April 17th, 2009 at 12:30pm
GM’s CEO Fritz Henderson held a press conference to give an update on GM’s status. Volkswagen may have outsold Toyota globally in the first quarter of this year. Fiat’s sales rose nearly 15 percent in Europe. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit with Neil De Koker of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Big update from GM. VW hits #1, we think. And Fiat’s sales shoot the moon.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, April 17, 2009. And now, the news.
GM’s CEO Fritz Henderson held a press conference today to give an update on GM’s status. But the big news is there was no news to announce. There is no agreement with the UAW, or the bondholders, and he hasn’t made a determination whether or not he’ll take the company into bankruptcy. Mr. Henderson did say Opel is doing better than expected, GM will keep AC Delco and he expects to select a buyer for Hummer by the end of this month. Why hold a press conference when there isn’t much to announce? Because it’s critical for GM to show the presidential task force that it’s doing everything in its power to turn itself around.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Steven Rattner, the head of the president’s task force on the auto industry, is under investigation, part of an alleged kickback scheme involving New York’s pension fund. Supposedly, investment firms, including Mr. Rattner’s were paying, fees (some say kickbacks) to politically connected consultants, who would then steer pension money to be invested by those investment firms. The Journal says Rattner informed the Treasury that this investigation was pending when he was being considered for the automotive task force.
Last week we reported that Volkswagen will pass GM in sales this year but it looks like the company won’t settle for being number two. Reuters reports that Volkswagen may have outsold Toyota globally in the first quarter of this year. VW sales are expected to be 1.4 million vehicles, while Toyota probably hit 1.2 million.
Meanwhile, Fiat’s sales are on fire. The AP reports they rose nearly 15%, while the rest of European sales fell 9 percent. And in Germany sales were up 200 percent for Fiat, thanks to the country’s cash for clunkers program. Fiat is the only European automaker to see its sales grow.
Happy Birthday Ford Mustang! It was 45 years ago today that Ford launched this iconic car. It quickly became a smash hit, selling 560,000 units its first year. It also kicked-off the ponycar segment. To help celebrate the occasion, Hyundai is giving Ford a pat on the back for four-and-a-half decades of fun. Autoblog reports that the company made a tribute video to celebrate the Mustang’s birthday. Now that’s classy. You can check out the rest of this short movie on the John’s Journal section of our website.
Lotus is developing technology to improve automotive sound. It’s working on eliminating certain noises and enhancing others. One system uses the car’s audio system to cancel undesirable interior noises for a quieter cabin. Another technology pumps engine sounds through the speakers. Sensors monitor the car’s speed and throttle input and it matches the sound accordingly. The company is also working on external speakers for use on quiet-running hybrid cars for better pedestrian safety.
Coming up next, a preview of this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit, we’ll be back right after this.
This week on Autoline I’m joined by Neil De Koker of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, Jewel Gopwani of the Detroit Free Press and Tom Murphy from WardsAuto.com. In the following preview, Neil De Koker talks about the supplier bailout and how a bankruptcy at GM or Chrysler would devastate the supply-side of the industry.
If you want to see the rest of this week’s episode of Autoline you can watch it on our website, AutolineDetroit.com right now.
Anyway, that does it for today’s show, except for one more thing. It’s time to announce the winner of this week’s trivia contest. We challenged you to name the bus GM used during the 1940s at its traveling “Parade of Progress” exhibition. And the correct answer is … it’s the Futurliner, the Futurliner. In the days before mass media, these streamlined busses traveled the country showing off GM’s latest technology. As always, my crack team has randomly selected today’s winner from the pool of correct responses. Pookie, the envelope please! And the winner is … Peter Tickle of Cape Carteret, North Carolina! Congratulations Pete, you’ve just won a copy of “American Car Design Now,” a book all about automotive styling.
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 next week.