Episode 670 – Saab Can’t Pay Its Workers, Unions Unite!, Hyundai Pulls a Hawtai in China

June 23rd, 2011 at 11:45am

Runtime 6:44

As we’ve been reporting, Saab has some serious financial issues and now it’s unable to pay its workers.  The UAW and unions representing Fiat workers came to an agreement to negotiate together on issues concerning them collectively.  Hyundai is pulling a Hawtai in China, exaggerating sales of its Sonata YF sedan.  All that and more, plus a look at an innovative new safety feature that’s dirt cheap and could be a life saver.


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This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, the 23 of June, 2011.  I’m Scott Burgess, auto critic for The Detroit News, but more importantly in just seven days I’ll be one of your draft analysts for next week’s epic After Hours Automotive draft.  But more on that later.  Why don’t we get to today’s auto news?

Earlier in the week we reported that Saab halted production again at its plant in Sweden because it’s having trouble paying suppliers. And now the Wall Street Journal reports, the company is unable to pay its workers because it’s still looking for short-term funding. Two Chinese companies have agreed to invest in Saab, but the deals are still awaiting approval from the Swedish and Chinese governments. In the meantime, Saab is in discussions to get short-term funding and is negotiating with suppliers to get parts in order to restart production. But as we said earlier in the week, you have to wonder how much longer Saab can go on operating like this.

Last week women in Saudi Arabia protested the government’s ban on women driving by – surprise, surprise – going out and driving. And now the same group is calling on Subaru to stop selling cars in the country until the government ends its ban. According to Bloomberg, the group targeted Subaru because it’s a “progressive” company and markets its cars to women. A spokesman for the company says they haven’t received any info about the request and that they only sell 300 to 400 cars a year in the country. The women’s group is also considering asking Cadillac and Hyundai to do the same.

My newspaper reports the UAW and unions representing Fiat workers came to an agreement to negotiate together on issues concerning them collectively.  And contrary to what Mr. Phelan told you yesterday, The Detroit News is in fact the best paper in the world.  Representatives from the CAW and Fiat-Chrysler unions in South America were not at the meeting, which took place in Turin, Italy.  This is an important development in the UAW’s organizing campaign and its drive to bring workers together around the world.

HYUNDAI/KIA POISED FOR SUCCESS (subscription required)
We all know Hyundai and Kia are on fire right now.  This South Korean duo is a sales success story around the world.  If a report from the oracles at IHS Automotive proves true, these companies can look forward to strong growth through the middle of the decade.  According to Ward’s, Hyundai and Kia could snag 10 percent of the U.S. light-vehicle market by 2016.  This would put them on par with Honda and Nissan.  Among other predictions, the forecasting firm projects GM and Ford will lead the market with Toyota in third.  It also estimates Subaru will do very well in the coming years.

In related news, Hyundai could be pulling a Hawtai.  If you remember a few days back we reported the Chinese automaker GROSSLY exaggerated its sales.  Now, according to China Auto Web, Hyundai may have done the same thing with its Sonata YF sedan.  The company announced sales of the car topped 6,000 its first month on the market, but so-called “reliable sources” claim the actual number is somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 units.  You don’t need me to tell you that’s a BIG difference.  Another thing that doesn’t add up in this story:  incentives.  Hyundai is offering big discounts on its Chinese-market Sonata – up to 30,000 Yuan – about $4,600.  Now why would they need to do this if the car is selling so well?  Hmmmmmm . . .

You can do all kinds of things with an old, bombed-out hooptie.  They’re perfect for demolition derbies or for turning into stunt cars.  Of course you can always donate them to charity as well, which is what one Porsche owner did when his 911’s engine and cooling system crapped out.  According to Autoblog, the tab to get this Stuttgart Special roadworthy again was a whopping 20 grand!  Off to the crusher, or in this case, the firing squad.  Some 140 shooters brandishing all kinds of weapons were unleashed on the unsuspecting sports car.  The results were pretty predictable.  Sans any Hollywood-style explosions, the coupe was freckled with bullet holes.  Hey, remember, it’s for charity.

