The Truth About Cars » Australia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 02 Sep 2015 18:04:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Australia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/australia/ Union Leader Blasts Obama on Pacific Trade Talks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/union-leader-blasts-obama-pacific-trade-talks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/union-leader-blasts-obama-pacific-trade-talks/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 21:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153377 The head of the AFL-CIO in the United States is criticizing the current presidential administration for its pursuit of a trade zone in the Pacific that could open up Asian markets to America and vice versa, the Detroit News is reporting. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote the administration a letter saying that a free-trade agreement with […]

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Circa 2010

The head of the AFL-CIO in the United States is criticizing the current presidential administration for its pursuit of a trade zone in the Pacific that could open up Asian markets to America and vice versa, the Detroit News is reporting.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote the administration a letter saying that a free-trade agreement with countries such as Japan jeopardizes American jobs because those countries may be able to source cheaper parts from outside the negotiated area, according to the report.

“I hope it is not the case that the Canadian and Mexican negotiators are actually holding a harder line than our own government on this issue. But due to the unaccountable lack of transparency from USTR, absolutely critical decisions are being made without our input or voice. Thousands of good American jobs and an iconic American industry are at risk, and we don’t even know what our government’s negotiating position is.”

According to the Detroit News, a free-trade agreement with Asia would be high on Obama’s priorities before his administration ends.

Trumka said there would be no guarantee for American automakers to gain a foothold in Japan if the Trans Pacific Partnership were created.

Instead, he said, the deal would make it easier for American automakers to source cheaper parts from China and Thailand, or other developing nations, which would come at the expense of American auto workers. Under current free trade rules in North America, 62.5 percent of a car or light truck must originate within the trade zone to be tariff free. Mexico, which is currently building nearly 4 million cars a year, would like to increase that to 65 percent. Japan is proposing a 45-percent threshold for vehicles and 30 percent for parts.

The agreement could also end the 25-percent import tax on light pickups, commonly called the “Chicken Tax.”

Automakers have said they’d prefer to renew the Chicken Tax or slowly roll the tax back after years — or even decades.

According to the story, Japan doesn’t place any import tax on American-built cars, and has said they’ve spent billions building production facilities in America — which American automakers haven’t yet done in Japan.

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Australian Supercar Racer Courtney Injured in Freak Accident, Championship Chase Probably Over http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/australian-supercar-racer-courtney-injured-freak-accident-championship-chase-probably/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/australian-supercar-racer-courtney-injured-freak-accident-championship-chase-probably/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 15:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1149593 V8 Supercar racer James Courtney was injured when an Australian Navy helicopter fly-over dislodged debris near pitlane, which struck and injured the racer, media in Australia is reporting. Courtney was transported to a local hospital with relatively minor injuries, but is expected to remain there for several days, effectively ending his race weekend. Courtney is currently fifth […]

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James Courtney

V8 Supercar racer James Courtney was injured when an Australian Navy helicopter fly-over dislodged debris near pitlane, which struck and injured the racer, media in Australia is reporting.

Courtney was transported to a local hospital with relatively minor injuries, but is expected to remain there for several days, effectively ending his race weekend. Courtney is currently fifth in the championship standings with five races to follow this weekend’s Sydney Motorsports Park SuperSprint. Courtney’s missed weekend effectively ends his championship run.

According to reports, Courtney was struck with debris when the helicopter performed a low flyover before the event. Courtney reported shortness of breath and minor injuries before his pit crew requested a doctor examine him.

“James puts on a brave face. We have to force him to do the right thing and send him to hospital. I know him better than most people and I could see he was in a lot of pain,” Holden Racing Team chief Adrian Burgess told News.com in Australia.

Other racing teams said the helicopter was flying exceptionally low.

“Madness, just madness,” Triple Eight Racing chief Roland Dane said. “The whole place was shaking like an earthquake. We had all our stuff blowing out of the back of the garage. One bloke in a wheelchair was very lucky he wasn’t hit.”

The Royal Australian Navy said it would investigate the incident.

Courtney was diagnosed with broken ribs and a pneumothorax, which is a pocket of air trapped in the lungs that can partially or completely collapse a lung.

(Photo courtesy V8 Supercars Australia)

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Japan Gets a New Toyota Land Cruiser, Ours May Come Soon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/japan-gets-new-toyota-land-cruiser-can-trade/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/japan-gets-new-toyota-land-cruiser-can-trade/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 21:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1144225 Toyota announced its updated Land Cruiser in Japan today, with a starting price of $38,000 (!?) for the off-roading legend. The seven-seater over there serves as the base for our Lexus LX over here, which was unveiled over the weekend in California alongside the turbo’d Lexus GS, and our version has all the grille. Based […]

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Toyota Land Cruiser

Toyota announced its updated Land Cruiser in Japan today, with a starting price of $38,000 (!?) for the off-roading legend.

The seven-seater over there serves as the base for our Lexus LX over here, which was unveiled over the weekend in California alongside the turbo’d Lexus GS, and our version has all the grille.

Based on initial reception of the LX, when will we get the new Land Cruiser?

According to a Toyota spokesman, the automaker has “something” to tell us about the Land Cruiser tomorrow.

According to Toyota in Japan, the Land Cruiser 200 received a mild upgrade over the last generation. Although their prices are much lower than our $80,000 truck, the Land Cruiser in Japan is fitted with a smaller 4.6-liter V-8, instead of the 5.7-liter V8 found here in the States, which partially accounts for the price difference.

Both SUVs are extremely small volume cars for Toyota so changes are usually made globally.

So those of you (all 200 a month) who want to spend actual money for an actual Land Cruiser instead of a LX, your saving grace could be just around the corner.

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Quattro Receives Re-brand in Australia, Now Called Audi Sport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/quattro-receives-re-brand-in-australia-now-called-audi-sport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/quattro-receives-re-brand-in-australia-now-called-audi-sport/#comments Sun, 16 Aug 2015 18:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1143417 You’d be forgiven if you thought Audi’s performance division was called “RS”. After all, the Germans have a history of using letters to describe their more powerful offerings, such as BMW M and Mercedes-AMG. In Audi’s case, it’s a bit more complex. While the cars themselves wear S and RS badging, the performance division is actually called […]

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Audi R8 V10

You’d be forgiven if you thought Audi’s performance division was called “RS”. After all, the Germans have a history of using letters to describe their more powerful offerings, such as BMW M and Mercedes-AMG.

