Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 26

26

* MARCH 2020

Bigland: Many hats
and a Canadian heart
CONTINUED FROM PA GE 1

the unit since 2006, began splitting duties in 2011.
Auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers said that could
be a silver lining for FCA Canada as it prepares for
life without the multitasking Bigland.
"Top to bottom, throughout the auto sector, no
matter what element you look at, there's a lot of
uniqueness in Canada," he said. "And I think in
order to get a feel for it and react to it, you have to
be here."
During the 2008-09 financial crisis, Reid Bigland
Requests to interview Buckingham and Bigland
was known for his calmness, said auto analyst
were declined by FCA.
Dennis DesRosier, "and that was a trait that they
The change comes as FCA prepares to discuss
needed through those years." P H O T O : B L O O M B E R G
the future of its Canadian manufacturing operations during contract talks with Unifor this year.
Bigland's departure leaves a lack of direct Canadian
instrumental in getting discussions rolling on a govinput within FCA's highest level of executives, a
ernment bailout for Chrysler Canada.
fact Unifor President Jerry Dias said could hurt the
Duncan recalled meeting with Bigland in
union during negotiations.
Windsor on Nov. 2, 2008, amid growing concerns
Bigland has sat on FCA's Group Executive
that the Detroit Three automakers would need to be
Council (GEC), the top decision-making body combailed out by the government or else risk collapse.
prised of the automaker's CEO and 19
"He looks at me and says, 'We're not
senior executives, since 2011. He was
going to be able to make payroll by the first
joined there by fellow Canadian Sergio
of December.' You can imagine my reacMarchionne, the former FCA CEO who died
tion," Duncan said. "I kind of stammered
in 2018.
and asked if he had spoken with the feder"Reid is a Canadian, and I think he
al government about this, and he had not at
understands the Canadian operations,"
that point."
Dias said. "So, am I viewing it as a negaAt Bigland's suggestion, Duncan would
tive for us, for Canadian autoworkers? The
soon meet with senior Chrysler executives
answer is yes."
at its suburban Detroit headquarters, where
Negotiations between FCA and Unifor
he was told that if the federal and provincial
Jerry Dias:
will focus on product plans for its Windsor
Concern about governments did not provide enough fundand Brampton, Ont., assembly plants. The
ing, the company could be forced to move
upcoming
Windsor minivan plant is set to lose one
Canadian production to the United States,
contract
of its three shifts in June, while questions
assuming it received U.S. government fundnegotiations
have lingered about the fate of the two-shift without Reid
ing.
Brampton factory.
"We got it done, and Reid was key in getBigland's
"In all my dealings I've had with Reid
ting the Canadian people to the table," he
Canadian
Bigland, he has been absolutely fair, and
said.
perspective
he has been upfront," Dias said. "He's a
It is unclear how much of an impact
in the mix.
no-nonsense person, and you always know
Bigland's departure will have on Canadian
PHOTO:
BLOOMBERG
where he's at. And that's how I like to do
retailers. Buckingham was seen to have
business."
already taken on many of Bigland's day-today responsibilities in Canada, DesRosiers said.

MERGERS AND BAILOUTS

As CEO of Canadian operations, Bigland guided
the unit during the dissolution of DaimlerChrysler,
Chrysler's merger with Fiat and the early stages of
the proposed merger between FCA and PSA Group.
He was also a major proponent of the federal and
Ontario governments' bailouts of Chrysler during
the 2008-09 financial crisis and played a significant
role in lobbying for them.
"There has been chaos," DesRosiers said. "Reid,
looking through solely the Canadian prism, brought
a fair amount of calm into the equation, and that
was the trait that they needed through those years."
Dwight Duncan, the Ontario finance minister
during the 2008-09 financial crisis, said Bigland was

REID BIGLAND TIMELINE
* 2006: Named head of DaimlerChrysler Canada,
remaining in that role for Chrysler after breakup
with Daimler and after merger with Fiat
* June 2011: Named head of U.S. sales
* September 2011: Became a member of the
Group Executive Council decision-making body
* 2018: Appointed as head of Ram brand for second time. He previously led the Alfa Romeo,
Maserati and Dodge brands
* 2019: Bigland sues FCA while continuing to work
for it, alleging the company retaliated against him
for cooperating with a U.S. federal investigation
* 2020: Bigland leaves the company effective April
3 after reaching an agreement with FCA.

