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Episode 108 – Porsche Secures VW Stake, Ford Executive Pay Revealed, Obama Favors EVs

March 25th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:01

Porsche secured loans from several banks to help solidify its majority stake in Volkswagen. The Securities and Exchange Commission reveals how much Ford pays its top leaders. The Obama administration is shifting government funding from hydrogen fuel cells to electric vehicles. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions about our reports on the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Chevy Camaro in the “You Said It!” segment.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Hello, I’m Murray Feldman from Fox 2 news in Detroit. John McElroy is out of town on business today, so I’m filling in for him. He’ll be joining us via webcam later in the show to answer your letters, so stay tuned.

But, let’s get started: here are the day’s top headlines. Porsche looks ready to solidify its majority stake in VW. Ford reveals how much its executives make. And the Obama administration is focusing on electricity instead of hydrogen.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, March 25, 2009, and now, the news.

Porsche says it has secured a 10 billion euro loan from several banks to help it pay for Volkswagen shares and to solidify its majority stake in the company. According to the Associated Press, Porsche says under the agreement, it can extend the volume of the amount to 12.5 billion Euros. Porsche has been acquiring Volkswagen shares since 2005 and as of January this year, owns 51 percent of the company.

With the economy the way it is today, executive compensation has turned into a real hot-button issue. A recent statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveals how much Ford pays its top leaders. Company CEO Alan Mulally made 4.9 million dollars last year, excluding stock options. That’s a big chunk of change, but it’s almost 10 million dollars less than he was paid in 2007. Other top executives at Ford have also taken pay cuts and the company will not pay bonuses this year. The company’s cuts are not as drastic as those at GM and Chrysler, who are relying on public funds for survival.

Turning to fuel cells, the Obama administration is shifting government funding from hydrogen fuel cells to electric vehicles. According to the Detroit News, last month’s stimulus bill includes $2 billion in new battery research but no new money for hydrogen research. In February the National Hydrogen Association, which includes GM, Toyota, Honda, Daimler and BMW, asked the Energy Department to allocate $700 million from advanced energy research programs to hydrogen-related research.

Toyota is looking to reduce costs of its fuel cell stacks by 90 percent (subscription required) over the next 6 years as it prepares to introduce a fuel cell vehicle to market by 2015. According to Ward’s, the technology will likely first be applied to long-haul trucks and buses. The company is also looking to increase power density by 50 to 100 percent and increase the durability of the stack.

Ward’s Auto reports that Hyundai is officially pulling the plug on its slow-selling Entourage minivan (subscription required). The vehicle’s best year was 2007 when the company sold a little more than 17 thousand units. That’s a tiny number compared to the segment-topping Grand Caravan. Dodge delivered almost 180,000 units in the same year. Hyundai admits that the van’s mechanical twin, the Kia Sedona, has done better in the market. The company says that it does not need to compete in the minivan segment which will free up money for other vehicles.

In three years Peugeot/Citroen is expected to roll out a new, world car from its Shanghai technical and styling center. Gasgoo.com reports that the yet unnamed vehicle is expected to go on sale in global markets sometime around 2012. The company’s Shanghai facility opened in 2008 and represents a one billion Yuan, or roughly 150 million dollar investment in China.

Coming up, John McElroy’s here with your letters in 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 us a chance to respond. Like I mentioned earlier, McElroy is on the road today, but we’ve managed to get him on Skype for You Said It! Here he is, via webcam.

YoraRiderYamaRider commented on our test drive of the Ford Fusion hybrid when I said you can trick the system into EV mode. He says: “You’re not tricking the system. It was designed to use the engine to accelerate and then cruise in EV mode. The engine runs most efficiently under moderate loads (like on acceleration) and inefficiently under light loads (like cruising at 40-45mph). Stop trying so hard and just drive it.”

Yes, sir!

Cristian from Romania writes in to say, “I know a lot of guys here in Romania that are looking forward for each and every episode of Autoline Daily. I think that it would be great if you could “translate” for us continental Europeans, the car’s fuel consumption from mpg to l/100km.”

Thanks for that suggestion Cristian, and we will definitely report fuel economy in liters per 100 kilometers, as well as in miles per gallon.

