Daily Edition: Apr. 7, 2006

April 7, 2006

Audi Unveils 2007 TT

2007 Audi TT - front

2007 Audi TT - front

Apparently, Audi just couldn't wait. The German automaker was all set to lift the veil on its next-generation TT at the New York International Auto Show, next week. But Audi decided not to wait for theNew York show, a lightly attended event for the European press, and unveiled the car in Berlin on Thursday.

It's been six years since Audi introduced the original TT, a car that did a lot to buff up the automaker's sporty image. For the new version Audi increased both the car's overall length and width. It now measures 165 inches nose to tail, and 72.4 inches door to door, up five and three inches respectively.

Read more about the new TT



Padilla Retiring from Ford

Jim Padilla plans to step down as president and chief operating officer of the Ford Motor Co., effective July 1, the automaker announced late Thursday. Padilla said he had decided the time was right to end a 40-year career with the automaker.

Find out more about Ford's plans to succeed Padilla




Kia President Barred from Leaving Korea

Kia Motors President Chung Eui-sun has been reportedly barred from leaving the country amid a widening probe into suspicions that Kia and its parent Hyundai Motor may have created slush funds to bribe government officials.

Chung Eui-sun is the only of Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo, who recently flew to the U.S. in what appears to be a move to avoid expanding investigation into the two automakers.

Prosecutors have raided offices of the two automakers and their affiliates - Kia, logistics unit Glovis Co., and parts maker Hyundai Autonet. They later questioned key officials of the companies.

Glovis is suspected of embezzling company money to create slush funds.

Company officials said Chung's one-week trip, which includes a visit to its Alabama plant, had been planned before the investigation was launched last month.

Hyundai Motor is suspected of paying a lobbyist billions of won (millions of dollars) from slush funds to use his influence to acquire construction approvals and business permits. -Peter Chang



What Happens When The Oil Runs Out?

That's a question of increasing concern, and one that echoed through Cobo Hall this week, during the annual SAE World Congress. That's likely to remain a subject of intense debate in the coming years, but during a panel discussion of future energy sources, Nigel Gale, director of the Southwest Research Institute, said there's growing consensus we're approaching "the big rollover." By the middle of the 21st Century, and perhaps by 2020, humans will be using more oil than they're discovering. So what can fill the gap?

There's been plenty of talk about the so-called "hydrogen economy," said Dr. David Baldwin, senior vice president of General Atomics. But where will our hydrogen come from? It's everywhere we look, but not in usable form. As the name of his company might imply, Baldwin's focus is on a new breed of high-temperature nuclear reactors being billed as safer and cleaner - and Baldwin added, produce a fraction of the waste of today's light water reactors.

Hydrogen may be great at some point, but Ray Corbin, president of AVL Powertrain Engineering, told the audience he was more interested in the near-term, and that's where renewable bio-fuels, such as E85 and bio-diesel hold promise, as well as synthetic Fischer-Tropsch diesel fuels. Ethanol already dominates the Brazilian market, he noted, and could become viable in the U.S. with new production methods, such as those used to create cellulosic ethanol, which could work with a wide range of feed stock, even old newspapers. This year, about five billion gallons of ethanol will be produced in the U.S., noted Larry Russo, a coordinator with the U.S. Department of Energy. By 2030, he suggested, a conservative forecast would call for that to grow to 60 billion gallons.

But "no single energy source is the solution," AVL's Corbin cautioned. And the rest of the panel agreed that the U.S. and other markets will likely go through a period of evolution involving a mix of fuel, including petroleum-based products. Perhaps the biggest challenge, the panel concluded, will be setting up an effective infrastructure for producing and distributing the fuels of the future. -TCC Team


Energy Dept. Fears Oil Shock

The real question is why last year's sharp run-up in oil prices didn't do more damage to the economy, said Samuel Bodman, the Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Speaking at the closing session of this year's SAE World Congress, Sec. Bodman said he was "surprised," but warned that if prices keep rising, they ultimately will cause problems. "At some point in time we're going to reach a limit and we will see a real impact of increased oil prices on our economic activity," the Secretary said during a Q&A session. "Whether its $95 or something north of that I don't know. I can tell you I'm worried about anything above the current levels."

The Bush Administration's top energy official defended the pace of the Advanced Energy Initiative, which aims to wean the country off imported oil. "This country has been decades in getting itself into the fix we're in now," said Bodman, "and it'll be a significant number of years working our way out of it." And "the only thing" capable of cutting oil dependence, while meeting growth in energy demand, he insisted, "is nuclear power."

Bodman said that the Department of Energy plans to form a public-private team to focus on ethanol, a widely-touted alternative to imported oil. There are currently as many as five million vehicles on the road which could run on E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. But by even the most optimistic estimates, there will be no more than about 1000 E85 pumps in the entire U.S. by the end of the year.

But Bodman also noted federal plans to provide $52.5 million in research grants, over the next three years, for fuel-cell development programs. The administration has set a goal of making the hydrogen-based technology a viable source of energy by 2020. Private initiatives, he stressed, will be critical, as well. "If we've got vehicles that will use hydrogen and perform in an effective fashion and have range, I believe that we will find effective ways to deliver hydrogen," Bodman said. Earlier in the week, South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis announced plans to introduce legislation which would create the "H Prize," which would provide as much as $100 million to reward the development of a functional hydrogen transportation system. -TCC Team


FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


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Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 4.76 +0.07 (+1.49%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 55.89 -0.71 (-1.25%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 22.09 -0.03 (-0.14%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 15.06 -0.37 (-2.40%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 16.62 -0.34 (-2.00%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 7.23 +0.21 (+2.99%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 60.00 -0.40 (-0.66%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 104.91 -1.84 (-1.72%)
Dana Corporation DCN 0.66 0.00 (0.00%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 58.40 -1.64 (-2.73%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.39 -0.09 (-3.63%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 72.94 -1.45 (-1.95%)
Ford Motor Company F 7.65 +0.08 (+1.06%)
General Motors Corporation GM 19.55 -0.36 (-1.81%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 16.64 +0.18 (+1.09%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 14.08 -0.27 (-1.88%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 33.01 +1.10 (+3.45%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 77.62 -0.02 (-0.03%)
Lear Corporation LEA 17.04 -0.53 (-3.02%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 75.15 -0.05 (-0.07%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 23.77 +0.48 (+2.06%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 24.22 +0.24 (+1.02%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 28.13 -0.40 (-1.40%)
Siemens AG SI 95.17 +0.02 (+0.02%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 5.41 +0.37 (+7.34%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 114.95 +2.31 (+2.05%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 23.60 -0.08 (-0.34%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.08 +0.01 (+12.68%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 42.04 -1.20 (-2.78%)
Visteon Corporation VC 4.60 -0.06 (-1.29%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 23.94 +1.59 (+7.11%)
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