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GM Shows Off the 2012 Chevrolet Aveo
Feb24

GM Shows Off the 2012 Chevrolet Aveo

By Brendan Moore

GM has released official teaser photos of their 2012 Chevrolet Aveo to the automotive press, and thankfully, those photos look very much like the Aveo RS Concept seen at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show.

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Storm Clouds Gather over Hummer Acquisition
Feb23

Storm Clouds Gather over Hummer Acquisition

Time is not an ally in this situation

By Brendan Moore

02.23.2010

2010 Hummer H3TTengzhong of China, the would-be next owner of Hummer, GM’s faded child star, is experiencing more and more difficulties convincing the Chinese government that buying Hummer is a good idea.

China’s central government has to give their approval for deals involving acquisition of distressed auto companies from abroad, and that seems more and more unlikely as Beijing tries to move their own auto industry towards greener and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The caricature of Hummer as a gas-swilling monster has not helped further the cause.

Add to that the uncontested fact that Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co, a virtually unknown manufacturer of decidedly average construction machinery, is the buyer, and that they have no experience in the auto industry, and this has given Beijing pause. Perhaps even heartburn. Tengzhong did not even exist until 2005, when it was formed as the result of several small entities merging together – the company today is believed to have around 4900 employees.

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Spyker Purchase of Saab Completed
Feb23

Spyker Purchase of Saab Completed

By Kevin Miller

02.23.2010

Saab emblem blue backgroundSpyker Cars N.V. has officially completed their purchase of Saab Automobiles from General Motors. The transaction was finally completed at a ceremony in Sweden on Tuesday afternoon. According to the official press release, Saab has exited liquidation and Jan Åke Jonsson has been restored as the CEO of Saab Automobile. After a tense year of closure plans and collapsed sales agreements, this is a joyful day for Saab employees, dealers, and owners worldwide.

The purchase by Spyker starts a new era in Saab’s existence. Saab has announced it will be holding a press conference at the Geneva International Motor Show on 02 March to discuss plans for the brand moving forward. The full text of the press release is located after the jump.

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Released Toyota Memo Boasts of $100 Million Savings from Delaying Recall
Feb22

Released Toyota Memo Boasts of $100 Million Savings from Delaying Recall

By Chris Haak

02.22.2010

Y_-Inaba-1-prv

Yoshimi Inaba

From the “never say things can’t get any worse” file, news came out over the past weekend that a PowerPoint presentation (click here to download a PDF of the relevant pages) with the name of Toyota’s US chief, Yoshimi Inaba, on its cover bragged about “favorable recall outcomes” (page 8).  The document, on page 16, noted under the heading of “Wins – Toyota Safety Group” that it saved $100 million by negotiating an “equipment” recall on the Camry and Lexus ES regarding “SA” (sudden acceleration).  At face value, the document appears to be contrary to the automaker’s assertion that the safety of its customers is its top priority.

The nature of the document is not clear, but it appears that Inaba is not the document’s author, but rather its intended audience.  It appears to be a briefing for Inaba by the company’s Washington lobbying staff to highlight their contributions to the organization.

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Geneva Will See 25 Debuts This Year
Feb22

Geneva Will See 25 Debuts This Year

By Brendan Moore

02.22.2010

80th Geneva International Motor Show posterPress days of the 80th Geneva International Motor Show are March 2 and 3rd, and from the looks of the premieres scheduled, it seems as if the show will focus more on practicality than exotic performance cars or luxury statements.

There are 21 production vehicle debuts scheduled and 4 concept debuts on tap for the show, and there is usually a surprise or two in terms of debuts or announcements as well.

Last year’s show saw 32 debuts, with many of those shown qualifying as high-profile vehicles. This year’s crop of vehicles is overwhelmingly tilted towards small and frugal, with particular emphasis on EV and hybrid powertrains, things Europe was dismissing as irrelevant to the Continent not so very long ago.

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GM Re-Hires Ex-CEO Fritz Henderson as Consultant, Reveals Whitacre’s Pay Package
Feb21

GM Re-Hires Ex-CEO Fritz Henderson as Consultant, Reveals Whitacre’s Pay Package

By Chris Haak

02.21.2010

Fritz HendersonIn a surprising twist, GM has disclosed that it re-hired deposed CEO Fritz Henderson, whose brief tenure as President and CEO lasted from March 31, 2009 through December 1, 2009, as a consultant to advise on GM’s international operations.  Henderson, who did not receive a severance package upon his departure from the automaker, will receive $59,090 per month ($709,080 annualized) for approximately 20 hours of work per month.  This arrangement will be in place until some point prior to the end of 2010.

Though Henderson’s tenure as CEO was very brief, it was certainly eventful, as he guided GM through its trip through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the middle of 2009.  He began his career at GM in 1984, and served in various leadership roles throughout his career.  Most notably, he headed GM’s Brazilian operations in the late 1990s, then led Latin America/Africa/Middle East, then GM Asia-Pacific, and his overseas sojourn concluded with the job of Chairman, GM Europe.  He then returned to the US in 2006 as GM’s CFO, and was promoted to President and COO in March 2008, and a year later, took over as President and CEO following the departure of Rick Wagoner.

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Nissan Takes a Risk on Radically-Styled New Juke
Feb20

Nissan Takes a Risk on Radically-Styled New Juke

By Andy Bannister

02.20.2010

Nissan Juke

The wraps have come off Nissan’s new European-designed small crossover, the oddly-named Juke, and it’s certainly not hiding its light under a bushel.

Due to be launched at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, the Juke represents the bold new spirit of Nissan, a company whose European reinvention seems to have paid off in terms of bucking the continent-wide sales downturn.

The Juke is one of those love-it-or-hate-it designs which is bound to divide opinion. The massive front end is particularly unusual, with six lights of various shapes and sizes widely spaced out, and an expansive version of the corporate front grille. Head-on it looks rather bug-eyed.

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Some Closed Dealerships Will Become Sears Auto Center Franchises
Feb19

Some Closed Dealerships Will Become Sears Auto Center Franchises

By Brendan Moore

02.19.2010

Sears Auto Center logoYou’ve probably seen at least a few closed auto dealerships around where you live; sprawling, empty lots with a big building on it, looking forlorn and abandoned.

You think to yourself, “What are they going to do with that retail space? It doesn’t really fit any other kind of business. Guess they’ll have to scrape the building off and start with an unimproved lot.”

At least that’s what I think.

I mean, occasionally, some ambitious used car dealer will take on the space, but other than that, it usually requires a tear-down for the next new tenant.

So, a lot of these former auto dealerships just sit empty. It’s a lot of square footage to take on, and the rent is usually high, since dealerships are generally located in high traffic and/or easy access locations. It is also, as mentioned, a very specific type of retail layout. It’s a shame in one other regard, that is, many of these former dealership buildings are of very recent construction as a result of most manufacturers’ push to get dealers to upgrade their facilities in recent years, and therefore represent a considerable capital investment. It’s a tough scenario to consider a complete tear-down of what is many times a new building.

According to various articles published today, Sears has launched a franchise unit of its well-know Sears Auto Center business, and that new franchise distributor is offering some former GM and Chrysler dealers a Sears Auto Center franchise, which is to be located on the former dealership site.

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