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Michigan, Israel Join Forces in Advancement of Autos

by on Oct.30, 2014

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Roey Gilad signed an agreement to promote joint industrial research and development projects.

Aside from having reputations for being tough, resolute and gritty, the State of Michigan and Israel are adding a new entry to their list of descriptors: technology leaders.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Israeli Ministry of Economy are partnering to form the Michigan-Israel Technology Connect program to spawn new ideas for electric vehicles and driver protection.

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Using their respective networks and databases, the MEDC and MATIMOP, the Israeli Center for R&D, will help companies identify potential partners for this program. In addition, it is anticipated that companies will be seeking their own partners independently. Each project will require one partner based in Michigan and another based in Israel. (more…)

Sao Paulo Show Spotlights Some Hot Concepts

Nissan, Fiat and Chevy roll out some edgy possibilities.

by on Oct.30, 2014

The new Nissan Kicks concept takes the Nissan Extrem from pure fantasy to a market position that is a little closer to reality.

While we media scribes tend to focus on a handful of big car shows in Europe, North America and Asia, we risk missing some promising prospects that show up in other locales, this year notably the car show in Brazilian capital Sao Paulo.

Among the makers rolling out concepts for the occasion are Fiat, Chevy and Nissan. Each appears focused on finding distinct new white space between conventional product segments. That’s a tradition in Brazil, but according to several industry sources, don’t be surprised to see some of these show cars wind up in production – possibly even making it to the American market.

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That’s a particularly solid possibility, we’re being told, for the Nissan Kicks, a second take on the Japanese maker’s 2012 Extrem concept. (more…)

Federal Regulators Turning up Heat on Takata

NHTSA pushes supplier to speed up replacement part production.

by on Oct.30, 2014

NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman is pushing Takata to speed up production of replacement airbag components.

Takata is feeling the heat from federal safety regulators who are pushing the Japanese supplier to speed up the production of components necessary to repair the 7.8 million vehicles recalled due to their faulty airbags.

David Friedman, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sent a letter to the supplier telling it to expedite the production of replacement inflators as well as informing Takata that it is insisting automakers that used the airbags make every effort to get the repairs done as quickly as possible, including extending service hours at its dealerships.

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Letters were sent to Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Ford, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, BMW and Chrysler Group. Additionally, the agency wants to meet weekly with Takata executives weekly, according to a separate letter, Bloomberg reported. (more…)

Chrysler, Ford Recalling 700,000 More Vehicles

Latest actions push 2014 total to nearly 42 million.

by on Oct.30, 2014

Chrysler is recalling more than 184,000 Ram heavy duty trucks with 6.7-liter Cummins diesels for a fuel-heater housing problem.

U.S. automakers continued their march to 42 million-plus vehicles recalled this year with actions by Chrysler and Ford adding nearly 700,000 vehicles to the rolls.

Chrysler Group announced a global recall of more than 566,000 Jeep and Dodge SUVs because their stability controls might not work while in heavy-duty and commercial Ram pickups because their diesel-fuel heaters might get too hot.

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The stability control recall is for 184,186 of the 2014 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs: 132,223 are in the U.S., 8,871 are in Canada, 4,742 are in Mexico and 38,350 are outside the North America. (more…)

Ford Introducing 2016 Explorer at L.A. Auto Show

Maker teasing “#ExploreMore” campaign on social media.

by on Oct.29, 2014

Ford Explorer sales are up 8.7% for the year. The maker is going to debut the 2016 model at the L.A. Auto Show.

Ford is ready to celebrate another special anniversary with a new vehicle. The maker is marking the 25th anniversary of the Ford Explorer with a new 2016 model it will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.

As part of the launch, Ford will debut an “#ExploreMore” digital teaser campaign on social media. The Explorer wasn’t the first midsize sport-utility vehicle in the U.S., however, it is the best-selling one. Since its introduction, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has sold nearly 7 million Explorers.

