Monday, December 21, 2009

Saab's Not Dead Yet

is reporting that, even though GM's deadline for acceptable bids for Saab has passed, Spyker has submitted an 11 point proposal for aquisition of Saab.

Eleven points! With eleven points, it has to be good. After all, anyone who has seen Spinal Tap knows eleven is better than ten.

Friday, December 18, 2009

79.9% Credit Card - What a Deal
First Premier is up to New Tricks

First Premier Bank is famous for its high fee credit cards that are available to anyone, no matter how bad your credit. How do they do it. They charge as much as $259 in an annual fee for a credit card with a balance of $250 to $300.00. It's not uncommon for someone to call us and complain that they are being charged an over limit fee before they've even charged anything. The new credit card bill was supposed to outlaw such practices by capping account fees to 25% of the credit line. According to this article in USA Today, apparently First Premier has found a way around the new law. They'll be charging 79.9% interest to go along with a $75.00 first year fee on a credit card with a maximum credit line of $300.00. The reason for the change: under the new law, annual fees are capped, but interest rates aren't. For more on First Premiere, check out the ripoffreport link here.

The clip is from a great documentary on the credit card industry called Maxed Out.

Sale to Spyker falls through

Although this should come as a surprise to nobody, it was officially announced today that General Motors' sale of Saab to the Spyker company was not going to consumate. The company will immediately begin winding down operations. At least to start, there will be no bankruptcy involved. has some interesting statistics on Saab that tell the story.

Saab's U.S. sales fell 61 percent in the United States through November, to 7,812 units, meaning this year will be the lowest total under 20 years of GM ownership.

GM's peak for Saab was 47,914 in 2003. The company's U.S. high was 48,181 in 1986.

Nationally, Saab had 2,100 vehicles in U.S. inventory as of Dec. 1 -- a 130-day supply. The brand sold just 371 units in November.

The article said that Saab had about 3000 employees. At current sales levels, that's more than 1 employee for every two Saab cars sold. If you figure dealership employees, the ratio is probably greater than 1:1. It's no wonder nobody came through with a package to buy Saab. I always kind of liked Saabs, but never well enough to actually buy one. Apparently I was in good company.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Youtube Video of the Day

"Hey Bob, what have you been doing for the past few months?"
"I've been making a movie."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

NewsFlash: Arcade Claw Games are Rigged

We've always known that claw games were rigged, but we couldn't prove it. that explains just how the games are rigged. They came up with a pdf of a manual for the ACC-1 Arcade Crane Controller. According to the manual, you can set the machine to a winning/losing percentage. In a "winner" round, the pinchers of the crane grasp with maximum force locking in anything it grabs, and the machine can be set so that in a "winner" round, if no prize is dropped in the slot, the player can keep playing until the prize drops. In a predestined "loser" round, the pinchers are set to grab but bleed off pressure until there is just enough pressure to close the jaws without a load. In other words, there's no skill involved. Winning is either a matter of luck or a pure impossibility depending upon how the game is set.

Here's a video of a claw game that picks up live lobsters - maybe, sometimes.

Look Who's Going to Save Saab - Maybe

This from, a weeka fter SAIC, a Chinese automaker, sealed a deal to buy the tooling for the Saab 9-3 and 9-5 models, Sweedish sportscar maker Stryker is the only bidder to take over Saab as a going concern. As TTAC points out, Stryker Stryker lost more money in the first half of this year than they recorded in revenue for all of 2008. Also according to TTAC, Stryker has extensive ties to the Russian mob. All in all, you know that this story is going to have a happy ending.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Surprise Kitty

A natural progression

Cool Auto Gadget

Earlier this year, I finally broke down and Garmin GPS for my car. Like my tie, my Garmin 265WT is a clip-on. Wow, I thought, this has a computer, a touchscreen, a GPS sensor, Bluetooth, why doesn't it have any of the cool programs available for the iPhone? Here's something cool that's coming next year.

Garmin's EPS module is a small box that attaches to your car's OBD-II computer in your car's engine bay. You know all that data that they read off your car when you take it into the shop, EPS should be able to convey all that information to your Garmin Nuvi GPS device. The EPS sends the signal to the GPS display unit via wireless Bluetooth signal. In addition to checking and clearing fault codes, you can monitor instantaneous fuel flow and even set up your own customized set of engine gauges. Think of it as a glass cockpit for $200.00. (I'm just guessing the price. No actual prices have been announced.) For those who can't wait until next year, a system with similar capabilities is advertised online by Zeitronics for $749.00. Oh, yes, there are OBD-II reader programs available for the iPhone, but it doesn't look like there's a standard and inexpensive way to get the signal from the automobile's computer to the iPhone. Besides, I don't have an iPhone, and I'm not going to get one soon. I don't a phone it would kill me to lose, and I don't want to be an indentured servant to AT&T for three years.

More info on the Garmin EPS at the site is here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Super BOWL XLIV (Halftime) Preview

We're now three fourths of the way through the regular season, we still have two unbeatent teams, the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts, but there are still lots of teams that could line up on the field in Miami

The Super Bowl halftime entertainment has been announced and the featured entertainment are The Who. Judging from some recent pictures from and the Palm Beach Post of 65 year-old Who frontman Roger Daltrey on the beach being tended to by a whitehaired gentleman named Gordon, we could soon be pining for the days when we only saw part of 40 year-old Janet Jackson's chest. Roger looks better than average for a man his age, but if he takes off his shirt, I'm writing to the F.C.C.

As I understand it, The Who have changed some of their old tunes to match changing demographics. Some of the new ones:

I Can See For Miles, but I can't see up close without my glasses
The Kids are Alright, if they're not on my lawn
Magic Bus, that takes us to the casino
Talking 'Bout what's left of My Generation
Who Are You? (no change)
Youtube Video of the Day
Introducing the FORD EXPIRED

The Discovery Channel Show Mythbusters decided it would be cool to crush an old Ford Aspire with a rocket sled zooming near the speed of sound. Yep. It's cool.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Apple Acquires La La

I just saw this news story that Apple has aquired LaLa. That's just sick. "Acquired", for what sick purpose one can only imagine. Frankly, I'm so disgusted I didn't even finish reading the article.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Math Calculators

Let me tell you what I remember about trigonometry. Now that that's done, I can tell you that a simple trigonometry calculator at lets you put in the length of any two sides of a triangle or the length of a side plus the measure of one angle, and the calculator will solve instantly for all remaining sides and angles. This is important because you don't have to remember when to use sin tan or cos, or even worse, inverse sin, cos or tan. This calculator should buy you the better part of a year where you can help your kid with her homework without looking like a complete idiot.

