Episode 687 – UAW Labor News, Waste Plastic Converted to Fuel, World’s Largest Diesel

July 25th, 2011 at 11:37am

Runtime: 8:16

Labor issues are in the news today. The UAW would like to represent Volkswagen at its plant in Tennessee and the union begins its contract negotiations with the Detroit Three today. Waste plastic from Chrysler’s Brampton plant in Canada is being converted to fuel. The world’s largest container ship is also home to the world’s biggest diesel engine. It weighs 2300 tons, is 90 feet long and 44 feet high. All that and more, plus a look at the MINI Countryman.


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This is Autoline Daily for July 25, 2011. And now, the news.

UAW WANTS TO REPRESENT VW IN U.S. (subscription required)
Interesting development on the labor front. Volkswagen has a system where all its workers are represented by works councils in all its factories. It’s a global obligation, something that VW negotiated with its supervisory board, half of whom are labor representatives as required by German law. But it turns out that in the United States, any kind of works councils, by law, have to have the recognition of an independent union. The Wall Street Journal reports the UAW is keenly interested in being that union.

And today is the day that the UAW begins its contract negotiations with the Detroit Three. UAW president Bob King tells Bloomberg that the amount of pay that Ford CEO Alan Mulally is earning is outrageous and could be an impediment to getting a deal. But here’s my Autoline Insight. This is just part of negotiating rhetoric. The union knows it’s not going to force Mulally to take a pay cut. But because Ford’s hourly workers have shown they will reject concessions, Bob King can use Mulally’s pay and the threat of a strike to get a better contract for his members.

Even though the Nissan NV200 was named the official taxi of New York City, that’s just a recommendation. Taxi companies are free to buy any approved vehicle they like. And New York just approved the Ford Transit Connect and Taurus as well. Here’s an interesting fact. Do you know how much it costs to be certified to drive a taxi in the New York City? An individual must pay $673,000 for a medallion and a company must pay $975,000. Taxi drivers in the Big Apple can make about 50 grand a year, but they can also sell those medallions for a profit when they retire. And the price only goes up.

WASTE PLASTIC CONVERTED TO FUEL (subscription required)
A few weeks back we reported that Honda has eliminated sending waste to landfills at most of its plants in North America. Now Ward’s reports that waste plastic from Chrysler’s Brampton plant in Canada is being converted to fuel such as heating oil or diesel. An Ontario-based company, JBI, came up with the process. They heat shredded plastic and collect gaseous hydrocarbons, the byproduct of this process is condensed into liquid fuel. It takes about an hour to complete and the company can generate 100 barrels of fuel for every 20 tons of plastic it uses. And according to the EPA, there is plenty of waste plastic in the U.S.  30 million tons are dumped into landfills every year.

You can’t have it both ways! The Wall Street Journal reports Volvo is considering selling stripper models in India. By offering vehicles with fewer features and lower prices it can better compete with other premium brands. You see, Volvo does not build any cars in the country, which puts it at a price disadvantage because of the hefty import tariffs. But in China, Volvo’s parent company Geely wants to move the brand up market to compete with Mercedes and BMW. So they’re moving up market in China, and down market in India? Make up your mind, Geely. You’re trying to do too much, too soon.

Bigger is better! Jalopnik reports the world’s largest container ship, called the Emma Mærsk, is also home to the world’s biggest diesel engine. A double-whammy of awesome! The ship itself tips the scales at an astonishing 171,000 tons! It’s capable of carrying 11,000 20-foot-long shipping containers. Moving all that mass takes a suitably large engine. Your average Mercury outboard just won’t cut it. Weighing in at 23 hundred TONS, it’s powered by a two-cycle, 14-cylinder diesel that’s 90 feet long and 44 feet high. All told, it delivers 109,000 horsepower! And it runs at only 102 rpm.

Coming up next, we’ll take a look at the MINI Countryman. There are some pretty good things about it, and some that are not.

The Countryman is the newest model in MINI’s line-up. There are some things I really liked about it, and there are some things that, well, take a look . . .

I think most people would prefer the base model of the Countryman over the Cooper S. By the way, the Countryman now accounts for one out of every four MINIs that are sold in the U.S. market.

That’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see your tomorrow.

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

38 Comments to “Episode 687 – UAW Labor News, Waste Plastic Converted to Fuel, World’s Largest Diesel”

  1. Lex Says:

    What is JBI’s total cost per barrel to convert 20 tons of waste plactic into 100 barrels of oil?

