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Global auto news this week(2007.04.16 - 2007.04.21)

From| April 21,2007

Workers at Volkswagen Czech unit Skoda Auto held a strike on April 17 to show their disatisfaction with the "final"  wages offered by the company. Chrysler CEO tOM LaSorda is pushing ahead with his transformation strategy despite talks about the company's future is still going on. He made the goal for the company to return to profitability by next year and achieve a modest 2.5% return on sales by 2009.

Here are the top news this week:

Czech Skoda unions reject wage offer, plan strike
From:Automotive News         April 16 2007   
Workers at Volkswagen Czech unit Skoda Auto rejected what the company called its final pay offer and plan a three-hour strike on April 17, a union official said.

Skoda is the Czech Republic's largest company with sales of 203.7 billion crowns ($9.80 billion) last year, the country's largest exporter and a key customer of dozens of parts makers.

"Everything is pointing to it (a strike)," a union official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

The April 17 strike would be a warning of possible further action.


Chrysler Group leads push for diesel engines
From:freep                     April 17 2007   
As the auto industry moves toward more fuel-efficient, cleaner vehicles, there's a cluster of automotive, environmental and energy experts rooting for the diesel engine.

Perhaps their biggest challenge is to convince drivers that today's diesels aren't the slow, noisy, smelly diesels of the past.

A leading voice in that effort is DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, which in January started producing its second diesel vehicle for North America. A diesel version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee will be hitting dealerships soon. It comes after the automaker sold more than it expected of the diesel Jeep Liberty last year, Robert Lee, vice president of powertrain product engineering for DCX, told more than 100 people at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress today at Cobo Hall in Detroit. The Liberty diesel was an experiment to see whether consumers would be willing to pay an extra $1,500 for a diesel vehicle.

It worked well enough for Chrysler to release the diesel Grand Cherokee, which costs an extra $3,000 and is expected to save drivers $592 a year on fuel.


Chrysler plans new engine plant in Trenton
From:detnews                  April 18 2007  

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, forging ahead with its turnaround plan, is expected to announce Wednesday that it will build a new engine plant in Trenton to produce the automaker's next generation of V-6 engines, code-named Phoenix, according to sources familiar with the plan.

The announcement comes after the Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved tax credits today worth more than $11.2 million over nine years to pave the way for the new factory.

Chrysler is expected to announce the Trenton project along with plans for a new axle factory in Marysville during a press conference Wednesday at the company's Auburn Hills headquarters. The Detroit News first reported Chrysler's axle factory plans today. "We applaud the state's move," Chrysler spokesman Dave Elshoff said of the tax credits. "Incentives of this nature are an important part of the business-case building process to move forward with any investment."


Selling Chrysler supported
From:freep                      April 19 2007  
Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor North America, said Tuesday that the potential sale of the Chrysler Group could be good for the Auburn Hills automaker and the overall industry.

Press was in Detroit to accept the 2007 Automotive Executive of the Year award, sponsored by the Automotive Industry Action Group, a trade association of suppliers and automakers. Last week, Press was named the first non-Japanese member of Toyota Motor Corp.'s board of directors.

The possible sale of the Chrysler Group by DaimlerChrysler AG is forcing the division to focus on what Press called the "root causes" of problems -- structural issues such as overcapacity where supply and demand do not match up.


Chrysler offers new sales twist
From:detnews             April 20 2007

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group told dealers Wednesday it is adding cash incentives on several new vehicles and added an unusual twist -- bonuses of up to $15,000 for sales managers whose dealerships meet or exceed April sales volume targets.
In a memo from Chrysler to its dealers obtained by The Detroit News, Chrysler said the incentives were "designed to close out April with increased momentum."

Sales managers will become eligible for a cash bonus if their dealership reaches 100 percent of its goal for April established under the automaker's volume performance allowance (VPA) program. The bonuses will be higher if the dealership hits 115 percent of its goal, according to the memo.


Toyota breaks ground for US plant
From:servihoo             April 20 2007   
Toyota Motor Corp. broke ground on its eighth North American manufacturing plant Wednesday, a 1.3 billion-dollar facility in Blue Springs, Mississippi.

The new plant will help the Japanese automaker expand its North American operations to 15 plants by 2010 with the annual capacity to build some 2.2 million cars and trucks, 1.45 million engines and 600,000 automatic transmissions.









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