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By on June 4, 2020

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On Wednesday, Ford Motor Co. offered some clarity to salaried workers wondering just how much longer they’ll have to work from home. If you happen to be one of those individuals and missed the official announcement, we’d kindly ask you to take a seat and find something to bite down on so you don’t end up hurting yourself.

Citing ongoing safety concerns tied to the coronavirus pandemic, Ford has decided to keep salaried employees home until at least September — tacking an extra two months onto its earlier prediction.  Read More >

By on June 4, 2020

Volkswagen Group is moving Porsche CEO Oliver Blume over to the core brand, necessitating a broader employment shift within the company to ensure other nameplates aren’t left without leadership. German outlet Auto Motor und Sport indicated earlier in the week that a management shakeup was afoot that would see Blume take over the VW brand in order for group head Herbert Diess to focus on managing the bigger picture.

Blume is rumored to have been tapped to help the company address rampant issues with its upcoming electric vehicles. If you’ll recall, VW has struggled with software issues and production holdups for some time. Last we checked, VW’s plan was to launch the ID.3 with less-than-ideal computer code that it intends to fix later.

Sounds like a bad one.  Read More >

By on June 4, 2020

All-new for 2020, the heavy-duty versions of Chevrolet’s Silverado and GMC’s Sierra arrived with front-end styling just as controversial as that of their light-duty siblings. Pricier, more potent (in gas V8 form), more capable, and boasting more gears, the new HDs made it easy for buyers to spend ever more bundles of cash outfitting them to just the right spec.

It seems the customization has only just begun. Read More >

By on June 4, 2020

After furloughing staff in response to the coronavirus pandemic, AutoNation has gradually allowed employees to return back to work. Half of the 7,000 people asked to take it easy in April won’t be coming back at all, however.

The automotive retailer has decided to permanently cut 3,500 jobs so it can focus on its bottom line and what it has unsettlingly called “the new normal” — a term frequently used to rationalize unsavory actions taken during the health crisis.

With customers unable to leave their homes to purchase cars, it’s to be expected that America’s largest automotive retailer would need to engage in some light restructuring. It also happens to have the best excuse imaginable for nuking a large portion of its workforce. Back in April, when the AutoNation was furloughing employees, it received nearly $95 million in federal small-business funds via the Payment Protection Program (PPP). A subset of anonymous staff members were said to have leaked the details to the media after deciding the firm was taking cash allocated for smaller outfits.

Outrage ensued and the company sheepishly returned the money.  Read More >

By on June 4, 2020

Sport Mazda dealer storefront - Image: MazdaMonth after month, as the Mazda product lineup improves and as plaudits pour in, we chronicle the company’s tragic dearth of U.S. sales success. The automaker’s goals for performance in the American marketplace are modest: a good 2 percent market share, for example. Yet generating meaningful demand for deserving products – the second-generation CX-9 and the new-for-2019 Mazda 3, as examples – has proven remarkably challenging.

At least it was remarkably challenging, until a pandemic battered and bruised the U.S. auto market beyond all recognition. U.S. auto sales in the first quarter of 2020 tumbled by more than 12 percent, yet Mazda sales during the same period were off by just 4 percent. Mazda market share ticked up to 1.9 percent in Q1.

But it was Mazda’s May 2020 performance, in which the brand’s sales in the United States dropped by fewer than 300 units, that Mazda appeared downright hopeful. You won’t be surprised to learn the market fared much, much worse.

Read More >

By on June 4, 2020

To say there’s a groundswell of enthusiasm for the returning Ford Bronco would be an understatement. Bronco diehards have been champing at the bit for a taste of the resurrected model, which saw its debut and production start delayed by the industry-wide coronavirus shutdown. Hell, a low-mileage, four-speed ’79 example just sold for $64,500 on Bring a Trailer.

On Thursday, Ford revealed the off-roader will drop its camouflage next month. Read More >

By on June 4, 2020

Image: Porsche AG

Germany isn’t fooling around anymore. Electric cars are going to become the norm, and that’s final.

After pledging last year to boost electric vehicle subsidies by 50 percent over the first half of the decade, Germany has doubled down on its EV efforts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re in the market for a gas-free car, expect the government to fill your pocket with cash. If you’re the buyer (or the maker) of a gas-guzzling SUV, look out. Read More >

By on June 4, 2020

gm

General Motors isn’t confirming a Reuters report that claims the automaker’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant will give birth to an electric commercial van. Such a product would give GM a leg up in a fledgling segment that’s yet to be exploited by the likes of Tesla.

