Episode 160 – More Chrysler Bankruptcy Delays, Suppliers Seek Aid, First Look at Final Volt

June 9th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:37

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg issued a stay that prevents Fiat from taking control of Chrysler. U.S. auto suppliers plan to go to Washington this week to ask for more money. GM has come up with the final production design of the Volt, and Autoline Daily is the first in the media to show what it will look like. All that and more, plus a look at the Jaguar XF.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. More delays in the Chrysler bankruptcy. Suppliers ask for more money. A first look at the production version of the Chevy Volt.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, June 9, 2009. And now, the news.

More delays in the Chrysler bankruptcy. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg issued a stay that prevents Fiat from taking control of Chrysler. She was responding to a filing by the pension funds of the state of Indiana. Now we’ll have to see if the other justices on the Supreme Court want to hear this case. And in the interim, the Associated Press reports that a group representing over 300 Chrysler dealers which are slated to lose their franchises have asked the bankruptcy court to save their dealerships. Chrysler was worried that these delays could torpedo the deal with Fiat, but Reuters reports that Fiat now says it is not going to walk away from the deal.

U.S. auto suppliers plan to go to Washington this week to ask for more money. According to Bloomberg, they are looking for $8 billion to $10 billion more in aid. The OESA and MEMA are requesting that the U.S. Treasury back at least a part of their loans from banks to increase lending. GM and Chrysler suppliers need funds to start building parts once the automakers resume manufacturing later this summer.

GM just opened the largest and most technologically advanced battery lab in the U.S. The 33,000 square-foot Global Battery Systems Lab is part of its Warren, Michigan Tech Center and will be used by engineers to develop powertrains for hybrids and electric vehicles. Reinforcing the green image the company’s striving for, the facility features LED lighting and flooring made from recycled tires. About 90 percent of the electricity used for testing batteries is later fed back into the grid.

In other GM news, the company is dropping its medium-duty truck operations (subscription required). It released a curt, two-line statement saying that production of the Chevy Kodiak and GMC Topkick will cease by July 31, 2009. The announcement comes after the company spent years trying to sell the operation to Navistar. The decision will affect 389 hourly and salaried workers at its plant in Flint, Michigan.

A new study from JD Power and Associates shows that consumers rate infotainment technology as the most desirable options in a car. According to the LA Times, even though safety did rate high, features like surround sound, satellite radio, and in-vehicle internet connectivity rated higher. Researchers say that because drivers use infotainment features everyday whereas most safety features are not needed until an accident occurs.

GM has come up with the final production design of the Volt, and Autoline Daily is the first in the media to show these images of what it will look like. Interestingly, GM chose to show the final version in all black, giving the car more of a mean look to it than the happy, shiny, smiley styling of other green cars. GM claims it will have this car in production a little over a year from now. I got a chance to test drive one of the mules for the Chevy Volt, actually a Chevy Cruze with the Volt technology in it, and I’ll have my driving impressions posted in the John’s Journal section of our website later today.

Coming up next, a look at the Jaguar XF, we’ll be back right after this.

Jaguar is a brand that’s bound to tradition. It builds cars with big slabs of wood trim, buttery-soft leather and ankle-deep carpeting.

For traditional buyers the company’s new XF offers all of these Jaguar virtues with none of its vices, like the J-gate shifter or Lucas Electrics. To attract new customers, the company gave the car a sleek body and lots of performance.

Its look is based on the C-XF concept that debuted a few years ago, and it’s the first car to introduce the brand’s new design language.

Size-wise, the XF replaces the S-type and competes with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-class. Even though it’s only been out for a year or so, the company made some big improvements to help it keep pace with the segment leaders.

Jaguar developed a brand-new 5.0-liter engine. It’s based off the company’s 4.2-liter V8, which is still offered in base cars. With direct fuel injection the five-point-oh delivers 385 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to accelerate the car from 0 to 60 in five-and-a-half seconds. If you crave more power, Jaguar offers a supercharged version of this engine in the high-performance XFR. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission available.

Matching its slick new body, the XF sports a designer cabin. The dash and doors are covered in cut-and-sewn panels, and it features a circular gear selector and motorized air vents that automatically open.

