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President’s Budget Proposal Could Be Big Boon for Auto Industry

Administration wants $2 bil for advanced vehicle research funding.

by on Apr.11, 2013

President Obama is proposing efforts to promote America's energy independence, including tax credits for electric vehicles.

President Barack Obama is proposing a number of new efforts designed to improve the nation’s transportation system, with a mix of high-speed rails, cleaner fuels, tax credits for those buying alternatively powered vehicles – and as much as $2 billion in funding for advanced vehicle programs.

“We’ll continue our march toward energy independence,” Obama said in presenting his budget proposal to Congress. A key goal will be to eliminate the need for foreign oil imports over the next decade.

Part of that would involve increasing the Department of Energy’s vehicle research budget by 75% to $575 million, while also creating an energy trust fund the administration had previously outlined.

Your Auto News Source!

The budget proposal renewed the White House push to expand credits for those buying electric vehicles and plug-ins. Such buyers now qualify for up to $7,500 in tax credits – for which they may have to wait months until next filing with the IRS. The administration would like to bump the number up to $10,000 for qualified vehicles and have the credits become available more immediately.

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Obama Gets Look at New Diesel Technology

President uses Detroit visit to decry anti-union legislation.

by on Dec.11, 2012

President Obama during a visit to Detroit Diesel that took on political overtones as he spoke out against proposed new anti-union legislation.

As he visited the Daimler AG plant near Detroit Monday, President Barack Obama was given a firsthand look at some of the latest high-mileage diesel technology – and details on an investment by the German maker that will add more than 100 jobs to its Detroit Diesel plant.

The president’s visit was intended to help celebrate a $100 million investment by Daimler AG, but the newly re-elected Commander-in-Chief also used the occasion to forcefully speak out against anti-union legislation rapidly working its way through the Michigan legislature.

“We should do everything we can to encourage companies like Daimler to keep investing in American workers,” said the president during his visit to the Detroit Diesel plant. “What we shouldn’t be doing is taking away your rights to bargain for better labor agreements.”

Martin Daum, president and chief executive Daimler Trucks North America, showed the President the German truck maker’s automated manual transmission for diesel engines and the Detroit Diesel division’s new DD15 engine featuring a proprietary turbocharger with a next-generation amplified common rail system, which not only improves performance and fuel economy, but reduces overall weight and complexity.

“The Detroit brand has long been synonymous with power and economy, and the addition of these components to our complete optimized powertrain offerings manufactured at the Detroit brand headquarters will add substantial benefit to our customers’ bottom lines,” Daum said.

Daum explained the addition of the Detroit DT12 automated manual transmission and DD15 proprietary asymmetric turbo to the full line of Detroit brand engines and axles at the facility represents a capital investment of $120 million and will result in the addition of 115 direct jobs to UAW 163, the union local that represent the Detroit Diesel plant.

The president’s visit came a day before a massive Tuesday protest was scheduled to take place in Lansing, the Michigan capital, to protest new anti-union legislation that Gov. Rick Snyder has now said he will sign.  It would make Michigan, a traditionally strong base for organized labor, the 24th state to pass so-called “right-to-work” legislation.

The measure would make it illegal to require workers at an organized plant to contribute dues without their consent. On the other hand, it would also require that those who opt out would continue to share in key union-derived benefits in the form of any new raises or other contract terms.

The legislation has been strongly backed by the Koch Brothers, who advocated similar legislation in Wisconsin and who were major financial backers of failed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Only a month ago, the Governor indicated such a measure was “not on (his) agenda.” He now defends the proposal as making Michigan more competitive to businesses looking to expand.

But critics note that the new legislation would also severely restrict unions’ ability to organize and to use their money and clout for political purposes.

One of the ironies of the Obama visit to Detroit is that while the Detroit Diesel facility is organized by the United Auto Workers Union, Daimler’s U.S. Mercedes-Benz assembly plant is located in Alabama, another state with anti-union legislation. The UAW has so far been able to organize that facility.

Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.

 

Auto Industry Helped Tilt Vote Towards Obama

Claims about Jeep and GM backfire for Romney.

by on Nov.07, 2012

Then-candidate Barack Obama looks under the hood of a Jeep in 2008. Obama's fortunes - and his re-election - have been tied to the auto industry.

Even as analysts pour over the data trying to get a clear understanding of what led President Barack Obama to victory on Tuesday, there’s a growing sense that the auto industry played a significant role, especially in the key battleground state of Ohio.

