Episode 650 – Marchionne Merges Management, Impala Moves to Hamtramck, Overcapacity in China

May 25th, 2011 at 12:15pm

Runtime 9:57

CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to have one management group for both Fiat and Chrysler, not the two separate groups like they’re now using. General Motors will build the next-generation Chevy Impala at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant, alongside the Volt and Malibu. One analyst is warning that Chinese automakers face severe overcapacity unless they change plans to expand. All that and more, plus John answers your questions about diesels, CAFE rules and more in the “You Said It!” Segment.


Visit our sponsors to thank them for their support of Autoline Daily: Bridgestone, Dow Automotive Systems and Hyundai

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | Zune | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher

This is Autoline Daily for May 25, 2011. And now, the news.

MARCHIONNE MERGES MANAGEMENT (subscription required)
Chrysler paid off its loans to the U.S. and Canadian governments yesterday, six years early, and now Sergio Marchionne is looking to truly merge the two companies together. The Wall Street Journal reports he wants to have one management group for both companies, not the two separate groups like they’re now using. That means Design, Engineering, Manufacturing, Purchasing, Finance and even the Board of Directors will each be combined into one entity. It’ll be fascinating to see how he does it. Will the managers at Fiat be the ones who take control, or will Marchionne decide to balance the company between Italian and American managers?

Speaking of picking top managers, the French government is telling Renault what it wants the company to do before it approves its new Chief Operating Officer. As we reported yesterday, Renault would like Carlos Tavares to replace Patrick Pelata to become COO reporting to Carlos Ghosn. But before it gives its OK, the French government, which owns about 15 percent of Renault, is demanding that Renault play a bigger role in its alliance with Nissan. It wants Renault to make more upscale cars in France, and wants the COO to get a more important title. Interesting to compare how government involvement in a car company differs between the U.S. and France. While Uncle Sam dictated the terms of the bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler, it’s refrained from telling management what do since then. In France, the government is telling Renault to do what’s right for the country, which may not necessarily be what’s right for the company.

AUDI CONSIDERS U.S. PLANT (subscription required)
Volkswagen just opened a new manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee and now Audi may want to get in on the action. The Wall Street Journal reports executives will decide in the next year whether or not they’ll build cars in the U.S. Vee Dub wants to triple its sales in the U.S. to 1 million units by 2018. That works out to about 800,000 for Volkswagen and 200,000 for Audi. Last year Audi sold barely more than 100,000 vehicles. But the question is, what model, OR MODELS, would Audi build here? The A4 is far and away its best-seller in ‘Merica, but 3,000 cars a month IS NOT enough volume to keep a factory open. The Q5 is their No. 2, but only about 2,000 folks drove away in one last month. This tells me the company would export vehicles from the U.S. With the dollar where it is now that could make good business sense.

In other manufacturing news, GM’s Hamtramck Assembly plant is a MASSIVE facility, and the company is loading it up with product. According to The Detroit news, the automaker is expected to announce it will build the next-generation Chevy Impala there. The Poletown plant is home to the Volt as well as the upcoming 2013 Malibu. The new Impala is expected to launch in 2012 or 2013. It’s interesting GM’s decided to put this car in Hamtramck. The current Impala is built in Oshawa, Ontario. It’s the company’s third-best selling car, after the Malibu and Cruze. Chevy sold about 21,000 of them last month. Base price is $25,000.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering a requirement that all new vehicles be equipped with black boxes. According to Wired magazine, the agency is expected to make the proposal later in the year, and it would expand the use and set standards for black boxes, or what are formally known as Event Data Recorders. Currently there is no industry standard for the boxes or federal laws defining who has access to the information, instead, it’s up to the states to decide. The new proposal would make access universal and set specific guidelines to prevent modification, removal or deactivation of black boxes. The proposals would also set standards as to what information the boxes collect. This may sound like Big Brother trying to look over us but most new vehicles are equipped with black boxes anyway.

Speaking of government mandates, the EPA is expected to announce changes to window stickers for new vehicles today. Last week we reported that the Obama Administration dropped the idea of handing out letter grades to vehicles based on their fuel economy. The Detroit Free Press reports the new stickers will show emissions information as well as how the vehicle’s gas mileage compares to those in its class. It will also try and have meaningful comparisons between traditionally powered vehicles and alternative ones.

