Archive for May, 2009

REPORT: GM to declare bankruptcy before markets open, chief restructuring officer named

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General Motors' bankruptcy endgame appears to be at hand, with word coming out that the automaker will indeed file for Chapter 11 protection early on Monday morning, which in turn is expected to trigger $30.1 billion in U.S. government loans. That funding will arrive on the heels of the $19.4 billion GM has already received since late last year, and Canada is expected to chip in an additional $9.5 billion. In exchange for that $30.1 billion in financing, Capitol Hill will receive a 60% share of GM, while Canada's investment will reportedly net it a 12% stake.

In related news, Automotive News is reporting that GM will appoint Al Koch to a newly created chief restructuring officer post. Koch, a corporate turnaround expert, has already been working with GM since January through his advisory firm, AlixPartners LLP. According to AN, Koch will oversee "bad" GM - that is, the liquidation of assets deemed to be dead weight in the drive to a leaner, more competitive GM (think: Hummer, Saturn, Saab, etc.). Recently minted GM CEO, Fritz Henderson, will continue to lead the corporation and, of course, all warranties will continue to be honored.

As part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, GM will see its stock-trading ticker removed from the Dow and S&P 500 on Monday, with those who have still been stubbornly holding on to stocks effectively losing everything.

President Obama will address the nation on GM's historic bankruptcy beginning at 11:55 a.m. EDT, with Fritz Henderson slated to address media members at around 12:15 p.m. in New York.

[Source: Automotive News - subs. req. | Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty]

REPORT: GM to declare bankruptcy before markets open, chief restructuring officer named originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 May 2009 23:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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PSA: If you’re going to impersonate the police, you might not want to call for backup

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The dispatcher had no idea who was interloping on the Ontario, Ohio police frequency. The mystery caller called himself Fred and requested a marked unit. When pressed to identify what department the call was coming from, a shaky answer of "Um, auxiliary patrol" came modulating weakly back. The exchange failed to pass the smell test, so Fred Heitzman indeed got his requested marked car -- it came for him. Heitzman, you see, allegedly has a habit of playing police officer without anything more than a strobed-up car.

Regardless of your intentions, it's not legal to pull people over, as Heitzman has been charged with doing on at least two separate occasions, during which he asked women for ID after stopping them, and proceeded to chide them about their driving. One of the most conspicuous (and conspicuously stupid) things you could do when playing pretend policeman is to hail the real police on their radios. As Heitzman discovered, the men in blue would like the impostors to leave the police work to the real professionals.

[Source: 10TV]

PSA: If you're going to impersonate the police, you might not want to call for backup originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 May 2009 19:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Hamann does its thing to the new BMW 7 Series

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Click above for a hi-res gallery of the new Hamann BMW 7 Series

The arrival of the new F01 BMW 7 Series means that aftermarket companies have a new toy upon which to apply their talents. Enter Hamann, the German tuner with a penchant for Lambo-dooring, among other things. Thankfully, the firm's workup of the all-new 7 Series leaves the factory door hinges intact, but that's about it. A new aero kit makes the big sedan less vanilla-looking with updated fascias, skirts and spoilers on both the rear decklid and roof. Naturally, a lowered suspension is offered, which, when combined with a selection of new wheels and the aforementioned bodywork, gives the über-Bimmer a nastier stance. Inside, Hamann will fully customize the cabin appointments to your taste, or lack thereof. The Hamann 7 Series isn't necessarily all show, either -- an available sport exhaust upgrade for the 730d bumps power by 45 horses for a total of 290. Hamann's unlikely to stop with this batch of initial offerings, so more extreme modifications are probably inevitable. Just resist that primal urge on the butterfly doors, okay guys?




