Inside the Industry

GM to become first major U.S. automaker to design, manufacture electric motors

(January 26, 2010) GM will expand its in-house electric vehicle development capabilities by becoming the first major U.S. automaker to design and manufacture electric motors, a core technology for hybrids and electric vehicles.

Toyota remains world's largest automaker; GM retains title in U.S.

(January 26, 2010) Toyota remains the world’s largest automaker, according to sales data released Monday in Tokyo. Vehicle sales for Toyota and its affiliated brands, including Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino, totaled 7.81 million vehicles worldwide for calendar year 2009, compared with 8.97 million vehicles a year earlier.

Overall, sales declined by 13 percent compared to 2008, particularly in the United States and Japan, Toyota’s two biggest markets. Sales increased in China, which passed the U.S. as the world’s largest auto market last year.

Whitcare to become permanent CEO of General Motors

(January 26, 2010) DETROIT — Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., has agreed to continue as chairman and CEO of General Motors for an indefinite period, it was announced today.

Speaking at a press conference at GM’s headquarters, Whitacre also expressed the GM board’s commitment that the company will pay back in full the U.S. Treasury and the Canadian and Ontario government loans by June.

Washington will be one of three initial launch markets for Chevrolet Volt

(January 26, 2010) WASHINGTON — Chevrolet announced that greater Washington D.C. will be an initial launch market for the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range. The nation’s capital and its suburbs join California and Michigan as the initial retail markets where Chevrolet will sell the Volt to consumers.

J.D. Power reports compact CUVs turn nearly three times faster than in prior year

(January 25, 2010) During the fourth quarter of 2009, compact crossovers (CUVs), including best-sellers Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, remained on retailer lots an average of only 27 days before being sold, which was significantly down from an average retail turn rate* of 74 days in the same quarter of ’08, according to Power Information Network (PIN) retail transaction data from J.D. Power and Associates.

A few more compact CUV demographic and sales highlights:

Volkswagen putting bench seat option in its CC sedan

(January 24, 2010) The four-door sedan was a hot topic a year ago, and Volkswagen's Passat CC remains one of the only offerings in the affordable end of the spectrum. BMW and Mercedes also offer four-seat sedans.

General Motors to boost production at full-sized SUV plant

(January 23, 2010) DETROIT -- General Motors, continuing to fight vehicle shortages at dealerships, will add overtime production to its truck-based SUV plant in Arlington, Texas, starting next week, according to Automotive News.

The plant makes standard and hybrid versions of the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. As of Jan. 1, all versions of those SUVs had less than a 34-day supply, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Analysts recommend a 60-day supply, and the overall industry started 2010 with a 53-day supply.

Toyota will recall 2.3 million vehicles for sticking accelerator pedals

(January 22, 2010) Toyota said on Thursday that it would recall 2.3 million vehicles for sticking accelerator pedals, in addition to the 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles already being recalled.

"There is a possibility that certain accelerator-pedal mechanisms may, in rare instances, mechanically stick in a partially depressed position or return slowly to the idle position," spokesman Irv Miller said in a statement.

The stuck pedals can occur when the pedal mechanism becomes worn, said Toyota Motor Sales, based in Torrance, Calif.

Investigation expanded into unexpected airbag deployment in 2004-06 F-150

(January 22, 2010) U.S. regulators have expanded the scope of an investigation into complaints that airbags on certain Ford Motor Co F-150 pickups deployed without warning and caused dozens of injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made documents public this week that show the agency is now looking at model year 2004-06 trucks, covering an estimated 1.56 million vehicles. That is triple the number identified when the agency launched a preliminary review of 2005 pickups last fall.

Mini to get four doors in new 2011 Countryman model

(January 21, 2010) Early in 2011 Mini lovers will be able to chose the convenience of four doors.

The 2011 Mini Countryman, the fourth model in Mini's expanding lineup, will go on sale next winter offering four doors, a wide-opening rear lid and even greater freedom of space than current models offer.

And to make the Countryman even more attractive, it will come with optional all-wheel drive.