John's Journal: John McElroy's multimedia blog about the automotive industry

Archive for the ‘John’s Journal’ Category

AAH #13 – Dame Diesel

June 25th, 2009 at 8:55pm

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Octogenarian autowriting and racing icon Denise McCluggage joins the boys — John, Peter and Jason — for a 60-minute high speed discussion on all things automotive. Starting with a black and white look back into her past as a guest on the ’50s game show “To Tell the Truth” and onto her passionate desire for diesel future, they manage to squeeze in a few other topics like Cash for Clunkers, Chrysler’s Empty Product Pantry and even a “marriage proposal” for Ms. McCluggage. Maybe she’ll deal with that one in our “Rapid Fire” round. Oh, and don’t forget to get an update on where you stand with our “After Hours” contest on just when GM will exit Bankruptcy. Sad to report, we already have some losers.

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How to Revive GM

June 23rd, 2009 at 3:54pm

Even though it’s bankrupt and the price of its stock has collapsed, General Motors is worth a lot more money than most people realize. And if the company were to take a radically new approach to how it runs its business the payoff could be enormous.

GM’s market capitalization is at ridiculously low levels. The total value of its stock is presently less than half a billion dollars. But the company is really worth a lot more than that. When you add up the value of all the land, buildings, tools, machinery, equipment, patents, research labs, proving grounds and every other asset it has, GM is worth over $140 billion. There’s even more value in the know-how, knowledge and experience of its people.

But how do you unlock all that value?

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Top 20 Passenger Car Brands in China

June 22nd, 2009 at 10:25am

China’s automotive market continues to grow strong despite the global recession. Exports are down but the internal market is doing well.  Sales are expected to be up over 6% this year.  It’s partly driven by a government program to stimulate automotive sales, particularly for those with engines of 1.6 L or less.  Sales in that segment are up 50% so far this year.

Some experts warn the current pace can’t continue.  Even so, China is likely to emerge as the largest car market in the world.

Follow the jump for a list of the best-selling brands of passenger cars.  This does not include sales of commercial vehicles, which comprise a significant part of the Chinese market.

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AAH #12 – Ankle Deep

June 18th, 2009 at 9:08pm

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This week–despite the requisite beers–a very sober After Hours as we go into the nitty gritty of what’s going on at the bankrupt GM. John McElroy and the regulars, Peter De Lorenzo of AutoExtremist.com and PR master Jason Vines, are joined by Mark LaNeve, General Motors’ VP of Sales, Service and Marketing, to discuss the recovery the company is trying to wade through. What’s with the GM image spots? Why won’t GM create a Chevy version of the G8? How are GM’s dealers handling the end of their livelihoods? Plus, Mark answers your questions in our “Rapid Fire” segment.

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AAH #11 – I Love Gooold!

June 11th, 2009 at 9:18pm

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Another week and another “golden” After Hours. John McElroy and the regulars, Peter De Lorenzo of AutoExtremist.com and PR master Jason Vines, are joined by John Mendel, Executive VP of American Honda, to discuss the automotive week that was. Honda celebrates 50 years, Mendel weighs in on Fiat’s restructuring efforts and Rush Limbaugh gets an earful from the resident Republican. Plus, we answer your questions in our “Rapid Fire” segment and we announce the details of our new GM Bankruptcy contest.

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An Intriguing Build-to-Order Concept

June 11th, 2009 at 10:41am

Automakers have been studying how to devise a build-to-order system for years. The idea is to only build cars which customers have ordered, rather than fill up dealers’ lots with months worth of cars and then have customers buy what’s on the lots. So far almost everyone has focused on how to build a car faster, or process the paper work more quickly. But in the following article Steve Beeler proposes an intriguing way to do it. I’d love to hear what others have to say with his proposal.

-John McElroy

Nothing much good can be said about the vast stocks of unsold vehicles on dealer lots:  billions of dollars of scarce capital are tied up, lot rot deteriorates quality, customers can’t find exactly what they want but delivery times for special order vehicles are interminable, and margins suffer as incentives are required to move the metal.  The first manufacturer to solve the build-to-order puzzle will have competitive advantages in customer satisfaction and premium pricing.

An auto company’s order-to-cash process spans all of its functional chimneys.  A system-level, customer focused view of order-to-cash will encounter a number of dependencies:  platform strategy; product plans; features and options complexity; manufacturing sourcing, flexibility, and capacity; and so on.  It will also encounter two long standing Detroit paradigms: minimum cost equals maximum profits and booking profits at gate release.

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Grand Bentley Teaser

June 10th, 2009 at 4:49pm

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As reported on Autoline Daily, Bentley released this teaser video in the lead up to the reveal of its new Grand Bentley later this summer. Could this “epitome of Bentley” be a replacement for the Arnage?

Test Driving a Chevy Volt

June 9th, 2009 at 11:52am

I got the chance yesterday to go to the GM Tech Center to drive one of the Volt mules. You may have read something about these cars already. They’re actually Chevrolet Cruze’s with all Volt technology in them. Well, almost all of the Volt technology. These mules did not have the engines hooked up that recharge the batteries. More on that in a minute.

In case you’re not familiar with term, a “mule” refers to a car that’s been cobbled together for development purposes. Since the Volt and all the technology that’s going in it is still under development, GM took production versions of the Chevrolet Cruze and bolted in the Volt powertrain and batteries. They used the Cruze because it’s roughly the same size as the Volt. This allows them to test the powertrain more quickly rather than waiting for the final engineering on the Volt body to be done.

When we went outside to drive the mules the GM people told me that the car was already “on.” At this stage of development, it takes over 20 seconds to boot up everything in the car before it’s ready to drive. GM says it can reduce that delay but I still got the sense they’re still going to be some boot up time required even with the final production version.

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GM – Government Motors

June 8th, 2009 at 3:07pm

AAH #10 – How’s That Workin’ Out for You?

June 4th, 2009 at 9:02pm

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Another historic week in the auto industry and you can be sure the “After Hours” boys aren’t far behind. John McElroy and the regulars, Peter De Lorenzo of AutoExtremist.com and gonzo PR ace Jason Vines, are joined by Tom Walsh of the Detroit Free Press to discuss the automotive week that was. Tom calls on the ghost of John DeLorean, Bob Nardelli finds himself in a scandal over Viper and, oh yes, GM files for bankruptcy! Plus, we answer a few of your questions in our “Rapid Fire” segment and we celebrate 10 years of the AutoExtremist.

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