Did President Obama Save the Auto Industry?

Did President Obama Save the Auto Industry?

September 11, 2012

Jon Greenberg

Auto INdustry
Even the most casual viewer of last week’s Democratic National Convention would get the point: President Barack Obama saved the American auto industry.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick called him the president “who saved the American auto industry from extinction.” The former CEO of the supersized used car dealership CarMax, Austin Ligon, said the president’s decisive action to restructure General Motors and Chrysler “helped prevent a domino effect that would have taken down everything in the auto industry, from the factories that manufactured auto parts to the dealers who sold the cars.” And Michelle Obama talked about how her husband “fought to get the auto industry back on its feet.”
One should make allowances for the exuberance of political speech. But when a party shines a spotlight on a particular claim during the week when it trots out its best and brightest, we should take a closer look.
We ask: Did Obama really save American automakers? This is more a matter of opinion, and not an item for the Truth-O-Meter, but we can still shine some light on the question.
In broad strokes, the answer is yes, but with some help from the other party and with one huge unknown — no one can say what would have happened without government intervention. We spoke with a number of analysts and read many independent reports. There is no question that General Motors and Chrysler are profitable today. But so is Ford, a company that received no aid at all. The jobs have returned — although not at the level they were before the industry began its steep decline in 2007.
Without a doubt, the American auto industry emerged smaller and more competitive.
In the words of the bipartisan Congressional Oversight Panel that assessed the impact of the government’s efforts: “The industry’s improved efficiency has allowed automakers to become more flexible and better able to meet changing consumer demands, while still remaining profitable.”
Barack Obama, however, cannot claim full credit for this outcome. According to several experts, he needs to share it with his predecessor, President George W. Bush. Dr. James Rubenstein at Miami University cowrote a post-bankruptcy assessment for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Rubenstein said no one should overlook the importance of Bush’s decision to use $17.6 billion in TARP money in December 2008 to keep General Motors and Chrysler afloat.
“The Bush administration provided short-term bridge loans,” Rubenstein said. “That allowed the Obama administration to take a couple of months to assess the situation”
Layoffs in 2008
In 2008, the entire auto industry was in very bad shape. Layoffs at auto plants and among auto parts suppliers were on track to reach 250,000 workers. Gasoline prices were up and buying power was down. General Motors was virtually out of cash to pay its bills and Chrysler was not far behind. In November 2008, the New York Times ran the headline “GM teetering on bankruptcy, pleads for federal bailout.”
The Center for Automotive Research, an independent research group that gets some funding from automakers, predicted harsh outcomes if GM and Chrysler went belly up. Beyond the immediate jobs lost, there would be a partial collapse of the supplier industry that would lead to a 50 percent drop in production at Ford and the American-based foreign car plants. Imports would replace 70 percent of the lost GM and Chrysler production, the group predicted.
When Obama took office, he created a task force with a sweeping mandate to determine the fate of GM and Chrysler. The companies’ first proposals to the task force included downsizing, but the task force wanted deeper changes. In March 2009, Obama rejected those plans and said if the firms wanted federal money, they had to go through bankruptcy. That happened quickly. The car companies filed for bankruptcy in June and emerged in July.
Between 2008 and 2010, carmakers closed or scheduled the closure of 16 plants and cut their ties with about 2,500 dealerships. Stockholders were wiped out and creditors such as banks and pension funds wrote off about two-thirds of the value of their claims. The companies shed their entire obligation to pay for the health care of retired autoworkers and that burden shifted to an independent trust fund in which the United Auto Workers union appoints five out of 11 board members.
Under new Ownership
What emerged was a smaller American auto industry with a very different set of owners.
The Italian car company Fiat became the majority stockholder of Chrysler. The second-largest owner of Chrysler now is that retiree trust fund. For GM, the U.S. government now owns about 32 percent of the company. Private shareholders account for about 35 percent. The retiree trust fund owns about 10 percent.
The union gave up the right to strike through 2015 and ended automatic pay raises. Back in 2007, it had agreed to a two-tiered wage scale that allowed the companies to hire new workers at much lower pay. Between the new wage rates and the savings from taking over retiree health costs, labor costs fell by about a third and are now on par with those of the foreign carmakers.
The entire deal was financed with about $80 billion in taxpayer money. That included a special $5 billion set aside to keep cash flowing to car parts suppliers when they found that their normal lines of credit had vanished.
The Turnaround
Today, total employment for carmakers and parts suppliers is up about 250,000 from 2009. In 2011, sales rose 10 percent for GM, 13 percent for Ford and 14 percent for Chrysler.
“Both Chrysler and General Motors are not just profitable,” said Aaron Bragman, senior analyst with IHS Automotive, a financial forecasting group. “They are significantly profitable, earning more now than they have in years.”
The benefits have not flowed simply to GM and Chrysler. In a speech this June, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said the bailouts were the right medicine for his company as well.
“If GM and Chrysler would’ve gone into free fall,” Mulally said, “they could’ve taken the entire supply base into free fall also, and taken the U.S. from a recession into a depression.”
Still, the current success leaves critics asking whether it came at too high a price. The Treasury Department estimates that about $23 billion will never be repaid. For James Sherk, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, much of that is due to “incredibly generous treatment of the unions.” Sherk says the union’s retiree health benefit fund got about $21 billion more than it deserved compared with other creditors.
Mitt Romney has taken up that claim, saying the bailout was flawed by “crony capitalism.” The union counters that the trust fund does not belong to the union and that the fund took on the substantial risk of providing health care for retirees for all the decades to come. According to the Center for Automotive Research, that shift alone accounted for two-thirds of the labor savings that have made the carmakers competitive.
At the libertarian Cato Institute, Dan Ikenson says no one can know for sure, but he thinks disaster would not have occurred if the companies had been allowed to go through a normal bankruptcy.
“I suspect some assets of both companies would have been sold off to other auto producers,” Ikenson said. “And some assets and brands would have remained under the GM and Chrysler names.”
A key question for advocates of a conventional bankruptcy is whether private lenders would have come forward to finance any such deal. The view of most analysts is that the private money would not have been there.
Even Sherk at the Heritage Foundation gives Obama credit for forcing the carmakers to go through bankruptcy and the necessary restructuring after.
As we said at the start, it is impossible to know if the U.S. auto industry would have fared better without government money, without government ownership, without strong government intervention. Most likely, that debate would be more robust if the industry were not doing well.
But for the moment, it is. The massive loss of jobs and the disruption to the network of auto parts suppliers did not happen. The shock that might have hit all carmakers and the overall economy is not staring lawmakers in the face. Given the tangible reality of today, the view among most analysts is that Bush kept the carmakers afloat long enough for Obama to put them on solid footing moving forward.
Source: (c)2012 Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

