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Episode 284 – GM Expands In India, Suzuki’s Kizashi Challenge, Unique Traffic Light

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GM and its Chinese partner SAIC will form a new joint venture in India. Suzuki is offering a special incentive if you test drive its new Kizashi sedan. A designer has come up with a unique stoplight with a built-in timer. All that and more, plus John gives us the latest news from the LA Auto Show.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .


Here are today’s top headlines. GM expands in India. Suzuki offers a unique incentive on its new Kizashi sedan. And a designer creates a unique traffic light.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, December 4, 2009. I’m Rod Meloni Business Editor from WDIV-TV Local Four News in Detroit, filling in for John who’s still out in sunny Southern California covering the LA Auto Show. We’ll hear the latest from him in the second-half of the show, but first, here are today’s top stories.

As we’ve reported, GM and its Chinese partner SAIC will form a new joint venture in India, but now we know some more details. According to Bloomberg, GM will transfer a portion of its stake in the Chinese venture, to give majority control to SAIC. And the two will form an equal partnership in India to build and sell small cars and commercial vehicles. GM is agreeing to the deal in order to gain a foothold in India and to also get the cooperation of the Chinese government on other issues. The Indian alliance is expected to reach an annual production of 225,000 units by 2012.

GM and Chrysler are reconsidering plans to shut down some of their dealers. The two companies are trying to avoid government legislation that would force them to keep some open. Dealers will get the chance to state their case in binding arbitration hearings… but many feel it’s not enough and say GM and Chrysler need to be more transparent about what criteria they must meet in order to stay open. Earlier in the year, while in bankruptcy, GM and Chrysler announced they would close thousands of dealerships in order to restructure.

Yesterday we reported that Ford and Mazda are parting, and now it looks like GM and Suzuki may be following suit (subscription required). According to the Wall Street Journal, the Japanese automaker plans to sell its stake in the 50-50 joint venture the two companies have in Ontario, Canada to GM. The CAMI Automotive facility is where GM builds its popular Equinox and Terrain crossovers and the two have worked together there for more than 20 years. No word yet on when the sale will go through or how much it’s worth.

In other Suzuki news, the company must be really confident in its new midsize sedan, the Kizashi, because it’s offering a special incentive if you test drive one. Autoblog reports that that it’s putting its money where its mouth is with the “Kizashi Test Drive Challenge.” They’ll give you 100 bucks if you try the company’s new sedan AND THEN buy either a new Audi A4 or an Acura TSX. Talk about aiming high. The program runs through January 31, 2010, and there are a few other rules and stipulations. Check the link in today’s transcript for more information about this incentive.

Here’s an interesting concept for a traffic light. Autoblog reports that designer Damjan Stankovic has come up with a unique stoplight with a built-in timer. The red light has an outer ring around it that shows how long it has until it changes. This is handy if you’re rolling up to the light and it’s about to go green, you can just slow down instead of stopping completely. Also, if you’re stopped and you drive a car with a manual transmission you can put the car in gear so you’re ready to go as soon as it changes. It’d also be handy for drag racing … overall a pretty cool idea that’s kind of a no-brainer.

Coming up next, McElroy brings us MORE from the FLOOR of the LA Auto Show with another update. Anyway, I’m Rod Meloni, WDIV Channel 4 News, Detroit. Thanks for watching, I’ll see you next time.

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

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