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Mueller Out, Diess In at VW – And More Shake-Ups Likely

Automaker restructuring into three groups and may be readying spin-off of truck group.

by on Apr.12, 2018

New VW CEO Herbert Diess unveiled two EVs, including the Buzz microbus, at CEO.

Matthias Mueller, the executive often given credit with steering Volkswagen Group through the worst crisis in its post-War history, has been pushed aside, replaced as CEO by Herbert Diess, the head of the flagship VW brand.

The elevation of Diess comes at a time when Volkswagen is charting a path that calls for greater sales and profits, lower costs, and a decreasing dependence on the diesels that had been a foundation, albeit a troubled one, for the company. Diess will also oversee a restructuring that will reform the parent company into three groups and could lead to the eventually spin-off of its truck and bus division.

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Shaking Things Up!

The 64-year-old Mueller was elevated to CEO in 2015, following revelations that VW had rigged its diesel engines to illegally pass emissions tests. He “has done outstanding work for the Volkswagen Group,” the automakers said in a statement, work that included dealing with angry regulators, shareholders and owners and negotiating settlements, fines and buybacks that ultimately are expected to cost VW about $30 billion in the U.S. alone.

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Waiting to Take Delivery of a Tesla Model 3? You May be Caught in a “Time Shift”

Apparently, there are no “delays” in Elon Musk’s dictionary.

by on Apr.12, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the Fremont plant.

Last we checked, there were more than 400,000 folks waiting to take delivery of the Tesla Model 3, a potential problem considering the slow ramp-up of production. But even though some potential buyers might now have to wait until 2019 – perhaps beyond – they shouldn’t consider that a delay but simply a “time shift,” according to CEO Elon Musk.

The South African-born entrepreneur famously predicted his company’s Fremont, California assembly plant would go through “production hell” when it launched its first mainstream model last July. And, indeed, it had to largely hand-build them for the rest of the year. Tesla recently released numbers that showed first-quarter production reached 2,000 a week, but even that was 20% below the company’s target. And that’s leading some frustrated shoppers to cancel their advance reservations.

News You Can Trust!

“You’ll definitely get your car,” Musk declared during an interview on CBS on Thursday, suggesting customers shouldn’t think of what’s happening as a delay, but “a six- to nine-month time shift. That’s literally it, and three of those months have already passed.” (more…)

Lincoln Planning Five New Models for China in Bid to Catch Rivals

China destined to become brand’s top market, said new Lincoln chief.

by on Apr.12, 2018

The Lincoln Aviator made its U.S. debut last month and should reach China by 2019 or 2020.

Struggling to catch up with rivals now dominating the world’s largest luxury car market, Lincoln plans to start building five new models in China by 2022, according to a report by the Reuters news service.

That’s in line with comments made to TheDetroitBureau.com by Lincoln’s new boss, Joy Falotico, who said she expects China to soon become the brand’s largest market, much as has happened for other luxury marques, including Detroit-based rival Cadillac.

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Global News!

It appears that the new models Lincoln will build in China will also be produced and marketed in other countries, including the U.S. During a backgrounder on the new Aviator SUV prior to its debut at the New York International Auto Show late last month, Falotico revealed that Lincoln plans to launch two new SUVs by 2020, “followed closely by four more vehicles.”

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All-New Lexus ES Bound for Beijing Motor Show

New model meant to "radically transform the concept of comfort for luxury consumers."

by on Apr.11, 2018

Lexus is pushing even further with the "spindle grille" design on the next ES sedan.

We’ve barely gotten past the New York Auto Show but halfway around the world, automakers are getting ready for the season’s next big event. That includes Lexus, which has dropped a partial teaser of what appears to be the next generation ES model.

While many folks think of the ES as a fairly base-level vehicle, Lexus clearly has more upscale ambitions for a model whose name, after all, is short for “Executive Sedan.” And while Toyota’s luxury brand isn’t saying much about what it will be showing in China, it appears buyers have something to look forward to.

Product News!

The new ES, Lexus hints, “aims to radically transform the concept of comfort for luxury consumers all over the world.” That may explain why the brand saved the new model for Beijing where luxury buyers have, indeed, become some of the world’s most demanding.

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Volkswagen CEO Mueller Likely to Be Replaced by VW Brand Boss Diess

Mueller helped company weather diesel scandal, but Diess seen as change agent.

by on Apr.11, 2018

Prior to being tapped to head VW after its diesel scandal broke, Matthias Mueller ran Porsche.

Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller is expected to be forced out at a management meeting Friday, with VW brand boss Herbert Diess expected to replace him, according to reports out of Germany.

The shake-up, which has apparently been in the works for months, has the blessing of some of VW’s top shareholders, as well as its chairman and powerful labor chief. It will mark the most extensive management moves since shortly after the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal broke in September 2015.

Global Business News!

VW issued a short statement noting it is considering “a further development of the management structure of the group which would also be associated with personnel changes in the board of management.” The statement hinted that changes under study “could include” the naming of a new CEO, adding that Mueller himself “showed his willingness to contribute,” suggesting the 64-year-old executive might voluntarily step aside rather than fight to retain his post. He is currently under a contract set to continue through 2020.

