By on February 27, 2016

Ralph Nader, Black and White, Image: Sage Ross/Flickr

The author of the most famous — and controversial — book ever penned about the automotive industry turns 82 today.

Automobile safety crusader Ralph Nader probably wouldn’t have made it to this ripe old age if the industry hadn’t made design changes and undergone cultural reforms in the wake of his scathing 1965 publication “Unsafe at Any Speed.”

That book, which laid bare design flaws and the general lack of regard for safety during the then-Big Three’s heyday, ultimately sunk the innovative ‘swing axle’ Chevrolet Corvair — or as Nader called it, “The One-Car Accident.”

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By on January 28, 2016

2016 NAIAS Ford Stand

Ford announced Thursday that it had earned a record pre-tax profit of $10.8 billion for 2015 — including $2 billion in the fourth quarter — bolstered by pickup sales in the U.S. and strong growth in China.

The record-setting year for the automaker wasn’t much of a surprise — second- and third-quarter results set records along the way — but Ford’s ability to finally turn a profit in Europe may be the most unexpected news. The automaker had lost money in Europe since 2011.

Latin America, notably Brazil, will continue to be a sore spot for Ford and other automakers. Ford said Thursday it expects to lose more money there in 2016 than the $832 million it lost there in 2015.

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By on January 25, 2016

ford-headquarters

The big Blue Oval is setting in the Land of the Rising Sun.

That, Volkswagen’s labor boss doesn’t like what he hears, Detroit’s big show and Kia’s big plans for the Rio … after the break! Read More >

By on January 22, 2016

Fastlane

General Motors quietly redirected its Fastlane Blog back to the mothership in December, signaling an end to the direct-to-C-suite “conversations” you could have with automotive executives.

The blog, which once hosted Maximum Bob’s musings on life, design and resign, was held up as a paragon for corporate communication in its day (it won a Webby) and provided fodder for this site.

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By on January 16, 2016

Recalled GM ignition switch

The man in the middle of GM’s faulty ignition switch has finally spoken, and the word “mistake” came up at least twice.

That, does anyone have the number for Google, GM and Honda may join forces, and take a cab … after the break!

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By on January 15, 2016

ford-headquarters

Ford will announce plans early this year to build a new plant in Mexico, Reuters reported Thursday. The $1.5 billion plant will produce 350,000 cars annually and could eventually produce the new Focus after production of that car leaves Ford’s Wayne, Michigan plant in 2018.

Ford didn’t comment on the report.

Reuters said Mexican officials with knowledge of the facility confirmed that the plant would be built in the state of San Luis Potosi.

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By on January 14, 2016

ChevyDealership03.jpg

General Motors will sell highly coveted lease returns and company cars online starting next month through a program called the Factory Pre-owned Collection.

The program, which we’ve covered briefly, will sell lease returns and company cars through an online portal that makes those cars available nationwide. GM said its inventory would be roughly 30,000 cars, which all have fewer than 37,000 miles and be covered by extended warranties from the factory. Potential owners can apply for credit through the online portal and pick up their cars at a nearby dealer.

So … if GM is selling the cars owned by GM and GM Financial (or related bank) from a nationwide database, which can be financed online, and merely picked up at a nearby dealership, isn’t that just a direct sale?

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By on January 14, 2016

FCA_Location_1_Torino_Lingotto_high

An Illinois dealer said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, through its regional sales offices, was intimidating and bribing dealers to report bogus sales at the end of the month to reach inflated sales targets. Automotive News reported first on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed by dealers of the Napleton Automotive Group accuses FCA of conspiring to inflate sales numbers through payments of tens of thousands of dollars to the dealer in co-op advertising accounts to disguise the practice. The lawsuit says FCA uses bogus third-party data from J.D. Power and Urban Science to falsely “verify” the sales figures and report publicly that the automaker has continued monthly sales growth since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

The news of the lawsuit and its allegations sunk shares of Fiat so far that trading on its stock was halted in Europe, according to the Wall Street Journal. Read More >

By on January 7, 2016

ELIO_STILLS.07-723x406

Regulators may rain on Elio’s parade even before they got started.

That, Volvo takes a serious stab at full-size luxury conventional wisdom, the big get bigger and Ford’s hybrids only go so far … after the break!

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By on January 5, 2016

Partnership

Ford CEO Mark Fields just wrapped up his Consumer Electronics Show keynote speech Tuesday morning and mentioned the word “Google” exactly zero times. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

So, um, where does that leave the current planned partnership between the global automaker and Google to build self-driving cars and let them roam free at a 1,000-acre North Carolina ranch?

Not dead, maybe — just not fully baked, apparently.

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