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Despite Rejection Marchionne is Still Pressing GM for Partnership

“There are varying degrees of hugs,” says Fiat Chrysler CEO.

by on Aug.31, 2015

FCA Chief Sergio Marchionne has an offer he doesn't think GM can refuse - though, so far, it has.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne isn’t one to readily take “no” for an answer, especially when it’s coming from General Motors as a rejection to his proposed partnership.

GM CEO Mary Barra and other officials have repeatedly said the Detroit giant has no interest in merging with FCA, a move Marchionne suggested would help both companies cope in an increasingly crowded and competitive global car market. But Marchionne is warning he may press ahead with an alliance whose logic, he said, is “irrefutable.”

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Saying his board is looking for ways to get a more positive response from GM, Marchionne said what he had in mind is “not hostile,” but sounded a lot like it, the FCA chief telling Automotive News, “There are varying degrees of hugs. I can hug you nicely, I can hug you tightly, I can hug you like a bear, I can really hug you.

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Quality Issues, Higher Prices Make New Car Buyers Cranky in 2014

Better vehicles don’t equate to happy customers, survey shows.

by on Aug.31, 2015

Lexus finished atop the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index beating Mercedes.

Despite the fact that new vehicles have more convenience and safety features than ever – equipment expected by new vehicle buyers – those same people are growing tired of the quality issues and higher prices that often come with those add-ons.

Car buyer satisfaction fell 3.7% in 2014, the third year in a row, to 79 on a scale of 100, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The slide isn’t entirely unexpected as the industry recalled more than 60 million vehicles last year.

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Owners reported a 40% increase in recalls in the second quarter of last year, the ACSI reported. Many of the actions were related to the electronics and safety options that are supposed to make driving safer and more enjoyable. (more…)

Hyundai Set to Debut New “N” Performance Line

Frankfurt debut set; U.S. plans uncertain.

by on Aug.31, 2015

The Hyundai i20 WRC racer will be used to preview the Korean maker's new N performance line.

Hyundai is set to become the latest automaker to introduce a new performance-focused sub-brand.

The new Hyundai N sub-brand will make its debut during the Frankfurt Motor Show next month as the Korean maker lifts the covers off a modified version of its compact i20 model set to compete in the World Rally Car program. Another hint of what’s to come will show up in digital form as part of the popular Gran Turismo videogame.

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Hyundai insiders tell TheDetroitBureau.com they would “not be surprised” if the N line eventually comes to the U.S. market, but they said there are no immediate plans, and nothing is likely to be shown at the two big American auto shows in Los Angeles or Detroit in the coming months.

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Idaho Rates Best for Drivers; Louisiana the Worst

Want to drive on the cheap? Consider moving to someplace with wide-open spaces.

by on Aug.31, 2015

Tired of spending so much to keep your car running, gassed up and insured? If you’re looking to cut costs, you might consider moving to a place with wide-open spaces, according to a new study that ranks the best and worst states for drivers.

The new study also considers other factors like commute times, vehicle thefts and fatal crashes. All things considered, Idaho tops the chart according to research by financial website Bankrate.com, while Louisiana lands at the bottom of the list. With only a few exceptions, drivers will find life easier – and less expensive — in rural regions of the country, the study reveals.

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“Population density has a big effect on these rankings,” explained Chris Kahn, Bankrate.com’s research and statistics analyst.  “The best states for drivers have lots of wide-open spaces, whereas the worst states tend to be filled with people and cars – a bad combination for drivers’ wallets.”

The top five states in the study are, in order:

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First Drive: 2016 BMW 7-Series

A techie’s dream car.

by on Aug.28, 2015

The new 2016 BMW 7-Series will come to the U.S. only in long-wheelbase form.

The value of a luxury car has traditionally been measured by the pound and feet, by the size and number of cylinders of its engine and, of course, by the number of trees and cowhides used to complete its passenger compartment. But the old measurements have begun to change, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the sixth-generation BMW 7-Series.

True, with U.S. buyers now set to get only the long-wheelbase version, it’s bigger than ever. But the new sedan also gets lighter, thanks to the extensive use of carbon fiber, aluminum and ultra-high-strength steel. It uses a twin-turbo engine to punch out incredible amounts of power from a relatively modest 4.4-liter V-8. And while there’s more leather and wood than ever – some of it barely apparent to passengers – BMW expects buyers to be drawn to the incredible array of technologies that have increasingly come to define the best luxury vehicles.

The Last Word!

