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Episode 95 – GM More Open To Bankruptcy, Chery Wants Volvo, Tesla Looks For a Rat

March 6th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:31

GM management is open to a possible prepackaged bankruptcy, rather than filing for Chapter 11. Chery received approval to buy Volvo from Ford by China’s top economic planner. The CEO of Tesla has been caught trying to set a trap for his employees. All that and more, plus a look at some advanced technology Visteon is working on.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. GM is more open to bankruptcy. Chery gets the green light to buy Volvo. And Tesla tries to sniff out a rat.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, March 6, 2009. And now, the news.

As we reported yesterday, GM took a big step closer towards a Chapter 11 filing and that’s the top story in today’s Wall Street Journal. It reports GM management is not as opposed to bankruptcy as it had been, but in this case it’s more open to what they call a pre-packaged bankruptcy, which theoretically could be accomplished in 60 days. A Chapter 11 filing could take 18 months to complete. But a prepackaged bankruptcy also requires all of GM’s stakeholders to voluntarily agree to the cuts they would be forced to make under Chapter 11. So far they have not agreed to any of those cuts. And so the tension builds.

Amazingly Chrysler was the number one-selling brand last month – in Canada (subscription required). For the first time in its 84-year history the company beat all comers and topped the sales charts. All told it moved 12,015 vehicles. So, what do Canadians like? Well, the Dodge Journey was the country’s best-selling crossover while Grand Caravan sales were up 28 percent from last month. Also, the Caliber, Patriot and Compass trio saw sales swell by 31 percent compared to January.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla has been caught trying to set a trap for his employees. Autoblog reports that he tried to smoke out who’s been leaking confidential information to the press. He sent a series of slightly different e-mails to members of his team to see which version of the story got reported. Well, the scheme blew up in his face when one person forwarded their version of the message to others which made it obvious that something fishy was going on. The company’s official word on this subject? “No comment!”

News reports in China say Chery received approval to buy Volvo by China’s top economic planner. According to Gasgoo.com, Chery has not confirmed the report, and it says Donfeng Motors also submitted a plan to the Chinese government bidding for Volvo. And they’re not the only ones. Changan and Geely are rumored to be interested in buying Volvo too.

Coming up next, a look at technology Visteon is working on. We’ll be back right after this.

As we reported yesterday, Visteon is being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because it’s expected to file for bankruptcy. It’s a shame because the company is working on some impressive advanced technology. Recently Visteon opened its doors and showed some of what it wants to bring to market.

Check out this concept for integrated cockpit electronics. The unit is only one inch thick but all the electronics including iPod, Bluetooth and climate controls are integrated. This allows designers to be more creative in packaging and also features a cool touch pad that slides to adjust the controls.

Then there’s a Virtual Image Cluster which is just a thin piece of film, developed with 3M, that is 1 to 1.5 mm thick, which creates a virtual 3D image. Traditionally appliqués for instrument clusters are flat. Visteon’s appliqué impregnates a microlens array to the film to create depth and dimension from a visual standpoint instead of a physical one.

This Reconfigurable Instrument Cluster is digital, eliminating the need for moving gauges. The electronics can be reused so it can be packaged across different product lines, and customized or personalized with different skins, backgrounds and wallpapers. A driver can have a classic or futuristic looking instrument cluster if they choose. The technology is going to be launched in the first quarter this year but Visteon wouldn’t name the vehicle.

And the coolest idea from Visteon is its Stereoscopic 3D cluster. Advanced graphics create 3D images and a special optical film, also developed by 3M. This means your navigation system can display a real-world view of where you’re driving, making it much easier to figure out where you are.

Let’s hope Visteon is able to bring all this technology to the market.

OK, it’s Friday. Time to answer our trivia quiz, and like I said before, it’s a deuzy! We asked you to identify what this car is and no one got it right and we really didn’t expect you to, because I have to confess I didn’t even know what is was. But I have to thank my friend and colleague Mike Lamm from Stockton, California for sending this in. It’s a 1960 Koller which was built in Argentina for just one year.