Commercial vans aren’t glitzy products, but they do sell in significant numbers. More importantly, rival Ford has released a plug-in hybrid version of its Euro-market Transit Custom and has promised an electric Transit for North American customers for 2022. For a company hoping to match Ford product-for-product, this will not stand. Read More >

By on June 4, 2020

Thinking back, I can only recall a single instance in which someone who wasn’t a mechanic or dealer service tech borrowed my car. Seems unlikely, but that vehicle sitting outside isn’t a hammer or a cup of sugar. I’d protect it with my life. Which is why it’s only been out of my sight, under the command of another person, one one occasion.

My dad wanted to pick up a pizza, and his car was a boring automatic. Hand ’em over, sonny.

Other people are far more generous with their personal property, tossing their keys to anyone halfway trustworthy on the promise that they’ll return it in one piece. Which, of course, doesn’t always happen. Read More >

By on June 3, 2020

Volkswagen has announced that the 2021 Volkswagen Arteon will make its world debut later this month with some exclusively European company. On June 25th, VW’s four-door fastback will be joined by a “shooting-brake” variant that looks far more interesting. The manufacturer has already explained that the wagon is not intended for North America, so those hoping to own a stretched Golf R will have to warm up a MIG welder and get creative.

The automaker also released a couple of design drawings and some minor details to keep us interested until the big day.   Read More >

By on June 3, 2020

UAW

Gary Jones, the former United Auto Workers president who stepped down last November amid growing suspicion of wrongdoing, pleaded guilty Wednesday to involvement in a racketeering scheme that saw UAW officials soak themselves in funds earmarked for workers.

Jones is the biggest fish thus far caught in a wide net cast by federal investigators — a net that’s captured nearly a dozen current or former UAW execs with their hands in the till. In the former UAW prez’s case, more than a million dollars’ worth of union dues flowed not into training programs or other benefits, but into lavish living and high-priced toys.

Will Jones see a lengthy term in the clink, you ask? What do you think? Read More >

By on June 3, 2020

Indianapolis’ electric car-sharing program, BlueIndy, died in May. Failed green initiatives are fairly common these days, but they remain an important exercise in finding out what works and what doesn’t in order for progress to be made. Unfortunately, that doesn’t preclude host cities from having to deal with the aftermath — and Indiana’s capitol now needs to decide what’s to be done with the EVs and their stations.

BlueIndy lasted four years, with the company announcing it was forced to cease operations because it “did not reach the level of activity required to be economically viable.” The plan was to provide an eco-friendly alternative to car ownership, though Indy citizens seemed less eager than their leadership. This has left the city with dozens of small, relatively new EVs waiting to be crushed and roughly 90 charging stations it has no idea what to do with.

Naturally, it’s asking for advice.  Read More >

By on June 3, 2020

hyundai

It seems potentially controversial front end treatments are today’s theme. After teasing its upcoming Santa Fe last week, Hyundai let it all out on Tuesday, debuting a wildly different fascia with which to temp buyers on the hunt for an “ultimate family adventure vehicle.”

If you’re not up on your corporate marketing-speak, that’s how Hyundai refers to its popular midsize crossover. Despite bowing in fourth-generation form in mid-2018, the Santa Fe rolls into 2021 with a new platform in tow, begging to be noticed — not that it already wasn’t. Read More >

By on June 3, 2020

General Motors Renaissance Center

On Tuesday, General Motors CEO Mary Barra suggested her company would exit the other side of the coronavirus pandemic running much leaner than when it went in. While this will probably be the case for other automakers, as many (including General Motors) went into 2020 with restructuring efforts planned or already underway, GM is letting everyone know it’s doing cuts extra right.

This likely has to do with the automaker not wanting to look as though it’s in for a repeat of 2008, now that the global economy’s once again careening toward troubled times — but we’re just guessing. It also seems as though the extreme lack of industrial progress created by months of factory shutdowns has forced executives to fill the void with a lot of hot air. Fortunately, Barra’s message wasn’t totally devoid of useful information.  Read More >

By on June 3, 2020

bmw

BMW has dropped the curtain on its next-generation 4 Series coupe, the first member of what will become a broad family of revamped right-sized offerings.

To not mention the redesigned 4 Series’ new schnoz would be akin to staying mum on a two-ton elephant scattering canapés at a garden party, so let’s get started with that. Read More >

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