Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Author Archive

Bugatti Taps History Books for Latest Veyron

Maker revives “Black Bess” moniker for new supercar.

by on Apr.22, 2014

Bugatti unveiled the latest iteration of its Veyron supercar, the Black Bess, at the Beijing Auto Show.

China is the most lucrative car market in the world and it seems that more and more of the country’s wealthy are willing to plunk down huge amounts of money on an expensive vehicle.

So it’s not exactly a big surprise that Bugatti, which rumor has it preparing a whole new supercar for sale later in the decade, has elected to bring a new version of the Veyron to the Beijing Auto Show to entice a few customers to take a look at the car.

On Top of the News!

The new version of the Veyron – dubbed Black Bess – is part of Bugatti’s Legends Series, and will be limited to three examples and is based on a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse. (more…)

UAW Withdraws Appeal of VW Chattanooga Plant Vote

Major setback for union’s Southern organizing drive.

by on Apr.22, 2014

UAW President Bob King.

The United Auto Workers Union has withdrawn its objections to the results of the in February’s representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The union had narrowly lost a vote it fully expected to win and blamed the defeat on political interference by Republicans in Tennessee.  Over the years, the UAW has lost a series of representation elections in the Southern United States, where  aversion to unions is strong, so the defeat in Chattanooga came as a major setback to its so far unsuccessful bid to organize foreign-owned, so-called transplant, assembly lines.

Beyond the Headlines!

The union decision to withdraw  its protest to the National Labor Relations Board opens the door  for the UAW to call for another election at the Chattanooga plant early next year. The union made it plain in its statement that it will continue its campaign to bring VW workers in Chattanooga into the UAW.

(more…)

GM Wants to Regain Sales Crown in China

Maker plans $12 billion investment; 4 new plants, 60 new vehicles.

by on Apr.21, 2014

The Chevrolet Trax makes its Beijing debut.

For General Motors, the Beijing Auto Show brings both some good news and bad: on the positive side, the Chinese market continues to defy skeptics who worry the country’s economy is cooling – but the downside is that the U.S. maker is now struggling in second place, behind German rival Volkswagen AG, after years as the sales leader in the world’s largest automotive market.

Breaking News!

That’s something GM doesn’t take lightly, the company’s second-in-command, President Dan Ammann, using the Beijing Auto Show to announce yet another major expansion plan.

Expect to see GM boost its capacity in China to 5 million new vehicles annually as it pushes ahead with an aggressive $12 billion expansion plan that includes the construction of four new assembly plants and a new engine plant over the next two years.

(more…)

Bentley Goes Electric at Beijing Show with Plug-In Mulsanne Concept

Luxury makers face pressure to go greener.

by on Apr.21, 2014

Bentley shows off its plug-in hybrid system.

China’s long economic expansion has made it one of the most promising markets for luxury carmakers, with demand for high-line vehicles soon expected to exceed that in U.S. Even the most expensive brands have been growing at a blinding rate, right along with the rest of the Chinese market.

But China’s central government is putting pressure on carmakers – particularly those producing the most powerful and fuel-inefficient products — to develop more electric and hybrid vehicles because of growing concerns about the country’s endemic air pollution problems.

Electrifying News!

That’s encouraged Bentley to introduce its first-ever plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle, or PHEV, at this year’s Beijing Motor Show. The good news for potential buyers, stressed according to Wolfgang Schreilber, chairman and chief executive officer of Bentley Motors, is that the plug-in version of the flagship Mulsanne is both more powerful and even more efficient than the conventional, gas-powered model.

(more…)

Japanese Automakers Go All Out in Beijing

by on Apr.21, 2014

Lexus brings the production version of its NX crossover to the Beijing Auto Show.

Japanese carmakers came to the big auto show in Beijing this year determined to show they are prepared to fight for the hearts and minds of Chinese customers.

Struggling to regain momentum lost due to an ongoing debate between China and Japan over a chain of uninhabited, but strategically located, islands, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and other Japanese makers rolled out an assortment of new models they hope will help them close the gap with more established players in the huge Chinese car market, notably including Volkswagen AG and General Motors.

Auto Show News!

One of the most significant introductions came from Lexus, which unveiled the new Lexus NX utility vehicle, the long-anticipated production version of a controversial concept vehicle, then called the LF-NX first unveiled during the Frankfurt Auto Show last autumn.