In Audi’s case, it’s a bit more complex. While the cars themselves wear S and RS badging, the performance division is actually called quattro GmbH (without the capital Q, because Audi), which is the name of the all-wheel drive system that made the brand so popular with Group B rally fans. It’s compounded by the fact normal Audi’s wear the quattro nameplate when they sport all-wheel drive, so it’s not that exclusive of a name.

In Australia, Audi is looking to fix this organizational and marketing nightmare. Enter Audi Sport.

The performance division itself, quattro, will not change its name, but the products developed by Quattro (screw it, I am using capitals) will now be marketed under the customer-friendly Audi Sport umbrella. CarAdvice reports 15 dealers will have Audi Sport-specific showroom areas by the end of the year for selling RS models and Audi’s halo car, the R8. S models will still be sold under the more plebeian Audi banner.

The additional moniker is a pilot project by Audi that could be found in other regions in the future. Considering the sub-branding success of BMW and Mercedes — the latter has completely re-engineered how it’ll name all vehicles in the future — it’s probably about time Audi did the same.

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Campbell Points Fingers At Kett, Manley, Marchionne in Defense http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/campbell-points-fingers-at-kett-manley-marchionne-in-defense/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/campbell-points-fingers-at-kett-manley-marchionne-in-defense/#comments Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1131633 The court case against former FCA Australia executive Clyde Campbell is turning into a veritable who’s-who of decision makers at the company, reports The Age. Campbell, who is charged with misappropriation of $30 million AUD of company funds, claims he had verbal permission from recently departed FCA executive John Kett, current company hotshot Mike Manley, and […]

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The court case against former FCA Australia executive Clyde Campbell is turning into a veritable who’s-who of decision makers at the company, reports The Age.

Campbell, who is charged with misappropriation of $30 million AUD of company funds, claims he had verbal permission from recently departed FCA executive John Kett, current company hotshot Mike Manley, and head of FCA Sergio Marchionne.

Campbell’s statement of defense comprises of many claims about instructions received by him from executives further up the chain of command.

One item of contention has to do with dealerships owned by formerly disgraced Mercedes executive Ernst Lieb and business partner David Piva. Campbell authorized payments from FCA to the pair to buy dealerships in Australia in order to increase FCA sales in Australia to 20,000 units per year by any means necessary.

From The Age:

Mr Campbell claims he authorised that expenditure on the instructions of Mr Manley, who “implied by a direction to increase FCA’s dealerships to 100 by June 2012″ that such deals were needed.

According to Mr Campbell, at a management meeting in Shanghai in 2012, Mr Manley told him FCA needed to match the sales volume of Kia and Volkswagen in Australia.

Mr Campbell claims he replied that Kia and Volkswagen had more dealerships and FCA was trying to expand its dealership network. 

According to the court documents, Mr Manley replied with words to the effect: “I’m sick of this excuse. Get 100 dealerships by June next year or you’re out of a job. I don’t care how you do it, I don’t care how much it costs, just get it done. All your marketing is being wasted if you do not have a dealer network to deliver on it”.

Campbell also claims he received “implicit instructions” from Sergio Marchionne and former executive John Kett.

It should be mentioned many of the claims made by Campbell lack supporting evidence.

Other deals as part of the case include the purchase of a plane painted in Alfa Romeo livery (pictured) and a $400,000 Chris Craft yacht.

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Fiat Chrysler Chief in Asia Quickly Quits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-chief-asia-quickly-quits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-chief-asia-quickly-quits/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 16:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124609 The head of the Asia Pacific region for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles abruptly left his position Thursday, only a few days before the former head of FCA in Australia is expected to file a defense against allegations that he misused money, Drive in Australia is reporting. FCA Asian-Pacific chief John Kett left the company “to pursue other […]

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John KettThe head of the Asia Pacific region for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles abruptly left his position Thursday, only a few days before the former head of FCA in Australia is expected to file a defense against allegations that he misused money, Drive in Australia is reporting.

FCA Asian-Pacific chief John Kett left the company “to pursue other business interests,” according to the automaker. His resignation is effective immediately.

Former managing director of FCA in Australia Clyde Campbell is accused by the automaker of swindling more than $30 million from the company to pay for extravagant parties and gifts. 

It’s unclear if Kett’s departure has any connection with Campbell’s expected defense that he misused money.

Jeep CEO and Asian Pacific chief operating officer Mike Manley will assume Kett’s duties on an interim basis, the company said.

Campbell is accused of providing cars to celebrities such as Elizabeth Hurley and Shane Warne, in addition to hosting lavish parties and buying a $400,000 yacht with company money.

Kett has a long automotive career stretching back to the 1980s when he was CFO for Holden in Australia. After assuming various roles with GM in China and Australia, Kett was hired by Chrysler in 2008 and promoted to his role in 2009.

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2016 F1 Calendar Brings Back Germany, Adds Azerbaijan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-f1-calendar-brings-back-germany-adds-azerbaijan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-f1-calendar-brings-back-germany-adds-azerbaijan/#comments Sat, 11 Jul 2015 16:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1113417 Next year’s Formula 1 season may have 21 races, including the first in Azerbaijan and a race in Germany after this year’s planned event was cancelled. The provisional calendar for F1 was released Friday with 21 races scheduled, the same number of races on last year’s provisional calendar. The race on the streets in Baku, Azerbaijan this year […]

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Next year’s Formula 1 season may have 21 races, including the first in Azerbaijan and a race in Germany after this year’s planned event was cancelled.

The provisional calendar for F1 was released Friday with 21 races scheduled, the same number of races on last year’s provisional calendar. The race on the streets in Baku, Azerbaijan this year would be dubbed the European Grand Prix and could be held in July.

The 2016 season would begin in Australia in April and end in Abu Dhabi in November.

The German Grand Prix, which was slated for the Nurburgring this year before it was cancelled due to financial issues, may be held at Hockenheim next year, according to SkySports.