We got a lot of comments on our report on the new Camaro. More than a few of you commented on the hard plastic interior. Pedro Fernandez wrote in to ask, “You have had many GM execs say that GM interiors were going to be the best in the world. Were they lying or exaggerating?”

Pedro, they weren’t lying. And the Camaro interior actually looks pretty good. But I was surprised to see the hard plastic. I imagine it came down to an issue of cost.

Thanks John. And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive. Again, I’m Murray Feldman from Fox 2 News Detroit. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you again tomorrow.

12 Comments to “Episode 108 – Porsche Secures VW Stake, Ford Executive Pay Revealed, Obama Favors EVs”

  1. Jim Says:

    Re: Ford Exec Pay.

    I work for Ford. Alan Mulally is worth every penny of that, if not way more. We can just let the results do the talking from here. Thanks.

  2. Tom Martin Says:

    Murray,
    Nice job, but you could loosen up a bit, which you did near the end. Just be yourself, rather than a J.M. clone.

  3. Tom Martin Says:

    After seeing the pay that those in the financial institutions, Alan Mulally is very underpaid.

    This is also supported since Ford’s quality is comparable with Japanese products, and Ford hasn’t requested government funding.

    However, I sure wish Ford would offer folding side mirrors in more of its cars.

  4. Tom Cain Says:

    President Obama is the LAST person we need deciding where propulsion research money should be spent! The optimum solution will only be found by researching as many options as possible.

  5. pedro Fernandez Says:

    To single out one technology over another for research dollars is a mistake. There should be work done in battery, hydrogen and yes even e85, its working in Brazil, so why not here.

  6. JIm Thykeson Says:

    The Obama administration is making a huge mistake by banking on EV’s over fuel-cells. Fuel-cells are powered by natural-gas, then the ‘fuel-cell’ transfers that gas into hydrogen which powers the electric drive motors. The advantage is no battery disposal problems, no waiting 8hrs. for a re-charge, plus natural gas is most prevelent in the US and Russia. Russia and the Asians are going to own this industry, while we screw around with this pie in the sky EV crap!

  7. Ed K. Says:

    Hydrogen is a hoax, and anyone that thinks a fuel cell will ever be affordable in their lifetime is smoking their lunch, wake up and smell the ethanol, you loons that think hydrogen is the big fix obviously aren’t well educated on the huge amount of problems that have to be overcome to make it a viable alternative to just about any other propulsion system.

  8. MJBTV Says:

    Yep as Ed K says, but to defend EV. New batteries are recyclable and a business in China owns the patent. Look at the BYD, Build Your Dreams Auto Company and look at the E6. A crossover, pure EV and the specs are 250 miles per charge and a 60 minute recharge time or go 50% charge in 10 minutes. The batteries will last 7 years. BYD began as a battery R&D company and has been supplying battery’s for laptops and cell phones for years. The E6 will be available in 2011. The battery? Lithium Ion Fe. BYD invented it.

  9. Gary Paul Says:

    Regarding the Camaro interior: Yes, GM is finally placing a high priority on interiors and I think this is bearing fruit on fresh models introduced over the last year or two. However, an even higher priority should be the emphasis on creating honest vehicles: Cars and trucks that are true to their defined mission. GM’s emphasis was to use resources for the Camaro where it would result in the best performance vehicle of this type—an emphasis on performance meaning the best handling, steering, shifting, braking & style obtained for the price. In this case, driving the vehicle at the limits should clarify that the decision to sacrifice some interior soft touch materials or options (such as a fully developed navigation system which apparently will not be offered), in order to pour development cash into excellent vehicle dynamics, was wise!

    It is interesting to note that Ford has done a solid job on its 2010 Mustang but has clearly chosen an emphasis on a refined interior with higher level materials, over the best performance parameters as illustrated by its mostly carryover base V6, and mildly reworked V8 for the GT.

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  12. Ivan Sears Says:

    As for the hard interior finishes on the Camaro, I don’t think it was anything other than program timing based upon the Malibu interior finishes. The Malibu actually started development later and earlier than the Camaro by months. False starts, do overs, rethinks, etc. delayed work on the Camaro. Soft interior surfaces are nice, but I wouldn’t throw the car out for that. Soft surfaces are usually more expensive as well. Unfortunately, sometimes. to keep sales price in line, you sacrifice one thing to allow another. Performance in this case!