Episode 29 – Big 3 Lick Wounds, UAW To Drop Jobs Bank?, Honda’s Fuel Cell Sports Car

November 21st, 2008 at 12:00pm

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The Big Three lick their wounds and head back to Detroit to figure out their next steps. The UAW considers dropping the Jobs Bank as a concession to help receive a bailout. Honda unveils a fuel-cell concept that’s designed to have supercar performance and zero emissions. All that and more, plus a look at the all-electric MINI E unveiled at the LA Auto Show.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. The Big Three lick their wounds. The UAW considers dropping the Jobs Bank. And Honda unveils a fuel-cell sports car.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, November 21, 2008. And now, the news.

After a disastrous week of testimony in Washington, the CEOs of the Big Three and the president of the UAW retreated back to Detroit to lick their wounds and figure out their next steps. WWJ Newsradio 950 reports the UAW is now looking at dropping the Jobs Bank, where thousands of autoworkers who don’t work still get paid. The Big Three better come up with some good concessions of their own because Congress is in no mood to give them a dime, unless they can prove their have a viable business plan for going forward.

The next step comes December 6 when Democratic Michigan Senators Levin and Stabenow want to introduce legislation to change the rules for the $25 billion to retool Big Three plants. They want to let the automakers get some of that money immediately as a bridge loan. But they crossed the aisle to join President Bush and the Republicans who first floated that idea. And the Democratic leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are dead set against it. Why? Because the environmental lobby went ballistic. It wants all of that money spent for retooling plants to make fuel efficient cars, not for a bridge loan.

Yesterday we started a poll on our website that asked: Should the Big Three be given bailout money: 37% of you said “No way!” 13% say “Yes give them the money with no restrictions.” And, 50% of you say “Yes, give them the money, but with strings attached.” And I should add that is more support for the industry than the rest of the country is willing to give them.

China’s Chery Automobile signed a deal to assemble cars in Thailand (subscription required). According to Wards, Thai Chery Yarnyon will assemble the QQ and Tiggo models from knock-down kits. Chery also has factories in Russia, Iran, Indonesia and Argentina. And it’s targeting a total of 14 non-domestic plants by 2010.

Biodiesel is going to benefit from the EPA mandated increase in biofuel next year. According to Ward’s, about 24% of the renewable fuels expected to enter the pipeline in 2009 will be biodiesel (subscription required). The Energy Independence and Security Act, which was passed into law last year, mandates that 36 billion gallons of bio-fuel be produced in the U.S. by 2022.

Honda unveiled a three-seat concept car at the LA Auto Show. Called the FC Sport, it’s designed to have supercar performance and zero emissions. It’s powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and features an ultra-lightweight body and powerful electric motors, and demonstrates great packaging flexibility with a fuel cell. No word yet if it will ever make it to production. In other Honda news, the company is cutting North American production (subscription required). The majority of the cutbacks will come from the Pilot SUV and Odyssey minivan.

In another LA reveal, smart showed off a special-edition of it two-seat city car, called the Brabus (subscription required). The car features a retuned transmission, a lowered suspension and new wheels. The standard model will start at about $18,000 while the cabriolet will sticker for, get this, $30,000. Thirty grand! What was that line of PT Barnum’s? About one born every minute?

Coming up in our feature story, a closer look at the all-electric MINI E. We’ll be back, right after this.

As we mentioned in yesterday’s show, BMW premiered the electric version of its popular MINI Cooper at the Los Angeles Auto Show the other day.

But before they dropped the curtain on the car, the company packed a local hotel roof with worldwide media to give them a glimpse at this standard MINI on steroids – 400-plus pounds heavier with batteries lasting maybe 150 miles. Reporters got a chance to drive it around, though some needed a little help getting started.

Many of them took it out on the same roads where the 250 LA locals who lease the cars will drive them. This one-year field study, as BMW is calling it, also includes another 200 drivers from New York and will begin early next year.

If you want to drive one of these MINI E’s and have about $850 a month to drop on the lease, then you can sign up at MINIUSA.com and see if you make the cut.

Speaking of making the cut, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. If you signed up for our daily newsletter in the last week, you’re eligible to win some awesome SWAG. This week we’re giving away a special-edition Autoline 10th Anniversary DVD and a deluxe Autoline coffee mug. Once again, my crack team has chosen the winner at random from our list of new subscribers. Pookie, the envelope please. And the winner is . . . Ima Doofus, congratulations Ima Do–. HEY! Pookie, the real envelope please. And the winner of this week’s prize giveaway is Steve Harkins! Congratulations Steve Harkins!

If you haven’t signed up for our e-mail newsletter yet, it’s not too late! You can still get every episode of Autoline Daily delivered right to your inbox. Just click on the newsletter link on our website autolinedaily.com and join now!

Anyway, that’s it for today’s show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.

6 Comments to “Episode 29 – Big 3 Lick Wounds, UAW To Drop Jobs Bank?, Honda’s Fuel Cell Sports Car”

  1. John W Pick Says:

    In drawing for the prize today, I was taken back a few years remembering the Soupy Sales Show that had both “White Fang” and “Black Tooth” in their weekly shows. I know that was a silly show but as a kid several years ago, I really enjoyed it. I see where “Black Tooth’s” voice has changed somewhat. Now, on a more serious note, I really enjoy your “Autoline Daily” emails. I think it is a 100% hit. Keep up the good work John. Best of Regards from an Ohio Listener, John Pick, Minford, Ohio

  2. Tom Says:

    I really enjoy your autoline daily program!!!

  3. Sean Walsh Says:

    John,

    What’s the reaction in Detroit and the auto industry to the replacement of John Dingall with Henry Waxman as a committee chair? This to me combined with the opposition to the bipartisan bill you mentioned today shows to me the real attitude of Speaker Pelosi to the auto industry.

    I found it interesting that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi didn’t even try to blame the Republicans yesterday for the failure of Congress to act. Also notable is President -elect Obama’s complete silence on the subject.

  4. Salvador G. Says:

    All I want to know if you John got a Mini electric, cause if you did SHAME on you for not telling us… And if you didn’t get one SHAME on you for not getting one. :P

  5. Tony Says:

    Where’s the outrage over the New Citi Bank bailout. Citi just got $25 Billion from the government a few months ago, now there back for 150 billion more! Why is it when it comes to the Big 3 & UAW or main street, the Media, Congress and most Americans fine it outrages over 25 billion loan to them. How much dose Citi bank’s CEO make? What were there bonuses last year? Where’s the pictures of there corporate jets? What’s there payback plan? Why didn’t they have go back before Congress?

  6. Todd Jaspers Says:

    30 GRAND for a smart car?!?!?! It’s not even an A-class Mercedes!!!!