Other changes on the 2016 F1 calendar include moving the Russian Grand Prix from October to May, and moving the Malaysian Grand Prix from April to September.

Last year, the provisional calendar included 21 races, including a Korean Grand Prix that was eventually dropped from the calendar. Mexico was added to be the 20th race this year before the German GP was dropped. F1 has only held a 20-race season once, which was in 2012.

The provisional 2016 calendar effectively eliminates the summer break for F1 teams. The largest gap between two races next year is only two weeks, with three back-to-back races in Asia, North America and Indonesia-Malaysia.

The provisional calendar was part of a larger set of changes F1’s governing body made to the sport this week. The FIA released a new set of rules simplifying how teams serve penalties, according to the BBC. Teams will move to the back of the grid for power-unit penalties, rather than a complicated system of grid penalties and time penalties based on position.

McLaren-Honda will also be allowed to use an additional complete power unit this year after the FIA relaxed rules for first-year engine suppliers. The rule will retroactively apply to McLaren-Honda this season.

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New V8 Supercars Rules: Smaller Engines (Maybe), More Cars (Maybe) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/new-australian-supercars-rules-smaller-engines-maybe-cars-maybe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/new-australian-supercars-rules-smaller-engines-maybe-cars-maybe/#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 17:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1112857 Guidelines for the new Australian V8 Supercar series outline specifications for its new cars, including an option to use smaller engines for the manufacturers who compete. According to the racing series, the new platform “allows more flexibility in terms of body style and engine configuration, provided they comply with the regulations. The V8 engine, which has been mandated […]

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Guidelines for the new Australian V8 Supercar series outline specifications for its new cars, including an option to use smaller engines for the manufacturers who compete.

According to the racing series, the new platform “allows more flexibility in terms of body style and engine configuration, provided they comply with the regulations. The V8 engine, which has been mandated for more than 20 years, is also expected to continue as the dominant power plant of the sport.”

The guidelines allow for 4-, 6- or 8-cylinder engines, as long as they meet power specifications. The plans also call for a minimum noise limit of 85 to 95 dB. Take that, Bernie.

Currently, five manufacturers compete in the series: Ford, Holden, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volvo. Two of the five manufacturers — Nissan and Volvo — don’t offer their production cars used in the race series with V8 engines.

The new regulations also allow for a wider range of body styles — presumably to entice more manufacturers to compete such as BMW — provided that the cars are right-hand drive, four-seat, front-engined, rear-wheel drive and “accurately reflect” the look of a production model. GT cars with four seats would be allowed under the new rules.

Currently, cars race with different engines on a uniform chassis. Both Mercedes-Benz and Nissan use fundamentally different engines than Ford and Holden. 

The new generation supercar program was started last November and will be implemented at the beginning of 2017. The V8 Supercar season runs from February to December.

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FCA Australia Can’t Locate $8M Worth of Loaned Jeeps http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-australia-cant-locate-8m-worth-of-loaned-jeeps/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-australia-cant-locate-8m-worth-of-loaned-jeeps/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 16:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099097 Under the leadership of stellar executives Clyde Campbell and Veronica Johns, FCA Australia loaned out “hundreds” of vehicles, all of which the company would like returned. That’s too bad as FCA doesn’t know exactly where they all are. Australia’s Daily Telegraph (via Automotive News) is reporting that FCA is still trying to find the vehicles […]

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Under the leadership of stellar executives Clyde Campbell and Veronica Johns, FCA Australia loaned out “hundreds” of vehicles, all of which the company would like returned.

That’s too bad as FCA doesn’t know exactly where they all are.

Australia’s Daily Telegraph (via Automotive News) is reporting that FCA is still trying to find the vehicles that were part of the company’s ambassador program, meant to put popular individuals in the seats of their products, valued at $10M AUD ($7.75M USD).

As reported earlier, records on the vehicles are shaky, with many of them given away without anyone at the company tracking their whereabouts.

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Aus. FCA Misappropriation Case Includes Former MB, Current Crown Resorts Execs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/aus-fca-misappropriation-case-includes-former-mb-exec-crown-resorts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/aus-fca-misappropriation-case-includes-former-mb-exec-crown-resorts/#comments Sat, 06 Jun 2015 18:58:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1085937 As we reported earlier, Clyde Campbell and a number of his associates, including his successor Veronica Johns and former boss Ernst Lieb by way of his Motorworld dealerships, are being named in a misappropriation case claiming $30 million AUD was funnelled out of company coffers. This weekend, more details have come to light, including how […]

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Chrysler 300 (Aus)

As we reported earlier, Clyde Campbell and a number of his associates, including his successor Veronica Johns and former boss Ernst Lieb by way of his Motorworld dealerships, are being named in a misappropriation case claiming $30 million AUD was funnelled out of company coffers.

This weekend, more details have come to light, including how Campbell was able to pilfer FCA funds without raising red flags in Detroit.

The story verges on conspiracy and includes the wife of Campbell, his successor, a formerly disgraced Daimler executive, a casino, a boat and extravagant homes paid for by FCA without its knowing. Even Campbell’s wife’s hairdresser received a free Jeep as part of the brand’s “ambassador” program.

Mark Hawthorne of The Sydney Morning Herald remarked, “It has all the makings of a Hollywood script. In Elizabeth Hurley, it even has the presence of a Hollywood star.”

According to the article published today, $20 million (all figures in Australian dollars) was spent on overpriced dealer website services, $550,000 on a “mobile outdoor floating billboard” that is allegedly a 40-foot Chris Craft boat owned by Campbell, $1 million Christmas parties that included Louis Vuitton bags as employee gifts, over $500,000 – and possible nearly $2 million – in travel expenses, and a private suite for Campbell and his friends – including former fired Mercedes-Benz USA CEO and president Ernst Lieb – to enjoy the Monaco Grand Prix.

Campbell served under Lieb
Ernst Lieb did an eighteen year stint in multiple roles at Mercedes-Benz Canada Ltd. between 1985 and 2003. It’s where he rode out the “merger of equals” between Daimler and Chrysler as he served in his final position, CEO and president, of the Canadian subsidiary.

