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Barra Defends GM’s Efforts to Fix Recalled Cars

CEO fires two top executives while pushing for change.

by on Apr.15, 2014

Embattled GM CEO Mary Barra defended the automaker's handling of the ignition switch recall in a speech today in New York.

General Motors’ Chief Executive Mary Barra today defended the automaker’s response in the wake of the recall of more than 2.6 million vehicles and her own handling of a safety-related problem that had festered inside GM for more than a decade.

Barra told a gathering an industry conference in New York City that GM has already taken several steps to replace ignition lock cylinders in the 2.6 million vehicles recalled to repair ignition switches. Parts are arriving at dealers, who have been enormously helpful in addressing the problem, she noted.

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“Our actions in recent weeks show we at GM are committed to living our values. I am committed to seeing it through,” Barra said. “All of us understand what is at stake here.” (more…)

Ford, Toyota Continue Scrap over Small Car Sales

Japanese maker claims victory by just 906 Corollas.

by on Apr.15, 2014

Toyota is claiming the Corolla was the best-selling nameplate in the world in 2013.

The Battle of Worldwide Budget Sales continued today. Less than a week after Ford touted the Focus as the world’s best-selling nameplate, Toyota is saying not so fast.

The debate over the best-selling car in the world has gone back and for between Ford and Toyota for a few years now with Toyota claiming the Corolla has been the top dog. However, Ford has countered that Toyota pads its numbers with variants of the Corolla that really bear little resemblance to the maker’s entry-level model.

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However, this year may be different. (more…)

Value of Deal with Man United Getting Early Test

$559 million tie-up got marketing chief fired.

by on Apr.15, 2014

Manchester United's Phil Townsend (left) and Chevrolet U.S. Marketing Vice President Paul Edwards announce Chevrolet's sponsorship of Manchester United's match vs. Real Madrid at the University of Michigan on Aug. 2.

One of General Motors’ most controversial marketing endeavors will be on full display as the Manchester United Football Club will barnstorm in the U.S. this summer, wearing their new jerseys, featuring the Chevrolet brand logo in distinctive colors.

With 60% of Chevrolet’s sales outside the United States, the maker is looking to make an impact in markets around the world. The $559 million, seven-year deal with Manchester United, which sidelined the career of at least one senior GM executive, also offers Chevrolet an opportunity to change the conversation around the brand away from the ignition-switch recall controversy, which has swamped the company in recent weeks.

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Manchester United, which is considered by some to be the best, if not the best-known, soccer club in the world, will play the L.A. Galaxy of Major League Soccer in the Chevrolet FC Cup, July 23, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. (more…)

New Book Honors the Pony Car that Almost Wasn’t

Remembrances on the unlikely launch of the 1964-1/2 Mustang

by on Apr.15, 2014

Author Mike Davis provides readers of his new book, Mustang and the Pony Car Revolution, a look at how the Mustang came to be from inside Ford headquarters.

A full 50 years ago this week, a new car burst onto the scene that revolutionized the automotive business. But the original 1964-1/2 Mustang was almost an after-thought, a design that was rushed to market when then-Ford President Lee Iacocca pulled the plug on a far more stodgy small car he decided wouldn’t sell.

Not so the Mustang. The flood of headlines helped Ford sell so many it had to add two extra assembly plants to keep up with demand.

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Ford will be staging a series of events this week to mark the Mustang’s Golden Anniversary. That includes a major event at the NY Auto Show where the all-new 2015 Mustang will be on display. The make is even cutting a new model into three pieces to haul it up to the observation deck at the Empire State Building. (more…)

Dodge Offers “Double-Up” Lease on Charger, Challenger

Customers get a year in a 2014, three in a new 2015.

by on Apr.15, 2014

Dodge comes up with an unusual lease program for its Charger and Challenger models.

The new Dodge “Double-Up” deal is offering Charger and Challenger customers a chance to get two vehicles out of one lease.

The move appears to be meant to give some momentum to the two Detroit muscle cars which have been struggling to gain ground on traditional segment leaders Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. It also helps clear out an inventory backlog as Dodge prepares to roll out updated versions of its twin performance models.

