AutoNation Inc., just five months after naming an outsider to lead the nation’s largest auto retailer, has a new CEO in Cheryl Miller, who becomes the first woman to lead a publicly traded auto retailer.

Miller, 47, AutoNation’s CFO, was named CEO and president of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company on Monday, replacing Carl Liebert. Liebert, the former COO of USAA who was chosen out of hundreds of applicants in a months-long search, was hired in February to lead AutoNation as Mike Jackson moved to executive board chairman. Miller also was named to AutoNation’s board of directors. Both appointments are effective immediately.

“Cheryl has extensive knowledge of automotive retail, having been with AutoNation since 2009, and served as CFO since 2014,” Mike Jackson, AutoNation executive chairman, said in a statement. “In addition, her broader career, including at JM Family Enterprises and Alamo/National Car Rental brands, will bring outside, industry-leading, automotive experience to the role, as AutoNation continues to build its core business and brand extension strategy.”

It was not immediately clear why Liebert is departing so soon after taking over as CEO in March. He will remain with the retailer for the next month to help with the transition, the company said.

“On behalf of AutoNation, I would like to thank Carl for his service, including the passion and enthusiasm he brought to the company,” Jackson said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

AutoNation also on Monday named Jim Bender, executive vice president of sales and a longtime AutoNation executive, as its chief operating officer. It also named Christopher Cade, senior vice president and chief accounting officer, as interim CFO while AutoNation plans to conduct a search for a new CFO.

The executive moves were announced along with the company’s second-quarter financial results.

While at AutoNation, Miller has led a number of initiatives for the giant retailer, including helping to craft the company’s partnership with Waymo. She also has helped the company to reorganize its operations and financial footprint, which included consolidating its regions and implementing a cost savings plan.

Miller, who has been recognized by Automotive News as one of one of the 100 Leading Women in the North American Automotive Industry, has experience in a number of corporate areas including mergers and acquisitions, cybersecurity, digital retail and alliances. She also serves on the board of Tyson Foods Inc.

“AutoNation is the industry leader, and we remain focused on our core business while looking to the future with our brand extension strategy and strategic alliances,” Miller said in a statement. I am proud to continue our great work and to support my 26,000 colleagues, who provide a peerless customer experience every day.”

AutoNation Inc. ranks No. 1 on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 310,839 new vehicles in 2018. It retailed 237,722 used vehicles for the same period, ranking it No. 3 on Automotive News’ list of the top 100 dealership groups in used-vehicle sales.

AutoNation Inc., just five months after naming an outsider to lead the nation’s largest auto retailer, has a new CEO in Cheryl Miller, who becomes the first woman to lead a publicly traded dealership group.

Miller, AutoNation’s CFO, was named CEO and president of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company on Monday, replacing Carl Liebert. Liebert, the former COO of USAA who was chosen out of hundreds of applicants in a months-long search, was hired in February to lead AutoNation as Mike Jackson moved to executive board chairman. Miller, 47, also was named to AutoNation’s board of directors. Both appointments are effective immediately.

“Cheryl has extensive knowledge of automotive retail, having been with AutoNation since 2009, and served as CFO since 2014,” Mike Jackson, AutoNation executive chairman, said in a statement. “In addition, her broader career, including at JM Family Enterprises and Alamo/National Car Rental brands, will bring outside, industry-leading, automotive experience to the role, as AutoNation continues to build its core business and brand extension strategy.”

It was not immediately clear why Liebert is departing so soon after taking over as CEO in March. He will remain with the retailer for the next month to help with the transition, the company said. Liebert was chosen over other candidates for his expertise in logistics and digital platforms. He had also worked at Circuit City, Home Depot and General Electric. 

“On behalf of AutoNation, I would like to thank Carl for his service, including the passion and enthusiasm he brought to the company,” Jackson said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

AutoNation also on Monday named Jim Bender, executive vice president of sales and a longtime AutoNation executive, as its chief operating officer. It also named Christopher Cade, senior vice president and chief accounting officer, as interim CFO while AutoNation conducts a search for a new one.

The executive moves were announced shortly before the company reported second-quarter financial results, a day earlier than scheduled. Net income from continuing operations rose 3.7 percent to $101 million from the same period a year ago, while revenue of $5.3 billion was down slightly.

While at AutoNation, Miller has led a number of initiatives for the giant retailer, including helping to craft the company’s partnership with Waymo. She also has helped the company to reorganize its operations and financial footprint, which included consolidating its regions and implementing a cost savings plan.

