Inside the Industry

Vice chairman Lutz discusses new direction of General Motors during visit to L.A.

By Ted Biederman

(March 2, 2010) LOS ANGELES, Calif. --- Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman and senior product advisor showed up in L.A. sans tie, a limited entourage and a new sense of pride for the progress GM is making with product and results in California and the “smile states.”

He also brought along his penchant for bluntness and his sense of humor. Lutz, at 78 is still the best face forward for GM.

General Motors rearranges sales, marketing staff for third time since bankruptcy

(March 2, 2010) General Motors has overhauled its U.S. sales and marketing staff for the third time since emerging from bankruptcy, giving North America President Mark Reuss responsibility for sales. Vice President Susan Docherty, 47, who had been in charge of North American sales and marketing, will run U.S. marketing only. She reports to Reuss, 46.

The changes also end high-profile designer Bryan Nesbitt's stint as head of Cadillac sales and marketing. Nesbitt will take a design position.

General Motors recalling 1.3 million cars over steering problem

(March 2, 2010) Reuters reports that General Motors is recalling 1.3 million compact cars in North America to address a power steering problem that has been linked to 14 crashes and one injury, the company said on Tuesday.

U.S. safety regulators opened an investigation on Jan. 27 into approximately 905,000 Cobalt models in the United States after receiving more than 1,100 complaints of power steering failures. The complaints included 14 crashes and one injury.

Hyundai recalling small number of 2010 Tucsons over airbag problem

(March 2, 2010) Hyundai is recalling a small number of 2010 Tucson models that may have defective software that would allow the right front passenger airbag to inflate when a child is seated there.

Tucson vehicles produced during a 20-day period beginning Nov. 10 through Nov. 30, 2009 are affected. No accidents or incidents have been reported.

Ford's China sales up 37.5 percent when compared to February 2009

(March 2, 2010) In one of the typically slower months for China's auto industry, Changan Ford Sales Company today reported strong February sales of 18,193 Ford brand passenger vehicles, marking a 37.5 percent increase over the same period last year. The solid monthly sales performance also pushed the company’s year-over-year growth to 13 consecutive months.

2011 Mustang getting three times as many orders as 2010 model did in first month

(February 28, 2010) The new 2011 Ford Mustang with all-new powertrains has  three times more orders than the 2010 model in its first month, and half of all nationwide orders are for the car’s class-leading 30 mpg 3.7-liter V-6 engine.

Government purchases Lexus ES 350 that encountered unintended acceleration

(February 28, 2010) U.S. regulators have purchased and will test the Lexus ES 350 once owned by a Tennessee woman whose testimony in Congress personalized allegations of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles, industry newspaper Automotive News reports.

The Transportation Department said on Friday the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would conduct the evaluation at its research center in Ohio, but seek outside expertise, if necessary.

Ford adding 60 jobs to build new V-6 engine for 2011 Mustang

(February 27, 2010) CLEVELAND — Ford Motor Company is investing $155 million and adding 60 jobs at its Cleveland operations to build a new fuel-efficient V-6 engine for the 2011 Mustang, which has expected class-leading highway fuel efficiency of 30 miles per gallon on the highway and 305 horsepower.

Dealer customer service satisfaction improves even in tough times

(February 26, 2010) Despite a 21 percent decline in new-vehicle sales in 2009 from 2008, mainly due to historic economic challenges during the year, overall customer service satisfaction improved by 6 points in 2010 to 767 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 761 in 2009, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.

A few study highlights:

Lentz says Toyota to install advanced brake override systems on all new models

(February 24, 2010) In a prepared statement to House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Jim Lentz, president and COO of Toyota U.S.A., told committee members that Toyota will install advanced brake override systems in all new models.

"We will install advanced brake override systems in all our new models — making us one of the first full-line manufacturers to offer this customer confidence feature as standard equipment," Lentz said in a statement provided by Toyota.

"Additionally, we are announcing that we will install this system on an expanded range of vehicles — including the Tacoma, Venza and Sequoia models — that are capable of accepting the new software. We had previously announced that the system would be installed onto the Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES 350, IS 350 and IS 250 models.