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Obama met with large US companies over faster payout to suppliers

President Barack Obama has held a meeting with a number of major American and multinational companies -- including carmakers Honda, Nissan and Toyota – to discuss an initiative that entails speedy payout to smaller suppliers and aimed at helping them expand and employ more people.

The president rekindled the companies’ pledge to pay smaller suppliers within 15 days, which should help them have more funds to invest and create employment. The initiative means larger companies could ensure that their suppliers are financially sound, the White House said in a statement, adding that the effort “demonstrates a recognition that a healthy supply chain is good for business.”

Among those who attended the meeting was Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America Inc., as well as Billy Vickers, CEO of Modular Assemblies Innovations.

Read the entire article Obama met with large US companies over faster payout to suppliers

Obama directs agencies to propose new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks

President Barrack Obama has directed the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Transportation to propose a second phase of stiffer fuel economy standards by March 2015 for heavy-duty vehicles.  The heavy-duty vehicle category covers three-quarter-ton pickups, large vans, tractor-trailers and garbage trucks.

Obama told the two agencies to finalize their proposals a year later, and to design them to be more stringent until "well into the next decade." "Improving gas mileage for these trucks is going to drive down our oil imports even further," Obama said. "That reduces carbon pollution even more, cuts down on businesses' fuel costs, which should pay off in lower prices for consumers."

The move is the Obama administration’s latest push for fuel savings. The administration has inked an agreement with California and the auto industry to double the fleet-wide fuel economy of cars and light trucks to an average of 54.5 mpg by the 2025 model year – leading to changes in the design of cars and light trucks.

Read the entire article Obama directs agencies to propose new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks

Obama wants new emission standards issued by March 2016

US President Barack Obama has given direction for the issuance of the next round of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016. According to Obama, the move would benefit the US economy via lower costs for consumers and development of new technology while improving US energy security.

The standards are also expected to impose stiffer fuel economy standards on heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, building on rules that took effect in model year 2013. The new standards would also set a fleet-wide average for each maker of heavy-duty vehicles based on the average carrying and towing capacity of its vehicles.

The White House said in a statement that the higher mileage standards are part of Obama's strategy for energy security and dealing with climate change. The previous standard required carmakers to double average fuel economy of their fleets to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Read the entire article Obama wants new emission standards issued by March 2016

Obama administration closer to end bailout program as U.S. Treasury will sell its 32% stake in GM

The Obama administration received a tremendous boost from the plan of the U.S. Treasury to sell the stake it has left in General Motors Co. This brings the government closer to its aim to put an end to a $418 billion bailout program that has become a major issue during the presidential campaign.

With this decision to leave GM in the next 15 months and the sale of the Treasury’s remaining shares of insurer American International Group Inc. last week, two corporate symbols of the 2008 economic crisis from the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program will be wiped out.

For AIG, taxpayers gave up $182.3 billion while $49.5 billion was spent for the rescue of GM. Stephen Myrow, who worked on the program in 2008 as a Treasury official in the administration of George W. Bush and is currently the managing director at ACG Analytics Inc., an investment research and consulting firm in Washington, said that this proves that as the Obama administration embarks on its second term, it aims to cut its link to TARP “as quickly as practicable."

Read the entire article Obama administration closer to end bailout program as U.S. Treasury will sell its 32% stake in GM

US President Barack Obama secured victory for another four-year term, which could mean a return to an agenda of support for electric vehicles. Obama’s second term could also mean an implementation of new rules on tailpipe emissions and auto safety that presidential appointees have been raring to release.

Mitt Romney, Obama’s Republican rival, conceded at 12:55 a.m. Eastern time. The recent election also saw Democrats retaining control of the Senate while Republicans keep their hold of the House.

Obama said in his victory speech that he hopes to have a meeting with Romney in the coming weeks to discuss ways to move the country forward. The auto industry played a vital role in Obama’s successful reelection campaign, as it became the focus of an $85 billion federal bailout that led to the revival of General Motors and Chrysler.

Read the entire article Renewed support for electric vehicles expected as Obama secures victory

President Barack Obama has invested $5 billion in taxpayer money to achieve a goal of having a million electric vehicles plying on the streets of the United States by 2015. However, official figures say that less than 50,000 electric vehicles have been bought from 2011 to September 2012, which is around 5 percent of the president’s 2015 target.

