Blogs

Ford’s payoff from aluminum bet still years away

Posted 11:15 am U.S. ET, Nov. 25
blogs
Ford has spent billions of dollars redesigning the aluminum-bodied F-150, and at least a billion more perfecting a high-speed aluminum riveting and bonding production system, and retooling its plants. (REUTERS)
RICHARD TRUETT:  Investors might be a little concerned at how Ford is spending its money. Ford dropped billions of dollars redesigning the aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150. Then it spent at least a billion more perfecting a high-speed aluminum riveting and bonding production system, and retooling its plants. Ford has said, and continues to say, that fuel economy is the No. 1 unmet need of its truck buyers. Despite th ...
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5 cool flourishes on new Lexus RC

Posted 10:50 am U.S. ET, Nov. 25
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HANS GREIMEL:  TOKYO -- Is it too much to say that the new Lexus RC is the best-looking Lexus ever? Even better than the LFA? I finally got behind the wheel an RC 350 F Sport last weekend, and I never got tired looking at the car, from any angle. Design is always subjective, but if this is a sign of future cars from Lexus, brand boss Tokuo Fukuichi is working magic, in my book. Here are some cool flourishes th ...
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Automakers can stop supplier price-fixing now, but will they?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 22
blogs Philip Nussel is online editor at Automotive News.
 
The U.S. Department of Justice has assessed $2.4 billion in fines on 32 auto parts suppliers and charged 46 individuals -- nearly all of them Japanese -- in the largest antitrust prosecution in U.S. history. That’s just in the United States. The practice is a global epidemic that stifles fair competition, inflates the cost of components for automakers, erodes investor confidence and rips of ...
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Ford F-150 mpg for 2015 is a mixed bag

Posted 3:26 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 21
blogs
The 2015 F-150 is only the first of three big changes that may eventually give Ford fuel economy leadership in the segment -- assuming everyone else stands still or makes incremental gains.
RICHARD TRUETT:  In September, we crunched the numbers in an attempt to predict the fuel economy ratings for the aluminum-bodied 2015 Ford F-150 pickup. Turns out, we were pretty darn close. Today, Ford finally released those long-awaited official EPA numbers for its lightweight aluminum truck. Some of the gains are impressive. Some are not, and those are the ones that Ford would prefer you didn’t dwell on ...
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Luxury brands go the way of free-trade coffee

Posted 2:41 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 21
blogs Neal Boudette is a special correspondent for <i>Automotive news</i>
 
LOS ANGELES -- Luxury automobiles typically offer customers a combination of high performance, advanced technology and plush comfort. But a new crop of upscale cars may offer wealthy car buyers something else: a clearer conscience. That trend was on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where Volvo Cars showed the plug-in hybrid version of its forthcoming XC90. It’s a full-size crossover th ...
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Japan's fugitive execs have called DOJ's bluff

Posted 9:56 am U.S. ET, Nov. 21
blogs Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.
 
TOKYO -- Are the fugitive Japanese businessmen indicted for alleged price fixing calling the U.S. government’s bluff? As many as 20 executives from Japanese suppliers are on the lam in Japan, evading U.S. indictments for bid rigging. Some have left their companies. Others are still gainfully employed by the companies for which they allegedly fixed prices. But all are international fugitiv ...
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Fisker flexes muscle with coachbuilt 725-hp Mustang

Posted 2:55 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 20
blogs
Henrik Fisker, right, and Beau Boeckmann, left, of Galpin Auto Sports present the Galpin-Fisker Rocket at its world debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday. (REUTERS)
GABE NELSON:  LOS ANGELES -- Henrik Fisker, the Danish designer behind the Aston Martin DB9, BMW Z8 and the ill-fated Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid, apparently can design an American muscle car, too. At the Los Angeles Auto Show, with the Southern California tuner Galpin Auto Sports, Fisker unveiled the Galpin-Fisker Rocket, a 725-hp, carbon-fiber-bodied Mustang that goes on sale next year. Priced above $100,00 ...
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Apple's CarPlay goes missing in L.A. and in the showroom

Posted 11:09 am U.S. ET, Nov. 20
blogs
Honda plans to launch its HR-V small crossover in the spring and neither CarPlay nor Android Auto will be on board. (BLOOMBERG)
NEAL BOUDETTE:  Tech giants Apple and Google have generated a lot of hype over the past 12 months over their plans to tightly integrate their smartphones and app technology with in-car infotainment systems. Apple has made a show of publicly demonstrating its CarPlay software, which will enable drivers to use their dashboard screens and steering wheel buttons and knobs to control iPhone apps for navigating, strea ...
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Chevy Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo concept pays homage to past, future

