Industry News & Notes

Industry News & Notes

Auto industry news and notes

There’s never a shortage of news in the auto industry. The problem is finding time to take it all in. Welcome to’s Industry News & Notes where every month we deliver bite-sized automotive news nuggets from all around the automotive world to keep you abreast of the latest.

  1. May..Not! May was not a good month for U.S. auto sales overall—down 6.1 percent in a month that’s notoriously short on weekends and selling days. Industry wide, light trucks managed a modest 2.4 percent gain while cars were off a whopping 16 percent. Sedans have been bleeding market share for a while as cheap fuel, roomy, attractive designs and a shrinking difference in fuel economy are making SUV’s attractive to more consumers. Despite the May downturn, U.S. auto volume through five months is 1.1 percent ahead of the 2015 pace. U.S. auto sales still have a good shot at topping last year’s record, but it’ll be up to light trucks to carry the sagging car side across the finish line.
  2. The Airbag Mess Gets Bigger. A recent New York Times editorial, asks: “Wanna Buy a Car With Killer Airbags?” Ouch. Millions of vehicles with defective Takata airbags have been recalled around the world. It’s the largest auto recall in history. This week, several companies recalled an additional four million cars with those airbags, which have been linked to a number of deaths worldwide. Yet even now, four automakers — Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi — are selling new cars that contain the faulty airbags, according to a report by the Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee. And Fiat Chrysler and Toyota have refused to disclose which of their models have the devices. source: the Auto Channel.
  3. One Toyota –– One Step Closer: Autonews reports that Toyota’s Plano, TX building site is beginning to look like a world-class corporate campus and is about halfway through its development in anticipation of a migration of employees from the old headquarters in Southern California and from offices in Kentucky and New York. Internally, the new HQ is referred to as One Toyota. “By bringing us all together, this positions us to be competitive and innovate for the next 50 years,” said Steven Curtis, vice president of corporate communications for Toyota Motor North America. “That was the directive that [Toyota President] Akio Toyoda gave to our North American CEO, Jim Lentz.”
  4. Mark Rainey tasked with expanding the number of General Motors dealerships owned by minorities and females. Rainey, 47, was named GM’s director of dealer development effective immediately, the automaker said in a statement. He replaces Ronald McCants, who is now GM’s director of sales operations and field support. “Mark will help us build on GM’s decades-long commitment to create a distribution network that reflects the incredible diversity of our customer base,” said Eric Peterson, GM U.S. vice president of diversity dealer relations, in a statement. GM has come under fire in recent years from activists who say the automaker has too few dealerships owned by minorities and women. GM says that 236 of its dealerships are owned by minorities. The automaker had 4,245 U.S. dealerships on Jan. 1, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
  5. Connectivity is pivotal to the future of the automotive industry. Kymeta® is working to deliver broadband internet access to cars with its flat-panel antenna and will demonstrate its new technology at TU-Automotive Detroit. Attendees will get a first-hand look at Kymeta’s satellite mTenna® technology, along with new in-vehicle connected applications enabled by high-speed broadband to the car. Kymeta will also lead a panel discussion with other experts from across the industry about bringing fiber-like data speeds to automobiles.
  6. Kia Motors America reports the 2016 Optima midsize sedan and 2016 Soul hatchback have been recognized by Parents magazine as among the 10 Best Family Cars of 2016.  The prestigious list, which identifies top picks for safety, performance and family-friendly features, will appear in the July issue of Parents “Kia places a priority on safety as well as packing our vehicles with innovative and easy-to-use features at an outstanding value, and the recognition from Parents magazine and validates our efforts,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, KMA.
  7. A California Dealer Crushed This Promotion – Who’s Looking For A Great Idea? Dealers are always looking for promos that are effective, sustainable and repeatable. Tall order, right? Well, check out this story from Automotive News about Victorville Motors, a Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram store in California, and the promo they’ve been running for five years. It’s had a huge impact in their community and has directly resulted in so many sales for Victorville Motors that they “stopped counting at 300” – seriously. source-Autonews
  8. eMarketer reports that ad spending on paid digital media by the US automotive industry will hit $8.71 billion in 2016, up 17.3% year over year. This figure will climb to $14.14 billion by 2020. eMarketer’s forecast calls for consistent double-digit growth in digital ad spending for the auto industry through 2020, following a 2015 that saw digital ad spending surge nearly 22%. Indeed, eMarketer expects the auto industry will have the second-highest digital growth rate of all US industries during the forecast period, just behind the entertainment industry.
  9. An auto industry group formed last year to develop ways to prevent cyber security attacks on vehicles says it has been able to thwart hacking threats and recently added its first supplier member with plans to add four more within weeks. The Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center includes 15 automakers such as General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. plus supplier Delphi Automotive. “The automotive industry understands they can’t do it alone,” acting Executive Director Jonathan Allen told The News in an interview. “You’ve got to work with the supplier community to deal with cyber risks.” The group, which shares information on attempted hacking, hacking events and threats, also is talking to Google about joining, Allen said during the annual TU Automotive connectivity conference here. Hacking is a growing threat to the auto industry as more vehicles are connected through internet systems, are connected to smartphone apps and are becoming more complex as self-driving technology is developed. -source; Detroit News
  10. The Most Serious Threat Facing the Auto Industry? It’s Carpooling! In under two years, app-powered carpooling has become mainstream. UberPOOL rides now account for 20 percent of all Uber rides worldwide, according to Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends report, which came out this morning. That figure would appear to justify the anxiety plaguing so many automakers today: people don’t want to own cars. They’re just interested in getting a ride. You’ve heard of the deals. GM invested in Lyft. Toyota and Uber struck a strategic partnership. Volkswagen poured millions of dollars into the Israeli ride-hail startup Gett. Apple invested a massive $1 billion in the Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi. It just goes to show how much tech envy these traditional carmakers now have—and how badly tech companies want to get into cars. To get around, your own car is now hardly your only option. What’s more, with self-driving cars under active development by several tech companies—including Google, Tesla, and Uber itself—automakers are scrambling to stay relevant. – source, Wired Business

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