Posted tagged ‘Ford’

What Happens in Vegas…

February 2, 2011

As we turn the calendar from one year to another, what does it make you think about? New Year’s Resolutions? Back-To-School? The Super Bowl?

Well, if you’re like me and employed in the world of tech PR, it means one thing…the annual “Super Bowl” of consumer electronics events, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

If you’ve ever attended CES then you know that the show has grown exponentially since its early days. There’s nothing quite like getting more than 140,000+ of your closest friends together in Las Vegas for 4 days of the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos from some of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world. Each year, months of hype lead up to the show. Who’s going to be there? What are they going to be demonstrating? What’s the big, new “it” product? And this year was no different.

Quite a few major technology trends emerged from this year’s show floor that are sure to keep me busy throughout 2011. Some of the significant topics of discussion included the launch of dozens of new tablet devices, wireless 4G LTE and enhanced connected television technologies.

And if you thought that CES had lost its luster and prestige…think again! Last year was a major down year in terms of attendance for CES. But, it was the large crowd at this year’s show that caught the attention of many in the media:

“I must’ve gotten the following question fifty times in the past few days: what’s the coolest thing you saw at CES? Every time, I’ve given the same answer: the crowd…It’s what the size of the 2011 CES signifies about the consumer electronics industry, and about the cultural centrality of a set of devices and issues that used to be the sole province of geeks.” Jon Stokes, Ars Technica

“CES 2011 is back to normal. It was packed with vendors and attendees. The overall tone was extremely up beat… It was fun to walk the floor and see what was on display.” Bill Wong, Electronic Design

There was no shortage of big names at CES. Amongst those speaking in Las Vegas this year were Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, Rupert Stadler of AUDI AG, Boo-Keun Yoon of Samsung, Alan Mulally of Ford and Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon. Each gave a Keynote presentation and Mulally used his presentation to unveil the company’s first electric vehicle, the Ford Focus Electric. Did you miss any of the Keynote presentations? Don’t worry…in this day and age you can easily go back and watch all of them online on the CES website anytime you like.

We talked trends coming out of the show earlier, and in 2011, there was no shortage of hot button topics that everyone wanted to talk about. Here’s what members of the media had to say about what they saw on the show floor:

“From the very first press conference, the main theme from the show emerged: your next smartphone will likely connect to a 4G network. For business use, 4G on your smartphone or tablet means easier Internet back-ups, smooth video chats, and snappier Web viewing.” John Brandon, Inc. Magazine

“This year, the show was all about Android. We ushered in the era of dual-core Androids with LG and Motorola, we celebrated the 4G revolution with LG, Motorola, and Samsung, and we even got a glimpse at how Android works when screen resolution is bumped beyond the all-too-common WVGA, thanks to Motorola. Oh, and a little thing called Android 3.0 Honeycomb is going to transform the way we think about not only tablets, but smartphones too.” Brandon Miniman, PocketNow.com

Larger crowds, 4G and gadgets galore! These were some of the highlights of CES this year. I think we can safely say that the recession appears to be over and if CES is any barometer for the state of the industry, then we’re in for a big 2011!

Did you go to CES this year? What was your biggest takeaway? What was your most memorable moment (at the event…not in Vegas)?

Advertisements

Ford Posts Profit of Nearly $1 Billion

November 2, 2009

Ford, the only automaker to dodge direct government aid and bankruptcy court, surprised investors this morning with a net income of nearly $1 billion in the third quarter.

Where did that come from???

From the Associated Press:

The automaker said Monday earnings were fueled by U.S. market share gains, cost cuts and the Cash for Clunkers program, which drew flocks of buyers to showrooms this summer. Ford’s shares rose 68 cents, or 9.8 percent, to $7.68 in morning trading.

The latest results signal that Ford’s turnaround is on more solid ground. The company lost more than $14.6 billion last year and hasn’t posted a full-year profit since 2005. While it made a profit in the second quarter, that was mainly due to debt reductions that cut its interest payments.

Ford, based in Dearborn, Mich., reported third-quarter net income of $997 million, or 29 cents per share. Its profit forecast for 2011 was a step above previous guidance of break-even or better for the year.

