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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.
One of the main concerns with the recent American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and Grand-Am merger was the involvement and relationship with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), which is the organizing entity behind the 24 Hours of Le Mans. That can be put to rest however, as the organizations met with one another to find a way to put it all together.
A few years ago, Italian auto giant Fiat was very close to partnering up with General Motors. However, that deal went sour at the last minute and a few years after that, Fiat bought a big chunk of Chrysler in its quest to have a large slice of the American market.
More recently, the company was in the news announcing that Fiat is looking to partner up with Mazda or Suzuki, which would not only help expand Fiat’s reach into the Asian market, but also co-develop future small car platforms and technologies together.
Not content with sitting idling by, waiting for deals to happen, Fiat/Chrysler are constantly seeking alliances to further its growth.
The latest round of news from the 2012 Geneva Auto Show is that Fiat is “open to Volvo talks.” Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne expressed that he is “interested in talking to everyone that wants to talk with me.”
Volvo, which is now owned by the Chinese auto firm Geely, wants to expand itself in the small car segment in developing markets which makes Fiat an good fit because it already has plenty of small cars in its line-up. This tie-up could prove very beneficial for Volvo, to offer a new small car, without going through the expense of designing and engineering a complete new vehicle itself.
Fiat will benefit by finding a route into the Chinese market, which is currently the fastest growing economy in the world.
As for future drive-train technologies, Marchionne says; “There’s still lots of unexplored technology with combustion. Future drive-trains need to be cheaper and more cost effective.”
While Fiat is to introduce its first electric car later this year, the 500e (shown above), it only did so because it pooled technology from a host of companies already in the electric car field and thus saved cost of developing a complete new system themselves.
When asked if Fiat was in talks with PSA Peugeot Citroen, Marchionne denied the claim saying, “I would not like to be GM. The integration for the cost does not go far enough and would not have met our requirements.”
Fiat was at one point in talks with GM to take over Opel-Vauxhall and Saab, and Marchionne confidently said he could have “found a solution for the brands.”
What if Ford and General Motors merged? The result would be a global automotive machine so inconceivably huge rivals like Toyota and Volkswagen might not even think of challenging it. And it would be awash with cash, and profits, cutting tremendous expenses at both automaker from research and development all the way to accounting. At least this was the plan proposed by General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner in a private meeting with Ford executives in the summer of 2008.
This shocking revelation is the latest to come from New York Times auto writer Bill Vlasic, in an except from his new book ‘Once Upon a Car: The Fall and Resurrection of America’s Big Three Automakers — G.M., Ford and Chrysler’, set to be published tomorrow.
Seeing it for the desperate move it was with GM out of cash and burning through one billion dollars a month, Ford Chairman Bill Ford and Chief Executive Alan Mulally flatly rejected Wagoner’s appeal. Later on, Wagoner even admitted he understood why. “But sitting in their shoes, I could understand why they didn’t want to do it,” he said.
The rest, they say, is history, with GM filing bankrupcty protection papers and then emerging from the complex process having slashed $48 billion in debt and obligations, able to once again generate a profit without looming debt payments eating up all its cash.
Yet as shocking as this news is, implications from the book may have more lasting effects. “There was something missing among Mr. Wagoner, Mr. Lutz and Mr. Henderson [CFO], some chemistry or cover-my-back mentality,” writes Vlasic, undermining the leadership at GM, which has been brought into question before. “They worked together, but not ‘together,’ as the Ford guys did.”
Published by William Morrow ”Once Upon a Car: The Fall and Resurrection of America’s Big Three Automakers — G.M., Ford and Chrysler’ is on sale October 4th.
Porsche Automobil Holding SE is the company that holds the 50.1% majority of Porsche AG, the manufacturing arm that actually builds the cars. But Volkswagen is looking to exercise an option that allows them to take over the other half, without going through Porsche SE first. As a result, Porsche is now scrambling to attract investors as an independent entity, while trying to avoid a potential merger.
“We cannot say with certainty which approach Porsche SE will take,” said Porsche finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch.
The original merger was scheduled for the end of 2011, but due to legal troubles there’s only a 50% chance of that still happening.
Porsche was once the last independent sports car manufacturer (next to, say, Morgan); can they foist off their potentially messy Volkswagen invasion?
[Source: Automotive News Europe]
According to Car & Driver Euro-based blogger Jens Meiners, more than one of his sources within the Volkswagen Group suggest that they would like to take over Alfa Romeo from Fiat. According to Meiners, this move would allow Alfa to reach its ambitious sales targets, given that a takeover by VW would virtually guarantee class-leading performance and execution of future Alfa models.
A takeover of Alfa would also further strengthen VWs hold on the global sports car market, given its much ballyhooed acquisition of Porsche and continued strong sales from Audi. Meiners also argues that bringing Alfa into the VW Group would allow for a softening of the Audi brand, where the focus on sportiness sometimes borders on excessive. Such a reposition of Audi in a slightly softer and more luxurious direction is apparently viewed as a positive thing within the VW Group, making the Alfa acquisition rumor even more intriguing.
Our only concern with a VW-Alfa merger would be the Italian flare Alfas have always been known for and how an injection of Teutonic engineering might alter the brand’s character. Of course part of that Italian “flare” has often come at the cost of reliability, so Meiners remark about guaranteed performance and execution is certainly not lost on us. Worse things could happen than the arrival of reliable and well built Alfa Romeos.
[Source: Car & Driver]
Manufacturer blames credit crunch, not lack of demand
Chrysler has just announced that starting this Friday (December 19th) it will cease production until January 19th – at the earliest.
The month long “production pause” is not due to a lack of demand says Chrysler, which recently scheduled a meeting with dealers to assess the economic crisis. According to Chrysler dealers, 20 to 25 percent of their reduction in volume can be attributed to a lack of available credit.
This reinforces the belief that it is the instability of the banks and their consequent tight grip on credit that is driving the economy into a recession.
News of the production pause comes just as The Wall Street Journal erroneously reported that Chrysler is back in merger talks with General Motors.
See official press release after the jump: