July 25th, 2011 at 11:37am
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.
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.
KING CALLS MULALLY’S PAY “OUTRAGEOUS”
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.
NYC APPROVES FORDS FOR TAXI USE
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.
VOLVO MAY SELL STRIPPED CARS IN INDIA (subscription required)
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.
WORLD’S LARGEST DIESEL ENGINE
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.