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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car News

UPDATE! Proposed Issa Bill Would Prohibit GM and Chrysler from Lobbying

On: Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 11:36AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

UPDATE! Proposed Issa Bill Would Prohibit GM and Chrysler from Lobbying test 1-1

Representative Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the Government Reform Committee, plans to initiate a proposal that would prohibit General Motors and Chrysler Corporation (as well as any other bailout company, such as Ally Financial and AIG) from being able to lobby as long as they are owned by the government. In other words, until the bailout funds are completely paid back to the tax payers.

The new amendment, if approved, would broaden the current limitations on lobbying by government-controlled institutions, such as Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, federally funded mortgage conglomerates. This amendment would prohibit lobbying for any corporation of which the federal government owns five percent or more.

A Fannie Mae spokesperson reported that the company was banned from lobbying in 2008 after the corporation was placed in "federal conservatorship." 

According to Kurt Bardella, press secretary  to ranking member Darrell Issa, “Any company that has borrowed taxpayer dollars should not be allowed to hire a lobbyist until the taxpayers have been repaid in full. There is no justification for allowing a company subsidized by taxpayer dollars to hire a lobbyist so they can try to influence the very government that owns the company.”

UPDATE: The Issa Bill was squashed this morning by the financial services conference committee. In a 9-13 vote the bill was put to rest, re-opening Lobby-Season for tax-payer owned entities. Woot?

Toyota Bringing 2,000 Jobs To Mississippi

On: Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 3:08PM | By: John Welch

Toyota Bringing 2,000 Jobs To Mississippi test 1-1

An area hard-hit by natural disaster over the last several year, the state of Mississippi could use some good news. How does "job growth" sound?

Needing to boost its public image and save money, Toyota will resume construction on a dormant production facility it began building in 2007. The plant was nearly completed, but Toyota became distracted in 2008, and has not actively worked on the building since.

“We first needed to fully utilize our existing facilities as the economy slowed,” Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America, said in a statement today. Inaba went on to say that the automaker would take on 2,000 employees, "soon."

Honda Motor Co. Experiences Labor Strikes in China

On: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 1:37PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Honda Motor Co.  Experiences Labor Strikes in China  test 1-1

A recent strike at a Honda Motor parts factory in China could result in more demands across China's vast manufacturing belt as workers seek a higher wages in order to meet the country's rising cost of living expenses.

Approximately 1500 workers walked off the job this week at the Honda Lock plant, a major supplier of locks for Honda’s auto manufacturing operations in China. The face-off occurred without any hostility, compared to last week when hundreds congregated outside the front gates of the factory and riot police were called in to keep workers from leaving.

Ed Montgomery Steps Down From His Position at the White House

On: Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 9:25AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ed Montgomery Steps Down From His Position at the White House test 1-1

President Obama formally gave his farewell today to Ed Montgomery, the White House aide in charge of channeling aid to towns that were hit hardest by the effects the recession had on the auto industry.

Edward B. Montgomery, an American economist, academic, and politician, and former member of the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry (serving as Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers in the Obama administration), has made a decision to take a position as Dean of Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.


GM And Fisker Reorganize Delaware Plant to Build Plug In Vehicles

On: Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 1:09PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Fisker Karma test 2

Fisker, the automaker that designed the notorious Karma, is now working on plans for a new lower priced vehicle called the “Nina.”  The new automobile, second in the line-up for Fisker, will be produced at a new (well, new to Fisker anyhow), auto plant in Wilmington, Delaware. It is the plant that Fisker offered to purchase from General Motors, now Motors Liquidation Co., the bankruptcy estate company spun off from General Motors.

The First Ever Porche 911 Turbo Prototype

On: Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 10:06AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The First Ever Porche 911 Turbo Prototype test 1-1

For those who attended this year’s 15th annual Greenwich Concours d’Elegance in Connecticut, the exhibit featuring rare, elegantly designed classic automobiles, many may have walked right by the Porche 911 Turbo that was on display without giving it a second look. That is, if they hadn’t stopped long enough to notice that this specific Porsche was unique from all others, the very first 911 to sport turbocharged power.

Five Ford Vehicles Named IIHS Top Safety Picks

On: Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 2:32PM | By: John Welch

Five Ford Vehicles Named IIHS Top Safety Picks test 1-1

Ford just keeps on keepin' on, spewing good news from every pore. Today it was announced that five Ford models have earned a five-star rating for 2011 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Ford now has eleven Top Safety Picks for 2011 models, more than any other manufacturer. The 2010 Ford Flex and Fusion, Lincoln MKZ and MKT, and Mercury Milan are the latest Ford models to be scrutinized. Due to extensive use of high-strength steel, all five models passed the IIHS tests with flying colors.

“Leading the industry in both Top Safety Pick ratings and government five-star crash test ratings is very significant because customers increasingly consider IIHS and NHTSA ratings when choosing a new vehicle,” said Sue Cischke, Ford’s Group Vice President of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “These latest test results further demonstrate Ford’s commitment to continuous improvement on the safety front.”

Denso Becomes Number One Light-Duty Auto Supplier Worldwide

On: Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 11:26AM | By: John Welch

Denso Becomes Number One Light-Duty Auto Supplier Worldwide test 1-1

Most Americans recognize Denso as a spark-plug manufacturer. Spark plugs that are expensive, but throw solid spark for millenia. Bosch, on the other hand, Americans are a little more familiar with. While also manufacturing spark plugs, we have seen their wiper blades and wastegates and electronic compnents for years. Denso Corp. does everything Bosch GmbH does and, if sales numbers count for anything,  they do these things better then Bosch. In 2009, Bosch's global sales to automakers fell 24 percent to $25.62 billion. Denso's fiscal-year sales rose 3 percent to $28.73 billion. Boo-yah, game, set, match.

