July 30th, 2012 at 12:00pm
Joel Ewanick, the Chief Marketing Officer at General Motors abruptly left the company over the weekend. Volkswagen is investigating its Chinese partner, FAW over allegations that it illegally copied its technology. Kia just revealed the 2013 Forte which is also known as the Cerato in other markets. All that and more, plus a look at how GM engineers were able to cut weight from the all-new Cadillac ATS.
This is Autoline Daily for July 30th. I’m John McElroy and here’s the latest news that has got the automotive industry talking.
GM OUSTS EWANICK
What in the world is going on at General Motors? As you may have heard by now, Joel Ewanick, the chief marketing officer for the company, was fired over the weekend. Many of you saw Ewanick on Autoline After Hours less than two weeks ago, and he sure didn’t sound like anyone who was just about to get canned. And yet GM has seen a string of executives abruptly quit or get reassigned just in the last month. Two weeks ago Karl-Friedrich Stracke, was yanked out as CEO of Opel. And Tony Posawatz, the vehicle line director for the Chevy Volt, suddenly quit at the beginning of the month. When you see this much turmoil in the executive ranks, you know something is not right deep inside the company. Here’s my Autoline Insight. GM CEO Dan Ackerson is now going to come under intense scrutiny, especially from Wall Street and institutional investors. The company is racking up unacceptable losses in Europe. It’s losing money in South America. It’s lagging behind its competitors in profitability and its stock price has taken a pounding. With no signs of improvement coming anytime soon, you have to wonder how long the board will tolerate the CEO’s lack of performance.
VW INVESTIGATES FAW
And it looks like Volkswagen is running into problems with one of its Chinese partners. VW is investigating FAW over allegations that it is illegally copying technology. According to the Wall Street Journal, VW management discovered FAW had plans to replicate its MQ200 transmission that they suspect was going to be equipped in a FAW model for sale in Russia. FAW also reportedly built a plant in China that is building cars with VW components without a license. Somehow I’m not surprised.
BRAZIL MAY DROP AUTO TAX BREAKS
And as the global sales slump is prompting some automakers to consider layoffs, governments are trying to strong-arm them into keeping workers on the payroll. The Brazilian government now is threatening to suspend tax breaks for automakers if they lay off workers.
FRANCE OFFERS GREEN INCENTIVES
And the French government is trying to boost sales with more generous incentives for electric vehicles and hybrids. EVs now get a €7,000 rebate, while hybrids get €4,000. And they’ll pay for these incentives with higher taxes on gas guzzlers.
2013 KIA FORTE
Longer, lower, wider. Sounds like a car advertisement from the 1950s, but in this case this applies to the 2013 Kia Forte, also known as the Cerato in other markets. It gets a brand-new body structure, sharp styling and a roomier interior, and a lineup of updated engines that promise best-in-class fuel economy.
GM PEDESTRIAN DETECTION
General Motors is developing technology to help detect pedestrians walking across the street. It uses Wi-Fi Direct, which is a peer-to-peer wireless standard that allows some smartphones to communicate directly with each other. Wi-Fi Direct is integrated with other sensors in the car, which allows the vehicle to detect pedestrians carrying a smartphone with Wi-Fi Direct. The company is also working on an app that will help vehicles with Wi-Fi Direct detect pedestrians.
Even though GM is in total turmoil in its executive ranks, as you just heard, farther down in the company the men and women who sweat the details on how to develop world-class cars are hard at work. We’ll show you one of the results of all their blood, sweat and tears, right after this.
CADILLAC ATS SHEDS THE POUNDS
General Motors has a well-deserved reputation for coming out with the heaviest cars in the business. Even though they ride and handle well and deliver competitive fuel economy, they’re typically hundreds of pounds — or even kilos — heavier than the competition. Well now GM is out to prove that it can beat the best. The new Cadillac ATS is about 146 pounds lighter than a comparable BMW 3 Series. And GM engineers were able cut that weight not just with more lightweight materials, but with some very clever engineering.
(Today’s Cadillac ATS lightweight package is only available in the video version of the show.)
I love the lightening holes that you see in so many components, especially the suspension links. They even took a kilo of weight out of the car just by going with smaller bolt-head sizes on the suspension attachments.
That wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.