Automotive Purchasing News Review 28 July 2014 - page 27

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28 July 2014
automotive purchasing
LexusEuropepostsstrongsalesgrowth forH1, 2014
Jul 21, 2014
First-half sales results show that Lexus is the
fastest growing premium brand in Europe
this year. As Automotive Purchasing’s Alex
Kreetzer reports, the carmaker says it sold
24,586 vehicles in Europe, including Russia
and other Eastern countries, in the first half
of 2014; seeing an increase of 25 percent,
the company is experiencing a much higher
growth rate than the premium market (+5
percent).
The speed of sales growth for the Lexusis
brand is even higher
when considering
Western
Europeonly: +33percent to reach 13,235units in the
sameperiod.RecordincreaseswerenotedinIreland
(+206percent), Portugal (+156percent), Poland (+149
percent), Greece (+138 percent) and Finland (+100
percent). Lexus also saw 8,729 units in Russia, an
increaseof 17 percent compared to last year.
The Japanese corporation’s sales
performance has also been propelled by the
recent product introductions. Sales of the
new IS, launched in 2013, saw 6,923 units
in the first half of 2014, including 5,366 units
of the new hybrid IS 300h. The GS hybrid
line-up also strongly benefited from the
introduction of the new GS 300h at the end
of last year, achieving sales of 1,290 units.
Hybrid vehicles represent 60 percent of
Lexus sales in Europe.
Positive response
“We are delighted
to see the positive
response of customers
to our newly launched
hybrid models”, said
Alain Uyttenhoven, TME
Vice President and
Head
of
Lexus Europe. “We plan to strengthen this
sales momentum with the introduction of the
new NX in the 4th quarter of the year, and we
are on track to exceed our target of 50,000
units in 2014. We aim for further substantial
growth next year, with NX representing about
one-third of Lexus deliveries in Europe in its
first full year of sales.”
Lexus NX enters the premium mid-sized
SUV market
The new mid-sized NX is hoping to further
Lexus’ success in the market, pushing sales
up in 2015. Commenting, Takeaki Kato,
NX Chief Engineer, said: “The NX was
developed as a premium SUV delivering
high performance, packaged with an alluring
exterior and interior design which creates a
sense of desire. On its practical side, the NX
was designed to complement daily life while
also being capable of supporting an active
lifestyle on the weekend.”
The brand new Lexus NX leads the company
into the luxury pool of mid-sized premium SUVs,
which hopes to see much further growth in
Europe within its first full year of sale. The mid-
sized SUV market is one of the fastest growing
sectors in the auto industry, seeing a massive
demand on a global scale, with estimations to
top one million per year in 2015.
Styling
The company has worked on the styling to
create a strong and unique exterior, with an
aggressive front grilleandoverall roadpresence,
in order to attract a new younger generation of
customers to the brand, whilst also delivering
great space and luggage requirements.
Focus to technology is definitely present
when sitting inside the car, with such things
as a wireless charging tray for mobile phones,
the first application of the new Lexus remote
Touch Interface, 360 degree Panoramic
View Monitor, an enhanced Multi-Information
Display and a 6.2 inch Head-up Display.
Lexus gives customers the choice of two
main engines and powertrains, the NX 300h
with 2.5 litres Atkinson cycle engine and one
or two electric motors or the NX 200t which
consists of a 2.0 litres turbo petrol engine
with six-speed automatic transmission. Both
powertrains are available in front-wheel
drive or all-wheel drive.
GMsuspendssalesforrecalledCadillacs
Jul 21, 2014
General Motors has confirmed its decision
to order Cadillac dealers to cease selling
some versions of the brand’s CTS model-
range because the automaker does not
have a fix yet for cars recalled in late June
over an issue where engines can be shut off
if the driver's knee bumps the ignition key.
Details of incidents leading up to the
June 30 recall, including three occasions
where GM employees bumped the keys and
shut off the engines in 2012 CTS models,
were made public Saturday by the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA), which oversees safety recalls.
