OLDSMOBILE TO FADE AWAY
GM PLANS PLANT CLOSINGS, MASSIVE JOB CUTS
LUTON WORKERS PROTEST GM LAYOFFS
NEW PROPOSAL SIDELINES EVS, FAILS TO PLEASE
JOINT REPORT BLAMES TIRES, NOT EXPLORER
SUBARU RECALLS LEGACY
EPA TO PHASE IN CLEAN DIESEL
ANOTHER FORD RECALL
DC RESTRUCTURING TO ENCOURAGE MORE PLATFORM SHARING
COVISINT IS LEGIT
SCHMIDT TO HEAD FORD RESEARCH
GM NAMES DEVINE NEW CEO
DAEWOO WILL SEEK MORE CUTS
DC MAY ADD VEHICLE TO WINDSOR ASSEMBLY
GM ENTERS MARKETING ALLIANCE WITH EBAY
OLDSMOBILE TO FADE AWAY General Motors has announced that it plans to phase out its Oldsmobile division. Announced last Tuesday as part of a major cost-cutting plan, the phasing-out of the 103-year-old Oldsmobile name will not be an immediate thing. GM plans to either sell existing Oldsmobile models for several more years or move them to other nameplates, and much of the division's recent investments will be moved to Saturn. The National Automobile Dealers Association released a statement criticizing the move, and requesting that loyal dealerships receive "fair compensation" for the decision. The redesigned 2002 Bravada, which comes out early next year, will be the last new Oldsmobile.
For more information on the Oldsmobile announcement and the other GM cuts, click here.
GM PLANS PLANT CLOSINGS, MASSIVE JOB CUTS General Motors revealed that a broad cost-cutting plan will cut about 16,000 jobs in the U.S. and Europe, including the closure of Vauxhall assembly operations in England. Production of the Vauxhall Vectra, now produced at the Luton plant, will be moved to a plant in Germany. Also, GM will close its Delta Engine plant in Lansing, Michigan, effective next September. The plant makes 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines. The automaker also plans to cut 5000 North American white-collar jobs, about ten percent of the total number of salaried workers.
LUTON WORKERS PROTEST GM LAYOFFS Workers at the Luton, England, General Motors plant walked off the job for a day, in protest of announced cuts that would close the plant and eliminate its 2000 jobs, part of a GM plan that would slash thousands of jobs across Europe. About 1000 workers joined in the protest, and about 600 marched to nearby offices, demanding to see Vauxhall chairman Nick Reilly, according to Bloomberg News. The Luton plant currently makes Vauxhall Vectra models.
NEW PROPOSAL SIDELINES EVS, FAILS TO PLEASE California's Air Resource Board (ARB) unveiled a proposal to greatly reduce the number of electric vehicles (EVs) that will be required to be sold or leased in California by 2003, substituting them instead with more super ultra low-emissions vehicles (SULEVs). Earlier this year, the board compromised an earlier agreement that required ten percent of all vehicles from the largest manufacturers to be electrics, agreeing on a reduced proportion of four percent. The latest proposal reduced the proportion of electrics required to two percent, with two percent hybrids and six percent SULEVs stipulated. The new rules fail to please automakers or environmentalists. Automakers say that there is no market for EVs and want to test the market first, while green-car advocates say that the new rules sideline electric vehicles and allow more clean-burning vehicles that use excessive amounts of fuel.
For more on what the Air Resource Board latest proposal means for the auto industry and why environmentalists are critical of it, click here.
JOINT REPORT BLAMES TIRES, NOT EXPLORER Firestone and Ford Motor Company are in the final stages of preparing a report for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigators. According to USA Today, the report will likely focus on manufacturing problems dealing with an adhesive that bonds layers of the tire together. Firestone says that it redesigned the area where the layers bond together, called the wedge area, on newer tires made from 1998. Bridgestone Corporation, the Japanese parent company of U.S. division Bridgestone Firestone, now says that its profit estimates will be down by about 80 percent, due to a $750 million special loss from the costs of the Firestone tire recall. Worldwide, the U.S. market forms about 30 percent of Bridgestone's revenue. Bridgestone's 2000 net profit will fall to about $116 million, from an estimated $600 million just before the recall. In a related statement, Bridgestone president Yoichiro Kaizaki said that the company will conclude that fatal accidents attributed to Firestone tires were caused by a number of factors, and not just the tires as the report might suggest.
