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Archive for January, 2017

Record Sales Year Ahead for Makers, Analysts Predict

Third record run could be derailed by leasing.

by on Jan.30, 2017

LMC Automotive expects a new sales record for the auto industry in 2017.

Analysts have waffled for a while about whether or not the U.S. can sustain the record level of new car sales throughout 2017. But LMC Automotive is climbing off the fence and predicting another year of record sales.

Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, said that LMC is forecasting total light-vehicle sales in 2017 to be at 17.6 million units, an increase of 0.1% from 2016. Retail light-vehicle sales are expected to reach 14.1 million units in 2017, essentially flat from 2016, according to Schuster.

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“After an overheated close to 2016 and the increased likelihood of deregulation and fiscal stimulus from the Trump administration driving the economy higher, we now expect 2017 to be another record year in U.S. auto sales, though there is a lot of runway before the year is complete,” Schuster said. (more…)

Canadian Auto Union Blasts GM for Moving Work to Mexico

Union president says its time to tear up NAFTA.

by on Jan.27, 2017

Unifor President Jerry Dias harshly criticized GM's plan to move some SUV production from Ontario to Mexico.

Unifor, the union representing Canadian auto workers, blasted General Motors for the company’s decision to shift some production from Ingersoll, Ontario, to Mexico and vowed to pressure the Canadian government to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“This decision reeks of corporate greed. It is not based on sales, it is another example of how good jobs are being shifted out of Canada for cheaper labor in Mexico and Unifor will not let it happen without a fight,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

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GM said it plans to lay off more than 600 workers at the CAMI–GM plant. The Ingersoll plant is not covered by the GM-Unifor contract reached last fall in which GM promised new investment at its Canadian factories. (more…)

Automakers Look for Options, Weigh Costs Under Trump

Carmakers, car buyers, car workers might all feel the impact.

by on Jan.27, 2017

Pres. Donald Trump signing an Executive Order. He plans to enact a 20% Mexican tariff.

The increasingly contentious battle between the Trump Administration and Mexico could lead to some significant collateral damage, notably including both carmakers and car buyers.

With the Mexican government rejecting a White House demand to pay for a border wall, President Donald Trump now wants to not only negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement but impose a 20% tariff on good imported from south of the border. After making extensive use of NAFTA to set up a network of manufacturing operations in Mexico, automakers could be among the hardest hit.

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But there is, for now, widespread disagreement about how to respond to the Trump plan. Japanese automakers Nissan and Toyota say they are looking for ways to increase U.S. production. Ford’s CEO, after meeting with the new president this week, is rejecting the idea of building any new U.S. factories. Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler’s chief executive says it may be time to rethink the possibility of a merger with domestic giant General Motors.

(more…)

Former VW CEO Under Increasing Scrutiny

Prosecutors asking what Winterkorn knew and when.

by on Jan.27, 2017

Ousted VW CEO Martin Winterkorn during a presentation at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, ousted following the revelation of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions rigging, may have known about the subterfuge far earlier than he has so far acknowledged, according to German prosecutors.

If that proves true, the life-long VW executive could face potential criminal charges on both sides of the Atlantic. After announcing a $4.3 billion settlement of a criminal investigation of the automaker earlier this month – a deal that was accompanied by six criminal indictments — U.S. Justice Department officials said they might yet bring charges against other VW employees.

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The German investigation further challenges claims by the automaker that only a “handful” of low-level engineers knew about the plan to use rigged software to help VW’s diesel engines pass tight U.S. emissions standards.

(more…)

Latest Vehicle Rankings Puts a Surprise at Top of List

Buick Encore and Verano join Hyundai Sonata and Tesla Model S as Best Bets.

by on Jan.27, 2017

The 2017 Buick Encore is one of four vehicles to have earned a perfect 10 on this year's "Best Bets" list.

While new car and truck sales are expected to slow a bit this month, the buyers that are out there are looking for a vehicle with a variety of things, but if safety and reliability are the key metrics, then the 2017 Buick Encore and Verano, Hyundai Sonata and Tesla Model S should be at the top of the list.

That’s according to The Car Book 2017, put out by Jack Gillis and the Center for Auto Safety. The 37th edition rated those three a perfect “10” on a scale of one to 10 for reliability and safety.

