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Archive for December, 2015

Rome, Milan Latest Big Cities to Curb Cars to Cut Pollution

Delhi also set to join growing club.

by on Dec.24, 2015

A blanket of smog over the Eternal City. Photo courtesy: the Sustainable Cities Collective.

Facing worsening pollution problems during an unusual warm, dry December, officials in Rome and Milan have ordered temporary automotive bans next week.

The two Italian cities join a fast-growing club with more and more of the world’s major metropolitan areas ordering drastic steps to deal with air quality issues. Beijing and several other Chinese cities have included automobiles in new restrictions triggered by air pollution red alerts, and the Indian capital of Delhi is debating its own automotive restrictions.

Clear the Air!

Roman officials were already debating limits on traffic in the city, especially on its famous Via dei Fori Imperiali, the route running by the Colosseum. But they are now enacting broader, if temporary, restrictions to cope with what the Associated Press is describing as “eye-stinging, throat-irritating air.”


As 9th Takata Death Reported, Honda Again Expands Airbag Recall

Teen driver suffers fatal injuries from faulty airbag inflator.

by on Dec.23, 2015

2003 Honda CR-V crossovers are covered by the latest expansion of the Takata recall.

Federal regulators say a faulty airbag inflator appears to have caused the death of a young driver, the ninth fatality so far linked to a system provided by Japanese supplier Takata.

The announcement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration came as Honda announced the latest in a series of recalls involving vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. So far, close to 20 million vehicles sold in the U.S. have been targeted for safety repairs due to the use of suspect airbag inflators.

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All eight of the Takata airbag deaths identified as occurring in the U.S. involved Honda vehicles. Another death was reported outside the States.


Porsche Workers Take Wage Cuts to Get New Mission

Maker's new battery-electric supercar gets green light.

by on Dec.23, 2015

Workers at Porsche's Zuffhausen plant in Germany agreed to wage cuts in order to get the job of building the new Mission E.

The Mission E is not only a revolutionary car from a performance standpoint, it’s also breaking ground rarely trod in other ways: Porsche employees agreed to wage cuts in order to build the vehicle.

The German maker revealed its plans to build the new Panamera-like sedan earlier this month, saying it would spend $1 billion and add more than 1,000 jobs to its plant in Zuffenhausen.

Green News!

What wasn’t revealed is that because the plants wage costs are higher than at Porsche’s plant in Leipzig, and at other parent company Volkswagen plants in Germany, workers agreed to some concessions to get the work. (more…)

End of the Road: 20 Models Heading for the Scrapheap

Buyers might not even notice when most of these vanish.

by on Dec.23, 2015

The original Scion xB was a smash hit for the Toyota youth brand. Not so its replacement.

There are, by various estimates, more than 200 different nameplates on the U.S. market these days, and dozens more coming as manufacturers target “white space” their competitors might have missed.

But for every hit there are plenty of misses. And even some once-popular products, like the old Chrysler PT Cruiser, sometimes lose momentum and drive off into the sunset.

Product News!

The coming year will see a fairly large group of products leave production, as colleague Mark Phelan, from the Detroit Free Press pointed out, with a score of models on the list.


Ex-MBUSA CEO Cannon Resurfaces at AMB Group

Will run sport and business empire including Atlanta Falcons.

by on Dec.23, 2015

Former Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon.

Steve Cannon, the former head of Mercedes-Benz USA, is switching careers, becoming CEO of Atlanta-based AMB Group, a sports and business empire that includes the Atlanta Falcons football team.

Cannon unexpectedly left Mercedes this week after four years as its U.S. president and chief executive officer, and initial reports – including one on – had speculated he was nudged aside due to the weakening performance of the German luxury brand.

Keeping the Record Straight!

In fact, the former military officer will take over day-to-day management and strategy for the AMB Group following the official retirement of its founder Arthur M. Blank. Cannon will handle of the company’s for-profit operations.


Mazda North America CEO Retires

Chief retires with brand on sales upswing.

by on Dec.23, 2015

Mazda's top American executive, Jim O'Sullivan, is retiring after 40 years in the auto industry.