One analyst is warning that Chinese automakers face severe overcapacity unless they change plans to expand. According to Bloomberg, domestic automakers like, Great Wall, Geely and BYD are expanding faster than joint ventures and other state owned firms. Those three companies plan on expanding capacity 55 percent by 2015. Overcapacity could hit 3 million units next year for Chinese automakers. Sales in the country are slowing down, so unless they start aggressively selling overseas or cut back expansion, overcapacity will cripple profitability there.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

Jesse writes in to say, “If all the tree huggers out there ever came to their senses, the U.S. wouldn’t need to worry about oil in the MID EAST! We could produce what we have and sell it like they do!”

Not exactly, Jesse. While the U.S. can, should and will produce a lot more of its own oil, we simply use so much that we will still have to import it. The optimists say the U.S. can increase production by 2 million barrels a day. But that means we would still need to import nearly 8 million barrels a day. However, that would put us on the path to eliminate importing any oil from OPEC countries.

HtG wants to know, “How does VW sell TDI engines, but the other car makers can’t make it work. Is it really California’s air laws that are keeping diesels out?”

California isn’t helping the situation when it comes to diesels, but the main reason VW can make it work has to do with volume. VW simply sells more diesels in Europe than any other manufacturer that sells cars in the U.S. market. That means it can spread its manufacturing and emissions costs over more engines, making it cheaper for every diesel car, including the ones it sells in the U.S. Having said that, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Mazda and even Chevrolet will be selling diesels here, and come 2014, we’ll see others jumping in as well.

Kit Gerhart saw our review of the convertible Camaro and me complaining about wind noise. He says, “I don’t know exactly what is meant by “wind leakage” here, but all soft top convertibles have “wind noise;” even very expensive ones, like Rolls-Royce.”

Kit, this was a specific air leak in a specific location on the passenger-side window. Once the car went over 45 mph it became very noticeable. I don’t know if it’s a problem with the top, or a problem in the build quality, but no ragtop should have that problem, especially one that costs $43,000.

Cozy Coles says, “John, you are bashing the CAFE rules, and displaying a chart on usage, but did you take into consideration all the extra drivers and cars since 1980 on our roads?”

Cozy, yes I did take that into consideration. My point is the CAFE laws were written to reduce how much oil we use and we’re using more, not less. If the goal is to reduce oil, then we need a new plan that will do just that.

Daniel Armstrong wrote to us on Facebook, saying, “I’m reading conflicting reports about Chrysler paying back its loans. Some say Chrysler is paid in full, others say Chrysler still owns money on the loans. Who is right?”

Daniel, Chrysler borrowed money from the banks and sold bonds, then took that money and paid off the government loans which carried extremely high interest rates. So even though it borrowed money to pay off its loans, it’s going to save several hundred million dollars a year in interest costs.

Thanks for all your letters and comments, we truly appreciate your involvement and feedback.

And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

65 Comments to “Episode 650 – Marchionne Merges Management, Impala Moves to Hamtramck, Overcapacity in China”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    Hmmn .

    A ) Italians designing American Cars for the US

    B )Americans designing Italian Cars for the EU

    Which would be worse ?

    Seriously , this is but one more chapter in the ongoing book of Marchionne’s Madness . Thought we’d learned a long time ago that what works for the US DOES NOT work for the EU and Visa Versa .

    Overcapacity in China ;

    To quote the song title ; ” How Long …. has this been Going On ”

    Seems to me its about round 5 of this ongoing reality .

  2. tj Martin Says:

    As to #1 I’ll vote A

  3. Lex Says:


    Do you have any clues as to what changes we can expect in the new Impala? Will it be a version of a Holden vehicle? When can we expect to see the Holden / Chevy Caprice Police Cruiser in the USA?

  4. Dale Leonard-Lakewood,Oh Says:

    Hey John, How about doing another segment of Goof’s,Spoof’s,Flub’s and Dub’s. It’s always great to see what happens when trying to tape a show.

  5. HtG Says:

    Auto racing haters may not wish to watch this clip from the upcoming Senna documentary.


  6. Phoenix Mark Says:

    I don’t know how VW will meet its sale goal. They are building lower quilty cars here for the US market, becuase that what Americans want?
    The new Jetta interior is cheap. I can’t wait to see what they have done to the Passat?

  7. HtG Says:

    Sarcastically speaking, Phoenix Mark, if you’ve seen the exterior of the Jetta, then you’ve also seen the exterior of the Passat.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    I have the feeling that the new Impala will be a stretched version of the Malibu, like Toyota does with Camry/ Avalon.

