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Baojun Scoring Major Gains for GM in China

by on Apr.24, 2014

Introduced at this years Beijing Auto Show, the Baojun 610 is the brand's newest model.

A new brand General Motors launched only three years ago is poised to double its sales this year as GM continues to move ahead with its rapid expansion in China.

Baojun, the brand that belongs to the Shanghai-GM-Wuling joint venture sold 100,000 cars last year and sales are expect to climb to 200,000 units for all of 2014, according to Ray Biezrynski, executive vice president of SGM-W, one of the cornerstones of GM’s ongoing expansion in what is now the world’s largest automotive market.

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The growth of the Baojun brand could be particularly critical considering GM last year slipped behind long-time rival Volkswagen AG, now the Chinese market sales leader. But the impact isn’t limited to China.  The booming Asian nation now accounts for more than one third of GM’s global sales. (more…)

Karma Making a Comeback

Fisker’s stunning plug-in hybrid may return in 2015.

by on Apr.23, 2014

The Karma plug-in hybrid is taking a second run in the U.S. starting sometime in 2015.

Karma is back! The Fisker Karma, that is.

Fisker Automotive’s electric vehicle boasted cutting edge design, but couldn’t overcome production and quality issues that sucked up millions of dollars and led to its demise. Enter Chinese auto supplier Wanxiang, which bought the company out of bankruptcy a few months ago and is looking to resurrect the plug-in hybrid similar to the Chevy Volt by the middle of next year.

On Top of the News!

According to Fisker’s interim president, Tim Brown, the Karma will back next year with two siblings not far behind: the Surf, a $100,000 station wagon-like version of the Karma and the Atlantic, a smaller sedan that was originally stated to be the follow up to the Karma at about $50,000. (more…)

Both GM, Ford Expected to See Sharp Drop in Q1 Earnings

GM likely to take major hit as it pays for nearly 7 million recalls.

by on Apr.23, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra will see a sharp decline in earnings for her first full quarter as CEO.

The numbers aren’t likely to look very good when General Motors and Ford Motor Co. release their first-quarter earnings results this week, both makers expected to post sharp declines from year-ago levels.

Ford had signaled a likely slide late last year as a result of the numerous new product launches it will have in 2014. But GM’s anticipated downturn is likely to be significantly greater than first forecast as a result of its on-going recall problems – an issue expected to continue to haunt new CEO Mary Barra for some time to come.

Breaking News!

A consensus of industry analysts forecasts GM will deliver a meager 9 cents per share in earnings for the first three months of 2014, and Brian Johnson, an automotive analyst with Barclays Plc is even more bullish, predicting the U.S. giant will go a penny into the red. Prior to the announcement of GM’s initial ignition switch recall in mid-February, Johnson was looking at a profit of 20 cents, which would still have been down sharply from the 67 cents per share it earnings during the first quarter of 2013.

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J.D. Power Gains More Insight into Buyer Behavior

Company acquires online consumer analytics firm.

by on Apr.23, 2014

J.D. Power will combine the information from the newly acquired Korrelate with data from the Power Information Network.

J.D. Power acquired an analytics firm to enhance Power’s ability to measure and track online shopping behaviors and trends of consumers. The move was announced today.

Korrelate provides the information about online shopping to advertising agencies, advertisers, media partners, data syndicators and publishers. Now the information will be combined with the Power Information Network (PIN) new- and used-vehicle retail sales data to improve the timeliness and depth in measuring the effectiveness of digital marketing.

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“Consumer behavior is changing dramatically in today’s Internet-powered world,” said Finbarr O’Neill, president of J.D. Power. “The auto industry spends billions of dollars annually on digital marketing. Measuring online activity and linking it to actual vehicle sales will enable marketers to measure and optimize their digital strategy.” (more…)

Lincoln Looks East – But Can China Save American Icon?

Luxury maker betting China could become its largest market.

by on Apr.23, 2014

Lincoln is betting it can gain ground in China by focusing on its dealer experience.

It once vied with rival Cadillac for dominance in the huge U.S. luxury car market, but the last two decades have been tough for Lincoln. Sales have steadily slid to the point that some anticipate parent Ford Motor Co. might eventually abandon the once-grand marque.

Lincoln has rolled out several new products over the last two years, and it plans to add at least two more by 2016, but that’s a fraction of what rival Mercedes-Benz has in store – at least one all-new or completely updated product every three months through the end of the decade.

Auto Show News!

While Lincoln officials acknowledge they can’t keep up with that product blitz, they’re far from ready to admit defeat. But while they continue to struggle to find ways to lure more American buyers back to the brand, they’re looking East, towards China, to gain some much needed momentum.

