Daily Edition: Mar. 20, 2006

March 19, 2006

GM, UAW Near Deal on Buyouts

General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers are reporting progress on reaching an agreement that would offer early retirement buyouts to thousands of General Motors Corp. and Delphi Corp. workers. The agreement, however, would not eliminate the threat of a potential strike againstDelphi, which still must negotiate a new labor pact for cutting the wages of remaining workers.

The buyout agreement is not expected to require ratification by union members, though it would probably require approval by the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing Delphi's Chapter 11 filing, which means that union members might not actually get the cash for several more months.

Paul Krell, UAW director of communications, said there was progress being made on the buyouts. "There is progress and they were planning to work over the weekend," Krell said.

GM, UAW Near Deal on Buyouts (3/19/2006)
Deal could mean thousands move off Delphi's rosters.



GM Keeps GMAC On The Block

General Motors Corp. is still pursuing efforts to sell off a majority stake in GMAC, its big financial subsidiary, as part of its restructuring plan.

However, the effort to sell off a majority interest in the General Motors Acceptance Corp. suffered a serious setback last week when GM announced it was delaying the filing of its annual report with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) because of accounting issues at ResCap. ResCap is GMAC's residential mortgage subsidiary and has been one of its most profitable operations in recent years, making it essential to any spin-off. However, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that ResCap's outside auditors had refused to sign the division's annual audit report.

Jerry Dubrowski, GM spokesman, said GM is working to get the issues resolved and expects to file the annual report in about two weeks. The changes will not have any impact on net income at GMAC or at GM, which also disclosed that it was adding $2 billion to its overall loss for 2005, raising that figure to $10.6 billion.

GM Keeps GMAC On The Block (3/19/2006)
Accounting issues dragging down company's Wall Street cred.


Geely Marching Forward to '08

Geely, the ambitious automaker that wants to become the first company to sell Chinese-made cars to American consumers, is still on track to enter the U.S. market by the fall of 2008, says the fledgling company's top American executive. 

John Harmer, Geely USA's chief operating officer, said during a visit to Detroit last week that Geely had followed up on its appearance at the North American International Auto Show with an extensive survey of the impact of the media coverage on American consumers. The study showed that Geely had made an impression on consumers but that Americans also had concerns about the quality of any vehicle made in China. "There seems to be a bias in the U.S. against the quality of Chinese-made products," Harmer said.

Geely, however, is now moving as quickly as they can to address the issue, Harmer said during an appearance at the Society of Automotive Analysts in Detroit.

Geely Marching Forward to '08 (3/19/2006)
Chinese company still wants to be the first to land in America.


Audi Diesels Dominate Sebring

The first sound you caught was the rush of wind, then the whine of gears and the scrubbing sound of the brakes. The Audi R10 was already launching out of the corner before you heard the surprisingly deep and muted rumble of its  big engine.

It took a bit of work to get used to the low, sleek racer that dominated the circuit at the 12 Hours of Sebring on Saturday. At first glance, the R10 looked a lot like Audi's older R8 racer - which has so far rolled up 61 wins during its 77 races - but the big TDI decals gave the first clue that this wasn't a traditional race car.

The R10 is, in fact, the first diesel ever to enter the grueling American Le Mans series. Under the R10's carbon fiber skin sits a 650-horsepower, V12 turbodiesel engine. While it's not the first time a diesel has raced, none has faced such a demanding environment.

"The main reason for developing the Audi R10 was to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as we want to be the world's first automobile manufacturer to win with a diesel engine," said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, director of Audi Motorsport, who described the development of the diesel racer as "the biggest challenge ever given to Audi Motorsport."

Audi Diesels Dominate Sebring (3/19/2006)
Audi win sets up R10 assault on Le Mans.



No Chinese Knight for GM

In a world where Indian entrepreneurs are rising to dominate the world's steel industry and companies from the Persian Gulf have a big stake in the shipping trade, it's no surprise that talk about who might run big American companies such as say, General Motors Corp., turns overseas. The Chinese automakers, after all have already bought up the rights to Great Britain's MG Rover. Jack Perkowski, the founder of  Asimco, an automotive parts company based in Beijing that operates factories in both China and the U.S., told the Society of Automotive Analysts that anything is possible and it wouldn't be too far-fetched to assume that a Chinese company might be interested in GM. The Chinese certainly have plenty of money for a transaction since they're sitting on more than $1 trillion in liquid assets. Rudy Schlais, the former GM executive who helped put GM into the lead in the Chinese market back before he retired, said he doubted that even GM's Chinese partners would really be interested in acquiring GM's North American assets. The Chinese are certainly eager to develop a global car brand so acquisition might not fit that strategy. In addition, GM's current liabilities are just too enormous, he suggested. "It's possible obviously," Schlais said. "The question is, why would they want to given GM's current legacy costs. There would be a lot of better alternatives," he added.-by Joe Szczesny


Battle for World's Cheapest Car

A most unusual battle is raging in Asia for one of the most prestigious titles in modern motoring - world's cheapest car.

