October 27th, 2009 at 12:00pm
Ford is having trouble getting the same kind of concessions the UAW gave to General Motors and Chrysler. Honda announced it’s tripling its profit forecast for its current fiscal year. All that and more, plus a look at how Brazil’s booming economy has a lot to do with its energy policy.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Ford faces problems with the UAW. Honda triples its profit forecast. Brazil’s booming economy has a lot to do with its energy policy.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, October 27, 2009. And now, the news.
Ford and the UAW leadership are running into problems with the rank and file. Ford asked the union for the same kind of concessions it gave to GM and Chrysler, but several union locals have rejected the new contract, and by very wide margins. In fact, the Detroit News reports that when UAW vice president Bob King went to Ford’s Kansas City plant to rally support for the contract he was booed. King is widely expected to replace UAW president Ron Gettelfinger when he retires next year.
Here’s my take on the situation. If Ford does not get these concessions it will become the highest cost manufacturer in the American market. The UAW rank and file says Ford is doing well right now and doesn’t need more concessions. But Ford is clearly going to need something to make it more cost competitive, and if it can’t get it from the union, then more UAW jobs will go away in the future.
Meanwhile, Honda announced it’s tripling its profit forecast for its current fiscal year, the AFP reports. Honda says it expects to hit 155 trillion yen, about $1.7 billion, but it warns that once stimulus programs in Japan, Europe, the U.S. and China come to an end it expects a big drop off in sales.
Meanwhile, Autoblog reports NHTSA is upping its investigation into brake failures on the Honda Odyssey minivan. 500 complaints and 10 crashes have been reported.
Next month Renault will launch the Fluence. It was developed by engineers from Europe and Asia under the Renault-Nissan Alliance and is built on the same platform as the Renault Megane III. It comes with boatload of powertrain options. Five diesel and four gas engines are available. Those can be equipped with a five- or six-speed manual or a four- or six-speed automatic, plus a CVT as well. Fuel economy ranges from 4.5 to 7.5 l/100km or 31 to 52 MPG. The Fluence rolls out this November in Turkey, Russia and Romania and then will launch in 80 countries starting next year.
Tata is reporting its profit doubled (subscription required) in its second quarter. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company earned $157 million. However, the numbers don’t include results from Jaguar and Land Rover which Tata acquired last year from Ford.
And speaking of Tata, the company’s sales growth could come to a halt if they don’t fix this problem. According to the Times of India, three cases have been reported of steering columns catching on fire in the Nano. A short circuit is causing the fires even if the vehicle is turned off.
Even though Toyota’s FT-86 coupe is strictly a concept car … for now … it’s expected a production version WILL make it to market in the next couple years. Problem is, Autoblog reports that the company may be having trouble deciding what to call it. Conflicting reports indicate that the car could either be the next-generation Scion tC or a reborn Celica, which has been off the market for four years.
Some things have “bad idea” written all over them – in glow-in-the-dark capital letters. Take this auto gadget for example. It comes from Amazon.com via Jalopnik. It’s a tray table that mounts to the bottom of your steering wheel so you can eat, or use a computer in your car. Now OBVIOUSLY this device IS NOT meant to be used while driving, but it’s not hard to imagine someone trying it on their morning commute. At least Amazon’s users have a sense of humor about the whole thing. Some of them posted fake reviews and uploaded pictures of car crashes to the product’s photo gallery. WOW.
Coming up next, we’ll look at why Rio de Janeiro landed the 2016 Olympics. And believe it or not, there is an automotive connection.
As many of you watching know I was just on vacation, and spent some of that time in Brazil. Now as you are probably aware, Brazil’s economy is booming. It’s now the 10th largest in the world. It’s a key reason why Rio de Janeiro landed the 2016 Olympics.
One reason its economy is running so strong is due to the country’s energy policy, using ethanol for its primary fuel source for transportation. In fact, even if you buy gasoline it’s blended with 22 percent ethanol. The United States is still debating whether it’s prudent to blend more than 10 percent ethanol in gasoline, but Brazil’s blew through that number several years ago.
Even more interesting, Brazil is emerging as the leader in developing new fuel injection technology for running on 100 percent ethanol. It’s soon going to move away from injecting gasoline for cold starting E100 engines, and move into preheating the fuel right in the injection system. American, German and Japanese suppliers are eagerly at work in Brazil developing this new technology.
By embracing ethanol, Brazil no longer imports oil for fuel. It is now a net exporter of energy, greatly boosting its balance of payments, and raising the entire country’s standard of living. And I think Brazil’s energy policy offers lessons that many other countries can learn from.
Be sure that you don’t miss Autoline After Hours this Thursday night at 7 p.m. Eastern. Our guest will be Mark Reuss, who is in charge of global vehicle engineering. He’s been responsible for so many of GM’s performance vehicles, this is going to be a great show. That’s this Thursday live at AutolineDetroit.tv.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.