Weeks prior to the historic deal reached between Iran and the “P5+1″ group of nations, TTAC reported on some of the machinations going on behind the scenes regarded the United States, France and their respective auto industries ability to do business in Iran. We put forth the theory that any deal with Iran would be a boon to auto manufacturers, who would have access to a market expected to be worth 1.5 million units in a few short years, with a very young population and a standard of living that is substantially better than many highly touted emerging markets.
At the time of publication, we encountered significant dismissal, if not disagreement. But as it turned out, negotiations had been ongoing since the start of 2013, and the preliminary deal appears to make the auto industry a big winner.
My boss and I drive the same style rental slug Toyota over here, but when his was due for service, instead of a replacement Fortuner, I spotted a 2011 Chevy Caprice in his parking spot. Having spent almost a year without a proper V-8 under my foot, I convinced him we needed to take that one out.
I’ve never cared for the phrase “as American as apple pie” as apple pie is far from an American invention. Instead, we should say as “American as the pickup truck.” In 1925 Ford crafted the “Ford Model T Runabout with Pickup Body” and America’s love affair began. The Chevrolet Silverado, and its mechanical twin the GMC Sierra, may not be the best-selling vehicle in America (that award goes to the aging Ford F-150) but the Chevy alone has outsold the Toyota Camry by 55,000 units this year. Toss in the Sierra and there are more GM trucks sold on our shores in a year than all the Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche products put together. The high sales number and high profit margins explain the intense Ford vs Chevy vs RAM rivalry. With a new RAM in 2013 and a light refresh only a year later, GM is firing back with an all-new Silverado and Sierra. Does Chevy’s new half-ton have what it takes to be king of the hill?
Saying that he’s frustrated by the “confusing” overlap between Opel and Chevrolet products in Europe as GM tries to grow the latter as a global brand, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson likely is signalling a change in the automaker’s strategies for Chevy and Opel on the continent. ”It is of concern to me,” Akerson told Automotive News. “Something has to change. I just think there’s channel conflict and confusion.” Akerson said that the product overlap reminds him of “retro GM”, when brands like Pontiac and Oldsmobile competed for customers with Chevrolet.
With reports circulating that General Motors CEO Dan Akerson will step down sometime next year, the executive told Automotive News that he wants his successor to be a change agent and a risk taker. ”There’s no prototypical CEO,” Akerson said. “A good leader has to be innately bright, intellectually curious. They have to be a change agent, never satisfied with the status quo.”
Akerson, whom some say brought more accountability to GM’s bureaucracy said, “You have to establish accountability and an orientation to risk, recognizing that we’re not a fault-free company,” he said. “Have the humility and audacity to say ‘I made a mistake,’ and back up and go down the other way.” (Read More…)
I’ve dished out plenty of Buick love lately. The Verano beats Acura and Lexus at the entry-luxury game and the tiny Encore is an oddly attractive (albeit underpowered) crossover that is outselling the Mini Countryman and Range Rover Evoque by a wide margin. What can we attribute this sales success to? I posit that the original Buick Enclave is the impetus. Landing in 2007 as a 2008 model, it was the poster child of the “new Buick.” On the surface, the Enclave was the replacement for the Buick Rainier, the only GMT360 SUV I haven’t owned. (Just kidding, I’ve only owned 2 of the 11 varieties.) But that’s a simplistic view. In reality the Enclave was intended to elevate the brand enough to compete with three row luxury crossovers from Germany and Japan. This brings us to today’s question: six years and a mild face-lift later, does the Buick still have the goods?
Readers of our departed EIC’s chronicles will no doubt understand that building a luxury brand is a gradual, concentrated effort that won’t bear fruit for many years. Over at Audi, it took Herr Schmitt and Herr Piech the better part of two decades to morph Audi from an oddball line of tarted up Volkswagens into a global luxury player, and that journey was not without its own mishaps.
Unless you pay a visit to Mr. Lang’s lot on the right day or really love Volkswagen, the only wagons available for Americans today are mostly Teutonic, and all come with a high price tag. According to GM North American President Mark Reuss, that’s a problem, and one he’d like to fix pronto.
Today, my wacky morning DJ, right after he said democracy was a joke and called me “dude,” hit us with this fun fact: 39% of young people choose the same brand of car their parents drove. I’m not sure if that is impressive as the previous day’s fact, that 20 million pounds of candy corn are sold annually in the United States, but it made me think about my father’s preference in vehicles and whether or not I had followed suit. Despite the fact that my old man had pretty good taste in cars, the answer, oddly enough, is “no.” (Read More…)
The Government Accountability Office issued a report on the U.S. Treasury’s investment in General Motors (and Ally Financial, the former GMAC credit arm of GM) which says that the automaker has improved since 2008 but that there still are concerns about competitiveness and market share as well as pension and labor costs. “Although GM’s financial performance has improved significantly since the company initially received federal assistance, questions remain about competitiveness, market share and costs,” the GAO said. (Read More…)
General Motors’ global product chief Mary Barra increasingly looks like a candidate to replace CEO Dan Akerson when he retires, now that the automaker’s purchasing operations have also been brought under her supervision.
In the wake of news that China’s Dongfeng Motors is going to take an equity stake in PSA/Peugeot Citroen, the French automaker says that it is scaling back its alliance with General Motors, which owns 7% of PSA. PSA said that a planned joint subcompact platform that was seen as the basis of the tie-up with GM will probably be cancelled. ”Further analysis showed that the business model just wasn’t there,” a PSA spokesman said. Financial statements released by PSA say that anticipated savings of $1 billion due to synergies with GM will be adjusted downward.
Many dealers are complaining that price differentials between the all new GM pickup trucks and heavily discounted competitors from Ford and Ram are leaving them with disappointing sales results. The new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra were launched in June amid heavy incentives from competitive brands. But the trucks, which have been praised by the press, are not moving quickly. Automotive News reports that a Pasadena, Texas dealer says that his supply is up to 170 days, compared to his normal inventory of 110 days supply. A dealer in Austin reports a 120 day supply, up from his norm at 90 days.