The Truth About Cars » GM http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 30 Aug 2015 23:20:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » GM http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Marchionne Calls For GM Takeover Just Short of Hostile http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/marchionne-calls-for-gm-takeover-just-short-of-hostile/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/marchionne-calls-for-gm-takeover-just-short-of-hostile/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 22:59:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1156418 We have to hand it to Larry P. Vellequette at Automotive News for getting FCA’s Don Marchionne riled up. In addition to getting Sergio talking yesterday about automakers having a history of bending the unions over, the outspoken executive has now called for a General Motors takeover via a series of hugs increasing in their intensity each time. […]

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Sergio and 1.4L Turbo MultiAir in better times at Dundee. Chrysler Photo

We have to hand it to Larry P. Vellequette at Automotive News for getting FCA’s Don Marchionne riled up. In addition to getting Sergio talking yesterday about automakers having a history of bending the unions over, the outspoken executive has now called for a General Motors takeover via a series of hugs increasing in their intensity each time.

“There are varying degrees of hugs. I can hug you nicely, I can hug you tightly, I can hug you like a bear, I can really hug you,” said Marchionne to Vellequette. “Everything starts with physical contact. Then it can degrade, but it starts with physical contact.”

And no, that’s not even the best part.

Marchionne asserts he and the board of directors have no choice but to pursue General Motors based on the numbers.

“We’re not talking about marginal improvement in margins,” Marchionne said, “we’re talking about cataclysmic changes in performance, just huge.”

And how sweet is that EBITDA figure?

“Look, the combined entity can make $30 billion a year in cash. Thirty. Just think about that fucking number. In steady-state environments, it’ll make me $28 to $30 billion.”

Yet, General Motors refuses to look at the numbers, with GM CEO Mary Barra stating in June that GM is busy “merging with ourselves.”

The relatively short piece from Automotive News is filled with that will likely become a Greatest Hits album for both Vellequette and Marchionne with lines like:

“It would be unconscionable not to force a partner,” he said

“I’ve offered to sit down with them and take them through the numbers,” said the Italian-Canadian CEO as he sipped an espresso and swiped through documents on his tablet, giving his visitors a cursory look at various charts and graphs he says make his case.

“They won’t listen. And that kind of abject refusal to engage … the capital markets won’t understand why you are rejecting the discussion.

“You may reject the deal but you can’t reject the discussion. If you’re refusing to talk to me, and you have seen nothing, you either think you’re above it all, or you think the capital markets are full of schmucks that owe you something.”

“There have been responses of people who have shown interest in discussing,” he said. “Are they the people I wanted to get the response from? The answer is probably not. There are people who are interested in doing deals. I’m not interested in doing deals with them … because there’s a better deal.”

“Why,” asked a high-ranking GM executive, “should [GM] bail out FCA?”

Asked directly, a GM spokesman wouldn’t call Marchionne’s analysis wrong but said GM officials believe the company and its shareholders are better off on their own.

Last emphasis mine.

If GM officials think that shareholders want anything other than increased profits, those officials are going to be in for a rude awakening — when they’re out of jobs after the dust has settled.

Everyone, especially a shareholder, has a price.

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Just How Bad Are the Automakers Taking a Beating in the Stock Market? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1151441 Markets around the world are down, down, down, down and down. At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down roughly 650 points on Monday, which is more than 1,500 points off of where we were at the beginning of August. A lot of the run is fueled by fears that China […]

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Come on Carlos, let’s hit up the Limeys for some money. Picture courtesy of motortrend.com

Markets around the world are down, down, down, down and down.

At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down roughly 650 points on Monday, which is more than 1,500 points off of where we were at the beginning of August. A lot of the run is fueled by fears that China is tapering off its growth (or they’ve been making it up for a while) and that Europe is tinkering on the brink of sinking into another recession.

There are plenty of financial sectors that are taking a beating. Automotive companies are no different. Here’s a rundown of publicly traded automakers and how much they’ve lost from their July 31 close to mid-day trading today.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest droppers are those with more exposure to China (Especially Toyota, whose production has been hampered by a blast in Tianjinand Tesla, whose second stock offering could be diluting shares in addition to the larger, global shock.

Tata Motors (TTM) — 29.66-23.01, -22.4 percent
Tesla Motors (TSLA) — 266.15-219.46, -17.5 percent
Toyota Motor Corp (TM) — 133.71-110.87, -17 percent
BMW (BMW.DE) — 91.30-77.88, -13.5 percent
Daimler (DDAIF) — 89.19-77.59, -13 percent
Nissan Motor Company (NSANY) — 19.34-16.90, -12.6 percent
Honda Motor Company (HMC) — 33.96-29.70, -12.5 percent
Ford Motor Company (F) — 15.18-13.21, -12.9 percent
General Motors (GM) — 32.08-28.22, -12 percent
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) — 15.80-14.02, -11.2 percent
Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) — 40.35-36.56, -9.3 percent

Earlier this month, General Motors issued a statement before the massive stock sell off to ensure investors that it would endure a devalued Chinese currency. It’s “natural hedge,” or locally sourced suppliers, would help insulate it from massive market fluctuations, but not entirely. Last month, GM announced it would invest $5 billion in a joint venture with SAIC motors in China to locally build smaller cars.

On Monday, Daimler said it would press on further in China, despite worries that the market for luxury vehicles could be drying up, according to Automotive News.

Losing this much steam in China will undoubtedly have a ripple effect in the rest of the automotive world, that much is clear. The size of the wave has yet to be determined.

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Equinox Gives Oshawa Consolidated Line Extended Life http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/equinox-gives-oshawa-consolidated-line-extended-life/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/equinox-gives-oshawa-consolidated-line-extended-life/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 20:21:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1145993 GM Canada announced Wednesday it will make a small investment in Oshawa Assembly’s Consolidated Line thanks to increased demand of the Chevrolet Equinox. “It’s a modest investment in terms of its size, but it increases the volume of stamping we do at CAMI to increase the run. (The increased stamping) will then boost Equinox production in Oshawa,” GM Canada’s VP of […]

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GM Oshawa Plant Closure

GM Canada announced Wednesday it will make a small investment in Oshawa Assembly’s Consolidated Line thanks to increased demand of the Chevrolet Equinox.

“It’s a modest investment in terms of its size, but it increases the volume of stamping we do at CAMI to increase the run. (The increased stamping) will then boost Equinox production in Oshawa,” GM Canada’s VP of Corporate and Environmental Affairs David Paterson said in an interview with TTAC.

More body panels are stamped at CAMI than that plant’s assembly line can use, which required GM to utilize its “shuttle program” to transport excess Equinox bodies to Oshawa’s Consolidated Line for final assembly, according to GM.

The majority of the $12 million CAD investment will go to CAMI, though the detailed amount was not disclosed. Additional labor will not be needed to produce the additional Equinoxes.

While the success of an 11-year-old model (the Equinox went into its second generation as an enhanced refresh) is newsworthy, there is a larger issue at play.

