Commentary by Guest Authors

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Auto Industry Commentary Moves to

By Jeff Hester December 14, 2011

Thank you for your interest in's commentary on the automotive industry. is being integrated into a new area of Commentary now can be found at To stay connected via social media as well, please follow on Twitter@edmunds and fan on Facebook at more

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Car Sales Mini-Bubble Should Last Into 2012

By Lacey Plache December 5, 2011

Auto sales topped 13 million at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for the third month in a row in November. November’s SAAR of 13.6 million demonstrated particular strength, compared to September’s 13.1 million and October’s 13.3 million. But should the auto industry expect this sales trajectory indefinitely? Not exactly. Current sales levels do not reflect a significant shift in underlying economic fundamentals, despite some recent positive indicators. Rather, new car buyers are coming back to the market after delaying purchases this summer when productions shortages from the Japanese earthquake limited supply and raised prices. more

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Operation Twist Won't Help Car Sales

By Lacey Plache September 26, 2011

The Federal Reserve has announced a novel policy called Operation Twist, but it has little ability to make car buyers get up and dance -- or buy cars. Operation Twist plans a reshuffling of the Fed’s portfolio to replace shorter term debt with longer term debt. Its goal is to lower longer term interest rates, in hopes of stimulating borrowing to spur economic growth. Unfortunately, declining consumer confidence and a stalled labor market recovery, not high interest rates, are key factors limiting growth. As a result, this policy is unlikely to have a significant impact on the economy in more

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Low Consumer Sentiment Concerning For Car Sales

By Lacey Plache August 12, 2011

Today’s discouraging consumer sentiment reading supports concerns that falling consumer confidence could undermine auto sales momentum in August, although favorable buying conditions and deferred demand remain strong counterforces. Consumer sentiment fell sharply from July’s 63.7 to 54.9 in the mid-month August reading from Reuters/University of Michigan. Consumers have had ample cause for consternation, between the debt crisis in Europe, the debt ceiling negotiations and eventual debt downgrade in the U.S., and the ensuing stock market turbulence. Talk of another U.S. recession has increased as well. Given these factors, it is not surprising that sentiment has taken a dive. In more

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Car Sales Just Might Save The Economy

By Lacey Plache August 8, 2011

July car sales, coupled with recent growth in jobs, constitute a direct challenge to growing concerns that the auto industry’s ability to regain sales momentum as production recovers is in jeopardy. Such concerns have surfaced recently as a result of declining consumer confidence and weak economic conditions. However, July car sales increased to 12.2 million units on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis (SAAR), after two months in which sales sharply fell in response to shortages and higher prices. Friday’s jobs report revealed that 117,000 nonfarm jobs were added to the economy in July, contributing positive economic news to what more

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Weak 2011 Growth No Threat To Car Sales Now

By Lacey Plache August 1, 2011

Car sales in 2011 have shown growing strength and then weakness, but Friday’s release of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data reveals a pattern of weakness and then somewhat less weakness for the overall economy during the same period. GDP growth results for the first quarter of 2011 were revised downward significantly from 1.9 to 0.4 percent on an annualized basis. Second-quarter growth came in at 1.3 percent, weaker than the expected 1.9 percent. What does this mean for the auto industry, the largest single industry contributing to GDP? more

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Unemployment Is A Speed Bump, Not A Trend

By Lacey Plache June 8, 2011

After three months of healthy job creation, the labor market recovery slowed in May. According to the Establishment Survey, the economy added a mere 54,000 non-farm jobs, a result that fell far short of consensus expectations of 170,000. In addition, both March and April figures were revised downward to 194,000 and 232,000, respectively. Only 83,000 new non-farm private sector jobs were created in May, compared with the 244,000 added on average in February through April. Key private-sector industries adding jobs included professional and business services, health care, and mining, while other private-sector industries saw little change in their employment more

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Less Confident Consumers Threaten Car Sales

