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Court Upholds GM’s Bankruptcy Shield from Death Claims

But judge leaves potential loophole for plaintiffs.

by on Apr.16, 2015

The faulty GM ignition switch could inadvertently move to the Off position, causing a crash.

General Motors has been handed a major victory in its effort to shield itself from lawsuits linked to the defective ignition switches it used in older vehicles.

A federal judge has ruled the “new GM” is not liable for death and injury claims for crashes that occurred prior to the automaker’s emergence from bankruptcy in July 2009 – even in the event of misconduct by the “old GM.” But ruling from the federal bench in New York, Judge Robert Gerber did say owners could seek damages if they prove vehicles equipped with those switches have lost value since GM exited Chapter 11.

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The automaker hailed the news which, it said, “doesn’t establish any liability against GM.” It also noted that the burden will be on plaintiffs to prove any new claims for losses.

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GM Falling Behind Nissan-Renault in Global Sales

Ghosn predicted move to third place in future.

by on Apr.15, 2015

The future is now when it comes to Renault-Nissan's Carlos Ghosn's prediction that the alliance would be the third-largest automaker by 2018.

Earlier this year, Carlos Ghosn, the leader of Renault-Nissan, said he expected his company would eventually become the third-largest automaker in the world by 2018.

Ghosn set the 2018 target during the Geneva Motor Show this year, but the future is now based on early 2015 sales results. The automaker has squeaked past General Motors through the first two months of 2015 by selling 1.185 million vehicles worldwide: 2,000 more vehicles than the Detroit-based automaker.

Global Insight!

GM is actually looking at a possibility of finishing No. 5 worldwide by the end of the year of Hyundai-Kia can muster a little bit of a push. The Korean conglomerate is just 36,000 units beyond GM through February. Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota Baiting Mirai Buyers with Free Fuel

Japanese maker plans to have car in showrooms in October.

by on Apr.15, 2015

The Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle will hit showrooms in the U.S. this fall with free fuel to buyers.

Automakers have been providing a variety of incentives to entice buyers for decades, but Toyota’s trying to kill two birds with one stone when it comes to its new Mirai: free fuel.

The Mirai is a small four-door sedan that uses hydrogen fuel cell to generate the electricity that drives the car 300 miles on a full tank – a tank that takes just five minutes to refuel.

New Car News!

First, everyone likes free fuel, but with potential Mirai buyers it’s almost a must. While hydrogen may be the most abundant gas on Earth, it’s almost non-existent when talking about fueling up a vehicle. California, where most of the Mirais will be sold, has the largest number of public fueling stations with nine, but that number is expected to rise to 20 by the end of the year. Read the rest of this entry »

Cadillac Boosts Performance, Cuts Price of ELR Plug-In Hybrid

Move follows cut in price of Chevrolet Spark EV.

by on Apr.15, 2015

Cadillac is looking to stimulate sales of the ELR with a price cut and a power increase.

Cadillac is boosting the performance of its ELR coupe even as it cuts the price of the plug-in hybrid in a bid to boost so far anemic sales of the compact battery vehicle.

The 2016 Cadillac ELR will get 25% more torque and horsepower, enough to launch it from 0 to 60 in just 6.4 seconds. At the same time, its base price will dip to $65,995 prior to U.S. federal tax credits of $7,500. Whether that will help move the needle is far from certain, however.

Electrifying!

Cutting the price on plug-in electrics is in vogue these days. In fact, GM stablemate Chevy announced yesterday it was cutting the price on the Spark by 6% as well as offering a low-mileage lease of $139 a month. Tesla, perhaps the closest comparison to the ELR in terms of segment, introduced a base model for its Model S lineup with a price that is $10k lower than the next best model in the maker’s line-up. Ford, Hyundai, Kia and BMW have all announced low-priced lease options or prices cuts on their EVs to try to stimulate sales. Read the rest of this entry »

Ford, Toyota to Invest Combined $3.5 Bil in Mexico

Makers join growing list of makers expanding ops South of the Border.

by on Apr.15, 2015

Toyota confirms it will build the next-generation Corolla model at a new plant in Mexico.

Following announcements of major investments in both Mexico and India, Ford Motor Co. is set to make a $2.5 billion bet closer to home. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Co. has confirmed recent reports that it will invest $1 billion in a new Central Mexican plant to produce its compact Corolla model.

Toyota and Ford will join a growing list of manufacturers either entering or expanding operations in Mexico which is now one of the world’s largest producers of automobiles. That includes carmakers from Europe, Asia and Detroit, as well.

