Episode 23 – Lame-Duck Bailout?, Roger & Lee for Car Czar, Audi Brings Back the A2

November 13th, 2008 at 12:00pm

The Flash Player is required to watch Autoline. Download Flash.

Runtime 5:13

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says automakers can’t have any of the money earmarked for the financial industry. Barack Obama considers appointing a car czar to help formulate policies for the auto industry. Audi is bringing back the A2 to help meet European CO2 standards. All that and more, plus a peek at the redesigned 2009 Honda Fit.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Republicans dump the bailout into the Democrats lap. Barack Obama considers appointing a car czar. And Audi is bringing back the A2.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, November 13, 2008. And now, the news.

The Big 3 bailout continues to dominate the news. And now Republicans have dumped the issue in the lap of the Democrats. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says automakers can’t have any of the money earmarked for the financial industry. Democrats are scrambling to see if they can write the necessary legislation to get the industry the money it needs, but this is a lame duck session of Congress, when, historically, not much of anything gets done.

Meanwhile, president-elect Barack Obama is considering appointing a car czar to help formulate policies to help the auto industry. Our media partner WWJ Newsradio opened up its phone lines to ask listeners who the car czar should be: topping the list by a wide margin, Roger Penske and Lee Iacocca.

Speaking of appointees, is the next energy secretary of the United States going to come from Michigan? Rumors are swirling around two possible candidates. One is Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm who has been touting green energy for the state. The other is Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical, which is based in Michigan. Mr. Liveris is Australian, but I hear he’s applying for U.S. citizenship.

To save cash, General Motors is delaying production of the 2009 Saturn Vue 2-Mode hybrid (subscription required). It was scheduled to begin production in December in Mexico but now that won’t start until early next year.

But while GM is trying to cut costs in North America, it’s expanding in China and India. According to Ward’s, GM wants to more than double its market share in India (subscription required) to 10 percent, and will introduce two new models in the next six months. And wants to increase its stake in its joint venture with Chinese automakers SAIC and Wuling Automobile.

Audi is bringing back the A2 (subscription required). The original version of this b-sized car was sold from 1999 until 2005. It featured an advanced design using an all-aluminum space frame, aluminum body panels, and a sealed engine compartment. But it was pricey and never sold very well. However, a new A2 will help Audi meet strict European CO2 standards.

Speaking of clean cars General Motors will unveil a turbocharged natural gas-powered Opel Zafira at the Bologna Motor Show early next month. Unlike other CNG vehicles, engineers designed the Zafira’s fuel tanks so they’re integrated into the underbody. That way they don’t take up any interior space. The new CNG-powered Zafira should be on sale by January of next year.

Coming up next we’ll take a peek at the redesigned 2009 Honda Fit. We’ll be back, right after this.

Honda completely redesigned its subcompact Fit for 2009. The company built on the strengths of the original and added a few noteworthy features. Honda also made the car safer and more powerful, but it’s no less versatile. Part of the reason why the Fit is so useful is that the back seat flips and folds to make room for all shapes and sizes of cargo.

But there’s more to the Fit than just interior flexibility. It’s inexpensive, easy on gas and it drives like a much more expensive car. Overall it’s one of the best subcompacts sold anywhere in the world.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, but don’t forget, this is your last chance to enter to win a special-edition Autoline T-shirt and hat. All you have to do is sign-up for our free e-mail newsletter. I’ll be picking the winner tomorrow on “Autoline Daily” so sign-up now!

Anyway, that’s it for today’s show, we’ll see you tomorrow.

9 Comments to “Episode 23 – Lame-Duck Bailout?, Roger & Lee for Car Czar, Audi Brings Back the A2”

  1. mitchw Says:

    John, why aren’t some of the nations that depend on GM and Ford being asked to help bail out the industry? We make cars in Canada, Mexico, Korea, England, Germany, so those govts. have an interest in GM and Ford as well. Why is it only Uncle Sugar Daddy that is responsible?

    PS lose the ties

  2. johnny b Says:

    The Canadian government has already talked about giving some financial support the the big three. Please try to get all the facts before posting.

  3. John Says:

    “The new CNG-powered Zafira should be on sale by January of next year.”

    Is the Zafira going to be sold in the U.S ?

  4. Richard Tait Says:

    To John, poster #3: if GM continues its current trend, the Zafira could be in the US as a Saturn. The problem is making a case for a minivan, whether small or large in today’s market. My advice to them would be to leave it alone, for now. As far as bailing out the automakers, govts would have to see what’s in it for them. Offering respective govts a stake in a new factory (not necessarily the company itself) would be a great idea. This is already the case with hotels worldwide where govts build the hotels and then invite a brand name (like Ritz-Carlton) to market and manage. That said, I believe it is time that the US govt gets involved in the country’s largest industry (transportation as a whole, which includes the auto and aviation industries) in order to make it viable. Call it socialism, but a govt can own shares in companies in order to help ease the tax burden to the average citizen, so long as these companies are well managed and can turn a profit.

  5. Allen Says:

    Rick Wagoner has helped dig a big grave for GM. He bet the bank literally on BIG suv’s and forgot about the future of the company. I recently rented one of the best selling GM products, the Chevorlet Malibu. It was a very nice car with good power and ok fuel economy. But, it have poor visibility, an air leak in the driver side window, and dash was put on crooked. Yes, the dash was almost touching the passenger side door and there was a 1/2 in gap on the driver side. If this is the best GM can build they need to start over from the beginning. The euro division of GM has great looking and economical cars. Why don’t they just give up on Buick and Pontiac and start building people cars like they produce in Europe? If they don’t do this they will never keep their heads above water and Japanese and Korean auto makers will take over forever.

  6. gpg Says:

    GM’s most underused Brand is Saab. The 4cyl 2.0 & 2.3 L Turbo engines are the best in the world. It is just to bad that they have become a stepchild with tremendous concept vehicles starting with the Aero-X, 9-X bio-power, 9-4X, etc.
    GM’s management just missed the boat when they had the answer to most of they problems already under their wings. The little Swedish company that could but was never allowed to utilize their full potential.

  7. Ed Says:

    There is a couple of reasons why SAAB isn’t the darling of the industry. For one, they no longer offer GM’s 5 year/100,000 mile warranty for 2009 models, just 4 years/50,000 miles; secondly, you can’t use your GM Mastercard earnings toward the purchase of a SAAB if you still have the old credit card that pays 5% reward interest; and thirdly, you can’t even get some common GM options such as remote start on SAAB vehicles, the dealer I visited couldn’t even give me a good reason for that last one. It seems that instead of catering to potential customers, SAAB is intent on sending people that want to purchase a SAAB to other GM brands that offer more for usually less money.

  8. Mark Danielsen Says:

    Maybe the Auto Czar (from Detroit to Washington) would make more sense to be someone very keenly aware of the auto industry today such as Dr. David Cole from the Center for Automotive Research. It would make sense to have someone on the inside of Washington that really new and understood the problems here in Detroit.

  9. cng cars for sale | Digg hot tags Says:

    [...] Vote Episode 23 – Lame-Duck Bailout?, Roger & Lee for Car Czar, Audi Brings Back … [...]