GM Discharges HUMMER H1 from Active Duty

GM Discharges HUMMER H1 from Active Duty2006 HUMMER H1 AlphaAge and rising gas prices have finally caught up with the HUMMER H1 as General Motors confirmed last week it will drop the rugged, off-road vehicle from its model line at the end of 2006 model run this summer. Martin Walsh, HUMMER's general manager, said in a statement that after 14 years, GM has decided concentrate its resources on smaller, more up-to-date vehicles. "It's a reflection of where we're going with the HUMMER brand," he said of the decision. "The HUMMER DNA still resides in the Humvee. It will always be the core from where we come," he said.Nick Richards, HUMMER spokesman, also said that GM has other HUMMER models under development that will help the brand expand in the future. Officials from AM General, the Indiana-based maker of military vehicles, also said it needed to make more room in itsIndiana factory to build more vehicles for the U.S. Army. Even environmentalists discovered a soft spot for the vehicle after the GM announcement, noting the HUMMER, which became something of status symbol after the Gulf War in the 1990s, has served as perfect symbol of gas-guzzling excess. The H1, which was developed back in the 1980s as light truck to carry troops and replace the old M1A1 Jeep, gets about 10 miles per gallon and that seemed to be a generous estimate - but most HUMMER owners didn't worry about pump prices.GM has sold about 12,000 H1s, which carried a price tag of roughly $140,000. The company only has sold 100 so far this year. The other models in the HUMMER line, the H2 and the H3, are doing better and Richards noted that GM expects to begin building the H3 in South Africa later this year for distribution to markets in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The goal is to make HUMMER into a global brand, he said. -Joe Szczesny    

 GM Brass Predict Delphi SettlementMembers of the United Auto Workers are expected to give union leaders the authority to call a strike against the bankrupt Delphi Corp. The strike authorization vote is only the latest move in a series of measures and countermeasures in which both Delphi and its unions have engaged since the company filed for bankruptcy last October. Union officials have pointed out that an authorization doesn't mean that a strike is imminent.What will the judge decide in the Delphi case?  
  Ford Says Turnaround ComingWith General Motors' effort to convince Wall Street that its turnaround is now gaining traction, the plight of the Ford Motor Co. has come under more scrutiny. The concern grew after Ford reported a $1.2-billion loss for the first quarter. In fact, Ford's once seemingly impregnable grip on the second spot in U.S. vehicle sales is now under assault by Toyota. During April, Toyota took over the third spot in sales, and plenty of commentators are now predicting that the Japanese auto giant could surpass Ford within the next couple of years.Find out what Ford execs have to say about the turnaround    
   Gas Prices Edge DownThe pump price for gasoline continued to set records in various parts of the country again last week, but overall prices began drifting downwards. The national average for regular self-serve gasoline was $2.885 a gallon, which was down three cents from the previous week. A reduction in the forecasts for global oil demand from the International Energy Agency eased pressure on the energy market. A barrel of light crude dropped to $72.10 in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. However, in many big cities prices began creeping up at the end of the week as news of pipeline accident in Nigeria rattled markets.Record-high prices prevailed again last week in Southern California, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's Weekend Gas Watch. The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $3.398, which is 6.1 cents higher than last week, 52 cents higher than last month, and 86 cents higher than last year. However, Auto Club representatives said the prices may finally be ready to plateau for the next few weeks.In Texas, pump prices actually began to decline, according to AAA Texas' Weekend Gas Watch. The current average is $2.823 a gallon, which was down four cents within the past week.Higher prices are extending their impact on consumers. The University of Michigan's survey of consumer sentiment dropped to its lowest point since just after Hurricane Katrina came ashore last September - and the price of gasoline helped push the decline. -Joe Szczesny  Japanese, Toyota Go Postal as Dollar SinksExecutives from the old Big Three are scheduled to meet with President George W. Bush soon, and one likely item on the agenda is Japanese effort to suppress the value of yen. The meeting is particularly timely because, according to the wire service reports out of Tokyo, the Japanese finance minister apparently had a major hissy fit last week because the yen's value had drifted up as the value of the dollar declined.Executives tied to the American manufacturing sector have argued for years that the U.S. dollar was overvalued and a drop in the dollar's value would help boost American exports and start to reverse the huge trade deficit. However, executives in the finance, retail, and resource sectors, which benefit from a strong dollar, have never been as keen on the idea of reducing the value of the U.S. dollar. A weaker dollar also contributes to the threat of inflation. Moreover, the stated policy of the Bush administration has been in favor of a strong dollar.Last week, however, commentators suggested there were signs that administration was now tilting in the direction of a cheaper dollar. A cheaper dollar would make it more expensive for Asian and European carmakers to import vehicles and pieces of vehicles into the United States. The shift also has made it more expensive for American carmakers to build vehicles in Canada; the value of the Canadian dollar is at its highest level in nearly two decades.Executives at GM have complained for years that Japanese automakers have benefited from their government's systematic interventions in currency markets that help drive up the value of the dollar and drive down the value of the yen. The Japanese government's intervention is the equivalent of direct subsidy to companies such as Toyota, which has benefited also from government-run health and pension plans.The debate over the value of the dollar also has short-term consequences. Stocks faced a second day of steep losses Friday, as the dollar weakened when a jump in import prices heightened fear of inflation. -Joe Szczesny 

