VW hires former Honda exec Mikiciuk as sales VP

Volkswagen of America has hired former American Honda executive Ray Mikiciuk as its new senior vice president of sales.
In the role, Mikiciuk will lead the German brand’s sales delivery, operations and planning in the U.S. and will report to Duncan Movassaghi, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Volkswagen of America.
Mikiciuk spent 30 years with American Honda before departing last year as vice president of sales operations. He has since worked as director of manufacturer and industry relations for Victory Automotive Group, where he managed factory relations for the group’s 43 dealerships.
Mikiciuk is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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Nissan, Lexus defend top spots in 2020 Reputation.com study

The Nissan brand scored at the top among non-luxury brands in the 2020 Automotive Reputation Report.
Subaru, Toyota, Ford and Mini rounded out the top five for 2020, the second year for the report.
Reputation.com ranks 18,000 automotive brands and dealerships in the U.S. on a scale of 0 to 1,000 based on visibility, sentiment and engagement.
The scores are measured using online data reviews, listings, search results, social media and customer engagement on Google, Facebook, Cars.com and Edmunds.
The Nissan brand finished with a reputation score of 681 compared with 672 in 2019.
Mazda took the last-place spot, with 25 fewer points than last year at 548, replacing Mitsubishi on the bottom of the non-luxury list.
Lexus was the highest-ranking luxury brand in the U.S. with a 673 score, up one point from 2019.
Tesla ranked in the bottom three with the lowest rate for responding to negative reviews and the lowest engagement scores. Tesla scored 520, down 29 points from 2019.
Cadillac, at 504 points, and Hyundai’s Genesis brand, 366 points, were the only brands finishing below Tesla in this year’s report. It was Genesis’ first appearance in the index.
Among large U.S. dealership groups, Hendrick Automotive Group posted the highest average reputation score per dealership, at 803 points and 99 percent engagement, up from its 2019 scores of 722 and 91 percent engagement.
The highest-ranked public dealership group was AutoNation with a score of 717, up from last year’s 704.
For dealerships to make the Top 100 list, they must score 866 or higher, 272 points above the industry average. Kimber Creek Ford of Pine River, Minn., was on top and Hendrick Lexus Charlotte in North Carolina was second.

Ali Fawaz, managing director at Reputation.com, said that although most standings stayed the same from the 2019 report, the analysis uncovered a new trend concerning the hygiene of dealerships.
Reviews concerning personal health and safety have grown by 100 percent since the pandemic hit, according to the latest report, released Monday.
A year ago there was nothing in the data that expressed concern about consumer health and safety when entering a dealership, Brad Null, head of data science at Reputation.com, told Automotive News.
This is the second year that Reputation.com has conducted the study and the first year that wearing masks, cleanliness of facilities and offering contactless delivery options have influenced dealership reputation scores.

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Tesla expects rising capital expenses amid growth spurt

Tesla Inc. expects capital spending on new plants and equipment to reach the high end of a range from $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion in 2020, according to a regulatory filing.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of electric vehicles also projects that spending could almost double in each of the next two years, rising to a range of $4.5 billion to $6 billion, it said in the quarterly filing disclosed Monday.
Tesla currently has an auto assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., and a newer factory in Shanghai, China. The company has begun construction on new vehicle-assembly facilities in Berlin and Austin, Texas, with plans to begin delivering vehicles from both locations next year.
Tesla shares have risen more than 400 percent this year. The company’s shares were down a fraction to $417.83 in midday trading Monday.

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DAILY DRIVE PODCAST: October 26, 2020 | Will the auto retail roller coaster continue to climb?

Join Automotive News Publisher Jason Stein for a daily podcast series about the coronavirus crisis. He’ll speak with industry experts, insiders and Automotive News reporters about how the virus is impacting and reshaping the automotive industry.

Alan Haig, president of Haig Partners, provides a glimpse into the firm’s upcoming report on industry trends and how they are impacting dealership values and the buy-sell world. From improving economic conditions to soaring dealer profits, Haig remains bullish on the industry’s ”amazing” turnaround.

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Musk cruises to $11.8 billion haul from his moonshot stock award

Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk collected the fourth installment of his moonshot award this month, bringing his aggregate haul to $11.8 billion.
The company recently surpassed the performance thresholds for market value and adjusted earnings before adjusted interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to a regulatory filing on Monday, unlocking yet another 8.44 million options for the billionaire CEO.
Following a surge in Tesla’s stock, Musk in May collected the first installment of the massive options award he was granted in 2018. He received the second and third installments in July and September, respectively.
Musk’s complete compensation package — the largest corporate pay deal ever struck between a CEO and a board of directors — includes about 101 million options, split into 12 installments, that could yield Musk more than $50 billion if all goals are met, according to the electric carmaker’s estimates. He’s allowed to exercise the options as they’re unlocked, but can’t sell any of the shares for five years.
Musk’s fortune has more than quadrupled this year to exceed $100 billion, the largest gain of anyone on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the world’s fourth-richest person.

