Category: Industry

By on September 6, 2019

General Motors Renaissance Center

General Motors is moving Cadillac marketing chief Deborah Wahl up the food chain by appointing her as its global chief marketing officer — a position which has sat unfilled since 2012.

The previous CMO, Joel Ewanick, was removed by former CEO Dan Akerson over a costly Chevrolet-Manchester United sponsorship deal blew up in his face. Officially, General Motors said Ewanick “failed to meet the expectations the company has of an employee” and left the position vacant, distributing its duties among other other employees — primarily Chevrolet’s now-retired CMO Tim Mahoney.

Wahl, 56, joined Cadillac in 2018, helping the brand further distance itself from the botched “Dare Greatly” advertising campaign. However, we’re not yet certain its freshened marketing materials are truly a cut from a different cloth. Several of the new spots carry over the same vague messaging, just with a bit more focus on product. Then again, perhaps the highbrow content is simply going over our heads.  Read More >

By on September 3, 2019

Former Renault-Nissan Alliance director Arnaud Deboeuf is leaving Renault to chase sunnier pursuits at French rival PSA. It’s no secret that the relationship between Nissan and Renault has become severely strained, however, Deboeuf’s departure throws more light on how personal issues are impacting the broader business. He effectively blamed Renault CEO Thierry Bolloré for his leaving the alliance.

“Thierry Bolloré told me no one wanted to work with me … and that I could not go to work at Nissan either,” Deboeuf explained in a final letter to his colleges.  Read More >

By on July 30, 2019

Honda PMC Tour 1

A full quarter of the names currently on The Truth About Cars masthead grew up in the Buckeye state, including yours truly, and plenty of contributors, past and present, have called The Heart of It All home.

The preceding message concludes the advertising section, brought to you by the Ohio Department of Tourism.

I mention this to remind the reader that there is more to the American auto industry than Detroit. Indeed, Honda has been building vehicles in Ohio for nearly forty years, with an engine plant, a transmission plant, and now three vehicle assembly plants. Journalists were given the opportunity to tour the newest facility, the Performance Manufacturing Center, to see how Acura turns out the exotic NSX – and now, the less-exotic but still remarkable TLX PMC Edition.

Read More >

By on July 22, 2019

With Oliver Zipse confirmed as BMW’s new chief executive, practically everyone theorized on how he was going to shake up the strategy established under former-CEO Harald Krüger — which revolved around gradually introducing more EVs via a highly flexible architecture. While we were disinclined to agree, a swath of industry experts and media outlets claimed this was a terrible blueprint for the brand and expected Zipse to come up with something different.

However, he looks to be offering more of the same. That begs the question as to why Krüger actually left the company and taints the validity of suggestions that his product strategy was internally viewed as a failureRead More >

By on July 18, 2019

With Harald Krüger out, BMW needs a new CEO — one that can effectively transition the company into becoming and electrified automotive dreamscape. Krüger presumably wasn’t interested in taking that path. While that hardly makes him a monster, plenty of people felt that his reluctance to spend ludicrous amounts of money on developing EVs was tanking the company’s share price and making him look like a fool. Not us, though. Bending to investors every whim and chasing down trends with minimal foresight seems like top-tier dipshittery. But that’s the nature of the industry right now, for better or worse.

However, in the short term, it pays to promote electrification and Krüger’s measured strategy of gradually introducing more EVs via a flexible architecture was often seen as too conservative. Perhaps that’s the correct assertion and some new blood is in order at BMW if it’s to correct its course. But who do you pick?  Read More >

By on July 10, 2019

Toyota Motor Corp announced on Wednesday it would be building a new sport utility vehicle at its $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant in Alabama, rather than the Corolla. This brings its strategy in line with Mazda, which announced it would also be building an SUV at the facility earlier this year.

Officially, Toyota said the change was due to “changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs,” while slipping in a mention of how well the RAV4 has been selling for good measure.  Read More >

By on June 24, 2019

Image: Subaru

Subaru was one of the few automakers experiencing growth going into the Great Recession. When the financial crisis struck in earnest, Subaru’s volume briefly dipped to pre-recession levels before resuming its climb. Thanks largely to an enviable public image and desirable lineup, Subaru’s annual deliveries tripled between 2009 and 2018 inside the United States.

However Subaru’s quality rankings have lapsed in its quest to meet elevated demand. There has been a surge in recalls for the brand and some unsavory claims coming from the factory. According to internal documents seen by Automotive News, one of the primary reasons for this was due to rampant supply chain issues. The papers indicate that nearly half of Subaru’s suppliers were recently operating at quality levels below the company’s internal targets. Subaru is currently overhauling its own production processes and working with suppliers to improve quality and avoid developing a poor reputation with customers.  Read More >

By on June 9, 2019

Following announcements that Toyota would be working on a shared electric vehicle platform with Subaru, as well as a jointly developed crossover, the brand conducted a press conference on Friday regarding its decision to “popularize BEVs.” While the announcement didn’t deal with the specifics of cutting-edge tech, auxiliary business opportunities, or even a total shift toward battery electric vehicles, it did represent a major commitment from a manufacturer that’s notoriously cautious in its decision making.

Opening the conference, Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi focused largely on the challenges of electrification. Terashi said Toyota’s intent has always been to support “social progress” and curb CO2 emissions while acknowledging that it had only made formal commitments to electrification within the last couple of years. However, he showed that the automaker has been busy within that time, and had several initiatives in the works aimed at repositioning Toyota as a mobility brand, by outlining the company’s extremely complex EV strategy.