  9. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Okay,chevy will be selling diesels here in the USA? In what vehicles? How about compact trucks? Since you seem to know John how about sharing this info.Inquiring minds want to know….

  10. jesse Says:

    John,Thanks for the insight!Getting rid of totally or relying less on OPEC would not be a bad thing at all!While lowering our price at the pump at the same time is even better.

  11. tj Martin Says:

    FYI ; In case anyone is concerned , we just dodged a bullet in KC ( tornado ) and mr & mrs tj are fine .

  12. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Any clue when the Senna comes out on DVD ?

  13. tj Martin Says:

    Senna in the Toleman at Monte Carlo . that was the moment all of us that had been following Senna in his GC and F3 days knew he was the real deal , not just us speculating about his talents .

    Better stop now . Getting a bit emotional .

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    Allah must be getting praise for the rash of deadly tornadoes that have caused so much death and devastation in the heartland.

  15. SalvadorG. Says:

    tj Martin Says:

    Hmmn .
    A ) Italians designing American Cars for the US

    B )Americans designing Italian Cars for the EU
    Which would be worse ?

    -What about the Ford Fiesta (EU) or the Shelby Cobra (AC in the EU), the original Ford GT40 (design by Europeans/American engine)
    Hey! I don’t want to go trough every little Foreign Design American car (and visa-versa) out there.

  16. tj Martin Says:

    @ SalvadorG

    Fiesta – Abject Sales failure in the US

    Shelby – Give me a break ! The AC was so completely done over by Shelby as to no longer be mechanically recognizable by the folks that built the AC

    GT40 – And uhhhh exactly how many were/are on the street or sold as street cars ?

    Here’s a little tid bit you may have forgotten . Even the mighty Enzo Ferrari had the sense to build cars especially for the US market until FIAT took over .

    But we’re talking about Mass Production Cars . Of which the World Car Concept has been a miserable failure .

    Been to Europe ? Lived there at all ? Their roads , towns and cities are NOT like ours at all . Built for the most part in the Middle Ages . Horse and Donkey tracks paved over .

    Drive a US car there is like driving a tank in a china shop

    Driving a lot of the EU cars ( A class and smaller ) in the US is like driving a Gnat in a field of angry bulls .

    Trust me Salvador . They ( EU ) don’t have it or do it better than us ( US ) They just do it differently because they need to .

  17. tj Martin Says:

    Heck lets take this World Car Concept ( FIAT designing US cars for the US market )

    Have a little look see at the EU as its gradually falling apart at the seams .

    Those folks can’t agree , get along or even like each other !

    And anyone really thinks they can do better with us ?

    Nope . Bad Idea ! Sure one or two cars from the EU suit some of our needs , and even more hit the Trend Followers button because the guy down the street has one .

    But Italian FIAT making the decisions for Chrysler products in the US ? Patzo I say .

    And if you think I’ve got a negative attitude about this , you aught to have a talk with my Italian Cousins .

    Their comments , even in Italian could not be repeated here !

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had a car built in Hamtramck, land of Malibu, Volt, and soon Impala. It was a ’74 Plymouth Duster. The plant was “Dodge Main,” which Chrysler closed in around 1980. I think the current GM plant is mostly on the same site.

  19. tj Martin Says:

    Whoa Whoa

    HtG et al may be right !

    It might just be time to pop for the new car !

    Phone calls and emails today after the tornado scare from the BMW , Volvo and Mercedes Dealer all offering a better price and an even bette trade in on the MINI .

    Except after that Tornado Scare , Spring in MO ( hail etc) and the fact that none of the new cars will fit in our garage ( Tandem set up ) I’m still inclined to take the money guys advice and hold off till the three months is up .

    We’ll see . Heading out Saturday for another look see at a couple of the choices ( GLK & X3 )

  20. HtG Says:

    tj@12. no idea about the Senna DVD.

    On tornados. Exciting, huh? I’ve been in St Louis and Kansas for them. Once as a kid, and in 2004 spring. Green skies and good times.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Drive a US car there is like driving a tank in a china shop”

    That is (sort of) true, but that doesn’t mean European cars won’t work just fine here. There are a lot of cars in America in the size range of “mainstream” cars in Europe. We, and the world would be a lot better off if there were more of them here, and fewer people using 5,500 pound trucks to carry one person around town. Changing our “culture” is a hard sell for many people, though.

    Also, not all European cars are small, but the “average” size of cars in Europe is much small than the average size of personal vehicles here, almost half of which are trucks.

