AD #1219 – Marchionne Taps Bloom, Chrysler Gets Hands On, Infiniti to “De-Americanize” its Cars

September 20th, 2013 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 7:20

Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has tapped Ron Bloom to advise him on buying the rest of Chrysler from the UAW’s VEBA health care trust fund. And speaking of Chrysler, it’s taking a more “hands on” approach to boosting engine output. Johan de Nysschen, the head of Infiniti says the company needs to “de-Americanize” its cars in order to boost sales globally. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week all about converting fleet vehicles to run on propane.

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Hello and welcome to a brand new Autoline Daily. I’m Sean McElroy filling in for John today. In the second half of the show we’ll take a look at converting fleet vehicles to run on propane but now let’s get to the day’s top stories.

As we’ve reported, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is attempting to buy the remaining shares of the American automaker from the UAW’s VEBA health care trust fund. And according to Bloomberg, Marchionne has tapped Ron Bloom to advise him on buying the rest of Chrysler. You may remember that Bloom, who has experience working with labor, lead the Obama Administration’s bailout team during the Chrysler and GM bankruptcies.

And speaking of Chrysler, the company is using more manual labor to help boost engine output. The Detroit News reports that the company added a second shift at its Trenton, Michigan engine plant and instead of using highly automated lines, most of the work is being done by hand. The company says this allowed them to increase production faster while costing less than an automated line. Also this will make it easier for the company to make any engine changes in order to meet stricter fuel economy regulations.

For most of Infiniti’s existence the brand was only sold in the U.S. but that changed a few years ago when the company started selling cars in Europe. And now the company is trying to re-invent itself as a global luxury brand. But Johan de Nysschen, the head of Infiniti says they need to “de-Americanize” its cars in order to boost sales. Part of the plan is to offer smaller engines in Europe and on the opposite side, develop larger cars for global markets.

Peugeot and Toyota will continue to collaborate on minicars sold in Europe. Reuters reports that the next generation Citroen C1 and the Peugeot 107 will be jointly developed with the Toyota Aygo and will be built on the same assembly line in the Czech Republic.

We have word out of Sweden that National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the new owner of Saab, has built its first new vehicles. They are 9-3 models that are powered by turbocharged gas engines but only two were built to test the newer components and work out any bugs. Production is scheduled to start at the end of the year and as you could guess by the new owner’s name, a electric version will be coming later next year.

Honda unveiled a new MPV for Asian markets but mainly for Indonesia, where there are tiny parking spots and very uneven roads with tight turns. Called the Mobilio Prototype, it features a compact size, while still offering a large interior with seating for up to seven people. It even has ground clearance as high as 7.3 inches, which is in SUV territory and is powered by a gasoline 1.5 liter 4-cylinder. The company will also introduce a new hatchback, called the Brio Satya that gets nearly 50 mile-per-gallon with its gasoline powered 1.2 liter engine. Both vehicles will be built at a new plant in Indonesia that will start production in early 2014 and along with its other plant in the region, Honda expects an annual production capacity of 200,000 units.

Coming up next, a look at how converting fleet vehicles to run on propane can save a lot of money.

On Autoline This week, the topic is all about propane. In the following clip Edgar Benning from the Flint, Michigan Mass Transit Authority, explains how even without federal incentives, fleet operators can save a boatload of money by converting to propane.

(The Autoline This Week soundbite is only available in the video version of today’s show.)

Also joining John for that show is Abe Stephenson from the Dish Network and Denis Gallagher from the Student Transportation of America. You can watch that entire show right now at our website,

And that’s it for today’s show. Thanks for watching and have a great weekend.

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61 Comments to “AD #1219 – Marchionne Taps Bloom, Chrysler Gets Hands On, Infiniti to “De-Americanize” its Cars”

  1. ColoradoKid Says:

    SAAB story …. the real one ;

    Fact is the two 9-3′s built were only manufactured in order to assure that the long unused assembly line was still functional … with little or no ‘ new ‘ parts included …. nor will either be available for sale … both destined to either be scrapped …. or used as test mules . As for the EV 9-3′s … at best their future is in limbo

    The reality at present being …. SAAB has about as much a chance of making a comeback at this juncture as a snowball has of surviving the depths of Hades / GM paying back all its bailout funds/ Our Congress and Senate being able to agree on much of anything / or ObamaClaus coming to his senses when it comes to handing out our hard earned tax dollars on every Tom , Dick and Harry’s HS Science Fair Project while ignoring the infra structure needs of this great country

    Which is to say unfortunately …. SAAB … is ” Dead Man Walking ” personified .


