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Tesla Announces First Incentive Program – With a Social Spin

Some buyers also turning to used Tesla as affordable entry.

by on Jul.30, 2015

Tesla wants to find new ways to boost demand before the launch of the Model X SUV.

Incentives have become a way of life in the auto industry, buyers often expecting givebacks and discounts on even the most popular products.

That’s a lesson little Tesla Motors has apparently picked up on. But the California battery-carmaker is adding a unique social spin to its first-ever incentive package, with a program designed to reward both owners and buyers. Separately, a new study suggests that some potential customers are getting around the high cost of a Model S sedan by turning to use versions.

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In comparison to some incentive programs, Tesla might be accused of being downright stingy. It will offer $1,000 credit to a new buyer – but with a twist, you have to be referred by an existing owner who will also get a $1,000 spiff, apparently for a future purchase.

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Fiat Chrysler Latest to Beat Expectations With Q2 Earnings

Net income up despite hefty consent agreement charge.

by on Jul.30, 2015

FCA is in "execution mode," says Marchionne.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles may have begun the third quarter on a sour note, slammed with a record fine for safety lapses, but it ended the second-quarter in fine tune, handily exceeding Wall Street earnings forecasts.

The company, officially registered in the Netherlands, earned a profit of 333 million Euros, or $364 million, even after a chargeback of $88.5 million as a result of the consent order formally announced last weekend. A year ago, FCA earned 197 million Euros, or $215 million, for the period. On a per-share basis, the maker reported earnings of $0.21 between April-June 2015, analysts surveyed by MarketWatch predicting the figure would come in around 19 cents.

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As has been the case for several years, the recovering Chrysler side of the business helped prop up the balance sheet, primarily due to strong demand – and rising prices – in North America. But FCA also saw improvements in a European market just rebounding after a long and deep recession.

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Is Your Car Up for a Buyback?

Sorting through Fiat Chrysler’s massive safety settlement.

by on Jul.30, 2015

The buyback covers a wide range of Ram pickups, including this heavy-duty 4500 model.

As part of a settlement with NHTSA over mishandled recalls, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has agreed to not only pay a record fine but also to buy back a select group of recent truck models with suspension problems while offering discounts to owners who might want to trade in older Jeeps facing recall.

The complex consent order has created plenty of confusion, dealers and factory phone lines – not to mention news outlets – inundated with calls and e-mails from owners wondering if they qualify for one of the deals.

Keeping You Informed!

Here’s some help in figuring out if you qualify for one of these programs, and what to do even if you don’t.

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Today’s Cars Staying on the Road Longer Than Ever

Quality up, but older cars may face unique problems.

by on Jul.29, 2015

The average age of vehicles on the road in the U.S. is 11.5 years, or more simply, this 2003 Honda Odyssey.

While new car sales may be stronger than they have been in nearly a decade, most American motorists are riding around in vehicles that are older than ever.

The typical vehicle on U.S. roads is now 11.5 years old, according to a study by IHS Automotive, an all-time high. And that means that millions of those vehicles have now been in operation for more than two decades.

By the Numbers!

“As long as we have tracked average age, it has gradually risen over time due to the increasing quality of automobiles,” said Mark Seng, global aftermarket practice leader at IHS Automotive. (more…)

Hammered By Biggest Fine Ever, Fiat Chrysler Aims to Fix Broken Safety Program

Company examining changes made by General Motors.

by on Jul.29, 2015

One of the changes made to improve safety is that FCA's safety chief Scott Kunselman, right, now reports directly to CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Hit with the largest package of fines and penalties ever levied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is under the microscope as federal regulators press it to change what has been described as a malfunctioning safety program.

Among other things, the maker will have to buy back perhaps several hundred thousand vehicles, and its safety program will be monitored by an independent outsider. But “that’s not something we fear,” insists the executive who has been appointed within FCA to get its safety efforts back on track.

Your Source for Auto Safety News!

“We’re focused now on getting fixes into the customer’s hands as quickly as possible,” and making sure that there are no delays when future safety problems are uncovered, said Scott Kunselman, the senior vice president of vehicle safety and regulatory compliance at the trans-Atlantic automaker. (more…)

Scion Seeking to Reconnect With Young Buyers With New iA, iM Models

Paring down aspirations.

by on Jul.29, 2015

Scion is looking to reinvigorate its brand with two new models, the iA sedan and iM hatch.

