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Ford won’t use GM’s 9 speed automatic transmission due to cost, efficiency snags

Several years ago, on April 15, 2013, Ford and General Motors signed an agreement to jointly use automatic transmissions that both automakers had developed. This was developed mainly for models like the F-150 and the Mustang. For the former, their part of the deal was to share its own 10 speed gearbox to rear wheel drive cars with GM, and in return, they will be able to use the 9 speed gearbox which they can use in front wheel drive crossovers, for a smoother and more efficient drive.

The gearbox seen in this photo, the Hydra-Matic 9T50, which was originally introduced in Chevy models with the 2017 Malibu, 2017 Cruze Diesel and the 2018 Equinox will not find its way inside a Ford model. Rather, the automaker opted to use an eight speed box for models like the Edge and the MKX that replaces the Lincoln Nautilus.

So what made them change their mind? Well, Ford believes that GM’s transmission is not good enough to handle the extra weight that comes from the new gear. That is not all, because it also argues that it does not justify the increased cost required for it to adapt to the Ford models. AutoPacific Inc. analyst, Dave Sullivan, even joked that if he was offered a transmission that did not require much work, outside of tuning it for a specific vehicle, he would take it and run.

Read the entire article Ford won’t use GM’s 9 speed automatic transmission due to cost, efficiency snags

President Trump meets with Big Three CEOs over efforts to open jobs in the US

It seems that the much publicized breakfast meeting between the new President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, and the chief executives of General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler was a success, given the optimistic attitudes of the carmakers’ top honchos after the discussions.

Also present in the meeting – which GM CEO Mary Barra called as “very constructive” – Matt Blunt, a former Republican governor of Missouri who now serves as head of a US automaker trade association, Vice President Mike Pence, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and other senior administration officials.

Basically, the meeting centered on bringing more jobs back to the US, which is one of the primary promises that Trump made during the presidential campaign. Discussions also included the possible policies that Trump intends to implement in the auto industry and how he plans to make it more enticing for carmakers to build more assembly plants in the US to create more jobs, thereby keeping jobs in the country.

Read the entire article President Trump meets with Big Three CEOs over efforts to open jobs in the US

Top 10 American classic cars and the staggering prices they fetch at auctions

You may have heard about specific car models that have sold a little above $100,000 or, at most, $200,000. Very impressive figures, but these figures are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how expensive cars can be when it comes to auctions where everyone tries to outbid each other by raising offers.

Yes, the Tesla Model S P85D and the new Ford GT are, without a doubt, excellent models of American cars. However, they are not the priciest, so to speak. If you’ve been avidly following auto news, you’ll find that prices for the most expensive cars in America have been skyrocketing beginning in 2004.

The bar is actually at $4 million and higher! These are not your ordinary cars either; these include historic examples that are decades older than the first car you’ve driven. Of course, European cars have always fetched an auspicious price when it comes to auctions, especially Ferraris, but it would be interesting to look at what prices American cars have been auctioned for.

Read the entire article Top 10 American classic cars and the staggering prices they fetch at auctions

Ford now has larger workforce than General Motors

Ford Motor Co. is now larger than General Motors, at least in terms of the number of workers it employs in the United States. Ten years ago, GM had about 21,000 more than its Detroit rival. Ford has been adding around 10 union jobs daily since 2011, which means it has already surpassed a target of 12,000 new jobs in that period.

In fact, Ford has already brought back all factory jobs it got rid during the recession. Ford had 50,703 hourly workers in the US as of Feb. 1, 2015, according to a report from the UAW's Ford department. On the other hand, GM has just two-thirds as many UAW members as in 2007. A spokesman for the carmaker said they have around 50,300 US hourly workers.

The former Chrysler, now FCA US, has added about 14,000 hourly jobs since its 2009 bankruptcy and now has nearly 36,000-strong workforce. Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Center for Automotive Research, remarked that the all of the Detroit 3 are getting to be about the same size.

Read the entire article Ford now has larger workforce than General Motors

General Motors and its joint ventures in China logged a 2.4-percent drop in sales in the country to 339,781 vehicles in January. The January figures came after the carmaker saw its sales jumped 32 percent and 5.3 percent in December and November 2014, respectively. For the full year 2014, GM recorded a 12-percent surge in sales.

According to GM, it is planning to make a $12-billion investment in China between 2014 and 2017 and build more assembly sites to increase its production capacity. GM’s joint ventures in China include partnerships with China FAW Group Corp and SAIC Motor Corp.

On the other hand, Ford Motor Co. and its joint ventures in China logged a 19-percent climb in sales in the Asian giant in January to 112,599 vehicles. Ford’s surge continues a trend from November and December 2014, when it posted increases of 2 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

Read the entire article GM and Ford log differing sales results in China in January 2015

China was a great market last year for American carmakers Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, both posting double-digit sales growths. Ford and its Chinese joint ventures logged a 19-percent surge in China last year to 1.11 million vehicles.

