Fiat woos German ministers in attempt to take control of Opel

May 3, 2009 at 9:53 pm

(Source: Timesonline, UK)

Fiat last night set out its blueprint to reshape the global car industry, outlining plans to spin off a new company that will include General Motors’ European business and Chrysler.

 The Italian car manufacturer meets German ministers today to set out a plan that would bring GM’s Vauxhall, Saab and Opel into a company with Fiat’s core car marques, including Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari.

The company said last night that the possible new company, which would be floated, would have revenues of €80 billion (£71 billion) and an output of between six million and seven millon vehicles a year, which Fiat believes will give it the necessary scale to weather the crisis besetting the automotive industry. The proposed company would be the second largest car group in the world.

In Britain, unions have hinted that a Fiat takeover of Vauxhall would put at risk 5,000 jobs at Luton and in Cheshire. GM employs 300,000 workers worldwide.

GM has struggled to find a buyer for its non-core businesses as it seeks to avoid following Chrysler into bankruptcy. But Fiat faces some German opposition over its ownership of Opel, GM’s German subsidiary.

Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of Fiat, will today meet the Economy Minister and the Foreign Minister of Germany. Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the Economy Minister, warned that the German Government required a long-term strategy.

In an interview with a German newspaper, he said: “We will not enter into any financial adventure with taxpayer money. The concept must clearly show that Opel plants in Europe that are to be kept open will be secured over the long term.”

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has suggested the German Government could offer loan gaurantees to help safeguard jobs at Opel.

Fiat wants to acquire Opel after its eleventh-hour deal last Thursday to buy an initial 20 per cent of Chrysler. The company believes that it needs a partner to reach the scale of production necessary to weather the crisis besetting the motor industry.

Fiat’s overtures to Opel quickly follow its agreement to enter a partnership with Chrysler after it emerges from bankruptcy. Fiat will share its fuel-efficient technology in return for gaining a stake that will eventually turn into a majority holding in the company. Chrysler filed for bankruptcy after creditors refused to accept a restructuring deal.

In its desperation to avoid following Chrysler into administration, GM has been attempting to offload its unprofitable, non-core assets.

Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter – May 1, 2009

May 3, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Friday, May 1, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057


1) Make Reporting of Bird Strike Data Mandatory

Link to editorial in Newsday:,0,6873146.story


2) Privacy, Cameras and Roadways

Link to story on Drivers .com:


3) GPS Evidence Too Unreliable for Legal Purposes

Link to story in InformationWeek:

4) US Department of Transportation Releases Civil Monitoring Performance Document

Link to story in GPS World:


5) Cloud Computing Could Help Agencies Track Stimulus Funds

Link to story on Nextgov:

6) Delaware DOT’s Diversity Coaching Backfires

Newsletter lists slurs, insults and stereotypes that shouldn’t be used in workplace.

Link to story in The News Journal:


7) Coordinating, Planning and Managing the Effects of Roadway Construction with Technology

Link to information from US DOT:


8) South Dakota Drivers Sign Up for Sobriety Alerts

Link to story in USA Today:

Link to Act Civilized:


9) New Direction for San Diego-Area Transit System

Compass cards replacing paper passes with plastic.

Link to story in The San Diego Union-Tribune:

10) King County Metro Transit Develops New Tools to Keep You in the Loop

Link to story in the Auburn Reporter:


11) New Generation of Cars are ‘Mobile High-Tech Platforms’

Link to story in Engineering News:

News Releases

1) Operation Lifesaver (Canada) Launches Web Site for Kids

2) South Florida Commuter Services Launches Public Transit Promotion to Feature Carpool Video on CNN

3) E-Railsafe Program Helps Union Pacific Ensure Railroad Safety and Security Awareness

Upcoming Events

ACI-NA Small Airports Conference – July 16-17 – St. Louis

Friday Bonus

Don’t expect to see these cars in the mall parking lot anytime soon.

Today in Transportation History

1999 **10th anniversary** – Liberty Bell 7, the space capsule flown by Gus Grissom in 1961, was found on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.


The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday. 

To subscribe send an e-mail to:

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TCN archives:

Questions, comments about the TCN?  Please write the editor, Bernie Wagenblast   

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

Running on thin air! India’s Air Bike Could be a Solution to Pollution

May 1, 2009 at 3:15 pm

A group of Indian engineering students from Ludhiana successfully build a pollution-free motorbike designed to run on air pressure rather than petrol. Video courtesy of Reuters.

