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Posts Tagged ‘Obama Administration Auto Task Force’

First Drive: 2012 Mini Coupe

The small car brand gets bigger.

by on Jun.13, 2011 gets a first drive of the new Mini Coupe, which is set for a world debut at Frankfurt.

Many folks seem to recall the original Mini as a single, pint-sized offering though there was, in fact, an assortment of sizes and shapes marketed by the British brand over the years.

And so, from the rebirth of Mini in 2001, it was obvious that the brand would come up with more models than just the Hatchback – as the British marque, now under the command of Germany’s BMW, is rapidly proving. This year, Mini is adding the Coupe, the fifth model to the range, to a rapidly swelling line-up that already includes the Clubman, Convertible and Countryman. Next year, the Roadster will be number six.


We got our first sneak peek at the Coupe prototype at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The strongly positive feedback convinced Mini to not just put the new 2-door into production but bring it to market in time for the next Frankfurt show – where it will make its official world debut this autumn.

But we were able to snag some seat time months before that formal introduction.


Reflections on Our Auto Restructurings

Former head of the Obama’s Auto Task Force speaks out.

by on Oct.21, 2009

Presidnet Obama speech on stabilizing the auto industry

Chrysler and GM survived because of the President’s willingness to let them go bankrupt.

In a speech today at the National Press Club, Steven Rattner defended the Administration’s decision to intervene in the auto industry and was harshly critical of the insular culture at General Motors, and years of mismanagement and leveraged debt at Chrysler.

Failure to act, however, was not an option in the Task Force’s view since it would mean the immediate loss or elimination of more than two-thirds of American-owned auto manufacturing capability, cost more than a million jobs in the short run, dramatically deepen and prolong the nationwide recession, and push unemployment rates in several states above 20%.

The question was how to act effectively, and not just buy time for the failed companies.

The Auto Task Force, of which Rattner was a key member, was just being formed when both Chrysler Corporation and General Motors Corporation submitted mandated “viability plans” on February 17. These plans were required when Congress declined to act on behalf of the failing companies before Christmas, and President Bush decided in late December to provide $17.4 billion of TARP funding to GM and Chrysler and kick the problem down the road to the incoming administration.

“Those plans evinced a state of denial as to the magnitude of their problems, the necessary changes and the conditions under which the Administration might provide further assistance,” Rattner said, in a speech sponsored by the Brookings Institute.

It was clear to him that both companies needed massive reductions in their costs and liabilities, including their legacy health care obligations, their labor costs, and their manufacturing footprints.

The government as piggy bank

“The President and his senior advisers were of one mind: No more money except in the context of shared sacrifice and restructurings to become truly viable.”

The next set of surprises came as the Task Force began meeting with various stakeholders at the failing companies. Rattner said the Task Force was startled when bondholders, labor unions, and senior management presented “asks” from the government.

“We had foolishly assumed that stakeholders eager to help would come with gives,” he said.