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AutoLine: Episode 275 – Volvo Unions Meet With Geely, Hyundai Plant in Mexico, Electric Supercharger

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Volvo’s unions are meeting with Chinese automaker Geely and want to know where its getting the money to finance the deal to buy Volvo. Hyundai may build a third North American plant in Mexico. Could electric superchargers be the wave of the future? All that and more, plus a look at the new Porsche Panamera.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

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Here are today’s top headlines. Volvo’s unions want to know where Geely is getting its money. Hyundai may build a plant in Mexico. And a new kind of supercharger, an electric supercharger.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, November 19, 2009. And now, the news.

Bloomberg is reporting that Volvo’s unions are meeting with Chinese automaker Geely today because they want to know where Geely is getting the money to finance the deal to buy Volvo. But Geely isn’t saying, and the unions are concerned that it may be the Chinese government that is backing the deal and may ultimately want to move production to China. They want commitments to keep jobs and production in Sweden and Belgium. Interestingly, there are four different unions at Volvo for line workers, for engineers, and for managers.

The AFP reports that a trade pact between the U.S. and South Korea is being held up as members in the U.S. Congress want more market access for American cars. It says that South Korea is open to talk about this issue, but does not want to renegotiate the treaty. As we reported earlier in the month, South Korea exported over 500,000 vehicles to the U.S., while America automakers sold fewer than 7,000 cars in Korea.

Hyundai may build a third North American plant in Mexico. According to Edmunds Inside Line, a Mexican government agency says its currently negotiating with Hyundai to build a plant in the country. The new plant might produce the Hyundai Accent and the Kia Rio starting in 2013 and have a capacity of 150,000 units. With the third plant, Hyundai will have the capability of building over 800,000 vehicles a year in North America.

Is China changing colors from red to green? Last week automaker BAIC launched a new subsidiary that focuses on building environmentally friendly vehicles (subscription required). According to Ward’s, the Beijing New Energy Automotive Company will spearhead all kinds of EV work from research and development to production and sales. Starting in 2011, the company expects to build between 20,000 and 40,000 “new-energy” cars per year. Recently BAIC displayed an EV called the BE701. It has a top speed of 100 miles an hour and a range of 125 miles on a full charge.

And as long as we’re talking about China, Changan Automobile is considering acquiring Italian design studio, IDEA (subscription required). According to Wards, IDEA has been a major contractor to Fiat providing things like design and engineering service but Fiat decided to cancel all contracts with consultants. Because of this and the economic downturn it’s believed IDEA will be forced to sell its business. The company has already worked with Changan helping design its Benben Sport model. Changan is expected to make a decision by the end of the year.

Could electric superchargers be the wave of the future? Ward’s reports that a company called Controlled Power Technologies will have a system in production late next year (subscription required). The idea is to use an electric supercharger in short bursts to boost low-end torque on small engines. Preferably it would be paired with a turbocharger. The electric blower spins up to 70,000 RPM in three tenths of a second and can provide boost until the turbo is spooled up. The idea is to tie this technology in with stop/start systems because as you’d expect, conventional car batteries don’t have enough juice to repeatedly spin a supercharger. Vehicles that are stop/start capable already have brawnier batteries that can handle deep discharges.

Coming up next, a look at Porsche’s controversial new four-door, the Panamera.

For the first time in its history Porsche is building a four-door sedan, the Panamera. Recently, I had a chance to test drive one, and here’s my look at this car.

Don’t forget to tune in for Autoline After Hours, our live, weekly webcast where we get into the behind-the-scenes information as to what’s going on in the auto industry, the kind of info that is typically off the record. That’s tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern, live at www.autolinedetroit.tv.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950



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