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Russia Continues to Attract New Auto Investments

BMI report shows Central and Eastern Europe growing.

by on Jul.25, 2017

Daimler and Russian officials show off the model for the new Mercedes-Benz plant just outside Moscow.

A recovery in Russia and the Russian-leaning economies of the Commonwealth of Independent States is attracting a growing share of automotive-related investment across the Emerging Europe region, which includes Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“Companies are being attracted by the prospects of recovery in these markets while in other parts of Emerging Europe investments seem more focused on consolidating SUV production and meeting the demand for more complex new technologies,” according to a new report from BMI Research, a subsidiary of Fitch Group of companies.

Global Auto News!

BMI’s latest investment round-up of countries in the Emerging Europe region highlighted 21 new investment projects that were either announced or inaugurated in the second quarter of 2017. Reversing trends that saw investment flows into Russia slow dramatically after the 2008–09 financial crisis and hit again by the start of conflict in the eastern Ukraine in 2014.  (more…)

BMW Goes Outside Auto Industry for Marketing Boss

New leader replaces Ian Robertson next year.

by on Jul.24, 2017

BMW is adding Pieter Nota to its Board of Management to oversee its marketing and sales functions on Jan. 1.

Facing any number of challenges, BMW has elected to turnover responsibility for the company’s image to an executive from outside the automobile industry.

Pieter Nota will join the Board of Management of BMW AG as the head the division responsible for sales and brand BMW as well as aftersales for the BMW Group on Jan. 1, 2018. Nota’s background is in marketing across a variety of non-automotive industries.

Global Auto News!

The changeover comes at a time when BMW is facing slowing sales in the U.S., aggressive competition in China, crimped sales of electric vehicles and a global shift away from passenger cars where it has always been strong to sport utility vehicles and crossover. (more…)

UAW Eyeing Production Levels at US Plants

Union officials about rising import levels.

by on Jul.21, 2017

GM CEO Mary Barra and UAW President Dennis Williams talk regularly about the number of vehicles GM imports from other countries, Williams said.

The United Auto Workers union is keeping an eye on General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles concerned about the potential threat to plants and jobs from slumping U.S. car sales and by increased imports from countries like China.

“We are talking to (GM) right now about the products that they currently have” at underused car plants such as Hamtramck in Michigan and Lordstown in Ohio, and whether they might be replaced with newer, more popular vehicles such as crossovers, UAW president Dennis Williams said.

Beyond the Headlines!

“We are tracking it (and) we are addressing it,” said Williams noting he meets quarterly with GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. The discussion about replacement products is ongoing. (more…)

Volvo, Geely Create Joint Venture Aimed at EV Market

New deal helps reduce development costs.

by on Jul.21, 2017

Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson expects development and production costs to drop with the new joint venture with Geely and Lynk.

With its profits climbing 21.4% in the first half of 2017, Volvo Cars is planning to set up a new joint venture technology company with Geely Holding. The new deal is designed to reduce development and production costs.

Volvo’s venture with the Chinese car group is to “share existing and future technology, deepen industrial synergies and provide the economies of scale that will allow them to more rapidly develop next generation electrified vehicle technology,” the two companies said in a joint statement.

Global Auto News!

Volvo Cars, Geely Auto and Lynk & Co. will share vehicle architecture and engine technologies through cross licensing arrangements of technologies managed by the new joint venture. The new partners will also commonly sourcing components cutting procurement costs. (more…)

New Car Sales Have Peaked in US, Analyst Says

Boston Consulting Group said last year’s record is safe.

by on Jul.20, 2017

Boston Consulting Group predicts fewer people will be heading to dealers to buy new cars this year.

New vehicle sales in the U.S. have clearly peaked and are unlikely to exceed the 17.5 million-unit level posted in 2016 in the next decade, according to Xavier Mosquet, senior partner in the Boston Consulting Group’s Detroit office.

“We’ve hit peak auto (sales),” said Mosquet, who notes that BCG has revised its forecast for 2017 and expects sales to settle in at 16.8 million units, which is at the low-end of the predicted range of current sales forecasts for the industry.

Sales News!