By Lacey Plache June 1, 2011

Consumer confidence fell from 66.0 in April to 60.8 in May, its lowest level in 2011 to date. Consumers’ assessments of both present and future conditions declined, with the more marked declines on future expectations. In particular, consumers reported more negative expectations regarding job availability and income growth. The drop in confidence represents a sharp reversal of the generally upward trend in confidence since October 2010. more

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China: Familiar, But With A Longer Wheelbase

By Paul Seredynski April 24, 2011

First time visitors to China and the Shanghai Auto Show such as myself have a lot to drink in. You think you know a lot about cars until you walk into an exhibition hall filled with shiny new metal and you can't identify a single brand, never mind recognize a model name. Everything seems auto-show familiar, but with a Chinese twist. As a pop star with the most haunting voice you've never heard (Karen Mok) croons about Route 66 over at the Cadillac stand, a parade of costumed pandas strolls the aisles. Safely on the Audi stand, you think more

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Cell Phone States of Mind

By Karl Brauer March 29, 2011

We've all been inspired to at least think, if not actually scream "Hang up and DRIVE!", when we see a car drifting out of its lane, sitting motionless at a green light or slamming on the brakes at the last minute -- all while the driver talks into a phone he or she is cradling in one hand. Yet, depending on where you live, said driver could be in clear violation of the law or represent entirely legal behavior. more

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After The Zoom

By Paul Seredynski March 17, 2011

Mazda recently loaned us a CX-9 to attend the introduction of the 2012 Mazda5 in nearby San Diego. The CX-9 is one of our favorite SUVs, and continues to impress with a nimbleness that belies its shadow footprint. You’d never suspect that the fluid and frisky CX-9 shares its seven-seat segment with Ford’s Flex, as its chassis actually speaks the language of driving enthusiasts. For those in need of the seats and space, there is still a Zoom-Zoom option. more

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Product Placement: It's All About Context

By Karl Brauer February 28, 2011

When Blake Griffin hopped over a Kia Optima as part of the NBA All-Star Weekend it created a 20 percent bump in consideration for Kia, and a 104 percent hike in consideration for the Kia Optima on If those numbers sound huge, they are. They rival the kind of numbers Chrysler enjoyed after its much-discussed ad featuring Eminem aired during the Super Bowl on February 6th. more

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Why 30 Isn't the New 40

By Paul Seredynski February 28, 2011

Honda joined the chorus last week, announcing that the upcoming 2012 Civic will deliver more than 40 miles per gallon (mpg). Oddly, this set some of the media into a tizzy: Like almost every other manufacturer, only particular versions of the Civic (there are, like... 70) will exceed an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 40 mpg. more

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Gas Prices Attack

By Karl Brauer February 22, 2011

I was driving my Ford GT home the other day when the low fuel warning light came on. "No biggie" I thought. I'll just stop for fuel on my way home and fill 'er up. But my way home includes traveling through Malibu, Calif., along the Pacific Coast Highway, and the fuel requirement on my Ford GT's filler door reads "PREMIUM." All this added up to paying $4.35 a gallon (above), or $65 for 15 gallons. more

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Automakers Scored in Super Bowl Ads

By Karl Brauer February 10, 2011

The final results are in, and the winners of Super Bowl XLV were Chevrolet and Volkswagen, with Chrysler earning a very honorable mention. That's according to television ratings authority Nielsen, which today reported a record-setting 119,628,000 viewers of the Chevrolet Camaro ad. Right behind the Camaro ad was another Chevrolet commercial, the Chevrolet Cruze spot, which was seen by 119,333,000 viewers. Both of these Chevrolet ads beat the previous record held by a Doritos commercial from 2010 (with 116,231,000 viewers). more

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Honda Plays It Safe With 9th-Generation 2012 Civic