    Infiniti De-Americanizing …… thats kind of funny and in fact more than a bit Ironic when one considers the lengths an efforts Infiniti’s marketing department has gone thru to convince the consumer they ARE the BMW /Mercedes alternative . Hysterical actually if you think about it

    So Infiniti … ” Is You Is or Is You Aint ” …. the BMW/Mercedes alternative … or an ‘ Americanized ‘ badge engineered Japanese ‘ luxury ‘ car ?

    Inquiring minds want to know ;-)

  2. ColoradoKid Says:


    Lets get the facts straight about Marchionne’s attempts to acquire the UAW’s VEBA HC Trust Fund .

    Sergio does not want to ‘ Buy ‘ those shares .

    What he wants is to blatantly and with intent rip the UAW and its members blind by ‘ Stealing ‘ them for literally pennies on the dollar .

    Because …… no solitary Financial Market on the Planet will allow FIAT SpA an IPO ( because FIAT SpA refuses to divulge its P&L’s ) FIAT in and of its self is on the verge of an absolutely financial crash …. and the Italian government is telling Sergio ” No Bailouts For You ” partly because Italy cannot afford it … and partly because Sergio has lied to the Italian government and Unions so often both have finally said …… Basta

    Anda atsa da facts about L’Stronzetto Marchionne as they stand .

    Ciao !

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    Toyota needs to make the Yaris more upmarket and competitive with its rivals and then bring the Aygo here to go against the Fiat 500 and Spark and forget about that God-awful IQ they sell as a Scion, it’s an embarrassment to the brand!

  4. Bradley Says:

    That Honda looks like a Subaru, I hope Subaru is selling in Indonesia.

  5. Jon M Says:

    Hmmm…I wonder if Honda brought their Mobilio prototype and actually sold it in the U.S. what it would be called? Let see, a compact size, seating for 7, and a 7.3″ ground clearance. Whatever the debate, it would surely be a (fill in the letter)UV. Sorry, though, the letters C and S are already taken.

  6. Wayne G. Says:

    In that Chrysler is making good money these days, and fiat is not, the UAW should hold its ownership share and if possible buy Fiat shares. At least this way they can maintain some control of the company. I’d hate to see the day when a Chrysler is nothing more than a rebadged Alpha-Romeo.

  7. ColoradoKid Says:

    Pedro – #3 – +1 !!!

  8. ColoradoKid Says:

    #5 – Perhaps the Honda ‘ Microbus ‘ ? … Ehhh … probably not seeing as how VW owns the name despite having no future intentions of ever bringing it back to life …. unfortunately

    Errr …. but ahhh …. in light of todays news ..

    … maybe its better that Honda doesn’t … bring the Mobilio here that is ;-)

  9. ColoradoKid Says:

    ‘ Worst Car ever Owned ‘ survey ( Bangshift )

    If you tally the numbers you’ll find the majority named in the survey are #1 GM products …. and #2 VW-Audi

    Anyone really surprised about that ? Though not .


  10. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ CK: I posted the two worst I have ever bought/owned.

  11. C-Tech Says:

    Just a thought about the low-cost Valero lidar system from yesterday, could they make it small enough to add to a cell phone or Ipod to warn the clueless, self absorbed, pedestrian that they are about to wander into incoming traffic? it would also make a great addition for children’s outdoor toys to warn kid’s and their parent’s that they should be paying attention to incoming cars.

  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    #8 CK where is the info you’re referring to? I only see the article there about the Chrysler Pacifica, a car I always thought was present decent (M-B derivative)

  13. Phoenix Mark Says:

    @Jon M #5,

    How about UUV, Urban Utility Vehicle?

  14. C-Tech Says:

    @ #5 Add some chrome and an elelectric motor it could be a HUV Los Hollywood Utility Vehicle

  15. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Nooz phlash:

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    #14 that same Autoguide did a comparo between an Accent and a Sonic and the Sonic lost, more expensive and not as refined, per their report/test.

  17. ColoradoKid Says:

    G.A. Branigan #10

    And I’ll bet without even looking at least one’s a JEEP ;-)


    Pedro – 12 – Huh ??? I just tried the link and it took me right to the Honda recall article …. :(


    Honda Mobilio rename …. best on offer so far IMO

    #14 – C-Tech’s Hollywood Utility Vehicle …. which of course by implication means it’ll have no utility what so ever ;-)

  18. ColoradoKid Says:

    Pedro – #12 – Methinks I sees the problem …. you meant my #9 not #10 … and if so you need to read the comments below to see what I’m talking about … of which I’m glad to see C-Tech and G.A. added theirs in as well ( cheers guys )

    Hee Hee .. I just knew G.A.’d have to include at least one JEEP in his comment there ….

