March 25th, 2009 at 12:00pm
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.”
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.