Episode 126 – Opel To Go For Next To Nothing, EPA Considers E15, Porsche Panamera Unveiled

April 20th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 5:55

General Motors may sell Opel for next to nothing. The EPA is taking public comments on its plans to boost cars’ capabilities to run on ethanol. Porsche has finally, formally unveiled its Panamera sedan at the Shanghai Auto Show. All that and more, plus a look at some new features on the 2010 Toyota Prius.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. GM may sell Opel for next to nothing. The EPA is interested in E15. And Porsche officially unveils the Panamera.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, April 20, 2009. And now, the news.

The Financial Times reports that General Motors may sell Opel for next to nothing. GM wants 500 million Euros to sell Opel, but would pour all of that money back into the German-based automaker. And it wants the deal done in the next 2 to 3 weeks. GM relies on Opel for the development of mid-size cars platforms used around the world, including the American market. And Opel relies on GM for production volume, capital and technology. So who ever ends up buying Opel will still be doing business with GM for some time to come.

In the United States the Environmental Protection Agency is taking public comments on its plans to boost cars’ capabilities to run on ethanol. Currently, all cars sold in the American market can run on E10, or 10 percent ethanol. The EPA is considering boosting that to E15.

Canadian Chrysler workers burned memos sent to them by top management (subscription required). According to Ward’s, the memos said that the CAW’s refusal to compromise “. . . jeopardizes the future of Chrysler and its operations in Canada”. Chrysler is asking its workers for wage concessions and it looks like the workers already provided their answer.

General Motors and Chinese automaker SAIC launched a vehicle called the Shanghai Brand Fuel-Cell Vehicle for SAIC. It’s powered by GM’s fourth generation fuel-cell system, a modified version of the one that’s been fitted to the Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell. Ten vehicles will be built to demonstrate the technology in China.

Electronics use all different kinds of power cords – even products made by the same manufacturer. With plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles just around the corner, SAE and GM are looking to avoid this problem. Autoblog reports that the two organizations are working to develop a standard plug for all electric vehicles. This will save owners the headache of needing an adapter to charge their vehicles and will make public charging stations easier to implement.

Photos have been available for months, but Porsche has finally, formally unveiled its Panamera sedan at the Shanghai Auto Show. As expected, it’s a stylish four-door GT car with some serious muscle. It’s powered by a 4.8-liter V8 that’s either naturally-aspirated or turbocharged. Output is 400 or 500 horsepower, respectively. A hybrid version will be available in 2011 and Audi’s new, supercharged V6 will be sold in some markets. Among other things, it offers a start-stop system with the automatic transmission and optional air suspension. The Panamera set to go on sale this fall with a starting price around $90,000.

Coming up next, a look at new features on the 2010 Toyota Prius. We’ll be back right after this.

The all-new Toyota Prius is about to go on sale. To go along with a new design and a mostly new hybrid system, the vehicle has some other new features as well.

One of the more interesting options available for the car is a new ventilation system that keeps the car cooler during warm, sunny days while the car is parked. The unique part of the system is it’s powered by solar panels packaged with the moonroof and does not require engine assist.

Another feature of the solar panel package is remote start for the air-conditioning system. Power is drawn from the hybrid battery and runs up to three minutes until the door is opened or unlocked. It’s the first system in the world to function on battery-power alone.

To help keep drivers eyes on the road, audio, climate and display controls, were put on the steering wheel. When the driver touches the switch, a duplicate image is displayed on the instrument panel.

Also displayed in the instrument panel are graphics designed to help the driver achieve the best fuel economy possible. One shows performance to encourage smoother acceleration and braking. You want to keep the indicator in the Eco icon range. If you accelerate too hard the indicator will move right, meaning you’re getting the worst performance. And during braking the indicator will move toward the left by the battery icon.

There are several other graphics you can toggle between. One shows, energy flow between the battery, motor and engine and also the charge of the battery. Another displays fuel consumption over a 1 or 5 minute period. And it can display a record of past fuel consumption.

In addition to these unique features, the Prius is also available with Intelligent Park Assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and also Safety Connect, Toyota’s version of OnStar.

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 tomorrow.

17 Comments to “Episode 126 – Opel To Go For Next To Nothing, EPA Considers E15, Porsche Panamera Unveiled”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Kudos to the CAW.Burned the memos too.What are you going to tell your children why you don’t work anymore? many of you are going to lose your homes too,you must be real proud of yourselves right about now.Guess you showed Chrysler just how much you wanted to work there.Hell,you just showed the world.

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I don’t understand why GM would “give away” Opel/Vauxhall when it really needs their technology for the future. I would think Opel would be a huge asset to GM in North America when gas goes back up to $4.00+ and stays there, which will probably be sooner than most people would like. The article seem to indicate that an Opel separate from GM would still supply technology and platforms to GM, but why not keep it part of GM?

  3. pedro Fernandez Says:

    G.A. guess all these CAW workers will learn spanish, buy a sombrero and move down Mejico way, at least the Corona beer will be cheaper. AS far as all these cars with these informative and entertaining dashboards, I predict we’ll be having more and more rear end collisions from distracted drivers. “Oh look honey, I’m in the green zone” CRASH!!!! “this is Onstar, are you alright? I detect you were involved in a crash, we’ll be sending help”

  4. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit,maybe they would be able to do a huge write off? There has to be a “method to the madness” so to say.

