Episode 690 – European Financial Numbers, UAW Wants a Seat on GM’s Board, Ford Explorer Fuel Economy

July 28th, 2011 at 11:32am

Runtime: 8:27

European automakers are posting exceptionally strong earnings today and we hit some of the highlights.  The UAW wants a seat on GM’s board of directors.  Ford just released some pretty impressive numbers for the Explorer, which is getting an EcoBoost four-cylinder engine for the 2012 model year.  All that and more, plus a look at the brand-new Nissan Versa.


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This is Autoline Daily for July 28, 2011. And European automakers are posting exceptionally strong earnings today.

We have the latest numbers for Volkswagen, Renault and Ferrari. Let’s start with VW. These numbers are for the first six months of the year. Under European reporting regulations, corporations do not have to report quarterly earnings. VW sold 4.1 million vehicles, up a strong 14 percent, which brought in about $108 billion in revenue. That’s an amazing amount of money and even if VW does not sell the most vehicles this year, it could take the No. 1 spot when it comes to revenue. The company also boosted its net profit by a whopping 38 percent to roughly $9 billion. Meanwhile, Renault reported this morning that it sold more than 1.3 million vehicles in the first half, up by less than 2 percent. That brought in more than $29 billion, up more than 7 percent, but its net profit of about $1.1 billion was up an astonishing 52 percent. And Ferrari reported that it sold 3,577 cars in the first half. That brought in about $1.5 billion up nearly 20 percent, and it earned a net profit of about $128 million, up an impressive 23 percent.

Three years ago GM and Ford were flat on their backs, but now they’re investing heavily in emerging markets. Ford will invest $900 million in India to build a new plant that will employ 5,000 people. Ford wants to introduce seven new models in India over the next several years.  Currently it sells four.

And GM announced it will boost its investment in Brazil by more than its current investment in the country of $3.2 billion. The new plan runs through 2017.

Speaking of GM, Ward’s reports the UAW wants a seat on the board of directors. UAW President Bob King says the union would add value because it has a long-term interest in seeing the company succeed. Despite all the lovey-dovey talk between GM and the union, I’ll bet the company isn’t exactly enamored of that proposal.

And speaking of labor negotiations, things aren’t going so smoothly between Hyundai-Kia and its workers in Korea. Kia workers rejected a tentative agreement that would have increased bonuses and given workers stock in the company. Workers are unhappy about going from a three-shift to a two-shift schedule. And Hyundai doesn’t want to pay union representatives who don’t work on the line. Many people are not aware that the Detroit Three pay union representatives who are located in their plants.

Happy birthday, Chevrolet!  The iconic brand celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and today it starts a 100-day countdown to November 3, the date it was founded.  The company has launched a new website to help commemorate the occasion, Chevy100.com.  Fans can share stories about their cars, learn of centennial activities and vote for the best Chevrolet of all time.  But one vehicle that’s not on the ballot is the 2013 Malibu.  It’s not even on sale yet, but GM is gearing up for it.  The company hosted an open-house this week, highlighting some of the car’s features, like its brand-new interior.  We’ll have more on the 2013 Malibu in the coming days, so stay tuned.

Ford’s new Explorer has doubled sales and now the much-anticipated EcoBoost four-cylinder engine will be available late next month.  Output is 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It should deliver 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the highway – that’s up to 8.4 L/100 km.  Those numbers beat the Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, Toyota Highlander and even the Subaru Impreza, which is a compact car!  Pretty impressive, but insiders at the company hinted they were shooting for 30 MPG.  So close Ford, so close.

Since its introduction in 2006, Nissan has sold over 350,000 Versas in the U.S. At the end of last year it was the leader in its segment, controlling just over 30 percent of the compact-car market. Now the company is set to release an all-new version of the sedan. And here’s what’s new.

I only mention the sedan because Nissan won’t introduce a new version of the hatch for 2012 but it should get updated the following year. Interestingly, the hatch has outsold the sedan in the U.S., but Nissan believes that trend will reverse which is why the sedan is coming out first.

It’s built on Nissan’s new “V” platform which uses 20 percent fewer components and weighs 150 pounds less than the previous platform.

Under the hood, the Versa comes with a brand-new powertrain.

Customers also get the option to mate the engine to a five-speed manual, which gets 27 MPG in the city and 36 on the highway. Overall it’s not very powerful, with just 109 horsepower, but it’s good enough while out on the road.

The exterior has been completely redone, but it also hints at what Nissan’s cars will look like in the coming years.

There is plenty of legroom in the back but the headroom wasn’t quite as spacious.

The Versa sedan goes on sale in early August with a starting price just under $11,000 with a five-speed manual. And the top trim model starts at just over $15,500. Both prices do not include destination charges.

Thanks for that report Seamus.

