Episode 710 – UAW Takes on Mexico, Veloster Pricing, Germans Rake in Chinese Profits

August 25th, 2011 at 11:37am

Runtime: 8:16

You’ve heard about the UAW’s effort to organize a foreign transplant, but did you know its working with unions in Mexico? Hyundai prices its unusual three-door coupe, which it says competes with the likes of Mini and Scion. The German car companies are making a mint in China. All that and more, plus a look at Chevrolet’s latest entry in the infotainment space.


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This is Autoline Daily for August 25, 2011. And now, the news.

The UAW’s announcement that it will try to organize one of the foreign transplants in the US this year got all kinds of attention. But not as well known is the UAW’s effort to coordinate its activities with unions in Mexico. In fact, the UAW has even assigned an organizer to work in Mexico. Cindy Estrada, the vice president of the UAW in charge of organizing explains their effort.

ESTRADA: “That’s fairly new. One of the things is that we have an organizer working full time in Mexico, really starting to see where it is we can work together with different unions. There’s so many unions out there, so some of it is research and looking at which unions are doing a lot of organizing, and which unions are not government unions, but real unions where workers have a real democratic voice in it. And then we’re looking in those unions to see where we can run campaigns on suppliers together, where we can help them when they’re sitting at the table and weigh in. With Johnson Controls, for example, there was a group of workers organizing there. We were able to help by having conversations with Johnson Controls with our membership as well as our leadership in making sure those workers are treated fairly.”

By the way Cindy Estrada is my guest on Autoline This Week, and also joining me for that show are Alissa Priddle from the Detroit News and Joe Szczesny from the Oakland Press.

Hyundai released pricing for its funky three-door coupe, the Veloster. It starts at just over $18,000 with a six-speed manual and just over $19,000 when equipped with a six-speed dual clutch transmission. Powering the Veloster is a 1.6-liter gasoline-direct-injected, four-cylinder engine. Each setup averages 32 MPG on the road. Hyundai says the Veloster will compete with vehicles like the Mini Cooper, Volkswagen Beetle and Scion tC.

Last week we reported that Chinese car exports were way up this year. Now Gasgoo reports that imports into China are up as well. Overall imports were up 36% for the first half of the year compared to 2010. The increase was mostly fueled by luxury vehicles, which were up 70% and especially German luxury cars which made up nearly half of all the imports. The Germans are making a fortune exporting cars to China. There’s a lot more profit in exporting cars to China than in manufacturing them there.

USED CAR PRICES SOAR (subscription required)
There’s a saying in the automotive remarketing business that every used car begins as a new car. And since new car sales in the American market have fallen so much, there’s a shortage of used cars. Ward’s reports that price for 1 to 3 year old used cars have shot up from an average of $15,000 in 2008 to more than $23,000 this year.

Every few years safety and consumer advocates launch a public crusade to get seat belts or airbags in school buses. But once again the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US has rejected those efforts, citing the cost and the fact that school buses are extremely safe. Here’s a stat most people don’t know: riding in a school bus is the safest form of transportation there is. It’s even safer than having kids ride their bikes or even walk to school, where they can get hit by a car crossing the street. Plus, in a time when most school systems are facing budget costs, they’d have to shell out somewhere between $6000 and $7000 to equip one school bus with seat belts.

You’ve heard of Ford’s Sync, haven’t you? And Chrysler’s UConnect, and Toyota’s Entune, or Hyundai’s Blue Link. But have you heard of MyLink? That’s coming right up.

The in-car infotainment war is really heating up. Throwing its hat in the ring, Chevrolet is introducing a brand new technology called MyLink. Like Ford Sync, it offers drivers all kinds of voice-activated controls for different vehicle systems. Engineers are really proud of how responsive it is and how easy it is to use. Take a look.

Look for the MyLink system on most Chevy models in the next 18 to 24 months.

And don’t forget to join me and the Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo for the best insider information of what’s going on in the industry tonight on Autoline After Hours. Also joining us will be Mark Trostle, the new head of design at Roush.

And that’s today’s newscast, 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 710 – UAW Takes on Mexico, Veloster Pricing, Germans Rake in Chinese Profits”

  1. Ron Paris Says:

    Not to be unkind, but Cindy Estrada just screams UNION! Right down to the “blue collar” of her union label blouse.

  2. jesse Says:

    Who does the UAW think they are??Please,go away already.You’ve screwed things up long enough.Will someone please put these people out of their misery already?!

  3. Buzzerd Says:

    So jesse what exactly has the UAW screwed up? Is it getting people a good wage and benefits? yeah that’s terrible.

  4. motorman Says:

    i am not pro union but i remember the famous quote from a ford guy when showing the new robots to the union boss,how are you going to get those robots to join the union and the union guys reply was how are you going to get them to buy fords. the more $$$ the workers get the more cars they can buy.

