Episode 922 – GM Board Approves Opel Plan, Used-Car Prices Drop, Chrysler May Boost Ram Production

June 29th, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:48

To help combat its losses in Europe, GM’s supervisory board approved a new plan to restructure Opel. Prices for used cars are starting to fall because sales of new cars are picking up this year. Chrysler is optimistic about pickup sales going forward and is considering adding a third shift at its Warren Truck Plant. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week about the candidates for the 2013 North American Car and Truck of the Year award.

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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. It’s Friday, Friday, FRIDAY the 29th of June, 2012. I’m Andrew Justus the last of your guest hosts this week and the last host before America’s 236th birthday. Here’s the news.

As you all know, General Motors is bleeding money in Europe because its German brand Opel is struggling. To help combat its losses, GM’s supervisory board approved a new plan to restructure the brand. According to the Detroit News, it calls for new investments in Opel and Vauxhall products… 23 new models and 13 new powertrains by 2016, exporting vehicles to emerging markets including China, and reducing development and production costs through alliances. Last year GM lost close to $750 million dollars in Europe.

There’s good news if you’re in the market for a used car. WardsAuto reports that prices for used cars are starting to fall because sales of new cars are picking up this year. 60 percent of this year’s sales involve trade-ins which means close to a million used cars will be added to the market. A number of new and refreshed vehicles are about to hit the market which will push used prices down further as well. The National Auto Dealers Association forecasts that used-car prices will drop 3 percent in July.

One world, One Ford. The Blue Oval is focusing on its business plan like a sniper on his target. A key part of this strategy involves reducing the number of vehicle platforms in production, something the company is addressing. At a recent press event we interviewed Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s global vice president of engineering. He commented on the progress they’re making in streamlining the product lineup.

We’ve got more of the latest auto news coming up, but first I want to remind you to kick off your Fourth of July Weekend by celebrating freedom from podcast hosts! Tonight on RoundAbout we’re holding our first-ever, all-fan show where YOU determine the agenda. We’ll be discussing only the stories you submit, so make sure you join us LIVE at 6:30PM Eastern Time and jump in the chat room at Autoline.TV. But, if you can’t be there Live, we’re not leaving you out. Just send your stories and topics to RoundAboutShow@gmail.com.

And now, back to some of the news I want to talk about…

In an economy that’s been reluctant to add jobs, automobile manufacturing continues to show strength. Chrysler is pondering adding a third shift at its Warren Truck Plant. The company is optimistic about pickup sales going forward and said the decision to add another shift depends on the ability of suppliers to keep up. The plant currently employs over 2,300 people and could add between 800 and 1,000 with another shift.

In Canton, Mississippi, Nissan is doing eight things at once. Or so it seems. The Japanese automaker is trying to quell UAW efforts to unionize the plant while at the same time moving production of the Sentra, Xterra, and Frontier pickup to the plant. Adding 1000 jobs in the process. The factory currently builds the Altima, Titan, Armada SUV and N-V commercial van. After the additional hires, the Canton plant will employ 4,500, the company says.

Hey, want to learn what’s happening on the latest episode of Autoline This Week? Stick around because there’s a free sample coming your way!

The topic on Autoline This Week is the North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards. What new vehicles have hit the market in the first half of 2012? Which ones are worth owning and what should be avoided? Well, host John McElroy and his journalist colleagues have the answers. He’s joined in-studio by Mark Phelan from the Detroit Free Press and Paul Eisenstein with TheDetroitBureau.com. Here’s a little taste.

What other new cars and trucks did the trio discuss? Well, you’re going to have to watch to find out, which you can do right now on our website, Autoline.tv.

And just another reminder before I sign off. Autoline Daily is off the air next week. We’ll be kicking back and relaxing because our offices are closed for the 4th of July holiday. Happy birthday ‘Merica!

Anyway, that’s all for today’s program, thanks for stopping by and have a classy 4th of July. I’m Andrew Justus. And we’ll see you July 9th.