When you need heavy math artillery, check out Wolfram Alpha. I'm not worthy of using Wolfram Alpha. Wolfram Alpha posits itself (I just wanted to say posits itself) as a "computational knowledge engine". If you have a question where the answer is either a number, a graph, a chart, a table, or an almanac-type statistic, asking a question at Wolfram Alpha may be the quickest source for the information. I'm embedding a 7 minute introduction to Alpha. There's a 106 minute introduction available if you have two hours to kill.

Currency conversion? No problem Inflation values of money? Sure. Median height of a 12 year old? It's there. Median height of a 12.5 year old boy? Sure, it even gets that specific.

I thought I'd trick Alpha. I asked it in plain language, "What's the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?" Actually, this was an overhead lob for a search engine for nerds by nerds, and Wolfram Alpha easily handled the request. The response:

there is unfortunately insufficient data to estimate the velocity of an African swallow (even if you specified which of the 47 species of swallow found in Africa you meant)
(asked, but not answered, about a general swallow in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

It also gave an option for clarification

Assuming estimated average cruising airspeed of an unladen African swallow | Use estimated average cruising airspeed of an unladen European swallow instead

For that question, it returned an answer of 25mph. (Of course, you have the option of doing unit conversions.)

Because it wasn't quite midnight, I asked, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?"

The answer:

A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
(according to the tongue-twister, although the paper "The Ability of Woodchucks to Chuck Cellulose Fibers" by P.A. Paskevich and T.B. Shea in Annals of Improbable Research vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 4-9, July/August 1995, concluded that a woodchuck can chuck 361.9237001 cubic centimeters of wood per day)

Now that I know this, I can go to sleep.

Website of the Day: Smugopedia

Let's say you're crashing a party at the White House.
You don't want to be discovered as an interloper, but you've never mastered the art of cocktail party banter. Never fear, stealthily steer your iPhone browser (You DO have an iPhone, don't you?) to and quickly soak up a page or two of high culture learned opinions and factoids that can take an Ivy League education to acquire.

Yes, you too can learn and use exciting phrases like the following:

Although Herodotus is remembered today as the first historian, his strength was actually as a story teller; what he lacked in analytic rigor, he compensated for in his exquisite narrative prose.

Such departmental bickering always reminds me of Borges' observation on the Falklands War: It's like two bald men fighting over a comb.

Although a lot of fun to play, Go isn't as realistic as another ancient strategy game, the Viking "Hnefatafl," in which one of the two sides is the attacker and the other merely vies to help its own King escape.

Keep in mind, not all of the facts on Smugopedia are correct, but it's always better to be condescending than right.

Fritz Henderson Shown the Door at GM

Ed Whitacre takes "Interim" CEO Role

It was a surprise, but it shouldn't have been. In a hastily arranged press conference GM board chairman Ed Whitacre, Jr. announced that Fritz Henderson would be vacating his position as CEO of the company, and Whitacre himself would be taking over as interim CEO. It seems that Henderson was basically fired but went willingly. Clearly, Henderson and the board had different ideas regarding strategy. The best example was the on-again-off-again sale of Opel.

Looking back, Henderson was doomed from the start. He was an insider from the GM accounting department, where lies were cooked to order every quarter. The government-backed board needed Henderson to help them sort out the mess and get through the merger, but just because you need Gollum to lead you to the fires of Mordor, you aren't going to trust him to throw the ring into the fire.

Whitacre was brought in by the Government because he was an outsider with experience running a large corporation. He retired as President and CEO of AT&T in 2007. He was formerly the national head of the Boy Scouts of America, so he must "be prepared" for the job. Unlike the past two GM CEOs, Mr. Ed isn't particularly funny-looking.

(Picture from

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Here Come the Koreans
Korean automakers Introducing Key New Products

Look out Chrysler, here come Hyundai and Kia. The Los Angeles Auto Show kicks off the new year's Auto Show Season this week. (It used to be the Detroit show the first week of January, but like in so many other areas Detroit has lost its leadership.) Hyundai and Kia look to be among the stars.

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata will make its official North American debut in Los Angeles, and will be on sale early next year. This Sonata promises to add another level of refinement and more standard equipment. The biggest feature is a next-generation, direct-injected 2.4 liter engine with class-leading horsepower, torque and fuel efficiency. The Theta II engine is set to deliver 200 horsepower and 186 lb./ft. of torque, Coupled with a new 6-speed automatic transmission, the expected EPA numbers in the mid to large-sized Sonata are 23 MPG city and 35 MPG highway. For comparison's sake, its closest competitor, the Chevrolet Malibu, has a direct-injected engine of the same size that yields 182 horsepower and 172 lb ft of torque, just a half-step below the Sonata. Last year the Malibu was top dog, but this year, it not only gives up the power lead but also trails the Sonata by 2 MPG city & highway. For another comparison, the Chrysler Sebring uses an earlier version (172 HP) of the same engine as the Hyundai and a 4-speed automatic transmission,and the Chrysler only has an EPA rating of 21/30. The Theta II engine cost Hyundai $140 million do develop. Chrysler's lack of such an engine and lack of a competitive transmission to attach to it are huge reasons why Chrysler is oozing red ink in the billions.

Kia is bringing out a completely redesigned Sorento CUV. They just started building this model in a new factory in Georgia. The Sorento is a direct competitor to the Dodge Journey and Chevrolet Equinox. In a year or so, Hyundai will come out with a redesigned Santa Fe that's built on the Sorento's platform.

Kia recently came out with a new compact sedan, the Kia Forte, which replaces the not-so-loved Kia Spectra. IMHO, the Forte is the best looking small car on the market, and from the photos, the interior is at least competitive with the better end of the class. Whereas the Spectra was a generation behind the leaders with its engine and transmission. New engines and transmissions make the Kia Forte competitive with today's Civic, Corolla and Mazda3, and on the same level as the upcoming redesigned ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze. Chysler doesn't even compete in the compact sedan segment.

Look for both Hyundai and Kia to gain market share during the coming year. Look for Chrysler to be the biggest loser.

