General Motors

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Toyota, Honda on top of Consumer Reports

In the issue of the magazine that will hit newsstands this March, Toyota is listed by Consumer Reports as one of the leading names when it comes to quality and reliable cars and trucks. Detroit automakers on the other hand topped one category. This was announced by the top editors of the magazine Thursday. This is just one of the many validations that the Japanese carmaker has gained ground and continues to  dominate when it comes to quality and reliable cars and trucks. The editors of the said magazine also noted the fact that the industry is under a tough economic test. Toyota took home the honors for the best mid-sized SUV for the Toyota Highlander.  Toyota also netted the best small SUV for its Rav4 and the Toyota Sienna was named as the best mini van. Toyota Motors is considered as the leading name for the year among individual categorie as it wins in four categories which also include the green car. And for the best over-all vehicle, then the honor goes to Lexus-made Lexus LS 460 which is the luxury division of Toyota.

Honda Motors is a big winner too, as this Japanese automaker was named as the top automaker for the third year in a row. The rankings of the company was based on the performance and the reliability of the vehicle. And these are determined thru testing and customer surveys. Honda tops the overall list with Subaru coming in second and Toyota was third. Asian car manufacturers are doing well for the third year in a row. According to an editor of Consumer Reports, Honda tend to build well-rounded vehicles that do well in CR tests and in customer reliability surveys.

General Motors scored for Chevrolet Avalanche as best pick-up, and this was the only top vehicle for General Motors. This replaced Chevy Silverado 1500.


GM to cut 47,000 jobs this year

General Motors is set to cut 47,000 jobs and plans to seek up to $30 billion aid and this move by GM is just another testament to how bad the future of General Motors look. It is also part of the plan of General Motors to idle five more US factories. All these moves are part of General Motors’ massive restructuring plan. The carmaker is the recipient of the $13.4 billion in federal loans and it plans to seek another $16.6 billion the moment the economic fails to get back on track. In a news report, it added that General Motors can achieve its profitability in two years time and can fully repay its loans by 2017. The company’s plan was submitted to the Obama administration for review. General Motors is also working to win concessions form United Auto Workers and the bond holders of the company in order to effectively re-size the company. The UAW also had talks with Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Co. and said that it had reached a tentative deal on contract changes. Still based on reports, there are still discussions on how the companies will fund the union-run trust funds that will take the companies’ healthcare obligations for the retireees for next year. General Motors’ brand will be down to four last December- Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. And GMC is considering the sales of Hummer.

Japan is home to the world’s largest carmaker

General Motors is now ranked number 2, and the number one carmaker is located in Japan. This came after General Motors fell by 11 percent. This is the year that General Motors celebrated its 100th year in the business. This does not mean that Toyota has no problems, sales for the company fell too and it just happens that the problems besetting General Motors are more critical. In a statement,  General Motors said that it sold 8.35 million vehicles for 2008 and this figure is 620,000 fewer than Toyota’s 8.97 million. Sales of GM fell 11 percent and sales of Toyota declined 4 percent. General Motors had been the largest carmaker in the planet since it overtook Ford in 1931.

GM gets $4b low interest loan

General Motors has reported that it has recieved $4 billion in low-interest loans coming from the federal government. For sure the infusion of fresh funds to the company will help GM address its financial issues. Chrysler LLC has also applied for the loans but they are still waiting for the approval of the loans since their application process has been slowed down for some reasons. The payment of $4 billion that the car company has received is just the first installment of the &9.4 billion in total loans that the company will get for January this year. And for Feebruary, the company is set to get another $4 bilion. This financial help that the company is getting for 2009 will be used to counter their billion dollar losses and their slowing sales. Chrysler is also expecting that they can get their $4 billion as soon as possible and they will use this as well to sustain their operations.

Chrysler suspends production

Chrysler LLC suspends US production for at least a month. Could  this be an indication that indeed the company and the other two big auto companies are bleeding inside?