 (Source: Wall Street Journal)

Scoopful of GM News – May 1, 2009: Fiat’s Opel tango; Rendered speculation; Commodore comback; e-Bay finds; Collectors items; Mullet of the Law; April Sales

May 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Auto threesome? Fiat CEO confirms pursuing partnership with OpelGM, Opel, Vauxhall, FIAT, UAW/UnionsAs if Fiat doesn’t have enough on its plate while working on an alliance with Chrysler during its bankruptcy proceedings, the Italian automaker’s CEO has finally confirmed that it’s pursuing an alliance with General Motors’ German arm Opel.In the Fiat-owned newspaper La Stampa, CEO Sergio Marchionne said, “Now…from Autoblog

Rendered speculation: Chevrolet Sky-Volt?…disappointment to GM fans was the transformation of the Chevy Volt from concept to production form. The sporty, aggressive concept was to many eyes made too generic for production. One of our readers came up with a novel solution to both problems. Just graft the Volt concept nose onto the Sky and install an adaptation of the Voltec powertrain an…from AutoblogGreen 

REPORT: RWD Commodore platform could underpin Caddies, G8 GT could make a comebackGM, GMC, Australia Pontiac G8 ST – Click above for a high-res image gallery With Pontiac’s death official, Holden stands to lose around $1 billion annually with the demise of the Pontiac G8. However, Holden doesn’t plan to go quiet into night. The Aussie automaker has drawn up plans to offer the rear-wheel drive Commodore platform to Cadillac an…from Autoblog 

Opel Insignia SportTourer OPC: An Audi S4 Avant-Fighter [Rendered Speculation]…heard that GM is pondering whether or not to bring the Insignia over here as a Buick, but with the current financial situation being faced by the General, we won’t believe anything until we see it. While we’re asking questions — How about an Audi RS4 fighter, or is that asking waaaay too much? [illustration via KORSdesign]from Jalopnik 

eBay Finds of the Day: Pontiac Vibe GT-R and G6 GXP SEMA showcars…world GM division. But for a lucky two, that thrill can be experienced every day on their own driveway as two past Pontiac show cars have popped up on eBay Motors for sale.First up is the Pontiac Vibe GT-R that debuted at the 2002 SEMA show in Las Vegas. Boasting a unique Opera Red Metallic paint job, ram-air induction hood scoop, special body-k…from Autoblog

CNBC’s Dennis Kneale Wouldn’t Know A Car If It Hit Him In The Ass [Auto Tech Wars]…in every GM vehicle. That aux-in jack that can be found in every GM product is the same aux-in jack you’ll find in every Toyota product. But more to the point of supposed technological superiority — find me a Toyota or Honda-branded vehicle with a plug-in-play system that works as effortlessly as Ford’s Sync system. Tell you what — Kneal…from Jalopnik 

Pontiac G8 GXP, Solstice Coupe – Future collectors items? [w/POLL]…lost when GM inexplicably dropped classic names like Bonneville, Grand Prix and Grand Am.We’re not going to disagree with that assessment, but it may not be the whole story. If sales figures alone can predict a future classic, perhaps we should rush out and put a new Solstice Coupe GXP in our driveway. We spoke with Pontiac’s media relations man…from Autoblog

Camaro Police Cruiser: Long Mullet Of The Law [Chevy Camaro]The 2010 Chevy Camaro is likely to attract its fair share of police attention. But what if the new Camaro was the police car? Whoa. Rendered gallery below. The detailed photoshop adds much of the features you’d expect from a police car, including the push-bar and an LED light-strip above the roof. Without many additions the Camaro looks the part of…from Jalopnik 

GM Autosales for April fell 33% – Toyota Falls Behind Ford Ford Motor’s vehicle sales dropped 32% last month, but the healthiest of Detroit’s auto makers outsold Toyota in the U.S. for the first time in at least a year. GM’s sales fell 33%.

California Attorney General Gets Wheels Stolen Off Camry Hybrid

May 1, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Yes, it can happpen to anyone!  Even if you are the Attorney General of California.  The thieves in California are probably the best of the breed in this business – sincere & hardworking; they just go about doing their jobs without any discrimination. A brazen thief swiped two wheels off Attorney General Jerry Brown‘s state-owned Toyota Camry Hybrid. Is this schadenfreude or irony?

The theft occurred while Brown was out of town at the state Democratic convention in Sacramento and the car was parked streetside in front of his Oakland Hills home. The thieves left the car up on cinder blocks, observing proper wheel theft etiquette, boldly choosing to take the two street facing wheels rather than the home-facing wheels. 

Amy Morosini, 40, a neighbor of Brown’s, said she was driving with her family to a college reunion on Saturday when she saw the car on a cinder block.

