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Infiniti, Ford, Lexus Walk Off with NAIAS Design Awards

Automotive design celebrated at annual event.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.18, 2019

Infiniti's QX Inspiration EV concept was the big winner in this year's Eyes on Design competition taking home three awards.

Throughout the course of its 30-year run, the North American International Auto Show in Detroit’s Cobo Center became known as a “designers’ show” because of the large number of concept cars that emerged during the annual press preview.

For 2019, the tradition carried on with the annual “Eyes on Design” Award singling out three vehicles, one from Infiniti, one from Lexus and one from Ford for honors.

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One of the big winners this year was Infiniti, which walked off with honors in three separate categories. (more…)

Union, Activists Plan GM Protests Outside Charity Preview

Rally to call to light unfairness of plant shutdowns.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.17, 2019

The UAW plans to hold a candlelight vigil outside of the NAIAS charity preview to protest GM's planned plant closures.

The Union Auto Workers and union activists are planning demonstration ahead of North American International Auto Show charity preview to protest General Motors’ plans to close five plants.

The UAW is organizing a candlelight vigil at the Labor Monument on Jefferson a short distance from Cobo Center, starting at 4:30 p.m. “Recent announcements from GM concerning plants in the U.S. will have a devastating effect on members of the UAW family,” the union said in announcing the vigil.

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The union, along with Unifor, the union representing autoworkers in Canada, has been waging a letter-writing campaign to protest GM’s plans to close five assembly and manufacturing plants in the U.S. (more…)

Key Message Lost in GM’s Plant Closing Announcement, Barra Says

Company offered jobs to all 2,700 employees affected.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.17, 2019

GM CEO Mary Barra told the Automotive News World Congress that she understood why people were upset by GM's plans to close five plants.

General Motors fumbled its recent announcement about its plans to close plants in the U.S. and Canada, GM’s top executive acknowledged.

During an appearance at the annual Automotive News World Congress, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said the timing of the announcement in November that the company planned to close plants in and around Detroit, Lordstown, Ohio, Baltimore and Oshawa, Ontario, was driven by the change in customer preferences away from cars and to SUVs.

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“Having been at General Motors for 38 years, I feel a huge obligation to make sure that General Motors is successful not just a for a few years. I want GM to be successful for many, many decades,” Barra said. (more…)

Marchionne Tops List of Automotive Hall of Fame New Inductees

This year's foursome very impactful on industry.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.16, 2019

Sergio Marchionne, former CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame less than a year after his death.

The Automotive Hall of Fame will induct four new members into its ranks next including Richard E. “Dick” Dauch, co-founder of American Axle Manufacturing; Janet Gutherie, the first woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500; Sergio Marchionne, former CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Patrick Ryan, creator of the first auto dealership finance and insurance department.

Marchionne, who died last summer, rescued first Fiat and then Chrysler from the automotive scrap heap and then managed to merge the two troubled companies to form one of the largest and most profitable automotive manufacturers in the world, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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“Marchionne was also regarded as one of the boldest business leaders of his generation thanks to his business acumen as well as his outspoken and often frank approach to dealing with difficult and complicated problems,” the Hall of Fame citation noted. (more…)

Continental Boss Putting Brakes on Autonomous Vehicles

Degenhart believes self-drivers are farther away than automakers say.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.15, 2019

Continental AG Chairman Elmar Degenhart said he believes that self-driving cars are much further way than automakers suggest will happen.

While automakers may have you believe that self-driving vehicles are right around the corner, at least one auto supplier believes that it will be well into the next decade before autonomous vehicles will be capable of venturing beyond a well-defined area and take to the open road.

Instead, drivers will continue to adapt to advanced driver assistance systems, also known as ADAS, which will help make the transition to self-driving cars easier for uneasy vehicle owners.

