Auto Observer

Dodge Journey Ads a Hit, But Ford’s Drive One Has Mixed Impact

By Dale BussDodge_journey_ad_288

Chrysler’s advertising campaign for its new Dodge Journey crossover has greatly boosted initial online interest in the vehicle, according to an analysis by But the new omnibus marketing effort launched by Ford recently, Drive One, isn’t packing nearly the same punch.

Those are the conclusions of research by David Tompkins, executive director of business solutions for, based in Santa Monica, Calif., using consumer visits to the New Vehicle Detail Pages (NVDPs) of the site in April, in the immediate wake of the launches of the two advertising campaigns.

(Read more...)

Audi, VW Considering Options for U.S. Plant

Audi Chief Executive Rupert Stadler confirmed that Audi is in talks with its parent Volkswagen AG to build an assembly plant in North America.

The dollar, which has traded at record lows against the euro throughout the past year, has made it costly for German automakers like Audi and Volkswagen to import cars to the U.S. Stadler told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting that he sees no let up in the currency situation.

Plus Audi plans to increase its global sales to more than 1 million vehicles this year, but is not growing as fast as it wants to in the U.S. “The growth that we have seen throughout the world has not translated into growth on the U.S. market to the extent that we would like,” Stadler told shareholders at Audi’s annual meeting. “We stand to benefit tremendously from having our own local production.''

(Read more...)

Posted by Michelle Krebs at 7:08 AM under Business , Companies | Comments (0) | digg this | Seed Newsvine

ArvinMeritor: Former Ford Exec To Run Auto Parts Spin-off

Phil_martens_102 Former Ford Executive Phil Martens will become CEO of a new company, Arvin Innovations, a spin-off of auto parts supplier ArvinMeritor, Inc., struggling to return to profitability by restructuring, expanding globally and becoming less dependent on Detroit’s Big Three.

Martens, who ran product development at Mazda and later Ford North America, was among a handful of executives who left Ford in a political battle that had Martens’ rival Mark Fields becoming Ford’s President of the Americas.

(Read more...)

Posted by Michelle Krebs at 6:46 AM under Business , Ford , Personalities | Comments (0) | digg this | Seed Newsvine

Daimler To Open Office in Iraq

Daimler AG, after a 20-year absence, plans to open an office in Baghdad by year-end, a display of confidence that Iraq is stabilizing.

A Daimler spokesperson told various media outlets Tuesday that the office is intended to establish the German auto and truck maker’s corporate presence in Iraq more than generate immediate sales.

(Read more...)

Posted by Michelle Krebs at 6:27 AM under Companies , News | Comments (0) | digg this | Seed Newsvine

Chrysler Unveils New Gas-Price Guarantee Incentive: "Let’s Refuel America"

By Michelle KrebsChrysler_gas_cards_240

DETROIT -- Chrysler announced Monday evening that it will launch a new incentive program, called “Let’s Refuel America,” that guarantees buyers of most of its vehicles can lock into $2.99 a gallon gasoline for the next three years. The program starts Wednesday and runs through June 2.

It comes as no surprise that Chrysler is offering a gas-related incentive: Chrysler’s sales were the worst of any automaker in April date. And even the current hefty cash incentives seem to be doing little to move the metal. had predicted gas prices would be the next front for automaker incentives, as it has become in the presidential campaign.

It’ll also be no surprise that, as all politicians are getting into the act, other automakers surely will jump on this bandwagon.

“Much like GM’s Employee Pricing program spared like wildfire in the summer of 2005, it’s likely other manufacturers will follow Chrysler’s lead,” said Jessica Caldwell, manager of’s pricing and industry analysis.

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Posted by Michelle Krebs at 7:57 AM under Chrysler , Featured | Comments (3) | digg this | Seed Newsvine

Remember the Last "Quick Fix for Gas Addicts"?

Ah, how quickly some of us forget.

It was almost two years ago to the day that General Motors announced a fuel price protection program, much like the one Chrysler launches on Wednesday. GM offered buyers of certain vehicle models, mostly large SUVs, in Florida and California a guarantee of gasoline capped at $1.99 a gallon for a year.