Why Cloud Computing Is Unavoidable In The Automotive Industry

Why Cloud Computing Is Unavoidable In The Automotive Industry


by John on September 10, 2012

Why Cloud Computing Is Unavoidable In The Automotive Industry

It is no longer a mere premise that the prospects of integration of cloud computing are embraced by nearly all major industries, including the automobile industry. Cloud computing is bound to change this industry and the driving experience as we know it today. There are three main areas of the automobile industry that could experience the greatest impact of cloud computing.
Partnerships and integration
Consumer demographics are changing, with more attention being directed at technological integration of scalable systems that are affordable and easily adaptable. This has required mergers and partnerships between technology and automotive companies in order to form a manageable synergy for competitive and quality delivery.
There is also a worldwide trend of tighter government regulations on safety and energy efficiency that is adversely affecting this industryy. Balanced economies of scale require the automotive manufacturer to create partnerships with clean energy technologists to marry their functions. In such a setting, cloud computing becomes the all-essential minister, joining the two in a crucial partnership. Other areas include infotainment technology which, analysts predict, is expected to constitute 40 percent of total car value by 2025, up from the present 20 percent. Manufacturer-dealer-customer chain
The automobile industry is currently ailing from dismal performance of sales globally, owed to the rise in steel and oil prices plus factors like environmental concerns. The challenges have compelled this industry to change tact and look for innovative ways to cut costs and deliver vehicles that will match consumer needs. This is where cloud computing is proving to be essential. A good example is the need for outsourcing external solutions that qualify their own infrastructural and personnel resources. These cloud-based outsourced services may include engineering or administrative solutions that are available through cloud computing platforms. Such services will help manufacturers stay afloat on a competitive level while accessing and holding full control privileges of the outsourced infrastructure.
For dealers, accessing faster services and applications through these cloud platforms will result in low maintenance and running costs. All these bring to the table the postulated need for cost elasticity and effectiveness in the manufacturing and supply chains. The cloud technology is therefore invaluable as the automotive industry seeks innovative ways to cut costs and deliver market-specific vehicles that will encourage consumers to start spending again on automobiles. Auto infotainment
The present navigation and infotainment systems in cars will be significantly improved by cloud computing. These systems cover every area from vehicle tracking, GPS systems, to entertainment and Internet access on the go. The aspect of voice control is unavoidable in the car of the future, and the only deterrent at present is the fact that such systems need massive processors and software, a challenge that is aptly addressed by the use of cloud computing. All these will deliver remarkable experience for the driver and passengers. They will be able to effortlessly avoid traffic jams, browse the web, automatically pay for services like parking or toll fees etc. There seem to be a unanimous agreement that cloud computing is unavoidably an integral part of the automobile industry.
By John Omwamba
http://www.cloudtweaks.com/2012/09/why-cloud-computing-is-unavoidable-in-the-automotive-industry/ www.dealergarden.com

