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Archive for November, 2016

Samsung Backs Away from Deal for FCA’s Magneti Marelli

Japanese conglomerate buys Harman International for $8 billion.

by on Nov.29, 2016

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said he would be willing to wait for the right offer for Magneti Marelli. He'll be waiting a bit longer now.

Samsung’s proposal to purchase Magneti Marelli from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. apparently has been scrapped, according to reports circulating in the South Korean news media.

Samsung Electronics instead bid for Harman International, a major supplier of the electronics systems in cars and trucks, which superseded interest in Magneti Marelli. FCA was willing to sell the electronics unit to help raise cash and pay-down some the debt that is weighing on the company.

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Samsung, according to reports last summer, was willing to pay $3 billion for Magneti Marelli and its expertise in areas such as telematics and in-car entertainment. (more…)

‘Under Water’ Trade Ins Hitting New High Water Levels

New car buyers taking bigger hits to get new vehicles.

by on Nov.28, 2016

New car buyers are trading in vehicles with more negative equity than ever — almost $5,000 on average.

A new statistic reveals that these days if Americans want a new car, truck or utility vehicle, they’ll do just about whatever it takes to get a deal done — including taking a huge hit on their trade in.

According to Edmunds.com, about 32% of all vehicles traded in on a new vehicle through September this year were “upside down.” That is to say, the owner owed more on the vehicle than it was worth, and the number is rising. It was 30% for the same period last year.

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That negative equity averaged $4,832. In short, add $5K to the price of that next vehicle being purchased. (more…)

Ford Set to Reveal All-New Version of Fiesta

Critical makeover could help reverse declining sales.

by on Nov.28, 2016

Ford is looking to change the sales momentum on its smallest car with the debut of the 2017 Ford Fiesta.

With small car sales taking a nosedive, tomorrow’s unveiling of an all-new, seventh-generation Fiesta model could be precisely what Ford Motor Co. needs to reverse the familiar subcompact’s momentum.

Long one of the most popular models in the maker’s global line-up, Fiesta has been hard hit by the impact of cheap gas and the concurrent shift away from conventional passenger cars to crossover and sport-utility vehicles. Ford recently announced it will shift production of all its small car models, including the slightly bigger Focus, from the U.S. to Mexico, replacing them with higher-demand trucks.

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“The new Fiesta will be our best expression of Ford – lovable fun, sporty to drive and with an unmatched personality true to the spirit of the iconic small car that has delighted generations of customers for the past 40 years,” Jim Farley, president of Ford’s European operations, said in a statement. (more…)

VW Teases New Premium Fastback for U.S., Global Markets

Due for Geneva debut, four-door could fill niche left open by Phaeton.

by on Nov.28, 2016

VW plans to top its sedan line-up with the new Arteon fastback due to market for 2018.

Determined to rebuild in the wake of its costly diesel emissions scandal – especially in the critical U.S. market – Volkswagen is offering a teaser image of the “premium fastback” model it plans to unveil at the Geneva Motor Show three months from now.

To be called the Volkswagen Arteon, it will be “positioned above” the brand’s largest current model, the Passat, and potentially fill an upscale niche abandoned when the VW Phaeton was pulled from production. But the Arteon is not expected to go quite as far upmarket as that big sedan, which made pretenses of targeting the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series and even sibling brand Audi’s A8.

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The Arteon “emphasizes emotionality in the upper mid-class,” says a statement from VW accompanying the teaser image. “The four-door fastback impresses both through revolutionary design and great practical value in use.” The statement concludes that “This combination is unique.”

(more…)

FCA Expands Product Line at Poland Engine Plant

Maker plans to expand production in Italy as well.

by on Nov.28, 2016

FCA's Bielska Biala, Poland, plant will begin producing two new engines in the coming year.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will build two new gasoline engines at its plant in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, in an investment it said was confirmation of its commitment to developing its operations in the country.

It is third time this fall Poland has been designated as the recipient of a major investment by a global automaker. Daimler AG said in October it will new engine plant in Jawor, Poland, signing the property purchase agreement for the site with its Polish partners. Toyota also has announced it plans to spend $165 million for a new factory to build gearboxes for hybrid vehicles.

