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Women in Auto: Q&A With Mitsubishi Motors CMO Kimberley Gardiner

Changing perspectives.

by on Mar.25, 2019

Mitsubishi Motors CMO Kimberley Gardiner talks about International Women's Month and the impact of women in the auto industry.

Its been five years since Mary Barra first smashed through the glass ceiling by being named the chief executive – and, later, chairman, of General Motors. Despite that, women still have a long way to go to be equally represented inside the auto industry, especially when it comes to the “C suites.” But there are more signs of change.

That includes Mitsubishi Motors’ decision to name Kimberley Gardiner as its chief marketing officer. Appointed to the post in January, she will oversee short- and long-range planning, retail marketing, data analytics and other strategic efforts as the Japanese brand struggles to rebuild its presence in the American market.

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Gardiner is no newcomer to the auto industry, having spent a number of years at Kia and, before that, Toyota and its Lexus and Scion brands. She spoke with TheDetroitBureau.com about International Women’s Month and the challenges and opportunity women face in the auto industry. (more…)

Porsche’s New Cayenne Coupe is Pretty – and Pretty Powerful

Newest SUV makes 541 hp and hits 60 in 3.7 seconds.

by on Mar.22, 2019

Porsche is letting the Cayenne lead a new product segment once again with the 2020 Cayenne Coupe.

There were plenty of skeptics when Porsche announced plans to build a sport-utility vehicle barely two decades back. No one’s laughing now, as SUVs now make up the biggest selling – and most profitable part of the Porsche line-up.

So, there should be no surprise that the Schwabian marque is looking to expand that line-up. It recently announced plans for an all-electric crossover, but the next ute in the line-up will be a coupe version of the original Porsche Cayenne.

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Like other recent German “coupes,” this one doesn’t require you to sacrifice convenience. Think of more as a “coupe-like” version of the Cayenne, with a steeply raked roof and four doors. Whatever you call it, the appearance is striking and, arguably, less awkward than some of the other recent “coupe” SUVs. (more…)

BMW Warns Profits Will Fall in 2019 After Tough 2018

A disorderly Brexit could impact German automaker's bottom line.

by on Mar.20, 2019

The BMW Group warned that profits would be down again in 2019, and at higher levels than 2018.

BMW Group officials are predicting that this year will be tougher than last year and plans to implement a more than $13 billion plan to cut costs and improve efficiency by 2022 to offset technology development investments and currency costs.

The company saw profits drop 7.9% in 2018 and expects that to rise to 10% this year. As a result, it’s looking to improve efficiency levels and find ways to cut costs as Brexit issues are likely to make for a bumpy ride for European-based automakers.

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Additionally, the need to plow more money into electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle development is driving the $13.6 billion, or 12 billion euros, plan to trim expenses. However, BMW officials admit it’s an aggressive response to only a potential problem. (more…)

Ford Investing $900M in Second EV Plant, AV Facility in Michigan

New operation set to open in 2023, add 900 workers.

by on Mar.20, 2019

Ford is planning to use its underutilized plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, to build electric vehicles starting in 2023.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $900 million in two Detroit-area facilities meant to focus on the cars of the future.

The bulk of the investment, about $850 million, will go to Ford’s now under-utilized Flat Rock facility that will become the automaker’s second source for pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, in the process creating 900 new jobs. The rest will fund what the automaker is describing as an “Autonomous Vehicle center,” where conventional vehicles will be modified to operate hands-free and even entirely without a driver.

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Ford was one of the earliest of the automakers to focus on battery-based powertrain technology, though it won’t bring out its first long-range all-electric model until next year, a “Mustang-inspired” SUV expected to take aim at the new Tesla Model Y. It will be produced at Ford’s first battery-electric vehicle plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico. (more…)

Suppliers, Dealers Express Concerns About Stability of Industry

New studies show trade uncertainty of trade policies worry groups.

by on Mar.20, 2019

Auto dealers and suppliers are concerned about the state of the industry despite winter sales coming in as expected.

Even though sales of new vehicles have met expectations for much of the winter, a sense of unease is creeping through the auto industry, according to new surveys of suppliers and dealers.

The OESA Automotive Supplier Barometer from the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, which is a numeric measure of suppliers’ outlook on the automotive industry, continues to reflect a negative sentiment, the group reported this week.

