Episode 182 – New GM Emerges, Lutz Stays Aboard, Japanese Autos Struggle in U.S.

July 10th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:46

The new General Motors officially began this morning. Bob Lutz is staying on as vice chairman of GM in charge of all creative elements in product and customer relations. Suzuki and Mitsubishi are advised to drop out of the American market. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit, all about the latest car ads on TV.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. GM roars out of bankruptcy in record time. Lutz decides not to retire. And Suzuki and Mitsubishi are advised to drop out of the American market.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, July 10, 2009. And now, the news.

The new General Motors officially began at 6:30 this morning. GM CEO Fritz Henderson will also take over all North American operations, Troy Clark’s job as president of NAO is eliminated. The strategy board and automotive product board are also eliminated, replaced by a smaller executive committee. All international operations will now report to Nick Reilly who will remain headquartered in Shanghai.

Also, 77-year-old Bob Lutz is staying on as vice chairman of the company in charge of all creative elements in product and customer relations. GM says he’ll be working as a team with Tom Stephens who took over Lutz’s old job, and with Ed Welburn who’s head of GM Design.

Cash for clunkers programs in Europe have been successful in boosting sales but Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn warns that when these incentives expire at the end of the year, it’s going to hurt car sales next year. According to Bloomberg, Ghosn sees 2010 as a difficult year and doesn’t see a recovery in sales. He also said governments should prepare additional measures to “avoid a shock” when the programs end.

Citing falling sales and excess manufacturing capacity in the U.S., a Japanese economic analyst says Suzuki and Mitsubishi should leave the American market. Suzuki’s sales fell 80 percent last month and Mitsubishi’s sales have been cut in half. According to Bloomberg, Mitsubishi shut down its U.S. design studio earlier in the year and its plant in Illinois is now operating at just 10 percent of its capacity. Suzuki’s joint plant with GM in Canada stopped making the XL7 this year and it hasn’t announced a new vehicle to be built there.

With comedian Jay Leno on hand, Jaguar unveiled its brand-new XJ in London. Looking a lot like its smaller sibling, the XF, the redesigned flagship offers a host of luxury features and a striking design. Powering the new big cat is a lineup of engines ranging from a 3.0-liter diesel V6 to a range-topping supercharged V8. Aiding performance is a light-weight aluminum body that the company claims makes the car about 150 kilograms – or roughly 330 pounds lighter than its competition. Standard- and long-wheelbase models will be available from launch. Depending on where you live, you can advance order the new XJ, with deliveries starting early next year. Pricing starts at (gulp) £52,000 or right about $85,000!

Autoblog is running this story. Apparently MINI has been caught testing a crossover in the California desert. The prototype sports a psychedelic black and yellow camouflage pattern, but that’s not enough to hide the extra rear doors and high-riding stance. It looks like the company is moving forward with production of the MINI Crossover Concept that debuted at last year’s Paris Motor Show.

Coming up next, a preview of this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit, all about the latest car ads on TV.

This week’s episode of Autoline is all about how automakers advertise in a desperate economic climate and how they put a spotlight on their brands. Joining me to discuss the ads that are out there right now are Bud Liebler, former head of Chrysler advertising and marketing, David Kiley of BusinessWeek and Jean Halliday of Advertising age. In the following snippet, we talk about Buick’s latest ads and whether or not they can really work.

As always, you can watch the entire episode of Autoline on our website right now.

Ok, it’s Friday and you all know what that means. It’s payday … I mean, it’s time to announce the winner of this week’s trivia contest. We threw-down the gauntlet and challenged you to tell us what defunct Chrysler brand was closed-down in 1960. And the answer is … Plymouth! No, no, just kidding! Everybody knows they were shuttered in 2001, the correct answer is … DeSoto. Named after Spanish conquistador Hernandez de Soto, the brand was axed from the Chrysler lineup way back in 1960. As always, we randomly selected this week’s winner from the pool of correct responses. And that lucky person is … Ron Halsey of Tacoma, Washington. Congratulations Ron, you’ve just won a book about and poster of the Jaguar XK concept.

Anyway, that’ll do it for Autoline Daily this week. Thanks for watching, have a great weekend and we’ll see you Monday.

