February 20th, 2009 at 12:00pm
Saab has filed for bankruptcy and wants to concentrate all operations back in Sweden. The new secretary of Transportation is considering taxing drivers on how many miles they drive. Chery joins the race to come out with a plug-in electric. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit where we talk about GM and Chrysler’s viability plans.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Saab is filing for bankruptcy. You may get taxed on how many miles you drive your car. And Chery joins the race to come out with a plug-in electric.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, February 20, 2009. And now, the news.
Yesterday we reported that it could happen, and today it did. Saab has filed for bankruptcy. It wants to concentrate all design, engineering and manufacturing back in Sweden, and try to get the financing to recapitalize the company. But it’s hard to see how it can survive. Last year Saab only sold just under 94,000 cars worldwide. That’s well under half the capacity of one assembly plant, and you can’t build a global car company around half of an assembly plant.
The Associated Press reports that the new secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, is considering the introduction of a tax on vehicle miles driven. With the recession and with future fuel economy regulations expected to lower the use of gasoline and diesel, the government is worried about falling revenues from the gas tax. So it’s exploring the idea of dropping the gas tax and taxing how many miles you drive, instead. Look for an uproar to arise since this would involve GPS systems on cars tracking how many miles they’ve driven.
Just in case drivers aren’t distracted enough, the electronics division of Mitsubishi is building a compact Blu-ray disk player that’ll fit right in a car’s dashboard. Besides being able to play high-definition DVDs, the company is also working on getting the system to pickup terrestrial TV broadcasts. It’ll be in the market within the year.
Everyone’s racing to get electric vehicles to market, and China’s Chery may be one of the first to offer a plug-in. Gasgoo.com reports that the company rolled out an EV called the S18. It claims to have a range of 150 kilometers or roughly 94 miles with a top speed of 75 miles an hour. It uses iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries, and is expected to carry a sticker price of less than $15,000 when introduced within a year.
Porsche just celebrated the opening of its brand new museum in Stuttgart, Germany, even though it actually opened last month. It has more than 200 exhibits and holds up to 80 vehicles, including classic Porsche’s and motorsports vehicles. Porsche expects more than 200,000 visitors per year.
Rolls-Royce will unveil a concept at the Geneva Motor Show in a few weeks, called the 200EX. It’s a four door sedan that Rolls-Royce says will be the direction in design for its RR4 model that begins production in 2010. There aren’t too many details yet about the 200EX but it’s equipped with a new V12 and rides on 20 inch tires.
Coming up next, a preview of this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit where we talk about the viability plans GM and Chrysler submitted to the Feds. We’ll be back right after this.
This week on Autoline Detroit I’m joined by three industry colleagues – John Stoll from the Wall Street Journal, Tom Walsh of the Detroit Free Press and Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics. In the following preview clip we discuss some of the industry-wide problems caused by a stumbling U.S. economy.
If you want to hear the rest of my discussion with these industry experts you can watch the entire episode of Autoline Detroit on our website right now.
And that’s it for today’s show, but since it’s Friday that means I have to announce the winner of this week’s trivia contest. We challenged you to name all the different automakers that GM’s vice chairman and product czar Bob Lutz, has worked for. And the correct answer is, four. Bob Lutz has worked for GM, Chrysler, Ford and BMW.
As always my crack team has randomly selected today’s winner from the pool of correct responses. Pookie, the envelope please! What, no Pookie? Anyway, this week’s winner is… Delora Garland of Sherwood, Arkansas! Congratulations Delora, you’ve just won a beautiful hardcover book all about the history of Italdesign.
And that brings us to the end of today’s show, 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 next week.