In December alone, Ford sold 13-percent more vehicles to 107,244 – just right after the carmaker had a 2-percent hop in November and a 1-percent drop in October.

According to Ford, its growth in China has been limited by lack of production capacity but is now adding new plants to address this issue. The carmaker’s production operations are being done with partners Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. Ltd. and Jiangling Motors Corp. Ltd.

Read the entire article Ford and GM log double-digit gains in China in 2014

Detroit 3 will keep some of their assembly sites in the United States running even this summer, as demand for their light trucks and SUVs continue to soar. Ford Motor Co. plans to reduce its two-week break to just one at four of its assembly sites. Chrysler Group, meanwhile, will have two US facilities running in summer -- its Jefferson North and Sterling Heights plants in southeast Michigan.

The sites build the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango and Chrysler 200. The Grand Cherokee posted this year its highest-selling May since 2000. According to Chrysler spokeswoman Shawn Morgan, consumer demand has been driving summer plans.

She noted that Chrysler certainly monitors demand for vehicles and manage the production schedule accordingly. General Motors, on the other hand, will have around a third of its sites open through the summer.

Read the entire article Detroit 3 production sites get no break this summer due to high demand

China is definitely going crazy over sports utility vehicles and crossover, and Detroit 3 is moving to capture the surging demand for those units. He Sei, a dealer for Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac in Fushun, China, told Automotive News that Chinese consumer view SUVs as sportier, more fashionable and more youthful.

He even said that he was flooded with customer calls before the first Chevrolet Trax compact crossover arrived at his dealership last week. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler would not waste effort to ride on the SUV boom in China, which also occurred in North America in the early 2000s.

GM launched the Trax at the Beijing auto show last week and vowed to introduce 10 SUVs to its seven-nameplate lineup in the next five years. On the other hand, Ford showcased a Ford Everest Concept body-on-frame 4x4 and a Lincoln MKX Concept crossover, which production versions would greatly boost its current SUV lineup comprised of four vehicles.

Read the entire article Ford, GM, Chrysler rush to cater SUV-crazy consumers in China

The economic and business environments in Russia are hitting foreign carmakers like Ford and General Motors’ Opel which are just recovering from a six-year slump in their European operations. The Russian is continuing its depreciation while economics sanctions pressed against the country – along with slumping vehicle demand – is worsening the situation for foreign carmakers.

A Ford spokesman told Automotive News last week that that carmaker has reiterated its target of returning to profitability in Europe in 2015, despite cutting output and 950 jobs at two of its three joint venture sites in Russia. General Motor integrated its Russian operations under the GM Europe umbrella on Jan. 1, 2014, which means that any market ripple in Russia with affect its revenues in Europe.

GM had a market share of 9.3 percent in Russia in 2013, according to the Association of European Businesses, making it its third-largest market in the region. An Opel spokesman told Automotive News in an e-mailed statement that the GM division has trust in the Russian market and in further growth of the auto sector in the country.

Read the entire article Ford and GM under threat over slumping Russian vehicle market

Both General Motors and Ford Motor Co. posted double-digit sales surges in China in February 2014. GM and Ford logged a 20-percent and a 67-percent year-on-year rise in sales, respectively. GM and its Chinese joint ventures with FAW Group and SAIC Motor Corp. sold 257,770 vehicles in February, the third straight month that the carmaker posted double-digit gains with a 12-percent sales rise in January and an 11.8-percent climb in December.

GM and its joint ventures have sold 605,831 vehicles since the start of 2014. Ford and its joint ventures with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. and Jiangling Motors Corp., meanwhile, sold 73,040 vehicles in China during February. The carmaker logged a 35-percent and 53-percent surges in sales in December 2013 and January 2014 respectively.

Ford and its joint ventures sold 167,506 vehicles in China in the first two months of 2014. On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Ford is planning to expand its r&d operations in China by increasing its workforce by 50 percent to around 2,000 people by 2018.

Read the entire article GM and Ford log double-digit gains in China in February 2014

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler will use a common standard to rate the towing capacities of their light-duty pickups, allowing consumers to have an accurate comparison of such capability. The standard would also reduce confusing claims from carmakers. However, the standard is not expected to end the marketing confusion since it only applies to light-duty pickups. Carmakers will still rate their heavy-duty pickups with their own standards.

Detroit will join Toyota in using a towing standard adopted by the industry in 2009 to rate 2015-model full-sized light-duty pickups. The standard -- called SAE J2807 --sets various tests for towing and is likely to trim rated towing capacities by several hundred pounds. Under the 2009 agreement, the standard was to be in place for the 2013 model year, but Ford decided not to publish lower tow ratings for its 2013 F-150, with other carmakers following suit.