  2. LS ford Says:

    33k for a “mini”?? I am lost at the idea that this economy enthusiast car is now in a higher range. Is there a Fiat 500 due out to compete for teh same market. +30k micro cars? what’s next a 40k nissan leaf?? Oh wait, we already have that…… :)

  3. tj Martin Says:

    Italy’s House of Cards ;

    Well for those who haven’t noticed , italy is about to join the Chasm of PIGS ( Portugal Ireland Greece Spain ) and in many ways exceeding the previous members in its Debt to Income ratio as well as its closeness to Defaulting on all its Foreign Loans.

    So how is this Automotive News you ask ?

    Simple . Berlusconi has been Marchionne’s staunchest ally , handing over Billions of € from Italy’s non existent reserves in order to complete his/FIAT’s purchase on Chrysler ( FIAT SpA has more debt than income and has been as such for over a decade )

    Berlusconi is now Finally on the ropes , with all his lies and hyperbole coming to light .

    Marchionne’s unlimited € taps have just been shut down .

    Much of the moneys paid to ( ahem ) purchase Chrysler are in fact non existent ( anyone asked if the checks have cashed ? )

    The Elkann’s ( Agnellis heirs ) do not have the assets to cover all of Marchionne’s madness either .

    So guess what FIAT deal is on the verge of defaulting ? If you guessed Chrysler , well you’re spot on my friends .

    And…….. speaking of the Elkanns , their biggest ally and co-investor , Murdoch Jr is also on the ropes both financially as well as legally . So much for their pretentious attempt to buy out F1 as well as keep FIAT intact !

    Any Chrysler Employees on sight here assuming their jobs are safe …… take heed . They are not .

    Fact is the US news has only scratched the surface as to the extent of Italy’s financial woes as well as how deeply this will affect FIAT and then Chrysler ( amazing the info you pick up when having dinner with a couple of Italian Investors in Vail , CO for those who didn’t figure out where I was )

    I’ll post my 1600 mile road test update on the GLK after hours .

    But to say the least .

    To many here’s dismay I’m sure ……. Tj’s back in town !

  4. Darren Says:

    I hope they cured the torque steer on the Mini. I has a JCW cooper and it was damn awful. There are many cars out there that are better in every way (albeit not as cool or hip)like the Subaru WRX or STI Mitsubishi Ralliart or Evo. These cars are larger and have all wheel drive and more HP. They also cost less.

  5. ItsmeBill Says:

    @tj Martin- sell it to Ford!

  6. HtG Says:

    Honda just emailed. Now they want the Civic; they’ll even buy it outright. Is the whole country a CPO lot, these days?

    Hey tj’s back. Did you break hundred coming back on I-70? One shot out of Denver to KC?

  7. Kate McLeod Says:

    Does that potentially equal 150 million barrels of fuel if we reused all of our waste plastic? Do I have that right? That’s pretty impressive.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    Look out Chrysler/Fiat apologists: TJ’s back!

  9. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    Heck let the fools ignore reality and dump their hard earned into Chrysler/FIAT .

    I’m done caring . Just thought I’d post the facts so at least when they do and lose everything they won’t have any excuses other than their own stupidity ( not knowing the facts is ignorance . Ignoring the facts is stupidity )

    @ HtG

    I’ll post a nice review of the GLK in the morning , but for now yes i did ( crack 100 mph shhhhhhhh ) As well as embarrass the heck out of a BMW X5 4.8 in the mountains

    Hmmmn . Isn’t BMW supposed to be the ultimate handling machine ? Could of fooled me the way that X5 almost lost it big time trying to keep up around some fast sweepers .

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    For the price of that Clubman, I can get an Accent 5 door and have plenty of moula left over for a nice vacation with the clan, w/o the nervous, jiggly ride.

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    “Weighing in at 23 hundred TONS, it’s powered by a two-cycle, 14-cylinder diesel that’s 90 feet long and 44 feet high. All told, it delivers 109,000 horsepower! And it runs at only 102 rpm.”

    So, I guess the more important number would have been the torque value, or for some perspective, listing the size of the propeller that is turning at 102 rpm.

  12. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    The UAW is getting to the point that they should change the name to :
    United Auto-Industry Wreckers
    It should only take one more strike for every mfg. to start shipping all assembly functions to Mexico or overseas.
    Of course Mr. Kings job seems to be shooting himself (and the industry )in the foot until he totally cripples the US industry.

    Look at how may (or few) vehicles are actually assembled in the US with union workers anymore.

  13. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    How can the UAW bargain in good faith with Ford when the UAW owns over 50% of Ford’s domestic competitors, GM and Chrysler? It would seem that the UAW has every incentive to weaken Ford’s financial position, and attempt to seize an ownership position. As it is now, GM and Chrysler are just UAW welfare organizations that happen to make and try to sell vehicles.

