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VW and Suzuki End Angry Feud

Arbitration ends failed green car alliance.

by on Aug.31, 2015

Suzuki pulled out of the US with the failure of its midsize model, the Kizashi.

An arbitration tribunal has pulled the plug on a once-promising green car alliance between Volkswagen AG and Suzuki Motor Corp. The German maker has now been ordered to sell back the 19.9% stake it had purchased in the Japanese car company.

But VW says that may yet sue Suzuki for damages as a result of the break-up of the alliance which was formed in 2009 but never got off the ground, instead developing into a bitter public dispute between the two companies.

Global News!

“It used to feel as if a small bone were stuck in my throat,” Suzuki Chairman and Chief Executive Osamu Suzuki told a news conference after learning of the decision. “I feel so refreshed now.”

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BMW Aims to Redefine “The Ultimate Driving Machine”

But do hybrids, battery-cars and autonomous vehicles fit the brand?

by on Aug.31, 2015

BMW's Ian Robertson is betting technology won't turn off the brand's traditional fans.

Can you lay claim to building “the ultimate driving machine” if your fleet is filled with autonomous vehicles powered by plug-in hybrid and pure battery-electric drivetrains? That’s the very real question facing BMW.

The Bavarian maker’s sixth-generation 7-Series sedan comes as close to hands-free driving as anything on the road, and company officials promise they’re ready to push things further if regulators give them the go. The 2016 7-Series, meanwhile, will add a new plug-in model next year, with the technology set to roll out on a variety of other models over the next several years.

Driving Passion!

“This is the flagship,” said Ian Robertson, the BMW board member in charge of global marketing, during a New York media drive of the new 750i sedan. “This is the vehicle that brings the latest innovations that will be spread through the rest of our line-up in the coming years.”

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Despite Rejection Marchionne is Still Pressing GM for Partnership

“There are varying degrees of hugs,” says Fiat Chrysler CEO.

by on Aug.31, 2015

FCA Chief Sergio Marchionne has an offer he doesn't think GM can refuse - though, so far, it has.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne isn’t one to readily take “no” for an answer, especially when it’s coming from General Motors as a rejection to his proposed partnership.

GM CEO Mary Barra and other officials have repeatedly said the Detroit giant has no interest in merging with FCA, a move Marchionne suggested would help both companies cope in an increasingly crowded and competitive global car market. But Marchionne is warning he may press ahead with an alliance whose logic, he said, is “irrefutable.”

Sound Off!

Saying his board is looking for ways to get a more positive response from GM, Marchionne said what he had in mind is “not hostile,” but sounded a lot like it, the FCA chief telling Automotive News, “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.

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Quality Issues, Higher Prices Make New Car Buyers Cranky in 2014

Better vehicles don’t equate to happy customers, survey shows.

by on Aug.31, 2015

Lexus finished atop the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index beating Mercedes.

Despite the fact that new vehicles have more convenience and safety features than ever – equipment expected by new vehicle buyers – those same people are growing tired of the quality issues and higher prices that often come with those add-ons.

Car buyer satisfaction fell 3.7% in 2014, the third year in a row, to 79 on a scale of 100, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The slide isn’t entirely unexpected as the industry recalled more than 60 million vehicles last year.

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Owners reported a 40% increase in recalls in the second quarter of last year, the ACSI reported. Many of the actions were related to the electronics and safety options that are supposed to make driving safer and more enjoyable. Read the rest of this entry »

Hyundai Set to Debut New “N” Performance Line

Frankfurt debut set; U.S. plans uncertain.

by on Aug.31, 2015

The Hyundai i20 WRC racer will be used to preview the Korean maker's new N performance line.

Hyundai is set to become the latest automaker to introduce a new performance-focused sub-brand.

The new Hyundai N sub-brand will make its debut during the Frankfurt Motor Show next month as the Korean maker lifts the covers off a modified version of its compact i20 model set to compete in the World Rally Car program. Another hint of what’s to come will show up in digital form as part of the popular Gran Turismo videogame.

Global Insight!

Hyundai insiders tell TheDetroitBureau.com they would “not be surprised” if the N line eventually comes to the U.S. market, but they said there are no immediate plans, and nothing is likely to be shown at the two big American auto shows in Los Angeles or Detroit in the coming months.

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Idaho Rates Best for Drivers; Louisiana the Worst

Want to drive on the cheap? Consider moving to someplace with wide-open spaces.

by on Aug.31, 2015

Tired of spending so much to keep your car running, gassed up and insured? If you’re looking to cut costs, you might consider moving to a place with wide-open spaces, according to a new study that ranks the best and worst states for drivers.

