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Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

GM Bans Candidates

“Government Motors” wants to sit out the election.

by on Aug.27, 2012

President Barak Obama during a visit to a GM plant - along with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak -- in October 2011.

As noisome as the presidential campaign has already become, you can expect to hear even more in the weeks before November’s election.  But don’t expect to see any General Motors plants serve as backdrop for campaign stump speeches.

The automaker, hoping to downplay its role in the high-stakes battle, has barred the two presidential candidates until after the election.

That move is probably no surprise.  President Barack Obama is taking credit for saving both GM and Chrysler with $85 billion in federal aid.  His challenger, Republican Mitt Romney, has long opposed the bailout – though he has also tried to take credit for the two makers’ turnaround.

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Critics of the costly rescue effort have, meanwhile, dubbed GM “Government Motors,” a derisive nickname that some industry analysts believe has cost the company significant sales.


American Auto Industry A Highlight in Obama State-of-the-Union

“The American auto industry is back.”

by on Jan.25, 2012

Pres. Obama giving the state-of-the-union address.

At a time when the American government appears all but paralyzed by partisanship, where concerns remain about the U.S. economy and an upcoming election raises questions about the fundamental direction the nation must take, President Barack Obama came out swinging as he began his state-of-the-union address on Tuesday night.

And the president put the spotlight on two key success stories as a highlight of both what the nation can achieve – and what he and his administration have accomplished.  Members of both parties quickly jumped to their feet as he praised the men and women of the American military.  But there were cheers yet again when he turned to manufacturing and, in particular, to revival of the auto industry.

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“We bet on American workers.  We bet on American ingenuity.  And tonight, the American auto industry is back,” the president proclaimed.

It was an in-your-face reference to the controversial, $85 billion bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, a move that still has many conservatives referring to the two manufacturers as “Government Motors,” nearly three years after they entered bankruptcy, and despite their collective recovery.


EPA, DOT Aim for 54.5 mpg by 2025

How will automakers meet these new rules?

by on Nov.17, 2011

Automakers could build more electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf to offset gas-powered vehicles. New fuel economy rules for the 2017-25 model years introduced Tuesday are projected to save nearly $6,600 worth of fuel per vehicle, offset by an extra $2,000 per car in new technology to improve fuel economy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled their joint proposal that increases fuel efficiency requirements to 54.5 mpg if all reductions were made through fuel economy improvements.

The improvements would save consumers an estimated average of up to $6,600 in fuel costs over the lifetime of a 2025 vehicle for a net lifetime savings of up to $4,400 after factoring in related increases in vehicle cost. Overall, the net benefit to society from this rule would total more than $420 billion over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in from 2017-25, the government said.

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“Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of executive actions the Obama Administration is taking to strengthen the economy and move the country forward because we can’t wait for Congressional Republicans to act,” according to the release.

But the National Automotive Dealers Association said that the new standard could end up hurting the environment.

So what will these new vehicles be like and what technologies will automakers use to reach these goals? Here are some predictions:

China Now Leads in Clean Energy Investments

Will new Obama proposals help U.S. regain lead?

by on Mar.30, 2011

As President Barack Obama exhorts Americans to get behind a coherent energy policy, a new study shows the U.S. falling  behind in the race to develop new, clean sources of energy, according to a new study by Pew Charitable Trusts.

Last year, clean energy investment across the globe grew by 30%, to $243 billion last year, with China continuing to solidify its position as the world’s clean energy leader by investing a record $54.4 billion in 2010.

China’s investment represented a 39% increase from 2009, the new Pew Study said.  Germany was second in the G-20, up from third last year, after experiencing a 100% increase in investment, to $41.2 billion.

“The clean energy sector is emerging as one of the most dynamic and competitive in the world, witnessing 630% growth in finance and investments since 2004,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program.

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“Countries like China, Germany and India were attractive to financiers because they have national policies that support renewable energy standards, carbon reduction targets and/or incentives for investment and production and that create long-term certainty for investors,” she said.

The United States, which had maintained the top spot until 2008, dropped another rung in 2010 to third, with $34 billion invested.


