Episode 101 – Ford & Chrysler Dislike GM/CAW Deal, Fiat New Venture In China, New Kia Soul

March 16th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:40

Ford and Chrysler don’t like GM’s deal with the Canadian Autoworkers Union, saying it doesn’t go far enough. Fiat is working with Chinese automaker Guangzhou to produce and distribute Fiats in China. Chrysler is threatening to pull out of Canada if the government doesn’t provide it with loans. All that and more, plus a look at the new Kia Soul.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Ford and Chrysler don’t like GM’s deal with the CAW. Fiat has a new venture in China. And a look at the new Kia Soul.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, March 16, 2009. And now, the news.

Despite the fact that it already got government money, the Associated Press reports Chrysler says it may run out of cash by July if it doesn’t get more. Chrysler has to submit its viability plan at the end of the month to try and qualify for its next $5 billion. It says it will run short of cash when it shuts down for its summer change over. Automakers can only book sales when they make cars, and when they shut down, they’re not making any money.

Ford and Chrysler don’t like GM’s deal with the Canadian Autoworkers Union (subscription required). It calls for the elimination of cost-of-living wage increases, fewer paid days off and more, and was approved by 87 percent of CAW members. But Ward’s says Ford and Chrysler say it doesn’t go far enough.

In fact, Chrysler is threatening to pull out of Canada if the government there doesn’t provide it with $3.2 billion in loans and if the Canadian Auto Workers union doesn’t come up with $20 an hour in concessions. Company president Tom LaSorda, who is Canadian, says the CAW workers cost substantially more than what workers at Japanese transplants in Canada are paid.

Meanwhile, Chrysler’s new potential owner Fiat is working with Chinese automaker Guangzhou to set up a 50-50 joint venture to produce and distribute Fiats in China. According to Gasgoo.com, the Linea, Grand Punto, and the Palio are the vehicles reported to be produced and sold in the country.

Here’s an interesting story. The downturn in automotive sales has led to a global shortage of a chemical solvent, called acetonitrile. According to the Financial Times, the solvent is a byproduct in the process of making plastic parts for cars. The solvent is used for everything from checking the mold level in a chocolate bar to ensuring the safety of aspirin. Prices have skyrocketed for the solvent. Last year a liter cost about 5 Euros, the price is now 80 Euros a liter. Hey another reason to bail out the auto industry. Make sure our candy bars aren’t moldy!

And we couldn’t resist this one from Autoblog. A guy in Ypsilanti, Michigan drops off his car at a garage to get serviced. When the work is finished he pays the bill. AFTER GETTING HIS CHANGE, he whips out a gun and robs the place, and peels out in his car. The same car that the shop has the MAKE, MODEL and COLOR, VIN and LICENSE plate.  And his contact information! Yes, he’s in jail.

Coming up next, a look at the 2010 Kia Soul. We’ll be back right after this.

While automakers are struggling to sell vehicles, Kia is one of a few that has seen its sales increase for the year. And the new Soul will help them sell more.

The company has a reputation for building affordable but bland-looking cars. That perception perhaps could change with the Soul. It debuted as a concept back in 2006 at the Detroit auto show. While not as sleek looking as the concept, it stayed true to the design for the most part.

The wide stance and boxy look remain. As do the steep rake of the windshield and the fender flares around the wheels. Even though it’s small there is a ton of room in the interior. It can seat 5 passengers, and adults don’t have to worry about their legs being crushed in the rear. The trunk has a cargo tray built into the floor and the rear seats fold flat for even more cargo space.

Even though the Soul will be sold around the globe, the design was done in the US and it’s tuned for American roads. Under the hood is a 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter four cylinder. The 1.6 comes with a five-speed manual transmission and the two-liter has the option for the manual or a four-speed automatic. Both combos get mid-twenties in the city and low thirties on the highway. Somewhat disappointing for its size.

Kia is aiming the Soul right at Gen Y. There are more than 50 ways to personalize the vehicle, from body graphics, to different wheels and grill accents. There are 11 exterior colors to choose from and 3 interior ones.

But perhaps the thing that will appeal most to Gen Y is the price. There are four trims of the Soul with the base starting at $13, 995. And the price runs up to just over 19 thousand at the high end.

Like most Kias the Soul comes standard with safety features like ABS, traction and stability control. Amenities like Sirius radio, iPod, and USB jack are standard as well.

The Soul performs like you would expect any entry level vehicle to drive. Its somewhat sluggish getting up hills and the engine is a little buzzy. But with all the standard features, its affordable price and the fact it looks nothing like anything Kia has released before could be the difference in whether or not the Soul is a success.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, except for this one last item.

9 Comments to “Episode 101 – Ford & Chrysler Dislike GM/CAW Deal, Fiat New Venture In China, New Kia Soul”

  1. Alex Kajdi Says:


    I saw a piece on Mr. Shai Agassi, CEO and Founder of (BetterPlace.org). He is proposing an electric vehicle which is powered by a battery that can be quick charged or swapped out. Agassi is partnering with Renault-Nissan to bring these vehicles and recharging stations to specific sites around the world. I would like to hear what you think about the feasiblity of this technology?

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Once again the bonehead award goes to a union,this time the CAW.A job with reduced pay is mo betta then no job with no pay.I hope Chrysler does pull out of Canada….eh hoser.

  3. jeff mohr Says:

    bonuses for top talent- Aig and Chrysler,have to pay milions to keep top people in organizations or they would go elsewhere–nice theory–3 issues here—no way,no how, forget about it—no extras period, even for the big boys— learn to live on less, like the rest of us

  4. pedro Fernandez Says:

    These big money guys live by different standards than us regular folks, even when they break the law, even this Madoff guy, he ain’t going to no run-down jail, he’s going to a “white collar- crime country club, er. jail. He’s gonna live better than most of the poor victims of his crimes. These unions just dont get it or dont believe the news about their companies doing as bad as is reported, maybe they know something the rest of us don’t know?

  5. Bill Clough Says:

    In even normally good times, I can see the argument for higher bonuses to keep down talent poaching – but in these times … who could afford to hire them!? I also can understand the bonuses being paid when mandated by contracts signed (stupidly) in boom times, but you’d also think these execs should be smart enough to see the hugely negative PR consequences of accepting them now – even to just defer them until their companies are solidly in the black would make sense. What idiots are these folks, anyway!

  6. Gary Keselis Says:

    Watching that last little promo for your 3/26 web cast my only question is how did a kid like you wind up with this great job. Anyway,I enjoy the dailys. You always do a great job,but what has happened to the weekly show? Am I missing something or are you rerunning last summers Autoline LA.
    Gary Keselis
    Pleasant Vallet Ct

  7. John McElroy Says:

    @Gary: Since Autoline is broadcast on Detroit Public Television, and since they are on their pledge break, we’ve been off the air for the last three weeks. However the pledge break ends this week, and you’ll see a new Autoline this weekend. It’s a good show with all the top executives at Tesla.

  8. Ed Kemmerer Says:

    The Kia Soul is a Scion Xb wannabe.

  9. mike Says:

    Hey John, maybe these big three auto worker jobs, should be offered to the layed off tier 2 auto parts suppliers. They would enjoy a massive pay raise even with the 20 buck pay concessions. As a job shop machinist(I build whatever came thru the door,blue print or not)I made half the money as the big three machinists did. These people live in a fantasy world.I heard from a local(canadian) auto industry analysis,that said, these people don’t even contribute to their own pension plan,is this true. Mike