  22. tj Martin Says:

    Or maybe I should just buy this ;


    @ HtG – In all honesty this Tornado scare ( came this close ) has me pretty rattled . No basement in our rental Contemporary Cardboard Box Townhouse ( brilliant eh ? ) thats why I’m not ” working ” as planned .

    @Kit Gerhart – Sure some EU cars work here as I said . But lets face it ,most that do , like what I’m looking at were designed with the US market in mind ( MINI as well ) Thats been part of the SMART’s problem . It wasn’t . It was modified to meet our regulations and has suffered for it since day one .

  23. HtG Says:

    It’s not too early for a drink, tj. I’m getting giddy recalling driving across KS on 80 during the night as the north sky was flashing, and we knew their were twisters.

  24. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Oh I could see this monster from my window , Shifting to the West just enough to miss my area at the last minute .

    The sirens are still screaming here though for the areas it did touch down in though I haven’t heard/seen of serious damage yet near by .

  25. HtG Says:

    what’s the forecast?

  26. HtG Says:

    weather channel has this forecast


  27. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Local guys say for the most part all is clear with a slight chance for a tornado till 6 pm .

    The sirens , I should of been clearer , are the Emergency Vehicles running to and fro .

    Got to just love new construction these days . A lot like the new cars toady . Build em Trendy and for the looks and to ( cuss ) with any sense of practicality .

    I mean Why the ( cuss ) would you NOT build some sort of Tornado Shelter in a new home in KC,MO eg Tornado Alley .

    Stupid !

  28. SalvadorG. Says:

    tj Martin Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    @ SalvadorG

    Fiesta – Abject Sales failure in the US

    Shelby – Give me a break ! The AC was so completely done over by Shelby as to no longer be mechanically recognizable by the folks that built the AC

    GT40 – And uhhhh exactly how many were/are on the street or sold as street cars ?

    But we’re talking about Mass Production Cars . Of which the World Car Concept has been a miserable failure .

    Been to Europe ? Lived there at all ? Their roads , towns and cities are NOT like ours at all . Built for the most part in the Middle Ages . Horse and Donkey tracks paved over .

    How is it that the Ford Fiesta is a failure??..
    Ford Motors has just started selling this car here/we won’t really don’t how much of a success (or failure) it will be until next year. The British AC frame by frame and overall design remain exactly the same when Shelby took it.
    – So What, if some European car makers have fail in the U.S market/ Have you forgotten others had succeeded. The notion of European Vs American being different does not explain how is it that Asian car makers have succeeded in America/ Japanese roads are not much different than European roads.
    - My family came from Europe (Actually over 95% of my genes are European) So I guess I fail to understand your European Xenophobia. I just Can’t help being mostly white & Not hating European for it.

  29. HtG Says:

    tj, on the night we stopped at a motel in the middle of KS, we were pretty wide eyed about the tornadoes, so we asked the manager what to do in case. ‘Just walk over to the McDonald’s,’ he casually replied. It was like he couldn’t get excited, save to smirk at the outsiders driving across.

    I do admit, I react well to terror.

  30. tj Martin Says:


    European Xenophobia ? You’re not reading my posts completely are you ? All my genes are European , my being Second Generation here . Still have a lot of family there ( didn’t you catch the Cousins comment ? )

    Shelby Cobra – I think SG you need to have a bit closer look at what Shelby did to the AC to come up with the Cobra . Saying the Cobra was Frame by Frame of the AC is like saying a totally Hot Rodded 32 Fords frame is exactly as from the Factory . The changes , bracing and strengthening it took to have the AC’s frame ( with its asthmatic motor ) deal with the HP and torque of the original 289 was Extensive . Stock it was a piece of Licorice whipping and bending at the slightest breeze .

    Next time you’re in CO , head to Boulder and go to the Shelby Museum . Sometimes they have the display up that shows the incredible amount of modifications it took to make an AC into the Shelby .

    To put it simply . Not Even Close !

    As to the EU Japanese comment . The cars the Europeans have succeeded with here were DESIGNED with the US Market in mind . The Successful Japanese Cars do the same .

    FYI; If its also skipped your attention re; My being EuroZenophobic . My present car ( MINI ) several of my past cars , including three Ferraris at one time or another as well as my Future car ( most likely the GLK or X3 ) are ALL European .

    And as I said earlier . You think I have a negative attitude about Marchionne’s great make Chrysler & FIAT one big company is negative ?

