April 20th, 2011 at 12:21pm
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!”
This is Autoline Daily for April 20, 2011. And now, the news.
GM OVERCOMES EARTHQUAKE DISRUPTIONS (Subscription Required)
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.
UAW TARGETS GM
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 TAURUS GETS A FACE LIFT
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.
DRAMATIC NEW MERCEDES A-CLASS
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.
SAY HELLO TO NEW HONDA CIVIC
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.
HYUNDAI COMBINES SYNC AND ONSTAR
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.