Sunday, January 23, 2011

  Paced by record sales in China, General Motors reported its sales increased 12.2 percent in 2010 as it delivered 8,389,769 vehicles compared with 7,477,178 in 2009.
 GM achieved double-digit increases in five of its top 10 markets, including the  28.8 percent increase in China, where GM and its partners were the first to top the 2 million sales mark in a single year and an increase of 41.3 percent in Uzbekistan in Central Asia, which is now GM's tenth-largest market by volume. Deliveries in the United States, GM's second  largest market, rose 6.3 percent despite the phase-out or sale of four brands, while Brazil, GM's third-largest market, saw deliveries rise by 10.4 percent.
GM sales also increased in Russia, Mexico and the United Kingdom.  GM, however, also suffered some significant setbacks particularly in Germany where sales dropped 29.5 percent and Italy where sales fell 10 percent  and Canada where sales dropped 3 percent.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

GM names Barra head of product development

General Motors has named  Mary Barra,  veteran GM exeucutiv, e to take over the top car guy post in the company.

"Mary will bring a fresh perspective to the critically important job of developing vehicles that delight global customers," said Dan Akerson, GM Chairman and CEO as he named Barra head of global product development,  "Her broad experience in engineering, manufacturing and staff functions, combined with the ability to collaborate and build strong relationships will enhance the company's ability to deliver the products today's consumers demand," he sadi
  Barra will lead the Product Development organization responsible for managing all global vehicle programs for GM in Asia and Europe as well as in North America. 
"Knowing that today's global customer expects even more from their GM vehicle means we have to work harder than ever to exceed those expectations," said Barra, who is the first woman to take the jobs.  "I'm excited by the opportunity associated with this new challenge and pleased to be joining such a strong team with deep technical knowledge and experience."
  Barra's background  is likely to raise some eyebrows inside the company since she has relatively little hands on experience in engineering and testing new vehicles. Barra was appointed vice president, Global Human Resources in 2009, to initiate change in the company's culture during the largest restructuring in GM's history.  Prior to this appointment, she had been vice president, Global Manufacturing Engineering. Barra has also held a number of engineering and staff positions, including plant manager, Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant; executive director of Competitive Operations Engineering; and general director of Internal Communications for GM North America.
  Barra began her career with General Motors in 1980 as a General Motors Institute co-op student at the Pontiac Motor Division. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. In 1988, Barra received a GM fellowship to the Stanford Graduate School of Business and in 1990 graduated with an MBA in Business Administration.

She serves on the Kettering University Board of Trustees and Inforum Center for Leadership Board of Directors.  Barra is also Key Executive for Stanford University.

Barra was named one of Automotive News' 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry" in 2005, and again in 2010.  In 2010, she also earned Kettering Alumni Association's Management Achievement Award for her specific contributions with positive and lasting effects in the field of management.

Barra, 49, will continue to report to Akerson and serve on the Executive Committee.  Her move becomes effective Feb. 1.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ford ready for NaIAS with big display

 With the North American International Auto Show getting ready to open to the public, Ford Motor debuts is getting set to present what it describes largest motor show display in the world.  The display covers 25 percent more square feet and will include 75 vehicles, 22 interactive exhibits and 67 product specialists, who are prepared to answer any and all questions
  Visitors will be able to learn about new Ford technologies and  products through digital interactions, live games and shows vehicle simulators and even electric vehicle rides on a speciall created, 208-foot-long, elevated track The Ford display will fill an expansive 71,700 square feet of space, more than a typical NFL football field's 57,600 square feet. 

 "For several years now, Ford has been driving the evolution of auto shows. We've moved from one-way communication to full-blown two-way communication and total engagement with visitors," said Jim Farley, Ford group vice president, Global Marketing, Sales and Service. "Futuristic concept cars and simple narrations about products have been augmented by or replaced with product interaction, hands-on technology displays, conversations with knowledgeable hosts and even games that help visitors understand how Ford is delivering smart, safe, green, high-quality products to fit a wide range of needs."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Volkswagen signs long lease to stay in Auburn Hills

