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Fisker Automotive announced today that former Chrysler head Tom LaSorda will replace the company’s namesake, Henrik Fisker, as the new CEO.
Fisker first called LaSorda to join the team as an observer and to assess the company as a whole. After two months of evaluation,He asked LaSorda to become CEO. Fisker meanwhile announced his intent to “build the brand globally” and make it his personal task to push sales in foreign countries. In lieu of his previous position, Fisker named himself the company’s executive chairman.
LaSorda seems like a safe choice to further the brand: As a 32-year veteran of the automotive industry, he knows a thing or two about running car companies. “I am delighted to be assuming such a central role at this exciting time in Fisker Automotive’s history,” LaSorda said.
With financial troubles recently plaguing the company, Fisker might need a boost to keep afloat. The company also announced this morning that the Fisker Surf, which is a hatchback Karma, will debut at the 2012 Paris Auto Show, and be ready for delivery by early 2013 at the latest.
While the company’s future is unclear, it seems that the California start up is doing everything in its power to keep from failing.
Chrysler’s deputy CEO Jim Press is planning to quit his post before the year’s end, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Press took the helm of Chrysler in 2007 when Cerberus Capital Management took a controlling share in the company. He moved to the position after a lengthy 37-year career at Toyota Motor Corp.
When Chrysler emerged from Bankruptcy in June under new ownership by Fiat, Pres was made deputy CEO under the leadership of Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne. Under the old Chrysler System, Press worked alongside former Chairman Robert Nardelli and vice-chair Tom LaSorda. But when Chrysler filed for bankruptcy LaSorda announced his retirement. Then upon emerging from bankruptcy under the ownership of Fiat, Nardelli also stepped down.
Neither Press nor Chrysler have made any official announcements regarding Press’s decision to leave.
[Source: Automotive News]
The possibility that Penske Automotive Group may in fact purchase the Saturn brand from General Motors has just increased significantly. Penske has acquired the services of former Chrysler President Tom LaSorda as an adviser on the bid.
Penske is the second largest dealership group in the U.S. and also distributes the SMART brand of cars in the U.S. for Mercedes parent company Daimler.
The Detroit News is reporting that the Penske bid may involve other partners, including Serra Automotive Inc. and the Suburban Collection. Serra Automotive is the 15th largest dealership group in the U.S. with 21 stores in six states. The Suburban Collection is the 13th largest group and boasts 7 Saturn dealerships.
While many of GM’s brands have received little attention from prospective buyers the list of parties interested in Saturn seems to grow daily. Bloomberg is reporting that Canada’s Magna International is interested in Saturn, while other recent reports indicate Renault/Nissan is interested.
Saturn has said it has engaged in talks with the investment firm Telesto Ventures about a possible sale.
Currently GM is eager to part with Saturn as it faces a June 1st restructuring deadline.
[Source: Automotive News]
Executives spent two years talking to anyone who would listen about forging a partnership
Before Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 late last week the automaker explored every option, including selling the company to the Chinese and forging partnerships with any other manufacturer that expressed even a remote amount of interest.
In public bankruptcy filings, made at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, Chrysler’s co-president and vice-Chairman Tom LaSorda said that the company entertained offers from Chinese automakers Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., Tempo International Group, Hawtai Automobiles, and Chery Automotive Co.
“Chrysler sent letters to parties, primarily in China, whom we thought would be potentially interested in purchasing our assets,” LaSorda wrote. “Over the next two months, several companies… expressed interest in purchasing specific vehicles, powertrains, intellectual property rights, distribution channels and automotive brands.”
In the end, however, none of those companies were interested.
LaSorda also said that over the past two years Chrysler has courted practically every other automaker out there, searching for a partner. The list includes Nissan, General Motors, Volkswagen, Tata, Magna, GAZ, Hyundai, Honda and Toyota.
Many off the arrangements didn’t have a leg to stand on, however, the talks with Nissan were thorough and only ended when Nissan couldn’t secure the credit needed to buy in to Chrysler.
La Sorda finally writes that a partnership with Fiat is the “best outcome,” although that might be stretching the truth, as it seems Fiat is the only automaker in the world with interest in Chrysler.
The Chrysler/Fiat deal, which began back in March of 2008, is now before the bankruptcy court. Fiat didn’t put any money into Chrysler but will provide $8 to $10 billion in small car technology in exchange for a 20 percent stake in the company. Fiat can get 15 percent more if it meets three benchmarks that the U.S. government has imposed, including building a 40 mpg car. That car will be a Chrysler version of the Fiat 500.
[Source: Detroit News]
CAW President Ken Lewenza calls Nardelli/LaSorda letter "offensive"
The Canadian Auto Workers union, after burning the letter written by Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli and joint-president Tom Lasorda, has now responded with its own statement.
CAW president Ken Lewenza denies that a $19 labor gap exists between Canadian and U.S. workers and refuses to re-negotiate a contract that has already been re-neogotiated.
Lewenza calls the $76 per hour wage “inflated and artificial” and says that it, “includes many non-relevant factors, such as expenses associated with retirees who have not worked at Chrysler for years, and payroll taxes which are paid to government not to workers.” He continues: “Perhaps most galling of all, Chrysler’s number even includes the proportional cost of downtime and lay-offs. In essence, we are being ‘charged’ for our own unemployment. The best way to reduce that artificial $76 number is to put Chrysler workers back to work: that alone would reduce hourly costs by several dollars per hour.”
Regardless of how you view the statistics, Lewenza makes two other strong points. First, he says that Toyota and Honda (both of which are non-unionized) have made it well-known that they match wages and other benefits with unionized automakers. In other words, the wage that Chrysler employees are making is fair because it’s what the other companies are paying their staff. Second, Lewenza says that the bond holders haven’t had to make any concessions at all.
Unfortunately for Lewenza and the CAW, it doesn’t matter what they say and it seems that if the $19 gap isn’t closed then Fiat won’t partner with Chrysler, the federal governments in both Canada and the United States won’t keep the cash flowing. As a result Chrysler will be forced into bankruptcy, something Lewenza calls, “an increasingly likely prospect.”
Read the full letter after the jump:
Model is 7th Chrysler product to disappear since 2007
Despite the fact that the last news article regarding the PT Cruiser on Chrysler media site is titled “PT Cruiser Continues to Shine in 2009,” Chrysler president Tom LaSorda has announced that in an effort to save money the company will cease production of the retro van, car, truck, thing. The news comes after a record low sales year for the PT, which suffered a 49 percent drop in sales in 2008.
While the PT Cruiser certainly had its group of dedicated fans, AutoGuide wasn’t one of them – nor we beleive was anyone who loved cars or had a sence of aesthetic decency.
The PT Cruiser is the seventh model to be dropped from the Chrysler lineup since Cerberus Capital Management LP bought Chrysler in 2007. The other models that have recently met their demise are the Dodge Magnum, Dodge Durango, Chrysler Crossfire, Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible, Chrysler Aspen and Chrysler Pacifica.
Once production of the PT Cruiser ceases at the Toluca, Mexico plant this summer the only vehicles to wear the Chrysler badge will be the Town & Country minivan and Sebring and 300C sedans. (We’d wager the Sebring is about to join the history books too).