David Kirkpatrick

May 2, 2010

GM lying about paying back fed bailout

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:12 pm

To paraphrase Paul Harvey, here’s the rest of the story

From the second link:

General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre has bragged in TV commercials and newspaper columns that GM has paid back its bailout “in full and ahead of schedule.”

As with the Pontiac Aztek, an ugly exterior masks an ever darker problem: Whitacre is being fanciful to the point of deceit. GM received $50 billion in TARP funds (never mind that TARP was only supposed to cover financial institutions). About $7 billion of that came in the form of a straight-up, low-interest loan. And about $13 billion came in the form of an escrow account.

So how has GM, which lost $38 billion in 2007 even as it sold 9.4 million cars, paid back its debt? It took money from the escrow account to pay back the $6.7 billion loan.

April 3, 2010

Lithium-air batteries

Lithium-air batteries may be the short-term solution to lightweight and relatively efficient battery power. Major implications in terms of electric vehicles and handheld electronics.

From the link:

Yang Shao-Horn, an MIT associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering, says that many groups have been pursuing work on lithium-air batteries, a technology that has great potential for achieving great gains in . But there has been a lack of understanding of what kinds of electrode materials could promote the electrochemical reactions that take place in these batteries.

Lithium-oxygen (also known as lithium-air) batteries are similar in principle to the lithium-ion batteries that now dominate the field of  and are a leading contender for . But because lithium-air batteries replace the heavy conventional compounds in such batteries with a carbon-based air electrode and flow of air, the batteries themselves can be much lighter. That’s why leading companies, including IBM and General Motors, have committed to major research initiatives on lithium-air technology.

For further reading here’s the MIT release that spawned this PhysOrg story.

February 5, 2010

First they took the auto industry jobs …

… now they’re stealing childhood dreams.

Seriously though, the idea of highly functional humanoid robotics is a great idea for space travel. Of course Ellen Ripley might disagree.

Via KurzweilAI.net:

NASA, GM team up to build robotic astronauts
Computerworld, Feb. 4, 2010

NASA and General Motors (GM) are developing humanoid robots that can work side-by-side with humans to help astronauts during dangerous mission and to help GM build cars and automotive plants.

Robonaut 2, aka R2, is designed to be a “faster, more dexterous and more technologically advanced” robot than Robonaut 1, using its hands to manipulate small parts, while also having exceptional strength.

Read Original Article>>

July 10, 2009

GM exits bankruptcy

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:04 pm

I did plenty of blogging on GM before it finally faced reality and declared bankruptcy. It’s only fitting to add one more post to the group on the automaker quickly exiting the legal process.

From the second link:

A new General Motors emerged from bankruptcy protection on Friday — far more quickly than most industry-watchers had expected — as a leaner automaker pledging to win back American consumers and pay back taxpayers.A whirlwind 40-day bankruptcy for GM concluded with the closing of a deal that sold key operations to a new company that is majority-owned by the U.S. Treasury.

The closing documents were signed early Friday by representatives of the government and GM executives at the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, GM’s bankruptcy counsel.

June 2, 2009

S&P and Dow dump GM

General Motors is no longer part of the Standard & Poor’s index and the Dow Jones Index.

Here’s more news from S&P on that and additional changes.

The release:

Standard & Poor’s Announces Changes to U.S. Indices

NEW YORK, March 5 /PRNewswire/ — Standard & Poor’s will make the following changes to the S&P 100, S&P 500, S&P MidCap 400 and S&P SmallCap 600 indices:



  • S&P 500 constituent Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) will replace Tyco International Ltd. (NYSE: TYC) in the S&P 100, S&P MidCap 400 constituent Northeast Utilities (NYSE: NU) will replace Tyco International in the S&P 500, S&P SmallCap 600 constituent Watson Wyatt Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: WW) will replace Northeast Utilities in the S&P MidCap 400, and ESCO Technologies Inc. (NYSE: ESE) will replace Watson Wyatt in the S&P SmallCap 600, all after the close of trading on a date to be announced. Tyco is in the process of redomesticating to Switzerland, which will render it ineligible for continued inclusion in the S&P 100 & 500 indices.


  • OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: OSIP) will replace Ferro Corp. (NYSE: FOE) in the S&P MidCap 400 after the close of trading on Thursday, March 12. As of today’s close of trading, Ferro had a market capitalization of approximately $40 million ranking it 400th in the index.




  • eHealth Inc. (Nasdaq: EHTH) will replace Champion Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: CHB), and American Public Education Inc. (Nasdaq: APEI) will replace Georgia Gulf Corp. (NYSE: GGC) in the S&P SmallCap 600, after the close of trading on Thursday, March 12. As of today’s close of trading, Champion Enterprises and Georgia Gulf had market capitalizations of approximately $16 million and $12 million respectively, whereas the minimum market cap needed to be admitted to the index is currently $200 million.




  • Neutral Tandem Inc. (Nasdaq: TNDM) will replace Interwoven Inc. (Nasdaq: IWOV) in the S&P SmallCap 600 after the close of trading on a date to be announced. Autonomy Corporation plc is acquiring Interwoven in a deal that is still pending final approvals.




Standard & Poor’s will monitor these transactions, and post any relevant updates on its website: www.standardandpoors.com.


GM’s bankruptcy and Ford

To anyone who’s been paying attention General Motors’ bankruptcy comes as no no surprise, but the repercussions are still a mystery. Cato’s Daniel Ikenson brings up a very salient point — now that the government is the de facto owner of GM what’s going to happen to Ford.

Of the big three Ford has remained in a fairly strong position in a very weak industry. Most importantly it hasn’t been forced to take federal bailout money. Ikenson wonders if the fed may not put a thumb on the scales a little to help its latest property, namely GM, out a bit.

From Cato Today:


General Motors on Monday filed for bankruptcy protection, even after $19.4 billion in federal bailout money. Cato scholar Daniel Ikenson has long suggested bankruptcy as the best course for GM, and now worriesabout Ford’s future: “The government has a 60 percent stake in GM. Who’s going to want to own Ford stock—and therefore, will Ford be able to raise capital—when the U.S. government has an incentive to tip the balance in GM’s favor wherever it can?”
Full statement from Ikenson
– “An Overdue Reckoning in the Auto Sector,” by Daniel Ikenson
– “Don’t Bail Out the Big Three,” by Daniel Ikenson
– “GM’s Last Capitalist Act: Filing for Bankruptcy Protection,” by Daniel Ikenson

May 31, 2009

GM going Chapter 11

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:59 pm

Tomorrow morning.

April 27, 2009

GM employee stock fund dumps GM stock

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:11 pm

GM is officially swirling the drain at this point.

From the link:

The manager of General Motors’ employee stock fund has sold off all remaining shares of the troubled auto maker, which is closing plants and slashing costs in a bid to avoid bankruptcy.

General Motors revealed in a regulatory filing late Friday that its employee stock-purchase plan has unloaded all shares of the company in favor of short-term and money market investments. The plan’s financial manager, State Street Bank and Trust Co., said it began selling off shares of the Detroit automaker in late March “due to the economic climate and the circumstances surrounding GM’s business.” GM disclosed the development in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

April 23, 2009

GM edges closer to bankruptcy

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:03 pm

The announcement to close 15 of 21 plants for over two months has to represent the beginning of the end. What do you bet some, if not all, of those 15 never reopen as General Motors manufacturing facilities?

from the link:

In what appears to be a record voluntary shutdown, General Motors (GM) plans to essentially quit making cars and trucks in the U.S. for nine weeks from mid-May through July.

April 8, 2009

Bankruptcy and GM, the countdown

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:09 pm

Unless the public is being seriously misled bankruptcy is the only option for General Motors. And clearly the only option to stay in business in any fashion without being completely funded by taxpayers.

So far the bailout money received by GM? Used to just keep the lights burning. Nothing more.

From the link:

General Motors Corp is in “intense” and “earnest” preparations for a possible bankruptcy filing, a source familiar with the company’s plans told Reuters on Tuesday.

A plan to split the corporation into a “new” company made up of the most successful units, and an “old” one of its less-profitable units, is gaining momentum and is seen as the most sensible configuration, said another source familiar with the talks.

