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Auto Industry

The Takeaway

General Motors Asks CEO Henderson to Resign

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson has been asked to step down only eight months after taking the helm of the embattled automaker. The announcement came following a GM board meeting on Tuesday. For the past eight months Henderson and GM have been dogged by questions about whether a man who had spent the past 25 years of his career with GM was really the "change" that the company needs. Will Marcum is a GM line worker who says that Henderson's resignation will be bad for morale at the struggling company, but that many auto workers agree it is time for some new blood at the top. Micheline Maynard covers the auto industry for our partner, The New York Times and is the author of "The Selling of the American Economy: How Foreign Companies are Remaking the American Dream," She says the move came as "a shock, but not a surprise."

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The Takeaway

General Motors Changes Its Mind on Opel Sale

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Nelson Schwartz, the European economics correspondent for The New York Times, joins us with a look at recent news from General Motors. This week, the financially strapped American car company posted its first monthly sales increase in nearly two years. With money on the books, General Motors is now reconsidering a deal to sell a majority stake in its German subsidiary, Opel.

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The Takeaway

Fiat-Chrysler to Announce Five-Year Plan

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The CEO of Fiat-Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, is scheduled to make a major announcement today charting his five-year plan for the struggling car maker. Wes Lutz, the owner of a Dodge dealership in Jackson, Mich., knows nothing about what will be in today's announcement. He's not alone in wondering what's coming next: The company is keeping their plans close to their chest. We also talk to Paul Eisenstein, publisher of The Detroit Bureau, an online magazine covering the American auto industry.

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The Takeaway

Long in the Red, Ford's in the Black

Monday, November 02, 2009

We're following the news about Ford having made nearly $1 billion in its third quarter: the first profitable quarter from North American sales since the first quarter of 2005. Ford now says it now expects to be "solidly profitable" by 2011. Joining us is Paul Eisenstein, publisher of The Detroit Bureau, an online magazine covering the American auto industry.

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The Takeaway

Ford's Profitable 3rd Quarter the First in Four Years

Monday, November 02, 2009

Ford announced this morning that it made nearly $1 billion in the third quarter, making it Ford's first quarter in the black in North America since 2005. Ford now says it now expects to be "solidly profitable" by 2011. For more, we talk with The New York Times' automotive reporter, Nick Bunkley.

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The Takeaway

End of the Road for Saturn

Thursday, October 01, 2009

General Motors announced yesterday that it will shut down its Saturn subsidiary. The 24-year-old brand appeared close to being saved under a deal with former race car driver and Detroit business man Roger Penske, but the deal collapsed at the last minute. We speak to Micki Maynard, business reporter for The New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Fiat Reports Chrysler in Bad Shape

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Frankfurt Motor Show is not a happy place this year. The international car industry is reducing production as the global recession causes demand to drop sharply. Adding insult to an injured industry, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters that their new purchase, a small car company called Chrysler (maybe you've heard of it?) is in far worse shape than they thought. Receiving the blame for the sorry state of Chrysler is Cerberus, a private equity firm who owned the company for two years, ostensibly thinking they were making improvements. Peter Morici, professor of international business at the University of Maryland, joins us with a look at cars and the inner workings of private equity.

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The Takeaway

China to US: I'll See Your Tires and Raise You Chicken Parts

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

President Obama set off a trade dispute on Friday when he announced that the U.S. would impose a 35 percent tariff on imported Chinese tires. China retaliated by launching an investigation into whether the U.S. is dumping cheap chicken and automotive parts into China's marketplace. How is all this playing out in the U.S. business scene? We talk to Mike Cockrell, the chief financial officer of Sanderson Farms in Laurel, Mississippi; and Ross Kogel, the president of Tire Wholesalers International in Michigan.

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The Takeaway

Cash for Clunkers Drives August Sales

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The major automakers reported a big boost in sales for August.  It was the first monthly gain in total new vehicle sales in almost two years, and the reason for it turns out to be clear: it came directly after the federal "Cash for Clunkers" program spurred 700,000 people to upgrade their gas guzzling clunkers in exchange for $3 billion in cash. We take a look at what the new numbers say about the industry for the longer-term with New York Times auto reporter, Nick Bunkley.

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The Takeaway

No More Cash for Clunkers

Monday, August 24, 2009

Having run out of money two weeks ahead of schedule, the Cash for Clunkers program officially ends at 8 p.m. tonight.  Now that it's winding down, how are car dealers and automakers going to get people to come in and buy cars without the $4500 incentive?

We speak to Bill Underriner, owner of Underriner Autos in Billings, Montana; and Mark LaNeve, vice president of sales for General Motors.

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The Takeaway

Just Charge It: GM to Open New Battery Plant

Friday, August 14, 2009

General Motors says it will open a new plant to assemble battery packs for the soon-to-be released Chevy Volt, the company's new rechargeable electric car. The media blitz for the Volt began on Tuesday, focusing on the car's projected gas mileage (230 miles per gallon on city streets) and downplaying the car's hefty price tag ($40,000).

GM plans to open the battery plant in Wayne County, Michigan; it's expected to create 100 new jobs in the economically struggling county. We talk to New York Times auto industry reporter Nick Bunkley and Wayne County executive Robert Ficano about new cars and new jobs.

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The Takeaway

Sales Up, Ford Eyes Road Ahead

Friday, August 14, 2009

The number two automaker in the United States is enjoying a surge in sales, thanks to the federal government's "Cash for Clunkers" program. On Thursday, Ford announced it would be boosting production on both the Ford Focus and the Escape to keep up with demand. The company’s chief sales analyst, George Pipas, talks with us about Ford’s prospects. ... (click through for the full transcript)

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The Takeaway

The Takeaway's Recession Roundtable

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A new Wall Street Journal survey says that a majority of economists think that the recession is over — and that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is doing a great job of managing the recovery.

