Episode 10 – GM in the Driver’s Seat, Porsche Almost Controls VW, Hybrids Prove Reliable

October 27th, 2008 at 12:00pm

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GM says it, not Cerberus, will control any merger with Chrysler, “if” the deal goes through. Porsche has almost a 75 percent control of VW in stocks and options, much larger than expected. Hybrids are proving to be very reliable, rating higher than their gas counterparts. All that and more, plus Audi reveals its clean diesels in a unique way.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. GM says it, not Cerberus, will control any merger with Chrysler. Porsche has almost 75 percent control of VW. And hybrids are proving to be very reliable.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, October 27, 2008. And now, the news.

More news on the possible GM-Chrysler merger. I got a call from a source at General Motors who would only speak on deep-background, so I can’t say who it was, but it’s an impeccable source, someone that I know and trust. He says GM was well aware that GMAC was going to make it harder for dealers and consumers to get financing from the company. He points out that General Motors has four executives on the GMAC board, including Fritz Henderson, Ray Young, Mark LaNeve and Walter Borst. He says that this potential merger is not being shoved down GM’s throat by Cerberus. In fact, he says if this deal goes through Cerberus will not be appointing any management to GM. And he kept emphasizing, “if” the deal goes through, so it doesn’t look like a done deal, at least not yet.

The Associated Press reports that Japanese automakers are reducing production and cutting back on their profit forecasts mainly due to the big drop-off in the U.S. market. The Japanese yen is climbing strongly, it’s at 93 yen to the dollar, and that is making Japanese cars more expensive overseas. Even though Japanese automakers make a lot of cars in the United States, they still import a lot, and now they’re having to cut production at plants in Japan that were exporting vehicles.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Porsche announced it almost has a 75 percent stake in Volkswagen in stock and options (subscription required). That is a much larger number than previously known. Once Porsche reaches 75 percent, under German law it can report VW’s revenues and assets in its own books. It’s what they call a domination agreement.

When hybrids were first introduced in the US critics wondered about their long-term reliability mainly due to battery concerns. But that seems to be unfounded because hybrids scored average or above average in the Consumer Reports 2008 reliability survey (subscription required). According to Ward’s, most hybrids received better scores than their gas-powered counterparts.

Autoblog is running this sneak peek at what the Tesla Model S will look like. That’s the all-electric sedan from the Silicon Valley start-up. This shot is running in Road & Track. But Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen, recently gave Autoblog a look at the back-end.

The chief engineer of the Chevrolet Corvette is retiring. Autoblog reports that Tom Wallace will leave General Motors by the end of the month. No reason has been cited for his departure, but rumors that the next generation Corvette has been pushed back two years might have something to do with it, along with all the other problems going on at GM these days.

Coming up next, in our feature story we’ll look at how Audi is getting the word out about its fuel efficient diesels. We’ll be back, right after this.

Throughout 2008 German car makers have been unveiling their clean diesel technology. Audi recently joined Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen with its version of an ultra low emission engine, but Audi chose a unique way of revealing it.

New York City was the spot that Audi launched what it called its “Mileage Marathon.” This was a fourteen day nearly five-thousand mile trek across America that put this clean diesel technology to the test.

From the stop-and-go traffic of Washington, D.C. to climbing the cold peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the dry deserts of the southwest, more than 184 different drivers from 15 countries exposed these vehicles to various climates, road conditions and driving styles throughout.

And by the time the group rolled into Los Angeles welcomed by TV stars and the media, it was clear that the “Mileage Marathon” had reached its goal.

Over the course of the trip, the Audi A3 averaged 45 miles to the gallon, the A4 averaged 36, the Q5 averaged 32, and the large Q7 averaged 28.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, but don’t forget you can get podcasts, transcripts and a whole lot more on our website, AutolineDaily.TV. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

6 Comments to “Episode 10 – GM in the Driver’s Seat, Porsche Almost Controls VW, Hybrids Prove Reliable”

  1. PEDRO Says:

    Good to hear about hybrids being reliable, just wait till the Volt comes on line, all hell is gonna break loose

  2. Steve Henderson Says:

    Wow! The C-7 Vette may be pushed back 2 years? That’s definitely news I didn’t want to hear.

  3. Ed Kemmerer Says:

    John,

    Any idea who is slated to take Tom Wallace’s place as Chief Engineer of the Corvette? Tadge Jeuchter maybe (I’m sure I spelled his name wrong but hopefully close enough for you to know who I mean). I would think they would have to name someone soon if Wallace is leaving by the end of the month. Let the rumors begin.

    Ed

  4. sam zuech Says:

    I cannot believe the gov’t would finance GM’s takeover of Chrysler. That would guarantee a massive loss of jobs and the end of the chrysler and dodge brands. If Nissan is really interested in a stake in Chrysler I think that is the only viable option the company has if it is to continue. The takeover by Cerberus has been a disaster, is there any chance Kirkorian might make a bid for the company now that he has dumped his Ford stock?

  5. John McElroy Says:

    Here’s GM’s info on who replaces Tom Wallace.

    Gene Stefanyshyn, Global Vehicle Line Executive – RWD Vehicles, will continue his current role and assume Tom Wallace VLE responsibilities for Performance Vehicles.

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