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The Takeaway

Takeouts: New Small Cars, $45B BofA Payback, College Football

Thursday, December 03, 2009

  • Auto Takeout: We check in with Paul Eisenstein of The Detroit Bureau, who's out at the LA Auto Show. He's got the latest news on GM's new products (small is, apparently, once again becoming beautiful) and their hunt for a new CEO after the surprise ousting of Fritz Henderson.
  • Business Takeout: Bank of America has permission to pay back the $45 billion it received in federal bailout money. Louise Story of The New York Times says BofA and the government have their own reasons for wanting to move past the bailout.
  • Sports Takeout: Ibrahim Abdul-Matin says all eyes will be on college football this weekend when powerhouses Florida and Alabama go head-to-head for the SEC championship.

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The Takeaway

SuperFreakonomics on Car Seats

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Seat belts are a simple technology; they have saved many lives since their introduction in the 1950s.  Since then, however, concern over protecting children in traffic accidents has led to many models of child car seats, and many state laws requiring parents to put kids in them until they are six or seven years old.  In "SuperFreakonomics," Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt compare the safety record of car seats and seat belts, going so far as to buy their own testing time at a safety rating facility. Their analysis brings into question whether seat belts actually perform any worse than newer technologies.  Some people, including the Secretary of Transportation, are questioning these results.  Here is "Super Freakonomics" co-author Steven Levitt's response.

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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

Toyota Issues Recall of Some Cars

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Toyota has issued its largest vehicle recall ever made in the United States. The company issued the recall when it discovered that floor mats in certain models can cause gas pedals to get stuck in the Camry, the Prius, and certain Lexus models. It has had reports of 100 incidents, involving 17 crashes and five deaths. Toyota is telling drivers of nearly 4 million cars to take the mats out.

The recall affects Toyota Camry sedans from 2007-2010, Toyota Avalon sedans from 2005-2010, Toyota Prius hybrids from 2004-2009, Tacoma pick-up trucks from 2005-2010, Tundra trucks from 2007-2010 and luxury Lexus models ES350 from 2007-2010 and 2006-2010 models of the IS250 and IS350.

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The Takeaway

Washington: Car Makers and Car Dealers Face Off

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When GM and Chrysler declared bankruptcy, the court allowed them to prematurely end contracts with car dealers across the nation. Today, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is meeting with auto makers and auto dealers as they try and work out a compensation agreement for dealers left out in the cold. Our Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich, talks us through the meeting.

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The Takeaway

Washington Convenes 'Distracted Driving' Summit

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Call it Driving While Distracted, or DWD. It may not sound as serious as DWI, but driving and texting or twittering or "just" checking your email is a serious enough issue that dozens of elected officials, transit groups and law enforcement agencies are gathering in Washington today to look at what can be done about it. We hear from Kristin Backstrom of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, who will be at the conference, New Jersey State Trooper Sergeant Stephen Jones and his daughter Alicia Jones, who admits to texting while driving.

The Department of Transportation is offering a live webcast of the summit. Watch here.

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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

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

'Cash for Clunkers' Cashed Out

Friday, August 21, 2009

We’ve heard it before, but this time it might just stick: The Department of Transportation announced yesterday that the popular Cash for Clunkers program, which allows you to trade in your old gas-guzzler for up to $4500 towards a new fuel efficient car, is done as of Monday, August 24th. Although Congress added $2 billion to the program just weeks ago, the program's popularity means the money has run out far sooner than expected. To explain what is happening we talk to Micheline Maynard, senior business correspondent for the New York Times. We also talk to Brian Willian, the sales manager at Albany Honda in Georgia. He is awaiting a check from the government to reimburse him for the clunkers he's paid for under the program.

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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

Automaker Bids on Ebay

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

General Motors is trying something new: it's letting consumers buy new cars on the auction site eBay. Will it work? Approximately three million used cars have been sold online in the past, but to-date, no car dealer has sold new cars this way. Louise Story, financial writer for The New York Times, takes a look. We're also joined by John McEleney, chairman of the National Association of Automobile Dealers, as he explains what the GM-eBay partnership means for private dealers across the country.

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The Takeaway

Car Dealers Scrambling to Keep Up with "Clunkers" Demand

Monday, August 10, 2009

Many people turned up empty-handed when they tried to turn in their clunkers this weekend. Car lots across the country are actually running out of vehicles to sell. Joining The Takeaway to talk about the government-funded Cash for Clunkers program is John McEleney, a Chrysler dealer from Iowa and the chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

We've seen inventories diminish rapidly because of the spike in new vehicle sales in the two weeks since the cash for clunkers took hold.
—Car dealer John McEleney

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The Takeaway

Deutschemarks for Clunkers?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Cash for Clunkers program has been a huge success in the U.S., blowing through over a billion dollars in a week as Americans traded in their gas guzzlers for a voucher towards a new car purchase. The program is awaiting an additional $2 billion influx of cash from the government to keep going. An overseas version of the program is widely considered a success. But Ralph Atkins, the Frankfurt correspondent for the Financial Times, reports that the program in Germany has encountered some unintended—even criminal—consequences.

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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

Stripped! Crushed! How the Clunkers Program Works

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

U.S. auto sales soared in July. Auto analysts like The Takeaway's guest Tom Libby, a Detroit-based independent auto analyst, say the government’s Cash for Clunkers program is giving a big push to the numbers. The program, which gives people $4,500 to buy a new car when they trade in their rusted hulks, blew through a billion dollars in its first week. Now the Senate is deciding whether to allocate another $2 billion to the program. The House already agreed to the re-up. So what happens to the cars when you trade them in? And are dealers really making a mint? The Takeaway talks to Brian Willian, sales manager for the Albany Honda dealer in Albany, Georgia, and J.C. Cox, owner of an auto salvage business in Moultrie, Georgia, to find out the cradle-to-the-grave of Cash for Clunkers.

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The Takeaway

Cash for Clunkers Cashed-Out

Friday, July 31, 2009

Last week we reported on the Obama administration's “cash for clunkers” program—where you can trade in your old beater for a credit on a new, more fuel efficient car. The rewards program was supposed to last well into the Fall, but news late last night says "cash for clunkers" may have already been cashed out. Joining The Takeaway this morning with more is Louise Story, a reporter for The New York Times.

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