In 2003, Ernst moved to Australia and took the same titles at the Australian arm of the newly-merged DaimlerChrysler. That’s where he became the boss of Clyde Campbell. Ernst would leave Australia in 2006 to become CEO and president of Mercedes-Benz USA, but not before Campbell signed a contract for dealer website services with Motortrak, a British digital retail marketing agency owned by Gary Pask.

By May 2007, Daimler would divest itself from Chrysler, with Cerberus Capital Management taking a 80.1 percent stake in the American business.

Starting January 2008, Campbell served as managing director of Motortrak in its Australian office. His wife, Simone, was director and company secretary starting in May 2009. During his time at Motortrak, Campbell sold a website services deal to Lieb for all Mercedes-Benz dealers in the United States.

“That was the making of Motortrak and the making of Gary Pask as one of the richest businessmen in the UK,” a former Motortrak staff member told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“The whole deal was done by Clyde.”

During this time, Chrysler received $12.5 billion (USD) from the U.S Treasury and $1 billion (CAD) from the Canadian and Ontario governments. The bailout cash was provided under the condition of a Fiat takeover.

Clyde left Motortrak in September 2010, with his wife following one month later. Two days after she left the retail marketing company, Clyde Campbell was appointed managing director of the now-Fiat-controlled Chrysler Australia.

In October 2011, Lieb was fired from Mercedes-Benz USA for using corporate funds to pay golf club fees, granting rentals for vehicles in exchange for flight upgrades, and using $100,000 in corporate money to perform upgrades in his private home – including a home theatre, gym, washer and dryer, and built-in barbecue. A later wrongful dismissal suit launched by Lieb against Mercedes in Germany was dismissed, with the court stating the claims were “so serious that any further employment [at Daimler] would be unacceptable.”

An unnamed Daimler executive at that time told German paper Handelsblatt, “Ernst was warned, but he has done it again.”

Another Motortrak contract, Lieb’s Motorworld and Campbell’s high life
Almost as soon as Campbell returned to FCA in 2010, he signed another contract with former employer Motortrak. The initial amount of $690 a month for website services per dealer would balloon to $4,100. This was charged to the network’s 184 dealers.

More than $20 million was paid to Motortrak from 2011, claims FCA, “substantially greater than the cost for similar web services provided by Motortrak itself and by competitors.”

Shortly after, disgraced Lieb would return to Australia to become co-owner of the Motorworld dealership group along with David Piva.

“After working all my life in the wholesale sector, I am now in the ‘real’ business of the Automotive Industry – the retail business!” Lieb said in a press release announcing his arrival at Motorworld.

FCA alleges it incurred some $4 million in damages in deals between the Campbell-led subsidiary and Lieb-owned Motorworld, including “marketing support and to help it buy property, specifically the Brighton dealership,” reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Campbell was well known as one of the biggest-spending marketers in Australia. The company would end up sponsoring horse racing, soccer players in multiple leagues, events, Crown Resorts, professional sports teams, and provide vehicles to celebrities the world over.

While there were only 45 official “ambassador” program vehicles documented in 2013, staff said the number was closer to 100. The program was so pervasive, even Simone Campbell’s hairdresser, Karlose, received a Jeep for free.

Travel expenses skyrocketed. Campbell incurred $537,849 in travel expenses in his own name. However, it is believed he also incurred – in whole or in part – an additional $452,138 in 2012 and $445,556 in 2013 in travel expenses submitted under the names of employees who had no business traveling.

Part of this travel was a trip to Monaco. Campbell, along with Lieb and Pask, enjoyed multiple stays at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Lavish parties were also the norm for Christmas. Approximately $1 million each year was spent on the annual employee Christmas party held at Crown Palladium, with an estimated 100 suites booked at Crown Towers and Crown Promenade hotels for staff, guests, brand ambassadors and media. This started under Campbell’s leadership and continued under his successor, Veronica Johns.

$550,000 “mobile outdoor floating billboard”
Allegedly, in March 2013, Campbell contacted FCA’s advertising agency Maxus to direct payment on four invoices of $137,500 each, for a total of $550,000, provided by My Alfa Romeo. The invoices were for a “mobile outdoor floating billboard”.

My Alfa Romeo, partly owned by Crown Resorts’ Ishan Ratnam (a.k.a. Ishan Kunaratnam) and Campbell’s wife Simone, is said not to have delivered said billboard. Instead, FCA alleges the money was used to purchase a 40-foot Chris Craft boat valued at $400,000 owned by Campbell.

Ratnam’s lawyer, John Price, stated, “There is a contract between My Alfa Romeo and FCA and the billboard was provided. My client denies that assertion, as certainly Fiat Chrysler did receive it.”

From Campbell to Johns, the spending continued
In April 2013, Veronica Johns took over the role vacated by Campbell when he moved to New Zealand-based distributorship Fiat Chrysler NZ Limited of which he took a 50 percent stake. The other half of the NZ company is owned by Ateco Automotive executive chairman Neville Crichton.

However, the change in leadership didn’t mean the money would stop flowing from FCA.

At the time, FCA touted their new leader Johns as “the first Australian woman to head the local division of a major car company.”

After a $3.1 million renovation of the company’s Melbourne headquarters done by Madok, a construction company controlled by Mitchell Knight, the same company was contracted to perform upgrades to John’s private residence with the work invoiced back to FCA.

Three cars were purchased as prizes for two charities and a soccer club. Two of those vehicles would end up registered to Mitchell Knight and one to Gregory Hede, John’s husband. Knight sold at least one of those vehicles back to the City Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership at a $20,000 premium. FCA claims the vehicles were funnelled through the Lieb-owned Motorworld group.

A Fiat Abarth race team was funded by the FCA Australian subsidiary under Johns. It was budgeted at $500,000 but cost $800,00 in all. Clyde Campbell and Gregory Hede competed as drivers in those cars, their racing licences paid for by FCA.

Other expenses mentioned in the case include an $11,000 bill rung up by Johns at Crown Towers.

In September 2014, FCA alleges Campbell, his wife Simone, Lieb, his wife Petra and other guests took a three-day trip to a luxury golf and spa resort in New Zealand on FCA’s dime under the leadership of Veronica Johns without proper authorization.