Monday, November 16, 2009

This is apparently the 1,748,674th Most Influential Blog on the Web
Coverage of Aerosmith Lead Singer Controversy is Picked up Semi-Internationally

Last Wednesday, I posted an exclusive that Lou Dobbs was replacing Steve Tyler as Aerosmith's new lead singer. Amazingly, this turned out to be not exactly true, but nevertheless, the gist of my story was repeated November 13 in this post at

I maintain there was a kernel of truth in my report. Tyler will be gone for awhile, and Aerosmith will be looking for a replacement at least temporarily. (You know, like Tom Brady was a temporary replacement for Drew Bledsoe.) YOU may have a chance at the job. Do you have what it takes. The competition is tough, as you can see.

GM reduces Quarterly Loss to $1.2 Billion
Starts Year-end "Blowout" sale

GM announced that its 3rd quarter loss was down to $1.2 billion, due in part to Cash for Clunker sales. Fritz Henderson outlined past results and future plans. Judging from the picture of Fritz Henderson here from Canada's, GM's loss this year compares to a loss of $4.2 billion in last year's 3rd quarter. If you remember the heady days of November 2008, that was when GM officially announced to the world that it was running out of cash and begged the government for a bailout.

According to GM, next quarter will result in much worse cash flow. GM will have to pay billions in connection with Delphi's exit from bankruptcy, billions to the German government for the cancelled Opel sale, and will actually spend a billion on real restructuring.

GM also announced that it was beginning to pay off its debt to the United States' and Canadian governments. This would be a big deal except The company is just shifting money from the government-funded cash reserve trust fund to the governments to pay off some of the debt obligation. In other words, we're being paid back with our own money. I think Bernie Madoff gave them the idea.

As to the immediate future sales forecast. Henderson said that markets are turning upwards elsewhere in the worlds, but are running flat in the U.S. He estimates total light vehicle sales in the USA at around 11 million to 12 million next year. That compares to 13.2 million in 2008 and 16 million in 2007. Judging from the picture from The Globe and Mail, new Henderson marketing plan will involve marrying Prince Herbert off to Princess Lucky to get HUGE TRACKS OF LAND.

For more info on GM's financial position, check out this article at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Your intrepid reporter has put the pieces together for the bombshell story of the week, the month, the year. CNN anchorman Lou Dobbs will replace Steven Tyler as the lead singer of Aerosmith. Earlier this week, Steven Tyler dropped hints that he was leaving Aerosmith indefinitely to focus on solo projects (projects like meeting an important connection two or three times a day). Tyler tried to defuse the rumors by making a surprise appearance on stage with fellow "toxic twin" Joe Perry in Perry's side band, The Joe Perry Project, but Perry did not accept Tyler with open arms.

The real story came into focus today when CNN Anchorman and Aricept(tm) semisuccessstory, Lou Dobbs made a surprise announcement that he is retiring from CNN effective immediately. Initially there was speculation that Dobbs' immediate departure was due to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use his vast expertise on the subject of birth certificates by taking a position with the vital records department of the State of Hawaii. Within the last hour, the story has come into sharp focus. Perry and the rest of the band is looking for an experienced frontman, one that could make a fool out of himself without falling off the stage and has at least 25% of his braincells left. Lou Dobbs fits these minimum qualifications -- barely, but he fits them. At first the band was concerned because Dobbs is 3 years older than Tyler, but he has fewer miles and his own microphone.

Photo credits: Dobbs, From the Left Blog. Tyler, Both used without explicit denial of permission.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Chrysler Business Plan - The Good the Bad and the Ugly

I'll give new Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne credit where credit is due. Yesterday's 7-hour presentation on Fiat's plan for Chrysler was much more thorough and complete than the incompetent half-assed non-plans thrown up by the Old Chrysler and GM on Capital Hill last spring. That being said, all the Powerpoint slides in the world can't make up for the fact that first Daimler, then Cerberus, nickeled and dimed suppliers until Chrysler earned the worst quality ratings in the industry and at the same time gutted Chrysler's new product development pipeline. Marchionne had the unenviable task of convincing the world that the Chrysler Group has the horses and men to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Chrysler's core plan calls for a doubling of market share over the next five years. The company plans to be operationally solvent in a year, and in 5 years to have raised enough money to pay for a full line of product development and integration of Fiat-based vehicles, and at the same time, fully paying back government TARP money by 2014. How realistic is this plan? The key slide is this one, which I got from

It shows Chrysler's total sales of just under a million vehicles a year, and just under10% market share. This is the low point according to the business plan. By 2014, sales are projected to double to 2 million vehicles/year and a 14% market share. It's easy to draw a bar graph, but it's harder to sell 2 million cars a year, especially when your competitors aren't standing still.

Marchionne is forthright in admitting deficiencies in Chrysler's current models, and the product plan calls for quality improvements, nips and tucks in interior and exterior styling of current models, with these changes holding the line for at least the next three years until new models make an impact. The fact is, that other than a new Dodge Grand Cherokee coming out next year and a mini-compact Fiat 500 coming in just over a year, Chrysler has nothing new in the pipeline for the next three years, and Fiat-based models and others to come after that will have to be financed by hypothetical money to be raised by positive cashflow generated by sales of current models. (Marchionne bragged that Chrysler's cash on hand rose from $4 billion upon exit from bankruptcy in June to $5.7 billion at the end of September, but some speculate that the cause of that was an increase in accounts receivable that could neutralize the whole gain and then some.) Since Fiat has said it will not invest cash in the company, and the debt and equity markets aren't a realistic option for Chrysler, the only place left to go for capital is through internal cash flow generation, and in better times than we're now in Chrysler has not been able to generate anywhere near the cashflow needed to simultaneously revitalize its entire product line on an emergency basis.

I want to take my remaining space in this post with a quick analysis of some of Chrysler's current product lines and their competitive positions. So Chrysler thinks that a "refresh" of its higher volume products and the "wannabes" (Sebring, Avenger) will guide them to doubled market share? The obvious falsity of this assumption is what will kill the Chrysler business plan.

Let's start by looking at minivans. I drive a Chrysler minivan. I like it, but I'm not in the market for a new one, so I'm irrelevant. Toyota will unveil it's first full redesign of the Sienna since 2003 at the Los Angeles Auto Show in December, for introduction next year. Honda has a major update of the Odyssey set for next year as well. Chrysler thinks it will double marketshare with its current powertrains and some styling tweaks? Nagahappen.

