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China Plays Critical Role in GM’s Intelligent Vehicle Development

Maker plans to leverage expertise to produce smart cars.

by on Oct.20, 2014

General Motors is planning to further develop its autonomous vehicle technology in China, in particular its ENVI-style vehicles.

General Motors plans to bring its latest technology to China and use its technical resources in there to develop vehicles that can fit into the country’s growing megacities that continue to expand, GM top executive in China said this week.

“China has indeed has been a very rewarding market for GM we’ve benefited from the tremendous growth,” noted Matt Tsien, president of GM China. China plays very big role in GM strategic considerations and China’s voice is a very strong voice within GM, Tsien added during a discussion at the annual Global Automotive Forum in Wuhan, China.

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China became the world’s largest single automotive market in 2009 and the size of country’s car fleet has doubled in the last five years and is expected to double again by 2020. (more…)

Beijing Planning to Convert Taxi Fleet to Electric

Public outcry over poor air quality driving change.

by on Oct.16, 2014

Beijing officials are attempting to convert the city's fleet of 46,000 taxis to EVs, like this BYD e6 cab.

Facing public pressure to reduce some of world’s nastiest urban air pollution, the municipal government in Beijing is moving to turn Chinese capitols taxi fleet green.

The objective is to convert Beijing’s 46,000 taxis into electric vehicles over the next three to four years, according to Zhang Xiyong, vice president of China’s Beijing Automotive Industry Group.

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During a discussion at the Global Automotive Form in Wuhan, Zhang said public pressure through social media prompted Beijing’s municipal government to order the overhaul of the city’s taxi fleet. (more…)

Three Chinese Automakers Expect to be Global Players

Industry official predicts exports to emerging markets.

by on Oct.16, 2014

The Geely Gleagle is one of the products that makes Chinese government officials believe three Chinese automakers will be globally influential.

China’s fast-growing automobile industry should be able to create at three strong globally competitive carmakers in the years to come, according to a Chinese government official this week.

Wang Xia, a senior official with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Automotive sub-council, acknowledged during a press conference prior to the opening of the Global Automotive Forum in Wuhan, China, that China’s homegrown auto industry has been rocked over the last several months by a steady loss of marketshare.

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Up until about two years ago, Chinese brands held about 46% of the domestic sales across China. Since then, the Chinese domestic brands have lost about 10 points of marketshare to foreign brands. The big winners have been European brands as well as General Motors and Ford. (more…)

GM Enjoying Strong October Sales

Full-size pickups leading maker to another strong month.

by on Oct.15, 2014

In October, strong sales of the Chevrolet Silverado are pushing GM to a repeat of last month's results.

With sales of truck and utility vehicles going strong, early returns indicate October will be another good month for General Motors, executives said this week.

Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet director of Truck Marketing, said before a presentation on GM’s truck sales that overall sales of new vehicles have remained strong during the first part of October. So far this month, sales have basically continued on the same path as they were on during September, according to the reports from dealers, he said.

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Chevrolet sold more than 50,000 Silverado trucks in September, resulting in a share gain of 6.5 percentage points in the large pickup truck market and making it the current-generation Silverado’s best sales month since its launch. (more…)

Volkswagen Adds to Sales Lead Over GM in China

by on Oct.13, 2014

GM's sales in China, in which Cadillac is critical, are up 11.6%, but still trail Volkswagen's results.

The automotive sales race in China is a neck-and-neck affair, but the Volkswagen Group continues to hold a lead of about 140,000 units over rival General Motors. Other makers that were expecting to see strong results there – namely Ford and Nissan – have fallen off the pace a bit in recent months.

Volkswagen reported its sales have increased 15% to 2.72 million units through Sept. 30, making China the company’s single largest global market. Sales were strong during September when the German maker delivered 2.72 million units in China, marking a 15.2% increase.

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GM and its Chinese joint ventures reported a 15.2% increase in September as well. For the first nine months, GM’s sales totaled 2.58 million vehicles, up 11.6% from the same period a year earlier. (more…)

Ford F-150 Lassoes Truck of Texas Trophy

Ford, Jeep and Ram corral a hatful of victories.

by on Oct.13, 2014

Ford's new F-150 snags a welcome honor.