By Paul Seredynski January 13, 2011

Honda took the wraps off concept versions of its 2012 Civic Si coupe and Civic sedan Monday at the Detroit auto show. In typical Honda fashion, the concept vehicles are just lightly modified versions of the production cars that will go on sale in the U.S market this spring. Also in Honda fashion, the concepts previewed a design that takes little risk and seeks to serve the compact market with the widest variety of models in the segment. more

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2010: Top 15 Industry Newsmakers of the Year

By Dale Buss December 29, 2010

Industry leaders good at casting visions and those who excel at cleaning up dominated the news in 2010. As the U.S. auto market chugged definitively out of the Great Recession, visionaries such as Volkswagen's Martin Winterkorn and Fiat's Sergio Marchionne helped prove that robust plans, and personalities to match, can still drive the industry. Just as important for 2010, however, were newsmakers who fulfilled niche but crucial roles in pulling the industry out of one of the toughest markets in history, such as General Motors' Dan Akerson and Steven Rattner, the former federal auto czar. Here's our list of more

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2010: The Year in Marketing

By Dale Buss December 28, 2010

Economics, politics, finance and safety engineering all took the front seat for the auto industry at various times during 2010, diminishing the primary roles that products and marketing typically assume during good times. But when it came to branding and marketing, there were still plenty of important, impactful - and intriguing - things going on. Here's our list of the Top Ten Marketing Stories of 2010 in the U.S. auto industry, in order of their overall significance: more

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Ewanick Leaps into Role of First-Ever GM Global Marketing Czar

By Dale Buss December 20, 2010

Joel Ewanick last week was named the first-ever global marketing czar for General Motors Co. He vowed to focus on empowering GM's brands around the world each to play to their regional strengths rather than take what he called a top-down, "cookie-cutter approach." "It's easy to 'peanut-butter' a marketing idea around the world: take a big idea and spread it everywhere," Ewanick told in an interview the same day it was announced he would be GM's global chief marketing officer. "We're not looking for easy solutions, but hard solutions - we're looking for the character of a Chevrolet, more

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Chrysler's 2011 Lineup: Clearly Better - But is That Good Enough?

By Karl Brauer December 8, 2010

Chrysler Group LLC's 2011 product-line revamp is one of the most aggressive - and extensive -in the company's 85-year history. This is despite the fact that only two vehicles, the 2011 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee, were completely redesigned for the 2011 model year. Although both vehicles represent a substantial leap forward in terms of chassis design and drivetrain technology, it's Chrysler's effort throughout the remainder of its product portfolio that reflect Sergio Marchionne's clear interest in rebuilding these brands. As Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of the Dodge brand, told on the eve of the recent more

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November Sales Uptick Feeds Industry Expectations

By AutoObserver Staff December 1, 2010

Holiday spirits are bright across most of the U.S. auto industry this week after carmakers posted November sales about 18 percent higher than a year earlier, and at a strengthening seasonally adjusted annual rate sales pace of about 12.2 million units for the second consecutive month. more

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Chevrolet Volt Leaves Consumers Charged, Somewhat Confused

By David Greene November 30, 2010

Chevrolet Volt: do consumers get it? No," chuckled my passenger, a manager from General Motors' factory in Hamtramck, Mich., the assembly plant for the Volt, which will release the first customer-ready cars today. GM educating consumers may be the automaker's biggest challenge with the Volt as consumers "getting" the Volt is key to its success. We at, the parent of, figured a visit to a consumer preview of the Volt was the best place to hear GM's pitch to potential customers -- and to get a read on consumer reaction to the car -- and their understanding more

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Chevrolet Volt: What Might Kill GM's Next Electric Car?