  5. RS Says:


    What actually brought GM and Chrysler to their collective knees?
    To whom did they owe the billions of $?
    Their under-funded pension plans and health care funds? Oh.
    Who negotiated those exorbitant funding requirements? Oh.
    Unions…Takers. Not contributors.
    Terrible reputation – not just outside but even within their own membership. Know anyone who works in a domestic plant? Ask them…”Can you get me some (fill in the name of the drug)”. Answer: “How much are you willing to pay and how soon do you want it?”

    My pappy used to say “Don’t go behind the barn, the bull’s servicin’ the cow”
    Seems to me we are getting serviced by a bunch of different interests right now!
    And the unions are not part of the solution!

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    Great news re the UAW, maybe now Ford, Chrysler and others will move production back to the US into right to work states, Florida would make a nice state to build cars in, no income tax, low taxes great climate and very intelligent work force, thanks UAW!!

  7. RS Says:


    Isn’t there a flaw in that logic? The only buyers work at Ford?
    It’s called circular reasoning. Can Ford survive if the Ford employees are the only ones who can afford to buy a Ford? What about the rest of us?

    Fat paychecks, fat retirements, fat health care funds – everyone has to benefit, not just the UAW!

  8. HtG Says:

    Let’s not forget to throw a bone to the GM management that agreed the jobs bank and generous health care on the assumption that GM would get enough market share to cover it. (someone correct me if I’m off)

  9. vrmchris Says:

    hello to all.

    the uaw. i certainly cannot blame them for working with unions in other countries. and i agree, everyone should be able to earn a decent living. to those of you criticizing the uaw, where were you when management was screwing up these companies? did you have the same vehemence toward them? or when they gave themselves fat renumeration packages at the expense of the average worker? there is plenty of blame to go around. and the uaw today is not the same as they were over 30 years ago. hopefully the uaw and management realize that this is the last real chance of getting it right. and there have been good signs of it in their negotiations.

    the hyundai veloster. a novel idea. however competing with the mini cooper? if the driving experience is close and it is customizable, maybe. competing with the volkswagen beetle? not sure about that one. competing with the scion tc? the veloster should beat it on price, and perceived quality.

    car exports to china. surprised anyone? when a nation such as china has high import taxes and you manufacture a desirable product, yes you should have very good profit. manufacturing in china is not very profitable because you have to sell just above break-even to a customer who can barely afford a vehicle.

    used car prices. of course they will go up when you cannot find a 1 to 3 year old car. the caveat is that this applies mostly to mainstream autos at the moment.

    gm’s my link. the latest and greatest in connectivity for your vehicle. no real surprises in this one.

    have a great morning, afternoon, or evening gentlemen and gentlelady.


  10. SalvadorG. Says:

    - I wonder if, does it really matter?
    - On one hand, the UAW spend their members money
    - on electing free trade agreement politicians
    - and what are they doing to fight all these free trade agreements?
    - and on the other hand
    - they spend U.S union members money
    - on saving Mexican workers?
    - It would be better(and easier) if they look for an agreement
    - with the American brands in Mexico

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    On all of the ‘links’ software, from any of the manufacturers; if it uses a touch screen, and is accessible while the vehicle is in motion, this to me equals less safe than if it weren’t there at all. JMO

  12. W L Simpson Says:

    The greatest hypocrisy of unionism has always been protecting members against dereliction of duty.
    Eastern, PanAm, & National Air lines might have survived , were it not for unions.
    Lamprey & ShopSteward are synonymous terms.

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    I remember when they put the radio and cruise controls on the steering wheel and the lights and wipers on the stalk so you wouldn’t have to take your eyes off the road when driving and now it’s they mess it all up with all these touch screens that force to TAKE your eyes off the road, it makes no sense.

  14. GPL Says:

    To all ALD readers:
    Yesterday I compared tj Martin to two former ALD irritants whose names should not even be mentioned here. After due consideration and tj’s response, while I stand behind everything else I wrote, I realized that evoking those names was insulting and, further, counter-productive in the same manner against which I was speaking-out. So as a bit of my own medicine, I offer contrition and a sincere public apology to tj Martin and the rest of you as well.

    May today’s commentary be peaceful and enlightening.


  15. SalvadorG. Says:

    - Pedro
    - @13
    - I like to point out, everyone should remember that one
    - Next time a car manufacturer gets the news media bashing
    - because of so call unintended accelerations
    - or any electronics causing accidents, etc.
    - at this point with all these ‘Links and touch screens
    - They are really asking for it
    - and hell to anyone that tries to defend them.

