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GM Smacked with New Lawsuit Alleging 29 Deaths

Maker’s crashworthiness honor offset by new suit.

by on Jul.30, 2014

A new lawsuit against GM claims the compensation fund designed Kenneth Feinberg doesn't go far enough.

General Motors’ ignition switch recall has triggered a new lawsuit in which the plaintiffs are claiming that 29 people have died and 627 were injured in accidents in which the defective part was a factor.

The lawsuit, Abney vs. General Motors, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which is emerging as the venue for cases against GM. The quasi-official number of deaths blamed on the defective ignition switch now stands at 13, according to figures from GM and the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration.

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The suit also attacks GM’s efforts to settle out of court with injured motorists through a procedure established by New York attorney Kenneth Feinberg. It covers claims that would not be eligible for the program, according to Robert Hilliard, the lawyer who filed the suit. The ineligible claims, according to Hillard, include accidents involving cars not among the 2.6 million vehicles initially recalled for switch issues and accidents in which the car’s airbags deployed. (more…)

US Gas Prices Take Big Dive Last Month

Drop comes despite unrest in Middle East.

by on Jul.29, 2014

Not that drivers of the Jetta Hybrid were getting gas often, but now they're paying even less as prices at the pump have dropped.

Despite the tension in the Middle East, gasoline prices have dropped more than 16 cents per gallon in the past month, according to records compiled by AAA.

Gasoline prices vary by region but overall the average price for regular gasoline dropped more than 9 cents per gallon in the two weeks ended July 25 to $3.5795 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc., which surveys about 1,200 gasoline stations around the country.

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A recent U.S. Energy Information Association report indicated the average price of crude oil dropped by $1.04 per barrel and estimated average price of regular gasoline fell by 6 cents per gallon across the United States in the past week and is now 10.7 cents per gallon cheaper from a year ago before the turmoil began.

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Fiat’s Vans Concept 500 Tapping “Board” Culture

New vehicle latest to try to draw surfing fans.

by on Jul.28, 2014

The Fiat 500L-Vans concept is designed to supplant the traditional "woody" as the vehicle of choice for surfing fans.

Cars and surfing enjoy a special relationship on the beach and in popular culture, especially in Southern California where vehicles such as Woody wagons became embedded local lore. Fiat recently partnered with Vans adding another vehicle to the list of makers looking to capitalize on the “board” culture: the Fiat 500L-Vans concept.

Over the years, makers have sought to capitalize on the connection by customizing vehicles with surfers and their fans in mind. The Honda Element was the most recent stab at it and and Chrysler also brought out a Woody version of the PT Cruiser.

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Fiat’s new concept is making a play for the surfing crowd and it was unveiled over the weekend at the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California. (more…)

US Car Market Showing No Signs of Cooling Down

SUVs, crossovers and luxury vehicles drive demand.

by on Jul.28, 2014

Strong demand for products like Altima mean Nissan will deliver a double-digit July sales gain.

It may be an unexpectedly cool summer in much of the country but you wouldn’t know by looking at July’s sales numbers – which have many industry observers expecting the rest of the year to remain hot.

Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co. chief executive officer, noted the general economy appears steady, which should lead to strong sales during the second half of the years. Chuck Stevens, General Motors chief financial officer, also said the second half of the year looks very promising.

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Preliminary data suggest that July new-car sales will be up about 12% over year-earlier numbers, putting the industry on track for its best July since 2006, well before the U.S. economy began to collapse. Overall sales should reach about 1.46 million for the month, according to new forecasts from TrueCar and Kelly Blue Book, and that translates into a seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, of 16.6 million to 16.7 million, roughly a million ahead of total sales in 2013.

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Chinese Newspaper Lauds GM for Social Responsibility

GM China’s efforts to cut pollution, helping people nets honor.

by on Jul.25, 2014

General Motors China was recognized today as the fourth-best Fortune 500 company in the area of corporate social responsibility at the 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Conference in Beijing.

For the second consecutive year, Southern Weekly, an influential Chinese newspaper, honored General Motors China as one of the top companies in the area of corporate social responsibility for its civic spirit and sensitivity to the environment.

The Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Conference, which is sponsored by Southern Weekly, helps increase awareness of CSR among companies while honoring their significant achievements.

