Episode 275 – Volvo Unions Meet With Geely, Hyundai Plant in Mexico, Electric Supercharger

November 19th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 8:15

Volvo’s unions are meeting with Chinese automaker Geely and want to know where its getting the money to finance the deal to buy Volvo. Hyundai may build a third North American plant in Mexico. Could electric superchargers be the wave of the future? All that and more, plus a look at the new Porsche Panamera.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Volvo’s unions want to know where Geely is getting its money. Hyundai may build a plant in Mexico. And a new kind of supercharger, an electric supercharger.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, November 19, 2009. And now, the news.

Bloomberg is reporting that Volvo’s unions are meeting with Chinese automaker Geely today because they want to know where Geely is getting the money to finance the deal to buy Volvo. But Geely isn’t saying, and the unions are concerned that it may be the Chinese government that is backing the deal and may ultimately want to move production to China. They want commitments to keep jobs and production in Sweden and Belgium. Interestingly, there are four different unions at Volvo for line workers, for engineers, and for managers.

The AFP reports that a trade pact between the U.S. and South Korea is being held up as members in the U.S. Congress want more market access for American cars. It says that South Korea is open to talk about this issue, but does not want to renegotiate the treaty. As we reported earlier in the month, South Korea exported over 500,000 vehicles to the U.S., while America automakers sold fewer than 7,000 cars in Korea.

Hyundai may build a third North American plant in Mexico. According to Edmunds Inside Line, a Mexican government agency says its currently negotiating with Hyundai to build a plant in the country. The new plant might produce the Hyundai Accent and the Kia Rio starting in 2013 and have a capacity of 150,000 units. With the third plant, Hyundai will have the capability of building over 800,000 vehicles a year in North America.

Is China changing colors from red to green? Last week automaker BAIC launched a new subsidiary that focuses on building environmentally friendly vehicles (subscription required). According to Ward’s, the Beijing New Energy Automotive Company will spearhead all kinds of EV work from research and development to production and sales. Starting in 2011, the company expects to build between 20,000 and 40,000 “new-energy” cars per year. Recently BAIC displayed an EV called the BE701. It has a top speed of 100 miles an hour and a range of 125 miles on a full charge.

And as long as we’re talking about China, Changan Automobile is considering acquiring Italian design studio, IDEA (subscription required). According to Wards, IDEA has been a major contractor to Fiat providing things like design and engineering service but Fiat decided to cancel all contracts with consultants. Because of this and the economic downturn it’s believed IDEA will be forced to sell its business. The company has already worked with Changan helping design its Benben Sport model. Changan is expected to make a decision by the end of the year.

Could electric superchargers be the wave of the future? Ward’s reports that a company called Controlled Power Technologies will have a system in production late next year (subscription required). The idea is to use an electric supercharger in short bursts to boost low-end torque on small engines. Preferably it would be paired with a turbocharger. The electric blower spins up to 70,000 RPM in three tenths of a second and can provide boost until the turbo is spooled up. The idea is to tie this technology in with stop/start systems because as you’d expect, conventional car batteries don’t have enough juice to repeatedly spin a supercharger. Vehicles that are stop/start capable already have brawnier batteries that can handle deep discharges.

Coming up next, a look at Porsche’s controversial new four-door, the Panamera.

For the first time in its history Porsche is building a four-door sedan, the Panamera. Recently, I had a chance to test drive one, and here’s my look at this car.

Don’t forget to tune in for Autoline After Hours, our live, weekly webcast where we get into the behind-the-scenes information as to what’s going on in the auto industry, the kind of info that is typically off the record. That’s tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern, live at www.autolinedetroit.tv.

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

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18 Comments to “Episode 275 – Volvo Unions Meet With Geely, Hyundai Plant in Mexico, Electric Supercharger”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I believe that it is in fact the chinese govt that is backing most,if not all of the acquisitions that concern modern automotive technology.Most of which can be converted to military uses……..not good.

    South Korea,shame on you.Keeping your markets closed to the USA,after all we did for you.In keeping with my thoughts and feelings on this,I hope your american market tanks.You suck.

  2. dcars Says:

    Hyundai builds another plant in the America’s? Obviously, their is no over capacity in North America. Their is only over capacity at the wrong manufactures.

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    …and there is overcapacity at certain geographic locations where the car companies don’t want to go, like urban areas in the US.

