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Chrysler SEMA Concepts Hint at Niche Products to Come

Mopar generating double-digit growth for maker.

by on Oct.24, 2014

The Dodge Challenger T/A concept is a 485-horsepower beast that the maker is displaying at the SEMA show.

It’s a beautiful autumn morning as Mark Trostle leads a group of journalists out to the design department courtyard behind the Chrysler Technology Center.  “It’s like Candyland out here,” says the chief designer for Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Mopar division, as he surveys an assortment of concept vehicles that will soon head to Las Vegas for the annual SEMA Show.

That’s the yearly gathering of the automotive parts and accessories world, a fast-growing industry that generates more than $30 billion in business annually. Not surprisingly, makers like Fiat Chrysler have been increasing their presence at SEMA each year hoping not only to put a halo around their brands, but also to help sell more of their own parts and accessories.

The Last Word!

Mopar, in fact, has been generating double-digit growth in recent years, in part by coming up with striking concept vehicles that illustrate ways to use products from its own parts catalogue. But it’s also going to be showing several special concepts that could soon be put, in whole, into production by various Fiat Chrysler brands. (more…)

Former Ford PR Boss Charges Maker Tapped Phones, Car

Vines says Bill Ford Jr. leaked stories to NY Times.

by on Oct.24, 2014

Former Ford PR Executive Jason Vines alleges the automaker bugged his phones, office and car in his new book.

Former Ford PR Chief Jason Vines is alleging that the automaker eavesdropped on his conversations and those of other top executives during his tenure at the company.

In his soon-to-be-released book, “What Did Jesus Drive? Crisis PR in Cars, Computers and Christianity,” Vines claims that security personnel for the automaker bugged his car, cell phone and office for a three-month period during the Firestone tire crisis in 2001.

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He further alleges that he wasn’t the only executive who was being tapped. He suggests then-general counsel John Rintamaki also believed he was being listened to and during a sensitive conversation in Rintamaki’s office, the lawyer pumped up the volume on some classical music to counteract the devices. (more…)

Honda Cuts Executives’ Pay after Fit Recall

CEO stands to lose $70K due to fifth action on new subcompact.

by on Oct.24, 2014

The new Honda Fit cost the maker's CEO $70,000.

Many executives have incentives tied to the performance of the company they work for, but in Honda’s case, senior executives are being docked some pay after the maker’s subcompact Fit was recalled for the fifth time.

The recall involves 425,825 Fit hybrid vehicles and other models in Japan. Honda said in addition to a noise-related issue there is a problem with the ignition coil or power-supply circuit could cause the engine to stop in the Fit and Vezel hybrids as well as some gasoline-powered Fit and N-WGN models.

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The move comes as Honda is facing lawsuits due to accidents involving airbags supplied by Takata Corp. The airbags have been linked to four deaths, which were all in Honda vehicles. (more…)

Takata’s Troubles Don’t End with Faulty Airbags

Japanese supplier investigated for price fixing.

by on Oct.24, 2014

Takata's problems are bigger than the 7.8 million vehicles recalled due to its faulty airbags.

The Japanese auto supplier at the center of a massive recall of due to potentially explosive airbags, Takata Corp., is also mired in a criminal price-fixing investigation by the Department of Justice.

Four Takata executives pleaded guilty to price-fixing charges brought by the Justice Department’s anti-trust division, which charged the company’s executives with colluding with other suppliers to rig bids for seat belts against Honda, Toyota and Mazda.

Your Auto Safety News Source!

In addition to the charges by the DOJ, the U.S. District Court in Eastern District of Michigan has levied fines against Takata totaling more than $71 million. All three Japanese carmakers also have been heavily impacted by the concerns over airbags supplied by Takata, which have exploded and in a number of cases injured motorists. (more…)

After Gloomy Forecast, Ford Earnings Narrowly Beat Expectations

But numbers still down sharply for Q3.

by on Oct.24, 2014

Ford CEO Mark Fields with the 2015 Edge, one of the models critical to turning around its earnings slump.

Ford’s third-quarter earnings report is a classic test of whether you want to view the glass as half-empty or half-full.

The maker recently warned that it would deliver a substantially lower profits due to problems in Europe and other markets, as well as having to cover the cost of a big recall. And, indeed, earnings for the July to September period plunged sharply, from $1.3 billion a year ago to just $835 million.

Earnings News!