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“Our goal is simple,” said Michael Brooks, Acting Executive Director, Center for Auto Safety, “to empower consumers by providing critical information about the most complex purchase they make.” (more…)

First Drive: Lexus RC 350 F Sport

Really a coupe with a low-slung exterior that is sleek and harmonious.

by on Jan.27, 2017

The 2017 Lexus RC 350 F Sport is giving some luxury buyers a reason to come back to coupes.

Even as the sales and popularity of utility vehicles climb, manufacturers continue to entice consumers with passenger cars that blend styling, performance and technology into a nifty package.

A case in point is the 2017 Lexus RC 350 F Sport, which even on ordinary urban-area roads delivers spirited driving on a solid chassis. The car’s basic feeling for the road is enhanced by the powertrain and complemented by features that help keep the driver focused on the road and the traffic around the car.

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The RC 350 is a coupe, which really does mean the car has only two doors. But while Lexus parent company, Toyota Motor Co., has received a substantial amount of criticism over the years for designing cars with too many disparate elements, the basic exterior styling of the low-slung RC 350 is sleek and harmonious. (more…)

Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Fiat Heir for Faking His Own Kidnapping

No reasons given for dropping the charges.

by on Jan.26, 2017

Lapo Elkann is the grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli and brother of FCA Chairman John Elkann.

Lapo Elkann is a free man after the Manhattan District Attorney dropped all charges against the grandson of Fiat family scion Gianni Agnelli for attempting to fake his own kidnapping.

Elkann is the brother of John Elkann, currently the chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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The flamboyant 39-year-old was rumored to have ran out of money, according to initial news reports, possibly due to involvement with an escort. Authorities were called to a housing complex on New York’s East Side after being told Elkann was being held against his will. They subsequently determined the claim was false. (more…)

Ford Teaming With Start Up for Mobile Financing

Ford follows in Daimler's mobile footsteps.

by on Jan.26, 2017

Pretty soon, Ford will allow anyone to buy and finance a new vehicle using a mobile device.

Ford Motor Co. is teaming up with a San Francisco start up to offer customers a way to purchase or finance a new Ford vehicle in minutes from anywhere, on any device through a new platform from Ford Motor Credit Co. and its new partner AutoFi.

The move by Ford follows similar moves recently by Daimler and Volkswagen AG into the mobile payments sector. Daimler and Volkswagen said they are initially targeting mobile apps for parking and car sharing, but the basic target of making it easier for youthful consumers to purchase vehicle-oriented services is essentially the same.

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“By combining our fast and efficient credit-decision process with AutoFi’s online capability, we are making the customer experience faster, smoother and simpler,” said Lee Jelenic, Ford Credit director of mobility. (more…)

Battle Over Ethics Raging on at VW?

Integrity chief resigns in wake of latest diesel settlement.

by on Jan.26, 2017

Christine-Hohmann-Dennhardt is leaving Volkswagen a little more than a year after she signed on to help VW clean up its diesel mess.

Just weeks after Volkswagen AG agreed to pay more than $4 billion to settle the U.S. criminal investigation into its diesel emissions scandal, the German maker’s ethics chief has resigned.

Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, who has served as VW’s head of integrity and legal affairs since Jan. 1, 2016, said she is leaving the automaker as part of a “mutual agreement” considering what were described in a corporate statement as “differences (over the) understanding of responsibilities and future operating structures within the function she leads.”

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But with additional legal challenges remaining, including the possibility of additional criminal indictments against VW executives all the way up to the top levels of management, Hohmann-Dennhardt’s departure leaves more questions open than answered. (more…)

Analysts Predicting Dip in January Auto Sales

Industry recovering from white hot December sales.

by on Jan.26, 2017

Dealer lots are expected to see less traffic this month as the industry recovers from a white-hot December.

After a robust December that pushed the auto industry to record levels, sales are expected to retreat in January as carmakers regroup, analysts said.

Edmunds, one of the industry’s top shopping and information platforms, is predicting 1.153 million units cars trucks will be sold in the U.S. in January, for an estimated Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate of 17.7 million units, which represents a 31.5% drop in sales from December 2016, and a 0.7% decrease from January 2016.

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New vehicles ales are expected to 3% year-over-year to a total of 1.13 million units in January 2017, resulting in an estimated 17.4 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, according to Kelley Blue Book, the vehicle valuation and information source.  (more…)