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GM Charging into Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Plans calls for fleet of self-driving Volts at Tech Center.

by on Oct.02, 2015

Some time next year, GM will have a fleet of self-driving Chevy Volts whizzing around its tech center campus north of Detroit.

Move over Google! The tech giant that uses its California campus as a testing ground for its autonomous vehicle now has company in those types of efforts as General Motors plans to do the same at its Tech Center campus in Michigan.

The automaker plans to roll out a fleet of autonomous 2017 Chevy Volt plug-in hybrids on the site starting next year. Employees will use the vehicles to get around the 326-acre campus in Warren, Michigan, just north of Detroit.

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“It really demonstrates a different mindset than what you might expect from the auto industry, really a Silicon Valley mindset,” she told investors and analysts Thursday at GM’s Global Business Conference. “We’re going to step things up. We’re going to experiment, we’re going to get customer input, we’re going to do it in a cost-effective way. If it works, we’re going to scale it.” (more…)

General Motors Poised for Profitability

Executives claim maker ready to earn big money.

by on Oct.02, 2015

GM executives Mary Barra and Mark Reuss announced the automaker is poised for double-digit earnings growth during the next several years.

General Motors is poised to post hefty profits over the next several years, GM executives said as they outlined their future plans during the company’s annual Global Business Conference at the company’s Milford Proving Ground

“We expect double-digit earnings per share growth for the next number of years,” GM Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens said during his afternoon presentation.

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“Let me repeat that,” he added for emphasis. (more…)

GM Wants to Profitably Redefine Personal Mobility

CEO Barra outlines $5 bil investment in autonomous vehicles, carsharing and other game-changers.

by on Oct.01, 2015

GM is "working to redefine our relationship with customers and personal mobility," says CEO Barra.

With autonomous vehicles, car-sharing programs and alternative powertrains reshaping the auto industry, some manufacturers have begun referring to themselves as “personal mobility companies.” The challenge is finding a way to profit from that transformation, said General Motors CEO Mary Barra, as she opened the maker’s “Global Business Conference” with investors and financial analysts.

General Motors is exploring ways to expand the services it offers customers around the world and expects to invest $5 billion in the effort as part of an effort to meet the competition from new challengers such as Apple, Google and Tesla,  Barra said, during the conference at the GM Proving Grounds an hour outside Detroit.


“We’re working to redefine our relationship with customers and personal mobility,” Barry explained, adding that “We want to own that relationship inside and outside the vehicle.”


UAW Workers Reject Fiat Chrysler Contract

Strike could be looming for both FCA and for Ford.

by on Oct.01, 2015

FCA CEO Marchionne and UAW Pres. Williams were all smiles as they began contract talks.

A strike could be looming in the near future for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now that 40,000 workers represented by the United Auto Workers Union have rejected the carmaker’s tentative contract.

The UAW announced the results after the last major FCA assembly plant, in Sterling Heights, Michigan, turned thumbs down on the controversial agreement, which had generated widespread criticism by union activists. Almost 70% of the workers in Sterling Heights rejected the four-year proposal, according to a website run by the union local.

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The announcement comes as a major setback for UAW leaders, especially new President Dennis Williams who was overseeing his first round of national contract talks. The question now is whether the UAW can go back and renegotiate improvements to the agreement without a confrontation. Going into this year’s auto talks, Williams had said he would be willing to strike, if necessary, but said he would consider that possibility a “failure.”


Chevrolet Debuts 2016 Silverado Full-Size Pickup

Best truck battle moves to State Fair of Texas.

by on Sep.24, 2015

Chevrolet is heating up the truck wars again, but this time with a new product: the 2016 Silverado debuted in Texas.

For months now the rivalry between top truck dogs – Ford and Chevy – has been limited to snarky ads about preferences between aluminum and steel. Now there is a new angle: product, as Chevy rolled out its redesigned 2016 Silverado.

The new truck, and its sister pickup, the GMC Sierra, get substantive makeovers for the new model year, and unlike many new model intros, the new vehicles will be available in short order.

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It marks the first real change since 2013 for the full-size offerings from General Motors. The biggest difference in the new model stares you right in the fact as the maker has redesigned the front end of the truck, giving it a brawnier look and feel: a trend among most of the new trucks these days. (more…)

NHTSA Chief Signals Crackdown on Auto Industry Testing

“We’re questioning everything now,” says Rosekind.

by on Sep.22, 2015

“You have to question all assumptions,” says Rosekind.

Following a series of deadly safety scandals and, now, Volkswagen’s attempt to cheat on federal emissions standards, federal regulators will be a less tolerant of industry claims, especially when it comes to self-certified testing, warned the nation’s automotive chief.

