February 18th, 2009 at 12:00pm
GM and Chrysler are asking for billions more from the government. The UAW agreed to cuts at GM, Chrysler and Ford. In the viability plan it submitted to Congress, Chrysler has pictures of what its next-generation 300 and Grand Cherokee will look like. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions about automaker bankruptcies and electric vehicles in the “You Said It!” segment.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. GM and Chrysler want billions more from the government. The UAW makes more concessions. And a sneak peek at some future Chrysler products.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, February 18, 2009. And now, the news.
GM presented its viability plan to the government last night and the details are brutal (full plans available for download here). It will lay off another 47,000 employees worldwide on top of all the cuts it’s already made. About 21,000 of those jobs will be cut in the U.S. That will come from closing another five manufacturing plants, as well as getting rid of the Hummer, Saturn and Saab brands and all the jobs that go with them. Pontiac will stay on as a niche brand. Astonishingly, GM even raised the specter that it may have to form partnerships with the German government and other European governments to make sure its European operations are sustainable. To pull this all off, GM is asking the U.S. government for $16.6 billion more than before, all because it now bases its plans on much lower sales forecasts for the industry.
Same goes for Chrysler. It’s asking for $2 billion more than before because of the collapse in the car market. The company says that in addition to the steps it’s taken it will reduce fixed costs by $700 million, cut another 3,000 people, take out 100,000 units of capacity, and sell $300 million in assets.
The UAW agreed to cuts at GM, Chrysler and Ford. The details are hazy because they have to be voted on by the membership before the union will discuss them. But my sources tell me it will reduce the number of skilled trades people in UAW plants, and the Wall Street Journal reports it will include lower supplemental unemployment benefits. The union is still arguing over taking stock for its VEBA payments.
Hidden deep in the viability plan it submitted to Congress (full plans available for download here), Chrysler had pictures of what its next-generation 300 and Grand Cherokee will look like. Autoblog is running these photos. The Grand Cherokee looks new and modern but the 300C looks like a mild facelift on a car that’s already been in the market for over 5 years.
You know, the sky may be falling everywhere else but not in Brazil. Nissan will eliminate 20,000 jobs globally by 2010, but WardsAuto.com reports the company will not be cutting anything from its operations in Brazil (subscription required). Two new products it has are the Frontier SUV in its joint venture plant with Renault and its flex-fuel Liniva MVP.
In other Nissan news, the company claims its electric vehicle due late next year will have a 100 mile range running on pure battery power. The car will seat five and will be about the same size as the Sentra or Versa and will be initially made in Japan but will also get built it at its Tennessee plant in the future. And in other EV news, Ford received $55 million in tax credits through the Michigan Advanced Battery Credits. The law is designed to encourage companies to invest in electric vehicle engineering and automotive battery research in Michigan. Earlier this year Ford announced it plans to bring four electric vehicles to market by 2012.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
This is “You Said It!” Every day we get dozens of comments and questions from you, our viewers. “You Said It!” gives me a chance to respond.
Joe Brooks, from Accu-Shape Die Cutting, writes: “We have suffered 18 customer bankruptcies. My question to you is how can ANY of the automotive makers file for Chapter 11 since no one would likely “loan” them money in their current condition? If they could get that kind of financing, they would not have to go into bankruptcy in the first place.”
Good point Joe. But the Obama Administration has indicated it would provide what they call debtor-in-possession financing, if GM or Chrysler has to go into Chapter 11 to restructure.
Tom Geauvreau, from Windsor, Ontario, says: “I was a kinda amused about the Hofmeister Kink styling feature on BMW cars. Consider if you will the 1952 Nash Ambassador and later the 1956 “basket handle” AMC Rambler. I wouldn’t be willing to say that this design feature started with Nash, but at least it was earlier than BMW.”
Tom thanks for pointing that out. You’re right, that kink did not start with BMW, but I guess they get credit for sticking with it for nearly half a century.
Tim Achterhoff from RC Productions wrote in to say “As I was driving to work this morning in single digit Michigan temps, I wondered where the interior heat would come from in an electric car. Maybe a propane heater? I guess they don’t worry about those problems in California.”
Well Tom, it can get pretty cold in lots of places in California. But to answer your question, it will use an electric heater. But the beauty of it is you can warm up your plug-in while it’s still plugged in. That way the batteries don’t have to take a big hit to heat up the car. Same goes for the air conditioning.
Don’t forget that all this week you can enter for your chance to win the book Italdesign: Thirty Years on the Road by Luca Ciferri. All you have to do is sign-up for our free e-mail newsletter. I’ll be picking the winner Friday on “Autoline Daily” so sign-up today!
And remember that tomorrow we have our live webcast at noon discussing all the details about GM and Chrysler’s viability plans. You can join the discussion with my panel of experts tomorrow at noon eastern time, and 1700 hours GMT.
Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.