June 28th, 2012 at 12:00pm
Fiat plans to increase its stake in Chrysler by purchasing shares from the UAW healthcare trust fund. Ford is closing its only plant in the Philippines as part of a restructuring effort in the region. John sits down with the Energy Secretary to talk electric cars. All that and more, plus Andrew Justus drives the new Lexus ES.
Hello again and welcome to Autoline Daily. It’s Thursday, June 28, 2012. Summer is in full swing up here in Michigan. Temperatures could even top 100 degrees today! But I’m no meteorologist; actually, I’m Christie Schweinsberg with WardsAuto.com filling in for – you guessed it – John McElroy. Here’s the news.
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Fiat is expected to boost its stake in Chrysler. The Wall Street Journal reports the Italian automaker will likely purchase more shares of the company from the UAW healthcare trust fund. Is this a sign the union is in financial trouble and needs more cash? Fiat’s stake in Chrysler will likely go up from about 59 percent today to nearly 62 percent after the deal goes through.
PLANT CLOSURE (subscription required)
Now for a little global news. My publication, WardsAuto.com reports Ford will close up shop in the Philippines later this year. It’s shuttering its Santa Rosa, Laguna assembly plant that builds last-generation Escape SUVs. The facility first opened in 1999. The closure is part of a regional restructuring plan.
Back home, electric vehicles just aren’t selling very well, even with government subsidies. But this hasn’t necessarily dampened enthusiasm for them. U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu thinks sales are just getting started. He offers some interesting perspective on the technology in an exclusive interview with Autoline Daily.
Hey, as we’ve been reminding you, the Autoline After Hours Automotive Draft is right around the corner. For more info, we caught up with our play-by-play analysts, Scott and Mark. As our resident experts their accuracy is second to none … well, most of the time …
Ok. Just to set the record straight that’s the twenty-twelve Autoline After Hours Automotive Draft on July twelfth at Six PM Eastern Time at Autoline-dot-TV. Got it? By the way, WardsAuto’s own Drew Winter is taking part in this year’s Draft and you can get a sneak peek at his company’s name, logo and tag line in the John’s Journal section of the Autoline website.
And on the subject of After Hours, make sure you check out tonight’s show where we’re taking you to the movies. That’s right, it’s all about automobiles and motion pictures. Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist is guest hosting and he’ll be joined by Todd Lassa of Motor Trend and Jim Hall from 2953 Analytics. Check it out. The LIVE webcast starts promptly at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, so don’t be late.
Southern states have been surprisingly successful at wooing foreign auto manufacturers. Some of the transplants that have setup shop in Dixie include Hyundai, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Now you can add another foreign concern to the list: Airbus. The European aerospace company is following in the tire tracks of automakers. Bloomberg reports the company is poised to announce plans for a commercial-jet assembly plant in Alabama. It’ll be interesting if this proposal takes off or not.
ROTARY STOPS SPINNING
For the first time since 1967 Mazda does not make a rotary engine. The line that builds the famous Renesis engine was shut down last Friday. Poor fuel economy and high emissions remain inherent problems with the Wankel engine. At a time when fuel economy standards are increasing and emissions regulations are getting tighter, the rotary just can’t keep up.
BRAKE DUST (subscription required)
The Lorax may speak for the trees but California and Washington State are now trying to give fish a break – literally! The two western states will phase out copper as a friction material in brake pads and shoes by 2025 due to its harmful effects on salmon that spawn there. According to Ward’s copper dust from car brakes washes off roads when it rains, then drains into rivers. Excess copper can disorient fish, especially salmon, interfering with navigation and making them more susceptible to predators. The change will likely affect all 50 states and some foreign markets. OEMs and aftermarket suppliers will want to make the change across the board to keep supply chains consistent.
After the break we’ll take a peek at one of Lexus’ newest models.
LUXURY SALES RACE (subscription required)
BMW overtook Lexus in the luxury sales race last year but you can bet the Japanese brand is gunning for the No. 1 position. To retake that crown, it’s launching a cavalcade of new and refreshed product. One of the latest to hit the road is its second best-selling model. Andrew Justus has more . . .
(This feature is only available in the video version of today’s program.)
Lexus ES sales have fallen recently. The car’s best year on record was 2007 when the company moved nearly 83,000 of them. Today it’s running at about half that rate. With the new model the company is targeting 60,000 units annually.
A quick programming note here. Autoline will be off the air next week to celebrate America’s birthday, just an FYI.
Anyway, that’s it for today’s program. But don’t fret; there will be more Autoline Daily tomorrow! In the meantime, I’m Christie Schweinsberg with WardsAuto.com. Thank you for watching and I’ll see you later!