Episode 681 – Honda’s Zero Landfill Policy, China’s Massive H1 Sales, Ford’s Greener Image

July 15th, 2011 at 12:04pm

Runtime: 9:06

The amount of waste created by manufacturing a vehicle at Honda has plummeted. Sales may be slowing in China, but the first half of the year was still a staggering success. Ford is aiming for a greener image in Germany. All that and more, plus, a preview of this week’s Autoline with the President of Bosch in America.


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This is Autoline Daily for TGIF Friday, July 15, 2011. And here’s what’s happening right now in the automotive industry.

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Sergio Marchionne is getting very close to announcing a new management structure at Fiat and Chrysler as he gets ready to fully merge the two companies together. The Wall Street Journal reports that the announcement will come in the next 10 days. Merging the two companies will make Fiat-Chrysler the eighth largest automotive group in the world, behind Honda, but ahead of Peugeot-Citroen. However, if they hit the sales targets Marchionne is talking about by 2014, they could become the fourth largest automaker in the world.

Of course, both companies have some labor issues to deal with. Those knuckleheads at one Fiat’s unions in Italy, called FIOM, are on strike today because the company refused to pay bonuses this year. Imagine that. With the worst productivity and highest absenteeism in Europe, and barrels of red ink to go along with it, this union calls a strike because they’re not getting a bonus. FIOM, I should point out, is a Communist-run union. The other two major unions that Fiat deals with are still on the job.

And Chrysler has yet another problem with line workers getting high on the job. The local Fox News affiliate in Detroit caught workers on video again partying down in a parking lot right next door to their UAW local during their lunch break. This latest episode involved workers at the company’s Trenton engine plant. You’ll remember that last year the same television station, Fox 2 News, caught workers doing the same thing at Chrysler’s Jefferson Assembly plant. The good news in all this? It was their fellow UAW workers who turned these guys in. Chrysler fired the 13 workers caught doing this last year. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen to these guys.

Despite building cars in Germany for 80 years, Ford doesn’t have a very good image in the country. It’s trying to turn that around by touting fuel economy and technology. Ford wants to be viewed the same way VW is in Germany, being known for well built cars with great technology. So, it will introduce Sync, along with hybrids and electric vehicles. Germany is the largest market in Europe and is a bellwether for the rest of the continent in terms of design, technology and pricing. Ford ranks fifth in sales in Germany with 7.5 percent marketshare, compared to VW, which is number one at nearly 21 percent.

Speaking of Ford, the company teamed up with Recycled Polymeric Materials to make seals and gaskets out of recycled tires and bio-renewable content such as soy. The sustainable gaskets were first introduced in 2008 and now are used in 11 models. Over 2.2 million pounds of rubber from old tires have been made into seals and gaskets. And in addition to helping the environment the seals also provide weight savings compared to regular ones.

And speaking of recycling, Honda announced that 10 of its 14 plants in North America no longer send any waste to landfills. Honda started the initiative 10 years ago and has prevented an estimated 4.4 billion pounds of waste from going to landfills thanks to waste-reduction and recycling initiatives. In 2001, for every car the company produced, nearly 63 pounds of waste was sent to the landfill, now that number is under two pounds. Remaining waste product is either recycled or used for energy recovery.

China announced that it will increase exports of rare earth metals, which are used to make electric motors for hybrid and electric vehicles, after it had slashed exports. According to Reuters, quotas will come close to 2010 levels but the European Union says it’s not enough to address concerns of stable supplies. China still accounts for 97 percent of the world’s rare earth production.

And speaking of China, even though car sales are slowing down, over 9.3 million vehicles were sold in the first six months of the year. Light vehicle sales accounted for over 7.1 million units, compared to 6.3 million in the US. Commercial vehicle sales in China came in at 2.2 million units.

Coming up next, the world’s biggest automotive supplier, which works on hybrids and electrics and all kinds of other alternative technologies says the internal combustion engine is still going to dominate the industry for at least another 20 years.

Peter Marks is the Chairman, CEO and President of the Robert Bosch company in the Americas. He’s also my guest this week on Autoline. And joining me for that interview are Michelle Krebs from Edmunds.com and Tom Murphy from WardsAuto.com. In the following clip he talks about how the internal combustion engine is going to get a lot more efficient than it is today.

