Executive salaries in the automotive industry: crazy or justified?

Executive salaries are a hot topic these days, mostly due to the huge bonuses paid out to executives in the financial industry, at companies that needed government aid during the global financial crisis. And the French have always been exceptionally sensitive about this topic, as a country with strong unions and an a socialist government.

Renault_Nissan-CEO-Chairman-Carlos_GhosnSo when the Renault board voted to almost triple the 2014 salary of its CEO and Chairman Carlos Ghosn to € 7,2 million in cash and share options (up from € 2,67 million in 2013), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 5 of the 19 board members voted against the proposal, including those of the French state, which still controls a 15% share in Renault. What these board members must have failed to realize, is that Renault’s net income has also tripled, to € 1,89 billion thanks to sales successes of the Renault and Dacia brands in Europe and continued benefits from the alliance with Nissan.

Ghosn has been in charge of Renault for 10 years and helped to make the alliance with Nissan perhaps the most successful in the automotive world ever, he’s led Nissan for 15 years, and he’s known for setting audacious goals and then achieving them. … Continue Reading …

New Jag XE… XF breaks cover!

Big news for Jaguar-philes as the new XF broke cover today, ahead of its debut in New York. Many of you may not have noticed, though, or even thought the car was a long-wheelbase version of the XE for the Chinese market – so close is the new model to its little brother in terms of styling! And it’s not even like either one is that different from the current XF to begin with… Sure, the new car is made partly from aluminum and promises to be quite a bit lighter than the (porky) current XF, but Jaguar seems to have outdone Audi and BMW in terms offering “same sausage, different sizes” to its customers!


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Poll: Should Lamborghini build the Urus?

With Lamborghini yet again releasing “non-news” that it still hasn’t decided on whether to build the Urus, I am starting to think whether they should bother at all, given how long it’s been taking them to make the decision. Personally, I think the more the merrier as long as the product is right, and the Urus certainly looks right (though I would prefer a more original front end). But what do you think?

Should Lamborghini build the Urus?

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Jeep Chief is retro done well and on the cheap

I am generally not a huge fan of retro cars, though I do have a soft spot for the Chrysler PT Cruiser. I am particularly not a fan of companies spending tons of money on a retro-looking car, when the same amount could be put towards a car that is amazing looking without needing to copy anything else (think new Ford GT versus the previous one, Jag XF vs S-Type, BMW i8 vs Z8).


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Maserati cutting production due to falling demand

2014 was a huge year for Maserati: it sold 36,448 worldwide, some 136% more than the year before. Now, however, there is news out of Italy that the manufacturer is cutting production of its two main models, the Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans, due to lower demand. The production this year is expected to fall to around 30,000-35,000 cars.


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CARicature news: GM withdraws from US highways

In a week when Fiat-Chrysler announced its Chrysler brand (pronounce: Lan-Cee-Ya) would quit the UK market and General Motors announced it would stop selling Opel and Chevrolet vehicles in Russia, GM also issued a press release stating management has decided to withdraw sales of its cars and SUVs to customers who want to drive it on North American highways, in order to make up for continued losses of its European operations.

CARicature_News-GM-CEO-Mary_BarraIn a statement, General Motors explains that withdrawing their vehicles from the US highways will avoid any supervision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and therefore save the company an estimated US$4 billion in recall-related costs. It would also alleviate dealers from having to repair over 30 million allegedly defective cars and trucks annually and as a side effect will have a comforting effect on consumers, who will no longer be frightened by never-ending media reports (un)covering potential safety hazards on their vehicle.

CEO Mary Barra: “This really is a prime example of the post-bankruptcy New GM,… Continue Reading …

Poll: Which of the German sports cars would you rather have?

There was a time when the choice of a german sports car was simple – you either got the Porsche 911 or, well, you looked elsewhere (probably Italy). The best Audi could offer you was a fast Quattro model or, later, a super-Golf called the TT; BMW dabbled with the M1 and Z8, but those cars really just made you run faster for the competition; even mighty Mercedes hadn’t really offered anything tasty since the gull-wing 300SL. But oh, my, how the times have changed – now we (or at least those with big money) are spoilt for choice with these great four options. So, which one is your poison?