By Karl Brauer November 29, 2010

It's all over but the selling. General Motors has fully and effectively introduced the all-new 2011 Chevrolet Volt to an eager American public (and media). The journalists have all driven it, the Twitter and Facebook pages are in place, and there's even a host of celebrity and high-profile endorsements for the car, ranging from electric vehicle enthusiast Alexandra Paul to President Barack Obama. There's no denying the awareness and image boost the Volt has provided to GM over the past few weeks, and given the automaker's recent history that alone may justify the car's $1 billion investment. But the bigger more

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Nissan Committed to EVs, But Reaffirms Faith in Pickups, Too

By Karl Brauer November 19, 2010

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. has enjoyed renown for many things, but most recently, its commitment to electric-vehicle technology, as evidenced by the soon-to-be-on-the-road Leaf battery-electric car. But in an interview with editors prior to this week's Los Angeles auto show, Carlos Tavares, Nissan Americas chairman, said the company also plans to enhance its presence at the other end of the spectrum: with pickup trucks. Although Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. seem ready to vacate their once-dominant positions in the midsize-pickup segment, for example, Tavares said Nissan plans to redouble its efforts in all areas of the more

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Carmakers Keep Lid on Cautious Optimism at L.A. Auto Show

By Danny King November 19, 2010

In Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon, all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. Talk to executives at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which opens to the public for nine days starting tomorrow, and you might come away with the same impression. Carmakers generally touted their market-share gains, increased popularity of their newest models and their own technology to best address the mandate of increasingly stringent fuel economy standards. But their forecast for the broad industry's near-term prospects? Meh. more

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Volvo: 800,000 Sales a Year by 2020, Highlighted with Green

By AutoObserver Staff November 17, 2010

By Michelle Krebs and Danny King Swedish brand Volvo, now owned by China's Geely, has its sights set on selling 800,000 vehicles a year around the globe, with a heavy emphasis on environmentally friendly models, Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby said in his keynote address to open the Los Angeles Auto Show today. "If we play our cards right, I can imagine Volvo selling 800,000 cars per year by 2020," said Jacoby, who left Volkswagen of America in summer to head Volvo under Chinese ownership. Volvo will have to play its cards right. In 2009, Volvo, which was then owned more

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Academic Researchers Conclude Product Matters - A Lot

By Glenn Mercer November 15, 2010

Product matters.  When it comes to truisms, "product matters" reigns supreme in the automotive industry. It dominates automaker thinking as much as do similar assertions in other fields, such as in baseball: "It's all about pitching." But how does it matter, and how much does it matter? A recent and exhaustive study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) concluded, in fact, that product matters more than any other lever management can pull. The relative rates of new product introduction - the rate at which models are restyled or refreshed -- wholly explains the rise of Japanese brands in more

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Major Makers Report Encouraging Sales for October

By AutoObserver Staff November 3, 2010

Traditionally, October is a relatively uneventful month in the U.S. automotive calendar, stuck between the new-model excitement of September and retailers' typical end-of-the-year push for sales. That's why major American automakers were just fine with industry-wide October sales of 949,644 units. Though they were about flat with September's sales, October results improved by 14 percent over October 2009 sales of 763,050 units, representing yet another increment of year-over-year improvement in a market that now is sustaining a modest but firm recovery. October sales, always the third lowest month for unit sales, clocked at a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) more

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Chevrolet Will Find Out if It 'Runs Deep' Enough

By Dale Buss October 29, 2010

Chevrolet has unveiled its new marketing campaign, under the tagline "Chevy Runs Deep," and its brand stewards have fully explained their thinking behind the effort that began in earnest with TV spots during World Series telecasts and that will crescendo with Chevy's reappearance in Super Bowl advertising on February 6. But will the new approach, Chevy's execution, and its reservoir of goodwill among American consumers actually run deep enough for the campaign to become successful in rebranding Chevrolet? Will it end up bolstering Chevy like a rock - or sink like a stone? more

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With or Without Ford, Mazda Bets Its Future on Technological Makeover

By Peter Nunn October 25, 2010

You could call it perfect timing. Last week, a week when speculation was rife about the future ofthe Mazda Motor Corp., when media reports suggested that the Ford Motor Co, its long time partner, might be considering all but selling up, the Japanese company came out and laid down a strong and comprehensive marker. In the shadow of the Tokyo Dome, home to the Yomiuri Giants baseball team - Japan's own version of the New York Yankees, Mazda gave full boost to a presentation of next generation eco-based technologies called SKYACTIV. SKYACTIV is nothing less than a total engineering more

