February 2nd, 2009 at 11:35am
Barclays Capital downgraded Ford stock and says the company may need government money after all. Automotive suppliers are getting into the medical field to help off-set their losses with automakers. A new kind of shock absorber could recharge your batteries. All that and more, plus a look at some in-vehicle technology Ford is offering truck buyers.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Ford may need government money after all. Automotive suppliers are getting into the medical field. And a new kind of shock absorber could recharge your batteries.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Monday, February 2, 2009. And now, the news.
Last week Ford reiterated that it won’t need government money, but Barclays Capital says it might need it after all. Reuters is reporting that Barclays downgraded Ford stock and cut the price target on the stock to $1 from $4, citing cash concerns and an increase in the company’s net debt. Barclays says Ford is no longer off-setting its North American losses with its global sales.
Some automotive suppliers are looking at new areas of business to get into and a report in the Detroit News says they’re starting to make medical devices like heart stents and hospital bed components. The medical market is booming and that’s why a number of auto suppliers are retooling their equipment to get into that segment.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. Congress is considering incentives that would give car buyers $4,500 to trade in their old car for a new one. It’s being presented as a way of getting clunkers off the road and replacing them with fuel efficient vehicles. Texas already has a similar plan which requires the vehicles traded in have to be at least 10 years old and have failed an emissions test. And the federal plan may follow those guidelines. All I can say is that, for the most part, people driving old cars like that cannot afford to buy a new one.
Now the rental car companies want the federal government to provide them with money. The Journal says that Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, Dollar and Enterprise all want access to the TARP money so that they can go out and buy a lot more new cars.
Pirelli is developing a tire that can transmit performance data from computer chips mounted in the tread. Autoblog reports that the “Cyber Tire” can monitor operating temperature, pressure and road surface in real time. The company is also developing what it calls a “Cyber Wheel,” which measures hub loads, and other things. The idea is to package all these sensors right into the tires and wheels.
In the future, you might start aiming for all the potholes in the road. Autoblog reports that researchers at Tufts University patented a shock absorber that can help charge a hybrid’s batteries. Called the Power-Generating Shock Absorber, it has magnets and a coil winding that generates electricity when in motion. The more the shock moves the more power it generates. The developers estimate it can recover between 20 and 70 percent of the energy going into the shock.
Coming up next, a look at some in-vehicle technology Ford is offering truck buyers. We’ll be back right after this.
Ford is bringing a host of new features to the truck market with what it calls its Work Solutions technology suite, including a fully-integrated mobile office in the cab of its trucks. This system basically has the same functionality as a regular office. You can type, browse the web and even print documents right from the driver’s seat. It even lets you access files stored on other computers.
The whole interface is built right into the dashboard. A high-res, 6.5-inch touch screen is the heart of the system. It has two gigabytes of storage and offers slots for CDs, SD cards and even a USB port.
Like the rest of Ford’s Work Solutions suite, this feature is available on 2009 model F-Series trucks and E-Series vans. And who knows, in the future Ford might offer in-vehicle internet as an entertainment option on some of its other vehicles lines, just like Chrysler and BMW.
We’ve got an event coming this Friday you will not want to miss. It’s a live webcast at noon with the Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, the chief economist at Ford. She’ll be giving us Ford’s forecast for how the economy will do this year, as well as Ford’s forecast of what will happen with car sales. You’ll be able to post comments and ask questions during the interview, so start thinking about what you’d like to ask. That’s this coming Friday, live at noon Eastern Time, or 1700 hours Greenwich Mean Time.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.