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Ford to Run Four GTs at LeMans

Half-century later, aiming to repeat historic victory.

by on Feb.05, 2016

Ford's two GTs were strong -- when running -- but had mechanical problems at Daytona.

Despite a disappointing debut at Daytona, Ford still has big hopes for its new GT race car – buoyed by word that organizers have approved a four-car entry for the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.

But the four Ford GTs will have a lot to live up to. They’ll take the field exactly 50 years after Ford’s 1-2-3 podium finish at the 1966 Le Mans classic. Ford got off to a weak start in this year’s endurance series, its Daytona entries suffering from a series of mechanical problems.

The Last Word!

“It was great to see all four Ford GTs up there on the Le Mans entry list today,” said Dave Pericak, director of Ford Performance, during a press conference in Paris. “Newcomers are by no means guaranteed an entry, whatever their history or ambitions, so we thank the (organizers) for giving Ford the opportunity for a four-car assault in June.”

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VW Delays 2015 Earnings Results, Annual Shareholders’ Meeting

Labor boss will “hold management responsible” for making needed changes.

by on Feb.05, 2016

Audi has submitted a plan to US officials for fixing the diesel engines in models like the Q7.

With management still trying to get a full grip on the diesel emissions cheating scandal that has rocked the world’s second-largest automaker, Volkswagen says it will delay the release of its 2015 earnings, as well as its annual shareholders meeting.

It is also unclear when VW will now publish the results of an internal investigation into the ongoing crisis. The report was to have been released in time for the company’s annual meeting. Leaked details have hinted that the subterfuge was an “open secret,” resulting from a corporate culture in which failure to meet even the most difficult goals was not an option.

Global News!

The annual shareholders meeting was scheduled for April 21, but VW said it will announce new dates for the gathering and the release of its earnings, explaining that it first must deal with “remaining open questions and the resulting valuation calculations relating to the diesel emissions issue.”

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Toyota Quarterly Earnings Top $5.4 Billion

Net income jumps 5% despite flat sales.

by on Feb.05, 2016

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda unveils the new Lexus LC 500 at last month's Detroit Auto Show.

Toyota managed to pull together a 5% jump in net profits for the third quarter of its fiscal year, despite a tepid global economy and relatively flat sales.

The automaker announced it made 627.9 billion yen, or $5.4 billion, during the October-December period, up from 600 billion yen the year before. Quarterly sales and revenues were up a more modest 2.4%, to $62.7 billion. A weak yen played in Toyota’s favor.

By the Numbers!

The news came two days after rival General Motors reported record earnings of $9.7 billion – for the full fiscal year. Meanwhile, he world’s second-largest automaker, Volkswagen AG, said on Friday it would delay issuing its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings as it struggles to account for the impact of its ongoing diesel emissions cheating scandal.

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Airbag Control Module Defect Forcing Seven Makers to Recall 5 Mil Vehicles

Problem could prevent airbag deployment in crash – or trigger inflation accidentally.

by on Feb.04, 2016

The 2008 Honda Accord is one of the vehicles affected by a recall due to faulty airbag controllers.

A total of 5 million vehicles will be recalled due to a defective airbag control module that could accidentally trigger one of the devices – or prevent an airbag from deploying in the event of a crash.

The announcement by German supplier Continental comes less than a day after one of its customers, Honda Motor Co., issued a recall covering 341,000 Accord sedans. Separately, the Japanese maker also announced it was recalling 2.23 million Honda and Acura vehicles due to faulty Takata airbags.

Safety News!

Widely hailed as one of the most significant safety devices since the introduction of the seatbelt, airbags have become the source of some of the biggest recalls in recent years. The Takata problem alone is now affecting more than 20 million vehicles in the U.S.

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Ford’s New Raptor Goes Off-Road Racing

Performance truck entering new Desert series.

by on Feb.03, 2016

Ford's Raptor off-road racer.

Only weeks after revealing its new Raptor SuperCrew, Ford says it will send the performance truck out racing as part of the 2016 Best in the Desert off-road series’ new factory stock class.

Based in Las Vegas, Best in the Desert will stage nine races this year, including the Vegas to Reno run, the longest off-road race in the United States. The second event in the series, the Bluewater Resort, gets underway in Arizona on Thursday, February 4th, and marks the official race debut of the 217 Ford Raptor.

Motor Sports News!

