The Truth About Cars » Global http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 28 May 2015 20:00:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 » Global http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/global-news-blog/ Marchionne Hearing Wedding Bells By 2018, No Marriage With Opel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/marchionne-hearing-wedding-bells-by-2018-no-marriage-with-opel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/marchionne-hearing-wedding-bells-by-2018-no-marriage-with-opel/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 16:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077282 FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne believes consolidation will occur as early as 2018. Meanwhile, Opel won’t be taking FCA’s hand in marriage. Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann stated a merger between his company and FCA was not going to happen, though he agreed with Marchionne in principle regarding such mergers, Reuters reports, especially in regards to volume, […]

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Fiat Cinquecento Ready For The Wedding Circa July 2011

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne believes consolidation will occur as early as 2018. Meanwhile, Opel won’t be taking FCA’s hand in marriage.

Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann stated a merger between his company and FCA was not going to happen, though he agreed with Marchionne in principle regarding such mergers, Reuters reports, especially in regards to volume, scale and utilisation.

Opel’s decision to remain within the General Motors family follows a similar rebuff by GM CEO Mary Barra, who received an email from Marchionne in March suggesting the two combine forces. When asked about the email on a recent visit to FCA’s factory in Melfi, Italy, Marchionne said he writes “lots of emails,” adding he doesn’t talk about such major decisions as consolidation via email.

Meanwhile, Marchionne is holding onto the idea of consolidation overall, believing the industry will see the first occurrence as early as 2018. He didn’t specify his company would be the one heading down the aisle in said consolidation, however.

[Source: neekoh.fl/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Lamborghini Officially Enters High-End SUV Game http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/lamborghini-officially-enters-high-end-suv-game/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/lamborghini-officially-enters-high-end-suv-game/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 16:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076866 It’s official: Lamborghini is entering the high-end luxury SUV game with a model set to hit showrooms by 2018. The new SUV will be assembled in Lamborghini’s home of Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, and is the result of a joint collaboration between the Italian automaker, national and regional governments, Volkswagen and Audi, and union representatives. The […]

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Lamborghini Urus at Pebble Beach

It’s official: Lamborghini is entering the high-end luxury SUV game with a model set to hit showrooms by 2018.

The new SUV will be assembled in Lamborghini’s home of Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, and is the result of a joint collaboration between the Italian automaker, national and regional governments, Volkswagen and Audi, and union representatives.

The SUV will be the third model in Lamborghini’s lineup, a feat CEO Stephan Winklemann says “endorses the stable and sustainable growth of the company,” while also signifying “the beginning of a new era” for the automaker.

To bring the yet-to-be-named product to the showroom, Lamborghini said it would invest “hundreds of millions of Euros” over the SUV’s lifecycle toward factory development and expansion. The factory where it will be assembled will go from an area of 80,000 square meters to 150,000, and will see a new assembly line and warehousing. R&D is set for an expansion, as well as the addition of 500 new jobs plus opportunities for the national and international supply chains as a result of the SUV.

[Source: 72Dino/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0]

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US Shale Oil Production Rising Amid Strengthening Dollar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/us-shale-oil-production-rising-amid-strengthening-dollar/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/us-shale-oil-production-rising-amid-strengthening-dollar/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 13:35:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075874 Despite OPEC’s desire to keep its stranglehold on the market, U.S. shale oil production looks to rise again amid a strengthening dollar. Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch notes the 23-week decline in U.S. drilling activity seemed to have stopped, while the pricing level needed to increase production is being aided by “the significantly appreciating U.S. dollar,” […]

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Sergeant Major Oil Well - Arnegard, North Dakota Circa July 2013

Despite OPEC’s desire to keep its stranglehold on the market, U.S. shale oil production looks to rise again amid a strengthening dollar.

Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch notes the 23-week decline in U.S. drilling activity seemed to have stopped, while the pricing level needed to increase production is being aided by “the significantly appreciating U.S. dollar,” Reuters reports. Tuesday, the prices for Brent and West Texas Intermediate were both down 75 cents, coming in at $64.77 and $58.97 per barrel, respectively.

Goldman Sachs came to a similar conclusion, stating only one well was cut from the production rolls last week, adding producers would ramp production back up “given improved returns” were WTI to remain near $60/barrel. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley says “the USD downward correction is complete,” making dollar-priced commodities like oil more expensive for those who buy with other currencies.

Increased production would also head-off the potential for a tighter oil market down the road, though with OPEC’s ongoing strategy to hold the line regarding its own production targets among the member states involved — a strategy not likely to change when the group meets in Vienna next month — the possibility for an ongoing oil glut remains.

[Source: Tim Evanson/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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Will the GenX Nano Erase Tata’s ‘Cheapest Car’ Stigma? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/will-genx-nano-erase-tatas-cheapest-car-stigma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/will-genx-nano-erase-tatas-cheapest-car-stigma/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 13:26:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071194 It’s not often a car company, or any group of people for the matter, will admit mistakes – particularly billion dollar mistakes. That’s why the launch of the all-new Tata GenX Nano is refreshing. Based on former CEO Ratan Tata’s dream of moving Indians who transport their entire families on scooters and motorcycles into safer […]

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It’s not often a car company, or any group of people for the matter, will admit mistakes – particularly billion dollar mistakes. That’s why the launch of the all-new Tata GenX Nano is refreshing. Based on former CEO Ratan Tata’s dream of moving Indians who transport their entire families on scooters and motorcycles into safer – albeit, basic – four wheeled automobiles, the very fact the original 2009 Nano was the least expensive car on sale anywhere in the world proved to be an albatross around the Nano’s tiny neck. Even Indians aspiring to the middle class of a developing country, it turns out, aspire to be seen in something other than the cheapest car in the world. They’d rather buy a used Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, the hatchback that more or less defines India’s entry level car segment. In recognition of that reality, the new GenX Nano will now be positioned as an entry level hatchback to more directly compete with the Alto 800, Hyundai Eon and the newly announced Renault Kwid.