“That investment has the effect of extending further the Consolidated Line until at least 2017,” said Paterson.

This is the fifth time the Consolidated Line’s death has been postponed in the last ten years, Paterson said. The Consolidated Line was most recently scheduled to shut down in 2016.

Speaking of the Consolidated Line, Paterson said: “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

However, the announcement still doesn’t ensure the long-term viability of the manufacturing facility.

Camaro production in Oshawa is scheduled to end this November, while next-generation Buick Regal production is rumored to move solely to Russelsheim, Germany in 2017.

While Cadillac currently produces the XTS in Oshawa, that nameplate will be discontinued at the end of its lifecycle in 2019. However, that best-before date doesn’t secure Oshawa until 2019. Production could be moved to Hamtramck or Fairfax as those assembly plants also build vehicles sharing the same platform, which are the Impala and LaCrosse. Should GM not opt to move production, but continue to sell the XTS in North America, the XTS could be the first Cadillac produced in China and imported to North America — but that’s a far reach.

GM announced they would make a $250 million CAD investment in CAMI for flexible manufacturing similar to Oshawa’s main flex line, seemingly securing the Equinox in Ingersoll, but no investments have been announced for continued production in Oshawa.

If manufacturing departs, GM looks to keep a significant presence in Oshawa for connected car R&D.

Former mayor of Oshawa, John Gray, has encouraged Canadians to boycott GM if jobs are lost. The future of Oshawa assembly activities won’t be announced until 2016 when the company starts labor talks with Unifor.

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Piston Slap: 6L80E…eeeeeek? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/piston-slap-6l80e-eeeeeek/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/piston-slap-6l80e-eeeeeek/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 11:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1132041   Nathaniel writes: Sajeev, Long time listener, first-time caller. I’m responding to your plea for new Piston Slap questions. I purchased a gently-used 2008 GMC Yukon Denali AWD a couple of months ago. Other than its appetite for fuel, the only negative is that it has 141,000 miles. I believe the previous owner changed the […]

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gearshift

Leather is better. (photo courtesy: image.automotive.com)

Nathaniel writes:

Sajeev,

Long time listener, first-time caller. I’m responding to your plea for new Piston Slap questions. I purchased a gently-used 2008 GMC Yukon Denali AWD a couple of months ago. Other than its appetite for fuel, the only negative is that it has 141,000 miles. I believe the previous owner changed the transmission fluid at 100,000 miles (Carfax shows that the transfer case fluid was changed at this point, and I can’t imagine doing that and not doing the transmission). The fluid was relatively clean but I changed out several quarts via the dipstick tube using a fluid extractor after I purchased the vehicle, replacing them with the specified Dexron-VI. I believe the fluid level is correct but it’s difficult to read.

On a recent road trip, the 6-speed automatic (6L80E) transmission stumbled during the 2-3 shift while driving through the mountains and went into a failsafe mode. The check engine light came on. I pulled over, turned the ignition off and on again, and the truck operated normally. The CEL remained on for the next several ignition cycles. When I called OnStar to obtain the fault code, they could not retrieve it because the CEL was no longer on.

I was able to reproduce the problem by giving the truck wide open throttle. The 1-2 shift occurred normally. The 2-3 shift was delayed (the engine revved higher than the normal shift point of about 5,500 rpm), it eventually shifted into 3rd, and stayed there. The CEL lit up and the truck slowed down to about 40 mph, but it eventually allowed me to speed up, staying in 3rd the entire time. I pulled over, turned the ignition off and on again, and again it was back to normal. I called OnStar again, and they pulled codes P0700 (a generic code indicating a transmission problem) and P2714 (clutch pressure control solenoid stuck off). The CEL disappeared after a few ignition cycles.

A few TSBs, #PIP4304A and #PIP4184B, and 09-07-30-004A, appear to be on point. I’m not that familiar with how automatic transmissions work, but the TSBs appear to involve disassembly of the transmission and the possible replacement of valves, control modules, etc., which sounds fairly involved. I have not noticed a delay in the engagement of forward gears after putting it in drive, which I think is mentioned in one or more of the TSBs.

There appear to be no other mechanical problems with the truck. I see the options as follows:

  1. Do nothing for now, try to avoid full throttle upshifts, see whether the problem gets worse (how much danger is there in doing this?);
  2. Bring it to the selling (GM) dealer, beg for mercy on the cost of any repairs since they only sold me the car a couple of months ago (on the theory that any assistance they might provide is less and less likely as time goes by); or
  3. Take to an independent transmission shop. (Does anyone actually do repairs anymore or do they try to swap in a remanufactured transmission?)

Any advice?

Thanks,

Nathaniel

Sajeev answers:

Fantastic assessment, especially the two hyperlinks. Kinda sad, however: the 6L80E is quite an impressive gearbox most of the time, like the robust GM 4-speeds before it. However, if your vehicle is (one of?) the first GM trucks using this gearbox, perhaps teething problems are par for the course.

Since you did the work for me, I’ll be brief:

  1. Not a bad idea, because this problem will likely take a long time to get bad enough to warrant removal/rebuild.
  2. A better idea: talk to your salesperson and ask for a referral to the service manager. Granted its a 6-7 year old vehicle with well over 100,000 miles, but there could be some goodwill in your purchase. Maybe a steep discount, hopefully a free diagnosis of PIP4184B (as per your Corvetteforum.com thread) with their fancy pants Tech 2 diagnostic gizmo.
  3. Consider this after 1 and 2 run their course. Also consider something like a Jasper reman gearbox shipped to the mechanic of your choice; whatever works best in your part of the country.

I’d start with #2. If the dealership deems the fix within their tolerance for goodwill repairs, that’ll be great! If not, stick with #1 until the gearbox’s bad behavior is unbearable: save your repair/diagnosis for a bigger problem. Adding a new valve body to a gearbox that might have 140,000 hard, clutch-wearing miles of towing by the previous owner isn’t my idea of money well spent. You never know!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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GM to Develop Global Car with China-based SAIC Motors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-develop-global-car-china-based-saic-motors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-develop-global-car-china-based-saic-motors/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126489 General Motors will invest $5 billion to build a global line of cars with Shanghai-based SAIC Motors that will be sold in Brazil, China and other emerging markets, the automaker announced Tuesday. The cars won’t be sold in the United States, according to the statement. The global vehicles will go on sale starting in 2019 and the automaker […]

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General Motors will invest $5 billion to build a global line of cars with Shanghai-based SAIC Motors that will be sold in Brazil, China and other emerging markets, the automaker announced Tuesday.

The cars won’t be sold in the United States, according to the statement.

The global vehicles will go on sale starting in 2019 and the automaker expects the line to eventually produce roughly 2 million cars annually.

GM said the new global architecture would replace several existing models, but didn’t specify what those outgoing models would be. The vehicles would be manufactured in China, Brazil, Mexico and India and exported to other countries. GM said they expect to source many of the car’s components from local suppliers.