  4. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Perhaps the Swedes need to take a lesson in political realities. China is a COmmunist country, as such, the government interferes and manipulates all business. Even GM had to partner up with a Chinese company in order to operate there, so please wake up Volvo, of course the government is involved, what the hell don’t look far, just look at Government Motors right in the good old Capitalist USA

  5. pedro Fernandez Says:

    ps. attn all American auto workers: better brush up on your Espanol and get yourself a sombrero, you might just have to move south of the border to get a job,the way things are going.

  6. Bill Tomczyk Says:

    The new 4 door Porsche reminds me of a 4 door Corvette I seen years ago. Both are butt ugly.

  7. John Says:

    “But Geely isn’t saying, and the unions are concerned that it may be the Chinese government that is backing the deal and may ultimately want to move production to China.”

    Volvo had better wake up.

    The Communist Chinese intentionally keep their currency undervalued to destroy foreign competition. Their track record and their motive is clear.

    Then, you have the Technology “Transfer” problem with Communist China.

    “Prosecutors book seven Ssangyong workers over leak
    Suspects allegedly gave hybrid car technology to Shanghai auto firm November 12, 2009″


    Communist China will gut those Volvo Unions and use the Volvo technology to export low cost “Made in China” vehicles as a tool to destroy the competition.

    Any technology sold to Communist China will result in unfair competition via. labor or currency manipulation or both.

  8. EAB Says:

    I wonder if it would be worth someone’s while, like perhaps Morraine OH or other city’s with recently abandoned plants, to go to Hyundai and say “hey, here’s a plant, here’s some tax abatements, here’s a whole wad full of incentive…please put your plant HERE!!!

  9. Tony Gray Says:

    I guess I’m not as “offended” by the Panamera as many Porschefiles. I’m not convinced it had to actually build it, but existing or upcoming competition from Jaguar, Ferrari or Aston Martin pretty much had them play their hand.

    The marketplace will determine if this is a sound move or not. As long as it didn’t divert critical funds from their core products, I suppose there will be no long term damage to the brand. I don’t think it is as potentially problematic as the switch to the 924/928 was.

  10. HtG Says:

    I saw a pair of Panameras at a dealership. As John said the look from the front is definately Porsche. The whole look is very elegant, in my opinion. Every crease in the metal comes off very well. From the side it also reminds me of the GT supercar.

    Then, of course, there is the rear.

    But then, there was a guy buying one while I gawked.

  11. Nick Stevens Says:

    The entire Auto industry has TREMENDOUS Overcapacity, as John very correctly reported, and has had so for many years. Very few, if any, makers are immune. The US market in particular is super-competitive. Overscpacity is a disease and it is bad news for ALL makers, as some brands will have to iffer cut-throat discounts to keep some minimum productuion going, and this will of course affect their competitors as well.

  12. Nick Stevens Says:

    I am not at all offended by the Panamera. Its styling is way better than the 2-door 928 which used to be the top model but failed miserably. I still think the best investment is the classic, iconic 911, though.

  13. Nick Stevens Says:

    Porsche is also considering offering a small 4-cylinder like the original 356, for less than $30k. It should be interesting to see what weight and HP it will have. Hopefully it is not some lame Mazda Miata clone.

  14. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Has anyone heard of a transmission problem in the new Camaro? I heard there were some problems with customers complaining about the transmission switching gears too slowly. in this particular case, the dealer had the car for almost a week.

  15. jeff mohr Says:


  16. Chuck Grenci Says:

    So the Chinese are talking about building ‘green’ cars; well if they do, I’ll bet they build them dirtily. If you go on their past manufacturing performance they aren’t very fastidious (maybe to the point of calling them the cesspool of modern manufacturing). The process, as well as the finished product, need to be green, to qualify in my evaluation.

    Even if I had the money to spare, I believe I would pass on the Panamera; there are just too many capable and more ‘eye’ pleasureable cars out there at that price point. JMO of course.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    At least the Panamera is a car, not a grossly overweight truck like the Cayenne.

  18. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Hyundai is building a Plant In Canada too, as well as Brazil. It is also looking at sites for another American Plant. As The Hyundai Accent is going to made to be an upmarket small car to take on the MINI, and Buick’s Astra, the Rio will be made to take on the Scion XD and Ford Fiesta.

    With the Content and the company plans to put in future models of these cars, they need a lower cost location than the Ulsan Factory. Plus, the Koreans fear a trade war.

    The Problem is will the quality of some of the most reliable subcompacts on Earth be Compromised if built at a Mexican location? Like the Nissan Versa, and its reliability concerns.

    *Note: Reliability based on JD Power US, JD Power Europe, JD Power Australia.