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While some saw the Nano as India’s Model T, prompting comparisons of Ratan Tata to Henry Ford, the historical reality is while Henry Ford had a great idea in making cars for the average consumer, not just the wealthy, the Model T was far from the cheapest car on the market when it was introduced. While it’s true that productivity and cost improvements allowed Ford to eventually drop the price of the T to less than $300, that was in 1924. When the Model T was introduced in 1908 (as a 1909 model) it cost $850. By comparison, a Brush Runabout cost less than $500 in 1908. Henry Ford didn’t face the stigma of selling the cheapest car in the world when he launched the Model T.

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In a 2013 interview, while claiming it was never his personal goal, Ratan Tata admitted it was a mistake for his company to market the Nano on price.

“It became termed as a cheapest car by the public and, I am sorry to say, by ourselves, not by me, but the company when it was marketing it. I think that is unfortunate,” Tata told CNBC.

Around the same time, which would have been while the GenX Nano was being developed, brand positioning guru Jack Trout publicly suggested that Tata kill the Nano. But, in launching the GenX Nano, Tata Motors Senior Vice President for passenger vehicle product and chief Nano engineer Girish Wagh said, “Never did we have discussion about killing the brand.” Wagh admitted the company erred in not recognizing the “societal status” needs of those upgrading from a two-wheeler to an actual automobile and that the launch of the GenX Nano meant creating a “perception change” for both the Nano and for Tata as a maker of passenger cars. Wagh told the Economic Times, while they haven’t yet discussed killing the Nano, the relaunch is indeed a “make or break” effort for Tata’s sub-brand.

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When the original Tata Nano was launched, the “cheapest car in the world” was big news globally, even though it was designed primarily for the domestic Indian market. The Nano’s existence persuaded some very big automakers to reexamine their plans concerning low cost passenger cars and their strategies about export hubs and the developing world.

 

Bajaj Re60

Bajaj Re60. Image: Bajaj

In the Indian market a number of companies started developing low cost cars, with Maruti introducing the Alto 800, the latest version of the Suzuki Alto with a smaller, older engine. Scooter and three-wheeler maker Bajaj, working with Renault-Nissan, introduced their first four wheel vehicle, the RE60, a low cost, low speed car for the commercial autorickshaw market. The French-Japanese automotive alliance revived the Datsun brand with the $5,000+ Go for the Indian market. The Go hasn’t exactly gone as well as Mr. Ghosn had hoped, so Renault itself just introduced the $4,700 Kwid to India. The GenX Nano will be priced from $3,150 to  $4,550.

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For all that news and influence, Nano sales have been disappointing for Tata. Tata has sold only as many Nanos in six years, about 250,000 units, as they had hoped to sell in the first two years of Nano production. Currently, the factory in Sanand, Gujarat is operating at just 15 percent capacity and sales this year are down 20 percent from last.

 

Original Tata Nano instrument panel

Original Tata Nano instrument panel. Wikimedia commons photo

Tata acknowledges they misjudged just how aspirational Indian consumers are at even the lowest entry level of car ownership and they are now relaunching the Nano for the third time. It’s really more than a relaunch, though. The Nano has been substantially rengineered and equipped with features to reposition it as a city car, an entry level hatchback, hopefully removing the stigma of being the cheapest car in the world. That’s a stigma the corporate owners of one of the world’s storied luxury automobile brands, Jaguar, can’t really afford to have.

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After collecting consumer impressions from over 1,000 Nano owners and half again as many of owners of other entry level Indian cars, Tata is hoping that a safer, all-new design and features like an automated transmission and Bluetooth connectivity (not earlier available at the price point) will allow it to more directly compete with other small hatches like the Chevrolet Beat, Hyundai Eon, and the Maruti Alto 800. The Eon and Alto 800 each sell about ten times as many units per month as the outgoing Nano. Even the highest priced GenX Nano will still undercut comparable Maruti Altos by 50,000 rupees, or about $800 at current exchange rates.

 

Renault Kwid

Carlos Ghosn introducing the new $4,700 Renault Kwid. Round trip Business Class airfare on Air France for Paris-Mumbai starts at $2,500. Kinda puts global business into perspective. Renault photo.

There is talk, not denied by Tata, of a bigger 1.0-liter engine to be offered a year down the road in addition to the 660 cc twin that currently powers the Nano, along with a possible diesel option. Right now, the GenX Nano has about half of the power to weight ratio of the Alto 800, which has, as the name indicates, a 796 cc engine. Because the engine is relatively loaded down, the GenX Nano is projected to get slightly worse fuel economy than the Alto 800, about 21 km per liter of petrol vs 22.7.

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The Tata Nano began as Ratan Tata’s dream of getting Indians who sometimes transport entire families on motorcycles and scooters into an unquestionably safer, enclosed, four-wheeled vehicle. It then became what, I think, was a rather impressive feat of engineering to a price point, removing all but the essential. That price point was “one lakh” or 100,000 rupees, the equivalent of about $2,000 US when the Nano was launched in 2009. The project had setbacks from the beginning, with farmers and politicians protesting the original factory location, delaying production. And because we’re in the internet age, fires in a small number of early production Nanos went viral around the world, harming the car’s image. Then Ratan Tata’s dream ran into the fact the families riding on motorcycles had aspirations greater than owning the world’s cheapest car. Indians would apparently rather drive a used example of a more expensive car.

 

Original Tata Nano

Original Tata Nano. Wikimedia commons photo

The first relaunch stressed the value of the Nano by emphasizing low monthly payments, but that only reinforced the image of the Nano as a cheap car. A second relaunch of the slightly more upscale Nano Twist models ran into the fact that, by then, competitors in India had products like the Beat and Alto 800 on the market.

 

Tata Nano Twist

Tata Nano Twist

This time, Tata has abandoned the cheapest car in the world scheme and decided to make a better Nano. As mentioned, much of the design and engineering of the original Nano was about taking things out, like using three lug nuts instead of at least four. By comparison, the GenX Nano’s development was more about putting things in than taking things out.

