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AutoLine: Episode 182 - New GM Emerges, Lutz Stays Aboard, Japanese Autos Struggle in U.S.

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The new General Motors officially began this morning. Bob Lutz is staying on as vice chairman of GM in charge of all creative elements in product and customer relations. Suzuki and Mitsubishi are advised to drop out of the American market. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit, all about the latest car ads on TV.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. GM roars out of bankruptcy in record time. Lutz decides not to retire. And Suzuki and Mitsubishi are advised to drop out of the American market.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, July 10, 2009. And now, the news.

The new General Motors officially began at 6:30 this morning. GM CEO Fritz Henderson will also take over all North American operations, Troy Clark’s job as president of NAO is eliminated. The strategy board and automotive product board are also eliminated, replaced by a smaller executive committee. All international operations will now report to Nick Reilly who will remain headquartered in Shanghai.

Also, 77-year-old Bob Lutz is staying on as vice chairman of the company in charge of all creative elements in product and customer relations. GM says he’ll be working as a team with Tom Stephens who took over Lutz’s old job, and with Ed Welburn who’s head of GM Design.

Cash for clunkers programs in Europe have been successful in boosting sales but Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn warns that when these incentives expire at the end of the year, it’s going to hurt car sales next year. According to Bloomberg, Ghosn sees 2010 as a difficult year and doesn’t see a recovery in sales. He also said governments should prepare additional measures to “avoid a shock” when the programs end.

Citing falling sales and excess manufacturing capacity in the U.S., a Japanese economic analyst says Suzuki and Mitsubishi should leave the American market. Suzuki’s sales fell 80 percent last month and Mitsubishi’s sales have been cut in half. According to Bloomberg, Mitsubishi shut down its U.S. design studio earlier in the year and its plant in Illinois is now operating at just 10 percent of its capacity. Suzuki’s joint plant with GM in Canada stopped making the XL7 this year and it hasn’t announced a new vehicle to be built there.

With comedian Jay Leno on hand, Jaguar unveiled its brand-new XJ in London. Looking a lot like its smaller sibling, the XF, the redesigned flagship offers a host of luxury features and a striking design. Powering the new big cat is a lineup of engines ranging from a 3.0-liter diesel V6 to a range-topping supercharged V8. Aiding performance is a light-weight aluminum body that the company claims makes the car about 150 kilograms - or roughly 330 pounds lighter than its competition. Standard- and long-wheelbase models will be available from launch. Depending on where you live, you can advance order the new XJ, with deliveries starting early next year. Pricing starts at (gulp) £52,000 or right about $85,000!

Autoblog is running this story. Apparently MINI has been caught testing a crossover in the California desert. The prototype sports a psychedelic black and yellow camouflage pattern, but that’s not enough to hide the extra rear doors and high-riding stance. It looks like the company is moving forward with production of the MINI Crossover Concept that debuted at last year’s Paris Motor Show.

Coming up next, a preview of this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit, all about the latest car ads on TV.

This week’s episode of Autoline is all about how automakers advertise in a desperate economic climate and how they put a spotlight on their brands. Joining me to discuss the ads that are out there right now are Bud Liebler, former head of Chrysler advertising and marketing, David Kiley of BusinessWeek and Jean Halliday of Advertising age. In the following snippet, we talk about Buick’s latest ads and whether or not they can really work.

As always, you can watch the entire episode of Autoline on our website right now.

Ok, it’s Friday and you all know what that means. It’s payday … I mean, it’s time to announce the winner of this week’s trivia contest. We threw-down the gauntlet and challenged you to tell us what defunct Chrysler brand was closed-down in 1960. And the answer is … Plymouth! No, no, just kidding! Everybody knows they were shuttered in 2001, the correct answer is … DeSoto. Named after Spanish conquistador Hernandez de Soto, the brand was axed from the Chrysler lineup way back in 1960. As always, we randomly selected this week’s winner from the pool of correct responses. And that lucky person is … Ron Halsey of Tacoma, Washington. Congratulations Ron, you’ve just won a book about and poster of the Jaguar XK concept.

Anyway, that’ll do it for Autoline Daily this week. Thanks for watching, have a great weekend and we’ll see you Monday.



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From the South Park episode #310 "Chinpokomon": "We at the Japan Toy Company are very concerned with your concerns".

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