Toyota was the only pickup maker to adopt the standard for the 2011 model year when it lowered the tow ratings for its full-sized Tundra pickup by 400 pounds.  Nissan, meanwhile, said that it adopts SAE J2807 vehicles when they are redesigned, just like it did for the 2013 Pathfinder. This means that the redesigned Titan due 2015 will use the standard. Ford spokesman Mike Levine told Automotive News that the 2015 F-150 will have a new towing rating to complement its new aluminum body.

Read the entire article Detroit 3 to use new towing rate standard for light-duty pickups

Ford Motor Co. has acquired the services of former General Motors executive Don Butler. He is now in charge of leading Ford’s new global vehicle connectivity department as executive director of connected vehicles and services. “Not only does Don understand the connected car landscape, but probably just as important, he understands customer expectations,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development chief, in a statement.

He remarked that Don is a leader with technology experience both inside and outside the auto industry.  Ford has disclosed it will expand its Sync AppLink that allows users to control smartphone apps using voice commands by an additional 3.4 million vehicles in 2014. A 25-year veteran in GM with roles in marketing and product planning, Butler made a surprise exit from GM.

He was Cadillac’s top marketing executive from March 2010 to April, when he was named to a global business development post.  Butler also had held marketing roles at Pontiac, Chevrolet and OnStar and was in charge of GM Egypt from 2005 to 2007. In 2009, Butler departed GM for a telematics startup in Seattle before returning as Cadillac’s marketing boss.

Read the entire article Ex-GM exec Don Butler now leading new Ford department

Each member of the so-called Detroit 3 is expecting a gain in their shares of the United States vehicle market. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler entered December 2013 growing faster than any carmaker in the US. In a span of around 25 years, they only grew faster than the rest of the industry once, in 2011, when the earthquake and tsunami in Japan wiped out a good part of Toyota and Honda’s inventories, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Americans have been purchasing US-made vehicles ranging from Chrysler’s Dodge value brand to General Motors' Cadillac luxury marque, as the Detroit 3 made available newer and more variety of vehicles in their showrooms.

By offering vehicles like Ford Fusion, the Detroit 3 were able to break free from the longtime enigma of choosing between producing high volume or charging enough to earn profits on their offerings. Each of them hiked the average selling prices of their vehicles in 2013 while outpacing the US auto market that is bound to post its fifth straight year of expansion in 2014.

"Prior to 2009, for Detroit it was 'pick one,'" Bloomberg analyst Kevin Tynan said in a telephone interview. "If you were doing volume, you weren't doing any kind of pricing or profitability.” On the other hand, Tynan said, “if you were doing any kind of pricing, you weren't getting any volume.” He said that being able to do both has been significant for the US carmakers. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

Read the entire article Detroit 3 expected to post higher market shares in the US

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are extending holiday downtime at number of their assembly sites in North America to keep vehicles inventories in check. On the other hand, Chrysler Group is adding production shifts over the holidays at its Ohio and Michigan sites that produce Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups. Most carmakers are planning a downtime on their North American sites starting Dec. 23, 2013 and aim to resume output on Jan. 2, 2014.

According to sources by Automotive News, GM is extending the downtime at the two plants by an extra week after the holidays due to excessive supplies -- Fairfax site in Kansas City, which assembles the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse; and the “flex” line at its Oshawa, Ontario site that builds the Buick Regal, Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Camaro.

GM and its dealers had a 148-day supply of LaCrosse models on Dec. 1, 2013, up from 98 days a month ago, according to the Automotive News Data Center.  As of Dec. 1, 2013, the Malibu had 71 days of supply (up from 60 days fromNov. 1); the Regal had 99 days (previous: 88 days); XTS had 105 days (previous: 131); and the Camaro had 167 days (previous: 135 days).

Read the entire article GM and Ford extend downtimes at several plants after holidays

The Australian auto industry is facing extinction following the recent decision of General Motors Co. to stop its vehicle production in the country. The decision came just seven months after Ford Motor Co. made a similar announcement. GM recently said that its Holden unit will stop production in 2017. This prompted the other major carmaker in Australia, Toyota Motor Corp., to say that GM’s decision will place “unprecedented pressure” on parts makers.

The carmaker also questioned the merits of remaining in a country where an appreciating local currency and dropping import tariffs have resulted to lower sales of Australian-made cars by almost half since 2007. Should Ford, GM and Toyota leave the country, it would have unprecedented impact on the economy, as they have around 150 suppliers that employ around 42,000 people.

Holden’s exit from Australia also places more pressure on Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is facing increasing unemployment and deteriorating consumer sentiment. Martin Whetton, an interest-rate strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc. remarked that GM’s announcement will be “a major blow to confidence in the run-up to Christmas, as job losses will exacerbate an already heightened sense of insecurity.”

