February 26th, 2009 at 12:00pm
General Motors announced its financial results today and the numbers are worse than expected. An analyst predicts Chrysler won’t make it through the year. Toyota slashes its production by more than a quarter. All that and more, plus a look at the all-new 2010 Toyota Prius.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. GM’s losses are worse than expected. An analyst predicts Chrysler will go out of business. And Toyota slashes production.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, February 26, 2009. And now, the news.
General Motors announced its financial results today and the numbers are worse than expected. Revenue fell by $31 billion, and the company lost $31 billion. In the fourth quarter revenue fell by $16 billion and it lost nearly $10 billion. Most worrying, GM lost money everywhere in the world, including Asia and Latin America, which had been making money. And it burned through more than $5 billion in cash in the last three months of the year. Grim news indeed.
And it just gets grimmer. Industry analyst Laurie Harbour-Felax predicts that Chrysler is doomed (subscription required). WardsAuto.com reports that she says the company won’t make it through the year, but she forecasts that some of its products will stick around, probably minivans, Ram pickups and Jeeps. She says Chrysler’s financial problems and the fact that Cerberus is dying to get out of the auto business sets the stage for something bad to happen. Let’s just hope she’s wrong.
We’ve been warning for months now that suppliers are teetering on the brink. The Wall Street Journal says that Visteon, which used to be part of Ford, is inching closer to bankruptcy (subscription required) after losing $663 million. And the French government is going to take a stake in Valeo (subscription required), the giant French supplier. But curiously the French government will only buy 19 million euros worth of stock, or a little over $24 million. That doesn’t sound like a lot of money now that we’re all getting used to talking about trillions and trillions these days.
Thousands of workers protested at GM Europe factories today, in the hopes to try and save their jobs. According to the Associated Press, the main rally was staged at Opel’s Rüsselsheim plant in Germany. Rallies and work stoppages were also planned at two other Opel factories, a Saab factory in Sweden and other GM units in Britain, Austria, France, Spain and Hungary.
According to an article from the Detroit Free Press, Toyota is slashing its production this year to only 6.3 million vehicles, a 27 percent drop. That’s down from 8.6 million last year, meaning it will build 2 million fewer vehicles. And that will affect our next report because…
Coming up next we’ll take a look at the all-new Toyota Prius.
The Toyota Prius is perhaps one of the most iconic cars of the past decade, even though sales aren’t great at the moment, it’s still the most popular hybrid around. And now the all-new, third-generation Prius will soon go on sale.
The Prius is built on a new platform and the hybrid system is 90 percent newly developed. Under the hood it’s powered by a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine. Toyota estimates the Prius will get 50 miles-per-gallon.
The all-new hybrid is instantly recognizable as a Prius but there are slight differences. The overall height is the same, but the top of the roof is pushed 4 inches to the rear. It has the same wheelbase but the overall length is slightly increased. Also, the cargo area was expanded by using a new and an improved layout of the battery cooling unit.
Weight saving steps were taken in order to help improve fuel economy. Taken together, the inverter, motor and transaxle are smaller and 20 percent lighter. And the use of aluminum in the hood, rear hatch, front suspension axle and brake calipers further reduce weight.
There are three driving modes. EV-Drive Mode allows driving on battery power alone at low speeds for about a mile. There is also a Power Mode, which increases sensitivity to throttle input for a sportier feel, and an Eco Mode, which helps drivers achieve their best mileage.
The Prius is available with many features. A multi-information display that monitors fuel and energy consumption is standard. An available sliding glass moonroof is packaged with solar panels to power a new ventilation system. And amenities like Intelligent Park Assist, and a backup monitor, with voice-activated navigation are available. And it also features Safety Connect, Toyota’s version of OnStar.
Pricing for the 2010 Prius will be announced before it goes on sale this spring. Toyota seems to be waiting for Honda to announce the price of the new Insight, while Honda seems to be waiting for Toyota to announce the price of the Prius. It’s like that old vaudeville routine, “After you my dear Alphonse.” “No, after you my dear Gaston.”
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.