By on June 27, 2013

“To suffer”

 

With luck- and hapless Susan Docherty cleaning out her desk in Europe, GM needs someone else to lead Chevrolet in Europe. They found Thomas Sedran, who will take the helm at Chevrolet’s EU HQ in Zurich, Switzerland. Sedran will start in July, says Reuters,  while Docherty will be leaving GM in September. (Read More…)

By on June 25, 2013

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Volkswagen’s  R&D chief Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg is cautiously optimistic about the use of carbon fiber technologies in volume cars. Said Hackenberg today in Wolfsburg: (Read More…)

By on June 25, 2013
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Hackenberg hints on future cars, with the members of the social media in rapt attention

Volkswagen plans to use the 0.8 liter diesel  hybrid drivetrain from its futuristic, ultra-efficient and ultra-expensive  (no pricing announced) XL1 two-seater in a future regular small car, Volkswagen’s R&D Chief Ulrich Hackenberg said today in an interview in Wolfsburg’s Autostadt. Said Hackenberg: (Read More…)

By on June 25, 2013
antisocial media

Hackenberg talks to reporters from SAE Magazine and Fortune …

“It is good for the future of diesel in the USA that  a domestic producer also uses a diesel engine,” said Volkswagen’s R&D Chief Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg today.  “If the volume of diesel engines is increasing, then it makes sense to produce diesel engines in the U.S.A. That would be great for us and the customer,” Hackenberg said. (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2013

driver

This is day one of the Wolfsburg tour, where your BS returns to the scene of his former crimes. I came in on a 12 hours JAL flight from Tokyo. I was picked at Hannover Airport by an Iranian driver with a black Multivan. Imagine, this is the place where I was running through the parking garage in the olden days, looking for a Phaeton with the keys hidden in the exhaust pipe.

Johnny Lieberman of Motor Trend however … (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2013
Ford Setagaya Dori

Open: The Ford dealer down the road from me. Go there yourself.

Last week, I had a few very interesting discussions with a few very famous people, and I should not keep them to myself. The discussions were about one of my pet peeves, the supposedly closed Japanese car market, and the allegedly manipulated Japanese currency. Some very knowledgeable people I talked to were convinced it’s true. Other very knowledgeable folks said it’s utter baloney. In a rare display of balanced reporting, I will bring you both. And as they say, we purport, you decide.

(Read More…)

By on June 22, 2013

 

IOS

 

J.D. Power published its 2013 Initial Quality Study IQS, and a miracle happened: Chevrolet jumped 10 spots  to number 5. The GMC brand even sits in #2.  In the real world, that puts GMC and Chevrolet in Place 2, along with Lexus and Infiniti.

(Read More…)

By on June 22, 2013

 

Susan Docherty, a life-long career woman at GM, suddenly wants to stay at home with her husband and 13 year old son, or so GM wants us to believe. According to Selim Bingol’s troops, Docherty “announced her intention to leave General Motors to spend time with her family, effective September 30.” Docherty is 49, that’s no retirement age.

Three years ago, Ed Niedermeyer and TTAC was “looking forward to her departure from General Motors.” Now his wish is fulfilled. In the tradition of Farago’s death watches, things always take a little longer than expected at GM, but eventually, they happen. Usually, they happen too late. (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2013

Fiat in St. Tropez - Picture  courtesy cartype.com

As we all know, the European car market is in bad shape. France, one of Europe’s volume markets, is especially hard hit. The month of May was no exception.  The French market was down 10.3 percent. Red ink and nose blood was running just about everywhere. Everywhere except Fiat. Fiat, the Italian patient, looks amazingly alive in France. Their passenger vehicle sales were up a whopping 12.3 percent in May and 6 percent for the first five months. In a market that tanks, just staying afloat would be a big deal. Double digit is huge. It was, until the scrappy auto site 7pm-auto.fr started digging. They found that the growth was made by dealers buying their own cars. (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2013

Now that Better Place went belly-up,  Tesla  joined the battery-swapping lifestyle.  As promised, Tesla unveiled a system to swap battery packs in its electric cars.  According to Reuters, Tesla “will roll out the battery-swapping stations later this year, beginning along the heavily-traveled route between Los Angeles and San Francisco and then in the Washington-to-Boston corridor.” (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2013

 

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Konnichi wa: Hackenberg at the Tokyo Motor Show 2011, the same day Toyota announced its alliance with BMW

Uh-oh:  Audi is running out of good ideas. Last year, Audi’s  R&D chief Michael Dick  (his real name) was sacked and replaced  by Wolfgang Dürrheimer. Now Dürrheimer has to go. Hackenberg is dispatched to whip Audi in shape. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2013

“Fewer drivers will take to the road during the Independence Day holiday in part due to a sluggish economy, but also because people will take less time off,” the  AAA told Reuters.

Gas is around 10 cents a gallon higher than last year, but that’s not what’s keeping Americans off the highways. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2013

Red Menace - Picture courtesy lusipurr.com,jpg

For many years, U.S. automakers warned against the red menace of millions of cheap Chinese cars flooding a helpless American market. It never happened.  What finally got the Chinese export machine going a little bit was GM, which started shipping Made-in-China Chevrolet Sails. The Sails convinced buyers around the world that those Chinese cars aren’t as bad as thought, and now China exports around 5 percent of its production. GM expects to export between 100,000 to 130,000 vehicles from China this year, and wants to more than double the number by 2015.

Ford chief Alan Mulally today joined the ranks of people calling for increased Chinese car exports. He’s ready to  export Fords  from China.  (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2013

Yesterday, the Detroit News warned of a sneak attack by the Japanese on the U.S. auto market:

“Nissan Motor Co.’s take-no-prisoners approach to gaining U.S. market share has the auto industry worried that a price war is brewing that will erode the profit progress made since the recession ravaged auto sales.”

According to the Detroit paper, Nissan’s recent price reductions  are

“the first sign of a Japanese automaker taking advantage of the weakening yen that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed down to improve Japan’s economy. That currency’s 15 percent swoon versus the dollar since Oct. 31 gives Japanese automakers an extra $1,500 per car they can use to cut prices or offer additional features while keeping prices even.”

It’s only a sign if you are both blind and fact-resistant.

(Read More…)

By on June 20, 2013

The first CMF-based cars will be produced in a new section of Nissan’s plant in Chennai, India

As you know, TTAC has been following the modularization trend in the industry with great interest. At TTAC, you received an early heads-up on Volkswagen’s MQB kit architecture four years ago, and we followed it ever since. TTAC was one of the first to tell you that Toyota is working on its own kit architecture, called “Toyota New Global Architecture,” TNGA for short. More than a year ago, we told you about Nissan’s Common Module Family (CMF). Now, everybody is talking about kits and modules. Let’s talk a little more. (Read More…)

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