August 12th, 2011 at 11:55am
As expected IHS Automotive downgraded their 2011 sales forecast for the auto industry, the question now is how will automakers respond? GM will be sourcing its batteries for future EV’s from A123 Systems. Goodyear is researching tires that can inflate themselves while rolling along the road. All that and more, plus Peter De Lorenzo spreads his wisdom on management at Chrysler.
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, the 12th of August, 2011. I’m Peter De Lorenzo the Autoextremist, filling in for John today.
Yesterday we reported that Rebecca Lindland, the director of Strategic Review at IHS Automotive, downgraded their sales forecast in the U.S. for the rest of this year. Now here’s why she says this will be the case.
Now we’ll have to see if automakers reduce production schedules for the 4th quarter.
GM announced that it has selected a second battery source to power its electric vehicles. A123 Systems will provide lithium-ion batteries for GM’s future EVs, but the specific vehicles they’ll be going in will be announced later. The batteries will be produced at A123′s plant in Livonia, Michigan. GM already has a battery contract with LG Chem out of Korea which are used to power the Volt. It’s not too surprising too see GM do this because automakers don’t like putting all their eggs in with one supplier, in case something goes wrong.
Ford announced it has promoted Barb Samardzich to head of product development in Europe starting September 1st. Samardzich, who you might remember from her appearance on Autoline After Hours, will also keep her current position as Ford’s head of Global Vehicle Engineering, Noise Vibration and Harshness, and Global Vehicle Evaluation and Verification. Samardzich replaces Frank Davis who will take on a new role in the company but this is clearly a sign that Ford is grooming Samardzich for bigger things.
FULL OF AIR
Car tires are one of those things that never seem to change; they’re round and black, made of rubber and maybe some steel belts. But they always need to be inflated from time to time. Goodyear is looking to change that by advancing research on tires that will inflate themselves as they go down the road. The research, partially funded by the U.S. and Luxemburg governments, is working to produce tires that will yield better fuel efficiency by maintaining consistent air pressure. Goodyear estimates that passenger cars and commercial trucks on the road today can see between 2.5 and 3.3 percent poorer fuel economy due to under-inflated tires. So kids, check those tires!
The Sergio Show gets preachy and the media genuflects. What’s wrong with this picture? More after this…
By now we’re all familiar with “The Sergio Show” referring to, of course, Chrysler’s Uber CEO, Sergio Marchionne. The industry’s favorite micro-manager is enjoying his day in the sun right now especially thanks to some of my colleagues in the media, who are positively gushing over Sergio’s handling of Chrysler.
I’ll paraphrase some of the coverage for you. “The Sergio Show runs on espresso and three hours of sleep a night! The Sergio Show is a dynamo that will lead Chrysler and Detroit out of the wilderness! The Sergio Show is speaking – we must now drop everything and stand at attention so we can bask in his brilliance!” Or something like that.
Except that The Sergio Show is something altogether different if you step away from the hype.
That Sergio is the Opportunist of the Century certainly can’t be disputed. After all here was a guy who was basically handed the keys to Chrysler for nothing by an Obama administration desperate to keep the domestic automobile industry from imploding. And before that he made his bones in the business by “turning around” Fiat, a company so screwed-up that even if he had just reduced the espresso machine count at corporate headquarters by half he would have looked like an industrial hero in Italy, a country that, I’m sad to say, has a real problem making money in the car business (unless we’re talking about Ferrari, of course).
But Sergio suddenly acting like the Sage of the Automotive World while suggesting that he’s markedly different from his downtrodden colleagues in Detroit – at least the ones who were here B.S. (Before Sergio) – as he took great pains to point out at the annual Center for Automotive Research industry conference up in Traverse City last week, saying, and I quote, “These are business people who did not grow up and become conditioned to doing business in Detroit,” Sergio said. “They accept the challenge of the new without being afraid.”
Well I’m not buying it.
I do know this: Sergio is setting up Chrysler NOT for a long period of sustained success and growth as he insists, but for yet another looming crisis in the company’s roller-coaster history when he steps away in 2015 or thereabouts. Because he’s going to leave behind a corporate management structure that is totally dependent on one guy and a system of doing things based on that one guy. And oh, by the way, that one guy? It’s Sergio, and only Sergio.
And when you consider the possibility of Chrysler being paralyzed by chaos and indecision when Sergio walks away with his untold millions, it’s not such a “brilliant” picture for Chrysler, now is it?
I would like to see some of my esteemed colleagues in the media get over this “genuflection stage” when it comes to covering The Sergio Show, because it’s so beyond tedious now I can’t even imagine what another four years of it will be like.
The real story here is this: Chrysler’s very survival depends on Fiat and Chrysler assimilating, combining, meshing and blending their disparate endeavors together according to Sergio’s “grand plan.”
And that is still very much a work in progress and a “we’ll see” of gargantuan proportions from where I sit.
It would be nice to see my colleagues focus on that for a change.
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.
Be sure to tune in for Autoline After Hours from the Woodward Dream Cruise next Thursday night. We want to thank our Signature sponsor, MOPAR, for making it possible for us to come to you live from Woodward Avenue. Join us from the biggest classic car show in the world.
And speaking of webcasts, you can catch another episode of RoundAbout LIVE tonight at 6:30PM Eastern, 3:30PM Pacific. This week Christiaan Conover from the RoundelTable podcast guest hosts, so tune in at AutolineDetroit.TV for a fun start to the weekend.
And that wraps up today’s report. Again, I’m Peter De Lorenzo the Autoextremist, thanks for watching… and this is me leaving.