Car Spy Photos – The Future Automotive Industry Right Here, Right Now

Car Spy Photos – The Future Automotive Industry Right Here, Right Now

Car Spy Photos – The Future Automotive Industry Right Here, Right Now

A picture is worth a thousand words. Such a journalistic cliché makes a lot of sense in today’s automotive industry, especially when talking about the latest project belonging to automakers across the globe. Regardless if we’re thinking about production cars, concepts, new projects, renderings or simply a sketch, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words because it shows much more than we’d be ever capable of reporting based on the existing rumors.

There’s no doubt that every single official photo launched by a car manufacturer, be it Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford or Tata Motors, helps fans all over the world get a glimpse into how a new model is going to look like months before it goes on sale, but there’s something much more attention worthy.

It’s called a spy shot, or a spy photo if you prefer, and has exactly the meaning suggested by its name: it’s a picture showing a car in prototype or even production form, often taken without permission. They have a single goal in mind: to let people see a future car that’s very likely to hit the market in the next few years.

Before going further however, let’s talk a little bit about the “without consent” part we mentioned in the previous paragraph. In some cases, taking a picture without permission is considered an illegal activity and sometimes can have serious legal consequences on the guy holding the camera. This time however everything is as legal as it gets because most, if not all cars are tested on public roads, so as long as you’re in a public place, nobody can sue you. Unless you’re breaking some special rules, but this isn’t the case with car spy photos.

The new F-Type will be powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 unit that will develop either 340 or 380 horsepower. Rumours has it that Jaguar is also preparing a much more powerful version baptized F-Type R with a maximum power of 500 hp. As you can see, the car uses quite an innovative camo, also supposed to show bystanders that they are looking at the upcoming F-Type.

Why are car manufacturers testing their cars on public roads? There are two reasons for this.

First of all, this is the easiest, the fastest and the most affordable way to simulate real-life conditions, which means the manufacturer gets to see how the car would behave in a traffic jam, on a highway or in a parking lot if it ever reaches production.

Second of all, it’s much, much cheaper than you’d ever think. Some companies, especially those building supercars or high-performance vehicles, test their new cars on tracks, such as Nurburgring, obviously paying a pretty decent fee. This however doesn’t mean that other people can’t see their concepts, so the only way to test a car privately is building your very own city. For testing purposes, that is. Obviously, plenty of manufacturers already have their own testing labs, but again, real-life conditions are the only ones that can help them determine whether a car is ready for production or not.

This is the new MG3, the new supermini developed by the Chinese-owned British carmaker MG. The car is expected to arrive on European soil soon, in an attempt to fight with German companies for the supermini category. As you can see, some manufacturers choose to cover only small parts of their cars, thus letting everyone know that these are actually the revised parts that will be introduced on the facelifted model.

Which leads us to another important chapter of our article: if car manufacturers agree to test their vehicles in a public place, how come they manage to keep new cars away from your eyes till the official unveiling? The answer is as simple as it gets: using special camouflage kits.

The idea of wrapping a car in camouflage isn’t quite new, as military forces adopted such a technique during World War I when they attempted to keep their vehicles away from the enemy.

This time however, car manufacturers come in peace and their only goal is to hide their new vehicles’ shape, lines and special elements from fans, press and rivals.