  16. Buzzerd Says:

    @RS you are typical of many who don’t know much about the auto industry and want to blame the “unions” Almost every auto manufacturer was in trouble and got money from governments not to mention why is it the “unions” fault because some didn’t properly fund for the commitments they made? If I don’t budget for my heat, hydro… is the fault of the utilities? How is it possible that Ford is making so much money when the workers didn’t take any cuts? Lastly people shouldn’t feel ashamed because they make a good wage and benefits just because you don’t while corporate wages continue to go through the roof.

  17. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Why is it someone always brings up the ‘jealous’ routine when talking about the unions,in particular the uaw?I’m retired so I personally don’t give a rat’s ass what people think about me.I do know a few things about unions because I was in two unions many decades ago,and quit.Not all,but a good number of the ‘union brothers’ showed more interest in ‘getting over’ then an honest ’8 for 8′.Maybe things have changed over the years………then again,maybe not.

  18. XA351GT Says:

    GPL ,
    you only said what many here were probably thinking. I used to enjoy many of his posts ,but of late he became the bully of the board which is what he used to complain about Sybil being. We all come here to read others thought and theorys . Maybe we agree and maybe we don’t ,but most don’t have to resort to name calling in order to feel good about ourselves as that is what has lately seemed to be the case. I know I’m not the smartest guy on the board but calling me or anyone else a idiot for having a different opinion is BS. When H/S gets on here and rants I skip over it as i know it will make little sense to me or add anything to the days discussion. But if he wants to go on a rant , have at it I won’t be reading it.

  19. tj Martin Says:


    Well pardon me for living XA , but when someone ( SalvadorG ) comes out of the box with ” Shut Up tj” ( episode 709 post #23)
    and then attempts to discredit me later because he hasn’t been paying attention to Ford GM to a lesser extent Chrysler as well as now VW’s repeated attempts at a ” World Car ” ( which has been reported and quoted extensively in AutoWeek , CAR , AutoCar Road & Track etc since 1988 ) and then accuses me of being a conspiracy theorist …… well that person is an idiot and deserves to be told so .

    So my apologies for allowing my NJ tendencies to come to the fore ( the Don’t ___ with me State as the Boss would say ) as well as being honest and upfront , both about my opinions , background , experience , as well as genuinely apologizing when I’ve either been proven wrong or gone a step to far .

    You might want to try reading some ones response in CONTEXT to the post directed towards them before coming to any conclusions about that persons behavior .

    But never mind there XA351GT . Wouldn’t want to ruffle your feathers any further ……….

    And thanks for confirming my decision .

    Greatly appreciated

  20. XA351GT Says:

    TJ, See you miss the point. You can have your opinion as should others. Did you consider that Sal’s reaction was to the way you talk to people here. No one can have a differing opinion of late without yoiu calling them stupid ,a idiot or whatever. Dude just chill, and realize we will all agree to disagree at some point. If you don’t like their opinion that’s fine ,but they are still entitled to give it.

  21. tj Martin Says:

    @ GPL

    Thanks for the public apology . Accepted but my minds made up ( with XA351GT affirming that decision today )

    If its of any consolation : and to assuage any guilt you might have about it, I’ve been contemplating this for quite some time and your comment yesterday only served to put me over the edge .

    I will say though as I just did to XA that reading someone’s response in context to what proceeded it might just give you a different viewpoint on said response no matter how harsh it may have appeared . Context really is everything !

    But thats water under the bridge , you’ve made your apologies and this book is closed .

  22. tj Martin Says:

    No XA351GT its you this time thats ” Missed the Point ” but no matter . What was said is said and what was done is done .

  23. HtG Says:

    I’m sorry to hear it, tj. You bring a lot to the board.

    You gonna be up early to watch Bruno tomorrow? Solidarity, man!

  24. GPL Says:

    I recommend a break from this place for everyone now and then. It is easy for internet conversations to devolve into arguments. It is easy to misinterpret written communication. For that matter it is easy to cause miscommunication with hasty writing. Maybe the anonymity of it emboldens us. Whatever the reasons, it is far too easy to offend or be offended.

    Perhaps the only reason I don’t get drawn into many arguements is that I’m not here every day. I’m often surprised how many posts are submitted around the clock and on weekends. I post seldom enough that no one notices when I’m gone for a week.

    At any rate, I suffer the same human faults as any of you and pledge to continue to avoid enflamatory language and appreciate efforts of any of you to do the same. If that requires abstention, so be it.