A number of you sent in hilarious answers to what you thought it was and we’ll publish those in the John’s Journal section of our website later. But we liked the entry we got from Eric Carlson of Herndon, Virginia who said, “I have no idea what it is, but Mark Vaughn and I saw it with John eight years ago in Havana. ”

And he’s right. I was in Cuba with Eric and Mark Vaughn from Autoweek magazine and I think we did see one of those Koller’s there. Eric, you’ll be the envy of your friends and neighbors because you get this carrying case with a built in radio.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you Monday.

8 Comments to “Episode 95 – GM More Open To Bankruptcy, Chery Wants Volvo, Tesla Looks For a Rat”

  1. Jim Terruso Says:

    John,
    When Rick Wagoner was named CEO of GM, the stock was trading somewhere over $60. per
    share. Today the stock is at $1.80 a share,
    how does this guy keep his job?? Not to
    mention he was paid $14.5 mil. last year, as the company is nearing bankruptsy, I don’t
    get it !!

  2. Landis Odoms Says:

    GM is not going anywhere in its current state. GM in 1933 had some of these ideas. Sometimes you have to go back in order to go forward. This is dragging on and getting worse and things must change. Below is a chart of a GM I think would work. This would be post bankruptcy and government help.

    Chevrolet: as it is now

    Pontiac/Buick/Oldsmobile and GMC in the same showroom sales and marketing:

    Pontiac:
    Firebird/Trans Am
    GTO/Grand Prix
    Bonneville- fullsized rear drive high performance sedan

    Oldsmobile:
    Ninety Eight- GM’s only fullsized traditional American luxury car shares parts with Holden Caprice and Statesman
    Toronado- a personal luxury coupe or a 4 door personal luxury coupe
    Cutlass- rear drive midsized rear wheel drive sedan.( Holden Commodore/Calais)
    Custom Cruiser- Holden Commodore wagon in Calais trim

    Buick:

    LaCrosse- fwd/awd premium midsized mid luxury car
    Enclave- crossover
    Regal- fwd midsized entry luxury sedan sedan

    GMC: as it is now

    Cadillac: Ultra world class luxury
    CTS- BMW 5 Series/Mercedes Benz E-Class fighter ( and derivatives)
    STS- 4 door personal luxury coupe
    ETC- high end ultra luxury coupe
    DTS- BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class fighter( Cadillac Sixteen)
    SRX- Lexus RX and midsized crossover and SUV fighter
    BTS- BMW 3 Series and Lexus IS and Mercedes C – Class fighter

    Notice fewer cars, three sales channels.

    Outside the United States GM will be:

    Holden,Opel,Vauxhall and Daewoo.

    Thank you

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Wagoner is a loser and should have been canned years ago.So GM MIGHT be open to PP BK??Oh,how big of them.Thinking like that has brought them to where they are now.Visteon looks like they have a great handle on the future.Ford shouldn’t be so fast in selling them off.As for the chinese taking over Volvo,cool.Volvos are an excellent car maker,but they don’t have an economy line,and in these economic woes they will need at least one.Why they never did it before is beyond me.Oh yeah….HEY VISTEON,if gm makes you an offer….RUN THE OTHER WAY !!

  4. Merv Peters Says:

    John,another fine week of reporting whats relevant to us car guys. Kudos to you for a job “well done”.

  5. pedro Fernandez Says:

    At this point, there’s no one who could get GM out of the mess its in, not even all the money in the Federal reserve, they are beyond saving, only by filing chapter 11, becoming a lean effecient company making good desirable products will they stand a chance but if they keep the same bonehead management and business philosophy they are doomed

  6. Joe Nagy Says:

    Hi John:

    Greetings from the nice and warm ‘Valley of the Sun’.

    I searched through today’s show, looking for the identity of the Mystery Car Quiz, and could not find it. I simply must know what it was, I made a guess but you said yesterday that no one had guessed it correctly. Please let us know what it is.

    Many thanx, and best regards from Glendale, Arizona,

    Joe Nagy.

  7. Joanne Nott Says:

    I like your daily reports, it keeps me up today on the stuff going on that you sometimes do not hear about. Keep up the great work!

  8. John McElroy Says:

    @Joe,

    We gave the answer in Friday’s show, but to save you looking it up, it’s a 1960 Koller that was made in Argentina for that one year!