August 7th, 2012 at 11:45am
Spyker and GM are facing off in court. The small Dutch automaker alleges GM wrongfully forced it to take Saab into bankruptcy. John has some updates from the MBS conference in Traverse City, Michigan. Chrysler may share its popular Uconnect infotainment system with cars on the Fiat side of the Chrysler-Fiat conglomerate by adapting the software to specific regions around the globe. All that and more plus a quick look at the Hyundai Elantra GT.
It’s Tuesday, August 7, 2012. Welcome to another episode of Autoline Daily! I’m Craig Cole, filling in again for John McElroy. We’ll hear from him a little later in the show. Anyway, here’s what’s happening around the automotive world . . .
SPYKER V. GM (subscription required)
Like a cat with 90 lives Spyker is back in the news. The little Dutch automaker is making waves once again. In a classic case of David and Goliath, The Wall Street journal reports Victor Muller and company is suing General Motors for $3 billion in damages. They filed suit in U.S. District Court in Detroit yesterday. They allege GM forced Saab into bankruptcy last year. Here’s their argument. The Swedish automaker was allowed to use patents and technology from GM, but the General retained ownership of that intellectual property – Saab couldn’t share it with anyone else. When Spyker tried to sell Saab to a Chinese company to raise desperately needed cash, GM said “not so fast.” Without money, Saab couldn’t pay its suppliers, and without parts it couldn’t build cars.
As you know, McElroy is out of town right now. He’s up in Traverse City covering the Management Briefing Seminars. For those of you not familiar with the geography of Michigan, that’s way up here at the top of the mitten. MBS is an annual conference organized by the folks at the Center for Automotive Research. This year’s event spans four days and hosts some of the biggest names in the industry. With an update from the conference, here’s John.
One interesting tidbit of news we learned on day one of the conference from Hidetoshi Imazu who runs all of Nissan’s manufacturing operations is that they are getting ready for the next big earthquake to hit Japan. He says another big earthquake is expected to hit the Tokyo area possibly in the next few years. Nissan has put the plans in place as to how it will react to minimize any manufacturing disruptions. Meanwhile, John Flemming, who runs all of Ford’s manufacturing operations, said they are going to add three-crew operations to their North American plants this year. That will give Ford an additional 400,000 units of capacity, essentially a 27 percent increase in manufacturing capacity without building any new plants. And one other tidbit that I picked up at the conference is that the supplier company Cooper Standard is coming out with what it calls a diverter valve that goes in the transmission. It diverts the transmission fluid through a heating element to reduce internal friction at start-up. It will be out later this year, and while they will not say which OEM is using it, it’s another example of the minute details that automakers are going to improve fuel economy. Back to you guys, I should have another update tomorrow.
CHRYSLER UCONNECT GOING GLOBAL?
On the telematics front Chrysler could be taking its terrific Uconnect infotainment system global. WardsAuto.com reports the technology could make its way into Fiat vehicles. That includes Abarth, Alfa-Romeo and Maserati. No timetable for this global introduction has been announced. Engineers in Auburn Hills, Turin and Shanghai are working to tailor the system to drivers’ needs in their respective markets.
UCONNECT TEAMS UP WITH SPRINT
In related news, Chrysler has teamed up with Sprint to offer more Uconnect features in the U.S., including in-vehicle wireless internet and access to 911 services.
General Motors Ventures, the venture-capital branch of GM is investing in an outfit called The NanoSteel Company. It’s a firm that’s developing a whole new class of steel, one that’s stronger and lighter with greater ductility and cold-formability. As the name implies, these metals feature nano-scale microstructures that give them these unique properties. As automakers fight to cut every gram of mass this technology could save them kilograms.
FORD C-MAX HYBRID
Hybrid fuel economy numbers continue to get more impressive. Ford’s C-Max Hybrid just earned identical EPA city and hybrid ratings of 47 miles-per-gallon. This is significant because it bucks the trend of hybrids getting lower fuel economy on the highway compared to in the city where the cars can use regenerative braking. Ford says the C-Max will be the most affordable hybrid utility vehicle in America.
SRT VIPER OFF TO THE RACES
In motorsports news, the SRT Viper made its race-track debut this weekend. The GTS-R coupe finished near the bottom of the scoring order at the American LeMans Series race at Mid-Ohio. While more established teams took the top spots, the viper squad said it was happy to finish the race with both its cars intact.
HYUNDAI ELANTRA GT
Up next we’ll take a quick look at the new Hyundai Elantra GT.
You know, that is not a bad looking little hatchback. Base price for the Elantra GT is just a bit more than $19,000, including destination and delivery charges.
And that’s the exciting conclusion of today’s episode of Autoline Daily. We do thank you ever so much for joining us. And we hope you’ll come back tomorrow.