Episode 164 – EU Wants Opel Review, Icahn Considers Delphi, GM Cuts Executive Pensions

June 15th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:40

The Industry Commission of the European Union wants a thorough review of the bailout plans for Opel. Activist investor Carl Icahn is considering taking another run at Delphi. General Motors is slashing pensions for its top executives. All that and more, plus a test drive of the new Honda Insight.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. The EU wants to review the Opel deal. Carl Icahn may take a run at buying Delphi. And GM slashes pensions for executives.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, June 15, 2009. And now, the news.

The Industry Commission of the European Union wants a thorough review of the bailout plans for Opel. One commissioner says the fact that no private investors have stepped forward shows this is a high risk venture, reports the AFP. He says the only one who will benefit from this is GAZ, the Russian car maker, which will get access to automotive technology that will allow it to export cars to Europe. GAZ is partnering with Sberbank, the Russian bank that is part of the buyout of Opel.

Activist investor Carl Icahn is considering taking another run at Delphi. According to Reuters, now that a federal judge has blocked Delphi’s sale to Platinum Equity Partners, Icahn is reportedly interested in making another offer.

GM is slashing pensions for its top executives. The Detroit News reports that executives who were paid less than $100,000 a year in pensions will not be affected, but everyone else will only get one-third of what they were owed in excess of $100,000. It says this could cost ex-GM chairman Rick Wagoner $15 million of the $20 million he was supposed to get. In other GM news, Bo Andersson, who ran the company’s Purchasing operations left the company immediately last Friday to pursue other interests.

Mazda developed a way to paint vehicles that reduces Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s found in paints as well as CO2 generated during the painting process. Mazda’s system includes an improved air conditioning system and a new, evaporation system that removes the water contained in paint, which is where most CO2 is produced. Mazda was also able to consolidate the painting process by developing top coat paints that have the qualities of primer paint, which reduces the amount of paint needed.

The Insight may fall short of Honda’s sales goals in the US. According to Bloomberg, Honda expected sales of about 90,000 cars but will probably only hit as much as 60,000 in sales. Low gas prices (even though prices have been rising lately), the weak economy, and competition from the new Prius are contributing to lower than expected sales.

As we reported last week, it looks like Saab might be sold to Koenigsegg and a group of Norwegian investors. But who or what is Koenigsegg? This is probably the first time most people in the auto industry have even heard of the company. The company, based in Sweden, was started by Christian von Koenigsegg, with the dream of making the ultimate sports cars. It’s a small company, with only 45 employees who build only 18 cars a year, which start at over half a million dollars apiece.

Coming up next, my impressions of the Honda Insight, we’ll be back right after this.

Last week I got behind the wheel of the all new Honda Insight, here’s what I thought of the vehicle.

Well, that does it for today’s show. But since we didn’t get to last week’s trivia contest let’s do that now. We challenged you to tell us what the three letters in Chrysler’s high-performance SRT division stand for. And as most of you correctly responded, the answer is Street and Racing Technology. And the lucky winner is … Mike Mason of Cleburn, Texas. Congratulations Mike, you’ve just won a book all about the development of the Mercedes-Benz R-Class.

Hey, don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours this week at 7 PM eastern, or 2300 hours GMT. Joining me, Peter Delorenzo and Jason Vines is Mark LaNeve, GM’s VP of vehicle sales, service and marketing in North America.

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

14 Comments to “Episode 164 – EU Wants Opel Review, Icahn Considers Delphi, GM Cuts Executive Pensions”

  1. Tony Gray Says:

    John,

    Your Insight review is a refreshing counterpoint to the “Honda is always perfect” noise that comes from most outlets. However I am sure that Honda will be diligently working to remedy those issues in short order.

  2. pedro Fernandez Says:

    I noticed that John turned the key instead of pushing a button, that’s interesting, does it mean the gas engine always starts when you first turn on the car? unlike the Prius,where you first get electic only and then the gas enginekicks in as needed.

  3. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Honda is not perfect, remember the Del Sol? horrible body integrity. My friend’s 99 Accord has a lot of wind noise coming from the doors and the tranny went at 60k miles. The tech told us that Accords form that generation have a weak torque converter.

