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Fiat Chrysler May be Back in the Big Game After All

But Nissan also planning extended spot for Super Bowl ad fest.

by on Jan.28, 2015

Chrysler is likely to return with more long-form spots like this Emimem "Made in Detroit" ad.

There’s a decided downturn in the number of automakers planning to pitch their wares during the coming weekend’s Super Bowl XLIX. Only five have confirmed a presence, including Nissan, returning for the first time in nearly two decades – while other familiar corporate faces, such as Volkswagen, intend to sit on the sidelines.

But there’s growing speculation about whether Fiat Chrysler will stage a return to the big game’s annual ad fest. Several insiders have suggested a big “surprise” is in store. That would be in keeping with the maker’s past strategy, starting with the unexpected 2:00 minute commercial that ran four years ago featuring rap star Eminem.

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If Chrysler does return for Super Bowl XLIX, it won’t be alone in stretching out its message. Nissan is teasing an extended commercial of its own planned for the game. (more…)

Nissan, Ford Recalling Nearly 1 Million Vehicles

Makers deal with variety of problems in multiple models.

by on Jan.28, 2015

Nissan is recalling 2013 Nissan Rogues due to an electrical problem.

Nissan and Ford are recalling nearly 1 million vehicles for problems involving faulty hood latches, door springs, electrical issues and seatbelts. Most of the affected vehicles are in the U.S.

Nissan discovered a problem with 552,000 Rogue and Rogue Select SUVs built between 2008 and 2014. According to the automaker, snow and salty water can get into the floor of the interior cabin and wiring harness under the carpet causing electrical shorts.

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Dealers will inspect the harness and replace it if necessary at no cost to owners. Those without damage will be sealed. (more…)

Chrysler Acquisition Hammers FCA Earnings

But U.S. operations also drove revenue growth.

by on Jan.28, 2015

FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne's acquisition of Chrysler carried a high cost last year.

When it comes to the American half of its newly merged company, investors will have to decide whether the glass is half empty for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

That’s because the cost of completing the acquisition of suburban Detroit-based Chrysler bludgeoned the trans-Atlantic maker’s earnings. But the Chrysler side also delivered a healthy 11% increase in FCA’s overall revenues.

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Legally headquartered in the Netherlands, Fiat Chrysler is reporting that its 2014 net profit fell by two-thirds, to 632 million Euros, or $718 million. For 2013, the maker had a restated net of 1.9 billion Euros. For the final quarter of 2014, the maker earned 420 million Euros, down from 1.2 billion during the same period in 2013.

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Mercedes-Benz Taps AM General to Build R-Class SUV

Alabama plant runs out of production capacity.

by on Jan.28, 2015

Mercedes-Benz is shifting R-Class production to AM General's plant in northern Indiana.

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International’s problem is AM General LLC’s gain. The German automaker is out of manufacturing space at its Tuscaloosa, Alabama, plant so it’s tapping AM General to build the R-Class Grand Tourer at its plant in northern Indiana not far from Chicago.

Mercedes-Benz said booming sales have forced it to reorganize production of its sport utility vehicles and it plans to expand production capacity in the U.S. by utilizing the AM General plant in Mishawaka, Indiana, just outside of South Bend.

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The Mishawaka plant will join the production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, freeing up capacities at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which will then be used for the M-Class, the GL-Class and the new GLE Coupe due this summer. (more…)

Aston Martin Gets Cash Infusion

New crossover among possible benefits.

by on Jan.28, 2015

Aston offered a hint of its future design direction with the DB10 concept it created for the new 007 film.

With a new management team already in place, Aston Martin is getting gotten a fresh cash commitment from a big Italian investment firm that should help it move ahead with what is being billed as the most aggressive product program in the British marque’s history.

Among other things, the pledge by Investindustrial SpA could permit Aston Martin lagonda Ltd. To add its first crossover-utility vehicle to the line-up of products it plans to introduce in the next half-decade. Aston has laid out plans to double sales to 8,000 vehicles annually as its line-up expands.