Why? According to Brett Smith, co-director of manufacturing, engineering and technology at the Center for Automotive Research, reality shows that a business model for electric vehicles is not there yet. Smith said there is yet no business model for volume and reaching the mass consumer. He forecasted that a business model for electric vehicles would not be there for awhile.

The $5 billion investment that the current administration includes loans and grants to car makers and battery producers, spending on charging stations and $7,500 tax credits to car buyers. Companies who received loans and grants include: Nissan Motor Co., Fisker Automotive Inc., Tesla Motors Corp. and A123 Systems Inc.

Read the entire article Electric-vehicle sales figure still far from reaching Obama’s target for 2015

Former chairman of American International Group Inc., Harvey Golub, accused President Barack Obama of violating “every bankruptcy principle known to man” in the financial bailout of carmakers General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. In an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Betty Liu during the “In the Loop” program, Golub noted that one of the major elements of a bankruptcy is that similarly situated debtors get the same treatment, quipping that rules were changed as it was the unions, not the companies, who were rescued.

The $63.4 billion bailout of GM and Chrysler has become one of the major issues discussed nowadays in the United States; especially that it is the center of debate for the two protagonists at the upcoming presidential election.

While the Obama administration considers the bailout as one of its biggest successes; his election rival Mitt Romney has called the restructurings as “crony capitalism” that helped union allies. The United Auto Workers (UAW), which represents GM and Chrysler hourly workers in the US, agreed in 2009 to concessions that included terminating programs that paid workers indefinitely when a plant was idled.

Read the entire article Obama broke bankruptcy principles in GM bailout, says ex-AIG chairman

President Barack Obama released the final version of Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, rule, which requires carmaker to more than double the average fuel economy by 2025. In an e-mailed statement, Obama said that by the middle of the next decade, or 2025, cars in the United States will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today.

The President said that the CAFE rule will strengthen the energy security of the US, adding that it is good for middle class families and will help create “an economy built to last." According to the White House, the CAFE rule, which took effect earlier this year, is intended to cut US oil consumption by 12 billion barrels and lead to fuel savings of over $8,000 by 2025 over the life of a vehicle.

Increasing average fuel economy is a vital part of Obama's plan to cut oil imports and usage as his administration has been promoting acquisitions of more fuel-efficient vehicles to cut the use of fossil fuels. The Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the proposed rule for model years 2017 to 2025 in November 2011 after striking a deal with carmakers on the outline in July 2011.

Read the entire article Barack Obama releases final version of CAFE mileage standards

Supporters of hydrogen fuel cells would be pleased by comments made by two of President Barack Obama’s aides who said that fuel cells are included in the solution for improving the efficiency of automobiles. It also raises optimism that the U.S. government will provide aid in making a market for this technology.

Former President George W. Bush had pushed hydrogen fuel cells but when Obama became the president in 2008, the plug-in electric vehicles became favored. Obama has set a target to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Energy Secretary Steven Chu posed doubts about the value of hydrogen-powered cars and had reduced the funding for fuel-cell research. Scott Samuelsen, the National Fuel Cell Research Center director, was interviewed at a conference in Washington that the Hydrogen Education Foundation sponsors.

He said that in the last 6-9 months, there was a significant turnaround of how needed it is in the future, according to BusinessWeek. He added that there has to be some moves that have to happen first for the needs to be met by 2015. This is the year wherein automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp. are working to present their first fuel-cell vehicles in the U.S.

Read the entire article Fuel cells cars might be Obama’s solution for improving automobile efficiency

One of the issues expected to be tackled in the upcoming US presidential election is the gasoline price, which have been increasingly becoming unfriendly to the pockets of Americans. Even though the price of gasoline is not really affected by the president’s performance, the opposite is true during election-year: the price of gasoline affects the way voters see the performance of the leader of the US.

Election data show that presidents during whose terms the price of gasoline is relatively flat, had their parties remain in power after elections. But presidents during whose terms the price of gasoline has drastically risen had their parties booted out of the White House. But why do people see gasoline price hikes as the president’s fault? Even though the price of gasoline is directly tied to the situations in the Middle East, refining regulations and fuel formulations, its effect on the economy greatly affect the voters. 

According to the February survey initiated by GfK Roper, Americans consider fuel prices as a major election issue this election-year. The polling shows that 71% of Americans consider gasoline prices are "extremely" or "very important," up from 65% in December 2011. One of the major concerns during the election period is the pump price issue, which is considered just as important as issues in taxes, terrorism and the deficit. It is even considered as more important than immigration concerns as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The pump price concern is only ranked below the economy, education and unemployment. 

