July 20th, 2009 at 12:00pm
Wendelin Wiedeking, the CEO of Porsche, will lose operational control of the company. The new CAFE requirements will be enforced more strictly by the EPA when they go into effect. Ford is looking at using lasers instead of spark plugs. All that and more, plus a look at the BMW 1 Series.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Wendelin Wiedeking may lose control of Porsche. The EPA says German automakers can no longer fall short of fuel economy standards. And Ford is looking at using lasers instead of spark plugs.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Monday, July 20, 2009. And now, the news.
Reuters reports that Magna will soon offer GM a “take it or leave it” bid to buy Opel. It says Magna will demand access to all of Opel’s intellectual property, and wants to build cars under its own brand. It also says Magna’s finance partner in the deal, Russian bank Sberbank, would turn its shares in Opel over to a Russian automaker.
The Wall Street Journal says Wendelin Wiedeking, the CEO of Porsche, will lose operational control of the company (subscription required), even though he will retain the CEO title for now. Wiedeking tried to mastermind a takeover of VW and he ran Porsche’s debt up to $9 billion in the process. But with the collapse in the global economy Porsche could no longer service that debt and now Herr Wiedeking’s audacious plans have collapsed. Porsche denies these reports.
The new CAFE requirements will be enforced more strictly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (subscription required) when they go into effect. According to Ward’s, the EPA won’t allow automakers to buy their way out of meeting fuel standards. Between 1983 and 2007, NHTSA collected over $770 million in fines, mostly from BMW, Mercedes and Porsche. Penalties for missing the new requirements haven’t been determined yet.
There’s a potential battle heating up between the UAW and Toyota. According to the AFP, Toyota is considering closing the NUMMI plant in California after GM pulled out of the joint venture. The union confirmed it’s in talks with the company to try and keep the plant open. Toyota is looking for ways to cut costs at the plant that builds over 350,000 vehicles for the company each year, and it will undoubtedly want the same concessions the Detroit automakers got from the UAW.
Engineers at Ford and scientists at Liverpool University in England have developed a technology that could do-away with the spark plug. The Telegraph reports the new ignition system uses laser light to ignite fuel and air inside an engine. The focused beams of light can deliver more stable combustion, which reduces fuel consumption. The system should allow cars to start more easily in low temperatures, cutting cold-start emissions by 80 percent.
This has to be the craziest incentive around. If you buy a new American truck from Max Motors in Butler, Missouri, you get a voucher for a free AK-47. Thankfully, the dealership is not just handing out free Kalashnikovs. Buyers get a coupon to take to any reputable gun shop where they receive a proper background check before getting their weapon. But I’ve got to ask, pickup buyers are the most loyal “Buy American” owners out there, why is this guy giving away Russian assault weapons? Aren’t American assault weapons good enough?
Coming up next, a look at what we’ve got “in the garage” this week, we’ll be back right after this.
To keep you, our loyal Autoline Daily audience up-to-speed on the latest product news, we get all kinds of cars to test and report on. This week we’ve got our hands on a BMW 128i. As you probably know, the 1 Series is the least expensive Bimmer offered in the U.S., but there’s nothing cheap about the way it drives. Autoline Daily producer Craig Cole reports.
Thanks Craig. The 128i starts at right around $30,000. It’s quick, smooth and an absolute blast to drive. And according to the digital readout, we even got around 30 miles per gallon. Not too shabby. Also, like every BMW, it includes the company’s free scheduled maintenance for the length of the factory warranty – four years or 50,000 miles.
Hey, don’t miss Autoline After Hours on Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern when our Skype guest will be Art Spinella from CNW Marketing. He’s the guy who did a marketing clinic in California a couple of years ago where he switched badges on a Toyota and Chevrolet, and found that consumers preferred the Chevy with the Toyota badge, but didn’t like the Toyota with the Chevy badge. Art Spinella will have some interesting stories to tell us.
Anyway, that does it for today’s show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.