  19. ColoradoKid Says:

    ….. oops … meant my #9

  20. ColoradoKid Says:

    ahhhhhh…. more coffee …. more coffee ….

  21. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Yup,# 2 for being,well….#2,lol.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    yes I meant #9 I knew about the Honda recalls yesterday

  23. ColoradoKid Says:

    Honda Mobilio

    So after they do C-Tech’s HUV ( #14 ) then they can create either a Honda or Acura variant and call it the PUV – Portlandia Utility Vehicle ( or P U for short ) .Pretty much the same thing C-Tech’s aiming at only for the ‘ Hipster’ generation …

    Jeeze I hate ‘ Hipsters ‘ ..especially the Portlandia ones

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    For me it has to be the Buick X-car, even though my mom had a horrendously bad 6 cyl Camaro that as bad as it was for a senior citizen, I could not stand it either and I was only in my 30′s then. Runner-up my aunt’s Corsica and my GF’s Chevette, does anyone see a pattern here?

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The worst car I’ve had was a first-year J car, a J2000 wagon. While it had a flywheel end crank seal leak early on, and rain water came in through the bottom of the driver’s door, it wasn’t nearly as bad as cars I hear others describe.

  26. cwolf Says:

    RE#9: CK, you should have been a statistician! Never in my life have I ever seen anyone better derive conclusions fitting of ones beliefs. What is more important to draw attension to about the GM vehicles mensioned is the fact the vast majority were 20-30 years old! Duh!!

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Might one of the Audis have been a certain S4 Avant that has been mentioned here on occasion?

  28. cwolf Says:

    Now that most autos of like models look pretty much the same, I think it humorous of the way to de-americanize a vehicle only consists of putting a smaller engine under the hood.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Infiniti is just doing a little of what the European luxury brands have done all along, offering power trains that are market-specific. Many Benz E-Classes are sold in Europe with 4 cylinder diesel, which you can’t get in the U.S. Meanwhile, the E350 gasser would be a small percentage of E sales in Europe. If Infiniti wants to be global brand, they need to offer more power trains, and more car models.

  30. cwolf Says:

    I think Infinity is a good product,but their prices are hard to justify, thus making entry into global markets even more difficult.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If you look at it objectively, the prices of all “luxury” brands are hard to justify. Is an E-class or 5 series really worth almost twice as much as a loaded Accord? I don’t think so.

  32. cwolf Says:

    Point well taken. On the flip side, Infinity has comparable luxury comforts and ride but lack the performance and handling of the rivals it will face of comparable price, even if buyer perceptions are more perceived than real. I may be very wrong, but if Infinity is not careful upon entering the Euro market they may raise eyebrows,as Lincoln has done in thinking they are a comparable luxury brand. I like Lincoln, but must say they are not there yet.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Infiniti is a lot closer than Lincoln to competing with the Euro brands, at least in cars, but I suspect they will have a hard time making much of a dent in sales of E-Class and 5 series, unless they undercut them in price.

    Putting the Daimler 4 cylinder diesel in an Infiniti should help get some sales, but wouldn’t most Europeans probably rather have a Benz with the same engine, for the same price?

  34. cwolf Says:

    Our thoughts have come together:

    Putting the Daimler 4 cylinder diesel in an Infiniti should help get some sales, but wouldn’t most Europeans probably rather have a Benz with the same engine, for the same price?

    Infinity will have to cut prices or give the buyer something special the others don’t have. Since the Japananese reliability seems to be in decline and recalls abounding, Infinity is going to need a magic rabbit’s foot.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If Infiniti would sell their Q50, or whatever they call it, in the U.S. with the 4 cylinder diesel, there would be some market, since Mercedes won’t sell we Americans an E-Class that way.

  36. ColoradoKid Says:

    First off …. is say a Mercedes E Class worth substantially more than a fully loaded Honda .

    Well ….. when you look at the overall quality – fit – finish – performance – seamless operation – ease of use – comfort – handling etc …… you’re damn right it is ! Definitely a case of a $100 package thats well worth the $100 your spending for it . The Three pointed star on the snout can sometimes be an annoyance … but believe me … with the exception of the new FWD Benz’s ….. Mercedes ( as well as BMW ) are worth every penny in the long run .

    But !!!! …. Is say either an Infiniti / Lexus or an Audi …. all of which ( with only a couple of exceptions ) are badge engineered versions of their lessers … worth substantially more than said loaded Accord ?