    You really should talk to the Italian cousins . ( Milan Trieste Rome & Lugano CH ) They don’t just think , they know Marchionne’s Big Idea is pazzo . The ones in CH especially make tj look like a pauper ( own the family bank )

    Nope SG . You’re barking up the wrong tree my friend calling me any kind of Xenophobe , never mind EuroXenophobic .

  31. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Terror with things i have some control over ; eg An impending car crash etc I’m fine with . Its when I have zero options as i am watching the possible end barreling down on me , as well as the anger over the stupidity of this houses design that I lose it .

    More blatant anger than Fear if you get my drift .

    But Fear or Anger the Adrenaline is on full pour , and the Flight or Fight sequence has been fully armed .

    Takes me a bit to wind back down .

  32. tj Martin Says:

    SalvadorG ;

    Almost forgot re; The AC – Shelby transformation .

    A little known historical tid bit .

    After observing the success of the Shelby Cobra and under threat that Shelby/Ford might discontinue the Cobra for the Shelby Mustang ( which did happen ) AC tried to do a Shelby wanna be of their own . V8 included .

    Except …………. they forgot/ignored all the chassis and suspension work Shelby had done to the AC to make a V8 work in it ……… And …….. The car was a Flexi Flyer Abject failure . Never got of the ground . AC going eventually the way of the DoDo . Extinct .

  33. HtG Says:

    yep. My reaction is stone clarity. No fighting it, though an ativan is sometimes handy. Is the warning only until 6pm?

  34. HtG Says:

    Auto racing haters may have overlooked the three other clips from the Senna movie, available on the CNN link posted earlier today. Apparently, the movie releases June 3. Somewhere.

  35. tj Martin Says:

    Aint That Nice !

    The NYTimes has announced that our loverly Government has seen fit to waste a good chunk of our Tax Payers money on buying 116 Plug In Hybrids and E/V’s as well as recommending that ALL Federal Agencies do the same .

    Lets see . Take an average of $40,000 per unit ( though I’m sure the government in their infinite wisdom has found a way to be over charged for the cars ) X 116 = ;

    $4,640,000 Can’t imagine in light of all the tragedies befalling our country right now , as well as the overall economy How That Money Could Possibly of been Spent More Wisely !!!

  36. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Its only a ” Watch ” for KC proper and yes its over at 6pm .

    FYI; If I took an Ativan , or anything like it I’d be a Soup Sandwich for the next 24 – 48 hours . I hates being a Soup Sandwich ( think about the analogy )

  37. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG;

    I watched all the Senna videos . And I ended up in tears . Long story .

  38. RS Says:

    All this Europe/North America dialog is seriously misplaced. Smart – absolutely stupid because it does not work on either continent. Never made money there; won’t make any more here. But that surely is an exceptional example. Look at Mercedes, BMW, VW, Audi and even Volvo/SAAB. Every one of them sells cars designed in the EU and sold around the world – successfully.

    Not sure if the fringe players – the ones that built fragile and unstable vehicles – will ever get it right outside their own country. Italians buy Fiats; French buy Renaults, Citroens and Peugeots. The rest of the world just does not want those brands.

    Kudos to Sergio for keeping Chrysler running on 7 or 8 cylinders and getting it into shape. None of us knows whether this Italian/NA experiment will be a raving success or a doomed failure. But it is not a failure yet! Sergio grew up in North America (Toronto, ON I think) so he understands the American mind when it comes to cars and business. His “Italy” comments make me wonder if he has an equally good grasp of Italian/EU attitudes.

    Anyway, so far so good. Chrysler has done a whole lot better than I expected just a few months ago. And if he (Sergio) can bring flimsy Fiat back to life, Chrysler was not in as dire straights as that!

    The really interesting perspective for me will be when some real EU/NA hybrids come along. A Lancia sold here as a Chrysler?? Not sure if THAT sort of thing will go over well in Orlando/Cleveland/Tulsa! But let’s watch – this is going to be a blast!

    Heck, in a few years, I might even look at one of their vehicles – but not me, not yet.

  39. HtG Says:

    tj, I also get choked up about losing Senna. Watched him hit the wall live on tv. I remember how my father would talk about Clark; this is why racing is too hard.

  40. tj Martin Says:

    Hmmn . Lets have a good look at the Chrysler of Sergio Marchionne .

    So far they’ve paid off loans …. by taking out bigger loans

    They’ve had increased sales … but all on the JEEP side in mid winter

    They’ve come out with several ” new ” models …. which in fact are just rehashed versions of the old ones .