(more…)

VW Plugging Into Chinese EV Market

Maker promises to invest $27 bil over 5 years.

by on Apr.20, 2014

VW will launch the e-Golf and an assortment of other battery-based vehicles in China.

With Beijing’s traffic choked roads as a backdrop, Volkswagen announced a major initiative to put tens, perhaps 100s of thousands of electric vehicles on the road in China before the end of the current decade.

VW chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn said VW and its key Chinese partners were prepared to spend as much as $27 billion in the next five years on electric vehicles in China.

The Leader in Global Automotive News!

“The Volkswagen Group is once again assuming a pioneering role in China and launching the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history”, s said. Martin Winterkorn,

The initiative gets underway with the launch this year of the Volkswagen brand’s electric Up! and e-Golf models in China.

(more…)

Chevrolet Makes Trax as it Cruzes into Beijing

Maker has twin intros for China's big auto show.

by on Apr.20, 2014

GM global design chief Ed Welburn helps reveal the new Chevrolet Cruze.

General Motors stages a Broadway Style extravaganza at one of Beijing’s newest landmarks – the Water Cube from the 2008 Olympics – for the debut of the new Chevrolet Cruze.

The new model, which will eventually make its journey to the U.S., as well, shared the spotlight with the new Chevrolet Trax introduced earlier in the week at the New York Auto Show.

Cruze in for a Free Subscription!

“China is a very important opportunity for the Chevrolet brand,” said Alan Batey, the head of the Chevrolet brand worldwide, as the Cruze rolled out.

(more…)

Russian Auto Market Holds Too Much Promise to Ignore

by on Apr.17, 2014

The Datsun on-DO is the brand's first offering in Russia. It is a four-door, five-seat family sedan.

Despite the air of perpetual crisis that hangs over the country, Russia is too simply too large and too important a market for carmakers to ignore, experts said during a conference on “Understanding Russia’s Current and Future Automotive Industry” at the University of Michigan.

“The Russian market is going to be larger than Germany,” said John Branch, a professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business told a conference sponsored by U-M’s Transportation Research Institute this week.

We'll Keep You Up-to-Date!

Automakers, particularly those with global ambitions, simply can’t afford to ignore the Russian market despite its volatile nature, added Branch, who noted the structure of the Russian auto industry is in flux as the demand for imports increases despite barriers imposed by the Russian government. (more…)

Critics Demand Barra Come Clean about Ignition Decisions

Open letter calls for full disclosure by GM’s CEO.

by on Apr.17, 2014

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Automotive Safety, penned a letter with Joan Claybrook, president emeritus of Public Citizen, demanding GM CEO Mary Barra be transparent about the decision-making process that produced the faulty ignition switches in its small cars.

General Motors executives knew much more about the design flaw in the ignition switch installed in its small cars during the past decade much earlier than GM has officially acknowledged, according to two long-standing critics of the auto industry’s efforts at automotive safety.

In an open letter to GM CEO Mary Barra, Joan Claybrook, president emeritus of Public Citizen, and Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said it was time GM came clean about how and when the decisions were made to use the cheaper ignition switch and to replace them half a decade later without changing the part number or notifying federal regulators, which could have triggered a recall by GM.

On Top of the News!

GM had no immediate comment on the Claybrook-Ditlow letter. (more…)

GM Asks Courts to Limit Ignition Switch Fallout

Maker wants protection from pre-bankruptcy liabilities.

by on Apr.16, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra told a Senate subcommittee the company isn't sure if it will set up a fund for the victims of the company's faulty ignition switches.

General Motors is moving to limit its potential legal fallout created by faulty ignition switches that have been blamed for 13 deaths.

GM’s lawyers have asked federal judges in jurisdictions around the U.S. to shield the company from any legal claims for conduct that occurred before its 2009 bankruptcy. The ignition-switch problems germinated during the nine years before GM filed for bankruptcy in mid-2009 and GM has asked federal courts from California to Texas to block new lawsuits.

Keeping the Record Straight!

As part of the strategy, GM said it also intends to file a motion in federal bankruptcy judge in New York, seeking a court order stopping plaintiffs from suing the company over the ignition switch recall, according to court documents. (more…)