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Saab Resumes Production
Dec30

Saab Resumes Production

General Motors extends their bid deadline, so Saab starts making cars again

By Brendan Moore

12.30.2009

Saab emblem blue backgroundReuters is reporting this morning that Saab is restarting some production lines after the New Year as a result of General Motors extending the bid deadline for prospective buyers.

GM had previously stated that it would only wait until the end of this month (tomorrow) to decide on potential bids for Saab, but has now set a later date of January 7 for evaluation of the bid from Spyker, the Dutch supercar maker. It is believed that GM may have provided an even later evaluation date to other bidders that entered the bidding process after Spyker.

Saab has taken that respite as a signal to start making cars again, with production of the new 9-5 and the 9-3 Cabrio slated to commence after the traditional winter holiday ends at the factory in Trollhattan, Sweden.

Saab spokesman Eric Geers stated, “We have the orders and we have to deliver them as usual. We also have the orders for the 9-3 and others. The factory has to continue again.” He added, “We are preparing the wind-down process. At the same time we are open to options, to bids that come in. Therefore the deadline has also been dropped.”

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Hugo Chavez Threatens to Close Toyota Plant in Venezuela
Dec26

Hugo Chavez Threatens to Close Toyota Plant in Venezuela

By Brendan Moore

12.26.2009

Hugo Chavez at lecternHugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, has hurled invective against Toyota this week, saying that the company’s plant in Venezuela doesn’t make enough four-wheel drive vehicles for Venezuelans, doesn’t transfer technology to Venezuela, and furthermore, Chavez is threatening to oust the Japanese car company from the country if these changes are not made soon.

Chavez also angrily railed against the other Asian and American auto companies producing cars in Venezuela regarding their operations, stating, “We’re not interested in these traditional companies that have been here 50 years or more, they’ve never transferred technology. I suggest they gather their things and go, and we’ll bring in the Russians, Belarusians and Chinese who want to make cars here.”

In addition to Toyota, Japan’s Mitsubishi, Korea’s Hyundai and America’s Ford and General Motors have production facilities or assembly plants in Venezuela, whose citizens love cars, particularly thirsty ones. The retail cost of gasoline in heavily subsidized by the government, and is currently around 19 cents (USD) a gallon.

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GM Announces Closure of Saab Brand
Dec18

GM Announces Closure of Saab Brand

Reflections on the Sad End of the Iconic Swedish Brand

By Kevin Miller

12.18.2009

Saab emblem blue backgroundGeneral Motors this morning announced that the sale of the Saab brand will not be completed, and the brand will be wound down. GM’s press release is included below the jump. This is a crushing blow to the company’s employees in Trollhattan and around the world, as well as fans including myself.

You’re read of my obsession with Saab before on these virtual pages. When I made the trek to Southern California to cover the LA Auto Show earlier this month, I inadvertently missed the much-ballyhooed Chevrolet Volt Dancers, as my first stop at the show was at the Saab stand, to get my first in-person look at the new 9-5 sedan.

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Chrysler Now Considering Legal Challenge to Dealer Arbitration Bill
Dec18

Chrysler Now Considering Legal Challenge to Dealer Arbitration Bill

The new Chrysler versus its old dealers is turing into quite a brawl

By Brendan Moore

12.18.2009

Chrysler logo smallIn yet another twist to the forced closings of dealerships by GM and Chrysler via bankruptcy, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne stated yesterday that Chrysler may challenge the recent legislation mandating arbitration between Chrysler and its terminated dealers as unconstitutional. Chrysler apparently feels that litigation regarding the constitutionality of the legislation holds considerable promise.

Marchionne stated to reporters that Chrysler is considering going to court to prevent Congress from forcing Chrysler into arbitration between it and the terminated dealers, or, forcing the company to reinstate the dealers that Chrysler shed during bankruptcy proceedings.

The arbitration between Chrysler and the dealers it closed is required by legislation passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president earlier this week.

It also requires GM to do the same; GM has not yet decided what it will do in response, according to GM representatives.

Marchionne said that restoring large numbers of dealerships, many of which ceased business operations sometime ago, could “cause havoc within Chrysler”.

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Toyota Finally Succumbs to Plug-In Hybrid Desire
Dec15

Toyota Finally Succumbs to Plug-In Hybrid Desire

Or at least, succumbs to consumer desire for plug-ins…

By Brendan Moore

12.15.2009

Toyota logo-smallToyota announced yesterday that it would offer a plug-in hybrid version of its Prius on a lease basis this winter and would offer the same car for sale in the next two years. The company said only 150 of the plug-ins would be offered under lease terms in the next few months, but that “tens of thousands” would be offered for sale in the next 24-month time period.

It has to be said that Toyota officials are not exactly ecstatic over the fact that they will be offering a plug-in hybrid. For years, Toyota has been lukewarm to the whole idea of plug-ins, claiming that it just doesn’t make much sense to add so much extra weight to a car and to take up so much space in a car in order to make it travel for a very short distance on electric power. Toyota executives have always felt that the market for such a vehicle will be limited as a result of the compromises inherent in the car.

One gets the distinct and palpable feeling that their support for the plug-in hybrid is grudging and is predicated more by the public’s desire for the vehicles more than any internal enthusiasm they have for it. But, with GM and Ford both planning launches of plug-in hybrids in the near future, and, other companies, most notably Nissan, planning to offer all-electric vehicles for sale next year, Toyota does not wish to be seen as dragging its feet in either a technology or a “green” sense, so it seems they felt as though their choice was made for them.

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Tasteful Brand Emblems are Nowhere to be Found
Dec12

Tasteful Brand Emblems are Nowhere to be Found

By Chris Haak

12.12.2009

11_superduty_fullfrontWhen Ford’s very butch 2011 Super Duty pickups made their debut, one of the new truck’s most outrageous features was its exaggerated grille.  Further adorning this exaggerated grille is probably the second- or third-largest Ford blue oval emblem that you are ever likely to see (the two larger ones being those at an auto show or on a dealership’s signage).  It’s easily larger than any other blue oval affixed to any other vehicle in history, although I don’t have its exact measurements.

The almost-cartoonish size of the 2011 Super Duty’s Ford emblem makes a little more sense in that particular application because the truck itself is very large.  And with pickup trucks, and three-quarter and one-ton heavy duty models in particular, brand loyalty is probably stronger than in any other vehicle class.  I know guys who have gone from BMW to Mercedes-Benz and back again to BMW, but would be hard-pressed to think of any who have switched from Ford to Chevy.  So perhaps Ford is just saving its owners the trouble of sticking a Calvin-peeing-on-a-bowtie sticker on the back window, and giving them another outlet to display their brand pride.

Still, the 2011 Super Duty’s emblem is hopefully the zenith of a trend that has been several years in the making.  Considering that the emblem consumes about a third of the grille’s width, it seems unlikely that it a future Ford truck could ever possibly have a larger emblem attached to it.

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