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Long-Term Outlook for US Auto Sales — Stable

Only a major event would impact sales.

by on Mar.20, 2018

New vehicle sales are expected to stabilize in the 16.8 million to 17 million unit range.

Barring a sudden shock such as a financial crisis like the one in 2008 or another foreseen disruption of the economy in the U.S. or other parts of the world, the auto industry appears headed for a long period of stability, according to an updated forecast by IHS Markit.

Sales appear to have reached a very sustainable plateau quite similar to the that started in the early 1990s and survived the bursting of the “” bubble and 9/11, Peter Nagle, an IHS analyst noted in a briefing for reporters in Detroit. The long period of steady, stable sales could stretch out to 2025.

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Sales in the U.S. market have been slowing since the middle of 2016, he added. “We’re entering a replacement cycle but at a very level even as the plateau tilts slightly downward.  IHS expects total sales in the U.S. to reach 17 million this year and tail off to 16.8 million in 2019. (more…)

Ford Negotiating Deal to Revive Long-Time Symbol of Detroit Decay

Automaker reportedly looking to purchase long-abandoned Michigan Central train station.

by on Mar.20, 2018

The 18-story Michigan Central Station was once the world's tallest railroad depot.

Ford Motor Co. is negotiating the purchase of the old Michigan Central train station a mile from the city’s downtown, according to numerous sources.

The 500,000 square-foot tower, once the world’s tallest railroad depot, has served as a symbol of the Motor City’s decay since closing three decades ago. But if the deal comes together, insiders suggest, it could serve as a sign that Detroit’s nascent renaissance is truly taking hold.

Industry News!

It would also bring Ford back in a big way to the city where it was born. The automaker was incorporated along the Detroit riverfront and founder Henry Ford’s earliest factories were just miles away from the Michigan Central Station. But for most of the last century, Ford has centered its operations in Dearborn, a suburb to the west of Detroit that largely escaped the economic collapse of Motown.


VW Charged Up About EV Racer Heading to Pikes Peak

“It’s about time we settled the score.”

by on Mar.19, 2018

VW hopes to leave the competition in the dust when it takes the I.D. R up Pikes Peak.

Volkswagen has put in an order for a whopping $25 billion worth of lithium-ion batteries and related technology, as we reported last week. A small share of that will be going into its new electric motorsports program which is charged up and ready to challenge Pikes Peak a few months from now.

These pics preview the new I.D. R electric race car that VW plans to use as its first entry into the grueling Pikes Peak International Hill Climb since 1987. I.D. is the new sub-brand the German automaker will begin rolling out late in the decade, with a total of 20 full-electric models due out by 2025, so it’s no surprise the hill climb car will share that badge.

Motor Sports News!

“We want to be at the forefront of electro-mobility with Volkswagen and the I.D. family,” said Frank Welsch, the Volkswagen board member overseeing its electrification efforts. “Competing in the most famous hill climb in the world with the I.D. R Pikes Peak is a valuable test for the general development of electric cars.”


Self-Driving Uber Test Vehicle Kills Pedestrian

Company halts all autonomous testing.

by on Mar.19, 2018

An Uber Volvo XC90 was involved in a minor crash, getting flipped onto its side, during a test program near Phoenix last year.

Company’s testing autonomous vehicles and self-driving technologies have one giant fear, a fatality. That fear became a reality last night for Uber as one of its self-driving vehicles killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

The incident occurred when the vehicle was in autonomous mode; however, there was a safety engineer behind the wheel, which is standard Uber practice. There were no other passengers in the vehicle at the time.

Autonomous News!

According to a USA Today report, the woman, who has not yet been named, was crossing outside the designated crosswalk at about 10 p.m. when she was hit, police said. (more…)

VW Adding Two-Row Atlas to Line-Up

Five-seat SUV "concept" set to make NYIAS debut.

by on Mar.19, 2018

Bound for the Big Apple - Volkswagen gives us a first look at the 5-seat version of the Atlas.

It may have been late to the SUV party but Volkswagen seems determined to catch up with a rapidly expanding line-up of new models.

The latest offering will make its debut at this month’s New York International Auto Show – albeit in concept form. And with a two-row version of its largest crossover, VW appears to be ready to chase another niche in the booming utility vehicle market.

