July 22nd, 2009 at 12:00pm
The Fiat Group posted a $254 million loss in the second quarter. FedEx converted 92 trucks in its North American fleet to hybrids. Swedish company SKF is introducing a new line of low-friction bearings that helps lower CO2 emissions. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions about electric vehicles and the Pontiac Vibe in the “You Said It!” segment.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Fiat reports a loss so small it’s almost a profit. FedEx converts most its trucks to hybrids. And SKF develops new bearings that can make big cuts in CO2.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, July 22, 2009. And now, the news.
The Fiat Group posted its second quarter earnings (PDF File), or in this case, second quarter losses. The company lost 179 million euros in Q2, or $254 million. However, that includes everything in the Fiat Group like farm machinery, heavy trucks and components. The automotive group lost 133 million euros, about $188 million. You know, in this day and age when so many others automakers are reporting multi-billion dollar losses, this almost sounds like a profit.
Chrysler’s ex-CEO Bob Nardelli has a new job. The New York Times reports he will be chief executive officer of Cerberus’ Operating and Advisory Company. It’s a division of Cerberus that advises other Cerberus-owned companies on sourcing, due diligence and watching their portfolio.
Last week we reported that laid-off French workers threatened to blow up their factory if they didn’t get more severance pay. Now, according to Reuters, the gang decided to remove the gas canisters it placed outside the plant. By a show of hands, the faction voted to negotiate with the French Minister of Industry to try to resolve the situation – removing the gas canisters was as a condition of the meeting. Workers are still guarding the explosives, which they say can be reinstalled at anytime if significant progress isn’t made in the talks.
Ward’s reports that Swedish company SKF is introducing a new line of low-friction bearings (subscription required). It estimates that its new designs can reduce friction by 30 percent, lowering CO2 emissions by up to 13 grams per MILE on all-wheel-drive vehicles. To achieve this, the company used advanced computer simulation to optimize its designs.
GM is offering a new OnStar feature to help recover stolen vehicles. Called Remote Ignition Block, it allows an OnStar employee to send a remote signal to a stolen vehicle to prevent it from restarting once the ignition is turned off. The feature is offered on select 2009 and 2010 models in the U.S. and Canada. The feature works in conjunction with two already-available OnStar features that can track a stolen vehicle with GPS technology and one that can slow a vehicle down to idle speed.
FedEx converted 92 trucks in its North American fleet to hybrids. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation and the Eaton Corporation converted the trucks from model years 2000 and 2001 with 300,000 to 500,000 miles logged on them. The vehicles were fitted with a diesel Cummins engine and Eaton’s hybrid system. FedEx says the conversion should improve fuel economy by 44 percent and cut NOx emissions by 75 percent. It also increases the percent of FedEx hybrid trucks by 50%.
Coming up next, I respond to some of your questions and comments, we’ll be back after this.
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
Every day we get all kinds of questions and comments, “You Said It!” gives me a chance to respond.
Paul wrote in to say, “Electric cars have been around since the mid-19th century and have always suffered from the same concerns — storage capacity and range. I wonder if our shift to a more urban-based society will make the lack of range a non-issue?”
Paul, I’ve always said EVs will be perfect for some people and not for others. And you’re right, they will appeal more to urban drivers, but only if they have a place to plug it in to recharge it. Most people in cities park on the street or in garages that typically don’t have a lot of electrical outlets.
C-Tech asks, “Although there is much discussion over dropping the G8, please tell me why GM is dropping a nice, economical, small crossover like the Vibe? It seems it will easily fit as an entry-level Buick or GMC.”
C-Tech, I love the look of the Vibe. I think it’s a great compact car, and I agree that dumping a great car doesn’t make a lot of sense. But this tells me GM is probably completely severing its relationship with Toyota and didn’t see how it could continue with the Vibe in the future.
Wasn’t that a great story about how that car was discovered and saved? RIGHTKNIGHT70, we thank you for taking note of our report.
Hey, tomorrow night on Autoline After Hours our guest will be Art Spinella from CNW Marketing. One of the topics we’ll get Art to talk about is his analysis that shows the Cash for Clunkers program that’s coming is skewed in favor of people buying new pickup trucks. If that’s right, then the program is skewed in favor of the Detroit automakers. So is Spinella on to something here? Tune in tomorrow night at 7 p.m. with me and Peter De Lorenzo at autolinedetroit.tv.
That’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.