The new Dodge Caliber will feature a new dashboard. Good luck going against next year's Euro-level Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze. What about the next generation Civic which should arrive sometime within the next 24 months?

The Ford Fusion already kicks the tail of the Avenger & Sebring. If Ecoboost is half that Ford says it is, the carnage will get worse. The new Sonata is supposed to be pretty good as well, rumored to be getting a direct-injected version of the "world engine" that's a generation ahead of the Chrysler cars.

The Grand Cherokee? There will be no shortage of premium quality SUVs with engines at least as competent as the new Pentastar V-6, and with better transmissions as well.

The Jeep brand as a whole will continue to get loyalist buyers, in roughly the same proportion that it now does -- unless, of course, oil prices spike, and then sales will go down.

The 300/Charger/Challenger? Again, some loyalist buyers, but for the most part, these cars have had their day in the sun and are fading out. Just about all of the full-sized competitors have come out with newer, more advanced models since the 300-series was introduced. Many of them will be on the second refresh before the 300 is updated.

Finally, saving the biggest dog for last, the Ram truck. The Ram 1500 was brand new last year, and the consensus is that it is a much better vehicle than the model it replaced. Unfortunately, due to brand loyalty, probably the hardest segment to gain market share in is the full-sized pickup niche. Look at Toyota, it put an all out effort recently and it returned middling results. The Ram is a good truck, but so are all of the major competitors. Lack of faith in the brand and a shrunken dealer base will make retaining current market share an uphill battle.

New product is the key to gaining market share. Look at the vehicles who had a great month in October. Hyundai, Kia and Subaru all had great results. They all have significant new models. Among the domestic makers, Ford and General Motors posted sales gains, but Chrysler was down 30%. The Ford Taurus, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Equinox, all feature brand new metal and all did great. Chrysler had no new product and got creamed.

I wish Chrysler the best. I feel for the workers that I see every day. Chrysler stakeholders have to look at the world with impartial eyes and figure what will likely happen to the company, and how that will effect their future. In my opinion, I don't see how Chrysler is going to make it. I actually see this as a positive thing for General Motors and Ford. If they can pick up Chrysler's market share, and if they no longer need to compete with Chrysler's suicidal pricing, they will both likely benefit from Chrysler's departure from the market.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Chrysler Is Unveiling 5-Year Plan

In a press conference that is supposed to last from 11:00AM to 6:00PM EST (7 hours!) today, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is supposed to unveil the company's 5 year plan for getting on its feet. Autoblog is covering the conference with a live minute-by-minute play-by-play as if it were a Steve Jobsian WWDC dazzler. Marchionne may need to borrow Jobs' reality distortion field if the plan is going to be taken as credible by the auto industry and financial press. Chrysler's biggest problem will be surviving a new product drought that won't end until Fiat-based models start coming on line about three years from now. October 2009 sales seem to indicate that Chrysler will have increasing problems holding onto market share. While Ford, General Motors, and the industry as a whole reported slightly higher sales in October 2009 over October 2008, Chrysler's sales were down 30% for the period.

Nevertheless, Marchionne is quoted in the New York Times as saying Chrysler's financial condition is improving, stating that Chrysler had $5.7 billion in cash-on-hand at the end of September, compared to $4.0 billion that the company had in June when Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy. In separate news, Chrysler also announced a new buyout offer to 23,000 hourly workers, which is almost all of its remaining hourly workers. I haven't had the time to get into it. More later . . . .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

From the "So Much for Professional Courtesy" File

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm on My Way to Philadelphia

I'm on my way to Philadelphia for the National Consumer Law Litigation conference. While I'm at McDonalds using their wifi, I thought about the legend that W.C. Fields put on his tombstone:"all things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." I found out that's false. Here's a picture of his real tombstone.

He DID say, "I once spent a year in Philadelphia. I think it was on a Sunday." He can pick on Philadelphia. He was born there.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Youtube Video of the day:
Detective Mittens, the Crime Solving Cat.

Not relevant to anything. Language NSFW

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Johnny Cash as John Brown

This week marks the 150th Anniversary of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, one of the most interesting and under-taught episodes of American history. I'm surprised there hasn't been a major Hollywood movie about John Brown. Here's a clip from Johnny Cash's portrayal of Brown in the miniseries North and South. It's not bad, but I imagine John Brown as more gaunt and possessed.

The Truce is off Between Obama and Health Insurance Companies
Obama: Insurance Companies are "Deceptive and Dishonest"

President Obama started his health campaign with what was supposed to be a truce with the insurance companies. Apparently their recent efforts to gut then kill health reform (what a surprise) means that the truce is off. President Obama is now making statements like the insurance companies are "deceptive and dishonest" (and alliterative too) Here's another revelation: the ocean is wet.

Note to insurance companies, you shouldn't have ought to make him mad.

From the Senseless Waste of Human Life File

How much life does Youtube WASTE?

Kill Barney was one of the first Internet memes. Dora the Murderer is along the same lines, except Dora usually goes on the offensive.

Here's the first Dora the Murderer video which has been viewed 5.7 million times on

It's only 17 second long, but collectively, that's over 3 year's worth of viewing time. If you count all the follow-up videos, wasted time must be in the multiple lifetimes.

How much time do people waste viewing this blog? Figure an average viewing time of 1.2 hours, times 0 viewers, that's 0 hours. I feel so superior.

Darth Vader's New Look

Thanks for forwrading this goes to "The Amazing A" at Your Average Cliche Blog.
Youtube Video of the Day
Hilarious Muppet Bloopers

A+ for execution. I'm just a year and a half late in seeing this one.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Time to Laugh at Ourselves
50 Lawyer Jokes in 2 Minutes

Airplanes Too Ugly to Print

Smithsonian Air and Space has a neat little story on Aircraft that are/were so ugly that they don't want to print the pictures. (They do anyway.) Worth a look.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Steve's Guide to Being Undefeated in the NFL
(Orton no longer hears a "Boo")

After 5 weeks, there are only 5 teams undefeated in the NFL. In no particular order, those teams are the New Orleans Saints, the Indianapolis Colts, the New York Giants, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Denver Broncos. What does it take to be undefeated in the NFL this year? It's simple, your quarterback needs to be a Manning, a Favre OR A PURDUE ALUM.