“We’re questioning everything now,” said Mark Rosekind, director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during an appearance at an industry conference in the Detroit suburb of Novi. “You have to question all assumptions.”


Last Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered the recall of 482,000 Volkswagen diesel-powered vehicles after learning the automaker had installed a so-called “defeat device” designed to meet emissions standards when undergoing standard testing procedures. But once on the road, the vehicles were able to produce as much as 40 times the legal limit of harmful emissions.


Battery Prices Tumbling Rapidly

EVs, plug-ins set to become more competitive.

by on Sep.18, 2015

The Audi e-tron Quattro SUV Concept will be followed by a production model around 2018.

Automakers normally go to great pains to promote their latest models. But when the new Fiat 500e was launched a couple years ago, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne asked potential buyers to steer clear, admitting, “We will lose $10,000 per vehicle.”

The primary reason? The high cost of the batteries used to power the 500e, lithium-ion technology running as much as $1,000 per kilowatt-hour at the beginning of the decade. For most of the battery-cars now on the market their onboard power packs account for the overwhelming share of the vehicle’s price tag – sometimes even more than what customers have actually been paying.

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But battery prices finally appear to be heading down. While industry officials are generally reluctant to discuss such a competitive detail, observers believe many manufacturers are now paying about $400 per kWh, and during a conversation at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week, Audi’s R&D chief Ulrich Hackenberg told that the maker expects that to dip to $200, perhaps closer to $100 by decade’s end.


As GM Closes Out Ignition Investigation, CEO Barra Says Maker Learned its Lesson

On 3-year probation, GM's problems aren't yet over.

by on Sep.17, 2015

GM CEO Mary Barra addresses a company town hall to discuss the ignition switch settlement.

The U.S. Department has concluded a year-longer investigation into General Motors’ handling of a deadly ignition switch defect with a settlement that requires the automaker to pay a $900 million fine. The maker separately negotiated $575 million settlement to conclude various civil suits related to the ignition switch issue now blamed for at least 124 deaths.

The settlement was significantly less than many had expected. And federal investigators did not bring charges against anyone connected with the defect despite GM’s acknowledgement that it waited a decade to deal with the problem. The Justice Dept. had extracted a $1.2 billion fine from Toyota Motor Co. last year to settle charges it had delayed action on defects related to unintended acceleration.

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For her part, General Motors CEO Mary Barra told employees at a town hall meeting at the company’s Vehicle Engineering Center in Warren, Michigan that GM had “let (its) customers down.


GM Reportedly Set to Settle Justice Dept. Case Over Faulty Ignition Switches

Penalty expected to be in “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

by on Sep.17, 2015

A replacement for the faulty GM ignition switches.

General Motors may take a step closer to wrapping up one of the most troubling incidents in its long history, according to news reports, agreeing to settle a Justice Department criminal investigation into it botched handling of a deadly ignition switch defect.

If preliminary reports prove accurate, GM would pay a penalty in the “hundreds of millions of dollars,” and perhaps as much as $900 million, according to sources close to the investigation quoted by NBC News and other media outlets. That would be substantially less than the $1.2 billion paid by Toyota Motor Co. in March 2014 to settle an investigation into its own safety-related problems.

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The GM settlement also is expected to include a wire fraud charge, though there are no indications any specific individuals will be subject to criminal prosecution, a possibility raised early in the Justice Dept. investigation – and by GM’s own move last year to fire 15 company employees due to their role in delaying a recall of 2.5 million vehicles equipped with faulty switches.


GM’s Barra Named Most Powerful Woman in Business

In second year at helm, Barra moves to top of the list.

by on Sep.11, 2015

GM CEO Mary Barra outlined her strategic plan for the automaker earlier this year.

Mary Barra apparently is moving up in the world. In her debut year as General Motors’ chief executive she was ranked a mere second on the annual Fortune magazine list of the Most Powerful Women in business. This year, however, she surged to the top of the chart.

Barra’s freshman year was a trial by fire, among other things, Barra had to deal with revelations that GM concealed for at least a decade a deadly ignition switch defect now blamed for at least 124 fatalities. She earned kudos by issuing a corporate mea culpa and setting up a victims’ compensation fund. She also saw the maker boost sales and deliver its strongest earnings since well before its 2009 bankruptcy.

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“In recent months she has beaten back headwinds from weak international markets, as sales of expensive trucks and SUVs have soared,” Fortune noted as explanation for its top pick. “Barra was one of the few female CEO participants in the viral #ilooklikeanengineer Twitter campaign, which promoted women in tech.”