Standaufnahme    Farbe: ArablauP90133075_highRes2016-mercedes-amg-gt-s-first-drive-review-car-and-driver-photo-640290-s-originalporsche911_front

Which of the German sports cars would you rather have?

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Qoros sells 51 units in first year in Europe

Qoros-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeExclusive to Left-Lane.com, I can now publish official European sales figures of Chinese-Israeli brand Qoros, which started sales in 2014 in its test market Slovakia with the compact Qoros 3 sedan. With just a single dealership in Bratislava, the brand has sold 51 units in its first year of sales. This may sound very modest, and indeed it is, but Qoros doesn’t consider sales volume a priority for at least a few more years, as the brand first wants to learn to understand the European market and gain experience in selling cars here. Considering the mixed fortunes of previous attempts by Chinese brands to crack the continent (remember the Euro-NCAP failure of Brilliance? Or have you ever heard of Landwind?), that sounds like a wise and well-thought-out strategy.

But while other Chinese brands may have been too ambitious, Qoros risks being too modest with their targets. 51 units still leave them a long way from cracking the European car market and also from their long-term target of achieving 10% of its worldwide sales in Europe. … Continue Reading …

Chrysler to quit UK market, what’s next for FCA?

Chrysler-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeIt really didn’t come as a surprise when Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles announced that it would withdraw the Chrysler brand from the UK market this week. Right-hand drive American MPVs, large sedans and rebadged Italian hatchbacks just didn’t vibe with the British car buying public. With the Jeep brand currently red-hot all over Europe thanks to the successful launches of the new midsized SUV Cherokee and even more so of the small crossover Renegade, the company has decided to dedicate its resources in the UK to its SUV brand.

Chrysler-Jeep-UK_Sales_ChartChrysler’s UK sales have dwindled to less than 2.000 units last year, but haven’t been above 3.400 in the last 6 years, which is approximately the number of Fiat 500 minicars the company sells every month in the UK market. Production and sales of the Delta compact had already been suspended last year, and the slow-selling RHD 300C large sedan (88 units in 2014, just 2 in January 2015) and Voyager MPV (2014: 565 units, January 2015: 5) will be discontinued as we speak, while the Ypsilon minicar (1.411 units in the UK last year) will be sold on customer’s request until the end of 2017.… Continue Reading …

Opel and Chevrolet to withdraw from Russian car market

General_Motors-withdrawal-russiaGeneral Motors has announced plans to “change its business model” in Russia, which is a gentle way of calling it quits for the third time in a few years time. In 2013, GM withdrew Opel from the Australian market after less then one year of trying. A few months later, Chevrolet was announced to quit the European car market (excluding Russia) in order to give Opel a shot at returning to profitability. And in a final attempt to stop the bleeding of cash at its European operations, both brands will say “пока-пока” to the Russian market.

Opel Group CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann said, “We do not have the appropriate localization level for important vehicles built in Russia and the market Hyundai_Solaris-Kia_Rio-Renault_Logan-Russiaenvironment does not justify a major investment to further localize.” With which they mean they’ve completely misjudged the market and failed to offer a competitive, locally built subcompact sedan to defend itself against the surging Hyundai Solaris (a.k.a. Accent outside of Russia), Kia Rio and Renault Logan.

Opel will leave the market by the end of this year and Chevrolet will be minimized to “iconic” vehicles like the Corvette, Camaro and Tahoe. Oh, and of course Cadillac will stay in Russia, in a desperate attempt not to lose its self-proclaimed “Global luxury brand” title. Mind you, this is a market where GM sold a combined 288.308 vehicles in 2012 (that’s only three years ago), of which more than 200.000 Chevrolet, 80.000 Opel, and……. 2.024 Cadillac cars and SUVs.… Continue Reading …