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Inside this issue
Opinion: Echoes of GM's Ordeal in Europe, Detroit Fiscal Follies
Ford to Cease Vehicle Production in Australia
Chrysler Urges Congress to Speed Trade
Bidders Circle Fisker
China Should Stop 'Micromanaging' Auto Industry, Researcher Says
Mad Men: Chevy Seeks Marketing Mileage from Vega Theme
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Opinion: Echoes of GM's Ordeal in Europe, Detroit Fiscal Follies
By Tom Walsh

History tells us that if you don't take action to fix what ails you quickly,” Paul Ballew told me over coffee Tuesday, “radical surgery will be required.” He was talking about General Motors. And about Italy, Greece and other wobbly European economies. And about Detroit, as the city braces for a possible trip to the municipal intensive care unit known as Chapter 9 bankruptcy. “There are so many parallels in these stories, it's remarkable,” said Ballew, a former Federal Reserve economist who was GM's chief data analyst from 1998-2007 and now has a similar role with Dun & Bradstreet, the business information giant based in Short Hills, N.J. His present-day take on Detroit's automakers, suppliers and the U.S. economy overall was encouragingly upbeat.
Source: Detroit Free Press
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Ford to Cease Vehicle Production in Australia

Ford Motor Co. will stop manufacturing vehicles in Australia in 2016, a continent where the Dearborn automaker has produced automobiles for about nine decades. Ford on Wednesday said two manufacturing sites — Broadmeadows and Geelong — will close, resulting in 1,200 job losses. Ford said it has lost about $581 million in Australia in the last three years. “All of us at Ford remain committed to our long history of serving Australian customers with the very best vehicles that deliver cutting-edge technology at an affordable cost,” said Bob Graziano, president and CEO of Ford Australia, in a statement. “Unfortunately, due to challenging market conditions we are unable to do that longer-term while continuing to manufacture locally.”
Source: The Detroit News
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Chrysler Urges Congress to Speed Trade

Chrysler Group LLC urged a Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday to approve legislation that will make it easier for the automaker to speed vehicle and parts shipments across North American borders. Chrysler's director for worldwide logistics and customs, William Cook, testified that the automaker's success requires timely deliveries. “Because of the significant volume of trade involved, coupled with the company's reliance on just-in-time inventory management practices, Chrysler's ability to import and export vehicles and parts in an efficient and timely fashion is critical,” said Cook.
Source: The Detroit News
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Bidders Circle Fisker

At least two investor groups have expressed interest in salvaging Fisker Automotive Inc., the troubled maker of luxury plug-in hybrid cars, but their proposals would require the Obama administration to accept pennies on the dollar to retire a taxpayer-funded loan. One group maneuvering for control of Fisker includes Wanxiang Group, the Chinese auto-parts maker that bought electric-car battery supplier A123 Systems Inc. out of bankruptcy, and VL Automotive, a startup company that has considered using Fisker's Karma sedan as the shell for a high-powered gasoline-fueled sports car. The Wanxiang-VL Automotive group is proposing a so-called stalking horse bid for some of Fisker's assets in a prearranged bankruptcy filing, according to people familiar with the discussions. Wanxiang and VL Automotive—which counts former General Motors Co. GM -3.10% Vice Chairman Bob Lutz among its backers—would pay about $20 million for some Fisker assets, but not the former GM assembly plant in Wilmington, Del., that it owns, those people said.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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China Should Stop 'Micromanaging' Auto Industry, Researcher Says

China should refrain from “micromanaging” the automotive industry and allow market competition to spur innovation and weed out weaker automakers, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said in a report. The government should focus instead on building a fair and competitive environment and abandon monopolistic polices aimed at creating fewer and bigger automakers, the state-backed research institute said in an annual report on industrial competitiveness released this week. China's auto market is dominated by foreign joint ventures, which accounted for 95 percent of passenger-vehicle profits in 2011, according to the academy. Chinese automakers are overly reliant on their foreign partners like GM and Toyota Motor Corp., which retain tight control over key functions such as research and development, branding, design, and components, the report said.
Source: Bloomberg

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Mad Men: Chevy Seeks Marketing Mileage from Vega Theme

The plot of Mad Men, the hit AMC show about a 1960s advertising agency, is revolving in part these days around the Chevrolet Vega, a compact car that developed a reputation for burning oil, blowing gaskets, rusting rapidly and generally falling apart. Yes, it is safe to say the Vega was a lemon. You could even call it the lemon. But today, more than 35 years after the last Vega rolled off the Lordstown, Ohio, assembly line, Chevy may finally enjoy some lemonade. The company, which said it had no part in getting its brand onto the show, is asking its followers on Twitter to share their thoughts on how the lead character, ad executive Don Draper, will pitch the new car. In the latest episode he mentioned a big idea but didn't reveal details. So, borrowing a line from the show, Chevy asked, “Do you have any idea what the idea is?” The company said it has received a steady flow of submissions and will share the best of them soon.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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Quotable
"The healing process has gone faster and better than we ever assumed it would." 

   
-- Paul Ballew, a former Federal Reserve economist who was GM's chief data analyst from 1998-2007 and now has a similar role with Dun & Bradstreet, commenting on the upbeat outlook for Detroit's automakers, suppliers and the U.S. economy overall, Detroit Free Press, May 22
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