 

Maruti Alto 800

Maruti Alto 800

Tata says with the use of more high strength steel, crush zones, and side intrusion beams, the Nano’s body is much stronger and safer. It now also has a functional hatch with up to 110 liters of cargo space in the trunk. The original Nano was a four door, not a hatchback. Though the engine has been more or less unchanged, it’s been recalibrated for better urban fuel economy based on Tata engineers’ real-world observations of driving in major Indian markets. Mechanically, the biggest change is the availability of an automated manual transmission. While Tata is no longer marketing the Nano as the cheapest car in the world, the launch publicity did mention that the GenX Nano will be the “most affordable” car with an automated manual transmission.

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In addition to the structural and drivetrain changes, the GenX Nano has a new instrument panel, a stronger air conditioner (something very important with India’s climate), power steering, modern connectivity, and better NVH performance. While the overall silhouette hasn’t changed, the GenX Nano has a new face and rear end, with new bumpers, lamps and a honeycomb grille. The changes are intended to appeal to young, aspirational Indians, particularly women who will like the “Easy Shift” automated manual. Women take a targeted role in the GenX Nano’s marketing and dealers report 20 percent of those who have already booked a GenX Nano – which is already on sale with deliveries scheduled in about two months – are females.

Click here to view the embedded video.

When the original Nano was introduced in 2009, I saw more than a couple of online comments from consumers in North America wondering why a car that cheap couldn’t be sold on this continent. As it turns out, a car that cheap can’t be sold in great numbers on the Indian sub-continent, let alone in North America, where something as relatively advanced and luxurious when compared to the Nano, like the Mitsubishi Mirage, struggles in the market. In time, the Nano project may turn out to be a success. But, whatever success it will have will now be based on its virtues as an automobile compared to competing products, not by being the cheapest car anywhere on the planet.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Jeep Returns To Tokyo Motor Show After Eight-Year Absence http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/jeep-returns-to-tokyo-motor-show-after-eight-year-absence/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/jeep-returns-to-tokyo-motor-show-after-eight-year-absence/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 20:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1073146 The last time the Detroit Three turned up at the Tokyo Motor Show was in 2007. One recession later, Jeep returns to Tokyo to represent the Motor City. Jeep will join Abarth, Alfa Romeo and Fiat on FCA Japan’s stand when the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show kicks off in late October, Automotive News reports. Jeep […]

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2015 Jeep Renegade

The last time the Detroit Three turned up at the Tokyo Motor Show was in 2007. One recession later, Jeep returns to Tokyo to represent the Motor City.

Jeep will join Abarth, Alfa Romeo and Fiat on FCA Japan’s stand when the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show kicks off in late October, Automotive News reports. Jeep will also be sole representative for U.S.-born manufacturers, as Ford, General Motors and Tesla sit out of this year’s festivities.

The off-road brand is currently No. 7 in import sales in the Japanese Domestic Market, having rose 21 percent to 2,298 units between January and April of this year. Though still behind the likes of Mercedes, BMW and MINI, Jeep is outperforming fellow domestic competitors Ford (1,625 units through April 2015), Chevrolet (313) and Cadillac (297).

Jeep’s presence at the show is also a boon for the show’s organizers, seeking to standout against bigger shows across the sea in China; the 2013 edition overlapped the show in Guangzhou, as well as the Los Angeles Auto Show.

[Source: Jeep]

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OPEC Doubles Down Against Shale, Fuel Prices Continue Downward Spiral http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/opec-doubles-down-against-shale-fuel-prices-continue-downward-spiral/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/opec-doubles-down-against-shale-fuel-prices-continue-downward-spiral/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 15:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071690 OPEC is doubling down on shoving shale off a cliff, continuing the trend of low fuel prices through the fall in so doing, Memorial Day Weekend aside. Thirty-three out of 34 analysts and traders surveyed by Bloomberg believe the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will stay the course of 30 million barrels produced daily when […]

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Ford Mustang Receiving Gas Circa April 2015

OPEC is doubling down on shoving shale off a cliff, continuing the trend of low fuel prices through the fall in so doing, Memorial Day Weekend aside.

Thirty-three out of 34 analysts and traders surveyed by Bloomberg believe the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will stay the course of 30 million barrels produced daily when the group meets in Vienna next month, the publication reports.

The reason to continue down this road is to ensure victory for Saudi Arabia’s strategy of putting shale oil producers and other competitive suppliers — notably those in Canada and the United States — in their place. Thus far, the plan is working: half of the drilling rigs in the U.S. have been idled since October, while production fell 1.2 percent last week to 9.3 million barrels/day. Global investment in production is expected to fall $100 billion in 2015, while demand growth for oil is projected to climb to 1.4 million per day over the same period.

In the meantime, fuel prices will continue on their own course. University of Purdue Wally Tyner predicts prices in all but California and Hawaii will remain below $3 throughout the summer, Forbes says. This is, of course, due to the ongoing supply glut, hovering around 485 million barrels compared to the 350 million barrels normally available.

Meanwhile, Oil Price Information Service Tom Kloza believes fuel prices will stop at $2.50 this summer before dropping down between $2 and $2.25 this fall. Tyner adds Iranian oil could cut prices at the pump by 30 cents in 2016 should a nuclear deal between Washington and Tehran lead to a lift in sanctions.

Before the prices can fall, however, they must climb a bit for Memorial Day Weekend. AAA says prices rose 5 cents a gallon within the last week, with the current average national price hitting $2.71/gallon Tuesday, The Detroit Bureau notes. The group adds motorists are paying an average of 26 cents more for a gallon of regular in May than in April.

Causes behind the rise include regional production issues in the Midwest and West Coast, as well as a rally in crude prices; West Texas Intermediate and Brent are trading for around $60 and $66 respectively as of this writing.

Despite the price hike, motorists hitting the road this holiday are paying 94 cents less for each gallon dispensed compared to last year, the lowest average since 2009.

[Source: Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Canada A Low Priority In Takata Airbag Recalls http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/canada-a-low-priority-in-takata-airbag-recalls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/canada-a-low-priority-in-takata-airbag-recalls/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072154 As nearly 34 million vehicles in the United States go under recall over Takata’s airbag issues, Canada remains a low priority due to cooler climes. Numerous injuries and six deaths involving the supplier’s airbags occurred in warmer, humid climates, affecting the ammonium nitrate composition — used to aid in detonation during airbag deployment — to […]

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Canadian Tire Store

As nearly 34 million vehicles in the United States go under recall over Takata’s airbag issues, Canada remains a low priority due to cooler climes.

