Category: Industry

By on February 14, 2017

opel-insignia-grand-sport-304401

Multiple media sources are reporting that an acquisition of General Motors’ European divisions by France’s PSA Group could occur within a matter of days.

Talks between GM and PSA, maker of the Peugeot, Citroën and DS brands, are reportedly at an “advanced stage.” If finalized, the deal would see GM shed the money-losing divisions it has owned for nearly a century. Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

Donald Trump

After several weeks spent wondering just how the continent’s trade landscape will look after president Donald Trump renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement, the business world now has a slightly clearer picture of where the pieces may land.

Trump spoke briefly about his trade goals with both Mexico and Canada after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House. Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

2017 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has made a turnoff on the wrong road in the hopes of boosting its flagging sales, argues Jim Appleton.

The president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers is accusing the automaker of being reckless and short-sighted in its bid to open 380 new dealerships across the country. If FCA wants to reverse its market slide, Appleton claims, it should first take a good hard look at its product. Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

Alfa Romeo Stelvio nose logo badge

At least 20 Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealers in California have filed protests against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles after the manufacturer altered franchise agreements last December. Dealers objected to the changes, claiming it placed the struggling brands at a further disadvantage.

While the grievances vary between dealers, the protests revolve around a few key issues. FCA’s obligation to provide vehicles to the franchisees, the legal standard dealers must meet to sell those units, alterations to the definition of parts or accessories and how that might enable third-party distributors, and the constantly changing language surrounding dealer responsibilities were all common themes among the filed complaints.  Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

2017 Nissan Titan King Cab - Image: Nissan

By broadening its lineup, rethinking the dealer approach, and focusing on prime markets, Nissan intends to increase its Titan pickup truck’s share of America’s full-size market to 5 percent.

5 percent. One in twenty trucks. One Titan for every 19 Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram P/U, GMC Sierra, and Toyota Tundra.

That doesn’t sound so crazy, does it?

Nah, at least until you realize that in 2016, Nissan sold fewer than 22,000 Titans, or slightly less than 1 percent market share. Read More >

By on February 11, 2017

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk knows a unionized workforce would add another variable to his lofty, carefully crafted production plans, and an unpredictable one at that: labor strife.

Until now, the electric automaker’s top boss has fended off the possibility in a progressive-sounding way, but a simmering unionization movement, which reared its head this week, shows no signs of abating. Since the appearance of a scathing blog post written by a Tesla assembly plant worker, Musk has found himself on the defensive. A paid union agitator, Musk claimed, wrote the post to rile employees. Then the UAW jumped into the fray.

Now, it’s one big battle. Musk likely wishes a recently introduced bill to amend the National Labor Relations Act was on his side. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

ford Argo AI

Ford Motor Company intends to invest $1 billion into tech startup Argo AI over the next five years, giving the Blue Oval a majority stake in the company as it continues to reach for the goal of producing a fully autonomous vehicle by 2021.

The Pittsburgh-based Argo will help the Detroit automaker develop a “virtual driver system” for its proposed commercial ride-sharing fleets before moving on to retail vehicles. Ford even went so far as to suggest that the software it develops with Argo could be licensed to other companies.

While still officially an automaker, the Blue Oval really is going all in on its new identity as a mobility company and it isn’t afraid to remind everyone of all of the important work it feels that it is doing. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Image: Volkswagen of America

A border tax placed on Mexican goods bound for the United States would be a worst-case scenario for struggling Volkswagen.

The automaker, which already knows a few things about worst-case scenarios, is waiting on pins and needles to see if the proposed tax prices its small cars out of the market. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

It looks like mustachioed, jeans-loving Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche will have to look elsewhere for a successor to the company throne.

Wolfgang Bernhard, head of Daimler Trucks & Buses, was thought by many a likely candidate to take on the top job once Dr. Z retires. Announced today, Bernhard is stepping down from his post and leaving the company he joined in 1994, even before his contract expires.

Infighting and age could have a lot to do with it. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

2015 Chrysler 300S

Update: It was brought to our attention by a spokesperson for FCA that iSeeCars.com’s study includes complaints about parts availability for recall campaigns, which in and of themselves are not necessarily safety issue complaints. These complaints can skew the per-model results in a big way. While iSeeCars works out the data, take the results below with a grain of salt as they will more than likely change. —Mark

Update 2: iSeeCars retabulated the data for the below-mentioned study without recall parts availability complaints and came up with the same top 10 results. Still, the fact remains, not all NHTSA complaints are verified; anyone can submit a complaint, regardless of whether they own said vehicle. In 2010, Toyota ran into problems verifying complaints from NHTSA’s database, and Tesla more recently had issues with one particularly problematic complainer … from Australia.

