1st Gear: After Saab Automobile had trouble paying suppliers, production at its factory in Trollhättan, Sweden was halted yesterday, according to Swedish paper Dagens Industri. Production resumed today. "Certain suppliers halted supplies to Saab Automobile pending discussions about payments and supply terms," Spyker said in a statement earlier this morning. "Saab Automobile expects to resolve these issues in the short term." Spyker said last month it's selling its sports car-division to Vladimir Antonov, the Russian businessman who helped finance Spyker's purchase of Saab, to help reduce debt.
2nd Gear: I wonder if anyone lost their job at Hyundai's vendor EFG because the Korean automaker killed the job loss protection part of the "Hyundai Assurance" guarantee. If they did, I hope they took advantage of the program before it gets axed at the end of this month. To date, only around 350 Hyundai buyers took advantage of the program. Not bad for an extra 100,000 or so in sales if you ask us.
3rd Gear: Porsche unveiled the Panamera Turbo S this morning — giving the four-door Porsche sedan with a big back end a big boost of power — to 550 HP. Torque also gets a boost to 553 lb-ft compared to 516 lb-ft. in the Turbo.
4th Gear: BMW Financial Services says early results are encouraging for a dealership pilot program using iPads to process lease returns, making it more likely the practice will be extended nationwide. "We're seeing certainly a quicker process, and we're also seeing a much more transparent process," said Shaun Bugbee, vice president of sales and marketing for BMW Financial Services. This, of course, beats the old process of using a pad of paper and a pencil.
5th Gear: Employment in Michigan, long a symbol of the downward spiral of the Rust Belt, grew 2.1 percent since the U.S. recession ended, a rate exceeded by only three other states. The growth in nonfarm jobs since June 2009 was fueled by gains for the Big Three automakers. General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC increased their combined market share of light vehicle sales in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Interestingly, Alaska, one of the states showing a larger percentage increase in jobs, also used government funds to boost its payroll gains — although a bit more directly than Michigan — their increase came from actual government payroll jobs and not just thanks to the bailout.
6th Gear: Today the Audi plant in Ingolstadt produced the five-millionth Audi A4. It was a picture-perfect Audi A4 2.0 TFSI quattro in Misano Red. The production milestone is the latest in a story that began in 1994 when the A4 model name was adopted. A great favorite with customers, the A4 accounts for a high proportion of production capacity at the Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm plants. Today the A4 Sedan, A4 Avant, A4 allroad quattro, S4 Sedan and S4 Avant are all manufactured in Ingolstadt; with some excess production of the A4 Sedan also being pushed off the assembly line in Neckarsulm.
⏎ Justice Scalia caught in a fender-bender. [Above The Law]
⏎ President Obama to unveil "green" federal auto fleet. [Detroit News]
⏎ Tesla CEO Elon Musk's ex-wife on CNBC's "Divorce Wars" tonight. Hey, remember when CNBC was actual financial news? Yeah, those were the good ol' days. [CNBC]
⏎ Honda announced yesterday that the HondaJet achieved a maximum speed of 489 MPH. [mfrtech]
⏎ Carmakers resist new fed safety, fuel rules. [Detroit News]
⏎ Maker Faire: Detroit is looking for entries. [Maker Faire]
On this day in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama issues an ultimatum to struggling American automakers General Motors (GM) and Chrysler: In order to receive additional bailout loans from the government, he says, the companies need to make dramatic changes in the way they run their businesses. [History]
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