Numerous injuries and six deaths involving the supplier’s airbags occurred in warmer, humid climates, affecting the ammonium nitrate composition — used to aid in detonation during airbag deployment — to catastrophic effect, USA Today reports.

Most of the recalls prior to Tuesday’s nationwide action focused on a handful of states whose climate met the conditions needed for failure. However, the new recall places a considerable strain on Takata’s ability to produce replacement units — 3.8 million thus far — which it hopes to increase to 1 million per month by September. Other suppliers are helping to fill-in wherever possible, though the campaign could take years to complete, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator Mark Rosekind.

Thus, Canada is left out in the cold to wait as supply constraints and greater urgency for affected consumers in warmer climes take precedence. Meanwhile, the Canadian subsidiaries of FCA, Ford, BMW, Nissan and Mazda have issued a handful of recalls for a small number of affected vehicles, said recalls being issued closer to repair time per Transport Canada’s requirements; U.S. legislation requires recalls to be issued as soon as a safety problem comes up.

Consumer apathy will likely play a role in bringing recalled vehicles into the repair shop. Autotrader found 56 percent of those made aware of a recall action bring in their vehicles every time, while 61 percent try to keep up with recall news, and 35 percent put in the research when shopping for a vehicle.

[Photo credit: Whpq/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0]

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California Hit By Rising Fuel Prices Due To Supply Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/california-hit-by-rising-fuel-prices-due-to-supply-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/california-hit-by-rising-fuel-prices-due-to-supply-issues/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 18:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071650 While most of the United States enjoys fuel prices under $3 per gallon, the West Coast can’t say the same, especially California. The average fuel price in the U.S. is currently $2.772/gal. per the AAA, Bloomberg reports, but a combination of factors have pushed California’s average to $3.809. The first involves a series of refinery […]

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Chevron Fuel Prices In Oceanside, California Circa March 2011

While most of the United States enjoys fuel prices under $3 per gallon, the West Coast can’t say the same, especially California.

The average fuel price in the U.S. is currently $2.772/gal. per the AAA, Bloomberg reports, but a combination of factors have pushed California’s average to $3.809.

The first involves a series of refinery shutdowns up and down the West Coast, including an explosion at an Exxon refinery in Torrance, Calif., and a recent fire at a U.S. Oil and Refining facility in Tacoma, Wash. Other units are closed for repairs.

The second is the state’s pipeline network. The one-way system delivers gasoline to Arizona and Nevada, but is otherwise cut-off from other pipeline networks in the U.S. Thus, the only way for the state to receive its fuel supply when the chips are down — a supply specially made for the state’s own set of emission standards — is by tanker deliveries from Asia and Europe.

At present, Los Angeles motorists are feeling the most pain at the pump, paying nearly $4/gal. AAA spokesman Michael Green says prices in the city are rising faster “than anywhere else in the country,” and will remain at the top until late summer.

The regional volatility issues do offer a possible silver lining: The U.S. government is studying how sudden jumps in prices could affect the nation’s economy, and is considering whether to build a fuel reserve for the West Coast in case of major supply disruptions.

[Photo credit: Joe Wolf/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Luxury Automakers Wary Around Growing Female Consumer Base http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/luxury-automakers-wary-around-growing-female-consumer-base/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/luxury-automakers-wary-around-growing-female-consumer-base/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 19:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070938 Those dealing in luxury vehicles and high-performance exotics may need to improve their relations with women soon, as more women seek such wares. While less than 10 percent of Lamborghini and Ferrari owners in the United States are women, and Porsche only boasts 25 percent, female consumers in emerging markets like China are flexing their […]

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McLaren MP4-12C Circa January 2012

Those dealing in luxury vehicles and high-performance exotics may need to improve their relations with women soon, as more women seek such wares.

While less than 10 percent of Lamborghini and Ferrari owners in the United States are women, and Porsche only boasts 25 percent, female consumers in emerging markets like China are flexing their wealth with the automakers’ models in significant numbers, Reuters reports. The overall female consumer base is expanding, as well, fueled by increasing wealth as more and more women enter into greater positions of power.

However, marketing leaves a lot to be desired, especially as some automakers are wary of appealing to the new consumer base. Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann explains:

It’s like with an engineering degree which attracts more men than women, that’s just how it is. Males are more into the car business and the super sportscar is the pinnacle of that business.

On the other side, automotive consultant Belinda Parmar says high-end and exotic manufacturers should consider women drivers when designing vehicles. Her work with Aston Martin on its planned crossover is slated to have a higher sitting position and smaller steering wheel, allowing those wearing skirts to enter and exit without having to worry about feeling “silly” about the matter.

[Photo credit: Axion23/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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OPEC: Oil To Remain Below $100 Per Barrel Through 2020s http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/opec-oil-to-remain-below-100-per-barrel-through-2020s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/opec-oil-to-remain-below-100-per-barrel-through-2020s/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 20:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070218 Those hoping for a return to $100 per barrel of oil are in for a long wait, as OPEC says oil will remain below the price point through the 2020s. A report by the group forecasts oil will trade for around $76/barrel in 2025 under optimistic conditions, The Wall Street Journal reports, with $40/barrel under […]

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Entrance_OPEC_Headquarter_Vienna

Those hoping for a return to $100 per barrel of oil are in for a long wait, as OPEC says oil will remain below the price point through the 2020s.

A report by the group forecasts oil will trade for around $76/barrel in 2025 under optimistic conditions, The Wall Street Journal reports, with $40/barrel under more dire straits. The forecasts take into account the group’s competitors in the United States coping through low prices amid increased production.

To combat this, the report recommends OPEC return to the production-quota system it ditched in 2011 amid conflict over how much each member state would be allowed to produce. Members are reluctant to go back, preferring to attract new business instead of being tied down by quotas most ignored already. However, the proposal would grant poorer members, like Algeria and Venezuela, the right to produce more oil, and would come into force if OPEC’s share of the global oil market fell below 32 percent, the size of the share it holds now.

