AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Our neighbors in the North want to see green in their future. No, not just money, but also green energy. Hence the Government of Ontario (Canada) has teamed up with one of the worlds largest automotive parts manufacturer Magna International Inc. to develop electric vehicle technologies.
The project is said to cost $441-million and will take about six-years to develop. The Ontario government will contribute $50-million towards this green project.
Ontario wants to be taken seriously about its plans for a greener future and is attracting car companies to move it towards this goal. Earlier this year, Toyota announced that it will produce the RAV4 EV model in Ontario, which will be the first electric vehicle produced by Toyota outside of Japan.
The project with Magna will help develop electric car parts and lightweight materials which will be used by other manufacturers. The Ford Focus EV was partly developed by Magna.
Frank Stronach, the founder of Magna owns a 27% stake in a electric car company called E-Car Venture, a connection that will surely help in moving this new project forward.
[Source: Automotive News]
It has styled some of the most memorable cars in history, including scores of Ferraris, but more recently the famed design house Pininfarina, has fallen on hard times. It’s been up for sale for several months, though now, might have a potential buyer, in the shape of Bejing Automotive Industry Corp (BAIC).
Fueling the speculation that BAIC is in the process of a serious bid for Pininfarina, are quotes from a Chinese website (ee0.com) which said that an unnamed BAIC executive recently returned from Italy where he was in discussion with Pininfarina regarding collaboration on a new car based on the Saab 9-3.
BAIC currently owns the tooling, intellectual property and powertrain technology from the current Saab 9-3, which it purchased from General Motors and is already working on several new cars based on this platform, a new Pininfarina styled 9-3 could be one of them. If such a car does indeed materialize, it will probably make its debut at the 2011 Beijing Auto Show.
However, besides BAIC, that same media website (eeo.com), also reported that other Chinese firms, Anhui Jiangling and Brilliance, have also expressed interest in acquiring Pininfarina, along with India’s Mahindra and Canada’s Magna International. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
[Source: Inside Line]
If you’re a fan of the all-new Camaro, likely you’ve heard about the upcoming convertible version and seen the concept. In all those photos you haven’t seen the convertible top… and for good reason. It didn’t really exist.
According to a report by Automotive News, GM has awarded Magna the contract to build the Camaro convertible top with Magna expected to deliver roughly 20,000 units annually. That’s a big number and GM is obviously hoping the Camaro convertible will be as much of a success as the hard-top. (We can already hear the rental car agencies in Florida and California chomping at the bit to get at the drop-top Camaro).
With an projected sale of 20,000 units annually, the Camaro Convertible would then join the Mustang as the best selling convertible in America. There’s even the possibility that the Camaro rag-top could overtake the Mustang Convertible, which is what the coupe has done.
The convertible tops will be manufactured at GM’s Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky and we imagine final assembly will occur at GM’s Oshawa plant where the Camaro hard-top is manufactured.
GM has yet to officially confirm the Camaro Convertible for production and has yet to unveil a production model or set an on-sale date. It is expected that a Camaro Convertible could arrive later this year as a 2011 model.
[Source: Automotive News via Autoblog]
Frank Weber, the engineer that is currently running Chevy’s Volt project is parting ways with General Motors. Weber, will be returning to his homeland of Germany, where he will take up a senior management roll at Opel.
GM is currently in the process of selling Opel to Canada’s Magna International and Opel is set to produce its own version of the Volt (called the Ampera) in 2011. No doubt Weber’s expertise on the matter will be extremely beneficial in doing so.
According to GM spokesman Dave Roman, the move was planned and Weber’s replacement has already been found. That man is Doug Parks, who has been at Opel since 2007 and was also involved in the creation of car’s like the Opel Astra and Chevy Cruze.
The is the second big staffing change on the Volt project in the past few weeks with Bob Kruse, GM’s top engineer for hybrids and electric cars, recently having left the company to start his own consulting firm.
[Source: Automotive News]
The sale of GM’s European Opel division to Russian-backed Canadian autoparts maker Magna has been put on hold. The on-again, off-again saga is off-again as GM board is set to meet on November 3rd to review changes to the agreement.
The changes, include a request by the German Economy Minister to GM, asking the company to clarify that the decision to choose Magna over rival Belgian bidder RHJ International was due to business and not political reasons. That may be difficult for GM to do as the German government had promised a significant loan to Opel if Magna was chosen, with the understanding that Magna’s proposal would keep more jobs in Germany.
Recently the European Commission put pressure on the German government to clarify that the proposed aid was available to any bidder and not just to Magna – which it seems was not the case. If the German government changes its tune, that may cause GM to favor Magna’s Belgian competitor and put the entire deal in jeopardy.
[Source: Automotive News]
Earlier this week, GM announced "no decision" on which of the two rival bidders would get Opel
After announcing earlier this week that it has not reached a deal to sell Opel, General Motors is now apparently exploring options to keep the European unit.