It's not surprising that former Super Bowl champs Eli Manning, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre have kept their teams at the top of the NFL this year. What is a little more surprising is that former Purdue University quarterbacks Drew Brees and (especially) Kyle Orton are right there with them at the top of the standings. From a historical perspective, it shouldn't be a surprise at all. Former Purdue Quarterbacks include champions Bob Griese and Len Dawson.

A hearty congratulations to Kyle Orton. The Broncos were ridiculed earlier this year for trading away proven quarterback Jay Cutler for Orton, whose performance steadily improved with the Bears but remained somewhat uneven. This year, though, with the Broncos, Orton has a quarterback rating of 97.4 so far this year, a number which is better than the current career rating of future hall-of-famer Tom Brady.

Next week the ranks of undefeated quarterbacks will go down by at least one. Eli Manning's Giants will face off with Drew Brees's Saints. The indianapolis Colts will remain undefeated, they have a bye week. I like the Colts' chances overall. Not only do they have the superfantastic Peyton Manning, but sitting on the bench waiting his turn is another former Purdue Boilermaker, Curtiis Painter.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nasa Crashes Rocket into Moon

Yesterday NASA crashed a rocket into the moon to see if there is any water there. In its press release, NASA thanked its celebrity guest rocket driver, Billy Joel.

Afterwards, Nasa and the Moon exchanged insurance information.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Can You Really Get a Free Credit Score?

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article comparing websites that promise you a free credit score. Usually you have the right to a free credit report through, but at that site, you can't get a free credit score. More and more, it's the score that wags the dog. The sites are, and The credit scores on these sites aren't the complete reports that you typically purchase the credit reporting agencies and at, but they still could be useful. I haven't had the chance to check into these yet, but I mean to.
Protection One - Customer Zero

In the course of researching for a case involving Protection One Alarm Monitoring, I accessed a Better Business Bureau report on the company, and the report indicated an A+ rating. Alright, let's look further down . . . FOUR HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-TWO COMPLAINTS? Yep, as of today, anyway. Perhaps it's because they listed 432 as "resolved" and 46 as "administratively closed". Suffice it to say that a typical consumer's idea of what is "resolved" may not be the same as how the Better Business Bureau defines the term.

An excuse for a Monty Python clip? On the subject of complaints: - The Argument Clinic. (FYI Monty Python has authorized certain clips, including this one, on Youtube.)

Headline of the day:
"Tivo Study: Republicans Like Crabs, Dems Like Kathy Griffin"

Credit goes to Alex Weprin at for the headline to his article, Tivo Study: Republicans Like Crabs, Dems Like Kathy Griffin. The article is about the results of a TIVO study that shows that Republicans like The O'Reilly Factor and The Deadliest Catch, whereas Democrats watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann and The D-List with Kathy Griffin. Personally, I would have never assumed that crabs and Kathy Griffin were mutually exclusive, neverthless, the results were so pronounced that not a single Republican in the Survey TIVO'd Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Not a single person who was likely to buy an alternative fuel vehicle within the next two years watched O'Reilly.

It's a shame that no Republicans watch Countdown because Keith Olbermann just presented a concise and thoughtful one hour long "special comment" on health care reform.

Finally, another little bit of irony, Republicans seem to like Fox Network shows, but Kathy Griffin is Peter Griffin's counsin. Here's the proof:

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Chrysler to Unveil 5-year Plan on November 4

Chrysler Group will unveil it's 5-year plan on November 4th. This should be, how do you say "interesting" in engtalian? The government gave Chrysler enough money to get its immediate bills paid, but not enough money to pay for complete redesigns of the entire product line. Fiat has repeatedly stressed that it is not going to invest cash in Chrysler.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Delphi is closing the book on Chapter 11

It looks like Delphi's Steve Miller is no longer the Pompatus of bankruptcy. Delphi is finally leaving Chapter 11 after 4 years and billions of dollars of post Chapter 11 life support. Delphi's bankruptcy exit is enabled by yet another cash infusion from General Motors, this one courtesy of the Federal Government.

Was Delphi worth saving? Of 44 US-based plants pre-bankruptcy, post-bankruptcy, Delphi will have exactly 4 working factories in the United States. It's U.S. workforce has fallen from 50,000 employees to 14,000. From being a bastion for American-sourced car parts, Delphi has become a leader in domestic content reduction.

Bye Steve-o We'll miss you.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Breaking News - Saturn Deal Hits Brick Wall
Penske Walks Away From Deal to Buy Saturn - Brand To Wind Down

Within the last 12 hours, the wind has shifted 180 degrees regarding the future of the Saturn car brand. This morning, the reports, including this one in the Detroit Free Press, were stating that the final deal for Penske to take over Saturn was complete except for signatures. Late this afternoon, according to CNN site "Assignment Detroit", the Penske deal to buy Saturn is dead. GM will wind down the dealerships, putting 13,000 dealer employees out of work. Assignment Detroit attributes the change in plans by Penske Automotive Group to the refusal of another automaker to provide cars to fill out the Saturn Brand.

There was no word on how long it would take to wind down the brand, but based upon the experience with Pontiac, there may be very little product to sell by December of this year.

The closing of Saturn will not immediately result in mass layoffs of assembly workers. Saturns remaining vehicles, the Aura, View and Outlook, are all built in plants that build other GM cars. Unless prospective Saturn buyers are sold on other GM products on a 1 to 1 basis, some volume losses are inevitable.

To close out the post, how about some classic pre-Eagles Joe Walsh walking away music. Hit it James Gang.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to Tell You Have a Slow Pit Crew

They look like this.

Image via
Nerdy Video of the Day:
Carl Sagan on Autotune

Extra Points for using Stephen Hawking as guest vocalist.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Nerdy Video of the Day
Monty Python Meets Star Trek

Did you ever see a Youtube video and think 'I wish I did that one'? Then you remembered that you have a life. This is one of those.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wall Street Journal - The Sad Story of a House in Detroit

In many ways, Detroit has been hit as hard by the deindustrialization of the United States as New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina. In July of this year, the median selling price for a home in Detroit was $7,100. That's not a misprint.

Writer Michael M. Phillips explains the sad state of Detroit's housing market in a first-class article in today's Wall Street Journal. Phillips' article is titled In One Home, the Story of Detroit's Rise and Fall. (Available to WSJ online subscribers here.) In the article, Phillips traces the 92 year history of a single house, located at 1626 W. Boston Boulevard, in the once-exclusive Boston-Edison neighborhood of Detroit. Boston-Edison is a neighborhood of mansions and minimansions. Past residents of the neighborhood include Henry Ford, Joe Louis, and Berry Gordy, Jr. The house at 1626 West Boston Boulevard was big for its time, with four bedrooms, a maid's quarters and a butler pantry.

