September 21st, 2011 at 11:06am
More details about the GM-UAW contract come to the surface. Daihatsu introduces a gasoline-powered kei car capable of 71 miles per gallon. Republicans in the House of Representatives may divert $1.5 billion of battery funding to pay for disaster relief. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions in this week’s edition of You Said It!
This is Autoline Daily for September 21, 2011. And now, the news.
NITTY GRITTY CONTRACT DETAILS
We’ve got more details on the UAW contract with General Motors. Different media outlets are reporting different aspects of that contract. The Detroit News says that hourly workers could earn $12,500 in bonuses over the life of the 4-year contract. Ward’s notes that GM is also going to move $2.5 billion in work from Mexico to the US (subscription required), involving engines, transmissions and castings. GM will also reopen a couple of plants, though one is closing. But all told it will hire 6,400 more UAW workers. Bloomberg adds that GM is also going to put 10 percent of its profit-sharing money into a health care trust, which should generate $40 million a year. That means the UAW is going to be able to add money to its VEBA funds. That’s a big coup for the union, but if GM can get more of its existing high-cost workers to retire, it could hold the line on labor costs, or even reduce them. But it has to pay $75,000 to skilled workers to entice them to retire.
DAIHATSU MIRA E:S IS O-KEI
Daihatsu, Japan’s largest maker of kei cars, just introduced a gasoline-powered model that gets 71 miles per gallon. Called the Mira e:S, Daihatsu is targeting buyers looking for less expensive models that get better fuel economy because of the earthquake earlier in the year. The company expects to sell 7,000 a month after the first year. Remember, that 71 MPG is on the Japanese driving cycle. If the U.S. EPA were to test it, that number would be lower, but it’s still pretty impressive.
BATTERY LOANS GETTING DRAINED
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are looking to cut funding from a program that’s meant to help automakers build more fuel-efficient vehicles. The House will debate whether or not to cut $1.5 billion of the $4 billion left in the program to help fund disaster relief. This means Chrysler and battery supplier A123 Systems, which just signed an agreement with GM, may not get some or all of the money they requested. Altogether eleven loans may not get awarded if the program is reduced.
And in yet another sign of just how much things are changing, Honda just signed an agreement with John Deere to sell its power products at John Deere stores in the U.S. Honda’s walk-behind lawnmowers, generators, tillers, water pumps and snowblowers will be available at John Deere locations starting next year.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
MJB wants to know, “How does Saab keep doing it? How do they keep finding ways to re-emerge from those near-death experiences?”
MJB, don’t forget that Saab is not building any cars and hasn’t built any since May. They’re not re-emerging. These are just the last convulsive death throes of a car company that is only technically alive, on paper.
Kit Gerhart saw our report on GM jointly developing a new electric car architecture with its joint venture partner in China, SAIC. But he’s not worried. “What’s the big deal? Everyone who comments on this board says EVs are a joke. If that is true, GM isn’t giving away anything of value.”
Kit, you’ve got a great point. But I think everyone is upset at the way the Chinese are going about this. Essentially they’re saying, give us your best technology or we will not let you into our market. I think reciprocity is called for here. But instead of demanding their technology, we should simply tax all Chinese imports to make up for the currency manipulation they’re engaged in.
A lot of you responded to the ad that Ford is running in which a customer is shown saying he likes Ford because it didn’t take any government bailout money. RS doesn’t see why anyone is upset with that. “What’s the big deal with the Ford ads? That same sentiment exists all over North America – including Michigan. I like the fact that Ford didn’t have to take our money.”
But RIGHTKNIGHT70 doesn’t agree. “That’s a LOW BLOW by Ford! If GM and Chrysler had died they would have also, due to the suppliers’ eventual death!”
And flatblackstrat points out that “Ford took government loans as well.”
And several of you appreciated our acknowledgement of International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Thepiuma says, “RAAHAR, MATEY! Great episode.”
And TangoR34 even added a joke. “Why do pirates talk like pirates? Because they aRRRRRRRRRR!”
Keep those letters and comments coming folks, we love to read them.
And then be sure to join me and the Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo tomorrow night as we get the nitty gritty details on the Cadillac Ciel concept car and how it telegraphs where Cadillac’s form language is headed in the next couple of years. Our guest is Clay Dean the head of advanced design at GM. Get your questions and comments in for what is sure to be a great discussion.
And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.