The Takeaway decided to put together our OWN panel of people to test that theory, and to tell us if they think the recession is over. On our panel of recession experts this morning are both old friends and new: Jim Svetz, an owner of a wine bar in upstate New York; Greg Goodnight, the Mayor of Kokomo, Indiana; Cliff Hagedon, a trucker in Florida; and Kelly Evans, from the Wall Street Journal.

Even as you hear people say the recession is over in the U.S., or in the global economy. You're still gonna hear a lot about weakness and that's why yesterday the Federal Reserve kept interest rates near zero -- I mean that's incredible. [Rates] are incredibly low and they're still saying look, GDP is still down 4% from last year; this is the worst postwar recession. There's still a lot of weakness.
-- WSJ reporter Kelly Evans

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The Takeaway

Chevy Volt, Game Changer?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Cash for Clunkers program heats up and people across America are trading in their gas guzzlers for new fuel efficient models. Adding fuel to the fire, General Motors announced yesterday that their electric car, the Chevy Volt, will get 230 miles per gallon during city driving. The car is expected to cost $40,000 and be on the market in November of next year. GM is calling it a "game changer," but is it too late for GM's game? Or could the Volt save GM and save the planet at the same time? We talk to Garry Golden, futurist and energy blogger, about fuel efficiency and the future of cars.

Here's how Chevy is selling its Volt:

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The Takeaway

President Obama Working to Keep Indiana Blue

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

During the 2008 presidential election, Indiana turned purple. The formerly solid red Republican state voted for President Obama. Now the President is working to keep the battleground state on his team. He visits Elkhart, Indiana, today, where the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country as the biggest industry in the area, RV manufacturing, is experiencing a downturn. President Obama will speak at the site of the largest RV plant in the region about a new government program that could help the beleaguered area. The Takeaway talks to Tony Krabill, reporter for WVPE public radio, about local anticipation of the president's appearance and to two people who were laid off last year, Ed Neufeldt and Denise Sexton.

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The Takeaway

Hyundai Cashes in with the Clunkers Program

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Federal “Cash for Clunkers” program officially kicks off today. It allows Americans to trade in cars with bad gas mileage and receive up to $4,500 towards fuel efficient vehicles. Some dealerships already began offering it and The Takeaway talks to Mary Dubois from Oklahoma City who traded in her clunker for a new, more fuel efficient vehicle. And we talk with Dan Neil, auto critic for the Los Angeles Times about the clunkers program and why Hyundai is doing so well right now. Also joining the show is Rick Halstead, a Hyundai factory worker. He's going to be talking to us from the factory in Alabama before starting his shift working on 4-cylinder engines.

"One of the problems of making cars that last 20 years, is that cars last 20 years. The rollover rate is so slow."
—Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times on the Cash for Clunkers program

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The Takeaway

The Road to the Future? All About Cars

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The car industry is starting to release its second quarter profit reports. The Ford Motor Company is posting a surprise $2.8 billion profit, but it continues to have operating losses. Since its two biggest competitors, GM and Chrysler, have just emerged from bankruptcy, the report is definitely creating a mixed picture of the company's health. Globally, Hyundai has managed to post a huge profit, while luxury car brand Porsche has big changes in the works. For more we turn to Nick Bunkley, The New York Times auto industry reporter, and Russell Padmore, a BBC business correspondent.

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The Takeaway

A Talk with GM's Bob Lutz: New Cars, New Goals

Monday, July 13, 2009

On Friday General Motors emerged from bankruptcy after only forty days in Chapter 11. Now they’re trying to project the image of the “new” GM. What new cars will they roll out—and what are the company's chances of actually making a profit? Joining The Takeaway from Detroit is Bob Lutz, GM’s Vice Chairman. Lutz began his career in the auto industry in 1963 and he’s in charge of brands, marketing, advertising and communications for GM.

"Our goal is to get back to being a wholly-privately-owned company in two or three years — at the latest four years. And that's the government's goal too."
—GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz on the state of the company


Click through for a transcript of our discussion with Bob Lutz.

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The Takeaway

Detroit, Meet the 'New GM'

Thursday, July 09, 2009

In June, President Obama promised the nation a "New GM" as part of his administration's restructuring of the auto industry in the wake of its financial collapse. Now General Motors is expected to emerge from bankruptcy reorganization as the promised “New GM” —a partially-government-owned entity. The brand will hang on to successful lines like Chevrolet and Cadillac and let go of others. How will this "New GM" fit in with the old Detroit? The Takeaway is taking the pulse of Detroit today. We are joined by Bishop Charles Ellis of the Greater Grace Temple and WDET reporter Noah Ovshinsky.

"I see a lot of people moving into their passions—entrepreneurial things and visions and dreams... They never stepped out into those other things that they had burning within them. But now they are finding that there is life beyond the automobile industry."
—Bishop Charles Ellis of Detroit's Greater Grace Temple

Have your own story or thoughts on the "New GM"? Let us know!

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The Takeaway

Up Up Up! Are Car Sales Actually Increasing?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Auto sales numbers are out and there may be a glimmer of hope for the U.S. auto industry. The industry posted their second best month of sales this year. So who's buying American these days? The Takeaway turns to Mark Porter, President of Mark Porter GM Supercenter dealership in Pomeroy, Ohio, and Dale Hart, who just bought two cars from Mark.

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