In developing the 2016 7-Series, BMW engineers intentionally set out to one-up the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the latest version having become the current, high-tech automotive benchmark. And, at least in terms of the number and range of new features the 7-Series offers, it would seem they’ve succeeded. From a comfort and safety standpoint, never mind the manufacturing side, the new BMW 750i is a high-tech showcase.

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Marchionne Adding CEO to Title at Ferrari?

FCA boss could step in next month.

by on Aug.28, 2015

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne appears poised to add the chief executive officer's title at Ferrari to his chairman's role.

Just as Ferrari is preparing to stand on its own two feet, the man who led the effort, Sergio Marchionne, may be the man leading the company on a day-to-day basis as its new CEO.

Marchionne, who heads up Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., is already the Italian sports car maker’s chairman. He’s rumored to be taking over the Chief Executive’s role when the current CEO, Amedeo Felisa, steps down next month.

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Felisa, who has been CEO for seven years, has been rumored to be leaving the post since July and the maker has been searching for a replacement since then. Marchionne, who’s already replaced a top exec at the company, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, appears to be the choice. (more…)

Kia Reveals New Sportage

“The new face of Kia.”

by on Aug.28, 2015

New headlights and a modified "tiger nose" grille distinguish the gen-four Kia Sportage.

Kia is giving us a more detailed look at the next-generation Sportage, following up on the early renderings it released a couple weeks ago.

Set to make its formal debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, the 2016 Kia Sportage will pick up on some of the cues we first saw in the form of the Niro Concept two years ago. The overall look offers a strong hint of where Kia’s global design chief Peter Schreyer will be taking the look of the brand in the years to come.

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The biggest changes to the design of the fourth-generation Sportage can be seen in its face, notes Kia, “with the car’s headlamps no longer integrated with the grille for the new model, instead sweeping back along the outer edges of the more sharply-detailed (hood) and bolder wheel arches.”

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Two Suppliers Paying $14.5 Mil in Price-Fixing Suit

Money being paid to new vehicle buyers, lessees.

by on Aug.28, 2015

Two more auto suppliers are paying millions of dollars in fines related to civil suits over price-fixing allegations in multiple countries.

The damages paid by auto suppliers involved in an international price-fixing scheme continue to rise as two more Japanese companies, Fujikura Ltd. and T.Rad Co. Ltd., have agreed to pay a total of more than $14.5 million to the plaintiffs in multi-district litigation against auto parts makers.

So far lawyers for the plaintiffs in the civil suits have now recovered nearly $200 million from the suppliers, most of whom are based in Japan.

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The civil litigation is independent of the criminal charges leveled against the suppliers by the U.S. Department of Justice and authorities in Japan and the European Union. Criminal fines and penalties leveled over the cartel-like behavior of the suppliers now total more than $2.5 billion. (more…)

Smart Reveals New ForTwo Cabrio

America’s smallest car goes topless.

by on Aug.28, 2015

The newly redesigned Smart ForTwo Cabrio will offer a three-position canvas top.

The new Smart car hasn’t yet landed in showrooms in the U.S. but the German microcar maker is already rolling out a second version, with a third on the way.

The redesigned Smart ForTwo Cabrio gets a new canvas “tritop” that can open up like a sunroof or fold back more like a conventional convertible. Set to formally debut at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the two-seater will reach showrooms in mid-spring 2016.

A Smart Source for Auto News!

“Our new smart cabrio really exudes joie de vivre in the city – which is what our brand stands for”, said Smart brand boss Annette Winkler. “I am sure that we will delight our present 220,000 cabrio customers and win lots of new fans with this successful lifestyle icon.”

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New Hellraiser? Jeep Grand Cherokee to Get the Hellcat Treatment

Jeep to add 707-hp version of the Grand Cherokee.

by on Aug.27, 2015

Jeep will be adding a 707-hp Hellcat version of the Grand Cherokee it will call Trackhawk.

Things are going to hell at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Which is, apparently, a good thing considering the huge demand for the maker’s two Hellcat muscle cars, 707-horsepower versions of the Dodge Charger sedan and Challenger coupe.

They’ll soon be joined by another Hellcat-powered model. Several FCA insiders have confirmed that the Jeep brand is getting ready to launch a 707-horesepower SUV that will be known as the Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk.

A Real Performer!

Fiat Chrysler officials this week have been briefing dealers about plans to expand the Hellcat line during their annual retail get-together in Las Vegas. They’re also advising dealers that they’ve boosted production capacity for the Hellcat engine. Demand has been so strong that orders for the 2015 models had to be cut off well before the end of the model-year.

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