This morning NPR aired an interesting interview with the author of "While America Aged, How Pension Debts Ruined General Motors..."
The author explains how the big three (GM, Ford, Chrysler) could get away with heavy pension cost while there was no competing products. But since foreign automaker can offer cars that don’t carry the same pension burden, GM will have no other choice than bankruptcy if they want to get out of those bad deals.
Click here, then click on ’Listen now’ to listen to the interview.
General Motors just added a new service to its OnStar technology. The new service will allow OnStar to assist the police in recovering your stolen vehicle, and hopefully reduce fatalities and injuries that result from high speed police chases. This new technology is known as “Stolen Vehicle Slowdown,” and its name pretty much tells what it was created to do. Basically, this is the latest enhancement to OnStar’s stolen vehicle service, and it allows OnStar advisors to work with the police, by sending a signal to the subscriber’s stolen vehicle that reduces engine power, slowing the vehicle down gradually.
GM announced today their first quarter 2008 sales performance on the old continent. And they are not doing bad at all, in fact this is their best first quarter in term of volume with 570,000 vehicle sold. Chevrolet Europe Q1 sales are up 30 percent to a record market share of 2.2 percent, GM Russia is showing 78 percent increase and the Cadillac brand is finally taking off with 13 percent growth. Even the gas guzzler Hummer brand is showing a 59 percent increased compared to Q1 2007, and keep in mind that gas in Europe cost almost $10 a gallon ! We wonder how they dit it but it seems that the American brands are finally breaking into the European market. GM global positioning is paying off and it pays in Euros, worth 1.57 US Dollar for those who don’t follow the market. Global positioning is really paying off, especially when you think that US sales outlook are in the red.
General Motors declared that they have no intentions in competing against Tata’s $2500 Nano. General Motors Asia Pacific president David N Reilly stated that they cannot compromise with the Chevrolet brand by making a competitor but are looking at making another small-car below the Chevrolet Spark’s price point.
The Chevrolet Spark is at present, the entry-level model of GM priced at US $7564 (ex-showroom price, Delhi). But nothing about the cost aspect was revealed for this new car which is planned to enter the Indian market sometime in the next two years. GM will develop this car with other similar International markets in mind and will use it to attain its target of 10 per cent market share in India by 2010.
At present, three-fourths of the cars sold in India are small cars which has evolved into a major small-car hub. Toyota , Renault, Ford, Hyundai and Fiat are all developing their own Nano versions cheaper than anything else in their product range.
Rising crude oil prices is the reason why people not only in India, but all over the world prefer small, economical cars which are easy on the environment too. But crude oil prices are not ascending alone. The cost of raw materials which includes steel and aluminium, which are used to make vital components in a car, are also increasing.
The big question remains to be safety. At such rock-bottom prices, will the safety factor be given adequate importance by car makers?
General Motors’ new transmission plant in its Mexico’s Silao complex has been in the news since it began operations last month.
The $660 million plant builds a new six-speed rear-wheel-drive family of gearboxes, which uses 4 percent less fuel compared to regular transmissions in certain applications. 1,500 of them are built everyday which are distributed to other countries, where they will find application in 25 different vehicles.
However, the gearboxes will not be exported to the U.S or neither will they be fitted on vehicles assembled in Silao.
The Silao complex currently employs 3,900 people and the transmission plant will employ 1,100 workers at full production. The Silao complex opened in the year 1995. It assembles the Chevrolet Suburban, Avalanche and Silverado Crew Cab, GMC Sierra Crew Cab and Cadillac Escalade EXT models.
General Motors has announced that it will build a cheap city car for EUR 8,000 using motorcycle parts. This measure will keeps costs down and also make it easier for the manufacturer to put the car together in the assembly stage. Tata Motors were also at some point of time, thinking along those lines during the Nano’s development stage, but the plan was subsequently dropped.
Opel is presently in the "discussion and examination phase" of the project and it will be long before the rear-engined, entry-level car rolls out of their factory. Opel will outsource the parts from either a scooter or motorcycle manufacturer and is also looking at Asian suppliers to help them out. The car is expected to carry a drive train similar to a motorcycles’ and will be ready within a few years time.
The $2500 Nano from Tata Motors has challenged international players. What was at one point termed ’impossible’ has now turned into ’competition’. GM announced it would use its Chinese company Wuling to pit against the Nano in the future. Wuling is a Chinese company which manufactures vans and pickups for around $3,000, and is partly-owned by General Motors.
GM’s vice chairman of global product development Bob Lutz, said "We move a legacy architecture and parts that have been around for a long time,". "Then we create a vehicle that’s very inexpensive, and it could not be sold in the developed world because it wouldn’t meet regulations.", describing the way GM would go about making their small car.
GM is right now working on a parallel products program which focuses completely on small cars for developing countries like eastern Europe and Asia where the battle ground for super low-cost car is heating up.
"You add an extra passenger seat, that’ll be slightly extra and so forth," comments Lutz, questioning whether that the Nano will retail at $2,500 once amenities are added. "The average retail is probably going to be more," he added.
I don’t think there is room for another passenger seat in the Nano, Mr.Lutz. You should check your facts before making such statements!
The Hummer H3T is scheduled to be unveiled in the Chicago Auto Show next week. To stir it up a little before the official reveal, GM gave the test mules to HMR Magazine. The testers put the H3T through its paces and were pleased with the truck’s overall performance. This is what one of the excited testers had to say.
"Priced in the high thirties, I think the H3T will not only be a hit with recreational consumers, but everyone from Contractors to Search and Rescue crews will fall in love with this truck. I know HUMMER sees their main competition for the H3T being smaller pickups like the Tacoma or the Dakota. But anyone who’s seen the H3T will tell you that it’s "Like nothing else" and anyone who’s driven the H3T will tell you…there is no competition."
We met with Mark LaNeve on monday night at a diner organized by GM to promote their new concepts at the Detroit Auto Show. Mark confirmed the upcoming reveal of a small Hummer truck, a small Cadillac and a G8 based pick up. The first two vehicle will certainly be very close to the Hummer HX and CTS coupe jsut unveiled in Detroit earlier this week. It is just strange that the HX concept it so close to the hummer H3T concept from 2004, moreover we have the feeling that the new Hummer will not be a pickup only version. About the Cadillac, the 2 door concept pave the way for smaller Cadillac vehicle. Let’s just hope the smaller Cadi will not be a Malibu re-badged! God knows how much GM think the Malibu is the next best thing after their Volt concept of course.
about the G8 pickup, we already know what it will look like, as Holden, who build the G8, already have car pickup in their lineup. LaNeve just said that he is looking for a good name, anything aside of ’ElCamino’!
Wanna help Mark? Submit your baby names for the baby Cadillac and the G8 pickup. My personal take: Cadillac CTA and Pontiac Trucko!
Keep in mind that LaNeve is ’only’ head of Marketing, which means that even if he identified demand for those cars, other consideration such as engineering or budget might not allow those project to go through. Time will tell.
Check out our video of the 2008 GM style event. Lots of celebrities, VIPs and live concert from Mary G.Blidge, Maroon 5, Kid Rock to introduce the Corvette ZR1 and a fashion runway show ... and .. free beers for us!