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Inside this issue
EPA Official: Low Fuel Prices, Slow EV Sales Won't Influence Review on 54.5 MPG
Volkswagen Emissions Litigation to Be Handled by Ex-FBI Director, U.S. Judge Says
U.S., Major Automakers to Announce Safety Accord Friday, Reports Say
Marchionne Abandons FCA Consolidation Efforts
GM Expands Truck Brand Sales With Few Models
Stabenow on Detroit Auto Show: 'The Comeback is Real'
Top Stories
EPA Official: Low Fuel Prices, Slow EV Sales Won't Influence Review on 54.5 MPG

Cheap gasoline and slow sales of hybrids and electric vehicles will not influence the midterm review of the government’s proposed 54.5 mpg fleet average fuel economy standard for the 2025 model year, Christopher Grundler, the EPA’s director of transportation and air quality, told Automotive News. Oil prices dipped below $32 per barrel [Monday], hitting 12-year lows. Gasoline is now selling for under $2 per gallon in many states, helping fuel sales of trucks and SUVs and curbing sales of most hybrids and electric vehicles.
Source: Automotive News

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Volkswagen Emissions Litigation to Be Handled by Ex-FBI Director, U.S. Judge Says

A federal judge in California overseeing more than 500 lawsuits filed against Volkswagen AG over its excess diesel emissions named a former FBI director to help settle the cases. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer named Robert S. Mueller, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as "settlement master" in the VW lawsuits. Mueller, a Washington lawyer, will "use his considerable experience and judgment to facilitate settlement discussions among the various parties in these complex matters," Breyer wrote [Monday].
Source: Reuters

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U.S., Major Automakers to Announce Safety Accord Friday, Reports Say

The U.S. government and a group of leading global automakers are set to announce a ground-breaking voluntary agreement at the Detroit auto show on Friday aimed at dramatically improving the industry's safety, according to company officials. The unprecedented accord could set the framework for further discussions on safety reforms and mark a new era of cooperation between automakers and regulators after a record-setting year of safety fines, recalls and investigations into malfunctioning vehicles made by General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda Motor Co. and others. The agreement, under discussion for several weeks, would also attempt to improve vehicle cybersecurity and the use of early-warning data to detect potential defects that might lead to safety problems or large-scale recalls, sources said.
Source: Automotive News
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Marchionne Abandons FCA Consolidation Efforts

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV CEO Sergio Marchionne said Monday that the automaker has “abandoned,” for now, its efforts for industry consolidation and a potential merger with General Motors Co. Marchionne, speaking with auto industry journalists at the opening press day of the 2016 Detroit auto show, said his company has ceased its efforts not because the ideas in his “Confessions of a Capital Junkie” consolidation presentation from April were wrong, but because there were no willing, suitable partners.
Source: The Detroit News

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GM Expands Truck Brand Sales With Few Models

Its six-model GMC brand is growing North American sales and contributing strong profit

General Motors Co. ’s GMC brand sells just six models compared to its larger Chevrolet brand, with 19 models, but the business is contributing strong profit by sticking to a formula of selling just pricey trucks and sport-utility vehicles. GMC’s U.S. sales rose 11.3% last year, propelled by cheap gas, low interest rates, and robust demand for pickups and SUVs. The business is almost exclusively U.S. and Canadian except for some sales in the Middle East, avoiding the declines in some international markets like South America and Russia. The nation’s largest auto maker doesn’t break out margins on the brand, but analysts say it is highly profitable because it leverages the company’s Chevrolet truck components and sells at higher average prices than its GM siblings.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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Stabenow on Detroit Auto Show: 'The Comeback is Real'

A bipartisan delegation of House and Senate members toured the Detroit auto show Monday morning, marveling at the enthusiasm for the industry’s future, compared with five or six years ago. “If you were here in 2008, you could have shot a cannon through this place and not hit a soul,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, at the first of two press preview days. “But we have so turned this state around. It is so different than it used to be, and it’s so exciting to see.” Bishop visited various automaker exhibits along with Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn; Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland; Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield; Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak; David Trott, R-Birmingham; and Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, chatting with industry executives and employees. Separately, Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing and Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township toured the show, joined by Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams, who leads the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Source: The Detroit News
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Quotable
"The comeback is real."

   
-- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), on the success of the U.S. auto industry while touring the Detroit auto show, The Detroit News, Jan. 11

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