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

62 Comments to “Episode 922 – GM Board Approves Opel Plan, Used-Car Prices Drop, Chrysler May Boost Ram Production”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Auto industry better brace itself for another hit cause if people are forced to buy health insurance in the coming years, they will have less money to spend on other things (cars). I mean you still need a roof and food, right?

  2. Brett Says:

    You can’t buy a new car if you’re dead or bankrupt because you didn’t have health insurance and suffered a catastrophic injury or disease, either.

  3. Dave Says:

    the problem will be when your job CUTS heath care due to the fact that is way cheaper to pay the gov. then offer heath care to the employees. Then all people will need to buy it on your own..I dont think too many employers will give pay hikes to off set the 8 to 10 grand for heath care. So, THANKS FOR THE PAY CUT!!! Also if you dont have heath care and you pay the fee…RRRR TAX it does not pay your bill..you will still own the money to the doctors office…its not free..thanks again “O”

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    We need “medicare for everyone” like the rest of the developed world. It delivers health care much more efficiently than our current non-system, with or without “Obamacare” which, by the way, Romney liked when it was his idea. Sorry about the semi-political comment.

  5. HtG Says:

    …you mean like the developed world, Kit. Sorry, electionitis.

  6. Brett Says:

    “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    If we weren’t the world’s police dept and dictator exterminators, we could afford things like universal health ins and public works improvements.

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, I put an extra word or three in there.

  9. HtG Says:

    So you’re a little bored? Tired of family overstaying? Here’s an hour long documentary on the Ford GT40.


  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Great video, and a great story.

  11. cwolf Says:

    A gm engine plant has begun producing the 4 cyl’s for the ATS,so by the end of the year I may get to decide if its something I want to keep on my short list. Rah!!!

  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf, why can’t you just keep the Milan, it has been a pretty good car for you, has it not? why take a chance on an unproven first year product?

  13. cwolf Says:

    After listening to the reviews for the first half of the year on Autoline,my like of the Altima has increased. I like the body style and the clean dash design. The curved dash of the Malibu is a real turn off. And,with no eco-package,the Altima’s 38 mpg claim is an attention getter. On the down side,several reviewers were only able to achieve about 34 mpg’s and engine drone at higher speeds were pronounced. But this is subjective and you or I may not share the critisism. Still, the new Fusion is just around the corner and considering how many nice cars are now in this segmaent,waiting a little longer may prove the Fusion has the edge.

  14. cwolf Says:

    pedro,the 2010 Milan has proven itself. Now with over 140K miles,I’m sure I could drive the wheels off it with minimum investments. I’ve done this with all my work cars! Adding 50K/yr and feeling the time passes quickly 4 me,I have to start thinking about a future replacement early;So the new car will prolly be a year old by then. Therefore,my reasons for wanting another car are: I just want something different. My fears of getting stranded on the road in a car with over 200-280K miles have gotten stronger as I get older. Last,I can afford it;My wife and I have been cautious savers for years and when the egg gets big enough,one must realize you can’t take it with you and treating yourself on occassion actually promotes us to keep saving.

  15. cwolf Says:

    I find it note worthy China is controlling the number of cars in their cities by limiting plates and now,registrations. I’m trying to figure out why mandating two limits is needed when one or the other would cover all the bases. Anyway…so much for foreigners trying to grow future car sales. If Opel is smart,they would forget exporting there and,instead,invest in parking structures.

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    #14 cwolf , then go for it, you deserve it. Good luck and hopefully it will serve you as well as the Milan has.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    CR released an article where they pick their recommended American vehicle by class and none of the new small Detroit offerings is recommended because of their reliability issues, seems like more that things change, they stay the same. you could have been reading this same article from 10, 20 or even 30 yrs ago, and it would have applied as well.