“The U.S. market for vehicles has peaked, at least for the foreseeable future,” the group noted in a new report prepared for MEMA, the organization representing automotive suppliers in the original equipment and aftermarket. (more…)

GM Invests in Autonomous Driving Software Developer

Detroit automaker joins BMW, Toyota in supporting Nauto.

by on Jul.20, 2017

General Motors invested an undisclosed sum in Nauto, an autonomous driving software developer.

General Motors Co has joined a long list of investors in a new Silicon Valley startup called Nauto, which is developing software for self-driving vehicles.

Palo Alto, California-based Nauto said this week that it closed a new funding round, led by Japan’s Softbank and venture capital firm Greylock Partners. It also has attracted financial support from companies such as BMW and Toyota Motor Corp, as well as the German insurance firm Allianz.

News Now!

Automakers have been scouring the tech world both in the U.S. and abroad for partners with technology that could potentially be used on self-drive vehicles. They have been willing to invest significant sums in new ventures targeting the development of autonomous vehicles to keep pace with new entries into the automotive field such as Tesla and Google/Alphabet. (more…)

Big Changes to NAFTA Could Put Big Hurt on US Consumers

Study shows automakers could see a big increase in costs.

by on Jul.19, 2017

The Big Three automakers would like NAFTA to remain status quo; however, the Trump administration is renegotiating the deal next month.

The proposed border adjustment tax and withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement are unlikely to achieve President Donald Trump’s goals of keeping manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and could actually hurt manufacturing in the process.

Those moves by Trump, if enacted, wouldn’t reverse the trend of moving manufacturing jobs to low-cost countries and could potentially harm the U.S. motor vehicle industry by driving up the cost of new vehicles by hundreds of dollars and leading to the elimination of thousands of jobs in the U.S., a new study found.


The study, commissioned by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) and conducted independently by the Boston Consulting Group examined the real-world implications of a border tax and changes to NAFTA on the motor vehicle sector, which now depends on an integrated supply chain the depends on plants in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. (more…)

Hyundai Struggles as New Vehicle Market Changes

Sales continue to fall as maker awaits new crossovers.

by on Jul.19, 2017

Hyundai is a latecomer to the SUV and crossover over party, but the 2018 Kona aims to help remedy that problem.

One automaker under pressure from the shift away from cars is Hyundai, which has watched its sales tumble as the shift from passenger cars to utility vehicles and trucks has undercut its sales momentum this year.

Mike O’Brien, Hyundai vice president of corporate and digital product planning and development, noted Hyundai sales dropped significantly during May and June as the company elected to reduce sales to rental fleets.

Beyond the Headlines!

The sales drop followed a steady increase in Hyundai sales that reached all the way back to the 2008-2009 recession when the South Korean automaker’s sales took off, beginning a long period of growth. The steady increases in sales continued through 2016 when the company set a sales record, O’Brien said. (more…)

UAW Sets Vote at Nissan’s Mississippi Plant

Long-awaited vote coming to fruition next month.

by on Jul.18, 2017

UAW President Dennis Williams is hoping a successful vote at Nissan's plant in Canton, Mississippi, will open more southern auto plants.

Workers at Nissan’s sprawling plant in Canton, Mississippi, are tentatively scheduled to vote early next month on whether the will be represented by the United Auto Workers.

The vote, which is scheduled for Aug. 3–4, will be a reprise of 2001 vote at Nissan’s assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, which was easily won by the company.

Union News!

The company and the union, however, have feuded for years about representation at the plant in Canton, which is located in a heavily African-American corner of Mississippi where Nissan maintains it has created new economic opportunities in one of the poorest regions of the country. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Subaru Crosstrek

Redesigned crossover hitting the market at the perfect time.

by on Jul.17, 2017

Subaru's newly redesigned Crosstrek crossover is hitting the market at perhaps the perfect time.

Small crossovers are enormously popular right now so there is no doubt the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is coming to the market the wind at its back even as the Japanese brand continues chalk up new sales records month after month.

With its new sheet metal, redesigned cabin, solid chassis and steering and ability to maintain its poise on all sorts of road surfaces during a road test around the rugged Black Hills of western South Dakota, made a solid impression.

Product News!

The new Crosstrek also has all the built-in versatility that has been one of the keys to the popularity of crossover vehicles among buyers of various ages and helped CUV sales explode in the past couple of years. (more…)