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Elmar Degenhart, chairman of Continental AG, one of the auto industry’s leading suppliers of driver assistance systems, told reporters during the North American International Auto Show, that the adaptation of driver assistance systems such as blind spot detection has been encouraging.  (more…)

Ford Laying Off 1,000 Workers in Great Britain

Brigend Engine Plant loses half of its workers.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.15, 2019

Ford is cutting 1,000 jobs at the Brigend Engine Plant in Wales.

Ford of Europe is poised to eliminate more than 1,050 jobs at the Brigend Engine Plant in Wales, according to the British union representing representing them.

The company confirmed last week that it was poised to eliminate hundreds of jobs across its operations in both Great Britain and on the European continent. The Brigend plant currently employs 2,100 meaning the impending cuts would eliminate roughly 50% of the plant’s workforce.

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Ford is in the midst of a broad restructuring of its operations worldwide with analysts estimating the total number of job cuts could top 15,000 or more. (more…)

Volkswagen Building Electric Vehicles in Chattanooga

Automaker plowing $800M into new plant.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.14, 2019

Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess announced today that the company would build electric vehicles at its Chattanooga, Tennessee campus.

Volkswagen AG that it will spend $800 million to build two electric vehicles at its U.S. assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as part of the company’s global effort to broaden the appeal of electric vehicles.

“The U.S. is the world’s second-largest market for electric vehicles after China,” said Hebert Diess, Volkswagen AG CEO, who said the first U.S.-built EV, a crossover style vehicle will be ready by 2022 with the second vehicle to follow shortly afterwards.

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Diess hopes the company’s commitment building EVs in Chattanooga, and the large investment required to support it, will help keep at bay any threats of tariffs. “We are making a substantial investment in the U.S. with this announcement. We hope that counts for something,” Diess said. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Unveils New Ram Heavy Duty at NAIAS 2019

New truck may be most important intro in some time.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.14, 2019

Ram has six variants, or trim levels, for its new heavy-duty truck platform, including the 2500 HD Longhorn Edition.

Once upon a time, they talked about the cars built in Detroit.

But now pick-up trucks are the king of the road in the Motor City and the appearance of the 2019 Ram Heavy Duty pickup, with its blend of technology and power, fitted into a body that’s been completely re-engineered, will be one of the most important vehicles revealed at the 2019 edition of the North American International Auto Show.

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Executives from Fiat Chrysler Automobile N.V. describe the 2019 Ram Heavy Duty as the most powerful, most capable pickup in hotly contested and enormously profitable segment, which commands the full attention of not only FCA but also its local rivals General Motors. (more…)

GM Expects Bigger Profits, More Transformation in 2019

Company wants to make workforce changes during strong labor market.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.11, 2019

GM CEO Mary Barra is leading the transformation of the company's manufacturing footprint.

General Motors Co. expects earnings to grow in 2019 as it restructures, picks up the pace of moving towards what Chairman Mary Barra described as an “all-electric” future, and maintains its market share in China.

“We will continue to strengthen our core business and invest in the technologies that will transform the future of mobility. Managing both well is critical to position General Motors for success for generations to come,” Barra said, adding that it was better to tackle this restructuring during a strong labor market.

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“We are committed to driving significant shareholder value over the long term as we drive the transformation,” she added. (more…)

Jaguar Land Rover Cutting 4,500 Jobs in Europe

Brexit, dying diesel sales and slow sales in China driving cuts.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.11, 2019

Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth said the company was facing struggles due to Brexit and other industry issues around the globe.

Jaguar Land Rover is preparing to eliminate about 4,500 jobs worldwide as it responds to the decline of demand for diesels, the slowdown in the sales of new vehicles in China and the drag on sales created by Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, known as Brexit.

While Jaguar Land Rover enjoyed a good year in the U.S. with sales rising 7%, the company, which is the United Kingdom’s largest automaker representing roughly 10% the company’s workforce, is implementing a plan to reduce costs by $3.2 billion.

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The effort was announced last year as part of a series of moves toboost cash flow through 2020. JLR already eliminated 1,500 jobs in 2018, the company said Thursday in a statement. (more…)