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Detroit’s Big Three Struggle to Adapt to Rapidly Changing Global Auto Market

Management shake-up at Ford not likely to be the last big announcement from the Motor City this year.

by on May.22, 2017

Ford CEO Fields won't be the last Detroit exec trying to figure out how to address changes coming.

The unexpected ouster of Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields comes as one of the biggest shake-ups Detroit’s Big Three have experienced since they emerged from the Great Recession – and it highlights the challenges they face trying to adapt to a global transformation in what automakers build and how they market those products.

The appointment of Jim Hackett to replace Fields is, however, just the latest in a series of big announcements from Detroit that last week saw Ford announce plans to cut 1,400 salaried workers in North America and Europe, while General Motors said it would stop selling cars in the huge Indian market and sell off operations in South Africa.

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“As the (Detroit) Big Three look out at the landscape, they see dramatic changes coming in the concept of mobility,” says Joe Phillippi, a veteran Wall Street auto analyst and now the lead at AutoTrends Consulting. “They are desperately trying to figure out the future business model and how they will fit in.”

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Ford Shaking Up Almost Entire Senior Management Team

Changes meant to "unleash innovation" and address "underperforming parts of the business."

by on May.22, 2017

Prior to joining Ford, Jim Hackett was Steelcase CEO and served as Interim U-Michigan Athletic Director.

Scrambling to turn around declining sales and earnings and to address broad shareholder concerns, Ford Motor Co. says it will replace CEO Mark Fields while reassigning a number of other senior managers.

The decision to oust the 56-year-old Fields, architect of a broad push into new mobility services, and replace him with former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett comes just a week after Ford announced plans to eliminate 1,400 salaried jobs in North America and Asia, part of a broader $3 billion cost cutting program.

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Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. downplayed any sense of management turmoil in a statement confirming the news reports that had begun to appear late Sunday night, declaring, “We’re moving from a position of strength to transform Ford for the future.” (more…)

BMW Bolstering R&D Spending for 2017

German maker looking to push electrification efforts.

by on May.22, 2017

BMWs R&D budget is getting a boost to ensure it can expand its electrification efforts.

Facing pressure from regulators in China and Europe to reduce emissions and to push ahead with the electrification of its product portfolio, BMW expects its research and development budget, when measured as a percentage of sales, to rise in 2018, BMW chief financial officer said in a German newspaper.

“Reducing CO2 emissions, electrifying engines and autonomous driving are the key challenges for our industry over the next years,” BMW CFO Nicolas Peter told Boersen-Zeitung in an interview published on Saturday.

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Peter said that R&D spending would account for about 6% of sales this year, up from 5.5% in 2016. (more…)

Ford CEO Fields Reportedly Out in Shake-Up

Said to be replaced by former Steelcase chief Hackett.

by on May.22, 2017

Former CEO Mark Fields tried to shift Ford's direction, but investors wanted quicker results.

Ford plans to provide additional information about its plans this morning. Check back with the TheDetroitBureau.com for the update.

Facing increasing pressure as its sales, earnings and stock price all slide, the Ford Motor Co. board of directors has reportedly ousted CEO Mark Fields, according to numerous reports and sources.

The 56-year-old Fields, who attempted to lead Ford in a new direction focusing on high technology will be replaced by former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett, according to those sources and reports. Hackett, who joined the Ford board last year had also served as interim director of the University of Michigan’s athletics program.

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The shake-up comes just weeks after Bill Ford Jr., the automaker’s chairman – and great-grandson of founder Henry Ford – told stockholders, “Look, we’re as frustrated as you are by the stock price,” adding that for he and the rest of the Ford family, “most of our net worth is tied up in the company.” (more…)

VW Wants to Win Back Enthusiasts with Array of Concepts

Six new prototypes debut at U.S., European events.

by on May.19, 2017

The VW Beetle Post Concept

Looking for something sporty but affordable? Volkswagen might have just the car for you though, for now, these six models are just concepts making their debut at two big summer events taking place in Europe and the U.S. this coming weekend.

The German maker has reason to roll out so many show cars in one big blitz. VW is still trying to recover from its diesel emissions scandal and, particularly in the States, it will no longer have those sporty oil-burners to offer anymore.

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But even as it shifts gears a bit, focusing more on conventional gas-powered models, it’s determined to show it has plenty to appeal to enthusiasts. Here’s what we’re seeing at both the GTI Meet in Worthersee, Austria, as well as the SOWO: European Experience in Savannah, Georgia.