One month later, Johns left FCA for “personal reasons” after less than two years at the post and a total of 16 years with the company.

How did it all happen?

“The spending was out of control,” told former staff member to The Sydney Morning Herald. “And anyone who questioned it was shown the door.”

When Johns left the top post, FCA appointed Chrysler parts business head Pat Dougherty as the new president and CEO of the Australian subsidiary. When he arrived, employees lined up at his door to tell the story, reports The Sydney Morning Herald, which Dougherty then reported back to Detroit.

Auditors arrived in Melbourne in late January.

How it all happened in the first place, Dougherty is keeping mum.

“FCA Australia will not engage in a running commentary on matters currently before the courts”, he told BusinessDay.

However, many think a lack of control and oversight is due to the DaimlerChrysler fiasco and Chrysler’s recent merger with Fiat. With Italian and American managers preoccupied with larger corporate matters, executives in Australia were able to operate virtually autonomously, especially as sales grew.

Campbell is stating he’s innocent through his lawyer.

“We are confident that, in due course, the allegations will be shown to be wrong and will be embarrassing for FCA,” Campbell’s lawyer Sam Bond told The Sydney Morning Herald.

[Sources: 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]

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FCA Takes Former Australia Exec. to Court for Misappropriation of $30M http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-takes-former-australia-exec-to-court-for-misappropriation-of-30m/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-takes-former-australia-exec-to-court-for-misappropriation-of-30m/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 14:15:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075882 The Chrysler 300, thought by many to be a modern day “gangster” car, has tons of power. But, as they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and for former FCA Australia CEO Clyde Campbell, it still may not be enough to escape accusations of misappropriation of funds. Tomorrow, FCA will take Campbell to federal court in Australia claiming he […]

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Chrysler 300 (Aus)

The Chrysler 300, thought by many to be a modern day “gangster” car, has tons of power. But, as they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and for former FCA Australia CEO Clyde Campbell, it still may not be enough to escape accusations of misappropriation of funds.

Tomorrow, FCA will take Campbell to federal court in Australia claiming he funneled money to other companies owned by himself, his wife, co-workers, and his successor – Victoria Johns.

FCA has accused Campbell of misappropriating and misusing more than $30 million “in company money to fund an extravagant lifestyle for his family and business associates,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The claim also states Campbell provided free vehicles to celebrities Shane Wayne and Elizabeth Hurley in the UK, a region in which FCA Australia does not have business.

Campbell is said to have used corporate funds to purchase a $400,000 yacht, a plane, trips, and private club memberships through a convoluted process involving multiple companies.

The accused, prior to working for FCA, was employed by Motortrak. After Campbell moved to his position at FCA, Motortrak was contracted to provide web services to dealers at inflated prices, costing FCA $9.16 million per year between December 2010 and May 2015.

Campbell is also said to have funneled money to a company called My Alfa Romeo that was contracted to provide a “mobile floating billboard” at the cost of $500,000. Simone, Clyde’s wife, was a director and shareholder of My Alfa Romeo. The billboard was never delivered or provided.

Another company, Vukosav Photography, was paid $191,192 for services never contracted. Company owner Andrew Vukosav is said to be a friend of Campbell. The two allegedly went on a three-day golf trip together in New Zealand. Neither FCA or Maxus, FCA Australia’s marketing agency, contracted photography services from Vukosav Photography.

A conflict of interest is also mentioned in a $6.6 million contract with a company called Digital Dialogue. Sam Tabart, then FCA’s marketing director, is said to have a stake in parent company Digital Dialogue Media Holdings.

Finally, it is alleged Campbell’s successor, Victoria Johns, used company funds to pay for renovations at her private home. Johns was the first female CEO in the automotive industry in Australia and left FCA without warning in October 2014 for “personal reasons.” There have been no claims made against Johns.

FCA is looking to reclaim funds misspent under Campbell’s tenure as managing director from 2010 to 2013 and to freeze the assets of Campbell and his wife Simone, including their family home, “bank accounts, shareholdings and other properties and assets in Europe and New Zealand.”

“During a routine audit, we discovered what at best appears to be incomplete documentation pertaining to certain transactions and vendor relationships initiated or approved by Mr Campbell during his tenure as CEO of FCA Australia,” explained a representative for FCA in a statement.

The case begins in federal court tomorrow.

[Sources: mUmBRELLA, Sydney Morning Herald 1, 2, GoAuto]

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Suzuki Recalls 2M Amid Reports Of Smoking Ignitions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/suzuki-recalls-2m-amid-reports-smoking-ignitions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/suzuki-recalls-2m-amid-reports-smoking-ignitions/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 22:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1051009 Suzuki is recalling a record 2 million vehicles to replace ignition switches amid reports of smoke and fumes being emitted from the part. The recall adds 1,873,000 vehicles to the 168,000 previously recalled late last month, Reuters reports. Both figures apply to nine models made in Japan, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda AZ-Wagon, Mazda Carol, […]

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2003 Suzuki Wagon R

Suzuki is recalling a record 2 million vehicles to replace ignition switches amid reports of smoke and fumes being emitted from the part.

The recall adds 1,873,000 vehicles to the 168,000 previously recalled late last month, Reuters reports. Both figures apply to nine models made in Japan, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda AZ-Wagon, Mazda Carol, and Suzuki’s own Alto, Wagon R and Swift. The recall for the latter three covers vehicles built between 1998 and 2009.

Another 133,700 models in the new recall were sold overseas in Australia and Europe, including the aforementioned Swift, Alto and Cruze.

Thus far, 67 reports of smoking switches have been reported, including 18 in police cars. The reports have all come from Japan.

[Photo credit: Kuha455405/Wikipedia]

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Smart Follows Opel Out Of Australia Amid Weak Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/smart-follows-opel-australia-amid-weak-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/smart-follows-opel-australia-amid-weak-sales/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 15:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1016730 In 2013, Opel left Australia amid poor sales in the land down under. This year, it’s Smart that is bowing out of the market. Just-Auto reports the Smart ForTwo would soon return to Europe after finding little success in Australia, due mainly to consumers not wanting to pay a premium on a city car; the […]

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In 2013, Opel left Australia amid poor sales in the land down under. This year, it’s Smart that is bowing out of the market.

