Episode 952 – Akerson Plans Reorganization, Sales Per Dealer Up, Meritor WABCO Air Dryer

August 17th, 2012 at 11:30am

Runtime: 7:34

General Motors’ CEO Dan Akerson is planning a reorganization that would see the company move towards a more global structure rather than being run by regional powers. A new study says that average sales per dealership will set a record this year. Meritor WABCO has developed an air dryer for large trucks they claim is more efficient than competing systems on the market. All that and more, plus John shares his thoughts on the Fiat 500 Abarth.

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Here we go again . . . ANOTHER episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Friday, black Friday apparently, August 17, 2012. I’m Craig Cole and here’s the news.

AKERSON PLANS REORGANIZATION
In an effort to make the company more efficient and flexible, General Motors’ CEO Dan Akerson is planning a reorganization that would see the company move towards a more global structure rather than being run by regional powers. According to Bloomberg, global chiefs would take over in several different areas like marketing, purchasing and product development, rather than being run by regional leaders. GM is also upgrading its accounting system to support the new structure. Akerson has said he feels restrained by the company’s different fiefdoms and its slow decision making.

DUNDEE WORKERS REJECT CONTRACT
UAW members at Chrysler’s Dundee Engine Plant rejected a new local operating agreement earlier this week. According to the Detroit News, the move caught Chrysler and even UAW leaders by surprise. And now the company says it will not reopen negotiations. But there will be no impact on production because the UAW gave up its right to strike in order for Chrysler to receive government assistance during bankruptcy. The plant builds four-cylinder engines for the Chrysler Group.

ROUNDABOUT GAME NIGHT
It’s Friday so that means you can catch another RoundAbout tonight at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time. But,did you know that you can also play along? Next week the RoAb crew is holding a special Game Night for fans and friends of the show. On August 24th you can try your hand at owning a virtual dealership as the crew plays a game of Dungeons & Dealers. To participate, you’ll need to register first. Sign up or learn more in the RoundAbout section of our website, Autoline.tv.

AVERAGE SALES PER DEALER UP
Things are looking up for car dealers, way up. Detroit-based consulting firm Urban Science estimates sales per dealer will set a record this year at 805 vehicles. The old score was 785 per dealer — set back in 2005. The number of car dealers also increased 0.02 percent to 17,770. You know, it only makes sense that after GM and Chrysler dropped so many stores in 2009 anything even close to normal sales numbers would be a boon to those still in business.

MERITOR WABCO AIR DRYER
Yesterday we showed you a little of what Meritor WABCO is cooking up for heavy trucks with its ESCsmart system. Today we’ve got another interesting bit of technology to share. They’ve developed an air dryer they claim is more efficient that competing systems on the market. Heavy trucks like tractor trailers use a lot of compressed air. It runs the brakes, parts of the suspension and other systems. These trucks actually have air compressors integrated with their powertrains. In fact they’re lubricated with crankcase oil and in some case they’re cooled with engine coolant. These systems need dryers to keep moisture from collecting, which can cause corrosion, reduce efficiency and freeze in cold temperatures. Meritor WABCO’s System Saver 1200 Plus air dryer is the lightest on the market. It also features a convenient spin-on cartridge that makes changes a snap. Competitors’ systems have to be disassembled to change the filters. That’s some clever engineering on the commercial-side of the business.

RIOT-ROCKED PLANT RESTARTS PRODUCTION
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, keep those assembly lines rollin’. Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest automaker has been plagued by labor strife for at least a year now. Last month there was a deadly riot at its plant in Manesar, located just outside the capital of New Delhi. This factory is home to several popular models including the Swift hatchback. Reuters reports the facility has been shut down since July 18th, which has cost the company an estimated $260 million – roughly 15 million bucks a day. However, new vehicles WILL begin rolling down the line once again starting next week Tuesday. The company has fired some 500 employees out of the 32-hundred or so that work there. Production will ramp-up slowly. They’ll build about 150 cars per day, roughly 10 percent capacity.

Coming up next, John shares his thoughts on the performance version of the Fiat 500, we’ll be back right after this.

FIAT 500 ABARTH
(Today’s look at the Fiat 500 Abarth is only available in the video version of the show.)

Of course that price is for the model we tested. The Abarth’s base MSRP is a little less than $23,000. Sounds a lot more reasonable to me.

