Blogs

The race to find the perfect aluminum alloy

Posted 12:00 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 4
blogs
GM will use advanced mixed-material manufacturing techniques to build the Cadillac CT6 sedan. Techniques include material joining processes such as aluminum laser welding. (GM)
RICHARD TRUETT:  KENNESAW, Ga. -- Tom Boney, who runs the automotive business for aluminum giant Novelis, sees a steady migration to the lightweight metal as fuel economy standards get tougher in the years ahead. If he’s disappointed that Jeep didn’t choose aluminum for the entire body of the next-generation Wrangler, he doesn’t show it. If he is concerned that Chevrolet, GMC, Ram, Toyota and Ni ...
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Is a 400-hp, quad-turbo diesel engine in BMW's future?

Posted 12:15 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 4
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The new BMW 7 series is expected to feature a quad-turbo 3.0-liter straight-six diesel on the menu next year.
JAY RAMEY:  Tri-turbos are sooo last season. Aiming to keep up with fashion BMW is reportedly working on quad-turbo engines, according to Autocar. The company already fielded a tri-turbo design in the X5 xDrive50d M Performance and the M550d, adding an electrically driven turbocharger for extra low-end boost pressure. The quad-turbo design could follow that with another electrically driven turbo, or BMW coul ...
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Honda's formula for recruiting assembly workers

Posted 10:46 am U.S. ET, Aug. 4
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Jeff Tomko is one of the CAR Management Briefing Seminars speakers who got deleted from the program by the chaos of the local power outage. That’s too bad, because he would have been a good counter-point to some of the comments heard here about the difficulty of recruiting manufacturing workers. Tomko is president of Honda’s light-truck and engine subsidiary in ...
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Dodge Challenger needs more internet horsepower

Posted 7:44 am U.S. ET, Aug. 4
blogs Richard Truett covers engineering for Automotive News.
 
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- We all know the Dodge Challenger can be ordered with an asphalt peeling 707-horsepower Hellcat Hemi V-8 engine. But Monday I found one area where the Challenger’s performance can be greatly improved: The Uconnect system. Here’s the story: I borrowed a 2015 Challenger for the trip up to the Management Briefing Seminars. We got here just as the storm rolled in ...
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Why standard batteries are a tough sell for automakers

Posted 11:23 am U.S. ET, Aug. 4
blogs David Sedgwick is an Automotive News special correspondent.
 
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- There's a simple way to reduce EV battery costs without using any exotic new technologies, but it’s a tough sell for automakers. If automakers decided to use the same basic battery cell, they could enjoy economies of scale that now elude the industry. Consider the battery cell produced by South Korea's LG Chem for the Chevrolet Volt. The second-generation Volt can d ...
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Conti's Cruising Chauffeur: The beauty of 2 of everything

Posted 3:58 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 4
blogs David Sedgwick is an Automotive News special correspondent.
 
If Continental AG is right about driverless cars, the trick to the technology is to have at least two of everything. Two electronic control units, two brake actuators, two sets of cameras and two sets of radar. Just in case. The German supplier tried this system - dubbed Cruising Chauffeur - in a refitted Chrysler 300 that has logged 40,000 miles. The vehicle was on display at the seminars. On ...
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HERE acquisition shows maps are the new oil

Posted 4:31 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 3
blogs
Gabe Nelson is Automotive News' Silicon Valley reporter.
GABE NELSON:  SAN FRANCISCO -- If the global supply of steel, rubber or oil was about to fall into the wrong hands, car companies would be awfully scared. It’s the reason the OPEC oil embargo of the 1970s sent the auto industry on a scramble for alternatives. It’s the reason that Henry Ford, sick of doing business with a British monopoly, tried setting up his own rubber plantation, Fordlandia, in t ...
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Nissan wants you to know that size matters

Posted 10:26 am U.S. ET, Aug. 3
blogs Lindsay Chappell is the Mid-South bureau chief in the U.S. for Automotive News.
 
TRAVERSE CITY -- Nissan executives have grown fond of telling audiences that their vehicle assembly plant in Smyrna, Tenn., is now North America’s largest. Last year’s output: 648,000 cars and SUVs. But it’s not mere bragging. Maybe it is a little. What it really is is strategic messaging. Nissan keeps repeating it because it needs the auto industry to understand that the gre ...
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July's secret sauce? 'Nothing bad happening'

Posted 4:45 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 3
blogs Jesse Snyder is opinion page editor at Automotive News.
 
