1st Gear: Debt-laden German carmaker Porsche has approved an almost 5 billion euro ($7 billion) capital increase, clearing the way for a merger with Volkswagen, the group said late on Sunday. The carmaker added that it now, finally, expects the public offering to be approved by German financial watchdog BaFin on March 28. Provided that the new shares are fully subscribed, Porsche will raise net proceeds of about 4.89 billion euros, which will be channeled into the repayment of liabilities.
2nd Gear: The increased potency of the new Ferrari FF means the company's next generation front-engined GT will be even more hardcore. Using a further evolution of the latest gasoline direct injection V12 hitting 660hp in the new Ferrari FF, the 599 replacement due next year will likely run to more than 700hp in order to maintain the sort of power differential that Ferrari feels is appropriate for its range-topping front-engined GT car. Also, while the new part-time 4x4 system employed by the Ferrari FF would be compatible with the new car (it's basically an extra two-speed gearbox module added to the front of the V12 crankcase), Pistonheads is hearing it won't get it.
3rd Gear: The California New Car Dealers Association says Chrysler is operating an illegal factory-owned dealership, Motor Village L.A., which Chrysler established as a prototype to showcase its brands and test new retail concepts in Los Angeles. The dealer association filed a petition March 21 with the California New Motor Vehicle Board calling for an investigation and asking the board to discipline Chrysler, possibly suspending or revoking the store's business license. In California, manufacturers cannot own dealerships within 10 miles of other same-make independently owned stores. Motor Village L.A. is within 10 miles of three other Chrysler dealers, the petition says.
4th Gear: A few days ago Car and Driver claimed the 2012 Audi S8 will eschew the Lamborghini-based 5.2-liter V10 for a Bentley-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 520 hp. World Car Fans notes that if those numbers are correct, Audi's new super-eight would slip right in between the 500 hp BMW B7 Alpina and the 537 hp Mercedes S63 AMG. Justin drove the new Audi A8 last year and I'm behind the wheel of the new techno-barge right now. From our experiences with the new 2011 A8, this is a very promising development.
5th Gear: Dongfeng Motor Group Co. is in talks to buy about 30% of German auto supplier and transmission-maker Getrag, Reuters reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The value of the stake is less than 500 million euros ($700 million), Reuters said, citing one of the people.
6th Gear: The carnage continues to mount as Bloomberg's David Welch reports this morning that global automakers may now lose production of 600,000 vehicles by the end of the month as the earthquake in Japan halts assembly lines and work at suppliers including the maker of a paint pigment. About 320,000 vehicles may have already been lost worldwide as of March 24, and manufacturing at plants in North America may be affected when parts supplies start running out as soon as early April, said Michael Robinet, vice president of Lexington, Massachusetts-based IHS Automotive.
⏎ As the insular auto content silo continues to mourn the loss of David E. Davis, here's a selection of obituaries — in addition to our own. [MSN, Edmunds Inside Line, Auto Week, Car and Driver, PickupTrucks.com, Automobile, AutoBlog, Motor Trend]
⏎ Ford wishes they all could be California cars and crossovers. [Automotive News]
⏎ Four new Seats in 2012. [Autocar]
⏎ Toyota's HiLux loses traction as rival utes discount prices ahead of new introductions. [GoAuto]
⏎ Meet the new Motor City. [Automotive News]
⏎ Honda issues second recall for 2011 Odyssey. [Detroit News]
⏎ Always bet on black not being around to buy. Or is it red? Nope. It's both. [Detroit News]
On this day in 1941, workers start clearing trees from hundreds of acres of land near Ypsilanti, Michigan, some 30 miles west of Detroit, in preparation for the construction of the Ford Motor Company's Willow Run plant, which will use Henry Ford's mass-production technology to build B-24 bomber planes for World War II. During the war, Detroit was dubbed the "Arsenal of Democracy," as American automakers reconfigured their factories to produce a variety of military vehicles and ammunition for the Allies. [History]
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