Category: People

By on April 17, 2017

car-saviors-still

Automotive television has developed some extremely bad habits, the worst of which is creating false reality show-style drama among characters with no appreciable personalities. Build shows are the absolute worst for this, yet the agreed-upon recipe seems to be to force one-dimensional characters to argue with one another, intercut with B-roll footage of people working on a car. Rinse and repeat.

While shows like Top Gear and The Grand Tour manage to avoid this problem — by providing entertaining short films, product reviews, and humorous banter — most programs where the host touches a wrench becomes painful to watch within the first few minutes. There are, of course, mainstream exceptions. Mighty Car Mods and RoadKill are both project-oriented shows that remain enjoyable due the presenters’ enthusiasm, authenticity, and willingness to fail. However, neither of those examples exist on a major television network and persist as online-only affairs. And there isn’t really a build show on cable that anyone should consider on par with either.

However, there could be a contender when the Discovery Channel airs its first episode of Car Saviors tonight.  Read More >

By on April 3, 2017

Honda dealer sign

After retiring on April 1 following 13 years at American Honda, former executive vice president John Mendel isn’t fading quietly into obscurity.

Sure, he plans to form a distillery business with his sons — who doesn’t? — but retired auto executives rarely take both feet out of their former world. So, it doesn’t come as a shock that Mendel is poised to join the board of directors at the car shopping website TrueCar. Read More >

By on March 28, 2017

enzo ferari

Italian investigators said on Tuesday that they had prevented a criminal plot to steal the body of automotive legend and Formula One racing pioneer Enzo Ferrari. The scheme involved using two cars and a van, breaking into San Cataldo cemetery, absconding with the corpse, and then holding it for ransom.

Just imagine the incredible movie that would have resulted from the heist had the police not immediately foiled the plan. It would have equal parts The Italian Job and Weekend at Bernie’s.

Così buono.  Read More >

By on March 21, 2017

Uber (freestocks.org/Flickr)

Uber’s president Jeff Jones is quitting the car-hailing business after a brief six-month stretch.

Jones’ choice of a swift departure is essentially down to the company’s controversy laden decisions and apparent degenerate corporate culture. In addition to allegations of widespread sexual harassment, Uber has managed to routinely anger local governments by ignoring autonomous testing laws and by employing algorithms that denied service to potential investigators, regulators, or law enforcement officials. It’s also been accused of property theft, and CEO Travis Kalanick is exhibiting behavior unlikely to win people over.

It’s a real shit show.

Read More >

By on March 21, 2017

marchionne looking pleased

Sergio’s waiting by the phone. Waiting for someone to call him up and tell him he’s not alone. (Our apologies to Soul Asylum – Ed.)

It’s not our fault Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s corporate life resembles a game of Mystery Date. That’s just the way it is for an automaker on the prowl for a partner. After having its advances repeatedly rebuffed by General Motors, FCA has now latched onto Volkswagen as a potential suitor — but the merger dance hasn’t been a smooth one.

After some cattiness on VW’s part, it seems the eternally — and perhaps naïvely — optimistic Marchionne’s hopes are once again up. He’s anticipating a call. Read More >

By on March 17, 2017

piech

One of the preeminent figures within the European automotive industry is looking to get out of the family business. The former paterfamilias of Volkswagen AG, Ferdinand Piech, is looking to dump his stake of Porsche Automobil Holding SE and sever his remaining ties to VW. Piech’s shares would remain within the Porsche-Piech family — allowing them to keep control of Volkswagen Group — but Ferdinand would be out of the game as a majority stakeholder.

Piech has been at odds with his relatives after suggesting that Wolfgang Porsche and several other VW supervisory board members had been aware of Volkswagen’s emissions cheating much earlier than they claimed. Sources close to the family, whose members are apparently outraged, have stated that the Porsche-Piech gang sought to replace him at the table of Porsche Holdings ever since.  Read More >

By on March 16, 2017

marchionne looking pleased

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne changed his stance on the appeal of a potential merger with Volkswagen AG, saying he now has “zero interest” after being publicly spurned by company CEO Matthias Müller.

Marchionne had previously expressed a repeated interest in sharing business with the German automaker, especially with regard to green technologies.