[Source: Hamann]

Continue reading Hamann does its thing to the new BMW 7 Series

Hamann does its thing to the new BMW 7 Series originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 May 2009 18:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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First 2010 Subaru Legacy rolls off the line in Indiana

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Click above for a hi-res gallery of the 2010 Subaru Legacy

The 5th-generation Subaru Legacy has officially begun production, with the first car rolling off the Lafayette, Indiana assembly line late last week to confetti-strewn, ribbon-cutting fanfare. In keeping with Subaru's recent new-model introductions, beginning with the current Impreza and continuing with the new Forester, the 2010 Subaru Legacy wears controversial new bodywork that abandons the elegantly understated lines of the outgoing model in favor of a more stylized (overstyled?) face attached to a car that has grown dimensionally in order to be better-positioned against the likes of the Honda Accord. With production now underway, look for the new Subaru Legacy to start arriving in U.S. showrooms by July. We'll weigh in with our impressions of the car as soon as we can get our hands on one. Thanks to Steve B. for the tip!


[Source: JConline.com]

First 2010 Subaru Legacy rolls off the line in Indiana originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 May 2009 17:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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First 2010 Subaru Legacy rolls off the line in Indiana

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Click above for a hi-res gallery of the 2010 Subaru Legacy

The 5th-generation Subaru Legacy has officially begun production, with the first car rolling off the Lafayette, Indiana assembly line late last week to confetti-strewn, ribbon-cutting fanfare. In keeping with Subaru's recent new-model introductions, beginning with the current Impreza and continuing with the new Forester, the 2010 Subaru Legacy wears controversial new bodywork that abandons the elegantly understated lines of the outgoing model in favor of a more stylized (overstyled?) face attached to a car that has grown dimensionally in order to be better-positioned against the likes of the Honda Accord. With production now underway, look for the new Subaru Legacy to start arriving in U.S. showrooms by July. We'll weigh in with our impressions of the car as soon as we can get our hands on one. Thanks to Steve B. for the tip!


[Source: JConline.com]

First 2010 Subaru Legacy rolls off the line in Indiana originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 May 2009 17:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tier-1 supplier Metaldyne files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy too

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To the roll call of auto industry titans that have gone or are going bankrupt -- Visteon, Chrysler, GM, Saab, Karmann, ASC, Source Interlink -- we can now add Tier 1 supplier Metaldyne, which filed for bankruptcy for its American operations. Metaldyne makes metal bits for car and truck chassis and NVH components.

The company has been restructuring its costs over the past year and a half, shedding $100 million in expenditures and reducing its debt. Still, as of the filing it had debt of $600 million on $2008 sales of $1.57 billion. Metaldyne's parent company, Asahi Tech Corp in Japan, helped the company lower its debt by about $400 million but has now walked away from further financial support.

There are two private equity firms interested in the company: Carlyle Group, which is looking to buy some of Metaldyne's chassis business, and RHJI, which is already a majority shareholder in Metaldyne's parent, Asahi. RHJI would throw about $100 million at the company and inject additional cash to run the business short term, as well as take on additional liabilities. Until (and if ever) a buyer is decided, Metaldyne is running on $18.5 million in debtor-in-possession financing from Deutsche Bank and customer funding.

[Source: Forbes]

Tier-1 supplier Metaldyne files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy too originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 May 2009 16:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tier-1 supplier Metaldyne files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy too

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To the roll call of auto industry titans that have gone or are going bankrupt -- Visteon, Chrysler, GM, Saab, Karmann, ASC, Source Interlink -- we can now add Tier 1 supplier Metaldyne, which filed for bankruptcy for its American operations. Metaldyne makes metal bits for car and truck chassis and NVH components.

The company has been restructuring its costs over the past year and a half, shedding $100 million in expenditures and reducing its debt. Still, as of the filing it had debt of $600 million on $2008 sales of $1.57 billion. Metaldyne's parent company, Asahi Tech Corp in Japan, helped the company lower its debt by about $400 million but has now walked away from further financial support.

There are two private equity firms interested in the company: Carlyle Group, which is looking to buy some of Metaldyne's chassis business, and RHJI, which is already a majority shareholder in Metaldyne's parent, Asahi. RHJI would throw about $100 million at the company and inject additional cash to run the business short term, as well as take on additional liabilities. Until (and if ever) a buyer is decided, Metaldyne is running on $18.5 million in debtor-in-possession financing from Deutsche Bank and customer funding.

