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Ford Profit Sharing Checks Drop to Average of $6,900

Last year’s payout was a record $8,800.

by on Jan.29, 2015

Ford's hourly workforce will see their profit-sharing checks drop by nearly $2,000 this year.

Ford Motor Co. will continue to face major challenges in the first half of 2015, but the company’s executives expect better results for the full year after a disappointing 2014.

The company’s results fell in line with earlier guidance, but the net income of $3.2 billion for 2014 is down $4 billion from last year. The obvious hit resulting from the lower profits? Profit sharing checks for the company’s more than 50,000 hourly employees in the U.S.

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They are expected to collect an average of $6,900, which is nearly $2,000 less than last year’s record payout of $8,800 to 47,000 workers. That said, it’s an improvement over 2005 through 2008 when no profit sharing checks were issued. (more…)

Ford Takes Q4 Hit Due to F-Series Changeover

Maker reports profits in line with earlier guidance.

by on Jan.29, 2015

Ford reported pre-tax profits of more than $6 billion for 2014 led largely by North America.

Ford Motor Co.’s profits cratered during the fourth quarter as moved through the changeover of the company’s popular full-size pickup truck, dropping from 75 cents per share in the same period in 2013 to a single penny per share in the final three months of 2014.

The company’s fourth quarter pre-tax profit was $1.1 billion, excluding special items. That is $197 million lower than a year ago with after-tax earnings per share at 26 cents, 6 cents lower than a year ago.

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The net income for the quarter was $52 million: a decline of $3 billion from last year. Despite the decline, the fourth quarter of 2014 was the company’s 22nd consecutive quarter of profitability, Ford executives noted. (more…)

Mercedes-Benz Taps AM General to Build R-Class SUV

Alabama plant runs out of production capacity.

by on Jan.28, 2015

Mercedes-Benz is shifting R-Class production to AM General's plant in northern Indiana.

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International’s problem is AM General LLC’s gain. The German automaker is out of manufacturing space at its Tuscaloosa, Alabama, plant so it’s tapping AM General to build the R-Class Grand Tourer at its plant in northern Indiana not far from Chicago.

Mercedes-Benz said booming sales have forced it to reorganize production of its sport utility vehicles and it plans to expand production capacity in the U.S. by utilizing the AM General plant in Mishawaka, Indiana, just outside of South Bend.

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The Mishawaka plant will join the production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, freeing up capacities at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which will then be used for the M-Class, the GL-Class and the new GLE Coupe due this summer. (more…)

Winter Storm Blasting East Coast May Temper Auto Sales

January was expected to post biggest number in nearly a decade.

by on Jan.27, 2015

Driving a Cadillac Escalade may be the only way shoppers on the East Coast could go out and buy a new car at the end of the month.

Monthly new car sales could take a hit from the fierce storm sweeping across the Northeast right now. The final weekend of the month is typically one of the best for car dealers, but big storms have a way of keeping potential buyers at home.

With what could be the highest reported January since 2006, sales are expected to increase 12.9% year-over-year. However, this could be impacted by the blizzard currently blasting parts of the East Coast, as we head into the final selling days of the month, according to analysts at Kelley Blue Book.

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Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, noted January is typically one of the slowest months of the year, due to the strong push by manufacturers prior to year-end. However, at an estimated 1.14 million units expected in January, this month could be the one of the better Januarys in some time. (more…)

Former Takata Exec Indicted in Seatbelt Price-Fixing Scam

Honda using new airbag supplier for next-gen Accord in the US

by on Jan.26, 2015

More turmoil at Takata.

Takata Corp. just received two belts of bad news: one of its former executives will face criminal charges in the U.S. and its biggest customer is cutting back on its business with the supplier.

Federal prosecutors obtained one-count indictment against Hiromu Usuda, charging him with conspiring to rig bids and fix the prices of seatbelts that Takata sold to Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Mazda Motor Corp., the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.

