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It’s Official: Rolls-Royce SUV Will be Named Cullinan

A diamond in the rough?

by on Feb.13, 2018

Project Cullinan is about to make its debut as the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

Surprise: Rolls-Royce plans to call its first-ever SUV the Cullinan. Oh, wait, you already knew? Well, the reality is that folks inside the British maker have been referring to the ultra-luxurious  ute for some time as “Project Cullinan,” but the company only now is making that the official choice for the production model.

So, with a little less than shock value to the name, Rolls has also released an assortment of pictures of what it prefers to call a “high-bodied vehicle.”  And, if you’re wondering, it’s an appropriate moniker for something targeting the world’s most affluent motorists, making reference to the largest diamond ever discovered.

Product News!

“The name Cullinan has been hiding in plain sight since we revealed it as the project name some years ago,” explained Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce. “It is the most fitting name for our extraordinary new product. Just like the Cullinan Diamond, the largest flawless diamond ever found, it emerges when it is perfect and exists above all others.”

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GM Shutting One Korean Plant, Considering Fate of Others

Government open to aid offer – but demands investment guarantees.

by on Feb.13, 2018

The Gunsan plant has produced several GM models, including the Chevy Orlando shown here.

Facing rising costs and declining sales, General Motors today said it will close one of four factories in South Korea and, as part of an ongoing restructuring program, the automaker is weighing the fate of the remaining three facilities.

South Korean government officials expressed “deep regret” at the news. The country’s trade minister left open the possibility of financial aid but cautioned that any assistance will depend on whether GM plans to invest in its operations in Asia’s fourth-largest economy. But it appears all sides are playing a game of brinksmanship, the U.S. automaker waiting to see what stakeholders, including its unions, might be willing to offer.

Global News!

“As we are at a critical juncture of needing to make product allocation decisions, the ongoing discussions must demonstrate significant progress by the end of February, when GM will make important decisions on next steps,” Barry Engle, GM executive vice president and president of GM International, said in a statement.

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First Look: Mercedes-AMG G63

More muscle for an off-road beast.

by on Feb.13, 2018

The 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 features several distinctive design details, including its grille and side exhaust pipes.

Less than a month after Arnold Schwarzenegger helped pull the wraps off the next-generation Mercedes G-Wagen, the German automaker is back with an even more bulked-up version of the off-road beast.

With a helping hand from the AMG side of the family the new G63 will boast the sort of power that one might more typically expect from a Mercedes sports car, a full 577 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque.

Off-Roading!

“The new AMG G63 brings driving performance to the segment of unadulterated off-road vehicles in unexpected form,” said Tobias Moers, CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.” The vehicle has evertheless reached a completely new dimension in terms of technology with the handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 biturbo engine as well as in combination with the off-road characteristics, the agility and the vehicle dynamics achieved.”

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Update: Ghosn Successor Plan Wins Thumbs Up from French Government – But Support Comes with Stiff Price

France demanding Renault formally merge with Japanese ally Nissan.

by on Feb.12, 2018

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance chief Carlos Ghosn will get the man he wants to succeed him when he retires: COO Thierry Bollore.

Carlos Ghosn’s plan to name his successor later this week has cleared a critical hurdle despite creating some turmoil – including the resignation of one of French automaker Renault’s senior board members.

The French government, which owns a major stake in Renault, now says it will accept Ghosn’s plan to appoint Thierry Bollore as the carmaker’s chief operating officer and his heir-apparent. But the government also said that it wants an agreement that Ghosn will push to form an “integrated” company – translation: a merger – with Japan’s Nissan, rather than the current alliance structure. Ghosn has long preferred to see the two companies coordinate efforts but remain independent.

News You Can Trust!

Ghosn, who will turn 64 next month, is expected to be given another four-year contract as chairman, CEO and president of Renault in June, but naming Bollore his successor “is perfectly acceptable to the French shareholder,” according to a source in the government’s finance ministry who spoke to the Reuters news service on Monday. (more…)

Mercedes Dropping Out of Detroit Auto Show in 2019

Auto shows face increasing challenges as automakers look at alternatives.

by on Feb.12, 2018

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrated the debut of the 2019 G-Wagen at this year's Detroit Auto Show..

(This story has been updated.)

Officials with the North American International Auto Show have confirmed that Mercedes-Benz won’t be on hand when the even returns in January 2019, the latest on a growing list of manufacturers who have decided to pull out of the Detroit show.

The news comes as more and more automakers rethink their commitment to both media previews and public says at events like the NAIAS. As TheDetroitBureau.com recently reported, industry planners are looking at alternatives that can more directly target potential buyers while also holding down costs. At shows like the NAIAS it can cost as much as $5 million to stage a 20-minute media preview – even more if the event involves the creation of a one-of-a-kind concept vehicle.

Business News!

