Toyota wins back world’s top auto sales crown from GM

TOKYO/DETROIT, Mon Jan 28, 2013 — Toyota Motor Corp. regained the crown as the world’s top selling automaker in 2012, posting record-high sales and beating rivals General Motors and Volkswagen.

Toyota said on Monday it sold 9.75 million vehicles group-wide around the world last year, a record for the 75-year-old Japanese automaker and up 22.6 percent from a year ago.

The result was in line with the company’s December forecast, and put it back in the No. 1 spot, which it lost in 2011 when it was hit by a wave of negative publicity after a recall crisis in the United States, and a disrupted supply chain following an earthquake in Japan and floods in Thailand.

Toyota held the global sales crown from 2008 through 2010, but fell to third place in 2011 behind GM and Volkswagen.

GM sold 9.28 million vehicles in 2012, up 2.9 percent from a year ago, while Volkswagen sold 9.07 million vehicles, up 11.2 percent.

Toyota aims to sell 9.91 million vehicles group-wide globally in 2013, up 1.6 percent from 2012.

The Toyota group also includes sales at Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd. Toyota-only sales hit a record-high 8.72 million vehicles, up 22.8 percent on a year ago.

Toyota’s domestic rival Nissan Motor Co. said on Monday it sold a record 4.94 million vehicles globally in 2012, while Honda Motor Co. sold 3.82 million vehicles, up 19 percent.

 

 

 

 

DETROIT, Wed Jan 23, 2013 — General Motors Co.’s North American president, Mark Reuss, was considered for the top job at the U.S. automaker in 2010 before his lack of seasoning led the board to the current chief executive, Dan Akerson, according to an excerpt from a forthcoming book by GM’s former CEO, Ed Whitacre.

As GM, which restructured in bankruptcy with the help of a $50 billion U.S. taxpayer bailout, moved toward its fall 2010 initial public offering, Whitacre told the board he would not continue as CEO. His idea for his replacement was Reuss, according to the excerpt published on Wednesday by Fortune magazine.

“Mark had zoomed up the executive chain in record time; he went from midlevel engineer to the No. 2 person in the company in the space of a year, more or less,” Whitacre said of Reuss. “The plus was that Mark was showing a lot of poise and management potential. The downside was that he hadn’t been in the job long enough to prove himself as a CEO.”

Whitacre’s book, “American Turnaround: Reinventing AT&T and GM and the Way We Do Business in the USA,” is scheduled to be published early next month.

GM announced Whitacre’s exit in August 2010, and Akerson assumed leadership of the Detroit company the following month.

Reuss declined to comment on Whitacre’s book.

GM said the comments were Whitacre’s and the company was focused on the future.

GM in talks with Facebook about return to paid ads

DETROIT, Wed Jan 16, 2013 — General Motors Co. and Facebook Inc. are discussing the return of the U.S. automaker as a paid advertiser about eight months after GM said it would stop running ads on the social networking website, a top GM executive said.

Alan Batey, GM’s interim marketing chief, said at the Detroit auto show that discussions with Facebook officials were ongoing though the Detroit company had nothing to announce about a return to Facebook as a paid advertiser.

“We’re still actively talking to them and looking at opportunities that come our way,” Batey told Reuters on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t tell you that there’s a Mexican standoff here. We just didn’t see the value” in the ads.

Three days before Facebook’s May 2012 IPO, GM said it was dropping paid ads on the website because they had little impact on consumers.

GM has previously said it spent about $40 million on its Facebook presence, but only $10 million of that was paid to Facebook for advertising. The rest covers the creation of content and the advertising and media agencies involved.

Sources said last summer that the two companies were discussing GM’s return and Facebook offered to provide GM with data showing the effectiveness of the website’s paid ads. However, Facebook at that time did not offer any concessions.

Batey declined to discuss the current talks or to provide a possible timing for GM’s return to Facebook, where it still has pages for which it pays no fees to market its car and trucks.

“I wouldn’t want to predict if there’s something, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if there were some things,” he said.

Also last May, GM said it would not advertise on CBS during the 2013 Super Bowl because the ad spots were overpriced. Batey said that decision remained in place.