    Hell No ! Thats a case of a $20 package being wrapped in a bit of paper and bows and being sold for $100

    As far as Daimler diesels boosting Infiniti’s Euro sales ? I wouldn’t bet on it . They’ve taken to ( some of ) Lexus’s offerings despite no diesels … but have no love what so ever for anything Infiniti has on offer

    Come to think about it .. Infiniti from day one here has been the also ran of the luxury bunch as well …. especially in comparison to their Japanese rivals … Lexus and Acura

    Hmmn … come to think of it ….. Infiniti’s parent company Nissan as well as Renault isn’t holding up to well of late either .

    So …. maybe Nissan/Infiniti/Renault needs to head over to Subaru for a few lessons ?

  37. ColoradoKid Says:

    35 – Like Wagons ….. the majority of Americans do not want diesel luxury sedans . Fact is the majority of Americans do not want diesel … period … excepting maybe in their P/U’s and occasionally their SUVs

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, and E-Class is worth more than an Accord, but is an E-350 with vinyl seats worth $25-30 thousand more than a loaded V-6 Accord that accelerates about the same, rides almost as well, has as much or more cabin space, etc.? Of course, the Benz is worth it to some people, but looking at it objectively, of course it’s not “worth” the price difference. Yes, I’d much rather have the Benz.

    VW has a fairly high “take rate” for diesels, but no one else does in the U.S. VW has been the only company selling actual high mpg diesels in America, though. We’ll see how the Cruze does, and the 4 cylinder diesels BMW will soon be selling. Now that Mercedes has “federalized” their 4 cylinder diesel for the GLK, maybe they should try selling the E-Class with that engine. The current E 350 diesel doesn’t sell well, because its V6 diesel doesn’t have enough fuel economy advantage over the E350 gas for it to make sense, given the price of diesel fuel, the urea, etc. An E250d would do much better, and would still have adequate acceleration.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It almost seems that BMW and Mercedes WANT their wagons not to sell well, given that both companies have AWD mandatory on the ones they sell here. Most people who buy SUV’s want AWD. Most people who buy cars don’t want AWD, and wagons are cars, not SUV’s. That’s why I like them.

  40. cwolf Says:

    Given Euro sales below previous years,with a few up-tics predicted, car sales are to remain flat at least a couple more years. Ford’s new intro’s are meant to gain market share, as a result, and are in a good position to do so. However, Infinity and other Asian brands are not as advantageous. I view this situation as a failed attempt to “keep ones foot in the door” which will require deep pockets before any positive results and profits are realized.

  41. HtG Says:

    Vhut?! Of course I’d rather have the Benz. But I would look at Johann deNysschen’s record at Audi, and let him have a few years to build Infiniti. Unbelievable that VW passed him over and now zhey muust zhe piper, no?

  42. HtG Says:

    36 “The Three pointed star on the snout can sometimes be an annoyance …”


  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In the U.S., some of the Infinitis are relative bargains among rear drive “entry luxury” cars. I suspect they will need to be relative bargains to have much of a chance in Europe.

  44. HtG Says:

    When we had the G20, I’d get the more powerful rear engine G loaners from the dealer. Those things could haul some ass, especially when they remapped the throttle to just launch the car. Very thirsty cars, you could almost see the gas gauge going down on the highway.

  45. cwolf Says:

    “…and it drives BETTER than the German competition.”

    Like the energizer bunny, they just keep going and going…!(:>))))

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Will there be a Daimler-Nissan-Renault, like a new Daimler-Chrysler? Things seem to be moving in that direction.

  47. MJBTV Says:

    Whats wrong with you all concerning Propane. Doesn’t anyone realize when distribution falls into the hands of big oil propane will cost much more. Look what happened to diesel. It used to be cheaper than gas, then I turn around and now it’s more expensive than gas and diesel is the by product of gas production. Go figure, we the public are being ripped off on every turn we make. Sign me sick of it.

  48. T. Bejma Says:


    Looks like the article you referenced the other day may have been a leak about Fiat taking over VM Motori.

    The official announcement from yesterday…

  49. T. Bejma Says:

    Worst car I ever owned was a 1999 Chevy Cavalier Z24. Terrible ride, terrible shifting, terrible engine, clutch blew at 100K. Only redeeming quality was the ok looks with Z24 rockers and spoiler.

    Just goes to show how far GM has come. My Cobalt was 10 times better than the Cavalier and the Cruze is 100 times better than the Cobalt. To the point, I would say the the Cruze is the BEST car I have owned.