Read the entire article Rising gasoline prices may spell doom for Obama’s reelection bid

The administration of Obama is seeking considerably higher fines for violations of auto safety despite the vehicle manufacturers being able to quickly report defects to U.S. regulators following the recall crisis of Toyota Motor Corp. The present maximum fine of $17 million per case is not sufficient, according to David Strickland, who is the government's top vehicle safety official as administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

He further commented that the fines will not put off businesses with deep pockets from withholding safety information from regulators inadvertently or deliberately. 

Strickland said during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing that it is time the fines are "reflective of the size of the industry." Last week, the Senate has approved a provision in transportation legislation that would raise civil penalties for the first time in more than a decade to as much as $250 million.

Read the entire article Obama administration proposes higher fines for vehicle safety violations

The Chevrolet Volt found a new fan in the person of the highest official of the United States of America, President Barack Obama. Of course the electric plug-in Volt is not the type of car a president should ride for security reasons, but Obama said he will gladly buy a Volt when his term ends. Speaking at a UAW conference on Tuesday, Obama said he enjoyed the feel of the Volt when he rode one while touring a Chevrolet assembly plant in Detroit in 2010.

Obama, however, has to get the permission of his security, the Secret Service, or wait for the end of his term before he could ride one. “I'll bet it drives real good,” Obama said, adding “Five years from now when I'm not president anymore, I'll buy one and drive it myself."

From his speech, it seems Obama is confident he would be given a second four-year term after the votes are counted in the upcoming November 6 presidential election. Obama centers his re-election campaign on the successful bailout of the auto sector, particularly General Motors, Chevrolet’s parent, and Chrysler, now run by Italian carmaker Fiat SpA. The Obama administration approved more than $2 billion in funds to help develop battery systems for electric cars, which includes the $40,000 Volt.

Read the entire article Obama wants to own a Chevy Volt when term ends “5 years from now”

Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has accused President Barack Obama of using the bailout of U.S. car manufacturers to enrich union supporters, impairing the auto industry's recovery. Romney wrote in op-ed column in The Detroit News that as part of Obama's plan to save Chrysler Group LLC, the company’s secured creditors were given “short shrift”, while UAW’s trust fund received a 55% stake in the firm.

 Romney suggested in his column that the Obama administration should divest the government’s stake in General Motors Co. and turn the profit over to taxpayers.  Romney further blasted Obama in the column, saying that he believes that without the President’s intervention on Detroit financial debacle in 2009, things would be better. Obama engineered the federal bailout of GM, now General Motors Co., and Chrysler, now owned by Italian carmaker Fiat S.p.A.

Obama is using his role in the successful bailout as the theme in his presidential re-election campaign. It was really a success, as both GM and Chrysler were in the brink of collapse in 2009 and now have a significant free cash flow. US carmakers are increasing their production as the US light-vehicle sales soared by at least 10% for two straight years in 2010 and 2011. GM recently announced that in 2011, it had stolen the crown as the world’s best-selling carmaker away from Toyota Motor Corp.

Read the entire article Mitt Romney blasts US President Obama over 2009 Detroit bailout

As soon as non-U.S.-based automakers such as Honda and Toyota learned that President Barack Obama would be attending the Washington Auto Show on Jan. 31 just two days before the date, they hurried to give him a good show. They sent in their vehicles with the highest fuel economy, giving in to what White House staff requested. In addition, auto executives were brought in from California.

Unfortunately, their efforts were in vain as Obama didn’t turn his attention to any of these cars built in the U.S. by foreign automakers. He was at the show for about 30 minutes and he spent it by having his picture taken with a Dodge Dart, a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, a Chevrolet Silverado pick-up, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, a Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, a Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid and a Chevrolet Malibu.

Meanwhile, the executives of foreign firms Honda, Kia Motors Corp., Mercedes-Benz and other automakers eagerly waited in a “bullpen” for questions that Obama may raise about their vehicles. Not one of them were put to the task, according to Michael Stanton, the CEO of the Association of Global Automakers. He said that its members were “terribly disappointed that the president refused to recognize the commitment that our members and others have made to the manufacturing base of the United States.” He pointed out that many of its members had exerted a lot of effort to meet the White House’s request.