There are plenty of camouflage kits and types out there, some of them especially developed to better hide the new cars’ silhouettes. Are they efficient? Sometimes they are, but this is the moment when spy photographers join the play.

A spy photographer is, in essence, a photographer that takes spy pictures. Doh! But his job however is much more complicated than we’d be tempted to believe.

Every time we imagine a photographer we see one guy holding a camera and shooting photos all day long. He sometimes has perfect weather or studio conditions to take perfectly focused and crystal clear pictures. A car spy photographer however is a modern hunter.

Because car manufacturers are trying to test their cars in real-life conditions, you shouldn’t be too surprised if you see a camouflaged Porsche driven in the Sahara desert or at the North Pole. More, try to remain as calm as possible if you notice two eyes and a camera coming out of nowhere, just to take the perfect shot of the newly-developed Porsche.

Some car manufacturers are using camouflaged cars in their commercials, with the same goal of showing fans that a new model is going to be launched very soon. This is the case of Honda, as the Japanese presented the new Civic in camo version before the official debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.

That’s the life of a spy photographer. Regardless if we’re talking about crowded cities, highway, deserts, mountains, hills, Brazil, Russia, China, Afghanistan or Zimbabwe, spy photographers need to be there to bring you the best possible shots. And they are. Regardless if they have to spend a few days all alone just because they received a tip that Ferrari is expected to test a new model in the desert or they simply tracked the engineering team down to a suspicious location.

But it’s not all just because of the passion for cars or photography. It’s a whole industry. Spy photographers, usually hired by larger agencies or companies, take photos of new cars and send them to their employer. The company in its turn signs deals with magazines, websites and TV stations from all over the world to sell these photos. In the end, the media shows you, the potential buyer of the car, these photos and, in exchange, it gets money from advertising. It’s a large industry segment that’s constantly developing these days.

This is the upcoming 2014 Range Rover Sport. Enginners dressed the car as a Volvo, trying to trick people into believing that it’s actually a Volvo model out for testing. Notice the grille which perfectly resembles the one of a Volvo.

Car spy photography also stands for sacrifices from both the photographer and the company, if there is one.

First of all, such a photographer spends days, if not month away trying to take a shot of a new prototype. They wait in the wild waiting for the car to appear or they follow a prototype with the speed of the wind in an attempt to get as close as possible. Just because of a tip they received from a partner, they sleep outside, which obviously brings a number of risks. They could get ill, attacked, robbed or hurt.

Then, there are the investments he or the employer needs to make. High-performance DSLRs, long-range lens, camouflage (to avoid getting noticed by the testing team), food and hotels cost a lost, but it’s all paid back in the end.

There is however an unseen and often untold part of this entire story: in some cases, car manufacturers, and testing staff in particular, chooses to be tracked down by spy photographers just to bring their latest projects in the spotlight. While some flip the finger in front of the cameras and swear the photographers, others push the brake and slowly drive on the road to let the camera guy take the best pictures. The result? Extensive media coverage, people talking about the new car and fuel rumors until the official launch.

On the other hand, there are companies that are trying to take advantage of this whole frenzy. In an attempt to mislead competitors, some of the manufacturers deliberately expose fake car parts, making everyone believe that it’s the production version. Instead, the company engineers installed the new engine, if there’s one, on a heavily modified chassis and body to test it in the same real-life conditions we were talking about.

Spy photographers can also capture car interiors, but this of course involves a better angle and much more advanced equipment. As you can see, some of the photos are quite crystal clear, but they still help us get a glimpse into how to new interior will look like.

Getting back to the camouflage we were talking about, there’s one important thing that needs to be mentioned. Besides the fact that it’s supposed to hide the most important parts of the newly-designed model, the camouflage is also an attempt to make photographers’ mission a bit more difficult. Some vinyl wraps, especially the swirly ones, are not only intended to hide key details, but also to block the cameras from focusing on the car.

Truth is, today’s cameras as so advanced that an autofocus feature could easily do this job, but a car that’s drive with more than 100 km/h (62 mph) and wrapped in such a camo is clearly hard to capture.

How hard is to wrap a car in camouflage? Not that hard, that’s for sure. And it’s definitely very affordable. A simple search on Google reveals prices ranging in between a few hundred dollars and thousands of dollars, obviously depending on pattern and quality.

