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Ford Hints at SUV, Crossover Product Future

Maker seems focused Wrangler-like option.

by on Feb.12, 2016

Could this Ford Bronco concept shown a decade ago could serve as a template for a new SUV.

With the industry undergoing what many product planners now thinks is a permanent shift toward utility vehicles of every description, Ford Motor Co., which kicked off the boom in sport utility vehicles, back in the 1990s, offered a few broad hints about the four new SUVs and crossovers it is planning to introduce during the next four years.

Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of marketing, sales and service, said he could not offer any details about the vehicles that are in the company’s product pipeline. But he did offer some suggesting about what Ford’s future product portfolio.

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“We don’t have a mini (crossover) that could slip into the company’s line-up underneath the Ford Escape,” LaNeve said. (more…)

Ram Bolstering Off-Road Reputation with New Truck

Brand catering to needs of non-tarmac users.

by on Feb.12, 2016

Ram debuted its 2017 2500 4x4 Off-road at the Chicago Auto Show. The brand is looking to make inroads with off-roaders.

With truck sales booming and competition intensifying, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is looking for a way to shore up its position with truck enthusiasts of all kinds who either enjoy or need to take their trucks off road.

“Truck customers require a wide range of off-road capability options and Ram trucks are designed and engineered for the full spectrum,” said Bob Hegbloom, head of the Ram Truck Brand. “We want to be the leader in off-road,” he added during a press conference during previews for the upcoming Chicago Auto Show.

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“Anyone who spends most days on the outskirts of a job site or the weekend on the shore of a favorite fishing hole will benefit from the standard features on our new Ram 2500 4×4 Off-road Package,” he said. (more…)

Volvo Targeting 800,000 in Global Sales by 2020

Kerssemakers says new small cars are next growth area.

by on Feb.12, 2016

Volvo CEO Lex Kerssemakers outlined the maker's plans to develop a family of small cars it will share with Geely Motors.

Volvo is pushing ahead with the development of a new family of small cars that it will share with its Chinese parent, Geely Motors.

The work on new architecture will is being completed at Volvo’s Technical Center in Gothenburg, Sweden, Lex Kerssemakers, president and chief executive officer of Volvo Cars USA, said after a luncheon speech to the Economic Club of Chicago.

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“We had the expertise in Gothenburg, but the modular architecture, which will support several different models in the future, will be shared with other Geely’s growing automotive empire,” said Kerssemakers, who headed up Volvo’s product planning staff at one point during his long career with Volvo. (more…)

SUV Sales to Remain High, Ford’s LaNeve Says

Ford planning four all-new SUVs.

by on Feb.11, 2016

Ford's Mark LaNeve said today that he expects SUV sales to remain strong and Ford plans to add four new iterations to capitalize on the trend.

With the popularity of sport utility vehicles expanding worldwide among young and older buyers, Ford Motor Co. plans to capitalize on the trend by adding four new SUV nameplates to the company’s product portfolio within the next four years.

Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of marketing, sales and service, said during breakfast meeting that opened the Chicago Auto Show that demographics hold the key to the continued growth of the SUV market.

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“As members of the 80-million strong millennial age group enter their prime child rearing years, a leading indicator of more SUV sales, nearly 80 million aging baby boomers continue to prefer their SUVs,” he said. (more…)

Toyota Pays $21.9 Million to Settle Discrimination Charges

Maker's finance arm charged minorities more for auto loans.

by on Feb.11, 2016

Toyota Motor Credit, the automaker's captive finance arm, agreed to pay a $21.9 million fine over discriminatory lending practices.

Toyota Motor Credit agreed to pay a $21.9 million fine to settle complaints by federal agencies that it used discriminatory policies when setting interest rates for auto loans for minorities.

TMC, the automaker’s finance arm, also agreed to change its pricing and compensation system by reducing dealer discretion and accompanying financial incentives to mark up interest rates as part of the agreement it reached with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and U.S. Department of Justice. The CFPB, a new agency created by reforms of the financial system promoted by the Obama administration, said Toyota Motor Credit has agreed.