Don’t forget to join us tonight for Autoline After Hours. We’ll have Jay Baron from the Center for Automotive Research coming on. And if you have any questions about electric cars and especially the Nissan LEAF, we’ve got Mark Perry who handles all those questions for the company in North America. Join me and Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, for the best insider discussion of what’s going on in the industry.

And that’s today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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38 Comments to “Episode 690 – European Financial Numbers, UAW Wants a Seat on GM’s Board, Ford Explorer Fuel Economy”

  1. HtG Says:

    That interior of the new Malibu reminds me of the flashy stuff Chevys used to have in the 50′s. Am I right?

    Hey Seamus, when you first laid eyes on the new Versa, did you or did you not get a little taste of chuck in the back of your mouth? Aero error

    tj, please help to toss a coin. We can either go to a Ferrari event at LimeRock this weekend, or to a hot rod event at an Auto Foundation in Philadelphia whose name shall not be spoken(yes! it’s at Simeone). My motivation for going to LimeRock would not be pure, as I do get a chuckle out of the whole devotional scene.

  2. jesse Says:

    GM should have dumped the union when they had their chance during the bankruptcy.Now,that demon will continue to haunt them until they fall again!At one time the union was a good thing.Now that time has passed.They are dead,they just don’t know it yet.

  3. Andy S Says:

    Did anyone else notice the Nissan grille badge on the Versa was tilted down toward the driver side of the vehicle?

  4. dcars Says:

    Hi John,
    Seamus is getting comfortable in front of the camera, have you ever thought of having him do reviews or interviews of Ken Block or x factor cars like the Scions? Just and idea.

  5. Tony Gray Says:

    Chevy100.com eh?

    Wasn’t it not long ago that the term CHEVY was to be stricken from every book and tablet, stricken from all pylons and obelisks, stricken from every monument of Detroit?”

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Tony, cooler heads prevailed. (and it’s about time)

  7. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    You’ve already done the Sports Car thing this year several times ( ALMS , track day etc)

    Go see some genuine American Iron & Ingenuity

    Do the Hot Rod show !

    Anyway do you really want to spend all day with the Pretentious Anal Rententive crowd that the majority of the recent wave of Ferrari owners has become ? Go have some fun ! See the Hot Rods ! :o

  8. tj Martin Says:


    FYI just got the GLK back from the dealer . Spick & Span and clean as a whistle with nary a squashed bug in site . I’s a happy fella . Though you’d want to know .

  9. Mark Says:

    John, Your mention of GM giving details on the Malibu is another example of how GM unveils their products too far in advance — about 9 to 12 months before you can buy them. In some cases, like the Camaro and Volt, they unveil them multiple years in advance. Contrast this with Honda and Toyota that show their products 2 to 3 months before you can buy them. Why does GM do this? Doesn’t this just help their competition with detailed information and dampen demand on existing GM products?

  10. CanadienRick Says:

    UAW a seat on GM….GREAT!! VW has always had that…hasn’t hurt them…. besides, could a UAW rep do a worse job then the board members did prior to bankruptcy??

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    GM does these “early unveils” as the Malibu with the hope that some people will like what they see and wait for the new car, rather than buying a Camry/Accord/Fusion, or whatever. I’d think it might also cost some sales of the current Malibu, though, but in some ways, I think the current one looks better than the 2013.

  12. HtG Says:

    Here’s a WSJ video with Alan Mulally talking about the debt fight in DC. Hint, he no likee.


  13. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Kit, I’m kind of with you (the current Malibu looks pretty good), I like the new one (a little more edgy) but if I were looking to buy, and the old model was a ‘deal’, I might just take the current model.

  14. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Funny (not really) but the debackle with the budget seems a whole like what the government was blaming the big three (in doing) that got them in such a mess. Pot, calling the kettle black; as it were.

  15. tj Martin Says:


    Gee we’re not trying too hard to copy MINI to a Tee now are we Chrysler ? A little ” Cooper ” envy perhaps ? Or just the fact that you haven’t had an original thought in the entire company of late , FIAT included .

    Hate to say it but this doesn’t originate from MOPAR either . FIAT SpA has been offering these extra since the introduction of the FIAT 500 .

    Oh well … just another round of the Marchionne/Chrysler Spin Doctors in full gear .

  16. tj Martin Says:

    @ Chuck Grenci


    More a case of a bunch of pig headed obstructionists who barely understand the meaning of compromise , never mind making one happen .

    Even the best of the Republicans are saying it;

    Blame the Freshmen Tea Party Representatives !

    Meat/Blockheads to a number !

  17. HtG Says:

    some of these guys need to hit up their donors before it’s all done. I’d say they’re pretty bipartisan about that in DC.

