May 19th, 2009 at 12:00pm
The Obama Administration is increasing national fuel economy standards for vehicles sold in the U.S. market. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives propose to double the federal loans for automakers to retool plants. A possible battery breakthrough with lead-acid batteries. All that and more, plus we sit down and chat with Ed Peper, General Manager of Chevrolet.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. California’s CO2 regulations become the national standard. Congress may double the retooling money for new technology. And a possible battery breakthrough with lead-acid batteries.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, May 19, 2009. And now, the news.
The Obama Administration is increasing national fuel economy standards for vehicles sold in the U.S. market, essentially by adopting California’s CO2 legislation. Automakers will now have to average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. That’s 6.7 l/100 km. That’s what their lineups have to average. Cars will have to achieve about 43 mpgs or 5.4 liters per 100 kilometers. Trucks will have to hit 26 mpgs, or about 9 liters. The only good news for the industry is that it will not face two separate standards.
In a sign of how much has changed in the auto industry, General Motors and Chrysler issued separate statements praising the new standards. GM CEO Fritz Henderson “commended” the president, Chrysler “welcomed” the new regulations. This, of course, is 180 degrees the opposite of which each company said before they had to go running to the Obama Administration for more bail out money. Indeed, GM had led the legal fight against it.
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives propose to double the federal loans for automakers to retool plants and develop fuel efficient vehicles to $50 billion. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Department of Energy is expected to handout loans soon, but only Ford qualifies among the domestic automakers because GM and Chrysler are not yet financially viable. As we reported last week, part of the bill also includes a clause that gives automakers a percentage of the government’s revenue from carbon emissions permits starting in 2012 that initially could be worth up to $15 billion a year.
Chrysler will use taxpayer loans to increase buyout deals for UAW workers. According to the Detroit Free Press, workers under 50 years of age and that have at least 10 years seniority will be offered up to $115,000 plus a $25,000 vehicle voucher to leave Chrysler voluntarily. Meanwhile white collar workers, creditors, and dealers are wondering why the UAW keeps getting so much taxpayer help while they do not.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Ward’s reports that an Illinois-based company called Firefly Energy is developing an advanced, lead-acid battery (subscription required). The technology uses a 3D, lead-impregnated foam instead of conventional flat plates. This offers a greater surface area which eliminates corrosion. The company says future generations of the technology could rival nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries. Firefly Energy is shooting for a commercial release this quarter.
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Autoblog reports that Volkswagen will stop producing the Quantum, called the Santana, in China by 2012. It first went on sale in the MIDDLE KINGDOM in 1983. When the company finally pulls the plug it will have been in continuous production for 29 years. The car has received numerous improvements over its long run but it’s still basically the same as it was when it first came out in the early ‘80s.
Coming up next, we sit down and chat with Ed Peper, General Manager of Chevrolet.
Chevrolet is GM’s biggest division, which is a huge advantage in today’s market. It practically guarantees that it won’t get dropped like Saturn or Saab.
Of course the company is also shedding Pontiac, and a lot of people have been wondering if Chevy will pick-up some of its products. Rumor has it the Vibe will get rebranded, but the future of other models is unknown. The rear-wheel-drive G8 would look great with a bow tie, but there may not be room for it in Chevy’s current lineup.
Thanks to award-winning vehicles like the Malibu and the hot new Camaro, Chevy doesn’t need to rebadge anything. What it does need to do is to get these cars, along with the other new product it has coming, ready for the fight. With a nine or ten million unit market, the battle for sales will get even more intense than before.
Today’s market is practically a warzone. Automakers are literally battling for sales, and whoever has the freshest lineup gets a leg-up on the opposition.
On the product front, Chevy has a redesigned Equinox on the way, the 2011 Cruze small car is brand-new and of course the Volt is coming. Offerings like these should only strengthen its position in the marketplace.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget, to tune in to Autoline After Hours, Thursday night live at 7PM eastern time. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.