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Q&A With Tata's COO Carl-Peter Forster

By Karl Brauer October 15, 2010

As niche premium brands in a struggling world economy, it's not unreasonable to assume both Jaguar and Land Rover face a challenging future at best, an uncertain one at worst. But you wouldn't know it after speaking with the brands' COO, Carl-Peter Forster of India-based Jaguar/Land Rover owner Tata Motors. Tata purchased the iconic British nameplates on March 26, 2008, and Forster joined the company in February of this year after leaving General Motors Co. as president of General Motors Europe. Forster is in charge of not only Jaguar- Land Rover but all of Tata's products worldwide, including trucks more

Dear Competitors: Chevy Cruze Is Here - and Quietly Tweaking You

By Dale Buss October 7, 2010

With its new Chevrolet Cruze small car, General Motors has laid a lot on the line. It buttressed the new model expensively with overall quality levels and nifty features intended to leapfrog the company's awful reputation for small cars; invested more than $350 million to overhaul its Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant to make the car; and is introducing Cruze at a crucial time in the recovery of both the company and the U.S. auto market. So with Cruze, now it's time for GM to put its mouth where its money is. more

Power Breakfast with Former Car Czar Steve Rattner

By Doron Levin October 4, 2010

Steve Rattner, the former New York Times reporter who struck it rich on Wall Street, wouldn't have been anyone's first guess as the individual to become overseer for the latest overhaul of the once-mighty U.S. automobile industry. Yet politics and finance - and perhaps fate - brought Rattner to center stage in early 2009 when the administration of President Barack Obama sought a leader for the restructuring of then-General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, both of which were teetering on the brink of failure.  Rattner, an early supporter of Hillary Clinton for president rather than Obama, got the nod. more

AutoObserver Readers Agree to Disagree About Whether Small Cars Will Matter

By Karl Brauer September 28, 2010

Last week's story on small cars and Americans' longstanding preference to avoid them, generated excellent debate among AutoObserver readers. Surprisingly (or maybe not), the dialogue didn't really bother with the buying behavior of new-car shoppers in this country: almost every commenter readily agreed that Americans buy what they want - not what they are supposed to want according to political or cultural pressure. No, the responses centered mostly on the political and personal-ethics aspects of trying to influence citizens to buy smaller vehicles. As one reader put it, "Pure self interest, that's the way it is in the real more

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Time is Right for Small Cars - As Long as Somebody Else is Driving Them

By Karl Brauer September 22, 2010

You've heard the phrase, "Not in my back yard." It's usually used to extol the virtues of nuclear power plants and halfway houses - righteous things as long as it's somebody else who has to live with them. The auto industry might have to get ready to adapt the tenet to "Not in my driveway," to apply to the arriving wave of new compact and subcompact cars. The government and its regulators effectively have decreed their increased use. Environmentalists want us to drive them. Even Wall Street's done its best to encourage a little, ah, downsizing. But unless something more

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The Substitution Effect: New and Premium Cars Lose Share

By Karl Brauer September 8, 2010

The recession may not have changed everything about the auto business - but it's changed just about everything. And here's the one that currently is hurting automakers at the most fundamental level: buyers who in normal times would have been snapping up new vehicles now are shopping the used-car market. And those who were cracking open the wallet for a premium badge are shifting to less-indulgent, less high-falutin brands. This "substitution effect" is what many analysts expected as a plausible outcome of extensive unemployment, under-employment and a drastic downshifting of household consumption. What largely wasn't expected is how extensively more

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Car Czar Rattner's Book Gives Behind the Scenes Look at Auto Bailouts

