DETROIT (Reuters) – The Chevrolet Malibu has been a symbol of General Motors Co’s (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) competitive woes for nearly 20 years due to designs that critics often lambasted as boring. Now, the No. 1 U.S. automaker is telling suppliers a redesigned version of the midsize sedan will deliver a long-awaited sales jolt.
GM executives have told suppliers to prepare for sales in North America of 250,000 new Malibus a year, 25 percent above last year’s levels, and have the ability to go as high as 300,000 cars a year, according to three supplier sources familiar with the plans.
DETROIT (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve should remain on track to raise interest rates later this year despite the U.S. economy’s weak start to the year and a stock market sell-off this week, two Fed officials said on Thursday.
In separate events in Frankfurt and Detroit, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said U.S. monetary policy might need to be adjusted in light of the economy’s steady improvement since the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
MEXICO CITY/DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) will build its next-generation Chevrolet Cruze small car in Mexico, the company said on Monday, as automakers look to expand there to take advantage of low labor costs and free trade agreements. GM will invest $350 million to produce the Cruze at its plant in Coahuila, as part of the $5 billion investment in its Mexican plants announced last year.
GM also said it will continue manufacturing the model at its factory in Lordstown, Ohio. GM so far has identified only three plants globally that will make the next-generation Cruze, including in China.
DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co’s (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) decision this week to give back up to $10 billion to shareholders over the next two years will likely delay one of its important goals: achieving a top-tier credit rating that would benefit its growing auto finance unit.
The No. 1 U.S. automaker has been building its GM Financial unit through acquisitions and more aggressive marketing to dealers. Automakers use in-house lenders to offer discounted financing on new cars and trucks for consumers and dealers. Reaching a single A credit rating would give GM greater flexibility to fund GM Financial at lower cost.
DETROIT/SEOUL (Reuters) – Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) plans to expand its U.S. factory, three people familiar with the matter said, hoping to ramp up production of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) as lower oil prices boost demand for gas-guzzling trucks.
Sales of the South Korean automaker’s sedans like the Elantra and Sonata are slowing in the United States as consumers take advantage of lower fuel prices to switch to bigger, less fuel-efficient SUVs.
By Dan Levine and Ben Klayman
(Reuters) – Apple Inc asked a U.S. court on Tuesday
to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed by battery maker A123 systems
over engineers hired by Apple, saying A123′s claims were too
speculative to proceed, according to a court filing.
Apple is exploring how to make an electric car and has been
hiring engineers with deep expertise in automobile systems.
Around June 2014 Apple began aggressively poaching A123
engineers tasked with leading some of the company’s most
critical projects, A123′s lawsuit said.
DETROIT (Reuters) – Two General Motors Co workers at its Arlington, Texas, assembly plant have sued the No. 1 U.S. automaker and are seeking class-action status, claiming the company violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by denying them unpaid religious days off.
The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Forth Worth, Texas, charged the company with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act “by denying a reasonable religious accommodation” to James Robinson III, a Seventh-day Sabbatarian, and Chris Scruggs, a Messianic Jew, who had previously taken off religious holidays without pay.
DETROIT (Reuters) – Berkshire Hathaway Chief Executive Warren Buffett, one of the largest shareholders in General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), said on Monday he would be wary of putting former U.S. autos task force member Harry Wilson or anyone else on the company’s board if the focus was on the short-term performance of the automaker.
“I totally disagree with the idea of putting somebody on the board who has an option on some other people’s stock which is only good for two years,” Buffett said on CNBC. “It’s just not the way to run a business,” he added.
DETROIT (Reuters) – For the second year in a row, ferocious winter weather slowed U.S. vehicle sales in February, with several major automakers missing analysts’ projections and dampening bullish expectations.
The lackluster sales reported on Tuesday were “likely due to inclement weather,” said Joseph Amaturo of Buckingham Research Group, who expects “any lost sales to be made up in March.”
By Norihiko Shirouzu and Ben Klayman
(Reuters) – A day after announcing it is to stop making GM-branded cars in Indonesia, General Motors (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said on Friday it would cease production of its Chevrolet Sonic in Thailand by the middle of this year.
While GM will still sell cars like the Cruze sedan in parts of Southeast Asia, an emerging markets battleground for global automakers, it is shifting focus to push the ‘American heritage’ of its SUVs and pickups such as the Trailblazer and Colorado.