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Beat, Groove, or Trax: GM Wants Your Opinion

GM is contributing to the green contagion by designing 3 more concept mini cars to be put into production in the “relatively near future”.

Trying to make an impact in the small car market currently dominated by Japanese products, GM has created what they call The Triplets:Beat, Groove and Trax.

The “triplets,” as Lutz called them, include the Beat, a front-wheel drive three-door hatchback powered by a 1.2-liter turbocharged gasoline engine; the Groove, a retro looking front-wheel drive car with a 1-liter diesel engine; and the Trax an “urban crossover” with an all-wheel-drive system and a 1-liter gas engine.

There is no reference to any special auto warranty or other incentives, but if you would like to offer your 2 cents on “The Triplets” before they hit production, you can render your opinion on the General Motors website.

Saturn Looking at Diesels

Is there a Saturn diesel coming our way? The thought of cruising down the highway at 100 m.p.h. burning only 37 m.p.g. does have it’s appeal. Alas, GM’s latest turbo diesel in the European Opel Astra 1.9 CDTI will not be coming America’s way this year, but Saturn has an eye on diesel.

“Saturn executives have their eye on GM’s European diesel lineup. The brand could offer the latest generation of low-emissions diesels alongside its growing lineup of hybrid-electric models as it works to polish its earth-friendly credentials.

The main questions are how much could Saturn charge for the diesel and how many customers would pay for it.

Diesels are more expensive than most gasoline engines because of costly additional components like turbochargers, intercoolers, high-pressure fuel pumps and extra emission-control systems.”

In the past,because of the diesels durability, auto makers like Chrysler extended its warranty to five years or 100,000 miles on all diesel engines in the Dodge Ram, Sprinter and Jeep Liberty lineup. Even with a better extended warranty, experts predict that buyers are going to balk at paying an additional 1000 dollars for a diesel.

GM Will Extend Used Car Powertrain Warranties


“General Motors Corp. said Friday it will extend its five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty to used cars going back to the 2002 model year, another move to convince customers that its cars and trucks are as reliable as those made by its Japanese rivals.

The warranties apply to all GM Certified Used Vehicles and are fully transferable. They become available March 1.

“This is what you’d expect from a company like GM — a company that wants to remain a leader,” said Troy Clarke, president of GM’s North American operations who announced the deal in Las Vegas at the National Automobile Dealers Association annual convention. “Quality will not be a reason for people to not buy our cars.”

The world’s largest automaker has made strides in improving quality, but its cars and trucks still are widely perceived by consumers as inferior to Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

The new warranty covers hundreds of components that comprise the engine, transmission and final drive assemblies. It applies to all GM Certified Used Vehicles from Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile and Pontiac sold in the United States.

A similar offering soon will be made for Saturn vehicles, Clarke said.

The warranty will help GM in its fight to maintain its lead over a surging Toyota and keep its title as the world’s No. 1 automaker because, Clarke said, a strong reputation translates to sales.

Dealers had been pushing GM to back used cars with a warranty, and the automaker wanted something that would help it stand out in a market where overall vehicle quality is good.

“The No. 1 thing a used car buyer is afraid of is problems,” said Ed Bozarth, a Chevrolet dealer with eight Chevrolet outlets in Topeka, Kan., Grand Junction, Colo., and the Denver area. “This is a safety net. It’s huge.”

More importantly, the move is a statement that GM is confident its vehicles, even used ones, will hold up, said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at J.D. Power and Associates.”
fromAuto Insider/Sharon Terlep

Auto Alliance Talks Suspend Over Premium to GM

CEO reportedly still open to alternate North American Alliance

A dispute over the terms Nissan-Renault posed to GM has lend to the end of talks between the three companies. Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of both corporations, said before the talks ended that he’d still consder working with another North American company if talks didn’t work out.

Speculative reports point at Ford Motor Company, as they have recently posed the notion to pursue talks with Nissan-Renault.

From an article in the LA Times:

"Assuming he was sincere, Ford looks like the next candidate for the job," Banc of America Securities analyst Ron Tadross wrote in a note to investors Wednesday.

Read more in the International Herald Times.

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Dex-Cool Proves Worth of Extended Warranties

Extended Risk Coverage

General Motors auto maker is feeling the burn from Dex-Cool antifreeze vehicle damage. It appears that GM drivers have been regularly complaining about the antifreeze being a source of added wear and tear on automobile engines and are fed up with consequential repairs not covered in the manufacturer’s warranty. At this point, GM has been accused by multiple customers and faces lawsuits by exasperated vehicle owners.

No one wants to buy a car imagining the damage going on under the surface from a fluid chosen by the manufacturer. As nightmarish as it is, GM’s Dex-Cool situation is one of many similar manufacturer fault situations that vehicle owners get heated about. The warranty provided by a car manufacturer is only as good as that auto maker’s ability to produce a dependable, quality, ethical product. Where there’s an antifreeze causing havoc in intake gaskets, there is a likelihood of lacking coverage. An extended warranty can protect a car owner from occurrences such as this so don’t hesitate to enroll in a warranty that will pull you out of an expensive, unanticipated manufacturer mistake.

