The NHTSA is investigating older Dodge Ram pickups to see if there any defects with ignition switches.
Close to 115K Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks from model years 2004 to 2006 are part of the probe.
Chrysler (FIATY) says it's cooperating fully with regulators.
What to watch: The focus on safety issues with ignition switches could steer the industry toward wide-scale adoption of push-button starters. That development in turn could impact Delphi Automotive (DLPH +2.7%).
Wilson told a Brookings Institute panel that the nearly-decade long delay in recalling 2.6M cars smacks of a penny-wise culture “driven by a company living on the brink of disaster for many years.”
While GM is trying to reverse that culture, it still suffers from lack of communication and sharing information, he said - “a problem with GM for decades that [CEO Mary Barra] needs to fix.”
Fiat Chrysler (FIATY) CEO Sergio Marchionne told the panel it was unfair that the government helped GM emerge from bankruptcy with lots of cash and little debt while Chrysler had to take new loans, but that Chrysler’s debt burden was a motivating factor that could have helped speed a change in GM's corporate culture - “When you are broke, you change your ways a lot faster.”
European car registrations increased 4.6% in April, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.
The U.K. showed strong growth with a 8.2% gain, while registrations in Germany fell back 3.6%. Registration in Spain soared 29% off of a soft-as-butter comparable.
Brand growth: Volkswagen (VLKAY) +4.4% to 287.9K; PSA Group (PEUGY) +5.2% to 122.2K; Renault (RNSDF) +16.1% to 107.6K; General Motors (GM) -5.2% to 75K; Ford (F) +9.1% to 82.7K; Fiat/Chrysler (FIATY) +1.8% to 68.1K; BMW (BAMXY) +0.5% to 64.2K; Daimler (DDAIF) +0.5% to 60.9K; Toyota (TM) +4.8% to 43.1K; Nissan (NSANY) +22.1% to 36.6K.
Fiat (FIATY) CEO Serge Marchionne thinks it will take three years for shareholders to reap some of the benefits of the company's five-year plan.
The large investment by Fiat in launching the Jeep brand in new markets and revitalizing Alfa Romeo will take at least that long to pay off.
The figures Marchionne has scratched onto his napkin are pretty gaudy. The exec sees the automaker hitting global vehicle sales of 7M units a year by 2018 and net cash generation of €4.5B beginning in 2017
Automobile sales in the U.S. showed solid gains in April as Nissan (NSANY), Toyota (TM), and Chrysler (FIATY) all posted double-digit sales growth. General Motors (GM) bested estimates with a 6.9% gain, while Ford (F) had a strong pace of truck sales although car sales came in light.
Pricing and incentives: The industry averaged $2,751 in incentives per vehicle in April, up 8.9% Y/Y and 1% M/M. Japanese automakers (HYMLF, HMC, NSANY) led the promotional charge. The average transaction price was estimated to be 1.2% higher at $32,141. Detroit automakers saw solid pricing trends in most segments.
Trucks: Sales gains at most major automakers were paced by strong demand for pickup trucks. Gains at Ford (8%), Nissan (10.5%), and Chrysler (34%) stood out.
2014 forecast: Demand in April was strong enough to keep a sales forecast for +16M units for the year in place. New models continue to sell well, but inventory levels will be closely watched as investments continue to pour into North American factories.
CEO transition: Ford handed the reigns to Mark Fields a bit sooner than anticipated today. Wall Street analysts see a smooth transition with Fields strongly aligned with the course already laid out by Alan Mulally. "It's a story of continuity," Fields told reporters today.
Tesla watching: Tesla Motors (TSLA) could show a year-over-year decline in deliveries in North America this year, forecasts Morgan Stanley. The investment firm isn't panicked over the potential deceleration in Model S sales growth, noting the long-term story of Tesla disrupting the industry still plays.
The EPA says the average fuel efficiency of vehicles in the U.S. improved to 24 mpg last year.
Subaru (FUJHY), Volkswagen (VLKAY), and Mazda (MZDAY) topped the list with fleet-wide averages of 26 mpg or better.
Chrysler (FIATY), General Motors (GM), and Ford (F) all fell below the industry average due to their higher mix of pickups trucks, while Daimler (DDAIF) kept luxury a priority over slashing weight.
Tesla Motors (TSLA) boasts a gaudy equivalent efficiency rating of 89 mpg, but didn't sell enough cars to land in the rankings.
What to watch: The U.S. government wants each automaker to boast a fleet average of 54.5 mpg or better by 2025. If those regulations stands, it will create a need for a higher mix of vehicles powered by electric and fuel cell technology as moves like Ford's to build F-150s with aluminum won't be enough to swing the averages far enough north.
Toyota (TM) aims to more than double it sales in China to 2M a year from 917,000 in 2013 and introduce 15 models in the country by the end of 2017. From 2015, the Japanese company intends to produce and sell hybrid versions of its Corolla and Levin cars in China. Toyota unveiled its plans at the Auto China show in Beijing, which has officially kicked off this weekend.
Ford (F) is unveiling a prototype of the Ford Everest, a seven-seater off-road SUV that will be made by the company's JMC joint venture with Jiangling Motors. At the moment, Ford makes its SUVs with Chongqing Changan Automobile.
Fiat Chrysler (FIATY) plans to start producing three new Jeeps in China with partner Guangzhou Automobile Group from late 2015 via the companies' GAC Fiat JV, which intends to invest 4.7B yuan ($755.8M) in a project in Guangzhou. The plans have received government approval. GAC Fiat could even make a vehicle customized for the Chinese market.
GM is on course for "a good month" in the U.S., the head of its North American operations, Alan Batey, has said. GM increased sales in March despite the bad publicity the company suffered because of the ignition-switch defect. GM is launching a new Chevrolet Trax and a redesigned Chevrolet Cruze compact car at Auto China. Batey reckons GM isn't "too far away" from selling 1M Chevrolet vehicles in China after selling 650,000 in 2013.
Fiat S.p.A. Torino is the holding company of the Fiat Group. Through its subsidiaries, Co. is engaged principally in the manufacture and sale of automobiles, commercial vehicles and agricultural and construction equipment. Co. is organized into operating sectors, divided in the two major...More