Anyway, that’ll just about do it for today. You have a great weekend – that’s an order – and we’ll see you on Monday!

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32 Comments to “Episode 952 – Akerson Plans Reorganization, Sales Per Dealer Up, Meritor WABCO Air Dryer”

  1. Ron Paris Says:

    And they wonder why it’s called “Government Motors”. Just like his federal handlers, Akerson is working hard to centralize power at GM because he and his minions surely know what is best for all the General’s far-flung divisions.

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I bet those “Ice Road Truckers” (a fan of the show) will like that new air dryer for their pneumatic lines; no more (or less) pouring alcohol through the lines to get those brakes unlocked.

    Abarth or not; still not a fan. Probably a nice little ‘go kart’, if that’s what your after though.

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    I spent some time today at a re-opened Chrys-Dodge_Jeep dealer near me and the staff there seemed pretty upbeat about their new and upcoming products including a Jeep Sport that had just arrived today and how they’re gonna go after the Land Rover clients, (good luck there) completely different clientele, those stuck-ups rich folk will put up with bad reliability for the privilege of driving that brand. They had about 5 Darts, all manual, how stupid is that?

  4. Roland Martin Says:

    The word “fiefdom” has become very popular in GM’s corporate language. However, associations are anything but positive and unless you intend to hint that you are having thieves in your organization you should not use such terms. This is part of the corporate culture, and it works top down!

  5. HtG Says:

    Just as I was convincing myself I’m not that into cars anymore, I go and watch AAH at the Woodward Ave. cruise. What a big smile it put on my face, although I worry about what will become of Jim ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ Hall. (that ’63 Willys was Argentinian? Really? Do you need to lie down and rest your head, Jim?)

  6. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Abarth…..27k……that would be more like aBarf.

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    At 27k you’re getting close to Mini prices there, sorry Sergio, no comparison IMO, just ask Kit!

  8. Jon M Says:

    In an apparent effort to give the dainty little look-how-cute-my-car-is 500 a little masculine appeal, Fiat didn’t just throw on a turbo, splash on a stripe, and paint the calipers; they even got pop-culture bad boy (and a few other unflattering traits not mentioned here), Charlie Sheen, to appear in a commercial for it. He’s probably the only one desperate enough to do it. But then again, what does Fiat care if it’s selling? Even so, Abarth or not, I still think it’s an infringement on Little Tikes’ cozy coupe.

  9. C-tech Says:

    Another management reorganization at GM is meaningless if there are not competitive or superior products being built and offered at a reasonable price. The Cruze and the sonic are nice, however more varieties are offered by the competition. Cadillac seems to match up to the competition very well with their cars, however they are lacking in the SUV area. The Chevy Impala is way behind their Dodge, Ford, and Toyota counterparts. The Traverse lacks when compared to Ford, Dodge, and Toyota. A line-up shake-up is hopefully underway.

    This is a great time to own a car dealership. More sales, more customers for fewer stores. There are fewer dealers, so you don’t have to compete for good help which keeps wages low.

  10. Michael Says:

    Hi, John. Why does Kia, even after all of their new designs, still insist on copying other automakers? The Kia K9 looks ALMOST IDENTICAL to the BMW 7 Series, and no one seemed to notice but me? Come on KIA!

  11. JC Says:

    Dan Akerson should quit GM.

  12. ROBERT JAMERSON Says:

    Why are certain items only in the video version of the daily article. This is the most liesurely presentation as a teacher reading the lesson to the students. When I have watched this I found it the most boring, almost as bad as autoweek which I now delete
    Don’t you think your audience is capable of reading the items you consider to be importrant?
    R H J

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #7,
    Yeah, you can get a pretty well equipped Cooper S for $27K.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “The Traverse lacks when compared to Ford, Dodge, and Toyota.”

    Not really. Traverse is clearly competitive with anything Ford or Dodge have, and doesn’t do badly, even compared with Highlander.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    #12 Agree, the domestic 3 have competitive products in just about every class except the high end stuff, nothing to compete there, I’m afraid. That segment has been left to Germany and Japan.

