December 3rd, 2012 at 11:48am
Nissan is changing the LEAF to a different name in China, the Venucia C30. As if it didn’t already have enough problems, Peugeot workers are protesting the company’s plan to shut down a plant in 2014. Chrysler pays the remainder of a $3,500 bonus to hourly workers earlier than needed, perhaps to gain favor with the UAW. All that and more, plus we take a look at Ford’s first plug-in hybrid, the C-MAX Energi.
Hello and welcome back to a brand new week of Autoline Daily. Thanks for joining us, let’s get to the news.
WILL MARK FIELDS GET PASSED OVER?
Mark Fields, the COO at Ford, is likely to become the CEO when Alan Mulally retires sometime in 2014. But Ford has not confirmed that Fields will replace Mulally, and that has sparked speculation amongst some in the analyst community that someone else will get the job. Here’s my Autoline Insight. Ford has to be careful that it doesn’t turn Alan Mulally into something of a lame duck. If everyone got the idea he’s on the way out and Fields is really in charge, it would undermine Mulally’s authority. Mark Fields is also going to take over Mulally’s famous Thursday morning Business Process Review meetings and the company has to make sure that Mulally doesn’t just become another piece of furniture in the room. Plus, by leaving some ambiguity this puts pressure on Mark to perform, to prove he can get the job done globally. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe the board of directors isn’t yet convinced that Fields is their man, but I bet that Fields still gets the top job.
LINCOLN, NOT THE MOVIE
At the LA Auto Show, Lincoln emphasized its heritage with a collection of classic cars. And this morning Ford announced the brand is going back to its original name from 1922, the Lincoln Motor Company. Lincoln will also launch its largest advertising campaign with its first ever Super Bowl ad. Speaking of heritage, did you know that the Lincoln Motor Company was started by Henry Leland, the same guy who started Cadillac?
In case you still have not seen them, we have two great webcasts that we did out in LA, including a bunch of interviews with some of the top executives in the industry. Plus we have the new Volkswagen Beetle Cabrio and the 3-cylinder Ford Fiesta as two of the top guests on Autoline After Hours. Be sure to visit Autoline.tv and check ‘em out. And, you can still vote in this week’s LA-themed Autoline Poll by clicking the link under today’s show. We’re asking you which automaker you think walked away as the biggest winner of the auto show. Cast your vote and we’ll review the results tomorrow.
NISSAN DUMPS THE LEAF NAME IN CHINA
Nissan is changing the LEAF to a different name in China. Meet the Venucia C30. Venucia is Nissan’s home-grown Chinese brand, C30 is what they’re calling the Leaf. The car will be built in China but we don’t know when it will go on sale. Looks like this a sign that Nissan is still worried about Chinese consumers boycotting Japanese cars. By making the Leaf look like it’s a Chinese car, Nissan can protect the big bet it’s made on EVs in the world’s largest car market.
FORMEZ VOS BATAILLONS!
As if Renault and PSA didn’t have enough problems with the meltdown in Europe, now their workers are walking off the job. Peugeot workers are protesting the company’s plan to shut down a plant in 2014. Renault workers at two factories are protesting the company’s demand to cut production costs. But if these workers think this is a problem, wait until these automakers are really forced to become competitive. I think their troubles are just getting going.
CHRYSLER PAYS BONUS EARLY
Chrysler will pay each of its hourly workers a $1,750 bonus. It’s the remainder of a $3,500 bonus. The first half of the bonus was paid after Chrysler and the union agreed to a contract. But here’s the kicker. Chrysler is paying that bonus earlier than it has to, and doing it right before Christmas. Here’s my Autoline Insight. I think Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to play nice with the UAW. Remember, he’s negotiating with the UAW VEBA trust to buy back its shares in Chrysler. And he’s probably looking towards contract negotiations in 2014, when the ban expires on UAW strikes, which was part of the bankruptcy agreement.
FORD C-MAX ENERGI
(Video of the Ford C-MAX Energi can only be viewed in the video format of today’s show)
Ford is clearly going after the Toyota Prius with the C-Max. In fact, in some of its TV ads Ford openly makes fun of the fact that the C-Max gets a better fuel economy rating than the Prius V. Ford knows Toyota has a massive lead in the hybrid segment and is trying everything it can do to wrestle some of those sales away.
And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.
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