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    Back in 1990 I rented a 2 door Cav. while my 86 Camry was in the shop, let me just say that even though the Chevy was almost new, I could not wait to get back to my 4 yr old, 100+k mi car, that rental looked and drove like it was at the end of its rope.

  51. ColoradoKid Says:

    Autonomous Cars .. the Dream of Futility … and why ;

    And for the record …. if human beings are idiots ( which far too many of us are ) …. what does that say about the machines we ‘ idiots ‘ create ?

    Think about that one for a minute …. ;-)

  52. pedro fernandez Says:

    Speaking of idiots, I just saw a video of a guy showing off his new Tesla and playing around with the on-board laptop as he drove, how careless and dangerous this thing is, next time I see one on the road, I’m gonna make sure I get in front of it and stay there as long as I can. I need the rear end painted anyway.

  53. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ TB: At least we now have something definitive ?
    And then there’s this:

  54. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Gm aside for a moment,let’s talk about Nissan.Specifically the upcoming Titan diesel. It was no secret that the DOE/Cummins/and Nissan were working on the ISF 2.8L I4 clean diesel.I’ve even seen picks of the Titan mule being used.

    THEN….Nissan announced that the 5.0L V8 Cummins was to go into the new Titan,and no word on the 2.8 anymore.I say that all along Nissan planned on using the V8 Cummins in the full size and that a new redesigned Frontier will get the 2.8.

    What does this mean to me? I would say that not only is the 1/2 pickup market going to change,but we will see a resurgence of the midsize pu’s all with a diesel option.I am a happy camper because FINALLY some oems are listening to the buying public,especially with 1/2 ton sizes ever increasing along with stupid msrp’s.JMHO…

  55. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ll be surprised if the Titan diesel gets good enough mpg to make sense, if used lightly loaded. The engine is too big. Also, doesn’t the Titan generally suck compared to the others, or have they improved it? The 2.8 should be good in the Frontier.

    As with diesel cars, people will need to make serious reality checks before buying the light duty diesel pickups. If you pay an extra $4000 for the engine, it will take a long time to pay for itself if it only gets 20% better mpg, a good guess for the 5 liter V8 Titan, and on fuel that costs 10% more than gas. Of course, some people will buy them just because they like diesels.

  56. G.A.Branigan Says:

    For the Ram 1500 diesel,it’s a 2850 dollar option over the hemi,which is a 1k+ option.But your looking at a diesel that is certified for B20,and enjoys 10K mile oil changes and of course the great low rpm torque for towing a camper/boat etc.

    The Cummins V8 diesel though I still don’t see a need for that in a 1/2 ton.To say it would be overkill is an understatement,and you know how I love diesel anything.

    For me now,not pulling a trailer of any sort,just regular driving where I live it’s all pretty much mountains.With my last diesel, (VM 2.8L) we could run up those hills all day long and it never downshifted,just the torque and cruise control kept us at speed and rpm like the hills weren’t even there.That got us 30+ mpg without trying.

    But,that was an 06.Before DPF/DEF.So I’m thinking an easy 28+ hwy mpg for a midsize pu 4×4.The 2.8 that I was referring too was in a Jeep Liberty 4×4,around the same weight maybe.Maybe a bit less.We’ll see.The increase in price for fuel sux,but I’m still okay with it,cause I want another diesel.

  57. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve had one diesel, a VW 1.9 TDI/5 speed manual Jetta wagon. I liked the car, but I couldn’t even get the recommended oil, except at a dealer. I’d consider another diesel sometime, if anyone other than VW would ever sell a high mpg diesel “compact” wagon or hatch, without 4 wheel drive. I’d even consider splurging on something like the 4 cylinder diesel 3 series wagon, except that it is sold only with 4 wheel drive in the US.

    I’d consider another VW, if their reputation improves, and if the dealers improve in number and quality.

  58. HtG Says:

    Yes, that’s fine, Mr. Mercedes SL550 driver. You just pull away from me at ~80mph around a turn where half the time, SmokeyBear is waiting. I’ll let you go. In the words of Sheriff Beauford T. Justice, ‘nice ass.’

  59. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit: Isn’t the chevy Cruze supposed to come out with a hatch here in the USA? With the 2.0L VM,it should be a real economical ride,although I don’t know if it would be offered with a manual..

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I think there are rumors that they might sell the hatch here. I suspect the manual is unlikely.

  61. T. Bejma Says:

    Had a fun time today taking my friend’s 2013 Camaro ZL1 for a spin. Handles like it is on rails and acceleration that not too many vehicles in the world can beat. Fun times. Still trying to get the grin off my face :-)