By Doron Levin September 3, 2010

Steve Rattner, President Obama's car czar, has released galley proofs of ``Overhaul,'' a book that gives an insider's peek at the government's restructuring of the U.S. auto industry, most notably the two automakers that filed for bankruptcy, General Motors and Chrysler. The 320-page memoir, to be published October 14 by Houghton Mifflin, lauds the government's efforts, spicing the tale with tittle-tattle such as the four-letter expletive aimed at the UAW by President Barack Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.  A White House source, speaking without attribution, told the Washington Post that Emanuel defended and advocated for the autoworkers.   more

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August Sales Portray an Auto Industry Going 'Sideways'

By AutoObserver Staff September 1, 2010

U.S. auto sales have entered a period where treading water is the best the industry can hope for as American consumers deal with sobering economic realities and grim expectations. August sales results underscored that trend, coming in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 11.5 million units, solidly within the narrow range of the last few months - and consistent with previous expectations for the rest of the year and 2010 as a whole. more

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New GM Marketing Boss: 'GM Is Not A Brand'

By Dale Buss August 30, 2010

Don't expect to see the new CEO of General Motors, Daniel Akerson, appear in a corporate television ad the way his predecessor, Ed Whitacre, did several months ago. At least not if Joel Ewanick has anything to say about it. Recently hired as GM's chief marketing officer, Ewanick is chomping at everything like an over-caffeinated Pac-Man as he bounces around corporate headquarters, the labyrinthine Renaissance Center in Detroit. He's removing a brand chieftain and replacing him with an old colleague. He's devouring bad advertising slogans. He's terminating fledgling agency relationships. And while he won't say so, it's not hard more

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What's Really Holding Back the Auto Recovery?

By Karl Brauer August 25, 2010

Three years after the recession that started in December, 2007, and according to various economic indicators, one year into an economic rebound that began around July of last year, the strength of the recovery remains open to debate. But using these dates as a baseline and comparing current auto sales numbers to recession/recovery patterns of the past confirms what many already know: this time it's different. To now, there's been a consistent and now-predictable pattern in auto sales demonstrated in the past recession/recovery cycles. As one might expect, during a recession car sales decline, during a recovery they grow. But what might not more

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Ugly or Not, Deflation Rears Head at Auto Industry

By Dale Buss August 23, 2010

No one can agree if it's coming or not. Instead, maybe its opposite will show up. And in any event, the auto industry has been feeling its influence for several years. The subject of this economic riddle? Deflation. It's rearing its ugly head, now menacing the economy at large, and already has a strong hold on major sectors such as housing. But a tangible broad-scale appearance of deflation in the U.S. economy could prove a mixed blessing for the American automotive industry. more


Government Motors Shortly Will Be a Little Less So

By Doron Levin August 19, 2010

After a bit of fumbling and a few false starts, General Motors Co. issued its prospectus for common stock on Wednesday afternoon, conveying an impression that the automaker's leadership remains in a state of confusion and turmoil that - for GM's sake - must finally settle down. Selling stock, especially an initial public offering following a bankruptcy, is largely a test of public confidence in a company's management. On September 1 GM gets its fourth CEO in 18 months, Dan Akerson, a board member and seasoned executive with no experience managing in the auto business. His appointment to the more

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Rattner on Whitacre Departure: He Wasn't a Long-Termer

By Doron Levin August 12, 2010

Steve Rattner, the former Wall Street banker who headed the U.S. Treasury's reorganization of General Motors and Chrysler, said Thursday that the abrupt resignation of Ed Whitacre as GM chief executive officer ``shows him as a man who meant what he said," that he didn't want to run GM long term. ``From the beginning, Ed made it clear he was willing to help out but he wasn't willing to have another long run as CEO.'' Whitacre was a retired CEO of ATT when he was tapped by the U.S. to reconstitute GM.  more

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Trucks Hitching Up Bigger Share of Market in Recovery

