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Nissan Earnings Surge 37% on Weak Yen, Strong Sales

Net profit significantly beats analysts’ forecasts.

by on Jul.28, 2014

The Nissan Sentra has helped drive strong demand for the maker, especially in the U.S. market.

Nissan saw a big surge in earnings for the latest quarter, with analysts crediting both strong sales in China and the U.S., as well as a boost from favorable exchange rates.

The second-largest Japanese maker reported a net profit of 112 billion yen, or $1.1 billion, a 37% year-over-year increase from 82 billion. The figures far and away exceeded analysts’ consensus forecast of 85 billion yen, or $835 million, according to data gathered by FactSet.

By the Numbers!

“Nissan continued to make progress in the first three months of the fiscal year as encouraging demand for new products, benefits from recent plant investments, and improving market conditions in North America, China and Europe combined to lift both revenues and profits,” said Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

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US Car Market Showing No Signs of Cooling Down

SUVs, crossovers and luxury vehicles drive demand.

by on Jul.28, 2014

Strong demand for products like Altima mean Nissan will deliver a double-digit July sales gain.

It may be an unexpectedly cool summer in much of the country but you wouldn’t know by looking at July’s sales numbers – which have many industry observers expecting the rest of the year to remain hot.

Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co. chief executive officer, noted the general economy appears steady, which should lead to strong sales during the second half of the years. Chuck Stevens, General Motors chief financial officer, also said the second half of the year looks very promising.

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Preliminary data suggest that July new-car sales will be up about 12% over year-earlier numbers, putting the industry on track for its best July since 2006, well before the U.S. economy began to collapse. Overall sales should reach about 1.46 million for the month, according to new forecasts from TrueCar and Kelly Blue Book, and that translates into a seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, of 16.6 million to 16.7 million, roughly a million ahead of total sales in 2013.

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FBI Raids Home of Former Ford Engineer

Agents seize listening devices, email accounts.

by on Jul.25, 2014

Ford is the latest automaker subject to industrial espionage. FBI agents raided the home of a former employee seizing listening equipment and her email accounts.

Until recently, the biggest concerns U.S. automakers had about industrial espionage came from China counterfeiting their vehicles; however, a recent spate of U.S.-based employees caught using a variety of means to secure information has automakers on high alert.

The most recent incident involves a former Ford engineer, who’s home was recently raided by the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation. The agents also seized her personal email account and removed secret listening devices she planted in various places in Ford’s World Headquarters, according to a Detroit News report.

The Last Word!

A search warrant filed Friday in federal court shows the FBI seized Sharon Leach’s Gmail account, including all emails, drafts, photos, phone numbers, contacts and bank accounts tied to the account. Google provided the information Wednesday, the News reported. Read the rest of this entry »

Power to the People

Quality guru J.David Power inducted into Automotive Hall of Fame.

by on Jul.25, 2014

Dave Power, founder of J.D. Power and Associates, was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

He isn’t your typical car guy, fixated on fast cars and powerful engines. But while his game is all about numbers, he isn’t exactly a bean-counter, either. J. David Power III has carved out a unique and, appropriately, powerful position in the automotive industry. And that’s something car buyers around the world should be grateful for.

The 83-year-old former newsboy is the founder of J.D. Power and Associates (JDPA), the California-based arbiter of quality in the automotive industry – and, increasingly, a variety of other industries from airlines to telecomm. With its public studies and private research, JDPA has become a critical link between consumers and manufacturers and, according to many in the car business, can claim a major share of the credit for the dramatic improvement in automotive quality and reliability over the past four decades.

The Journal of Record!

“He gives people their voice in the marketplace,” said Bud Liebler, a former Chrysler marketing vice president, who was on hand to honor Dave Power during his induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame on Thursday night. Read the rest of this entry »

A Dozen Ways to Keep Your Car from Being Stolen

Don’t become a statistic during National Vehicle Theft Protection Month.

by on Jul.25, 2014

A car is stolen every 44 seconds in the U.S., but there steps owners to can take to lower the odds.

Despite a nationwide crackdown, car theft remains a major problem, and according to government statistics, a vehicle is stolen in the U.S. about every 44 seconds. As the title of a recent movie suggested, a thief may need as little as 60 seconds to break in and then drive off with your car.

But you don’t have to become an unhappy part of those statistics. Driver error is responsible for as much as 50% of vehicle theft, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some common sense steps can reduce the odds of having your vehicle stolen – while you can also improve the odds of recovering your car, truck or crossover if it is snatched.