    @ Pedro,LOL.Yeah,only I hope they find some Pacifico with lime,or XX’s,or even some ice cold Tecata(sp).Much better then Corona imho ;}>

    I do worry abot the flood in info getting to be available to the driver when simple lights would do the trick.Military aviation learned a long time ago that too much info was distracting,hence the advent of the HUD,with only the critical info needed while being “busy”.

  5. DC Says:

    What kind of immature bull is the CAW trying to pull? At this point, I do not care that they will lose their jobs, its time to quit playing around and work towards a solution. Its either you can take what is graciously given to you as an alternative or you can leave, simple as that.

  6. Mike Dale Says:

    I too am overloaded with info and gadgets I don’t want to bother figuring out. We rented a BMW 7 series on a b’ness trip to Stuttgart a couple of years ago. At first, all of the info was great. The gadget crazy engineers I was traveling with marveled at “haptics” and the “I” drive concept. A couple of days went by. one of the engineers was pounding on the I drive to try to shut the dang fool thing off. We found out later that the random, they turned on all by themselves,dronings on in German, were simply traffic reports.

  7. Art Greenberg Says:

    Wow, I’m impressed, Porsche. Except that the 1992 Mazda 929 had optional solar panels in the glass moonroof that powered ventilation fans for the the car’s interior or charged the battery if it wasn’t warm enough to require ventilation.

  8. craigerzgt Says:

    I wouldn’t be too harsh on the CAW workers themselves. Having experienced what it’s like when a company and a union are feeding you two different sides of what’s “true”, it can be really confusing. Those that don’t know any better just decide to side with the union, because historically that was the best thing to do. Unfortunately, that is (especially here) rarely the case.

    I hope that if it gets to the point, Chrysler just shuts down their Canadian manufacturing presence and sticks it nice and firm to the CAW, instead of filing for bankruptcy. CAW’s nonsense should not be tolerated any longer.

  9. pedro Fernandez Says:

    I kind of feel bad for these workers, but what do they expect? for years they’ve been building substandard products that people just don’t wanna buy anymore, cause if you work hard for your automotive money, you want something real good not some crap.My question is if Chrysler goes bye bye who is gonna supply the car rental fleets? most of them use Chrysler products, since GM pulled out of the rental car business a couple of years ago. Oh, never mind, I forgot about Hyundai/Kia

  10. Dan Busch Says:

    The Panamera sedanlooks a bit “Tubby”

  11. JIm Thykeson Says:

    Its insane to worry about ‘E-15′ when you can convert to CNG(natural-gas) now! With the rest of the world opting for that fuel, while we don’t must mean the gasoline companies have something to do with it. I saw this show just the other day on alternative-fuel cars. Opal has this little, Grand-Am prototype looking thing that uses ‘Blue-tech’ diesel. It goes to 140mph while attaining 118mpg! Again, why the hell aren’t we avail;ing ourselves of this stuff? Is Europe going to do it all!

  12. craigerzgt Says:

    @ pedro:

    Keep in mind that it’s not the worker’s fault that the products are substandard in terms of design and abilities. All they’re there for is to make sure that the bolts are fastened in a consistent high-quality manner. The styling, ergonomics, and material quality had long been finalized by that point.

  13. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Craig: Agree, but I find a lot of reviews of new cars that point to lapses in execution, such as uneven paint, too much clearance in gaps both inside and out, ect. These usually happen during the assembly process, whether it’s at the assmbly line or where the individual components such as doors, dashboards are put together. I find it incredible that besides the assembly workers they also have quality inspectors at each station and at the end of the process, how these errors are not discovered b4 the vehicle leaves the factory is puzzling

  14. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Here’s where the so called “misconception of inferior american vehicles” starts,and then the factory wonders why.Hell the big three wondered why for years,only Ford it seems took it to heart and changed their ways of building,or at the very least,slowed things down a bit to get the fit and finish we were/are getting out of the Japanese vehicles,jmho.

  15. Dave E. Says:

    If a manfacturer has to pay an expense that it’s competitors don’t have to pay, but can’t charge any more for the product; where does that manufacturer cut corners to keep his costs low enough to sell it’s products? With the jobs bank, GM appeared to be over a barrel, stopping production to meet demand only meant that they didn’t have to buy more materials. Chances are they bought well in advance so they probbaly just kept building cars and built up inventory and dumped them at cut rate prices. I would expect that the residual values on GM cars is awful. This story could be a great MBA case study.

  16. Dave E. Says:

    With high labour costs and no ability to trim production to meet demand, GM was doomed years ago.

  17. Ed Arcuri Says:

    A “writeoff” for selling Opel? Against what, exactly, is GM going to write off anything?
    As for the CAW, they are still living with the discredited paradigm that industrial labor relations consist of workers vs. management. the North American Unions are not competing with “mamangement.” They are competing with workers around the globe.
    That is not going to change.
    Cheers,
    Ed