NADA Headlines - 07/11/2014 (Plain Text Version)
In South Carolina's Blue Ridge foothills, the Hans & Franz Biergarten serves Wiener Schnitzel, German spaetzle and a concoction of sauerkraut, cream cheese, bacon and corned beef rolled in bread crumbs and fried. The Bavarian-themed eatery in Greenville, like the annual Oktoberfest in nearby Greer, are testament to the mark made by BMW in the area since the manufacturer started auto assembly there 20 years ago today. The impact has gone both ways. The factory in Spartanburg, a 10-minute drive from Hans & Franz, is integral to BMW's efforts to protect profit margins and keep ahead of German luxury-car rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz. The only auto plant in the rural state also serves as a model for the industry. The factory, which will employ 8,800 people by 2016, is already the biggest exporter of U.S.-made cars to markets outside North America, beating any facility run by General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. or Fiat SpA Chrysler as well as the entire state of Michigan, the historic home of the American auto industry.
Volkswagen AG outsold General Motors Co. in China in the first half of the year, keeping it on track to extend its reign as the best-selling foreign car company in the world's biggest vehicle market. VW's sales in China, including Hong Kong, rose 18 percent to more than 1.8 million vehicles, the company said. That compares with GM's 1.73 million units, an 11 percent increase. In 2013, the German automaker outsold GM in China for the first time in nine years. China is the biggest market for both VW and GM and key to the three-way race with Toyota Motor Corp. for the global sales crown.
A Chrysler Group minority dealer development program can help diversify Maserati's dealer network, the head of both companies' dealer networks said Thursday. Peter Grady, vice president of dealer development at Chrysler and CEO of Maserati North America, said Maserati is in “learning mode” as it expands its dealer network. Fiat S.p.A., expected to formally complete its merger with Chrysler Aug. 1, is the parent of Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Since April 2011, Chrysler and a group of minority dealers have trained 10 dealers and expect to start a new class late this year, Grady said.
United Auto Workers leaders said Thursday they have reached a "consensus" with Volkswagen and expect the German automaker to recognize the union if they sign up enough workers at a new local for the company's assembly plant in Tennessee. The union in February suffered a bitter setback in its effort to organize its first foreign-owned plant in the South when workers at the Chattanooga plant rejected UAW representation by a 712-626 vote. Gary Casteel, the UAW's secretary-treasurer, said the creation of Local 42 will avoid the need for another election that could involve the sort of "third-party interference" the union blames for losing the earlier vote. He stressed that no employee will be required to join, and that no dues would be collected until after a collective bargaining agreement is reached.
General Motors Co. formally announced Thursday it was naming its Cadillac chief — and former top lobbyist — to again head its global public policy operations — more than three months after he began heading up the Detroit automaker's response to the ignition switch crisis in Washington. GM named Robert E. Ferguson as senior vice president for global public policy reporting directly to CEO Mary Barra — his second time in the job. Ferguson in October 2012 left the job running GM's public policy operations to go to Detroit to head GM's Cadillac brand. Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell said the luxury brand will name a replacement for Ferguson soon.
Nissan Motor Co.'s head of its Infiniti luxury brand resigned after two years on the job. President Johan de Nysschen's resignation was announced internally today, Infiniti spokesman Stefan Weinmann said. Andy Palmer, Nissan's chief planning officer overseeing the Infiniti business, will head the luxury unit in the interim as the company searches for a successor, he said. De Nysschen's departure comes as Infiniti, which moved its headquarters to Hong Kong to focus on the Chinese market, prepares to begin production in the world's biggest auto market. Infiniti is targeting 10 percent of the world premium market by 2020 to challenge Volkswagen AG's Audi, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz.
Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it's creating a $1 million scholarship fund to honor recently-retired CEO Alan Mulally. The Alan Mulally Leadership in Engineering Scholarship will honor automotive engineering students from universities around the world starting in the spring of 2015. Each year for 10 years, the scholarship will offer 10 students $10,000 one-time scholarships.