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By on February 1, 2016

car-brands

FCA’s sweater-in-chief Sergio Marchionne has a plan to turn around the debt-laden and ailing automaker: stop building cars that lose money. That sounds like common sense, so long as oil prices stay low and the demand for trucks, SUVs and crossovers remains high.

But that plan introduces a new set of problems, chief among them the fact that ditching the car market leaves FCA exceptionally exposed to future volatility in oil prices. Crude prices affect prices at the pump, which affects the demand for certain types of vehicles. Sergio is betting oil prices will stay low by focusing on vehicles with ever-increasing price tags and ever-growing gas tanks.

Still, there will always be some demand for small cars. It was true in 1950 and it is true today. So what will Mr. Sweater do to meet that demand? Simple: he’ll buy those vehicles from another automaker and badge engineer them the old-fashioned way.

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By on December 30, 2015

Winterkorn, sending the wrong signals. Picture courtesy focus.de

Where do you end up if you’re the former CEO of a company guilty of cheating diesel emissions tests, the fallout of which wipes out billions of dollars of value from said company? Business Insider’s “The 15 biggest career crashes of 2015″ list, of course.

That, and Nissan prices the new Sentra, oil is still on a well-lubricated downhill slide, Jeep is now online in India, and more … after the break!

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By on December 29, 2015

buick-envision-usa-1

A picture is worth a thousand words, or millions of dollars worth of cars not built by the United Auto Workers.

That, and Buick is planning a surprise for Detroit, oil prices are ever-so-slightly up, a super mullet El Camino, and Manny, Moe and Jack … after the break!

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By on October 14, 2015

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German magazine Der Spiegel reported Wednesday that at least 30 Volkswagen insiders and managers had knowledge of the illegal “defeat device” and there may be more.

The claim would somewhat refute to what Volkswagen of America chief Michael Horn testified in front of a congressional subcommittee last week when he told representatives that “a couple of software engineers” at Volkswagen in Germany were responsible for the the scandal that has cost the company billions of dollars.

Volkswagen hired U.S. firm Jones Day to conduct an external investigation while the company inquires internally how engineers installed software on 11 million diesel cars that would cheat emissions tests.

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By on October 10, 2015

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As Opel begins its retail roll out of the new Astra across Europe, some enterprising spy shooters have found the Opel’s Chinese-market twin wearing Buick tri-shields and Verano GS badging.

And holy shit, this is about to get very, very confusing.

According to Autohome, the Verano GS — marketed as Buick Weilang GS in China — is expected to be revealed at the Guangzhou Auto Show with GM’s 169 horsepower, 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The same engine will be used in North America in the new Malibu, albeit with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Now before you get too excited about those GS badges, it may not mean what you think it means, at least in this case.

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By on October 8, 2015

Michael Horn

In a prepared statement released ahead of congressional testimony Thursday, Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn said the automaker knew of emissions issues last spring when West Virginia University researchers published findings that the automaker’s cars were illegally polluting. (Emphasis mine.)

In the spring of 2014 when the West Virginia University study was published, I was told that there was a possible emissions non-compliance that could be remedied. I was informed that EPA regulations included various penalties for non-compliance with the emissions standards and that the agencies can conduct engineering tests which could include “defeat device” testing or analysis. I was also informed that the company engineers would work with the agencies to resolve the issue.

(Should have followed up a little more on that email, probably.)

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By on October 5, 2015

Subaru Sambar

Twelve countries, including the United States, reached an agreement Monday on an historic trade agreement that could economically tie together more than 400 million people in Asian Pacific and American countries. The pact would cover trade for wide ranging products, from rice to pharmaceutical drugs to cars.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which negotiators have been working on for eight years, would thaw trade relations among countries included in the regional zone, including Japan and the United States. For automakers in both countries, the tentative deal includes provisions for Japanese automakers to (eventually) bring light-duty trucks to the U.S. For American automakers, part of the proposed agreement included a side deal between America and Japan to allow access for U.S. automakers to traditionally closed Japanese markets.

The agreement faces an uphill battle to get congressional approval; House Republicans and presidential candidates already have roundly dismissed the deal.

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By on October 4, 2015

Toyota Cavalier

A possible partnership deal between North American countries and Pacific countries may include provisions to penalize Asian governments for not opening up their markets enough for U.S. automakers, Bloomberg reported.

According to the report, negotiators are close to concluding talks regarding automobiles, which has been a contentious point during the talks. The CBC reported that talks in Atlanta were at a critical stage over pharmaceutical drugs, and any eventual deal may be delayed by an upcoming G20 meeting in Turkey.

Talks regarding automobiles have been focused on sourcing local content for each car. North American Free Trade Association rules mandate that cars made within the zone have 62.5 percent of its content sourced within the zone. Asian manufacturers have pressed for lower standards for sourced content in a bid for reduced manufacturing costs.

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By on October 2, 2015

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Lexus announced Friday that its RC coupe would get the turbo four treatment for 2016, following the NX, GS, IS and RX Toyota’s eventual march toward smaller-displacement, boosted engines for many of its sedans and coupes.

According to the automaker, the 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which produces 241 horsepower, will be available in the coupe with an eight-speed automatic with rear-wheel drive only. It will join three other engines available in the RC.

The all-wheel drive RC300 will come equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 255 horsepower mated to a six-speed automatic, a rear-wheel drive RC350 with a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 306 horsepower married to an eight-speed automatic, and a 468-horsepower 5-liter V-8 in the RC-F and how many engines does Toyota have on its shelves?

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By on October 1, 2015

Volkswagen Wolfsburg

Volkswagen suspended hiring at its finance arm and cut a shift at its Salzgitter engine factory to prepare its business for fallout from the largest business crisis that company has faced.

According to Reuters (via Automotive News), senior officials at Volkswagen will review Thursday findings from an internal investigation into the scandal that the automaker installed illegal emissions “defeat devices” on 11 million cars. The finance division said it would implement a hiring freeze through the end of this year.

“We are reacting to the current situation. It is a purely precautionary measure,” a spokesman told Reuters. Read More >

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