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Polish Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Polish news agency PAP that FCA could invest up to $265 million in the project and create several hundred new jobs. (more…)

Feds Want to Silence Smartphones – but Amp Up Electric Vehicle Sounds

Move to lock out smartphone apps triggering a backlash.

by on Nov.28, 2016

One new NHTSA proposal would effectively lock drivers out from smartphone apps like texting.

Federal regulators are taking two seemingly opposite steps in the name of safety: they want mew battery-electric vehicles to make more noise, but they also want to silence some of those smartphone apps catching blame for distracted driving.

Both issues are expected to become more serious in the years to come, as in-car electronics become increasingly common and as normally quiet battery-powered vehicles gain more traction — but pose risks for pedestrians, especially the visually handicapped, who might not see them coming.

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There’s been growing demand to lock out texting and other apps while a vehicle is moving, but the rules the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to work on during the final months of the Obama Administration are also generating significant pushback.

(more…)

Trump Commerce Secretary Ross Well-Versed in Mexico Auto Business

Ross holdings include auto supplier with plants in Mexico.

by on Nov.28, 2016

Wilbur Ross, left, is greeted by Donald Trump and Mike Pence. President-elect Trump named Ross the new Commerce Secretary.

Wilbur Ross, the New York financier and tycoon President-elect Donald Trump has tapped to become the Secretary of Commerce and the principal adviser on trade issues in a Trump administration, has a big a stake in a major automotive supplier holdings in Mexico.

As secretary of commerce, Ross, 78, who has stepped back from an active role in managing companies such as the International Automotive Components Group, one of his largest holdings, will have a major role in future trade deals under Trump.

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Throughout his career, Ross has made several fortunes with shrewd investments in distressed companies. Back in the early 2000s, he made a fortune out of the North American steel industry at a time when most investors, analysts and pundits said the steel business in the U.S. was dead. (more…)

Holidays to Boost November Auto Sales

Black Friday and Christmas promotions push numbers up.

by on Nov.28, 2016

The Christmas and Black Friday sales are expected to help November's sales results.

With the year-end sales under way across the industry, strong sales during the Thanksgiving weekend are expected to give a boost to sales of new vehicles in November.

For the second time in three months and the sixth time this year, new-vehicle retail sales in November are expected to slip from year-ago levels, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

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However, analysts from Kelly Blue Book estimated overall November sales are expected to increase 4% year-over-year to a total of 1.37 million units in November 2016, resulting in an estimated 17.7 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, making it the best November sales total on record, beating the previous record of 1.32 million units in November 2001. (more…)

Automakers Get Into the Black Friday Spirit

Deals abound for new car shoppers.

by on Nov.23, 2016

Like many other makers, Mercedes is offering special holiday deals.

Black Friday isn’t just the day to get a great deal on a low-end television or video game system, automakers are fully into the swing of busiest shopping day of the year with a slew of promotions.

Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Lexus and Mercedes are all flooding the airwaves with various Black Friday connected sales as makers look for ways to jumpstart stalled efforts to move metal after months of red-hot sales stalled at the end of the summer.

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“We are seeing a tougher pricing environment, higher levels of discounts,” said Ford Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields reported Reuters. (more…)

Is VW Putting the Nail in the Coffin for U.S. Diesels?

Embattled automaker won’t offer new oil-burners in the future.

by on Nov.23, 2016

VW will no longer sell diesels in the U.S., even if it can resolve its TDI emissions problem.

They once accounted for nearly a quarter of the German automaker’s U.S. sales, but going forward, Volkswagen will no longer offer diesels in the U.S. market, according to brand chief Herbert Diess.

As the largest retailer of diesel-powered passenger vehicles in the U.S., VW helped spur a surge of offerings by competitors such as General Motors and Nissan, as well as Mercedes-Benz and BMW. But with diesel sales already on the decline, some analysts question whether VW’s decision will spur other automakers to abandon their “oil-burners,” as well.

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“At the moment we assume that we will offer no new diesel vehicles in the U.S,” Diess told the German  business daily Handelsblatt in an interview following the Tuesday announcement of the maker’s global turnaround plan.

(more…)