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Auto blogThu, 30 May 2013 11:28:00 EST
As Fiat looks to become the full owner of Chrysler, all it has standing in its way is the retiree trust of the United Auto Workers, which currently holds the remaining 41.5 percent of the company as the result of the Pentastar's bankruptcy deal. The Detroit News is reporting that that Fiat is currently talking to numerous banks in an attempt to raise around $10 billion to fund the purchase of Chrysler's remaining stake with enough left over to refinance the debt of both companies. We've known that Fiat has been working to obtain the capital to buy out Chrysler for some time now, but this is the first time we've seen Fiat tip its hand about how much cash it thinks it will need to close the deal.
The first order of business is a legal dispute over the value of the UAW's stake in Chrysler, which the report indicates could cost Fiat around $3.5 billion. The acquisition of remaining shares could happen by this summer, but it sounds like CEO Sergio Marchionne (above) might not be ready for a full merger until next year.
In all of the most hotly contested mainstream segments of the motoring universe, the difference of one mile per gallon averaged on a widow sticker can mean the difference between a sale and a walk-off - to say nothing of two or three mpg. So, when Hyundai and Kia were forced to reveal that many of their 40-mpg ratings were actually 38s and 37s, well, it made for big news.
It also, conceivably, made for a competitive disadvantage immediately, when the Korean automakers' products were being shopped versus the guys down the block. And it's that disadvantage that makes a recent story from Automotive News so juicy.
AN is reporting that Margo Oge, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Transportation and Air Quality, got a tip in 2010 that Hyundai/Kia were "cheating" to get its impressive fuel economy numbers. The tip, said Oge (who retired from the EPA this past September), came from a senior vice president from a domestic automaker. The source was credible enough for Oge to launch an audit of the Hyundai figures, which ultimately lead to the debacle that we reported on a few months ago, and that the Korean company has been trying to bounce back from ever since.
The new Jeep Cherokee has been quite a success for Chrysler, but its factory workers are getting tired. The automaker has agreed to hire up to 1,000 part-time, temporary employees at its Toledo Assembly Complex where the CUV and Wrangler are built. It will allow the company to keep Jeep production moving, while giving laborers a break.
According to plant manager Chuck Padden in the Toledo Blade, full-time workers are regularly taking on 60 hours a week, and it's beginning to wear on them. "To get them more time off is important to us, to make sure they're refreshed, and can work safely," said Padden.
Chrysler has already hired 380 temporary, part-time workers for the plant, and 50 have been converted to full-time employees. The company is in the process of interviewing the rest of the new hires now and plans to have all 1,000 in place by the summer. They will work between 10 and 30 hours a week mostly on weekends for $15.78 per hour with limited benefits. The temporary positions will last "as long as demand continues for the Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Cherokee," said Jodi Tinson, Chrysler spokesperson for manufacturing and labor communications, to Autoblog in an email.