 POLL RESULTS2005 Mazda3Pocket pals: which fun-sized econocar gets your grins?11.9%       Toyota Yaris18.6%       Honda Fit8.4%         Nissan Versa2%            Kia Rio8.3%         Chevrolet Aveo2.3%         Hyundai Accent8.8%         Ford Focus39.7%       Mazda3

 From TCConfidentialFlooded Cars Are Election Hot Button in New OrleansMitch LandrieuIn the slow-moving recovery underway in the city of New Orleans, post-Katrina, flooded cars have become an unexpected hot button in the coming mayoral runoff election that pits Ray Nagin, who steered the city through the Category Three storm, against Lieut. Gov. Mitch Landrieu.The vehicles in question are an estimated 50,000 cars and trucks ruined by the floods that killed more than 1200 city residents and forced more than half of the city's population to flee to Houston, Atlanta, and other points beyond. Even now, eight months after the storm, the cars can be found everywhere in the Crescent City: in median strips (called neutral grounds here), on the shoulders of Interstate 10, but mostly tucked under highway overpasses, where they were dragged off main thoroughfares and left for later removal.The removal process hasn't just lagged - it's bogged. Nagin's administration negotiated for months on a deal that would have allowed privateers to remove the cars and pay the city a flat $100 per vehicle. The vehicles would then be stripped and crushed. But the Mayor's office says that it lacked the authority to declare the vehicles abandoned. Now, the city is looking at a deal that would be potentially far more costly to do the same thing.The problem is typical of the obstacles to the city's recovery. New Orleans doesn't have the estimated $23 million to pay for the removal project, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has said it will reimburse - but only in full if the project is complete by June 30. After that, FEMA reduces the percentage it will reimburse the fractured city to 90 percent.In the meantime, Nagin must face Landrieu in a runoff election that will shape the future of the city. And Landrieu is using the cars as a potent political football prior to the runoff. "New Orleans shouldn't be the graveyard for abandoned cars," says mayoral hopeful Landrieu (pronounced "lan-droo") in a TV ad in which he stands amid a sea of flood-damaged vehicles.Estimates from the local paper say it could take six months to remove all the vehicles from town. By that time, Nagin may not have a role at all in their removal. Though he snared 38 percent of the votes in the city's mayoral election on April 22, he didn't win a majority. Landrieu, who grabbed 29 percent in the first vote and has since lined up scores of endorsements, is heavily favored in the runoff, which is set for May 20. 

 FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases CBS's Survivor Finale and Survivor Reunion to Be Offered for Free to Select Comcast Digital Cable Customers Through General Motors Sponsorship


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