Just-Auto reports the Smart ForTwo would soon return to Europe after finding little success in Australia, due mainly to consumers not wanting to pay a premium on a city car; the ForTwo’s $18,990 AUD ($14,727 USD) price is nearly on par with the much bigger, more roomier Toyota Corolla.

Since arriving in 2003, Smart has sold over 4,400 of its models, 3,517 being the aforementioned ForTwo. However, demand began to fall in 2005, and reached a point that by 2013, the brand only took orders online. Additionally, only 22 ForTwos have been sold in 2015 so far as the Australian market recovers.

Mercedes-Benz said it would continue to offer parts and service for the vehicles, and would do its best to move the remaining 60 days’ worth of inventory before Smart’s days in Australia came to a close.

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New South Wales Drivers ‘Block’ Traffic Cameras In Social Media-Backed Protest http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-south-wales-drivers-block-traffic-cameras-social-media-backed-protest/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-south-wales-drivers-block-traffic-cameras-social-media-backed-protest/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 12:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972050 Speed cameras are the bane of motorists, a needed safety measure for road safety advocates, and a boon to government coffers (just ask Waldo, Fla.). Motorists in New South Wales, Australia, however, have decided to fly the two-fingered salute the only way they know how: By popping the hood. According to Autoblog, the social media […]

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Block Their Shot - Strayan For Fuck Da Police

Speed cameras are the bane of motorists, a needed safety measure for road safety advocates, and a boon to government coffers (just ask Waldo, Fla.). Motorists in New South Wales, Australia, however, have decided to fly the two-fingered salute the only way they know how: By popping the hood.

According to Autoblog, the social media campaign Block Their Shot is encouraging drivers in NSW to “breakdown” in front of the state’s 45 traffic cameras, which are mounted in trucks like the one above.

As for the cause of the protest, use of said cameras increased in the last half of 2014, with a total of 7,000 hours of footage gathered over the period, compared to the 5,580 hours gathered during the last six months of 2013. In turn, the fines collected charged upward into the stratosphere, from $310,000 AUD ($250,000 USD) in 2013, to $1.35 million ($1.08 million) between January and October 2014.

Though the campaign is popular with motorists — over 40,000 Facebook likes as of this writing — both safety advocates and government officials would like to have a word or two with those behind it. NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay hopes the “idiots” grow out of this, lest he puts “draconian fines in place,” while University of New South Wales professor of road safety Raphael Grzebieta believes the campaign is putting lives in danger by encouraging speeding.

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2015 Chevrolet SS Now Available With Six-Speed Manual http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/2015-chevrolet-ss-now-available-six-speed-manual/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/2015-chevrolet-ss-now-available-six-speed-manual/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 12:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951913 Wanted a Chevrolet SS, but wanted to row your own? Your ship has arrived. AutoGuide reports the 2015 SS can be had with either a six-speed auto or, new for this year, a six-speed manual. Either option won’t add onto the $46,740 base price, with the only costly options being the $900 sunroof and the […]

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Wanted a Chevrolet SS, but wanted to row your own? Your ship has arrived.

AutoGuide reports the 2015 SS can be had with either a six-speed auto or, new for this year, a six-speed manual. Either option won’t add onto the $46,740 base price, with the only costly options being the $900 sunroof and the $500 full-size spare. Leather seating and Chevrolet’s MyLink system are standard.

Out back, the manual comes with a 3.70 gear ratio, more aggressive than the 3.27 paired with the auto. Power to the back comes from a 6.2-liter V8 delivering the same figure for horsepower and torque: 415.

Annual production of the SS is limited to 2,500, a run that will likely cease when Holden closes its last Australian factory in 2017.

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Dorizas Leaves Holden, General Motors To Pursue New Ventures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dorizas-leaves-holden-general-motors-pursue-new-ventures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dorizas-leaves-holden-general-motors-pursue-new-ventures/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938145 Another bell tolls as Holden draws closer to the end of local production in 2017, this time for brand boss Gerry Dorizas, who resigned after serving just eight months in the position. Motoring.com.au reports Dorizas was the fifth Holden head in four years, taking up where Mike Devereaux — who helmed the General Motors subsidiary […]

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Another bell tolls as Holden draws closer to the end of local production in 2017, this time for brand boss Gerry Dorizas, who resigned after serving just eight months in the position.

Motoring.com.au reports Dorizas was the fifth Holden head in four years, taking up where Mike Devereaux — who helmed the General Motors subsidiary from 2010 to 2013 — left off. Current COO Jeff Rolfs will fill the void until a new chief is found.

Dorizas, who proclaimed Holden would retake the top of the podium by 2020, has also left GM altogether “to pursue other opportunities.” Brand communications manager Sean Poppitt did not offer an explanation for the departure, but affirmed it would not change the brand’s goals and strategy.

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2015 HSV GTS Maloo Ute Officially Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-hsv-gts-maloo-ute-officially-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-hsv-gts-maloo-ute-officially-unveiled/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913090 Last month, Holden Special Vehicles announced plans for the most brutal ute to ever be assembled as a send-off to the Holden Commodore Ute before all local production draws to a close in 2017. This is that ute: The 2015 HSV GTS Maloo. The limited edition ute pulls from the same parts bin used to […]

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Last month, Holden Special Vehicles announced plans for the most brutal ute to ever be assembled as a send-off to the Holden Commodore Ute before all local production draws to a close in 2017.

This is that ute: The 2015 HSV GTS Maloo.

The limited edition ute pulls from the same parts bin used to create the equally limited and powerful GTS Sedan, based upon the Commodore sedan. This includes the 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V8 — capable of dropping 577 horsepower and a near-equal 546 lb-ft of tree-removing torque out behind the bed — lightweight six-piston calipers mounted to 15- and 14-inch two-piece rotors, and torque vectoring. Power will be directed to the rear 20-inch wheels through a TR6060 (MG9 spec) six-speed twin-clutch manual or optional 6L90E six-speed auto.

At the ready inside, the owner can adjust the GTS Maloo’s electronic stability, torque vectoring, launch control and more through the HSV Driver Preference Dial, while HUD, lane-departure and performance systems provide the driver with the data and safety they might need.

