Episode 625 – UAW’s New Strategy, Dramatic Mercedes A-Class, Hyundai Combines Sync and OnStar

April 20th, 2011 at 12:21pm

Runtime 8:14

UAW takes a new negotiating tact by targeting the domestics for an early labor agreement. Mercedes takes the wraps off a dramatic new A-Class concept. Hyundai’s new technology combines the functionality of Sync and OnStar. All that and more, plus John responds to your comments in this week’s “You Said It!”


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This is Autoline Daily for April 20, 2011. And now, the news.

Automakers all around the world have been impacted by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Toyota just announced it will be shutting plants here and there all the way to June. But GM’s CEO Dan Akerson, in a speech in New York yesterday, says the automaker will not be affected because GM was quickly able to secure computer chips from Freescale Semiconductors, based in Austin, Texas. Freescale used to be part of Motorola. This is a significant development. If GM manages to be one of the few, or maybe the only automaker, not affected by the shortage of microprocessors caused by the earthquake, it will really pay off in the marketplace. Indeed, this could be all it takes to let GM slip past Toyota to become the largest automaker in the world this year.


And in another significant development the UAW is said to be after an early labor agreement with GM, Ford and Chrysler. Historically, the union goes all the way to the deadline in September, or even a few hours past it, before signing an agreement. Sean McAlinden, from the Center For Automotive Research says the union will try to reach an agreement with GM first. The UAW is afraid that profit-rich Ford would agree to more concessions that GM and Chrysler can’t afford. And the union wants an agreement that hires back thousands of hourly workers. And here’s my Autoline Insight. The union needs to prove to the transplants that it can reach a labor agreement quickly and quietly and keep the car companies competitive. Otherwise, the union has no hope at all of ever organizing the foreign car companies operating in America.


Ford showed off a face lift for the Taurus at the New York auto show. The new touches, mostly noticeable in the grille and front fascia, give the car a cleaner, lighter look. Ford also announced the Taurus will be offered with a 2-liter EcoBoost engine that will deliver 31 miles per gallon on the highway, or about 7.6 liters per 100 km. Some new options include a heated steering wheel and a power window shade for the rear window.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled a dramatic looking Concept for its next A-Class. This front-drive model gets a turbocharged direct-injection 2.0 liter four-cylinder gas engine mated to a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It includes door handles that are recessed into the doors, and emerge electrically at the touch of a button. It can integrate a smartphone with the car. All of the phone’s functions including internet radio, email and social networks such as Twitter or Facebook, are shown as applications on the display and can be operated with a rotary control. It’s the first compact car to come standard with a radar collision warning system and the car will go on sale in Europe next year.

Earlier this morning Honda took the wraps off the new 2012 Civic in New York. The standard sedan and coupe, Si performance model, Hybrid and Natural Gas versions return but new for 2012 is the HF model which gets slightly better fuel economy than the standard Civic thanks to aerodynamic improvements. In fact all versions get better fuel economy with the help of new or upgraded powertrains. The exterior was redesigned, however it still looks somewhat similar to the previous model. The interior was also updated and features what Honda calls its i-MID display. This 6.5 inch screen shows audio settings, Bluetooth info, turn-by-turn navigation and tracks and informs the driver of other important systems. The sedan, coupe and hybrid models are on sale today. The HF and Si models will be available in May and the Natural Gas version doesn’t go on sale until the Fall. Pricing for the sedan starts at $16,500. We’ll have more about the new 2012 Civic in a future Autoline Daily.

There’s a lot going on at the New York Auto Show this week and Hyundai is joining the in-car telematics race. Later this year the company will offer a brand-new technology called Blue Link. With this system it’s cherry-picking the best of what’s out there to deliver a better user experience than the competition. Look for Hyundai’s Blue Link system to debut this summer on the 2012 Sonata.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

Lex says that if Hyundai wants to boost sales and market share in the American market, it needs to get into NASCAR. In fact, he’s come up with a new advertising slogan for the company, “Hyundai: wins on Sundai and sells on Mondai!”

cwolf saw our report on an Argentine couple, Herman and Candalaria Zapp, who have been driving all over the world for the last 11 years in a 1928 Graham Paige. cwolf says, “The American translation of the Argentine name “Zapp” is Clampet.” But tj Martin thinks otherwise, “One heck of an Adventure! Brilliant to bring the kids along. Now that took courage and determination!”

Pedro Fernandez is puzzled by the problems the Nissan Leaf is having with owners turning them off and not being able to restart them. “How can an electric car not be able to “start” are you kidding me?” You’re right Pedro, that one is a puzzler.

And your reactions to the new Volkswagen Beetle are all over the map.

G.A.Branigan says, “I think the new bug is just as polarizing as the first one was. Either you love ‘em or you don’t.”

InsurgenceRX says, “Eww I don’t really like the new new Beetle.”