    They’ve completely PO’d their EU market with the rebadged Chrysler as a Lancia and are about to do worse when the rebadged 300C gets released .

    FIAT has returned to the US …. except they’ll all be built in Mexico along with future EU stock . Which means the US is benefitting not one iota from FIAT’s return . Especially the American Auto worker !!!

    Marchionne changes his mind what …… about every six weeks over one major issue or another

    Marchionne was born and raised in italy ….. and he’s a Lawyer

    Even the Elkann Brothers ( Agnelli heirs ) , especially David are getting more than a little tired of Sergio’s waffling

    So a Blast RS ? Chrysler doing well ? Look beyond the hype and hyperbole and dig into the facts .

    No …. Its more of an ItaloAmerican Nightmare/Disaster in the Making

    I’ll stand by my comments completely


    Pazzo !

    As well as we the US getting the shaft from this deal .

  41. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Some time I’ll tell you the story behind the tears . Suffice it to say for now there was a personal connection .

  42. cwolf Says:

    A little info to GM owners. Anyone having a GM vehicle,who may at some time in the near future, be in need of new wheel bearings- be careful in choosing only their OEM brg. and not their optional “service” brg. The less expensive “service” brg. is made in China and has a proven very short life. Don’t want to see anyone get hurt just to save a few bucks.

  43. tj Martin Says:

    @ RS ;

    Jeeze I should of had a closer look at your post .

    SAAB a success ? Not Hardly

    Volvo ? sold to the Chinese and holding on by the skin of their teeth ( I was considering one )

    And have we forgotten about ;

    Alfa Romeo

    etc etc ?

    All major brands in their day in the EU . Some still are . Not ” Fringe Players ” as you call them !

    Wow ! Lots of success there heh?

    Me thinks an Automotive History lesson might be in order for some here . Either that or at least a refresher course !

  44. tj Martin Says:

    Leave it to cwolf to leave us some sound advice .

  45. HtG Says:

    what about DAF? Freudian slip methinks.

  46. SalvadorG. Says:

    tj Martin
    - Fine, I give that one; Shelby rebuild the AC model. He obviously had to, putting a big American engine on a small car would required it, but the car design itself still British.

    You should at least remember that the Daimler Merc., BMW, VW, Jaguar, etc. They don’t all build small wiggle little cars AND That the whole of Europe is not small little towns build in the 11 century.

    And also, I’m not apologizing for the calling you xenophobic, for someone who still have relatives in Italy you sure go out of you way to bash Europeans.
    :”tj Martin Says:
    Been to Europe ? Lived there at all ? Their roads , towns and cities are NOT like ours at all . Built for the most part in the Middle Ages . Horse and Donkey tracks paved over .

    Drive a US car there is like driving a tank in a china shop

    Driving a lot of the EU cars ( A class and smaller ) in the US is like driving a Gnat in a field of angry bulls . “:

    – That comes across as bashing.

  47. HtG Says:

    I heard that as accurate, SG, less as bashing. Darned internets.

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    Cwolf @ 42 and these people intend to sell their cars over here, their tires suck, their valves leak and their bearings wear out too soon, can you imagine the rest of the cars? I shiver at the thought of those things being driven on American roads.

  49. HtG Says:

    Isn’t the flipside of poor parts, the practice of western brands squeezing every last cent out of Chinese suppliers? I read a book about how there are back alley factories associated with the factory floors that the westerners come to look at, and that that’s where lots of the work gets done under high pressure. Personally, I think meth is keeping factory workers going.

  50. cwolf Says:

    Pedro: I agree,but I must be honest to say there are many brg. manufacturers in China AND a couple of them don’t make that bad of a bearing,while the rest are pretty much junk. China is dead serious about all aspects of the auto biz and is putting in mucho millions into the bearing side of it, along with joint ventures (their typical practice to steal know-how). More and more I feel that it is all about greed on the US manufacturer side and dominance on the other. I read with interest what is said today about Euro countries. Something I listened to on talk radio was that many gov’ts(specifically Germany) somehow require businesses,at times, base dealings on what is good for their country more than profits. This may have a serious down side, but I think a little of this philosophy would’nt hurt our companies to practice.