The report comes amid worries among the members about their ability to balance their respective budgets with oil money. According to the International Monetary Fund, only Qatar and Kuwait can weather trading at $76/barrel, while most need trading to be as much as $130/barrel for a properly balanced budget.

[Photo credit: Vincent Eisfeld/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0]

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Takata Close To Installment Agreement With Automakers Over Airbag Recalls http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/takata-close-to-installment-agreement-with-automakers-over-airbag-recalls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/takata-close-to-installment-agreement-with-automakers-over-airbag-recalls/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 19:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1068634 Like consumers making payments over several months for their purchases, Takata is asking automakers to pay its part of the airbag recall in installments. The automakers are reportedly close to sealing the deal that would grant the beleaguered supplier the ability to spread its financial responsibility for the recalls instead of paying everything all at […]

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Takata TTAC Style

Like consumers making payments over several months for their purchases, Takata is asking automakers to pay its part of the airbag recall in installments.

The automakers are reportedly close to sealing the deal that would grant the beleaguered supplier the ability to spread its financial responsibility for the recalls instead of paying everything all at once, Bloomberg reports.

Takata is also meeting with its bankers to ensure it has the cash flow needed to make good on those payments, with an anonymous source stating the supplier hasn’t created the conditions that would merit a call-back of its loans by the banks during FY 2014.

The deal follows an ongoing recall action of Takata’s airbags, affecting over 28 million vehicles from 10 different automakers around the globe, with Honda bearing the brunt of the crisis as the supplier’s biggest customer.

[Photo credit: Takata]

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Hyundai Group Riding High Amid Russian Economic Maelstrom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/hyundai-group-riding-high-amid-russian-economic-maelstrom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/hyundai-group-riding-high-amid-russian-economic-maelstrom/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 17:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1068554 As Russia continues to struggle with its economic health, Hyundai Group is doing its part to keep the nation’s auto sales afloat. According to a representative, “Russia is one of the major and important markets for Hyundai (Group),” Ward’s Auto reports. The group’s Hyundai and Kia brands hold a combined 19.9 percent of the nation’s […]

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2016 Rio  SX

As Russia continues to struggle with its economic health, Hyundai Group is doing its part to keep the nation’s auto sales afloat.

According to a representative, “Russia is one of the major and important markets for Hyundai (Group),” Ward’s Auto reports. The group’s Hyundai and Kia brands hold a combined 19.9 percent of the nation’s automotive market in Q1 2015, with Hyundai holding 10.4 percent and Kia 9.5 percent.

Despite the maelstrom sweeping through the market, Hyundai Group has managed to fare well against the economic storm compared to other automakers. Analysts and industry-watchers suggest this is due to factors such as proper product placement, a beneficial global strategy, and its ability to play the game driving Russia’s auto industry.

The group also took home the gold in deliveries over the recent quarter, moving a combined 75,871 vehicles out of the showroom. Local automaker AvtoVAZ pulled up in second with 68,554 in the same period, while Renault-Nissan took bronze with 65,657 combined deliveries. Meanwhile, BMW is reconsidering plans to build a factory in Russia, and General Motors is shutting down local production and withdrawing its Chevrolet and Opel brands from the market.

Within the group, the Kia Rio has done wonders for the bottom line, especially for the Kia brand. Produced locally at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Russia facility in St. Petersburg, the Rio accounted for 44 percent of overall production — 104,700 units — and 48 percent of all the brand’s sales in the market during 2014.

Though the country’s economic woes are expected to worsen in 2015, a Kia representative says market share for the brand is likely to continue trending upward, having gone from 7.1 percent in 2013 to 7.9 percent last year; current projections through February 2015 point to a 9.8-percent share by the end of the year. Hyundai remains mum on yearly forecasts, but believes it will continue to fare well, also, thanks in part to government incentives for both consumers and the industry as a whole.

[Photo credit: Kia]

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Oil Bull Market Rally Could Soon Falter Without China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/oil-bull-market-rally-could-soon-falter-without-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/oil-bull-market-rally-could-soon-falter-without-china/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 19:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1067698 Those hoping to make it big on oil commodities would do well to bet against the bulls on parade, as China won’t be around to keep prices afloat this time. During the early days of the Great Recession, oil prices quickly regained footing thanks to China’s then-booming economic standing, Bloomberg reports. However, fuel use in […]

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PetroChina-Station

Those hoping to make it big on oil commodities would do well to bet against the bulls on parade, as China won’t be around to keep prices afloat this time.

During the early days of the Great Recession, oil prices quickly regained footing thanks to China’s then-booming economic standing, Bloomberg reports. However, fuel use in the nation has slowed by half of what it was in the previous decade, following global trends of decreased consumption.

Global demand is expected to grow 1.3 million barrels/day to 94.58 million in 2016 according to the Energy Information Administration, with China taking 11.34 million barrels/day; the U.S. will use 19.44 million/day, lower than what was used in 2008. The figure is an increase of 3.1 percent over this year, yet pales when compared to the 11-percent jump in 2010. The spike delivered a boost to oil prices of 15 percent.

Combined with rising oil production pushing toward a glut in supply — to the tune of 1.8 million barrels/day in inventory currently, and 900,000/day during H2 2015 — China’s economic power faltering despite the government’s best efforts, and technological advancements reducing overall oil consumption, the global demand for oil will remain low for some time to come.

[Photo credit: Otebig/Wikimedia Commons/CC PD 1.0]

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BMW CEO Harald Krüger Overshadowed By Predecessor’s Success http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/bmw-ceo-harald-kruger-overshadowed-by-predecessors-success/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/bmw-ceo-harald-kruger-overshadowed-by-predecessors-success/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 17:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1067418 As BMW AG’s newest CEO, Harald Krüger’s main challenge is to helm the company in the shadow of newly appointed chairman and former CEO, Norbert Reithofer. The concern comes amid Reithofer taking his place as the company’s chairman — succeeding Joachim Milberg in the role — without first stepping away from the company for two […]

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BMW 650i Grand Coupe

As BMW AG’s newest CEO, Harald Krüger’s main challenge is to helm the company in the shadow of newly appointed chairman and former CEO, Norbert Reithofer.

