Quick Hits: GM's Electric Shock
Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.
Well, not exactly. But in response to plummeting sales and skyrocketing fuel prices, car manufacturers are catering production to consumers' first priority: Spending less on gas.
Ford (F) is trying to wean its drivers off gas by shifting focus away from its iconic pickup trucks; instead, it's building more small cars. The company plans to announce this new direction when it releases second-quarter earnings on Thursday.
Ford will convert three of its assembly plants from trucks to cars, and dedicate more factories to manufacturing fuel-efficient engines. It will also bring 6 of its next European models -- generally more compact than even America's smallest cars -- to the U.S.
General Motors (GM) is pursuing even more radical innovation: It plans to team up with three dozen electric utilities -- including ConEd (ED), PG&E (PCG) and American Electric (AEP) -- to develop a viable electric car within two years.
The model would run primarily on electricity, and use gas only as a supplement. GM hopes that the first models, the Chevy Volt and Saturn Vue, will resuscitate sluggish sales.
The auto industry's finally getting serious about fuel efficiency - think of the current market upheavals as a form of electric shock.
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