By the way, you can see that entire interview right now on our website. Or you might be able to catch it on your local public television station. Look for the link on our website that shows all the different markets in the US where you can watch Autoline on TV.

You can also catch last night’s Autoline After Hours that we did with Jack Telnack, the former head of design at the Ford Motor Company…that is a good show!

And tonight don’t forget to watch the live taping of RoundAbout, definitely an entertaining look at some of the craziest things that people do with cars or anything car related. That’s RoundAbout tonight at autolinedetroit.tv

Whew! That’s the end of all those promos, and that’s the end of today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Have a great weekend, we’ll see you on Monday.

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

35 Comments to “Episode 681 – Honda’s Zero Landfill Policy, China’s Massive H1 Sales, Ford’s Greener Image”

  1. ItsmeBill Says:

    Firing UAW “workers” (lol) usually amounts to giving them what the rest of us would call an extended paid vacation. Good luck with that.

  2. Jon M Says:

    Oh the many wise-cracks that come to mind about Chrysler. But really its no laughing matter. Not that I had any real motivation to buy one anyway, nevertheless, how much less willing am I now. Still, watching the story on Fox 2 Detroit reminded me of the T.V. sitcom, The Office. Listening to Scott Garberding, Sr. VP of manufacturing for Chrysler, talk about the situation reminded me of David Wallace, CFO of Dunder-Mifflin, dealing with Michael Scott and his ever persistent inappropriate behavior. Perhaps Chrysler is the Dunder-Mifflin of the auto industry, employed by too many Michael Scotts. And of course, the UAW as Dwight Schrute staunchly defending the Michael Scotts.

  3. HtG Says:

    were those Chrysler workers getting baked on their break? Or was this after work? Guy can’t smoke a doob? Do only hedge funders get to dial 420 in this town?

    (again, send your letters to my office)

  4. Lex Says:

    If Honda is recycling all their plant scraps, is that why the interiors of the new 2012 Civic so cheap looking?

    The State Worker Compensation Boards should be investigating incidents were UAW workers are injuried on the job to determine if any of these incidents were UAW worker(s) performing the task at hand were intoxication or under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of injury. No DUI’s on the nation’s roads or in the auto manufacturing plants.

    Ford has no change in hell to increase it’s market share in Germany. VW will match them at ever turn to demonstrate their superiority.

  5. MJB Says:

    I’m sure those fellow UAW whistle-blowers are hoping those guys don’t get to come back to work.

    Otherwise, can you say “awkward”?

  6. ItsmeBill Says:

    I should clarify. Some of my good friends are UAW ppls & they are great. It’s the ‘dudes’ like the those in this story that bring everyone else down to their level and whom the union goes out of their way to protect.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suppose one of many reasons Ford moved their mid-size car production to Mexico, is that the local Detroit paparazzi won’t be filming the siestas in the parking lot.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    Dodge Charger, Hemp Edition, only available in Terracotta.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit are you implying that the folks who assemble the Fiesta take a siesta instead of having a Corona and tequila fiesta at lunch time? Don’t knock a siesta if you haven’t taken one.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Come on, people. This “partying” on lunch breaks goes on everywhere, and used to be much more prevalent than it is now. I never participated, but I sure knew about a lot of it my first several years with GM in the 70′s.

    While some of the “workers” are making it easy, people like this Detroit TV station seem to be “out to get” Chrysler. Yeh, I was serious that in addition to the cheap labor, you can hide a lot from your customers by moving manufacturing overseas.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect it is not uncommon for the folks who assemble a Fiesta, or a Fusion, to both take a siesta, and/or have a Corona or Cuevo while on lunch break. They won’t have Fox 2 news bothering them, though.

  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, I can’t believe you’re excusing these bozos doping and drinking at lunch time when they have to go back to work and perhaps screw up some vital assembly function that could down the road affect the safety or performance of said vehicle, just because you may never buy a Chrysler product, think about all the other folks who will buy one in the future. ps all the jobs I’ve ever had, if they smelled alcohol in your breath, you’re a goner!

  13. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I don’t care who smokes weed,hell I do and I’m legal.But doing anything where you work is wrong on every level.Maybe someone should check ol sergio macaroni and see if he blazes one or more at work.That would then seem to make sense.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro #12,
    No, I’m not excusing it. I’m just saying it happens, and not just at Chrysler, and it has always happened. I am glad that, unlike in the 70′s, those who get caught stay fired, rather than getting a little extra vacation and then retroactive back pay.