Auto Show News!

“The Atlas has built strong momentum for Volkswagen in the SUV segment, and we are excited to grow our SUV portfolio with this new, Chattanooga-assembled five-passenger SUV,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.


Mercedes Moving into New NA Headquarters in Atlanta

Maker makes trek south from New Jersey.

by on Mar.19, 2018

Mercedes-Benz new North American headquarters opened its doors in Atlanta.

Three years after leaving New Jersey, Mercedes-Benz USA is moving into its new $93 million permanent home in Atlanta.

“All the stars are aligned. Our new Atlanta headquarters marks a highpoint for Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. market,” said Dietmar Exler, president and CEO of MBUSA.

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“Not just in terms of being the leading luxury brand in the U.S. for the past two years, but also in terms of this building which is designed from the inside out to enable a creative, innovative and empowered workforce more representative of a start-up than a conventional corporation,” Exler said. (more…)

Buick, Infiniti Top J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index

Industry overall posts major gains in service arena.

by on Mar.16, 2018

The new QX80 helped Infiniti to the top of the latest J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index.

In an unexpected and potentially critical move, Infiniti unseated Lexus as the top-ranked brand in J.D. Power’s annual Customer Satisfaction Index, while Buick ranked tops among mass-market brands.

But the auto industry on the whole managed to post big improvements, reflecting an increased focus on keeping customers happy when it comes to receiving service at franchised dealers, according to the annual Power study.

Pushing the Envelope!

Keeping customers happy is critical, said Chris Sutton, Power’s vice president of U.S. automotive retail practices. “Satisfied customers tend to stay with a brand and bring others with them,” said Sutton, adding that, “Anything less opens the door for customers to shop elsewhere.” (more…)

FCA Claims Web Developer Bribed Exec $2.4M to Raise Prices

Website maker denies claims in lawsuit.

by on Mar.16, 2018

Fiat Chrysler claims a website developer bribed an FCA executive to inflate website development costs.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. overpaid for new car dealer websites after the developer bribed Clyde Campbell, who was then the company’s managing director in the country, according a lawsuit now being tried in the United Kingdom.

The UK High Court heard evidence from Robert Olver, a web services expert appointed to come up with a fair price for the contract signed in 2010 between Chrysler and British car industry web developer Motortrak.

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Olver told the court there was no commercial justification for some elements of the contract, and Motortrak charged well above a fair price, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. (more…)

VW Ups EV Ante as it Places $25B in Battery Orders

German giant now outspending rival Tesla.

by on Mar.14, 2018

VW plans to have 30 fully electric vehicles ready by 2025, including models based on the ID Buzz and ID Crozz concepts.

As it ramps up plans to sell at least 3 million electrified vehicles annually by 2025, Volkswagen has announced orders for $25 billion worth of batteries and battery components – dwarfing the spending plans of all-electric competitor Tesla.

Longer-term, VW said it plans to more than double that total as it prepares to offer some form of electrified drivetrain for every vehicle in its line-up – including dozens of all-electric models. It plans to roll out its first three long-range battery-electric vehicles this year, including offerings from its Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi brands. It also will launch a new sub-brand, Volkswagen I.D., which will include in its portfolio the all-electric Buzz, a modern take on the automaker’s iconic Microbus.

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Among all 12 brands in the Volkswagen Group family, CEO Matthias Mueller said that there will be new battery-powered models launched “virtually every month,” as the new program ramps up, adding that “This is how we intend to offer the largest fleet of electric vehicles in the world.” (more…)

Volkswagen CEO Mueller Gets 40% Compensation Hike

Special breaks let him exceed caps on salary and benefits.

by on Mar.13, 2018

VW CEO Matthias Mueller received a 40% raise in 2017.

Volkswagen’s comeback from the diesel scandal is almost complete. Volkswagen Group reported record earnings for 2017 and this resulted in CEO Matthias Mueller seeing his compensation package jump 40%.

The 64-year-old Mueller’s contract expires in 2020.

Global News!

The jump in pay and other benefits to nearly $12.5 million, according to the company, may seem somewhat startling since it was only two years ago the German automaker was firing executives, eliminating bonuses and implementing a new, more restrictive set of rules for compensation. (more…)