  25. cwolf Says:

    Rather nice spread of union views expressed today. I think pedro,post#6,is pretty sensible. Unionizing foreign brands first may have a bigger impact on future trade imbalance issues. pedro, I’m sure the Cuban population in Florida would make outstanding employees,but since the state is not centrally possitioned,transport problems would be costly. Never the less, I would choose your state over Sen. Corkers anyday,just because of my personal distaste. Good info is hard to get,but my read is that those right to work plants in Tenn.,where the UAW was invited,is in a stealth forward motion. Don’t hold my feet to the fire,but my take is that workers have expressed some fear of retribution for any display of interest in knowing more about what the UAW could provide. Since this is the season for negotiations for many,the union is trying to find ways to calm fears while picking the appropriate time of opportunity.It will be interesting to watch the mystery unfold. Now, more than ever, the country needs fair wages higher than the burger flippers. These jobs lack the needed impact and only serve republican governors boasts of reducing their states reduced unemployment. But IF there are real bonds manifesting between company and union,those fair wages is said to have the potential of a 6 to 1 ratio of added jobs within the community. BOY– we really do need it!

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Regarding car plants in Florida, I don’t remember there ever being any assembly plants in the state. As cwolf said, it’s too much in the corner of the country, though there would be a lot of good workers available. There are railroads running to certain areas, but maybe not the places that would be best for car factories.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, the transplants have set up in other states in the deep south as well, I don’t mean So Fl for this, more like central and north Fla. I believe Ga has Kia, Ala has MB and so forth. there are plenty of rail lines in Fla, as a mater of fact, that is how we get most of our new cars down here they travel by rail and then get transported by truck to the individual dealers.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Alabama, Georgia, SC have transplants, and Georgia also has GM and Ford plants. In addition to transportation issues, maybe Florida is less friendly than those other states for low wage, keep-the-unions-out facilities. Only two of the 11 plants in the states I mentioned are non-transplants.

  29. cwolf Says:

    Kit and pedro, I don’t mean to stick my nose in your chat,but one consideration as why Fla. may not be an ideal location may have to do with fresh water availability and,perhaps,elect. costs. Just a thought.

  30. cwolf Says:

    Pedro: how has the hurricane effected you?

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The water and electricity could be factors, to some extent.

    For whatever reason(s), the only “heavy” manufacturing in my area is aerospace and war materials, very related. There used to be silicon IC processing in Melbourne, but I think that is gone. Maybe the state doesn’t bribe the foreign car companies to come to Florida like some of the other states do.

  32. HtG Says:

    tj, if you’re reading tonight, Bloomberg TV will have a show with The Woz at 11pm eastern.

    This isn’t car related fellas.

  33. jesse Says:

    One does not need a UNION to get good wage and bennies.One does need a UNION to be WAY OVERPAID and get ridiculous amounts of money and bennies for doing a job a MONKEY COULD DO WITH THE PROPER TRAINING,AND PROBABLY DO BETTER because they wouldn’t need a WEED BREAK or a bar break during the day!!The unions time has come AND gone.DIFFERENT WORLD OUT THERE.What makes you all so special??NOTHING,that’s what because you’re not.You’re working stiffs like everybody else only you think you need to be paid some stupid amount of money for it.RIDICULOUS!Managment is equally as bad for letting this nonsense go on and on.Go out there and get a real job without expecting somebody to breast you while you’re doing.Give me a break…AND YOUR WORK IS SUB PAR TO BOOT!

  34. XA351GT Says:

    say what you want about unions but companies are the ones caving to the demands and giving the wages and benefits. So they can be held responsible as well. They could’ve stood their ground and said no .but they gave in. Unions were great in the days of sweat shop companies ,but the era is pretty well over now. The unions have in a way become the monster they set out to slay. Reminds me of Orwell’s Animal Farm when the animals (workers ) look through the window and see the pigs (now running the show ) as the farmer who once terrorized them.

  35. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    Kit #28: The two GM plants in Atlanta area are closed – Lakewood and Doraville. The Ford plant by ATL airport is gone – land soon to host a Porsche facility of some kind. KIA is the only assembly plant in GA.

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    Cwolf, not one bit, it stayed off the coast, thanks for asking, the new Gov is claiming he’s for jobs,and more jobs, so maybe one of the possible industries may be autos. But you’re right there have never been any auto related business here. Perhaps never will. Perhaps the UAW attempt to infiltrate Mexico is so it won’t be that attractive to move plants over there, but I doubt anyone will be moving back to the north.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Bob in Atlanta,
    Thanks for the info. It looks like the site I ran across had old information. It also shows GM in Doraville. I guess that is closed too?

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Bruno didn’t go so fast in the first practice, not that first practice times mean much.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Woops, Bruno crashed.

  40. HtG Says:

    that’s going to be expensive. I hope he’s insured.

  41. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    Kit 37: Doraville, GA GM closed 4 or 5 years ago. Most recently made minivans – you know how that market went.

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    Good write up on TTAC comparing the new Beetle turbo to other cars throughout the years and how the car is still underpowered, and this is how they plan to win back male buyers? Phooey, I tell you.