Safety complaints come in all forms, some of them frivolous, but minor annoyances usually fail to make the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

When all safety complaints leveled against a model are weighed against the volume of vehicles sold, potential customers are left with a clearer picture of what headaches they might expect after signing on the dotted line. Meanwhile, automakers could realize they have a problem to fix.

In a recent study based on NHTSA complaints, one brand showed why quality control is key to keeping a loyal customer base, and how problems in the past can haunt a company for years. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

Malibu Redline

Chevrolet is introducing a new Redline trim for most of its current models. Actually, I should say it’s reintroducing the trim because Red Line — styled as two words — was pre-bankruptcy General Motors’ designation for Saturn’s signature performance models.

Unlike the Saturn models, the Chevy Redlines don’t offer appear to offer any dynamic advantages and are simply mid-level trimmed vehicles with special wheels and paint. That’s sort annoying when GM has decided to name the cars after the maximum safe speed of an engine. I cannot believe I’m saying this but it kind of makes me nostalgic for the sporty Saturns.  Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

tesla factory fremont

Some employees at Tesla Inc.’s Fremont, California factory have been moving ahead with efforts to unionize. Fronting that campaign is Jose Moran, who claims to have worked at the plant for the last four years. He and other disgruntled Tesla employees have reached out to the United Automobile Workers, claiming they work long hours for low pay under unsafe conditions as the company pursues aggressive production deadlines.

While Tesla’s CEO has responded with his own claim that Moran was paid by the UAW to join his company and proselytize for a union, the organization promptly refuted that suggestion by accusing Tesla of spreading dreaded “fake news.”  Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue SL - Image: Nissan

In January 2017, the best-selling SUV/crossover in America was the Honda CR-V.

In calendar year 2016, the best-selling SUV/crossover in America was the Honda CR-V.

But in December 2016 and the preceding three months, the best-selling SUV/crossover in America was the Nissan Rogue, sales of which rose to record November levels in 2016, record January levels last month, and all-time record levels of 40,477 units in December 2016.

Not the most powerful, refined, reliable, or dynamically competent, the Rogue is nevertheless Nissan’s most popular vehicle in America and a hugely consequential member of the SUV sector.

Yet the sheriff in town is wearing a new uniform, the Rogue is about to be joined by a new sibling, and 2017 is the second-generation Rogue’s fourth model year. Can Nissan continue to grow U.S. Rogue sales by more than 17 percent per month, and can Nissan make the Rogue America’s top-selling utility vehicle on a consistent basis? Read More >

By on February 9, 2017

Viper Supra Corvette

Japanese cars gradually overcame the stigma of being low-quality, unreliable trash piles after entering the U.S. market decades ago. Imports became commonplace during the 1970s and Japan’s cars began setting the new benchmark for automotive quality while Ronald Reagan was in office.

The inverse can be said of American cars being sold in Japan, and it’s a well-documented and long-running annoyance for the American automotive industry. In January, a frustrated President Donald Trump complained that Japan does “things to us that make it impossible to sell cars in Japan, and yet, they sell cars [in the United States] and they come in by the hundreds of thousands on the biggest ships I’ve ever seen.”

Though the statement could be taken as contentious, as Japan does not impose any tariffs on U.S. cars, the country also exported 1.6 million vehicles to the States while America sold fewer than 19,000 back in 2015. Something is definitely amiss, and while it might not be as simple a reason as Japan hating our cars, that’s still a large part of it.  Read More >

By on February 9, 2017

2013 Mazda5 - Image: Mazda Canada

99.9 percent of the minivans sold in the United States in 2016 were (oxymoronically-titled) full-size minivans.

The Kia Rondo finished its brief one-generation U.S. run in 2011, having generated 73,100 total sales over the course of nearly five years.

Having produced more than 160,000 sales for Mazda USA, the Mazda 5 is likewise no longer part of the automaker’s U.S. lineup. Mazda 5 volume was essentially chopped in half between 2008 and 2014.

The Chevrolet Orlando arrived in North America with a decidedly Floridian name but never actually made its way to Florida, or the U.S. market as a whole. Having generated 12,038 Canadian sales, the Orlando quickly departed Canada after volume plunged 81 percent between 2012 and 2014.

Yet the Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 are still available in Canada. They’re alive and (un)well. And while “full-size minivans” claim 96 percent of Canadian MPV sales, Kia and Mazda just won’t give up on their genuinely mini minivans.  Read More >

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