However, after an initial remark where he said he was “not ruling out a conversation,” Müller explained that he had no direct contact with the FCA CEO. “It would be very helpful if Mr. Marchionne were to communicate his considerations to me too and not just to you,” Müller told German reporters on Tuesday. “I am pretty confident about the future of Volkswagen, with or without Marchionne,” he concluded.  Read More >

By on March 13, 2017

Apple iOS in a Car + Ferrari California

Several months late to the annual Airing of the Grievances, Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne recently took the opportunity to mildly trash one of his company’s products.

The outspoken CEO, who donned the title last year, apparently takes offence to the company’s California T, complaining to reporters at the Geneva Motor Show that the droptop grand tourer just doesn’t feel like it belongs in the stable. Read More >

By on March 8, 2017

marchionne

It’s often sad to witness the moment when an individual’s high hopes collide with a cold, antiseptic wall of reality. Though we should all aspire for more, the inescapable truth is that most of our dreams will end up dashed on the rocks.

This week it was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s turn — once again — to face rejection. Buoyed by PSA Group’s acquisition of General Motors’ European car divisions, Marchionne must have assumed that love was in the air and it would perhaps soon be FCA’s turn to go home with another automaker.

Unfortunately for Marchionne, one potential mate quickly burst that balloon in a fairly heartbreaking fashion. Read More >

By on February 24, 2017

lawsuit

Based in Germany and nabbed by federal agents in Florida, Volkswagen’s one-time top emissions compliance manager for the U.S. made an appearance in a federal courtroom in Detroit today.

Indicted, along with five others, on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. and violating the Clean Air Act, Oliver Schmidt isn’t about to face down hard time without a fight. The executive pleaded not guilty to the charges, reports The Detroit News. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Carlos Ghosn (Image: Nissan)

Carlos Ghosn, the aggressive figurehead who brought a nosediving Nissan back from the brink, is stepping down as CEO after 16 years on the job.

The industry titan will remain CEO of Renault, where he staged a similar turnaround, and will continue to serve as chairman of Nissan, Renault and lowly Mitsubishi — the latter company being added to the alliance last year. Apparently, the decision to step down was prompted by Mitsubishi’s deeply-ingrained woes. In order to work some Nissan-style magic on the struggling automaker, Ghosn needed to hand over the reins.

Meanwhile, a man who stuck with Nissan for 40 years has seen his loyalty pay off. Read More >

By on February 21, 2017

download

Captain of industry John Mendel is retiring as the executive vice president of American Honda’s sales division this April, following ten years of service to the company. Mendel is probably best-known for ensuring that Honda and Acura’s marketing and sales focus remained on North America’s retail markets, not fleets.

Also retiring this spring is Honda Canada’s current president and 42-year company veteran, Jerry Chenkin. Filling the vacuum created in Chenkin’s absence is Dave Gardner, currently senior vice president and future president. Gardner will assume the role of president and provide direct oversight for the automotive and motorcycle divisions, power equipment, ATV, and small engine businesses.  Read More >

By on February 18, 2017

Honda dealer sign

It’s been a rough week at Frank Ancona Honda of Olathe, Kansas.

The family-owned dealership, in operation just southwest of Kansas City since 1961, has successfully weathered all of the storms that periodically pummel dealers of all stripes.

Then, last weekend, a body discovered on the banks of Missouri’s Big River — about a five-hour drive to the east — gave the dealership the kind of attention that no business wants. The corpse, which had a bullet hole in its head, also had a name: Frank Ancona.

No, the founder of Frank Ancona Honda is still alive and well at 85. But much to his dismay, the Frank Ancona discovered by the Big River was none other than the 51-year-old imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

Scott Pruitt (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The Environmental Protection Agency has a new administrator.

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general and President Donald Trump’s first choice for the role, was confirmed today following a 52-46 Senate vote that fell mainly along party lines, with some exceptions.

In an odd twist of fate, the man who once sued the EPA multiple times is now the man running it. Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

General Motors #AMERICA

Before the end of the 1980s, disenchanted drivers were voting with their wallets in ever greater numbers. Family sedan buyers, burned by the quality control issues of the late 1970s, turned their attention to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, while German automakers increasingly carved off a larger slice of the premium segment pie.

In many cases, the buyers who turned their backs on domestic vehicles stayed in their new camp for years, buying another, and then another Japanese or German car. Luring them back remains a difficult task, as stigma often fades at a slower rate than quality improves.

“Buy American” campaigns are nothing new, but President Donald Trump’s ascent to the Oval Office has spurred a newfound focus on the health of the Detroit Three automakers. In a bid to bolster that health, the United Auto Workers union is on the verge of telling you to drive past all those import dealers.

Come home to America. Read More >

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