As consumers pile back into the market for a new car, the good news is that high-value auto manufacturing jobs keep getting added, and in cities that can sure use the help.
Automakers rolled out the red carpet for Hollywood debuts of their latest concepts and new models at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. This year we noticed that a bit of the tech you'd expect from CES seemed to be invading the space--much like automakers are invading CES. There was a connected car consortium display on the ground floor, along with the futuristic Design Challenge and all around news about upcoming technologies for 2013 and beyond.
Turn back the clock to 2006, when Ford Motor Company announced it was taking flex-fuel vehicles seriously. That year, the company built 185,000 autos that could run on gasoline, ethanol or any combination of the two up to E85 (85 percent ethanol). Ford also pledged that the company's production of flex-fuel vehicles would double by 2010.
Let's sit down for a moment and think back to 1988. Have a clear picture yet? Neither did we, at first, so here's a refresher. Back then, environmentalists were likened to extremists. Their viewpoints were thought to be so far-fetched and disconnected from popular views that they were outsiders, even weirdos. In some ways, Bill Ford fit into that group of crazy environmentalists. Not a major problem, unless you're hired as the director of Ford Motor Company – then it's a huge complication.
Ford executive chairman Bill Ford closed out the 2010 SAE World Congress with a reminder: "All the early cars were electric." Why do so few people remember that electric cars date back more than a hundred years? Ford suggested it's because, electric cars have "been around really for the past century or so, but they really haven't had mass market appeal." There's the answer: without mass market appeal, technologies will be forgotten.
Ford Motor Company's development of upcoming battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) has been, so far, an outside job. Electric versions of the Transit Connect and the Ford Focus were developed with the help of suppliers Azure Dynamics Inc. and Magna International Inc., but Ford has not ruled out producing future BEVs in-house. As Ford's director of electrification programs Sherif Marakby stated:
Automakers are constantly questioned about their choices. From green-lighting production of an awful vehicle to offering gadgets and gizmos that consumers don't want, it seems automakers regularly make some less-than-ideal decisions. Sometimes, though, it's what automakers don't offer that creates a stir, the diesel engine being a prime example. U.S. buyers have been left out in the cold while Europeans enjoy their wonderfully efficient, diesel-powered vehicles.
It's going to cost up to $2 billion for Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. to take ownership of Volvo, but according to a new report out of BusinessWeek, that lofty figure is just the cost of entry. Volvo union members and the board have apparently told the Chinese automaker that it will need at least $1.4 billion to repair the storied Swedish automaker.
Just about a month ago, news hit the interwebs that Chinese automaker Geely officially became Ford's preferred bidder for Volvo once concerns over intellectual property were sorted out. Today, though, we're hearing that Crown, a consortium led by former Ford director Michael Dingman, former Ford and Chrysler LLC executive Shamel Rushwin and ex-Volvo CEO Roger Holtback, is gaining momentum in its bid for the Swedish automaker after submitting a revised proposal.
On the surface, at least, news that a company lost $1.4 billion wouldn't normally be greeted as good news by Wall Street. However, the Ford Motor company's just-published quarterly earning reports have done just that, with the stock trading 15% ahead of yesterday and the entire Dow Jones stock market perking up at the news.