Episode 537 – GM Dumps Aveo Name, New Magnesium-Working Technology, Rolls-Royce Expanding Ghost Line

December 9th, 2010 at 12:08pm

Runtime 8:03

GM is dropping the Aveo name, instead calling its next-generation subcompact the Sonic instead.  Researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia have come up with a new way of joining magnesium to steel and aluminum.  Rolls-Royce is expanding its Ghost lineup to include a long-wheelbase model as well as a coupe and a convertible.  All that and more, plus the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, sounds off on the UAW.


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It’s hard to believe . . . Christmas is only 16 days away!  But guess what?  You’re getting a present early.  It’s called Autoline Daily for December 9, 2010.  Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist here bringing you the latest and greatest news from the global automotive industry, so let’s get to it.

The Chevy Aveo is getting a new name. According to GM Inside News, the subcompact will be called the Sonic. The company wants to change the name because of the car’s poor image, and because people couldn’t figure out to pronounce it. GM hasn’t officially announced the switch, but sources say it’s been approved and the company filed for a trademark of the name “Chevrolet Sonic” in October, according to U.S. patent and trademark records. Also, the Detroit Free Press reports the car will be built in Michigan at the company’s Orion Township plant instead of in South Korea where the current version is built. And, good news for enthusiasts, there will be a performance version of the new Sonic, too.

In other GM news, the company is investing $2 billion in order to develop a hydrogen infrastructure in Hawaii. The plan is called the Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative or H2I for short.  In addition to GM, it involves 10 companies, agencies and universities. The goal is to see 20 to 25 hydrogen stations built on the island of Oahu by 2015 in order to reduce the state’s 90-percent dependence on imported oil. The significant part of this deal is that the group is working on ways to distribute hydrogen through natural-gas pipelines. The Gas Company in Hawaii already produces enough hydrogen to power 10,000 fuel-cell vehicles and has the capacity to make a lot more.

The Tata Nano is the world’s cheapest car, but it hasn’t had much success. Earlier in the year we showed you images of one that spontaneously burst into flames.  Unfortunately for Tata, the sales picture isn’t much better. According to Bloomberg, only 500 were sold last month, a drop of a staggering 85 percent! Perhaps to ease consumers’ concerns over the vehicle, the company has more than doubled the length of the warranty and is now offering a maintenance option. The new warranty is four years or 60,000 kilometers, that’s just over 37,000 miles and covers new Nanos as well as ones already sold.

Magnesium holds great promise for the auto industry, but it’s very challenging to work with.  Australian researchers have come up with a way of joining the super-lightweight metal to steel and aluminum.  According to Ward’s, a team at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne have come up with a two-step process to do it.  It involves using a laser to rapidly spot-heat the magnesium, which makes it more ductile, allowing a self-piercing rivet to be inserted. An adhesive is then added between the two metals, strengthening the joint and acting as a corrosion barrier.  The article doesn’t say what kind of adhesive they’re using, but I’d suggest they try Betamate, a product of our good friends a Dow Automotive.  We thank them for their support.

Most people seem to think of the car business as dirty and out dated.  But oh contraire mon fraire, it’s one of the most advanced, high-tech industries on the planet.  And Porsche is a shining example of this fact.  According to Bloomberg, the German sports-car builder is the most profitable automaker in the world, something other companies have taken notice of.  Surprisingly, Porsche does a lot of corporate consulting, employing some 220 people in this part of its business.  So far it’s worked with Lufthansa and new corporate parent Volkswagen – among other companies – on making their processes more efficient.  The German airline turned to them to help streamline the maintenance of their Airbus A340 aircraft.  How’s that for a rust-belt industry?

If you’re in the market for a top shelf luxury car and just can’t swing the monthly payment for a Phantom, Roll-Royce would be happy to sell you a Ghost.  It’s a more “affordable” Roller.  But what if you find the sedan body style blasé?  What’s a millionaire to do?!?!  Well ask, and ye shall receive.  According to Edmunds Insideline, the company is working on three new versions of the car: a stretch model with a five- or six-inch-longer wheelbase, a drophead coupe and a regular coupe.  Not much else is known about when these cars will come out or how much they’ll cost . . . other than A LOT . . . so don’t hold your breath if you’re dying to park a convertible Ghost in your garage.