Coming up next, a look at a rear view mirror that’s mounted in a unique spot, we’ll be back right after this.

John was in Taiwan recently and found an interesting accessory to go on your car.

At a recent automotive trade show in Taiwan, I ran across a very simple but very clever invention. Tucked in the back of the show, amongst all kinds of small companies that make different types of parts and components, I came across the Cheng Huei Technology Company. It’s come up with a very interesting way to put a rear-view mirror on the B-pillar of a car. When you’re seated in the rear seat of a vehicle, this extra little mirror allows you to see if any vehicles are coming up behind your car. That way you won’t open the door and step out in front of a vehicle that could hit you. This clever invention ought to be on every taxi cab, and I’m sure a lot of people, especially those with little kids, would like it on their own car as well.

So like I mentioned earlier, we’re only a week away from the inaugural After Hours Automotive Draft. I can’t wait, should be a lot of fun.  And as Mark Phelan, or Failin’ told you yesterday when he hosted, we’ll be your draft analysts for the show evaluating which owner did the best job of surrounding himself with talent.  Talk about a hot seat!    Now I’ll get to enjoy taking heat from both REAL and FAKE auto ownership all at once.  That’s OK, I can handle it.    Anyway, we’re all looking forward to the draft just seven days from now, Thursday, June 30 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

Take care.  Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next week at the draft.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

28 Comments to “Episode 670 – Saab Can’t Pay Its Workers, Unions Unite!, Hyundai Pulls a Hawtai in China”

  1. Dale Leonard-Lakewood,Oh Says:

    Oh come on guys….SAVE that SAAB !!!!!

  2. HtG Says:

    I’d wager that mirrors on B pillars are all about how Chinese overlords(the guy you bribe) sit in the back seat. Anybody care to wager why the Porsche Panamera has a high headroom backseat?

    SAAB, the mind concentrates.

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    SAAB owners must be masochists, I’ve met 2 in the past week who have had nothing but problems with theirs, but still love them, I just don’t get it, if I get a flat tire or some wheel shaking in my Vibrola, I get pissed!

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    So no more Tesla roadster, didn’t the federal govt give them a lot of $$ to put this car on the road, I guess folks just did not fall for this BS!!

  5. HtG Says:

    SAAB owners can’t admit they’re wrong about something. Tenure does that to people.

  6. HtG Says:

    you see what happens, Ben?

  7. MJB Says:

    This guy reminds me of SAAB’s past year. Except that, unlike this guy, they won’t make it out the door at the end.


  8. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Saab is on life support, and appears that the EKG has flatlined; perhaps it’s time to pull the plug.

    And as to the “B” pillar mirrow; OR, you could turn around and see if someone is coming (afterall, the vehicle is already stopped).

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Chuck that would mean turning around your back and neck, too much work, next thing you’re gonna expect drivers to turn around to go into reverse, no way Jose, you got multiple mirrors, backup cameras and motion detecting devices in the rear bumper so we don’t have to strain our necks and risk possible injury and permanent disability when backing up.

  10. len simpson Says:

    If I were king , there would be no mirrors, only cameras & wide screens.

  11. cwolf Says:

    A better solution to the “B” pillar mirror and without cranking your neck out of shape would be to just exit the car on the curb side. I think I had that in drivers ed. many moon ago.

  12. cwolf Says:

    Scott B: Love the hair style! You must labor endlessly in the morning to maintain that doo all day long.

  13. Andrew Charles Says:

    Chinese automaker Hawtai is a long-term Hyundai partner, producing a number of Hyundai SUVs under both the Hyundai and Hawtai brands, so perhaps there has been some cultural cross-contamination.

  14. HtG Says:

    cwolf, you think you can whisper tj back onto the board?

  15. John Says:

    Giniel at the ‘Ring – running on gas! (CNG)

    “Giniel de Villiers, four-times South African Touring Car champion and winner of the 2009 Dakar Rally in South America in a Volkswagen Race Touareg, will drive a gas-powered VW Scirocco GT24-CNG in this weekend’s Nurburging 24 Hour in Germany.

