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VW Turns Bigger-than-Expected 2016 Profit

Company took a $6.8 billion charge related to diesel scandal.

by on Feb.24, 2017

VW CEO Matthias Mueller said the automaker was well-positioned for the future.

Volkswagen AG executives must be thrilled that the company acquired Audi and Porsche many years ago because it was those two brands that led VW to a record underlying profit for 2016 of $15.5 billion, up 14% from 2015.

The record comes despite larger-than-predicted charges the maker needed to take due to its ongoing diesel emissions scandal. The tab for that has shot past the $21 billion mark going forward, and as a result it missed its operating profit predictions.

Earnings News!

VW took a bigger-than-expected charge of $6.8 billion for the emissions-test rigging scandal. Predictions were a charge of about $4.5 billion. (more…)

US New Car Sales Expected to Rise Slightly in February

Incentives climbing as makers seek more buyers.

by on Feb.24, 2017

New vehicle sales in February are expected to rise slightly, led by the country's ongoing love of trucks.

February auto sales in the U.S. are likely to follow the same tepid pace from last month’s results when makers saw sales dip ever-so-slightly; however, this month they are expected to rise ever-so-slightly.

Industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive believe U.S. sales will rise less than 1% in spite of record levels of enticements aimed at new vehicle buyers. February U.S. new vehicle sales will be about 1.35 million units, up 0.6% from a year earlier, the consultancies said. Analysts at Edmunds are seconding the observation.

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The seasonally adjusted annualized rate for the month will be 17.7 million vehicles, up from 17.6 million last February. The Power and LMC expect U.S. sales to eclipse last year’s record of 17.55 million units with 17.6 million in 2017. (more…)

Volkswagen Manager Arraigned on Diesel Charges in Detroit

Schmidt one of six managers being investigated.

by on Feb.23, 2017

Another former Volkswagen executive was arraigned in court: one of six under investigation.

One of the six Volkswagen executives at the center of the automaker’s diesel emmissions scandal, Oliver Schmidt, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Detroit today.

Schmidt, 48, who was arrested in Miami while traveling from Cuba to Germany, is accused of being part of a collaborative effort to intentionally develop a device that could cheat on U.S. emissions test.

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The “cheat devices” allowed VW’s diesels to pass emissions tests in a lab, but then would shut off when the vehicles weren’t in “test mode.” This allowed for better fuel economy results, but the emissions levels could be as high as 40 times what’s allowable by law. (more…)

Ghosn Stepping Down as Nissan CEO

Looking to find ways to improve the alliance.

by on Feb.23, 2017

Carlos Ghosn is now the former CEO of Nissan after stepping down. He remains chairman of the automaker as well as chairman and CEO of the Alliance.

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, is a man of his word. In 2012, he said he planned to remain as Chairman and CEO of Nissan for five more years, and now he’s stepping down as CEO of Nissan.

Longtime Nissan executive Hiroto Saikawa, who was Nissan’s chief competitive officer until last year when he became co-CEO of Nissan and chairman of the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association, replaces Ghosn as Nissan CEO. Saikawa has been with Nissan since 1977.

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“The change is significant. Carlos Ghosn has been an effective and strong leader for Nissan. In some ways, the degree of success future management has will reflect how successful Ghosn was in building the strongest management team,” said Stephanie Brinley, IHS Automotive senior analyst, in an email to TheDetroitBureau. (more…)

Tesla Posts Q4, Full-Year Loss

Company says Model 3 launching in July, full volume in September.

by on Feb.22, 2017

Tesla's Elon Musk dismissed concerns about possible delays involving the Model 3, which is slated to begin production this summer.

Tesla’s founder and leader Elon Musk dismissed concerns about the much-anticipated launch of its mainstream vehicle, the Model 3, this summer, noting the substantive differences between it and the preceding vehicles.

Musk noted during the maker’s Q4 earnings call, that the Model 3 is a much less complicated vehicle than its predecessors, lacking some of the gee-whiz technology like the self-presenting door handles.

Electrifying News!

