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GM Taking $600 Mil Charge Due to South America

Devaluation of Venezuelan bolivar forces maker’s move.

by on Jun.30, 2015

GM will take a $600 million charge due to Venezuela's move to devalue its currency.

In a move that signals another round of trouble for automakers operating in the Venezuela, General Motors expects to record a pre-tax charge of approximately $600 million due to the company’s devaluation of its currency.

The “re-measurement” charge is for the Automotive cost of sales in the South American country for the second quarter of 2015, GM said in a new filing with the Securities Exchange Commission. GM will report its second-quarter financial results July 23.

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It will be treated as a special charge for EBIT-adjusted reporting purposes. GM does not expect this decision to impact its South American or Venezuelan operating results, nor does it believe it will affect 2015 adjusted free cash flows, according to GM’s filing with the SEC. (more…)

First Official Look: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro

Chevy pony car will allow 1-touch remote convertible operation.

by on Jun.24, 2015

Chevrolet officially took the wraps off its new edition to the 2016 Camaro line-up: the convertible.

With most vehicles it might be almost anticlimactic, but most fans are likely to make an exception here. Just two days after undisguised pics of the ragtop leaked out onto the Web, Chevrolet has now made it official, pulling the covers off the 2016 Camaro Convertible.

No surprise, the cabriolet retains most of the distinctive lines that earned the Camaro Coupe rave reviews when it debuted two months ago. The new softtop is no longer the classic Rube Goldberg affair, meanwhile, but the same sort of slick origami that we find on most modern European convertibles, allowing a motorist to drop the top at speeds up to 30 mph – or operate it remotely from the keyfob.

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And, as with the Camaro Coupe, the new convertible is lighter and more aerodynamic, Chevy suggesting it has cut mass by about 200 pounds while still delivering a stiffer body structure. (more…)

GM Invests $245 Mil in Michigan Plant

Orion plant will add 300 jobs due to new program.

by on Jun.22, 2015

GM announced plans to invest $245 million into its highly automated plant in Orion Township, Michigan.

This story has been updated with new information.

General Motors’ latest plant investment of $245 million will net 300 new jobs and set the Orion, Michigan, plant on a path for a completely new project, officials said today.

The new program joins the Bolt and those new workers will be brought on sometime after the tooling is installed next year to begin production of the new EV.

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“Orion Assembly is a breeding ground for manufacturing innovation,” said GM North America Vice President of Manufacturing and Labor Relations Cathy Clegg. “It serves as a model for how to engage the entire workforce at all levels to achieve success. The plant is up to the challenge of building this brand-new product, something it’s never seen before.” (more…)

Amidst Safety Crackdown, NHTSA Comes Under Fire

“Significant safety concerns (are) being overlooked.”

by on Jun.22, 2015

Mark Rosekind, NHTSA's new administrator, will testify before a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

In the wake of a series of fatal safety problems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has promised to crack down on the auto industry. But NHTSA itself is expected to come under fire for its own lapses.

Published reports indicate the agency charged with regulating automotive safety fell short in a variety of ways in recent years, among other things failing to uncover the ignition switch problem at General Motors that led to more than 110 deaths.

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“Collectively, these weaknesses have resulted in significant safety concerns being overlooked,” says a harsh, 42-page report by the Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General, which is expected to be published on Friday.


GM Hires Bankers to Fortify “No Merger” Message

Marchionne keeps pressure on by stoking stockholders.

by on Jun.19, 2015

GM CEO Mary Barra has repeatedly said a merger with FCA doesn't make sense; however, GM's hired bankers to help reinforce the point.

Facing continuing pressure from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne, General Motors hired investment bankers to help build its case that a merger of the two carmakers could not work.

GM is being advised by Goldman Sachs, while FCA is working with UBS on the matter, according to Reuters.

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Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, bluntly told reporters and shareholders at the GM annual meeting earlier this month that the automaker’s board rebuffed a merger after a careful review of the proposal. (more…)

Japanese Automakers Slide, Koreans Surge in New J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

Japanese brands, as a group, post worst performance in 29 years.

by on Jun.17, 2015

Hyundai has scored major gains in quality with products like the 2015 Tucson, according to Power.

This story contains updated information.