    VW has entered two of the three bio natural gas-powered Sciroccos that took a 1-2-3 finish in the alternative-power class at the 2010 running of the classic 24-hour race. ”


  16. cwolf Says:

    HtG: Missed a couple days of viewing, here and there, so I thought tj was on a vacation. Gotta figure out something to keep us together. I think its important to place our focus on the humor ,teasing and taunting that makes this a fun ritual and to brush aside others before they get under your skin. However.. I have a sneeky feeling he peeks in on occasion.

    Come here…..tj tj tj!!!

  17. Tom L Says:

    @ Pedro @ tj
    Pedro, you and tj should take a Saab out for a test drive and tell us what you think of the car.
    They are well built, very safe and reliable.
    The SAAB car company has invented more useful items for cars than some larger car companies.
    It would be a shame to see this company go out of business.

  18. vrmchris Says:

    hello to all.

    @ tom l. i have to agree with you. it would be a shame for saab to go down.

    having said that, i believe that victor muller and company were not prepared to run an automotive company.

    i said this on autoline after hours this evening and i will say it again.

    saab needs 2 BILLION DOLLARS per year for the next 10 years to properly develop, maintain, and sustain the company. not just for product development.

    the only way one can raise that kind of money is to get a consortium (group) of banks to fund you. and that is not happening in this risk-averse environment.

    and spyker has not shown themselves to be profitable year after year.

    there was a suggestion on aah for gm to buy back saab. that may not be a bad idea. if they bring on christian von konigsegg as a minority shareholder. and eventually have him as majority shareholder. but saab would have to be a stand alone company like holden is in australia (largely autonomous).

    that is the only way imho for saab to be saved at this point.


  19. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Things arent going so well in China. The Media is hiding it, but Like America China is on the verge of economic collapse as well.

    As Americans arent able to buy cheap in China products due to creeping inflation, China’s economic decline will continue.

    The Chinese are so angry over hyperinflation and the fact that they cant afford even the basics anymore (MUCH LESS A YF SONATA) that they are rioting over rumors, just the rumors of cops beating on a pregnant woman. Americans back when we had courage used to do that in the 1960s, but now we allow the police to arrest women on our own properties for just filming the police doing wrong in a Racial Traffic Stop AND WE DO NOTHING ABOUT IT.

    Bitch ass american men!!

    What’s wrong with you?



  20. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    You should be ashamed of yourselves.

    Fucking self centered brainwashed children.

    While many of you are talking nonsense we are secretly and openly preparing for war in America as this economy collapses, as the police crack down harder and harder, and garnedr more and more tickets and fines for things they would have ignored just a year ago.

    Yep, We’re going to have to overthrow the the Current Establishment.

  21. HyundaiSmoke Says:


  22. garypaul Says:

    Will somebody please take Saab out and shoot it?

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    TomL: I have, back in the 80′s. I considered one and did my research and realized I was taking a gamble with reliability so got a Camry instead, no regrets, Yes the SAAB drove real nice, but that gets old after a while, especially if you have to keep visiting your local SAAB tech often. Plus repairs on a SAAB are a lot more expensive than a Toyota.

  24. MJB Says:

    HyundaiSmoke, what are you smoking man? Overthrowing establishments??? What??

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had a “beater” SAAB 99 for about a year. I drove it about 10K miles without problems. I think that car was kind of the start of my love affair with hatchbacks and wagons.

  26. dcars Says:

    I had a Saab 900 ng and it had a great layout but rusted into nothing. It also had quirky problems that made it difficult to own.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect I was lucky to drive my ’75 SAAB 99 for a year without problems, but for a 70′s car in Indiana road salt, it did very in regard to not rusting. Did 900′s rust worse than 99′s?

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    Mr Mc Elroy, not that i am a prude but cursing should not be tolerated here, there’s just no need for it.