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Detroit’s Big Three Struggle to Adapt to Rapidly Changing Global Auto Market

Management shake-up at Ford not likely to be the last big announcement from the Motor City this year.

by on May.22, 2017

Ford CEO Fields won't be the last Detroit exec trying to figure out how to address changes coming.

The unexpected ouster of Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields comes as one of the biggest shake-ups Detroit’s Big Three have experienced since they emerged from the Great Recession – and it highlights the challenges they face trying to adapt to a global transformation in what automakers build and how they market those products.

The appointment of Jim Hackett to replace Fields is, however, just the latest in a series of big announcements from Detroit that last week saw Ford announce plans to cut 1,400 salaried workers in North America and Europe, while General Motors said it would stop selling cars in the huge Indian market and sell off operations in South Africa.

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“As the (Detroit) Big Three look out at the landscape, they see dramatic changes coming in the concept of mobility,” says Joe Phillippi, a veteran Wall Street auto analyst and now the lead at AutoTrends Consulting. “They are desperately trying to figure out the future business model and how they will fit in.”

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Ford Shaking Up Almost Entire Senior Management Team

Changes meant to "unleash innovation" and address "underperforming parts of the business."

by on May.22, 2017

Prior to joining Ford, Jim Hackett was Steelcase CEO and served as Interim U-Michigan Athletic Director.

Scrambling to turn around declining sales and earnings and to address broad shareholder concerns, Ford Motor Co. says it will replace CEO Mark Fields while reassigning a number of other senior managers.

The decision to oust the 56-year-old Fields, architect of a broad push into new mobility services, and replace him with former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett comes just a week after Ford announced plans to eliminate 1,400 salaried jobs in North America and Asia, part of a broader $3 billion cost cutting program.

Breaking News!

Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. downplayed any sense of management turmoil in a statement confirming the news reports that had begun to appear late Sunday night, declaring, “We’re moving from a position of strength to transform Ford for the future.” (more…)

Ford CEO Fields Reportedly Out in Shake-Up

Said to be replaced by former Steelcase chief Hackett.

by on May.22, 2017

Former CEO Mark Fields tried to shift Ford's direction, but investors wanted quicker results.

Ford plans to provide additional information about its plans this morning. Check back with the TheDetroitBureau.com for the update.

Facing increasing pressure as its sales, earnings and stock price all slide, the Ford Motor Co. board of directors has reportedly ousted CEO Mark Fields, according to numerous reports and sources.

The 56-year-old Fields, who attempted to lead Ford in a new direction focusing on high technology will be replaced by former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett, according to those sources and reports. Hackett, who joined the Ford board last year had also served as interim director of the University of Michigan’s athletics program.

News Now!

The shake-up comes just weeks after Bill Ford Jr., the automaker’s chairman – and great-grandson of founder Henry Ford – told stockholders, “Look, we’re as frustrated as you are by the stock price,” adding that for he and the rest of the Ford family, “most of our net worth is tied up in the company.” (more…)

VW Wants to Win Back Enthusiasts with Array of Concepts

Six new prototypes debut at U.S., European events.

by on May.19, 2017

The VW Beetle Post Concept

Looking for something sporty but affordable? Volkswagen might have just the car for you though, for now, these six models are just concepts making their debut at two big summer events taking place in Europe and the U.S. this coming weekend.

The German maker has reason to roll out so many show cars in one big blitz. VW is still trying to recover from its diesel emissions scandal and, particularly in the States, it will no longer have those sporty oil-burners to offer anymore.

The Last Word!

But even as it shifts gears a bit, focusing more on conventional gas-powered models, it’s determined to show it has plenty to appeal to enthusiasts. Here’s what we’re seeing at both the GTI Meet in Worthersee, Austria, as well as the SOWO: European Experience in Savannah, Georgia.

SOWO features five show cars, including: (more…)

Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Others Join Japan’s Fuel-Cell Push

Plan aims to show off hydrogen power potential during 2020 Olympics.

by on May.19, 2017

Toyota's Mirai fuel-cell vehicle is part of Japan's push to get 40,000 fuel cell vehicles on Japanese roads by the end of the decade.

With the next Olympics fast approaching, the Japanese government is racing to put in place what it hopes will be the world’s most advanced, hydrogen-based highway infrastructure, and it’s getting a helping hand from the country’s three largest automakers and a number of other large companies.

Japan has laid out a plan to have 40,000 hydrogen-powered cars on its roads by the end of the decade, the number expected to jump to 200,000 by 2025 and 800,000 by 2030. It also wants to set up a network of nearly 1,000 fueling stations to support those vehicles.

Global Auto News!