David Sprowl thinks, “It does not look like a Beetle, whose shape has been well defined by its large and storied past.”

But jeffsandychelsea says, “I much prefer the new design.”

Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours this Thursday night when our guest will be Barb Samardzich, who heads up global vehicle programs for Ford. If you want to know where Ford is headed with its global products, this is the show for you. That’s tomorrow night on Autoline After Hours.

And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global auto industry, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

42 Comments to “Episode 625 – UAW’s New Strategy, Dramatic Mercedes A-Class, Hyundai Combines Sync and OnStar”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    New Mercedes A Class .

    Brilliant concept .

    But once again . Not Made for the US ( Mercedes has made this very clear in the UK press )

    Damn !!!

    Guess those $4.00 + Gas Prices haven’t sunk in here or with the overseas manufactures .

  2. shan Says:

    I wish car makers would just leave a spot in the dash, that would accept something like an iPad and leave out the other junk. They can’t seem to master the Nav/Info-tainment units. Also, be neat to see a finger-print or biometric used for opening or starting the vehicle.

  3. tj Martin Says:

    @ Lex ; You is one sick puppy ! :o )

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe Ford will get back to the original design of the current Taurus, when is was called 500. The 500 looked better, and had more room than the current, uglified version.

  5. tj Martin Says:

    @shan ;

    Couldn’t agree with you more ( post #2 )

    Check out the video on nytimes.com Auto’s about the frustrations their reporter has with all the Electronic Gee Whizz junk going on cars today .

  6. tj Martin Says:

    FORD ;

    Two words .

    Better Engines !

    OK … three .

    NOW !

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    As far as Ford’s,or anybodies for that matter ‘global vehicles’,does that by any chance include the good ol USA? If not,why not?

  8. HtG Says:

    There will be no HtG notes tomorrow. I will be at the Skip Barber Motorsports Park in CT for an ‘invitational’ event(they would like people to sign up for a driving program; I am still working on my best rationalization). I will likely have the fun of getting driven around by professionals in a 911, M3, Lexus IS-F, and…and the Lotus Evora. We’ll get to spin out a Mazda RX8 on the skidpad, and try to get around an autocross in the Mazda 3. One thing that becomes obvious at these things is how enormous the performance envelope is for street cars, if you can drive even a little.

    ps I ordered a used copy of that Lauda book, tj. thanks for the reco.

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It is now getting to the point that there is no reason to even buy a Garmen or Tom Tom nav unit, never mind the $4K things they put in the dashes of cars. My phone (evo 4g) has nav that works as well as my Garmen, and is easier to use.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Have fun

  11. MichaelK Says:

    Too bad the Taurus re-design does not include more leg room. I have a 2010 and have always been surprised at how tight the cockpit is, especially for someone who is tall. I would also much prefer a Fusion-type Hybrid over a 2 liter EcoBoost. I already get 28mpg and am surprised that the improvement is only 3mpg with the smaller engine.

  12. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    You’ll enjoy the book . You’ll love the Skip Barbor day .

    Give us your impressions of the Lexus IS-F and the Evora if you would .

  13. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Funny how the UAW says it wants to win back concessions recently relinquished to the auto companies (never mind it saved those companies and those jobs) when they should be saying that they want to earn back some of those concessions. Now, that at least, doesn’t want me to retch. And I don’t know why they need to negotiate, about jobs, if they, the companies remain stronge and are producing product the jobs will come in good order. Lean and mean is the ticket, I think.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    Perhaps GM negotiators should play Frank Sinatra’s “South of the Border” in a continuous loop during the UAW talks as a subliminal message to the union bosses.

  15. HtG Says:

    I just hope management doesn’t lose out on work rules to the UAW.

  16. tj Martin Says:

    Why is it I get this funny feeling that if we could have a look see at Hyundai/KIA’s books we’d find out all is not exactly Gems and Roses at Kimchi Home Central .

    Could it be the newest gimmick being offered by H/K ? ( Guaranteed Trade in Value ) The excessive OTT Hype of their Ad campaigns ? Stooping to using ridiculous imagery for their recent raft of TV Ads ?

    All of the Above ?

    Seems to me companies that aren’t desperate for business don’t stoop to such desperate measures in order to attract it .

    Nope . The numbers being released by H/K may say otherwise but like VW me thinks once you get even an inch below the surface , Reality looks a whole lot Bleaker !

  17. tj Martin Says:

    The UAW;

    Forever Clueless

    Completely irrelevant

    Pathetically trying to hold on to their Strong Arm tactics

    Yet undeniably about to face the same fate as the Ubiquitous DoDo Bird . Eventual Extinction .

    Unless they get real smart , real soon and change their ways . Which they won’t .

    A moment of Silence for the poor slob in the UAW Rank & File that’ll suffer the worst for their Leaders Stupidity and Arrogance .


