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Auto Industry

The Takeaway

The Future of NASCAR in the Era of Bankruptcy

Monday, June 08, 2009

As Treasury Department officials pore over the books of GM and Chrysler, what do they make of the millions of dollars the auto makers spend on NASCAR? Is it worthwhile marketing? Does NASCAR success translate to bottom-line profit? To answer some of these questions we turn to Gary Belsky, editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine.

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The Takeaway

[Web Special] How Obama Can Succeed at GM

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

President Obama's speech makes clear that the taxpayers are "reluctant shareholders" of the car giant, and even went so far to emphasize that his instructions were to treat all creditors equally. (Read: don't accuse us of favoring the UAW because we're Democrats.). So if that's right, then they are going to try to be as hands-off as possible.

But how hands-off can someone be when they're elected?

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The Takeaway

GM Is In for a Wild Ride

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

GM executives are about to take a wild ride as the company restructures itself under bankruptcy protection. To describe how that process will work -- and if it will work -- is Mark LaNeve, GM North America’s Vice President for Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing. He joins us from GM headquarters in Detroit. The Takeaway is also joined by Micheline Maynard, Auto Reporter for the New York Times to give her take on the future of GM.

"The big Detroit companies, GM and Chrysler specifically, have been able to get away with these huge families of vehicles. You can't do that anymore, you confuse customers and if they don't get clarity, they'll go somewhere else."
— New York Times auto reporter Micheline Maynard



For more on GM, read Law Professor John Pottow's post, How Obama Can Succeed at GM.

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The Takeaway

Motor City Mourns as GM Files For Bankruptcy

Monday, June 01, 2009

General Motors is expected to file for bankruptcy this morning, leaving thousands of workers in Detroit worried about what will happen next. To talk about this American business milestone is Jerome Vaughn, the news and program director at WDET Detroit Public Radio.

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The Takeaway

A GM Worker: From the Frontlines of the Bankruptcy

Thursday, May 28, 2009

With GM likely to declare bankruptcy on June 1st, autoworkers are gearing up for another round of bad news. How are the workers bracing themselves? The Takeaway talks to Will Marcum, who works on full-sized trucks for GM in Pontiac, Michigan.

For more of Will Marcum's thoughts on GM listen to his earlier interviews on The Takeaway.

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The Takeaway

Restructuring the Carmakers: What It Means for Consumers

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Both GM and Chrysler will be restructuring their businesses under bankruptcy protection. After GM announced that it failed to convince bondholders to a debt-swap, the U.S. automaker appears heading towards insolvency. That could mean the federal government will get a 70% ownership stake in a post-chapter 11 General Motors. And Chrysler ended a marathon hearing in bankruptcy court Wednesday as it tries to get approval to sell its assets to Italian automaker Fiat. For the details of how two such large-scale bankruptcies work and what the aftermath could look like, The Takeaway talks to New York Times auto reporter Micheline Maynard and bankruptcy expert John Pottow, Law Professor at University of Michigan.

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The Takeaway

Un-Paving Paradise: A Plan For Empty Car Dealership Lots

Monday, May 18, 2009

This weekend, 1,100 auto-dealership owners across the country took in the sobering news that their contracts with GM will disappear in the auto maker's reorganization. A huge blow to the dealers who will be losing their livelihoods, the closings also raise the question of what to do with all the shuttered car dealerships. Most cities have at least one strip of town dedicated to car-dealer row. So what will happen when the dealers close up shop? For a few ideas we turn to Ellen Durham-Jones, Director of the Architecture Program at Georgia Tech and co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.

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The Takeaway

A word of advice for the people at Chrysler

Monday, May 04, 2009

The future of the iconic American automaker isn’t so American anymore. Last week, Chrysler filed for bankruptcy and made a deal with the Italian automaker FIAT, which will control at least twenty percent of the company initially, and maybe more down the road. And there may even be a move to get GM’s German subsidiary, Opel in on a three-way deal.

So what lies on the road ahead for American autoworkers and their new Italian bosses? No one knows for sure, but when Japanese automakers Honda and Toyota set up shop in America in the 1980s, American autoworkers were asking similar questions. Joining The Takeaway to offer advice to workers facing a new era at Chrysler are two Americans who worked for Japanese car manufacturers. Jim Harbour worked for 28 years in the automotive industry as a manager and director in the engineering and financial services at Ford and Chrysler Corporation and Tim Garrett is the retired vice-president of administration at Honda.

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The Takeaway

An automobile marriage of Chrysler and Fiat

Friday, May 01, 2009

Chrysler is getting another chance to rewrite its business plan and this time it's with Fiat, the Italian car company known for zippy sports cars that are far from that of Detroit V-8 engines. This is Fiat's way of breaking into the American auto industry and Chrysler's way of keeping its cars on the roadway.

On The Takeaway is Nelson Schwartz, the European economics correspondent for the New York Times who wrote the piece "Chrysler Gets an Italian Accent".