The concern comes amid Reithofer taking his place as the company’s chairman — succeeding Joachim Milberg in the role — without first stepping away from the company for two years as recommended by the German Corporate Governance Code, Bloomberg reports. The move leaves Krüger little room to move BMW toward his vision, especially as the industry itself is undergoing significant changes.

Krüger is also taking over as CEO at a time when the company’s fortunes in China are turning for the worst, following the nation’s own economic slowdown delivering a slump in profits for BMW’s joint venture during Q1 2015. Additionally, the new CEO will have to determine where to take Reithofer’s previous projects — mass-produced carbon fiber, i Series et al — especially when it comes to cost.

Finally, Krüger will be in charge of an automaker whose sales were boosted 55 percent from 1.4 million to 2.1 million vehicles annually, with an improved pretax margin of 9.2 percent from the 6.3 percent margin in 2006 when Reithofer became CEO. Bankhaus Metzler analyst Juergen Pieper said Krüger will have a tough act to follow with the new chairman, especially as Reithofer moves into his new role without delay, a move supported by majority shareholders the Quandt family.

[Photo credit: BMW]

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Von Kuenheim: BMW Will Never Market A Pickup Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/von-kuenheim-bmw-will-never-market-a-pickup-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/von-kuenheim-bmw-will-never-market-a-pickup-truck/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 20:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1066962 BMW owners looking to add a Bavarian-badged pickup will need to look elsewhere, as the automaker has no intention to market such a vehicle. The declaration comes from BMW Group Asia, Pacific and South Africa senior vice president Hendrik von Kuenheim, Motoring.com.au reports. Von Kuenheim spelled out why utes and trucks will never have a […]

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BMW 2002 Truckamino Circa March 2009

BMW owners looking to add a Bavarian-badged pickup will need to look elsewhere, as the automaker has no intention to market such a vehicle.

The declaration comes from BMW Group Asia, Pacific and South Africa senior vice president Hendrik von Kuenheim, Motoring.com.au reports. Von Kuenheim spelled out why utes and trucks will never have a place in his company’s collection:

There is huge potential in pick-ups. In North America you look at the Ford F-150 pick-up it is the best-selling car.

You can do it but then you cannot be BMW. You have to be a different company, but this company is not ready to change from the ultimate driving machine and the ultimate successful company in luxury to a mass manufacturer who goes after the volume of pick-up trucks.

He did acknowledge BMW’s ongoing presence in the crossover/SUV market, as well as the introduction of front-wheel drive and three-cylinder engines to the brand, yet reiterated the fact those moves were accomplished by remaining true to its core values “of joy, dynamics and innovation.”

The proclamation follows an announcement in March by Mercedes of its intent to build a 1-ton pickup based upon the Nissan Navara, set to hit most showrooms around the globe by early 2019 as the GLT-Class.

[Photo credit: Drew Stephens/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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China Automotive Exports Crashing Against Geopolitical, Currency Challenges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/china-automotive-exports-crashing-geopolitical-currency-challenges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/china-automotive-exports-crashing-geopolitical-currency-challenges/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 19:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065906 China may be a hotbed for automakers to bring in their latest and greatest, but exports of its automotive wares aren’t as hot these days. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported a drop of 22 percent in exports of commercial and passenger vehicles during April, falling to 61,600 units shipped compared to the previous […]

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Landwind X9 Rally Trucklet

China may be a hotbed for automakers to bring in their latest and greatest, but exports of its automotive wares aren’t as hot these days.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported a drop of 22 percent in exports of commercial and passenger vehicles during April, falling to 61,600 units shipped compared to the previous month according to Bloomberg. The group also found a decline of 15 percent over the first four months of 2015, putting a significant ding on the nation’s goal of 860,000 units shipped elsewhere this year.

Causes of China’s export woes include geopolitical issues in Iraq, Russia and Ukraine, and currency challenges in Algeria and Argentina, per association deputy secretary-general Shi Jianhua, who sees no signs of improvement on the horizon.

The 2015 export target is a far cry from the nation’s peak of 1.06 million units in 2012, and is less than the 910,400 units sent overseas in 2014.

[Photo credit: Landwind]

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Autonomous Vehicles Scrutinized Over Liability Amid ‘Minor’ Incidents http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/autonomous-vehicles-scrutinized-liability-amid-minor-incidents/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/autonomous-vehicles-scrutinized-liability-amid-minor-incidents/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 17:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065818 Autonomous vehicles may need the Three Laws of Robotics to function in the future, while getting a handle on accident prevention remains a present concern. Since September of last year, four of the 48 autonomous vehicles permitted to roam freely in California have found themselves involved in accidents, The Detroit News reports. Two of the […]

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World Premiere Freightliner Inspiration Truck

Autonomous vehicles may need the Three Laws of Robotics to function in the future, while getting a handle on accident prevention remains a present concern.

Since September of last year, four of the 48 autonomous vehicles permitted to roam freely in California have found themselves involved in accidents, The Detroit News reports. Two of the accidents happened while the cars drove themselves, while the other pair occurred while their human occupant was behind the wheel.

The vehicles in question belonged to Google and Delphi, with the former linked to three of the four accidents. Both companies claimed they were not at fault, and that the accidents were minor in scope. An employee with the California Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed two of the accidents happened in autonomous mode at speeds below 10 mph, but no other information could be given due to confidentiality laws regarding collision reports.

The accidents come as autonomous vehicles are under ongoing scrutiny over safety and responsibility for whatever does happen in a given accident. Down the road, such a vehicle – which may have no means to override an action in the future – may decide to sacrifice the lives of its occupants in order to protect everyone else, a scenario among others likely to hold back the technology overall, according to BMW sales boss Ian Robertson:

The technology will be held back by the ultimate moral question on who’s responsible. An algorithm will make a decision which might not be acceptable from a cultural or societal point of view.

The potential solution may place full responsibility upon the occupant/driver, following an amendment to the United Nations’ Vienna Convention on Road Traffic made last year allowing assisted driving so long as “such systems can be overridden or switched off by the driver.” The 1968 convention previously banned autonomous vehicles outright when it came into force 38 years ago, declaring all drivers to maintain control of their vehicles at all times.