Ex Auto Czar Rattner Pulls No Punches in “Overhaul”

Few spared in tell-out about GM, Chrysler bailouts.

by on Sep.03, 2010

Few escape criticism from former auto czar Steve Rattner in his tell-all about the GM and Chrysler bailouts.

Steve Rattner isn’t known for being soft-spoken, and he proves it in his new book, “Overhaul,” an insider’s look at the desperate – and highly controversial — effort to save General Motors and Chrysler with more than $60 billion in federal bailout money.

While Rattner downplays the legal problems he’s run into since leaving the White House auto task force, he dishes on virtually everyone he dealt with during his six-month stint, from President Barack Obama to the man who just this week took over as GM’s fourth CEO in less than two years, Dan Akerson.

The bailout of the two Detroit makers actually began during the waning days of the Bush Administration.  But once Congress made it clear it wouldn’t authorize the money needed to keep GM and Chrysler afloat, the politically-charged football was tossed into the lap of the new president.

It landed there only a week after the November 2008 election, and at the first sit-down with his advisors where the topic was broached, Barack Obama wasn’t exactly in Detroit’s court.  “Why can’t they make a Corolla,” the President-elect asked.

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If anything, Obama is portrayed as a calm and level-headed boss by “Overhaul,” Rattner writing that the president “had the air of a man in the business of calmly executing.”  One of the more colorful descriptions the one-time auto czar offers up is the image of the “T-shirts and jeans worn by unshaven, sockless men,” debating what to do next during weekend meetings at the Oval Office.


AAM Claims Chinese Tire Tariff Works

U.S. Production, Share Up. Job Losses Reverse. Results beg thorny industrial policy questions during an election year.

by on Sep.01, 2010

The President makes good on a campaign promise and enforces the law. What now?

President Obama’s decision to provide relief a year ago on imports of car and truck tires from China is achieving the desired positive effect on U.S. makers and their workforce, according to a new report just issued by the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

AAM claims the tariff is achieving the desired positive effect on U.S. tire manufacturers and workers, and is no doubt lobbying behind the scenes to make sure the tariffs stay in place.

The report comes as the U.S. economy continues to languish with record post war unemployment levels, a surging trade deficit, a collapsed housing market, as well as frozen credit markets – all contributing to voter’s concerns over evaporating middle class jobs and declining consumer confidence, where two-thirds of economic activity is customer rather than business driven.

The report prompts a series of policy questions as to why the U.S., alone among industrial nations, doesn’t do more to protect its people and markets and jobs – a contentious subject that will be part of the upcoming mid-term Congressional elections. Insiders  expect the U.S. Labor Department to report this Friday that the economy lost another 80,000 jobs in August after dumping 131,000 in July – just in time for the Labor Day weekend holiday.


Ford Gets Loan to “Export” to Canada and Mexico

Latest example of an emerging industrial policy from U.S. Government or just more election year deficit spending?

by on Aug.05, 2010

“I put my money on the American worker."

The Export-Import Bank of the United States will guarantee a loan to finance $3.1 billion of Ford Motor Company “export sales” to Canadian and Mexican markets. The loan from the Federal agency will underwrite the sale of about 200,000 Ford vehicles.

The announcement came as the President of the United States visited a third Detroit Three auto plant in less than a week, defending his increasingly unpopular economic polices during a mid-term election year.

This time, President Obama was at a Ford plant in Chicago that will make the new Explorer. Ford of course made billions from what is arguably the most popular sport utility  vehicle of all time, but it stayed with a heavy, relatively crude body-on-frame design for a decade after it became clear that more efficient, comfortable unit-body “crossovers” were the configuration of the future.

Unlike GM and Chrysler last week, Ford made no attempt to publicize the event, leaving all the promotion to the White House in what I take to be Ford’s latest attempt to distance itself from the wildly unpopular taxpayer subsidies that went to those two bankrupt companies last year.

Ford has now received a $5.9 billion Department of Energy credit line for the development of fuel-efficient vehicles, as part of the $787 billion government stimulus plan promulgated by the newly established Obama Administration in 2009. Part of the money went to refurbish the Explorer plant.

The Administration – under heavy criticism because of a slumping economy and high unemployment rates despite massive Federal government spending – claimed that the new export loan will help meet a previously announced goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. (See Ford CEO to Serve on President’s Export Council)


Chevrolet to Increase Volt Production Capacity 50%

Promise comes as U.S. President Tours Volt’s Hamtramck Plant.

by on Jul.30, 2010

The first Volt moving down the line at the Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing plant.

