May 29th, 2009 at 12:00pm
General Motors wants whoever takes Opel over to keep it within the company’s product development process. Fiat will not attend talks in Germany today to determine who should get Opel. Lee Iacocca is going to lose a big part of his Chrysler pension and his life-long supply of company cars. All that and more, plus a clip from last nights Autoline After Hours about the mistakes management made at the Detroit Three.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. GM still wants to do product development with Opel. Fiat will not attend today’s meeting on Opel. And Iacocca loses his company car.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, May 29, 2009. And now, the news.
GM’s former vice chairman Bob Lutz said the company is looking for a new partner to take over Opel, not a new owner. He says GM wants whoever takes it over to keep Opel within the company’s product development process. GM’s North American operations rely on Opel to design and develop mid-size cars like the Chevrolet Malibu. But Lutz points out that Opel can’t develop a full product line on its own, implying it would have to rely on GM.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Fiat will not attend talks in Germany today to determine who should get Opel (subscription required). Fiat’s CEO Sergio Marchionne slammed the talks as lacking transparency. Late in the negotiations yesterday GM said it needed an immediate 300 million euros to keep Opel afloat on top of the 1.5 billion euros it already requested. Fiat says it’s still interested in Opel, but based on what Marchionne said, and what Lutz said, it sure looks like Fiat is starting to fade in this deal. Besides, Magna is saying if it gets Opel it will not close any plants in Germany or lay off any German workers, and that is exactly what the German government wants to hear, especially in an election year.
Wednesday we reported that General Motors agreed to take back five Delphi plants, now, according to the New York Times, the auto task force is pushing for a sale of its other assets to help the company emerge from bankruptcy and avoid liquidation. Its assets could be sold to another supplier or an investment firm and GM may still take back other assets as well.
A Swedish court granted Saab an extension to give it more time to restructure. According to Reuters, Saab now has until August 20 to find a new owner and restructure its business. Saab said yesterday that it would announce a partner in the next few weeks and according to a Swedish newspaper report the front runners are Swedish luxury carmaker Koenigsegg, investment firm Renco Group, and Fiat.
Together, Ford and a company called Flame-Spray industries won an “Inventor of the Year” award for their new Plasma-Transferred Wire Arc system. The technology saves weight by helping make engines lighter. Instead of using heavy, cast-iron cylinder sleeves, the Plasma-Transferred Wire Arc system sprays engine bores with a light-weight, low-friction coating. This technology can cut up to six pounds from a V6 engine and improve its efficiency and performance. Ford has 95 issued and pending patents related to this technology. It should introduce it in North American powertrains within a year.
Another casualty of the Chrysler bankruptcy. Reuters reports that Lee Iacocca is going to lose a big part of his pension AND his life-long supply of company cars. Bob Nardelli said in bankruptcy court that the former CEO’s pension and other benefits were among obligations that a “NEW New Chrysler” wouldn’t have to pay.
Coming up next, a taste of what you might have missed on last night’s Autoline After Hours webcast, we’ll be back right after this.
In case you missed Autoline After Hours, we had Csaba Csere, the former editor-in-chief of Car and Driver Magazine, in the studio. The theme was all about the mistakes the Detroit Three made that got them into the trouble they’re in today, especially in cost cutting. In the following sound bite, Csaba talks about a specific example of how GM accountants made cost cutting decisions on the Oldsmobile Quad-Four engine.
If you want to check out the rest of the broadcast, you can watch the entire episode of Autoline After Hours on our website right now. It’s also available as a FREE podcast. Just search for it in iTunes.
Well, the last thing on today’s agenda today is to announce the winner of this week’s trivia contest. To celebrate the Indianapolis 500 we challenged you to tell us what year the first race was run. And the correct answer is … 1911.
And this week’s winner is… David Imes of Ashland, Kentucky. Congratulations Dave, you’ve just won a Ford Escape tote bag that’s actually made out of the car’s seat fabric.
Anyway, that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, have a nice weekend and we’ll see you Monday.