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Automakers Scramble As Russia’s Economy Melts down

GM, Audi, JLR temporarily abandon market, Nissan limits sales.

by on Dec.19, 2014

GM is one of several makers to cut off shipments to dealers like Moscow's Major, while others are sharply rising prices as the ruble collapses.

What seemed like a dream market just a few years ago has now turned into a nightmare, the Russian economic meltdown sending automakers from around the world into a scramble.

With economic sanctions already taking a serious toll, this past week’s collapse of the ruble has led General Motors, Audi and Jaguar Land Rover to temporarily halt sales in the heart of the former Soviet Union. Nissan, meanwhile, has decided to limit sales of some models and raise prices on others.

Global Insight!

“When the ruble sinks it’s a bloodbath for everybody,” said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance., which is the biggest maker in Russia along with its local partner Avtovaz. “It’s red ink, people are losing money, all car manufacturers are losing money.”


GM Ignition Switch Related Deaths Rises to 42

Feinberg approves four more fatalities for settlements.

by on Dec.17, 2014

Kenneth Feinberg has approved 42 claims for death benefits from the GM victims compensation fund.

While General Motors’ executives continue to speak confidently of having put the ignition switch recall in the rear-view mirror, casualty claims related to the defective vehicles continue to climb.

Four more deaths have been linked to the ignition defect, raising the total to 42 fatalities, according to a report Monday from the attorney running the compensation fund for victims of crashes attributed to the faulty ignition.

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GM has received a total of 2,326 claims — 251 for deaths, 156 for catastrophic injuries and 1,919 for less-serious injuries that required hospitalization — according to the latest report from Kenneth Feinberg, the New York super lawyer, who was selected by GM to administer the claims settlements. (more…)

GM Expands Michigan Layoffs to 450 Employees

Maker adds 100 more workers to previously announced action.

by on Dec.09, 2014

GM is laying off 450 workers at its Lansing Grand River plant in Lansing, Michigan, in January.

General Motors is expanding a previously announced layoff at a plant in Lansing, Michigan, by 100 people to a total of 450 employees. The layoffs, however, will be temporary.

The cuts are expected to come in January at the automaker’s Lansing Grand River plant, which makes the Cadillac ATS and CTS. Sales of the two models have been sluggish for several months and GM is cutting production to better match up with low demand.

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The initial layoffs were announced in early November as part of two sets of layoffs. The other was at the company’s Orion Assembly plant in Orion, Michigan, north of Detroit, where they idled 160 workers. (more…)

The Car Key is Becoming an Endangered Species

Keyless systems quickly taking over.

by on Dec.09, 2014

The red key fob unleashes all 707 horsepower in the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. The black key limits a driver to "just" 500-hp.

Officially, it isn’t a recall, just a technical service bulletin, but whatever General Motors is calling the announcement, dealers have been advised to replace the keys on 2014 and 2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models, as well as several other large pickups and SUVs.

Some owners have complained that when they shift gears they can knock the ignition switch out of position – bringing to mind this year’s earlier recall of GM vehicles equipped with defective ignition switches now linked to 38 deaths and 100s of injuries.

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While that has put the spotlight on GM, the maker is just one of several to order recalls in recent years due to key and ignition switch problems – which is adding more momentum to a broad industry shift away from conventional ignition switches to push-button starters.


Opel Plant Closes in Bid to Save GM Europe

Bochum plant victim of desperate turnaround bid.

by on Dec.05, 2014

The Bochum, Germany plant, which produced the Opel Zafira, was closed by Adam Opel.

General Motors has taken a critical step forward in its bid to salvage its money-losing European operations, shuttering an unneeded plant in Bochum, Germany.

The closure of the factory, which once employed as many as 22,000 workers, is central to a bid to reverse 15 years of losses by the Adam Opel subsidiary. At the same time, GM plans to invest 4 billion Euros, or nearly $5 billion into its European business to expand its product portfolio and improve the competitiveness of its remaining factories.

The Last Word!

The maker now says it expects to achieve a break-even at Opel by mid-decade. But that goal has been delayed so long that industry analysts are playing wait-and-see before declaring GM’s latest turnaround strategy a success. (more…)

GM Forced to Deal with Airbag, Ignition Problems on Trucks

Maker recalls popular new midsize trucks; issues bulletin for full-sizes pickups.

by on Dec.05, 2014

GM is recalling nearly 2,300 Chevrolet Colorados and GMC Canyons for problems with airbags that were incorrectly wired.