What is the UAW up to now?  Find out right after this.

Well, here we go again.

Just when I thought UAW Chief Bob King got all-enlightened about the global reality of the auto business after his participation in a State-of-Michigan trade mission this past summer, he and an estimated 150 UAW officials and workers staged a protest this week outside the Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center in Superior Township, Michigan. King’s beef? He’s insisting that Hyundai officials should respond to the demands of striking temporary subcontract workers in South Korea who have held a sit-in strike since Nov. 15, demanding to be made permanent employees. King told the Detroit Free Press that the union’s support for the temporary Korean workers kicked off the emphasis on global justice he had promised since his election this summer.

Really, Bob? Global justice? For what and for whom?

No, what this was really about is King’s dream to unionize all of the workers at import factories here in the U.S. – the vast majority of which want nothing to do with the UAW, by the way – and he decided that he needed a photo-op just to remind everyone he’s still around. Just think about this for a minute. It’s almost 2011 and we’re still having to deal with this kind of stuff from the UAW? Ridiculous.

I feel a train wreck coming, one that will unfold in a scenario something like this: The three domestic automakers, chastened by the Great Recession and the near-death experiences brought on by bankruptcy return to profitability and claw out a somewhat-stable – albeit tenuous – future for themselves using lessons learned to run their business with a focused consistency on the product and a new-found religion as to how not to do it.

And then in steps King and his posse demanding to “get theirs” when the next contract comes up for renewal – while staging massive strikes for emphasis – proceeding to run the whole damn thing into the ground all over again.

I’ve seen this movie before folks, and it never ends well.

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for Thursday, December 9th, 2010.

And that’s a wrap for today’s show.  Again, I’m the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo.  Thanks for watching, but make sure you tune in tonight for Autoline After Hours, the most candid discussion about anything and everything automotive.  The show kicks off at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time on our website, AutolineDetroit.tv.  Big John McElroy will still be out of town, so I’m saddling up to host, partner.  Trust me; you don’t want to miss it.  And with that, we’re done here.

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45 Comments to “Episode 537 – GM Dumps Aveo Name, New Magnesium-Working Technology, Rolls-Royce Expanding Ghost Line”

  1. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Getting rid of the Aveo name makes a lot of sense. Aveo has been synonymous with “worst-in-class” from its inception, at least in North America. I don’t know about the name “Sonic,” though. At least it is spelled correctly, unlike “Cruze.”

  2. Tony Gray Says:

    Yeah Peter D!

  3. Tony Gray Says:

    In the Balkans, will they pronounce it Son-ich??

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    Amen, brother Peter on the UAW and is this Sonic for the video game hedgehog bearing the same name, if so, it’s cool I guess otherwise I would have preferred Nova or Belair.

  5. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Hey….UAW…….better get yer head outta yer south 40 and wake th’ hell up.You are sabotaging your own membership,their future,for what?NOBODY likes you anymore.Your a greedy self effacing bunch of LOSERS who would rather strike,or party hearty at lunchtime,then work.Remember the old union motto,8 for 8? Since you probably don’t remember I’ll tell you:8 hrs of good honest work,for 8 hrs of good decent pay.You guys totally suck.

  6. Dale Leonard-Lakewood,Ohio Says:

    Hi Peter, I agree,this UAW movie will have an ugly ending. Just as the Big 3 are making a comeback,Let’s step in and create a “Nightmare on Elm street”. Will the UAW ever learn?

  7. HtG Says:

    Hey, does Hyundai really think the wretches watching this intercast haven’t seen all the Sonata beauty they can take?

    Hey, hows umbout we’all starts to callin it the Chevy Sumbitch?

    Hey, UAW stay out of work rules you vicious creeps. Protection from injury, overwork, and dignity, but no more.

    Hey, what got into Peter?


  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    One more note for UAW: remember that Mexico is on its way to becoming the new Detroit.

  9. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Maybe the Big Three aught to announce a profit sharing plan to include the members of the UAW. For instance; after fair profit, a percentage of additional profit will be distributed to the members. This should act as an incentive to produce the best that they can so they can sell the most that they can. This would also accomplish an inspection of what their UAW leaders are doing for them (or not doing for them) and could perhaps create a realization that the ‘mother company’ is looking after their workers better than the union itself. Too radical, maybe; worth a try, again maybe.

