Check Your Mirrors
Odd and Ends about Cars and the Car Business
By Brendan Moore
Buick is going to get a plug-in hybrid crossover. It will use the same type of battery technology as the Chevrolet Volt. Saturn was supposed to get the same vehicle, but Saturn is now gone, so it looks like Buick is the beneficiary of Saturn’s demise in this regard. Buick is also getting a crossover (what else?) built on the next-generation of the Chevrolet Aveo, a small economy car platform. Look for the plug-in in 2011; the small crossover in 2012.
Timothy Egan, a writer for The New York Times, published an interesting piece on the “Cash For Clunkers” program late last night, titled Clunker Class War. Here’s an excerpt:
But according to a barnacled cluster of senators, this program must be sunk, now. It’s been far too successful — dealers have been swamped, people are lining up to buy cars that burn less gas and bring instant cash to crippled local economies.
This is old fashioned stimulus of a sort that Republicans have always advocated, using financial incentives to change behavior. Representative Candice Miller, a G.O.P. lawmaker — albeit from the car-dependent state of Michigan — called it “the best $1 billion of economic stimulus the government has ever spent.”
But look where the rest of Miller’s party is. Last week, Senator John McCain threatened to lead a filibuster rather than let Cash for Clunkers continue to September, as the House has agreed to do with an additional $2 billion from money already approved in the stimulus law.
Whether you agree or disagree with his point of view, it’s an interesting post. If you want to read the whole thing, you can do so by following this LINK.
The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the extension of “Cash For Clunkers” this afternoon. The extension pours another $2 billion USD into the program; terms are unchanged, except that it looks like the cutoff for the program will be Labor Day – unless the money runs out first. Efforts by Republicans and Democrats to change the terms of the program to align more closely with their particular ideology were squelched.
Nissan has abandoned it’s corporate home in Tokyo and moved their headquarters to Yokohama, where the company was founded in 1933. “We celebrate today the start of a new chapter of our company’s life,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn stated at the building’s opening ceremony four days ago. Nissan pulled the wrapper off the new Leaf electric vehicle that same day.
Magna, the auto parts supplier, looked like a lock to get Opel a month ago, then, suddenly, appeared to be out of the running. Now, the pendulum is swinging back the other way, with Magna seemingly nudging it’s competitor, RJH International, out of the way. Hoever, GM, the current Opel owner, is not too keen on Magna, saying that it has massive concerns with Magna’s ownership of Opel, including intellectual property, product development and Magna’s plans for Opel in Russia. The process of selling Opel drags on.
Fiat has been given the green light to purchase Bertone by the Italian government. Bertone, the 96 year-old insolvent Italian styling house and vehicle manufacturer, has suffered mightily in the industry downturn and therefore became available for takeover. Fiat previously tried to buy Bertone in 2006, but was rebuffed. Now they have Bertone, and plan to use the company to manufacture niche vehicles.
Toyota has announced plans to form two in-house marketing units – one for Japan, and one for the rest of the world. This has given Toyota’s current marketing agencies a major case of heartburn. Toyota has not said that marketing duties will be moved in house; just that the units are being formed. Still, the handwriting is on the wall – Hyundai recently did the same thing, and brought their marketing in-house for the most part. You can be certain Toyota’s ad agencies are feeling pretty nervous at this point.
Volvo is reportedly building an EV version of it’s C30 model, but no one at the company will comment on it. However, some of Volvo’s suppliers have opined (anonymously, of course) that Volvo is indeed building an all-electric version of the C30. Volvo is definitely building a plug-in version of their V70, which is supposed to show up in 2012.
Toyota will bring an inexpensive sports car out soon. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ve heard this before, right? Fair enough. But, Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota, said it earlier this week, so I think it will now show up. The long-rumored joint effort between Toyota and Subaru will reportedly be a rear-wheel drive coupe, which will be equipped with a choice of a 2-liter or a 2.4-liter engine. The car is supposed to be compact, lightweight, rear-drive and fast. “I am very excited about it, and I plan to fast track it,” Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota Motor, said of the new sports car. But, of course, still no production date is being offered by Toyota.
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