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Polestar to get EVs from new Geely plant, report says

BEIJING — Polestar will get electric vehicles from a new plant that parent Zhejiang Geely Holding plans to build in China, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.Geely wants to open a factory with annual capacity of 30,000 premium EVs in the western city of Chongqing, run by a wholly owned, newly registered company, according to documents on its website.Polestar builds its current models in China in two plants for the local market and for export to Europe and the United States. The low-volume Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid coupe is made in Chengdu and Polestar 2 full-electric sedan is built in Luqiao.The lineup will be expanded to add an SUV, the Polestar 3. Then will come the production version of the Precept full-electric grand tourer, which Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said will be in development for another three years.
The Precept will be built at a new plant in China, Polestar said last month without giving additional details. Polestar also has not said where the Polestar 3 will be made.The Precept, which was shown last month at the Beijing auto show, is crucial to establishing Polestar’s own identity, Ingenlath told Automotive News Europe.Geely is also building a factory in China to make SUVs under the Lotus marque, Reuters reported.Hangzhou-based Geely is China’s most internationally known automaker. It owns Volvo Cars, which also has a stake in Polestar, Lotus, almost half of Proton and 9.7 percent of Daimler. Its Hong Kong-listed Geely Automobile is planning a Shanghai float ahead of a planned merger with Volvo.
Automakers such as BMW and Tesla are expanding EV production in China, the world’s biggest market, sourcing major EV components such as batteries locally and often exporting the end product.
BMW will export the iX3 full-electric crossover to Europe from China starting early next year. 

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FCA, PSA to win EU approval for merger, report says

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group are set to win European Union approval for their $38 billion merger to create the world’s No. 4 automaker, people close to the matter said.
Following feedback from rivals and customers, the automakers only had to tweak the wording of their concessions to EU antitrust regulators, with no changes in the substance, the people said. The companies did not have to use the COVID-19 pandemic to argue for the merger, they added.
To allay concerns that a combined PSA and FCA would have a dominant market share in commercial van sales in Europe, PSA has offered to increase production capacity for Toyota at their Sevelnord van joint venture in France. The plant builds Peugeot Expert and Citroen Jumpy vans, as well as the Toyota ProAce.
PSA and FCA will also allow their dealers in certain cities to repair rival brands.
The European Commission’s approval would formalize the creation of Stellantis, a carmaking group that could tap hefty profits from selling Ram pickup trucks and Jeep SUVs to U.S. drivers to fund the expensive development of zero-emission vehicles for sale in Europe and China.
The all-share merger announced late last year would unite brands such as Fiat, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Maserati with Peugeot, Citroen, DS and Opel while targeting annual cost cuts of 5 billion euros ($6 billion) without closing factories.
The Commission and PSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. FCA declined to comment.
FCA and PSA have said they hope to complete the merger in the first quarter of 2021.
Last month, FCA and PSA restructured the terms of their deal to conserve cash and raised their targeted cost savings because of the economic fallout from the health crisis.
The companies have said about 40 percent of the savings will come from product-related expenses, 40 percent from purchasing and 20 percent from other areas, such as marketing, IT and logistics.

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Hyundai Motor swings to quarterly loss as engine issues hit earnings

SEOUL — Hyundai Motor swung to a 336 billion won ($297 million) net loss for the July-September quarter, as costs related to engine quality issues and recalls smashed what would otherwise have been strong earnings.
The automaker said it booked 2.1 trillion ($1.9 billion) won to cover charges related to engine defects that increased the risk of stalling and fire.
“Third-quarter results reflect engine-related provision expenses as the company took preemptive measures to ensure customer safety and cover any possible future increase in quality-related expenses,” Hyundai said in a statement on Monday.
“We sincerely apologize to our shareholders and investors for having repeated quality cost issues over three quarters since 2018,” an executive told an earnings briefing.
The years-long quality problems have cost Hyundai and its affiliate, Kia, nearly $5 billion and left the pair subject to a probe by U.S. authorities over the manner of their recalls.
Operating loss for the third quarter was 314 billion won ($277.7 billion). Excluding quality costs, the figure would have been 1.8 trillion won ($1.6 billion) profit. Revenue rose 2.3 percent on year to 27.6 trillion won ($24.4 billion).
Analysts said the operating loss was not as deep as expected as Hyundai enjoyed solid sales in the quarter backed by increased demand in the U.S. and emerging markets such as India.

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