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China to “Significantly Lower” Tariffs on Vehicle Imports

Move could help defuse threat of trade war, but unclear how much will change.

by on Apr.10, 2018

Tesla CEO Musk is one of those celebrating China's plans to sharply reduce import auto tariffs.

Foreign automakers have long complained about the hefty tariffs levied on vehicles exported to China, but Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday said his government plans to “significantly lower” duties this year.

The move comes at a time when tensions between the U.S. and China have built to the point where many observers have been fearing the start of a potentially devastating trade war. Just Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump complained in a tweet about “STUPID TRADE” policies that allowed the Chinese to levy a 25% tariff on imported vehicles, compared to the 2.5% duties imposed by the U.S. on most foreign-made vehicles.

More Than Just Headlines!

The Chinese president’s comments leave a lot of questions to be answered before it can be clear what impact the proposed move will have on foreign automakers, but at least one U.S.-based manufacturer is pleased, Tesla CEO Elon Musk quickly tweeting, “This is a very important action by China. Avoiding a trade war will benefit all countries.”

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Ford Offers a First Look of its Next-Generation “Global” Focus

U.S. model remains under wraps.

by on Apr.10, 2018

Ford shows off the European line-up of the next-gen Focus. We'll have to wait to see U.S. versions.

Ford is lifting the kimono to give us a first look at its next-generation “global” Focus line-up – but it says it won’t reveal the U.S.-specific model until shortly before it goes on sale later next year.

The next version of the compact model will be offered in a range of body styles and trim levels, while adding a variety of tech features, including the new Ford CoPilot360 driver assistance suite. Expect roomier and more comfortable interiors, the automaker says, while adding that the next-gen Focus will feature new gas and diesel engines, as well as a new suspension.

Auto Show News!

“We’re evolving our successful One Ford strategy to find new ways to create a sporty-looking small car our customers will love,” said Jim Farley, president of Global Markets. “We’ll tailor which cars in the Focus line-up we offer in markets around the world to ensure we best meet customers’ different needs and preferences.”

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Chevy Rolls Out Radical New Face for Camaro SS, New Turbo 1LE Models

Chevrolet adds mix of styling, performance enhancements.

by on Apr.09, 2018

The Camaro Turbo will get the high-performance Chevy 1LE package for the first time for 2019.

In a truck-centric market, it takes some work to keep sedans and coupes fresh, and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to high-performance muscle cars. With that in mind, Chevrolet is introducing a host of significant updates for the sixth-generation Camaro as it preps for the 2019 model-year.

That includes a distinctive front end for the SS model, as well as the first-ever pairing of Camaro’s optional turbo engine with the 1LE performance package. It joins existing V6, SS and ZL1 1LE combinations.

Performance News!

“The restyled 2019 Camaro reaches even higher with more of the design, technology and choices that customers want,” said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet’s marketing director for Cars and Crossovers. “It’s a performer with few competitors and a pillar of Chevrolet’s energized car lineup.”

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End of the Road for Chevy Spark?

Korean plant may replace minicar with new CUV.

by on Apr.09, 2018

The Chevrolet Spark is at the end of the line as General Motors plans to end production of the small car in favor of a crossover.

Yet another familiar passenger car nameplate may be heading to the junkyard, General Motors’ troubled Korean subsidiary saying Monday that it may discontinue the Chevrolet Spark and replace it with a new crossover model.

The potential move has been prompted by the sharp decline in Spark sales, especially in the critical U.S. market, but also reflects GM’s efforts to try to turn things around in Korea. The Detroit-based automaker recently announced it will close one of four Korean plants and could shut down its operations there entirely without a mix of union concessions and government assistance.

Industry News!

The Spark is one of a growing number of sedans, coupes and other passenger car models facing an uncertain future. As TheDetroitBureau.com reported last week, the slightly larger Chevy Sonic is also likely to be pulled from production in the near future as GM shifts resources to focus more on the SUVs, CUVs and other light truck models that continue to gain market momentum. (more…)

Chevy Bets on Facelifts to Prop Up Three Passenger Cars

Malibu, Cruze and Spark get updates – but nada for slow-selling Sonic.

by on Apr.06, 2018

The 2019 Chevrolet Malibu in Premier and RS trims.

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the slow death of the passenger car. Depending on which source you trust there could be any number of sedans, coupes, hatchbacks and sports cars vanishing over the next couple years as motorists by the millions migrate to SUVs, CUVs and other light trucks.

That includes the Chevrolet Sonic, from some of the latest reports. But GM North America President Alan Batey this week insisted that the automaker isn’t about to get out of the passenger car game and, as if to ensure we take him seriously, Chevrolet has revealed the updates it plans for three key models: the Malibu, Spark and Cruze – though the Sonic is notably absent.

2019 Model News!

“We are committed to offering consumers a full lineup of products with fresh designs, new technologies and efficient powertrain options,” said Brian Sweeney, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet. “The investments we have made in Spark, Cruze and Malibu will help position the brand for success in competitive segments that still make up a significant part of the total industry.”

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