.28, 2015

A growing number of cars are being stolen when motorists leave keys in their vehicles.

Automakers have gone to great lengths in recent years to make it more difficult to steal a car. Some owners, however, are going to great lengths to make it easy again.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, or NICB, at least $750 million worth of vehicles were stolen between 2012 and 2014 because motorists left the keys inside. And NICB President Joe Wehrle says, “I’m sure the numbers are probably higher,” but owners aren’t likely to admit the fact when they file a police report or insurance claim.

Key in on the News!

California topped the list of states where the problem occurred during the three-year period. Texas was next on the list, followed by Florida, Michigan and Ohio.

If you leave out the cars stolen because of owners leaving the keys inside, the NICB says overall vehicle thefts would have dropped to a nearly 50-year low in 2014.

(more…)

Automakers Struggling to Find Answers in Russia

Poor sales has GM laying low while Ford doubles down.

by on Apr.28, 2015

Ford is hunkering down for the long haul in Russia while GM is cutting back its operations while the market there continues its free fall.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … “it” is the current state of the auto industry in Russia.

What was once considered the next great promised land of auto sales in Europe has now become a dicey proposition with two of the big U.S. players – General Motors and Ford – taking different approaches to the market. GM’s is cutting its losses while Ford is hunkering down for the long haul.

The Leader in Global Automotive News!

The light vehicle market is cratering, posting its biggest monthly decline in Russia in about five years in March when it slid 42.5%, according to the Association of European Business. Through the first quarter of 2015, sales in the country are down 36.3% compared with year-ago figures. (more…)

Audi’s “Mobility” Program Allows Rentals with Swipe of iPhone

New “on-demand” service kicks off in San Francisco.

by on Apr.28, 2015

Audi on Demand gives customers a chance to rent the Audi of their choice using a simple iPhone app...and a credit card.

Want to know what it’s like to get behind the wheel of Audi’s R8 supercar? It may soon be available with a few swipes on your iPhone.

The German premium brand is piloting a new service in San Francisco called “Audi on Demand.” Users can simply go to iTunes and download the app to their iPhone and rent the Audi of their choice for as long as 28 days.

Stay on Top of the News!

Once you get the app, you can peruse the line-up and availability of the car you want and then for prices ranging from just under $200 to more than $1,200 a day, you can get an Audi delivered to your door or pick it up from a central parking lot. (more…)

Greener Travelers Taking Planes Instead of Cars

U-M says flying is safer and greener than driving.

by on Apr.28, 2015

U-M's Michael Sivak says flying is not only safer than driving, but it's also more environmentally friendly.

If you are thinking of taking a road trip this summer, you might want think again…at least if you’re concerned about the impact on the environment.

University of Michigan Researcher Michael Sivak has concluded that flying is not only safer than driving, but it’s also greener.

Automotive Insight!

“Although the fuel economy of new vehicles is continuously improving, and these improvements are likely to accelerate given the recent update to the corporate average fuel economy standards, changes in fuel economy of new vehicles take a long time to substantially influence the fuel economy of the entire fleet,” said Sivak, a research professor at UMTRI and director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation, a research consortium that addresses major road transportation issues worldwide. (more…)

Daimler Earnings Nearly Double on Strong Sales of New Mercedes Models

by on Apr.28, 2015

Driving hard: the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Even as two key U.S. rivals reported weak earnings for the first quarter, Daimler AG delivered an unexpectedly strong performance, its net profit nearly doubling as luxury buyers raced to showrooms to snap up some of its newest Mercedes-Benz models.

The Mercedes brand has been rolling out new products at an unprecedented rate, planning, on average, about one every quarter, something that Max Warburton, an auto analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein dubbed a “powerful product cycle.”

Global Insight!

Virtually every number showed improvement during the quarter. Net earnings rose to 2.050 billion Euros, of $2.232 billion, from 1.09 billion Euros a year ago. Revenue, meanwhile, surged 16% for the quarter, to 34.2 billion Euros.

(more…)

Ford Sales, Earnings Fall Short for First Quarter

Detroit maker hurt by problems in Europe, slow U.S. rollout of F-150.

by on Apr.28, 2015

Ford CEO Mark Fields remains optimistic about the maker's expectations for all of 2015.

(This story has been updated with additional details on Ford’s Q1 earnings and full-year forecast.)

Hurt by weak sales in Europe, the slow ramp-up of its new F-150 pickup at home, as well as the strong dollars, Ford Motor Co. delivered a weaker-than-expected showing for the first quarter of 2015, earnings off 6.5%, to $924 million.

That worked out to just 23 cents a share, the Detroit maker reported, down from 25 cents a year ago. The consensus estimate on Wall Street was 26 cents per share, according to both Fact Set and Thomson Reuters. Revenues also fell short, at $31.8 billion, down from $33.9 billion a year ago.

Subscribe Now!

Nonetheless, CEO Mark Fields declared that 2015 will be a “breakthrough year,” adding in a statement that the first quarter, a good start to a year in which our results will grow progressively stronger as the new products we have been launching start to pay off.”

(more…)

Apple Watch Delay Means Auto Apps Idling

BMW, Porsche owners can start cars with flick of wrist.

by on Apr.27, 2015

Porsche's Apple Watch app will let users open and close doors and windows, start the car and even help you find your way back to the car.

The delay in the delivery of the Apple Watch may have disappointed more than just devotees of the Cupertino, California-based tech giant: BMW and Porsche owners could be impacted as well.

BMW and Porsche both developed Internet apps for the Apple Watch and, well, no watch, no app. The apps allow owners of the premium German brands to do everything from check the battery life on their i8 to flash the lights and honk the horn to help Cayenne owners find their SUVs in a crowded parking lot.

Stay on Top!

BMW’s i Remote app is only available for use with the i3 and i8 electric vehicles. In addition to letting you know how much juice is left in your battery, the app displays the plug-in’s charge status, navigates you back to where you parked, and remotely operates the door locks and climate control system. (more…)