With all these being said, let’s get back to our news section and enjoy the latest spyshots. And do you know what’s the best part? Anybody can be a spy photographer, just make sure you have a camera around whenever you get past a heavily disguised car.

Obama wants to repeat ‘success’ of auto industry bailout in other industries

Obama wants to repeat ‘success’ of auto industry bailout in other industries


The president gave an audience in Pueblo, Colo., a preview of coming attractions in the event that he is given a second bite at the apple. (Readers are referred to Charles Krauthammer’s Friday syndicated columnfor a thumbnail of the all the great stuff he has done to date.)

Politico writes that Obama told prospective voters that he wants to do for (to?) other industries what he did for the auto industry. “I said, I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back,” he said. “Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.”
Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler on war of words between Obama and Romney on auto bailout

Needless to say, he used the opportunity to slam Mitt Romney, who was opposed to the auto bailout, explaining, “I don’t want those jobs taking root in places like China, I want those jobs taking root in places like Pueblo.”
So how successful has the auto bailout been? It depends. If you ask the left-leaning DrivingGrowth.org, they will fill your head with dazzling numbers. They will tell you that the American automotive industry has added nearly a quarter million jobs (236,600) and that manufacturing of motor vehicles and parts is up 26.4% since June 2009 when the industry hit bottom.
It does all sound pretty terrific … till you have a look at the Treasury Department stats on where the bailout stands as of the end of May. Here are some specifics: Of the $79.69 billion directly paid out by the federal government, $35.18 billion has been recouped, $37.14 is still outstanding (and unlikely to be recovered), and $7.37 billion was written off as a loss. General Motors received an additional $45 billion special tax subsidy after filing for bankruptcy.
Adding up all the negatives and subtracting them from the positives, taxpayers are out more than $82 billion. Meanwhile, Ford Motors Co., which the Obama administration didn’t bail out, posted profits of $8.8 billion in 2011.
And now Obama wants to repeat his “success.” All he needs to do is reach into his bag of fairy dust again and sprinkle it over other failing industries so that they, too, can “come roaring back.” Here’s a thought. Before “saving” other parts of the private sector through lavish “investments,” how about doing something about the U.S. Postal Service, which has been hemorrhaging an average of $42,335,766 a day in fiscal 2012? CNS News reports that “on Thursday, the service reported a third quarter (April 1-June 30) net loss of $5.2 billion, bringing its fiscal year-to-date net loss to $11.6 billion.”
Here’s an even better thought: How about let’s turn the reins of leadership over to someone with fresh ideas that are financially self-sustaining and give the president—who has been campaigning hard for four years—a much-need rest?

6 Tricks to Slash Your Cell Phone Bill by $1,000 a Year

6 Tricks to Slash Your Cell Phone Bill by $1,000 a Year

Good news for those of us feeling trapped by our cell phone plans: It is possible to eliminate certain fees and even score some freebies.

We spoke with Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine for some lesser-known strategies. Altogether, the advice is worth a savings of close to $1,000 a year.

Also See: Common Money Traps to Avoid
Don’t Pay For Text

If you have an iPhone or Android, you can easily save $240 a year by downloading the “Textfree app, which allows you to send and receive texts and picture texts for free over a data or Wi-Fi connection. Of course, it may require you to watch an ad or two.

Also See: 7 Ways to Score Free Stuff
Prepaid Perks

If you’re a light caller and hunting for a new plan, consider switching to a p repaid calling plan. For example, Virgin Mobile, which now includes iPhone plans, start s at $30 a month for unlimited text and data, as well as 300 minutes. To determine whether prepaid is right for you, review six months worth of bills and tally up how many minutes you’re actually using. You can also use a free website like BillShrink.com to help with the math.
And despite the stigma that they’re for unsophisticated or low-end phone users, Bodnar explains that prepaid plans are actually rising in appeal. The quality gap among cell phones is becoming nearly non-existent among the major players, she says, so pre-paid is becoming a more popular way to go.
Also See: Save $1,000 on Monthly Bill

Eliminate the Activation Fee

Major national carriers often charge an activation fee — ranging from $18 at T-Mobile to $36 at AT&T and Sprint — for each new line you open. Major carriers may even try to slap an activation or upgrade fee when you’re simply extending your contract – as if you purchased a new phone. But threaten to buy your phone from another carrier and you’ll often get th e salesperson to waive that.
Free Information