“With a significant majority of anticipated automotive industry growth in 2015 to 2030 outside of mature markets, Chevrolet is taking steps to capitalize on that growth,” General Motors President Dan Ammann said in the statement . “Strengthening Chevrolet’s position through this major investment is consistent with our global strategy to ensure long-term profitable growth in the markets where we operate.”

In February, SAIC and General Motors (through its Shanghai General Motors Wuling joint venture business) opened a plant in Indonesia to build SAIC-branded cars. SAIC also owns British car company MG.

The GM-SAIC partnership has an interesting history, especially in India.

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Feds Investigating General Motors Over ‘Certified’ Used Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/feds-investigating-general-motors-certified-used-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/feds-investigating-general-motors-certified-used-cars/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 20:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124233 General Motors disclosed in its quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the automaker for selling used cars under recall, the Detroit News is reporting. According to the automaker, the FTC notified GM that it was investigating “certified pre-owned vehicle advertising where dealers had certified vehicles allegedly needing recall repairs.” […]

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General Motors Renaissance Center HQ

General Motors disclosed in its quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the automaker for selling used cars under recall, the Detroit News is reporting.

According to the automaker, the FTC notified GM that it was investigating “certified pre-owned vehicle advertising where dealers had certified vehicles allegedly needing recall repairs.”

The filing acknowledges the investigation is connected with the 2014 recall of 2.59 million cars with faulty ignition switches that could turn the car off while driving, disabling its airbags. So far, 124 deaths have been linked to the defect.

The investigation is significant partially because a bill winding through Congress would significantly change penalties associated with defective cars. This week, a Senate committee shot down a proposal that would have forced used car dealers to complete recall repairs on vehicles for sale. A similar measure compelling rental car companies to fix defective cars in their fleets survived.

GM is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice as well as attorneys general in every state for issues related to the faulty ignition switches. GM could be fined and face criminal penalties from the Justice Department.

“We continue to investigate these matters and believe we are cooperating fully with all requests for information in ongoing investigations. Such investigations could in the future result in the imposition of material damages, fines, civil consent orders, civil and criminal penalties or other remedies,” GM wrote in their filing.

 

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GM Patents Cloud-based Driver Settings Service http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-patents-cloud-based-driver-settings-service/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-patents-cloud-based-driver-settings-service/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 17:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123969 General Motors may store seat position, radio presets, contacts and Internet browsing history in a cloud-based system to serve to drivers regardless of the car they’re in, a patent discovered by Autoblog shows. The patent, which was filed July 14, said separate drivers would be required to authenticate their identities via RFID chip, text input, voice […]

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Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.37.13 AMGeneral Motors may store seat position, radio presets, contacts and Internet browsing history in a cloud-based system to serve to drivers regardless of the car they’re in, a patent discovered by Autoblog shows.

The patent, which was filed July 14, said separate drivers would be required to authenticate their identities via RFID chip, text input, voice identification or fingerprint reader. The information would be downloaded to the car via telematics.

The patent filing includes several mentions of security measures the automaker would take to protect sensitive information, which would include phone contacts, voicemails, Internet browsing history and Paula Abdul song alerts.

Information would be encoded in the car and sent to the cloud, and personal information would be removed from the car when it’s no longer needed, according to the patent.

The technology could be useful for frequent rental car drivers and car-sharing services.

Like the Ram ramps, Ford lights and others, it’s unclear if the technology will ever see the light of day.

 

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Instead of Mid-engined ‘Vette, Expect a New Malibu in 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/instead-mid-engined-vette-expect-new-malibu-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/instead-mid-engined-vette-expect-new-malibu-2016/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 22:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123513 Next year for General Motors could be defined by a new lower, longer Spark, production starting on the Bolt and a convertible Camaro, according to Automotive News’ facts and factoids department. The automotive publication posted a speculative timeline of cars that may or may not be in GM’s future, including fuzzy details on a mid-engined Corvette that […]

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2016-Chevrolet-Malibu-007

Next year for General Motors could be defined by a new lower, longer Spark, production starting on the Bolt and a convertible Camaro, according to Automotive News’ facts and factoids department.

The automotive publication posted a speculative timeline of cars that may or may not be in GM’s future, including fuzzy details on a mid-engined Corvette that may or may not happen in or around the year 2020.

In case you’re wondering, we don’t know either.

The timeline includes tantalizing details that GMC may be looking at adapting the Chevrolet Trax — which could be called the “GMC Granite” — and that the Colorado/Canyon may finally get an off-road ZR2 edition next year.

The story also summarizes their earlier claim that GM will be shrinking the Equinox and offering a new, mid-size crossover based on the current Traverse. Cadillac wasn’t included in their analysis, but the automotive publication spelled the death for the Chevrolet SS. We can’t have nice things.

A redesigned Malibu will see the light of day next year, and the curtain may fall on the Spark EV.

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Super Duty Buoys Flagging F-150 Sales for Ford http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/buoyed-heavy-duty-ford-still-leading-pickup-sales-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/buoyed-heavy-duty-ford-still-leading-pickup-sales-us/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123137 The Chevrolet Silverado has outsold the Ford F-150 so far this year, but sales of Ford’s Super Duty trucks have boosted the company’s truck business past its competition, PickupTrucks.com is reporting. All three truck makers are selling more pickups than they were a year ago, but flagging F-150 sales and depleted inventory could be keeping Ford’s […]

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2015 Chevrolet Silverado

The Chevrolet Silverado has outsold the Ford F-150 so far this year, but sales of Ford’s Super Duty trucks have boosted the company’s truck business past its competition, PickupTrucks.com is reporting.

All three truck makers are selling more pickups than they were a year ago, but flagging F-150 sales and depleted inventory could be keeping Ford’s perennial half-ton leader back.

The website, which used data from Cars.com to determine sales by segment, said that Ford’s Super Duty trucks led Ram and General Motor’s heavy-duty offerings by a large margin. Roughly 120,000 three-quarter and full-ton Ford pickups have been purchased this year, compared to around 80,000 and 75,000 heavy-duty trucks for Ram and General Motors, respectively.

Earlier this month, Ford offered a series of incentives totaling $11,000 on its F-150 in specific areas for specific models. A spokesman for Ford said that dealer stocks of the full-size F-150 pickups were unusually low, and that normal inventories would be restored by the end of September.

According to our own Timothy Cain, truck sales represent around 14 percent of overall vehicle sales in the United States, up one percentage point from last year. And the average price paid for a truck is $42,429 so far this year.

So who’s ready for a $100,000 pickup?

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Group Says They Won’t Protest Kid Rock, GM For Now http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/group-says-wont-protest-kid-rock-gm-now/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/group-says-wont-protest-kid-rock-gm-now/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 19:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118873 The Detroit chapter of the National Action Network says after meeting with officials from General Motors on Thursday they won’t protest the automaker for not cutting ties with singer Kid Rock, the Associated Press is reporting. The group has criticized Kid Rock’s past use of the Confederate battle flag at his concerts and said the singer should publicly condemn […]

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2015 Chevrolet Silverado

The Detroit chapter of the National Action Network says after meeting with officials from General Motors on Thursday they won’t protest the automaker for not cutting ties with singer Kid Rock, the Associated Press is reporting.