If the plan goes through, the new GM would be expected to assume some previous creditor debt from bankruptcy proceedings, such as secured debt, said the second source, adding that GM bondholders were likely to lose substantial value in bankruptcy.

Certain GM dealer and litigation claims would also be hurt if the new company structure is used as part of a company bankruptcy, said the second source.

The sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

GM declined to comment.

April 2, 2009

Hydrogen car breakthrough

I don’t think this addresses the key issue with hydrogen vehicles— namely the cost of getting the hydrogen to the car is far too high right now for hydrogen cars to be a viable transportation option.

The release from today:

April 2, 2009

New storage system design brings hydrogen cars closer to reality


system discussion
Download photo

caption below

Researchers have developed a critical part of a hydrogen storage system for cars that makes it possible to fill up a vehicle’s fuel tank within five minutes with enough hydrogen to drive 300 miles.

The system uses a fine powder called metal hydride to absorb hydrogen gas. The researchers have created the system’s heat exchanger, which circulates coolant through tubes and uses fins to remove heat generated as the hydrogen is absorbed by the powder.


The heat exchanger is critical because the system stops absorbing hydrogen effectively if it overheats, said Issam Mudawar, a professor of mechanical engineering who is leading the research.

“The hydride produces an enormous amount of heat,” Mudawar said. “It would take a minimum of 40 minutes to fill the tank without cooling, and that would be entirely impractical.”

Researchers envision a system that would enable motorists to fill their car with hydrogen within a few minutes. The hydrogen would then be used to power a fuel cell to generate electricity to drive an electric motor.

The research, funded by General Motors Corp. and directed by GM researchers Darsh Kumar, Michael Herrmann and Abbas Nazri, is based at the Hydrogen Systems Laboratory at Purdue’s Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories. In February, the team applied for three provisional patents related to this technology. 

“The idea is to have a system that fills the tank and at the same time uses accessory connectors that supply coolant to extract the heat,” said Mudawar, who is working with mechanical engineering graduate student Milan Visaria and Timothée Pourpoint, a research assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics and manager of the Hydrogen Systems Laboratory. “This presented an engineering challenge because we had to figure out how to fill the fuel vessel with hydrogen quickly while also removing the heat efficiently. The problem is, nobody had ever designed this type of heat exchanger before. It’s a whole new animal that we designed from scratch.”

The metal hydride is contained in compartments inside the storage “pressure vessel.” Hydrogen gas is pumped into the vessel at high pressure and absorbed by the powder.

“This process is reversible, meaning the hydrogen gas may be released from the metal hydride by decreasing the pressure in the storage vessel,” Mudawar said. “The heat exchanger is fitted inside the hydrogen storage pressure vessel. Due to space constraints, it is essential that the heat exchanger occupy the least volume to maximize room for hydrogen storage.”

 Conventional automotive coolant flows through a U-shaped tube traversing the length of the pressure vessel and heat exchanger. The heat exchanger, which is made mostly of aluminum, contains a network of thin fins that provide an efficient cooling path between the metal hydride and the coolant.

“This milestone paves the way for practical on-board hydrogen storage systems that can be charged multiple times in much the same way a gasoline tank is charged today,” said Kumar, a researcher at GM’s Chemical & Environmental Sciences Laboratory and the GM R&D Center in Warren, Mich. “As newer and better metal hydrides are developed by research teams worldwide, the heat exchanger design will provide a ready solution for the automobile industry.”

The researchers have developed the system over the past two years. Because metal hydride reacts readily with both air and moisture, the system must be assembled in an airtight chamber, Pourpoint said.

Research activities at the hydrogen laboratory involve faculty members from the schools of aeronautics and astronautics, mechanical engineering, and electrical and computer engineering.


Issam Mudawar, from left, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering, discusses a hydrogen-storage system for cars with graduate student Milan Visaria and Timothée Pourpoint, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics and manager of the Hydrogen Systems Laboratory. Researchers have created the system’s heat exchanger, which is critical because it allows the system to be filled quickly. The research is funded by General Motors Corp. (Purdue News Service photo/Andrew Hancock)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2009/mudawar-hydrogen.jpg