Read the entire article Obama disappointed asian automakers from the Washington Auto Show

The Obama administration made the decision last Friday to oppose the closure of a loan of up to $730 million for steelmaker Severstal North America, whose financing bid to expand a plant for auto steel production has attracted the attention of congressional investigators who are evaluating Energy Department loan programs.

Congress has yet to make a conclusion about Severstal's application but the Energy Department said that it has decided not to proceed with the financing for the wholly owned subsidiary of Russia's OAO Severstal.

Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, said that not all projects that get a conditional commitment are able to close its loan.

Read the entire article Obama administration declines a $730 million loan for steelmaker Severstal North America

With General Motors Co. increasing its earnings and widening its market share, the Obama administration is in a dilemma and may be opening itself up to criticism no matter what it does. The $50 billion government bailout had rescued GM. Last Thursday, GM closed at $20.70 a share -- less than half the $53 price that the U.S. Treasury Department requires to break even. On Dec. 19, its shares closed at their lowest price since last year’s initial public offering.

Since then, the shares have increased for three consecutive days. Sources said that the stock would have to rally nearly 50% to attain $30 a share. This is the minimum price that the Treasury Department would consider for a secondary offering. This August, when a candidate is nominated by Republicans, the government will most likely either still own a significant portion of GM or it would already have sold the stock at a loss that could be over $10 billion.

Dan Ikenson, an economist at the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank, said, "The administration is in a Catch-22.” He explained that GM is hoping to wait to obtain the best price but the longer they’re holding on to it, the more its critics will say that the administration “still has a horse in the race and could make policy that is favorable to GM."

Read the entire article GM is making more money than it has in its history but it’s still a headache for Obama

The Obama administration has submitted a proposal that by 2025, it will impose a doubling of auto fuel efficiency ratings to 54.5 miles per gallon. Congress has been criticizing what White House refers to as an energy priority. This plan stemmed from a deal entered last spring between the administration, automakers and environmental groups to lessen U.S. dependence on oil imports and to reduce tailpipe emissions.

The regulators aim for this proposal to be wrapped up in the summer after a 60-day public comment period.

Obama plans to grant the industry a five-year period when they could develop fuel-saving technologies and plan products before the rule starts taking effect in 2017.

Read the entire article Obama administration wants to double fuel-economy standard to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025

President Barack Obama visited General Motors Co.’s Orion assembly plant together with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to showcase a free trade agreement that the Congress approved this week. Obama also moved to defend a federal "investment" that assisted GM and Chrysler LLC to reorganize under bankruptcy in 2009.

Obama told GM workers there that the government's aid to U.S. car companies "paid off" in rescuing the U.S. automotive industry and in adding jobs. He went on to add that the cars that are being assembled at this plant are “a testimony to the American spirit."

Meanwhile, Lee assured workers at the plant that the free trade agreement doesn’t mean that jobs will move overseas and that instead, jobs will be created for them and their families. This deal gives a wider access to GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC into the Korean market while guarding the U.S. industry against a flood of imports from Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp.

Read the entire article Obama says government’s aid to U.S. automakers “paid off” in saving the industry

President Obama submitted a proposal to double corporate average fuel economy standards to 54.5 mpg by 2025. He made the announcement side by side with the chiefs of U.S. and import-brand automakers, including Ford Motor Co.'s Alan Mulally, General Motors' Dan Akerson and Chrysler Group's Sergio Marchionne.

Officials from BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volvo were present. UAW President Bob King also attended the event.

If these targets are finalized next July, it would continue the pace at which mileage standards were increased by the Obama administration from 2012-16. This present standard needs a corporate average of 35.5 mpg by 2016, an increase from 27.3 mpg for 2011 models.

Read the entire article Barack Obama sets fuel economy target of 54.5 mpg by 2025

Before the rules become final, the Obama administration is being pressured by the auto industry to re-assess rules that may result to the U.S. fuel economy standards more than doubling by 2025. Ellen Gleberman, a vice president of trade group Global Automakers, said that the White House agrees that there has to be a review during the transition period.

Her group represents Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and 11 other Asian and European automakers. Gleberman has been involved in discussions between the government and industry on the proposal, which establishes new mileage standards beginning in 2017.

Last June, the Obama administration suggested a fuel-economy target of 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025, a marked increase from the current 27.3 mpg. Automakers want to delay the mileage-standard increases, explaining that the technology hasn’t caught up yet and that sales may drop as the prices of the vehicles will go up.

Read the entire article Auto industry pressing the Obama administration to reevaluate fuel economy standards