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Fiat and Magna Must Submit Full Plans for Opel to Germany by May 20
May15

Fiat and Magna Must Submit Full Plans for Opel to Germany by May 20

By Brendan Moore

05.15.2009

opel-logoGerman Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has stated that there are two contenders for a partnership with Opel and those two candidates, Magna International and Fiat, have been asked to submit their detailed plans for Opel in five days.

Guttenberg told reporters, “We are dealing with two potential investors at the moment, with Fiat and Magna. By May 20, the two investors want to present their proposals. We are hoping for a more sustainable concept than has been presented to us so far,” he said, referring to both companies’ previous plan outlines.

He also noted that the German government was working on a bridge financing deal for Opel in the event that GM files bankruptcy before a partner can be found for Opel.

Fiat wants Opel in order to complete the desired Fiat-Chrylser-Opel triumvirate it so badly wants, and Magna (and some unnamed Russian investors) wants Opel so it can be a full-fledged automaker, and, protect a huge part of their supplier business.

Apparently there was a third potential investor, private equity firm Ripplewood’s European division. But RHJ, Ripplewoods’s European arm, developed a bad case of self-doubt along the way, and decided they just were not going to be taken seriously, next to the two automotive giants. So they exited early.

May 20 is not very far away, so the German government will declare the winner of a piece of Opel next week, and at least one part of the puzzle will be sorted out. As to whether or not GM will declare bankruptcy before then, its anyone’s guess, although the smart money is on GM declaring bankruptcy sometime next week.

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GM Plans US Sales of Chinese-Built Cars
May13

GM Plans US Sales of Chinese-Built Cars

By Brendan Moore

05.13.2009

gm-logo-small1In a surprise move, GM is planning to import Chinese-made cars, beginning in 2011, according to Automotive News, an auto industry trade publication. The plan calls for 17,335 imports in 2011, jumping all the way up to 51,546 imports in 2014.

Apparently one of the documents meant for the federal government’s auto task force was leaked on Tuesday, and today the AP news service repeated assertions made in an article in The Shanghai Securities News that GM is planning to build cars in China like the Chevrolet Spark and then import those cars into the US as part of their plan to reduce manufacturing costs. GM currently manufactures cars in China, but all of that production has gone to Chinese customers in the past.

Let’s start with the obvious.

The UAW is going to work up quite a head of steam over this. They will point out the GM has over $15 billion dollars (USD) of taxpayer money and therefore shouldn’t be eliminating jobs in the United States. GM is also planning to import more vehicles from Korea and increase the volume of the ones coming from Mexico, in addition to the planned imports from China. These places are all outside the US (and also have lower labor costs than the US) and the UAW is going to be really unhappy if GM imports cars from any of these countries, much less all three.

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Chrysler Dealers Form Group, Hire Attorneys
May12

Chrysler Dealers Form Group, Hire Attorneys

By Brendan Moore

05.12.2009

chrysler-logo-smallChrysler dealers who believe that they may be on the bubble in terms of Chrysler’s plan to reduce their dealership count have formed a group named the Committee of Affected Dealers and hired Squire, Sanders & Porter, a Cincinnati, Ohio law firm. The firm will represent the dealer group in the U.S bankruptcy court in New York State.

A spokesman for the legal firm stated that they have requested a face-to-face meeting with President Obama, but have not yet had a response from the White House.

The Committee of Affected Dealers intends to do everything they can to convince either Chrysler or the federal bankruptcy court in New York to not eliminate their dealerships. The view point of the Committee of Affected Dealers, state dealer organizations and the NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) is that no dealerships should close and that Chrysler is making a mistake if they think closing dealerships will make their manufacturing business more profitable.

Chrysler, under pressure to announce the list of dealers that they intend to eliminate, refuses to comment except to say that, at this time, there is still no list of dealers that they intend to keep. However, Chrysler has already stated publicly that will release a preliminary list of dealers they intend to keep on Thursday, which is 48 hours from now. So, unless you believe that Chrysler is going to knock out that list in the next two days, it is readily apparent that there is a list, and Chrysler is just playing it close to the vest in the run-up to Thursday.

The Committee of Affected Dealers and their legal representation are asking each dealer to put up $4000 USD to finance the fight against Chrysler. Sentiment among the dealers regarding their chances of prevailing against Chrysler and/or the bankruptcy seems to be mostly positive at this point, but it is difficult to say just what the dealers are thinking at this early juncture.

The dealers who believe they will be on Chrysler’s list to stick around are not saying publicly what everyone knows; that is, that they stand to benefit considerably when the Chrysler dealer population is reduced. Once they know their position is safe, the surviving dealers cannot help but privately pull for Chrysler’s dealer consolidation plan.

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GM Says They Would Sell Solstice/Sky Factory
May11

GM Says They Would Sell Solstice/Sky Factory

By Brendan Moore

05.11.2009

gm-logo-smallAccording to an article in Automotive News, Fritz Henderson, the current CEO of General Motors, stated that GM would be open to offers for the Wilmington, Delaware plant that makes the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. The plant also produces a very small amount of Opel GT roadsters built on the same Kappa rear-wheel-drive small-car platform.

If the Solstice Coupe had not had its young life cut short, it would also have been manufactured at the same plant on a continuous basis. Current plans call for only 1000 Solstice Coupes to be produced before all of Pontiac shuts down for good. It is assumed that a new owner would get the production capacity of all the models built from the Kappa platform.

Chrysler has also put a factory up for sale; the stand-alone Dodge Viper plant. Chrysler has not announced any buyer for the Viper production facility at this point.

The Solstice/Sky twins have been the segment leader every year since the platform debut in 2007, outselling the Mazda MX-5 (Miata).

Henderson was quoted as telling reporters, “If someone were to approach us with a proposal that made good sense for our people, we would be open. We are not out actively trying to market a plant, per se. But if a party were interested, we’d be very open to this and would encourage it. We haven’t had any inbounds on the subject at this point.”

2009-pontiac-solstice-coupe-rear

Hmm, a small RWD platform built to performance parameters – that’s interesting. I had a Pontiac engineer tell me when the Solstice debuted that the Kappa platform could easily accommodate both a V6 and a small-block V8, in addition to its production-model four-cylinder.

If only there were a buyer, perhaps the high end of the performance limits of the Kappa platform could be explored.

If only I had some extra billions of dollars, eh? You figure 10, 20 million bucks for the plant, and the rest left over for styling, marketing, development and testing, etc. over the next decade.

Hey, maybe I could get the next owners of Saturn to retail my new sports cars.

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PSA Peugeot-Citroen Says, “Not Afraid of a Fiat-Opel Merger”
May11

PSA Peugeot-Citroen Says, “Not Afraid of a Fiat-Opel Merger”

By Brendan Moore

05.11.2009

peugeot-logoPeugeot board director Jean-Philippe Collin was quoted this morning in La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, as stating that the French automaker PSA Peugeot-Citroen (Peugeot) was not afraid of a Fiat-Opel merger.

“We do not fear a possible alliance between Fiat and Opel. The car world is certainly not in its first phase of consolidation, we have always been working in a competitive scenario,” Collin stated.

“In periods like this, of scarce liquidity, the best thing is to concentrate resources on few and selected activities: renewing products, strengthening the network and satisfying clients,” he commented to the reporter.

Collin also mentioned that Peugeot would have electric urban cars in production by 2010.

There have been rumours that Peugeot might be pushed into an alliance with Renault, its arch-rival in France, with the French government itself acting as the marriage broker.

Peugeot sells approximately 3 million units per year and industry analysts have stated that the company may need to merge with someone else in order to compete effectively in the future.

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