October 20th, 2008 at 12:00pm
GM and Chrysler pursue merger talks, but both are having problems raising money to make it happen. The United Nations criticizes biofuels due to food security. Honda introduces the new Odyssey in Japan with a host of different technologies. All that and more, plus journalists gather in Hell, Michigan, to test drive finalists for the 2009 North American Car and Truck of the Year Award.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. GM and Chrysler pursue merger talks. The United Nations criticizes bio-fuels. And Honda introduces the new Odyssey in Japan.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Monday, October 20, 2008. And now the news.
More drama in the possible merger of General Motors and Chrysler. Over the weekend pressure built on both companies to put a deal together quickly, but the Wall Street Journal reports that both companies are having problems raising the money to make it happen. The plans are to cut 40,000 jobs, with the vast majority of them being Chrysler jobs. And that would take billions in buyouts and severance packages.
In what I believe is related news, German transmission company Getrag announced that its deal with Chrysler to build dual-clutch transmissions in the United States is off. Chrysler sued Getrag over financing to build the plant and I guess the German company decided that enough was enough and called the deal off. Chrysler has developed the habit of suing suppliers ever since the private equity firm Cerberus took over the company.
September auto sales were terrible and it looks like October won’t get any better (subscription required). Ward’s is forecasting U.S. October sales of a paltry 1 million vehicles. This equates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of only 12.6 million units. If the trend continues, this would make September and October the first consecutive months with below 13 million SAARs since July and August of 1992.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says that developing Bio-fuels threatens global food security and that it won’t help as much to reduce emissions as was previously thought. The FAO wants biofuels policies and subsidies to be reviewed in order to preserve world food security, protect farmers, promote rural development and ensure environmental sustainability.
Honda announced that it’s started selling a completely redesigned Odyssey minivan in Japan. The van features a 2.4-liter four cylinder engine and a body design that emphasizes a low center of gravity. Honda is offering a host of different technologies on this redesign of the Odyssey. Things like a double-wishbone front suspension, a CVT transmission and adaptive cruise control are either standard or available as options.
Luxury car brands are taking a beating as the U.S. market continues to falter. The Wall Street Journal reports that over the last few years, sales of luxury vehicles grew at an unprecedented rate. The market even took on an hourglass shape as sales of low-priced cars and luxury brands soared while brands in the middle stagnated. This isn’t the case anymore. Luxury automakers are really hurting as the economy continues to slide. Johan De Nysschen, head of Audi’s U.S. operations predicts that the market will contract by another 15 to 20 percent in the next 18 months, but slowly stabilize after that.
Coming up next, our feature story looks at the voting for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. We’ll be back, right after this.
And now for today’s feature story.
There are a lot of car awards in the car business, but only a few that are chosen by an independent organization of journalists. In the North America that organization is called the North American Car and Truck of the Year award. Last week members of the jury met in Hell, Michigan at the Hell Creek Ranch to test-drive the 2009 cars and trucks that are up for the award.
All they have to do is pick up the keys on the table and start driving what ever they want, from subcompacts, to exotic sports cars, to crossovers and pickups. And the journalists find it a very valuable way to compare cars.
The voting for the North American Car & Truck of The Year will take place in December and the awards to the winners will be presented at the next North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
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.TV. Thanks for watching; we’ll see you tomorrow.