May 26th, 2009 at 12:00pm
Chrysler’s bankruptcy hits a potential snag. The Canadian Auto Workers agree to cut wages. Planning Perspectives came out with its annual supplier survey and for the first time since 1990, Toyota is not at the top of the list. All that and more, plus a look at one of the most fun automotive events around.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Chrysler’s bankruptcy hits a potential snag. GM gets CAW concessions. And suppliers don’t like Toyota as much as they used to.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, May 26, 2009. And now, the news.
Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who oversees pensions for his state’s retirees, is objecting to Chryslers bankruptcy plans, claiming it will hurt pensions. According to Reuters, court papers have been filed that request an examiner be appointed to investigate Chrysler’s business decisions and also appoint an independent trustee to oversee the Chapter 11 filing. Chrysler claimed in a statement that Mourdock is willing to put Chrysler in liquidation over less than 1 percent of the three funds’ assets. And questioned whether his motives are financial or political.
GM has until the end of the week to restructure itself, and the view on Wall Street is that a Chapter 11 filing is inevitable. But GM is making progress. The Canadian Auto Workers voted overwhelmingly to slash labor costs, which clears the way for GM to get $3 billion from the Canadian government. The UAW presents its concessions for the members to vote on today.
Planning Perspectives came out with its annual supplier survey and for the first time since the study started in 1990, Toyota is not at the top of the list. Honda is now ranked by automotive suppliers as the best car company to work with. But Honda’s scores are coming down, too. Ford is making huge improvements, suppliers say, and they like what GM and Nissan are doing as well.
Yesterday Volkswagen and Chinese automaker BYD signed a memorandum of understanding. The German automaker wants access to advanced batteries to help it build green cars. VW already offers a lineup of efficient vehicles equipped with its eco-friendly “BlueMotion Technologies.” Going forward, the company will include hybrids and electric vehicles in its lineup.
Oh how times have changed. In 2007 Porsche earned a $7.7-billion operating profit, but Autoblog reports that the company flirted with bankruptcy for a few days in March. It received a 700 million Euro loan from VW to stay out of trouble. It’s estimated that it will need another 2.5 billion Euros to stay afloat. The reason it’s in such a precarious financial situation is that it spent 9 billion Euros trying to take control of VW. Now, it has 50 percent more debt than Chrysler!
A Greek court has ruled against Daimler in a copycat suit it filed against Chinese company Shuanghuan Auto. According to Gasgoo.com, Daimler sued the company over its Noble model which it claimed to be a knockoff of the smart fortwo. However, the Greek court ruled, that “an informed buyer would not confuse the Noble with the smart fortwo.” The court also said that any exterior design similarities are irrelevant because the technical aspects of the cars are different.
Coming up next, a look at one of the most fun automotive events around, we’ll be back right after this.
The Midwest Automotive Media Association is a professional organization for members of the motor press. Called MAMA for short, it’s headquartered in Chicago, but reaches across America’s heartland.
And being a member has its perks. Like attending its annual Spring Road Rally, a huge event that’s like candy land for car fanatics. For two whole days MAMA takes over one of the best tracks in the country. Road America is located about an hour north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s a top-notch facility with a very fast, four-mile course.
Automakers bring in a wide variety of products, ranging from the familiar to the fabulous. Every year MAMA manages to snag a few boutique manufactures, giving attendees unprecedented access to high-dollar cars.
Activities on day one included laps on the track and drives on the street. Hyundai even setup a course where journalists could drift the new Genesis Coupe.
Day two features auto crossing and off-roading. An array of vehicles were available to toss around a short course setup in the paddock area. Too bad the weather didn’t cooperate. Cars were sliding all over the wet pavement. Obviously some of them had a little too much power for the conditions.
The other big activity on the second day was off-roading. A variety of four- and all-wheel-drive vehicles were on hand to take through the mud in the woods behind the track. You’d be surprised what today’s vehicles are capable of going through.
Despite the down economy, this year’s event was a great success, and a lot more fun than should be allowed.
Of course, it wouldn’t have been possible without generous sponsorship. A wide-array of companies from BF-Goodrich and Mercedes to Chrysler, Subaru and GM all chipped in to make the Spring Rally one of the highlights of the year.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget that Autoline After Hours is coming this Thursday night at 7 p.m. Eastern. Joining us this week, Csaba Csere, former editor of Car and Driver magazine. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.