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The Takeaway

Chrysler takes the Studebaker road

Friday, May 01, 2009

Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday. It was the first major automaker since Studebaker in 1933 to attempt to restructure under bankruptcy. Three years later, Studebaker emerged from bankruptcy and managed to stay alive for a few more decades until 1966. Joining The Takeaway is Rebecca Lindland from Global Insight, a financial forecasting company; and Robert Farago, a blogger for The Truth About Cars.
"When you go under the knife and under anesthesia, there's always complications. The longer the surgery lasts, the less likely the patients going to survive.And the same thing can be said about this bankruptcy idea."
—Rebecca Lindland, director of Automotive Research for the Americas, on Chrysler's bankruptcy

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The Takeaway

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's take on the auto bailout

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

GM and Chrysler are in the throes of negotiations to avoid bankruptcy. GM’s CEO announced on Monday that the company will cut 21,000 more jobs, close 40% of its dealerships, and discontinue the Pontiac brand. Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter represents Michigan’s 11th district, west of Detroit. Unemployment is over 13% in his district, and now it looks like things are going to get worse. He join The Takeaway to discuss his perspective on the auto bailout and how he hopes the negotiations will pan out.
"I continue to support keeping as many people employed in Michigan and manufacturing as we possibly can. The alternative to not having this deal goes through is a bankruptcy liquidation."
—Rep. Thaddeus McCotter on a merger between Chrysler and Fiat

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The Takeaway

United Auto Workers set to ratify concessions with Chrysler

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Officials in the Obama administration have been negotiating with the leaders of Chrysler, Fiat and the United Auto Workers to find a way to salvage Chrysler. A deal has been tentatively reached that gives all parties an ownership stake in the company. In the deal, the UAW would get 55% of Chrysler’s stock, but that majority stake is in return for the latest round of concessions to the U.S. auto maker and now the U.S. government. But UAW members still have to ratify what their union leaders have agreed to and some aren’t biting this time. Two UAW members who will be heading out to vote on the plan today and are stopping by The Takeaway first. Ken Mefford is an hourly worker in Chrysler’s Warren Plant in Michigan and Stephanie Ramberger is a laid-off autoworker waiting to be put back on the job.

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The Takeaway

U.S. automakers facing federal deadlines

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chrysler and the United Auto Workers have reached an agreement that will allow the automaker to receive more federal funding. The deal eliminates some of the non-salary benefits the autoworkers had earned over the years, but even with these concessions it is likely that Chrysler will still seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Also in the deal is a partnership with Italian automaker Fiat, a collaboration which the U.S. government ordered.

Also in the news GM is expected to unveil its own federally-mandated reorganization plan. One unexpected item in the works? The shuttering of the company's storied Pontiac brand. To talk us through all of this upheaval in the car world is Micheline Maynard, senior business editor for the New York Times Senior Business Correspondent in Detroit.

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The Takeaway

Could Los Angeles save Detroit?

Friday, April 24, 2009

The news is full of Detroit's woes. Chrysler is drawing up bankruptcy papers, GM is shuttering its plants for nine weeks, and just this morning Ford posted a $1.4 billion first quarter loss. Some critics blame the U.S. auto industry's current problems on the ghosts of cars past. Boring design led to weak car sales that led to the financial crisis. So how should Detroit plan for the future?

This week the arts and culture radio program Studio 360 visits Los Angeles to look at the kind of innovative ideas about car design coming out of that city. Host Kurt Andersen spoke with hot rodders, low riders, and car designers freed from the constrictions of working inside the Detroit system to see where the American car industry could be. He also took a ride in an electric car on three wheels that's straight out of The Jetsons. He joins The Takeaway with an account of what he learned about the future of cars.

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The Takeaway

More bad news for U.S. automakers

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Things are not looking good for General Motors. The company is reportedly planning to shutter most of its factories in the U.S. for up to nine weeks beginning as early as next month. GM also reported that it does not plan to pay $1 billion it owes bondholders by June. And if that wasn’t enough bad news for the industry, Chrysler is now saying if it doesn’t get more money soon, it will go into de facto liquidation. To help sift through this latest chapter of bad news for the American auto industry The Takeaway is joined by Nick Bunkley, who writes about the auto industry for The New York Times.
"Neither one of these groups wants to be the first to step forward and make more sacrifices. But both of these groups are going to have to finally agree to something in the next week and both of them are going to have to give up quite a bit."
—New York Times writer Nick Bunkley on the future of GM and Chysler

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The Takeaway

Our listeners' ideas for car industry slogans

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

We asked you, our listeners, to come up with new slogans for the car industry. And, as usual, you answered with brilliant responses. Here are some of our favorites. Have one of your own? Add it to the comments.

Here are some funny car ads to keep the creative juices flowing.

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The Takeaway

Can Fiat and Chrysler make it go go go?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

President Obama gave Chrysler until the end of April to finalize a deal with the Italian car company, Fiat. While the partnership may seem an unlikely pairing, Fiat was facing similar dire straits to Chrysler until a recent turnaround under new management. Is this the breath of fresh air that Chrysler needs? And how does this international team sound to Italy? To help answer that question we turn to David Willey, the BBC's Rome correspondent.

To find out more about Chrysler's potential partner, watch this classic Fiat advertisement.

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The Takeaway

GM's CEO steps down. If you had the job, how would you save the American car?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors Corp., is stepping down. The move came at the request of President Obama, who is seeking to reform the U.S. car industry in a gloomy economic climate. So it's time for a job interview -- If you were in charge at GM, how would you save the American car?


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