Miller, who has been recognized by Automotive News as one of the 100 Leading Women in the North American Automotive Industry, has experience in a number of corporate areas including mergers and acquisitions, cybersecurity, digital retail and alliances. She also serves on the board of Tyson Foods Inc.

“AutoNation is the industry leader, and we remain focused on our core business while looking to the future with our brand extension strategy and strategic alliances,” Miller said in a statement. “I am proud to continue our great work and to support my 26,000 colleagues, who provide a peerless customer experience every day.”

AutoNation Inc. ranks No. 1 on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 310,839 new vehicles in 2018. It retailed 237,722 used vehicles for the same period, ranking it No. 3 on Automotive News’ list of the top 100 dealership groups in used-vehicle sales.

AutoNation Inc., just months after naming an outsider to lead the nation’s largest auto retailer, has a new CEO in Cheryl Miller, who becomes the first woman to lead a publicly traded dealership group.

Miller, AutoNation’s CFO, was named CEO and president of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company on Monday, replacing Carl Liebert. Liebert, the former COO of  insurance provider USAA who was chosen out of hundreds of applicants in a months-long search, was hired in February and took office March 11 to lead AutoNation as Mike Jackson moved to executive board chairman.

Miller, 47, also was named to AutoNation’s board of directors. Both appointments are effective immediately.

Jackson told Automotive News late Monday that Miller in February was the runner up for the top job.

“She was right there. As I said back then, we reached for some exciting capabilities that we thought, we know Carl brought to the table,” Jackson said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t a fit in automotive retail. It was mutually agreed that it wasn’t a good fit.”

Miller has worked closely with Jackson for 10 years, the past five as CFO.

“It’s just exciting that America’s largest automotive retailer and for the first time for any of the publicly traded auto retailers, we have a woman leading the largest automotive retail enterprise,” Jackson said. “I think it’s quite something and exciting. I’m very much looking forward to working with Cheryl on the next chapters of the company.”

Liebert, who was not available for comment, will remain with the retailer for the next month to help with the transition, the company said. Liebert was chosen for his expertise in logistics and digital platforms. He had also worked at Circuit City, Home Depot and General Electric.

Jackson thanked Liebert for his service to the company. Jackson did not indicate when he knew Liebert wasn’t the right fit at AutoNation. But he said the board of directors met Monday and Jackson asked Miller earlier in the day if, depending on what was decided, if she would agree to serve as CEO and president to which she said yes.

“We went into this with our eyes wide open that Carl was coming from outside the industry and outside of automotive retail,” Jackson said. “So it was a running conversation that came to a conclusion.”

Jackson had led the company for nearly two decades and has long been a leading voice in automotive retail, often speaking up on issues impacting dealers — large and small — such as automakers’ use of stair-step programs and tightening new-vehicle margins.

Miller’s first decision as CEO was naming Jim Bender, executive vice president of sales and a longtime AutoNation executive, as its chief operating officer. AutoNation also named Christopher Cade, senior vice president and chief accounting officer, as interim CFO while AutoNation conducts a search for a new one.

The executive moves were announced shortly before the company reported second-quarter financial results, a day earlier than scheduled. Net income from continuing operations rose 3.7 percent to $101 million from the same period a year ago, while revenue of $5.3 billion was down slightly.

While at AutoNation, Miller has led a number of initiatives for the giant retailer, including leading the company’s partnership with Waymo, the automated driving unit of Alphabet Inc’s Google. She also has helped the company to reorganize its operations and financial footprint, which included consolidating its regions and implementing a cost savings plan earlier this year.

“This is a business that runs around the clock and you have to understand and appreciate the fact that every day in the stores customers are sitting there with associates. So you have to respect the retail element and understand the structure of it, both operationally and financially,” Miller told Automotive News on Monday. “I’ve been very fortunate to sit on the automotive retail side, the rental side, the used side, captive finance. I’ve had a front row seat, for better or for worse, through the Great Recession. And so I think having that stability and background combined with the excitement for the future of being able to lead the organization in that fashion is fantastic.”

Miller, who has been recognized by Automotive News as one of the 100 Leading Women in the North American automotive Industry, has experience in a number of corporate areas including mergers and acquisitions, cybersecurity, digital retail and alliances. She also serves on the board of Tyson Foods Inc. Miller previously worked for JM Family Enterprises and Alamo/National Car Rental brands.

Jackson is scheduled to appear on CNBC at 8 a.m. ET Tuesday to introduce Miller as CEO. She’ll handle future appearances, Jackson said. 