[Photo credit: Freightliner]

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Volvo Selects South Carolina For First-Ever US Factory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volvo-selects-south-carolina-first-ever-us-factory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volvo-selects-south-carolina-first-ever-us-factory/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 16:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065778 It’s official: Volvo has chosen South Carolina as the home of its first factory in the United States. The factory will built north of Charleston in Berkeley County, with construction set to begin this fall. Production is expected to begin in 2018, and up to 100,000 units per year are projected to leave South Carolina […]

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155828_Pre_production_of_the_all_new_Volvo_XC90_in_Torslanda

It’s official: Volvo has chosen South Carolina as the home of its first factory in the United States.

The factory will built north of Charleston in Berkeley County, with construction set to begin this fall. Production is expected to begin in 2018, and up to 100,000 units per year are projected to leave South Carolina once operations commence.

Volvo chose Berkeley County due to ease of international-port access, well-trained labor, experience in high-tech manufacturing, and an environment conducive toward investment. The new location will employ up to 2,000 within the next 10 years, and 4,000 over the long term. The first 2,000 factory jobs are also forecasted to bring up to 8,000 total new jobs, with the plant itself generating $4.8 billion to the economy annually in exchange for a $500-million investment by the automaker.

As for what will be built in Volvo’s new plant, speculation points to the S60, XC60 and XC90, the first two the automaker’s most popular models in the U.S. No official word was given at this time.

[Photo credit: Volvo]

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Uber In Bidding War With German Automakers For Nokia’s Mapping Division http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/uber-bidding-war-german-automakers-nokias-mapping-division/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/uber-bidding-war-german-automakers-nokias-mapping-division/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 19:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064370 For as long as Uber has been around, the TNC has used Google Maps to guide all from the airport to the party. This could soon change upon a winning bid. Uber is bidding against a consortium of German automakers — the latter teamed up with Chinese search engine Baidu — and a private equity […]

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Uber In The Money

For as long as Uber has been around, the TNC has used Google Maps to guide all from the airport to the party. This could soon change upon a winning bid.

Uber is bidding against a consortium of German automakers — the latter teamed up with Chinese search engine Baidu — and a private equity firm for ownership of Nokia’s Here mapping system, The New York Times reports. An announcement by the tech company is expected to come by the end of May, deal or no deal.

Whereas Google dominates the mobile space with Google Maps at an estimated 1 billion users, Here succeeds in the automotive navigation space. The Berlin-based mapping company holds over 80 percent global market share of all built-in car navigation systems, spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually to maintain and update the maps.

Here would be the latest hedge against Google’s mapping technology should Uber win. The TNC bought deCarta in March of this year, and joined up with Carnegie Mellon University earlier in 2015 to develop mapping and autonomous technologies via the Uber Advanced Technologies Center. The German consortium feels the same way about Google in its own bid for Here, and plans to license the mapping technology to all interested parties should it win.

[Photo credit: Uber/Facebook]

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Volkswagen Denies UAW’s Request For Sole Representation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-denies-uaws-request-sole-representation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-denies-uaws-request-sole-representation/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 17:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064274 Volkswagen announced Thursday it would deny the UAW’s request to be the sole representative of the automaker’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant. Instead, VW would continue to work with both the UAW and rival organization American Council of Employees toward the goal of establishing a works council at its sole U.S. facility, Bloomberg reports. While the company […]

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Volkswagen announced Thursday it would deny the UAW’s request to be the sole representative of the automaker’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant.

Instead, VW would continue to work with both the UAW and rival organization American Council of Employees toward the goal of establishing a works council at its sole U.S. facility, Bloomberg reports.

While the company said meeting with both factions “has been a very effective way to start dialog with each of the groups,” UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel proclaimed VW should recognize his union “as the bargaining agent,” adding “a works council can only exist with a union and VW has said their preferred union is the UAW.”

The UAW is said to represent 55 percent of hourly workers on the floor, while ACE has between 15 to 30 percent of hourly and salaried employees.

[Photo credit: Volkswagen]

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Al-Naimi: Only Allah Knows Where Oil Prices Will Go http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/al-naimi-allah-knows-oil-prices-will-go/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/al-naimi-allah-knows-oil-prices-will-go/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 17:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062274 How long will Saudi Arabia allow oil prices to drop as the country’s production remains unchanged? Only Allah knows the answer. Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi told CNBC as much when asked about where oil prices were heading amid speculation as to how long the country would maintain the status quo […]

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Ali Al-Naimi

How long will Saudi Arabia allow oil prices to drop as the country’s production remains unchanged? Only Allah knows the answer.

Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi told CNBC as much when asked about where oil prices were heading amid speculation as to how long the country would maintain the status quo before cutting production. Al-Naimi added he wasn’t worried about the possibility of Iranian crude entering the mix as sanctions were lifted as part of Iran’s international nuclear deal, even though it would likely add to the growing glut and prompt lower prices still upon introduction.

The ongoing decline in oil prices began last year when OPEC kept production at 30 million barrels a day in order to maintain its share of the market against the likes of Canadian shale and U.S. crude from North Dakota.

Currently, Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude are trading for around $68/barrel and $60/barrel, respectively, helped by protests in Libya hampering exports, and possible disruptions linked to the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

[Photo credit: UNCTAD/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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US Uber Users Latest Victims In Hacking, Selling Scheme http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/us-uber-users-latest-victims-hacking-selling-scheme/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/us-uber-users-latest-victims-hacking-selling-scheme/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 20:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1061154 Uber customers in the United States are the latest victims in a hacking scheme where Uber accounts are sold on the dark web for as little as $1. The scheme first affected Uber customers in the United Kingdom earlier this year, Motherboard reports, and is now hitting U.S. customers. One user saw several ride requests […]

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uber fashion shoot 02

Uber customers in the United States are the latest victims in a hacking scheme where Uber accounts are sold on the dark web for as little as $1.

