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Archive for the ‘U.S./North America’ Category

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…)

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…)

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.

(more…)

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…)

GAC Plans to be First to Sell Chinese-Branded Vehicle in U.S.

Company plans to sell small SUV in Q4 2019.

by on Jan.15, 2018

GAC Motor Chairman Feng Xingya says the company will sell SUVs in fourth quarter of 2019.

GAC Motor plans to sell the first Chinese-branded vehicles in the U.S. as it is targeting the fourth quarter of 2019 to begin selling a small sport-utility in the U.S. market.

Company officials told attendees at its press conference attendees at the North American International Auto Show today that it has been preparing to enter the U.S. market for two years. It established an R&D Center last April in Silicon Valley to develop intelligent vehicle systems, driverless cars and other new energy vehicle technologies.

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Additionally, the company plans to open a second center in Detroit or the surrounding suburbs in the first half of this year to concentrate on more conventional development activities as well as a design studio that will be based in Los Angeles. (more…)

New Acura RDX is a “Prototype” in Name Only

Major redesign will usher in new “Precision Crafted Performance” design language.

by on Jan.15, 2018

The Acura RDX Prototype was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, giving folks a look at what next iteration of the RDX will look like.

Like its parent Honda, Japanese luxury brand Acura likes to tease us with thinly disguised “concepts” and “prototypes” that are going to be landing in dealerships in the not-too-distant future. The Acura RDX Prototype making its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit is no exception.

But Acura can be forgiven for wanting to test the waters before diving in with the biggest update this compact crossover has undergone since its original introduction for the 2007 model-year. Indeed, the new look, which borrows heavily from the Precision Concept first shown in Detroit two years ago, is a dramatic shift in direction that could breathe some much-needed life into a brand that many luxury buyers routinely overlook.

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“The all-new RDX delivers a powerful statement about who we are and where we are headed as a brand,” said Jon Ikeda, Acura’s vice president and general manager – and previously the marque’s design chief. “For our customers, the new RDX is a quantum leap forward in design, style and performance, with luxury features and technology that will elevate their ownership experience.” (more…)

Nissan Xmotion Concept “Signals Design Direction for 2020 and Beyond”

X-Trail reborn or something entirely new?

by on Jan.15, 2018

Nissan's Xmotion Concept is really more than just an idea, it's an early look at something coming around 2020.

Few foreign automakers have become more committed to crossovers than Nissan. It already boasts models ranging from the recently added Kicks up to the big Pathfinder and Murano models – never mind the more classic Armada SUV.

So what to make of the new Xmotion Concept making its debut today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. As one senior company insider put it to TheDetroitBureau.com as we started sniffing around, “We don’t do concepts just for the sake of building a concept anymore.” Translation: the Xmotion is clearly pointing towards a ute that will be joining the line-up sometime around 2020 or “beyond,” according to a Nissan statement.

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As a three-row, six-passenger design, we can be pretty safe in assuming it won’t be the next-generation Juke. And while there have been rumors that Nissan might revive the classic truck-based X-Trail, we’re getting hints that the Xmotion Concept is intended as an update or replacement for something already in the line-up, and that would seem to suggest the Pathfinder, which migrated from a body-on-frame to car-based platform a few years back. And it would be due a major update around the end of the decade. (more…)

Lexus Shifts Direction with LF-1 Limitless Crossover Concept

Like “molten metal being forged into a fine Japanese sword.”

by on Jan.15, 2018

Lexus is looking to get a foothold in the larger crossover segment. The LF-1 Limitless may do it, Lexus GM Jeff Bracken said.

(This story has been updated with new information.)

Its been just a year since Lexus brought an all-new version of its big LS sedan to the North American International Auto Show, but what a year it has been. Time was when full-size sedans like the LS helped put a halo atop a luxury brand. But 2017 saw a dramatic shift in the U.S. market, traditional passenger cars all but dropping off the sales charts as millions of American motorists opted for sport and crossover-utility vehicles.

Hoping to catch up on that trend, the Japanese luxury brand is back in Detroit this week with what is expected to become its new flagship, a prototype it has dubbed the Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept. It features an edgy design intended to strike a balance between a crossover and a more classic sports sedan. And a production version is quite likely to roll into Lexus showrooms in the relatively near future.

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Lexus General Manager Jeff Bracken told the auto show crowd the concept could “become a member of the family.” However, he was a little more circumspect in a post event interview with TheDetroitBureau.com. (more…)