    ‘Best Congress money can buy.’ -Will Rogers

  18. tj Martin Says:

    ” America may be a mess….. but its the best mess there is ”

    Mark Twain

    FYI someone asked me yesterday with the wife in Govt and all what I thought the result might be if this Debt/Budget debacle isn’t resolved soon .

    Simply put … even more Govt employees will be without paychecks as many FAA employees already are …… so…. spending will decrease …….. profits will drop …… and the Market WILL react accordingly .

    Luckily they can’t touch Mrs Tj’s department … But many others will feel the pinch ….. Big Time !

    Stupid ! Stubborn and Stupid ! Plain and Simple . And for what ? To prove a point that can’t be proven ?

    ” Fools to the left of me …. Jokers to the right .. here I am .. stuck in the middle with you ” guys

  19. HtG Says:

    glad to hear it, tj. You know I am curbing my curiosity, though I am not leaning Leavenworth.(at least keep quiet about this. I kid)

  20. HtG Says:

    @18 I was in DC last year for the Tea Party rally, so I got to see these people as they exited the Mall. They looked like they had just enjoyed a mass catharsis, as though they were really getting something done. All white, nice looking, non threatening types. I was standing on Constitution Ave just as Sharpton’s parade intersected with the Tea people. Just like the Sixties, tj!

  21. tj Martin Says:


    Round one gentlemen . The Ferrari and Alfa versions soon to follow . Hmmn . Seems someone else is letting the cat out of the bag .

    Ahhhh…. when will they ever listen ?

    @HtG – # 20 ” just like the sixties ” …… minus any element of Brains , Thought , Consideration ( for anything other than themselves ) along with an overabundance of Self Righteousness , Xenophobia , Insular non existent world views etc etc etc ( and you thought drugs could screw up ones perspective )

    Yup ! Just like the Sixties . In some Alternative Universe !

  22. HtG Says:

    @21 I didn’t need to read about that. I can at least trust Mark Reuss to never ever ever cough up a VetteUV. I recall reading Keith Bradsher’s book on the rise of SUVs wherein he wrote that the engineers had contempt for the customers. But I guess these days, diptards with money know the brands they want to sport.

    note; I just got an Ipod shuffle, and those white plugs are going to make me cringe with embarrassment.

  23. tj Martin Says:

    An After Hours Discussion Topic ?

    21st Century WPA

    With thousands of able bodied men and women out of work , the infrastructure of our Country ( bridges , roads , parks etc ) the Right complaining about giving money away , the Left screaming people need a hand….

    Why is no one in the Federal Government , including Obama suggesting we create a new WPA to give people jobs instead of hand outs , fix the mess this Countries roads etc are in , as well as give some dignity to those receiving the jobs instead of Welfare , Unemployment etc. ?

    Seems to me that’d solve both extremes complaints as well as go a very long way to getting the US and its Economy back on its feet .

    Thoughts ?

  24. tj Martin Says:

    #23 should of read ;

    ” the infrastructure of our Country ( bridges , roads etc ) being such a mess ”

    mea culpa

  25. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    #22 Exotic SUV’s

    If Ferrari . Maserati and Alfa were doing something along the lines of the Lamborghini LM002 I could get on board with that .

    But slapping a new body and a pretentious badge on a pedestrian SUV ( albeit a decent one ) and calling it an Exotic … now that raises my Ire to no end !

  26. HtG Says:

    the Federaleys are stepping up deportations, opening up jobs. In Alabama the state is clamping down, and the vulnerable people have left-so labor needs are going unmet.

    While I don’t believe the US can do this mass jobs program politically, I also don’t believe the depths of the collapse are widely understood. We’re m#ss#d up for a long time. I wish I were sanguine that govt created jobs would fix this. Usually I just keep quiet about my pessimism, though.

  27. Guy Martineau, FL Says:

    Hello John, Ford should be careful making fun of Subaru, by the time the people will be driving the 4 cylinder Ecoboost Explorer, the new 2012 Impreza will be doing 36 mpg and will be the most fuel efficient AWD vehicle in America…

  28. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    tj #18 and other posts too numerous to mention:

    It’s time for another Reagan moment – I watched from the 4th floor of the ATL RO when the ATC’s marched to defied the no-strike law. I saw thousands of overpaid ATC’s put on the street. (Thus explaining the present proliferation of MCD order takers.) You say Mrs tj’s department is immune to reality? I hope so.

    Meanwhile, keep that GLK shiny side up. We all suffered through your decision to get it. Now that you have it I am glad you are enjoying the ride.

    While on the topic of cars, tell me the truth… what was really wrong with that Mini you dumped on the unsuspecting MB dealer? The early Mini’s are great cars if properly maintained. My opinion is anything with an MB (or BMW) sticker is proof of what P. T. Barnum once famously said.

