May 4th, 2009 at 12:18pm
Fiat is making a bid for General Motors Europe. US car sales fell 34 percent last month and were worse in April than in March. Classic cars have been selling well. All that and more, plus a close up look at the new Ford Taurus.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Fiat wants to buy GM Europe. U.S. car sales were worse in April than in March. And a close up look at the new Ford Taurus.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Monday, May 4, 2009. And now, the news.
It’s official. Fiat is making a bid for General Motors Europe. If it can do that, the Italian automaker plans to merge Fiat Auto with Chrysler and General Motors Europe and spin that off as a new automaker that will have 80 billion Euros in annual sales, or about $105 billion. But I keep asking, where is Fiat going to get the people with the managerial skills needed to pull this off? Fiat has a very flat management structure where all its top executives already have two different jobs. And it’s hard to see where they’re going to get the time to work on such a large merger.
Meanwhile, back in the ‘States, car sales fell 34 percent last month. Bad news. But that’s compared to a year ago. The worse news is that car sales in April were lower than they were in March – about 8 percent lower. Every single major automaker saw a drop in sales with two notable exceptions. Honda sales were up 10 percent month over month. And General Motors saw a 6.6 percent increase in sales. In fact, GM gained a big jump in market share to just over 21 percent. The GM divisions that posted the gain in sales were Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Hummer. You heard right. Hummer! I guess those stupid rally caps really do work!
Several weeks ago we reported that Volkswagen was thinking about a reverse takeover of Porsche to wipe out Porsche’s debt it acquired when purchasing VW. But Wolfgang Porsche, head of Porsche’s supervisory board says the company won’t be sold to VW. According to Reuters, this puts Wolfgang at odds with his cousin, Ferdinand Piech, who advocates a sale of Porsche to VW. Piech also said Porsche should replace its CEO and chief financial officer with VW’s. The sale could be worth 11 billion Euros.
New cars are not selling well. But the Detroit News reports that classic cars have been selling well, particularly at auction houses like Barrett-Jackson. Prices for these sorts of vehicles have dropped slightly, but surprisingly, the market hasn’t bottomed out. Classic cars hold their value and people are starting to turn to them as an investment. Like gold, coins or real-estate, they’re tangible assets and they’ve increased in value over the years
Coming up next, a look at the upcoming 2010 Ford Taurus, we’ll be back right after this.
Every once in a while a vehicle comes along that really changes things. In the 1980s that car was the Ford Taurus. It revolutionized the family sedan with its sleek aero styling and innovative features. Now, after years of neglect, the company is trying to recapture the magic and the sales.
With its dramatic new look, Ford has turned the twenty-ten Taurus into its flagship sedan. Like today’s version, it’s a full-size car with a huge interior, but now it actually has some style.
To match the new body, designers gutted the boring old interior and replaced it with something much more striking. The 21st-century dashboard has a sloping center stack and a two pod shape that reminds me of the Mustang’s instrument panel.
The Taurus’ styling may be all new, but its powertrain isn’t. Ford is again offering a 3.5-liter V6 engine that should deliver 263 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque – exactly the same as today’s car. Putting the power to the pavement is a six-speed automatic transmission with a new feature called Grade-Assist, which keeps the car from rolling backwards on hills. All-wheel-drive is still available as an option.
One way that Ford’s trying to get people to Drive One, as its latest marketing tagline goes, is by focusing on technology. With features like adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing wipers and multi-contour seats that subtly massage your back to prevent fatigue, the company is trying to lure younger, more tech-savvy buyers to the Taurus. We’ll have to see if they take the bait.
One aspect of the car that’s never needed improvement is safety. It’s always performed well in crash tests, with today’s car earning a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS. But that didn’t stop Ford from enhancing the 2010 model. Along with many new crash-avoiding technologies, the car also features a stiffer body structure.
Another area where Ford isn’t backtracking is on the price. 26 grand is the cost of admission for a base Taurus, just like the 2009 model. With options piled on, the MSRP climbs into the 30s. Tomorrow we’ll tell the enthusiast half of the Taurus story, and how three little letters spell performance.
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.