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As the bankruptcy hearings about creating a new Chrysler pick up steam in New York, it's becoming crystal clear how quickly the Federal Government wants to re-structure the ailing auto maker.
Last Friday, as most people focused on Chrysler going bankrupt, making its first appearance in bankruptcy court and the mounting questions about whether its future was bright or bleak, Honda moved a little higher. It was typical Honda done with little fanfare. The "Steady-Eddie" of the car business moved past Chrysler to become number 4 in U.S. auto sales this year.
When the bottom fell out of the auto industry late last year, we all knew that Chrysler was losing gobs of money. Heck, last December on Capitol Hill Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli said that his company was burning through a billion dollars of capital a month. That said, when you see Chrysler lost $16.8 Billion last year, you have to stop and ponder the enormity of that loss.
It's a gutsy move. If it works out, he will be called a genius. If it doesn't, critics will say he tried to bite off more than he could chew. Either way, Sergio Marchionne is clearly on center stage for an auto industry in turmoil. Whether or not his performance leads to rave reviews is very much up in the air, but so far he's hitting all the right notes.
Chrysler's sales in the U.S. for April were down 48 percent. The now bankrupt automaker sold 76,682 total vehicles versus 147,751 a year ago. Despite the big declines, all the numbers were well above forecasts.
You cover enough bankruptcies, you get used to the strange and painful routine. Closing the plants, targeting the jobs to be cut, and outlining how a company in Chapter 11 will be filed in court papers and pretty clear from the beginning. In other words, the cutting and paring of costs is the easy part. It's the re-building and changing of the company that is the tough part.
Over the last two weeks one of the more intriguing (and downright scary to some people) suggestions is the idea of the auto task force killing the Chrysler brand. I'm not talking about the Chrysler corporation, but simply the Chrysler brand. Three months ago that idea would have been roundly dismissed as "crazy talk", not anymore.
Automakers around the world are facing the challenge of remaining relevant. With General Motors and Chrysler teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, which carmaker will survive the fallout? Definitely look to the Japanese, in particular, Nissan.
GM CEO Fritz Henderson is a straight shooter. It's one of the things about him that I like. That said, how many of us believe the man when he says GMs latest restructuring plan is the final "fix" for the auto maker? Count me among those who are skeptical.
Now that GM is putting Pontiac out to pasture, planning to cut another 6 production plants in the U.S., and squeeze out hundreds of dealers, I am hard pressed to see how GM remains #1 in U.S. sales.
After eight decades the Pontiac brand is about to die or be sold by GM. The auto maker will announce the end of the iconic American brand early next week. Pontiac is the latest casualty of the radical down-sizing of General Motors.
Seldom has a loss of almost $2 Billion ever looked so good. Then again, when you are Ford and you continually turn in better than expected results, losing a couple billion is further proof business is turning around.
With one week left before Chrysler faces the very real prospect of filing for Chapter 11 reorganization, and potentially a Chapter 7 liquidation, GM is acting like a company already in bankruptcy. In other words, the end game is almost here. As we're seeing now, it's messy and everyone involved will be feeling the pain.
For Chrysler President Jim Press, trying to convince people his company is not going bankrupt is an uphill battle.
When I was first asked to moderate a question and answer session with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, I immediately thought, "What a delicious opportunity to talk to a man who has told Detroit to 'get off its butt' and start building the next generation of cars and trucks people want."
My post about car shopping touched a nerve — my inbox was flooded. Of course, this was one couple's experience, so we asked readers to share their experiences and thoughts on the post. Here's what they had to say.
Today on the company conference call updating its restructuring, I asked GM CEO Fritz Henderson is the company will go beyond the number of plants it laid out for closure when updating the Federal Government on February 17th.
Nissan Motors CEO Carlos Ghosn said the company has the technology and the ability to produce cars that are going to be zero emissions by 2010 but also cost-friendly.
For as long as I've been covering GM, I've heard the same thing over and over, "We are cutting dealerships and will get down to a core group that will be more profitable." Rick Wagoner said it when he took as CEO in 2000. Fritz Henderson is saying it as CEO in 2009.