August 19th, 2009 at 12:00pm
Ford announced it’s developed a smart charging system for electric vehicles. Magna is one step closer to acquiring Opel from General Motors. There’s a proposal in the U.S. Congress to double tax credits for heavy-duty hybrids. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions about Chrysler’s electric vehicles and GM’s future product plans in the “You Said It!” segment.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Ford develops a new charging system for EVs. Magna steps closer to getting Opel. And an idea to double tax credits for heavy-duty hybrids.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, August 19, 2009. And now, the news.
Lots of battery and electric car news today. First up, Ford announced it’s developed a smart charging system for EVs. It allows people to program their charger to charge their car in off-peak hours. Or set the time when they want their car fully recharged, or allow utilities to interrupt charging if they need power elsewhere, or to buy electricity from renewable sources. The most interesting part of this development? Ford is developing this charger on its own and is not sourcing it from an outside company.
A report in Japan says Toyota is in talks with Sanyo about buying batteries (subscription required) to be used in hybrids. According to the Wall Street Journal, Toyota would buy lithium-ion batteries from Sanyo starting in 2011. The company is having a hard time keeping up with the demand for hybrids thanks to all the government aid being handed out to stimulate car sales. Shares for Sanyo were up 10 percent because of the report. Toyota currently gets its batteries from Panasonic, which is in the process of acquiring Sanyo, which it agreed to buy last year.
U.S. Congressman Sander Levin of Michigan is proposing to double tax credits for heavy-duty hybrids (subscription required). According to Ward’s, the legislation will cover up to half of the incremental cost of the systems and extend the program until 2014. The Eaton Corporation, which builds heavy duty hybrid systems, says the proposal would increase sales to 10,000 units a year, currently it’s at 2,000, and that it would reduce diesel fuel use by over 7 million gallons a year.
OK, enough of all that hybrid and EV news. Now back to the rest of the industry.
Chrysler, Honda, Toyota and Ford have already announced production increases, and now you can add GM to the list of automakers revving their engines. According to Ward’s, the company is increasing its third- and fourth-quarter production forecast by 60,000 units (subscription required). Thanks to the U.S. CARS Program, demand for fuel-sipping vehicles, like the Chevy Cobalt and Equinox, has been strong.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Magna is one step closer to acquiring Opel from General Motors (subscription required). Magna says that all issues between it and GM have been resolved, particularly over rights to patents and intellectual property. Also, the Russian bank Sberbank would not be able to sell its portion of Opel to anyone other than the automaker GAZ or the Russian development bank, without GM’s permission. It looks to me like Magna will get part of Opel and we should have an official announcement next week.
In other GM news, it’s pledging $210 million to help American Axle avoid bankruptcy. The Detroit Free Press reports GM would get a 20 percent stake in the company. GM is also taking back five of Delphi’s plants. You know, a decade ago Detroit was wrapped up in an outsourcing frenzy. Now, it’s being forced to start in-sourcing critical supply sources. And the beat goes on.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
This is “You Said It!” Every day we get dozens of comments and questions from you, our viewers. “You Said It!” gives me a chance to respond.
Ken Post saw our report on the John’s Journal channel of our website about GM’s future products and wrote in to ask, “Sure would like to see a picture of the new Malibu. Why will it take until 2012 to get it to market?”
Ken, everyone would like to see a picture of the car, but GM is not releasing any photos and would not allow anyone in the media in the design studio with a camera. And remember, the current Malibu has only been on the market for about two years. Since most cars go through a four year life cycle before they’re redesigned that just about takes us into 2012.
Max Christensen wrote in to say, “I find if very interesting that GM and Nissan are getting all the media attention on electric vehicles. What about Chrysler? They are supposedly going to have an electric vehicle, most likely the Circuit, available in 2010 with up to a 180 mile range, beating both the Chevy and Nissan.”
Max, Chevy and Nissan are getting so much media attention because they’re announcing definitive production plans and showing us their cars. Chrysler has gone completely dark on us and won’ let the media talk to any of their executives. I’m sure that will change in the months to come. But so far, we don’t really know if Chrysler’s EV plans are for real, or were just part of a dog and pony show by Cerberus to get Congress to bail out Chrysler.
And finally, Pappy wrote in to complain. “I’m not appreciating the comparison of miles-per-gallon to liters per 100 kilometers. Call me crazy. I’m guessing your broadcast extends to the borders of people who really care about liters, kilometers and euros.”
Pappy, you’re right. At last count Autoline Daily is watched by people from 163 different countries. And if you think the metric stats are crazy, wait until electric cars catch on and we have to start talking in terms of kilowatt hours per 100 miles.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget, you can get podcasts, transcripts and a whole lot more on our website, AutolineDaily.com. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.