Mr. Phillips chronicles the complete ownership history of this house, with background information on each of the owners. The original owner of this house was an engineer named Thomas Avery. Mr. Avery gained a degree of fame in engineering circles by working with Henry Ford to perfect the moving assembly line for automobile production. In 1999, an urban pioneering police officer bought the somewhat frayed home for $79,900. In 2005, the property was sold for $250,000. The article doesn't come right out and say it, but this sure looks like a straw-buyer, property-flipping scheme. Since that time, the house was vacant, deteriorating and vandalized until this past April, when a community development organization bought the house for $10,000.

The story of this home demonstrates how inadequate current government programs are to address the problems of home-price declines and hollowing neighborhoods. When the market value of your house is less than what it would cost to put a roof on it, it's easy to see why many homeowners end up abandoning their homes and/or let them fall into disrepair. Detroit has an unemployment rate of almost 29%. For many Detroit residents, the prudent thing to do would be to pick up stakes and move somewhere else. Unfortunately, when your home is worth much less than what you owe on it, it makes picking up stakes that much harder. Moving is hard enough under the best of circumstances, but when you owe a huge deficiency after a mortgage foreclosure, or if you end up filing bankruptcy because of the foreclosure, moving is even harder. A chapter 13 bankruptcy cramdown to the actual value of the home would allow many of the upside down homeowners to get a fresh start. Unfortunately, that's the exact kind of mortgage relief that we're not getting.
From the Something's Rotten in Alabama File:
New Chinese-Owned Plant to Build 300,000 Supercars Annually

Lynyrd Skynyrd is associated with the state of Alabama (even though the band was formed in Jacksonville, Florida), but when I read this post on, the first thing that popped into my mind was a line from a the tune Uneasy Rider by North Carolinian, Charlie Daniels.

"And I laid it on thicker and heavier as I went."

Here's the story: Chinese industrialist, Yung Yeung, billed as a former head of Chinese auto manufacturer Brilliance Automotive, recently announced plans to build a $6.5 billion car manufacturing plant in Baldwin County, Alabama. The company building the cars is called Hybrid Kinetic Motors. HK Motors says it is planning on building 300,000 super efficient cars per year in the Alabama facility by 2013, and the facility will employ about 5,500 Alabamians. Even though the company doesn't really exist yet, and the car hasn't been designed yet, that didn't stop Governor Bob Riley and key legislators from participating in the press conference to announce the new plant.

The FOS meter gets pegged to the firewall with the specifications of the new HK automobile. The car is supposed to run on a mixture of gasoline, compressed natural gas and electricity. It's supposed to get 45 MPG even though it will have a 1.5 liter (think Honda Fit sized) engine making 400 horsepower. Yeah, and monkeys will fly out my tailpipe.

Who's going to pay for this new megafactory? Well, the good news appears to be that the first-level money-losers will be Chinese. The company plans to take advantage of the US government's EB-5 visa program. This program grants permanent residence visas to entrepreneurs who invest $500,000 to $1,000,000 in a business in the United States. Even so, there are a lot of things that can go wrong when state and local governments give assistance to a manufacturing plant with no visible means of support. Just ask the folks in Tipton, Indiana.

Just a month ago, from Missisippi there was a similar announcement involving a former Brilliance Chairman, Yang Rong. According to one source, Yang Rong achieved remarkable growth during his tenure as Chairman of Brilliance, nevertheless, Rong left the country after being accused of “economic crimes of embezzlement of state assets” in 2002. Rong's Mississippi plan promised a $6.5 billion facility to hire 25,000 local workers and produce one million cars per year. There's a lawsuit pending in federal court in then Northern District of Mississippi featuring Hybrid Kinetic Automotive Corp. as a defendant. I don't have access to Pacer right now, so I can't check it out, but it appears to involve allegations of fraud.

What do I take from all this? Apparently it's more lucrative to be a former Brilliance Automotive Chairman than a former Nigerian Oil Minister.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bill Maher Sums Things Up Nicely

Here's the first paragraph in Bill Maher's essay in today's Huffington Post.

New Rule: If America can't get its act together, it must lose the bald eagle as our symbol and replace it with the YouTube video of the puppy that can't get up. As long as we're pathetic, we might as well act like it's cute. I don't care about the president's birth certificate, I do want to know what happened to "Yes we can." Can we get out of Iraq? No. Afghanistan? No. Fix health care? No. Close Gitmo? No. Cap-and-trade carbon emissions? No. The Obamas have been in Washington for ten months and it seems like the only thing they've gotten is a dog.

Read more at:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

From the cars you can't drive to work file:
Art Arfons' Green Monster - Yours for $51,100.

found this former land speed record car on Ebay. For less than a fully loaded Chevy Suburban, you could get this handmade car. With a top speed of around 650 miles per hour, you could make your 10 mile commute to work in less than one minute. Of course, stopping for red lights would be a bitch.

Why is this car so cheap? Well, it's a rebuilt wreck, and you know what salvage titles do to your trade-in value. Actually, the problem with the Green Monster is that it's obsolete. According to a feature article in this month's Popular Science magazine, there are a couple teams gunning to take the land speed record up to 1000 miles per hour. Imagine you're tooling down the Bonneville salt flats in your $51,000 Green Monster, when some f'ing jerk comes up behind you going 1,000, closing at 350 mph. It's probably Kanye, that jackass.
I'm Vertical

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the planet. I can't believe it's been a month since I last posted. Summer ended early when the kids went back to school the second week of August, and everything has been a sprint since then. Anyway I hope to catch up on some posts of things that I've stored notes on. We'll see how much I get done.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chevy Volt Claims 230 MPG

Chevrolet announced that its new 2011 Volt is projected to be rated at 230 MPG City. There was a lot of apprehension concerning the Volt's rating because the EPA's existing tests were not designed for extended-range hybrids. The EPA came out with a new methodology, and it appears that the Volt will be the first beneficiary. Congratulations to all who have worked on the Volt. This is a spectacular result.