Separately, Batey said he had nothing to announce on GM hiring a permanent chief marketing officer. GM’s former marketing chief Joel Ewanick was fired last August for not properly disclosing the full cost of a $559 million sponsorship deal with English soccer club Manchester United.

GM to buy stake from Treasury, government plans full exit

DETROIT, Wed Dec 19, 2012 — General Motors Co. said on Wednesday it will buy back 200 million of its shares from the U.S. Treasury, which intends to sell the rest of its GM stake over the next 15 months, bringing to an end ownership that led to the nickname “Government Motors.”

Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said GM will pay $5.5 billion, or $27.50 a share, for the Treasury stake in a deal expected to close by year-end. That represents a 7.9 percent premium on Tuesday’s closing price.

GM shares rose about 10 percent to $28.05 in premarket dealings.

Treasury said it will sell its remaining stake of about 300.1 million shares “through various means in an orderly fashion” over the next 12 months to 15 months, and could begin the process as soon as January.

GM received about $50 billion from the U.S. Treasury as part of its 2009 bankruptcy restructuring in 2009 under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The government bailed out GM and Chrysler Group in a move to protect jobs — a number it put at more than 1 million

New pickups are GM’s biggest test since bankruptcy

PONTIAC, Mich, Thu Dec 13, 2012 — General Motors Co. is counting on muscled up, more refined versions of its lucrative Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickup trucks to show investors and car buyers that the No. 1 U.S. automaker is back on track.

The 2014 model-year trucks are the most critical launch for the Detroit company since its bankruptcy and $50 billion U.S. taxpayer-funded bailout in 2009. The trucks are also a linchpin in GM’s ongoing battle with No. 2 U.S. carmaker Ford Motor Co., whose F-150 truck is the industry’s top-selling vehicle.

GM showed off the new full-size pickups in Pontiac, Michigan, on Thursday, and executives are touting the benefits of the vehicles, which will initially be offered in the most popular four-door, “crew cab” version in the second quarter of next year.

“There’s nothing more core to our business than our trucks,” GM North American President Mark Reuss said at the introduction at a movie studio north of Detroit.

GM Cadillac to start making ELR plug-in hybrid in late 2013

DETROIT, Tue Oct 16, 2012 – The production of the Cadillac ELR, the first luxury plug-in hybrid electric vehicle from General Motors Co, is to begin in late 2013 at the same plant that makes the Chevrolet Volt, a top GM official said on Tuesday.

The ELR will be introduced to the U.S. market shortly after the start of production, but GM did not announce timing of the first sales for the Cadillac ELR. The ELR is the production version of the concept Cadillac Converj introduced at the Detroit auto show in 2009.

Mark Reuss, GM’s North American president, announced production plants for the ELR at an industry conference in Detroit.

“The ELR will be in a class by itself, further proof of our commitment to electric vehicles and advanced technology,” Reuss said. “People will instantly recognize it as a Cadillac by its distinctive, signature look and true-to-concept exterior design.”

Production of the ELR will be at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which also makes the Volt and its near-twin models, the Opel Ampera, the Vauxhall Ampera and the Holden Volt.

Production of the Volt, the Ampera and the Holden Volt resumed on Monday after being suspended for four weeks.

While auto analysts said that the suspension was in part due to poor sales of the Volt, GM has said that the temporary plant shutdown was to allow for some retooling for the production of the newly designed 2014 Chevrolet Impala, which is to begin at the plant in early 2013.

The plant also makes the Chevrolet Malibu sedan. Production of the Malibu also resumed on Monday, GM said.

GM to add 1,500 information tech jobs in Michigan

DETROIT, Mon Oct 8, 2012 – General Motors Co. said on Monday it will create 1,500 jobs at a new software development center in Michigan as part of the U.S. automaker’s previously announced plan to shift information technology work back into the company.

GM said it will hire the software developers, database experts, analysts and other IT positions over the next four years for the office in Warren, Michigan. It is the second of four software development centers GM plans to open, following one it announced last month in Austin, Texas.

