February 13th, 2014 at 11:59am
- Ford Faces Congressional Inquiry over Privacy Concerns
- Kentucky Sinkhole Swallows Rare Corvettes
- SsangYong May be Headed to the U.S.
- Venezuela Car Sales are Falling Dramatically
- John McElroy Responds to Comments and Questions
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily where we help keep you informed on the most important trends and developments in the global automotive industry.
FORD FACES CONGRESSIONAL HEAT
Back when we had Ford’s Executive VP of Global Marketing, Jim Farley on Autoline, he told us he wanted WiFi in all of Ford’s dealerships so it could monitor what customers were searching for online. Now the Blue Oval has had to answer questions from Congress about driver privacy after Farley suggested at a forum last month that the company knew lots of information about its millions of owners. The automaker told Congress that it collects limited data, including some from SYNC services for 60 days, but only after customer permission. The vehicle itself also stores navigation data for 2 – 3 weeks, but it’s never transmitted. Click the link in today’s show notes for the full report then let us know how you feel in the comments section.
HOLE LOTTA VETTES
I’m sure by now a lot of you have seen the sinkhole that opened up at the National Corvette Museum. But just in case you missed it or have not seen the images, here is what it looked like. It’s a pretty crazy scene. The hole is so big the cars look like toys. I just hope that none of the vehicles are lost and can be restored back to their original condition.
Looks like there could be a new car company headed to the American market. Ward’s reports that Korean automaker Ssangyong is preparing to enter the US, but no date has been set yet. Part of the plans include coming up with a new name. SSangyong makes SUVs and crossovers. Last year it only sold about 145,000 vehicles worldwide, but hopes to double that number in the next two years. The Indian car company Mahindra and Mahindra owns 75% of Ssangyong and had played a pivotal role in getting the company into competitive shape.
VIVA LA REVOLUCION!
Boy, what the heck is going on in Venezuela? Last month new car sales fell 87% compared to a year ago. Get this, Ford only sold two cars last month in Venezuela. And it says it cannot get enough U.S. dollars to pay suppliers, so it’s cutting back on production. Toyota says it is stopping production there altogether because it’s even having problems getting Venezuelan customs to allow parts into the country. That didn’t stop Venezuelan president Victor Maduro from criticizing Toyota for halting production.General Motors had to book $162 million in losses from currency exchange. Looks like the Bolivar revolution started by former president Hugo Chavez is falling apart, and at least as the auto industry is concerned, everyone expects this to get a lot worse.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now It’s time for some of your feedback.
Dakota wrote in to say, “Hi John, my name is Dakota. I’m 10 years old and LOVE cars. I can name them all. My favourite is the Buggati Veyron. My Dad even took me to the Detroit Auto Show last month. It was the first time I’ve ever been to Mishigan. We got to see all the cars you reported on Autoline and even where you stood! I hope to meet you one day.” Dakota I think that is so cool that you love cars and got to go to the Detroit auto show. You’ve got a good dad for taking you there. I would be pleased to meet you someday, hopefully when you are the Chief Executive Officer of one of the car companies. And one more thing, you’ve got a really cool name.
Kit Gerhart is getting tired of Ford creating a common family look across its model line. “When the “Aston Martin” grill first showed up on the Fusion, I really liked it, but enough is enough. I think it looks a bit silly on a Transit Connect, and Subaru doesn’t need to copy it.” Yeah, I noticed that Subaru is going with that look, too.
M360 doesn’t care that the Australian auto industry is on the verge of collapse. “So what’s the big deal if GM, Ford and Toyota pull out of the Aussie market? What effect will that have on the US, European or Asian markets? Could you please explain?” It will not have much effect on other markets, but I hate to see a country’s entire automotive industry collapse completely. A lot of good designers, engineers and executives have come out of Australia and losing so much of that talent pool is a loss for the entire industry.
pedro fernandez chimed in to say, “I wonder if what is happening in AU is the same fate that awaits us?” Pedro, as I said all along, the real problem with the Australian market is that it’s so small. Remember, Australia has a population of about 20 million people. That’s the same as Michigan and Ohio put together. And in a game that’s all about scale, Australia simply could not provide the scale necessary to compete.
Mike wants to know more about that union vote taking place this week at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee. “I’d be interested in the pros and cons being offered by the two sides at VW. What does the Union claim they will do for the workers? Why do the Republican lawmakers say the workers don’t need a union? What are the hot button issues in this campaign?” The hot button is unionization itself. The UAW exclusively supports Democrats, which makes them the natural enemy of Republicans. And there’s no question the UAW helped make GM, Ford and Chrysler completely uncompetitive from a labor cost standpoint. But higher pay and benefits really appeals to anyone, and that’s what the UAW is telling the VW workers it can do for them. This vote is a really big deal. If the UAW wins, it will help it organize other transplants. If it loses, this will be a blow from which the union will never recover.
Thanks for all your letters and comments, we truly appreciate getting your input.
Remember to join us for Autoline After Hours tonight starting at 6PM Eastern Time. Our guest will be Bill Warner, the founder of the Amelia Island Concours. Should be a great show as Bill is one of the greatest story tellers you’ll ever hear.
But that wraps up today’s report. Thank you for tuning in.