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The simplest step is to always remember to lock your car – and then take the key. Even with today’s remote keyless entry systems, a surprising number of motorists still don’t bother to close their windows and lock their vehicles up. Many people will even leave their keys in a cupholder or even in the ignition. You might as well put a sign on the windshield, “Steal Me.” Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese Newspaper Lauds GM for Social Responsibility

GM China’s efforts to cut pollution, helping people nets honor.

by on Jul.25, 2014

General Motors China was recognized today as the fourth-best Fortune 500 company in the area of corporate social responsibility at the 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Conference in Beijing.

For the second consecutive year, Southern Weekly, an influential Chinese newspaper, honored General Motors China as one of the top companies in the area of corporate social responsibility for its civic spirit and sensitivity to the environment.

The Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Conference, which is sponsored by Southern Weekly, helps increase awareness of CSR among companies while honoring their significant achievements.

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Southern Weekly is described by western journalists as one of China’s most outspoken and independent news organizations; however, it is part of provincial newspaper group supervised by Guangdong Provincial Party Committee of China’s ruling Communist Party in Southern China in a province that has been leader in modernizing and expanding the Chinese economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Mercedes-Benz Downsizes with New AMG Engine

Set to debut in maker’s upcoming AMG GT sports car.

by on Jul.25, 2014

The new, 510-hp Mercedes-Benz engine will debut under the hood of the upcoming AMG GT.

With the unveiling of its all-new 4.0-liter V-8, Mercedes-Benz joins a growing trend in the automotive performance market. Smaller, it seems, is better as performance and mileage requirements collide.

Due to make its debut under the hood of the planned Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, the new twin-turbo V-8 will deliver the sort of numbers that would traditionally require a far bigger engine – along with the fuel economy traditionally not possible in a high-performance sports car.

High-Performance!

A growing number of makers are opting for features like turbocharging, and even hybridization, to generate more power out of smaller engines. And as ever-tougher fuel economy and emissions standards go into place around the world, the trend is only likely to accelerate, according to industry planners and engineers.

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Ford, GM Take Hits Due to Unrest in Russia, South America

Political unrest causing markets to slow, pinching profitability.

by on Jul.25, 2014

Ford isn't moving as many vehicles in Russia due to economic sanctions levied against the country for its involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.

Political and economic uncertainty in Eastern Europe and South America hit the bottom lines of General Motors and Ford during the second quarter, acknowledged executives the Detroit-area automakers.

The second quarter results from Russia and South America were disappointing but neither company showed any signs of walking away from either market.

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Even Russia, which is embroiled in a conflict in the Ukraine that has led to the European Union and the United States impose economic sanctions that have slowed the Russian economy, neither company is prepared to walk away from their Russian partners or the substantial investments they have made in the Russian market. Read the rest of this entry »

GM Now Under Investigation by Attorneys General in 45 States

Maker says number of ignition switch fatalities could rise.

by on Jul.24, 2014

General Motors is not only facing multiple federal investigations, 45 attorneys general are also conducting queries regarding the company's faulty ignition switch.

Already facing investigations by both houses of Congress, as well as a criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department, General Motors revealed Thursday that it is now facing additional investigations by the attorneys general in 45 states linked to its long delay in ordering a recall of 2.6 million vehicles equipped with defective ignition switches.

Though some probes had previously been announced – GM earlier confirming it had gone before a federal grand jury in New York – the latest revelation suggests the maker’s safety woes could get substantially worse, while it could also be facing significant new fines and legal costs.

A Breath of Fresh Air!

The news was revealed on the same day GM announced that it had earned a meager $200 million during the second quarter of 2014 due to expenses of more than $1 billion to cover the cost of various recall repairs and the establishment of a victims’ compensation fund linked to the ignition switch problem. A day earlier, the troubled maker had submitted documentation to federal regulators indicating the number of people killed or injured due to crashed caused by the switch problem could rise. Read the rest of this entry »

Porsche Spices Up Cayenne for 2015

New SUV borrows E-Hybrid platform from Panamera.

by on Jul.24, 2014

The 2015 Porsche Cayenne Turbo is one of four models available in the maker's portfolio for the SUV.

Sport-utilities have been zipping off dealer lots this year and Porsche looks to take advantage of that by finally unveiling an update to its popular Cayenne SUV that’s already sold half-a-million copies since its introduction in 2002.

While the 2015 model does get some freshening on the outside, it’s the number of choices in the Cayenne portfolio that catches the eye. For the third iteration, the Porsche presents four options in the U.S.: Cayenne Diesel, Cayenne S, Cayenne Turbo, and Cayenne S E-Hybrid, which is the first plug-in hybrid in the premium SUV segment.

Fuel for Thought!

In fact, Porsche brags that it is the only automaker with three plug-in hybrid models in its line-up – the other two being the Panamera S E-Hybrid and the 918 Spyder. Borrowed from the aforementioned Panamera, the new Cayenne E-Hybrid pairs a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 333 horsepower to an electric motor with 95 hp for a combined 416 hp. Read the rest of this entry »