“I kind of just pointed it out to my husband and said, ‘Oh my God, look! Someone stole Jerry’s tires!’ ” Morosini said Thursday.


Th ebest part in this is the sense of humor exhibited by the AG.  Brown said in a message posted on his Facebook page:  

“Even though I am California’s ‘top cop,’ 2 of my tires were stolen. No matter. I got 2 new ones and I’m rolling again!” 

Way to go,  Mr. Brown!  Keep rollin’. BTW, Does the thief know that he stole his own money – the wheels belonged to a tax-payer owned state vehicle.  Looks like California’s  thieves are among the dumbest in business. 

(Source:  SF Gate via Jalopnik)

Is High Speed Rail the Answer? – Critic lashes out at UK’s High-speed rail expansion plans

May 1, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Source: Tree Hugger)

 Is Enthusiasm for High Speed Rail Just Another Speed Addiction?

The world is a confusing place – no sooner do the governments of the world finally start taking high speed rail seriously as an alternative to aviation, and the environmentalists start complaining. First we had Obama’s massive investment in high speed rail, which Jim Kunstler (who else?) described as “perfectly f***ing stupid.”And now UK politicians are limbering up to support a significant upgrade of the country’s rail system – but John Whitelegg over at The Guardian says High Speed Rail is an expensive and counterproductive red herring:

The HSR plan is a large and expensive sledgehammer to crack a modestly sized nut. We could stimulate the economy by building 1,000 miles of HSR, but the sums would not stack up in terms of how many jobs this would create per £100,000 spent.If we really want to create jobs in all local economies, rather than drain them away along a very fast railway line, we could insulate 20m homes; make every house a mini-power station to generate and export its own electricity; sort out extremely poor quality commuter railway lines around all our cities; improve inter-regional rail links; and build 10,000 kms of segregated bike paths to connect every school, hospital, employment site and public building to every residential area.

If you have a word to spare, please visit Tree Hugger and offer your comment.  Alternatively, you can post your comments here and they will be promptly relayed to folks at TreeHugger.  For a better understanding of the HSR initiatives in the US & UK, here are some related TransportGooru articles from the past on this topic. 


How to Choose the Right Alternative-Fuel Car for You – A “Good” decision-making process

May 1, 2009 at 11:23 am

(Source: Good Magazine)

Amidst the clutter of alternative vehicles that are already in the market and the ones just arriving in the market, how would one decide on the “right” vehicle?  Our savvy folks at Good magazine have published an excellent resource that makes this decision-making process less-complicated and easy to navigate.


Whatever happened to hydrogen?

The idea is great: Take the most abundant element in the universe, turn it silently into electricity, and the only byproduct is a wisp of steam. To its fans, the hydrogen fuel cell is a transportation miracle that will cork our carbon output and curb our addiction to foreign oil. To its critics, it’s vaporware.

Are hybrid batteries toxic?

If the forecasts are right, electrons will replace hydrocarbons as the energy source in our cars. Then, of course, we’ll have to face the question of batteries. The batteries favored in hybrid cars—nickel-metal hydride—have an encouraging track record of lasting at least as long as the cars themselves. The lithium-ion batteries used in fully electric cars are similarly enduring. But how bad are they for the planet? Depends on what you do with them when they die.

The amazing Indian Air Car: Coming to America?

Perhaps you have heard that India’s largest automaker, Tata Motors, has created the world’s first commercial car that runs on air. The good news is that they’re bringing it here. A few fun facts:

It is powered by compressed air • Zero Pollution Motors will produce the American version • It’s priced at $17,800 • Reservations in the States will be taken midyear; delivery is early 2010 • ZPM estimates that its Air Car will run up to 1,000 miles per fill-up, and at speeds up to 96 mph • It’s up for the Automotive X Prize (see below), and is considered a front-runner • Made out of fiberglass instead of sheet metal, it’s expected to be safer and easier to repair than a traditional car and rust-proof • It seats six.

Who will build the best 100-mpg car?

After staging a high-profile competition for civilian spaceflight in 2004, the X Prize Foundation now has another $10 million on the table, this time for a 100-mpg car. And after the checkered flag flies and the winning team claims the Progressive Automotive X Prize, there is “no reason you should not be driving a car that gets over 100 miles per gallon,” according to the prize’s creator, Peter Diamandis.

Candid corn: Is ethanol worth it?

A parade of studies has tried to decipher the pros and cons of ethanol. Depending on a multitude of variables, some studies find it environmentally better than gasoline, some much worse. The implications aren’t light: The USDA says that nearly a third of all U.S. corn used this year will go into ethanol production. And globally, food prices have been ratcheted up as more corn is brewed into fuel.

Click here to read the entire article.