DETROIT (Dec. 30, 2015) — From Volkswagen A.G.'s diesel emissions scandal to Ford Motor Co.'s F-150 crash-test do-over, we look back at the 10 biggest blunders of 2015.
Volkswagen's emissions mess
Is it possible to convey the enormousness of this thing adequately? The company set aside more than $7 billion to cover scandal-related costs, but that's merely the beginning of the damage. There's brain drain: A CEO stepped down; senior, key engineers, including Ulrich Hackenberg, father of Volkswagen's MQB modular architecture, have left. VW's rep in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere is tarnished.
In the U.S., its dealers are in crisis, its business strategy in tatters. That pipe dream of selling a million cars a year? Fuggedaboutit. Instead of focusing on new models, it's scrambling to figure out how to fix the NOx-spewing diesels and compensate owners. As rivals are increasing investment in autonomous driving and other technologies, VW is cutting capital spending by 1 billion euros a year. And the aftershocks, such as its admission that it fudged fuel economy numbers, are still coming. Get the idea?
Sergio Marchionne's love letter to GM
It has to be the oddest corporate marriage proposal ever. It was made not in the usual manner — in secret meetings at airport hotels and late-night phone calls between investment bankers. It came in an email to GM CEO Mary Barra, which was not answered, and then laid out in an analysts' call in which FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said the auto industry is ill and the cure is big mergers, starting with an FCA-GM tie-up. The offer sparked a media furor, but in M&A circles, crickets. More than anything else, the move highlighted FCA's own serious bottom-line challenges. GM, meanwhile, declined the overture and has gone on racking up hefty profits.