  18. cwolf Says:

    This should create comments for a Monday: Another try to unionize Honda!! No..,not a transplant in the southern US,but in Canada by the CAW. I don’t see the CAW with much of a leg to stand on given the fact that Canada has the worlds highest wages. But,accepting profit sharing for wage increases is going to have to become reality. This change and the uncertainty it creates may be the CAW selling point to unionize Honda. Yep,the UAW endorses the move and perhaps a back door entrance into unionizing any plant in the US. Well… I suppose its better than pickiting dealers!

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    UAW reminds me of the mobs that offer “protection” to businesses for a % of the profits. Except now the “offer” can be refused w/o finding your pooch’s head on your bed.

  20. Brett Says:

    As opposed to multinational corporations that offer crappy wages and benefits under the threat of moving their production to some 3rd world country.

    Of course, that’s just “good bidness”…

    BTW – I think profit sharing is a very reasonable approach, but it begs for the German model where unions are represented on the Board of Directors. No use having skin in the game if you don’t have any say-so about how the game is being played.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pedro, where did you see that CR article? Was it in the magazine, their web site, or ? My magazine may be late, if I didn’t get the address changed in time to avoid its being forwarded to Indiana, or thrown away if I was too late with my address change at CR.

  22. RonE Says:

    #21, Saw this CR article on Yahoo news.


    Kit, Check out August issue of Car & Driver, page 24, The Pious Prius. As a Prius owner, I think you will enjoy this article.

  23. cwolf Says:

    Good note on profit sharing as part of contract barganing. I also agree,a greater UAW presence on the Board would improve operations. Yet,I believe the UAW needs to take a more active roll upon itself to insure its members do their fair share,consistanly,reliably and with a sense of self-worth. What better way to seek better compensation for the work force than by having in the UAW arsenal the earned reputation for reputable workers. Persistance tardiness,unexcussed absences,and lazy attitudes to keep their machines in operation and functioning properly is too much of a problem at my plant,yet the union fights harder to to keep these dead beets than to realize it only makes others have to work harder because of them. The union is to represent everyone,yet it are the slackers who seem to yell the most,loudest and benifit the most.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks. I’ll see if the Prius is on-line. If not, I’ll find a paper copy. It always interesting to see what they have to say.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit it was online I read it on Yahoo news.

  26. cwolf Says:

    Boy! Whaddy ya think about them French mandating all cars carrying 2 breathalyzer kits? Like bringing a rope to your own hanging!

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    But Messier cwolf, that does not apply to French wine, only inferior California stuff! oui oui Messier cwolf Why 2? you only need one for the driver.

  28. cwolf Says:

    I don’t see how anyone can pass judgement on Obamacare while the main elements won’t be enacted until 2014. We have been down this road before and politics just refused to deal with the issues of ever growing costs. Obama took the leap forward,stating revisions would be needed over time. It is a positive step forward and,yes,incentives are in place to small businesses once they grow beyond 50 employees. If only the right wingers would focus their energy into making this plan,that they once agreed to,work…,instead of ‘clothes lining” the opposition and the American people,we may benifit in lower heath care costs.

  29. cwolf Says:

    pedro, I think the first tester is to determine how much champaign one consumed and the second one is either for the designated driver or for the cop who halls your carcass to jail.

  30. cwolf Says:

    @ Kit
    Vacation traffic was very heavy on the way home from work,so I thought I would count Prius in the 87 miles. How about 46? This has to be a record sighting!

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That’s a lot of Prius, but maybe shouldn’t be surprising. There are over a million of them on the road, and essentially all of them are used as “daily drivers.”

  32. HtG Says:

    There are so many Priuses around I no longer feel any animosity toward them. Just me, being me.

    Listen up fellers, I’ll be at LimeRock in CT this Saturday for the ALMS race. Now that I converted part of the proceeds of the Miata sale into a nice shiny camera, I hope to get some photos of the marketing efforts of the OEMs at the race. Oh look, tequila!

  33. cwolf Says:

    HtG,did you get a place to stay months in advance? Have a good time and stay cool.