Ford’s key North American car and truck division posted a pretax profit of $357 million, the division’s first quarter in the black since early 2005. Ford cited higher pricing, lower material costs and increased market share for the improvement.

Excluding one-time items, Ford earned 26 cents per share, blowing away analysts’ expectations of a loss of 12 cents.

The earnings came despite an $800 million revenue drop. But Ford said it cut costs by $1 billion during the quarter, accomplished through layoffs in North America and Europe, reduced pension and retiree health care costs and improvements in productivity and product development.

General Motors to Cut Jobs, Discontinue Pontiac Brand

April 27, 2009

General Motors has announced this morning that it will cut 21,000 U.S. factory jobs by next year and phase out its storied Pontiac brand.

The company will also ask the government to take more than half its stock in exchange for half of GM’s government debt as part of a major restructuring plan.

From the Associated Press:

The struggling automaker said it will offer 225 shares of common stock for every $1,000 in notes held by bondholders as part of a debt-for-equity swap that aims to retire most of GM’s $27 billion in unsecured debt.

The announcements came in a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

GM is living on $15.4 billion in government loans and faces a June 1 deadline to restructure and get more government money. If the restructuring doesn’t satisfy the government, the company could go into bankruptcy protection.

GM said in a news release that it will ask the government to take 50 percent of its common stock in exchange for canceling half the government loans to the company as of June 1.

In addition, GM is offering the United Auto Workers stock for at least 50 percent of the $20 billion the company must pay into a union run trust that will take over retiree health care expenses starting next year.

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner to Step Down

March 29, 2009

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner will step down after more than eight years with the company.

From Bloomberg:

General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner will step down after more than eight years running the largest U.S. automaker, people familiar with the situation said.

The people, who asked not to be named because the announcement hasn’t been made, didn’t give a reason why Wagoner, 56, is leaving. Wagoner said as recently as March 19 that he didn’t plan to resign.

From the New York Times:

The chairman and chief executive of General Motors, Rick Wagoner, is resigning, just as President Obama prepares to unveil his rescue plans on Monday for G.M. and the ailing American auto industry, according to a person close to the decision.

The unexpected move by Mr. Wagoner, who has been at the helm of G.M. for eight years, was not confirmed by the company. But a statement about Mr. Wagoner’s future will be issued after the president’s address.

G.M. and Chrysler are on the verge of exhausting the $17.4 billion in federal loans given to them since December. G.M. has asked for up to $16.6 billion more, and Chrysler another $5 billion.

The president’s auto task force is expected to recommend more short-term assistance to the two Detroit companies, but with tight strings attached to the money and a new deadline to get concessions from union workers and creditors.

Social Media Works…As Part of a Larger Campaign

February 6, 2009

Social Media Today asks the question: are we really missing the point about the strategies we create using these technologies?

It’s true, the number of followers you have on your Twitter account matters and the percentage of readers coming to your blog via an RSS reader are important.

But the real value of social media campaigns emerges when they’re connected to other elements of a broader communications and marketing campaign. Social media should be a component of the core campaign, and an important one.

From Social Media Today:

The other day in an article that’s gained a lot of attention, Guardian tech journalist Bobbie Johnson proclaimed that he’s done with social media. If you haven’t done so it’s definitely worth a read. In summary Bobbie says:

“I’ve had it with social media. Not social networking per se, but the incessant chatter about how “social media” is changing the world. How it’s going mainstream. How it’s the biggest change we’ve ever seen.”

So we have the incessant squawking of “experts”, and the talking up of the same people again and again and again as the ones everyone should ‘follow’ – something Kevin Palmer discusses in a great post entitled ‘The social media echo chamber makes me not want to listen.’

At its worst, it manifests itself in people pruning their friend lists down so they can game the ranking system Twitter Grader (which awards a higher score if more people follow you than the other way around) – really, who cares.

The core problem is that social media is being looked at in isolation as something only to be touched by a select group of gurus. Instead, to my mind it should be an intrinsic part of every marcoms campaign – you have an idea of how you are going to target print, broadcast and also online.