Monday, August 10, 2009

GM to Post Cars on Ebay

GM will be starting a pilot program in California where all its cars in that state. will be available for a "buy it now" price on Ebay. This would be news if GM was cutting out the dealers, but since the deals have to go through the dealer anyway, it's really just an excuse to post a Weird Al song.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

2010 A Ford Odyssey
1996 Ford Concept Synergy 2010 vs. 2010 Ford Taurus

The silver car is the Ford Synergy 2010, a 1996 concept car projecting a family car of the future (2010) that could get 80 miles per gallon. It was funded in part by the Clinton-era industry cooperative venture "Partnership for a New Generation Vehicle" program. The Synergy was designed as a light-weight but midsized vehicle (approximately 2,200 lbs.) with a 1-liter direct-injected diesel engine with electric assist.

The red car is the 2010 Ford Taurus, Ford's latest family car. It's gotten good reviews, and by all accounts, it's a competent, well-rounded large car. It's also gained a couple hundred pounds over the previous generation and now weighs in at over 2 tons, almost a thousand pounds heavier than the Taurus that was the king of the auto world in the late '80s and early '90s. The new Taurus is a lot faster, has much more safety equipment, more space, and gets the roughly the same gas mileage as the 3,200 lb. Taurus of 1992.

I'm working on a blog post comparing the new Taurus to the other new full-sized new entry for 2010, the Buick Lacrosse. I hope to get it done this weekend.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When a Vacation Lasts Longer than the Cash for Clunkers Program
- CARS ends Friday

I'm in the midst of my first-ever "staycation". You'd think I'd find some time to blog, but it hasn't happened yet. I thought I'd have plenty of time to comment on the CARS, "cash for clunkers" program, but it appears that won't be the case. Multiple sources including the Detroit News, linked here, are saying the program will end as early as Friday. They're running out of money, running out of cars, and they aren't set up the handle the glut of applications. They are claiming they went through a billion dollars of federal funding in less than a week. Heck, it takes GM 2 weeks to go through that much money.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-assed Ending?

As I good dad, I took my daughter and a friend to see an opening night showing of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Here's my half-assed movie review of what has to be the most elaborate half-assed movie ever made. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a good, enjoyable film if you read the book, at least until you pause to think about what the movie could have been and should have been. If you didn't read the book, don't bother going to the movie at all, because you won't understand it.

Director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves clearly challenged by the task of fitting the essential bits of J.K. Rowling's 652-page (US version) novel into a movie of reasonable length. The visuals are pretty as always, and the young stars have noticably improved their acting. Still, the teen romance seems forced and doesn't fit the flow of the film. Everything is so rushed that many of the returning supporting cast members have little to do and nothing to say. The ending is especially rushed and disjointed. In fact, the fan video below explains the ending about as well as the movie. It takes about a day after you've seen the movie for the lameness of the ending to really hit home. I'm not the only one that has experienced this. Despite initial euphoria over having a new Harry Potter film, two days after the premiere and the loyal faithful are starting to revolt. It's just a shade below the "nuking the fridge" fan meltdown over last year's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Overall, I'd say the movie is still a must-see for Potter fans, but this movie won't win any new converts. In fact, there are some signs that the HP faithful are starting to break ranks and trash the film. I'll give it 3 out of 5 stars, but only because I'm a generous guy.

Holy Hopping Washing Machines, Batman!

Consumer Reports and other publications say that front-loading washing machines are the best buys for washing your clothes. They use less water, less soap, less energy, and they are nicer to your clothes. Unfortunately, more than a few people are having problems with their washers trying to "hop" or "walk" right out of their laundry rooms. A few enterprising souls have posted videos on They aren't the most exciting videos, but I have to believe that when a customer posts a hopping video on Youtube, the complaint gets resolved very quickly. (FYI youtube also has "how to" videos with tips on curing common washing machine problems.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Nude Recreation Week

It's Friday. The week is almost over, and nobody told me this was Nude Recreation Week. I wonder why?

GM Exits* Stage Left
(*from bankruptcy)

The new GM officially gets out of bankruptcy this morning after spending 40 days in the hole. In an interesting coincidence, 40 days is common time period in many religions for suffering before rebirth or enlightenment. That's how long Noah was cast adrift during the flood. That's how long Moses stayed on the mountain. That's how long Jesus spent wandering in the desert. IT's also the amount of time traditionally spent mourning the dead in Islam.

The total cost to the taxpayers to date is about $50 billion. By the end of 2009, GM is expected to have only 68,000 employees, down from about 90,000 at the beginning of this yesr. GM plans to cut about a third of its management jobs this year, starting in October. If you divide the $50 billion by the saved 68,000 jobs, each job saved cost $735,000, but that type of calculation would demonstrate the "damn lies" of statistics. For starters, the number of supplier jobs saved (including mine) is hard to calculate, but it would likely be several times the amount of the GM jobs saved. Secondly, this money has helped provide "soft landings" for laid-off employees. Finally, all of that money isn't lost. GM is holding on its books a substantial amount of government debt and common stock. In theory, that money might be paid back.

Here's how Autoblog describes the ownership structure of the new company.

GM has received $50 billion from the US government to keep the mega-corporation out of liquidation. For its troubles, Uncle Sam will receive a 60% stake in the new company. Canada, which pitched in $9 billion, will be 11.7% owners, while the UAW will receive 17.6%. Old GM will receive 10% of the new company to help creditors recoup some money. The "New GM" will be smaller in almost every way, with four fewer brands, a smaller presence in Europe, fewer employees, and a markedly more attractive balance sheet.

With the shedding of Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer, GM will no longer be the largest carmaker in America. Ford will take the lead. I keep meaning to write a blog entry on the emergence of Ford, but the real world and other events keep getting in the way. Maybe one day soon . . . .

Saturday, July 04, 2009

From the "We wants it" File

Per Autoblog, A motorcycle and sidecar that just could be the Batcycle from the 1966 Batman movie, driven by the one true Batman, Adam West, is for sale on eBay. The buy-it-now price is under $30,000! If I had $30,000, this puppy would be in my garage right now, and my car would be left in the cold.

My image of Batman withstood finding out that under the bat-fairing, the Batcycle is a little 250-cc Yamaha. (Yes, Batman rides a riceburner.)
Youtube Video of the Day:
Drew Carey & the Batmobile

The G-rated fantasy of every middle-aged man: owning the Batmobile. (Is this clip really 12 years old?)

