January 16th, 2012 at 11:45am
General Motors lost two of its top executives. Mike Arcamone, the head of GM’s operations in South Korea left the company, as well as the head of its Powertrain Operations, Tom Stephens. Heavy-duty truck sales in the U.S. were up 41percent last year. Several automakers in Europe could be fined for not hitting emission targets. All that and more, plus Ford’s Jim Farley talks about how and why social media can start selling cars before they’re even in the showroom.
This is Autoline Daily for January 16th, and let’s catch up with the top news of what’s going on in the automotive industry.
GM LOSES TWO EXECUTIVES
There are two executive changes at General Motors, one predictable, one completely unexpected. The unexpected one is Mike Arcamone (subscription required), 53 years old, the head of GM’s very successful operations in South Korea, who suddenly announced his departure. He’ll be going to Bombardier to run their aircraft operations. It’s very unusual to see executives suddenly quit when they’re running a successful operation. I wonder what the story behind this one is? The predictable departure is Tom Stephens, 63 years old, who for much of his career ran GM’s Powertrain Operations. Stephens spent 43 years with General Motors.
MORE TURBO SUPPLIERS (subscription required)
As droves of carmakers downsize and turbocharge their engines to deliver better fuel economy, the blower business is looking mighty attractive to more and more supplier companies. WardsAuto reports Japanese tier-one Denso is now thinking about jumping into the game. It would join new turbo suppliers like Continental and Bosch Mahle, alongside long-time turbo suppliers Honeywell, Borg-Warner and IHI. Automakers love seeing more suppliers because they know that allows them to negotiate lower prices.
3 SERIES FRONT-END EVOLVING
The face of the BMW 3 Series has been evolving for decades. In recent years the trademark kidney grille stood separate from the headlamps. For a time there many European luxury cars had grilles clearly separated from the lamps, the idea being that this put more emphasis on the trademark look of the grille, and seemed more upscale. But with the new 3 Series, BMW designers have clearly connected the headlamps to the grille. The new look definitely gives the 3 a more forceful face, it seems more purposeful. And I’ll bet that soon we’ll see the rest of the luxury segment start to follow suit.
HEAVY TRUCK SALES SKYROCKET (subscription required)
Heavy trucks had a blow-out year in 2011. Year-over-year, 2011 sales were up nearly 41 percent, topping 306,000 units in the U.S. market. Daimler’s Freightliner brand was the best-selling in the class-eight segment, which are the biggest semis. As we’ve said before, big-rig sales are an indicator of how the economy is doing, so take that recession!
CARMAKERS FACE FINES IN EUROPE (subscription required)
WardsAuto reports that several automakers in Europe are having a hard time hitting their CO2 targets. The European Environment Agency says Daimler, Honda, Nissan, General Motors, Mazda and Dacia could be fined for not hitting emission targets. Each of the automakers must reduce the average CO2 emissions of its fleets by 14 grams per kilometer over the next five years. Fines become progressively more severe for every gram of CO2 that exceeds the limit. Automakers are fined 5 Euros per car if they miss the target by 1 g/km and anything over 3 g/km is a 95 Euro per-vehicle penalty.
OPEL MOKKA TO DEBUT IN GENEVA
And staying in Europe for the moment, Opel will premiere its new compact SUV, the Mokka, at the Geneva Motor Show in March. If the Mokka looks familiar, it should. Its cousin, the Buick Encore, just debuted last week at the Detroit Auto Show. It goes on sale in Europe at the end of the year.
Coming up next, Ford’s Jim Farley talks about how and why social media can start selling cars before they’re even in the showroom.
FORD & SOCIAL MEDIA
Ford really believes in the marketing power of social and digital media. The company first started playing around in this arena when it launched the Fiesta two years ago. And now it’s going to do the same thing with the launch of the Ford Escape. In the following clip, Jim Farley, the group vice president of marketing, sales and service at Ford, talks about the lessons the company has learned from this approach.
And don’t forget to join us on Thursday night for Autoline After Hours when our guest will be Karl Ludvigsen, a journalist, author, historian, designer and all-around car enthusiast, who worked at GM, Ford and Fiat, and who also wrote perhaps the definitive book on Porsche. Join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo this Thursday night for the best insider discussion of what’s going on in the industry.
But that wraps up this show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.