Posted 3:36 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 20
blogs
The 2X, created by GM's North Hollywood Advanced Design Center, is more of a suit than a race car.
VINCE BOND JR.:  It’s ironic that the most futuristic Vision Gran Turismo virtual racer to date also has the deepest historical ties to motorsports. Chevrolet revealed a real-life mock-up of its imaginative Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo concept during the Los Angeles Auto Show, simultaneously challenging the boundaries of vehicle design while paying homage to a legendary racing brand known for innovation ...
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Ghosn sets the record straight on price-fixing conspiracy

Posted 12:53 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 20
blogs
Carlos Ghosn: "So it's my fault? That's a most original explanation."
DAVE GUILFORD:  NEW YORK -- In our package of stories on supplier price-fixing published Monday, one report said Carlos Ghosn inadvertently created the bid-rigging tradition. The argument went thus: Ghosn arrived in 1999 as CEO of Nissan and broke up the cozy keiretsu culture, demanding competitive bidding. In response, suppliers started price fixing. It’s an intriguing scenario. But Carlos Ghosn begs to ...
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Mercedes gives Maybach interior the silent treatment

Posted 11:09 am U.S. ET, Nov. 20
blogs
Mercedes has engineered the seals around the Maybach's doors with a tube-like shape that traps road and wind noise before it reaches the interior compartment. (BLOOMBERG)
NEAL BOUDETTE:  One of the highlights of the new Mercedes-Maybach S600 superluxury sedan is something you’re not supposed to notice: noise, or more precisely, the lack of it. Mercedes-Benz is touting the $200,000 car as the quietest on the road, and went to significant lengths to ensure the car’s occupants are sealed off from outside distractions. The noise-deadening measures start with an extremely ...
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Free advice for consumers can be worth the price

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 19
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
There’s a bright spot for dealerships that do a lot of business with automakers’ captive finance companies and preferred lenders, data on the website Wallet Hub show: Car manufacturers (that is, captives) charge the lowest auto loan rates for new cars, at 40 percent below average. Credit unions follow, at 24 percent below average. National banks charge rates that are close to average, ...
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Popping the subprime bubble myth

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 19
blogs Arlena Sawyers covers remarketing for Automotive News.
 
There is no subprime auto loan bubble, darn it. That message came through loud and clear at session after session devoted to subprime lending during the Used Car Week conference sponsored by Auto Remarketing magazine last week in Las Vegas. The recurrent theme was sparked by recent media stories -- presumably those by The New York Times -- that claim there is a troubling trend of consumers with ...
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Honda opens Calif. garage to get Android rolling

Posted 1:00 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 18
blogs
Honda's hope is that by making it easier for programmers to work with Android Auto, it will spawn some killer apps for the car.
GABE NELSON:  LOS ANGELES -- To help Google Inc.’s new Android Auto system gain favor, Honda Motor Co. is doing something rare in the auto industry: subsidizing its rivals. Today, at a connected-car conference ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show, Google released the first software developer kit for Android Auto, which puts the navigation and other features from an Android smartphone onto a vehicle’s ...
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Just how bad is that traffic jam ahead? New tech lets drivers see it

Posted 3:36 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 18
blogs Vince Bond Jr. is community editor for Automotive News.
 
Traffic apps that alert users about upcoming delays aren’t new. Mobile app Waze, for instance, has turned the navigation experience into a community event thanks to a crowd-sourcing approach where drivers notify one another of upcoming road closures, police traps and traffic conditions -- dotting maps with an array of colorful notification icons. It’s a useful tool. But what if driv ...
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Assembly redo: How Mercedes' Sprinter dodges chicken tax

Posted 11:15 am U.S. ET, Nov. 18
blogs

RICHARD TRUETT:  LADSON, S.C. -- A curious exercise in automobile manufacturing takes place daily inside the old, 350,000-square-foot Western Star truck plant here that is now owned by Daimler. This is where Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner Sprinter cargo vans are reassembled after being fully built and tested in Dusseldorf, Germany. It’s the “chicken tax” at work. After the Sprinters are manufa ...
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Great product isn't the only ingredient for making happy customers

Posted 3:48 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 14
blogs Jamie LaReau covers the automotive retail beat for Automotive News.
 