By Dale Buss August 10, 2010

Pickup-truck sales gained more traction last month, and industry executives are starting to believe that their biggest and most profitable vehicles can be counted on to haul an even larger share of the fledgling recovery for the rest of the year and beyond. Large trucks garnered a 12.4 percent share of overall U.S. auto sales in July, the biggest monthly chunk in nine months and larger than the segment's annualized market share for each of the last three years, according to analysis. For the year as a whole, expects pickup trucks to assume an 11.4-percent share of more


Higher July Auto Sales Leave Industry in Strange Territory

By AutoObserver Staff August 4, 2010

By Dale Buss, Michelle Krebs and Marti Benedetti The U.S. auto market has entered something of a twilight zone with the release of July's numbers, which showed an overall sales increase of about 5 percent compared with July 2009. "Dealers told us that they saw buying customers, not tire-kickers," said Albert "Al" Castignetti, vice president and general manager of the Nissan Division of Nissan USA, which saw a 15-percent gain for July. "They needed a car, and they were credit-worthy. So why strange? more

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Commentary: Mulally Turns 65; No Replacement Yet, But Plenty of Candidates

By Doron Levin August 4, 2010

Editor's Note: Ford CEO Alan Mulally turns 65 today, prompting questions about how long he will stay at the automaker. His recent response has been a vague "a few more years." With each quarter the stature of Ford Motor chief executive Alan Mulally grows more impressive. It's difficult to overstate the healing impact of his tenure on the No. 2 U.S. automaker, which posted a $2.6 billion second-quarter profit. When he was brought aboard in 2006 Ford was bereft of ideas and leadership, beset with losses, forced to suspend its dividend and sliding toward a recession that would engulf more

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Power Breakfast with EcoMotors CEO Don Runkle

By Doron Levin August 2, 2010

Don Runkle's weekend plans were disrupted by the media uproar over the iPhone and indignant counter-claims by Apple. So instead of scooting about Pine Lake on a speedboat at his home in West Bloomfield, Michigan, or riding his Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle, Runkle and his family visited an Apple store to learn more. Technology has always held a special allure for Runkle, even when society isn't quite ready for what he sees as the proper solution for the problems of the day. Perversely, the public often will focus on difficulties he sees as "overblown." "The problems with the iPhone aren't more

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Unsteady Load: Can Economy Bear Weight of Pickup Sales?

By Dale Buss July 28, 2010

Pickup-truck sales have strengthened a bit so far this year, and there's a nascent confidence in  Detroit - which makes nearly all of the pickups sold in North America - that the segment's recovery from a deep trough will acquire still more steam through the end of 2010. General Motors, for instance, is calling for trucks to grab 0.3 percent more of the overall U.S. market by the end of the year than in the first half. "Our dealers still remain very optimistic, particularly on pickups, for the next six months of the year; they're a big part of more

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Ford Breaks Traditions with Reinvention of Once Bestselling Explorer

By Karl Brauer July 19, 2010

After a 20-year run using the same basic formula that shot it to the top of the sales charts, the Ford Explorer is going in a completely new direction for the 2011 model year. Ford provides details to the media this week, with public release of that information allowed in a couple weeks. But we already know the all-new 2011 Explorer that arrives in dealerships later this year will break most of its long-standing traditions. And another institution likely to be broken is the Explorer's once-bestselling status. Even if the new one is wildly successful, it likely will never achieve more

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Bentley Distancing From Rolls-Royce, Repositioning Itself

By Paul Seredynski June 25, 2010

An 18-month product cycle would never work for a Honda Accord or a Chevy Malibu. But in the uber-niche strata Bentley Motors Inc. occupies, you need to be coming up with a new variation on the theme as quickly as Lady Gaga changes outfits or your deep-pockets customers will be shopping elsewhere. Bentley is churning away on a hyperventilating 18-month cycle of introducing new iterations on existing models because the company's research found customers of two-door Bentleys tend to drive their new cars for an average of just 12 to 18 months before automotive wanderlust has them looking for more