 Volkswagen of America has signed a new 10 year lease for its office center on Hamlin Road in Auburn Hills, company officials.
  Jonathan Browning, president of chief executive officer of Volkswagen of America, said Wednesday Auburn Hill will remain the second largest concentration of employees in the U.S with nearly 1,100  fuil-time and contract  employees.
  VOA does plant to concentrate all of its local employees in the building on Hamlin Road, which had served as the company’s headquarters before was moved to Herndon, Virginia, just outside Washington D.C. The VOA employees from a second building will be moved to the Auburn Hills building, Browning said during annual Automotive News World Congress.
  The largest concentration of VOA employees in the U.S. where VOA’s parent company, German auto giant VW AG of Wolfsburg, Germany, has invested $1 billion in a brand new assembly plant.
  VW spokeswoman Sheriece Matias said “the potential Is there” for the number of employees in Auburn Hills to increase.
 The Auburn Hills center is currently staffed by 384 full-time VW employees and another 649 contract employees, she said. “It’s really the core of the company,” she said. It houses the warranty and test center for Volkswagen and  Audi vehicles in North America as well as customer-care functions and quality effort.
 VOA has used the building for more than 20 years since it moved from Troy to the building in Auburn Hills.
 Matias said VOA has filed paperwork with the Auburn Hills City Council for improvements it plans to make to the building in the near future.
 Earlier this week, VOA rolled out  the 2012 Volkswagen Passat during the press previews at the North American International Auto, which  it plans to build at thje new assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.. Production is scheduled to start in Tennessee  in the first part of 2011. The car has been is large enough satisfy customers looking for mid-sized cars in a segment long dominated by the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
 Earlier this month, VOA reported that December sales increased 17 percent over prior year sales for the entire line of vehicles. In addition, 2010 achieved a 20 percent increase over 2009 total year sales. Increased sales numbers resulted in best annual sales since 2003 and best December sales since 2005.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

  DETROIT - Two cars from the Volkswagen AG group Tuesday walked off with the top design honorsf for vehicles introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
 The Porsche 918 RSR won the EyesOn Design Award for Best Concept Vehicle, while the Audi A6 came away with award for design excellence in category devoted to new vehicles headed for production, which where unveiled during the press days at the NAIAS, which is noted for its emphasis on design.
. Detlev von Platen, the president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America Inc., said, "Design is part of our vision. Design is in our DNA," von Platen said. 
 The other finalists for the award were the Ford Vertrek and the Kia KV7 both of which were unveiled at the 
Detroit Motor Show.
 Achim Badstuebner, head of exterior design for Audi AG, accepted the award for the company.  "It's strong feedback that we have done our homework." Audi has received four EyesOn Design Awards over the past three years. The other finalists were the Audi A6, Bentley Continential GT, BMW 6-Series Convertible, and Hyundai Veloster. 
 The judges for the Eyes For Design are other car designers, which is one of  the key reasons they are prized by the recipients,


GM finances take turn for the better

GM vice chairman and chief financial officer Chris Liddell told reporters Tuesday one of GM's major financial objectives is to restore the company's investment grade credit rating. "If you look at GM historically it was an investment grade company. "It only became highly leveraged," Tin the last 15 or 20 years, Liddell observed. The 2009 bankruptcy, GM has debt was reduced substantially and GM has continued to pay remaining debt, which included making contributions to the pension fund. "I don't think we're that far from investment grade. But the rating agencies have different idea.They will want to see a consistent" performance from GM.
 Liddell also said looking into the future, GM will try to hold capital spending at a steady from year to year. Stronger finances will enable GM to hold capital spending level during a downturn. In the past , capital spending has been been dramtically reduced and projects cancelled during recession. "But that's enormously expensive," he siad. It's better in the long run for GM to hold capital spending steady during both good time and bad, he said.

Chrylser to build SUV in Detroit for Maserati

 Chrysler Group chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne said January 11 that Chrysler Group and Fiat are prepared to go ahead with the production of an entirely new, luxury sport-utility vehicles for Maserati. During a meeting with a small group of reporters from the U.S. and Canada that he had approved the development of the Maserati SUV, which would be built alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango at Chrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant. Marchionne had first indicated back in Novemer  the Jefferson North plant could be used to build the Maserati SUV. but said Chrysler/Fiat were still reviewing the idea. The review is now over and the project is a go even though production will be limited production, Marchionne said..
 The Maserati SUV will be powered by a Ferrari-made engine and could be a V8 or a V12. 
 Marchionne also said Chrysler intends to make the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan into completely different vehicles in the future. The Town&Country would remain a full-size van but the Caravan  will be downsized to fit into a different space in the market. Chrysler has kicked around the idea of widening the separation between the vans but had never moved forward with the project.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ford announces plans for hiring

 Ford is set to higher as many as 7,000 new hourly and salaried employees as the company builds on its success over the past couple of years.
Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas, said this year alone Ford is adding nearly 4,000 hourly jobs at several of its U.S. plants, including 1,800 at Louisville Assembly Plant, which is preparing to launch the next-generation Ford Escape late in the year. Next year, Ford expects to add at least 2,500 more new manufacturing positions in Southeast Michigan and at other Ford manufacturing sites.
 Ford also will add 750 salaried engineering jobs in product development and manufacturing, Fields said.