Buckle up, because there is a lot to this — including some new cars.  Read More >

By on June 4, 2019

As perviously reported, Fiat Chrysler is currently hard at work, hoping to impress Renault to a point where it will pull the trigger on possible merger. FCA is now in talks with the French government, which owns 15 percent of Renault, hoping it will also find the 50/50 proposal agreeable.

Concessions are already being made. FCA has agreed to France’s request to give the government a seat on an prospective eleven-member board, which also holds four seats for Renault and one for Nissan. Rumors have also suggested that the automaker is considering moving its headquarters to Paris to appease the country.

While France appears to be somewhat receptive, Renault appears to be taking things to the next level. Following a week of discussions with FCA, the company announced it would be taking the rest of the day to give the matter serious consideration.  Read More >

By on May 15, 2019

On Tuesday, Volkswagen announced its plan to assemble 600,000 electric vehicles utilizing the brand’s MEB platform at two plants in China. The facilities, said to be located in the cities of Anting and Foshan, will help bolster EV volume after the completion of VW’s Zwickau plant in Germany — which the company previously claimed would manufacture 330,000 cars annually.

While that facility is nearing completion and supposed to be up and running before 2020, there’s no firm timeline in place for China. But that’s the least of the issues Volkswagen must solve in order to make this dream a reality.  Read More >

By on May 14, 2019

Nissan is bracing for a bad year. On Tuesday, the automaker held a press conference at its headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, to tell the world that it’s forecasting a 28-percent decline in operating profit this year. While that sounds bad, it comes on the heels of the company’s financial results for the 12-month period ending March 31st, 2019 — which was a dumpster fire.

Operating profit plunged 45 percent to 318 billion yen ($2.9 billion), while revenue fell 3 percent to about 11.6 trillion yen ($105 billion). Vehicle sales were down 4.4 percent. “Today we have hit rock bottom,” CEO Hiroto Saikawa told the press, suggesting the company could rebound in a few years.  Read More >

By on May 12, 2019

Subaru Legacy 2018 Logo Emblem Grille

Subaru may be getting too big for its britches. Despite seeming like it was positioned for nearly incalculable growth at the start of last year, the automaker’s latest financial report showed the period was actually plagued with problems. Over the full fiscal year, which ends on March 31st for Subaru, the company basically showed that its operating profit had been cut in half.

How could this have happened? Subaru’s commitment to all-wheel drive has given its sales a shot in the arm as the crossover craze has escalated and it has one of the best reputations in the business. Seriously, ask any automotive layperson what they think of the brand and they will almost always have something positive to say. However, for all of its presumed advantages, the company is reporting a 48.5-percent decline in operating profit (to 195.5 billion yen) and a 6.3-precent loss of global sales volume.  Read More >

By on March 27, 2019

With Faraday Future and Evergrande Health having officially settled their bitter legal dispute late last year, the once-again independent automaker could finally get back to hunting for new investors. Despite Faraday’s entire existence being overshadowed by financial missteps and bizarre business dealings (resulting in an inability to deliver product), it’s extremely good at scrounging up funds. Breaking ties with its primary financial partner might have seemed like bad news, especially after so many near-death experiences, but this is where the company shines the brightest.

On Sunday, Faraday Future signed into a 50-50 partnership with Shanghai-based internet gaming operator The9 — which amassed its fortune after gaining exclusive licensing rights to operate and distribute the extremely popular World of Warcraft in China. Faraday said the deal marks the first step in its plan to officially launch its dual-home-market strategy in both China and the United States.  Read More >

By on March 14, 2019

Ontario Labor Relations Board Chairman Bernard Fishbein recently ruled that Unifor’s actions over the winter were illegal under the province’s Labor Relations Act, stipulating that the union must “cease and desist from engaging in, authorizing or counseling unlawful strikes or engaging in any act that is likely to cause employees at the Inteva, Lear or GM plant (or any other supplier of the GM plant) or any employees having notice of this decision to engage in any unlawful strike.”

However, Unifor President Jerry Dias says the board’s finding that the union engaged in unlawful strikes against General Motors and its suppliers will not stop its workers from walking off the job in the future.  Read More >

By on March 13, 2019

A recent report from Bloomberg frames Tesla CEO Elon Musk as quite the jerk in relation to his actions toward a former employee. This worker is the whistleblower who, last year, shared internal documents that suggested the company’s Nevada Gigafactory was blowing through raw materials at an alarming rate. Martin Tripp offered up information showing Tesla wasted $150 million in materials and accused the automaker of pursuing unsafe production procedures during its push to increase Model 3 volume.

Tripp, who tried briefly to maintain his anonymity, said he was concerned that Tesla was shipping cars that were potentially dangerous to consumers. However, Tesla quickly responded by suggesting the claims against it were ridiculous and the amount of waste cited in the report was an overstatement.

“As is expected with any new manufacturing process, we had high scrap rates earlier in the Model 3 ramp. This is something we planned for and is a normal part of a production ramp,” Tesla told Business Insider in 2018.

Following an intense Twitter rant from Elon Musk, the story died down. But the corporate task force charged with finding out who leaked the information would eventually lead to even more ridiculous claims.    Read More >

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