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The Double-Up program lets a buyer lease a 2014 Dodge Charger or Challenger and then come back, a year from now to swap out for a 2015 model. (more…)

Nissan Versa Gets a Familiar New Look

2015 sedan’s facelift puts it in line with sedan siblings.

by on Apr.15, 2014

The 2015 Nissan Versa takes on the familiar styling of the rest of Nissan's sedan line-up.

The Nissan Versa sedan received a makeover for the 2015 model year and now the company’s starter vehicle looks like the rest of the line-up. The automaker said Versa’s new “‘Nissan family’ front-end styling adds a more substantial visual presence.”

“Versa Sedan is the entry point for the dynamic Nissan sedan lineup, attracting many first-time new car buyers to the brand,” said Pierre Loing, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc., in a statement.

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“It’s critical that we keep Versa’s look and feel fresh and its value equation high, with a rewarding driving and ownership experience.” (more…)

Kia Straddles Minivan/Crossover Line

Touts new Sedona as a ‘multipurpose vehicle.’

by on Apr.15, 2014

The 2015 Kia Sedona marks the maker's first major overhaul of the vehicle since 2009.

The mystery is gone regarding the 2015 Kia Sedona minivan, er, multipurpose vehicle. After dropping a few hints and dark pictures of the new version, the maker unveiled the details about new Sedona it plans to show in New York this week.

One of the questions floating around was would it be a minivan at all. Given the fact that the minivan segment is shrinking and dominated by a couple of makers, wondering if Kia would stay there was a valid question. Now the answer is, uh, well…maybe.

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Touting its “European-inspired” styling and other features, it seems Kia’s plans to differentiate the Sedona from other minivans is to simply suggest that it’s not a minivan at all, but a crossover. (more…)

Porsche Debuting New GTS Models in Beijing

Boxster, Cayman get additional 15 horses.

by on Apr.14, 2014

The 2015 Porsche Boxster GTS gets a 3.4-liter six cylinder putting out 330 horsepower this year.

Most makers are getting ready for their new introductions in New York, but Porsche plans to debut the Boxster GTS and Cayman GTS at the Beijing Auto Show later this week.

The newest members of the GTS family are earning their stripes with more powerful engines and upgrades to the vehicles’ standard equipment.

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The Boxster GTS and Cayman GTS boast mid-mounted 3.4-liter six-cylinder boxer engine delivers that both additional 15 horsepower compared with their “S” model counterparts. The Boxster GTS comes in at 330 hp with 273 lb.-ft. of torque while the Cayman GTS has 340 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. (more…)

VW Updating, Renaming its Small Wagon

SportWagen gets upgrades, but no AWD for US.

by on Apr.14, 2014

The new 2015 VW Golf SportWagen will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show.

Volkswagen’s compact two-box model is getting both an update and a new name, the old Jetta wagon set to reappear as the 2015 Golf SportWagen.

It’s a fitting decision considering the new model will share the same modular underpinnings as the all-new VW Golf and Golf GTI we’ll finally be seeing later in 2014 – a full year after those models debuted in Europe.

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Like the basic Golf, the SportWagen will be produced at the VW assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico, assembly plant. It will be lighter, stiffer and more well-equipped than the old Jetta wagon. (more…)

VW, Ford Enjoy Strong March Sales in China

Automakers post double-digit jumps last month.

by on Apr.14, 2014

The Ford Mondeo is a strong seller in China. Ford's March sales were up 28%.

Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co. continued to post strong sales in China for March and the first quarter of 2014.

Ford China heads into the Beijing Auto Show with record monthly sales of 103,815 vehicles, a 28% increase over March 2013. It was the first time Ford China sales topped the 100,000 monthly sales mark for the first time. Excellent March performance brought first quarter sales up by 45%, compared to the same period last year, according to Ford.

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“We’re pleased that China’s car buyers continue to choose Ford,” said John Lawler, chairman and CEO of Ford China. “Our strong sales momentum demonstrates the success of our accelerated China growth plan and puts Ford in a great position as we get ready to showcase our full product lineup at the Beijing Auto Show.” (more…)