The 12-person protest that took place at Chrysler’s Warren, Michgan truck plant got little notice in the automotive news cycle, save for a couple of mentions on the usual aggregators. In truth, it’s not the juiciest story to sell in this click-driven wasteland, though these stories tend to raise the most interesting questions. This example highlights an issue that is going to dog the UAW for some time – how will the UAW control their workers when they are also the owners?
I currently own a 2007 WRX Wagon with a little over 100,000 miles on it. I love this car, even enough to overlook getting merely 21mpg. Anyways.
As is true with many import car owners who love too much, I started modifying the car almost as soon as I got it. It currently has a 3″ exhaust, a tune, and some miscellaneous other engine bits, with suspension components on order. The car is my current project, and I plan on keeping it for some time. There’s a slight problem though. (Read More…)
One of the last vestiges of the Daimler-Chrysler union is being swept away, as Daimler has announced that it will delist from the NYSE. Daimler initially listed itself on Wall Street in 1993, as it began its “marriage made in heaven” with Chrysler. Since then, Daimler says advances in electronic trading make it easier for traders to buy and sell its Frankfurt listings, and that the low volume of NYSE trading isn’t worth all the financial regulation that comes with a Wall Street listing. According to the company, less than five percent of its trading volume comes through its US listing. This means no more SEC filings from the German firm, although it insists that the US market remains important to its business and that it wants to maintain open communication with American investors who own 17 percent of Daimler’s shares. And it definitely has nothing to do with the company’s recent settlement of a bribery investigation by the DOJ. Or the fact that Chrysler could find itself back on the exchange within another year.
Ford has wrapped up some much-needed financial wrangling today, as it struggles with with its monstrous pile of debt. According to Automotive News [sub], Ford transferred $13.2b in debt and about $4b in cash to the UAW-run health care trust fund, completing a long-awaited liability consolidation. $1.4b of the transfer was a scheduled payment on a $6.7b note, while $500m more was a prepayment on that note. Ford paid $610m (cash) on another $6.5 billion note, transferred $620m from a temporary account and $3.5b from an internal VEBA fund and handed over warrants to purchase 362 million shares of Ford common stock at $9.20 per share. All together, the move reportedly adds $7b in debt to Ford’s balance sheet.
Shares in the Dutch boutique automaker Spyker soared 23 percent today, reports Reuters, as the firm’s last-ditch bid for Saab goes down to the wire. Spyker, which sold only 43 cars last year and had a market capitalization of only €26.6m as of last Friday, will hear back from GM on its Saab bid by 5pm today. According to Reuters, Spyker has restructured its ownership structure in order to alleviate GM’s concerns about its backing from allegedly mobbed-up Russian financier Alexander Antonov. GM had previously canceled its Opel sale in part because of concerns about its latest technology landing in the hands of Russian investors. Furthermore, Spyker says it that its new offer eliminates the need for a European Investment Bank (EIB) loan approval prior to year end. “We’re very confident we have put forward a proposal that can convince GM in time,” says Spyker CEO Victor Muller. From a more sober vantage point, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt warns “we should be careful about fueling new hopes in a situation where the people in Trollhattan, and at Saab and their subcontractors are thrown between hope and despair.”
Despite looking at a half-sized Q1 production plan, GM says it will bump truck production in the month of March. Production will be restored and escalated in March at GM’s Flint and Arlington truck plants, meaning there will be more Silverado, Sierra, Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade models. So, uh, why? “As far as our 2008 and 2009 mix goes, we’re significantly down on 2008 models, where most of our competitors have a lot of 2008 to get rid of. So anticipating a spring selling season, we’d like to increase our 2009 inventory,” GM’s Pete Ternes tells Automotive News [sub]. GM’s truck inventory has dropped noticeably, from a 122-day supply on December 1. But with 90 days of light truck supply, there’s still no real reason to increase production. Most industry-watchers consider a 60-day supply ideal. So what’s up?