Auto Service World
Feature   December 1, 2008   by CARS Magazine

News Briefs (December 01, 2008)

ACDelco Adds Professional Batteries, Bearing Line

ACDelco Adds Professional Batteries, Bearing Line

ACDelco announced the addition of two new Professional batteries to the battery line.

The 51-6YR has vehicle applications for Chrysler, Dodge, Eagle, Honda, Mitsubishi, Plymouth and Suzuki, and 51R6YR has vehicle applications for various Porsche, Acura, Honda, Lexus and Mitsubishi. These batteries have a 30-month non-commercial free replacement warranty and 72-month pro-rata warranty.

The company also announced the all makes and all models Advantage Bearing Line. The line consists of 227 hub and wheel bearings and covers 1,382 applications. The line is competitively priced and warranty on the parts is one year/20,000 kilometres excluding fleet and commercial usage.

Mitchell 1 announces Canadian CRM solution

Mitchell 1’s new Canadian Customer Retention Marketing (CRM) program integrates seamlessly with over 50 different Shop Management Systems to help automotive service providers turn first-time customers into loyal, profitable customers that repeatedly come back for all of their maintenance needs.

“Mitchell 1 CRM service reminders are the first step to optimizing your valuable customer database,” said Brian Warfield, Mitchell 1 product manager. “Service-specific recommendations are pulled directly from your Shop Management System’s database and sent to your current customers as their vehicles come up for recurring maintenance.”

The personalized nature of the service reminder cards means that they won’t be regarded as “junk mail,” but rather an important form of communication between shops and their customers. The cards feature the customer’s name on the front of the postcard and the shop’s logo, address and phone number are prominently displayed on the inside.

Each service reminder predicts 12 recommendations with easy-to-understand service history information. Track tire rotations, air filters, coolant flushes, brake jobs, ATF, belts, hoses, etc. Actual vehicle daily kilometers are used to compute suggested shop service recommendations.

Obama weighing idea of “auto czar,” aide says

President-elect Barack Obama is considering naming a point person to lead efforts to help the distressed auto industry return to health, an Obama aide said.

General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler LLC are seeking a federal bailout of up to US$50 billion. Automakers and Democratic congressional leaders have discussed a two-stage process in which government would provide US$25 billion in direct loans to meet urgent needs. A second US$25 billion would come later and could be applied to a United Auto Workers (UAW) retiree health care trust, freeing up more cash for operations.

An Obama transition official said the president-elect was looking into “identifying someone in charge of the auto issue who would have the authority to bring about reforms that would lead to an economically viable auto industry.”

Obama said at a news conference last week that he considered federal help for the industry a high priority for his transition and called the auto companies “the backbone of American manufacturing and a critical part of our attempt to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

He urged the Bush administration to accelerate disbursement of US$25 billion in advanced technology loans approved by Congress in September.

Mobile Air Conditioning Tech of the Year top finalists named

Carquest and the Mobile Air Conditioning Society Worldwide have announced the top three performers in the Mobile A/C-Heat Transfer Tech of the Year Competition. This is the third year that the warehouse distributor and the association have teamed up to find the best mobile A/C and heat transfer service technician in the United States and Canada. On November 15th, the Top 10 finalists spent the weekend at Hendrick Motorsports tackling a variety of A/C diagnostic challenges and a demanding written test. The three contestants who came out on top were Tony Harter, Indianapolis, Ind., Robert Jacobs, Lima, Ohio, and Chris Marker, also of Lima, Ohio. These three will now attend the MACS 2009 Convention and Trade Show, “New Frontiers in Mobile A/C Service,” at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Tex. The champion will be announced at the MACS Convention on Thursday, February 5, 2009 during the Carquest Awards Luncheon.

GM To Save Cash By Cutting Product Development

Reuters reported General Motors Corp. is delaying planned spending on product development for 2009 and 2010 in a bid to save cash.

The reduced spending, along with cuts to design, engineering and research budgets, could delay the launch of vehicles such as the Chevrolet Cruze, a fuel-efficient, small sedan that GM has touted as crucial to its turnaround effort.

Automotive News quoted an unnamed person familiar with GM’s plans as saying the cutbacks were aimed at saving as much as US$1.5 billion. GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said the automaker was reviewing its spending because of an industry-wide slump in sales, but declined to discuss whether specific vehicle programs such as the Cruze could be delayed as a result.

“We look at our portfolio on a monthly basis,” he said. “We are looking at our capital spending in the midst of the industry downturn.”

Wilkinson said GM was pushing ahead with development of the highly anticipated Chevy Volt, an all-electric car scheduled for release in 2010. In May, GM scrapped development plans for a replacement platform for its full-size SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade because of a sharp and continued drop in demand for full-size sport utility vehicles. More recently, GM has announced a series of stepped-up cost cutting as it battles to shore up its cash position amid a global slump in auto sales that threatens to overrun its restructuring plans.

In an unusual step also driven by cost cutting, GM said it was also pulling two new models it had planned to display at the Los Angeles Auto show. Without new borrowing or asset sales, GM is in danger of running dangerously low on cash in 2009, analysts have said. GM ended the second quarter with US$21 billion in cash and has been burning through more than US$1 billion per month. It needs a minimum of US$11 billion to run its operations, GM has said.

Delphi asks for more time to reorganize

Delphi Corp. said on Monday it would seek changes to its bankruptcy debtor-in-possession financing and an extension of US$4.35 billion to the middle of next year, or until it completes its reorganization.

Delphi, which filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2005, also said it expected to meet with investors to discuss efforts to extend the financing. The Troy, Michigan-based parts supplier cut its 2008 revenue forecast to US$21.64 billion, from US$22.2 billion mainly due to lower projected industry vehicle production volumes.

Delphi raised its first-half 2009 revenue forecast to US$9.79 billion, from US$9.63 billion due to slower than previously expected divestitures and by reduction in volumes.

The parts maker said its revised DIP financing plan includes a US$1.1 billion first priority revolving credit, US$500 million first priority term loan, and US$2.75 billion of second priority term loan.

Delphi also plans to submit new financial figures to reflect the delay in emerging from bankruptcy, the timing of planned divestitures and a 10 per cent reduction in projected global vehicle production volumes from prior estimates. The parts maker had entered the final stages of emerging from court protection in April when potential equity investors led by Appaloosa Management pulled out, forcing Delphi to look for alternatives.

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