The promotion didn’t move the needle on sales, and it opened the floodgate of criticism of GM, especially in a now-famous column by The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman.

We're betting GM won’t be following Chrysler’s lead -- and we're wondering if Friedman is dusting off his old column to blast Chrysler.

(Read more...)

Posted by Michelle Krebs at 7:54 AM under Chrysler , Commentary , GM | Comments (4) | digg this | Seed Newsvine

UAW Strikes GM Where It Hurts Most -- in the ‘Bu

By Michelle Krebs2008_chevrolet_malibu_gray_right_fa

The United Auto Workers union struck -- literally -- General Motors where it hurts most -- at the automaker’s Kansas City, Kansas, factory that builds the fast-selling Chevrolet Malibu, already in tight supply.

The 2,600 UAW workers in Kansas walked off the job Monday morning after a strike deadline passed with no local contract. The supposed hangup is over seniority issues and work rules. However, many experts believe the strike -– and ones threatened at other GM plants –- has less to do with local GM issues than it does to show support of its union brothers at American Axle, on strike against the GM supplier for more than 70 days.

Whatever the case, a strike cutting Malibu production is damaging to GM, especially if it lingers.

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Posted by Michelle Krebs at 6:56 AM under Business , GM | Comments (1) | digg this | Seed Newsvine

Chery Partners With Arizona Chipmaker for Hybrids, Fuel Technologies

Chinese automaker Chery Automobile Co. Ltd. is partnering with a Phoenix, Arizona-based high-tech company, Freescale Semiconductor, to build a research facility in China to develop hybrids and other fuel-efficiency technologies.

"Through joint research and development, Freescale and Chery intend to drive breakthroughs in next-generation automotive system designs," Paul Grimme, Freescale senior vice president, told the Arizona Republic.

Chery also has an affiliation with Chrysler that is moving forward. Freescale supplies, among other things, advanced automotive chips for the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon 2-Mode hybrids. Chrysler is about to launch the same 2-Mode technology, cooperatively developed by General Motors, Daimler and Chrysler with BMW, in its 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango.

(Read more...)

Posted by Michelle Krebs at 6:04 AM under Chrysler , Companies , Technology | Comments (0) | digg this | Seed Newsvine

Chrysler Opens Online Post for Listening to Customers

By Dale BussChrysler_listens_306

As the auto industry headed into this downturn, Chrysler faced severe competitive disadvantages in crucial areas ranging from product breadth to financial wherewithal to management depth.

But there is at least one strategic arena where the privately held new Chrysler has demonstrated a determination to take a back seat to no competitor: listening and adjusting to what its customers want. Chrysler has just demonstrated that edge, for instance, by launching its gas-price "protection" plan, the first of a potential wave of similar incentives that was predicted last week by

Chrysler’s new online Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is the latest manifestation of the automaker’s decision to develop a greater capacity for gauging and then quickly responding to the expressed desires of its customers and prospective customers – one of the few potential industry-leading advantages that is immediately available to the beleaguered automaker.

(Read more...)

Posted by Michelle Krebs at 4:20 AM under Chrysler , Featured | Comments (1) | digg this | Seed Newsvine

Nissan Reveals Light-Commercial Direction at Next Detroit Auto Show

By Bill VisnicNissan_primastar_lcv_238

CASCAIS, Portugal – Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., eager to enter North America’s rapidly transforming light-commercial vehicle (LCV) market, will signal type of vehicles it intends to offer with an unveiling at the Detroit auto show in January, said William J. Krueger, Nissan North America Inc.’s senior vice president-manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain management for The Americas.

Nissan announced in early April it will produce and sell three LCVs for North America beginning in the first half of 2010. The plan accomplishes two Nissan goals: adds the U.S. to its markets for its commercial vehicles and fills up its Canton, Miss., plant.

(Read more...)

Posted by Michelle Krebs at 4:01 AM under Companies , Featured | Comments (1) | digg this | Seed Newsvine

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About Michelle Krebs

Michelle Krebs Michelle Krebs, veteran automotive-industry authority, joins Edmunds editors, analysts and data experts to provide news and commentary.
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