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GM Charging into Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Plans calls for fleet of self-driving Volts at Tech Center.

by on Oct.02, 2015

Some time next year, GM will have a fleet of self-driving Chevy Volts whizzing around its tech center campus north of Detroit.

Move over Google! The tech giant that uses its California campus as a testing ground for its autonomous vehicle now has company in those types of efforts as General Motors plans to do the same at its Tech Center campus in Michigan.

The automaker plans to roll out a fleet of autonomous 2017 Chevy Volt plug-in hybrids on the site starting next year. Employees will use the vehicles to get around the 326-acre campus in Warren, Michigan, just north of Detroit.

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“It really demonstrates a different mindset than what you might expect from the auto industry, really a Silicon Valley mindset,” she told investors and analysts Thursday at GM’s Global Business Conference. “We’re going to step things up. We’re going to experiment, we’re going to get customer input, we’re going to do it in a cost-effective way. If it works, we’re going to scale it.” (more…)

General Motors Poised for Profitability

Executives claim maker ready to earn big money.

by on Oct.02, 2015

GM executives Mary Barra and Mark Reuss announced the automaker is poised for double-digit earnings growth during the next several years.

General Motors is poised to post hefty profits over the next several years, GM executives said as they outlined their future plans during the company’s annual Global Business Conference at the company’s Milford Proving Ground

“We expect double-digit earnings per share growth for the next number of years,” GM Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens said during his afternoon presentation.

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“Let me repeat that,” he added for emphasis. (more…)

Makers Basking in Glow of White Hot September Sales

Despite diesel scandal, VW ekes out small gain.

by on Oct.01, 2015

Ford F-150 sales are back on track posting a 16% gain in September, including a 28% jump in retail sales.

With American and Asian carmakers posting double-digit gains, demand for new vehicles continued to expand at a healthy pace during September.

Ford, General Motors, FCA U.S., Toyota, Nissan and Audi reported significant sales increases last month. Somewhat surprising, Volkswagen of America, which suspended sales of its diesel-powered cars after being caught cheating on emission tests, managed a small jump – less than 1% – through the use of incentives.

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Ford’s U.S. sales increased 23% in September, providing the company with its best September performance in 11 years. Retail sales increases were broad-based with passenger car sales up 15%, SUVs up 23% and trucks up 29%. (more…)

Jaguar Land Rover Sticking to Diesel Guns

VW controversy won’t change brand’s plans.

by on Oct.01, 2015

Volkswagen's diesel scandal won't impact the plans of Janguar Land Rover, which expects to have diesel options for all models by 2017.

Jaguar Land Rover, which is eager to grow, is moving forward with its plans to introduce more vehicles with diesel engines in the U.S. despite the scandal that has surrounded Volkswagen AG since it was found to have used special software to defeat emission tests for diesel-powered cars.

“We’re not going to change our strategy,” Jaguar Land Rover North America President Joe Eberhardt said after speech to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit. “You have to deal with the situation as it arises.”

Diesel News!

Eberhardt, noted that even before Volkswagen was discovered to have cheated on tests required by the U.S. Clean Air Act, diesel fuel was more expensive than gasoline so there was always at least one downside to diesel. (more…)

Mandating New Safety Technology Could Save $900 Bil

Active safety innovations could save 33,000 lives annually, report claims.

by on Sep.30, 2015

A full conversion to autonomous driving technology could eliminate 90% of traffic fatalities, according to a new report.

New active safety technologies could reduce road accidents in the United States by more than one third, saving thousands of lives and billions in societal costs for medical care, vehicle repairs and lost productivity, according to a new study released this week by the Boston Consulting Group.

The study said available systems like automatic braking and lane control assistance technology could reduce the number of accidents by 28%. In addition, wider use of the new technologies could pave the way for fully autonomous vehicles and lead to a 90% reduction in fatal accidents over time.

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“Because the vast majority of crashes in the United States are caused by driver error, the lack of adoption of these technologies within the vehicle fleet in the United States is a significant missed opportunity,” said BCG’s Xavier Mosquet, who co-authored the report funded by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association. (more…)

Ford Faces Strike Deadline at Key Plant

Kansas City truck plant ready to walk.

by on Sep.30, 2015

Talks between the UAW and Ford just got a little tenser as the union informed the automaker it plans to strike if key issues don't get resolved next week.

