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Episode 67 – Chrysler Drops Jobs Bank, Fiat & Chrysler CEOs Meet, Prius De-contented

January 27th, 2009 at 12:07pm

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The Fiat and Chrysler alliance could produce 7 new vehicles to be sold in North America. Chrysler says it’s dropping the Jobs Bank in favor of something that it’s calling “enhanced layoff”. Toyota is going to de-content old versions of the Prius and drop the price. All that and more, plus a look at Ford technology aimed to help hybrid owners eek out as much fuel economy as possible.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Fiat and Chrysler work on working together. Chrysler is getting rid of the Jobs Bank—sorta. And Toyota is going to de-content some versions of the Prius.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, January 27, 2009. And now, the news.

Fiat’s CEO Sergio Marchione met with Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli this past weekend at Chrysler’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan reports the Detroit Free Press. The alliance between the two could produce 7 new vehicles to be sold in the North American market, with four of them carrying the Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep nameplates, and three of them being sold as Fiats or Alfa Romeos. Automotive News reports the deal could include the Fiat 500, and the Panda for the A-segment (subscription required). The Alfa Romeo MiTo in the B-segment, the Fiat C-Evo platform and the Alfa 147.

Meanwhile, Chrysler says it’s dropping the Jobs Bank in favor of something that its calling “enhanced layoff.” the Free Press reports. Workers will have to file for unemployment with the state where they live. But Chrysler will still pay them supplemental unemployment benefits that takes them up to nearly their take home pay. The company will also continue to pay their health care, dental and life insurance benefits.

According to reports out of Japan, Toyota will sell a de-contented version of the old Prius to compete with the new Honda Insight, which is rumored to be priced under twenty grand. The Prius interior will be cheapened, Autoblog reports, and the price could be set at 2 million yen or $22,000 dollars. A lower price could also help sales. Last month Prius sales fell 45 percent in the American market.

Aston Martin is going to race for the overall win at Le Mans this year, after its GT1 class win last year. Now it’s going to run two LMP1 cars, with a Lola chassis, an Aston Martin V12, and the livery colors of Gulf Oil. Aston will be going up against the diesels from Audi and Peugeot. And it’s a real gutsy move for the little automaker that seems to be spreading its wings now that it’s no longer owned by Ford.

And maybe Volvo will get the same kind of opportunity. The Detroit News says Ford is moving ahead to sell Volvo sometime in the next month, probably to a Chinese automaker, with SAIC, Chery and Guangzhou listed as possible buyers.

Opel will show off its version of the Chevy Volt at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Called the Ampera, it uses the same Voltec drivetrain. Hey, GM needs to build a Buick version of the Volt too – and call it the Electra. In other product news, Honda is ending production of its S2000 roadster. GM is canceling the Cadillac XLR this spring. And the CTS coupe is being delayed probably until 2010.

Coming up next, a look at Ford technology aimed to help hybrid owners eek out as much fuel economy as possible.

We’ll be back right after this.

There’s no question that hybrid vehicles help cut fuel consumption and reduce emissions but it can be difficult to drive a hybrid in order to maximize those benefits. That’s why Ford has come up with a way to help drivers get the most out of their hybrids.

The 2010 Fusion and Milan hybrids will be available with a feature called SmartGauge, which uses two LCD screens located on either side of the speedometer. The screens show anything from fuel and battery power levels to average and instant miles-per-gallon. Perhaps the most unique feature of SmartGauge are growing leaves and vines that track and reward driver efficiency.

A tutorial mode built into the display helps the driver learn about the instrument cluster and the hybrid. For instance, drivers can choose one of four data screens to display information during their drives. Info like, fuel level and battery charge status, a EV mode indicator and tachometer and engine and battery output power can be displayed. And all levels show various fuel economy stats and normal display info like the odometer, engine temperature and what gear the car is in.

Who knows if this will actually get drivers to drive more efficiently but with all the distractions out on the road, hopefully this doesn’t create another.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget, you can get podcasts, transcripts and a whole lot more on our website, AutolineDaily.com. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

11 Comments to “Episode 67 – Chrysler Drops Jobs Bank, Fiat & Chrysler CEOs Meet, Prius De-contented”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Hoping to hear about emerging debate on emissions standards set at state level vs federal level.

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I’m sorry to see ford getting rid of volvo.Offing the expensive and unreliable british connection was a great move though.I would love to see ford pick up jeep from chrysler,I doubt if that ever happens.I can wish.

  3. g magoulas Says:

    These CEO’s get their millions to run company’s to the ground with crap they produce are they for us or against us I would sell cars by orders only with special editions and give the new car buyer what they want Look what happened when Kaiser Frasier fell apart they dissappeard.

  4. Brandon Says:

    I’ll be sad to see Volvo go from Ford. I’m sure they’ll try to share platform and safety information, however. I was really sad to see Aston go, but Ford could use the money right now (not as much and Chrysler and GM). Ford realized they had their eggs in too many baskets. I still don’t see a need for Mercury as long as they’re copycat, “enhanced” versions of Fords. As far as Ford getting Jeep, I don’t think this will ever happen- there’s no need for it.

    As far as the Smartgauge on the Fusion Hybrid, I believe you can shut it off entirely. I’m looking forward to seeing the new Fusion, Taurus and Mustang up close in Chicago next month.

  5. Howard Remeta Says:

    Ford’s “leaves” sounds a lot like the Honda Insight’s “leaves”. Green is similar.

  6. Dan Clemons Says:

    It is very interesting to see Honda’s new Insight go up against the Toyota Prius, the industry standard. Toyota is worried about losing market share to Honda based on its lower price point and Honda quality. Also, Honda has an edge when it comes to the interior. As John said, Toyota is de-contenting its interior to lower its price. Isn’t competition great?

    I will look at both before I buy.

  7. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Great, more distractions for drivers, we have screens in the middle of the dash, screens in the speedo area plus cell phones plus gps devices plus women putting on their makeup. Will anyone be looking at the road ahead? My dashboard is so plain and simple, I’m forced to look at traffic!

  8. Salvador G. Says:

    One of the first rules you ever heard as to how to make you daily drive more fuel efficient is ‘Reduce your energy consumption while driving’ which means NO RADIO, NO HEATER or Air Con., because that takes energy from the battery and thus waste fuel efficiency… So what Ford do next – introduce an electric gauge

    I actually don’t know anyone who drives a Mercury (I’m not kiddin, don’t remember ever seeing one, NOT A NEW MODEL ANYWAY) my brother in law drives a Focus and in my neighbordhood you can find a couple mustang and one F150, VOLVO’s oh yeah plenty.
    So Ford let goes Aston Martin and Volvo…
    and so the intelligence continues.

  9. Roman Says:

    The heater, radio, and LCD panel are honestly pretty negligible. In a non-hybrid vehicle especially, these wouldn’t affect fuel economy.

  10. Alok Sharma Says:

    Question – Many economists are predicting a drawn-out recession (two years). Are your current plans banking on a specific sales volume in 2009/2010?

  11. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    Ford SmartGuage is simply NOT. It may look great sitting behind the desk, but on thre road, if the driver get busy with an instrument cluster, the result will not be good. This is as bad as Sync from a Human Factor and safety perspective