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Safety Titan Claybrook Wants to Rein in Autonomous Vehicles

Former NHTSA leader says self-driving cars have too many shortcomings.

by on Jan.17, 2018

Joan Claybrook (left) during a panel discussion in Detroit said she doesn't trust autonomous vehicles and they should be tightly regulated.

Self-driving cars are not yet roadworthy and could pose a lethal threat to motorists unless they are carefully regulated said Joan Claybrook, the former chief of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and longtime critic of the auto industry’s safety record.

“The excitement around autonomous cars is very interesting, we have had massive problems with failures in the auto industry with airbags and with the GM ignition switch and they have killed people,” Claybrook said during a panel discussion on Autonomous Vehicles and regulation held as part of Automobili-D sponsored by Politico and held in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show.

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In addition, for a long time to come what NHTSA has deemed as Level 3 autonomous vehicles that can cruise on auto pilot under certain circumstances but require driver intervention in an emergency situation, will mix with conventional vehicles on streets and highways. (more…)

Debugging Volkswagen: SUVs Supplant Sedans, Hatches

But no more tongue-twisting model names.

by on Jan.17, 2018

One of the first jobs for VW Group of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken was revealing the new Atlas.

Things didn’t look very good when Hinrich Woebcken landed in the U.S. two years ago as the new CEO and President of the Volkswagen Group of America. The automaker had just acknowledged cheating on diesel emissions tests and was not only facing the prospect of paying billions of dollars in fines and settlements but a collapse in its U.S. sales as it was forced to pull off the market all of its popular diesel models.

“The only reason dealers didn’t kill me was that I was the new guy,” the German-born executive said, only half joking, during a presentation at the Automotive News World Congress on Tuesday afternoon.

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These days, dealers are a lot more sanguine about Woebcken, and VW in general, though the VWoA chief cautioned that the automaker has a long way to go before he can claim success rebuilding its U.S. operations. (more…)

Hackett Tells Analysts Ford Cutting Car Production

Automaker upping truck and ute production 10% while cars getting 10% cut.

by on Jan.17, 2018

Ford CEO Jim Hackett told analysts the automaker is increasing truck and ute production and cutting cars to better meet customer preferences.

With the overwhelming number of truck and sport-utility debuts and news coming out of the North American International Auto Show this year, it’s not surprising that Ford CEO Jim Hackett appears ready to make an even bigger commitment to that segment.

Hackett told analysts last night the company acknowledged the shift in preferences by U.S. consumers, however, he wasn’t ready to put a final nail in the coffin of passenger cars at Ford.

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That said, he may be grabbing a hammer as he announced the company will be increasing the number of trucks and SUVs in the Ford line-up by 10% while cutting the passenger car portfolio by the same amount. (more…)

Marchionne Confirms Plan for Ferrari SUV, Hints at Battery Supercar

“Ferrari Utility Vehicle” will be world’s fastest, promises CEO.

by on Jan.17, 2018

Sergio Marchionne said Ferrari will produce a sport-utility vehicle, like competitors Lamborghini, Porsche and others.

There are SUVs, CUVs and, soon, there will be an FUV. And before you try to guess what that means, Sergio Marchionne calls it the Ferrari Utility Vehicle – though considering the disdain some of the brand’s gold chained owners often display, you might come up with a different interpretation.

Rumors of a Ferrari sport-utility vehicle have been circulating for some time, and after dropping some earlier hints, Marchionne made it absolutely official during a series of appearances and conversations at the North American International Auto Show this week.

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The executive, who heads both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the Ferrari brand it spun off two years ago, suggested that we could see the new hyper-ute by sometime next year or into 2020, emphasizing his intent for it to be the world’s fastest utility vehicle. (more…)

Infiniti Will Be “All Electrified” After 2021, Says New CEO

Hiroto Saikawa also hints that Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance may seek a fourth partner.

by on Jan.16, 2018

Nissan's Hiroto Saikawa told attendees at the Automotive News World Congress that Infiniti will be electrified by 2021.

Luxury brand Infiniti will rapidly shift away from conventional powertrains and will be “all electrified,” with the exception of some large SUVs by 2021, according to the automaker’s new CEO Hiroto Saikawa.

The auto industry, as a whole is rapidly beginning to electrify as it comes under increasing pressure from regulators around the world. But the plan for Infiniti is one of the most aggressive moves so far announced by any automotive brand with the exception of Volvo which will switch to only hybrid, plug-in or pure battery-electric power for all new models launched by 2018.

