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Chrysler Will Refresh Five Models by 2011
Sep25

Chrysler Will Refresh Five Models by 2011

Huge hurry-up drill probably in Chrysler’s future, says Fiat CEO Marchionne

By Brendan Moore

09.25.2009

Chrysler logo smallThe future is looming larger at Chrysler, and it’s not looking so rosy in the near-term as the company is very short on new product. Since the lead times on new product are long concerning new vehicles, redesigns of current vehicles are the order of the day.

But even a redesign takes some time. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne wants some different-looking product by 2011, which will require tremendous focus and quite a few late nights between now and then. Considering we’re effectively at the end of 2009 now, that is a considerably accelerated timeline compared to the usual time allocated for a redesign.

Marchionne wants new sheet metal on the following models by 2011:

Dodge Caliber
Jeep Patriot
Jeep Compass
Chrysler Town & Country
Dodge Caravan

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AvtoVAZ Will Reduce Lada Workforce by Over 25%
Sep24

AvtoVAZ Will Reduce Lada Workforce by Over 25%

Job cuts could be as high as 27,600

By Brendan Moore

09.24.2009

AvtoVaz Lada logoThe largest auto manufacturer in Russia, AvtoVaz, will layoff over 27,000 workers at its Lada plant, the company has announced.

Auto sales in the formerly red-hot Russian market have dropped 54% this year, from 3.2 million units to a forecasted 1.4 million units. Until the current economic meltdown, Russia was expected to become Europe’s No. 1 auto market this year, deposing Germany from that position. That development may now be years away for Russia, as the country has been particularly hard-hit by the economic turmoil in the world.

AvtoVAZ, partly owned by Renault, said this morning that it had reached agreement with the company’s trade unions to lay off 27,600 workers in the next thirty days. The plant has been running at 65% capacity for months.

The plant, located in the Italian-sounding city of Togliatti on the Volga River, churns out Ladas, and has been doing so since the Soviet Union was around. The plant was originally built with Fiat’s help and technical assistance in the 1960’s, as part of the Soviet Union’s master economic plan, which included auto manufacturing. The production facility currently employs around 102,000 people.

Workers at the plant are protesting, and are lobbying for the Russian government to step in and nationalize the Lada plant, but that scenario is very unlikely, although the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Alexander Zhukov, is trying to put together an aid package for the company.

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Proton Shows Signs of New Life
Sep21

Proton Shows Signs of New Life

By Brendan Moore

09.21.2009

Proton logoSomething’s happening with Proton lately and it is fairly clear what it is – speculation regarding a long-awaited tie-up with a foreign automaker looks as if it might actually happen.

At the same time, the Malaysian auto maker, who is controlled by the Malaysian government, is moving into Formula One racing in order to publicize the Proton brand. The company announced last week that its sports-car maker, Lotus, will be forming a race car team that will race in 2010 in Formula One.

Additionally, the Malaysian government is conducting an overall review of their national automotive policy that is expected to bring about some changes in trade policy and tax policy that will be even more favorable to local auto manufacturers (read: Proton).

All of these things happening simultaneously have driven up Proton’s stock price almost 62% in the past thirty days, and therefore have people excited about the Malaysian auto sector.

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Pricing for New Opel Astra Lower Than VW Golf
Sep15

Pricing for New Opel Astra Lower Than VW Golf

By Brendan Moore

09.15.2009

2010 Opel Astra 1

Opel announced during today’s unveiling of the Opel Astra at the Frankfurt Auto Show that it would price their new Astra a surprising 600 euros lower than the VW Golf, a substantial difference in the lower end of the market.

Opel executives said that they intend for the Astra to remain one of the top three cars in Europe in terms of sales volume, and, are obviously serious about that goal in light of the pricing announcement.

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Tariff on Chinese Tires Makes both Beijing and some US Consumers Unhappy
Sep14

Tariff on Chinese Tires Makes both Beijing and some US Consumers Unhappy

By Brendan Moore

09.14.2009

Chinese flag - smallChinese government officials are making a lot of noise about the 35% tariff imposed by President Obama last week, mentioning that they just might investigate dumping of chicken products and automobile parts from the US. They also were fueling speculation they might file a counter-complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

It was the WTO that recommended a 55% tariff on Chinese tires to the United States government. The Obama administration demurred, and instead went with the lower 35% tariff.

Some trade experts say the Chinese are simply blustering and that the dispute will blow over fairly quickly, but others are not so sure. Some trade analysts fear a tit-for-tat environment could establish itself between China and the US, and quickly spiral out of control. Given the fragile global economy, that prospect is not an encouraging one.

In a statement, Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said the Obama decision “sends the wrong signal to the world. This is a grave act of trade protectionism. Not only does it violate WTO rules, it contravenes commitments the U.S. government made at the G20 financial summit.”

This year’s G20 Summit is coming up this week in Pittsburgh, and China is dropping hints that the US government could make it up to China somehow during the summit.

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