“At this time Mercedes-Benz AG will not be exhibiting at the upcoming 2019 North American International Auto Show,” said the German marque in a statement. “Our time in Detroit over the years has been very beneficial for our brand, especially coming off of the world debut of the iconic G-Class. Discussions are underway for future show participation.”

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Ford Investing $25M to Boost Output of High-Profit Navigator, Expedition SUVs

Demand outstrips expectations as transaction prices surge.

by on Feb.12, 2018

Ford's remodel of the Kentucky Truck Plant to accommodate the new aluminum-bodied SUVs.

With SUVs now accounting for half of the U.S. new vehicle market, Ford Motor Co. is investing $25 million at its Kentucky Truck Plant to boost production of its big Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator models by 25%.

The project, which follows a $900 million update of the Louisville factory, introduces an array of high-tech tools, including 400 new robots, as well as a 3D printer that will allow workers to make parts and tools on the fly.

Truck News!

“Using a combination of Ford’s advanced manufacturing and American hard work and ingenuity, we’ll deliver more high-quality Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expeditions to customers than originally planned,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of Global Operations. (more…)

Turmoil at Renault as Ghosn Preps to Name Successor

Senior board member ousted.

by on Feb.12, 2018

Thierry Bollore, currently chief operating officer of Renault, is CEO Carlos Ghosn's choice to succeed him when he retires.

Carlos Ghosn’s plan to name a successor is touching off turmoil within the board of directors at French automaker Renault, according to reports out of Europe.

Senior board member Thierry Desmarest has resigned, according to the Reuters news service, following the recent resignation of Stefan Mueller, Renault’s chief performance officer. Their departures appears to clear the way for Ghosn to name Thierry Bollore as his chief operating officer and heir apparent.

News Now!

One of the highest-profile executives in the automotive world, Ghosn has taken on a variety of senior positions since he was first assigned to rescue the Japanese side of what became the Renault-Nissan Alliance two decades ago. That includes serving as CEO of both Renault and the Alliance, as well as chief executive of Mitsubishi, which recently became third member of the group. (more…)

Automakers Exploring Alternatives to Conventional Car-Buying Process

Ford paints one option with Canvas subscription service.

by on Feb.09, 2018

Ford's Canvas subscription service delivers a Mustang to a customer in California.

More than 17 million Americans drove off dealer lots with new vehicles last year, and the vast majority of them purchased their new cars, trucks and crossovers the same way motorists have for the past century.

There are alternatives, like leasing, but automakers are exploring even more radical options, some borrowed from the emerging world of online retailing. Ford, for one, said this week it is looking for ways to grow the subscription service, Canvas, that it launched a year ago. That subscription-based service might best be described as a hybrid blend of car buying and car rental, letting a motorist get a vehicle for as long as they want but then return it with just seven days’ notice.

The Last Word!

“As car ownership evolves, we see Canvas as part of our suite of products that address changing customer needs in mobility,” said Ford Credit Executive Vice President of Marketing David McClelland. “Canvas is building subscription products that are relevant to consumers today, and it’s building technology for the future, including billing and fleet management, with a nimble approach to product development.”

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Diesel Crisis May Have Been Just What VW Needed, Suggests US CEO

"The race is on," says Woebcken.

by on Feb.09, 2018

VW's U.S. chief Hinrich Woebcken told the Economic Club of Chicago that the company needed to "Americanize" to be successful.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, or so goes the old saw. And it just might apply to Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal, suggested the automaker’s North American chief executive, despite costing the automaker about $30 billion in penalties.

During a series of appearances at the Chicago Auto Show, Hinrich Woebcken noted that after taking an initial, sharp hit to its sales after admitting it rigged more than 500,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S., VW’s sales rebounded in 2017, climbing 5% even as the overall American car market fell nearly 2%.

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“Maybe the diesel crisis helped convince (our) company to Americanize,” said Woebcken, during a speech to the Chicago Economic Club. Long known to American car buyers as “a sports car brand … a niche company,” VW recognized that, if it was going to recover, it had to “move into the heart of the American market.” (more…)

Fiat Hopes to Turbocharge Sales with Updated 500 Line

Italian brand promises to offer America’s “most affordable” turbo model.

by on Feb.09, 2018

Starting with 2019 models, all Fiat 500s will get turbocharged engines as standard equipment, as FCA hopes to boost sales.

Fiat is turbocharging its little 500 coupe and convertible models for 2019 and, in the process, hoping to give the entire brand a big boost.

For the coming model year, all Fiat 500s will be powered by turbocharged engines, starting with the base car that will now feature a 1.4-liter Multi-Air inline-four making 135 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque.

News Now!

Set to roll into U.S. showrooms early in the second-quarter, Fiat has yet to announce pricing, but “We believe the new Fiat 500 will be the most affordable turbocharged model in America,” said brand boss Matt McAlear, during a preview of the updated minicar at the Chicago Auto Show. (more…)