January 22nd, 2010 at 12:00pm
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne says this will be the make-it-or-break year for Alfa Romeo. Toyota announced that it’s voluntarily recalling 2.3-million vehicles to correct sticking accelerator pedals. Ford’s effort to sell Volvo to Chinese automaker Geely is not going well. All that and more, plus Ford’s Jim Farley talks about how customers like the new Transit Connect as much as they like Mustangs.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Alfa Romeo is in big trouble. Toyota gets hit with another massive recall. And Ford’s effort to sell Volvo is not going well.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, January 22, 2010. And now, the news.
Alfa Romeo is in trouble (subscription required). Big Trouble. The Wall Street Journal reports that Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne says this will be the make-it-or-break year for the brand, and has hinted at freezing all product development because Alfa keeps losing money. He also just named a new CEO to run the brand, Harald Wester, 51 years old, who also runs the Maserati and Abarth brands, and is the chief technology officer of Fiat. In a sign of how Sergio Marchionne doesn’t waste time over executives who don’t deliver results, Mr. Wester is the fifth CEO of Alfa-Romeo since 2004.
And sticking with Fiat for the moment, Bloomberg says that Alfredo Altavilla will most likely succeed Marchionne as CEO of Fiat. He runs the powertrain division at Fiat and is also on the Board of Directors at Chrysler, the only other Fiat executive there besides Marchionne. Interestingly, in its grueling eight-hour press conference last fall, the one I call the Bataan Death March, Altavilla was never introduced to the media, the analysts or the supplier community. Bloomberg says Marchionne will probably stay on as CEO of Chrysler at least until it does an IPO next year.
Late last year Ford announced a preliminary agreement to sell Volvo to Geely, but apparently those talks aren’t going as well as we thought. According to Gasgoo, the main hurdle between the two sides is over control of Volvo’s intellectual property rights. Geely wants to get them all and Ford doesn’t to give everything away. The new report suggests both sides announced a preliminary agreement months ago because they wanted to make it look like they were making progress.
A new study says that the most growth for the auto industry lies in the so called BRIC nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China, no shock there though. But, according to the Detroit Free Press, of the 50 automakers and suppliers it studied only four were considered well-positioned in each of those countries. For automakers it’s GM and Volkswagen and for suppliers its Bosch and Delphi.
If you don’t like the smiley front-end on the new Mazda 3 you’re going to hate the new Mazda 5. The company has refreshed its MPV, giving it the same flame-surfaced look as other models in its lineup. Most pronounced are the swooping lines that run along the side of the body. They bring to mind Japanese calligraphy. But there’s more to this update than just new styling, CO2 emissions are down 15 percent thanks to i-Stop, its system that automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle is stopped.
Do you hear that? It’s time for Recall Roundup! When automakers screw up or NHTSA just wants to cause problems, Recall Roundup spreads the word.
Alright, first up we have Toyota. Yesterday the company announced that it’s voluntarily recalling 2.3-million vehicles to correct sticking accelerator pedals. This action is SEPARATE from the ongoing 4.2-million Toyota and Lexus vehicles called back for pedal entrapment.
Next, Ford is looking into pickups built between 2004 and 2006 for a potential airbag issue. Up to 1.6 million trucks could be affected by a defect that causes the airbags to go off without warning. The company believes the trouble could be caused by an electrical short.
Finally, Chrysler is in hot water over brake-rod clips on certain 2009 and 2010 models. The brake rod could separate from the pedal assembly resulting in stopping problems.
This has been Recall Roundup!
Coming up next, Ford’s Jim Farley talks about how customers like the new Transit Connect as much as they like Mustangs.
Joining me on this week’s episode of Autoline is Jim Farley, Ford’s Group Vice President of Global Marketing and the President of Canada, Mexico and South America. In the following bite he talks about the Transit Connect and how it’s really resonating with buyers.
As always you can catch the rest of this interview on our website, AutolineDetroit.tv.
And don’t forget to mark your calendar for January 26 when we’ll be webcasting live from the Washington DC auto show. We’ll be talking to the people in DC to learn how Washington will be dealing with the auto industry. That’s January 26 from 12:30 to 2:30 eastern time.
And as I mentioned yesterday, we have free tickets to the Washington show that we’d love to hand out. We’ve already received quite a few requests and we’ll be mailing those tickets out today, but we still have more, if you’re interested.
Ok, it’s Friday and you know what that means. It’s time to answer this week’s trivia question. We asked you to identify who was the aerodynamicist from the 1930s that discovered if you cut off a long streamlined tail on a car, it would reduce drag? And the correct answer is it’s Wunibald Kamm. As always we randomly selected this week’s winner from the pool of correct responses. And the winner is . . . Conrad Zumhagen from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Congratulations Conrad, you’ve just won an Autoline Detroit coffee mug.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.