Report: Chinese automaker looks to patent VW Taigun copy before original goes on sale

Filed under: China, Government/Legal, Volkswagen, Humor

China. Just when we thought the People’s Republic was finally developing its own unique, interesting design language and was attracting big-name manufacturers to set up design studios, this happens. This is not a Volkswagen Taigun. This is a patent filing from a company known as Jiangsu Lake Motors, and it is a virtual ripoff of the VW that’s slated to debut in China around 2016. Yes, a Chinese company is trying to patent someone else’s design before it can go on sale.

The profile is nearly a carbon copy of the stylish new mini-CUV, while there’s an incremental degree of originality in the front and rear of the car, with ever so slight styling tweaks. According to IndianAutosBlog, Jiangsu Lake came up with a name as original as the car its patenting: “SUV.” This is far, far, far from the first time Chinese designers have blatantly stolen the design of a western vehicle, as IAB points out, but so far as we can recall, it’s the first time a Chinese brand has attempted to patent the stolen design. Volkswagen should be lawyering up any minute.

Chinese automaker looks to patent VW Taigun copy before original goes on sale originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 03 Aug 2013 17:21:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Toyota hangs on to title of world’s largest automaker for first half of 2013

Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, Toyota, Earnings/Financials

Toyota USA Headquarters

General Motors and Ford can have all the success they please, but it doesn’t seem like America’s two largest manufacturers are going to topple Toyota in the first half of 2013. According to Reuters, Toyota moved 4.91 million vehicles in the first six months of 2013, representing a 1.1-percent drop from the same period in 2012.

GM is on the rise, though, with a four-percent increase in global sales, to 4.85 million. Volkswagen, still sitting in third, saw a 5.5-percent jump to 4.7 million vehicles in the first half of 2013.

If this pace continues for Toyota, it’ll finish 2013 in the top sales spot for the second year in a row. The manufacturer fell to third, behind GM and VW, in 2011 after earthquakes and tsunamis ravaged its production capacity.

Toyota hangs on to title of world’s largest automaker for first half of 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 26 Jul 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Automaker incentives sink to five-year low

Filed under: Car Buying, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, Toyota

Toyota dealership

Auto sales have been on an upward trajectory for many months, and the latest data shows that cash on the hood isn’t one of the reasons. According to Automotive News, incentive spending was at a five-year low in April, down 14 percent to an average of $2,320 per vehicle.

Toyota had the lowest incentives among the top six automakers in the United States, with an average of $1,885 per unit. Nissan discounts dropped the most on a percentage basis, down 33 percent to $1,998. Honda actually increased spending to $2,187, bucking the industry trend. Buyers of Japanese autos can likely expect the dropping incentives to continue in the short term, as supply issues mean that fewer vehicles will be available on dealer lots.

As you may have expected, Ford’s strong product lineup has helped the automaker cut spending by 20 percent to $2,399 – the lowest among the Detroit Three. Chrysler was next with an average rebate of $2,806. General Motors came in last at $3,068 per unit, which is still down 8.1 percent from April 2010.

So what does this mean for car buyers? We’re guessing that incentives will continue to remain where they’re at, or perhaps even drop further in the months ahead. After all, April’s adjusted sales rate came in at 13.2 million for 2011, with no hint of slowing down, and analysts have expected 12.7 to 13 million sales for the year. About the only thing that could change that right now is the continuing rise of gas prices, which is a real possibility.

Automaker incentives sink to five-year low originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 May 2011 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Saab saddles up with Chinese automaker Hawtei

Filed under: China, Europe, Saab, Earnings/Financials

Saab Emblem

Volvo no longer stands alone as the only Swedish automaker with a Chinese partnership. According to Autoblog.nl, Saab and The People’s Republic’s Hawtei are reportedly set to announce that the two companies have joined forces. Hawtei, formerly Hautai, is likely best known on this side of the globe for strutting a logo that could have been the bastard child of the BMW roundel and the Microsoft window. At this point, it’s unclear exactly what each automaker hopes to gain from the alliance, though something tells us that Hawtai will likely supply the capitol needed to keep the lights on at Saab.

The news comes after Saab announced that it had secured a loan to resume production in the short-term.

