By on February 26, 2021

The outside firm Nikola hired to conduct the internal investigation looking into the validity of claims made by ousted founder Trevor Milton has reached a conclusion. Milton does appear to have been fabricating the status of the company’s technology and how far along its prototypes were. But Nikola wasn’t helping and ended up being implicated in a few falsehoods of its own.

Some wealthy individual lying to a sea of people for the sake of making money is hardly news, however. The entire world runs on politicians and business people going back on promises made months earlier and clarifying statements that never seem to illuminate anything. What makes Milton’s offense so bad is that he seems to have used the power of lying to mislead investors who might have otherwise made money. Nikola shares never truly recovered from the exposé published by Hindenburg Research as part of its plan to short the company, and those who never bothered to question the legitimacy of its technical claims before investing are suddenly very interested in knowing everything about the business.

(Read More…)

By on March 20, 2020

Bankrupt. Shutterstock user Peace Tree Studios

With the novel coronavirus forcing the economy to grind to a halt, just about every industry on Earth is affected, almost all negatively. The auto industry is no exception.

Production is halting around the world, and it seems likely that car dealers will be closing, either voluntarily or via government order, at some point soon – at least on the sales side (vehicle service is arguably essential).

People are being ordered to stay home, people are losing their jobs, and with a few exceptions – say a first-responder who absolutely needs a car right now – there will be almost no vehicle sales, new or used, for the next two months or longer.

Even as bad as things got in 2007-2009, sales never ground to a halt.

(Read More…)

By on August 2, 2017

2014 Dodge Avenger R/T - Image: FCAEvery midsize car on sale in the United States reported declining year-over-year volume in July 2017. Every car except the Dodge Avenger, which came back from the dead with 10 reported sales after a nine-month hiatus. 2014 was the Avenger’s last model year.

But forget that sales stat quirk — Pentastar Avenger Blacktop Edition, be still my soul. Every other midsize nameplate generated fewer sales in July 2017 than July 2016, with losses piling up fastest at Ford and Hyundai, with the Fusion and Sonata, respectively.

Between major Fusion and Sonata losses and decreased volume everywhere else, U.S. midsize car volume fell by a fifth in July 2017 — a 36,000-unit decline. (Read More…)

By on July 5, 2017

2017 Honda Accord Sedan Touring - Image: HondaMidsize car sales volume decreased by nearly 200,000 units in the United States during the first-half of 2017.

Year-over-year, that 18-percent decline was caused by virtually every member of America’s midsize sedan fleet. Escaping unscathed, on its own, was the Volkswagen Passat, though Passat sales are significantly lower than they were in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Aside from the Passat, midsize cars are selling much less often this year than last at every competing automaker; from the top-selling Toyota Camry to the slow-selling Mazda 6, from the all-wheel-drive-optional Ford Fusion to the all-wheel-drive-standard Subaru Legacy; from the new-last-year Chevrolet Malibu to the never-again-new Chrysler 200.

Most automakers, however, are blessed to possess similarly priced compact crossovers that are making up all, much, or some of the slack. (Read More…)

By on September 7, 2016

2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R LimitedThere will always be a place in the American market for the conventional midsize sedan.

Despite harsh declines in recent months, consumers are still on track to register more than 2 million midsize cars in calendar year 2016. In fact, a handful of nameplates — Accord, Legacy, Malibu — are attracting more buyers this year than they did in the first two-thirds of 2015.

But U.S. sales of midsize cars are now falling with a special kind of speed, plunging 26 percent in August, a loss of nearly 58,000 sales over the span of just one month. (Read More…)

By on November 26, 2013

2014 Volvo V60 T6

I’ve always had a soft spot for Volvo, that’s probably why I’ve owned two and chose European Delivery on one of them. But Volvo has a problem. It’s not the product. It’s not even the brand positioning. It’s a lack of advertising and visibility. Let’s dive deep into my mind as I pontificate about Volvo’s destiny.

(Read More…)

By on February 6, 2013

It must be Suzuki Day. Fresh off pictures from our resident Chinese spy, Suzuki has released some pictures of the upcoming S-Cross C-segment all-wheel-driver.

(Read More…)

By on November 7, 2012

Gamblers, speculators, automotive industry sadists, and TTAC Best and Brightest™: welcome to the selection of the next candidates for Death Watch, where you get to have a say on which brand we should promote to the Throne of Irrelevancy.

(Read More…)

By on August 8, 2012

The grim reaper may not be at American Suzuki’s door step after all. We’ve learned ASMC is healthier, at least financially, than we thought. But, in order to be profitable last year, ASMC had to completely cut almost every non-essential (and some essential) function of their business.
(Read More…)

By on August 7, 2012

While a number of automakers have been complicit (and still are) when it comes to badge engineering, Suzuki in North America has been on the forefront of whoring out or johning platforms since its introduction in the 80s. The ‘Japanese brand that could’ has either slapped the stylized S on Daewoos and Nissans or let GM have their dirty ways with the grilles of small Suzuki cars and SUVs.

(Read More…)

By on July 18, 2012

Yesterday, a whirlwind of spy shots uncovered what looks to be the SX4 replacement Suzuki will start shipping to lots later this year. So far, observations of the new pint-sized every man rally car look promising, including possible turbo power and a handsome, if unremarkable, interior. But, will it be enough to satiate the appetite of Anglo American tastes? Or does American Suzuki need to focus more on the brand image train?