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The fine is restitution to thousands of African-American and Asian and Pacific Islander borrowers who paid higher interest rates than white borrowers for their auto loans, without regard to their creditworthiness, as a result of its past practices. (more…)

GM’s Pickup Problem: No More Capacity

Ford, Ram enjoying strong sales on highly profitable trucks too.

by on Feb.10, 2016

Demand for the Chevrolet Silverado is outstripping the automaker's ability to build them.

Trucks have been leading the record-setting sales run of the last 12 months and now one automaker is facing a pleasant problem: General Motors is running out of space to build trucks to meet consumer demand.

Sandor Piszar, director of truck marketing for GM’s Chevrolet Division, said during a briefing ahead of the Chicago Auto Show, that all of GM’s truck plants – Flint, Michigan; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Wentzville, Missouri; and Silao, Mexico – are currently running flat out to fill the demand for GM’s pickup trucks.

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The demand covers everything the maker builds, ranging from the heavy-duty pickup in Flint to the full-size pickup trucks in Fort Wayne, and the new midsized pickup in Wentzville, which also builds full-size vans. All three plants are running on three shifts seven days per week, Piszar said, leaving GM little room to build more, he said. (more…)

UAW’s Williams Renews Attack on Trans Pacific Partnership

Ford also coming out against the deal.

by on Feb.08, 2016

UAW President Dennis Williams is reiterating the union's disdain for the Trans Pacific Partnership.

United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams renewed his assault on the Trans Pacific Partnership by noting the union now regrets its support for the U.S.-Korea trade pack that was negotiated by the Obama administration.

The TPP is the one of the key items on President Barack Obama’s agenda during his final term in office and enjoys rare support across the political parties as both Democrats and Republicans have spoken out in favor of the proposed agreement, which still needs to be finalized.

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Trade pacts, such as TPP, have hurt American workers, he asserted. NAFTA, the trade pact covering Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, has been a disaster for American workers, said Williams, noting the trade pact have left untouched a “corrupt” system that imposes contracts on workers negotiated by state-sponsored unions that never have to answer to their members. (more…)

GM, Ford Set China Sales Records in January

Buick leads GM to new monthly benchmark.

by on Feb.08, 2016

The Buick Envision helped General Motors set a new January sales record in China.

Both General Motors and Ford set January sales records in China despite the continuing concerns about the Chinese economy.

In January, retail sales by General Motors and its joint ventures in China were up 7.3% year over year to a record 421,023 vehicles, as Buick posted its best-ever monthly sales, GM officials said. Demand was given a boost by the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday in early February.

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Buick sales in January grew 39% from a year earlier to 138,907 units. Monthly sales of the brand exceeded 130,000 units for the first time, led by the Excelle GT and Envision SUV. Sales of the Envision more than doubled last month year over year. (more…)

New Vehicle Fuel Economy Average Rises in January

Improvement reverses recent trend.

by on Feb.05, 2016

The new vehicle fuel economy average improved in January despite 58% of those vehicles sold being trucks and SUVs.

Trucks and sport utility vehicles accounted for more than 58% of the new vehicles sold in the U.S. during January, but the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold actually improved, according to the monthly survey by the University of Michigan.

Despite some of the lowest gasoline prices in a decade, the average fuel economy or window-sticker value of new vehicles sold last month increased to 25.1 mpg from 24.9 mpg in December—the first time it had fallen below 25 mpg in nearly two years, U-M reported.

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“This increase likely reflects the month-to-month seasonal decrease in sales of pickup trucks and SUVs,” said Michael Sivak, a research professor at UMTRI. (more…)

FCA Plans to Trek into India with Jeep This Year

Wrangler, Grand Cherokee first products to be offered.

by on Feb.04, 2016

FCA will begin selling Jeep Wranglers in India some time later this year, according to the automaker.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV plans to start selling the Jeep brand in India by the middle of this year.

Jeep, which opened a plant in China, the world’s largest vehicle market just year, said it will expand to India with a line-up of three SUVs made in the United States, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the high performance Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Jeep introduced the at the 2016 Auto Expo in New Delhi.

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“Our aggressive expansion in international markets is one of the key drivers behind our current global sales momentum,” said Mike Manley, head of Jeep Brand, FCA, and chief operating officer of the Asia Pacific Regional Operations Group. (more…)