January 13th, 2011 at 12:07pm
UAW workers could be headed for some pretty good profit-sharing checks this year. Ford is really on a roll, topping several categories in the Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards. Toyota is hard at work developing several different battery technologies for use in EVs, including one called magnesium sulfur. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in the “You Said It!” segment.
This is Autoline Daily for January 13, 2011, and now, the news.
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS (subscription required)
UAW workers could be headed for some pretty good profit-sharing checks this year. Ford’s UAW workers could get a $5,000 bonus. GM, Ford and Chrysler are keenly interested in going with profit sharing, instead of baking on higher wages and benefits and more vacation time, which is exactly what got them into trouble in the past. With profit sharing, everyone benefits when times are good and allows companies to hold their breakeven costs down if there is a downturn in the market. The automakers want the hourly workers to earn their bonus the same as salary workers. It will also be based on sales, market share and quality. Ward’s reports that the Detroit Three want to pay the profit-sharing bonus in stock instead of in cash.
HONDA HINTS AT FUTURE CIVICS
As you know Honda unwrapped concepts of the new Civic and Civic Si at the Detroit Auto Show and we have new video of both. Honda says they provide a glimpse as to what the production versions will look like when they go on sale this spring. The company didn’t say specifically which engines will be available but said it will still be available with gas engines, a natural-gas version and a hybrid. It will also be available with EcoAssist, which uses graphics in the dash to help the driver max out his or her fuel economy.
MORE AWARDS FOR FORD
You don’t need me to tell you Ford’s on a roll. With Captain Mulally at the helm, the company has successfully navigated through troubled waters and has serious momentum right now. Adding another feather to its cap, it just took top honors in the Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards, a study that looks at automakers’ ability to retain owners over repeat buying cycles. During 2010 the firm measured nearly 5 million “return to market events” as they’re called, and here are some of the results. Ford took home awards for “Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer” as well as the “Overall Loyalty to Make.” It was also the top brand among African Americans. Not surprisingly, it also took the gold in the “Mid/Full-Size Pickup” category. Some other winners include Kia, which was honored with the “Most Improved Loyalty to Make” title while the Dodge Challenger was tops in the “Sports Car” category.
The race is on to develop advanced new batteries for electric vehicles. Lithium-ion is the current front runner in this field but it seems everyone is scrambling to come up with something better. According to Bloomberg, Toyota is researching a technology called magnesium sulfur. Allegedly these batteries can hold TWICE the energy of today’s li-ion cells, which, in turn, have about double the capacity of nickel-metal hydride packs. Toyota is also looking at aluminum and calcium as potential battery materials, but don’t expect any of these advanced cells to come out in the near term. Magnesium-sulfur batteries MAY be ready by around 2020.
Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline after hours tonight. We’ll be starting a little bit earlier than we normally do, at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time. Our guest tonight is Camilo Pardo, the guy who designed the extraordinary Ford GT, and we’ll be broadcasting the show from his studio. Join me and the Autoextremist, Peter DeLorenzo, on Autoline after hours.
Coming up next it’s time to take a look at some of your questions and comments.
And now it’s time for, “You said it!”
JETZcorp saw our coverage of the outrageous off-road version of the Ram pickup and says, “YES! I’ve been waiting months for Chrysler to start offering the Ram Runner to the public. Ford Raptor, the end is nigh.”
cwolf wasn’t very impressed with the minivan concept that Kia showed at the Detroit auto show. He wrote in to say, “The Hyundai/Kia copycat people are sure on a roll! The KV7 light looks like the concept was from Audi. I’m not sure they can create anything on their own. I’m just waiting for their over-confidence and “finger-in-every-market-segment” to bite them in the rear. If they want to improve their cars, they should focus on removing engine/tire/suspension noise from the cabin. A $27,000 Optima? Go Fish!”
But dcars doesn’t see it that way, he says, “Koreans work hard and deserve the position they have earned in the automotive world. The Sonata looks great I’m going to check it out at the next auto show.”
Tony Gray saw last week’s Autoline After Hours with Bob Lutz and has some pretty good advice for anyone else who didn’t see it. He says, “A plug for you folks who may have missed Bob Lutz on last night’s Autoline After Hours…GO WATCH IT!!”
He’s right, go watch it! And while you’re at it, check out the John’s Journal section of our website or check out our YouTube channel, for our complete coverage of the Detroit Auto Show. We have an astonishing number of interviews, as well as our tour of the floor of the show. It’s a great program to have running in the background while you’re at work or doing some other chore.
But that brings us to the end of today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you tomorrow.