The run of good news for General Motors’ trucks just hit a speed bump as the Detroit-based automaker must deal with problems with its full-size and newly introduced midsize pickups.

The company is recalling nearly 2,300 of its 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups for an airbag wiring issue. The airbags were connected incorrectly, which could result in a disruption of the timing of the deployment of the airbag.


The Canyon earlier this week was named Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year beating out the much-ballyhooed Ford F-150. General Motors is betting heavily on a revival of the once wildly popular midsize truck segment despite a huge fall-off in demand over the last two decades. (more…)

Chevy Colorado Nabs Motor Trend Truck Honors

Midsize model tops Ford’s new F-150.

by on Dec.03, 2014

The 2015 Chevy Colorado wins a big endorsement from Motor Trend with its annual Truck trophy.

In something of a surprise, Chevrolet’s new midsize Colorado pickup truck outgunned the favored Ford F-150 to nab top honors as Motor Trend Truck of the Year.

The decision was a vindication for General Motors which is betting heavily on a revival of the once wildly popular midsize truck segment despite a huge fall-off in demand over the last two decades. GM itself walked away from the segment earlier in the decade before returning with two much more modern offerings, the Chevy Colorado and the near-twin GMC Canyon.

Keep on Truckin'!

“Colorado is a smart, capable, and refreshingly honest truck that makes a strong value and efficiency statement,” declared Motor Trend Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh. “It’s perfectly sized and suited for the needs of many of today’s truck users.”


GM Recall Number Hits 79 with Headlight Problem

Maker’s action affects more than 273,000 sedans, SUVs.

by on Dec.02, 2014

The 2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer is one of more than 273,000 GM SUVs and sedans recalled for headlights that may not work.

And the beat goes on when it comes to General Motors and recalls as the automaker issued its 79th action this year for more than 273,000 midsize SUVs and Buick sedans for headlight problems.

The company is recalling the vehicles because the low-beam headlights can shut off without warning. The problem is with the headlamp driver modules. If they aren’t working properly, the low-beam headlamps and daytime running lamps could intermittently or permanently fail to illuminate, GM said. The problem does not affect the high-beam headlights, marker lights, turn signals or fog lights.

Keeping the Conversation Going!

The vehicles in the recall are 2006-2009 LaCrosse sedans, 2006 and 2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer and 2006 TrailBlazer EXT; 2006 and 2007 GMC Envoy and 2006 Envoy XL; 2006 and 2007 Buick Rainier; 2006 to 2008 Saab 9-7X and 2006 to 2008 Isuzu Ascender midsize SUVs. (more…)

GM Down to 825,000 Recalled Vehicles Left to Fix

Automaker uses unconventional methods to get owners to bring cars to dealers.

by on Dec.01, 2014

GM is down to less than 1 million vehicles needing repairs related to its ignition switch recall this year.

General Motors claims it has less than 1 million cars left to fix of the 2.36 million it recalled for a faulty ignition switch that has caused 36 deaths and 39 injuries in the U.S.

The total number has been reduced from 2.59 million by the automaker due to scrappage or vehicles that are no longer traceable by registration, according to GM.

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So in the U.S., the total number is down to 1.96 million. The company said its dealers have completed the repairs in 58.1% or 1.14 million vehicles. This leaves less than 825,000 vehicles needing repairs. (more…)

“Government Motors” on Fire

An excerpt from Jason Vine's tell-all, “What Did Jesus Drive”

by on Dec.01, 2014

Vines holds few punches as he looks at how automakers like Ford and GM have handled big crises.

Jason Vines has served as head of public relations for both Ford and Nissan, and as part of the senior PR team at Chrysler. He’s also functioned as an outside consultant to several other major automakers, including General Motors – giving Vines an unprecedented insider’s view of some of the biggest crises to shake the industry over the last two decades.

That includes the Ford/Firestone exploding tire disaster blamed for 271 deaths, as well as the ongoing General Motors ignition switch debacle. In this excerpt from Vines’ new book, “What Did Jesus Drive,” he offers a devastating, inside look at GM’s attempt to handle that scandal.

A Must Read!

Two weeks before GM’s first Congressional hearing regarding the ignition switch debacle, Selim (ed: former GM PR chief Selim Bingol) was on the phone. “Any advice,” he said. “You’ve been through this shit.”

Up to now, GM had been vigorously putting out CEO Mary Barra in every form of communications thinkable, apologizing profusely for the past transgressions of the “Old GM” and the humanity of the “New” post-bankruptcy GM, including a hideous video in which Barra looked like she was a prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton in ‘Nam.