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RepairPal Blog:

Industry News

Important info from government agencies and the automotive industry

Our Technical Advisor Robert Isbell recently was asked to evaluate a local automotive repair program for certification, and as a service to our users, we would like to present a glimpse into the technician training process to help understand what it takes to be a highly trained automotive technician.

Technicians Education Certification

One of my favorite new products in the automotive industry is the new Ford Work Solutions. This unique system incorporates existing technologies to assist those who use their Ford Truck or Van as a work vehicle. Ford Work Solutions is available on 2009 Ford F-150, Super Duty, E-Series vans and the upcoming 2010 Ford Transit Connect.

Ford Work Solutions includes 4 features:

It looks like Chrysler is getting remarried! This time it's to an Italian bride. Fiat will be taking a 35% stake in Chrysler in exchange for no cash or stock. The Italian automaker (also owner of Ferrari and Maserati) will help Chrysler develop smaller cars and revamp their production techniques with the latest technologies. Chrysler will gain access to Fiat's European distribution network while offering up the Chrysler distribution channel in the US to help reintroduce both Alfa Romeos and Fiats.

Let's hope this marriage is better than Chrysler's last one to Daimler - that one ended in a bitter divorce after 10 years in 2007. For those who didn't figure it out, the above image is a what the Chrysler/Fiat baby will look like (2009 Dodge Ram 1500 and a Fiat Qubo).

According to Automotive News, recent comments from GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz indicate that after putting Saab under "strategic review", no potential buyers have surfaced. GM has been privately looking for buyers for Saab as the company looks to shed all but its core brands.

One potential option for Saab is to take money from the Swedish government, which said in December that they would make 25 billion kronor (equivalent to $3.19 billion) available to Saab and Ford's Volvo division as a loan. The folks in charge of Saab have yet to decide if they will take the Swedes up on the offer but given Saab's nearly 35% decline in sales year over year, I'm betting they do.

Several automakers have posted sales numbers for December 2008, and compared to December 2007 the numbers are staggering!  Chrysler -53%, Toyota -37%, Ford -32%, and VW -14%!

When you look at 2008 as a whole, all but Subaru posted a decline in sales. While Subaru was down almost 8% in December, they posted a gain of 0.3% for the year, compared to GM -23%, Ford -21% and Volkswagen -3.2%! This is good news to the relatively small Subaru (total sales of 187,700 units), and even though they forecast flat numbers for 2009, they have to be encouraged when other car makers are projecting declines of 15-20%.

Aftermarket News is reporting today that the Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association (APRA) is voicing strong opposition to creating a nationwide “Cash for Clunkers” program, which lawmakers may be considering as part of any upcoming federal economic stimulus plan.

In California, we're familiar with "Cash for Clunkers" programs, in which the State uses tax dollars to purchase older cars from owners, and then destroys the vehicles.  The goal of the California program has been to remove "gross polluters" from the road as part of the State's strict Smog control regulations.

You may have simply had it with your old car and the repairs are costing more than you’d like. (Hopefully you’ve checked the RepairPal Price Estimator). If that’s the case, you may want to consider donating your car to a charity.  And…with 2009 rapidly approaching, you may need a tax write-off for 2008.

There are two big things to consider when donating your car:

After Congress failed to pass a bill to help the US auto industry, today President Bush approved $13.4 billion in immediate relief to GM and Chrysler and another $4 billion in February. This is a very big deal for the automakers - many analysts believe them to be days away from running out of money. The tricky part about this loan is that they need to pay it back in the next 3 months. That means there will be massive cuts at both GM and Chrysler to the tune of $13.4 billion to settle up with Uncle Sam come the end of March.

It will be up to the Obama administration to decide if additional government support is warranted and deserved. The much talked about "Car Czar" will be Treasury Secretary Paulson for the time being. This massive chunk of change will come from the $700 billion set aside for the financial industry bailout. Stay tuned as there will be major changes in the coming weeks and months to the face of the American car industry.

In response to the ongoing economic downturn, Chrysler announced that it will close all of their U.S. automobile factories for one month. Although they were scheduled to close for a two week holiday, the extra closure time comes as other U.S. and Foreign auto makers are planning extended production cuts.

Chrysler plans to keep their plants closed until January 19th, but even that date is in question. Unless vehicles start moving from the current inventory, the closures may last even longer. General Motors announced cut production and temporarily close 20 factories. Ford has said it will extend their closures by one week and even Honda and Toyota are cutting production.

It was just six weeks ago that Honda Motors gave a profit forecast of $5.5 billion for 2008. As of today that forecast is being cut 62% to $2.1 billion. Honda's announcement of the sudden change in forecast and future prospects demonstrates that not even Honda is immune from the global financial troubles.

Honda plans to not renew contracts with temporary workers as well as halting development on diesel engines, the successor to the NSX sportscar and it's Formula One sponsorship all in an effort to curb expendatures. They also plan to delay opening its new flagship production facility in Tokyo and cutting executive pay.