By Andy Bannister
Once upon a time in Europe almost every manufacturer had one or more coupés in its range, and some (like Fiat) had numerous swoopier versions of even its humblest little runabouts, often with bespoke bodies by the likes of Bertone and Pininfarina.
After some time in the wilderness there are signs of a renaissance in the European small coupé market, exemplified by the launch of the low-volume Volkswagen Scirocco, reviving a popular name dating right back to the 1970s.
The latest manufacturer poised to gain a slice of this cake is Ford, currently contemplating a return of the legendary Capri name.
The whole idea of a coming up with a commercially successful mainstream coupé was based on combining a stylish body with relatively humble underpinnings – in other words, persuading buyers to pay more for what they (and their green-with-envy neighbours) perceived was something special.
By Chris Haak
Late today, the US Supreme Court lifted the stay that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had placed on the sale of Chrysler’s assets to Fiat, which she placed on the transaction yesterday around 4:00 p.m. Based on the text of the ruling (available here as a PDF), the reason for the stay granted yesterday had very little to do with the merits of the claims of the three Indiana pension funds, and everything to do with the Supreme Court wanting to take adequate time to decide whether to review the matter. In the end, the Court decided that it didn’t warrant its review.
According to the per curiam decision (which means one rendered by the court as a whole, acting anonymously) (yes, I had to look it up), the denial of the stay is not a decision on the merits of the underlying legal issues, but whether the applicant [for the stay] has demonstrated reasonable probability that four justices will grant certiorari (meaning that the court would agree to hear the case, and that the case is scheduled for the filing of briefs and for oral arguments). The Court also looked at whether there was a fair prospect of a majority of justices will conclude that the lower court’s ruling was erroneous, and what the likelihood of irreparable harm would occur if the stay was denied.
By Brendan Moore
This should be interesting.
As you know, General Motors is in the throes of bankruptcy and therefore can void all the existing agreements it has with suppliers, lenders and dealers, to name a few.
GM has seized this opportunity to draw up a new dealer agreement with new terms that have infuriated many of their dealers. There are over 1300 dealer principals that have already received news of the death sentence GM gave their dealership, and thus are not involved in this fight, but many remaining dealers are screaming bloody murder.
Adding to their anger is the statement by GM executives that any dealer that doesn’t sign the new agreement by June 12 can be terminated at will. GM can legally terminate the dealers under the existing dealer agreement while in federal bankruptcy proceedings.
Automotive News has come into possession of a copy of the new dealer agreement, which they are reporting contains the following GM requirements:
Eliminate non-GM brands in the showroom
Maintain larger inventories
Sell substantially more vehicles
Upgrade dealerships and maintain high customer satisfaction scores
Not protest any store GM locates within six miles of their store for two years
GM’s lawyers have told company executives that any agreement forged in federal court will prevail over existing state franchise laws, a premise that irate dealers and their attorneys vehemently disagree with. They state that the new dealer agreement being offered by GM is overreaching and cannot trump state laws.
By Chris Haak
In a somewhat surprising move, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg of the United States Supreme Court, apparently at nearly the last minute before a 4:00 deadline, has agreed to hear the Constitutional concerns of the Indiana pension funds that appealed the lower court’s decision to allow the Chrysler bankruptcy to proceed as ruled by Judge Arthur Gonzalez in the bankruptcy court in New York. The Supreme Court rarely grants emergency stays of lower court decisions. You can read Justice Ginsberg’s decision here (PDF). If you don’t feel like clicking, it’s really short:
UPON CONSIDERATION of the application of counsel for the applicants, and the responses filed thereto,
IT IS ORDERED that the orders of the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, case No. 09-50002, dated May 31 and June 1, 2009, are stayed pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court.
Because the full court will hear the case, the sale will no longer be able to close today as the parties had hoped.
As we reported earlier, Fiat is able to walk away from the Chrysler transaction if it does not close by next Monday, June 15, 2009. Additionally, Fiat is entitled to receive a $35 million breakup fee. While the breakup fee may seem unusual for a company that hasn’t invested any cash in the transaction, Fiat has spent considerable time and executive resources preparing for the transaction.