The group has criticized Kid Rock’s past use of the Confederate battle flag at his concerts and said the singer should publicly condemn the flag now. According to the singer’s publicist, the country singer hasn’t appeared on stage with the flag since 2011, when the entertainer was honored by the NAACP.

“They’re protesting something he’s not even doing,” Kid Rock’s publicist Nick Stern told the Detroit Free Press.

GM said it would continue to sponsor the summer tour and that the only flag on stage would be the American flag.

Chevrolet has used Kid Rock extensively in advertisements and marketing.

Kid Rock has said in the past that the Confederate flag was a symbol of Southern rock and rebellion. Earlier this month, Kid Rock in an emailed statement to Fox News told protesters to “kiss my (ass).”

“We’re not going to let off of this,” the NAN’s Rev. Charles Williams told the Free Press.

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Fiat Chrysler Tops Annual ‘Total Quality’ Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-tops-annual-total-quality-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-tops-annual-total-quality-survey/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 16:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118545 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles earned the top spot overall in an annual survey of new car quality. Strategic Vision, a San Diego-based research firm, ranked FCA No. 1 for the first time since the company began measuring customer satisfaction in 1995. Last year, Kia earned top honors. FCA had six cars that topped their respective segments, […]

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FCA US HQ

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles earned the top spot overall in an annual survey of new car quality.

Strategic Vision, a San Diego-based research firm, ranked FCA No. 1 for the first time since the company began measuring customer satisfaction in 1995. Last year, Kia earned top honors.

FCA had six cars that topped their respective segments, including the Fiat 500 and 500e; Dodge Charger, Challenger and Durango; and, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

While FCA took the top spot this year, General Motors and Volkswagen followed closely behind, tying for second place, one point behind FCA on a 1,000-point scale.

According to Strategic Vision, 46,000 consumer responses were used for the study, which rated consumer satisfaction along with problems in each vehicle. The Mini Cooper Roadster earned the highest score among new cars. Land Rover was tops among luxury automakers, Ram was first among non-luxury automakers.

BMW had six segment winners including the i3, 3-Series Wagon, X4 and X5; Mini Cooper Roadster and Countryman.

According to the Detroit News, the Total Quality Index study comes out less than a week before the annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout survey that last year ranked all FCA brands below industry average.

Of course, TTAC has never really been a big fan of the report anyway.

 

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General Motors Investing $1.4B into Texas SUV Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/general-motors-investing-1-4b-texas-suv-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/general-motors-investing-1-4b-texas-suv-plant/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 21:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1116713 General Motors announced Wednesday it would invest $1.4 billion into its Arlington Assembly Plant, which produces SUVs. The investment will create a new paint shop, body shop and “general assembly area upgrades” for the plant that produces Chevrolet Tahoes and Suburbans, GMC Yukons and Yukon XLs and Cadillac Escalades. Construction will take three years and plant […]

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GM Arlington Plant

General Motors announced Wednesday it would invest $1.4 billion into its Arlington Assembly Plant, which produces SUVs.

The investment will create a new paint shop, body shop and “general assembly area upgrades” for the plant that produces Chevrolet Tahoes and Suburbans, GMC Yukons and Yukon XLs and Cadillac Escalades.

Construction will take three years and plant operations won’t be impacted, GM said.

GM received tax incentives from Arlington for the plant expansion in April. According to minutes from the Arlington City Council, the plant will add 589 new jobs as a result of the expansion.

The announced $1.4 billion for the Arlington plant comes ahead of GM’s negotiations with the United Auto Workers, which will focus on pay raises for “second-tier” workers hired after the recession.

GM said it will invest $5.4 billion in U.S. manufacturing over the next three years. GM says it has identified $4.5 billion in improvements so far.

 

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Covering GM-UAW Event Today? Better Drive an American Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/covering-gm-uaw-event-today-better-drive-american-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/covering-gm-uaw-event-today-better-drive-american-car/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 15:23:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114697 According to Automotive News reporter Krishna Anatharaman, members of the media who aren’t driving American-branded cars won’t be able to park in the building deck of today’s UAW-GM handshake event. Before you say, “What the Toyota Camry?” keep in mind: Most of the automakers make you park in hinterlands if you don’t drive what they […]

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UAW Bridging the Gap Banner Circa March 2015

According to Automotive News reporter Krishna Anatharaman, members of the media who aren’t driving American-branded cars won’t be able to park in the building deck of today’s UAW-GM handshake event.

Before you say, “What the Toyota Camry?” keep in mind: Most of the automakers make you park in hinterlands if you don’t drive what they like.

Today’s event at GM signals the beginning of negotiations between the Big Three automakers and United Auto Workers union. Negotiations are expected to focus on bringing “second-tier” workers’ pay more in line with veteran workers who were hired before the recession.

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Ferrari Filing ‘Days Away’ Says FCA Boss Marchionne http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ferrari-filing-days-away-says-fiat-chrysler-boss-marchionne/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ferrari-filing-days-away-says-fiat-chrysler-boss-marchionne/#comments Sat, 11 Jul 2015 15:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1113401 Speaking to reporters in Toronto on Friday, Fiat Chrysler Automobile chief Sergio Marchionne said the official filing to spin off Ferrari could happen within the next few days. “We are days away from filing the prospectus,” Marchionne said, according to the Detroit News. The future standalone supercar maker will make available 10 percent of the company through […]

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sergio-marchionne

Speaking to reporters in Toronto on Friday, Fiat Chrysler Automobile chief Sergio Marchionne said the official filing to spin off Ferrari could happen within the next few days.

“We are days away from filing the prospectus,” Marchionne said, according to the Detroit News.

The future standalone supercar maker will make available 10 percent of the company through its initial public offering, which is widely expected in October. The remainder of the company will be held by Fiat investors and Enzo Ferrari’s son, Piero Lardi Ferrari, who is vice chairman of the company.

The move to spin off Ferrari is part of a larger plan to reinvest $61 billion back into FCA to fund future development for its range of vehicles.

Last week, Marchionne said Ferrari could be worth about $11 billion, or around 60 percent of FCA’s current market cap value. Analysts predicted the Maranello-based car maker would be worth roughly half Marchionne’s estimate. Despite building around 7,000 cars a year, Ferrari generates considerable profits for parent-company FCA.

Marchionne also denied that FCA would make a hostile bid to takeover General Motors in an effort to consolidate costs and boost profits. Marchionne has been looking for a partner — particularly GM — to offset rising investment costs.

“There are other, less optimal combinations,” he said.