The Ford F-150 scooped up the first of what the company’s executives hope will be several awards over the weekend as it was named Truck of Texas at the 2014 Texas Auto Writers Association Truck Rodeo.

That’s particularly good news for Ford considering the growing concerns about whether the maker can pull off a smooth launch for the “aluminum-intensive” remake of what has long been the country’s best-selling motor vehicle.

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Ford actually got a triple-dose of good news from the Lone Star State’s automotive scribes who named the 2015 Lincoln MKC the crossover of Texas, while Ford also was named the Truck Line of Texas. But the Detroit carmaker couldn’t pull off a clean sweep, the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee capturing the SUV of Texas title for the fifth straight year.

(more…)

More Gears = More MPGs? Advanced Transmissions Critical to Meet CAFE

The manual gearbox continues to fade away.

by on Oct.10, 2014

The new Land Rover Discovery Sport will turn to a 9-speed gearbox to help boost mileage.

While the wider user of turbocharging and direct injection have been credited with boosting U.S. fuel economy to record levels, automakers are also scoring big mileage gains by turning to advanced transmissions, according to a new report by the Environmental Protection Agency.

New automatics using seven, eight and even nine gears are quickly becoming the norm, rather than the exception, along with even more exotic technologies such as double-clutch transmissions. While it’s not a hard-and-fast rule, the more gears the more the MPGs.

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But the latest trends are likely not to be good news for fans of manual gearboxes which no longer can claim to deliver both better mileage and improved performance, noted Aaron Hula during a presentation on vehicle trends at the EPA vehicle test lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

(more…)

Global Union Chiefs Gather at Nissan Plant in Mississippi

Group investigating alleged workplace violations.

by on Oct.09, 2014

Nissan's Canton, Miss. plant is hosting union leaders from around the globe.

Union influence is beginning to be felt in earnest across the south United States. Just days after the UAW opened a new Local at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama, a group of global union leaders are descending on Nissan’s plant in Canton, Mississippi, to meet with plant employees and community leaders.

The plan is to find out what the working conditions are like in the facility and investigate alleged violations of international standards at the plant.  While there they’ll also meet with temporary workers employed by Kelly Services who help staff the plant.

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The delegation is being led by Jyrki Raina, head of the IndustriALL Global Union, which is an international organization that represents more than 50 million workers in 140 countries. Some of those workers include including Nissan and Renault employees in other countries. Raina is being accompanied by representatives of auto unions from six countries including Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Brazil and South Africa. (more…)

Chrysler Dumps Viper Racing Program

Move comes after program takes home championships.

by on Oct.07, 2014

Chrysler cut its SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper GTS-R racing program just after it won two championships.

After taking home a championship trophy last weekend, the Chrysler Group has dropped the Viper racing program supported by its Street and Racing Technology (SRT) unit.

“Our company has made a business decision to discontinue the SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper GTS-R racing program,” said Ralph Gilles, senior vice president of Product Design, Chrysler Group LLC, who has headed up the SRT program, which Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had considered making a separate brand at one point.

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“We are very proud of the amazing achievements our fantastic teams, drivers and partners have achieved on track the last few seasons,” he said. “We thank them for their hard work, effort and commitment to SRT Motorsports. Its been an honor to be a part of the inaugural IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season and we wish them every success in the future.” (more…)

Chevrolet Making Trax with New Crossover

Maker’s latest entry hits new market sweetspot.

by on Oct.06, 2014

Trax blends small car agility with the utility of an SUV. It's Chevrolet's seventh small vehicle launch in less than four years.

With a new wave of trucks and full-size sport utility vehicles now its showrooms, Chevrolet is battling perceptions that its the flow from its product pipeline is slowing to a trickle.

As it’s doing with the midsized Colorado pick up truck, Chevy is pushing into a new segment with the introduction of a new compact utility vehicle the Chevrolet Trax, which is slated to reach Chevrolet showrooms early next year.

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GM has already introduced a version of the Trax in China and the crossover is scheduled to enter the booming compact utility vehicle market, which is rapidly overtaking midsized sedan segment as the largest in the U.S. Additionally, compact utility sales also produce larger profits for carmakers than compact and midsized cars, experts note. (more…)