    The thing that bugs me a little about the Detroit station is that there is no indication they even try to find a party at, say the Flat Rock Ford plant. They just want Chrysler to look bad.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    FWIW, I have bought Chrysler products as recently as 1999, and may buy one again if they have what I want. Unlike many people, I am very open minded about the car brands I buy.

  16. GPL Says:

    Kit, in both cases with the Chrysler workers, Fox 2 were tipped off by other UAW workers that didn’t like working with drunks and stoners. If workers at GM or Ford plants dropped the dime, I’m sure Fox 2 would be all over it. This is the kind of story that drives rating and in turn revenue for news organizations, so it is in Fox 2′s interest regardless of what manufacturer it is. There is no reason they should favor GM or Ford over Chrysler.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks for the info.

  18. Alex Kovnat Says:

    > Sergio Marchionne is getting
    > very close to announcing a
    > new management structure at
    > Fiat and Chrysler as he gets
    > ready to fully merge the two
    > companies together.

    I have long felt that Chrysler would eventually have to merge with SOMEBODY in order to survive. Given how Congress and the executive branch keep leaning harder and harder on the auto industry with ever more stringent fuel economy requirements AND more stringent safety requirements too (i.e. roof crush strength), the only way any auto company can survive is if they sell enough cars to amortize the enormous research and development costs involved in meeting all these regulations.

    Chrysler nearly collapsed in 1979 partially because they weren’t allowed to use GM catalytic converter technology and also, they weren’t allowed to meet all their small car requirements by importing such cars from Japan. (Old-timers like me remember they did import some front wheel drive minicars from Mitsubishi, but were forced by UAW lobbying to build the unprofitable Omni/Horizon here in North America).

    We should all hope that unlike the DaimlerChrysler marriage which ended in divorce, the Chrysler/Fiat marriage will last. I see no other way for the Big Three not to become the Big Two.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The OmniRizon was largely a product of the first Chrysler French Connection with Simca. The same car was built in Europe and sold as Talbot Horizon for several years.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    I also wish Chrysler well, we’ve lost too many manufacturing jobs already in this country, but this latest incident makes people wonder how serious Chrysler management is about getting their crap together.

  21. G.A.Branigan Says:

    The ONLY way Chrysler will survive is if they vastly improve quality AND engineering.To many problems with to many badges that just shouldn’t be.Ford did a MAJOR turn around,there is no good reason why Chrysler can’t do the same thing.

  22. cwolf Says:

    IMO the Ford cars Europe would be interested in get better that average mpg’s for their size,the quality thus far is quite good and seems to be getting better and better and they have better style than VW. If Ford dosen’t get carried away with their prices,I bet a growing hunk of the market shares will be prior VW owners.

    Y’all should know that the only workers drinking and puff’in doobies are good ol’UAW fellers! Hell, those non-union workers are of a higher caliber,a ton smarter, work like mules for a heck lot less and would only consider living near people……..well,..like many of you!!!

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In the early 70′s, Ford was the top selling car brand in the UK with, among other products, the old rear-drive Escort. With the home-grown British car companies already dying out at that time, Ford UK was thought of as more British than the other foreign owned brands. I don’t think it was ever that way with Ford in Germany.

  24. XA351GT Says:

    I’d love to have a MK2 Escort or MK3 Cortina . Really a shame Ford dropped the ball not bringing them here. The Escort was waaay better styled then Pinto and the Cortina wouldn’t been a nice option to the Maverick.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Ford officially imported Cortinas to the US for a while in the 60′s, when GM was importing Opel Kadett. I guess Cortina wasn’t “American” enough with its boxy styling, so we got Pinto and Maverick.

  26. cwolf Says:

    While Ford can ride high on their percieved improved cars that may help exports,just as sales grow at home, what about GMs small car,the Sonic? It,too, is to be a vast improvement and get 40+mpg,but will people buy it? For a little more, would’nt the Cuze be the better buy? This is the only B segment car manufactured in the U.S. and made possible only by mutually agreed minimized labor costs and by secondary production of the Malibu(?)on the same line. A lot of Sonics have to be sold if a profit is to made for GM. Curious if small car production in the US will fizzle out in within the next few years. Surely this seems to be quite a gamble for both GM and the UAW.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    CWolf the crappy Aveo sold ok, despite every review I’ve ever read said that you’re better off buying a used anything else, so if the Sonic can hold the line on the price, it should do better than the one it replaces.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I agree that, IF you want a sedan, the Sonic might be a hard sell over Cruze, depending on pricing. In my case, Cruze wouldn’t be on my shopping list because they don’t sell it as a hatch/wagon.

