Weekly Recap: GM scales back as Russian auto market teeters
Plus: Notes On The Jeep Chief, Scion's New York Plans And The Cadillac CT6's Powerful New Engines
GM said Wednesday it will stop selling mainstream Chevrolets and shutter the entire Opel brand in Russia. The moves leave GM with a luxury-focused presence consisting of Cadillac and Chevrolet's Corvette, Camaro and Tahoe. The cutbacks will be completed by the end of the year.
The automaker will also idle its factory in St. Petersburg and end a contract-assembly agreement with Russian manufacturer GAZ.
"We had to take decisive action in Russia to protect our business," Opel Group CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann said in a statement. "We confirm our outlook to return the European business to profitability in 2016 and stick to our long-term goals."
GM is the latest automaker to scale back in Russia as the economic conditions, volatile currency and uncertainty over the conflict in the Ukraine all have sandbagged new car sales.
Last month, vehicle sales collapsed 38 percent in Russia to 128,298 units, according to the Association of European Business, which records sales.
Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the AEB automobile manufacturers committee, didn't even feign optimism in a statement announcing the figures.
"The market is entering a very difficult phase now, and February is only the beginning," he said. "Industry sentiment is the next few months will be extremely difficult and the market bottom has yet to be found."
The dovetails with industry experts, who predict the Russian auto sector will remain in the doldrums. IHS said earlier this year it expects Russia's sales to slip to just 1.8 million units in 2015, which is a 40-percent drop from 2012.
Other News & Notes
Chief leads Jeep's Easter Safari stable
Jeep is bringing seven attention-getting concepts to Moab for its annual Easter Safari off-roading celebration in Utah, but the Chief is perhaps the standout of the group. It salutes the 1970s Cherokee with a throwback appearance and surfer styling cues. The Chief has a custom modified razor grille made famous by the Wagoneer, and it rolls on 17-inch slotted mag wheels. The surf theme comes in with ocean blue paint, floral cloth and leather seats and a tiki-style shifter handle.
Based on the Jeep Wrangler, the Chief has removable sides, a 3.6-liter V6 engine and a six-speed manual gearbox. Off-roading cred comes in with a two-inch lift kit, Fox shocks, Dana 44 axles and modified Rubicon Rock rails.
Scion plans big debuts for the Big Apple
After a period of stagnation (aside from the enthusiast-favorite FR-S sports car), Scion is preparing to make a splash at the New York Auto Show and will reveal two new models there. The iA is the brand's first sedan. The iM, which was previewed by a concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show, is a hatchback.
Scion is pitching the models - not surprisingly - at younger buyers in the hopes they will help lift flagging sales. Scion volume has dropped 11.5 percent this year.
Cadillac CT6 gets twin-turbo V6
Cadillac will offer the CT6 sedan with a 400-hp, 400-lb-ft twin-turbo V6 engine displacing 3.0 liters. It's an all-new engine and uses cylinder deactivation to drop the unit to a V4 during certain conditions. The V6 will use stop-start technology and will be paired with a new version of General Motors' eight-speed automatic transmission.
The CT6 will also get a new 3.6-liter V6 rated at 335 hp and 284 lb-ft. It employs direct-injection and variable valve-timing and can run on regular fuel, Cadillac says. It's a new generation of GM's existing 3.6-liter V6 family.
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