Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu, announced during a visit to Ford’s headquarters that it will receive a loan of $8 billion, out of the $25 billion intended for loans to automakers to speed up development of more fuel-efficient vehicles. Ford will initially borrow $5.9 billion to be disbursed through 2011 for retooling 11 plants in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. The loans will help in employing about 35,000 engineering and factory personnel. Ford intends to begin repaying the loans in 2012.

Ford says that the loans will help it make 13 Ford models more fuel-efficient and intends to start selling four electric vehicle models by 2012.

Nissan will receive $1.6 billion in loans to be used in overhauling its factory in Tennessee where it will start building electric vehicles which it hopes will eventually build 150,000 electric cars annually. It estimates that the project will create 1,300 new jobs.

Tesla Motors, a California company, will get $465 million in loans to make electric vehicles. Tesla is only a six-year-old company which has been concentrating on producing electric vehicles. It intends to build two plants in California one to assemble its Model S, a battery-powered sedan it intends to start selling in 2011 for about $57,000. The second plant will be used to build battery packs and electric drive trains for both its own cars and those made by other manufacturers. The two plants could create as many as 1,650 new jobs.

The bankruptcies by General Motors and Chrysler made them ineligible for this first round of loans. It is expected, however, that similar loans will be approved at a later time.

If you think the vehicle you are driving may be a lemon, in California, call the Law Offices of Delsack & Associates at 888-Ex-Lemon (888-395-3666) for a Free consultation.

On Wednesday, June 10, 2009, Fiat management assumed control of Chrysler after the company had emerged from 42 days under bankruptcy protection. The new company is restarting operations under the name Chrysler Group L.L.C. and will be under the management control of Fiat which initially will hold 20% and whose eventual holding may increase to 35%. The remainder of the ownership is divided between a health-care trust for retirees of the United Automobile Workers union which holds 55%, and the American and Canadian governments which hold 8% and 2% respectively. Fiat cannot take majority control of Chrysler until it repays the federal government the monies which had been borrowed by Chrysler.

Chrysler’s new board of directors will consists of nine members, with three to be appointed by Fiat, four from the US Treasury, one by the Canadian government, and one by the UAW health care trust. It is not yet clear whether Chrysler will be selling shares to the public but the UAW president, Ron Gettelfinger, had recently stated that he wanted to sell the health care trust holdings as soon as possible.

The new company announced it would restart production soon but in the meantime was re-distributing vehicles, which it has an ample supply of, from its closed dealerships to the remaining dealers. Chrysler closed approximately 800 dealers as part of its bankruptcy. Remaining dealerships will operate normally.

While the federal government had backed Chrysler warranties of new vehicles sold while the company was in bankruptcy, Chrysler Group will now assume that responsibility. Likewise, warranties on Chrysler products which were purchased before Chrysler filed for bankruptcy will also be honored until they expire. Warranty work for vehicles which were sold by the now closed dealerships can be done at any of the remaining open Chrysler dealers.

Fiat management announced last week that it would soon begin transferring technology, engines, transmissions and other components to the Chrysler plants to enable them to start building small and medium-sized cars for sale in North America. As one of the first steps Chrysler Group will be offering the Fiat 500 to US consumers.

Think the Chrysler you are driving may be a lemon. Call 888-Ex-Lemon (888-395-3666) and speak with an attorney at the Law Offices of Delsack and Associates for a free consultation.

Several of GM’s labor unions and a group of General Motors bondholders filed objections on Friday, June 19, 2009 to GM’s plan to sell its assets to a new company. Under GM’s restructuring plan it had intended to sell the majority of its assets to a new company in which the federal government would own a 60% share, the Canadian government 12.5%, and the UAW 17.5% with the remaining unsecured bondholders to receive 10%. The owners of present GM shares would receive nothing.

