Week in Review: Fisker Resigns, Big Rig Designs, and Obama Reads Between the Lines
Sometimes after an auto show, we're sitting on our hands until our desks fill with news again. Not so this week. Following the Geneva Motor Show, we were inundated with happenings throughout the auto industry--some good, some not so good, and some making us wonder what's going to happen next. No, seriously, this week played out like a soap opera; we're leaning into the figurative TV in suspense. Monday, March 11 Word has it that after the Mercedes-Benz GLK and the smaller GLA, the German automaker is planning on making something a little smaller still and a bit more rugged. Called the City-G or the GLG, the tiny Mercedes SUV will be modeled after the bruiser G-Class, but it will ride on a smaller version of the GLA's platform. According to an insider from Mercedes, the City-G is all but certain, as it's set to compete most directly with the next-generation Land Rover Defender that will likely share plenty with 2011's DC100 concept. It's just a matter of when--not if. Tuesday, March 12 The U.S. Treasury still owns a decent chunk of General Motors. But it shed more of its ownership last month as the government divests itself of the automaker. The Treasury sold at least 17.2 million shares of GM, amassing nearly $500 million. That sounds like a lot, except that GM's stock is currently trading hands around $28 per share; the government needs to sell its remaining shares for around $72 per share to break even. It's estimated that there will be a $12 billion bloodletting at current prices, and that could stretch to as much as $20 billion. Wednesday, March 13 Fisker Automotive co-founder Henrik Fisker stepped down in a surprising move, prompting us to chalk this one up to a vote of no confidence in the company that bears his name. Word has it that internal politics did Fisker himself in, and we wonder just what. The company just hired on a new CEO a few months back, and it is readying its compact Atlantic sedan for production. But Fisker hasn't made a car in months as its battery supplier, A123, went bust. Word has it a few Chinese firms are shopping around to pick up the brand, too. Is Fisker--the company--long for this world? Thursday, March 14 The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety looked into a different sort of accident: collisions with tractor trailers. All big rig trailers are supposed to have low-hanging bars to prevent your average car from sliding underneath them in the case of a collision. But some work better than others. The IIHS tested eight trailers that represent 80 percent of the market, crashing a Chevrolet Malibu into the back of them in full, 50-percent, and 25-percent impacts. Some did well; some improved from their 2010 results. Check it out. The video is worth the watch. Friday, March 15 President Barack Obama has asked Congress for $2 billion over the next 10 years to fund alternative fuel technologies. Requesting to pull funds from the agreements the U.S. has with oil companies to search for new oil on its territory, the monies will go towards powering electric and hydrogen solutions. New to Obama's plan is natural gas, which has been a sticking point with left-leaning environmentalists. Obama is looking for bipartisan support, though. Could this work? Or would a better idea be to limit petroleum exploration altogether?
It's a little difficult to talk about new projects when your country is $17 trillion in debt, but President...