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Three Chinese Automakers Expect to be Global Players

Industry official predicts exports to emerging markets.

by on Oct.16, 2014

The Geely Gleagle is one of the products that makes Chinese government officials believe three Chinese automakers will be globally influential.

China’s fast-growing automobile industry should be able to create at three strong globally competitive carmakers in the years to come, according to a Chinese government official this week.

Wang Xia, a senior official with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Automotive sub-council, acknowledged during a press conference prior to the opening of the Global Automotive Forum in Wuhan, China, that China’s homegrown auto industry has been rocked over the last several months by a steady loss of marketshare.

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Up until about two years ago, Chinese brands held about 46% of the domestic sales across China. Since then, the Chinese domestic brands have lost about 10 points of marketshare to foreign brands. The big winners have been European brands as well as General Motors and Ford. (more…)

GM Makes Impact with Collision Avoidance Technology

Maker displays latest capabilities at ITS show in Detroit.

by on Sep.09, 2014

The Opel Insignia demonstrates intersection collision avoidance with a Chevrolet EN-V 2.0 second generation electric networked vehicle.

In July, the streets of Belle Isle, Detroit’s history island park in the Detroit River, saw Indy cars roaring around the road venue, but now it is hosting self-driving two-seaters that are closer to floating bubbles than open-wheel racers.

The night after Mary Barra, General Motors CEO, announced the Cadillac brand will be the first of the maker’s products to get Super Cruise, a slew of technologies that make a vehicle nearly autonomous, the maker showed off the next step in that technology, led by the second generation EN-V, Chevrolet’s electric networked vehicle.

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GM showed off its original two-wheeled EN-V concept in 2010 at Shanghai World Expo, but the latest version is a four-wheeler with all-wheel drive that uses a slew of cameras, laser radar (lidar) and V2X communications “offer a hands-free, low-speed electric driving experience.” (more…)

GM Drops to Number Four

Still third in sales, but revenues slip a spot.

by on Aug.18, 2014

GM isn't the behemoth it used to be: it's fallen to fourth in revenue through the first half of 2014.

It was the manufacturer to beat for three-quarters of a century, but General Motors has been steadily losing ground in recent years, whether one measures from a vehicle sales standpoint, or in terms of revenues.

The latest numbers suggest the maker is still losing momentum by both metrics. GM slid to third when it comes to units sold for the first half of 2014. And focusing on just the most recent quarter, the Detroit maker fell to fourth when it comes to gross revenues.

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And it’s a question whether GM will even maintain that position, with several other major manufacturers close to catching up – especially if the U.S. maker’s ongoing safety problems begin to erode its position in the marketplace. (more…)

Rental Car Companies Warned GM about Airbag Problems

Agencies asked maker to investigate strange crashes.

by on Jul.31, 2014

GM may have been told about its faulty ignition switches by rental car companies seven years ago after several unusual accidents.

One of the questions surrounding the faulty ignition switch controversy at General Motors is when did the automaker know there was a problem? It may have been at least seven years ago and the death toll related to those vehicles may rise as a result.

Two rental car companies sent notices to GM suggesting the automaker investigate fatal crashes where the airbags in the vehicles did not deploy – vehicles recalled by the maker this February, according to Bloomberg News.

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Seven years ago, an investigator for the parent of Alamo Rent A Car, Vanguard Car Rental USA, contacted GM to inquire about a fatal rollover accident in California. The driver was killed and the airbag failed to deploy in the Chevy Cobalt he was driving. (more…)

GM Estimates Victims Fund Will Cost at Least $400 Mil

Forecast comes in lower than many estimates – but impact of safety scandal still severe.

by on Jul.24, 2014

GM CEO Barra shown during her most recent testimony before a Senate subcommittee this month.

General Motors anticipates it will spend at least $400 million to recompense victims of a defective ignition switch so far linked to the death of at least 13 people, though it cautioned that the figure could run as high as $600 million, depending upon how many people qualify for the program.

Those numbers, while significant, come in substantially below widespread reports that had placed the potential cost of the program at as much as $1 billion or more. GM announced details earlier this month of the victims’ compensation program that will be handled by compensation specialist Kenneth Feinberg.