'HE EARNED HIS WAY'
While Bigland presided over years of sales
growth at FCA Canada during much of the 2010s, the
automaker has also come under fire from some dealers in Canada and the United States for its stair-step
incentive program, which encourages dealers to hit
sales targets to receive financial bonuses.
But, Bill Johnston, vice-president of Johnston
Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram-Fiat in Hamilton, Ont.,
described Bigland as being "very protective" of
Canadian dealers.
"He understood it was a team game. He earned
his way. When the merger happened with Fiat, he
was head of Canada. And you look at the titles he's
got now, he's earned his way."
Bigland, 53, alleged in his whistleblower lawsuit that FCA retaliated against him because of his
participation in a U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission investigation into the company's sales
reporting and his decision to sell his FCA stock.
The complaint portrayed Bigland as a scapegoat
for sales practices that were changed in July 2016,
when the company admitted that a 75-month streak
of year-over-year gains in the United States had
actually ended three years earlier. He also accused
the company of withholding 90 per cent of his pay
after cooperating with federal investigators.
Bigland took over as head of U.S. sales, in addition to his role in Canada, in June 2011, about a year
after the sales streak began and as the company
recovered in the wake of the Great Recession and
bankruptcy.
An FCA spokesman told sibling publication
Automotive News that "all matters pertaining to
legal actions between Reid and the company have
been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties
involved." - ANC
- Vince Bond Jr. contributed to this report.

February sales:
Hard to count,
harder to predict
Numbers are
up (probably),
which is a good
sign (maybe)
By GREG LAYSON

D I G I TA L A N D M O B I L E E D I T O R

WHAT LIES AHEAD
for new-vehicle sales in
Canada seems to be anyone's guess after February
offered a mixture of good
and bad news.
While sales were up
by all accounts - despite
final tallies being estimates - Scotiabank
Economics warned of
bumps ahead but also
praised the Bank of
Canada's March decision
to cut interest rates.
Scotiabank estimated that February sales
were up 2.1 per cent year
over year but warned
that "estimates are subject to a considerable
degree of uncertainty" as fewer automakers report monthly sales.
DesRosiers Automotive
Consultants Inc. also said
auto sales rose 2.1 per cent
in February, with an estimated 123,375 vehicles
sold.
The Automotive News
Data Center in Detroit no
longer provides monthly
estimates.
The uptick "likely reflects some catchup from a very weak
final quarter in 2019,"
Scotiabank said.
The Bank of Canada's
decision to cut the overnight lending rate "provides an impetus for auto
sales," Scotiabank said,
"but other factors may
dwarf this driver in the
near term."
Scotiabank still expects
"continued volatility in
monthly auto sales."
"Despite decent job
and wage performance,
Canadian consumption
has remained soft," it
said. "The emergence of
COVID-19 (the coronavirus) will likely introduce
further volatility and - at
least temporarily - dampening in auto sales in the
coming months."

Scotiabank forecasts a
seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.98 million
units sold. By comparison, Canadians bought
1.92 million new vehicles
in 2019.
Early positive returns
shouldn't be seen as a
sign that the entire year
will follow suit, said
Dennis DesRosiers, head
of DesRosiers Automotive
Consultants.

TOYOTA SOARS
Of the automakers
that still report monthly, Toyota had a banner
February, with sales up
14 per cent to 15,288. Amid
an exodus from sedans
to light trucks, Toyota
car sales increased 21 per
cent.
"It's hard to say [why],"
DesRosiers said. "I don't
think they had much
money on the hood."
He noted that the
Detroit Three has all but
abandoning sedans has
"handed over that side of
the marketplace" to competitors.
Toyota Canada didn't
respond to requests for
comment.
Electrified vehicles also
had a good month. Two
EVs - the Toyota Prius
and Nissan Leaf - posted
record sales.
Toyota sold 592 Prius
sedans, up 174 per cent
over the same month last
year. Breaking it down
further, sales of the plugin hybrid electric Prius
Prime - up 202 per cent
- accounted for 483 of
them.
Toyota also sold 669 of
the RAV4 Hybrid crossover, up 88 per cent. Those
models helped boost sales
of Toyota's electrified
vehicles to 1,958, up 41 per
cent for a new February
record.
The Nissan Leaf EV
had its best February ever
with 245 sold, up 90 per
cent from 2019.
DesRosiers said the
records for the two vehicles could be related to
federal iZEV rebate program. Certain EVs now
qualify for up to $5,000 in
federal rebates. - ANC

Sales of the plug-in hybrid electric Toyota Prius Prime
rose 202 per cent in February to 483 units, while
overall sales of the Prius were up 174 per cent to 592.
P H O T O : T O Y O TA



Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2

Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - Intro
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 1
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 2
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 3
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 4
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 5
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 6
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 7
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 8
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 9
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 10
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 11
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Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 14
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Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 16
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Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 27
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 28
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