The stop sale order on the 2003-2014 CTS
and 2004-2006 SRX was issued July 2 and
updated July 8, according to GM documents
posted by NHTSA. The recall involved about
554,000 Cadillacs in the United States. The
order "is still in effect for the foreseeable
future," GM spokesman Alan Adler said.
GM engineers are "looking at one common
solution" for all the recalled Cadillacs, "but
they don't have it yet," Adler added.
Jarring event
GM so far this year has recalled about
14.7 million vehicles worldwide with switch-
related issues and has linked at least 16
deaths to those issues. The automaker
changed to a push-button starter
switch on the redesigned 2014
CTS, which does not
share the problem
with older models.
Some
versions
of the older CTS,
including
the
wagon,
were
carried over for
model year 2014
and were included in the recall.
In documents provided to NHTSA, GM
said the main problem with the SRX and
the earlier versions of the CTS involved the
potential for heavy key rings or a "jarring
event" such as a pothole to turn the ignition
key out of the run position. If that happens,
the engine can shut off, causing loss of
power steering and failure of air bags to
deploy in a crash, NHTSA said.
Different problem
GM has a different problem with second-
generation CTSs from model years 2008-
2014, which use a different ignition switch
than earlier models. Even after GM shifted
to keys with the small hole in late 2010, the
cars still displayed a susceptibility to being
switched off because of a knee bump.
GMinlateJunerecalled2010-2014Chevrolet
Camaros for a similar problem, where knee
bumps could switch the key out of position and
turn off the engine. The solution was to replace
the switchblade-type key and fob with a single,
lighter key. The automaker has urged owners
of the recalled cars to remove all items from
key rings, including the key fob, leaving only
the ignition key. It also warned drivers to adjust
seats and steering columns "to allow clearance
between their knee and the ignition key."
Severstal offloadsDearbornunit
Jul 21, 2014
Russian steelmaker Severstal OAO said
today (July 21) it is selling its Dearborn
unit once known as Rouge Steel to a
Pennsylvania company for $700 million
as it exits North America. As Automtoive
Purchasing editor Drew Hillier reports, the
sale comes amid growing tension between
Russia and the United States over Ukraine
and the shooting down of a Malaysia airliner.
Severstal OAO confirmed it will sell its
Severstal Columbus, LLC and Severstal
Dearborn, LLC subsidiaries, collectively
known as Severstal North America, to
Steel Dynamics, Inc. and AK Steel Corp.,
respectively, for $2.3 billion.
“The sale of Columbus andDearborn unlocks
substantial value to Severstal’s shareholders,”
said Alexey Mordashov, CEO of OAO Severstal.
“On behalf of Severstal’s management, I would
like to express gratitude to the whole team
at Dearborn and Columbus for their input in
making Severstal North America one of the
most efficient steel producers in the USA. We
wish our colleagues further success in the
development of the business.”
Increased scale
Severstal is still known locally as Rouge
Steel, a former unit of Ford Motor Co. Rouge
Steel filed for bankruptcy in 2003; Severstal
acquired most of it in 2004. AK Steel is
acquiring Severstal's cokemaking facility and
interests in three joint ventures that process
flat-rolled steel products. The acquisition
means the "increased scale enhances
company's ability to better serve customers.”
Dearborn's blast furnace, which was
rebuilt in 2007, is among the most efficient
and productive blast furnaces in the world for
its size, AK Steel said. The plant also began
operating a new pickle line tandem cold mill
and a new hot dip galvanizing line in 2011.
Similar to AK Steel's existing carbon steel
operations, the Dearborn plant produces hot
and cold rolled sheet and hot dip galvanized
products, as well as other flat-rolled steel
products. The plant employs 1,400 people
and is capable of producing about 2.5 million
tons of finished steel per year.
Strategic review
Upon completion of the acquisition, AK Steel's
annual shipments are expected to exceed 7.5
million tons. Severstal — which has been losing
money —announced a strategic review of assets
last year. The deal is expected to close by the
end of the year but must also be approved by
the Justice Department's antitrust division.
Thedeal alsocomes amidmoreautomakers
considering using aluminium instead of
steel for cars. The auto steel business faces
pressure. Ford plans to launch an aluminium
F-150 by year's end and other automakers are
considering following suit.
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