  16. shan Says:

    Absolutely absurd for the sticker price of a Abarth Fiat. I would be fine buying a base Mustang GT instead.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Base price of a Mustang GT is $30K, $31K for a 2013, but there’s not much comparison in the cars. You’d have to really want something “different” to buy the $27K Fiat.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, for $27k you also have the FRS or BRZ, besides the MINI, waaaay better than that toy Abarth

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    To get the MINI S (turbo) to 27K, you can get some options. Before I posted #11, I went to the “build” section of the site, and put tgether an S with leather, some color matched interior trim, and optional wheels. It was still only $26K MSRP.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    FIAT 500 Abarth which I’m sure stands for “rip-off” in some language somewhere.

  21. bob e k Says:

    #13 Pedro…I feel that Cadillac is very competitive with Germany & Japan…when it comes to luxury vehicles…and they keep engineering & design up to par with anybody…& not to mention a great warranty

  22. HtG Says:

    Two local crashes here in NY. This morning there was a rain shower that slicked up the roads, which is driving weather to me. Unfortunately for two other cars, their owners didn’t understand just how slick the surface gets after a brief shower; so an Audi A4 couldn’t make a right hand bend on the highway, and a Volvo station wagon wound up square on its roof at the exit of a very technical/treacherous set of low speed turns on a local road. As I drove by these scenes it was plain to see that the drivers were at fault. The Audi had sport tard wheels and the Volvo was alone. Personally, I come out in road conditions like this because it’s so easy to move the car around and you need to practice being super smooth. (I’ll spare you my thoughts on the Jetta sedan that just had to cut across two lanes through a set of twisties. Like he’s going to get away. Tard)

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    #19 I’m sorry you can not compare a $40 to $50k Caddy to a luxo monster like the top of the line Germans that go for close to $100k or more, perhaps GM wisely realizes that not many buyers will opt for a Caddy at that high price, just look at how badly the VW Phaeton did here. GM should just concentrate on making the best product they can make so that word of mouth will help sell more of them.

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    #20 GtG around these parts whenever it rains a bit, people slow down to the point that you’d think there is ice on the surface. I don’t get it! with all these driver aids like ABS and traction control, why people tiptoe through the rain.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    I meant HtG bad at typing!

  26. HtG Says:

    Driver aids can’t beat Father Physics, Pedro. Both these wrecks happened after a turn, so maybe the drivers were over correcting and believed conditions were fine simply because it wasn’t raining anymore. The grand I spent on driving school is the best money I ever spent on cars; I can get a lot out of a car and know where the boundaries are. Skip Barber works.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    #24 very true HtG, I despise driving minivans and SUV’s like my sister’s I find I have to change my driving style quite a bit, turns, curves, braking distance are all quite different than even my Crapola which does not win any awards for handling, but I find it quite easy to drive in every day traffic.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The thing I don’t like about driving SUV’s is the wallowy handling, more than stopping distances and such. I drove a TrailBlazer pulling a small U Haul trailer from Indiana to Florida about 10 years ago, and it just felt tippy compared to a car, any car. That was the case, even without the trailer.

    I currently have a not-too-great handling first generation Chrysler minivan, but it feels better, handling-wise than some other vehicles I’ve driven. I was amazed how much better the van felt after replacing the original 75 series tires with 65 series “touring” tires. It has a bit of a “roller skate” look with those 195-65 tires on 14 inch wheels, but it drives pretty well for a 23 year old minivan ,not that that is saying much. .

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit the 1st gen Chrysler minivans were smaller and had better handling than the ones that came after. Remember they were based on stretched out K car chassis and were praised for their car-like handling.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The first gen vans are lighter than most of today’s “compact” cars. I have weighed mine on a scale at a Waste Management transfer facility, and it is under 3,200 pounds with the back seat out. I’m sure my van would not be very good in a crash compared to newer vehicles, but still…

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    Proof positive that bigger is not always better. Unfortunately the Chrysler and Dodge “mini” vans had to get bigger otherwise the competition would have killed them. People just wanted more room and features, look how poorly the Mazda MPV sold in comparison.

  32. Richard Says:

    The FIAT 500 is a study in what not to do with a small car in the United States. You do NOT start out by selling the base model. You do NOT advertise it with Jennifer Lopez. You do NOT wait an entire year to get a second model. The chick (and yes I’m calling her that on purpose because this is not the place for less flattering names) that was responsible for 500 marketing should have been fired long before that alleged fiasco she got herself in. This car could have been a hit long ago. But she blew it. That’s what happens when you send a chick to do a diva’s job.