"Ford is committed to American manufacturing, and we are on a path to add more than 7,000 American workers over the next two years as we continue to grow our product lineup," said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas. "Working with our partners, including the UAW, Ford is finding competitive ways to engineer and build even more high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles with technologies American consumers really want,." Fields said.

 Ford is recruiting salaried engineers specializing in batteries, system controls, software and energy storage to work on electric vehicles in Southeast, Mi. and eight other cities including Boston; Chicago; Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Milwaukee; Raleigh and Durham, N.C. and San Jose, Calif.
 This recruitment launches at the 2011 North American International Auto Show during industry preview days on Jan. 12 and Jan. 13.
 Both General Motors Corp. and Chrysler are also planning to hire more engineers. Chrysler is looking for roughly 1,000 new engineers and GM chairman Dan Akerson said last month the automaker also plans to hire roughly 1,000 engineers over the next two years, primarily to hire electric and hybrid vehicles.

GM has plent of new product coming

  Mark Reuss, President of GM North America, took exception to the complaints by analysts that GM is light on product introductions. "I don't feel like its light. We have  a lot nice stuff coming, said Reuss, who specifically cited the Orion-built Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano, which are both due in show rooms later this year. GM also will roll out the Chevrolet Camaro later this year. Reuss acknowledged GM has delayed the introduction of a new pickup by almost a year. But the emphasis on passenger cars is beneficial, he said. "This company doesn't have to be dependent on trucks any more. Reuss also acknowledged that if gasoline prices increase to $4 per gallon as some analysts predict, GM could move up production of the Sonic and Verano if customer preferences begin to shift. Reuss also said GM plans to develop a unique marketing plan  in California  for the Sonic and new Cheverolet Cruze. GM car sales in California have been been anemic at best, he acknowledged.

Chevy Volt, Ford Explorer North American Car and Truck of Year

 The Cheverolet Volt was named North American Car of The Year by a panel journalist, which selected the high-tech Chevy ahead of the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Sonata. GM vice chairman Tom Stephens said the Volt is emblematic of the new, post-bankruptcy GM and demonstrates the company's enormous technical prowess. The Ford Explorer beat out the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango for North American Truck of Year Honors. It was the third year in a row Ford has walked off with the Truck of  The Year honors and is symbol of Ford's continuing product renaissance, Ford officials said.

v During the opening press conference of the 2011 North American International Auto Show, the German automaker, Porsche, showed off what Porsche executives described as a brand new acing Laboratory with a high performance hybrid drive, the 918 RSR.
. With the Porsche 918 RSR, the manufacturer of sporty premium vehicles, also  is presenting a  two-seater mid-engine coupe
from a tradition established by classic Porsche long-distance race cars such as the 908 long-tail coupe (1969) and the 917 short-tail coupe (1971), the Porsche designers created a link to the postmodernism of the "form follows function" philosophy. In the 918 RSR, the lines' elegant flow is dominated by muscular wheel arches, dynamic air intakes and a pulpit-like cockpit.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Global auto sales to rise despite risk

 Sale ill exceed the prior peak in 2007. Our forecast is for sales of  75-85 million.units worldwide, Ford Motor Co. Chief Economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick.  Growth in car sales in China wil drive the growth. In addition, new vehicle sales will continue to rise as the tax package approved last month by Congress will provide the U.S economy with stimulus. The overall U.S. economic outlook is stronger than recent forecasts have suggested, she added.

Toyota to open safety center in Michigan

Toyota  has announced it is launching a new, advanced safety research center that will collaborate with leading North American universities, hospitals and research institutions in an effort to reduc3  the number of traffic fatalities and injuries on America's roads.
Toyota's new Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) will be based at the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Ann Arbor, Michigan and will involve Toyota researchers and engineers from North America and Japan.  The new initiative builds on Toyota's ongoing commitment to safety and quality leadership.  The company estimates that it will commit approximately $50 million over the next five years to fund CSRC.
The collaborative research will pursue integrated ways to enhance safety, involving the vehicle, driver and traffic environment.  Initial areas of focus will include reducing the risk of driver distraction - a growing cause of accidents - and protecting the most vulnerable traffic populations, including children, teens and seniors who account for 30 percent of U.S. traffic fatalities.