December 11th, 2008 at 12:00pm
The bridge loan faces a tough time in the Senate because Republicans oppose the bill. Honda says battery technology isn’t ready for plug-ins or EVs yet. Holden and Coskata team up to bring cellulosic ethanol to Australia. All that and more, plus Ford comes out with a way for fleet managers to keep track of their trucks.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. The bridge loan faces a tough time in the Senate. Honda says the batteries aren’t ready for plug-ins or EVs. And Ford comes out with a way for fleet managers to keep track of their trucks.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, December 11, 2008. And now, the news.
One down and one to go. The House of Representatives passed the legislation to provide a $15 billion bridge loan to GM and Chrysler before the end of the year. But now it has to be approved in the Senate where its future is very uncertain. A cadre of conservative Republicans, led by Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, are vociferously opposing the bill. And they oppose their president. Even the White House is now in favor of providing this loan to the automakers.
So why are Shelby and his cohorts so against this bill? They say that unless the Big Three make even more massive cuts, this is just a waste of money. I’d agree with them to a point, but there’s more going on here. I believe they’re out to break the union’s back. They know the Employee Free Choice Act will likely be enacted next year under an Obama Administration, which it will make it far easier for the UAW to unionize the transplants. Senator Shelby has three of those transplants in his state of Alabama. And he may want to see the UAW so weakened it can’t organize those plants, or if it does, will not be able to drive up wages or benefits.
CSM Worldwide predicts that the Big Three may soon be the Big Two. The consulting firm predicts Chrysler will not survive even if it gets government loans. It blames it on a lack of scale and new product development and Cerberus’ unwillingness to invest money in the company. Also, Chrysler’s merger with Daimler essentially gutted its R&D operations.
Even China is starting to feel the effects of the down turn in the auto industry. Geely announced a restructuring move that will cut out layers of management, lay off workers and slash suppliers. Geely says the laid off workers will be placed in other units of the group. Hmm…where have I heard that idea before?
One of the key provisions that Congress wants to see the Big Three do is build fuel efficient cars, especially plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. But we recently ran into Dan Bonawitz, the vice president of corporate planning at American Honda who says the technology isn’t ready.
And speaking of alternative fuel, Holden and Coskata are partnering up to produce cellulosic ethanol in Australia (subscription required). According to Ward’s, this will be the first cellulosic plant outside the U.S. Holden plans to offer a Commodore that runs on E85 by 2010. And it will be available with V6 and V8 engines that will produce more power than current models thanks to ethanol’s higher octane rating.
Coming up in our feature story, new technology from Ford to help fleet managers. We’ll be back right after this.
Owing a fleet of vehicles can cause all kinds of headaches. Keeping track of mileage, maintenance and other things can be a real pain. That’s why Ford came up with a better idea.
The Work Solutions suite is a group of technologies that can really help out. One part of this package is called Crew Chief. It gives fleet managers the ability to monitor the location of their vehicles in real time. If you know where all of your vehicles are, you can send the closest one to a job. This saves on time and driving. It also lets them remotely track things like fuel mileage, engine idle time and a whole lot more.
Crew Chief relies on an in-vehicle Internet connection to work. Data is sent through a web-based application and can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection.
Crew Chief and the rest of the Work Solutions suite is offered on 2009 model F-Series trucks and E-Series vans.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Don’t forget though, next week we’re offering another chance to win some slick Autoline prizes with a brand new trivia question — but we’re not going to tell what the question is. It’ll only be available to our newsletter subscribers. Don’t worry though, if you’re not on our mailing list you can still subscribe. Just visit our website AutolineDaily.com and sign up now. It’s painless. I promise. That way you’ll get every episode of the show delivered right to your inbox, and you’ll also get a chance to answer each week’s trivia question.
Anyway, that’s it for today’s show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.