August 4th, 2011 at 12:00pm
In a speech he gave at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne announced he plans to stick around until at least 2015 . . . and maybe longer. Aston Martin is feeling the squeeze. Without the backing of a major, volume brand it doesn’t have the resources to compete with other high-end automakers. Budget Rent A Car has come up with an interesting way to save drivers money. All that and more, plus a look at Chrysler’s new SRT8 lineup.
This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, August 4, 2011. I’m Christie Schweinsberg from Ward’s Auto, bringing you the latest news from the world of cars.
MARCHIONNE SUCCESSION PLAN
Today’s top story, Sergio Marchionne announced he plans to stick around until at least 2015, and maybe even a year later. Speaking at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan yesterday, the Fiat-Chrysler CEO also announced his successor will LIKELY come from within the company. Any bets as to who it will be? The Detroit Free Press also reports during the presentation he sounded off on electric vehicles, calling them “overhyped,” and saying they can’t be the only solution going forward. Hopefully this means some of Fiat’s cool diesel and natural-gas technology from Europe will make its way to the Americas. Hit the link in today’s show notes on AutolineDaily.com for more info on his candid and wide-ranging speech.
HELL NO IPO!
Fiat recently became the majority shareholder in Chrysler, but CEO Sergio Marchionne says it’s going to be a while before an initial public offering of its shares will be made available. According to Reuters, he originally said an IPO could happen this year. Later he said it would likely happen in 2012. Now he’s saying an IPO won’t take place next year.
Aston Martin is feeling the squeeze. Bloomberg reports the privately owned luxury automaker plans to introduce new models built on an architecture that’s already eight years old. Without the backing of a major, volume brand it doesn’t have the resources to compete with other high-end offerings like Rolls-Royce, Bentley or Lamborghini. Mercedes-Benz for instance plans to spend some $7 billion this year on research and development. That’s more than eight times Aston Martin’s total revenue for the year ending in May! This situation means the company has to be careful. It can’t afford to go after every vehicle segment or waste money on products that won’t sell.
HYBRID HUBRIS (subscription required)
Earlier in the week I was at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan which is more than 200 miles from our offices outside of Detroit. We decided this was a perfect opportunity to compare MPG numbers between the recently released Kia Optima Hybrid and the non-hybrid Optima. And to our surprise, the hybrid barely won. The rules were, the windows and sunroofs had to be closed the whole trip, the AC set at 72 degrees with fans on low, and we couldn’t go over 75 MPH. I drove the non-hybrid while my colleague, Drew Winter, drove the fuel-sipper. After 236 miles I averaged 33.9 miles per gallon, not too shabby, while Drew averaged 34.5 MPG, just six tenths better. There was about a $5,000 difference in price between the cars we tested, and this just shows paying the premium for a hybrid isn’t always worth it.
SAAB FINDS MORE FUNDING
Saab announced it WILL be able to pay its white-collar workers. According to Reuters, the company issued 5 million new shares, which are being acquired by an investment fund, GEM Global Yield Fund, giving it a 17 percent stake in Saab. The move is expected to generate just over $9 million. That’s enough to pay workers, but not enough to get production restarted at its plant in Trollhattan, Sweden.
Want to save some major coin on your next car rental? Budget may be able to help. According to USA Today, the Atlanta, Georgia-based company is turning some of its vehicles into rolling billboards by outfitting them with vinyl graphics. So far the only company implementing this new advertising strategy is a maker of energy supplements. If you don’t mind the stickers you can save. One driver paid just 88 bucks for a multi-day rental that should have cost 400. This sounds like a great idea . . . as long as I don’t get stuck with a car pushing “Preparation H.”
CHRYSLER’S NEW SRT8 LINEUP
Chrysler’s Street and Racing Technology group has been promoted to a full-on division within the company, and it’s now headed by design superstar Ralph Gilles. But not only has the SRT brand and its management been upgraded, so has its all-important products.
Remember to watch Autoline After Hours tonight. John McElroy and Peter De Lorenzo will talk to David Snyder, an artist who specializes in painting cars in their natural environment. Of course, the guys will also get into the news of the week and take your questions in the Rapid Fire segment. Tune in tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 4:00 p.m. Pacific at AutolineDetroit.TV.
And with that we’ve crossed the finish line for today’s show. I’m Christie Schweinsberg from Ward’s Auto signing off, for now. Thanks for watching, I’ll see you later.