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Bill Visnic

is an AutoObserver Senior Editor. Follow @AutoObserver on Twitter

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GM, Do The Right Thing For Colorado

October 17, 2011

Great move by General Motors Co. to get Chevrolet “back” into the midsize pickup segment with the all-new, Brazil-and-Thailand-developed Colorado. On looks alone, the new Colorado won’t have any trouble shouldering to the top of a segment automakers abandoned like an unwanted dog when their spreadsheet geeks demanded absolute focus on full-size pickups. more


My New Hero: Mike Jackson

May 31, 2011

Many in the auto business know Mike Jackson. The Chairman and CEO of AutoNation Inc. and before that, president and CEO at Mercedes-Benz USA, Jackson is the antithesis of the auto-industry empty suit, long ago earning a reputation as cut-to-the-chase exec who knows how to do it right. I suspect my general politics may not be entirely aligned with Jackson's, but at last week's inaugural Safety Conference in Washington, D.C., he nonetheless became my new idol with a simple presentation that outlined the steps the nation should be taking if we really want safer highways. Almost none would more

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Our Tax Compass Needs Recalibrating

March 29, 2011

Quite the dust-up last Friday when the New York Times reported giant multinational General Electric paid zero U.S. taxes last year. The subsequent discourse – most of it outraged – got downright entertaining this week when GE set to damage-controlling the uncomfortable revelation and the convoluted ’splainin’ mostly made the company appear more guilty. more

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Supersized Ford Bonuses Deserved. Relatively

March 11, 2011

In the aftermath of the improbably rapid turnarounds for General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, Detroit’s suddenly awash in bonus money, but it really sloshed out over the rim at Ford, where CEO Alan Mulally knocked down $56 million worth of stock and executive chairman Bill Ford, Jr., banked a little more than $42 million. The numbers almost don’t matter -- although Mulally’s payout is 11,000 times the average hourly worker’s profit-sharing check -- it’s more about what such ponderous bonuses purportedly represent: extraordinary executive leadership. more

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Take My Pickup -- Please!

February 22, 2011

It took the Chrysler Group LLC about an hour to respond at the recent Chicago auto show, where Hyundai Motor America president and CEO John Krafcik publicly declared there’s a price war going down. Chrysler’s answer took an intriguing direction: the launch of the Tradesman, a new variant of the Ram fullsize pickup, stuffed with the company’s Hemi V8 but priced barely more than a well-equipped compact car. It quickly followed up the Tradesman’s unexpectedly positive Chicago-show buzz by announcing a similarly-priced companion Ram model, tentatively named Adventurer and targeted at first-time buyers. more

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Worse Than 'Global Warming is a Crock'

February 8, 2011

Someone had to take over from former General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz as the guy who might just say anything, and Sergio Marchionne is making his case. more

Who's Defending Their Turf? Follow the Money

January 31, 2011

The industry got a little euphoric when December sales vaulted past 2.2 million vehicles and the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate hit almost 12.5 million - the highest SAAR of the year and the highest since late 2008 (except for August, 2009's Cash for Clunkers-induced 14.1-million SAAR aberration). more

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North American Auto Production Projected to Increase 7 Percent

January 18, 2011

Auto production in North America will increase by 7 percent this year, according to one auto analyst, while the often-cited "downsizing" of the U.S. market begins in earnest. At the recent Society of Automotive Analysts Automotive Outlook Conference prior to the Detroit auto show, Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting for J.D. Power and Associates, said that although there will be a production increase to about 12.6 million vehicles this year, he doesn't expect automakers to build the excessive inventories that in prior years led to the incentive wars and unprofitable sales that helped lead companies such as more

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Detroit Auto Show: What Worked. What Didn't

January 14, 2011

The 2011 edition of the Detroit auto show, coming at the start of what may be a long, gradual industry rebound, certainly wasn't as downtrodden as the 2010 version. The 2011 Detroit show was, in fact, surprisingly interesting if one discounts the fact the three headline unveilings - Honda Civic, Volkswagen Passat and Toyota Prius V - all could broadly be described as comparatively mundane family cars. Here's how AutoObserver grades the Detroit auto show's most significant vehicles: more

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Chrysler CEO Confirms Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Other Product

January 14, 2011

Although the now-discontinued Jeep Commander won't be fondly remembered in the brand's annals, CEO Sergio Marchionne said that won't stop Chrysler Group LLC from taking another run at a Jeep with three rows of seats, this time reviving the Grand Wagoneer nameplate for a new and better mega-upscale Jeep coming in the 2013 timeframe. Declaring the ungainly and unloved Commander "unfit for human consumption," Marchionne divulged the plan for a Grand Wagoneer during a roundtable with reporters. He asserted that when nearly all Chrysler dealers soon complete the conversion to handling all four of the company's brands, there is more

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