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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

Auto industry back in the spotlight as Obama steps up and Wagoner steps down

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Obama administration unveils its restructuring plan for the troubled auto industry today, and in a surprise move, GM's Chief Executive Rick Wagoner will be stepping down, too. For an analysis, The Takeaway talks with New York Times Senior Business Correspondent Micheline Maynard in Detroit and Sheryl Gay Stolberg who is covering the story from D.C.

For more, read Sheryl Gay Stolberg's article, U.S. Moves to Overhaul Ailing Carmakers and Micheline Maynard's profile of Wagoner, The Steady Optimist Who Oversaw G.M.’s Decline, both in the New York Times.

"The feeling was that, as the White House officials said, they needed a clean sheet. But you might say it more simply that someone's head had to roll."
—New York Times correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg on Rick Wagoner leaving General Motors

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The Takeaway

The week ahead with Marcus Mabry and James Surowiecki

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's Monday, which means it is time to take a look at the week ahead. For their educated guesses as to what is on the agenda for the week is James Surowiecki, The Balance Sheet writer for The New Yorker, and Marcus Mabry, international business editor for the New York Times.

What's on this week's agenda?

Monday: GM chief expected to step down

• The chairman and chief executive of General Motors Corp. of eight years, Rick Wagoner, is resigning.
• Wagoner's unexpected move is part of an agreement made by GM with the Obama administration.
• We'll learn more about the strings of President Obama's auto bailout plan in a speech by the president Monday morning.
• More: G.M. Chief Is Said to Be Resigning in Deal With U.S. (The New York Times)
• More: GM chairman to leave US car maker (BBC)

Monday: President Obama's auto team is expected to offer aid to GM and Chrysler

• The president's task force on the auto industry is expected to back increasing short-term aid to General Motors and Chrysler in return for concessions that would help the companies survive the economic downturn.
• More: With a Busy Agenda, Obama Turns to Auto Bailout Plan (The New York Times)
• More: Auto Task Force Set to Back More Loans -- With Strings (The Wall Street Journal)

Tuesday: Election Tuesday symbolizes judgment on president

• Tuesday's election for the successor to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., pits Republican Jim Tedisco against Democrat Scott Murphy who has the backing of President Obama
• Leaders say the selection will be a judgment on the president, stimulus plan and strength of the political parties
• More: NY House race seen as first test of Obama's power (The Associated Press)

Tuesday–Thursday: President Obama and the First Lady begin their first overseas tour

• Mr. Obama will meet with Chinese leader Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, British Queen Elizabeth II, and heads of state from Saudi Arabia, India and South Korea.
• President Obama will seek support for his new Afghanistan-Pakistan plan from European nations and deal with the issue of Iranian nuclear ambitions. • The president will also seek to maintain Chinese support for purchasing U.S. government debt and ease tensions with Russia over energy and missile defense.
• He will also be seeking help to enlist Iran in the U.S. effort to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan.
• President Obama will be attending the G-20 summit, as well as a 60th anniversary summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and a European Union-U.S. summit.
•More: Regulation Goals Replace Stimulus Push (Wall Street Journal)
• More: Barack Obama: 'Every decision we're making counts' (The Telegraph)

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The Takeaway

Like Ford and Chrysler but much worse: Russia's Lada may close shop

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The crisis in the auto industry is not just taking it's toll on American brands. While the Saturn and Hummer maybe a thing of the past here, in Europe, Saab is at risk, and in Russia, the famed Lada car company may be at risk of going under entirely. And they haven't been able to pay their hockey team in three months. In fact, there is an entire city that depends on making the car mdash;it's home town of Togliatti in central Russia. For more, The Takeaway is joined by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow.

Not familiar with Lada? Maybe this commercial will help bring you up to speed.

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The Takeaway

Autoworkers get squeezed in GM and Chrysler repayment plans

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

General Motors and Chrysler presented their repayment plans to the Treasury Department yesterday. Unfortunately in order for them to make enough money to re pay their loan they are going to have cut 47,000 jobs and close five more plants. And the kicker is that GM needs another $30 billion to survive. President Obama's new auto cabinet (that doesn't really have a ring to it) has a lot of work ahead of them. To walk us through the reconstruction plans is Nick Bunkley, reporter for the New York Times.

For more, read Nick Bunkley's and Bill Vlasic's article, Automakers Seek $14 Billion More in Aid, in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

President likely to allow California to restrict car emissions

Monday, January 26, 2009

Continuing his string of reversals of Bush administration policies, President Obama is set to allow California to opt out of federal regulations and set stricter standards to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars. More than a dozen other states may adopt the same standards. Struggling automakers have said that complying with the new rules will cost billions. New York Times reporter Peter Baker joins The Takeaway to explain the significance of the change in federal policy.

For more, read Peter Baker's article, Obama’s Order Is Likely to Tighten Auto Standards, in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

What it's like to drive an electric car

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

At this week's Detroit auto show, car companies are rolling out prototypes of their electric vehicles, and the plan is to have them on the road within the next few years. Will that mean an end to the experience of driving as we know it? Dan Neil, Pulitzer Prize-winning automotive critic for the Los Angeles Times, joins John for a discussion of what it actually feels like to drive an electric car.

The new Dodge Circuit is introduced at the Detroit auto show this week.



For less style, but more efficiency, take a gander at Toyota's latest hybrid.

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The Takeaway

Labor costs and unions

Monday, December 22, 2008

“"When you are paying 20 to 30 dollars more an hour to make cars, you know you can't be competitive."
— Peter Morici on labor unions

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The Takeaway

Kokomo, Ind. becomes the focal point for Chrysler losses

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kokomo is Indiana’s 13th largest city and it came in third on a list of the nation’s fastest dying towns. With 14% of the town’s population relying on Chrysler for their income, how will the town cope with the stalled auto bailout and the city's four manufacturing plants idle? Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight joins John and Adaora to talk about the future of his town.

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The Takeaway

People are driving less, even with gas under $2

Monday, December 15, 2008

The price of gas is dropping, but statistics show Americans are clocking fewer miles on the road.

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The Takeaway

The Big Three®

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"If you can't anticipate customer need, look at your competition."
— Elizabeth Talerman

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