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Chevrolet Adds Cell Phone Cooling Mat, Welcome To The Beginning of the End http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chevrolet-adds-cell-phone-cooling-mat-welcome-future/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chevrolet-adds-cell-phone-cooling-mat-welcome-future/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106249 So, the world is coming to an end. Smartphone users who just can’t handle the thought of their iDroidberrys shutting off because they get a little overheated, GM has a solution for you. The automaker announced a feature in upcoming 2016 Chevrolet Malibus and Impalas that will cool the phone while charging on the wireless mat before […]

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Engineers added a cold air vent to certain Chevrolets for the 2016 model year to help keep smart phones wirelessly charging in the car from overheating.  The industry-first feature will be available in 2016 Chevrolet Impala, Malibu, Volt and Cruze models equipped with wireless charging and Chevrolet MyLink. The Active Phone Cooling feature works when the car’s heating, ventilation and cooling system is on.

So, the world is coming to an end.

Smartphone users who just can’t handle the thought of their iDroidberrys shutting off because they get a little overheated, GM has a solution for you. The automaker announced a feature in upcoming 2016 Chevrolet Malibus and Impalas that will cool the phone while charging on the wireless mat before it turns itself into a hot brick of glass, plastic and metal.

Finally, engineers at GM got my letter.

According to GM, the vent will only operate when the vehicle’s heating or cooling system is on. The system works by placing an air vent on the mat, because that makes the most sense.

The feature will also be installed in Chevrolet Cruze and Volt models equipped with the wireless charging mat. For those of us who don’t spring for the wireless charging feature — or don’t plan on buying a Chevrolet soon — we’ll have to continue living in the Mesozoic Era with our nuclear-hot iPhone 6 Pluses.

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Marchionne Planning Shotgun Wedding For FCA With General Motors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/marchionne-planning-shotgun-wedding-for-fca-with-general-motors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/marchionne-planning-shotgun-wedding-for-fca-with-general-motors/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 18:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1088273 How desperate has FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne become about marrying off his company? He’s asking activist investors to prod General Motors to the chapel. Marchionne recently began reaching out to hedge funds and other activist investors to help bring FCA and GM (or a European automaker) together to consolidate resources, Wall Street Journal reports. The […]

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Fiat Coupe Getting Ready To Be Married

How desperate has FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne become about marrying off his company? He’s asking activist investors to prod General Motors to the chapel.

Marchionne recently began reaching out to hedge funds and other activist investors to help bring FCA and GM (or a European automaker) together to consolidate resources, Wall Street Journal reports.

The search, which is coming up blank thus far, is the latest in the CEO’s attempt to find a happy ending for his increasingly desperate romantic tragicomedy film, fearing excess production and duplicate costs in engineering, R&D et al threaten future profitability of the overall industry.

For now, though, FCA’s low profit margins do not make for a good partner with stronger players, while Marchionne’s dealings with GM leave much to be desired. In 2005, he convinced the Detroit automaker to pay $2 billion to not buy Fiat — in hospice care by then — a move which also dissolved a five-year-old partnership to produce engines and transmissions together.

More recently, Marchionne attempted to woo GM back with an email to CEO Mary Barra suggesting as much. The automaker is transitioning its lineup to global architectures and can build said lineup on a broader scale than FCA. GM is also undergoing an internal consolidation to further boost profits, a plan Barra and others in management won’t allow to be derailed by outside distractions like Marchionne holding up a boombox in front of the RenCen playing Peter Gabriel, hoping GM will say anything but no.

However, Barra’s recent dealings with activist investors over a share buyback of $8 billion — resulting in a $5 billion buyback with no further issues regarding board seats — has given Marchionne hope for his own cause, which could become more aggressive with every breath GM takes.

[Photo credit: hamster!/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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NHTSA Facing The Music Over Role In 2014 GM Ignition Recall Crisis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/nhtsa-facing-the-music-over-role-in-2014-gm-ignition-recall-crisis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/nhtsa-facing-the-music-over-role-in-2014-gm-ignition-recall-crisis/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 17:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1087617 A year after General Motors went under the gun for its part of the February 2014 ignition recall crisis, the NHTSA is now facing the music for the rest. According to two internal reports released last Friday from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the agency failed several times to prevent the defective ignition switch found […]

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GMIgnitionAndSwitchAssembly02(1)

A year after General Motors went under the gun for its part of the February 2014 ignition recall crisis, the NHTSA is now facing the music for the rest.

According to two internal reports released last Friday from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the agency failed several times to prevent the defective ignition switch found in certain GM models from being repaired for over a decade, says The New York Times.

While the reports did lay the majority of the blame on GM, the blunt assessment of the NHTSA’s part of the story is now leading to improvements and revisions with the agency’s methodology into potential safety problems. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx confirmed as much during a conference call with reporters following the release of the reports, acknowledging “deficits” in the methodology, and admitting there was “room for self-improvement.”

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind added he had not disciplined or dismissed any officials involved in the GM recall, but did note the improper handling of the situation “changed the culture” at the agency to the point where questioning the information received and assumptions pursued were encouraged.

The changes planned for the agency including putting automakers “on notice” without the need for gathering more evidence beforehand if a potential problem comes up, adopting a so-called “risk control” program to better align its departments and foster sharing of safety information, and instituting a formal process to contact lawyers representing affected litigants.

Finally, the NHTSA will be monitored by a team of experts over the next year, including those formerly of NASA and the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as a professor of medicine and engineering from the University of Michigan.

The two reports are only the first to give the agency the once-over; the Transportation Department inspector general will give their assessment later in June.

[Photo credit: General Motors]

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While You Were Sleeping: Phaeton Axed in UK, Porsche 911 GT With A Stick and GM Is Down in China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-phaeton-axed-in-uk-porsche-911-gt-with-a-stick-and-gm-is-down-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-phaeton-axed-in-uk-porsche-911-gt-with-a-stick-and-gm-is-down-in-china/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 15:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084185 The Volkswagen Phaeton, the pride of former chairman Piëch, has been discontinued in the UK. Don’t worry, though, if you’re one of those people who enjoy such understated luxury. Volkswagen is still planning a next-generation version of the car. Here’s what happened overnight. Volkswagen Phaeton axed in the UK (Autocar) The current-generation VW Phaeton has […]

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2011 VW Phaeton

The Volkswagen Phaeton, the pride of former chairman Piëch, has been discontinued in the UK. Don’t worry, though, if you’re one of those people who enjoy such understated luxury. Volkswagen is still planning a next-generation version of the car.

Here’s what happened overnight.

2011 VW PhaetonVolkswagen Phaeton axed in the UK (Autocar)
The current-generation VW Phaeton has been removed from the company’s UK lineup due to engines not meeting Euro 6 emissions.

opensesameThis Hacked Kid’s Toy Opens Garage Doors in Seconds (WIRED)
Using the pictures Mattel IM-ME kid’s texting toy, security researcher Samy Kamkar has developed a way to open garage doors relying on an insecure “fixed code” system.

