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By William Maley
In April of 2013, Ford and General Motors announced they would be working together on developing new nine and ten-speed automatic transmissions. The nine-speed automatic would be for front-wheel drive models, while rear-drive models got the ten-speed. Already, a number of Ford and GM vehicles are using the ten-speed. But GM will be the only one using the nine-speed.
Automotive News reports that Ford is electing to use a new series of eight-speed automatic transmission on their vehicles. The company said the new nine-speed didn't provide enough of an improvement in fuel economy to justify the added cost and weight. According to a source, Ford made this decision before GM began to use this transmission on their production models.
"Typically, if anyone gave me a transmission that didn't require much work, outside of tuning it for a specific vehicle, I would take it and run. It's a lot of design work after the fact to come up with their own flavor. It shows there might be some different schools of thought in terms of transmission efficiency," said Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific Inc.
While GM claims the nine-speed brings “smoother shifts” and a better driving experience, it hasn't brought any real gains to fuel economy. The 2017 Chevrolet Malibu 2.0T only saw an increase of one mpg on the highway when compared to the 2016 model with a six-speed automatic (33 vs. 32). The 2019 Buick Envision 2.0T saw its highway fuel economy drop by one when equipped with the nine-speed auto (25 vs. 26).
It should be noted that one of the eight-speed transmissions Ford is using is based on the new nine-speed, minus a gear.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
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By William Maley
Cadillac's leadership is seeing a major change as current president Johan de Nysschen will be stepping down effective immediately. In his place will be Steve Carlisle who is currently president and managing director of GM Canada.
“We appreciate Johan’s efforts over the last four years in setting a stronger foundation for Cadillac. Looking forward, the world is changing rapidly, and, beginning with the launch of the new XT4, it is paramount that we capitalize immediately on the opportunities that arise from this rate of change. This move will further accelerate our efforts in that regard,” said General Motors President Dan Ammann in a statement.
No reason was given as to why de Nysschen is leaving after leading the brand for over three years. His tenure saw Cadillac make a number of dramatic changes including moving the brand's headquarters to New York City and introducing a new nomenclature system.
Steve Carlisle has been part of GM since 1982 when he was an industrial engineering co-op student at the Oshawa assembly plant. He was named the president of GM Canada back in 2014 and helped the region get back on its feet. Last year, GM was number one in retail sales in Canada, with Buick, Cadillac, and GMC posting their best ever sales.
“The potential for Cadillac across the globe is incredible and I’m honored to be chosen to be a part of mapping that future. I look forward to building on our current momentum as we continue on our mission to position Cadillac at the pinnacle of luxury,” said Carlisle.
We'll be updating this story if any new information comes out.
UPDATE: Automotive News and Wards Auto have learned some possible reasons as to why de Nysschen was shown the door. One is Cadillac's slumping sales. In 2017, sales in the U.S. dropped eight percent - the second straight year of a sales decline. Sales are doing slightly better in 2018 - up 8.1 percent - some of this is due to incentives being placed on slow-selling models.
Project Pinnacle which was de Nysschen's ambitious incentive plan that would divide dealers into five tiers based on sales volume. Each tier would have different requirements in terms of showroom and service, along with perks. One contentious point that irked a number of dealers was smaller dealers setting up a "virtual showroom" where buyers could order vehicles. These dealers would not be able to stock Cadillac vehicles. Since then, Project Pinnacle has undergone a number of changes.
Wards Auto says de Nysschen didn't move fast enough to join the fast-growing trend of crossovers. Cadillac has introduced the XT4 at the New York Auto Show last month are there plans to launch a couple more in the coming years, but this is only going to widen the gap between Cadillac and competitors.
Both outlets report there has been growing tension between de Nysschen and GM. Such examples include him proclaiming that "Cadillac would be the technical leader at GM in the future," partly due to the launch of SuperCruise. Apparently, de Nysschen forgot about the Chevrolet Bolt and Volt. There was also the comment he made about Apple's CarPlay saying it was “extremely clunky”. (Mr. de Nysschen, have you even used CUE?! -WM)
Source: General Motors
GM Names Steve Carlisle Senior VP and President, Cadillac
Johan de Nysschen leaves GM to pursue other interests; Travis Hester becomes president and managing director, GM Canada DETROIT — General Motors today announced the appointment of Steve Carlisle as General Motors senior vice president and president, Cadillac, replacing Johan de Nysschen, who is leaving the company effective immediately.
Travis Hester, currently vice president, Global Product Programs, is named president and managing director, GM Canada, replacing Carlisle. The transition will begin immediately.
“We appreciate Johan’s efforts over the last four years in setting a stronger foundation for Cadillac,” said General Motors President Dan Ammann. “Looking forward, the world is changing rapidly, and, beginning with the launch of the new XT4, it is paramount that we capitalize immediately on the opportunities that arise from this rate of change. This move will further accelerate our efforts in that regard.”
Carlisle was most recently president and managing director of GM Canada, where he led a resurgence of the GM Canada franchise. In 2017, GM was number one in automotive retail sales in Canada, with Buick, GMC and Cadillac achieving their best ever sales years. Carlisle also reestablished key relationships in Canada with retailers, employees and government officials.
“The potential for Cadillac across the globe is incredible and I’m honored to be chosen to be a part of mapping that future,” said Carlisle. “I look forward to building on our current momentum as we continue on our mission to position Cadillac at the pinnacle of luxury.”
Carlisle will report to Dan Ammann.
