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NAIAS 2009: Green Technology Finally Embraced by Detroit’s Big 3

Posted Jan 22 2009 4:00pm

Detroit’s 2009 North American International Auto Show: Big 3 says they are going to survive with their new green technology.

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Kicking off the most important auto show of a crucial year, Detroit’s Big Three automakers unveiled stylish, fuel-efficient and high-tech vehicles aimed at winning back customers from import brands and countering doomsayers and critics in Washington and across the country.

With Wall Street, Washington and many on Main Street questioning their long-term status, Detroit’s automakers are under immense pressure to demonstrate at the show that they can become viable companies, able to compete with the world’s strongest players on every level.

GM rolled out 16 new models — including an angular Cadillac Converj electric concept and a redesigned Buick LaCrosse sedan — during press previews for the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center. Ford Motor Co. outlined a new electric car strategy and introduced a stylish new Taurus sedan. Chrysler LLC showed off a concept electric performance sedan, the Chrysler 200C.

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Video Sneak Peak at GM’s NAIAS 2009.

Chrysler and GM are the most vulnerable players financially and have already received a dose of government aid. But all the major players are struggling in a treacherous environment as the industry copes with the deepest downturn in decades.

GM’S Vice Chairman, Bob Luz, said at the NAIAS, “a person cannot look at our extensive line up of new offerings and say we don’t know what we are doing (in green technology) and say these cars are ugly”.

However, news reports coming out today report,  “ GM official says money will run out by March 31st as Toyota takes over world’s #1 auto maker from General Motors.”

By contrast with past Detroit shows, where auto executives typically outlined their sales forecasts and set market share targets, nearly all the companies are declining this year to predict how the industry will fare. Last year, U.S. auto sales fell to 13.2 billion from 16.1 billion in 2007. A more realistic forecast would be market share targets of the 11-11.5 billion range. The current state of the US economy is going to contribute heavily to these figures.

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Based on the high prices of fuel last summer, the car industry has finally got the message about better mileage vehicles as executives pledge to redouble their efforts to produce better, safer and greener vehicles. Will these executives live up to their pledges in the current economic conditions or forget that people really do want quality, green, higher mileage cars?

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The 200C concept uses the next-generation platform for Chrysler’s large rear-drive cars, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, but the design has short overhangs to offer a glimpse of what the smaller Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger might look like.

Chrysler LLC has shut down all their production plants from 12/19/08 to 1/19/09. Employees received 95% of their pay during this shutdown period. Good for the employees, but how does this help Chrysler’s cash crisis?

The Big Question For The Big 3?

There are a lot of questions that will have to be answered in 2009. The bailout money will only last a few months, and if drastic management measures are not implemented, how much longer will the government keep throwing money at these companies? The auto companies need to cut spending and get the unions off their backs.

Will GM, as well as Ford and Chrysler, make the grade with these new green cars and stay in business?

Will the Big 3 eliminate the Bank Jobs Program? Auto workers getting paid not to work? In the recent bailouts, did GM or Chrysler mention doing away with this problem they’ve created? How can they expect to be competitive with foreign automobile companies when having such a monstrosity hanging over their heads?

Automotive Bank Jobs Program in Further Detail: Thousands of laid-off auto workers get paid $31 an hour to sit around and do nothing all year under a controversial program that could continue even if American taxpayers bail out the American auto industry. The program, called “Jobs Banks,” has been around for 24 years. Some of the employees at jobs banks choose to do community service, but others do crossword puzzles and watch TV all day — or just stare at a wall. If you’re a laid-off auto worker, it’s what comes with your pink slip, thanks to a deal struck in 1984 between the United Auto Workers and the Big Three automakers. There should be no bailout money given to the Big 3 if they continue to support the Bank Jobs Program.

A gigantic factor that is having a major impact on the car producers is the Economy! How long will it take to produce jobs for the unemployed that pay decent enough wages for Americans to buy a new car? I plan to drive my 2002 vehicle for another 160 thousand miles. Are you planning to buy a new car in 2009? Please leave your comments.

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