TTAC News Round-up: Volkswagen's Plans Paltry Payout, Sergio Talks up Players, and a NASCAR Driver's Busted

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Volkswagen shareholders are wondering if they’ll be receiving a lump of coal in their dividend stocking this year.That, Sergio is seeking a partner (but not those French guys), NASCAR’s Derek White is in trouble north of the border, GM seals the deal with a startup, and no Baby Buick for you … after the break!
Black Christmas at VolkswagenAnalysts are predicting heavily slashed dividends for Volkswagen shareholders next month.The huge costs associated with the diesel emissions scandal will weigh heavily on potential payouts when the automaker posts its earnings at the end of April, Bloomberg reports:One unidentified supervisory board member said it’s unlikely the carmaker will pay a dividend at all, German newswire DPA reported on Tuesday. Investors are expecting something, however. The carmaker may slash the dividend by more than half, to 2.37 euros per share, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That would equal about 14 percent of the 17.80-euro average estimate for adjusted earnings per share.Paying a dividend would cost Volkswagen money, but could temporarily placate investors who felt the automaker skimped on payouts as it went on a pre-scandal spending spree.
FCA Goes Looking for a Dance PartnerFiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne is looking for a partner to collaborate with, but has no interest in hooking up with France’s largest automaker.Marchionne, who has already made clear his plans to outsource production of small cars, could be leaning towards a technology collaboration with a startup, according to Reuters (via Automotive News):“We have parallel conversations with many players who are outside the auto sector at the moment,” Marchionne said at a press conference after an industry event here on Wednesday.“We can’t go into these discussions with a precise idea of what FCA wants. We’re learning, just as they are learning,” he said. “And the solution will be a shared solution and developed together with them, not developed by us alone.”Marchionne poured cold water on rumors of a potential partnership with surging French automaker PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, which had declared itself open to new opportunities. The benefits to FCA would have been too small, Marchionne stated.
The French-Canadian ConnectionA massive illegal tobacco and drug bust in Canada has snared NASCAR driver Kevin White.Widespread raids by Ontario and Quebec authorities put the kibosh on the largest tobacco-smuggling operation in North American history, with White caught in the dragnet, Bloomberg reports:Authorities said some of the suspects arrested early Wednesday have links to biker gangs and organized crime, buying tobacco in the U.S. and illegally importing it into Canada through three border crossings. The tobacco was ultimately sold on the Kahnawake and Six Nations reserves, according to police.Quebec’s provincial police force didn’t confirm that the Derek White they arrested was the 45-year-old driver, who lives on the Kahnawake reserve and became the first Native American to start a Sprint Cup race last year. However, other sources claim it is:Law enforcement officials, who requested anonymity because of restrictions about commenting beyond the scope of the warrants, said it was the same man. White is listed as one of the top ranking members of the smuggling operation, according to a chart provided by police.
GM’s Cruise buy approvedThe Federal Trade Commission has given General Motors’ rumored $1 billion purchase of California startup Cruise Automation its seal of approval, the Detroit Free Press reports:A spokeswoman for the Federal Trade Commission said the agency granted expedited approval, saying the transaction would not violate antitrust laws …What attracted GM was a device Cruise’s employees have created that enables drivers to take a car onto the highway, then push a button that transfers control of the accelerator, brakes and steering. The company also has worked on autonomous features on farming tractors and mining equipment.GM’s plan to acquiring an outsider in order to bring autonomous technology in-house is a strategy that’s gaining traction in the automotive community.
America won’t get its Opel AdamIf you’d been hoping for a mini rebadged import to be added to the Buick lineup, consider your dream crushed like an empty can of Michelob Ultra against your semi-luxurious forehead.Buick vice-president Duncan Aldred told Automotive News that his high hopes for turning the cute-as-a-button Opel Adam into a tiny Buick have crashed into the wall of financial reality:In the past, Aldred said he’d like to add the Opel Adam minicar to Buick’s U.S. stable as a Mini or Fiat 500 fighter. But the sharp shift in market sentiment toward crossovers over the last two years has sapped sales of those vehicles — and Aldred’s desire to import the Adam.“I very much did feel when I came over that that could really help accelerate the Buick brand story,” he said. “I don’t see that as much. Whether the market shifted or the fashion nature of those cars has changed, I don’t know. But I wouldn’t be looking for a small, B-segment car today.”Good news for the newly dejected, though. If you’re looking for a crossover or larger car once your microcar fetish ends, Buick has you covered.[Image: Passat, © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars; Money, frankleleon/Flickr ( CC BY 2.0); NASCAR, Jonathan Moore/Getty Images]
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  • Vulpine Vulpine on Mar 31, 2016

    Methinks Fiat should tie in with Tesla. FCA is having trouble keeping up with CAFE rules and going at least partially electric through Tesla's technologies could go a long way towards giving them a jump on the other brands that don't even have a properly road-able BEV yet.

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    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Mar 31, 2016

      @Speed3 Here's the problem: The biggest piece of FCA is Jeep, and that alone is worth roughly $8 billion. The other pieces are worth much less. Against that total value, the original Fiat has an accumulated bond debt of about $42 billion. There isn't enough value in the pieces to cover that debt. That's why Sergio wants a partner - to assume that debt so the Fiat founding Agnelli family can walk away from the last of the Fiat conglomerate with their hands clean and cash in their pockets. That's basically what he was hired to do, and he needs to pull it off, rather than break up FCA at a certain loss.

  • Dwford Dwford on Mar 31, 2016

    Seems like Peugeot has all the things FCA does not: subcompact, compact and midsize chassis. FCA already knows the 500 is old, and that the Dart and 200 aren't best in class. A tie up with Peugeot would expand the options for both.

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.