In a report posted over at CNN.com, the 30 plants of the company will close after the last shift on Friday and the employees were told not to return to work before January 19 next year. In this latest move, the company put the blame on the continued lack of consumer credit for the American car buyer for the continued downward spiral movement of the sales not just for Chrysler but for other auto companies. Normally, the company shuts down its operation starting December 24 and will usually lasts til January 5. But this time, circumstances are different.

Chrysler LLC is not the only automaker that has decided to suspend operations for the first month next year. General Motors also announced last year that it will be idling 30 percent of its North American plants for the first quarter of 2009. Ford also made a move and indicated thru a spokeswoman that the company is adding a week to its normal two-week seasonal and normal shutdown.

..Well there could be one according to President Bush

Hours after the Senators ended the life of the bailout for the auto industry, the Bush administration has announced that it might use the taxpayers money supposedly to bail out the banks in order to keep the automakers out of trouble. This announcement basically reverses the previous stand on how to help the ailing industry, and comes only hours after the Senate killed the bailout proposal. It was the president’s own party which ended the life of the bailout proposal. The said proposal had the support of congressional Democrats in the White House but in their version of the bailout, they intend to use a different source of funds.

How’s General Motors faring?

Two months after General Motors celebrated its 100th birthday, the company is facing a grim scenario that it may not survive to see another year unless something drastic is done by the government thru a federal bailout. The grim internal condition of the company can be seen in the performance of its shares in the stock market. The shares of General Motors sank to their lowest point in 65 years to $2.92 some time the first week of November this year.

The drop in value came a day after the company revealed in a federal filing that its ability to continue as a profitable company is in substantial doubt because the company may run out of money by the end of the year. The cash cushion of the company has been shrinking by more than $2 billion a month this fall. And if the situation continues, the company’s reserves will fall the minimum of $10 billion in cash that it needs to run its global operations by January next year. When that scenario happens, the company may not be unable to pay its suppliers, meet the company’s loan agreements and cover the healthcare obligations in its labor contracts.

The federal filing by the company this week revealed in greater detail the problem within the company. According to some analysts, only an emergency federal bailout stands between GM and a bankruptcy filing. General Motors is part of the Big Three that is suffering in the current economic turmoil. The other two companies include Ford Motors and Chrysler.

$30M For Plug-in Hybrid Research

Too little, too late? Either way, at least the government showed its determination in making sure that hybrid plug-in research will get the attention of most carmakers. The government thru Department of Energy has earmarked $30 million to develop and demonstrate Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles research projects over the next three years. The said amount will be shared by Ford, General Motors and General Electric. The department said that the projects that can be funded by the money will hasten the development of vehicles traveling up to 40 miles without recharging. The said project will also address critical barriers to achieving the DOE’s goal of making such cars cost-competitive by 2014 and by making these cars ready for commercialization by 2016.

The announcement was made by the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner. Selected projects will be undertaken and these projects are geared towards the acceleration of the development of PHEVS. The Assistant Secretary added that this demonstrated a shared public-private sector commitment to advance clean vehicle technologies and can help reduce the dependence on oil and at the same time confronting the serious challenges of climate changes. He added that the Department remains committed to the research, development and deployment of cleaner and more efficient vehicle options for consumers from laboratory to the street.

GM Rethinks Hummer

H2 Logo

In a growing admission that the growing cost of petrol may not be temporary, General Motors is about to rethink its position with regards to the production and the status of Hummer. This latest development came after General Motors Corp has announced Tuesday that it is closing its four truck plants that employs 10,000 workers. The move of the company doesn’t end with the closure of these plants, the company added that it could sell its Hummer brand, one of the more recognizable vehicle under the GM stable. The main reason why the plants are closed and the Hummer brand is to be re-evaluated is because of the escalating prices of petrol. The country’s largest automaker sees this factor as a permanent threat to business. The announcement was made by GM’s Chief Executive Rick Wagoner in a news conference before the annual meeting. He said that the company will close the four North American truck plants and will add shifts at two US plants that makes the more popular and more fuel efficient cars. The Chief Executive added that the company is reviewing the status of Hummer and added that the company could sell the SUV. Wagoner added;

High gasoline prices are changing consumer behavior rapidly. We at GM don’t think this is a spike or temporary shift. We believe that it is by and large permanent.