General Motors today said that thanks to “strong public interest” in the Chevrolet Volt, it will increase production capacity of the four-seat series hybrid car from 30,000 units to 45,000 units in 2012.

The announcement came as U.S. President Barack Obama toured the Detroit-Hamtramck facility, where the Volt is being produced now for sale later this year.

“We are very proud to host the President of the United States at this plant, where the future of the American automobile industry is being built today by the men and women of General Motors,” said Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., the GM Chairman and CEO, who was approved by the Administration and took over as the failed company was emerging from bankruptcy.

U.S. taxpayers invested more than $60 billion in GM to allow it to survive and now own a majority stake in the privately held firm. It is a matter of much debate as to whether taxpayers will get all of their money back, but recent developments, including GM’s return to profitability, means some of the more than $50 billion spent will be returned if a public stock offering is successful.

Earlier this week, Chevrolet dealers began taking customer orders for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, following the release of retail and lease pricing. (See Chevy Volt Electric Vehicle Starts at $41,000, Gulp, about $8,000 More than the Nissan Leaf)

Job Creation?

Taxpayers are providing massive subsidies to help overcome the objections of potential buyers for what are now and for the foreseeable future high cost, limited range electric vehicles, including tax credits of up to $7,500 per vehicle to purchasers, as well a variety of subsidized infrastructure changes. (See Taxpayers to Subsidize EVs and Charging Stations)


Chrysler Won’t Kill Plant, Marchionne Tells Obama

Fiat CEO defends controversial bailout, says it created jobs.

by on Jul.30, 2010

Jefferson North, one of the few inner city plants remaining, is in a strongly Democratic district.

More than 1,500 UAW-represented employees at Chrysler Group’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit welcomed U.S. President Obama to the home of the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee today.

The President visited the plant a little more than a year after Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy because of billions of dollars in taxpayer support as part of his mid-term election year push to sell Democratic industrial policies to angry and skeptical voters.

Turin-based Fiat with the help of taxpayer money gained control of Chrysler in the process. Sergio Marchionne is now CEO of both groups.

During the visit, Marchionne announced that the nearby suburban Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) would not be closed, as he originally said as part of Chrysler’s post-bankruptcy business plan, but rather it would stay open beyond 2012. A second shift of about 900 workers will also be added in early 2011. To support that operation, suppliers will add nearly 500 jobs it’s estimated.


President Obama to Visit Detroit Area Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chevrolet Volt Plants Today

Renewed push defending auto bailouts, touting job creation.

by on Jul.30, 2010

Without intervention a million jobs would have been lost, according to a new report.

President Obama will visit the Jefferson North plant of Chrysler in Detroit where Jeep Grand Cherokee models are made and then stop by a nearby General Motors plant in Hamtramck where the Chevrolet Volt hybrid will be built.

At both stops, and another next week at a Ford Explorer plant in Chicago, the President will promote the taxpayer programs that saved or created “Detroit Three” automaker jobs.

The unpopular bailouts and how much of the more than $80 billion used will be returned are one of many contentious election-year issues.

Both Chrysler and General Motors of course received billions of dollars in taxpayer financing to allow them to emerge from bankruptcies last year. And Ford Motor Company received billions to retool its plants.

As a result, the Administration will claim that the 2,800 jobs at Jefferson North and the 1,100 employees at Hamtramck, among thousands of others, were saved by the unpopular loans, which now has U.S. taxpayers as the majority holder in GM, with a substantial position in Fiat run Chrysler.

Ahead of the trip the Administration released a new study on the auto industry. It said that in the year before the Chrysler and GM bankruptcies, the companies lost almost 340,000 jobs.  In the year since then, 55,000 jobs have been added to these companies.

“If we hadn’t stepped in when we did, most observers believe at least a million jobs would have been lost,” said Ed Montgomery, the head of the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers.

“While there is still a long way to go, the report points out that the companies are also showing positive signs of financial performance. In the first quarter, all of them made operating profits. That’s the first time that’s happened since 2004,” said Montgomery.