Inside the Industry

Ford to offer natural gas, propane conversion for Super Duty trucks

(June 14, 2010) DEARBORN, Mich. —  Last week Ford told some 500 North American fleet customers that it will begin offering an alternative-fuels engine prep package for its 6.8-liter F-450 and F-550 Super Duty chassis cab.

At the annual Ford Fleet Product and Business Conference in Dearborn, Ford presented details of the conversion option, which will become available this fall and enables the use of efficient, clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane (LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas).

Porsche Panamera gets more fuel-efficient V-6 engine

(June 17, 2010) — The 2011 Panamera and Panamera 4 featuring the company’s all-new, fuel efficient 300-horsepower V6 engine will began arriving last week at Porsche’s nearly 200 dealerships across America.

These new models come just eight months after the successful launch of the V8-powered Panamera S, Panamera 4S and Panamera Turbo. Since then, Porsche has sold more than 4,000 Panamera Gran Turismos to U.S. customers.

In search of the perfect pitch for the LFA supercar

(June 17, 2010) TORRANCE, Calif.  — It’s a dramatic moment. In an ultra-modern audio studio, a Pearl White Lexus LFA supercar faces its challenger: a lone crystal champagne flute on a pedestal alongside a sleek amplifier. The vehicle’s keyless ignition is engaged, and its rear wheels start spinning on a dynamometer. The engine roars louder and louder, the speedometer clicks past 150, 160, 170 mph.

Ford has extensive restoration parts program

(June 16, 2010) DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford can now support the millions of enthusiasts nationwide who keep antique and classic Ford-built vehicles on the road. And nowhere is that support more evident than through the official Ford licensed restoration parts program.

With a growing parts portfolio containing more than 9,000 part numbers, the program licenses parts for Ford-built vehicles from the Model T to those made as recently as the early 2000s.

Marchionne says Chrysler generating cash for push forward

(June 15, 2010) Chrysler is generating the cash needed to rebuild its product portfolio as sales continue to gain momentum, CEO Sergio Marchionne told employees last week.

Marchionne, in an e-mail to employees on the one-year anniversary of Chrysler's emergence from bankruptcy, said the company's alliance with Fiat is "taking root" by cutting costs and expanding revenue from outside of North America, Reuters news service reports.

BMW, Volkswagen recall vehicles in the U.S.

(June 12, 2010) WASHINGTON — BMW and Volkswagen recalled vehicles in the U.S. for defects that could cause fires, the federal auto-safety regulator said Friday.

BMW, based in Munich, recalled 1 Series luxury cars for model years 2008 to 2011 for a flaw in front-seat safety-belt retractors that could ignite, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its Web site.

BMW, Saab discuss sharing parts and technology

(June 11, 2010) BMW and Saab are discussing sharing parts and technology for a new small car the Swedish automaker wants to build, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

A possible deal for BMW to provide Saab with engines, transmissions and allow Saab to use BMW's platform is in the early stages and an announcement isn't imminent, the people said, declining to be identified because the negotiations are private.

GM steps back from 'poorly worded memo'

(June 10, 2010) DETROIT — (Statement from General Motors) Today’s emotional debate over a poorly worded memo on our use of the Chevrolet brand is a good reminder of how passionately people feel about Chevrolet.  It is a passion we share and one we do not take for granted.

Volkswagen to build new plant in southern China

(June 10, 2010) Volkswagen will build a new plant in southern China, doubling production capacity in the country as car demand booms.

The factory in Foshan, Guangdong province, will have capacity to assemble 300,000 vehicles a year and will open in 2013, VW said in a statement Wednesday. VW's production capacity in China will double to 3 million vehicles within four years as the carmaker invests $7.2 billion.

Chrysler to spend $300 million to build eight-speed transmission

(June 10, 2010) Chrysler plans to spend $300 million to build a new eight-speed automatic transmission licensed from ZF Group, a transmission maker headquartered in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Automotive News reports that the investment will pay for installation of special tooling and equipment at a Chrysler transmission plant and a casting plant in Indiana.