This news comes as a surprise considering selling off Opel is a part of the company’s viability plan as submitted to the U.S. government in order to receive $50 billion in funding. In order to do so GM would reportedly need to raise $4.3 billion, which seems unlikely for a company that is still suffering from decreased sales and has only recently emerged from bankruptcy.
Earlier this week GM announced that it did not come to a decision on which of the two rival candidates it woud choose to sell Opel to. GM has received significant pressure from the German government to accept a deal from Canadian autoparts maker Magna Internatinal, but board members have been opposed to the deal, mostly because it could provide some of Magna’s Russian backers with technology that would allow them to compete with GM.
The German government favors the Magna deal over competing bidder RHJ International because Magna has agreed to keep jobs in Germany. The German government is offering $6.4 billion in loans to help the Magna purchase go through.
Apparently a new deal by RHJ would allow GM to keep some control over Opel and even allow the automaker to buy it back.
GM board members are currently in talks with the German government, where the Opel situation has become a national issue in the country’s upcoming elections. GM’s best case scenario would see the German government secure loans under a sale to RHJ, but so far German Chancelor Angela Merkel has not shown any interest in RHJ.
[Source: The Detroit News]
After continued rumors that General Motors was still shopping-around its European Opel operations, it appears as though a new buyer has been found. RHJ International, a Belgian company has been cited as the latest bidder and apparently a tentative deal could be signed by the end of the week.
Initially Opel was slated to be sold to Canadian autoparts manufacturer Magna International, but those plans have hit several roadblocks. Magna’s deal did not guarantee the same amount of job protection to Opel’s German workforce and so it put in jeopardy a $2.1 billion loan from the German government. Additionally, GM was not excited about the prospect of handing over its technology so that Magna and Russian partners Sberbank and GAZ could use it to build vehicles for the Russian market.
The deal put forward by RHJ, on the other hand, is more likely to be attractive to the German government and GM would not have to fear competition in the Russian marketplace.
According to the Financial Times, however, the RHJ deal is more attractive because of one factor, the price. An initial bid by the holding company had GM sign an agreement with Magna instead, but apparently RHJ has now upped its offer.
According to the Financial Times, GM could sign tentative agreements with both companies, meaning that the sale of Opel to Magna is not completely out of the question.
One of the other Opel bidders, China’s Beijing Automotive Industry Corp., is also expected to make GM a more attractive offer in the near future.
So it looks like Opel is in hot demand and GM is back in the driver’s seat as it looks to get the most for its European operations and emerge from bankruptcy in the best financial state possible.
[Source: Automotive News]
Compact European cars a good fit for Canadian market
Magna International will not be selling Opel cars in the United States or China, says company CEO Frank Stronach. The head of the Canadian auto parts supplier said that this was part of the deal he worked out with GM when purchasing its European Opel brand.
Interestingly, however, there is no indication that the agreement included the Canadian market.
Stronach has commented that he’d like to manufacture cars in Canada. “We want to build Opel cars in Canada… Canada should have its own Canadian company … a truly Canadian automobile industry.”
While the Canadian market is small, with the latest figures showing about 1.5 million units expected for 2009, it’s not unforeseeable that Magna could look into building Opel cars in Canada. It also makes particular sense as smaller European-style cars (like the Corsa GSi pictured above) are much more popular in Canada than in the United States.
SMART began selling its fortwo in Canada several years before it even landed in the U.S. and currently Mercedes-Benz sells its compact B-Class in Canada. Honda has also had tremendous success selling a rebadged Civic Sedan as an entry-level luxury car called the CSX (formerly EL) under its Acura brand.
As for the Chinese market, Stronach did say that the deal may be flexible if GM (which still holds a 35 percent share in Opel) could see it as a profitable venture.
Stronach says he expects Opel to break even in just three years and furn a profit in its fourth. He also downplayed any interest in Saturn or Saab, indicating that one major acquisition might just be enough for now.
Additionally, Magna is seeking a $140 million grant from the Canadian government to assist in producing an electric car in Canada. Estimates put an electric car assembly plant at $280 million.
“If we get a loan we know we could speed it up. We could make sure it’s going to be in Canada,” Stronach told Automotive News.
[Source: Automotive News]
Successful Saturn Bid Could See Opel-Based Saturns Built in Canada
By solidifying a deal to take control of GM’s European operations, Canada’s Magna International Inc. is eager to start producing Opel cars in Canada.
“We want to build Opel cars in Canada,” said company founder and CEO Frank Stronach. “Canada should have its own Canadian company … a truly Canadian automobile industry.”
The third largest auto parts supplier in the world, Magna certainly has the resources and the know-how – it just doesn’t have the facilities to build cars in Canada. That, however, might all change as Chrysler may close operations and General Motors Canada recently shut down its truck plant in Oshawa, Ontario.