  34. HtG Says:

    I can drive there in 1.5 hours, cwolf. The races start pretty early, but I recall smelling beer in the air by 9:30am. I strap on a folding chair and can move around the track. The RedSox fans don’t give anyone a hard time either.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Glad you don’t feel animosity toward Priuses. I wish I could reach that point with jacked up pickup trucks with the mufflers removed, but I don’t think I ever will. Anyway, have fun at Lime Rock. That sounds like a goof time.

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Oops, typo. Meant “good time.”

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I just received the August CR, and they had their first tests of “ecoboost” equipped 3 Series and C-Class, along with unrelated tests of the Scion iQ and the new Chevy Malibu.

    The 3 beat the C by one point. They mostly liked both cars, except for the controls, with the BMW’s controls being even worse than the Benz. The 3 was quicker and got better gas mileage than the Benz, though, and the back seat was a little roomier.

    The Malibu Eco was mostly so-so, but was very good in one area; it has simple, intuitive controls. I hope that sells cars for them, and maybe other car companies will notice and get the hint that not everyone wants a tablet computer, a crappy one at that, and multi layer menus as part of the operator interface in their car.

    We all know about the iQ. It is slow, noisy, cramped, and costs too much for what it is. Still, it’s hard to see how it only beat the smart by one point in their tests. I guess the transmission can count for only so much in their points ratings.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    If living in the city means you have to buy one of these “city” cars, I’ll move out to the country, thanks just the same.

  39. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Kit, any mention of the start-stop technology in the Malibu Eco; supposedly it is seamless (as compared to some others).

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    They said the stop-start worked seamlessly in the Malibu, but not in the BMW. They said the engine “shuddered” in the Bimmer when it cranked up. AW said the same thing about a 5 Series with the same power train. AW added that a normal starter is used on the BMW and has a “cranking” sound.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That’s probably a normal “type” starter on the BMW that engages a flywheel gear, but one designed to endure a lot of extra use.

  42. cwolf Says:

    The 3 may have beat the C in the CR report by a hair,but for the first time,Benz outsold BMW in the US for the first half of the year. Is BMW loosing some of its mojo? Anyhoot,what does CR know!

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’d think BMW would lose some sales by eliminating the non-turbo I6 from the 3 Series. The new turbo 4 makes good power and gets better gas mileage, but that glassy smooth, great sounding six made the 3 Series special. Now, it’s just another expensive smallish car. Well, maybe not exactly, but the engine set it apart, especially after MB went to V6′s years ago.

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    Went to see a client at a local Chevy dealer, only one Volt and one Sonic in stock, why do manufacturers keep doing this? launching a new product with almost no stock available, Toyota and Subaru are doing the same with their new sporty pair, BTW I’ve seen a lot more of the new Focus around than I’ve seen the Fiesta. Even though the Focus costs more, people feel they’re getting much more car for their money.

  45. cwolf Says:

    I think it depends on the dealer and their location as to how many Volts and Sonics is in stock. The big city dealer in my area had 4 volts and 6-8 sonics,the last time I looked. I see very few Fiestas and Sonics. Perhaps they’re nocturnal!

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “BTW I’ve seen a lot more of the new Focus around than I’ve seen the Fiesta.”

    I see more Focus too. In it’s market segment, the Focus just seems to be a better car. It competes well in it’s segment in space, mpg, ride, quietness, etc.,

    The Fiesta’s back seat isn’t that much roomier than a MINI’s, but the car doesn’t have the special appeal of a MINI. The Fit and others are much better “do everything” cars than Fiesta. Also, the Fiesta is slow by today’s standards. It is one of few of today’s cars that I might be able to beat with my Prius in a drag race.

  47. cwolf Says:

    Yet,for no real reason,I still like the Fiesta. Imagine what it would be like to put the coming 1.0 L in that lil’puppy. Could it get close to 58-60 mpg’s?

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    I just don’t see ANY subcompact doing that well, only the Yaris around these parts, when you look at value for your money, compacts offer a lot more with mpg’s that are close enough NOT to make a difference, ditto for used, around here I can get a used Corolla for the same price as a comparable Yaris, even the older, ugly Echo sells for more than Corolla.