By Chris Haak
Thanks to all the great reviews for the 2010MY Ford Fusion and all the positive media attention given the Fusion and Ford, it looks like the Fusion is finally starting to gain some traction. Unfortunately, for some of us Ford Dealerships, Fusion inventory is hitting a critical stage. My Connecticut store had been advertising 2009 Fusions from November 2008 through late April 2009, almost exclusively on TV at a total cost of over $100,000. Last month the store sold 16 Fusions, mostly 2010’s, and we have only 6 left in stock and only 3 more that are due to arrive this week. After that, we’ll have allocation for only 2 more 2010 Fusions based on the most recently completed “wholesale” done last week. Ford offered us 2 Fusions for the next production cycle and we asked for an additional 8 but were informed by our Ford Zone Manager that we would only get the 2 Fusions offered as the plant is already working overtime and no additional units are available.
As such, it seems that Ford should consider retooling a 2nd plant for Fusion production if it’s not already in the works. Perhaps it’ll be a PR announcement soon amongst those that Ford is orchestrating so well.
You know what? The shortage is non-news, and part of the normal launch of a new model. Ford can’t snap their fingers and expect 50 Fusions to show up in dealer lots overnight. Eventually, as with 99.99% of all cars, the supply will catch up with demand in a couple of months (if not less) and you’ll be able to buy as many Fusions as your heart desires at your local dealer.
By Chris Haak
Last week, the US Bankruptcy Court approved the sale of the desirable parts of Chrysler’s assets to a new holding company controlled by Italy’s Fiat SpA, the US Government, and the UAW, over the objections of some secured debtholders, including a group of Indiana pension funds. The objection raised by the secured lenders was that typically, secured debtholders are paid first in bankruptcy proceedings, and if any assets remain, unsecured debtors – such as the UAW’s VEBA healthcare fund – pick up the pieces. Chrysler’s bankruptcy judge, Arthur Gonzalez, has not followed that pattern.
Judge Gonzalez, expecting opposition to his decision to approve the sale quickly, allowed the pension funds to appeal directly to a US appeals court (skipping the normal next level of appeal in the name of expediency). The appeals court accepted the case and a three-judge panel issued an oral opinion that found the sale legal, but stayed the sale until Monday (today) at 4:00 p.m. to allow appeal to the US Supreme Court.
By James Wong
I never quite accepted the fact that I sold my NA MX-5 Roadster for little more than paltry money not too long ago. It offered all I could possibly want from an 18 year old car – good handling, a rear-wheel drive platform, sublime looks and the wind-in-your-hair feeling. Okay, so maybe its roof leaked sometimes. And yes, maybe it is really underpowered. But no car is perfect, yes? And as far as good cars go, the MX-5 really stayed entrenched in my heart, even up till today when I am driving a different car.
So I got out of my seat and took notice when BMW finally released its replacement Z4. Sporting looks that I was drooling over, a stonking twin-turbocharged inline-6 engine with 306bhp and 400Nm of torque, RWD and the roadster profile, I just had to have a go in it. Feelings I had when I owned the MX-5 started welling up in my heart as I rose in the escalator and greeted the new Z4 for the very first time.
By James Wong
There can only be a few experiences that can top waking up to a beautiful Tuscan morning in the countryside. The crisp air would, at first, invigorate your senses, pulling you out from a night’s slumber. Walking outside of your heated room, you’ll then realise how perfect the weather is – cloudless skies, temperate temperatures, a warm sun on your back – but best of all, is when you notice the serenity of the surroundings. Not a sound can be heard for miles around, and here you can literally experience true tranquility. Sometimes a lone car or two would pass on the nearby roads, giving hints of civilisation in this otherwise natural paradise. The morning certainly made the drive the night before worthwhile, as we weren’t quite sure what to expect when light came and showed us what we have driven into.