Category Archive:

Chrysler BK May Signal New Era for US Manufacturers

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Fiat500-interior.jpgImagine this: You own a business. One day, you receive a telephone call from the owner of a competitor of yours. After many discussions, you’re essentially offered the opportunity to create a new company overseas; one that will then purchase the assets of the competitor at a highly reduced (but court approved) price, including parts, trained staff, union agreements, and, if you like, part or all of a fully established dealer network. And, your deal will have solid backing from a variety of sources, including the government. If you own Fiat, then that is essentially what you’re doing right now with Chrysler Corporation.


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White House Ousts GM's Wagoner – Questions Viability

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President Barack Obama delivered an address to the nation this morning at 11AM where he summarized the results of review of General Motors and Chrysler by The Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry. The conclusion of the report was that neither of the plans presented to the Task Force by GM and Chrysler are viable.
Wagoner Gone – Replaced by Henderson: Immediately, General Motors’ Chairman Rick Wagoner was let go to be replaced by Fritz Henderson – a very capable and experienced senior executive. Clearly, the Task Force determined that the GM plan did not go far enough. GM now has another sixty days to rework the plan and come back with a viable approach. If they do not, the government can move the Corp into bankruptcy to get its house in order.
Our question is “What will GM’s brand and vehicle line profile look like on June 1?”
Chrysler and Fiat Agree to the Framework of a Tie-Up: Minutes after Obama’s speech, Chrysler announced the it had reached developed a framework for a tie-up with Fiat with the blessing of the Treasury Department. Fiat receives a third share of Chrysler for technology sharing allowing Chrysler to launch competitive new products based on Fiat powertrains and platforms. This is needed to keep Chrysler competitive. Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli keeps his job because he has been at the helm for a relatively short time (since August 2007) compared with Wagoner’s eight years at the helm.
Government to Guarantee Warranties (Warrantees): Obama stated that beginning today the warranties offered by GM and Chrysler are stronger than they have ever been because they would be guaranteed by the government. Also, adopting a spelling not seen for decades, the government refers to these plans as “warrantees”. This support by the government is to create confidence in purchasing a new General Motors or Chrysler vehicle today.
Other Actions – Tax Credits, Scrappage Plans, Etc: Obama also mentioned the sales tax credit for purchasing a new vehicle that has been approved by Congress. Pending are plans for incentives to scrap older, gross polluters.
Further Question: Ford: Ford Motor Company has not taken part in government loan guarantees having planned financially for tough years back in 2006. While Ford is struggling like GM and Chrysler it does not seem to be hurt as much in the market as they are. Market share is not down as much.
How will Ford be impacted by the statements of the President, The Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry, and the restructuring forced on GM and Chrysler by the government? Will Ford thrive or continue to struggle?
Another Question: Financial Company CEOs: Rick Wagoner fell on the sword for General Motors performance during his tenure but you can argue that the performance of the financial community has been much worse and much more damaging to the economy. Where can we see the heads of the banks, investment banks, and insurance company CEOs rolling down Main Street?


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2009 NAIAS: Chrysler Gets UConnected

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Along with looking at new-century powertrain options, Chrysler LLC showed off ideas for connecting drivers to their cars and houses in the future. This trick interior was found inside the stunning 200C concept.
Though the primary purpose of vehicles remains getting us from point A to point B, we live in an increasingly connected world. The technology is available to have your smartphone replace these new-fangled smartkeys, find your car remotely, find out if your friends are in the areas, and even see traffic real-time by connecting to city intersection cameras.
All manufacturers are working with partners to see how quickly and how well we remain seamlessly connected to our jobs, families, fun, and obligations as we move from home to car to work or school to car to destinations and everywhere between. Follow the jump to get an idea of the solutions Chrysler is looking for.

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Could this be the future of the gauge cluster?


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Road Noise: Congressional Rumble All-Out Attack!

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The Place: The Capitol, Washington D.C. The Players: Three captains of industry (Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford and Bob Nardelli of Chrysler), one union leader (Ron Gettelfinger of the UAW) and a big angry Congress.
And then there’s me, your humble chronicler, the only person left behind at Vehicle Voice World Internet Headquarters and Decorative Bamboo Plantation to tell this story, because everyone else is at the L.A. Auto Show. Follow me behind the cut, and let’s talk about the Detroit 3 (plus one)’s adventures in Washington.