  51. pedro fernandez Says:

    Cwolf what about the bad tire valves that were being sold and could not even hold the air in? I know because I had a set put into a couple of Chinese tires that I bought, I had to add air every single week, one of them started to have tread separation the other one worn out a large spot right in the middle of the tread. I just have to wonder if they can’t get these basic components right, what can you expect from the more complex parts involved in making a car?

  52. tj Martin Says:

    @ SalvadorG


    Like HtG said . Thats stating the facts . Not bashing . Spend a bit of time there friend . You’ll see those picturesque roads are as narrow as a Horse or Donkey needed to pass thru .

  53. tj Martin Says:

    Sheesh , never thought I’d have to defend my Heritage on an Automotive Site . As well as explain in infinite detail the simple truths about a beautiful albeit very different land .

    Geography 101 & Automotive History 101

    Meet in Room 12

    Snacks to follow

    Professor Martin will preside .


  54. tj Martin Says:

    should of been a :o

  55. tj Martin Says:

    So I let one of the Italian cousins in on this conversation today .

    Know what his response was ?

    I’ll tone it down and translate , but in essence he said ;

    ” What ? Do most in the US just think we’re Americans with an accent ? ”

    Va Bene !

    eg; for those who missed the point . He’s saying they are very different from us in almost every way .

  56. tj Martin Says:

    Now I’m gonna take HtG’s advice earlier …. go enjoy a Fernet Branca & Pelligrino and try to calm down from todays near disaster ( tornado )

    CIAO !

    ( dusi pazzo americanos )

  57. RS Says:

    @ tj

    While I respect much of what you write, I think you are a little too negative when it comes to the Detroit three. ”
    Chrysler paid off their government loans by taking out bigger loans…

    Right – so they paid off a loan at 20% interest by borrowing from a financial institution at 7.5%. What an idiot that Sergio must be!!

    And he came to North America at age 14 (Canada), graduated from university, became a dual citizen, has two accounting certifications and an MBA. Became an executive on this side of the pond then a chief executive in Switzerland, ultimately ending up as CEO of the Fiat group. His record there has been remarkable – Fiat was a financial basket case until he was brought in. Remember GM taking pity on them about 10 years ago? So tell me again how stupid Sergio is??? Almost as dumb as Alan Mulally!

    I don’t know either of them but their records speak

    As for your prognostications about the foolishness about to come – nothing in Sergio’s past speaks of foolish decisions. He may fail, of course. But to fail to bring Chrysler back from where it had fallen would be difficult to hold against him. Every story I read about the viability of Chrysler from its Chapter 11 demise foretold of its ultimate doom. And now it is at least viable enough to have a lending institution come up with about $10B so Chrysler it can get out from its the heavy-interest debt. They must be as dumb as Sergio!

    Sory tj, let’s wait and see. I still think it is going to be a great ride.

    Personally, I am so pleased with Ford and Chrysler and their resilient performance over the past couple of years. It is nothing short of amazing to watch their progress.

    I think GM ought to be doing way better than it is – but even the monolith is not in any danger of immediate collapse. And back to Chrysler – it is better financial condition now than it was when Fiat began to step in. And if that is true, I don’t think Fiat would be in any position to step up if it were not for Sergio Marchionne. Fkawed? I am sure. Interesting character? Absolutely! A failure? Not yet!!

    Wait and see…

  58. cwolf Says:

    pedro When the chinese obtained a print of a tire valve, they prolly did’nt figure out that the check valve could only be placed in the stem one way! What are you do’in buying chinese tires? Are you sure that was a Havana that you were smok’in? Darn! I should not have said that last word. Now we’re in for it!

  59. XA351GT Says:

    Kit@#21 1st things many Americans need to do is learn to push them selves away from the dinner table. Many buy these mammoth vehicles to fit their big fat a$$es in. They can’t fit in a small car. I work with a guy who wears a 7X shirt and to see him try to get in and out of his Cavalier is borderline hysterical. It looks like he is wearing the car. It also looks incredibly unsafe . the steering actually presses in to his gut to the point he has to force the wheel around. He drives this small car because it’s all he could afford when his big Buick bought the farm.

  60. pedro fernandez Says:

    @ cwolf I was told by the dealer that they were just as good as the rest,(now I know better) but we wary that name-brand tire you buy, may be just one of those Chinese made tires also.

  61. tj Martin Says:

    @ RS

    In regards to your response about Marchionne . Might I suggest you learn a bit of Italian and have a good look at what the Italian press has been saying . Especially the Financial press .

    Yes he came to CDN at 14 , but he is a LAWYER which speaks multitudes as to just how much you should trust his rhetoric

    As to him not done anything wrong ?