Friday, July 03, 2009

Getting Clunkers off the Road - Oklahoma Style

The US Congress came up with its nearly useless CARS cash-for-clunkers program, designed to help auto sales by getting old junk heaps off the road. As it turns out, for years, Oklahoma has had a better idea, the Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot and Trade Show,or OFASTS. Here's a clip from Attack of the Show via via (For some reason, it wouldn't embed, sorry.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

GiMpy12 - Minivan Highway

"I'm not worthy"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rumors that Toyota will License the Prius to GM

There are rumors (and denials) that GM and Toyota are working out a deal for GM to sell a version of the Toyota Prius. Keep in mind, as of yet there is no DEAL, much less a product. Though the 2010 Prius is on the road, it could be a couple years before a GM-sourced version would hit the road even if the two companies came to terms this summer. If they come to terms, I wouldn't be too surprised if a substantial government order sealed the deal.

It may be a long time (if ever) before we find out the inside deal with the Toyota/GM discussions. It would be sad if Toyota offered to let GM build a Prius but GM turned down the offer to concentrate on the Volt. The Volt has some potential, but it will cost twice what the Prius does. The Prius sells enough units to be a solid fixture in the top-10 list of all car models. The Volt will be a niche product at best.
No New NUMMI for GM
California Joint Venture goes to "Old GM"

Per Autoblog
, GM's NUMMI Joint venture with Toyota will be assigned to the "old GM", that is, the group of operations that won't survive the bankruptcy. Apparently GM couldn't find a product to build in the plant in Fremont, California. (You know, "the city by the bay", "the city that never sleeps.") The plant built the Pontiac Vibe, that was just reworked for 2009. Being a Pontiac, the Vibe was destined to be cast upon the dung heap of history even though Chevrolet has nothing comparable to sell.

IF we can't have new NUMMI, we'll have to settle for new Numma. Sorry.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Keyboard Cat - You Just Got PONED

Meet Keyboard Otter.

(Youtube via Matrixsynth)

Friday, June 19, 2009

If You Think the World is Blowing Up Around You
Just Remember . . .

Cool guys don't look at explosions.
$1.92 Million Verdict for Sharing 24 Songs

From the Associated Press - A jury in Minnesota ruled that a Brainard woman, Jammie Thomas-Russert must pay $1.92 million for sharing 24 songs on Kazaa. That's $80,000 per song. Get this, it was her second trial. An earlier federal jury said she only had to pay $224,000 - a bargain, really.

The RIAA, realizing that this kind of case can cut both ways from a public relations standpoint, mentioned that she had the opportunity to settle for $3,000 to $5,000. Isn't that nice? (We have had people call in who have been sued or have been targeted for suit in similar download cases. They generally get similar offers. They freak out when the realization hits that they might actually have to pay that much.)

What cracks me up is that you can listen to just about any song you want on Youtube, and the record companies don't do squat about Youtube. Why? Because Google owns Youtube, and Google has more money than you-know-who. Secondly, Youtube-Google hides behind the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which says that a forum provider can hide behind ignorance as long as they take things down when asked by the copyright owner. Youtube is worth more than the entire US auto industry right now, and it exists now on the model of charging nothing for content that it doesn't pay for. A technical Businessweek article on the economics of Youtube is linked here.

Anyway, I'm sure this video of the opening theme to the movie Fargo was posted with the owner's permission. After all, Youtube requires it. Go buy or rent the movie or soundtrack, so they don't get mad at me for embedding the link.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Details on Prospective ChrysFiatsco Models
US Plants will See no C-Evo Platform until 2012

IHS Global Insight has laid out a product/production timeline for post-Fiat aquisition Chysler models. If this information is accurate, prospects for robust US-based auto production don't look good through 2012 and counting. The first thing to point out is that it looks like Chrysler Group dealers will have no new sheet metal until Early 2011 at best. (The only possible exception that I see is the Jeep Grand Cherokee, a model that isn't mentioned at all in this report.)

The first new Fiat-based models will be Fiat Panda (to be branded a Jeep) and the Fiat 500 (to be branded a Fiat), and these models will be built in Toluca, Mexico beginning July, 2011. Chrysler expects these models to account for more than 50,000 units per year between them. A picture of the Fiat Panda is above right. I'm not sure Jeep loyalists will go for this.

Roughly the same time, production is to begin, also in Toluca, for the replacement for the current-generation Dodge Journey. More controversial, the current Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring are currently built in the United States. The replacement for these cars will be built in Toluca starting July 2011.

If you are looking for new Chrysler product built in the United States, according to this plan, you'll be waiting at least three years. Global Insight lists three current Chrysler plants that will be retooled to build vehicles off of Fiat's new C-EVO platform. The C-EVO platform is currently being used for the stylish Alfa Romeo 149. See picture

Specifically, Belvidiere Illinois, Jefferson Avenue, and Toledo (North?). From this product plan, I could not see any potentially high-volume vehicles slated for assembly in the United States.

(Panda photo via, alpha romeo 149 photo via

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cash For Clunkers - New Math has great chart on the Cash for Clunkers bill. This bill makes no sense to me. If you can explain it, please feel free.
Koenigsegg to Buy Saab

GM announced today that it will be selling Saab to Koenigsegg Automotive AB. For Saab workerws, it's an ABBAriffic outcome because Koenigsegg is a Swedish cmoany. If you've played a roadracing video game within the last 5 years, you've heard of Koenigsegg, a maker of thousand horsepower supercars taht compete with the Bugatti Veryon. If you don't play videogames and you don't live in L.A., Palm Beach or an Arab Emirate, you probably have never seen a Koenigsegg vehicle.

It doesn't look like Koenigsegg is putting up much if any of its own money. GM (meaning you and me) is financing part of the transaction.

Today's announcement comes in the wake of last week's news story when GM announced that it had more than 16 bidders for Saab. Apparently Koenigsegg was teh only one that didn't use a Hotmail account.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fiat and Chrysler Get Hitched

The Supreme Court vacated the stay of proceedings that Judge Ginsburg issued on Monday, and Chrysler and Fiat immediately took advantage of the opportunity and merged. The new "good" Chrysler will be called the Chrysler Group (as opposed to the Chrysler Corporation and Chrysler LLC in previous incarnations), and Fiat will initially own 20% of the new company. Fiat will be allowed to go up to a 35% share, but the US and Canadian governments will have to be paid back first. Although the CNN article here says the UAW will own a 55% share, it is likely that the UAW will select trustees for a trust that will actually own the stock.