September 3rd, 2009 at 12:08pm
BP says it made a massive oil find in the Gulf of Mexico. Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi designs a sports car. All that and more, plus John sits down with GM’s chief financial officer to find out if they can ever make a small car profitably in the U.S.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. BP says it made a massive oil find in the Gulf of Mexico. Muammar Gaddafi designs a sports car, yeah, that Gaddafi. And GM’s CFO says no more cheap interiors in its cars.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, September 3, 2009. And now, the news.
Drill, baby drill. The New York Times reports that BP made a MASSIVE discovery in the Gulf of Mexico. Located about 250 miles off the coast of Texas, the Tiber Oilfield could contain 3 billion barrels of crude oil and natural gas. Some say 6 billion. BP has to drill down almost seven miles to get it, making this one of the deepest wells ever. BP already produces 400,000 barrels a day in the Gulf. Now it could go to 650,000. But to put it in perspective, the U.S. uses 20 million barrels a day.
And now we turn to the story that just keeps on going. I’m talking about General Motors and Opel. The Wall Street Journal reports that it looks like GM is going to get a billion euros in aid for Opel from Britain, Spain and Poland, countries which all have Opel plants. This has GM thinking that now that it’s out of bankruptcy and can get its hands on money, maybe it should kick in cash of its own and not sell Opel. Meanwhile, RHJ, the investment firm that wants to buy part of Opel just offered more money for it. But the German government says no, it wants Magna to get it. And now it looks like any decision will be pushed back until after elections in Germany.
The Financial Times reports that Mini is going to boost production by adding two new models to its assembly plant near Oxford, England. It will build the Mini coupe that we showed you last week, and another unnamed concept vehicle, which we’re thinking might be the crossover vehicle which the company showed off last year. The boost in production should bring back about 800 workers to the plant.
Supplier company Continental just showed us its active safety technology, which it sees as a growing market. Critics argue it’s technological overkill, but Continental counters that there are more and more vehicles out on the road creating more congestion and distractions. Plus the population is aging and most accidents are caused by driver error. Continental justifies the cost of active safety equipment because you won’t need the money to fix your car if they help you avoid an accident.
Chinese auto company Chery will begin selling a plug-in electric car next year in China. According to Bloomberg, the car, called the S18, can travel up to 93 miles, or 150 kilometers, on a single charge and will cost up to $19,000. Chery expects to sell 30,000 S18s within three to four years.
Libyan dictator and reformed terrorist Muammar Gaddafi may have found his true calling in life. Autoblog reports that the Colonel has tried his hand at car design! Surprisingly, the Libyan Rocket as it’s called isn’t half-bad looking. Staying true to its name, the front and back ends of this five-seat sedan are sharply pointed … like a rocket. So why did he do it, if he was the one who really did it? Safety. Gaddafi wanted to design “the safest car produced anywhere.” That’s right, I said PRODUCED. It will be made in Tripoli where a factory is set to be built next month.
Coming up next, I sit down with GM’s chief financial officer to find out if they can ever make a small car profitably in America.
To understand what this auto industry is all about, you have to know the companies involved, and you have to know the people who run them. Ray Young is the chief financial officer of General Motors. Born in Canada to Chinese parents, he’s worked for GM in North America, Europe, South America, and Japan. I recently had the chance to chat with him, and here’s a quick interview that covers a lot of topics, starting out with me asking him when GM will start selling stock in the company again.
I then asked him if, now that GM got rid of most of its legacy costs, will it put more money into developing new cars and stop putting in such cheap interiors?
I also wanted to know if GM is now efficient enough that it can make small cars in the United States and make a profit on them?
Ok, if GM is so efficient, can it break even in the American market when car sales have dropped to their worst levels in decades?
Finally, if and when the car market comes back, is there any hope of GM reopening some of the plants that it’s closed?
Again, that was Ray Young, GM’s chief financial officer, one of the top leaders at the company.
Hey, don’t forget to tune in for Autoline After Hours tonight, live at 7 p.m. Eastern. Joining us in the studio will be David E. Davis, Jr., for what ought to be an entertaining evening.
And that’s it for today’s top auto news. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.