  4. G.A.Branigan Says:

    LMAO,GM suits getting their fat pensions cut,LOL.Poor Wagoner has to survive now on only 5 mil.Those that ran GM into the ground don’t deserve any kind of pension.Had it been based on performance,they would owe GM.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    To me, the biggest problem with the Insight is that the gas mileage is considerably worse than that of the new Prius. The skimping in technology allows the Insight to sell cheaper, but if you want the best of the serious hybrid “do everything” hatchbacks, it is still the Prius.

  6. Alex Kajdi Says:

    John,

    The EU is appropriately concerned over the fact that Opel / GM technology becomes available to Russian Car Markers through this bailout of Opel. This may open the doors to the flooding of EU member states with less expensive clones of established Opel / GM technology vehicles which could potentially hurt future EU Auto Manufacturing Jobs.

    I agree with you on the Honda Insight. Honda seems to have simply brought over the Japanese version of the vehicle in an attempt to have an immediate presence in the US Hybrid Market.
    The Insight needs to be made higher to prevent average sized Americans from hitting their heads on the top of the door jambs. The Insight is also too narrow. I can see Honda doing a quick reworking of the Insight just as they did with the Fit to be competitive with the third generation Prius.

    Honda being a motor company should take the FCX and install a Flex Fuel electric generator motor which can run on both Gasoline and/or E85 instead of hydrogen. This would grab up any customers waiting around for the Chevy Volt, and give possible Prius buyers another choice in the plug-in electric car market. This move would catapult Honda into the lead of the electric car market even ahead of Tesla’s Model S. As you stated previously, “No one has the money to build a Hydrogen Highway in the next 20-30 years”.

    Did you watch the Michigan Nascar Race this weekend? I was Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson both run out of gas on the last lap of the race.
    The third position car driven by Mark Martin won the race. Why is Nascar limiting the amount of fuel per driver in their races?
    Is this an effort to force Nascar Teams to develop better fuel economy technology for future applications to real world vehicles?

  7. Episode 164 - EU Wants Opel Review, Icahn Considers Delphi, GM Cuts Executive Pensions « Honda Says:

    [...] See the original post: Episode 164 – EU Wants Opel Review, Icahn Considers Delphi, GM Cuts Executive Pensions [...]

  8. William Says:

    Delphi needs to run kicking and screaming from the advancing onslaught that is Icahn. That man is up to no good. I promise (so says the former TWA employee).

  9. Episode 164 – EU Wants Opel Review, Icahn Considers Delphi, GM Cuts Executive Pensions Says:

    [...] Original post by John’s Journal [...]

  10. Salvador G. Says:

    JohnMc.,

    First- I’m glad the Russians are getting Opel, I call that poetic justice, here’s Opel don’t wanting to do nothing with FIAT, you know those bad Italians with their Ferraris and now the Russians, who cars generally suck; are taking over, well I say ‘Way To Go COMRADS! And That is Poetic Justice.

    Second- The new Insight.

    For what you describe the steering feels like a toy car (JohnMc.) also when you accelerate, Does it feel like the small engine is working really hard??
    Now I notice that just like the Prius, the Insight is really quiet at first– Now I figure that the awful noise its because of the light materials that the car is built with– You know.. Light materials= less sound resistance.
    (they could put egg carbors)

    -Can the noise be heard from Outside the car just as loud??

    -can it be fixed by putting a Turbo on the engine???

    Thanks J.McErloy
    Very Insightfull.

  11. john Says:

    I love the sound of that engine.

  12. Tom Martin Says:

    We often balame the UAW for inflating post-employment and unemployment benefits. Looks like GM management is just as guilty. Hooray for the reduction.

  13. Puremoose Says:

    John
    Why would the rear view mirror shake?
    Is the glass to thin.

  14. Edward Walsh Says:

    Hi John:

    Thank you for the review of the 2010 Honda Insight. My wife and I had this car in our ‘sights’ as a possible replacement come the end of August 2009 when our current lease ends. We did take it for a ‘quick’ test drive which included a steep hill on the return to the dealer. Did notice that the engine was a ‘tad’ bit louder like some other small cars we have owned over the years, but not like you showed.

    We will be going back to the dealership later this month and will have to give it a more thorough test drive to compare it what you noticed as well as how it stacks up with the other vehicles we are considering leasing: 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid and Toyota Prius. I am hoping you will soon be able to ‘air’ your take on the 2010 Toyota Prius.

    Once again, thanks for the review and keep up the good work.

    Edward Walsh
    Marystown, Newfoundland
    Canada