“The all-new Raptor has the DNA of a Baja race truck, with a purpose-built engine, chassis and suspension that enables it to travel fast over challenging desert landscapes or crawl over rocky terrain,” boasted Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer of Ford Performance, in a prepared release.

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Toyota Abandoning Scion Brand

Once-strong youth division lost focus, sales.

by on Feb.03, 2016

The 2016 Scion iA was the youth-oriented brand's first-ever sedan and one of two products parent Toyota hoped would save the brand.

It was intended to attract the sort of hip young buyers who were largely steering clear of Toyota stores, and, for at least a few years, it worked. But with sales steadily dropping despite an infusion of new product, Toyota is pulling the plug on its Scion brand.

Products like the new Scion iM and iA won’t be abandoned, however. The plan is to rebadge them as Toyota products for the 2017 model-year, though it’s unclear what will happen to the edgy C-HR crossover vehicle that Scion was developing, as it could come to close to existing Toyota products.

Insight!

“This isn’t a step backward for Scion; it’s a leap forward for Toyota,” said Jim Lentz, the CEO of Toyota North America, is a statement. “Scion has allowed us to fast track ideas that would have been challenging to test through the Toyota network.”

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Tough Weather Puts Chill on US Auto Sales in January

Automakers put up inconsistent numbers.

by on Feb.02, 2016

Jeep sales helped FCA to a 7% sales increase in January, but Dodge and Ram chipped in as well.

After a record year in 2015, the auto industry escaped January’s gloomy weather with stable sales as several manufacturers posted managed to eke out modest gains, bolstering the outlook for 2016.

Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Audi and Nissan all reported sales increases, while Mazda, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen said their monthly sales declined during January.

FCA U.S. managed a 7% increase compared with sales in January 2015. It was the group’s best January sales in nine years as the Jeep, Ram and Dodge brands all reported sales increases and FCA extended its streak of year-over-year sales gains to 70 consecutive months.

Sales News!

“Mother Nature was no match for our Jeep brand last month as we recorded our best January Jeep sales ever,” said Reid Bigland, head of U.S. Sales for FCA, which wasn’t the only Detroit-based maker to report an increase. (more…)

Global Auto Sales Set New Record for 2015

Makers move nearly 90 million cars, trucks, crossovers.

by on Feb.02, 2016

China helped push the industry to a new record in 2015, but ddemand could slow sharply in 2016.

The auto industry set a new sales record in 2015, motorists around the world buying 89.4 million cars, trucks and crossovers, a year-over-year increase of 2.3%.

It was the sixth year in a row that manufacturers set new highs, the industry buoyed by records in a number of key regions, including the United States, India and China, as well as smaller markets like Australia, Turkey, Korea and Mexico.

Global news!

But the celebration is sobered by forecasts that global auto sales have leveled off and could even dip a bit in 2016 due to weakness in several markets, notably China. And demand remains in freefall in Russia and Brazil where economic woes have taken a serious toll on consumer spending.

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Are You Qualified to Buy a Ford GT?

Even if you have the cash, Ford is being picky about buyers.

by on Feb.02, 2016

A Ford GT coming out of the Daytona pits.

So, you’ve saved your pennies and have a big enough bank account to write a check for a new Ford GT when it goes on sale this year. But you still may be out of luck. Ford has set up a rigorous, online application process to find deserving homes for the new supercar.

An assortment of affluent aficionados have already let Ford know they’d like one of the limited-edition GTs – which are expected to cost somewhere north of $400,000. Lifting a page from the Ferrari playbook, Ford has decided that simply having the cash won’t be enough to get a GT.

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“We want to prioritize people who are going to care about the car, keep the car and drive the car,” Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development director, told The Detroit News.

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Steel Shortage Shutters Toyota’s Japanese Plants

One week closure to have major production impact.

by on Feb.01, 2016

The new 2016 Toyota Prius is one of the models to be hurt by the steel shortage.

Toyota will halt production at its Japanese auto assembly plants for a week due to a shortage of steel.

The week-long closure, which begins on February eighth, comes in the wake of an explosion at a steel plant operated by one of its key suppliers, Aichi Steel Corp. early last month. That has left Toyota struggling for the steel it needs for a variety of its operations, including powertrain and chassis components.

Global Insider!

“Operations are scheduled to recommence on February 15,” Toyota said in a statement, “and vehicle production on lines outside Japan will not be suspended.”

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