The scheme first affected Uber customers in the United Kingdom earlier this year, Motherboard reports, and is now hitting U.S. customers. One user saw several ride requests made for travel in London, even though she lives in North Carolina. After posting the fraudulent attempts to her Twitter account, the transportation network company refunded her bank account for the three trips that did go through, ranging from $40 to $120 per trip; she also cancelled the card associated with her Uber account.

Meanwhile, others who have seen their accounts hacked and sold haven’t been as fortunate to have their money refunded. The TNC’s representatives said the investigation “is now in the hands of the authorities” upon finding no breaches into the company’s systems. They add the hacks were “a good opportunity to remind people to use strong and unique usernames and passwords and to avoid reusing the same credentials across multiple sites and services.”

The publication’s own investigation couldn’t confirm if the fraudulent uses happening to U.S. consumers were the result of Uber accounts being sold on the dark web that affected U.K. customers, nor how those accounts were snagged in the first place.

[Photo credit: Uber]

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GM Gives Away 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, Invests $174 Million In Kansas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gm-gives-away-2016-chevrolet-malibu-invests-174-million-kansas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gm-gives-away-2016-chevrolet-malibu-invests-174-million-kansas/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 18:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1060954 In celebration of a key milestone, General Motors CEO Mary Barra gave away a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Monday, a feat that could never happen with the old Malibu, even with Oprah’s help. The Malibu was given to retired U.S. Army corporal and Purple Heart recipient Trent Brining, who received his medal when a rocket-propelled grenade […]

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2016-Chevrolet-Malibu-007

In celebration of a key milestone, General Motors CEO Mary Barra gave away a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Monday, a feat that could never happen with the old Malibu, even with Oprah’s help.

The Malibu was given to retired U.S. Army corporal and Purple Heart recipient Trent Brining, who received his medal when a rocket-propelled grenade delivered severe injuries to his arms and legs while on patrol in Baghdad in 2005. Brining is currently a financial advisor for a local credit union near Overland Park, Kansas, 30 minutes south of where his new Malibu will be assembled later this year in nearby Fairfax.

Over the next two days, GM will select four other individuals to receive a new vehicle built in the region where they reside. The giveaways are in celebration of the automaker’s 500-millionth vehicle to leave the assembly line. Barra added her company expects to sell “more than 1,000 new vehicles per hour, 24 hours per day” during 2015, a figure that would deliver an estimated 10 million units in volume by the end of the year.

Speaking of Fairfax Assembly, Chevrolet global president Alan Batey announced the plant would receive a $174-million investment for new equipment and technology to help assemble the 2016 Malibu. The investment is part of GM’s overall $5.4-billion investment scheme to help improve its standing for years to come. Monday’s announcement follows the first one made last week in Michigan, where three facilities will split $783.5 million for similar improvements.

[Image credit: Chevrolet]

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Volkswagen Won’t Cut Prices to Chase Market Share in U.S. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-wont-cut-prices-chase-market-share-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/volkswagen-wont-cut-prices-chase-market-share-us/#comments Sat, 02 May 2015 15:37:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1059338 Even with a depressed euro and sales falling 2.7 percent in April, Volkswagen is staying the course. According to Automotive News, Volkswagen has no plans to change its current pricing strategy to chase market share. The brand has seen steady declines in the U.S. even as the market overall has been growing. “We believe it’s […]

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volkswagen-chattanooga-solar-park-08

Even with a depressed euro and sales falling 2.7 percent in April, Volkswagen is staying the course.

According to Automotive News, Volkswagen has no plans to change its current pricing strategy to chase market share. The brand has seen steady declines in the U.S. even as the market overall has been growing.

“We believe it’s the right strategy over the long term,” Christian Klingler told AN.

He stated Volkswagen has a long-term approach to protecting profits and won’t try to chase volume at its expense. Similar problems are being experienced in other markets like Brazil. Also, even with the euro down versus the American dollar, most U.S. sales volume comes from North American-built vehicles, negating any possible positive currency impact.

Much of Volkswagen’s sales slump can be attributed to their current model mix. The brand does not offer a competitive crossover between the long-in-the-tooth Tiguan and much more expensive Touareg, a segment currently experiencing significant growth.

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Gales: Lotus Will Show Profit By End Of FY 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gales-lotus-will-show-profit-end-fy-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gales-lotus-will-show-profit-end-fy-2016/#comments Fri, 01 May 2015 16:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1058418 After going broke for so long, Lotus Cars CEO Jean-Marc Gales says his company will be back in the black by March 2017, when FY 2016 ends. To do this, Gales implemented cost-cutting measures while improving the current lineup to help increase sales and profits, Automotive News Europe reports. In the short term, this meant […]

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Lotus Evora S Circa August 2013

After going broke for so long, Lotus Cars CEO Jean-Marc Gales says his company will be back in the black by March 2017, when FY 2016 ends.

To do this, Gales implemented cost-cutting measures while improving the current lineup to help increase sales and profits, Automotive News Europe reports. In the short term, this meant making some changes to the automaker’s offerings, such as adding an automatic transmission to the Exige, and refocusing the facelifted U.S.-bound Evora to better compete against the Porsche 911 and Audi R8. Gales said the U.S. would be the Evora’s biggest market as it leads the charge back to these shores after federal crash standards kept the model out for 2015.

At home in Hethel, England, 260 were cut from the workforce of 1,250, less than the 325 Gales had planned to cut in September 2014. The CEO also cut back consulting and engineering work conducted by Lotus Engineering, focusing the engineering arm on developing the automaker’s lineup, as well as combing through the supply chain to replace larger suppliers with smaller ones.

On the sales front, 2,015 cars left the showroom floor during FY 2014, an increase of 55 percent compared to the previous year’s 1,403; Gales is aiming for 3,500 sold by 2016. The increase is helped by an expansion of its dealerships, which stood at 174 at the end of March. He said his goal is to have 200 by the end of 2015.

As for profits, Gales said that losses were “massively reduced” compared to FY 2014’s £65.6 million ($100 million USD), and FY 2013’s £159.4 million ($242.2 million). He adds that he expects to see a profit for Lotus by the end of FY 2016, an experience the company hasn’t had “from the car side in over 20 years.”

[Photo credit: Vetatur Fumare/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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