  49. pedro fernandez Says:

    47 cwolf I prefer the Mazda 2, it makes more sense than the Fiesta, (cheaper, better transmission and sportier handling as well)

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like the Fiesta too, at least the hatch, but the manual transmission is a 5-speed with a top gear that makes the engines seem “busy” on the highway. If I’d been on a tighter budget, though, when I got my MINI it would have considered Fiesta, and especially Mazda 2.

  51. cwolf Says:

    I just looked at the “build your own” section for the ATS. Talk about keeping things simple!; 3 engine choices and 3 grades for each—that’s it! After taking the time to make my selections,it still wouldn’t quote a price….shucks!!!

    Anyone want to stop over to help weed the garden? Pretty hot(as usual),but the beer and tea is cold.

  52. Jim Thykeson Says:

    John: Opel has a neat little sportscar coupe that did a test session that show-cased its little clean, turbo diesel. This thing had a top speed of 150 or so, plus was good looking but did all this while getting 145m.p.g.!! This thing could be their ‘Euro’ that their so desperately looking for. I know one vehicle a car co. does not make, but try telling that to Kia & Hyundai that put themselves on the top of the heap with basically a ‘i-trick pony’! Hydrogen & clean diesel trumps electro-car! Time to get with it.

  53. HtG Says:

    Pedro et al, yesterday at Lime Rock Park I talked to a guy that had 10K miles on his Mazda2. He likes it a lot, and uses it as a commuter car. No complaints, not an early defect at all (though he had removed the wheel covers in order to get easier access to the pressure valves (??)). He bought it in red so as to be more visible. I guess I was killing time, waiting for the racing, but I’ll have some shots on Monday of the marketing stuff from the race day.

  54. cwolf Says:

    @ J Thykeson
    Where did you hear the Opel info and could you provide your source? Sure hope you take the mpg claim with a grain of salt. If’n you believe this hype,I know of some European stocks that will quadruple in one year that you might be interested in.

  55. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG I say that the Mazda 2 is a very under rated new subcompact, it seems to handle almost as well as the Mini for a lot less money, although this is one car that begs for a stick and not an auto, that is why you don’t see many on the road, most people won’t even look at a stick nowadays. Reminds me of the ole days of subcompacts, when engines were so weak that a stick was a must.

  56. HtG Says:

    Yep. This 2 in LRP was a basic model with 5speed. Even so it had power windows. The owner said the steering had good feedback, too. And you could turn off the traction control. Maybe it’s me, but it seems a basic car today has a lot of stuff on it; I’ve looked at Fiestas and that little Chevy-where are the penalty boxes, please? (to be candid, I don’t mind the wind-up windows in my Civic, or the manual keys neither (such a peasant!))

  57. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well, the Versa S comes with manual windows and locks, but here is the problem: there is only one keyhole, in the driver’s door, not the passenger, so that is an inconvenience, but that lowly model even comes with a/c, I think the only car you can get without a/c are the Hyundai/ Kia subcompacts.

  58. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Mazda 2 gains more with the manual than most of today’s cars. A 1.5 engine and 4 speed autobox aren’t such a great combination. The 5 speed manual would be fine for city driving and ok on the highway, but a little “busy” sounding. HtG, do you you know if that 2 had cruise control? I’m fine with crank windows, but I’ve “got to have” cruise and A/C.

  59. HtG Says:

    the basic model does not have cruise control, but it does have power windows.

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks. I’m not car shopping, probably won’t be for a few years, but was curious.

  61. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC has a week long look inside the building of the LFA which is a must-read for all car aficionados, yeah I would gladly switch the power window for the cruise control any day, in this climate, you don’t open windows much at all. Even tolls are electronically paid nowadays.

  62. Jim Thykeson Says:

    CWolf, the info was gleaned off a cable show called ‘Future Car’ I think it was aired on Smithsonian or Nat’l. Geo. Saw this the other day. Just go to the Opel site, I’m sure they’ll have info on it.