    Re: EPA requires 54.5 mpg by 2025? Great! I’ll keep my 2.0T Passat, ’86 Carrera and 2000 F150 until then. Thank you, EPA… more money for Sam Adams & Boston Brewing. I should live so long! (Everybody else buy new USA iron to keep UAW members from rioting.)

    tj, I share your passion for cars… and music, so lighten up about the fact that I am not into “fantasy” anything. I live in today!

  29. tj Martin Says:

    @ Bob in Atlanta

    Where you’re coming from with this post ( #27 ) is beyond me !

    When have I ever said you were living in a fantasy !

    As far as Mrs Tj , well you haven’t a clue what dept she’s in , so you’re in no position to judge , assume etc. Suffice it to say ” Critical ” government agencies are immune .

    Dumping the MINI on an unsuspecting M-B dealer ? Excuse me ? Since when is getting a fair trade in price on a 2007 w/less than 10,000 miles DUMPING ?

    As to why I traded , well you obviously haven’t suffered enough thru my ordeal or you’d know the 55 year old back just could no longer tolerate being in the car . Was it a great car ? Would i recommend others to buy one ? Why yes I would . It simply became not a great car for my needs at present .

    Understand ?

    FYi the dealer sold the MINI and did just fine with it .

    So Bob … if you’ve got a bone to pick with me …. man up ….. compose a logical and reasonably understandable post …stick to one or two clear points …. and lets get on with the discussion .

    Because in all honesty , this post ( # 27 ) was all over the planet , with little or no real point to make , never mind lacking in any consistency or reason

    And I’m still having a hard time comprehending where you are coming from , when I’ve ever stepped on your toes , or where you come across assuming to know more about me or my wife than I do .

    Maybe you could do with a little less ” Today ” and a bit more overall perspective on Life .

  30. MJB Says:

    I’m really liking that 2013 Malibu interior. Beats those looser Audi insides any day (LOL – John).

    I almost hurled when I heard that Nissan guy saying that the design cues on the new Versa are a shadow of things to come from all of Nissan’s lineup. Okay… Enter left, a decade of butt-uglyness from Nissan. I’ll check back in with you in 2020, Nissan.

  31. tj Martin Says:

    Bob in Atlanta

    Well excuse me , in my haste I missed out on your snide little insult on my choice of new cars .

    Ever heard the one about the Porsche driving mouse and the Lion ? To make a long one short , the moral being ;

    ” When you’ve got a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ you don’t need a Porsche ”

    I certainly don’t .

    By the by , having many friends in the POCNA as well as at a couple of the Porsche specialty magazines , how is that 86 treating you ? Not too well from what the friends have said .

  32. HtG Says:

    looks like it’s going to be Phillie, tj. Nice beat down above, Sir.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    re #23,
    I’d be in favor of a modern day WPA as you describe, and I suspect Obama would like the idea too. The unfortunate problem is that the billionairres might have to pay a little more in taxes to fund it, and there’s no way today’s Republicans would let that happen.

  34. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG- Good choice . Enjoy . And thanks . Any idea what he was on about ?

    @ Kit Gerhart – I was assuming the salaries to be in lieu of Unemployment and Welfare , and like the original , making Working vs Hand Outs mandatory – so maybe not needing extra funding ?


    Yeah ! This one’s gonna work out real well . Maybe we should all chip in for a few cases of Kleenex for the tears that are about to be shed in the not too distant future .

  35. HtG Says:

    Bob’s post was at 11:02pm, he started on Air Traffic Controllers and govt pay. So booze meets envy, and you’re the guy in the Benz and loafers. Comes with the territory, I guess.

  36. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    LoL ! :o That one ( #34) gives some of pedro’s best a good run . Its a bit ironic that it was one of my POC mates that told me the Porsche driving Mouse & the Lion joke .

    FYI ” Badger” ( the MINI ) went to a very nice new owner from what the dealer said . I’m glad . It was a fantastic little car . Too bad my back ceased to agree with that assessment .

  37. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG . pedro, cwolf , Kit etc ( excuse me if I missed anyone )

    Remember during the long drawn out process of my getting the Benz how we all were speculating on whether Mrs Tj would want the car for herself etc ?

    Well this week she exposed her intent !

    After we’ve had the GLK for a year , to see how the experience,reliability etc works out ………. she thinks she’d like to trade the Matrix in on a C Class 4matic . My response ? I can’t blame her and why not .

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems that MB USA doesn’t want to ever sell me a car, even if I were to want to “splurge” once in my life. Only in America, there’s no C-class wagon, no diesel in any C-class, no diesel E-class wagon, mandatory 4wd in the E-class wagon, no manual transmissions in much of anything. Also, no A-class or B-class of any variety. Oh well. This will save me money by keeping me away from these “premium” German cars.