In July, the Detroit automaker said it would reverse years of outsourcing IT work. GM now outsources about 90 percent of its IT services and provides the rest in-house, but it wants to flip those figures in the next three to five years.

The IT overhaul is spearheaded by GM Chief Information Officer Randy Mott, who outlined the plan to GM’s 1,500 IT employees in June. The former Hewlett-Packard Co executive believes the moves will make GM more efficient and productive.

GM, which has not disclosed the cost or savings of its strategy, plans to cut the automaker’s sprawling list of IT applications by at least 40 percent and move to a more standardized platform. GM will also simplify the way it transmits data.

GM recalls nearly 474,000 cars over gear shift problem

DETROIT, Fri Sep 21, 2012 – General Motors Co. is recalling 473,841 Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn sedans globally to fix a condition that could lead the cars to roll when the drivers think they are in park, the No. 1 U.S. automaker said on Friday.

GM said it was aware of four crashes that resulted from the problem, but no injuries.

The company said the recall affected Chevy Malibu, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura cars from model years 2007 through 2010 and equipped with four-speed automatic transmissions. GM will repair the condition in which the transmission gear position may not match the gear on the shifter.

The recall affects 426,240 in the United States, 40,029 in Canada and 7,572 in other markets.

Dealers will reinforce the shift cable end fitting to prevent that part from fracturing, GM said. Owners will be notified by letter to schedule the free repairs at dealers, and those who have had the work done already will be eligible for reimbursement.

The company also said it was recalling 6,475 Chevy Sonic subcompact cars globally because they might not alert the driver to a faulty turn-signal bulb.

Dealers will reprogram an incorrectly calibrated module for the cars built between May 29 and Aug. 29 at GM’s Orion, Mich., plant.

The recall affects 4,716 cars in the United States and 1,759 in other markets.

GM said it was unaware of any crashes or injuries stemming from the problem. Owners will be notified of the Sonic recall by letter beginning Oct. 3.

Treasury resists GM plan on government stake sale: WSJ

WASHINGTON, Mon Sep 17, 2012 – The Treasury Department is unwilling to sell the government’s stake in General Motors Co. because a sale now would mean huge investment losses, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people close to the matter.

Earlier this year GM floated a plan with Treasury officials to repurchase 200 million of the roughly 500 million shares the U.S. holds in the carmaker, the newspaper said, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation.

Under that plan, Treasury would sell the remaining shares through a public stock offering, the Journal said.

But the Treasury, which holds a 26.5 percent stake in the automaker, is not interested in GM’s offer at the current price, and is not rushing to sell shares, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

At GM’s Friday share price of $24.14, the U.S. would lose about $15 billion on the GM bailout if it sold its entire stake, the paper said.

While GM stock would need to reach $53 a share for the U.S. to break even, Treasury officials would consider selling at a price in the $30s, the Journal said.

“The Treasury will make its own decisions about their stake in the company like any other owner,” a GM spokesman told the newspaper. “Our job is to produce great cars and solid profits.”

The Treasury has invested more than $50 billion in GM via the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Neither General Motors nor the Treasury department could not be reached for comments immediately.

GM recalls over 38,000 police Impalas in North America

DETROIT, Mon Aug 13, 2012 – General Motors Co. is recalling more than 38,000 Chevrolet Impala police cars in North America because the lower front control arms could fracture, increasing the risk of crash.

The recall, which does not affect non-police versions of the Impala, covers 36,413 cars in the United States and 1,713 in Canada, according to GM and documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It covers cars from the 2008 to 2012 model years.

GM said there had been no reports of accidents or injuries related to the issue.

A fracture of the control arms, which support a vehicle’s wheels, fracture, can lead to loss of control, according to NHTSA documents. Should a fracture occur, some tire “squeal” or “chirping” may be heard when turning at low speeds, according to NHTSA documents.

The problem was discovered after GM got several reports from two police fleets of front lower control arms that had fractured, according to NHTSA documents.

The recall, which entails replacing both front, lower control arms, is expected to begin on Aug. 21, according to NHTSA documents.