“It’s strategically important for us to go to China,” said Matt Vandyke, Lincoln’s global director, a few days before the Ford luxury brand made its official debut at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show.

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Feds Launch Probe of 2014 Chevy Impala Brakes

Move comes as GM notifies 1.4 million motorists replacement ignition switches are ready.

by on Apr.23, 2014

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala was named Best in Class by Consumer Reports.

Federal investigators have launched a preliminary probe of the 2014 Chevrolet Impala following a report that the big sedan’s emergency braking system might activate without warning or driver input.

The probe comes as General Motors shakes up its internal product development system in a bid to catch potential safety problems as early as possible. GM is facing a number of separate investigations stemming from the handling of a recall now involving 2.6 million vehicles equipped with defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths.

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On Wednesday, GM said it had notified 1.4 million U.S. motorists they could schedule repairs for vehicles covered by the ignition switch recall.

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GM Shakes Up Engineering in Wake of Recall Scandal

Maker hopes to catch potential safety problems earlier.

by on Apr.23, 2014

GM Product Chief Mark Reuss unveiling the Corvette Z06 during the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

General Motors continues to shake up its senior management ranks in the wake of the ongoing ignition switch recall scandal, this time ousting its global engineering chief and splitting the job into two new posts with a goal of catching potential safety problems earlier on.

The “retirement” of 55-year-old John Calabrese comes shortly after GM’s directors of Human Resources and Public Relations announced their departures amidst a crisis that could see the automaker face criminal charges levied by the Justice Department for the decade-long delay in ordering a recall of defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths. GM has also been accused of delaying another recall while federal regulators have launched an investigation into braking problems involving the company’s new Chevrolet Impala sedan.

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“We feel that just an organizational change is not going to solve everything,” said Mark Reuss, the GM veteran who took over as global product development director late last year. “We have to have the right people with the organization, with the right leadership and with the right processes in place. … We know we can do it and we are going to do it.”

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Tesla May Build Cars in China

Battery carmaker launches sales, outlines plans for supercharger network.

by on Apr.22, 2014

Tesla delivered its first eight cars in China today. Building the vehicles in China is a possibility in the future, according to CEO Elon Musk.

Tesla Motors has launched what could become its biggest gamble yet, delivering its first cars in China and hinting at plans to produce cars in the booming Asian nation.

The Silicon Valley start-up is already the second best-selling producer of battery-electric vehicles in the U.S. and has already launched sales of its Model S in Europe, but it is betting its timing is right to tap into burgeoning demand in China where the government is desperately pushing for a shift to battery power as a way to reduce the country’s endemic smog problems.

On Top of the News!

Tesla today delivered its first eight Model S sedans to Chinese customers, CEO Elon Musk telling reporting he hoped the maker could sell 5,000 of the vehicles in China this year, though he quickly cautioned the number is “just a guess.” (more…)

GM Asks Bankruptcy Court to Dismiss Non-Injury Lawsuits

Maker wants to end litigation solely for monetary damages.

by on Apr.22, 2014

GM asked Judge Robert Gerber to dismiss several lawsuits against the automaker related to the faulty ignition switch recall of 2.6 million vehicles.

General Motors asked a New York bankruptcy judge to dismiss the growing number of lawsuits asking for monetary compensation for simply owning any of the vehicles involved in the faulty ignition switch recall.

The automaker noted in its motion that it’s not asking the court to address litigation involving “an accident or incident causing personal injury, loss of life or property damage.” It simply wants the Judge Robert Gerber to dismiss lawsuits filed asking for money for driving the vehicles. According to GM, there are more than 50 lawsuits against the company.

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“As your honor may be aware, numerous lawsuits have been filed across the country against New GM,” according to documents. “New GM believes that the ignition switch actions assert claims against new GM that are ‘retained liabilities’ of Old GM and therefore violate your honor’s July 5, 2009 order.” (more…)

VW May Have Big Plans for Little NMC Concept

Show car a Jetta-based version of VW CC model.

by on Apr.22, 2014

Volkswagen calls the NMC a "midsize" concept, but it's based on the same platform as the compact Golf and Jetta models.

As that old baseball adage goes, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard. Well, we’re betting you’d be able to pick out Volkswagen’s New Midsize Coupe Concept in the line-up.

This striking new design might just as readily be called the Baby CC, as it’s a somewhat downsized version of the German maker’s current, coupe-like sedan, and could very well join the VW line-up in the near future. But it’d likely be more of a compact than midsize, the show car sharing the same MQB modular platform as the current Volkswagen Golf and next-gen Jetta models.

What a Concept!

Making its debut at this week’s Beijing Auto Show, the NMC is clearly a size class down from the Volkswagen Passat sedan, at a total length of barely 15 feet.  So, how does it qualify as a midsize?

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