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Sales this year are up as Ford has sold more than 158,000 Explorers through the first nine months of 2014, up 8.7%. (more…)

Dodge Restarting Viper Production in November

Big price cut drives surge in orders for 2015 model.

by on Oct.29, 2014

Dodge is restarting Viper production next month with the 200 preorders for the 2015 model.

Viper fans take heart! Chrysler Group announced plans to begin production of the company’s halo sports beast next month with full production coming mid-November.

The automaker stopped production of the 2014 Dodge Viper SRT due to sluggish sales. However, after a $15,000 price cut that reduced the entry point to just under $85,000, sales took off. Not only did the maker lower the price, they allowed all Dodge dealers to sell the car.

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As a result, in September dealers sold more than two times as many as they did during the year-ago period: 108 compared with 45. It was also the first time the maker reached (and surpassed) the century mark in one month. Reports suggest that October results will be similarly impressive. (more…)

October Sales Expected to Defy Economic Uncertainty

Incentives rise, and pose risks, analyst warns.

by on Oct.29, 2014

The Jeep Cherokee is selling well and is responsible of much of Chrysler Group's stellar year.

Recent big swings in the stock market and dire headlines about an economic downturn haven’t put any kind of dent in U.S. auto sales, industry analysts are predicting demand for October will be up between 5.4 and 6.0% when sales numbers are totaled up next week.

Total demand, including retail and fleet sales, is expected to reach 1.27 million vehicles, according to various forecasts. On an annualized basis, known in industry terms as the SAAR, that would work out to 16.3 million vehicles, nearly a million about the rate for all of 2013.

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“The industry continues to demonstrate strong sales growth and robust transaction prices, resulting in another record-breaking month for industry consumer spending,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power and Associates. (more…)

Automakers Still Focus on Cost Over Quality, Suppliers Claim

Quality dropping to gain savings despite assertions about quality and safety.

by on Oct.29, 2014

GM's CEO Mary Barra says quality is the company's top consideration, but suppliers are saying GM and other automakers are focused more on cost.

During a widely attended speech this week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the automaker is intent on “raising the bar” on safety and quality – but is that aggressive push by GM and its competitors really having the desired affect on their corporate cultures? Automotive suppliers are saying it isn’t.

A recent survey of suppliers says that cost is beginning to be the biggest driver in its dealing with makers – at the expense of quality and potentially safety.

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IHS Automotive’s SuRe Index suggests that the relationships between automakers and their suppliers are worsening, in some measure because they don’t see eye-to-eye on how to improve the quality of cars and trucks, which has been a recurrent theme in the history of the parties. (more…)

Lincoln Getting $5 Billion Infusion to Resurrect Brand

CEO Fields staunchly supporting brand’s renaissance.

by on Oct.28, 2014

Lincoln is hoping a new series of ads featuring actor Matthew McConaughey will raise the company's profile and boost sales.

Ford’s leaders are doubling down on their investment in the Lincoln brand in hopes of coming up with a winning hand as other luxury brands, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and even Cadillac, have stronger followings than long-suffering Lincoln.

However, it has been difficult to know what that meant, in terms of dollars, until now. In September, Ford executives suggested the plan called for a $2.5 billion cash infusion into the brand; however, Ford CFO Bob Shanks said last week that the figure was low because it excludes engineering and some sales-related expenses.

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Some experts put the number closer to $5 billion. (more…)

FCA Quality Chief Steps Down

Betts departs day after maker ranked last in quality.

by on Oct.28, 2014

Chrysler quality czar Doug Betts resigned a day after the company's brands finished at the bottom of Consumer Reports' quality rankings.

Just a day after Chrysler Group finished dead last in vehicle quality, the maker’s long-time quality chief Doug Betts stepped down to “pursue other opportunities.”

It was announced yesterday that Fiat Chrysler’s American brands – Chrysler, Dodge and Ram – were at the bottom of Consumer Reports’ annual reliability rankings and took a significant tumble from the previous year’s results.

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Betts, who had been Senior Vice President of Quality since 2009, will be replaced by Mark Chernoby, who will head quality for FCA, and Matthew Liddane, who will lead quality in North America for Chrysler Group. The appointments are effective immediately. (more…)