  18. Richie Says:

    Personally I think the Taurus facelift is nothing short of spectacular! There are only a few sedans I’ve lusted over, like the last generation BMW’s and the recent Audi’s (A8), unfortunately those are well out of my price range. Hopefully the SHO get’s this treatment as well…I think I need to stop at the dealer and get on the wait list!

    As far as roominess, yep I could wear a 10 gallon hat in the Ford 500 and not touch the roof (and I’m 6’2″) but that’s allot of aero (and therefore fuel) to give up for little to no benefit, unless you routinely carry a load of ping pong balls! ;-)

  19. tj Martin Says:

    Marchionne lessons ;

    So now it seems Mercedes is taking Waffling Lessons from the Grand Master himself !

    Two weeks ago in the UK Press Mercedes was adamant that there was no way the new A Class would ever find its way onto our American Shores .

    Now , today , to the NYTimes they’re saying it’ll be here in the next two to three years .

    Make up your minds Gentlemen ( Mercedes Benz ) Leave the Waffling to Marchionne and his FIAT Empire and play it straight will you please .

  20. Lex Says:


    I agree, OEM’s should offer simple connection setups which allow you to hookup your Smartphone, iPad or other electronic device to your vehicle without the expensive One Ford Touch / SYNC, Blue Link and all other manners of inbound infomatics. A in-dash multi-purpose display screen that allows information on a personal device to be accessed, displayed and used. This should be routed into your vehicles sound system and electronics.

    Why pay for an expensive in-vehicle option like a $1500 Nav system which is available on a smartphone. Hook the smartphone to the in-dash display screen and go. Maybe the OEM’s should think about partnering with Verizon & ATT and not with Microsoft.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    Mfg will never offer such options because they make a lot of dough off all those electronic gizmos that some people just love to have. I checked out a neighbor’s rented Taurus and it looks like a game arcade in there, so many freaking distractions I am happy with my archaic Corolla.

  22. GPL Says:


    I haven’t used the SYNC systems, but I think what you just described actually IS the MyFord Touch or maybe somewhere between SYNC and Touch.

    It isn’t really clear, but looking at a description of the system, it looks like the hardware is just an interface for a bluetooth linked phone (calls, text, apps, etc) and some vehicle systems (diagnostics, radio, etc). The nav is an optional service. Anyone know if that is accurate?

    One shortcoming I’ve noticed of phone based nav, though, is that it (at least mine) is 3G service dependent. I’ve had it drop out on me a few times. My old Garmin doesn’t have such coverage issues. As long as it can see sky, it works.

  23. Zieke Says:

    Re: #8 HtG
    The school should be a blast. Just remember, there aren’t many places where you can use that “street performance ” safely. Wish there was tho, as I’ve been to several schools. Regardless, you will learn alot.

  24. tj Martin Says:


    First Chrysler takes a step into the Void by using Eminem in their commercials .

    Now its about to take a deeper step into said void

    Jalopnik today is reporting Dr. Dre will also be brought on as a Chrysler spokesman .

    What’s next Chrysler ? Lady Gaga doing one of her partial Strip Teases while driving the new 300C SRT8 ?

    ( got to love the photo of Dr. Dre Jalopnik is using on their site along with the story )

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    Tj funny thing about all these paid endorsers, they wouldn’t be caught dead driving any of those vehicles, maybe Lady Gaga with a cinquocento? I can see it now: the Chrysler 300 with optional Beats audio by Dr Dre playing eminem music. Barf bags, anyone?

  26. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    Make mine a case . Of Barf Bags that is .

  27. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    Actually though I could see Dr. Dre in say the 300C SRT8 in Bright Purple with Pink accents , 24″ wheels with Spinners , slammed to the ground to the point of scrapping , 30,000 watt stereo w/18″ subs , neon under carriage flashing lights , Mega Loud exhaust ( hence the 30,000 watt stereo ) Gull Wing Doors , Fuzzy Fake Fur interior . The Gang Banger Deluxe version .

    Ohhh …… Now I really need those Barf Bags ………. UUuuurrrp

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    Somehow when Ricardo Montalban spoke of the rich corinthean leather in the Chrysler Cordoba, I believed he might have actually owned one of them.

  29. tj Martin Says:

    ” My name is Doctor Dre
    Drive the 300C
    Got the music so loud
    It makes you wanna pee

    Pickin up Lady Gaga
    She lives across town
    Then gotta get that
    Eminem clown ”

    cha cha boom cha boom boom boom boom

    ( I’m soooo ashamed )

  30. HtG Says:

    Zieke@22. The course I am interested in taking is the Advanced Car Control Session; they teach how to turn the car with the brakes and throttle, anything but the steering wheel. I already took the Performance driving school, which I rationalized as making me safer in my Miata. Getting comfortable driving on the limit, and learning better how to use my eyes has been useful to me on the roads, especially in treacherous conditions. Do you have a suggestion on the utility of the Car Control Session, Zieke?

