May 27th, 2011 at 12:21pm
The UAW wants to get seats on the boards of the Detroit automakers. The Japanese automaker recovery is going faster than initially predicted. BMW demonstrates the advanced state of autonomous technology at race tracks around the world. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit in which the panel debates which foreign transplant the union will target.
This is Autoline Daily for May 27, 2011. And now, the news.
UAW WANTS BIG 3 BOARD SEATS
UAW workers routinely install front seats and back seats. But now it sounds like they may want to get their hands on some board seats as well. The Detroit Bureau reports that the union is targeting seats on the board of directors on all three Detroit manufacturers as part of this summer’s contract talks. Even though the union did have a seat on Chrysler’s board for a short time in the ’80s, it’s not an American business staple, unlike the Germans who — by law — are required to include union representatives on their Board of Supervisors. It’s probably not a high priority but who knows?
JAPANESE RECOVERY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
After the earthquake in Japan, automakers predicted that production wouldn’t return to normal until the end of the year but Reuters reports that manufacturing for Japanese automakers should recover more quickly than they anticipated. A report from the Nikkei business daily says Nissan will return to normal production by June and Toyota could be close to 90 percent in the same month. Yesterday Honda announced production in North America will be back to normal for all models except for the new Civic.
NESBITT GETS SHANGHAIED
General Motors announced that Bryan Nesbitt will be appointed to vice president of GMIO Design. Nesbitt is currently the executive director of North American Exterior Design and Global Architecture Strategy. Nesbitt will relocate to Shanghai and replaces Ken Parkinson who will take over Nesbitt’s current position. The moves are effective August first.
A HORN FOR EVERY SEASON (subscription required)
Every car has a horn, and in different parts of the world horns have different sounds, but Ward’s reports that Ford was shocked to find just how people in different regions of the world use their horns differently. In the US and Canada, people often use their horns as a greeting, like honking at their neighbors when they drive down the street. And so they use trumpet horns that have a richer, more mellifluous sound, like this Ford F-150. But in South America, China and India, people use their horns much more frequently, and usually to get people out of their way. For those markets Ford uses disc horns, like you might see on a motorcycle, and can be found on the new Ford Ranger. Europe has the quietest horns because of noise regulations.
RAM PLUG-INS GET REAL WORLD USE
Chrysler will loan out 140 plug-in hybrid versions of its Ram 1500 pick-up to select cities and states across the country. The company developed the vehicles with funding from the Department of Energy and will test them over the next three years. Powering the plug-in pick-ups is a liquid cooled lithium-ion battery pack along with a 6.6 kilowatt on-board charger. The powertrain also includes a 5.7 liter HEMI V-8 with a two-mode hybrid transmission that includes cylinder deactivation, so it can run on four-cylinders on the highway to help save fuel. Chrysler says this is just a demonstration program and doesn’t have plans for a production version at this time.
AUTONOMY AT 9/10ths
Anyone who follows Autoline knows I’m a big proponent of autonomous cars, that is, cars that can drive themselves. And now BMW is showing just how far this technology has come, by putting an autonomous 330i on the track at the Nurburgring and Hockenheim and Laguna Seca. In these examples we found on Autoblog, the cars are traveling pretty quickly, and while there is a driver in the car, he’s not touching the steering wheel, the gas pedal, or the brakes. Of course, doing this on a race course, with no cross traffic, or pedestrians, or traffic lights really doesn’t show off the true capabilities of autonomous technology. But this does show how this technology can drive a car at 9/10ths.
The UAW may want to try and get on the board at the Big Three, but it also wants to organize one of the foreign transplants in the American market. Who will their target be? That’s coming up next.
On Autoline Detroit this week the talk is all about labor negotiations. In the following clip, I ask three labor experts which of the transplants they think the UAW will go after to try and organize.
My three guests on the show are Sean McAlinden from the Center For Automotive Research, Bob Chiaravalli, from Strategic Labor and Human Resources LLC and Joe Szczesny from the Oakland Press. And you can watch that entire show right now at AutolineDetroit.tv.
Don’t forget to catch a LIVE episode of RoundAbout tonight hosted by Autoblog’s Steven Ewing. This week you’ll learn a very non-green way to charge a Nissan Leaf and find out how UPS is becoming 40% more fuel efficient without using an alternative powertrain. That’s 6:30PM Eastern every Friday at AutolineDetroit.TV.
And that’s it for today’s show. But a programming note here. Monday is Memorial Day in the United States, a holiday, where we remember all the veterans who have fought to keep this country free. As such, we’ll be taking the day off. So, have a great weekend, we’ll see you back here on Tuesday.