July 13th, 2012 at 12:00pm
The head of General Motors’ European operations, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, just stepped down from his position and will be replaced by GM Vice Chairman, Steve Girsky. Mitsubishi just sold its NedCar plant in the Netherlands for only one Euro! The new Fiat 500L will be the world’s first production car to come with a coffee maker. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week with Ralph Gilles, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler’s SRT Brand as well as the company’s Senior Vice President of design.
Hello and welcome to Autoline daily, I’m Andrew Justus wishing everybody a happy and safe Friday the 13th. Let’s see if there are any black cats roaming the auto industry today.
HEAD OF GM EUROPE STEPS DOWN
The head of General Motors’ European operations, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, just stepped down from his position and will be replaced by the current Chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board and GM Vice Chairman, Steve Girsky. Stracke will take on different assignments at the company and report to CEO Dan Akerson. Blomberg reports GM leadership was unhappy with the turnaround effort by Stracke, even though he only started his position at the beginning of the year. Since 1999, GM has lost over $16 billion in Europe.
MITSUBISHI SELLS PLANT FOR 1 EURO
And speaking of struggling automakers in Europe, Mitsubishi just sold its NedCar plant in the Netherlands to bus maker VDL Groep for just one Euro! Yep you heard me correctly, one Euro. According to Reuters, the automaker agreed to such an outrageously low sales price since VDL won’t layoff any of the 1,500 employees. Mitsubishi expects to lose over $350 million on the deal. The plant, which builds the Colt subcompact and the Outlander, has a capacity of 200,000 units but was only building 50,000 cars a year. The company says it will now focus on expanding production in emerging markets.
FOCUS ST FUEL ECONOMY NUMBERS
We’ve got more numbers to share on the upcoming Ford Focus ST. Not long ago the company released pricing and horsepower figures; today it’s fuel economy. As a refresher, this high-powered hatchback delivers 252 ponies and 270 pound-feet of torque from a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. On the consumption front it should deliver 23 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on the highway, averaging 26 in mixed driving. That trumps its chief rivals including the Volkswagen GTI and Mazdaspeed3.
DEALERS MORE RELIANT ON SERVICE
Although some would say it’s the swindling department that is the moneymaker for dealerships, the Detroit News says dealers are increasingly reliant on the service department to bring in cash. Stores across the country took in nearly $81 billion dollars last year fixing cars. That figure comes from the National Auto Dealers Association. Meanwhile, Fiat ‘s global gross revenue in 2010 was only $75 billion dollars. Dealers are also looking to provide more competitive service. Doing more regular jobs like oil changes to bring more customers through the garage doors, and staying open on Saturdays in an effort to compete with independent shops.
IN-CAR COFFEE MAKER
We all know distracted driving is a bad thing, but cell phones and in-car electronics aren’t the only culprits. Opening the glove box or looking out the window can be just as dangerous. And you can soon add another hazard to that list: making coffee. Yes, the folks at Fiat are poised to introduce the world’s first production car with an honest-to-goodness espresso machine that heats, brews and dispenses. The new 500L will feature the optional java maker, which mounts between the front seats. Coffee cups, a spoon holder and a sugar dispenser complete the kit. Fiat’s “Coffee Experience” is expected to cost about €250, roughly 300 bucks and this has “lawsuit” written all over it. Someone call Ralph Nader, because this sounds unsafe at any speed.
It’s Friday and that means one thing . . . a preview of this week’s episode of Autoline is comin’ your way!
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
John McElroy sits down with Ralph Gilles, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler’s SRT Brand as well as the company’s Senior Vice President of design. He’s also joined in-studio by Scott Burgess of AOL Autos and Chris Paukert from Autoblog. In the following clip they discuss the latest version of the company’s performance flagship.
As always, you can watch the entire episode of Autoline This Week on our website, Autoline.tv. Check it out!
Also today, the Autoline Network has another RoundAbout show in the offing. Tonight the crew will discuss a new pair of smart headlights that can dodge pesky raindrops. Plus, we’ll have an all-new segment with our safety advocate, Donald Bloomberry. Everything kicks off LIVE at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time with Michelle Naranjo from Autobytel and Josh Lewis from RawAutos. Where can you find it? Why, Autoline.TV, of course!
Anyway, that’s all for today’s report, I’m Andrew Justus, thanks for stopping by.