AutoNation Inc. ranks No. 1 on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 310,839 new vehicles in 2018. It retailed 237,722 used vehicles for the same period, ranking it No. 3 on Automotive News’ list of the top 100 dealership groups in used-vehicle sales.

Ford Motor Co. is investing $50 million and converting 450 temporary union workers to full-time at its Chicago Assembly Plant as it converts a nearby modification center to handle final assembly of the electrified versions of its Explorer and Aviator crossovers.

The move, which takes effect in the fourth quarter, allows Ford to free up the main line at Chicago Assembly for gasoline versions of both vehicles. The 200,000-square-foot modification center, about a mile from Chicago Assembly, previously handled the automaker’s Police Interceptors. That work will move to another building.

The temporary workers being converted to full-time will come from the Chicago assembly and stamping plants and Ford plans to hire more workers to replace them.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of automotive, told Automotive News Monday the move will allow the automaker to make up some production lost to the new models’ launch curve, and could lead to increased production in 2020.

The announcement comes a week after handshakes with the UAW to open what’s expected to be tense negotiations over jobs, investment and wages. Ford has surpassed the $900 million it agreed to invest in Chicago Assembly as part of its 2015 contract.

One particular area of concern: use of temporary workers. The union wants more guarantees that those workers can reach full-time status.

“When we work together we can find creative solutions,” Hinrichs said. “And this is a really creative solution.”

Ford got the idea, Hinrichs said, after building some preproduction models of the Explorer and Aviator at the center.

Bodies will be shipped from the main assembly plant to the center, where they will go through final assembly. The products will then be shipped back to the assembly plant’s customer acceptance line for a final check.

The Explorer and Aviator share a new rear-wheel-drive platform. The Explorer will come with a hybrid option while the Aviator will get a plug-in hybrid model, called the Aviator Grand Touring.

Seven seconds after a car crash occurs, emergency-room doctors and insurance companies alike may soon receive detailed information about injuries and damage sustained in the wreck.

That’s the speed at which MDGo envisions processing time-critical data. The Israeli startup uses machine learning to meld the medical and automotive worlds.

Using sensors aboard almost all vehicles, the company says, it can gather data to measure the forces applied to occupants and vehicles, and infer the nature and severity of injuries — information that helps first responders and physicians provide better treatment.

Automakers are increasingly interested in the technology.

Volvo Cars Tech Fund, the venture-capital arm of the carmaker, said Monday it has invested an undisclosed sum in MDGo. Last month, Hyundai Motor Co. inked a partnership with the startup to co-develop connected services surrounding medical information.

“The key part is getting the data out of the OEMs for us, and that’s where this investment is validation for us,” Shahar Samoelov, vice president of business development at MDGo, said in an interview. “We’re trying to bring a new way of looking at what data in the vehicle can bring. It’s beyond one niche OEM. It’s something that can service the whole industry.”

Immediate information on the nature of crash injuries could help first responders decide what kind of ambulance to dispatch to crash sites, which victims should be transported to the hospital, and provide ER doctors with insights on prospective internal injuries that can be hard to diagnose.

Insurance companies could benefit from such crash data because they’ll have a direct understanding of what occurred in a crash, which helps reduce claims processing and potential fraud cases, says Itay Bengad, a doctor and MDGo co-founder.

“In a car crash, two different verticals — medical and insurance — suffer from the same problem,” he says. “Both doesn’t know what happened, and are dependent on a subjective report. So our job is to allow this vehicle to provide all the data needed to speak my language, a physician’s language.”

Three-axis accelerometers have been components in the antilock-braking systems on all cars since 2001, and that helps MDGo measure crash forces. Information on seat occupancy, seat-belt use and airbag deployments can also be harnessed from vehicle systems.

MDGo’s algorithms have been trained on thousands of data points involving velocity, crash angles, vehicle type, occupant age and injuries to develop and refine projected injury types. A pilot project in Israel involving 250,000 vehicles remains ongoing.

Based in Tel Aviv, MDGo showcased its work last month at EcoMotion, an annual technology showcase in Israel that featured more than 600 startups. As many of those startups have turned their sights toward the automotive industry, automakers in turn have cast their attention toward Israel.

Including MDGo, Hyundai says, it has invested or partnered with eight Israeli companies through its CRADLE initiative, a scouting-and-investment project.

Volvo says it has been involved in a business accelerator called Drive in Tel Aviv since 2018, and that’s where it found both MDGo and UVeye, another startup in which it has an investment. Both companies represent Volvo’s first investments outside the U.S. and Europe.

