Weekly Roundup: 26.01.2009 – 30.01.2009
Following the same trend of the previous week, Monday came with several news on the economic crisis. While Chrysler finally gave us a glimpse of the Fiat models it plans to launch into the United States, General Motors continued its race for money and urged dealerships to order as many cars as possible by March 31. In case you didn't know, General Motors receives money once the new vehicles leave the factory so, selling more cars means more money for the American struggling company.
On the other hand, Ford insisted the company is in good shape and no government money is needed for the time being. Ford's chief executive Alan Mulally repeatedly said the American automaker does not want to borrow money from the government as things are evolving according to the plan. Despite this report, Ford is still running out of dealerships cash, which means the company has to slash budgets and even close the doors of several dealers.
Aside from this fact, Bentley announced on Monday that it will halt production for approximately seven weeks due to the massive drop in demand it experienced on most markets. The temporary shut down will last from March to May, but all employees will receive their full salaries during this period.
The same anti-recession fight continued in Formula 1 too as ING Group, Renault F1's leading sponsor, announced it would cut nearly 7,000 jobs. Formula 1 sponsorships will be also cut in this season, with the Dutch banking group planning to slash the Renault F1 investments by up to 40 percent.
In terms of industry news, Tuesday was clearly the top day of the week as most reports were more or less related to the global shut down the production of S2000 in December and confirmed it plans to slash production in both the United States and Japan, General Motors said it may axe approximately 2,000 workers during this year. Obviously, UAW officials said such news are devastating for the United States since a large part of Americans work or worked for automotive companies.
Similar news came from Italy too as Sergio Marchionne warned that nearly 60,000 may be lost in case the government does not provide support to local companies. However, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the country will surely help struggling automakers and held a meeting to discuss the best ways to aid them.
Speaking of motorsports, fans of Formula 1 were delighted to find out that Rome may host a race starting 2011, with city officials ready to make everything is possible to secure a spot in the F1 schedule.
Things adopted a more enjoyable course on Wednesday, with less economic recession news and more reports telling us about new car concepts, technologies or services. While General Motors finally announced it will kill Cadillac XLR (blaming the over-discussed financial crisis). Harley Davidson launched a new Dark Custom motorcycle, the Iron 883. Featuring an all-black appearance, the bike is powered by an 883cc Evolution engine.
2009 World Car of the year finalists were finally announced on Wednesday, with Audi A4, BMW 7 Series, Fiat 500 and Citroen C5 Sedan among the top ten models. Other finalists include Jaguar XF, Nissan GT-R, Toyota iQ and Volkswagen Golf IV.
The “should Rome be included in the Formula 1 championship?” question finally got an answer on Wednesday after Superbike World Championship promoter Maurizio Flammini revealed that Bernie Ecclestone was about to announce his approval for the new Grand Prix. Moreover, Flammini stated that Rome may arrive in Formula 1 even sooner than 2011 but only if organizers and city officials proceed with setting up the new layout of the circuit.
Thursday came with a piece of sad news for Spanish car enthusiasts who hoped to see some new models displayed at the upcoming cancel the event due to lack of interest from car manufacturers, who decided, under the strong pressure of the economic recession, to turn down the invitation.
However, there are better news from a separate auto show opening its doors in March, namely the Geneva Motor Show which, taking into account the latest reports, will display several new models coming from global manufacturers. Audi said on Thursday it will display a number of new models at Geneva, including the TT RS and the A5 and S5 Convertible. In addition, Volkswagen is also expected to display the new-generation Polo at the upcoming event, with this particular model likely to arrive in the United States market by 2011.
In terms of Formula 1, another dispute started on Thursday as a technical report published by Autosport magazine revealed that Toyota and Williams F1 chose a different shape for their cars' rear diffusers. This is not compliant with the 2009 technical rule book, just like Ferarri's exposed exhaust system spotted last week.
The last working day of the week started off with a bit of "Is Not" war between Ford and Toyota, as the Japanese didn't agree with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) saying that the Ford Fusion Hybrid was more fuel efficient than the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Unfortunately for them, the Japanese that is, EPA's rankings seem to be accurate. More information here.
Ferrari had an important announcement to make on Friday saying they've agreed to change their exhaust system, thus modifying the Ferrari F60's tailpipes.
And now, for two important news from the Detroit 3, both of them quite sad. First of all, Ford, Chrysler and GM will not be showing any ads at this year's Super Bowl, leaving all the playground to Audi, Hyundai and Toyota. Secondly, the Opel-Vauxhall Astra based car will be discontinued for sale this year in the United States.
Experts have finally reached a conclusion in the plane crash that occurred just outside of Orlando less than 2 years ago and it wasn't pleasant for NASCAR who is to be held responsible. Ovidiu Panzariu has more information here.
Another news from the motorsports came from the F1 field where we found out that Vijay Mallya's Force India is facing lawsuit following the layoff of former Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne.
The same day Mercedes Benz celebrated its first showroom, now 100 years old, Honda mourned for their profits, which recorded a whopping 90% drop in the third quarter. Porsche are not doing great either as they've announced that their revenues could drop by 14.3 percent to about three billion Euro.