Once one of the hottest, hippest brands on the U.S. automotive market, Scion is hoping to reinvent itself with the launch of two new models this coming year, the iM and iA. And, in an unusual turnabout, it has sought help from little Mazda.

First launched 12 years ago, Scion was designed to reach the sort of youthful trendsetters who were largely steering clear of parent Toyota’s showrooms. And, with quirky models like the xB backed by creative – if sometimes dark – marketing campaigns, the brand became an almost instant success, hitting a 2006 peak with sales of 173,000 vehicles.

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But Like a parent who tries to pick up on the latest teenage slang, Scion soon seemed to disconnect with hip audience it sought. The second-generation xB, specifically designed for the U.S. market, was a spectacular flop and, by 2014, sales plunged to a mere 58,000. The slide has continued this year. Despite the ongoing revival of the U.S. new car market, Scion sales dipped another 18.6% during the first half. (more…)

VW Shoots to Global Number One Sales Spot

But Toyota still could regain momentum during the second half of 2015.

by on Jul.28, 2015

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn wants Volkswagen to be the biggest automaker in the world and he's getting his wish through the first six months of 2015.

The auto industry may have a new sales leader, Volkswagen outselling Toyota during the first half of the year for the first time.

But how things will shake out the rest of the year is far from certain, especially as the world’s largest automotive market, China, shows signs of faltering after more than a decade of double-digit growth. VW is the largest player in the Chinese market and has been struggling to head off a slump there.

Global Sales News!

Toyota has its own problems. While it is gaining ground in China it has lost momentum in its home Japanese market. Overall, the maker saw sales dip 1.5% during the first six months of 2015 to 5.02 million vehicles. (more…)

Chevy Rolls Out New 2016 Colorado Diesel

Oil-burner offers significant boost in mileage and towing capacity.

by on Jul.28, 2015

Chevrolet will be the first maker in the midsize pickup segment to offer a diesel option.

A year after launching its new midsize Colorado pickup, Chevrolet is back with a new diesel-powered version of the truck.

The new 2.8-liter Duramax diesel will be offered in the near-twin GMC Canyon, as well, making the pair the only diesels offered in the rebounding midsize pickup market. While no hard figures for the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel were released, it has been widely anticipated that highway mileage will top 30 mpg when the truck goes on sale this fall.

Keep on Truckin'!

“Along with greater capability and efficiency, it expands the Colorado lineup to give customers more choices and the capability of exploring more possibilities on and off the road, said Sandor Piszar, director of Chevrolet Truck Marketing.

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Ford Motor Co. Sets Records, Beats Earnings Forecasts

Few clouds on the immediate horizon.

by on Jul.28, 2015

Ford hopes to drive revenues even higher with the new Limited version of its F-150 pickup.

Just about any way you look at it, the second quarter was a good one for Ford Motor Co., the second-largest domestic automaker not only handily beating Wall Street analysts’ forecasts but delivering record numbers in North America and Asia/Pacific.

Even Europe came close to breaking even after years of heavy losses, noted Ford President and CEO Mark Fields. All told, the maker delivered net income of $1.9 billion per share, a 44% or $544 million year-over-year rise. On a per-share basis, Ford made 47 cents. That was up seven cents per share compared to the second-quarter of 2014 – and 10 cents more than the Wall Street consensus forecast.

By the Numbers!

“We delivered an outstanding second quarter, a great first half of 2015, and we are confident the second half of the year will be even stronger,” declared Fields in a prepared statement accompanying the earnings report. “The entire Ford team is focused on accelerating our One Ford plan, delivering product excellence and driving innovation in every part of our business.”

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Acura Chief Accavitti Unexpectedly Exits

New Acura boss is veteran designer Jon Ikeda.

by on Jul.28, 2015

Mike Accavitti with a prototype Acura TLX at its preview during the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

With sales growing well ahead of the industry overall, everything seemed to be going right for Acura boss Mike Accavitti. But the industry veteran has unexpectedly exited the Japanese luxury brand, parent Honda Motor Co. offering no explanation for his departure.

Accavitti will be succeeded by Jon Ikeda, who had served as head of Honda’s U.S. R&D operations and who was trained as a designer before joining Honda in 1989.

Your Inside Source!

“Jon Ikeda brings tremendous knowledge and talent to Acura,” John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, said in a statement. “From deep R&D experience with the brand, he has emerged as the ultimate advocate for Acura and has built a record of solid achievement and success.”

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