Jaguar has made great strides with the new XF. If you’re in the market for a luxury sedan it deserves serious consideration.

But a word of caution about the car’s fancy shifter. If you live in a warm climate be careful, it gets scaldingly hot in the summer sun, so wear gloves when changing gears or risk getting burned.

Don’t forget to tune into Autoline After Hours this Thursday night at 7 p.m. Eastern time. Our guest will be John Mendel, the executive vice president for sales at Honda of America, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in America.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

9 Comments to “Episode 160 – More Chrysler Bankruptcy Delays, Suppliers Seek Aid, First Look at Final Volt”

  1. Alex Kajdi Says:

    John,

    I see allot of similarities in body styling between the New Tesla Sedan and the Jaguar XF.
    Is Tesla getting their bodies from Jaguar like they were doing with Lotus for the Tesla Roadster?

    The Chevy Volt looks awesome in black. Will there be multiple interior color choices?
    I can see it in the following colors: Silver, Black, White, Metallic Beige, Blood Red, Metallic Electric / Navy Blue and a Metallic Hunter Green or Earthy Brown. No, Yellows, Pinks or Neon Greens, Please.

    I believe that Bob Lutz is correct when he says, “That the Electricification of the automobile is the future of the Auto Industry”. All Bob Lutz has to do is incorporate a Solar Panel into the roof of the Volt to help if charge itself while parked in the sunlight. There maybe another Tax Credit for Solar Equipment used in a Consumers Tangible Asset, like an automobile. This may reduce or eliminate any additional cost of adding a Solar Panel to a Volt. The Third Generation Prius is incorporating a Solar Panel to cool the vehicle.

  2. Mike W. Says:

    Well, GM says they aren’t going to make medium duty trucks because they can’t make any money on them. Let’s see: GM can’t make any money on small cars, either, like the Saturn and they got rid of that. And they make money on monster SUVs like the Hummer, or cars made in Sweden, like Saab, or other cars like Pontiac. So, what can they make money doing? Maybe they should liquidate the company and let somebody else try make money building vehicles.

  3. Salvador G. Says:

    Man, that’s one bad ass looking Jaguar, John Mc. Remind me which company decide it to get rid off the Jaguar brand…. Oh yeah, Ford came up with that brain storm idea, way to go Ford.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There is a good possibility that GM CAN make money building Chevy’s and Cadillacs, once this nasty recession is over, just as Toyota (usually) makes money building Toyotas and Lexi. It took a long time, and a little prodding from various outside sources, but maybe GM is now realizing that you don’t need 8 “brands” to sell a couple million vehicles a year. Toyota does very well with two.

  5. paulstewart Says:

    All that Jaguar did was suck cash out of Ford. Wait 2-3 years folks and will see if it can make a profit. I’m sure most know that never made a profit for well over 7 years. It was just too much of a drag on Ford.

  6. pedro Fernandez Says:

    I agree with Kit, after all, Chevy has quite an extensive lineup and when you add the Cruze and a better, more competative subcompact than the undesirable Aveo, they will have a good lineup. Quick, rename the G8 “Caprice” and they will be very competative. By the way Saab hasn’t made any money in a really long time.

  7. JFD Hamilton Says:

    Silly me, I thought that the car should be the “infotainment”! Guess that why all those other “drivers” are such idiots; they’re too busy being “informed” and “entertained” to actually pay attention to driving.
    I’d rather have a pleasing exhaust note and good handling entertain me than
    be “infotained” ! I can also walk unassisted by a device plugged into my ears !

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It looks like I am really out of touch with what most people want as “options” in cars. Here is my list:

    1) Heater
    2) Cruise control
    3) Air conditioning
    4) Compass
    5) AM/FM radio
    6) Universal garage door opener
    7) Power door locks
    8) Automatic transmission

    I guess “infotainment” is #5 on my list, but probably not in the same format as the JD Powers respondants are wanting.

  9. Kate McLeod Says:

    I wonder about the median age of the respondents on that J.D. Power survey. I’m sure it’s young.