Episode 125 – GM Reports On Its Status, VW Outsells Toyota?, Fiat’s Sales Boom

April 17th, 2009 at 12:30pm

Runtime 6:40

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.

9 Comments to “Episode 125 – GM Reports On Its Status, VW Outsells Toyota?, Fiat’s Sales Boom”

  1. craigerzgt Says:

    Good on Fritz for doing the press conference despite the lack of news to update. It’s an improved sign that GM is intent and willing to openly communicate, and even to the public about its current state of affairs. Sounds like this guy’s on the job, which is all we could hope for.

    Sounds like Germany’s clunker program seems to be a hit, and a good way to boost sales. How does it compare to what Canada and the US have planned? Could be a way to boost sales over here.

  2. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Hyundai to Ford: congrats on the 45th anniversary of the Mustang, now look at the car thats gonna kick your ass!

  3. Salvador G. Says:

    I think Fritz H. at this point its just copying Pres. Obama, you know holding a a press conference for “re-assuring the American public”; which is kind of pointless concidering GM’s is worth much more to some people when it finally goes under.

    And I wonder when it will be that some people (John McElroy) will get through their heads that Porsche owns VW (I know its not complete ownership, but thats just a matter of time) and for that matter AUDI, OK… you know how we called GM the top manufacturer in the world, even though there is no one car branded GM, its just that GM owns a lot of real car/trucks/etc. brands and in their combine sale We say GM’s, well same thing with Porsche. NO argue with me, you know its true.

    Finally, what cars is FIAT (who owns LANCIA, ALFA ROMEO and FERRARI) and FIAT brand, is selling in Germany???

  4. Richard Tait Says:

    FIAT is selling the following cars in Germany:

    Qubo, Croma, Bravo, Linea, 500, Grande Punto 3, Grande Punto 5, Panda, Sedici, Ulysse, and Doblo.

    Ypsilon, Musa, Delta, Phedra, and Thesis.

    Alfa Romeo:
    MiTo, 147, 159, 159 Sportwagon, GT, Brera, Spider, 8C Competizione, and 8C Spider.

    GranTurismo and Quattroporte.

    F430, F430 Spider, 430 Scuderia, 599 GTB Fiorano, and 612 Scaglietti.

    They sell various trucks under the IVECO brand, but we’ll leave that out of the list.

  5. Salvador G. Says:

    Sorry, I meant to ask… J.McElroy, What particular cars is FIAT outselling in Germany???

  6. Topics about Aprils-day » Episode 125 - GM Reports On Its Status, VW Outsells Toyota?,… Says:

    [...] Y101 Bonus Codes added an interesting post on Episode 125 – GM Reports On Its Status, VW Outsells Toyota?,…Here’s a small excerptThis is Autoline Daily for Friday, April 17, 2009. And now, the news. … It’s time to announce the winner of this week’s trivia contest. [...]

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:


  8. JIm Thykeson Says:

    John, why don’t you talk about that Opel
    blue-tec’ deisel sportscar that gets 118MPG and goes 140MPH! Why GM would keep this thing on the shelf while trying to make ‘Volt’ palatable is beyond me. See if you can find out about this thing.

  9. Edward Lipman Says:

    I think GM is making a BIG mistake by eliminating Pontiac! GMC should be eliminated as it sells the same vehicles that Chevrolet sells.
    GM should go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy , this will eliminate the onerous union contracts that have hobbled the auto industry.
    Why isn’t GM promoting its 30 mpg vehicles more aggressively?
    Thank You