Carlisle began his GM career in 1982 as an industrial engineering co-op student at the Oshawa Truck Assembly Plant. Over the course of his career with General Motors, Carlisle has held several senior leadership positions that have taken him across the globe, including vice president, Global Product Planning (2010-2014); vice president, U.S. Sales Operations (2010); and president and managing director, Southeast Asia Operations (2007-2010).
Hester brings extensive global leadership and global product development experience to his new role at GM Canada. Since 2016, he has led the team responsible for balancing all aspects of vehicle development, including quality, cost, appearance, purchasing, customer acceptance and performance targets.
Hester will report to Alan Batey, president, GM North America.
Hester began his GM career in 1995 in Australia as a technical support engineer for GM Holden. He held a variety of positions in Australia before moving to the U.S. in 2005. Since 2005, Hester has held engineering positions in both the U.S. and China, including chief engineer for several global premium luxury vehicles, the Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse and the Chevrolet Sonic. Hester became vice president, Global Product Programs, in 2016.
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By William Maley
Another day, another raid by German prosecutors into Volkswagen's diesel emission scandal. Yesterday, 160 investigators conducted searches in about 10 premises in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg owned by Porsche. Prosecutors said in a statement to Reuters the raids are part of an investigation into Porsche employees on charges of fraud and fraudulent advertising tied to the cheating software used on diesel engines.
“The three suspects include a member of the management board and a member of Porsche AG’s higher management. The third suspect is no longer employed at Porsche AG,” said prosecutors.
A Porsche spokesman confirmed the searches to Reuters, but declined to comment any further.
On the same day, two Audi sites were also searched according to Stuttgart prosecutors and an Audi spokesman. The searches relate to another investigation dealing with the diesel emission scandal.
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By William Maley
Ahead of releasing this month's sales numbers, General Motors has announced that it will start reporting sales quarterly instead of monthly.
“Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market. Reporting sales quarterly better aligns with our business, and the quality of information will make it easier to see how the business is performing,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president, Sales Operations in a statement this morning.
GM cites many reasons for the change to quarterly reporting - weather, product launches, number of selling days, incentives, and seasonal factors.
“It’s not that (GM) doesn’t want to talk about how many cars they are selling or if they’re having a bad month. They’re still going to report everything quarterly,” explained IHS Markit analyst Stephanie Brinley.
“It changes the tone of the story, because with month-to-month results it is difficult to really get a good picture of the industry.”
"I understand the reasons they are doing it. There can be a lot of fluctuation during a month," said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst with Autotrader to Automotive News.
Krebs went onto say that other automakers might consider following General Motors lead. She used the example of Chrysler which ended the practice of reporting sales-figures for 10 days in 1991. Other automakers would follow suit, but it took some time. GM didn't make the switch till 1994.
"What happened was they decided to go monthly, and everybody did it. That would make me believe everybody is going to follow suit and follow GM's lead."
But this move could bring forth some unattended consequences. Monthly sales numbers are used by many people and industries to help gauge the economy. It could also make estimates made by third-parties not fully reflect the automaker’s performance.
“Right now, the market looks at whether someone comes in above or below forecasts. If GM’s sales are estimated monthly, those estimates could be really high and then the results come in lower when you look at quarterly sales. That could have unintended consequences.”
But the inverse - GM posting higher sales numbers than what was estimated - is also true.
One thing is certain, we just don't know how this is going to work out.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), The Detroit News, General Motors
Press Release is on Page 2
GM to Begin Reporting U.S. Sales on a Quarterly Basis
DETROIT – General Motors announced today it will begin reporting its U.S. vehicle sales on a quarterly basis, effective immediately. In 2018, second quarter sales will be released on July 3, third quarter sales on October 2 and fourth quarter sales on January 3, 2019.
“Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president, Sales Operations. “Reporting sales quarterly better aligns with our business, and the quality of information will make it easier to see how the business is performing.”
In the auto industry, monthly sales are subject to many issues that make them more volatile than quarterly sales, including product launch activity, weather, other seasonal factors, the number of selling days and incentive activity.
GM’s high level of transparency on total, brand and nameplate sales, fleet mix and inventory will not change. The company will also continue sharing J.D. Power PIN estimates for incentive spending and average transaction prices.
The company’s March 2018 U.S. sales will be released today at 9:30 a.m. EDT.
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By William Maley
The U.S. Justice Department has offered Fiat Chrysler Automobiles a possible settlement over its emissions-cheating EcoDiesel engine. But it will likely cost FCA a large chunk of cash.
Bloomberg obtained a copy of the settlement offer that was sent to FCA's lawyers. The key detail of the proposed settlement says the settlement “must include very substantial civil penalties” that discourage others future violations and that “adequately reflect the seriousness of the conduct that led to these violations.” The proposed settlement doesn't mention an end of the criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
Spokespeople for FCA did not respond for comment.
Bloomberg also obtained a term sheet sent by FCA to Government lawyers back in December. In the sheet, FCA acknowledged that the final settlement would include "civil penalties, an emissions fix for the diesel vehicles and environmental mitigation efforts." The mitigation efforts could include "projects to promote low- or zero-emissions “mobility projects”."
The saga of FCA's EcoDiesel mess dates back to last January when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused the automaker of having multiple defeat devices installed on the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - used in the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Since then, FCA has been working with the EPA and Justice Department on trying to clear this mess up. The automaker has also brought their 2017 and 2018 models equipped with the EcoDiesel into compliance via new software and hopes to do the same for the older models.
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