The United Auto Workers has targeted the one of Ford Motor Co.’s key assembly plants in Kansas City, Missouri, for a strike if bargaining doesn’t resolve key issues by early next week.

The Kansas City plant builds a number of variations of Ford’s F-150 pickup trucks, which is one of the most profitable vehicles built by the company in the United States. After a slow start, production of the new, aluminum F-150 is running at top speed now and a strike would quickly reduce inventories of new vehicles.

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Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president in charge of negotiations with Ford, said the company had left the union with little choice but to intensify the dispute in a bid for a fair and acceptable agreement. The strike warning should not have any impact on the other negotiations at Ford, including the ongoing discussion for a new master agreement covering wages and benefits. (more…)

UAW-FCA Tentative Pact Faces Critical Vote

Toledo plant result makes or breaks the deal.

by on Sep.29, 2015

Workers at FCA's Toledo, Ohio, plant are key to the tentative deal between Fiat Chrysler and the UAW getting approved.

The fate of the United Auto Workers contract with the FCA U.S. may hinge on voting at the assembly complex in Toledo, Ohio, where workers are uneasy about the pending changes in the product plan outlined by the company’s CEO Sergio Marchionne.

The FCA employees have been concerned that the company could shift production to another plant within the manufacturing system built by the old Chrysler Group. However, Toledo now stands to lose its other key product, the Jeep Cherokee, according to Marchionne, who let the information out during an interview with the trade publication.

Union News!

UAW president Dennis Williams has tried to re-assure workers that no product placement decisions have been made yet but workers at the big assembly complex, the largest in FCA U.S., remain deeply skeptical of both the pact and of Marchionne, who, in the past, has promised to do what he could to keep jobs in Toledo in return for the loyal and dedicated service of the employees that build Jeep products. (more…)

Takata Faulty Airbag Recall May Expand

NHTSA questions makers about use of dangerous airbags.

by on Sep.29, 2015

The latest Takata incident involved the side-image airbag in a 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan

Federal safety officials plan to shine a spotlight on more automakers that installed Takata airbags in their vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contacted seven more automakers about their use of Takata airbags and their plans for dealing with them.

On Sept. 22, NHTSA sent letters to Volkswagen AG, Tesla Motors Inc., Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz unit, Jaguar Land Rover, Suzuki Motor Corp., Volvo Trucks and Spartan Motors, asking questions about the Takata inflators they use.

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The letters, which the agency released last Friday, ask each of the makers how many vehicles have Takata airbag inflators, and whether they are considering recalls. The airbags, which explode with too much force sending metal shrapnel into the cabin of the vehicle, have caused at least eight deaths and more than 100 injuries. (more…)

Pope’s Fiat 500L Creating Buzz During U.S. Visit

Small, low-priced car metaphor for Pontiff’s message of humbleness and humility.

by on Sep.28, 2015

Pope Francis has been traveling to venues in the U.S. in a black Fiat 500L.

Thousands, perhaps millions, of people followed the movements of Pope Francis during his six-day visit to the U.S. hanging on every word he uttered and, not surprisingly, the black Fiat 500L that often ferried him from event to event.

The compact car is a marked departure from vehicles used by past leaders of the Roman Catholic church, who have used a variety of high-priced luxury vehicles from Mercedes and other makers to go from place to place.

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However, the 500L, which costs less than $30,000 fully loaded, appears to mirror the pontiff’s image of a man who still attempts to honor his pledge to live a life of poverty he took as a priest in Argentina more than 30 years ago. (more…)

Analysts Revising Auto Sales Predictions Upward

Consumer confidence helps keeps sales pace strong.

by on Sep.28, 2015

Analysts have revised their new vehicle sales estimates for 2015 upward as consumer confidence remains high.

Despite uncertainty in the global economy, the U.S. auto industry continues to motor along at a steady clip.

As a result of the vigorous selling pace during the spring and summer months — the selling rate from May through August averaged 17.5 million units — LMC Automotive is raising its 2015 total light-vehicle sales forecast to 17.2 million units from 17.1 million units and its retail light-vehicle forecast to 14.1 million units from 14 million units.

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In addition, analysts at Moody’s now predict sales of new cars and trucks will increase by 2.4% in 2016 after growing by 2.8% in 2015. (more…)