Episode 926 – PSA Cuts Jobs, Opel Debuts ADAM Subcompact, Mahindra Axes U.S. Truck

July 12th, 2012 at 11:30am

Runtime: 6:32

PSA says it will cut jobs and close a factory due to the languishing European economy. Opel is debuting its ADAM subcompact, a sportier alternative to the  Agila it already makes. Amid mounting lawsuits and other challenges Mahindra finally pulled the plug on its move to launch a small truck for the U.S. market. All that and more, plus we pick the order for tonight’s AAH fantasy draft.

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This is Autoline daily for July 12th. I’m John McElroy and here are some of the latest developments in the global automotive industry.

PSA CUTS  JOBS
Well we’ve been reporting for some time that the European car industry is going to go through the kind of blood bath that hit the US industry three years ago. And now it looks like it’s starting to happen. PSA, the parent company to Peugeot and Citroen is going to close a plant in Aulnay, France that makes the Citroen C3. Bloomberg reports the company is going to cut 14,000 jobs. The company says it hopes these moves will help get it to a break-even standpoint by the end of next year. Here’s my Autoline Insight. These are half measures that will probably prove to be too little, too late. PSA, Renault, Opel and Fiat all require major overhauls and the longer they delay the day of reckoning, the worse off they’re going to be.

OPEL ADAM
Speaking of Europe, Opel just unveiled a new subcompact called the ADAM which is a sleeker, sportier alternative to the standard Agila subcompact. The three-door vehicle offers seating for up to four people and is available with three gasoline engines at launch. Each is mated to a five-speed manual and comes with stop/start technology. Later, a small turbocharged, direct-injected, gasoline engine mated to six-speed manual will be available. The ADAM will make its official world debut at the Paris Auto Show in September and will hit dealerships in Europe starting next January.

MAHINDRA TRUCK AXED (subscription required)
Looks like Indian truck maker Mahindra has thrown in the towel in its effort to crack the US market. Last month a group of dealers in the U.S. sued Mahindra for fraud and conspiracy over agreements to sell its low cost pick-up trucks. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that the company has dropped its plans to develop a pick-up for the American market because of regulatory changes and market conditions. While we won’t see a Mahindra truck on the road anytime soon, the company does sell tractors in the U.S., with over 10,000 sold last year.

CHINESE CAR SALES
Car sales in China came in stronger in the first half of this year than analysts were expecting. Passenger vehicle sales were up more than 7% to 7.6 million vehicles. While that’s the kind of growth most countries would love to have, it actually shows the Chinese market is slowing down slightly. And analysts believe the second half of the year will be weaker. Even so, the Chinese car market continues to show remarkable resilience.

DODGING RAIN DROPS
Poor visibility is one of the biggest problems for drivers out in the rain at night. A main problem is light reflecting back at the driver after it reflects off rain drops in mid-air. Carnegie Mellon and Smart recently joined up to develop headlights designed to eliminate 70-80 percent of visible rain by changing the beam pattern of the headlight to shine only where the rain isn’t. The system adjusts the headlight every 13 milliseconds and loses only 6 percent of the original light in the process of dodging rain drops. Researchers say the system would make a thunderstorm seem more like a drizzle as far as visibility is concerned, but will be less effective in snow and hail until it can be improved. The office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation helped fund the research.

Coming up next, get ready for the second annual Autoline After Hours Automotive Draft! We’ll have more details coming your way, next!

AAH FANTASY DRAFT
Tonight’s the night for the second annual Autoline After Hours Automotive Draft! Five separate team owners will face off in a battle royale to assemble the best management teams in the business. But what will the drafting order be? Who gets to pick first? Don’t worry, we’ve got it all taken care of.

We’re going to be having a lot of fun on tonight’s show, I hope you can join us, but that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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22 Comments to “Episode 926 – PSA Cuts Jobs, Opel Debuts ADAM Subcompact, Mahindra Axes U.S. Truck”

  1. dcars Says:

    I’ve wondered if GM has viewed PSA similar to Daewoo; a good company that has a lot of technology that GM could use, but needs to get it’s business plan in order.

  2. Frank Nelson Says:

    Why would GM invest in a company like PSA only to have them start cutting jobs in France immediately afterward? It sounds like their previous investments in Lotus, Saab etc. They let Fiat have billions and now they’re continuing to throw money down the proverbial ‘rathole.’ Too much old GM left at the helm.

