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UAW Withdraws Appeal of VW Chattanooga Plant Vote

Major setback for union’s Southern organizing drive.

by on Apr.22, 2014

UAW President Bob King.

The United Auto Workers Union has withdrawn its objections to the results of the in February’s representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The union had narrowly lost a vote it fully expected to win and blamed the defeat on political interference by Republicans in Tennessee.  Over the years, the UAW has lost a series of representation elections in the Southern United States, where  aversion to unions is strong, so the defeat in Chattanooga came as a major setback to its so far unsuccessful bid to organize foreign-owned, so-called transplant, assembly lines.

Beyond the Headlines!

The union decision to withdraw  its protest to the National Labor Relations Board opens the door  for the UAW to call for another election at the Chattanooga plant early next year. The union made it plain in its statement that it will continue its campaign to bring VW workers in Chattanooga into the UAW.

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Bentley Goes Electric at Beijing Show with Plug-In Mulsanne Concept

Luxury makers face pressure to go greener.

by on Apr.21, 2014

Bentley shows off its plug-in hybrid system.

China’s long economic expansion has made it one of the most promising markets for luxury carmakers, with demand for high-line vehicles soon expected to exceed that in U.S. Even the most expensive brands have been growing at a blinding rate, right along with the rest of the Chinese market.

But China’s central government is putting pressure on carmakers – particularly those producing the most powerful and fuel-inefficient products — to develop more electric and hybrid vehicles because of growing concerns about the country’s endemic air pollution problems.

Electrifying News!

That’s encouraged Bentley to introduce its first-ever plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle, or PHEV, at this year’s Beijing Motor Show. The good news for potential buyers, stressed according to Wolfgang Schreilber, chairman and chief executive officer of Bentley Motors, is that the plug-in version of the flagship Mulsanne is both more powerful and even more efficient than the conventional, gas-powered model.

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Japanese Automakers Go All Out in Beijing

by on Apr.21, 2014

Lexus brings the production version of its NX crossover to the Beijing Auto Show.

Japanese carmakers came to the big auto show in Beijing this year determined to show they are prepared to fight for the hearts and minds of Chinese customers.

Struggling to regain momentum lost due to an ongoing debate between China and Japan over a chain of uninhabited, but strategically located, islands, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and other Japanese makers rolled out an assortment of new models they hope will help them close the gap with more established players in the huge Chinese car market, notably including Volkswagen AG and General Motors.

Auto Show News!

One of the most significant introductions came from Lexus, which unveiled the new Lexus NX utility vehicle, the long-anticipated production version of a controversial concept vehicle, then called the LF-NX first unveiled during the Frankfurt Auto Show last autumn.

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VW Plugging Into Chinese EV Market

Maker promises to invest $27 bil over 5 years.

by on Apr.20, 2014

VW will launch the e-Golf and an assortment of other battery-based vehicles in China.

With Beijing’s traffic choked roads as a backdrop, Volkswagen announced a major initiative to put tens, perhaps 100s of thousands of electric vehicles on the road in China before the end of the current decade.

VW chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn said VW and its key Chinese partners were prepared to spend as much as $27 billion in the next five years on electric vehicles in China.

The Leader in Global Automotive News!

“The Volkswagen Group is once again assuming a pioneering role in China and launching the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China’s automotive history”, s said. Martin Winterkorn,

The initiative gets underway with the launch this year of the Volkswagen brand’s electric Up! and e-Golf models in China.

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Chevrolet Makes Trax as it Cruzes into Beijing

Maker has twin intros for China's big auto show.

by on Apr.20, 2014

GM global design chief Ed Welburn helps reveal the new Chevrolet Cruze.

General Motors stages a Broadway Style extravaganza at one of Beijing’s newest landmarks – the Water Cube from the 2008 Olympics – for the debut of the new Chevrolet Cruze.

The new model, which will eventually make its journey to the U.S., as well, shared the spotlight with the new Chevrolet Trax introduced earlier in the week at the New York Auto Show.

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“China is a very important opportunity for the Chevrolet brand,” said Alan Batey, the head of the Chevrolet brand worldwide, as the Cruze rolled out.

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Daimler Betting Big on Hydrogen Fuel Cells

China could be critical electric vehicle market, says CEO Zetsche.

by on Apr.10, 2014

The Mercedes-Benz F-Cell hydrogen car.