Chevy-Cruze-SalesChevy has Sold 3.5 Million Cruzes Globally (AutoGuide)
“Globally, the bow-tie brand has sold more than 3.5 million copies of its Cruze compact car, making this nameplate their best-selling automobile in the world.”

lesabreWatching This 1990s Buick LeSabre Get Thrown Around Off-Road Makes Us Wonder If Grandma Regrets Loaning Out Her Car (BlipShift)
Rally LeSabre? Okay.

Maruti-Suzuki-Celerio-diesel-0Suzuki Builds Its First Diesel Engine, A 0.8L 2-Cylinder Rated At 47 HP (CarScoops)
But it does has a whopping 92 (!!!) pound-feet of torque.

Formula 1 Testing, JerezF1 refuelling decision imminent (Motorsport.com)
Teams are discussing the possibility in efforts to liven “the show”.

img_4613Unique vintage Alfa Romeo took $2-million to restore (Driving.ca)
“Timelessly elegant Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Speciale was a complete basketcase, but the story behind it makes the car truly unique.”

B99276667Z.1_20150604082658_000_GQBH60D4.1-0GM China sales drop 4% in May (The Detroit News)
Drop blamed on “vehicle model changeovers and phasing out of older vehicles.”

porsche-911-spy-nov-2014-194_0‘Pure’ Porsche 911 GT planned (Autocar)
New GT model will get a manual transmission and be distinct from other 911’s with GT badging.

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While You Were Sleeping: Cadillac Minuses V8 ATS-V+, Volkswagen Picks Boring Font and Ford Releases Patents into the Wild http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-cadillac-minuses-v8-ats-v-volkswagen-picks-boring-font-and-ford-releases-patents-into-the-wild/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-cadillac-minuses-v8-ats-v-volkswagen-picks-boring-font-and-ford-releases-patents-into-the-wild/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 10:25:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077130 The ATS-V+ rumored by Motor Trend is definitely not happening according to Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell. The proposed new model would encroach too much into CTS-V territory for comfort. Here’s what happened overnight. No V-8-Powered ATS-V Plus In The Pipeline, Says Cadillac (Motor Authority) A big, emphatic “no” was uttered by Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell […]

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Cadillac ATS-V

The ATS-V+ rumored by Motor Trend is definitely not happening according to Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell. The proposed new model would encroach too much into CTS-V territory for comfort.

Here’s what happened overnight.

Cadillac ATS-VNo V-8-Powered ATS-V Plus In The Pipeline, Says Cadillac (Motor Authority)
A big, emphatic “no” was uttered by Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell when speaking to Motor Authority about the possibility of a V8-powered ATS-V+.

Johnnie Walker sponsor wallTodt says F1 will not ban alcohol sponsorship (Motorsport.com)
Despite a report from the European Alcohol Policy Alliance suggesting F1 fans were exposed to alcohol brands to an excessive degree, FIA head honcho Jean Todt has said the sponsorships will continue unabated.

BSK Elise K20An Unquestionably-Japanese Lotus (Speedhunters)
Fluffy leopard upholstery, RAYS’ Volk Racing TE27 wheels, and a Honda K20 to give it motivation, this Elise is as Japanese as it gets.

145640_cars_KJH_10 dealership terms you may not know (Detroit News)
“Be back”, “mini deal”, “pack” and “skate”. These are 10 dealership terms all customers should know.

Ford Focus Electric. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.orgFord to make EV technology patents available to rivals (Automotive News)
Ford is following Tesla’s lead and opening up its portfolio of patents for competing products.

GM First Day as a Public Company CelebrationJudge puts GM suits on hold pending appeal (Detroit News)
The question of bankruptcy immunity will be the deciding factor in a number of ignition switch lawsuits filed against General Motors. A federal judge has put the suits on hold as they await a ruling from another court.

Volkswagen FontVW Changes Their Corporate Font To Something Less Interesting (Jalopnik)
Even Volkswagen’s marketing is becoming more beige as the German automaker adopts a new font for sales materials.

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Piston Slap: The Body Control Module Electric? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/piston-slap-body-control-module-electric/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/piston-slap-body-control-module-electric/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1074898 Gary writes: Good Afternoon, Today when I got into my 2002 Saturn SL2, the power door locks started chattering. Each door, over the space of about 45 minutes, had the same thing happen. Sometimes it would be one at a time, other times it would be two or more. I also noticed that the inside […]

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Gary writes:

Good Afternoon,

Today when I got into my 2002 Saturn SL2, the power door locks started chattering. Each door, over the space of about 45 minutes, had the same thing happen. Sometimes it would be one at a time, other times it would be two or more. I also noticed that the inside locks – the “up/down” button, not the little lever you use to manually unlock the car – would not work, only later to work. For now I have removed the lock fuse and that stopped the problem. I wait and plug the fuse back in, and the sporadic chattering once again begins. Sometimes it is completely quiet. Any thoughts?

Thank you!

Sajeev answers:

Whenever a problem like this occurs, I blame something Body Control Module like. When guidance systems break down? When there’s a struggle to exist? To resist?  That’s not a mere switch panel or short in chassis wiring. Oh no, Son, this is some heavy duty FAIL right here.

A body control module that’s scared out of its wits is the only culprit behind such berserk behavior. My apologies to the TTAC mothership (and all Torontonians) for such a shameful riding of RUSH’s coattails.

 

bcm

1-0-0-1-0-0-1… (photo courtesy: saturnfans.com)

If I’m right, the video (below) is helpful. Ditto this Saturn forum link, complete with the body control module’s pinouts for your testing pleasure. A replacement is over $200 at Rockauto, rebuilders on eBay want over $150 for the privilege. So you’d be wise to test the wiring, get a factory shop manual and perhaps learn the proper BCM diagnosis method.

And don’t forget the BCM recall, too!

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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NYT: GM’s Barra Declined Meeting with FCA’s Marchionne to Discuss Possible Merger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nyt-gms-barra-declined-meeting-with-fcas-marchionne-to-discuss-possible-merger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nyt-gms-barra-declined-meeting-with-fcas-marchionne-to-discuss-possible-merger/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 18:21:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075162 Sergio Marchionne sent Mary Barra a detailed email in the middle of March in an effort to start merger talks. Barra, CEO of General Motors, was uninterested in the offer and rebuffed Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It was the first time the two executives had ever spoken, but it wouldn’t be the last Barra […]

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sergio-marchionne

Sergio Marchionne sent Mary Barra a detailed email in the middle of March in an effort to start merger talks. Barra, CEO of General Motors, was uninterested in the offer and rebuffed Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

It was the first time the two executives had ever spoken, but it wouldn’t be the last Barra would hear of Marchionne’s merger desires.

That’s the story being told by the New York Times today, detailing the lengths to which Marchionne is going to trigger consolidation within the automotive industry.

During a routine analyst conference call on April 29, Marchionne brought his plea to other executives through the media with a 25-page PowerPoint presentation.

