Auto News for Feb. 18


A Rolls-Royce SUV? YES! Leaders of the luxury car maker have confirmed that development is underway of “a car that that offers the luxury of a Rolls-Royce in a vehicle that can cross any terrain.” Chairman Peter Schwarzenbauer and CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said the vehicle will offer “effortless luxury” and “all-new aluminum architecture” that will carry “the Spirit of Ecstasy into the future.” They said the parent firm, BMW, backs the move and “the journey towards this all new Rolls-Royce begins now and we will keep our customers, enthusiasts and media informed of our progress along the way.” They said the move to build the new vehicle came at the urging of “discerning customers” and further noted that Rollers of the past have “conveyed pioneers and adventures like Lawrence of Arabia across the vastness of unexplored deserts and over mountain ranges.” This announcement should keep the rumor mill going for years.

It should be noted that this will be all-aluminum architecture, so perhaps Ford was not so radical with its new F-150?

How is General Motors doing? The Wall Street Journal reports that both Warren Buffett and George Soros have increased their holdings in the auto maker. Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway increased its holding by 1 million shares while Soros picked up 728,938 shares. Neither involved a player to be named later.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen now has a 25 percent market share in Europe and has a commanding lead over contenders. PSA Group has the second largest market share at just 10.8 percent. It makes Peugeot’s and other brands.

Ford has hired one of the brightest auto analysts in the business to improve its global sales. John Casesa will report directly to CEO Mark Fields and will be the senior leader and corporate officer overseeing global strategy and business development. Casesa was a senior managing director of Guggenheim Partners, where he led the firm’s automotive investment banking activities. Ford wants to grow its sales in China and improve its sales outlook in Europe.

A start-up company in China is giving a new Tesla to everyone who has been with WiFi Master Key for more than four months, according to CNBC. It will be a year-end bonus as China begins its Year of the Sheep. The deal will cost the company $4.8 million but it is not clear how many workers will qualify.

A former GM official, Dan Akerson, said Apple should not enter the auto making business, but instead, concentrate on better automotive electronics. There have been numerous unconfirmed reports that hundreds of Apple workers are developing an electric car. Akerson said Apple shareholders should not be happy that the company is entering a low-margin, heavy manufacturing business with questionable long term prospects. Those outside the auto business do not understand the regulatory and safety requirements that a start-up would face, he said.

One of the smartest guys in the car biz just got a nice raise. Daimler AG gave Dieter Zetsche a 1.4 percent pay hike to $9.4 million after Mercedes reported record deliveries of its products last year.

Sears Auto Center is backing a contest to find the most pothole plagued city in the country. It has created #PotholeProbs where residents can submit pictures of potholes in their community. The city that records the most submissions will receive an exclusive deal on alignment services.

I would nominate Boston but no one can find the potholes yet.



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