Why did auto sales flourish in July? “Nothing bad happening,” which as it happens, is my favorite explanation this month. July’s seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate hit 17.55 million, a bit higher than forecasters had expected. After so many good sales months, why that happened is the real news. At first, I was tempted to chuckle when AlixPartners’ Mark Wakefield ...
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GM's fuel cell ideas take on new relevance

Posted 10:11 am U.S. ET, Aug. 3
blogs Richard Truett covers engineering for Automotive News.
 
TRAVERSE CITY -- When General Motors decided to own fuel cell technology about 15 years ago, one of the ways the company used to justify the massive investment in the technology was that the stacks could be used to generate electricity in emergencies. Too bad that goal was never met. If it had, chances are that the 2015 CAR Management Briefing Seminars would not be held hostage Monday morning by ...
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Why Conti has the inside track on automated maps

Posted 12:46 pm U.S. ET, Aug. 3
blogs David Sedgwick is an Automotive News staff correspondent.
 
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Now that Mercedes, BMW and Audi are buying Nokia's HERE navigation map unit for $3.1 billion, the big winner could be Continental AG. In 2013, Continental formed a partnership with HERE to develop high-resolution road maps for autonomous vehicles. The maps are supposed to supplement the array of radars, cameras and lidar that help autonomous vehicles to know what to expect ...
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A new Normal? Don't bet on it

Posted 12:54 pm U.S. ET, July 31
blogs Dave Guilford is a news editor at Automotive News.
 
Given Mitsubishi’s low U.S. output, it was not totally surprising to hear the Japanese automaker will end production at its plant in Normal, Ill. More surprising was hearing company officials say that they have several prospects to buy Normal, including a Detroit automaker. For the sake of the plant’s 900 workers, I hope they do. But I’m skeptical. Unless Mitsubishi finds a non ...
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It's too early to settle aluminum vs. steel repair-cost debate

Posted 11:59 am U.S. ET, July 31
blogs
Ford has made repairs as easy as possible by creating hundreds of small repair panels that can be stitched in to the F-150's body. (IIHS)
RICHARD TRUETT:  It seems like everyone in the auto industry wants to know if the aluminum-bodied 2015 Ford F-150 is more expensive to repair than the steel-bodied pickup it replaced. Here’s the answer: We don’t know -- and we won’t know for a long time. Ford says the repair costs are the same. Don’t believe that. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the aluminum truck is 26 p ...
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AutoNation, Group 1 are neck and neck in F&I race

Posted 12:30 pm U.S. ET, July 29
blogs Hannah Lutz is a staff reporter covering finance and insurance for Automotive News.
 
AutoNation overtook former frontrunner Group 1 Automotive for the top spot among the public retailers in F&I profit per vehicle in the second quarter. Or did it? It depends on how you measure. AutoNation, the No. 1 U.S. retailer by new-car retail sales, and Group 1, which ranks No. 3 on the Automotive News ranking, have consistently had the highest F&I revenue per vehicle among the six t ...
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GM's new powertrain boss, with bases covered, aims for high batting average

Posted 12:00 pm U.S. ET, July 28
blogs
An early prototype of the Chevrolet Bolt EV undergoing tests at GM's Milford, Mich., proving ground. (GM)
RICHARD TRUETT:  DETROIT -- Fast is a good word to describe Dan Nicholson, who was promoted late last year to head General Motors’ powertrain operations worldwide. He drives a fast car, a Camaro convertible. He walks fast and he talks fast. As vice president of GM global powertrain, Nicholson oversees one of the most complex aspects of the company’s business. Not only does he decide which technologi ...
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The UAW (and Trump) cry foul as Ford runs for border

Posted 2:52 pm U.S. ET, July 23
blogs
“I want everything built in the United States of America, including tennis shoes,” UAW President Dennis Williams declared today. (BLOOMBERG)
NICK BUNKLEY:  With negotiators from the Detroit 3 and the UAW about to put in some late nights around the bargaining table in the next few months, they probably won’t be getting their fourth meals from Taco Bell. As General Motors and Ford Motor Co. run for the border, investing billions of dollars and creating thousands of jobs in Mexican plants, union leaders are fuming. “We need jobs in the Uni ...
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Automakers should deploy mobile ads earlier in purchase cycle, Facebook study finds

Posted 9:00 am U.S. ET, July 23
blogs
Some 59 percent of “average car buyers” -- respondents who aren't asked for advice about cars by others -- have trimmed their vehicle choices down to one or two models by the last month before a purchase, a study finds.
VINCE BOND JR.:  Consumers are bombarded with the most digital car ads in the month before purchasing a vehicle even though many have already narrowed their choices down to one or two models by then, according to a new Facebook-commissioned study by Ipsos MediaCT. Facebook says the finding shows that automakers need to reach potential buyers in the digital realm, particularly on mobile devices, earlier in the pur ...
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Group 1 makes terrific lemonade

Posted 1:03 pm U.S. ET, July 23
blogs News Editor James B. Treece oversees Automotive News' coverage of auto retailing and used cars.
 