One of the most bitterly fought presidential campaigns in decades revealed significant strengths and weaknesses for both candidates. But as so often happens, external events – such as Superstorm Sandy – and campaign missteps including “inaccurate” last-minute claims about General Motors and Chrysler may have had as much of an impact on key voters as the debates, the endless political commercials and the long lists of endorsements claimed by either side.

Targeting the News!

Perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than in Ohio, where voters’ decision in favor of the president was reported by the various TV networks as pushing Obama to re-election shortly after 11 PM EST.  CNN’s chief political analyst John King, who repeatedly parsed the results from swing states down to the county level, noted that while much of Ohio was “red,” the color assigned to Republicans, “the industrial north is solidly blue” in a corridor that took in automotive manufacturing centers such as Toledo and Cleveland and its suburbs.

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“No Silver Bullet” to Solve Gas Crisis, Says Obama

But new, high-mileage vehicles will help, insists president.

by on Mar.05, 2012

The President checks out a Chevrolet Volt at this year's Washington Auto Show.

There’s “no silver bullet” for bringing down fuel prices that have now topped $4 a gallon in some parts of the country, warned Pres. Barack Obama during his weekly radio address – though he insisted that the new, higher-mileage models being built by a resurgent U.S. auto industry will ultimately save consumers money at the pump.

While signs of an improving economy may be playing to the President’s advantage in recent weeks, political observers warn that fuel prices could be a critical factor in determining the outcome of the 2012 election – especially if, as some now forecast, gas hits $5 a gallon.

Tackling the News!

Obama’s GOP opponents have already picked up the cry.  Before dropping out of the presidential race last year, Cong. Michelle Bachmann insisted she’d bring gas prices down to $2 a gallon if elected.  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has made a similar claim in recent weeks – though, like Bachmann, he hasn’t discussed how.

Nonetheless, it is clear the Administration is concerned about the gas price issue – especially as it is facing the possibility that the cost of petroleum could surge if the war of words with Iran over that country’s nuclear program turns into a shooting war.

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Bush Considered Faster GM, Chrysler Bankruptcies

Former co-auto czar outlined options in memo to incoming Obama Administration.

by on Jan.23, 2012

Pres. Obama with former co-auto czar Lawrence Summers prior to the January 2008 inauguration.

In the end, the two failing automakers got enough cash for a temporary reprieve, the outgoing Bush Administration punting the problem of how to save General Motors and Chrysler to its successor, Barack Obama.  But a lengthy memo from former National Economic Council Director Lawrence H. Summers to the president-elect reveals Pres. George W. Bush gave serious consideration to accelerating the move to put GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy.

News Now!

The 57-page memo is revealed, for the first time, in the New Yorker magazine’s website.  Summers, who also served as co-auto czar for the new administration, penned the note on December 15, 2008, four days before Pres. Bush authorized the payment of $17.4 billion to the two makers.  He approved $25 billion for the makers and their equally troubled captive finance arms before the Obama Administration took office a month later.  In all, the automotive bailout would ultimately reach $85 billion.

The memo covered far more than just the automotive bailout, noted New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, who termed the document, “the ur-text for economic policy-making for the Obama Administration.”

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America “Cannot Walk Away” From Auto Industry

President’s speech signals a new direction.

by on Feb.25, 2009

"The nation cannot walk away" from the auto industry.

"The nation cannot walk away" from an auto industry "millions of jobs depend on."

“The nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it,” declared President Barack Obama, during a speech to the joint houses of Congress, Tuesday night.

The 52-minute address, effectively the new President’s first State of the Union, covered a broad range of topics, from the nation’s economic crisis, to the war in Iraq, from health care to education. But a fair share of the President’s comments were devoted to the ailing American auto industry and the energy policies that could shape the future of transportation.

Noting that “millions of jobs depend on it,” President Obama said that, “We are committed to the goal of a retooled, reimagined auto industry that can compete and win.” That was undoubtedly good news to Detroit’s troubled Big Three automakers. But other comments were also aimed at chastening the executives who oversaw the domestic industry’s desperate slide.

“As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink,” said the President. “We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices.”

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GM Shares Hit 70-Year Low

Obama calls for fundamental restructuring of auto industry.

by on Feb.20, 2009

GM stock hits near-75-year low Friday.

GM stock hits near-75-year low Friday.