For Volvo, the MDGo technology is a potential means to further burnishing a brand that has been built for decades around safety.

“MDGo’s technology aims to do something that is close to our hearts, which is saving lives,” said Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of Volvo Cars Tech Fund.

DETROIT — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles this month outlined a list of reasons why sales chief Reid Bigland doesn’t merit whistleblower protections, with the added request to transfer his pay dispute to private arbitration in Delaware.

But Bigland’s legal team has bitten back.

In court records filed last week, Bigland’s lawyer, Deborah Gordon, claimed that the sales chief never agreed to resolve his claim through an arbitration agreement in an ancillary stock agreement, as FCA purports. Bigland, 52, claims his compensation was slashed 90 percent in retaliation for 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.

Gordon additionally requested the court reject FCA’s motion to transfer the unusual public dispute to private arbitration in Delaware. Bigland continues to be employed by FCA and has remained active as the head of U.S. sales. He also has global responsibility for Ram and is CEO of FCA Canada.

To support her request, Gordon attached a copy of FCA’s employment contract, dated from 2016, signed by Bigland and then-human resources director Michael Keegan.

Bigland’s lawyer contends the employment agreement is the controlling contract in the pay dispute. She argues the employment agreement, signed two years after issuance of the stock agreements, became the complete agreement and understanding among the parties and supersedes and preempts any prior agreements or representations. Gordon also says Bigland did not even sign any of the stock agreements.

FCA’s “intent underlying an unambiguous contract, like those presented here, is established solely based on its plain language,” Gordon said.

Bigland’s employee contract says his compensation includes his salary and bonus and benefits provided under other plans, such as those under stock agreements, according to the lawsuit. A copy of his contract, which was attached to the suit, says the agreement is “intended to be in lieu of any other cash severance benefits provided under any plan of the FCA Group.”

Additionally, the contract states “the construction, validity and interpretation of this agreement will be governed and construed in accordance with the internal laws of Michigan, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law provision or rule that may cause the application of the laws of any other jurisdiction.”

Pointing the fingers
The automaker has argued for the transfer or dismissal of the case because there are “valid” forum selection clauses in the stock agreements that point to Delaware as the exclusive jurisdiction.

Additionally, FCA claims there are no public interest factors that should prevent the case from going to arbitration.

The stock agreements are composed of an equity incentive plan that became effective in October 2014 as well as two other stock agreements that became effective in June 2015. All three stock agreements include virtually identical arbitration and forum selection clauses.

But Bigland’s case doesn’t arise out of, or in relation to, the stock agreements, Gordon said, and the employment agreement is “undisputedbly valid.”

Bigland “is entitled to his earned stock payout and bonus, which under the employment agreement constitute benefits on a basis consistent with those provided generally to other members of the [Group Executive Council] in the same country of employment,” she said.

Gordon told Automotive News on Thursday that Bigland’s employment agreement does not allow for arbitration and provides that the case should be decided under Michigan law.

“This is a classic employment [discrimination] case,” she said.

Meanwhile, an FCA spokesman told Automotive News that incentive compensation for corporate officers is subject to board-level evaluation and determination.

“His eligibility for incentive compensation — like that of all corporate officers — is subject to a determination by the board of directors’ compensation committee that he has satisfied the applicable company and personal performance conditions,” he said. “Mr. Bigland’s eligibility for his award remains subject to that determination and completion of a board-level evaluation of issues that are the subject of governmental investigations, as previously disclosed by FCA, in which FCA continues to cooperate. Beyond that, it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing litigation or internal compensation processes at this time.”

WASHINGTON — The European Union would respond with tariffs of its own if the Trump administration imposed tariffs on European vehicle imports, a senior EU trade official said.

Sabine Weyand, the European Commission’s new Director General of Trade, said retaliatory tariffs would result in a negative situation for both economic blocs.

The EU has seen little movement thus far in talks with the U.S. about reducing industrial tariffs, Weyand said.

It was important to build trust by moving forward in areas where the two economic blocs agreed, rather than focus solely on contentious issues, she said.

“It’s a very mixed picture,” Weyand told an event on Monday hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank during her first official visit to Washington since taking over her new role.

Weyand said the EU was also keen to find a way to settle a nearly 15-year dispute over government subsidies to U.S. planemaker Boeing and Europe’s Airbus for aircraft development, and avoid a spiral of tariffs in that area as well.

