Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ford announces consumer confidence plan

Ford Motor Company has also announced a consumer confidence plan.  Executives announced the Ford Advantage Plan designed to spur consumer sales. At quick glance, this program is similar to the GM Total Confidence plan, also announced this morning, and the Hyundai Assurance plan announced earlier this year.

I notice key differences in the respective Ford and GM payment protection aspects of the programs.  Ford offers to make up to 12 monthly payments of $700 or less if a customer loses their job due to economic issues.  The GM plan covers up to nine payments of $500 or less during the first two years of ownership. However, Ford does not appear to offer equity protection for trade-ins or a service comparable to GM's one year of OnStar protection.  

The Ford news release is below.


Ford leads the industry in boosting consumer confidence with the new Ford Advantage Plan Ford will cover payments for up to 12 months on any new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle if customers lose their jobs. 0 percent financing is also offered through Ford Motor Credit on select Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles.
Ford also is working with its dealers to introduce a local charity support program
Click here to watch Ford Advantage Plan video.

DEARBORN, Mich., March 31, 2009 – Ford Motor Company is introducing the most comprehensive program available to boost consumers’ buying confidence and begin rebuilding the American economy with the new Ford Advantage Plan.

The plan gives customers another reason to “Drive One” with payment protection of up to 12 months on any new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle, 0 percent financing on select vehicles and added local charity support.

“Consumers remain anxious about the economy and their own outlook for the future. We at Ford want to do our part to rebuild faith in the marketplace by offering payment protection on every new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle for up to a year if our customers lose their jobs,” said Ken Czubay, vice president of Sales and Marketing.

“Just as important is additional charity support we will provide in conjunction with our local dealers, who are mindful of how non-profit organizations are struggling during this economic downturn,” Czubay said. “Ford and our dealers have always stepped up to take an active lead role in the community, and that’s why we are also including a charity element as part of the Ford Advantage Plan.”

Ford Commitment to Local Communities
In 2008, more than 18,000 Ford U.S. employees volunteered 100,000 hours to help people in their local communities – that’s the equivalent of nearly $2 million dollars of in-kind corporate contributions. To continue the momentum, in April, Ford will introduce a program in partnership with its dealers throughout the country to assist local charities impacted by the economic downturn. Ford will announce complete details of this expansive community outreach effort in April.

All Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles are covered under the Ford Advantage Plan. The program runs from today through June 1.

In addition to providing 12 months of payment protection of up to $700 per month, customers can take advantage of 0 percent financing on select Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles through Ford’s financing partner, Ford Motor Credit.

Additional Peace of Mind – Ford Quality, Safety and Fuel Efficiency
When selecting their next Ford vehicle, customers also can take comfort in knowing that Ford’s newest vehicles are the best or among the best in fuel economy and cost of ownership.

The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan are America’s most fuel-efficient mid-size sedans, and the Fusion has a higher residual value than the Toyota Camry after three years of ownership, according to the Automotive Leasing Guide (ALG).

Ford maintains strong residual values throughout its product lineup. Vehicles with strong residual values retain more of their value at the end of their lease contract period. The 2009 Ford F-150 recently received a “Residual Value” award from ALG for retaining the highest percentage of its original price among 2009 full-size light duty pickups at the end of a conventional three-year lease, based on ALG projections. The Ford Escape has a 10-point residual value advantage versus the Chevrolet Equinox after three years of ownership, and the Ford Focus has the highest residual value of any domestic product in the small car segment.

“Ford’s improvements in quality have contributed significantly to our year-over-year improvements in residual values,” added Czubay.

In addition, Ford’s quality is now on par with Toyota and Honda, and Ford continues to have more top safety picks than any other brand.

“This is the strongest product lineup we have ever offered,” Czubay said. “When you combine these great products with payment protection, 0 percent financing and support for local charities, customers can feel confident about getting back into the market for a new car or truck.”

# # #

Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 213,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s wholly owned brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.

Saving the U.S. Auto Industry

After watching satellite interviews that President Obama did with each of Detroit's major news broadcasts, I glanced through the government's "Path to Viability for GM and Chrysler" document.

If I worked for Chrysler or one of its suppliers or dealers, I would start looking for a new job immediately.  The Obama Administration is very blunt in saying, "Chrysler is not viable as stand alone company."  If the merger with Fiat is not completed within the newly mandated 30-day window, bankruptcy is likely inevitable for Chrysler.

As for GM, it appears the Administration would like to do all it can to save GM but not under its current structure or the structure described in its February 17th viability report to the government.  For instance, the Administration says GM needs a more aggressive operational restructuring and that plan "must rapidly achieve full competitiveness with foreign transplants and more aggressively implement significant manufacturing, headcount, brand, nameplate and retail network restructurings."
That sounds like more plant consolidation, additional layoffs, even fewer brand and model offerings, and closing down dealers.