If the latest J.D. Power survey is any indication, you might need to re-think just about everything you thought you knew about automotive quality.

The latest Initial Quality Survey, or IQS, finds that Japanese automakers, on the whole, have suffered a significant slide in the quality charts, with only three brands in the Top 10 this year. But the real shocker might be the surge in Korean quality. Kia, a brand long known for cheap, mediocre products, was second, behind top-ranked Porsche, with Hyundai ranked fourth. Jaguar, also struggling to reverse a reputation for poor quality, was third.

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For the Korean brands, which are caught up in a ferocious battle for market, the survey results represent a measure of vindication.  “We are extremely proud of the results,” said Mike Ofiara, a spokesman for Kia, which finished second in the overall ranking. “We’ve come a very long way. It’s representative of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”


GM, Nissan Find New Life for Old Batteries

Makers developing commercial, consumer applications.

by on Jun.16, 2015

GM is using recycled Volt batteries as a backup power generator for its facility in Milford, Michigan.

What do you do with the used batteries when a vehicle like the Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf are ready to be scrapped? The traditional answers might have been to dump them in a landfill or break them apart for their raw materials, but Nissan and Chevy have come up with some useful alternatives.

In reality, the lithium-ion batteries used by the auto industry usually have quite a bit of life left, even if they no longer store enough energy to propel a vehicle. So, both Nissan and Chevrolet want to put old batteries back to work as stationary backup power sources.

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“Even after the battery has reached the end of its useful life in a Chevrolet Volt, up to 80% of its storage capacity remains,” noted Pablo Valencia, senior manager of battery lifecycle management for General Motors. “This secondary use application extends its life, while delivering waste reduction and economic benefits on an industrial scale.” (more…)

GM Returning to Medium-Duty Truck Market

Partnering up with Isuzu.

by on Jun.15, 2015

GM is re-entering the medium-duty truck market through a partnership with Isuzu for 2016.

After abandoning the market segment as it plunged into bankruptcy, General Motors is ready to start marketing medium-duty trucks again.

The Detroit maker will turn to an old partner to help it source the new trucks, marketing the Isuzu vehicles in the U.S. under the Chevrolet brand. GM ended a 35-year relationship with Isuzu in 2006.

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The return to the medium-duty truck market comes as the segment enjoys a strong uptick in sales. Demand has been growing steadily since the end of the Great Recession, climbing another 3.5% since just the beginning of this year. (more…)

Workers Lose Jobs as Small Car Sales Slide

Growth of trucks due to gas prices forces change.

by on Jun.15, 2015

Sales of the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact have fallen off sharply this year.

U.S. new car sales are on a torrid pace, but that’s small comfort to the 100 workers at General Motors’ Orion Township assembly plant who will be idled for at least six months.

Demand for the small Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano models they build at the suburban Detroit facility has fallen by double digits since the beginning of the year, with analysts seeing little likelihood of a turnaround anytime soon. But GM isn’t alone. Ford Motor is in the process of cutting about 700 jobs at the plant near Detroit that produces models such as the compact Focus sedan and C-Max people-mover.

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Further cuts could follow across the industry, analysts caution, as American buyers drift away from the small, fuel-efficient models they craved when gas was nearing record levels earlier in the decade in favor of bigger SUVs, pickups and other less-efficient models.


OnStar Injury Prediction System Proving Accurate

Researchers find advance alerts can help save lives.

by on Jun.11, 2015

Image from OnStar shows emergency first responders arriving at a crash scene.

When a 911 call comes in, there’s usually little first responders know beyond the fact that there’s been a car crash. But rescue crews are getting a critical leg up with the assistance of OnStar, which has been testing an algorithm designed to predict the type and severity of injuries crash victims may have suffered.

And a new study by the University of Michigan’s International Center for Automotive Medicine, or ICAM, indicates that the GM telematics unit’s Injury Prediction Service is proving to be an accurate indicator of what first responders will find – in the process making it possible to save more lives and more rapidly deal with injuries.

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“With this data, we are able to much more accurately predict which people might be in this critical subset (requiring immediate emergency care) so that the proper resources can be deployed to rescue them and transport them to the right level of care,” said the study’s leader Dr. Stewart Wang.