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That’s…ominious.


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Exhaust Notes #32: More Detroit Merger Talk

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Are we nearing the end of Chrysler? Or the beginning of a new blended family? Or just another day at the rumor mill?
Late on Friday, the first stories began appearing about GM and Chrysler in possible merger talks. And at least in Detroit, dominated the weekend news cycle. GM’s stock went up this morning, but given that the Dow was up 5.6% and GM went up only about 3%, the stock bump might have happened without merger talk. GM closed on Friday at $4.89, a number some say is actually less than the company would be worth in capital assets alone.

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All of this merger talk, whether these deals are realistic or not, does nothing good for public perception. The economy is weak, last week’s events on the stock market don’t reassure anyone, and talking about GM and Chrysler perhaps needing to merge to survive only further erodes confidence in American business. While GM and Chrysler LLC, as well as any other maker in trouble right now, needs to consider even unthinkable options and test our common assumptions as they get out of this trouble, this merger does not inspire hope.


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Road Noise: Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Dial Here

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This week, I sat down for the sales conference calls from Ford and Chrysler. How are things, you ask, or don’t, as the case may be? Well, they’re both down about 35 percent. On the bright side, no one cried on the phone.

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“Run for your lives! The economy’s collapsing!”


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Chrysler enters the electric race

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Chrysler today announced plans to jumping into the electric car market with both feet by offering up three high-voltage prototypes to reporters and a promise to put about 100 electric vehicles on the road in 2009. We’ve been waiting to get a sense of what the company’s ENVI group is up to, and now we know.
One of the three concept vehicles, the all-electric Dodge EV, is sure to generate some buzz (Is it a Tesla for the common people?) for its fierce looks and eco-friendly, refuel-it-from-the-wall-socket appeal.
With that in mind, it could be easy to miss the hybrid-on-steroids potential of the Jeep and Chrysler EVs — a Jeep Wrangler and a Chrysler Town & Country fitted with battery and range-extending engine setup (similar in concept to GM’s Volt) that Chrysler claims will allow them run for 40 miles without touching a drop of gas.
Read the full report from Chrysler after the jump.

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2008 Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance

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On August 3, I finally returned to one of my favorite summer events, the annual Meadow Brook Concours d’ Elegance. Held the first weekend of August every year since 1979, this Concours is one of the premier events of its type. Not quite as prestigious as the Pebble Beach Concours happening the weekend of August 16 (yes, the same weekend as Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise), Meadow Brook has earned a strong reputation. For me, it’s simply a chance to wander among cars from storied brands of today and yesterday. Delahaye, Packard, Auburn, Duesenburg, Pierce-Arrow, Studebaker, Peugeot, Ferrari, Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler, Rolls-Royce, the list goes on and on.

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As you enter the Concours d’Elegance, the show starts.

Meadow Brook is home to a mansion of the same name built by the widow of John Dodge, one of the two Dodge brothers that helped establish the automotive industry we know today. The home and its property now belongs to Oakland University. Aside from the sheer joy and pleasure of celebrating the automobile as an art from, the event’s purpose is to raise funds for upkeep of the 88,000-square-foot mansion and its grounds. Seems a fitting choice of fundraising event.
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Road Noise: The Green Parade

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Green technology at the Woodward Dream Cruise? Hmmm. You could fit a whole Prius under this baby’s hood, I guess.

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500 Miles to Ironforge

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On one hand, it’s the best idea in human history: Dad drives the minivan, and while little Pashley is engrossed in her Dora DVDs, mom can e-mail her sister about how ill-advised this trip is, Junior can watch a panda get hit in the junk on YouTube, and Sister can do whatever it is those damn kids do in their Facespaces or Mybooks or what have you.
On the other hand, it’s the Internet in the car. Well, there’s a brilliant plan with absolutely no flaws, don’t you think?

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”DSL? Where we’re going, we don’t need DSL.”


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