(Read More…)

By on June 8, 2012

The General’s downward spiral from its zenith as one of the most powerful and respected companies in America into Chapter 11 was an agonizingly slow affair, requiring decades and a fair number of billion-dollar miscalculations. Today’s question offers many choices: which GM vehicle caused the most damage to the company’s bottom line and/or image? I’m going to present a few examples from my own list, not necessarily in order of severity. (Read More…)

By on February 6, 2009

It’s T minus 11 days before Congress does the thumbs-up thumbs-down thing on the artist formerly known as the world’s largest automaker. GM is up shit creek without a paddle. The United Auto Workers aren’t going to agree to parity with the transplant assembly workers, as required. The bondholders aren’t going to exchange debt for equity, as required. The company doesn’t have a clue what to do about its brands or products, as required. There is no way whatsoever for GM to prove to your elected officials that it has a hope in hell of repaying the $13.4b loans already made—never mind the $100b or so needed to keep the ailing American automaker in business for another year. So GM CEO Rick Wagoner is doing the only thing he knows how to do, that he can do: cutting expenses. This time, it’s white collar workers for one simple reason: that’s all that’s left. Bloomberg tells of the $14m per year CEO’s decision to throw his remaining management to the wolves . . .

(Read More…)

By on February 4, 2009

Post Titanic Tuesday, GM is desperate to do something, anything to move its moribund metal. I speak here not of the pricing blowouts, finance deals and BOGO offers at the sharp end. I refer to the manipulation of dealer relations. Forcing dealers to stock vehicles that no one wants to buy. Back in the day, they used to call this practice “channel stuffing.” These days, they call it “pretending we’re a viable business to our Congressional overlords.” Automotive News [sub] reveals GM’s latest contribution to the genre: the more-than-slightly-ironically named “consensus program.”

The program has two parts. First, GM assigns dealers a sales objective through March 2. Second, GM “recommends” a “consensus number” to dealers—the number of vehicles for the dealer to order. Sweet, eh?

The bonus cash payout ranges up to $1,250 per vehicle depending on the percentage of consensus that the dealer orders and the percentage of the sales objective the dealer sells, dealers familiar with the program say.

At the high end, if a dealer takes 100 percent of the consensus and sells 100 percent of the sales objective, the dealer gets $1,250 per vehicle. At the low end, if a dealer takes less than 75 percent of the consensus and sells 60 percent to 99.9 percent, the bonus is $250 per vehicle.

So, if one dealer declines The General’s “request” to show the automaker’s inventory love during the time of war, that dealer suffers. A nearby competitor (i.e., a nearby GM dealer) who takes additional inventory earns more GM bonus cash. They can charge a lower price for the vehicles he or she doesn’t sell.

The trade calls this manufacturer-sponsored internecine conflict “two tier” pricing, or, to use a more technical term, “the same old shit.”

GM justifies their most recent dealer abuse as an effort to keep their inventory under control.

At the end of January, GM had 801,000 vehicles in inventory, down 103,000 units from January 2008. Cars make up 64 percent of current inventory and trucks the rest. . .

During a sales call today, GM sales chief Mark LaNeve said supply is about 105 days and GM would like to have “a little less inventory.”

“We’d like to run more at a 75- to 90-day rate,” said LaNeve. “We keep trying to get there. We are planning production schedules to get to the 75- to 90-day supply. It’s God’s work. We have to keep after it.”

As far as I know, GM marketing maven Mark LaNeve is not a Jesus freak. I’ve never heard him inject God or, God forbid, morality into a discussion of his work. However, if this is a true come to Jesus moment, rather than simple blasphemy, one wonders why God’s son would instruct the head of GM sales and marketing to bother himself with GM’s inventory levels. As Ken Elias has pointed out, LaNeve would be far better off seeking truth and reconciliation than filling GM dealer lots with unwanted product.

Yes, sixty days’ supply is the generally accepted industry ideal. But this is pre-meltdown math. New vehicle sales sank 37 percent across the board in January. They’re heading south from there. Bottom line: Chrysler and GM aren’t building much of anything—they’re just trying to clear out their existing inventories. The “days supply rate” for today’s car market is about as useful a metric as “rolls of toilet paper” at Graceland during Elvis’ terminal constipation days.

As one of the Apostles would have said (if he’d been Welsh), get your own house in order, boyo. If LaNeve still has a purpose in life, or at least within GM, sorting out the mess that is GM’s branding is it.

Obviously, LaNeve’s not calling the shots in terms of product (who needs product?) or brand culling (who needs eight brands?). Product is Car Czar Bob Lutz’ baliwick. Brand-i-cide is CEO Rick Wagoner’s responsibility. Good luck with that. Even so, LaNeve could, even with the current lineup, help GM at least start to find its way through the wilderness.

He could define GM’s brands.

GM’s marketing maven could/should make the case for whatever brands GM decides to keep. How about a series of ads: “This is what a BLANK is” (one USP per brand, please)? The current models don’t have to actually meet the criteria. Again, nobody’s buying cars. But a tightly-focused coherent example or eight of “the vision thing” would give Americans a reason to support GM. For Joe the Taxpayer, $40b+ of long-term debt is a meaningless abstraction. Cars they understand.

These are the times that try men’s souls. By thy deeds thy shall be known. The times are making it increasingly, inescapably clear that GM is a shell of a company led by lost souls. It’s a perfect time for someone with guts, character, passion and humility to step up and show what they’re made of. Unfortunately, men without these traits continue to pilot GM to its death.

Recent Comments

  • RHD: Agreed about the lack of colors. A lot of new vehicles look like they just clearcoated the primer.
  • stuki: In a world in decay, “dated” is a compliment.
  • stuki: Competing head on with Camry and Accord, like competing with Google in internet search, has to rate among the...
  • RHD: That and the nearly useless “truck bed” make this a non-starter. I saw one on the road a week ago,...
  • RHD: You are right about that! A facelift is all it needs to recover the sales volume. “Polarizing” is...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber