Detroit’s boom-and-bust history was built on a dependence on big, fuel-thirsty vehicles. Now, with freshly stocked showrooms of new cars and more-efficient trucks, U.S. automakers are gaining ground on their Asian competitors with the best lineup in a generation.
“No matter what the economy does, no matter what fuel prices are, I’ve got a car for all seasons,” said Chuck Eddy, a Chrysler dealer in Youngstown, Ohio, who is seeing sales boom for Dodge Dart compact cars and Ram 1500 pickups. “I didn’t have that in ‘09.”
General Motors Co (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F) and Chrysler Group LLC — which all gained market share in the first quarter for the first time in 20 years — exceeded sales forecasts last month and led the industry to its best April since 2007.
Ford sales rose 18 percent and GM and Chrysler deliveries both increased 11 percent. That beat forecasts by analysts of a 17 percent rise for Ford and 10 percent for Detroit-based GM and Fiat SpA (F)-controlled Chrysler.
Sales successes came across the board for the U.S. automakers last month. Ford had a record April in Fusion family- car sales, which rose 24 percent and topped Nissan Motor Co. (7201)’s Altima. GM’s hot-selling new Cadillac ATS sports sedan drove a 34 percent increase in the surging luxury line’s sales. Chrysler’s redesigned Ram 1500 pickup jumped 49 percent.
The Chevrolet Corvette is 60 years old this week, and that’s a miracle. Many miracles, in fact.
The iconic American sports car has survived a troubled birth, quality problems and development delays. it has overcome threats from recessions and regulations. And it has outlasted waffling by Chevy parent General Motors over whether such a car should exist at all.
It appears, through all that, to have become younger than ever.
General Motors earned considerable enmity in 2009 when it declared bankruptcy and accepted a $51 billion bailout from the U.S. government. Some GM customers have since discovered that they’re in the crossfire as well.
A few owners of the Chevrolet Volt, GM’s innovative plug-in hybrid, report that they’ve been booed, heckled and vandalized, presumably because they own a car deemed offensive to fellow taxpayers. These tales of Volt rage were uncovered by the car-research site Edmunds, which runs several online forums where owners swap stories.
[SLIDESHOW: Twinkies Join Other Extinct Snacks]
A Michigan Volt owner, Dave Muse, told Edmunds that he drew boos when driving his Volt in a famed Detroit automotive parade — a town, of all places, that gained as much as any city from the auto bailouts. Another time, a stranger insulted his car in a parking lot, then slammed the door shut while Muse was trying to get out. Muse also says his plug-in generates occasional family arguments.
Scott Leapman, a Volt owner in Florida, once stopped at an intersection next to a pickup truck whose driver rolled down his window and asked, “How do you like my car?” When Leapman asked what he meant, the driver answered, “My taxes paid for it!” then sped off.
- Mitt Romney’s meandering statements and plain falsehoods about the auto industry finally caught up to him earlier this week when he told a big whopper that cannot be squared with the truth during a speech in Defiance, Ohio. He said that Jeep, the American icon and great Toledo institution, “is thinking of moving all production to China.”
Everyone paying attention to the election called him on it. Chrysler Group LLC has set the record straight, stating it has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America.
Defiance is an Ohio auto town whose most important employer is the General Motors (GM) plant that was saved by President Barack Obama. Voters there recognize that Romney’s claim is just plain foolish, because Jeep is expanding, not contracting — it’s been all over the Ohio press for a year.
This story is one of the most read on Fox News right now:
It was the nightmare scenario for Delphi retirees. The monthly payments that were to be their financial bedrock through retirement years were slashed. The cuts were staggering, ranged from 30 to 70 percent.
After 39 years on the job, Rose’s pension was clipped 40 percent.
You might be thinking: What? Since when does Fox News care about people’s pensions? Pensions are too damn expensive and the evil unions need to stop holding the job creators hostage. Well, I guess Fox news cares when they are non-Union workers.
The upshot of the article is that Union pensions were given a priority in the deal between GM and the gov’t. Fox News implies it is unfair that Union workers got a deal that was not available to non-Union workers.
Well guess what, Fox News? Businesses don’t make decisions based on the best interests of their workers. That’s why Unions are essential.
General Motors is offering big discounts to boost sales of the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in extended-range electric car that struggled to attract buyers until its price began dropping early this year.
Discounts run as high as $10,000 per Volt, according to figures from TrueCar.com, an auto pricing website. They include low-interest financing and subsidized leases. Leases have run as cheap as $250 a month
Sales of the $39,995 car have quadrupled this year, and set a monthly record in August. They show that Americans, who have been slow to embrace electric cars, are willing to buy them if prices are low enough.
Brazilian carmakers were happy to take the handouts when the government offered them. Now they are realizing they may have made a bargain with the devil.
After car sales plummetted earlier this year, the government granted tax breaks to the industry, which is dominated by the big four - Fiat, Volkswagen, General Motors and Ford. The measure slashed the retail price of cars and helped manufacturers clear a build-up of inventories that was burning a hole in their balance sheets.
Now many manufacturers would like to go a step further and begin rationalizing some of their operations, such as through cutting jobs or production lines for obsolete models. Uh uh! Not so fast. If automakers thought the tax break was for free, they were drastically mistaken. In recent weeks, everyone from President Dilma Rousseff down has made it clear to the big four that there will be no redundancies, please.
The latest to do so was Finance Minister Guido Mantega, who echoed Rousseff on Monday when he said he was happy to see General Motors resolving a dispute with its union over potential layoffs that ended in a decision to delay the proposal.
“Damning with faint praise” may be an overused expression, but it perfectly describes the critical reception that has been accorded the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco.
To begin with, General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) gets heaps of points for developing a mild hybrid system for the Malibu Eco that aims to deliver improved performance and better gas mileage at a reasonable price (base: $25,995). Technological innovation and improved fuel economy are at the top of every automaker’s to-do list, and even competitors would like to see GM return to its former standing in the industry.
There’s a legacy attached to the Malibu Eco as well that wins it kudos. Developing a standout midsize was a signal goal for the fondly remembered Bob Lutz, who ran product development for GM. The world is watching because this eighth-generation Malibu that is the first to be sold globally.
As GM shares near record low, taxpayer loss on bailout rises to $35 billion [It’s All The Union’s Fault!]
To quote Lando Calrissian, this deal’s getting worse all the time.
General Motors(GM) shares fell to a fresh 2012 closing low of 19.57 on Monday. The stock hit 19 in mid-December, the lowest since the auto giant came public at $33 in November 2010 following its June 2009 bankruptcy.
Normally you might say, tough luck investors. But this is Government Motors. The Treasury still owns 26.5% of GM, or 500 million shares. Taxpayers are still out $26.4 billion in direct aid. Shares would have to hit $53 for the government to break even.
Those shares were worth about $9.8 billion as of Monday. That would leave taxpayers with a loss of $16.6 billion.
But that’s not the full tally. Obama let GM keep $45 billion in past losses to offset future profits. Those are usually wiped out or slashed, along with debts, in bankruptcy. But the administration essentially gifted $45 billion in write-offs (book value $18 billion) to GM. So when GM earned a $7.6 billion profit in 2011 (more on that below), it paid no taxes.
Include that $18 billion gift, and taxpayers’ true loss climbs to nearly $35 billion.
I don’t know where they are getting these numbers from since GM has already repaid all of its government loans. But you can get a clue where these guys are coming from here:
Union workers did make sacrifices in bankruptcy, but not nearly enough. GM only narrowed the labor cost gap vs. what Japanese automakers pay their workers. Given that Toyota(TM) still enjoys a price premium over similar GM vehicles, the U.S. auto giant needs a labor cost advantage, not near-parity. And Toyota has relatively high costs. Volkswagen(VLKAY) pays workers at its new Tennessee plant only about half what GM does.
WTF!! Why is paying workers HALF the negotiated union fair wage a “good thing” for anybody?
General Motors has posted its most profitable year ever in 2011, coming a long way since being bailed out in 2008 and going bankrupt in 2009. And for once, reading a corporate profits report feels pretty good, with news that union members are getting a nice payday for their part in GM’s good year.
America’s largest car company earned $7.6 billion in 2011, a 62 percent increase from 2010 and the most ever in GM’s 103 years of existence. And as a reward of the banner year, GM “says union workers will get $7,000 profit-sharing checks.” So union members can thank Americans wanting to buy more American cars again (profits were up in North America but down in Europe and South America) plus, of course, the contract the union renegotiated with the company last year that guaranteed at least $3,500 in profit-sharing. Ultimately, Presidents Bush and Obama should get a thank yous, too, for bailing out their employer. Just don’t tell the Republican candidates that the bailout worked.