AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
A few years ago, Italian auto giant Fiat was very close to partnering up with General Motors. However, that deal went sour at the last minute and a few years after that, Fiat bought a big chunk of Chrysler in its quest to have a large slice of the American market.
More recently, the company was in the news announcing that Fiat is looking to partner up with Mazda or Suzuki, which would not only help expand Fiat’s reach into the Asian market, but also co-develop future small car platforms and technologies together.
Not content with sitting idling by, waiting for deals to happen, Fiat/Chrysler are constantly seeking alliances to further its growth.
The latest round of news from the 2012 Geneva Auto Show is that Fiat is “open to Volvo talks.” Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne expressed that he is “interested in talking to everyone that wants to talk with me.”
Volvo, which is now owned by the Chinese auto firm Geely, wants to expand itself in the small car segment in developing markets which makes Fiat an good fit because it already has plenty of small cars in its line-up. This tie-up could prove very beneficial for Volvo, to offer a new small car, without going through the expense of designing and engineering a complete new vehicle itself.
Fiat will benefit by finding a route into the Chinese market, which is currently the fastest growing economy in the world.
As for future drive-train technologies, Marchionne says; “There’s still lots of unexplored technology with combustion. Future drive-trains need to be cheaper and more cost effective.”
While Fiat is to introduce its first electric car later this year, the 500e (shown above), it only did so because it pooled technology from a host of companies already in the electric car field and thus saved cost of developing a complete new system themselves.
When asked if Fiat was in talks with PSA Peugeot Citroen, Marchionne denied the claim saying, “I would not like to be GM. The integration for the cost does not go far enough and would not have met our requirements.”
Fiat was at one point in talks with GM to take over Opel-Vauxhall and Saab, and Marchionne confidently said he could have “found a solution for the brands.”
BMW is pushing forward in the face of what many economists are fervently discussing in the business world: the possible collapse of the euro.
Such a catastrophic event is unlikely, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer told Automotive News. He reaffirmed that strong belief in another interview saying ”I don’t even want to imagine that at all, and I don’t believe it will happen.” In fact, BMW is planning significant expansion.
The company is intends to increase sales by 25 percent despite the fact that research group IHS Automotive forecasts as much as a 41 percent overcapacity for vehicles in Europe. Regardless of softening sales in the European market, BMW remained the top luxury car manufacturer this year and is planning to expand on their 1.6 million unit sales for 2011 to a whopping 2 million by 2020.
They plan to achieve that goal by further expanding into the international market. Part of that plan involves setting up a factory in Brazil, but more significantly, BMW is eyeing the growing Chinese market.
Proportionally, Chinese consumers drive about the same number of economy cars as Europeans, but the difference is that Reithofer says 75 percent of Chinese economy car owners want to upgrade for their next purchase.
“In 2012, the BMW brand will have the youngest model range of all of our core competitors by far,” Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer told reporters on Thursday evening at an event in Munich. It’s something he hopes will entice the young and increasingly wealthy Chinese market segment.
If it turns out that BMW is being too aggressive in their expansion, they can scale back produciton by 20 to 30 percent according to Frank-Peter Arndt, BMW’s production chief.
[Source: Automotive News]
Keep an eye on Lotus over the next six years, they just won a bid for this round of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF).
Lotus CEO Danny Bahar said in a press release that the money will help the company refresh its line of sports cars with best in class performance and emissions.
The RGF is meant to support projects and programs in the UK that will support private sector growth. A long list of companies competed for a share in the discretionary fund worth about $2.25 billion. Lotus got official confirmation from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills that they are among the accepted.
Bahar said that “this is a very significant boost to local communities, and the Regional Growth Fund will help businesses like Lotus to drive local growth.”
The funding will help Lotus further development of its new line up sports cars, including a next-generation Elise and Exige, as well as the new Esprit (above).
GALLERY: New Lotus Esprit
The world’s economy stinks, gas is expensive and we’re all watching our wallets closely.
You might assume that would also indicate less car parts being sold, but not for diesel engine manufacturer Cummins. “Several of the economies where Cummins operates are clearly weakening,” COO Tom Linebarger told analysts last month. “We really don’t know how deep it will go. We are confident in the long-term profitable growth of the company.”
The Columbus, Ind. based manufacturer builds natural gas and diesel engines and despite the worlds money woes is projecting a sharp rise in diesel fuel demand. Last month Cummins told analysts they forecast to grow by more than 60 per cent and reach $30 billion in 2015.
Over the next five years the company also plans to hire 7000 new engineers to compensate for increased demand. They hope doing so will allow them to develop new engines to meet increasingly stringent efficiency standards.
They owe their expansion in large part to overseas demand in emerging economies like China and South America and India where there is still high demand for construction equipment, but it isn’t the only reason.
The company is also expanding its production for consumer vehicles. Nissan is currently working on putting a 2.8-liter direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder from Cummins into its 2015 Titan pickup. Once available, the new generation Titan will be one of the most efficient full-size pickups on the market.
Chrysler’s Ram truck brand will expand its advertising into Wal-Mart stores throughout the U.S. this fall. Dodge Ram advertisements will be in thousands of Wal-Mart stores and will integrate Mossy Oak camouflage, another of Ram’s partners into the promotion. ”We recognize the alignment between truck buyers, the hunting/fishing lifestyle and Wal-Mart,” said Marissa Hunter, head of Ram advertising. “We are working on promotion that brings all three together.”
Ram will also be launching two new commercials today, for its “Code of the West” advertising campaign. Marissa Hunter commented on the commercials saying, “The role of these spots is twofold. First, continue to create overall awareness about the capability of the full Ram lineup. Second, do so in a manner that inspires consumers to think differently about the Ram Truck brand.”
Fred Diaz, CEO of the Ram brand said that through the first seven months of 2011, Ram brand U.S sales were up twenty-five percent. He expects sales to continue to grow for the rest of the year. ”The fourth quarter always represents a key selling season opportunity for commercial business which historically increases commercial sales by up to 50 percent.”
Check out the commercial after the jump!