Motoring News

Running On Empty

Here are some notes from the past week in the automotive world, courtesy of auto expert Jim MacPherson:

-Tesla, a maker of electrically powered cars, has vowed to start repaying federal loans by the end of the year. Regulatory filings at the end of March showed the company still has $104.5 million left from its $465 million development loan from the Energy Department. This money will be used in the third quarter, with repayments starting after.

The federal loans were part of a program that also included Fisker, Ford, and Nissan. The goal was to promote the production of non-gasoline burning vehicles while generating new jobs. The company also announced that the first of its new Model S sedans will be delivered in June, rather than the original release date of July.

-Who will be the next CEO of General Motors? Dan Akerson, 63, currently holds the position. Speaking at a Wall Street Journal conference held in Palm Beach, Fla., he deferred to the board on the issue of succession. However, he did mention Mary Barra, 50, as a potential candidate for the top spot. She’s GM’s top female executive, overseeing global product development and a $15 billion budget.

According to Akerson, women deal better with change, adding that there are still many changes needed at GM. One of them, in this male-dominated business, is to accept that women have a role to play. After all, an Internet search for Mary Barra’s official biography produces this result from General Motors: “Mary Barra became senior vice president on Feb. 1, 2011. Read his biography…”  Yes, it says “his biography…”

-More troubles for Fisker:  After having one of its cars fail during initial testing by Consumer Reports magazine, the company is now facing the issue of a garage fire at the home of a suburban Houston customer. The battery in this plug-in hybrid Fisker has been cleared in the fire, but Automotive News quotes an expert who suggested that the engine bay is too crowded and heat buildup combined with fluid leakage might have been the cause. Speculation aside, the cause of the fire will be determined by fire department investigators.

-Jim MacPherson

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