Daimler AG’s top executives believe hydrogen fuel cells hold the key to developing a broader range of electric vehicles in the future.

Dieter Zetsche, Daimler AG’s top executive and head of the Mercedes-Benz Car Group, told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in Berlin the German automaker is committed to electric vehicle technology.  China, the world’s single largest car market, now has plans for putting millions of EVs on the road by the end of the decade.

Electrifying!

“With our Chinese partner BYD, we have developed an electric vehicle in China for China,” he said. The Denza, which was developed with BYD, will debut at the Beijing Auto Show later this month, he added.  “China plans to have five million electric vehicles on the road by 2020 and we’re ready to help,” Zetsche added.

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March Car Sales Show Signs of Early Spring Thaw

by on Mar.21, 2014

Headed in the right direction? Demand for new models, such as this Jeep Cherokee, is helping the auto industry boost sales after a slow winter.

Sales of new cars, trucks and crossovers are showing signs of coming back to life after hibernating during the bleak winter months of January and February.

After an unexpectedly strong surge in demand last year, sales started to slide as winter storms appeared to keep many potential buyers away from showrooms. But industry analysts are hoping that this only delayed another uptick in demand for 2014, and could actually lead to an especially strong spring buying season.

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Preliminary figures for March are already showing signs of a thaw, according to the monthly sales forecast from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

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New VW Diesel Could Fuel Further Demand for High-Mileage Alternative

Automakers continue debating diesel benefits but VW is committed.

by on Mar.19, 2014

The new diesel will show up in a variety of VW models including the latest Golf GTD.

Volkswagen of America plans to bring its newest clean diesel engine to North America later this year, a move that could add even more momentum to the revival of the high-mileage technology.

VW has been one of the biggest proponents of the new diesel technology beginning to show up in a growing array of automotive applications – with makers as diverse as Chevrolet, Jeep, Mazda and Mercedes-Benz adding new “oil-burners” to their line-up.

Product News!

VW’s latest diesel, known internally as the EA288 engine, was unveiled this week during a conference in Detroit.  According to Douglas Skorupski, VWoA” manager of technical strategy, it will power the 2015 Golf, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Passat, and Jetta models, all of which are set to arrive in dealer showrooms during the second half of 2014.

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Chrysler Dropping Convertible 200 – But Ragtops Live On

Ragtops shift to sporty, high-line model segments.

by on Mar.18, 2014

Chrysler has no plans to add a convertible version of the new 2015 200 sedan.

Convertibles have been part of the model mix at Chrysler ever since the mid-1980s when then-Chairman Lee Iacocca re-introduced the Chrysler LeBaron. And it lived on in the later Sebring model — which itself was renamed the Chrysler 200 a few years back. But as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles gets ready to launch its new Chrysler 200, the “D-segment” convertible is going away, with no plans to replace it, the maker confirms.

“We built the last (Chrysler 200 convertible) in October,” Andy Love, senior manager for the Chrysler brand and the Chrysler 200, told TheDetroitBureau.com. “Dealers still have some stock so we’re still going to be selling them,” he added, but once the old model runs out there’ll be no 200 convertible to follow.

Clear the Air!

Love explained that the ragtop segment is steadily shrinking.  The days when manufacturers automatically included a convertible version of their midsize and compact models is rapidly coming to an end.  That doesn’t mean the convertible is going away, it’s just shifting to sportier and more luxurious product segments.

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Fiat Chrysler Ready to List on New York Stock Exchange

Alfa readying 4C with second model to follow, says Marchionne.

by on Mar.17, 2014

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne (r), with UAW Pres. Bob King at the Sterling Heights plant.

FCA is set to go NYSE — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the new company created by the merger of the Italian carmaker Fiat and Chrysler, the once bankrupt American carmaker, wants to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange by October1, says Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne.

The move would be the next, long-awaited step in completing the tie-up of the two makers who are officially incorporated in the Netherlands, though for now the new FCA continues to operate a dual headquarter strategy, with bases in suburban Detroit and Turin.

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“October 1. That is the target,” Marchionne said. “But it’s a target. It could slip thirty, sixty or ninety days,” he added, following a ceremony to market the renovation of the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, a suburban Detroit factory that was originally supposed to close following the U.S. maker’s 2009 bankruptcy.  Instead, it has undergone a more than $800 million upgrade to handle production of the new Chrysler 200 sedan and other products to follow.

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