The Alif four-seater is made by Pakistani firm Transmission, and has just gone on sale costing the equivalent of $2,870. But it might not hold the crown for very long. An Indian firm is working on a rival that is known as the 100,000 Rupee car - which is just $2250.

While the Alif is not exactly the height of luxury it does have some excellent features. Seat belts are standard, there's a canvas roof and the spare wheel is mounted on the rear tailgate. It's just under three meters long and available in five colors. The single-cylinder 200cc four-stroke engine offers close to 80 mpg, but it's also available powered by natural gas.

The car is being promoted as an alternative to the traditional three-wheel rickshaws which are being phased out because they have inefficient two-stroke engines. Pickup truck and van versions are also available.

Its challenger for the world's cheapest car crown comes from well-known Indian company Tata. Codenamed Project X3, it's due for launch in 2008 and is expected to be powered by a 700cc, 45-hp petrol engine that will meet the latest European emissions laws. However, there's speculation that despite its low price, it won't be a big hit. Industry experts believe such a no-frills vehicle is unlikely to appeal to status-sensitive Indian buyers.

There's also skepticism about how vehicles such as the Alif and X3 can be made so cheaply. While they may meet the latest anti-pollution laws, safety experts believe there's so little in the way of crash protection that they can only be a hazard on the road.-Richard Yarrow


GM Daewoo Rehiring Line Workers

GM Daewoo, General Motors Corp.'s South Korean unit, is rehiring all 1,725 assembly line workers who were laid off in 2001 by its defunct predecessor Daewoo Motor Co. In an unprecedented action, the automaker had already rehired 1,081 Daewoo Motor workers. The 1,725 workers will return to their jobs in May.

GM created GM Daewoo in 2002 after acquiring a majority stake in Daewoo Motor, which was declared bankrupt in 2000. GM Daewoo now is South Korea's third-largest automaker and its sales, particularly in China, are rising rapidly.

"We have succeeded in building a labor-management culture that is based on mutual respect," GM Daewoo President and CEO Nick Reilly said in a press release. "This new culture has given us the confidence to bring back all Daewoo Motor Co. employees and expand our Bupyung operations."-Peter Chang


FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


SIRIUS Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) and Volkswagen of America, Inc. today announced that Volkswagen will offer SIRIUS as its sole satellite radio provider for vehicles sold in this country through 2012. Volkswagen will exclusively offer SIRIUS beginning with the introduction of its 2007 model year vehicles, and expects to equip approximately 80% with SIRIUS satellite radio receivers.  Additionally, Volkswagen will offer three months of complimentary service.


Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 4.59 +0.46 (+11.14%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 57.84 +2.03 (+3.64%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 21.95 +0.07 (+0.32%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 14.92 -0.26 (-1.71%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 16.23 -0.08 (-0.49%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 6.09 -0.11 (-1.77%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 58.71 +0.92 (+1.59%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 107.80 -0.26 (-0.24%)
Dana Corporation DCN 0.66 0.00 (0.00%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 56.87 -1.14 (-1.97%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.24 -0.01 (-0.44%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 71.93 +0.18 (+0.25%)
Ford Motor Company F 7.81 -0.12 (-1.51%)
General Motors Corporation GM 21.13 -1.09 (-4.91%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 16.79 -0.04 (-0.24%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 13.73 +0.08 (+0.59%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 30.44 +0.07 (+0.23%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 75.96 +0.42 (+0.56%)
Lear Corporation LEA 16.23 -0.47 (-2.81%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 75.90 -0.76 (-0.99%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 22.25 +0.09 (+0.41%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 23.32 +0.16 (+0.69%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 27.83 -0.01 (-0.04%)
Siemens AG SI 92.85 -0.23 (-0.25%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 4.89 +0.38 (+8.43%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 108.20 +0.27 (+0.25%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 24.58 -0.59 (-2.34%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.07 +0.01 (+12.90%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 44.74 +0.14 (+0.31%)
Visteon Corporation VC 4.47 -0.10 (-2.19%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 20.74 +0.57 (+2.83%)
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