    Well RS you must of missed out on the fact that in the last 6 months he’s managed to Alienate the Unions in CDN the US and Italy . Succinctly Insulted the US and CDN Governments on multiple occasions . And PO more than a few of his needed suppliers

    As well as PO’ing the entire Italian population with his constant threats to sell off Ferrari as well as his waffling on whether to sell Alfa Romeo . Stronzetto Marchionne being his nick name all thru the land . He’s made great friends at VW with those moves as well

    Finally my good man , have a good long look at the new Lancia/Chrysler 200 and the upcoming Lancia/Chrysler 300C then tell me again how excited you are about this merger .

    Marchionne is by far one of the most pretentious and over reaching individuals in the Automotive Industry today .His unrealistic goals for Chrysler FIAT , much like the goals of many before him will serve to bring them down .

    FYI I’ve commented on Sergio getting lower interest rates . Sure that part is positive in this new round of debt . But you may have missed the FACT that in the process of acquiring those lower interest rates he’s also managed to UP Chryslers Debt by a substantial amount .

    Notice though you’ve made ZERO comment about the Chrysler FIAT merger NOT Benefitting the US or its workers one Solitary bit what with FIAT production going to Mexico etc.

    As far as my ” Bashing ” the Big Three you’re about as off track as SG is calling me an EU Basher .

    I may and do rail against a lot of their products when in fact they are Dreck , but when they do it right , I’m the first in line to sing their praises

    So pardon me for being a Realist rather than a Pie in the Sky Dreamer hoping what’s before my eyes isn’t really there .

  62. tj Martin Says:



    After you’ve had your Italian lessons and discovered the Italian Financial press , you may as I said in an earlier post want to have a look at some of David Elkann ( Agnelli and heir apparent to the FIAT empire ) comments of late in regards to Marchionne .

    Suffice it to say if your betters were saying what DE is , you’d be mighty worried about your future at your present place of employment .

  63. tj Martin Says:

    Lets see ;

    So far here I’ve been accused of ;

    Euro Bashing

    EuroXenophobic &

    Big Three Bashing

    … in the last 24 hours . Next thing someone will be saying I’m Anti Semitic, which would be the BIGGEST joke of them all .

    Amazing that folks cannot discern between someone Bashing or being Xenophobic and just plain out and out willing to say it like it is .

    Well here’s a clue to TJ’s personality .

    I call good good .

    Great Great

    Mediocre mediocre

    And crap crap

    I’m not impressed by ” The Story ” behind something . Could care less what the Country of Origin is . As well as what the ” Popular ” press has to say on a subject .

    Call me an Elitist , but I go to the experts in the given field I’m observing . Have a good long critical look myself .

    And in the end after adding up the facts and using my discerning skills which many in this Post Modern Zeitgeist seem to have left behind .

    Make as clear and rational judgement as is humanly possible

    If thats too much for a few here to understand . So be it .

    I chose not to live in the Post Modern Fog where the Story is more important that Reality .

    Sermon ended . Amen and again I say … Amen !

  64. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    So the weathers clear . The nerves have settled , and dad gum it I missed half a days needed work ( practice ) yesterday so I’m digging in for the rest of today .

    Watched most of the MC practice . One thing about Monaco even practice is fun to watch , seeing those cars scoot around that tiny little principality .

    Let me know tomorrow if any other ludicrous accusations come my way on site . By my count they’re still missing a couple . On the way no doubt .

    La sua una bella giornata e il tempo per ottenere un lavoro svolto


  65. tj Martin Says:

    @ RS


    Remind me good sir . Where is Marchionne’s FIAT at this point in time pray tell ? Let me give you a bit of insight

    From all the evidence , they’re in debt even beyond where VW presently is .

    Are on such tenuous and shaky financial ground that in spite of VW’s extensive debt , Winterkorn has is and will continue to make public overtures towards purchasing Alfa Romeo

    Are at a crossroad with Ferrari to the point of having sold off a tidy portion to the Middle East in order to raise funds , while still considering selling off completely

    Ferrari is on such shaky ground financially ( as well as not revealing their numbers ) that the mere mention of Ferrari making a Public Offering of the company brings earthquakes of laughter thru the entire financial sector .

    FIAT is in the process of moving ALL their production to Mexico as well as the WHQ to N. America , which will cost them another fortune

    Oh yes RS . Marchionne’s FIAT . Such a success when you look below the surface .