  10. cwolf Says:

    The Aveo is nothing more that a so-so car and changing the name isn’t going to help its less than stellar reputation. Making the car in the U.S. offers a good oportunity for GM and employees to improve the quality and provide a more suitable engine, while yet bettering the fuel economy.
    Hydro in Hawaii!…What a great idea and perfect local.
    Peter, I belong to the UAW and don’t agree with everything they represent,but not as ANTI as you. Your rant about King stagging massive strikes is rediculous on your part and almost impossible on theirs for they haven’t the power they once had. Certainly 150 officials stagging a protest doesn’t constitue a strike no matter how hard your mind and tongue tries to twist it.
    For me, the UAW provides a voice of the workforce so either side does not take an unreasonable advantage over the other.Look at Walmart’s latest craze to nolonger compensate employees for working the sabath. Don’t doubt if they refuse to work beyond 40 hours they’ll be fired! There is also truth some other makers don’t want to unionize. If they are happy, I am happy for them. But just remember that ALL other contracts reflect the UAW’s and that is fact.. not RANT!

  11. G.A.Branigan Says:

    With the pay the uaw members get already,AND the fact that they are working,that should be incentive enough.King is a lazy loser with delusions of grandeur.

  12. Phil in Burlington Says:

    Peter, Peter, Peter – how ’bout delivering the news with a smile! :-)

  13. dcars Says:

    If I understand VERBA the UAW is going to get paid in GM stock. That’s a pretty big incentive to increasing shareholder value. The UAW’s actions maybe related to a free trade agreement that the US and Korea are in the process of signing. To avoid having to make the kind of deal that they made to have the Sonic/Aveo production moved to Detroit. They need to level the playing field throughout the world. The Sonic/Aveo deal was not popular with their members, but had to be done to save US jobs.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    GM needs to keep the Sonic at a lower price than Fiesta to be able to compete, but I don’t see how they can do it and still build it here and make it better than the crap it replaces, tough business this is.

  15. merv Says:

    Peter,great show,see you tomorrow.

  16. ken Says:

    Tata should offer a fire extinguisher(sp) as an option

  17. ken Says:

    The one big problem with hydrogen is that it is way to hard on the envirnment to produce. The cost outweighs the benifit

  18. WL Simpson Says:

    SubSonic would be more appropriate, sizewise.

  19. Dan Clemons Says:

    Peter, you are so right on about the UAW. After seeing those Chrysler workers getting high in their lunch hour, I was turned off on buying another American built car. I just don’t want my car built by a bunch of drunks. Disheartening was that the UAW and Chrysler did nothing about it. The UAW will get no more of my business. I guarantee it.

  20. Zieke Says:

    Looks like the UAW has sort of made their own grave. They need to understand that the market is made of quality products, and the union is mainly responsible to build them, regardless of the wages and benefits. If a competitive wage isn’t satisfactory, they can always go find a better job.(good luck).
    I was always a GM person, but their quality needs to improve alot before they even match Ford’s latest products.

  21. tj Martin Says:

    SONIC . Hmmmn . Would that be as in Sonic Death Monkeys , Sonic Burger , Sonic Distortion ……. What ?

    Or as WL already pointed out….. SubSonic ?

    Bad Car ! Bad Name ! Bad GM !!!

  22. Miradart Says:

    Dan. If I’m not mistaken some of those guys at Chrysler eventually got canned.

    What business are you in Dan? Has there ever been anyone that has ever done anything wrong or inappropriate in that industry? Condemning the entire domestic industry because of 8 guys, shows you were never serious about a purchase in the first place. How many people on assembly lines for domestic manufacturers? 30k? 40k? I don’t know, but its way more than 8.

    UAW’s next contract should include profit sharing. Negotiate a fair base wage, and use bonuses for retention, and reward. One HUGE wage hike is not good for their own longevity or the industry.

  23. Don B. Says:

    Aveo is now Sonic. I hope the performace version doesn’t get the that roof add on that the Mitsu Evo has, or they will call it the Hedgehog package.

  24. Rope-Pusher Says:

    The company executives all get the protection of working under contracts, so why shouldn’t the hourly workers?…why shouldn’t the salaried workers? I like the idea of extending profit sharing to the unionized workers, but if the executives get their bonuses even when there is no profit sharing payout to the hourly workers, morale and teamwork will suffer.