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“There’s no cap on this program and at the end of the day Ken Feinberg will determine how much this program costs,” GM Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens told reporters on Thursday morning following the release of the maker’s second-quarter earnings. (more…)

Consumer Reports Gives Buick Regal Thumbs Up

Buyers echoing sentiment as sales up 40% this year.

by on Jul.23, 2014

Consumer Reports recently gave the Buick Regal a glowing review, putting it in a tie for second-best vehicle in its segment.

Buick was at death’s door just a few years ago. A staid image and a mandate to cut down the number of brands in its portfolio, it looked like General Motors’ oldest nameplate would be heading to the scrap heap of automotive history.

However, GM surprised everyone by keeping Buick and repositioning the brand. And now those efforts are paying off in spades as Consumer Reports recently gave the Buick Regal a big pat on the back and sales of the Regal and the brand are both up double digits.

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Consumer Reports, after testing the Regal and the new Volvo S60, described both cars as serious competition for the more prestigious competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Apparently, the magazine was a bit late to the party as Regal sales are up nearly 40% through the first half of this year. Buick’s overall sales are up 12.5% in the first half of the year. (more…)

GM Tracking to Meet Recalled Ignition Repair Target

Delphi to have 2 million kits ready by end of August.

by on Jul.18, 2014

GM has replaced nearly 500,000 faulty ignitions switches and Delphi has produced 1 million kits to do the repair.

Delphi Corp. CEO Rodney O’Neal told a senate subcommittee that the supplier has produced 1 million replacement ignition switch repair kits for the 2.6 million vehicles recalled by General Motors.

He testified that Delphi has three production lines currently manufacturing the kits and added the company will produce 2 million by the end of August.

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GM’s senior leaders have maintained for months now that the company expects to meet the October deadline for repairing the more than 2.5 million vehicles it recalled due to a faulty ignition switch. (more…)

GM Recall Blitz May Be Winding Down

Biggest issues already dealt with, maker hints.

by on Jul.07, 2014

There are signs that GM CEO Mary Barra may not have to answer more questions about the company's latest recall as GM may finally be done recalling vehicles.

It has so far recalled nearly 26 million vehicles in the U.S. alone, and almost 29 million worldwide – more than any other maker in a single year. But after announcing 54 separate service actions since just the beginning of the year, GM is signaling that its recall blitz finally might be over.

Even then, the maker’s recall headaches are far from over. GM last month announced details of a new victims’ compensation fund to cover the deaths and injuries linked to a faulty ignition switch, a plan that could top $1 billion, according to some analysts. The maker also faces an assortment of legal problems, including a class action lawsuit filed in Seattle that could seek as much as $10 billion in damages. There are separate investigations underway in both houses of Congress, as well as a probe by the Justice Department. And GM has already said it expects to spend about $2.4 billion to handle all those recall during just the first half of 2014.

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But the worst, in terms of new recalls could be over, wrote JP Morgan auto analyst Ryan Brinkman, in a report last week, noting that, “GM concluded its enhanced product safety review that has led to a significantly elevated pace of vehicle recalls.” (more…)

Barra Withstands Scrutiny of Congressional Subcommittee

GM CEO assures seeds of cultural change have been planted.

by on Jun.18, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra answers a question during a congressional hearing.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra managed to avoid the wrath of House representatives during her testimony today by providing enough information about her plans to change the company’s culture to avoid a repeat of the ignition switch recall.

“I will not rest until this problem is solved,” she said. “As I told our employees, I am not afraid of the truth.”

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Her appearance today was her second before the subcommittee, whose questions and comments generally focused on three issues: GM’s corporate culture, the establishment of a fund to compensate victims and when the vehicles will all be repaired. (more…)

GM’s Barra Readies for Round Two before Congress

House subcommittee expected to demand answers to tough questions.

by on Jun.18, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra will testify the automaker's failures in handling the ignition switch recall before a U.S. House subcommittee again today.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra got a rough reception during her first appearance at a congressional hearing, and after nearly 18 million recalled vehicles and a scathing report about the automaker’s shortcomings round two isn’t likely to be any better.

Barra and Anton Valukas, the former U.S. Attorney hired to investigate why the company failed to act sooner to fix the ignition switch problem on 2.6 million vehicles, will testify today about his report and what Barra plans to do to make sure this kind of problem doesn’t resurface in the future.


“I want this terrible experience permanently etched in our collective memories,” she plans to tell the committee in her opening remarks. “This isn’t just another business challenge. This is a tragic problem that never should have happened. And it must never happen again.” (more…)