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“There is no question that it’s going to be an interesting year. As dealers look ahead, they have a less-than-positive view of growth in the future,” said Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke. (more…)

Mercedes-Benz Provides Early Look at New GLC Coupe

Automaker to debut new model at New York Auto Show.

by on Mar.20, 2019

The new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe makes its world's premiere at the NY Auto Show next month.

Mercedes-Benz continues to reshape the definition of a coupe with the introduction of the new 2020 GLC coupe that is almost more sport-utility than it is car. The car will make its world premiere to the public at the New York International Auto Show next month.

The 2020 GLC borrows from its predecessor in its exterior appearance. The pronounced front end screams Mercedes while the rest of the vehicle is clearly becoming the German automaker’s hallmark design for the coupe going forward. Not the typically low-slung, athletic-looking two-door, instead the four-door GLC is a mix of performance and capability.

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Highlights at the front end include the powerfully contoured diamond-block grille with an integrated star and single louvre typical of a coupe, complemented by the distinctive air intakes and the new contours of the standard LED headlamps, the automaker notes. (more…)

A New Partner for Fiat Chrysler? Peugeot Says Maybe

Peugeot family suggest FCA is a possible mate.

by on Mar.19, 2019

Could Fiat Chrysler be a good fit with PSA Groupe? A member of the Peugeot family says yes.

The late Sergio Marchionne spent much of his tenure searching for a partner for Fiat Chrysler, and now it appears a new mate for FCA is in the picture and creating buzz that Marchionne likely would have enjoyed: Peugeot.

Robert Peugeot, president of Peugeot family holding company FFP, told French daily Les Echos he would support a new deal, suggesting Fiat Chrysler would be among the potential partners.

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“With them, as with others, the planets could be aligned,” he was reported as saying about a potential merger. (more…)

Mercedes-Maybach is Coming Back

Super-luxurious crossover being built in Alabama.

by on Mar.18, 2019

Mercedes-Benz plans to build the new Mercedes-Maybach GLS at its plant in Alabama for global distribution.

The Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is already churning out the GLS and a few other models, but the German automaker is adding one more to the line: The Mercedes-Maybach GLS.

Introduced in China last year as an EV concept, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS will join the next-generation sport-ute getting ready to hit dealerships later this year, according to Autonews. The plant will build the new Maybach for global distribution, the automaker noted.

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Ultra-luxurious crossover is obviously playing up the theme from the original Maybach, which had its admirers, but didn’t sell in large enough numbers to build as a regular model in the 1990s and early 2000s. (more…)

BMW Reassigns Key Management Responsibilities

Moves designed to make company leaner.

by on Mar.18, 2019

BMW's Harald Krueger noted the company's recent shuffling of executives should make the company leaner and more competitive.

The BMW Group is reorganizing its Board of Management to create what Is described as a new leaner, future-oriented management structure.

“We are restructuring our divisions to give us the best possible foundation for the future. It sends out a clear signal that our organization is lean and efficient throughout the company,” said Harald Krüger, chairman of the BMW AG Board of Management, speaking in Munich on Friday.

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The moves come at a time when carmakers the world over are facing sweeping change and major financial pressures. In fact, BMW recently announced plans to alliance with archrival Mercedes-Benz to address technical issues with autonomous vehicles. German carmakers, such as BMW, also are still reeling from a losing bet on diesel technology that has cost them dearly. (more…)

What to Expect When Tesla’s Model Y Rolls Out

New electric-SUV could double sales of Model 3.

by on Mar.14, 2019

The Model Y debuts tonight and will be more expensive than the Model 3.

In a market where SUVs and CUVs have overwhelmed traditional sedans and coupes, there’s a yawning gap in the Tesla line-up that the upstart automaker intends to fill in the months ahead.

And the process will begin this evening when CEO Elon Musk pulls the wraps off the Tesla Model Y. Set to become the fourth product in the automaker’s portfolio, the battery-SUV could outsell all existing Tesla products combined, at least if a recent forecast by CEO Elon Musk proves accurate.

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“We will probably see higher volumes for Model Y than Model 3, (perhaps) double,” the 47-year-old exec said during a late January conference call with auto analysts and journalists. (more…)