Don’t feel sorry for Group 1 Automotive. They’re doing just fine, thank you. More than fine, in fact. From the outside, one might assume Houston’s Group 1 would be hurting. The nation’s third-largest dealership group gets 48 percent of its U.S. new car and truck sales in Texas -- with 20 percent in the Houston area alone -- and another 9 percent in Oklahoma. Think fallin ...
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How Honda Finance’s settlement could be a win for all retailers

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, July 22
blogs Hannah Lutz is a staff reporter covering finance and insurance for Automotive News.
 
“A win-win-win.” That’s what AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson called Honda Finance’s settlement with federal regulators for alleged discrimination in auto lending last week. Is one of those three wins for dealers? At face value, the consent order doesn’t seem like a gift to retailers industrywide, but it could be. The consent order says that Honda’s dealers must c ...
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Cadillac's product onslaught: Hurry up and wait

Posted 12:15 pm U.S. ET, July 21
blogs
This year is a fun one productwise for Cadillac, with the arrival of three new V-series cars and the CT6 large sedan by year end. But there's a lull on the horizon.
MIKE COLIAS:  We have been told to expect big things for Cadillac’s vehicle portfolio -- eight all-new models by 2020. But a glance at its product-planning timeline shows that dealers and consumers will be waiting quite a while for much of that fresh sheet metal. This year is a fun one productwise for Cadillac, with the arrival of three new, screamin’-fast V-series cars, and the CT6 large sedan by ...
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Is the DOJ auto parts price-fixing crackdown winding down?

Posted 2:35 pm U.S. ET, July 17
blogs Chad Halcom is a reporter for Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News.
 
After scouring the auto supply chain in a five-year crackdown on price-fixing, has the U.S. Department of Justice found something else to do? It’s probably not that simple, but some local legal experts think recent reports of a new Antitrust Division investigation into commercial airlines is another sign its automotive price-fixing prosecution may be nearly over. Published reports earlier ...
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In dealer-reserve debate, CFPB, NADA and American Honda Finance strive to move ball

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, July 15
blogs Hannah Lutz is a staff reporter covering finance and insurance for Automotive News.
 
Last month, American Banker reported that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had cited the finance arms of Toyota, Honda and Nissan for discriminatory auto-lending practices. What happened since then is very telling about the state of the dispute over dealer-arranged auto loans. On Tuesday, the Department of Justice said American Honda Finance Corp. agreed to pay up to $25 million to settl ...
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Sustained lower fuel prices upend product plans

Posted 12:30 pm U.S. ET, July 14
blogs
The Mazda2 won't be coming to U.S. showrooms anytime soon.
RICHARD TRUETT:  With oil gurgling at around $52 per barrel and the average national price of a gallon of gasoline at $2.78, we are starting to see the effects of sustained lower fuel prices on product plans. Buyers are migrating to bigger, heavier, fuel-thirstier vehicles. In the first half of the year, trucks captured 54 percent of the new-vehicle market, up from 51 percent during the first half of 2014. ...
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Marchionne adds weight to Tuesday's UAW bargaining kickoff

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, July 10
blogs David Barkholz covers labor for Automotive News.
 
The seriousness of this year’s UAW contract negotiations with Fiat Chrysler just got more so. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne plans to attend the ceremonial handshake with UAW President Dennis Williams and their entourages when they formally open bargaining Tuesday in Detroit. The current four-year contracts between the Detroit 3 and UAW expire Sept. 14. FCA has the most to lose in this year&rs ...
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Lessons for Americans from Hamp's case

Posted 12:00 pm U.S. ET, July 10
blogs News Editor James B. Treece oversees Automotive News' coverage of auto retailing and used cars.
 
My colleague, Philip Nussel, in a blog posted Thursday, draws parallels between the tale of Julie Hamp’s run-in with Japanese law and the price-fixing scandal that has embroiled a number of Japanese auto suppliers. I’d like to offer a seemingly more far-fetched comparison: to the 2006 case where Toyota’s top-ranking Japanese executive in the U.S. was accused of sexual harassment ...
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