With General Motors shares briefly plunging to their lowest level in three-quarters of a century, it should be no surprise that President Barack Obama marked the first meeting of his administration’s new auto task force by declaring there’s a need for a fundamental restructuring of the domestic car business.

A White House statement stressed that the administration understands the urgency of dealing with the problems facing Detroit’s Big Three. The task force, chaired by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, aims to get a clear handle on whether the domestic industry can be saved – particularly General Motors and Chrysler, which, on Tuesday, submitted “viability” plans to support the billions in loans former Pres. George Bush approved, last December, to keep them alive.

The new plans asked for an additional $21.6 billion in aid, while outlawing significant new cuts in production and employment aimed at keeping GM and Chrysler in business. The two makers will have to complete their proposals by March 31st, after which the task force will make its recommendation to Pres. Obama. He could agree to provide additional assistance, or take steps – such as calling in the existing loans – that would force the makers to declare bankruptcy.

The latter possibility is clearly weighing on investors, who briefly drove GM stock down to a near 75-year low of $1.53 a share in early afternoon trading. The last time the company saw that number was on July 26, 1934, in the depths of the Great Depression. By the end of Friday trading, GM shares recovered slightly, to close at an anemic $1.77, still down 23 cents or 11.5%.

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ROI on Audi’s Media Splash

Audi gets big payoff on Obama inauguration bet

by on Jan.27, 2009

Audi bet big on Obama

Audi bet big on Obama

History was made last Tuesday in politics and media coverage as Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States.

According to the latest Nielsen Media Research, Comcast and other research types (it’s still being updated) broadcast television networks – ABC, CBS and NBC – combined was watched by almost 38 million people, slightly less than the coverage of JFK’s event. Data showed NBC won the broadcast net race.

Cable news networks – CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and others who accept advertising dollars which excludes C-Span – had an estimated audience of 18 to 22 million viewers. And the Internet had 22 different sites – newspapers, news magazines, bloggers, and other venues – for several more million viewers.

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Obama Orders Fast Action on CAFE and California Car Standards

Proposed CO2 rules could force a big mileage increase.

by on Jan.26, 2009

Would new CO2 rules bar big SUVs?

Would new CO2 rules bar big SUVs?

As anticipated in our preview post early this morning, President Barack Obama today made some quick moves on the auto industry’s two biggest energy and environmental issues. Although he’s not yet named a “car czar” to oversee financial aid and other federal activities on cars, Mr. Obama established that — whoever the czars or czarinas of his administration might be — they’ll all tow the line when it comes to advancing his agenda.

Signing two executive orders, the president handed one to his Secretary of Transportation and the other to his Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. DOT czar Ray LaHood was directed to quickly finalize a new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rule for model year 2011, and EPA czarina Lisa Jackson was ordered to provide an expedited review of California’s request to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

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Barack to Arnold: We’ll Get Right On It

Obama expected to announce swift action on California's request to regulate tailpipe CO2

by on Jan.26, 2009

CA Rules Would Limit CO2

CA Rules Would Limit CO2

It is being reported that on Monday President Obama will pledge a quick review of the Bush Administration’s decision last March to deny California’s request for a Clean Air Act waiver that would enable the state to put in place its stringent greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks.

On the day after the inauguration, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote Obama with such a request, backing a parallel letter from the head of the state’s air resources board to incoming EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

Mr. Obama ran on “change” and the expected announcements appear aimed at making it clear that his administration is serious in that regard. Although it may take some time for EPA to formally review and reconsider California’s waiver request, granting it would deliver on one of Obama’s campaign pledges. It would also represent a tangible step toward stronger climate regulation, one that the incoming administration can take on its own, without waiting for Congressional action.

Automakers have continued to strongly protest California’s stronger standards, arguing that a single, federal program regulating automobile CO2 emissions is much less costly. They point to Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards as the preferred approach.

The state of California, along with environmentalists, assert that the stronger standards are both feasible and cost-effective, and would result in greater emissions reductions that those from CAFE standards. (This writer testified in favor of the California standards when they were up for approval before the state’s Air Resources Board in September 2004.)

The new administration has also said it will move quickly to finalize new rules setting CAFE standards for cars and light trucks through 2015. A draft rule developed by the Bush Administration had been all but finalized in early December when the GM and Chrysler bailout pleas reached Washington. At that point, the Bush team put the rule on old, leaving it to be finalized by the Obama team. (more…)