April 27th, 2009 at 12:00pm
General Motors confirms it is killing off Pontiac by the end of next year and cutting 2,800 dealers. Chrysler reaches agreements with the UAW and CAW unions. Norway’s finance minister proposes a ban on gasoline-powered cars. All that and more, plus a look at some of the technology being developed by auto supplier Continental.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. GM axes Pontiac. Chrysler gets union concessions. And Norway wants to ban gasoline powered cars.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Monday, April 27, 2009. And now, the news.
General Motors confirmed today it is killing off the Pontiac brand by the end of next year. It is also going to cut 2,800 dealers it has in the U.S. market, a 42 percent reduction. It will get rid of another 7,000 to 8,000 hourly employees. This is all on top of the plan GM submitted to the government on February 17, and the company claims it will now be at a break-even basis if the U.S. car market only reaches 10 million units. And let’s hope it gets up to that level.
BONUS: John and Jeff Gilbert of WWJ Respond to Questions and Comments on the End of Pontiac.
Chrysler reached agreements with the UAW and CAW unions, and now the pressure builds on the company’s banks and bondholders. Chrysler has until Friday to put together a viable plan that will get it more government money. CAW workers have already ratified a new agreement that cuts labor costs by $19 an hour. The Wall Street Journal reports that this did not cut wages. Instead, it eliminates a Christmas bonus, reduces health care benefits and allows temporary workers and supplier employees to do some work in Chrysler plants.
Germany’s economic minister will meet with Canadian auto parts supplier Magna this week, to discuss the company’s interest in Opel. According to Reuters, Magna and several others are interested in buying Opel from General Motors, including financial investors and Fiat. GM must sell Opel for the company to receive financial aid from the German government.
Ward’s reports that VW will build its new lineup of low-cost minicars in its plant in Bratislava, Slovakia (subscription required). The new generation of vehicles will be based on the Up! concept the company debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2007. The first of VW’s new-generation small cars are expected to roll off the line in early 2011. They’ll be sold under VW, Seat and Skoda brands. The company also builds the VW Touareg, Audi Q7 and Skoda Octavia in its Bratislava facility.
Here’s an interesting story. Reuters reports that in Norway over the weekend, the country’s finance minister proposed a ban on gasoline-powered cars. The proposed petrol prohibition would start in 2015. Carmakers could only sell new vehicles that run on a combination of electricity, biofuels or hydrogen. Hybrids using fossil fuels and electricity, maybe would still be permitted. Maybe this is all about letting Norway export more oil. After all it is the world’s sixth-largest exporter of that vile, polluting energy source that powers its economy.
And maybe Norway needs this. Two hydrogen-powered Ford E-450 buses began operating at Detroit Metro Airport at the end of March. According to the Detroit News, the buses will run 5 days a week for 6 months and drop people off between terminals. The buses are powered by an internal-combustion engine and have a range of 150 miles. Ford has been testing the buses at other sites in the U.S. and Canada since 2006.
Coming up next, a look at some of the technology coming out of the supplier industry. We’ll be back right after this.
As one of the biggest automotive suppliers in the industry, Continental manufactures everything from tires and brakes to complete safety systems.
Its diversity is a real asset in today’s challenging times. But despite how tough things are right now, the company is still optimistic.
Continental sees the safety and convenience feature side of the business as a major area for growth. Since not every car has stability control or even ABS, the company is looking at increasing the installation rates of these items, particularly in developing markets like China and India.
Beyond basic safety systems like these, Continental also supplies OEMs with much more advanced technology. Volvo’s City Safety crash-avoidance system uses some of the company’s sensors, while Continental hardware enables street sign recognition on the new BMW 7 Series.
Sophisticated technology like this really fits in with its altruistic philosophy on safety.
Surprisingly, even in today’s market the company sees areas for growth. We’ll have to wait and see what they come out with next, particularly in the area of driver assistance systems and safety.
Join us again Thursday night for Autoline After Hours. Joining me and Renzo and Vines will be Robert Farago who publishes the website, The Truth About Cars. That’s 7 p.m. eastern or 2300 hours GMT Thursday night.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.