SOWO features five show cars, including: (more…)

Uber Expands With Addition of Uber Freight

After months of testing, new app ready for truck drivers.

by on May.19, 2017

One of Uber Freight's big appeals to drivers is the ability to get paid for jobs in seven days, rather than three months.

Uber is no longer just about hauling people from the airport to their hotel or from the bar to their homes — it’s hauling freight.

The company unveiled Uber Freight, a cloud-based, on-demand, full truckload brokerage after the company tested concept in the “Texas Triangle,” Dallas, Houston and San Antonio for several months. And it basically operates the same way the ride-sharing service does.

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Uber Freight features an app just like the regular Uber app. However, it’s aimed at approved driers, who can search for available loads, see destination info, distance required and payment before they agree. Once they find a gig they like, the driver taps and it’s booked. (more…)

Tesla Wrestling With Challenges, Pressure from Plant Workers

Growing pressure on plant floor causing injuries, employee turnover.

by on May.19, 2017

Employees at Tesla's production facility in Fremont, California, complain of poor working conditions and injuries resulting from them.

While Tesla moves to push ahead with production of the Model 3, it is facing challenges inside its factory in Fremont, California, that include an increasingly restless workforce where turnover is high and complaints about on the job injuries are mounting.

The United Auto Workers has launched an organizing drive and pro-union have now filed multiple charges with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming they have been harassed for pro-union activity. Tesla has denied the charges.

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But Tesla also has been hit with complaints about working conditions inside the plant, which has also been turned into a giant construction site as the company’s founder pushes ahead with his bold expansion plans. Musk has even talked the Bay Area Rapid Transit authority about building a new station closer to the Fremont factory. (more…)

Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Others Join Japan’s Fuel-Cell Push

Plan aims to show off hydrogen power potential during 2020 Olympics.

by on May.19, 2017

Toyota's Mirai fuel-cell vehicle is part of Japan's push to get 40,000 fuel cell vehicles on Japanese roads by the end of the decade.

With the next Olympics fast approaching, the Japanese government is racing to put in place what it hopes will be the world’s most advanced, hydrogen-based highway infrastructure, and it’s getting a helping hand from the country’s three largest automakers and a number of other large companies.

Japan has laid out a plan to have 40,000 hydrogen-powered cars on its roads by the end of the decade, the number expected to jump to 200,000 by 2025 and 800,000 by 2030. It also wants to set up a network of nearly 1,000 fueling stations to support those vehicles.

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But getting there won’t be easy, even proponents acknowledge. Though three manufacturers now offer fuel-cell-powered vehicles on the retail market, there are only about 1,800 FCVs on the road in Japan, according to industry data, and barely 4,000 worldwide. (more…)

Snakebit: Shelby Unveils Two Super Snake Models

Weekend tribute to bring out wide-bodied Mustang prototypes, F-150 street truck.

by on May.19, 2017

The Shelby Super Snake Wide-Bodied Mustang Concept is designed for serious road racing.

Racer, raconteur, entrepreneur, Carroll Shelby had a nearly half-century affiliation with the Ford Mustang, and almost precisely five years after his death, the company that bears his name has revealed two new high-performance models in his honor.

Fittingly, that includes both the Super Snake Mustang Concept, as well as the Ford F-150-based Super Snake Street Truck. Both will take their formal public bow at a special tribute to Shelby over the weekend, a timely event considering Shelby passed on to the great race track in the sky on May 10, 2012.

Performance!

“The ‘Shelby Super Snake’ badge carries tremendous prestige because every vehicle that wears it represents the pinnacle of performance,” proclaims Gary Patterson, president of Las Vegas-based Shelby American.

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Trump Administration Begins Process of Renegotiating NAFTA

Talks will begin in August.

by on May.19, 2017

The Big Three automakers would like NAFTA to remain status quo; however, the Trump Administration is renegotiating the deal this summer.

The Trump Administration has begun the formal process required to open the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement this coming summer.

President Trump notified Congress this week of his intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. The talks with Canada and Mexico will begin “no earlier than August 16, 2017,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a letter to Congress.

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During the 90-day countdown, USTR will consult with “Congress and American stakeholders to create an agreement that advances the interests of America’s workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses,” he said. (more…)