  25. Phil in Burlington Says:

    I’m surprised that no one has yet commented on the high performance version of ths Sonic that Peter referred to. Following the usual Chevrolet nomenclature it will no doubt be an SS, or ****Super Sonic!*** Of course, a high performance version of an Aveo/Sonic is still putting lipstick on a pig, imho.

  26. mike g Says:

    Miradart, I couldn’t agree with you more! After many launches, I can tell you that there are many UAW folks that are very hard working and very smart. There are also many (many) duds! This combination or it’s ratio is not unique to the domestic automakers or to the auto industry. I have come across many workers that do not want to be in the UAW and feel that they get nothing for the dues that they pay but they are stuck with the situation. To rule out F/G/C vehicles because of the UAW is just an excuse for people trying to justify giving their money to Germany, Japan and S.Korea. I also love the folks that won’t buy a F/G/C vehicle because the one they had 25 years ago was junk ????????????? Gimme a break!

  27. mike g Says:

    Also, it’s just a hunch, but I bet that Dan Clemons will not consider any F/G/C vehicles … even ones built in Canada or Mexico. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope so as these cars, although not directly helping the hourly folks with jobs, they still strengthen the overall business for these companies and add to hourly folks pay and profit sharing.

  28. Jack Says:

    UAW is doing that to add cost for Hyundai, which will help American car makers and their employees, which is helping UAW itself.

  29. db Says:

    G.A.Branigan Says:
    December 9th, 2010 at 12:40 pm
    “Hey….UAW…….better get yer head outta yer south 40 and wake th’ hell up.You are sabotaging your own membership,their future,for what?NOBODY likes you anymore.Your a greedy self effacing bunch of LOSERS who would rather strike,or party hearty at lunchtime,then work.Remember the old union motto,8 for 8? Since you probably don’t remember I’ll tell you:8 hrs of good honest work,for 8 hrs of good decent pay.You guys totally suck.” You are an ignorant s.o.b.

  30. jesse m. Says:

    Alas,the UAW still hasn’t learned anything from the recent past.Hey fellas,give it a rest.You ran the big 3 to the brink of COLLAPSE and then pushed harder!Your union should have been abolished as a condition of emergence from Bankruptcy.Please just go away.Hopefully,the Hyundai execs will do nothing but laugh at you on their way to the bank.

  31. Bob Says:

    The Aveo was a meaningless name to begin with, but became toxic after it was connected to that poor excuse of an econobox designed by the infamous Daewoo .

    However, SOnic is hardly a suitable name. CHevy had very small, efficient models in the 80s and maybe 90s called SPRINT, which it could resurrect, but apparently the fools paid some idiot big bucks to come up with “Sonic”. Pitiful…

    The Cruze is NOT a Misspelled Cruise and I have Zero problems with that. It is as misspelled as when we type “NITE” instead of “NIGHT”. The “i” in cruise is silent, so god riddance.

  32. Bob Says:

    I mean”good” not “god” riddance, of course. ANd the “Cruze” is an excellent name because of its affinity of what that car can do, ie cruise the highways. While what the hell is “Sonic”? Tjhe Aveo hardly reaches MAch 0.15, much less…. Mach 1!

  33. Bob Says:

    Pedro: I have no doubt that the “sonic” will be far cheaper than the Fiesta, which is $23k loaded!

    This has been a tradition for decades, CHevys were always a few grand cheaper than the corresponding FOrds.

  34. Bob Says:

    HAwaii is the perfect place to develop alternative transport, such as hydrogen or electrics (provided the electricity os not from oil, and currently HAwaii gets 90% of its electricity from oil, a very wasteful way.

    HAwaii is also a wealthy small state, small distances etc all make plug-ins and electrics much more suitable than in.. Texas or Montana.

    ISrael also had some plans to go electric in a big way, and it is also a very small state (country) where you can go from one end to the other in a few hours.

    Gas prices are on the rise again, and oil is at $90 and it is not even driving season!! CHina’s demand is the big reason why 2011 will exceed the world oil cons rexcord of 2007. Due to $147 oil and then the crisis, the US had a deep drop in oil cons in 2008 and 2009

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’m on the road all day long and I’ve seen 2 Fiestas and one Mazda 2 since they were introduced. In comparison I see tons of other new subcompact cars including the POS Aveo, so I guess people are not going to be fooled by an overpriced subcompact. BTW Ford already has a $500 rebate on the Fiesta.