Two colors — a bronze/red and an iridescent olive green — and two leather trims — dubbed Onyx and Red Hot, respectively — round out the looks in addition to the GTS’s aggressive face.

Only 250 will be built — 10 of which are heading over to nearby New Zealand — with production and availability due by November of this year. Price of admission will likely be around $79,000 USD.

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Ford’s Final Ute http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/fords-final-ute/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/fords-final-ute/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 14:52:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=911170 The Ford Falcon Ute will bow out for 2015, alongside its Falcon sedan sibling, and Ford is preparing a final edition to commemorate the end of an era. The last Falcon Ute will come with a 4.0L I6 making 260 horsepower. A turbocharged version of this mill is also available, and bumps power up to […]

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The Ford Falcon Ute will bow out for 2015, alongside its Falcon sedan sibling, and Ford is preparing a final edition to commemorate the end of an era.

The last Falcon Ute will come with a 4.0L I6 making 260 horsepower. A turbocharged version of this mill is also available, and bumps power up to 362 horsepower. Both manual and automatic transmissions will be offered. The Ute’s final redesign follows an update for the Falcon sedan.

Ford’s Australian manufacturing arm will shut down in 2016, with arch-rival Holden ending its own operations a year after that. The Ute is considered an icon of the Australian motoring industry, which has now largely collapsed in a short time frame due to a strong Australian dollar and shifting market conditions.

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HSV Unveils Its Last, Fastest-Ever Ute http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/hsv-unveils-last-fastest-ever-v8-interceptor-ute/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/hsv-unveils-last-fastest-ever-v8-interceptor-ute/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=889305 As a parting gift to the world, Holden is set to built what should be the fastest Ute ever produced, borrowing the LSA V8 from the HSV GTS sedan. Carsguide.com.au reports the ute will receive its power from the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 powering the HSV GTS Sedan, capable of delivering 577 horsepower and 546 ft-lb […]

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As a parting gift to the world, Holden is set to built what should be the fastest Ute ever produced, borrowing the LSA V8 from the HSV GTS sedan.

Carsguide.com.au reports the ute will receive its power from the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 powering the HSV GTS Sedan, capable of delivering 577 horsepower and 546 ft-lb of torque to the back through either a manual or automatic with flappy paddles. Other pieces from the sedan, including a stronger differential and additional engine/transmission cooling systems, will likely make it to the ute.

Suspension and handling, meanwhile, will be retuned pieces from the HSV Maloo over the magnetic-controlled setup found in the GTS Sedan, just in case the lucky owner wanted to haul between 473 kg and 487 kg (1,043 lbs – 1,074 lbs) of hay, depending on transmission chosen.

And we do mean lucky: Only 150 HSV GTS Utes will be assembled, with potential owners paying $85,000 ($79,000 USD) for the honor of driving the fastest ute in the world when it arrives in showrooms at the end of 2014. Though speed is limited to 250 kph (155 mph), the sedan was able to hit 280 kph (174 mph) once the speed limiter was removed.

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Ford Territory Gets A Final Send Off http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-territory-gets-a-final-send-off/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-territory-gets-a-final-send-off/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:03:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874465 Just like its sedan sibling, the Ford Territory is getting one last refresh for its final year of sales in the Antipodes. The Aussie-only SUV gets the same mild refresh as its Falcon platform-mate. No V8 was ever available, but Ford Australia’s mega-powerful turbo I6s (putting down nearly 330 horsepower in top trim) will hopefully remain an […]

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2015-Ford-Territory

Just like its sedan sibling, the Ford Territory is getting one last refresh for its final year of sales in the Antipodes.

The Aussie-only SUV gets the same mild refresh as its Falcon platform-mate. No V8 was ever available, but Ford Australia’s mega-powerful turbo I6s (putting down nearly 330 horsepower in top trim) will hopefully remain an option.

Sadly, CAFE, market demand and a host of other factors likely kept us from enjoying the Territory in North America. As cool as it is, the business case for a rear-drive SUV packing sports car power levels was probably not there in 2004, and likely isn’t there today – unless you’re SRT, and have all the components sitting around, and you need to spread development costs around a bunch of model lines.

Beyond that, the Territory is even cooler because it was a unique, locally-designed and built solution to local tastes. In an era of One Ford, economies of scale and global product lines, that is something we’re likely never going to see again.

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Ford Falcon Receives New Face http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-falcon-receives-new-face-in-its-twilight-age/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-falcon-receives-new-face-in-its-twilight-age/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873042 This will be the face of the last of the V8 interceptors for Ford’s Falcon, and that’s only the beginning. Autoblog reports the Falcon’s new face is in line with the upcoming Mustang, as well as the Fusion and Mondeo. Unlike the front-drivers, however, the Falcon’s new look — beginning with the XR8 — will […]

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This will be the face of the last of the V8 interceptors for Ford’s Falcon, and that’s only the beginning.

Autoblog reports the Falcon’s new face is in line with the upcoming Mustang, as well as the Fusion and Mondeo. Unlike the front-drivers, however, the Falcon’s new look — beginning with the XR8 — will come with firepower in the form of a 5-liter supercharged V8, as well as a trio of six-cylinder engines and the EcoBoost four-pot.

Other touches include LED tail lamps meant to show off the Falcon’s backside to the Commodores trailing behind it, and headlamps with that are specific to the Australian sedan. Beyond this, the Falcon’s facelift is but a mid-cycle refresh for the record books.

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Tata To Enter Global Passenger Market With Help Of Jaguar Land Rover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/tata-to-enter-global-passenger-market-with-help-of-jaguar-land-rover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/tata-to-enter-global-passenger-market-with-help-of-jaguar-land-rover/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871890 Having done well with Jaguar Land Rover in its portfolio, Tata Motors is now turning to its premium subsidiary for its own foray into passenger cars and SUVs. Drive.com.au reports the parent company is using the technical and design know-how JLR to begin growing its passenger vehicle line in Australia and beyond, though Darren Bowler, […]

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Having done well with Jaguar Land Rover in its portfolio, Tata Motors is now turning to its premium subsidiary for its own foray into passenger cars and SUVs.