The lower value of the Canadian currently would likely help matters and should be enough to easily offset the cost of shipping vehicles to Europe – although it’s not clear that Canadian-built cars would be for the European market, as moving production outside of Germany would certainly be a devastating public relations move.
What Stronach may have in mind is for Opel-based cars to be built in Canada for distribution in Canada and the U.S. As Magna is also currently bidding to take control of Saturn from GM, it’s entirely possible that production of those models, all but one of which are based on Opel vehicles, could happen in Magna’s backyard.
There is also a strong possibility that Magna will expand into the Russian car market.
Magna’s partners in the Opel deal include Sberbank of Russia and both Stronach and Magna have strong ties to Russia. Stronach actually did work as an auto industry adviser for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Russian Magna investor Oleg Deripaska (the owner of Russian truck maker GAZ) has had long standing aspirations to sell consumer cars.
Building Opel models in Russia is a strong possibility, however, it is unlikely those models would be exported to Europe.
General Motors is expected to announce final candidates for the sale of Saturn in the next few weeks.
[Source: The Globe and Mail]
Ford will spend $550 million to transform it’s Michigan truck plant into a facility that bill be used to built the new Ford Focus, including an electric version of that vehicle.
By transforming the Michigan Trunk Plant into a compact car facility as many as 3,200 jobs will be saved as demand for large SUVs declines. The Truck Plant was the location where behemoths such as the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator were manufactured.
The all new Focus will begin production next year with an electric version of the compact car due out in 2011. This zero-emissions Focus is being built in partnership with Magna International and will be powered by an electric motor mated to a Lithium-Ion battery pack and can be charged though a conventional household outlet.
Ford has made a commitment to bring three more EVs to market by 2012.
“The transformation of Michigan Assembly Plant embodies the larger transformation under way at Ford,” said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. “This is about investing in modern, efficient and flexible American manufacturing. It is about fuel economy and the electrification of vehicles. It is about leveraging our expertise and vehicle platforms around the world and partnering with the UAW to deliver best-in-class global small cars. It is about skilled and motivated teams working together in new ways to create the future of automobile manufacturing in the United States.”
Along with the Michigan plant, Ford will transform its Louisville, KY plant to also produce the new Focus, as well as modify the company’s Cuautitlan Assembly in Mexico, where the new Fiesta is to be produced.
“We’re changing from a company focused mainly on trucks and SUVs to a company with a balanced product lineup that includes even more high-quality, fuel-efficient small cars, hybrids and all-electric vehicles,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “As customers move to more fuel-efficient vehicles, we’ll be there with more of the products they really want.”
Official release after the jump:
Only yesterday it seemed as though Italian car maker Fiat was likely to purchase GM’s European Opel brand, but now a new player has emerged. Magna International, the Austrian-Canadian parts supplier to OEMs like Chrysler, Ford and Mercedes has “announced” plans to purchase a controlling share in Opel.
The news didn’t come from Magna, however, but from a politician in Germany. Kurt Beck, the state premier of Rhineland-Palatinate, one of the German states where Opel builds its cars, announced that Magna wants to acquire a 20 percent stake in Opel directly.
A spokesman for Beck said that Magna is also looking into other options to gain an even larger share of Opel. This could include, as reported in Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, a deal with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska that would see the two partners purchase as much as 50 percent of Opel.
A Magna spokesman would not comment on the news.
General Motors is eager to part with Opel as it needs to sell off much of the company in order to secure $3.4 billion in loans from the German government. Currently Fiat is the only other strong contender for Opel.
General Motors is also looking to find a buyer for it’s British Vauxhall brand, however, no major bidders have emerged.
[Source: Automotive News]
While General Motors has been stealing all the publicity in the plug-in hybrid segment and Chrysler keeps rolling out an endless lineup of electric concept cars, Ford has been quietly working behind the scenes to develop both technologies. And according to a report in the Detroit News, Ford will bring both of these new technologies to market in 2011.
There aren’t a lot of specifics on what model the plug-in hybrid will be, but Ford is currently testing a fleet of Escape Plug-in Hybrids that get 120 mpg in the city and 70 mpg on the highway.
As for the zero-emissions electric vehicle, it will be a Ford Focus and will be based on the all-new vehicle due out in 2010. Ford had been concentrating mostly on the plug-in concept until one of its parts suppliers, Canadian company Magna International, developed a fully-electric version of the Focus. Apparently Magna representatives arrived at Ford HQ back in September for a meeting, driving an electric Focus that Magna had developed on its own.
Ford execs were so impressed that they took a serious look and now they have announced that a pure electric model will also join the fleet.
The electric Focus will have no gasoline motor at all and will operate up to 100 miles on a single charge.
[Source: Detroit News]