Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Archive for June, 2011

GM Warns it May Abandon Australian Operations

Maker may Cruze elsewhere.

by on Jun.28, 2011

GM warns it could end production of the Holden Cruze without financial aid from the Australian government.

General Motors’ long-standing manufacturing base in Australia could be in jeopardy, the maker warned, unless the government comes up with substantial new financial incentives.

If that happens GM would follow a long list of makers that have ruled it too expensive to continue automotive production in the island nation.  The U.S. maker previously abandoned efforts to ship products from Australia to North America.

“We’ve just starting building Cruze here and over the next 12 months or so we’ll have to make a decision on the next generation of that product,” Mike Devereux, managing director of GM Holden, told the newspaper The Australian.

Subscribe Now - It's Free!

The current version of the Cruze was approved by GM’s Holden subsidiary only after the government approved a $149 million package of incentives from its Green Car Innovation Fund.  But that program is being phased out, a government official telling the paper it has “run its course.”

(more…)

June Car Sales Likely to Show Slight Rebound

But Toyota, Honda still likely to be down sharply.

by on Jun.28, 2011

Toyota sales will likely be off sharply for June.

The U.S. auto industry should have a reason to celebrate over the upcoming Independence Day holiday; initial data suggest that increased industry discounting set off fireworks for consumers, sending them back to showrooms after May’s unexpected downturn.

But the trendline remains soft compared to the strong market of early 2011, and at least one study of consumer “intensity” suggests that the rebound may not last long, sales potentially slipping again in the months ahead.

Your Workhorse News Source!

June’s apparent upturn suggests that consumers are opening their pocketbooks again now that fuel prices have retreated a bit from an early spring surge.  Meanwhile, manufacturers like Toyota have consciously bought momentum by ramping up their incentives.  Makers had consciously trimmed back their giveaways over the spring – in large part responding to product shortages created by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan.

(more…)

Mulally Named “CEO of the Year”

"The foresight showed."

by on Jun.28, 2011

Ford boss Alan Mulally is named CEO of the Year.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has been judged by a jury of his peers – and declared “2011 Chief Executive of the Year.”

Credited with guiding the second-largest of Detroit’s hometown makers to an unexpectedly strong turnaround since joining the company in autumn 2006, Mulally was honored by CEO Magazine, which collected nominations from its 147,000 readers.  The former Boeing executive joins an elite group that previously included former Microsoft boss Bill Gates, GE’s Jack Welch and Southwest Airlines’ Herb Kelleher.

Subscribe Now - It's Free!

“The success he showed in the face of incredible difficulty was just extraordinary,” said James Turley, a member of the award selection committee and himself chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young.  “The foresight,” Turley added, “showed.”

Other members of the committee included chief executives from companies including Office Depot and MetLife.

(more…)

Johnson Controls to Invest $138.5 Million in Toledo Battery Plant

Plant will supply growth of vehicle start-stop systems.

by on Jun.28, 2011

Porsche's Panamera is one of the first vehicles offered in the U.S. with start-stop technology.

Another day, another company announcing expanded production of components for super-efficient vehicles featuring advanced battery technology.

Johnson Controls will invest $138.5 million to convert its battery plant near Toledo, Ohio, into a battery facility for start-stop systems and other high-efficiency vehicles. Subject to final state and local incentives, the facility will be the company’s first such plant in the United States.

Subscribe for Free!

“Start-Stop vehicle technology is emerging globally as one of the most affordable options for consumers who want to buy a more fuel-efficient car for very little added cost up front,” said Alex Molinaroli, president of Johnson Controls Power Solutions. “We see this market growing to 35 million batteries globally by 2015, and the United States is an important piece of the market.”

(more…)

Saab Lines Up $40 Mil Deal to Pay Down Debt

Maker hoping it can soon re-start idled assembly plant.

by on Jun.28, 2011

Saab's factory could soon be running again - or so the automaker now hopes.

The cash-starved Swedish automaker Saab continues lining up funding that it hopes will permit it to pay off mounting debts and re-start its idled assembly plant.

A day after revealing that an unnamed Chinese company will acquire $18.4 million worth of Saab vehicles, the maker says it has a tentative leaseback deal in place to sell a majority stake in its Saab Automobile Property unit, which owns the Trollhattan plant and additional assets.  The deal, worth an estimated $40 million, could help Saab not only meet the payroll it missed last week but also cover unpaid bills claimed by its parts suppliers.

News and Reviews You Can Use!

Those vendors have been boycotting Saab since March, compounding the company’s already severe financial problems.

The latest deal would transfer a 50.1% stake in Saab Automobile Property to the Swedish real estate company, Hemfosa.  Saab’s parent, Swedish Automobile, would then sign a 15-year agreement to lease the Trollhattan plant and other facilities.  Hemfosa will also have the right to increase its stake in the property company by buying $7 million worth of shares.

(more…)

Nissan Reveals Power 88 Plan: 8% Profit Margin, 8% Market Share and New Model Every 6 Weeks

Japanese maker goes on the offensive.

by on Jun.27, 2011

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn powers up.

Declaring it’s time for the maker to go on the offensive, “instead of restructuring,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has revealed his new Power 88 plan, which could put it within striking distance of the hobbled Toyota Motor Co.

The new six-year plan is the latest in a series of long-term targets laid out by Ghosn since assuming control of the then-struggling Nissan just before the turn of the Millennium.  But short of the original turnaround strategy, Power 88 is arguably the most ambitious laid out by the Brazilian-born executive.

Subscribe Free!

It calls for a huge increase in Nissan’s market share, to 8% within six years, while the maker also targets an 8% profit margin.  To help support its ambitious aims, Ghosn promises Nissan will significantly expand its presence in emerging markets, like China, while rolling out at least one new product, on average, every six weeks.