14 Comments to “Episode 182 – New GM Emerges, Lutz Stays Aboard, Japanese Autos Struggle in U.S.”

  1. Darwin Carmichael Says:

    I first answered the question as DeSoto but later found that they actually had a 1961 Model. The discontinuance of DeSoto was announced in November of 1960. The question stated something like what model was closed down in 1960. I guess you felt that the announcement was tantamount to “closing down”, even though they continued making 1961 models.

    Since that had a 1961 model, I concluded that 1960 could not possibly be the correct answer.

    The Volare was blended into the plymouth models in 1961 so that was the only model I could come up with.

  2. Jim Stockton Says:

    Could you add a “rewind” feature to Autoline Daily so that someone could go over something again without having to watch the segment from the beginning?

  3. Tom Geauvreau Says:

    John, there are rumours floating about that a new Suzuki car, code name Kazashi, might be going into production at Cami in 6 months or so.
    But it’s headed into a really tough market.
    But I think the real Suzuki problem is a lack of dealers.
    With all the excess dealers being cast off by the Big 3 maybe Suzuki can snag a few and get better market access.
    Failing that, maybe they can tie up with Saturn somehow.

  4. Alex Kovnat Says:

    Suzuki leaving the U.S. market? I hope that only means cars. Suzi has always been and remains a strong player in the motorcycle market. According to Cycle World Buyer’s Guide for 2009, Suzuki offers 32 models ranging from a 2-stroke, 85 cc single cylinder motocross bike all the way to mighty highway cruisers powered by 1783 cc engines.

    I suppose they just aren’t strong enough in 4-wheelers to justify the costs involved.

  5. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I like the new XJ.I wonder if the 3.0L diesel they offer,will be an option here in the usa,or just the big supercharged gas guzzling version?

  6. David B. Fishburn Says:

    RE: the cash for clunkers programs, “Shocked”?, who’s going to be shocked? It certainly won’t be the consumers, the people already know about the stupid limitations. Perhaps the only ones who’ll be “shocked” will be the “lawmakers” when they see how short term and shortsighted these programs are. A better fix for the economic problems is to focus on long term solutions, that put people back to work, at pay levels that can support paying the important bills and let them buy a new car.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m sure Suzuki is not going to leave the US motorcycle market. They are very successful in North America.

    As far as cars, Suzuki should sell what is missing from the US market since an earlier Suzuki was dropped. We need a small, basic, inexpensive car that can match the gas mileage of the best hybrids. Suzuki made such a car, which was sold as Suzuki Swift, Chevy Sprint, and Geo Metro. These were great around-town cars, if equipped with the one liter three cylinder and manual transmission. I had an ’87 Sprint which got over 40 mpg in mixed driving. It wasn’t as luxurious or roomy as a Prius, but if a similar car were sold now, it would cost less than half as much as a Prius and get similar fuel economy.

  8. Episode 182 - New GM Emerges, Lutz Stays Aboard, Japanese Autos Struggle in U.S. « Suzuki Says:

    [...] See original here: Episode 182 – New GM Emerges, Lutz Stays Aboard, Japanese Autos Struggle in U.S. [...]

  9. C-Tech Says:

    Hello Mr. Gerhart, if that’s what the USA is looking for, GM has a few thousand leftover G3′s and Aveo’s lying around.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    C-TEch,

    G3′s and Aveos don’t even come close the the gas mileage of the 1 liter Swift/Sprint/Metro. Those Deawoos are just substandard competition for Fit, Versa, and Yaris.

  11. Rickster Says:

    I wish the “new” GM well but it looks a bit like the old GM in a shiney new suit. Same old faces who are planning to bring in a “new” culture. Something doesn’t seem quite right. The main players make it look likea retirement village.

  12. Dan Clemons Says:

    John:

    This weeks After Hours would your best show yet! I really enjoyed the discussion on battery technology.

  13. John McElroy Says:

    @Darwin Carmichael

    We used “The Full History of Desoto” as our source: http://www.allpar.com/history/desoto.html

    It says production stopped on November, 1960. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a 1961 model because the model year (as opposed to the calendar year) starts in October. So Desoto did build some ’61′s but the division was closed down by the end of 1960.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The “late” DeSoto I remember best was the 1960, which had “herring bone” side trim as the main thing that distinguished it from a Chrysler. I also remember the ’61 which had a different, less attractive front end than the Chrysler. The DeSoto had kind of a “wide oval” above the regular grill. You could tell that they didn’t really know how to distinguish DeSoto from Chrysler at that time, and I was not suprised when DeSoto was dropped. I was in my mid-teens at that time.