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“Infiniti will have a specific focus on electrification,” said Saikawa, who replaced Carlos Ghosn as CEO of Nissan Motor Co. on April 1, 2016. “We are trying to position Infiniti as the premier electrified brand” as part of the five-year plan that will extend through 2022. (more…)

Cadillac Takes Aim at New Record

Division chief says there is still work to be done.

by on Jan.16, 2018

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen said the luxury division is enjoying strong sales, but still has work to do.

Cadillac expects to set another global sales record in 2018 thanks to the strength of strong sales in China where the brands sales of surpassed more than 200,000 units in just four years.

Johan de Nysschen, General Motors executive vice president and Cadillac Global president, spread that bit of good news during an appearance at the Automotive News World Congress today; however, he added that Cadillac’s transformation is still very much a work in progress.

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U.S. sales dropped last year and Cadillac is still grappling with cultural issues, particularly with its dealer organization in the United States, which has long depended on deals to help move the metal, he acknowledged. Cadillac will continue to face challenges in the U.S. again this year. (more…)

General Motors Expecting Big Profits for 2018

Company expects stable results in North America and China.

by on Jan.16, 2018

GM CEO Mary Barra said she believes that all of the fundamentals that brought profits to GM in 2017 are in place to repeat in 2018.

General Motors Co. expects strong earnings in 2018, as it builds on an expected record 2017 diluted-adjusted EPS as well as previous record earnings in 2016 and 2015.

GM’s bullish forecast comes on the heels of a bullish prediction for 2018 from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. Chief Sergio Marchionne, who told reporters at the Detroit Auto Show that he expected upward of $9 billion in operating profits from FCA for the full-year even as it falls short of the sales targets laid out in four-year plan set out 2014 when it predicted sales of 7 million units.

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The company’s “product cadence” will help FCA offset any potential weakening in the economic outlook, added Marchionne, who noted the company was bringing out a new version of the Jeep Cherokee and brand-new Jeep Wrangler as well as the new Ram 1500 pickup truck. (more…)

Lamborghini Says New Urus Will Soon Have Companion Model

World’s fastest SUV makes North American debut.

by on Jan.16, 2018

Lamborghini's first-ever sport-utility vehicle, the Urus, made its North American debut in Detroit.

What’s being billed as the “world’s fastest” sport-utility vehicle has made its North American debut at the Detroit Auto Show.

But the 189 mph super-ute won’t live alone in the Lambo line-up, at least not for long, officials with the Italian automaker telling TheDetroitBureau.com that they are already working on a second model that will join the Lamborghini Urus in showrooms about two years from now.

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During a presentation in downtown Detroit, the Italian automaker’s Chief Technology Officer Maurizio Reggiani stressed that the Urus deserves to be viewed as a true Lamborghini, and not some sort of quirky compromise, because it “shares the strong DNA that comes from our sports cars.” (more…)

Jeep Cherokee Gets a More Conventional Look for 2019

Less “polarizing” headlights, but still some “weirdness” in the design.

by on Jan.16, 2018

The Trackhawk and Limited versions of the 2019 Jeep Cherokee finally break cover.

SUVs and crossover-utility vehicles are the hottest things on the market right now, accounting for half of U.S. new vehicle sales last year, and few brands have done a better job riding that wave than Jeep.

The Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brand is looking to hit record global sales of 2 million this year. That’d be double what Jeep  delivered as recently as 2014 and more than triple its volume when Chrysler was taken over by Italy’s Fiat at the beginning of the decade.

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Give credit to several factors, including not only the surge in overall demand for utility vehicles but the rapid expansion of the Jeep line-up and the race to keep existing models fresh. That includes the 2019 Jeep Cherokee that’s making its debut at this year’s North American International Auto Show.

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No Sale: FCA Not Negotiating with Chinese Nor Willing to Sell Off Jeep, Says Marchionne

Exec plans to release his final 5-year plan this quarter and then name his successor.

by on Jan.15, 2018

Marchionne plans to reveal his successor a few months from now but confides no women are in the running.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn’t open to selling off its Jeep brand nor has it fielded any offers for a complete takeover by a Chinese company, FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said during a media roundtable at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday.

Marchionne said he wanted to clear up reports that have, in recent months, suggested Fiat Chrysler was up for sale – or that it was willing to let go of some key assets, such as the Jeep or Ram brands. But the executive did not rule out a closer relations with GAC, the Guangzhou-based automaker that serves as its partner in the Chinese market.

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“Without them we could not have gone as far as we have in China,” said Marchionne, who stressed “We are not going to break up (the company and) we are having no discussions with anyone in China interested in acquiring us.”

(more…)