“This is the first time that Nissan is starting a plan on the offensive instead of reconstructing something, or defending something,” Ghosn told reporters at the maker’s new headquarters in Yokohama.

(more…)

Another White Knight Appears for Saab

Third Chinese company offers $18 million to cash-starved Swedes.

by on Jun.27, 2011

Saab lines up a deal to sell nearly 600 vehicles, raising $18 million in desperately needed cash.

It’s getting hard to tell the players without a scorecard, especially as Saab continues to spread its net hoping to come up with cash that can keep the financially struggling company afloat.

Less than a week after admitting it doesn’t have the resources to make payroll, the Swedish maker has announced yet another Chinese company has offered to lend it a hand, this time agreeing to pay $18.4 million in cash for 582 unsold Saab cars.  Meanwhile, efforts continue to win the approval of regulators in Europe and China needed to ensure that several other proposed deals can be completed, giving Saab enough cash to get it beyond the current crisis.

News Now!

“I am pleased to announce this agreement as it secures part of the necessary short-term funding for Saab Automobile and allows us to pay our employees’ wages before the end of this month,” Chief Executive Victor Muller said in a statement.

But it remains to be seen whether the latest bailout will be enough to get Saab back into production again, observers caution.

(more…)

What’s the Buzz, Camaro?

Chevy launches Bumblebee pony car just in time for Transformers 3.

by on Jun.27, 2011

Chevrolet pays homage to the latest installment of the Transformers series with the Bumblebee-colored Camaro special edition.

Chevrolet aims to get a lot of buzz with the new Bumblebee Camaro, which it hopes will ride the wave as one of the summer movie season’s anticipated blockbusters, Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, rolls into theaters across the country.

The black-and-gold Camaro honors Bumblebee, one of the Autobots from the Tranformers series, which can readily transform themselves from cars to fighting machines in the seeming blink of an eye.  The good news is that you don’t have be Shia Labeouf to drive one.

Subscribe Now! Free!

The 2012 Transformers Special Edition Camaro starts out as either a Camaro 2LS or 2SS with the RS Appearance Package.  Cough up another $3,000 and you’’ get not only Bumblebee’s exterior color scheme but a special rear spoiler, black-out 20-inch alloy wheels with Autobot logo center caps, and fender-mounted Autobot badges.

(more…)

Dodge Challenger R/T Tops List of Cars Holding Their Value

Looking for cars, trucks and crossovers with maximum trade-in power?

by on Jun.27, 2011

The 2011 Dodge Challenger R/T is the current model with the lowest anticipated 1st-year depreciation.

Sure, if you’ve got the money in your bank account, invest in that rare Bugatti Royale.  And an original, mint-condition Ferrari Testarossa isn’t a bad way to watch your money grow, either.  But for the average automotive buyer, the economic realities are significantly less positive: the moment you drive off the dealer lot you’re likely to start losing a significant chunk of your investment.

According to a AAA study, you’ll lose nearly $4,000 a year on depreciation with the average vehicle, much of that weighted to the first year after purchase.  A separate study by Consumer Reports projects depreciation will account for 46% of the money you’ll spend over the first five years.  But the folks at NADAguides stress that not all models lose their value equally.  Some, in fact, barely depreciate at all during the first year.

Subscribe Now! Free!

Perhaps surprising to some, the current model most likely to hold its value is the 2011 Dodge Challenger.  Mopar’s big muscle car is expected to lose just 8% of its value after 12 months of ownership, according to the NADAguides Car Buyers Market Report, which is comprised by the National Automobile Dealers Association.

(more…)

Chrysler and Eminem Score Big in Cannes

Super Bowl commercial nabs five major awards at international ad fest.

by on Jun.27, 2011

Chrysler's Eminem ad takes five awards at Cannes.

Chrysler’s widely watched “Born of Fire” Super Bowl commercial was one of the big winners at the Cannes Lions 58th International Festival of Creativity held in Cannes, France, nabbing five separate awards over the weekend.

The unusual two-minute spot, which featured Detroit-based rapper Eminem, took Four Gold Lions awarded to the brand for Best Direction, Best Script, Best Use of Music, Best Automotive Commercial and Best Editing.  The spot also took a Bronze Lion for Best Editing.

Your High-Powered News Source!

The spot was something of a coming-out for the long-troubled automaker, which had largely reined in its marketing efforts in the wake of its 2009 bankruptcy.  While most advertisers chose to go for 30 second spots on the Super Bowl, arguably the year’s most-watched television event, Chrysler spent an estimated $9 million to $10 million to produce and air a 2-minute commercial that market the debut of its new 200 sedan.

The ad, which featured Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” presented a visual image of a gritty Detroit struggling to re-emerge from years of decline – a metaphor for the Chrysler brand itself.  The tagline, “Imported from Detroit,” has now been adopted for the broader Chrysler line, and the maker has even introduced a line-up of T-shirts and other goods bearing the slogan.

The commercial generated tremendous debate in the days and weeks after the Super Bowl and has since been watched on media websites like YouTube by tens of millions more viewers.

“The Chrysler Brand is humbled to be awarded with such a prestigious honor at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity,” said Olivier Francois, President and CEO of Chrysler Brand and Lead Executive for Marketing, Chrysler Group LLC.

As TheDetroitBureau.com reported, earlier this year, Chrysler officials met with Eminem – real name Marshall Mathers – to discuss a possible reprise to his role in the 2-minute ad.  But Francois cautioned that the maker would not run a second spot simply for celebrity value, preferring to focus on brand attributes and products.  So far, no match for Chrysler and Eminem has been found.

But various elements of the long commercial – along with video not used in the original – have been edited together into additional spots and promotional material for the Chrysler brand.