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Southern Weekly is described by western journalists as one of China’s most outspoken and independent news organizations; however, it is part of provincial newspaper group supervised by Guangdong Provincial Party Committee of China’s ruling Communist Party in Southern China in a province that has been leader in modernizing and expanding the Chinese economy. (more…)

Ford, GM Take Hits Due to Unrest in Russia, South America

Political unrest causing markets to slow, pinching profitability.

by on Jul.25, 2014

Ford isn't moving as many vehicles in Russia due to economic sanctions levied against the country for its involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.

Political and economic uncertainty in Eastern Europe and South America hit the bottom lines of General Motors and Ford during the second quarter, acknowledged executives the Detroit-area automakers.

The second quarter results from Russia and South America were disappointing but neither company showed any signs of walking away from either market.

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Even Russia, which is embroiled in a conflict in the Ukraine that has led to the European Union and the United States impose economic sanctions that have slowed the Russian economy, neither company is prepared to walk away from their Russian partners or the substantial investments they have made in the Russian market. (more…)

GM Earnings Crushed by Recall Costs

"Nevertheless, we remained profitable," said CEO Barra.

by on Jul.24, 2014

Earnings on new full-size models, such as this 2015 Chevy Tahoe, should boost GM's earnings going forward, analysts forecast.

The fallout from the ignition switch recall and other safety-related problems cut deeply into General Motors’ profitability for the second quarter, the maker reported.

Net income for the March to June period tumbled to just $200 million, or 11 cents per share, compared to a $1.2 billion net for the second quarter of 2013. The GM balance sheet was hammered during the latest period by one-time costs, most of them related to ongoing recalls, as well as for setting up a new victims’ compensation fund. Earnings before the recall-related charges would have been 58 cents a share.

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“The ignition switch put tremendous pressure on our earnings,” GM chief executive officer Mary Barray told analysts and reporters. “But nevertheless we remained profitable.”

Barra also said the sweeping recalls, which so far this year cover 29 million units, have not deterred GM from pushing ahead with its effort to improve its competitive position around the world.

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Ford Posts $1.3 Billion Profit in 2Q

Strong North American sales bolsters quarterly results.

by on Jul.24, 2014

Ford reported net income of $1.3 billion for the second quarter this year. Much of that came from strong results in North America.

Ford Motor Co. posted net income of $1.3 billion in the second quarter due in large measure to strong results in North America. Additionally, the company turned a profit in Europe for the first time in three year and Asia Pacific sales remained strong.

However, South America continues to be a drag on the company’s results. Ford Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields said the company had a very good second quarter and the company was looking forward to a series of major launches not only in North America but also in Europe.

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“To put in perspective, we are in a growth mode,” Fields said during a conference call with reporters and analysts. (more…)

Consumer Reports Gives Buick Regal Thumbs Up

Buyers echoing sentiment as sales up 40% this year.

by on Jul.23, 2014

Consumer Reports recently gave the Buick Regal a glowing review, putting it in a tie for second-best vehicle in its segment.

Buick was at death’s door just a few years ago. A staid image and a mandate to cut down the number of brands in its portfolio, it looked like General Motors’ oldest nameplate would be heading to the scrap heap of automotive history.

However, GM surprised everyone by keeping Buick and repositioning the brand. And now those efforts are paying off in spades as Consumer Reports recently gave the Buick Regal a big pat on the back and sales of the Regal and the brand are both up double digits.

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Consumer Reports, after testing the Regal and the new Volvo S60, described both cars as serious competition for the more prestigious competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Apparently, the magazine was a bit late to the party as Regal sales are up nearly 40% through the first half of this year. Buick’s overall sales are up 12.5% in the first half of the year. (more…)

Ford’s Fields Makes Mark with New Appointments

CEO replaces Farley as head of Lincoln.

by on Jul.22, 2014

Kumar Galhotra is succeeding Jim Farley as President of Lincoln. Farley remains in charge of Ford's global marketing efforts.

Less than a month after taking over as Ford Motor Co.’s CEO, Mark Fields is making his first tweak to the company’s leadership team by replacing Jim Farley as the head of Lincoln with Kumar Galhotra, who had been vice president of engineering. The pair will report to Fields and the change is effective Sept. 1.

Farley, who came to Ford from Toyota with a reputation as a brilliant marketer and will remain in charge of global marketing, was charged with creating a new approach to customers for the company’s struggling luxury unit.

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However, as Lincoln rebuilds and expands it’s only natural that the brand has a dedicated leader, Ford officials said. (more…)