SUBARU RECALLS LEGACY Subaru of America has announced a voluntary recall of some 2001 Subaru Legacy models, including the Outback, for potential problems with a leaky fuel hose or a defective front bearing housing. Subaru says that the fuel hose problem affects 1456 vehicles, while the front bearing problem may affect up to 1977 vehicles. Owners of affected cars will be notified by mail.
EPA TO PHASE IN CLEAN DIESEL The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is nearing an agreement on new clean diesel requirements that would greatly cut pollution from trucks and buses. The new regulations would reduce the allowed sulfur content in fuel by 95 percent, to 15 parts per million (ppm). Since the regulations were proposed in May, which will require the new fuel to be phased in by 2006, oil refiners have protested that the new regulations will drive up the cost of diesel fuel and possibly create fuel shortages. Truck engine companies have sided with environmentalists, saying that the new fuels are needed to comply with upcoming 2007 emissions requirements. As a concession to refiners, the EPA is likely to adopt a phase-in timetable for the clean fuel.
ANOTHER FORD RECALL Ford Motor Company has announced yet another recall: this time, for a potentially defective top-speed limited on some 1999 and 2000 model year Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers. The sport-utility vehicles, when equipped with the 15-inch tires and either a 3.27 or 3.55 rear axle ratio, may be able to exceed the 112-mph rating of the original-equipment Firestone tires. The problem was discovered during investigations of the recalled Firestone tires. Owners of the recalled vehicles will be asked to return their vehicles to dealerships to reprogram the powertrain control module. Ford says that 110,633 vehicles are affected.
DC RESTRUCTURING TO ENCOURAGE PLATFORM SHARING DaimlerChrysler AG is reportedly considering a full structural overhaul of the company that would split operations into four divisions to allow greater platform sharing. The company has also announced that it will have Chrysler and Mitsubishi cooperate on more future models in order to save money. Chrysler and Mitsubishi may increase the number of shared platforms, while the two would continue to share parts on some other models.
COVISINT IS LEGIT The online parts procurement parts exchange known as Covisint has officially become a company. The first plans of the venture were announced in February, and Covisint was operational in late September. The exchange was formed by manufacturers DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, and Renault. The service monitors supply, inventory, and facilitates orders of parts from original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) companies.
SCHMIDT TO HEAD FORD RESEARCH Ford Motor Company has named Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, formerly director of powertrain development at BMW, to the position of vice president, research. Schmidt has held several positions at BMW, including developing the company's first diesel engine, and later, overseeing powertrain operations for the BMW Group. Schmidt will assume his position next spring, replacing William F. Powers, who recently announced his retirement from the company.
GM NAMES DEVINE NEW CFO General Motors has named John Devine its new chief financial officer and vice chairman. Devine previously held the chief financial officer position at rival Ford Motor Company from 1994 to 1999, and he is currently the chairman and chief executive of the firm Fluid Ventures.
DAEWOO WILL SEEK MORE CUTS Daewoo Motor Company has said that it plans to seek more job cuts as part of a cost-cutting plan designed to save the company and encourage interest from General Motors. According to other sources, up to 6846 jobs could be cut by the new plan, although Daewoo's labor union said that it would resist the plan. On November 27, the union agreed to a restructuring package and about 3500 total jobs cut. Although creditors have recently agreed to kick in more funds, Daewoo is soon likely to be placed in court receivership.
DC MAY ADD VEHICLE TO WINDSOR ASSEMBLY DaimlerChrysler plans to idle its Windsor, Ontario, minivan plant through January 2 so that additional tooling can be added to make another vehicle at the facility. Chrysler didn't say what vehicle would be produced at the plant in the near future, although officials said that the plant is capable of building a variety of models.
GM ENTERS MARKETING ALLIANCE WITH EBAY General Motors and eBay have entered a marketing alliance. The agreement, good at least through 2001, involves special promotions between eBay Motors and GM. GM hopes to attract more younger buyers, while eBay will benefit from having such a big-name partner. GM will continue to host a series of charity car auctions through eBay.