[Source: Forbes]

Tier-1 supplier Metaldyne files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy too originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 May 2009 16:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Roofless Tyrant: Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport enters production

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Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport - Click above for a high-res image gallery

The marque's faithful (read: the obscenely wealthy) have been waiting a long time for a convertible Bugatti. The last time a roadster rolled out of Molsheim was in the company's heyday before WWII, and despite our teenage fantasies, no roofless EB110 ever materialized from the Romano Artioli era. But after over a half century's wait, Bugatti has officially returned to the world of open-air motoring.

The most exclusive of exclusive automakers came to Pebble Beach last year with the Veyron Grand Sport, and auctioned off the first example for a whopping $2.19 million. Now the targa-topped Veyron is officially beginning its production run, with deliveries to commence in July. If you're one of those who's been waiting for the opportunity, good economy or bad, you'd better act quickly: Bugatti is only making 150 examples of the world's fastest roadster, with the first 50 units going to existing Veyron owners. Asking price, before the inevitable succession of special editions, is nearly $2 million, which ought to make your eyes water even more than the air kissing your face at 224 mph. Check out the details in the press release after the jump and the fresh crop of high-res images added to the gallery below.



[Source: Bugatti]

Continue reading Roofless Tyrant: Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport enters production

Roofless Tyrant: Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport enters production originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 May 2009 15:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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UPDATE: Bailey Blade prototype expected in October

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Remember the Bailey Blade coupe being created by Neal Bailey in his Texas garage? Not only is Neal still at it, but he tells us he'll have at least one, possibly three, prototypes ready for testing in October. That's a big change in status from the last time we checked in on Neal in November. Back then he was having serious funding problems but was keeping the dream alive by soliciting small investments from enthusiasts.

Seven months later, things are much sunnier for what's now known as BXR Motors. Neal has moved the project out of his garage to a much larger facility at MotorSport Ranch in Cresson, Texas; hired a consultant to help work out a business plan; and, most importantly, attracted a private investor, which has allowed Neal to focus on the car's development full-time.

"Getting an investor has not changed development process of the Blade at all," Neal told us via email. "However, developing a business plan and strategy has greatly educated us in the world of business and venture capital investments. There is a great deal to learn as developing a business plan like this is almost as difficult as developing the car itself. The business plan and marketing strategy has helped us to focus on making sure that we succeed. It forces you to take a deeper look into the project and apply real numbers to see if this dream will produce real profits. As for pressure from our investor, there has been little involvement. The investor has seen our plan and the engineering behind it and simply wants us to succeed."

Neal says with the investor's funding, he has confidence he'll have at least one -- hopefully three -- Blade prototypes ready by October for road testing. Neal has stayed true to the original design, applying just a few tweaks to update the look.

Click through the jump to read much more about the Blade's development.



Continue reading UPDATE: Bailey Blade prototype expected in October

UPDATE: Bailey Blade prototype expected in October originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 May 2009 13:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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German government approves majority sale of Opel to Magna, Russians

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With General Motors expected to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York on Monday morning, negotiators in Germany scrambled to finalize a deal to save Opel from insolvency. Following a six-hour meeting in the German Chancellor's office in Berlin on Friday evening, a deal was finally announced by finance minister Peer Steinbrueck. Although an overall deal to transfer control of Opel from General Motors was reached, details are still being worked out and a final contract won't be signed for several more weeks.

Under the deal announced early Saturday morning, GM will retain a 35-percent stake in Opel, which would allow the automaker to continue sharing technology with the German brand. Russia's government-controlled Sberbank is providing most of the financing for the deal and also gets a 35-percent share. Canadian auto parts maker and contract assembler Magna International will own 20 percent and the remaining 10 percent will go to Opel employees.

The German government will also provide a $2.1 billion bridge loan to Opel to help it keep operating during the transition phase. A key to the deal was German government demands that Opel assets be protected from GM creditors during a US bankruptcy proceeding. Opel will apparently be placed into some sort of trust in order to keep it whole and preserve its value for the new majority owners. President Barack Obama agreed to the deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a late-night phone call.

It's not known at this point how GM's UK operations at Vauxhalll figure in to all of this and whether any of it will be preserved, consolidated into Opel, or sold off separately.

[Source: Reuters]

German government approves majority sale of Opel to Magna, Russians originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 May 2009 11:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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