TD Ameritrade’s new voice-activated investing technology brings investors one step closer to trading while driving.

The Omaha, Neb.-based financial services company is launching an in-vehicle offering that enables account holders to check their portfolio or receive a quote on a security via voice command.

Drivers using Google’s Android Auto or Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo Auto can use voice commands to unlock market performance summaries and sector updates, hear real-time quotes and check account balances and portfolio performance.

“One day we hope to add a transactional layer where you can make trades on the go,” Sunayna Tuteja, head of strategic partnerships and emerging technologies at TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., said in an interview.

Tuteja called this offering an initial phase toward the implementation of in-vehicle trading, saying TD Ameritrade aims to first demonstrate the safety and security of these more limited services on the road.

While the voice-enabled technology is exclusively offered through Android Auto and Echo Auto, drivers with Apple Inc.’s CarPlay can stream a new app from TD Ameritrade Network called TDAN Radio. Launched in 2017, it has drawn more than 2 million unique visitors across platforms so far in 2019, according to a company representative.

SEOUL — South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. laid out its U.S. sales turnaround plan on Monday with an expanded lineup of crossover utility vehicles after posting its biggest quarterly profit jump in seven years.

The automaker forecast its U.S. market share to begin rising again from this year, targeting a year-end share of 4.2 percent versus 3.9 percent last year, with sales of its upgraded Palisade CUV starting from the second half. It aims for a U.S. share of 5.2 percent by 2023.

Solid performance at home and in the United States in the three months through June helped offset a sales slump in China, where a slowing economy, trade war with the U.S. and a lack of competitive models prompted the automaker to suspend production at its oldest factory earlier this year.

To maintain momentum in the United States – its biggest overseas market – Hyundai said it plans to boost the proportion of CUVs in its U.S. lineup to 67 percent in 2023 from 51 percent in 2019, as it works to catch up with a shift in consumer preference.

“It was a surprise when Hyundai revealed an aggressive U.S. turnaround plan, but I don’t see any problem in it meeting its annual sales target there,” said analyst Kim Joon-sung at Meritz Securities.

Hyundai’s revival is being led by heir-apparent Euisun Chung following six years of profit decline. The executive vice chairman is widely considered to be seeking investor support to revisit an ownership restructuring plan as he prepares to take over from his 81-year-old father and chairman.

A previous proposal was scrapped last year following shareholder opposition, notably from U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management Corp.

Since last year, Chung has brought in a flurry of foreign executives in a sweeping reshuffle at a firm dominated by Koreans. Most recently, in April, it appointed an ex-ally of Nissan Motor Co Ltd’s ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn as global chief operating officer and Americas chief.

In the April-June period, U.S. sales gained 3 percent while a weak Korean won against the U.S. dollar raised the value repatriated income. At home, new models such as the Palisade CUV and Sonata sedan helped sales jump 8.1 percent.

Overall, net profit for the quarter rose 31.2 percent to 919.3 billion won ($781 million), just short of market estimates but still Hyundai’s biggest quarterly percentage gain since the first quarter of 2012.

Operating profit rose 30.2 percent on a 9.1 percent increase in revenue, the automaker said in a stock exchange filing.

Even so, the earnings recovery could weaken as Hyundai braces for a potential strike by its domestic labor union that could disrupt supplies of models such as the Palisade both at home and overseas, analysts said.

The union will vote next Monday whether to approve strike action after walking out of annual wage talks on Friday.

A prolonged dispute could have a greater impact on sales and earnings this year because, unlike in the past three or four years of slow growth, sales of its new models have been brisk, Samsung Securities analyst Esther Yim said in a recent report.

STOCKHOLM — Volvo is recalling 507,000 vehicles worldwide because of a faulty engine component that, in extreme cases, could result in a fire.

Volvo said its own investigations have identified that “in very rare cases the plastic engine intake manifold may melt and deform.”

The cars being recalled were produced between 2014 and 2019 and have a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine, Volvo said.

The affected models are the S60, S80, S90, V40, V60, V70, V90, XC60 and XC90.

While the company has no reports of accidents or personal injuries, all customers will receive a letter asking them to contact their local retailer for corrective action.

“In the very worst case, there is a possibility that a localized engine bay fire may occur,” Volvo said.

When asked to provide details of the potential financial impact, Stefan Elfstrom, a spokesman for the automaker, said, “We don’t comment on the cost.”

The company is keen to fix the faulty vehicles as fast as possible and customers will not incur any costs related to addressing the error, he said.