Not so fast! What about the wacky Japanese April-March fiscal year? Huh? Under this thoroughly convienient fiscal time table, sales figures exclude the depressed first three months of 2009 and include the early 2010 rebound. Bosch contends that if it were operating on the same namby-pamby fiscal year it would have posted sales of $28.80 billion, beating Denso's $28.73 billion.

This situation gets even murkier. Toyota owns 23 percent of Denso, but arch-rival Bosch owns 5 percent! They manufacter similar products, as well. To go with spark-plugs, Denso makes fuel systems, radiators, air conditioners, and electronics. Bosch also produces electronics, brakes, chassis systems, motors, navigation systems, and other parts. Denso has been number two in sales behind Bosch for the last four years.

Denso Corp. isn't confused about its standing in the supplier market. "There are still some very, very strong competitors out there, and they're going to come back," says Terry Helgesen, senior vice president for sales and marketing at Denso International America Inc. "We've been fortunate to have a broad customer base and a broad product portfolio."

Suppliers provided most of the data for the ranking. Some companies' sales were estimated. The numbers do not include non-automotive, aftermarket, or heavy-duty truck sales. Sales are in dollars, translated when necessary from other currencies.

BMW Announces Launch Of New SuperBike

On: Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 10:08AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

BMW Announces Launch Of  New SuperBike test 1-1

Everyone knows that BMW has been well established in the marketplace on high performance imported cars for decades. The three letter acronym sparks interest and inspires car enthusiasts around the world. When it comes to BMW’s reputation in building high performance bikes there is not quite as much fervor from fans. All of that is seemingly about to change as BMW prepares to launch what the New York Times calls “the most significant motorcycle in 2010, an overachiever on the order of the M3 or M5.”

New York Times quotes Hendrik Von Kuenheim, BMW’s general director of motorcycles as saying “We must speak the language of the segment and follow the usual market standards. We will compete both on technology and price, and build a bike that will set new benchmarks and win an appropriate market share.”

UPDATE: 24 Hueres Du Mans; Race Day!

On: Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 9:36AM | By: John Welch

Audi R15 Plus test 2

The cars are waiting on the grid, the drivers anxiously pulling on their gloves and HANS device. I've got my pound of coffee, two laptops and a clear schedule. We will be updating the 24 Hours of Le Mans all day, but first a few dramatic happenings before the race has even begun.

The GT2 pole went to Risi Competitzione and Ferrari after qualifying, but it was stripped from the team after post-qualifying tech inspection. The rear wing on the Risi F430 GTE was found to be an inch to short. This infraction cost the American team the pole and possibly the race; they will now start from the very rear of the field. Crushing disappointment for Risi, the Ferrari teams penalty was Corvette Racing's gain. Having qualified second and third, Le Mans now has an all Corvette front-row in GT2. Another interesting note, both GT2 Corvettes qualified in front of several GT1 cars.

The Audi R15's are struggling for pace. Out qualified by all of the Peugeot 908's, the Audis need to hustle at the beginning of the race just to keep it interesting. Both diesel teams are light years faster then gasoline-engined car LMP's, but the Peugoet is one order faster then the Audi. Lack of testing due to economic kafuffles has seriously affected Audi's ability to stay ahead of their competition. The economic climate favors the older and better-sorted 908, rendering the R15 Plus's potential technological advantage moot.

The race is underway, and Allan McNish is ramming his R15 right up the ORECA Peugeot’s arsche. This apparent recklessness is classic McNish, driving the first lap of a 24-hour race as if it were the last lap. Updates throughout the day . . .

Saab To Use BMW Powertrains?

On: Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 4:38PM | By: John Welch

Victor Muller test 2

The Saab 9-2 rumor mill is just getting ramped-up, and, naturally, the parties involved have "no comment". Word is, Victor Muller, chief executive of Spyker, and Chairman of Saab, says talks with larger companies regarding the Saab 9-2 power train are well underway. One of those companies just happens to be BMW, again, according to rumors.

Both Muller and BMW were quick to deny the reports, a BMW spokesman having this to say: "We are in talks with several interested parties who have interest in our technology, but there are no contracts with Saab at the moment." A spokesman at Saab said the carmaker was looking for "possible partners" but also declined to comment on the report. A Mini-powered 9-2 would be interesting, but would it relegate the car to front-wheel drive? Would that ruin the spirit of the 9-2? I mean, the BMW four banger they're referring to isn't even a 2-stroke . . . isn't that heresy enough?

Saab has other concerns as well. "We are concentrating on the 9-5 and the 9-4X," Eric Geers, a company spokesperson, said. "A smaller Saab below the 9-3 is not in our business plan though it would be on our wish list." Another possible BMW/Saab tie-up in the near future: BMW supply the requisite diesel engines the GM-sourced 9-4x will need to be competitive in Europe. Dagens Industri (a European ‘trade’ publication) reported on Friday that there were also plans for BMW to supply a diesel engine for Saab's 9-4X, which will be launched in the European market at the start of 2011.

Victor Muller is serious about saving Saab. He plans to double Saab's annual yearly output, to 85,000 by 2012. The addition of the 9-5 and 9-4x will help, but a large-volume small car would affect Saab's bottom line significantly. More on the 9-2 as details become available . ..