  36. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Exactly Pedro.

    A Subcompact should never be more than $20K unless it has a leather trimmed interior like those $30K JCWs (THAT SHOULD BE $20K), and or a Ultra Eco or Performance option.

    A Subcompact shouldnt have a base MSRP of more than say $12.5K either.

    $12 to $20k is a lot of car. It’s like that in other segments, why not the subcompact segment? The Koreans should be the cure all.

    $8k in price in a subcompact should mean a car with a soft touch plastic interor to start, all the way up to a leather/cloth trimmed interior.

    Subcompacts are still way overpriced in this country, and that’s why I shop Korean. It’s foolish to pay more for less.

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    Looking forward to the new Accent /Rio. I can only imagine what game changers they will be, just as the Sonata is sending designers back to the drawing board, so will the the compact and subcompact designers have their work cut out when those Korean siblings and the Elantra, from what I’ve seen. If it drives anywhere as good as it looks, I’ll start seeing more of them on the road. BTW, most techs I have spoken to now have a positive image of Hyundai

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Bob says:
    “It (Cruze) is as misspelled as when we type “NITE” instead of “NIGHT”.”

    My point exactly. Cruze is a deliberately misspelled real word, like Prizm, Savana, Aztek, and Ciera. The deliberate misspelling of prism cost Chevy one sale that I specifically know of. The customer, was, guess what, a 4th. grade teacher who has the job of teaching spelling, and trying to explain why a car company would spell the word prism with a “z” and Aztec with a “k.”

    I agree that Sprint would be a decent name for the new car. I had an ’87 Sprint (same as Suzuki Swift) with the 1 liter 3 cylinder and manual transmission. It drove decently and got great gas mileage, but I’m sure would not have fared well in a crash.

  39. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, I know why Chevy could not sell many Prizms, and it had nothing to do with spelling. It was the high price they were charging for it,(on purpose I guess) so they could move more Luminas and Cavaliers and make a better profit. The Corolla clone only made sense at year’s end when GM would put as much as $3k on the hood or as a used car.

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Prizm was actually a good buy, and was cheaper to buy than a similarly equipped Corolla. I think the MSRP’s were about the same, but Chevy always had rebates, and you could generally bargain better at a Chevy dealer than a Toyota dealer at the time.

    I’m sure the number of sales lost because of the name was small, but I doubt that the one I personally know about was the only sale lost because of the deliberate misspelling of a real word.

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    Lit, I walked away from a Chevy dealer in 1998 when they would not budge on one of only a couple of Prizms they had on hand and got a Corolla for less $ including a rebate and special financing, I also saw a Motorweek review on youtube where they tested a 98 Prizm and the listed price was over $19k prompting the host to say that for that price you can get a higher class car.

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sorry, KIT not LIT.

  43. Kate McLeod Says:

    I thought the statue of Lenin was toppeled. I guess Bob King sees one of him in his future.

    It’s au contraire mon freres, but who cares.

  44. Bob Says:

    Our senior secretary has a late 90s Prism (=COrolla_ with very low miles given its age. and has had serious repairs she should NOT have with a Corolla. I am not sure if the mechanics are scamming here, assuming that, since she is female, she knows little about car repairs, or if this POS was a lemon from the start.

  45. Bob Says:

    “Kit Gerhart Says:
    December 10th, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Bob says:
    “It (Cruze) is as misspelled as when we type “NITE” instead of “NIGHT”.”

    My point exactly. ”

    I can assure you that your point was CERTAINLY NOT my point. I have ZERO problem with somebody spelling “Night” as “NITE” and in fact it is an acknowledged, correct English word with either spelling. BUT even if one intentionally misspells a word to come up with a car name, I certainly have much less of a problem than a parent misspeling a common name to make their kid sound like it has a special, unique name or whatever. You know what I mean.

    The problem with the Aztec is NOT that they spelled the C with a K, and I really fail toi see what is the big hairy deal with that, in MANY languages, as in German and others, AzteK IS spelled with a K, and most english words that have a C that we pronounce like a K ARE written with K in those languages, some of which do not even HAVE the letter C! (as Greek)