  14. HtG Says:

    One does wonder about internal conflicts at the UAW between leadership and rank and file. Is the militancy still there?

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That sounds like awfully high rpm for that boat motor. I’ve read about other huge diesels that only turn 30-40rpm.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like the idea of what Volvo is doing in India, selling stripped down cars there. I wish M-B and BMW would do that in the US.

    Based on sales, it looks like the MINI Countryman is a success, but I certainly wouldn’t buy one. It’s too big and heavy for that 1.6 engine and, to me, the styling doesn’t work as well as on the coupe and convertible. After having one for a couple years, I still think the BMW MINI is at its best in its most basic form, a non-S coupe with few options.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    BMW and Daimler will never give up their “luxury” status here by selling stripped down models here. ditto for Land Rover and even Volvo.

  18. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit Gerhart

    How very right you are ! ( # 16 )

    having driven both the S and non S Countryman , too heavy for the engine they are presently offering sums it up in a nutshell : along with MINI cheapening up the interior a fair amount compared to our 2007 MINI’s .

    Believe me if it of been a good one I’d of bought the Countryman over the GLK in a heartbeat . Unfortunately disappointing sums up my experience with the car .

    As to VOLVO . in light of the fact that nary a part on the entire car ( at least as far as the XC60 & 90 are concerned ) comes from , is built or assembled in Sweden , who cares what they do in China with the things ! For that matter who cares what Geely/Volvo does at all these days ? Its all becoming another round of Chinese Junk masquerading as Western Luxury with a Euro name badge on the hood . Not to mention the Chinese and Swedes have been at extreme odds since day one of the take over .

    Thanks FORD for that ! Back at you in spades Mullaly !

  19. tj Martin Says:

    By the way , was there a funeral going here or something ?

    i can’t remember the site being this dead in months !

  20. HtG Says:

    Whenever I start getting wound up about all the options on cars, I think about how much I like my AC, my intermittent wipers, carpeting, overdrive gear, am-fm stereo cassette, automatic choke(I had a LeCar that was manual), tinted windows, power mirrors, halogen lights, steel belted radials, rear window defogger. We sure have come a long way.

  21. cwolf Says:

    Not many of us dis-like the Mini and the non-turbo gets most of the votes. But after all the recent reviews,the one feature that stands out which I hate the most are the slidind cup holders dividing the rear seats. An open rear floor area would be so much more pleasing than having that silly slide bar between the seats.

    The UAW may have a lot of the big 3 stock in its retirement fund,but it won’t be a disadvantage to Ford. Slighting one over another would cause an imbalance between its membership wages. Once a general agreement was estblished with one,the others normally would follow suit within the following week. There would be minor differences that would be more specific. This practice was once commonplace, but now that many plants are not unionized,creates a whole new ball game. Forgetting who is pro or con, just watching how things are unfolding is quite captivating!

    I marvel Hondas efforts to minimize its landfill waste,but the target objective is to eliminate waste all together! Once waste falls below 10%, effords to make meaningfull reductions gets really difficult and then almost impossible, until its not worth the efforts. During these times,any good idea that has proven itself deserves to be rewarded with a heafty percentage of the first years savings.

  22. HtG Says:

    btw, tj. I see your car on the MB dealer lot. Nice one. Creeped out yet? Looks like you didn’t go crazy with the add ons. Not even the chequered flag side mirrors?

  23. cwolf Says:

    By the way tj, since your GLK purchase, I bet I saw close to a dozen in the past week! If I see too many more, your dapper status will surely head down hill.

  24. HtG Says:

    This is a well known effect cwolf, described by my BIL’s mother. To wit, when you buy a car, you suddenly start seeing it more often. Don’t quite know how it bit you, though.

  25. HtG Says:

    tj, will your GLK review precede or follow Obama’s address? Just asking.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pedro re #17,
    I agree completely with what you say. The US branches of MB and BMW are way too “uppity” to ever allow their brands to be normal car companies as in the rest of the world. I just wish it were different.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    If Mercs were so high class everywhere, there wouldn’t be so many of them in Albania, as far as I know Albania is no Dubai.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Albania is probably one of the best places in the world to buy a Mercedes. You can probably get an E-Class wagon with a 4 cylinder diesel, manual transmission, and crank windows. That would be a great car to take my R/C airplanes to the flying field.

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    I saw the Top Gear episode where they went to Albania and if I’m not mistaken, Albanians get those Mercs (used) from other European countries, just like Afghans have a fixation for Corollas, over 90% of all cars there are Corollas.