The new study also considers other factors like commute times, vehicle thefts and fatal crashes. All things considered, Idaho tops the chart according to research by financial website Bankrate.com, while Louisiana lands at the bottom of the list. With only a few exceptions, drivers will find life easier – and less expensive — in rural regions of the country, the study reveals.

In the Know!

“Population density has a big effect on these rankings,” explained Chris Kahn, Bankrate.com’s research and statistics analyst.  “The best states for drivers have lots of wide-open spaces, whereas the worst states tend to be filled with people and cars – a bad combination for drivers’ wallets.”

The top five states in the study are, in order:

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First Drive: 2016 BMW 7-Series

A techie’s dream car.

by on Aug.28, 2015

The new 2016 BMW 7-Series will come to the U.S. only in long-wheelbase form.

The value of a luxury car has traditionally been measured by the pound and feet, by the size and number of cylinders of its engine and, of course, by the number of trees and cowhides used to complete its passenger compartment. But the old measurements have begun to change, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the sixth-generation BMW 7-Series.

True, with U.S. buyers now set to get only the long-wheelbase version, it’s bigger than ever. But the new sedan also gets lighter, thanks to the extensive use of carbon fiber, aluminum and ultra-high-strength steel. It uses a twin-turbo engine to punch out incredible amounts of power from a relatively modest 4.4-liter V-8. And while there’s more leather and wood than ever – some of it barely apparent to passengers – BMW expects buyers to be drawn to the incredible array of technologies that have increasingly come to define the best luxury vehicles.

The Last Word!

In developing the 2016 7-Series, BMW engineers intentionally set out to one-up the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the latest version having become the current, high-tech automotive benchmark. And, at least in terms of the number and range of new features the 7-Series offers, it would seem they’ve succeeded. From a comfort and safety standpoint, never mind the manufacturing side, the new BMW 750i is a high-tech showcase.

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Marchionne Adding CEO to Title at Ferrari?

FCA boss could step in next month.

by on Aug.28, 2015

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne appears poised to add the chief executive officer's title at Ferrari to his chairman's role.

Just as Ferrari is preparing to stand on its own two feet, the man who led the effort, Sergio Marchionne, may be the man leading the company on a day-to-day basis as its new CEO.

Marchionne, who heads up Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., is already the Italian sports car maker’s chairman. He’s rumored to be taking over the Chief Executive’s role when the current CEO, Amedeo Felisa, steps down next month.

A Smart Source for Auto News!

Felisa, who has been CEO for seven years, has been rumored to be leaving the post since July and the maker has been searching for a replacement since then. Marchionne, who’s already replaced a top exec at the company, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, appears to be the choice. Read the rest of this entry »

Kia Reveals New Sportage

“The new face of Kia.”

by on Aug.28, 2015

New headlights and a modified "tiger nose" grille distinguish the gen-four Kia Sportage.

Kia is giving us a more detailed look at the next-generation Sportage, following up on the early renderings it released a couple weeks ago.

Set to make its formal debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, the 2016 Kia Sportage will pick up on some of the cues we first saw in the form of the Niro Concept two years ago. The overall look offers a strong hint of where Kia’s global design chief Peter Schreyer will be taking the look of the brand in the years to come.

Auto Show News!

The biggest changes to the design of the fourth-generation Sportage can be seen in its face, notes Kia, “with the car’s headlamps no longer integrated with the grille for the new model, instead sweeping back along the outer edges of the more sharply-detailed (hood) and bolder wheel arches.”

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Two Suppliers Paying $14.5 Mil in Price-Fixing Suit

Money being paid to new vehicle buyers, lessees.

by on Aug.28, 2015

Two more auto suppliers are paying millions of dollars in fines related to civil suits over price-fixing allegations in multiple countries.

The damages paid by auto suppliers involved in an international price-fixing scheme continue to rise as two more Japanese companies, Fujikura Ltd. and T.Rad Co. Ltd., have agreed to pay a total of more than $14.5 million to the plaintiffs in multi-district litigation against auto parts makers.

So far lawyers for the plaintiffs in the civil suits have now recovered nearly $200 million from the suppliers, most of whom are based in Japan.

We Keep You Plugged In!

The civil litigation is independent of the criminal charges leveled against the suppliers by the U.S. Department of Justice and authorities in Japan and the European Union. Criminal fines and penalties leveled over the cartel-like behavior of the suppliers now total more than $2.5 billion. Read the rest of this entry »