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Detroit automakers feel pain of gas prices

Ford, GM, and Chrysler are stuck with SUVs

Gas prices drain revenueOh, if only they had looked ahead.

Half a decade ago, the sport-utility craze was in full force. The three large automakers based in Detroit were reeling with delight, while their strategists were planning ahead for new and better SUVs and heavy-duty pickup trucks.

With Japanese automakers having spent the last few years focusing on more fuel-efficient vehicles and developing hybrid technologies, the US companies are feeling the disadvantage. Gas prices have nearly tripled in a few short years, and truck- and SUV-focused companies such as Chrysler are at a loss, literally. Chrysler reported earnings of less than $70 million for the last quarter, and they project losses in the hundreds of millions in the near future.

One might reason that the American companies should follow suit and begin producing smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. However, in order to stay competitive with the smaller cars, their profit margins will remain around one-tenth of the green gap with the larger trucks and SUVs. For that reason, it still doesn’t make sense financially to refocus their efforts.

While great fuel economy is simply not feasible at this point in the realm of large automobiles, the executives at the companies such as General Motors can find solace in the newer models of their vehicles being more fuel-efficient than previous models. It appears that they will hold their path, cross their fingers, and hope that consumers still have a place in their hearts for gas-guzzling beasts.

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Midsized SUVs to get the Boot

Ford and GM look to crossover vehicles

Detroit’s automakers, Ford and GM, will be cutting back their midsized SUV’s, and in some cases, popular mid-sized SUVs will be cancelled completely. In fact, the infamous Trailblazer will be axed by 2010. In 2009 GM was going to give the trailblazer a remake, however, it seems it will instead be cancelled.

The moves come as sales of mid-sized SUVs slump. U.S. sales of the Trailblazer and Envoy peaked at a combined 418,381 units in 2004. That dropped to 352,012 units last year.

When the trailblazer is killed off, GM will begin implementing crossover vehicles that will be more economical for larger families to buy.  Most of the cross over vehicles are still in concept design, so it will be a year or two before we see any of them.

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June Sales Don’t Look So Hot for the Auto Industry

June may drive the stake further into the heart of GM

June has always been a low sales month for the auto industry, and GM is expected to take biggest brunt of the sword that will be slaying this month. However, during this month, Toyota and Honda sales are expected to continue rising during this month.

Since this month is expected be a debacle in the auto industry GM is offering a magnificent incentives that will attract new customers. GM is offering their regular pricing incentives, plus 0-percent 72 month financing option.

The 0 percent sale is going on  until July5th. So, if you’re looking for a good deal on a new American made vehicle, this week may be your chance to get that new car you wanted. 

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Auto Industry is still Waning

The Portuguese Plant is Closing

GM is closing another major factory. The factory is in Portugal and it will close Oct. 31 of 2006. GM is constantly searching for ways to increase the profitability of the plant, but it seems that that’s not going to happen.  Gerald Johnson, GM’s Europe director, announced the closing in a newspaper report on Friday.

Gerald Johnson said in the letter, reportedly sent to union representatives, that GM had delayed its decision to close the factory because the Portuguese government had asked for time to find a solution for making the Combo production unit more profitable, the newspaper said.

Though Johnson has already stated the plant will close, the Portuguese government is doing everything they can to ensure it doesn’t close because it is a big source of revenue for them.

Workers in Portugal and Germany walked out of plants earlier this month in protest after reports that the troubled company might cut jobs in Western Europe.

America is not the only country that’s hurting because of mismanagement in a few big companies. Germany and Portugal’s families have been hurt from layoffs and other things that sprung from our economy difficulties

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Ford’s self proclamation of success

Ford stresses that they’re really going to make their goal

Just yesterday I talked about how analysts did not believe Ford was going to make their 2008 goal of being a profitable company. Well, I think analysts still believe Ford will not make it, but Mark Fields, Ford’s president of Americas, believes they’re right on track.

He admits that they’re behind in some areas, but in other areas, he claims, Ford is way ahead of the game. So, that, in his mind, puts Ford in an “ok” position.  

Like I said before, analysts still don’t believe Ford will make that goal. They say this because a weak inventory of new vehicles and a weary product strategy.

Ford has a lot of work to do. They’re supposed to be “innovation” driven, but it seems they’re still relying on large SUVs and trucks to keep them afloat. The buoyancy of their business is dependant upon a style of car that is becoming too expensive to drive and frowned on because of environmental issues.

Maybe Ford will stop trying to be “innovative” in their eyes and really become innovative. They’ve become innovative to their own definition, but I think their definition could be a tad off.

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