Additionally, the company has a track record of success, in terms of production, so suppliers are providing the company with their “A-teams,” making for fewer problems and constraints. Finally, he noted that it’s the company’s fourth time through process and the learning curve will reflect that. (more…)

Winter Driving Costs Drivers $3 Billion Annually

Road salt and de-icing solutions wreak havoc on a vehicle.

by on Feb.22, 2017

U.S. drivers pay nearly $500 for each vehicle due to the affect of road salt and de-icers. Photo credit: AAA.

Winter storms have created havoc across the U.S. this year, causing travel delays, carnage on the roadways and an expected $3 billion will be spent by drivers to fix rust damage caused by road salt and other de-icing solutions.

According to AAA, drivers spent $15.4 billion during the last five years to repair the damage these answers to snowy and icy roads do to American vehicles. It averages $490 per vehicle.

In the Know!

In case you believe you are immune this is “phenomenon,” note that more than 150 million vehicles drive on roads affected by winter weather. (more…)

Big Money Earners Drive Big Money Vehicles: Like the Rest of Us

Those earning $200K most often drive a Ford F-150, study shows.

by on Feb.21, 2017

The Ford F-150 was the top selling vehicle for buyers making more than $200,000, as it was for all buyers.

The “1%” has been the topic of many discussion during the past several months: who they are, what they do, etc. However, if you’re making more than $200,000 a year, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to what’s in the garage.

Nearly any luxury vehicle would be in your range, and even some supercars … albeit used supercars. So what do people in that economic “class drive” more than any other vehicle? The Ford F-150, according to a new study.

Product News!

MaritzCX conducted the study covering the 2016 model year and discovered the F-150, which is already the most popular vehicle in the U.S., was also tops among those earning more than $200,000 a year. (more…)

Lotus on the Block Again? Geely’s Sniffing Around.

Lotus could be split from Proton in large sale.

by on Feb.20, 2017

Even as it develops new products, like the 3-Eleven, Lotus appears to be ripe to be sold, perhaps to Geely.

Poor Lotus. It almost seems like no one wants to keep the legendary British sports car maker. The company has been in and out of trouble for at least the past five years and new reports suggest it may be on the block again.

Published reports suggest that current owner, DRB-Hicom, is considering selling the company to Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd.

Global News!

DRB-Hicom owns Proton Holdings, the Malaysian automaker, which is part of the firm’s automotive holdings, all of which – including Lotus – are being shopped as a bloc. (more…)

GM, Lyft Deploying “Thousands” of Self-Driving Bolts in 2018

The new fleet arrives two years ahead of most other maker's planned ventures.

by on Feb.17, 2017

An autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV shown running at the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan.

General Motors will catapult to the top of the autonomous vehicle class in 2018 when it deploys “thousands” of self-driving EVs with its ride-sharing partner Lyft Inc., according to Reuters.

If it happens, it will be the largest test fleet of fully autonomous vehicles by a major automaker. Currently, Waymo, working in concert with Fiat Chrysler, is testing about 60 self-driving vehicles in four states.

The Last Word!

Most automakers have been pointing to 2020 as the time when they’ll have vehicles ready for autonomous driving tests on America’s roadways. Plans call for Lyft, which GM purchased a stake in last year, to use the self-driving EVs in California and other states, Reuters reported. (more…)

Unifor Demands GM Restore CAMI Jobs — Or Else

Dias joins chorus calling for NAFTA redo.

by on Feb.17, 2017

Unifor President Jerry Dias harshly criticized GM's plan to move some SUV production from Ontario to Mexico.

As automakers are trying to figure what will happen with the North American Free Trade Agreement, another saber is rattling in the ears of General Motors — Unifor is demanding the company restore 625 jobs its moving to Mexico or else.

Unifor, the Canadian auto workers union, is looking to secure as many jobs as it can as it heads into negotiations for the Ingersoll, Ontario, plant this fall. Currently there are about 2,800 employees at the facility.

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The plant builds the vast majority of GM’s best-selling crossover, the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain. However, the company announced earlier this year, Terrain production will be shifting to Mexico along with 625 jobs. (more…)