The move of the company to reconsider the Hummer comes as the price of petrol continues to hover around $4.00 in the country. And this development has led consumers to rethink their options as well and has led them to patronize smaller, and fuel efficient cars. This can be seen on the latest reports that reflects smaller cars from Honda and Toyota has eclipsed Ford’ F Series as the best selling vehicle in the country. In response to the obvious shift in preferences by the consumers, Chief Executive Wagoner outlined the company’s plan to cut car production by 500,000 to 3.7 million vehicles a year.

The Hummer is a military-derived SUV that has become synonymous with gas-guzzling excesses thru the years.

Battle of Low Carbon Cars

Chevy Volt E-Flex Electric Hybrid Concept Car

Escalating oil price. Growing need to be environmentally-aware.

These are just two of the things that fuel car consumers and car manufacturers to drive up their research and development and focus on fuel efficient cars. In fact, the changing market conditions and realities has drove Ford Motors to re-assess its position and has seen its profits dwindle this year. General Motors and Chrysler has also the same problem since these manufacturers heavily relies on profits coming from pick-ups and SUVs. As we all know, with escalating oil prices, these gas guzzlers are the ones that take the hit. As a testament to the escalating prices of oil, the market saw the price of oil reaching $135 per barrel this week. Actually the price per barrel hit $135.09 but then fell back shortly to settle at $130.81 the moment the dollar strengthens. But even though its price continues to soar, demands for oil remains the same. As mentioned, another thing that prompts companies and car consumers to reconsider is the need to cut on emissions and the growing trend to be environmentally-aware. People right now seek vehicles that has some respect for the environment. These things are the ones that motivate car consumers to re-assess their options, to cut their consumptions or to change their mode of transport. The reactions of the consumers can be seen in sales figures right now, and the demand of vehicles. We all know now that Ford is one company that has realized the shift in dynamics. The fall of truck sales and the soaring of gas prices has led Ford to cut production and has led the company to realize less profits. But cutting production and anticipating less profits aren’t the only thing that these car companies do right now. The focus right now is to design, develop and mass-produce cars that pollute less and can go on for miles with the use of the least amount of gas. Enter the low carbon cars.

The low-down on low carbon cars.

Low carbon cars, or simply those cars that pollute less are the rage right now in the market, and advocated by environmental engineers. In fact, these engineers call for government support for this initiative. They said that the government needs to pump extra cash from fuel duty so that this may reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. A number of groups call for a carbon emissions cut to 80 g per kilometer by 2020. Automakers has responded and they are now developing vehicles that go that way- the way of low carbon cars.

General Motors is taking a lead right now, though Toyota thru its Toyota Prius has been in the business for some time and has been successful. Aside from Toyota and General Motors, we also have Honda, Nissan and Ford. Ford is expected to deliver its very own hybrids that will join the Ford Escape SUV in the Ford’s gasoline-electric line-up. At the heart of the Honda’s technology will be the Eco Boost engines that can generate plenty of power and better fuel economy. * More on Eco Boost in later postings. Nissan on the other hand plans to dip its fingers on the hybrid industry by 2010.

Then there’s General Motor’s Chevrolet Volt. The Volt is by far the sexiest green car of GM. Expect to see the Volt before the year ends in Paris and actual production vehicle can be seen by 2010. This sedan is expected to run for 40 miles before the small gasoline engine takes stage and recharge the battery for another 600 miles. For longer trips, it is expected that the Volt can deliver 100 miles per gallon. For General Motors, it isn’t just the Volt. An 80 mpg version of the Saturn Vue SUV is in the works as well and this will be delivered by next year. The Vue will be the first plug-in hybrid in the US once it debuts in the market. * More on plug-in hybrids on later postings.

These move by these companies is sure to address the needs for fuel efficient and eco-friendly cars. And most of the targets by these companies are pegged on 2010. So we will see by then if these vehicles can make a significant impact. But right now, we see oil prices surging ahead, going to record highs.