Autoblog.nl reports that Victor Muller, the current owner of Saab, will be part of an announcement about the Chinese partnership on Tuesday.

Saab saddles up with Chinese automaker Hawtei originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 02 May 2011 16:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Hyundai becomes first automaker to use Groupon

Filed under: Marketing/Advertising, Hyundai

Hyundai emblem detail

Hyundai has officially become the first automaker to jump into the Groupon party by offering customers a $29 oil change, inspection and tire rotation. The manufacturer says around 1,300 individuals participated in the event across 10 dealers in the greater Chicago area and that the move was part of an ongoing effort to increase service business. The hope is that some of those customers who participated in the deal might come back for more vehicle work in the near future.

So, the next logical question: Will Hyundai look into actually selling vehicles through the coupon company? That all depends on how well this particular venture goes. If the automaker sees a strong return rate among customers, it just might look into future partnerships. That said, an entire vehicle purchase seems pretty far-fetched…

Groupon is a Chicago-based company that allows users to buy into one large group coupon per day. Once a deal is announced, a certain number of people must sign up for the offer or it expires and no one benefits. The company serves over 500 markets by offering deals on everything from services to smoothies and everything in between.

All told, Hyundai says that each of its participating dealers developed 130 new service leads each. Hit the jump for the full press release.

[Source: Hyundai | Image: Drew Phillips/AOL]

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Hyundai becomes first automaker to use Groupon originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 22 Apr 2011 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Which automaker is the most productive?

Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, Ford, GM, Volkswagen

2011 Ford Focus production line

Volkswagen piled on some big-time profits for the 2010 model year, as the German automaker finished the year in the black with a staggering $10 billion. VW sales were up, too, with 7.1 million units moved for the year. And compared to VW’s long-term production plans, 7.1 million is a relative drop in the bucket – the German automaker plans to build 10 million vehicles per year by 2018, making the massive conglomerate the largest automaker in the world by volume.

Impressive, but The Detroit News reports that a study by the University of Duisburg-Essen’s CAR-Center Automotive Research institute shows that the German automaker is heavy on employees and a bit short on productivity when compared to Ford and General Motors. The study shows that Ford’s $6.6 billion profit translates into $1,638 per vehicle, compared to VW’s $1,393. GM is last in this study at $661 per unit.

Interesting, then, that when it comes to vehicles sold per employee, GM leads the pack with 42 sold per worker. Ford is a close second at 38 vehicles per employee, while VW finishes woefully behind at just 18 units per worker. Ford also earned an operating profit of $55,152 per employee, while GM finished second in this metric at $27,421. VW again falls behind with a per-employee profit of $25,130. And if VW doesn’t reach its production goals, the automaker risks these efficiency numbers becoming even more lopsided, as the company plans to hire another 50,000 employees in the next few years.

These numbers show that VW is behind in several key areas, but what does it matter if the automaker is posting $10 billion in profits? The DetNews suggests that in doing so, VW is exposing itself to greater risk in the event of another industry downturn.

[Source: The Detroit News | Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty]

Which automaker is the most productive? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 06 Apr 2011 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Hyundai-Kia overtakes Toyota as biggest Asian automaker in Europe

Filed under: Car Buying, Europe, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, Earnings/Financials

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

European car buyers have a favorite Asian automaker, and its name is no longer Toyota. Hyundai and Kia have tag-teamed to best the longtime Japanese automaker, with a four percent overall rise in total units through the first ten months of 2010. During that same period, Toyota-Lexus sales have fallen 17 percent, with Hyundai at 521,369 vehicles sold compared to 511,754 for Toyota.

Toyota’s recent tough road, along with the expanding number of quality offerings from Hyundai-Kia, have allowed the Seoul train to slide past the Japanese brand. Unless Toyota picks up the pace, that gap could widen because the Korean company is understood to have a greater number of new models planned for its European portfolio.

Of course, Hyundai has a long road ahead if it wishes to make the same claim here in the States, but it’s certainly moving in the right direction. Overall sales in the U.S. have risen 21 percent and demand for the redesigned Sonata has jumped 64 percent.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]

Hyundai-Kia overtakes Toyota as biggest Asian automaker in Europe originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 23 Nov 2010 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Hyundai to be most American automaker by next year?

Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, Chevrolet, Ford, GM, Hyundai

One millionth Hyundai built in Alabama

Which automaker do you think is the most “American”? Some might say Chevrolet, since they’re the self-proclaimed Heartbeat of America. Others might say Ford since the Mustang is as iconic an American image as baseball and apple pie. What if we told you the answer might just be Hyundai? As of next year, 80 percent of the vehicles that Hyundai sells in the United States will be made here as well.

That number puts Hyundai above all other automakers in the United States. Ford and Chrysler don’t have exact figures, but estimates for the two manufacturers puts them both below 80 percent as those two automakers assemble many of their popular vehicles in Canada and Mexico. General Motors says between 60 and 70 percent of vehicles sold in the United States are built here.

The numbers may be quite interesting, but of course they don’t tell the whole story. The Big Three domestic automakers produce a much greater volume of vehicles in the United States when compared to Hyundai. For example, if GM built 66 percent of the vehicles it sold here in the states in 2009, it would triple Hyundai’s projected U.S. output for next year.

These figures are also based solely on final assembly. This is important to note because the U.S.-based automakers routinely manufacturer portions of the car in the United States, but the final product might be assembled outside the country. Hyundai, on the other hand, does final assembly on 80 percent of its models, like the millionth vehicle built at its plant in Alabama seen above, right here in the U. S. of A.

[Source: CNN Money]

Hyundai to be most American automaker by next year? originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 22 Oct 2010 19:25:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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UCS: Honda remains Greenest Automaker, Chrysler named Most Polluting

Filed under: Etc., Chrysler, Honda

Honda Insight cutaway

In 2009, Business Car claimed that Toyota was still the world’s greenest automaker. That same year, the folks at Dow Jones named BMW the greenest automaker for the fifth time in a row. Apparently, an organization’s methodology has a lot to do with automakers winning titles like this over and over, since the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has just bestowed the Greenest Automaker Award on Honda, again for the fifth time in a row (the last time the award was given was in 2007).

At least this time, the race was close: Toyota and Hyundai (which lays claim to the most fuel-efficient automaker in the U.S.) tied for second, and their rankings were just a single point behind Honda. The most polluting automaker? Chrysler, but both Ford and General Motors were contenders for the title – blame their heavy mix of body-on-frame trucks.

The UCS ranks automakers based on the scores of their “smog-forming and greenhouse gas emissions (primarily CO2) in its U.S. automobile fleet.” The 2010 award was based on model year 2008 data, the most recent information that was available for analysis. You can read a summary of the report here (PDF) or just get the whole thing (PDF).

[Sources: Union of Concerned Scientists, Honda]

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UCS: Honda remains Greenest Automaker, Chrysler named Most Polluting originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 08 Oct 2010 18:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Mercedes overtakes Lexus as leading luxury automaker in U.S.

Filed under: Car Buying, Mercedes-Benz, Earnings/Financials, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz Emblem

Make way for the new king. Mercedes-Benz has made up serious ground in the American luxury market, beating out both BMW and long-reigning Lexus in sales last month. The Silver Arrow saw deliveries climb by 17 percent in the US, up to 19,862 units in September. What’s more, Ernst Lieb, the company’s chief executive officer, said that he expects the Mercedes-Benz market share to continue to grow throughout the remainder of 2010.

That news comes as BMW announced its sales had grown by 21 percent compared to this time last year. Lexus, meanwhile isn’t fairing so well. The Japanese luxury marque saw its sales fall off by a hefty six percent to 16,948 units, even in light of booming ES sales. The company delivered 21 percent more of its front-wheel-drive sedan in September, but those gains were demolished by the fact that sales of the company’s IS line dropped off by 27 percent.

It would seem that buyers are still somewhat skittish of Lexus products after a torrent of recalls earlier this year. Even so, Brian Smith, the U.S. vice-president of Lexus sales, says that he doesn’t believe his company will lose its position as the number one luxury automaker in the States when all of 2010 is counted.

[Source: Bloomberg]

Report: Mercedes overtakes Lexus as leading luxury automaker in U.S. originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 04 Oct 2010 13:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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