  3. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The beam pattern alterations mentioned today (to help with reflectance) is brilliant (no pun intended, well okay, maybe a little :) ) Anyway, talk about thinking outside the box; I think that is exactly what those (in development) did. Another thing that really helps with visibility (at night and/or in the rain) is cleaning your windshield, but I’m talking about the inside (of it); really helps (to see) and reduces eye fatigue, especially on those longer trips.

  4. Brett Says:

    Oh, goody. Technology to make drivers even more irrationally confident in bad weather.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    Today I heard a travel specialist discuss a new distraction problem with drivers that rent new cars for trips and are not used to all the complicated electronics and add to that driving in unfamiliar areas, it has become a real issue of distraction just trying to operate some basic controls like a/c and the radio.

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    If drivers only replaced wipers when they get bad and keep windshields clean, this visibility issue would not exist.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If enough rental cars get crashed due to driver distraction electronics, GM might have an upper hand at getting more of they daily rental business. GM, or at least Chevy seem to be almost alone in making cars that you can work the radio without consulting the owner’s manual. Maybe no one wants rental car business anyway, though.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, isn’t GM the one that has “buttons” that are flush with the screen, so it is impossible to “feel’ for them? you have to take your eyes off the road to locate said buttons, I believe i saw that in the new Caddy.

  9. Phoenix Mark Says:

    Out here in the west best paint for the lane stripes would help in the rain. For some reason the wet paint and wet asphalt look the some, specially at night. Not to worry, we don’t get that much rain.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    Oh! here in So Fla with all the heavy downpours and lack of road maintenance, you can’t even see the damn lines at all most of the time when it rains cats and dogs.

  11. C-Tech Says:

    Thanks for the updates on PSA, Mahindra, and Opel. I hope the Mahindra dealers can get their money back. The Adam looks like a cross between the Mini Cooper Coupe and a Fiat 500.

    The headlights are a great idea. I hope the shifting beam is not a distraction to other drivers.

    With the cutbacks in registrations allowed in China, why are vehicle sales still rising so much?

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #8,
    The ones I’m talking about are the “mainstream” Chevys, including the new Malibu. Yeah, Cadillac uses some of what you describe, as does the Volt.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #11,
    Whilr car registrations are being restricted in China’s large cities, that is not the case in rural areas and smaller cities. Assuming China’s emerging middle class are everywhere in the country, not just the big cities, I would expect car sales to continue to rise.

  14. W L Simpson Says:

    PSA probably has too many non productive dues payers. It’s happened before.

  15. cwolf Says:

    If there is any good news for Opel, it’s the replacement of Stracke with Girsky as head of EU operations. If Girsky does any bit of good for the company,my guess he may be Ackersons replacement.

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC just finished a week long piece on the building of the LFA, now that is one car worth the $300k+ they charge for it, it’s almost hand made with the most expensive materials available, unlike the now defunct Maybach, an over priced, mass produced S class variant selling for that much.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Toyoto is not a car company I would have expected to do a project like the LFA, but it’s cool that they did it.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    It’s a halo, we can do whatever we set out to do and do it well car, plus we got the money to do so, so there. Boo Boo to all of you. Where is your Sixteen, Caddy?

  19. Brett Says:

    Shameless plug for Rain-X windshield washer fluid here (the green summer stuff, not the pink winter stuff). I don’t even need my wipers above 50 MPH, regardless of the intensity (save for light misting that requires the occasional swipe.)

    Using that stuff is best termed pro-survival behavior. Simplest, cheapest way to optimized your vision in rainy conditions.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    #19 right on and it does not involve any electronics or expensive repairs. But it does require some manual labor, which most people seem allergic to.

  21. Brett Says:

    #20

    It’s sooo arduous, popping the hood, flipping open the windshield washer reservoir lid and then pouring in the stuff. :)

    Oh, wait, there’s that pesky foil under the lid when you first open the jug. I forgot that! LOL

    I started out with just plain Rain-X close to 30 years ago and honestly found it to be more trouble than it was worth to apply. Combining it with the windshield washer fluid so it is automatically applied was sheer genius on their part. I’ve been a “true believer” for over a decade since I found out about it.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #19,
    I’ll have to try it. I always assumed that washer fluid was washer fluid, except the price, but it sounds like that is not the case.