But getting there won’t be easy, even proponents acknowledge. Though three manufacturers now offer fuel-cell-powered vehicles on the retail market, there are only about 1,800 FCVs on the road in Japan, according to industry data, and barely 4,000 worldwide. (more…)

Snakebit: Shelby Unveils Two Super Snake Models

Weekend tribute to bring out wide-bodied Mustang prototypes, F-150 street truck.

by on May.19, 2017

The Shelby Super Snake Wide-Bodied Mustang Concept is designed for serious road racing.

Racer, raconteur, entrepreneur, Carroll Shelby had a nearly half-century affiliation with the Ford Mustang, and almost precisely five years after his death, the company that bears his name has revealed two new high-performance models in his honor.

Fittingly, that includes both the Super Snake Mustang Concept, as well as the Ford F-150-based Super Snake Street Truck. Both will take their formal public bow at a special tribute to Shelby over the weekend, a timely event considering Shelby passed on to the great race track in the sky on May 10, 2012.

Performance!

“The ‘Shelby Super Snake’ badge carries tremendous prestige because every vehicle that wears it represents the pinnacle of performance,” proclaims Gary Patterson, president of Las Vegas-based Shelby American.

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Nissan Offers Tease of All-New 2018 LEAF EV.

“Big step up" with longer range, less quirky design.

by on May.18, 2017

Nissan teases the new Leaf's design by showing off the new EV's far less quirky headlights.

Nissan is starting to spotlight the upcoming launch of its completely redesigned Leaf battery-electric vehicle.

Make that headlight the new EV. What the second-largest Japanese makers calls a “first glimpse at the next-generation Leaf” zeroes on the new BEVs twin lamps. With an LED light bar for running lights, what appear to be twin LED headlamps look far more conventional than the bubble lights found on the current Nissan Leaf.

We Keep You Plugged In!

No surprise, Nissan is expected to make the 2018 remake a bit less quirky than the gen-one Leaf, although it will remain visually distinct from the rest of the maker’s line-up. “It’s definitely a big step up from the current car,” a high-level Nissan official tells TheDetroitBureau.com.

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Settle or Sue: U.S. Ready to Take on FCA Over Diesel Rigging Allegations

Automaker accused of using “defeat device” to meet emissions mandates.

by on May.18, 2017

The Ram 1500 turbodiesel has won a number of awards - but the EPA claims it was rigged to pass emissions tests.

The U.S. Justice Department has reportedly given Fiat Chrysler Automobiles an ultimatum: either settle allegations it rigged its diesel models to illegally pass U.S. emissions tests or be hit with a lawsuit.

With the Euro-American automaker so far fiercely challenging those claims by the government, a civil suit could be filed as early as this week, according to a report by the Reuters news service.

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Breaking News!

The automaker says it sees the threat of litigation as “counterproductive,” adding that it “will defend itself vigorously” in court, if necessary. But whether it will now back down is uncertain considering FCA management will need to weigh the potential damages – both in terms of legal costs and possible fines and penalties, as well as the hit to its image the automaker could face.

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GM Continues Global Retrenchment; Halting Sales in India, South Africa

Profitability the key goal, not sales, for CEO Barra.

by on May.18, 2017

The Indian automotive market has mushroomed, but GM determined it wouldn't be profitable to remain there.

Long the global automotive leader, General Motors is ramping up its strategy of retrenchment, CEO Mary Barra ordering it to stop selling vehicles in both India and South Africa, as well as the countries in East Africa.

The early Thursday announcement follows earlier moves by Barra, who became the industry’s first female chief executive in January 2014. She pulled out of Russia a year ago and, in March of this year, announced that GM would sell off its long-troubled European Opel/Vauxhall operations to France’s PSA.

We Track the Changes!

“As the industry continues to change, we are transforming our business, establishing GM as a more focused and disciplined company,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We are committed to deploying capital to higher return initiatives that will enable us to lead in our core business and in the future of personal mobility”

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Zetsche Offers New Look at Next-Gen Mercedes-Benz CLA

Dr. Z puts on the camouflage.

by on May.17, 2017

Dr. Z grabs a selfie along with the slightly disguised, next-gen Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

Mercedes-Benz has a lot riding on the little CLA. The little sedan proved to be one of the biggest hits in the maker’s history when it made its debut four years ago. And with a new version in the works, we’ve been scrambling to get some idea of what it will look like.

We got our first hint at the Shanghai Motor Show last month when Mercedes rolled out the Concept A, a rather thinly disguised version of the next-gen A-Class model that shares its underpinnings with the CLA, GLA sport-ute and other compact Benz models.

We Strip Off the Disguise!

Now, we’re getting another look at this downsized family thanks to Dieter Zetsche, the mustachioed CEO of Daimler AG and head of the Mercedes brand, who, in words and pics and words posted on LinkedIn, is sharing his experience driving the new small car family.

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