The top executive at Mazda North America, Jim Sullivan, has elected to call it quits after a long career in the auto industry spanning more than 40 years.

O’Sullivan joined MNAO as President and CEO in 2003, and also held the title of Managing Executive Officer of Mazda Motor Corp. O’Sullivan’s retirement is effective Jan.1, 2016.

The Leader in Global Automotive News!

During his 13-year tenure with MNAO, and 40-plus years in the auto industry, O’Sullivan earned a reputation as a respected industry expert, who gained the trust of Mazda’s dealers, who had carried the brand through some lean years during the recession and the abrupt end of the Japanese automaker’s long-standing partnership with the Ford Motor Co. (more…)

UAW Files Labor Complaint Against VW

Union claims maker won't bargain in good faith.

by on Dec.23, 2015

The UAW finally gained a foothold in the South after VW's skilled trades group in Chattanooga voted to join the union.

The fight between the United Auto Workers and Volkswagen of America appears to have intensified as the UAW filed a complaint with the federal National Labor Relations Board against the German automaker.

The union claims that VW has failed to negotiate a new contract in good faith with the new bargaining unit for skilled tradesmen the UAW has carved out a VW’s new assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Union News!

VW officials said they could not comment on the situation because the company’s lawyers have not yet seen the complaint filed by UAW Local 42. The skilled tradesmen at the Chattanooga plant voted overwhelming at the beginning of December for union representation. It marked the first time that the union had succeed in organizing a group of workers at an auto plant in the Southern United States. (more…)

NHTSA Slams BMW with $40 Million Fine

Maker failed to report side-impact crash defect.

by on Dec.22, 2015

The 2014 and 2015 Mini Cooper two-door hardtop failed U.S.-mandated side-impact crash tests. BMW failed to fix the problem and failed to inform owners.

Federal safety regulators continue to crack down on automakers that fail to report problems quickly as BMW agreed to a possible $40 million fine for issues related to its Mini brand.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration levied the punishment after the automaker failed tell owners about a recall of the Mini Cooper that failed a side-impact airbag crash test.

The Leader in Global Automotive News!

The company agreed to a $10 million penalty and to spend $10 million correcting the problem. BMW could be assessed an additional $20 million if it doesn’t meet certain criteria for fixing the problems long-term, according to NHTSA. (more…)

New 2016 Nissan Titan to Start Just Over $40,000

Fully loaded pickup will top $60,000.

by on Dec.22, 2015

The top-line Titan XD Platinum Series.

The new 2016 Nissan Titan XD will debut at a starting price of $40,290, the maker announced this afternoon, with a fully loaded Platinum Reserve model pushing the sticker price up to $62,710.

Nissan is betting big on the launch of the new Titan XD. It marks the first remake of the Japanese automaker’s full-size pickup in a decade, and brings with it Nissan’s first U.S. diesel powertrain. The XD is the heavier-duty version of the Titan, with a standard ¾-ton truck set to follow next year.

Keep on Truckin'!

“Titan XD represents a unique proposition in the marketplace,” said Fred Diaz, Nissan’s head of sales and marketing in the U.S., “as the truck stands at what we feel is the perfect midpoint in terms of size, price and capability between ½ ton and ¾ ton trucks, thus meeting a previously unmet customer need.”


Mercedes Replaces US Boss

Steve Cannon falls victim to sluggish sales.

by on Dec.22, 2015

New Mercedes-Benz USA boss Dietmar Exler.

With sales lagging an otherwise robust luxury market, Mercedes-Benz is replacing the head of its U.S. operations.

Steve Cannon, who oversaw the subsidiary’s move from New Jersey to Georgia this past year, will be leaving the company next month. The former U.S. military officer will be replaced by Austrian native Dietmar Exler.

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While Mercedes didn’t provide any reason for Cannon’s departure, the maker has been losing momentum in recent months, a time when the U.S. luxury market normally heats up. The German maker has been battling against rivals BMW and Japan’s Lexus for segment leadership.