“I think it is absolutely clear that the amount of capital waste that’s going on in this industry is something that certainly requires remedy. A remedy in our view is through consolidation,” Marchionne said.

Marchionne’s overture of a merger with GM includes no less than 14 brands between North America and Europe, not including the many other brands each company markets in China and other emerging regions. But, to date, the overture has been played to an audience wearing earplugs.

Even with the vast number of brands, that isn’t what bothers Marchionne. Instead, it’s the amount of money poured into redundant R&D work that could be shared by multiple automakers.

“It’s fundamentally immoral to allow for that waste to continue unchecked,” he said.

[Source: New York Times]

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GM to Suppliers: Open Your Factories, Books If You Want Long-Term Business http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gm-suppliers-open-factories-books-want-long-term-business/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gm-suppliers-open-factories-books-want-long-term-business/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 14:46:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065842 If you’re a parts supplier to General Motors, you have two choices: bid for business as it comes up or open your books and factories to skip the bidding process. According to Automotive News, the latter option is part of GM’s One Cost Model launched in 2013, allowing the automaker to analyse a supplier’s internal cost […]

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gm_hq

If you’re a parts supplier to General Motors, you have two choices: bid for business as it comes up or open your books and factories to skip the bidding process.

According to Automotive News, the latter option is part of GM’s One Cost Model launched in 2013, allowing the automaker to analyse a supplier’s internal cost data to identify cost-cutting opportunities. In exchange, suppliers can receive exclusive parts contracts that can last the lifecycle of a model and GM will not put that particular piece of business up for bid.

This all requires a significant amount of trust from suppliers, a commodity which has been lacking at GM since the ’90s.

Purchasing chief Steve Kiefer, formerly an executive at Delphi, told AN that GM won’t use the information to force suppliers to match or beat the company’s “China price”. In some contracts, annual price-downs, resulting in price cuts of 1 to 4 percent, will be skipped. Instead, GM will use the data to “identify waste and continuous improvement opportunities,” Kim Brycz, executive director of global product purchasing, told AN.

Bidding is effectively replaced with annual cost analyses. GM is also including suppliers earlier in vehicle programs with both parties reaping rewards: suppliers can optimize parts earlier on and GM can pay less for the same part.

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2015 Buick LaCrosse Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/review-2015-buick-lacrosse/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/review-2015-buick-lacrosse/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 14:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052529 My name is Satish Kondapavulur. I am what most baby boomers would call “a millennial.” I like Vampire Weekend, streaming movies on Netflix, and playing Gran Turismo. My plans this weekend involve driving to Berkeley, going to whatever eardrum-splitting concert my friends want to see, with my dinner plans probably being a burger and fries […]

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2015 Buick Lacrosse

My name is Satish Kondapavulur. I am what most baby boomers would call “a millennial.” I like Vampire Weekend, streaming movies on Netflix, and playing Gran Turismo. My plans this weekend involve driving to Berkeley, going to whatever eardrum-splitting concert my friends want to see, with my dinner plans probably being a burger and fries from In-N-Out picked up at midnight. My daily driver is a 2002 BMW 530i, one of the best BMWs ever made. My favorite movie is American Graffiti, a film which involves plenty of loud exhausts, racing on city streets, and a 30-year-old Harrison attempting to pass for a teenager. And I liked my Buick LaCrosse test car.

“He likes the Buick LaCrosse?!” you might think. “But he’s a millennial! He drives a BMW! He’s likely glued to his smartphone all day! He probably doesn’t know what DOS is! ” And I do have a few of those “millennial” characteristics. I don’t like wearing cardigans, playing golf nearly every afternoon, or eating dinner at 5:30 pm. I don’t drive 5-10 mph slower than everyone else. I don’t look forward to moving into a retirement community at any point in my life, though I am looking forward to the senior discounts at the movie theater, when renting a car, and at Ben and Jerry’s. (Those savings really add up. Like enough to buy another smartphone.)

2015 Buick Lacrosse

But I like the Buick LaCrosse. Yes. Really. I like it. I like the fact I don’t have to brace myself for upcoming bumps on California highways. [What? You have those? -Canada] I like that I’m not a target for any highway patrol officers. I like that the head-up display gives me all the necessary information without having to look at the screen in the center console. I like that it’s quiet enough on the highway so I can listen to “Unbelievers” on the 11-speaker Bose sound system without a pothole interrupting the high notes. I like that it has enough sensors to drastically minimize whatever chances I have of getting in a car accident. I like that OnStar can back me up if I get hopelessly lost and my phone can’t find a signal. I think it even looks good.

Now, the first thing I’ll discuss regarding my Buick LaCrosse test car is its price. It was more than you would expect. Try $45,955. Yes, it was about the same price as a Lincoln MKS, base-level Audi A6 2.0T, Lexus ES350, or a fairly loaded Hyundai Genesis V6. For that price, you would expect plenty of tech features crammed into the car, a powerful engine, large wheels, free maintenance, and a day of dunking lessons with Shaquille O’Neal. The LaCrosse had all of that, with a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 304 horsepower, 20-inch wheels, two years of free scheduled maintenance, and so many tech features I’d need an entire paragraph to list them. Sadly, dunking lessons with Shaq aren’t on the Monroney sticker, likely because customers might ask for free throw lessons, too.

2015 Buick Lacrosse - Engine

The options on my test car included a head-up display, a blind spot warning system, a lane departure warning system, HID lights, a rear cross traffic alert system (which works surprisingly well when backing out of a driveway), a sensor which indicates the distance between my car and the car in front, and a forward collision alert system. All of those features I just listed are part of the $2,125 “Driver Confidence Package #1.” There was also a “Driver Confidence Package #2” on my test car that provided adaptive cruise control and front automatic braking, the latter a perfect feature for the modern millennial distracted by his or her smartphone. Additionally, since my LaCrosse had the Premium II trim level, it came standard with a Bose sound system, heated and cooled front seats, navigation, a keyless entry and ignition system, XM radio, 6 months of full OnStar Coverage, and 5 years of the OnStar base coverage.

One feature that Buick and General Motors advertise heavily is OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi connectivity included with all 2015 LaCrosses. It can connect to up to seven devices as long as they are within 50 feet of the car, like phones, tablets, laptops, refrigerators, coffee makers, GoPro cameras, microwaves, etc. Buick offers a 3 month or 3 GB data trial of the OnStar 4G LTE service, after which customers must sign up for a data plan ranging from $5 to $50 a month for 200 MB to 5 GB, similar to those for phones. According to OnStar’s website, AT&T customers can add the car to their wireless share plan for an extra $10 a month. The Onstar 4G LTE ended up being one of the many features I didn’t sample, since I had a smartphone with a data plan and streaming American Graffiti perhaps would’ve used up the data allocation.