  30. cwolf Says:

    Does’nt matter what I think. The Mrs. and I are frugal and since I drive a long distace to work I have to be reasonable. Once I retire, I hope to have more of my wishes. So those growing number GLK owners only proves their good taste. What counts is your pleasure and I hope it proves to be the most memorable vehicle ever owned.

  31. tj Martin Says:

    Mercedes in Albania

    A dirty little secrete . They’re all to the number stolen and hot as a baked potato out of the oven . Albania is the dumping point for all High End Euro Cars . And thats a fact you can take to the bank Ask any Russian looking for a bargain M-b

    @ HtG – I’ll pop up the review at about 7 am EDT . Also my last trip to the dealer I saw Badger on the lot ( MINI ) i actually eflt good about not owning it any longer and hope someone good buys the little critter !

    @ cwolf – Like you said i couldn’t care less how many people buy the GLK . The more the merrier :o But in Vail we were one of three ( two white one red ) with the ML’s and G’s ( couple of GL’s as well ) being the main M-B’s .

    Most prolific upper end SUV in Vail ? Sad to say Cadillac Escalades .

  32. tj Martin Says:

    # 31 meant to say Albania is the dumping point for all stolen High End Euro Luxo’s . Russians buy M-B BMW’s etc like they’re at Wal Mart .

  33. cwolf Says:

    Traveling the same path to work every day the sights play second fiddle to the cars around me. What I see on the ohio pike during vacation season is a total mish-mash of regional preferences. For instance,I have convinced myself there is a majical north to south wall dividing michigan. On the east are Fords and west are GM’s. During last weekend Vegas gaunt,Corolas,Elantras dominated the employee lots. A larger than normal of Smart-4-2 seemed odd and I wondered where they came from. Of course limos abound, but during this weekend the MKZ dominated the Caddy 2 to 1. The rental fleet is hard to ignor and the Elantras are as thick as flies! But the pike is a blend,yet Subarus, Jettas, Impalas and focus dominate. Yet, Nisson G cars are very numerous. What has captued my attension the most is the huge number of Taurus! On the Ohio pike, they may be numero uno on the large car list. Just thought my observations good enough to share.

  34. JB Says:

    Thanks for the review of the cooper s countryman. I’m personally not a fan of the looks of this vehicle especially in person. The review offered excellent insight and was quite fair. I thought the thumbs down review was done in such a gentlemanly way (as John always does) I don’t even think Mini could be insulted..

    Hateful little car in my opinion….LOL

    The original Mini Cooper S is much nicer..

    I look forward to Autolines review of the upcoming two seater I see over at BMW headquarters….yet the funny thing is I am sure the ugly ungainly countryman will handily out sell the upcoming two seater..

  35. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    A late start today so in deference to Obama’s speech I’ll post the GLK review later this afternoon .

    @ cwolf – I-70 to and from Vail ( from KC ) was chock full of MiniVans , driven by old , young , male and female . Almost to a number the biggest ( bleeps ) on the road , speeding ( +20 mph ) , cutting in and out of lanes etc. On one leg home we were in a German convoy ( My Benz , two Porsches and two Bimmers ) cruising along at around 80 mph : with again those (bleeping ) MiniVan drivers speeding past us , revving the beejeebers out of their engines to do so ! :(

    So what is the deal with the current crop of MiniVan owners ? They trying to compensate for the fact that they’re driving a boring , albeit practical vehicle or what ???

    @ JB – You’re spot on about your assessment of the Countryman both looks wise as well as sales success . Its a winner by the numbers but i wasn’t convinced to trade the MINI Cooper in on one , buying a GLK instead . Too bad as with just a couple of changes ( including a 2.0 Turbo ) the Countryman could of been a brilliant little beast and would of wound up in my garage . BMW Not ! bringing over the X1 adding insult to injury .

    BMW/MINI -5
    Mercedes +10

  36. HtG Says:

    @35 You sure there weren’t any VW Golf drivers sneaking past with those vans? Pushy little buggers

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    When you hit the open road, you see a completely diff type of vehicle out there, even here in So Fla where you see so many Corollas and Civics, out on the I or the Pike you see lots of vans, Impalas, and all sorts of SUV I guess for long distance travel people just want their comfort.

  38. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I found some specs. on the 14 cylinder diesel from today’s show:

    “Some facts on the 14 cylinder version: Total engine weight: 2300 tons (The crankshaft alone weighs 300 tons.) Length: 89 feet Height: 44 feet Maximum power: 108,920 hp at 102 rpm Maximum torque: 5,608,312 lb/ft at 102 rpm Fuel consumption at maximum power is 0.278 lbs per hp per hour”

    Maybe I’ll post this on today’s show since, now, it is tomorrow (already) :)