In its February report, GM indicated that it would sell or phase out HUMMER and Saturn, sell Saab, and likely phase out Pontiac.  That would leave GM with four core brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.   But, with the government calling for even fewer brands, it is very possible that we could see Buick and GMC go away, too. With only Chevrolet and Cadillac surviving, GM would operate much like Toyota, Honda and Nissan which each market two brands in North America-- a standard bearer and a luxury line.

The Obama Administration plan also calls for technology leadership stating that "the new GM will have a significant focus on developing high fuel-efficiency cars that have broad consumer appeal because they are cost-effective, have good performance and are reliable, durable and safe."  General Motors already delivers on good performance; reliability and durability are dramatically better than they were in the 80's and 90's; and safety ratings are good.  Fuel efficiency is debatable.  GM boast 17 models that get 30+ MPG, but most of those aren't models that I would buy.  There is no thrill derived from driving a Chevy Aveo.  I'm not interested in driving a car with a four cylinder engine that only produces 106 horsepower and takes forever to get to 60 miles per hour.  Give me a V-8 equipped, 400 horsepower Camaro any day!

I also don't want a nerdy looking Toyota Prius.  Don't get me wrong.  The Prius is a good car. Everyone I know who has one, loves it.  I would love getting 48 MPG too. But, only if the car looked and drives like a Pontiac G8.  Also, while trucks and SUVs-- once popular and top-selling-- are not longer the darlings on dealership lots, there will always be a market for them because of their roominess and versatility. 

The bottom line: I really don't want the government telling me what kind of car I can or can't buy. Which means I don't want the government telling the auto companies what kinds of cars they can or can't manufacture.

Oh, Good Evening!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama Administration forces GM CEO Rick Wagoner out

It appears The White House is laying down the gauntlet on General Motors and Chrysler as the U.S. auto industry tries to remake itself. Chrysler has 30 days to work out a partnership deal with Italian automaker Fiat or it can forget about additional government help. General Motors, on the other hand, has 60 days to complete a restructuring plan and the company will do so without Rick Wagoner at the helm.

Associated Press and NBC News report the Obama Administration on Friday asked Wagoner to step aside as chairman and chief executive officer. He complied on Sunday issuing the below statement to GM employees.  President Obama, speaking from the White House this morning, said this move "is not a condemnation of Mr. Wagoner" whom the President acknowledged, devoted his career to General Motors.  Mr. Obama calls this a necessary step forward for the company. 

My family ties to General Motors drive my deeper interest in that company's future. However, knowing and understanding the importance of Chrysler and Ford to the City of Detroit, the State of Michigan, and this nation, I want all three companies to survive and once again thrive.

If this latest move is in the best interest of GM, then so be it. But it will be interesting to see if the Obama Administration now lights the same type of fire under the big banks and other Wall Street companies, like AIG. It seems unfair that one industry receiving federal help to survive is treated differently than another on the same dole.

Oh, Good Evening!

Rick Wagoner's Statement to General Motors Employees

For posting: March 30, 2009 6:10 am

GM Message from Rick Wagoner

On Friday I was in Washington for a meeting with Administration officials. In the course of that meeting, they requested that I “step aside” as CEO of GM, and so I have.

Fritz Henderson is an excellent choice to be the next CEO of GM. Having worked closely with Fritz for many years, I know that he is the ideal person to lead the company through the completion of our restructuring efforts. His knowledge of the global industry and the company are exceptional, and he has the intellect, energy, and support among GM’ers worldwide to succeed. I wish him well, and I stand ready to support him, and interim Non-Executive Chairman Kent Kresa, in every way possible.

I also want to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who supported GM and me during my time as CEO. I deeply appreciate the excellent counsel and commitment of the GM Board and the strong support of our many partners including our terrific dealers, suppliers, and community leaders. I am grateful as well to the union leaders with whom I have had the chance to work closely to implement numerous tough but necessary restructuring agreements.

Most important of all I want to express my deepest appreciation to the extraordinary team of GM employees around the world. You have been a tremendous source of inspiration and pride to me, and I will be forever grateful for the courage and commitment you have shown as we have confronted the unprecedented challenges of the past few years. GM is a great company with a storied history. Ignore the doubters because I know it is also a company with a great future.

Renee Rashid-Merem
313-665-3128 (o)
313-701-8560 (c)

Tom Wilkinson
313-378-6233 (c)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Possible New Lions Logo

According to a blog posting on The Detroit News website, an item showed up on NFLShop.com on Tuesday with what appeared to be a new variation of the Lions' longtime logo. Also included in the story, the above logo which includes a trademark indicator.

Nobody will confirm or deny that the team is getting a marketing makeover. A new logo would be nice, but what Lions fans really want is a new team with a new attitude and new results-- WINS! A logo will do nothing to provide those things.

Oh, Good Evening!

Mayhew: Lions open to trading top pick


Mayhew: Lions open to trading top pick

Oh, Good Evening!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


GM is recalling more than 1700 HUMMER H3T pickup trucks because the gas tank could fall off. Affected customers should receive notice from HUMMER. Dealers will fix the problem at no charge beginning April 10, 2009.

