September 19th, 2011 at 11:02am
GM and UAW reach a tentative contract agreement that raises entry-level wages and more. Ford finally goes for the throat in a new ad that uses the “B” word. For only dollars a day, you can adopt a Chrysler. All that and more, plus a drive in the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
Arr, this is Autoline Daily for September the 19th it is. And this is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Avast ye land lubbers, we sail for uncharted waters.
DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’! (subscription required)
And that’s what Fiat did when it started selling a rebadged version of the Dodge Journey as the Fiat Freemont in Europe. According to Ward’s, the Freemont, is off with a bang. Dealers already ordered 20,000 Freemonts, about 70% of its 2011 sales goal.
GM AND UAW FIND COMMON GROUND
General Motors and the UAW reached a new labor contract that now must be ratified by hourly workers in the United States. It gives them a $5,000 signing bonus and it will raise wages for entry-level workers by $2 to $3 an hour over the next four years. It also provides them with profit sharing that will be determined by profitability at GM’s North American operations, not just those in the United States. Here’s my Autoline Insight. GM and the UAW wanted a simple formula for profit sharing that anyone could figure out at the kitchen table. Since GM only breaks out North American profit, not US profit, that’s likely why it went this way. Also, this contract does not include any kind of cost-of-living-adjustment, or COLA, so the small raises for entry level workers probably will not affect labor costs all that much. While analysts are slamming GM for not holding the line on labor costs, my bet is that overall they could go down. But here’s what I don’t understand. These labor negotiations are just so much theater. These negotiations have been going on since July and yet they still went past deadline and involved exhaustive bargaining sessions. Bob King promised a new era in labor relations, but I don’t see it. He’s still kowtowing to union politics. While much of the media is jumping on the rah-rah bandwagon and proclaiming how wonderful this is, it sure looks like the same old adversarial relationship to me. And this does not bode well four years from now when the union will be able to go on strike again against GM and Chrysler.
FORD AD SLAMS BAILOUTS
Well it was bound to happen sooner or later. A new Ford ad slams the GM and Chrysler bailouts. It’s part of Ford’s series of “Drive One: Press Conference” ads, in which real people give their honest opinions about Ford in a press conference setting. Here is what’s said in the new one. What do you think? Is it too much or is this a good idea for Ford to attack its cross-town rivals like this?
ADOPT A CAR
The Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Michigan is giving history lovers the opportunity to sign up and adopt their favorite car in the collection. The cost is $450 per year for museum members, $500 for non-members.
A New York-based artist named Jonathan Brand is building a life-size replica of a ‘69 Ford Mustang . . . out of paper. And he’s recreating every single nut and bolt. AMAZING! He started with a 3-D computer model of the car and then he flattened everything out so it could be printed on paper. Then came what I’m sure were hours and hours and hours of cutting and gluing. So far he’s finished the engine, a door and a wheel with a tire.
Coming up next, a look at the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class
Some would say the definition of luxury and beauty is Montana, just look around me, the scenery here is absolutely breathtaking. But to Mercedes-Benz, it just might mean something else.
Like the brand-new M-Class, now in its third generation, but you may not notice at first glance. The 2012 model looks remarkably similar to its predecessor and that resemblance is more than just skin deep.
The M-Class started the midsize, luxury SUV segment back in 1997, and it’s all new. It’s really the same dimensions in size and weight but a lot of great, new standard features.
And some of those thoughtful amenities include an automatic parking system, amazingly effective heated AND cooled cup holders, plus new control stalks that are easier to use.
As with the design, the powertrains are familiar as well. The M is launching with a pair of V-6 engines, one gas and one diesel. At 3.5-liters, the gasser is brand-new from the oil pan to the intake. With direct fuel injection it delivers 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.
A 3.0-liter BlueTEC diesel is also available. It churns out 240 horsepower with a mountain-climbing, stump-pulling 455 pound-feet. And better fuel economy, too. Really, this is the engine to get. It’s smooth and PLENTY powerful.
An updated seven-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board. If you’re wondering where the V-8s are don’t worry. They, along with a hybrid model, launch early next year.
Even with all of these improvements the 2012 model has some pretty big shoes to fill.
The M-Class is hugely important to us. When you look at the car, introduced in 1997 we nearly sold half a million of that product over all these years. So we obviously have high expectations . . . We are right now seeing the second-generation M-Class in its last few months actually doing extremely well. In June we had an increase over last June of 44 percent, and year-to-date we are up 14 percent. It’s really a fantastic performance for a car which is two months before we’re discontinuing it. Obviously very-high expectations, the bar is very high for the new M-Class, and I think the way the car drives, the way the car looks we will get there, there is no question in my opinion. Consumers will see the value of the car, they will love it and we will have a success at our hand.
Thank you, Craig, for that report.
If you’re in the market for this Alabama-built luxury SUV, you don’t have to wait long. They should be arriving at Mercedes-Benz dealerships right now. As for pricing, an ML-350 4MATIC will set you back about $50,000. A diesel-powered model,15-hundred bucks more.
Check out a new episode of RoundAbout at Autoline.tv. This week, join the crew for a special edition in which they discuss sixty new vehicle reveals from the Frankfurt Motor Show in less than ninety minutes. Watch or listen right now in the John’s Journal section of our website.
We’ve got a great Autoline After Hours coming up this Thursday night with Clay Dean, the head of advanced design at General Motors. Here’s your chance to learn where GM Design is headed in the future. Join me and that bodacious Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo for the best insider discussion in the industry.
Arr, and you better do what I tells ya, or you’ll not like the consequences. Them’s that dies will be the lucky ones. Aye, them’s that dies.