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The indictment is a result of a four-year probe conducted by the U.S. and Japanese governments as well as the European Union. Takata executives have also pled guilty to other charges and paid hefty fines in connection with the price fixing investigation, which has also involved several other suppler companies that feed part to American and Japanese auto parts manufacturers operating in the U.S. (more…)

First Drive: 2015 Jeep Renegade

Little SUV delivers big performance on road and off.

by on Jan.23, 2015

The 2015 Jeep Renegade builds on Jeep’s heritage. It has the Wrangler-inspired round headlights and a seven-slot grille.

The Jeep Renegade is one of the most important vehicles the Jeep brand has launched, well since last year when it introduced the Cherokee. But it’s vital to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which is eager to emerge as a truly global company.

The launch of the Renegade also means FCA has to show it can take the secret sauce that has made the Jeep brand popular over the years in the U.S. and transform it into a truly global brand. It also certainly means that the Renegade also has to show that it can live up to the brand’s reputation for agility and capability when the pavement ends.

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My distinct impression, after driving the Renegade, both on road and off is that the Renegade measures up to the other vehicles in the Jeep portfolio. The only difference is that the Renegade is smaller. (more…)

Toyota Breaks Ground on Texas Headquarters

Maker expects flood of employees to visit as part of moving decision.

by on Jan.22, 2015

Toyota Motor North America Chief Executive Officer Jim Lentz speaks at the groundbreaking of the company's new headquarters in Plano, Texas.

Toyota broke ground on its new North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, as it moves ahead with it plans to relocate its key corporate offices from Southern California to the Dallas Metroplex.

As part of the move, Toyota expects 10,000 employees and their families to visit Dallas during the next few months as they decide whether to move or stay in Southern California. Personnel experts expect roughly 40% of the Toyota employees in California, where the company had sunk deep roots, will elect to remain in California for personal reasons.

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The Toyota project is also offering a major boost to the Texas economy, which is reeling as oil prices collapse due to an over-supply of oil around the world. Oil prices have fallen 55% since last summer after Toyota announced plans to shift its North American headquarters to Dallas. (more…)

Hyundai Leads Automakers in Auto Technology Patents

Google gets headlines, but Korean maker boasts technology lead.

by on Jan.21, 2015

Google might garner the headlines, but it's Hyundai leading the way when it comes to automotive technology patents.

A new study of patents reflected just how quickly interest driver assistance and telematics technology that can help inform drivers of road and traffic conditions has grown in recent years.

South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor posted the biggest gains in the number of patent filings over the past five years, narrowing the gap with industry leader Toyota, according to the report by Thomson Reuters IP & Science.

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The automotive sector saw the number of patent filings around the world grow by double digits year-on-year during the past five years, the report said. (more…)

Renegade to Lead Jeep’s Global Expansion

Jeep’s Manley expects big results from little Jeep.

by on Jan.20, 2015

The Jeep Renegade - shown here at its Geneva debut - will be a critical piece of FCA's global focus.

The new Jeep Renegade holds the key to the brand’s global expansion.

Mike Manley, president of the Jeep brand, said that Jeep sales have tripled during the past five years expanded by revitalizing and renewing the existing product portfolio. The sales growth surprised many observers who thought it was unlikely or even impossible for Jeep to sell 1 million vehicles, the target set out in the first five-year plan laid out by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne last January.

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The Renegade, however, represents a genuine expansion of Jeep portfolio, Manley said. It also represents Jeep’s coming of age as a true global brand. (more…)

New Car Sales Expected to Rise Again in Europe This Year

Analysts warn auto sales are still “fragile” on the continent.

by on Jan.19, 2015

European auto sales are expected to rise again in 2015 with products like Opel's new Corsa available, but the market is still shaky.

Car sales in Europe are expected to grow in 2015 marking the second year in row the struggling market could post gains. However, one analyst is exercising caution regarding the increase claiming the market is still fragile.

IHS Automotive predicts sales could grow by 2.5% in 2015 after rising by 5.7% in 2014. Last year’s increase was the first in six years since the Great Recession sent the European car industry into a tailspin.

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Registrations during the year rose to 12.55 million units. The sales trend in Europe has been steady monthly increases with December marking the 16th straight month of gains. Registrations grew 4.7% year-over-year to 951,329 units in December. (more…)