It’s a component of the core campaign, and an important one. But it doesn’t sit on its own.

So while I completely get why organisations have individuals like the excellent Shannon Paul (Detroit RedWings), Kelly Feller (Intel) and Scott Monty (Ford) on-board to operate in this space, it seems to make less sense for actual agencies to set up specialist divisions – and every week I still read about someone here in the UK doing just that. For the reasons mentioned above, we took the opposite approach.

We once had a division (Herd was originally the name of it, I simply kept the URL for the blog). But we stopped that last year, thinking that it would be better to skill up all the core account handlers in online media knowledge. And while one or two of the Cows like myself definitely have more of an interest in this area, I’d never bill myself as an ‘expert’!

So the backlash is in full swing, as demonstrated by those two videos below. Maybe no bad thing. Bobbie says at the end of his piece, “I’m sick of “social media sensations”. And I’m sick of social media. Social media is people. People talk about stuff. The end.”

President Bush Announces Auto Industry Bailout

December 19, 2008

President Bush announced a rescue plan for General Motors and Chrysler this morning that will make $13.4 billion in federal loans available to the industry almost immediately.

From CNNMoney:

A senior administration official briefing reporters said he expects that GM and Chrysler LLC will be signing the loan papers to access the cash later Friday morning.

The money will come from the $700 billion fund set aside to bailout Wall Street firms and banks in October.

With these loans, Treasury will have committed virtually all of the $350 billion of that fund that it can hand out without additional authorization from Congress. Once Congress releases the other $350 billion, the two automakers will be able to borrow an additional $4 billion.

GM will get $9.4 billion from the first allocation of federal loan money, while Chrysler would get the other $4 billion.

The loans are for three years but the money will have to be repaid in full within 30 days if the firms do not show themselves to be viable by March 31. It is expected that the companies will have to negotiate new agreements with unions and creditors in order to do so.

Here is the text of President Bush’s remarks delivered this morning at the White House, courtesy of the Associated Press, on financial assistance to troubled auto makers:

BUSH: Good morning.

For years, America’s automakers have faced serious challenges; burdensome costs, shrinking share of the market and declining profits. In recent months, the global financial crisis has made these challenges even more severe.

Now, some U.S. auto executives say that their companies are nearing collapse and that the only way they can buy time to restructure is with help from the federal government. It’s a difficult situation that involves fundamental questions about the proper role of government.

On the one hand, government has the responsibility not to undermine the private enterprise system. On the other hand, government has a responsibility to safeguard the broader health and stability of our economy.

Addressing the challenges in the auto industry requires us to balance these two responsibilities. If we were to allow the free market to take its course now, it would almost certainly lead to disorderly bankruptcy and liquidation for the automakers.

Under ordinary economic circumstances, I would say this is the price that failed companies must pay. And I would not favor intervening to prevent the automakers from going out of business. But these are not ordinary circumstances.

In the midst of a financial crisis and a recession, allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse is not a responsible course of action. The question is how we can best give it a chance to succeed.

Some argue the wisest path is to allow the auto companies to reorganize through Chapter 11 provisions of our bankruptcy laws and provide federal loans to keep them operating while they try to restructure under the supervision of a bankruptcy court.

But given the current state of the auto industry and the economy, Chapter 11 is unlikely to work for American automakers at this time. American consumers understand why. If you hear that a car company is suddenly going into bankruptcy, you worry that parts and servicing will not be available and you question the value of your warranty.

With consumers hesitant to buy new cars from struggling automakers, it would be more difficult for auto companies to recover. Additionally, the financial crisis brought the auto companies to the brink of bankruptcy much faster than they could have anticipated. And they have not made the legal and financial preparations necessary to carry out an orderly bankruptcy proceeding that could lead to a successful restructuring.

The convergence of these factors means there is too great a risk that bankruptcy now would lead to a disorderly liquidation of American auto companies. My economic advisers believe that such a collapse would deal an unacceptably painful blow to hardworking Americans far beyond the auto industry. It would worsen a weak job market and exacerbate the financial crisis. It could send our suffering economy into a deeper and longer recession.