I’m remodeling my kitchen, and I can’t help but notice how buying a countertop is like buying a car. Both are expensive and time-consuming purchases. And ultimately, my satisfaction will not rest on a granite, quartz or laminate countertop. It will come from other fuzzy, nontangible factors such as my rapport with the salesperson, the service I get from the installers and the deal I m ...
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‘Disparate impact’ opposition sees hope

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 12
blogs Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
 
Hope remains among opposers of the “disparate impact” theory that the U.S. Supreme Court could ultimately rule against the theory in court, maybe in 2015. Law firm Ballard Spahr even described the disparate impact theory as “on the ropes” in a online article not long ago because a federal district court recently ruled against the theory in a case involving the U.S. Departm ...
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On the line, new F-150 is good for workers, not so ideal for haberdashers

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 12
blogs
Robots mounted overhead join aluminum truck bodies together with rivets, which are fed to rivet guns from spools mounted alongside the line. The smaller, lighter overhead-mounted robots replace floor-mounted steel welding robots and give the whole shop a more open, airy feel.
BRADFORD WERNLE:  DEARBORN -- When Ford Motor Co. transformed the body shop at its Dearborn truck plant in Michigan from making the F-150 pickup body from steel to aluminum, it had a major beneficial effect on Ron Ketelhut’s wardrobe budget. Now that there are no longer any big robot-mounted welding guns throwing off showers of sparks, Ketelhut doesn’t have to worry about getting burn holes in his shir ...
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GM victim's family left in the dark with compensation clock ticking

Posted 4:12 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 11
blogs Nick Bunkley is an enterprise reporter for Automotive News.
 
For 11 years, Jean Averill’s family had no idea that her death was connected to a defective ignition switch. For the past five months, Averill’s name sat in a footnote at the bottom of Page 103 in the Valukas report, which details the findings of General Motors’ investigation into that defective ignition switch. But her name, and the name of every other victim GM knew about, was ...
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Why turbocharger fans owe Saab a thank-you

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, Nov. 11
blogs Richard Truett covers engineering for Automotive News
 
We are gathered here today to pay our respects to Saab. The deceased Swedish automaker’s lasting legacy is not the unconventional place it put the ignition switch. It isn’t the blackout feature that allowed the driver to turn off all the instrument lights except the speedometer, nor is it the clamshell hood or any other quirky Saab feature. Saab’s contribution to automotive his ...
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What the rich and single drive these days

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Nov. 9
blogs Jamie LaReau covers the automotive retail beat for Automotive News.
 
You’re rich, hot, single and on the prowl -- in a Lincoln. That’s right: A Lincoln, baby! Apparently, sleek product redesign and TV spots featuring handsome movie star Matthew McConaughey are resonating among some wealthy singletons. Or something? LUXY, a new dating app, has compiled and ranked its 25,000 users’ top luxury auto brand preferences. It drew the data from what it ...
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Joe Herman's lessons about the business will live on

Posted 9:46 am U.S. ET, Nov. 8
blogs
Joe Herman joined the Kuni Automotive Group in 2010 as COO and helped double the group's annual revenue from under $500 million to $1.05 billion in 2013.
AMY WILSON:  ATLANTA -- When my friend and former colleague Donna Harris left Automotive News in 2011, she suggested I get to know retailer Joe Herman. I talked to him on the phone here and there over the next couple of years -- he was always helpful and accessible -- but I never met Joe in person until early this year at the NADA convention in New Orleans. We made plans to meet on Sunday afternoon of convent ...
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Art program could help shape auto industry's next creative minds

Posted 1:33 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 7
blogs News Editor James B. Treece oversees Automotive News' coverage of auto retailing.
 
Thursday night, I went to a fundraiser, called #onthefridge, for Art Road. This group arranges supplies and teachers for art classes and programs for schoolchildren in Detroit and southeast Michigan. It does more than that, but that’s the core mission: Let kids have an art class. Too many schools across the U.S. have had to cut those classes. The event was hosted by automotive supplier Lea ...
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Lexus RC media test drive canceled in Japan -- for lack of interest

Posted 12:08 pm U.S. ET, Nov. 6
blogs
The event was supposed to showcase the Lexus RC sports coupe, the lineup's new halo car.
HANS GREIMEL:  TOKYO -- Well, this is embarrassing. For Toyota Motor Corp. as well as Japan’s so-called automotive press corps. Toyota notified journalists last week that a long-scheduled new-car test-drive event was scrubbed -- for lack of interest. And it was not just for any new car. The event was supposed to showcase the new Lexus RC sports coupe, the lineup’s new halo car in a post-LFA world a ...
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