If you own a smartphone, you’re probably no longer dialing 411 for phone numbers or addresses Your phone’s web browser can often get you answers on the go – for free. But for consumers with simple phones, toll-free numbers such as 1-800-FREE-411 will do the job at no cost. All you pay for is airtime.
Local Only

Another way to save on your bill, though not for everyone, is to switch to a local-only plan. It’s available through some carriers and best for those who only use their cell phone for local calls.
Bypass Early Termination Fees

For those of us who simply want out of our contracts, you may be able to avoid the hefty cancellation fee, which runs as high as $350. If you’ve moved, lost your job, or can legitimately argue that your carrier’s service isn’t satisfactory in your area, you may have a case. Also, if the terms of your original contract suddenly change – for example, your carrier starts charging customers more for texts or data and that’s pricier than you initially agreed – you can try to argue you way out of the fee.
Otherwise, check out third-party web sites like CellSwapper and CellTradeUSA that play matchmaker between unhappy cell phone customers and those seeking less-expensive cell plans.
Block Third-Party Charges

Finally, unless you buy a lot of ringtones and games, you can fend off unexpected or hidden fees – sometimes even fraudulent fees – by asking your carrier to block third-party charges that come from unauthorized sources. “Look for anything unrecognizable on your bill,” says Bodnar. “If you’re unsure of anything, call your carrier and ask the rep to go through the bill line by line to explain all the charges to you.”



First ‘fast charger’ for LA electric cars unveiled in Arts District

First ‘fast charger’ for LA electric cars unveiled in Arts District

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, August 10, 2012, at 11:00AM
Zan Dubin Scott
  Chargers in the Arts District parking lot.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Officials unveiled the first “fast charger” for electric cars in the city of Los Angeles on Thursday — and it’s located in a downtown L.A. parking lot.

The Blink DC fast charger can reportedly charge most electric vehicles (EV) in about 30 minutes. Although charging time varies greatly depending on the type of car and battery. EV chargers typically need at least a few hours, most overnight, to completely charge the car.

But Yuval Bar-Zemer of Linear City, a development firm that’s working on the Arts District parking lot and also created the Biscuit Company and Toy Factory lofts across the street, said the EV charger itself isn’t the news — it’s the “change of lifestyle” it indicates.

“We want to make sustainability look fun and sexy and available,” he said.
Along with the new chargers, Bar-Zemer cited a new ride-share program and an incoming neighborhood market as key indicators of changing lifestyles for Downtowners.
Paul Scott, a DTLA Nissan salesman who specializes in the electric vehicle the Leaf, said that although many people still buy plug-in hybrids (that run on gas and electricity), he has many customers who don’t want to be a part of the oil industry at all.

“There’s a lot of people who never ever want to buy gasoline again,” he said. “The desire, the need, for fast-charging has grown quite a bit.”

Scott admitted that he had a vested interest in electric cars because that’s how he makes a living, but insisted his commitment to the environmental cause was more than just financial.
“I want to sell these cars — but I want to get the gas-burners off the road,” he said.
At the press conference on Thursday, Councilman José Huizar said L.A.’s first “fast charger” signaled a “great day” for DTLA and the city as a whole.

“Today is about celebrating and embracing innovation, about shifting the paradigm in how we think about transportation and how we align our lifestyles with our beliefs in creating a cleaner, greener environment for ourselves, our children and our City,” he said.

This single speedy charger joins 10 standard chargers in a parking lot on Mateo Street, next to a large metal shed currently in the process of becoming re-purposed as Urban Radish — an upscale grocery store.

Radish will include a grocery section, a deli counter, a curated selection of meats and freshly made juices. Owner Carolyn Paxton told Blogdowntown last month that a portion of the store will sell “highly perishable,” locally sourced staples, such as produce and dairy products.

“It’s a grocery store for people who live here, in basically a food desert,” said Paxton, referring to the restaurants and cafes that surround the area but the absence of grocery stores.

For the next few weeks EV owners can charge their cars for free at the DTLA station, but must pay to park in the lot. Scott said that by the end of 2012 he expects to see at least a few more fast chargers throughout the city. Chicago has 29 of them, he added, and L.A. has thousands of more electric cars.