These objections together with others filed by a few states and cities, other consumer groups, individual retirees, and other bondholders and shareholders may delay GM’s rapid emergence from the Chapter 11 process. The objecting bondholders group calls itself the Unofficial Committee of Family and Dissident GM Bondholders. It stated in Its objection that it was being treated unfairly compared to the interests of other stakeholders and that it deserved greater than a 10% share in the new company which had been proposed if the sale of GM’s assets went through. The group compared itself to the United Automobile Workers union which was scheduled to receive a 17.5% stake in the new company. The bondholders group claims it represents approximately 1,500 bondholders with interests exceeding $400 million. In its objection it also asked the bankruptcy court to allow it to create a committee that could negotiate with GM’s separately from the larger bank and investment firm bondholders. A hearing on the matter was scheduled for June 23, 2009.

Earlier this month General Motors started a new advertising campaign to acquire a larger share of the California market. Californians tend to buy more hybrids and those in other states and are more environmentally conscious. Chrysler, too, wants to grab a share of California’s penchant for small, fuel-efficient car sales which it hopes to fulfill with its partner Italian automaker Fiat. GM has already gotten rid of its high fuel consumption lines of vehicles, in particular Hummer and instead will now focus on more fuel-efficient Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC vehicles. Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC already have gas-electric hybrids in their current 2009 product lines, which include the Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Silverado, Cadillac Escalade, and GMC Yukon.

The main focus of GM’s green strategy will be the Chevrolet Volt, an electric hybrid designed to travel 40 miles on one charge, and thereafter have a three cylinder gas engine take over to recharge its lithium-Ion battery pack. The car will be offered for sale in the 2010 model year.

California, in 2008, represented 24.2% of America’s hybrid market which is more than two times the state’s historical share of new vehicle sales in this past decade. Although GM has been steadily losing ground to Toyota and Honda it was still ahead of Ford and Chrysler. In 2008 GM had a 14.2% share of new car sales whereas Ford had an 11.4%, and Chrysler’s was 7.5%. These were significantly less than Toyota’s 25.6% share and Honda’s 13.4% share.

Two motorcycle manufacturers and three automobile manufacturers have announced safety recalls this month. The recalls were issued by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) and include Harley-Davidson which is recalling 11,000 of its motorcycles, and Ducati which is recalling 730 of its motorcycles. The automobile manufacturers include Volvo which is recalling 17,500 models, Kia which is recalling 35,000 of its Optima model, and Hyundai which is recalling 175,000 vehicles. The recalls require that the defects in these motorcycles and vehicles be repaired with no expense to the consumer.

If you own one of these vehicles and think yours may be a lemon, please call us at 888-395-3666 (888-Ex-Lemon) to discuss. The Law Offices of Delsack and Associates has over 21 years experience.

Although 8.5 million cars and light trucks were assembled in the United States last year, the traditional Big Three automakers, Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors, only accounted for about 5 million of those. The remaining 3 million were built in the United States in American plants for manufacturers such as Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Honda, and BMW. Making it more confusing is that the Big Three also have assembly plants in Canada and Mexico. Thus, American car buyers are faced with the question of whether a car manufactured by a company with its headquarters in Japan, but which has been built in Ohio, as is the Honda Accord, is more American than is a car from an American company headquartered in Michigan selling cars manufactured in Mexico, as is, for example, the Ford Fusion.

Toyota is the leading producer of vehicles built in the United States beating out Chrysler last year by a slight margin. In fact, Honda has been building its vehicles in the United States since as early as 1982 in its plant in Marysville Ohio. And in the 80s and 90s Canadian and Mexican plants were already turning out cars for the Big Three American manufacturers.

Therefore, what is euphemistically called “domestic content,” may not be domestic at all. Domestic content may include parts made in Canada and Mexico. However, while American auto workers are assembling vehicles in American plants for foreign manufacturers, labor is excluded from the determination of what is American-built. Thus, foreign auto manufacturers with assembly plants in the United States cannot factor in the value of American labor, nor be credited for it.

To further confuse matters while, for example, Honda builds its engines in its plant in Ohio for the Acura RTX, the country of origin is still listed as Japan. The reason is that one expensive part, the turbocharger, is actually manufactured and imported from Japan although installed by workers in the Ohio plant.

Clearly, determining whether a car is American-built is confusing and oftentimes misleading.

According to the latest findings from Consumer Reports the Toyota Prius, Smart car, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, and the Honda Civic Hybrid are the cars that deliver in best city MPG. These cars use the least amount of gas in stop and go driving.