The LaCrosse drove surprisingly well. Since my prior experience with Buick involved a 1990s LeSabre that exhibited tire squeal and an extraordinary amount of body roll during “spirited” driving, I wasn’t prepared for how well the LaCrosse could stick to the road in corners and power out of them. If I needed power, the V6 provided enough pull and it was immediate. The car had a sport mode (I only used it once; it detracts from the driving experience) that adjusted the shift points and allowed the transmission to stay in a gear until it hit a higher rpm. Furthermore, the car had real-time damping and Hi-Per Strut suspension which I’m sure helped the ride and handling dramatically despite the 20-inch wheels. During my week with the car, I drove it down the Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to Big Sur and had no complaints.

2015 Buick Lacrosse - Interior

Inside, the Buick was a very quiet and pleasant place. The controls were very easy to use, especially when operating the climate control or tuning the radio. I liked that I could rest my arm on the gear selector knob when reaching to tune the radio. The head-up display was very sharp, especially at night, but it wasn’t as good as BMW’s head-up display where one can easily scroll through radio stations and whose display is much more readable when facing directly into the sun. In the back, there was plenty of legroom and access to a 120 volt outlet, presumably for charging laptops to use the onboard 4G connection. An aspect of the interior I didn’t like were the thick A-pillars, which affect visibility and take some getting used to. Additionally, the LaCrosse was difficult to parallel park without the help of the rear camera, hearing the warning of the sensors, the feeling the vibration of the seats if you were getting too close. (The seats also vibrated if there were cars passing by when backing out of my driveway.)

When I had the Buick, thanks to a lot of highway driving, I managed to get around 24.5 miles per gallon during. However, fuel economy in the city, thanks to the 3.6-liter V6, wasn’t very good, especially once I hit stoplights where the indicated fuel economy would go down a few tenths. If fuel economy is a major concern for you, there is the option of a 2.4-liter inline-four with eAssist (a mild hybrid system fitted to the powertrain) which enables the LaCrosse to get an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Jack Baruth had the eAssist-ed LaCrosse last year and managed over 31 mpg with the car while describing the powertrain as “satisfactory.” (He drove it around New Jersey Motorsports Park too, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

Buick has for a while been my favorite out of all of the General Motors brands. In the past, people drove Buicks rather than Cadillacs when they didn’t want to come across as having plenty of money or as being ostentatious. After a week with the LaCrosse, I feel the same. While your neighbors will be attempting to one up each other with the latest from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Lexus, you can have the Buick LaCrosse in the driveway and feel absolutely satisfied. With the Buick, you’ll have something comfortable, simple to use, and much less expensive with the same toys as cars commanding $10,000 to $20,000 more. When your coworkers rave about the blind spot warning, head-up display, and active cruise control systems in their cars, you’ll be fine knowing your car has the same systems.

And above all, you won’t be a target for law enforcement, you won’t have to complain of discomfort after long trips, and you will get away with wearing the cardigan you’ve always wanted.

Buick provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas for the road test.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He’s currently taking golf lessons in between attempting to qualify for GT Academy.

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Quote Of The Day: Chevrolet Volt, One Generation On http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/quote-day-chevrolet-volt-one-generation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/quote-day-chevrolet-volt-one-generation/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 18:21:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041593 “When someone thinks of an electric vehicle, they don’t think of Chevrolet; they think Toyota or Tesla.” -Jamaal McCoy, general manager of Findlay Chevrolet in Las Vegas, quoted by the Wall Street Journal. When the Chevrolet Volt launched at the start of the decade, the plan was to sell 70,000 units annually, with talk of […]

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A Volt from the blue...

“When someone thinks of an electric vehicle, they don’t think of Chevrolet; they think Toyota or Tesla.”

-Jamaal McCoy, general manager of Findlay Chevrolet in Las Vegas, quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

When the Chevrolet Volt launched at the start of the decade, the plan was to sell 70,000 units annually, with talk of selling as many as 120,000 units in later years. Now, the Volt is ending product of its first generation with roughly 70,000 units total finding their way off the showroom lots.

The next Volt will be a more advanced car, with a better drivetrain and seating for 5. From a qualitative perspective, the Volt is now better positioned to suceed in the marketplace. Unfortunately, it is being introduced in the midst of record low energy prices, and a market that is heavily favoring trucks and SUVs – the kind of vehicles that the Volt was intended to displace in America’s auto market.

 

 

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Editorial: $3.5 Billion And Counting http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/editorial-3-5-billion-counting/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/editorial-3-5-billion-counting/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 15:02:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039937 The final tally is in for the Canadian taxpayer. With the Canadian government unloading the last of its shares in General Motors, the estimated loss is said to be $3.5 billion. For the purposes of this column, the bailout of GM and Chrysler is settled, at least as far as debating whether it should have […]

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GM Oshawa. Photo courtesy unknown.

The final tally is in for the Canadian taxpayer. With the Canadian government unloading the last of its shares in General Motors, the estimated loss is said to be $3.5 billion.

For the purposes of this column, the bailout of GM and Chrysler is settled, at least as far as debating whether it should have been carried out or not. To paraphrase Sean Bean in Ronin, the automakers “got the swag, kept the money, job well done”. American cars have never been better, factories are still humming along, labor costs have come down and may be reduced even further. For the American auto industry, it’s hard to think of a better outcome.

North of the 49th parallel, things are not so rosy. Investment in the auto sector continues to slip away from the Great White North, with Mexico and the United States bleeding away production. While Ford, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota have made investments in their Canadian plants to help retool them for new product, there hasn’t been a new standalone plant built since before the bailout.

On the other hand, the biggest news in Canada’s auto manufacturing sector is the unabated ebbing away of product from GM’s Oshawa plant. Oshawa was once a flagship plant for GM – to this day, they are still known for producing some of GM’s highest quality products. But in recent years, new product that was once built at Oshawa has been awarded to GM plants in the United States, Mexico and even Germany. At the same time, no new products have been awarded to the plant.

While GM claims that it will take them until the end of 2016 to come to a decision on the plant’s fate, a closer analysis reveals a bleaker picture. Two major agreements are set to expire in 2016 – the agreement between Unifor (formerly the Canadian Auto Workers union) and GM, as well as the Vitality Commitment signed by GM (which binds GM to producing 16 percent of its output in Canada, as a condition of receiving bailout funds). Once these expire, GM will essentially have no obligations to Canada, save for two smaller plants in Ontario, which build the Theta crossovers and selected powertrains respectively.

Given these circumstances, it would be an opportune time to close Oshawa. The fallout for the town, which is literally dominated by General Motors (the company has its Canadian headquarters and an R&D center located there), would be nothing short of devastating. But in today’s corporate environment, these ties mean absolutely nothing. Canada’s car market is small enough that any anti-GM backlash would mean nothing. If GM can weather the storm following its shutdown of Holden’s Australian plants, it will survive this scenario.

But Australia didn’t help keep GM afloat in a time of acute need. Canada did. Closing Oshawa may be a financially prudent decision when viewed from the RenCen, but it would be an enormous middle finger to Canada. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to imagine any other scenario playing out.

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