The pre-tax profit, at $1.2 billion, was off from a year-earlier $2.6 billion. But at 24 cents a share, that nonetheless managed to beat the 19-cent consensus estimate, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. (more…)

Fisker’s Back! Makes Return at L.A. Auto Show

Galpin Auto Sports teams with Danish designer for new muscle car.

by on Oct.23, 2014

Fisker founder Henrik Fisker is debuting a new muscle car at the L.A. Auto Show next month.

Less than two years after stepping down from his namesake company, Henrik Fisker is stepping back onto the automotive stage by joining forces with a California-based mega-dealer to produce the “Ultimate American Muscle Car.”

Danish designer Fisker is teaming with Galpin Motors in a pair of back-to-back vehicle debuts at the L.A. Auto Show next month, but aside from rumors about a new muscle car, details of what’s coming aren’t readily available.

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The preliminary schedule for the show reveals that Fisker has consecutive press conferences for “vehicle debuts,” but lists Galpin Motors and Galpin Auto Sports as the co-presenter for the slots. (more…)

Daimler Reports Mercedes Expected to Hit Sales Record

Company turns profits despite sluggish global economy.

by on Oct.23, 2014

Dieter Zetsche said Daimler's Q3 profits were due in large measure to strong sales by Mercedes-Benz.

Daimler AG used a surge in sales of new Mercedes-Benz models to boost its revenue by 10% in the third quarter despite the soft global economy, which the company expects to slow further by the end of the year.

Daimler Group AG net earnings also increased significantly to 2.82 billion euros compared with 1.89 billion euros in the third quarter of last year and Mercedes-Benz cars is on its way to record sales this year.

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The group’s third-quarter revenue of 33.1 billion euros was 10% above the prior-year level; adjusted for exchange-rate effects, revenue increased by 11%. (more…)

NHTSA’s Friedman Apologizes for Takata Snafu

Deputy chief acknowledges errors in Monday warning.

by on Oct.23, 2014

David Friedman, NHTSA's deputy administrator, apologized for underreporting the number of vehicles equipped with faulty Takata airbags by 3.1 million cars.

The nation’s top automotive safety official issued an apology late yesterday regarding the issuance of incorrect information about the number of vehicles equipped with faulty Takata airbags.

David Friedman, deputy administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, offered up the apology in a statement after the agency shorted the total number of vehicles with the airbags by 3.1 million vehicles.

The Automotive Journal of Record!

NHTSA also forgot to include two automakers – Ford and Subaru – in the tally, used incorrect figures for others, including counting vehicles from General Motors that didn’t actually use the airbags. (more…)

Pumped Up Mustangs Roaring into SEMA

Ford stand featuring a dozen tweaked pony cars.

by on Oct.22, 2014

Galpin Auto Sports is celebrating 50 years of the Mustang by putting a 5.0-liter V8 developing 725 horsepower into its SEMA show car.

The 50th anniversary of the debut of the Ford Mustang is in full swing and perhaps no where will be more evident at this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas as the maker will have a dozen pony cars on display.

While the show is home to best and sometimes most insane custom cars, an event like this is a license to thrill and Ford is certainly trying to give visitors something, or things, to gawk over. Among the 12 ‘Stangs, two custom builders are going all out: Pettys Garage and Galpin Auto Sports.

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Petty’s Garage races into the show with a Roush supercharged V8 model wearing Richard Petty’s famous blue paint and a discrete No. 43, Petty’s car number in his NASCAR days. Not only will evoke some NASCAR memories, it’ll also do some good as the car will be auctioned by Barrett-Jackson with proceeds benefiting Victory Junction, which is dedicated to helping chronically ill children attend summer camp. (more…)

GM Goes Solar

Installing major solar array at Lordstown plant.

by on Oct.22, 2014

GM continues adding solar arrays at plants around the world. The maker announced it's adding an array at its Lordstown, Ohio, facility.

General Motors is aiming to bolster its green credentials by installing a huge solar array that will be visible from the well-traveled Ohio Turnpike outside the company’s big assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

GM’s new 2.2 megawatt, ground-mounted solar array will be complete by the end of the year. When the last of more than 8,500 solar panels are in place, it will be GM’s largest solar installation in the Western Hemisphere, the maker claims – but not necessarily the largest sun-power system, producing just a fraction of the output of the solar park in use at Volkswagen’s Tennessee plant.

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GM has been adding solar arrays and waste-burning power generators at its assembly plants in the U.S. as part of a concerted effort to reduce costs and clean up the environment by eliminating waste and limiting the use of carbon-based fuel such as oil and coal. (more…)