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“Aston has an industrial plan which is growing in its ambitions and we have always planned to participate in all funding needs that Aston has,” said Investindustrial Chairman Andrea Bonomi speaking to reporters in Milan. “If Aston needs capital, we’re there.”

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Audi Heading Offroad With TT

Maker performs triage on trio of concepts.

by on Jan.27, 2015

Audi's TT Offroad concept appears to be moving from idea to product in time for the 2017 model line-up.

While it might seem like an automotive oxymoron, Audi has apparently decided it wants to go off-roading with its little TT model.

According to reports out of the maker’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, Audi has performed triage on a trio of TT-based concept cars it introduced over the past year as part of a plan to get consumer feedback on how to expand the TT “family.”

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The effort began at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show when Audi unveiled a three-door wagon-like model dubbed the Allroad Shooting Brake concept. The various models included a bold red five-door take on the TT, dubbed the Sportbrake, unveiled at the Paris Motor Show last autumn. (more…)

Winter Storm Blasting East Coast May Temper Auto Sales

January was expected to post biggest number in nearly a decade.

by on Jan.27, 2015

Driving a Cadillac Escalade may be the only way shoppers on the East Coast could go out and buy a new car at the end of the month.

Monthly new car sales could take a hit from the fierce storm sweeping across the Northeast right now. The final weekend of the month is typically one of the best for car dealers, but big storms have a way of keeping potential buyers at home.

With what could be the highest reported January since 2006, sales are expected to increase 12.9% year-over-year. However, this could be impacted by the blizzard currently blasting parts of the East Coast, as we head into the final selling days of the month, according to analysts at Kelley Blue Book.

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Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, noted January is typically one of the slowest months of the year, due to the strong push by manufacturers prior to year-end. However, at an estimated 1.14 million units expected in January, this month could be the one of the better Januarys in some time. (more…)

GM Ignition Switch Death Toll Hits 50

Victim fund application deadline approaching.

by on Jan.27, 2015

Kenneth Feinberg, administrator fo GM's victims compensation fund, approved another round of benefits for victims.

Even as a special victims’ compensation fund approaches its deadline, the number of deaths now linked to faulty General Motors ignition switches has jumped to 50, nearly four times more than the automaker had originally estimated.

The death toll still could rise as the fund’s administrators examine evidence. So far, more than 3,000 claims have been submitted to the fund set up by GM last year to provide compensation for those killed or injured due to a safety defect the automaker has admitted ignoring for a decade.

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While it could take months to complete its review, compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg and his team plan to stop accepting new claims at the end of this week. But the death toll very well could continue to rise. (more…)

Detroit Tops List for Expensive Car Insurance

Rural Ohio town is least pricey for auto coverage.

by on Jan.27, 2015

The City of Detroit is home to the highest auto insurance rates in the country.

While Detroit’s recent emergence from bankruptcy may mean good news for its residents, some Detroiters are still facing a difficulty others do not: the most expensive car insurance in the nation.

In the city’s 48227 zip code, which is on the west side, the residents pay an average of $5,109 annually, a 130% increase over state average of $2,226, according to CarInsurance.com.

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The result isn’t necessarily a surprise as this area is well-known for being terribly pricey for auto insurance. (more…)

Former Takata Exec Indicted in Seatbelt Price-Fixing Scam

Honda using new airbag supplier for next-gen Accord in the US

by on Jan.26, 2015

More turmoil at Takata.

Takata Corp. just received two belts of bad news: one of its former executives will face criminal charges in the U.S. and its biggest customer is cutting back on its business with the supplier.

Federal prosecutors obtained one-count indictment against Hiromu Usuda, charging him with conspiring to rig bids and fix the prices of seatbelts that Takata sold to Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Mazda Motor Corp., the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.

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The indictment is a result of a four-year probe conducted by the U.S. and Japanese governments as well as the European Union. Takata executives have also pled guilty to other charges and paid hefty fines in connection with the price fixing investigation, which has also involved several other suppler companies that feed part to American and Japanese auto parts manufacturers operating in the U.S. (more…)