Drive.com.au reports the parent company is using the technical and design know-how JLR to begin growing its passenger vehicle line in Australia and beyond, though Darren Bowler, managing director of importer Fusion Automotive, assures that no badge engineering would occur between the two brands.

What would be shared, according to Bowler, would be platforms and engines, such as the global platform underpinning the upcoming Nexon SUV that could “be used as an Evoque… a Tata, [or] a Jaguar,” as well as the Ingenium family of four-cylinder engines that will soon turn up under the bonnet of many a JLR product.

In the meantime, Tata Australia plans to tackle the medium- and heavy-duty markets with the Ultra and Prima, both joining the light-duty Xenon.

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2015 Chevrolet SS Order Guide Confirms Manual Transmission, Magnetic Ride http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-chevrolet-ss-order-guide-confirms-manual-transmission-magnetic-ride/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-chevrolet-ss-order-guide-confirms-manual-transmission-magnetic-ride/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870026 Those who were waiting for the Chevrolet SS to have a manual transmission to go with its Australian power, they can now breathe: The order guide confirms the 2015 model will that, as well as the Magnetic Ride suspension. Jalopnik reports one of their commentariat had looked through General Motors’ online Fleet Order guide when […]

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Chevrolet SS

Those who were waiting for the Chevrolet SS to have a manual transmission to go with its Australian power, they can now breathe: The order guide confirms the 2015 model will that, as well as the Magnetic Ride suspension.

Jalopnik reports one of their commentariat had looked through General Motors’ online Fleet Order guide when they came upon the revelations. In addition, more of the commentariat pointed out a number of new colors 2015 SS owners could drool over, including Regal Peacock Green and Alchemy Purple; Dodge and SRT may have to dust off a few oldies to keep up.

2015 Chevy SS Form A 2015 Chevy SS Form B

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Ford Australia’s FPV Builds Its Final V8 Interceptor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ford-australias-fpv-builds-its-final-v8-interceptor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ford-australias-fpv-builds-its-final-v8-interceptor/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=844825 Though Ford Australia has yet to build its last vehicle, the subsidiary’s Ford Performance Vehicles unit has come to the end of the road with its final V8 interceptor. Autoblog reports FPV’s swan song is the Falcon GT F 351, a limited edition of 500 for Australia and 50 for New Zealand augmented by a […]

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Though Ford Australia has yet to build its last vehicle, the subsidiary’s Ford Performance Vehicles unit has come to the end of the road with its final V8 interceptor.

Autoblog reports FPV’s swan song is the Falcon GT F 351, a limited edition of 500 for Australia and 50 for New Zealand augmented by a supercharged 5-liter V8 pushing 471 horsepower — or 351 kW, in honor of the 5.8-liter/351 cubic-inch V8 that powered the Falcon GTs of history — and 420 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. The GT F comes with the handling package from the Falcon R-Spec, while Brembo brakes help bring the last FPV model to a stop.

On the outside, the limited-sedan Falcon features black racing stripes that run from the bonnet to the boot, along with black accents under the headlamps and throughout the rest of the sedan. Meanwhile, orange is the new black on the inside, finding its way onto seat stitching, instrument faces and the GT F logo.

In addition to the GT F, the unit — which is taking its final bow before the Mustang takes to the stage — is also building 120 Pursuit Utes with the same 5-liter V8, though it delivers 422 horses pulling 402 lb-ft of torque to the bed in the back instead of the sedan’s “fuel-injected suicide machine”-stopping firepower. No prices have been given for either limited-edition model.

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GM Moves EV Pack Production In-House, Almost Had A Commodore EV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-moves-ev-pack-production-in-house-almost-had-a-commodore-ev/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-moves-ev-pack-production-in-house-almost-had-a-commodore-ev/#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=820874 Automotive News reports General Motors will bring production of the Chevrolet Spark EV’s battery pack in-house to its Brownstown Township plant in the Detroit metro area, having already moved the subcompact’s 85-kilowatt electric motors to White Marsh, Md. in 2013. The pack was originally assembled by A123 Systems before Wanxiang Group picked up the torch. […]

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Automotive News reports General Motors will bring production of the Chevrolet Spark EV’s battery pack in-house to its Brownstown Township plant in the Detroit metro area, having already moved the subcompact’s 85-kilowatt electric motors to White Marsh, Md. in 2013. The pack was originally assembled by A123 Systems before Wanxiang Group picked up the torch. No new jobs will be created as a result of the move, spokesman Dave Darovitz stating GM would add jobs “if consumer demand requires it.” The packs for the 2015 Spark EV — whose market will expand to include California and Oregon later this year — will be 86 pounds lighter than the outgoing units, and will have a storage capacity of 19 kilowatts held within 192 lithium ion cells.

Speaking of GM EVs, GoAuto reports the Holden Commodore almost had an EV variant that would have been priced for $10,000 AUD ($9,400 USD) less than the Volt. Only seven pre-production units made it out of the joint venture between Axiflux, EV Engineering, Bosch Australia, Better Place, GE Finance and Air International before Holden announced it would end all local production by 2017. The announcement, along with the collapse and withdrawals among a majority of the project’s partners, led to Axiflux acquiring EV Engineering’s assets. The company plans to focus on industrial applications for the developed technology until the right partner comes along to pick up where the project left off for an automotive joint venture.

The Detroit Press says GM’s board of directors has retained New York-based Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to give an “independent assessment” of the automaker’s inner workings. An unnamed source familiar with the announcement says the decision “was a good governance practice” aimed to deliver sound advice to GM’s senior management. The firm is the latest third-party to join GM’s cadre of attorneys, including Anton Valukas and Ken Feinberg, as the automaker navigates the legal waters in the wake of the February 2014 ignition switch recall.

Finally, Just-Auto reports GM is planning to expand its Indian operations into a global base of operations for small-car exports to Latin America and beyond. The exports will begin with 2,000 to 2,500 Beats to Chile in October from the automaker’s factory in Talegon, with some 30,000 to 33,000 units to leave annually for Latin America within two years. GM expects Mexico to receive the biggest imports from India, with over 12,000 units shipped annually.

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