Read the entire article Australian auto industry faces extinction over GM and Ford pullout

General Motors has unveiled the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 at the Texas State Fair as it makes a bid to catch up to Ford Motor Co. in the race for heavy-duty truck sales. GM's re-engineered heavy-duty trucks boast of a new exterior and cab design and now include features found on the redesigned light-duty Silverado and Sierra 1500.

According to executives at GM, the improvements can increase Chevrolet and GMC's combined heavy-duty market share – currently at 36 percent – and surpass Ford’s 38 percent share. The heavy-duty truck market amounted to 435,000 units in 2012. According to GM’s estimates, Chrysler’s Ram holds 26 percent of the heavy duty market.

John Schwegman, executive director for U.S. product and pricing on GM trucks, said that they expect to “change the rank order of those numbers by brand with [their] new truck.Improvements include a more aerodynamic front end as well as doors inlaid into the body recesses to cut wind noise. Likewise a torsion bar allows for a gently opening rear tailgate.

Read the entire article GM chasing Ford with new heavy duty trucks

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are taking separate routes as they to capture innovative ideas and technology that could bring change to the auto industry. Both Detroit-based carmakers are intending to develop and use a similar range of advanced technologies that many believes, particularly those from Silicon Valley, could become game-changers.

However, GM's approach is centered on venture capital, which is money provided to early-stage, high-potential yet high-risk startups. Adopting a practice common in Silicon Valley, GM set up a corporate venture capital group in 2010, which since has been providing early-stage funding to entrepreneurs and startup firms in sectors that include advanced materials to alternate fuels.

These startups are typically those who have the potential to develop a new technology that could be critical to a carmaker's growth. Once the technology becomes fully developed, a carmaker has the option to adopt it to use on its models, thus becoming that startup's first customer.

Read the entire article GM and Ford taking different venture capital routes to capture innovative technology

Carlos Tavares, Renault SA’s chief operating officer, admitted that he is unlikely to succeed Carlos Ghosn as the next chief executive of the French carmaker. "We have a big leader and he is here to stay," Tavares told Bloomberg. Renault's COO remarked “anyone who is passionate about the auto industry” will conclude that there is a point where one has “the energy and appetite” for a top post.

So, Tavares wants to become the top honcho at General Motors Co. or Ford Motor Co., which CEOs Dan Akerson and Alan Mulally are expected to retire soon. However, Tavares is not the only auto executive aiming to lead one of the Detroit 3. With the US auto industry healthy once again, executives who helped Ford, GM and Chrysler overcome financial collapse and the US economic downturn are bound to have the better curriculum vitae, making them more likely to gain the top post at one of the Detroit 3.

Richard Kolpasky, a managing director at recruiter Boyden Global Executive Search, remarked to Bloomberg that top of the auto industry is filled with "extremely bright, extremely ambitious people" who have the desire to be No. 1., but noted that there is “only one CEO chair when the music stops. In October 2012, Ford named Mark Fields as its new COO, making him a frontrunner to the race to succeed Mullaly as the carmaker’s new CEO.

Read the entire article Renault COO is eyeing CEO post at GM or Ford

Both General Motors and Ford Motor Co. posted smaller losses in Europe in the second quarter of 2013, which may signal the vehicle market has already reached it rock bottom and has started to recover. However, GM and Ford believe otherwise. The US carmakers believe that the lower losses in the second quarter of 2013 were just because they were able to successfully isolate the problem in Europe, partly thanks to a resurging market in the United States.

They are not bound to believe that the European vehicle market is on its way to recovery from the weak demand, which so far has caused them to bleed almost $2 billion each. The US carmakers managed to contain the damage of the weak European by borrowing some strategies they implement to get on their feet from the US recession a couple of years ago.

These strategies include aligning supply with demand and reducing output capacity where possible. The US carmaker has also been emphasizing retail over fleet customers and focusing on improved products and brand positioning.

Read the entire article GM and Ford still unsure in Europe despite lower region losses

US carmakers General Motors and Ford Motor Co. recently remarked that they made significant improvement in their plans due to rising interest rates used to calculate the cost of future pension payments to retirees.  Both GM and Ford are burdened by what is considered as some of the largest pension obligations among all companies in the United States, as they try to free up more cash to invest in future models. 

Higher interest rates lower the cost of future pension payments. This means that pension shortfalls could fall without larger payments by the companies. This allows companies to spend and invest more on their business and less on retirees, allowing them to develop and build more competitive cars like the Chevrolet Impala and Ford Fusion as well as to post better-than-expected profits.

Michael Razewski, principal at Douglas C. Lane & Associates, remarked to Bloomberg that “it's one less thing investors have to worry about on the risk side."

Read the entire article Pension burden at General Motors and Ford eases