Your Source for Auto News!

While Ford is not officially confirming the announcement — stating it “cannot comment on future product or manufacturing plans” – Toyota North American CEO Jim Lentz said the new Corolla plant is part of a “strategic re-thinking of how and where we build our products will create new opportunities for our company, our business partners and our team members across the region.”

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Fiat Rolls Out New Version of 500c

Brand looks to play on history to draw buyers.

by on Apr.15, 2015

FCA introduced its 2015 Fiat 500c 1957 Edition hatchback and cabrio models.

The Fiat 500 has earned more than its share of plaudits for its eye-catching design.

The car is instantly recognizable and has certain curb appeal long absent from workaday sedans. But even Fiat Chrysler Automobile diehards admit privately that the 500 is probably too small for the typical American consumer, who wants more room and more power.

Stay Informed!

But the car’s diminutive size hasn’t stopped marketing experts at FCA US from making a valiant effort to sell new and different versions of the 500 to American customers. The latest version, which is making its debut in time for spring and summer when the interest in top-down driving peaks, is the new 1957 Edition Cabrio with its soft top. Read the rest of this entry »

GM Slashes Price of Chevy Spark EV

Maker is the latest to try price cut to boost sluggish sales.

by on Apr.15, 2015

The Chevy Spark can launch to 60 in 8 sec.

General Motors is slashing the price of its slow-selling Chevrolet Spark battery-electric vehicle in a bid to boost demand.

It’s the latest in a string of price cuts by automakers struggling to build interest in plug-based vehicles, and the announcement comes just days after GM confirmed it will next month shut down production of its Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid due to lack of demand. It will re-launch production with the second-generation Volt that was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year.

Plug In!

“Chevrolet is committed to making EV driving more accessible, affordable and fun” Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet Car and Crossover Marketing, said in a statement. “Spark EV customers will benefit from an impressive blend of technology, capability and low cost of ownership, now at an even more impressive price.”

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Slow Jeep Repairs Could Create Problems for Fiat Chrysler

Only 4% of recalled Grand Cherokee models have been fixed.

by on Apr.14, 2015

Mandated repairs on 1.56 million recalled Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee SUVs are not being completed as quickly as expected.

This coming June will mark the second anniversary of a settlement between Chrysler and federal regulators that resulted in the recall of 1.56 million Jeeps due to a potential fire hazard.

But so far, only a tiny fraction of the vehicles covered by that service action – 4% of the Jeep Grand Cherokees and 27% of the Jeep Liberty models – have actually been brought in for repairs. By comparison, about 75% of the vehicles subject to recalls in the U.S. are typically repaired within 18 months.

Automotive Insight!

The slow response rate has generated concerns in Washington where Mark Rosekind, the new chief at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has been hinting the agency might re-open its investigation. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Fiat Chrysler Looking for a Merger Partner?

Deal may occur before CEO Marchionne’s ’19 retirement.

by on Apr.14, 2015

FCA CEO Marchionne appears interested in pulling off another major deal before his 2019 retirement.

Senior officials at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are sending out signals that they’d like to find another partner, barely a year after the trans-Atlantic alliance was officially completed. Such a deal could be come together – if a willing partner can be found – before CEO Sergio Marchionne’s planned retirement in 2019, according to various sources.

Marchionne has made a number of comments in recent months underscoring his desire to address fundamental problems that could limit FCA’s ability to compete in an increasingly competitive global auto industry.

We Have a Deal for You!

Now, FCA Chairman John Elkann has weighed in. While he didn’t specifically say his company was on the prowl, Elkann wrote shareholders at Exor, which owns 29.2% of FCA, “I’m convinced that the industry needs and will see more consolidation in the future.”

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Car as Art: Automakers Redesign the Bicycle, Sofa – Even the Sandwich

Makers show their artistic side at Italian fashion event.

by on Apr.14, 2015

Ford's design team created non-automotive products based on the GT. The best designs, including this guitar, are on display at the Salone del Mobile in Italy.

It’s not unusual for car aficionados to claim that cars are art. In fact, top auto designers usually attend the world’s best design schools before they are scooped up by auto companies.

While most of the time, their creativity shows up atop four wheels, this week artists from Ford, Mazda and Mini are displaying their artistic creations at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy.

Design News!

Ford designers were challenged by the maker’s creative chief, Moray Callum, to produce non-automotive projects for the show. Read the rest of this entry »