  31. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Hand Brake turns . Beg them if you have to . Most useful trick you’ll ever learn for severe weather .

  32. HtG Says:

    tj, I heard the great Vic Elford describe his days learning to do a handbrake turn in a 911 rallye car. He said you nose the car away from the turn then flick it ’round with the handbrake. After you’ve wrecked four cars, you’ve got it!

    He was a speaking at a Simeone Museum event in his honor in Philadelphia. He drove a replica of his rally car and also the actual Hippy Car 917 he drove around Le Mans. That was really him in the movie.

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    I always thought you needed to steer to execute one of those turns ala James Bond

  34. cwolf Says:

    Guys!,I find the union comments rather tepid today,yet with a truthful note. In fact this UAW bro. just can’t take it!! So let me take a shot with the verbage I had expected: How dare those UAW slime balls wanting to negotiate for more than they had,just because its contract time.It shouldn’t matter that the new contract is for the next four years. The new hires still make $15/hour,$6 more than a McBurger flipper.It’s gotta be at the high end of the poverty level,so that should be good enough.Who cares that just one of the CEO’s wages are about equal to total cost of employing 3or4 large plants.These are the guys who really make things happen,eventhough its impossible for them to buy as many cars as those UAW bastards.I say let things go as they are headed: tax ss and retirement benifits,increase co-pays of health plans,lets eliminate the middle class and let fuel hit $6/gal.
    If the average”Joe” don’t like it,he can always move to Mexico or Korea, and buy used Kia’s and Tata’s. This is where they belong and in a couple years the rest of us will be your neighbors.

    Now this is more as what is to be expected.Don’t let me down again!

  35. tj Martin Says:

    @ Cwolf

    My point being its the powers that be in the UAW that will undoubtedly bite their noses to spite their face , sending even more Jobs to Mexico which in all honesty PO’s me beyond belief .

    Its not the Workers I have anything against . Its the IDIOTS pretending to represent you whilst shooting themselves and especially you in the foot I’d like to give a Cement Over Coat to .

  36. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro ;

    You’re thinking of the 180 degree hand brake turn . I’m talkin bout the Rally kind .

    @ HtG

    Yup . You either get it right , or kill yourself . Which is why learning it in a controlled environment is the best way to do so . If you can talk em into it !

    Oh but damn its impressive when you gets it right !

  37. cwolf Says:


    I understand what you meant and share many concerns. I was just having a bit of fun today. Had a much needed mach. down for 3 days.One problem after another and all for different reasons. Had to use every trick in my arsenal to get good parts,but prevailed. Feeling a little ornery I guess.

  38. XA351GT Says:

    Cwolf , I hope they negotiate for profit sharing. I think that’s fair for everyone involved. If the company is doing well then all should prosper if it’s not doing well then you take your lumps.

    To echo John’s comments I really don’t see what the union can offer the transplant workers that they already don’t have. Besides a union dues deduction from their checks.

  39. cwolf Says:

    @XA: Profit sharing is a good idea that is fine for me.I believe it may be a good possibilty,as heard in union channels. To further seperate the slackers from the self motivated,I would also like to see a type of raise or bonus based upon individual performance and abilities. If a company won’t fire dead beats at least hurt them in the pocket book-know what I mean?

    It’s getting more difficult to get reliable info on negotiation approaches,but I’ll give you the more realistic scoop. Transplants may be sold on the “Unity” concept and strength in numbers. Most of their wages are based upon the UAW contract and theirs always follows. They also have most of the same beefs and a few extra because they are not union. Given a commitment to eliminate them would be a selling point for many workers-more than what one would expect. Transplant workers also share the same anger towards underpaid workers, in places like Korea,who keep wages low everywhere else. Anyway, this is the main idea I have recieved for the past months. Because of the fragile economy,just let your common sense tell you that neither side has a large advantage over the other and both sides are becoming more mum more each day.

  40. HtG Says:

    Hi cwolf, if you were a manager do you think you could organize work to that cars were built better, management was satisfied, and labor was well used? Is it just not possible for management to squeeze too much? Do you see work rules that aren’t helpful?

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “One shortcoming I’ve noticed of phone based nav, though, is that it (at least mine) is 3G service dependent”

    Mine has a GPS receiver for the navigation, but loads map information via 3G/4G before it will work. If I give it the minute or two to load the info before I start a trip, it is good to go and works well.

  42. GPL Says:


    Mine too, but I’ve had it freeze in the middle of a trip with a clear view of the sky but in a area where I know the 3G coverage is iffy leading me to believe that it does not download all of the data at the beginning of a trip and downloads additional data as it goes.