This not good news at a time when General Motors needs everything to go right.

Oh, Good Evening!

Twitter Tweets Out!

A sign that Twitter may need to grow beyond Tweety size.

Oh, Good Evening!

DirecTV Agrees to Pay $4B to Extend Exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket Deal

The National Football League clearly knows the power of its brand and DirecTV clearly knows the power of exclusivity.  The two entities have reached a deal to extend the contract allowing the satellite television provider the sole rights to carry NFL Sunday Ticket for four years.  The agreed upon price: $4 billion!  According to the Wall Street Journal, that is an increase of $300 million over the current deal, which expires after the 2010 season.

I am a longtime DirecTV subscriber.  I signed up in February 2000, shortly after the conclusion of the 1999 NFL season.  The driving force behind my decision was a substandard cable service within the apartment complex where I was living.  It was not Time Warner Cable which serves the rest of the local community.  Equally important in my decision-- NFL Sunday Ticket.  I relished the notion that I could watch my beloved, however mired in sub-mediocrity, Detroit Lions from the comfort of my living room each week.

To this day, DirecTV keeps my business because of NFL Sunday Ticket.  But with each contract renewal between the provider and the NFL has come subscription price increases.  I seem to remember paying about $170 per season when I first signed up for Sunday Ticket.  Now, it's pushing $300.  If this 43% rights fee increase translate into a 43% subscription fee increase, fans are looking at a possible $429 per season tab.

The NFL has already priced most fans out of the stadium experience.  I hope they don't do the same to Sunday Ticket customers.

Oh, Good Evening!

Monday, March 23, 2009

NFL Draft: The Lions Are On The Clock

The NFL Draft is next month.  The Detroit Lions, who went 0-16 last season, have the #1 pick.  There are reports that team management has already started negotiation with their choice, they just aren't saying who that choice is at this point.  All I can say is, THEY BETTER NOT SCREW THIS UP!!!!!

Oh, Good Evening!

Lions begin negotiating with No. 1 overall draft pick

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, March 19, 2009

GM Puts Light Duty V8 Turbo Diesel Engine on Hold

Another casualty of General Motors' financial crisis is the Duramax 4.5L V-8 turbo diesel engine. GM released a statement last week saying the engine is now on indefinite hold. "GM remains optimistic that the Duramax 4.5L V-8 diesel may be a viable option in its future portfolio," the statement, released March 11th, said.

GM had planned to introduce this engine in the 2010 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. Chevrolet and GMC will continue to offer a heavy duty Duramax 6.6L V-8 diesel, which GM claims is class-leading in both horsepower and torque.

I was eagerly anticipating this light duty diesel because it had also been mentioned as a likely engine option on the HUMMER H2, possibly an Alpha model. But, we all know that won't happen since HUMMER isn't going to survive, at least not with GM.

Oh, Good Evening!

Monday, March 16, 2009

GM Launches 2010 Chevy Camaro

The chief engineer for the Camaro provides a video tour of the new muscle car.

This car is HOTT! Check out the Camaro Microsite.

Oh, Good Evening!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Boston Legal

Best Buy has the first four seasons of "Boston Legal" on sale for $19.99 each this week. So, I took advantage of the discount and bought seasons One and Four (I already had Two and Three) and I'm not watching the first season. I have always liked this show. Great stories with just the right mix of drama and comedy. James Spader is great as Alan Shore and William Shatner is the bomb as Denny Crane!!!!!

Oh, Good Evening!

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Daily Show Ruffles CNBC's Feathers

The video speaks for itself.

Oh, Good Evening!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Farewell Circuit City

The end of an electronics retail era is just days away.  Circuit City, now in liquidation, shuts down completely on Sunday.

It saddens me to see the chain shut down, mostly because 34,000 people lost their jobs.  While Circuit City was not my primary destination for electronics purchases, I bought three digital televisions and many other smaller items over the years.  I always got good service from the Columbia stores and the times when I had problems with one of the televisions I purchased, they resolved the problems in ways that exceeded my expectations.

Having said all of that, the liquidation sale was disappointing from the standpoint of being able to find great deals.  I seriously considered buying another television but when the liquidation prices were higher than the former regular prices, I passed.  But, I was able to enhance my fledgling Blu-Ray disc collection.

Oh, Good Evening!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Kitna Katapulted

As I expected, quarterback Jon Kitna will not suit up for the Detroit Lions again. Detroit has traded Kitna to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for starting cornerback Anthony Henry. Kitna suffered a back injury and played in only four games last season before the Lions placed him on injured reserve; a move the veteran QB said was not necessary.  Now, moving to Dallas, the 36-year old Kitna could find himself once again throwing passes to receiver Roy Williams.  Of course, Tony Romo would have to break another pinkie.

Oh, Good Evening!