    My concern with Sonic is that its big-for-B-segment engines will hurt fuel economy compared to the best of the competition. It could be a performance bargain, though, if they keep the weight down. Anyway, I hope they are able to compete in price and quality with the US assembly decision.

  29. cwolf Says:

    Another thing which puzzels me has to do with the introduction of diesels into the US now, at a time when gasers fuel economy is inching closer and closer to the diesel and is thousands less expensive. Perhaps any demand for diesels will loose traction in the car market,yet go gang-busters in the suv/hatch and small truck market. I forget for the moment if it is GM or Ford who has a small suv diesel coming next year. A diesel in a Ford C-max would be an ideal fit,too! Kit, I,like you, would prefer a hatch/wagon as a go to work car,but since fuel numbers are such an key element, a diesel may be my only hope. Due to the many miles I drive, diesel fuel costs have to be weighed, but engine longevity would be in my favor. There is a lot of stuff coming out soon that will capture all of our interests. And maybe by then our questions toward turbo reliability will be answered. The year ahead will be very interesting indeed!

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    At current fuel prices, diesels would be cost-effective for people who drive a lot. Where I am, diesel fuel generally costs about 7-10% more than regular gas, but, in the case of the only non-luxury diesel cars sold in the US, the VW TDI’s, you get around 30% better mpg than the gas counterpart. You need to compare that to non-VW gassers, though; the gas Golf/Jetta are among the thirstier in their class with that 2.5l five cylinder.

    As far as passenger car diesels, I wouldn’t necessarily expect any longevity advantage over today’s gas engines, which do very well. Even the engine in a friend’s much maligned Pontiac Sunfire is running like new at over 200K miles.

  31. cwolf Says:

    You can’t forget to include the other costs, besides fuel prices. Refilling a urea canister every 10,000 miles runs about $100 and maint. fees are prolly higher for diesels. As far as I know, 200K miles on a diesel engine is nothing;”like wetting your wistle” so to speak. 500K on a diesel before a rebuild is warranted sounds more realistic.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    One more diesel tidbit. Diesel cars, at least the VWs with manual transmissions, seem to do very well in “real world” mpg compared to their EPA ratings. That is the case in CR’s road tests, and that was what I found when I had a 1.9 TDI Jetta wagon a few years ago. I consistently beat the EPA city rating of my TDI in mixed driving. That has not been the case with any other car I’ve owned, except my base MINI.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve read that the urea juice the VWs use is the same as for the diesel pickups, so it should be available at much better than dealer prices. Still, it is an additional maintenance cost, and hassle, that you don’t have with a gas engine.

    For now, with the Prius, I’m driving a car that gets better mpg on gas than a Golf TDI gets on diesel. I still like those TDIs, though, both the way they drive, and their mpg which is better than anything on the US market, except a Prius.

    When I had my TDI, I followed a forum for a while, and as far as engine life, there were people claiming 400K miles, and others were destroying them when timing belts broke at under 100K. As they say, your results may vary. The current 2 liter TDIs have timing chains, rather than the belt of the old 1.9. That is a very good thing in an engine with interference between valves and pistons if the camshaft stops turning.

  34. cwolf Says:

    Kit, since you once owned a diesel, how easy are they to start in the winter,how often do glow-plugs need replacement and how did the extra engine weight effect the drive or wear on the front end?

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I didn’t experience serious cold starts when I had my diesel; I was in central Florida in the winter, so a cold start was 40 deg. or so. My car had about 100K miles when I sold it, and I had the original glow plugs. I don’t remember much discussion of glow plug issues on the forums.

    I don’t think the diesel weighed much more than the gas version. The car handled the same as a gas Jetta wagon with similar tires. The biggest difference in how it drove compared to a gas version is that the diesel was high torque, low rpm. For best acceleration, you would shift the TDI at maybe 4200-4400 rpm, but the gas version at 6000 or so.