March 30th, 2009 at 12:00pm
Rick Wagoner, the CEO of General Motors, is forced to resign by the President of the United States. Peugeot Chairman Christian Streiff was ousted by its board. Chrysler could be on the verge of closing its operations in Canada if it can’t reach a deal with the CAW. All that and more, plus a look at the redesigned 2010 Lexus RX crossover.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Bombshell City, the CEO of General Motors is forced to resign by the President of the United States. Peugeot fires its chairman. And Chrysler could be on the verge of closing its operations in Canada.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Monday, March 30, 2009. And now, the news.
Well, no doubt you’ve all heard by now that Rick Wagoner is the ex-chairman and CEO of GM. He was asked to step down by the White House. Fritz Henderson, who was COO, now steps into CEO position. Kent Kresa, who has been on the board of directors since 2003, now becomes interim chairman. I’d say, look for most of the board to get sacked and replaced with fresh blood.
What’s going on? Here’s my read. President Obama said he is going to support the domestic auto industry, even though a strong majority of the American people are dead set against giving more money to the industry. Republicans are against it and so are many Democrats. So the President needs political cover and firing Rick Wagoner makes the President look decisive and in control. That makes it easier to support the industry. And, that will also make it easier for the Administration to force the United Auto Workers union to agree to more concessions.
And then there’s Chrysler. The Administration is giving Chrysler 30 days to finalize a merger with Fiat, and get rid of almost all of its debt. If Chrysler fails to do that the government will not give it any more money and will force it to go straight into liquidation. Meanwhile, Chrysler says it is still far from reaching an agreement to cut $20 an hour from its labor costs with the Canadian Auto Workers union. Tomorrow is the deadline to reach an agreement with the CAW and if it fails to do so, Chrysler says it is pulling all of its manufacturing operations out of Canada.
Rick Wagoner isn’t the only auto executive who lost his job this weekend, Peugeot Chairman Christian Streiff was ousted by the board. According to the AFP, the board replaced Streiff with Philippe Varin, who will take over on June 1. Streiff had been at his position for two years but the company lost $450 million last year and announced it will layoff 11,000 employees as well.
In other French auto industry news, Renault announced it will receive a 400 million Euro loan from the European Investment Bank. The money is part of 3 billion Euro package the EIB approved for the auto industry.
Finally, some fun stuff. After a decade of trying, Englishman Richard Jenkins has smashed the world land speed record for wind-powered vehicles. The BBC reports that his wild-looking carbon fiber car, called the Greenbird, clocked a top speed of 126.1 miles an hour on a dry plain in Nevada. It easily beat the previous record of 116 miles per hour that’s stood since 1999. Jenkins spent 10 years designing the Greenbird, which looks more like an airplane than a car. It’s the fifth wind-powered vehicle he’s built.
Coming up next, a look at the redesigned 2010 Lexus RX crossover, we’ll be back right after this.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 12 years since Lexus introduced its first-generation RX crossover.
The roomy, car-based utility was one of the earliest to hit the market when it came out in 1998. It was an immediate hit too, helping grow Lexus sales by 60 percent!
Today, the RX is the brand’s best-selling product; a title the company expects the redesigned 2010 model to maintain. Not one to mess with success, Lexus took a somewhat cautious approach with its latest update.
One of the first things you notice about the new RX is that the styling is very similar to today’s model. This is because the company wanted it to look familiar to its very loyal customers. It’s also roughly the same size, but Lexus made it a tiny bit bigger in all the major dimensions.
Inside it’s a different story. The Lexus L-Finesse design language is pronounced. The dashboard has wild swoops and contours. It’s very different looking compared to its predecessor. Along with the redesigned interior there’s a brand-new user interface. The navigation system and other features are accessed through a console-mounted control knob, but don’t think it’s anything like BMW’s iDrive. Lexus didn’t make that mistake.
The ‘Remote Touch’ interface works just like a computer mouse and even offers haptic feedback to help you navigate through menus. It gives the control knob subtle resistance as you move the mouse cursor over items on the screen. It almost feels like the pointer dips into a little valley or something. It’s very slick and easy to use.
Tomorrow we’ll take a peek at some of the nuts and bolts mechanical aspects of the 2010 Lexus RX and we’ll look at some more of its innovative features, you won’t want miss it.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget to join us again this Thursday evening for another live broadcast of Autoline After Hours. Jason Vines and Peter DeLorenzo will be back, talking about the bombshell that just hit GM. Thanks again for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.