And it would leave the next president to confront the demise of a major American industry in his first days of office.

The more responsible option is to give the auto companies an incentive to restructure outside of bankruptcy and a brief window in which to do it. And that is why my administration worked with Congress on a bill to provide automakers with loans to stave off bankruptcy while they develop plans for viability.

This legislation earned bipartisan support from majorities in both houses of Congress. Unfortunately, despite extensive debate and agreement that we should prevent disorderly bankruptcies in the American auto industry, Congress was unable to get a bill to my desk before adjourning this year.

This means the only way to avoid a collapse of the U.S. auto industry is for the executive branch to step in. The American people want the auto companies to succeed and so do I.

So today I’m announcing that the federal government will grant loans to all the companies under conditions similar to those Congress considered last week. These loans will provide help in two ways. First, they will give automakers three months to put in place plans to restructure into viable companies which we believe they are capable of doing.

Second, if restructuring cannot be accomplished outside of bankruptcy, the loans will provide time for companies to make the legal and financial preparations necessary for an orderly Chapter 11 process that offers a better prospect of long-term success and gives consumer confidence that they can continue to buy American cars.

Because Congress failed to make funds available for these loans, the plan I’m announcing today will be drawn from the financial rescue package Congress approved earlier this fall. The terms of the loans will require auto companies to demonstrate how they would become viable.

They must pay back all their loans to the government and show that their firms can earn a profit and achieve a positive net worth. This restructuring will require meaningful concessions from all involved in the auto industry — management, labor unions, creditors, bond holders, dealers, and suppliers.

In particular, automakers must meet conditions that experts agree are necessary for long-term viability, including putting their retirement plans on a sustainable footing, persuading bond holders to convert their debt into capital that companies need to address immediate financial shortfalls, and making their compensation competitive with foreign automakers who have major operations in the United States.

If a company fails to come up with a viable plan by March 31st, it would be required to repay its federal loans. The automakers and unions must understand what is at stake and make hard decisions necessary to reform.

These conditions send a clear message to everyone involved in the future of American automakers. The time to make hard decisions to become viable is now. Or the only option will be bankruptcy.

The actions I’m announcing today represent a step that we wish were not necessary. But given the situation, it is the most effective and responsible way to address this challenge facing our nation. By giving the auto companies a chance to restructure, we will shield the American people from a harsh economic blow at a vulnerable time and we will give American workers an opportunity to show the world, once again, they can meet challenges with ingenuity and determination and bounce back from tough times and emerge stronger than before.

Thank you.

Chrysler to Shut Factories for One Month

December 17, 2008

Chrysler stated on Wednesday that it would close all 30 of its factories for at least one month, starting at the end of this week, in response to plunging vehicle sales in the United States.

From CNN:

All 30 of the carmaker’s plants will close after the last shift on Friday, and employees will not be asked to return to work before Jan. 19.

Chrysler blamed the “continued lack of consumer credit for the American car buyer” for the slow-down in sales that forced the move.

The company ordinarily shuts down operations between Dec. 24 and Jan. 5. This closure would add roughly two weeks to that shutdown.

Chrysler is the third of the Big Three automakers to suspend operations for January. Last week, General Motors announced it was idling 30% of its North American manufacturing capacity during the first quarter of 2009 in response to deteriorating market conditions. That move will take 250,000 vehicles out of production. On Wednesday, a Ford spokeswoman confirmed for CNN that the automaker is adding a week to its normal two-week seasonal shutdown at a number of its plants.

Chrysler would not say how many fewer vehicles would be produced because of this shutdown. A total of 46,000 employees will be affected. They will be paid during the time off through a combination of state unemployment benefits and Chrysler contributions, but they will not receive the full amount of their working pay, a Chrysler spokesman said.

“Chrysler dealers confirmed to the company at a recent meeting at its headquarters, that they have many willing buyers for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles but are unable to close the deals, due to lack of financing,” the carmaker said in an announcement. “The dealers have stated that they have lost an estimated 20% to 25% of their volume because of this credit situation.”