October 12th, 2011 at 12:02pm
Chrysler and the UAW announced this morning that they reached a tentative deal on a new labor contract. GM plans to introduce an electric version of the Chevy Spark in the U.S. by 2013. China just unveiled stricter crash-standard rules for passenger cars. All that and more, plus John answers your questions and comments in the “You Said It!” segment.
Hello everybody. It’s Wednesday, October 12, 2011, and here’s what’s happening in the automotive industry.
CHRYSLER & UAW REACH TENTATIVE DEAL
Chrysler and the UAW announced this morning that they reached a tentative deal on a new labor contract. The union had to bargain a lot harder with Chrysler, going a month past the expiration date. Now it will be up to the UAW rank and file to ratify the agreement. But that may not be easy. Ford is already running into problems on ratification. Local 900, which makes the new Ford Focus, rejected it by a slim margin. But union leaders say they still expect the contract to be approved.
U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa of California is holding hearings on CAFE regulations. He’s getting that tired old caterwauling of environmental groups who are predicting massive jobs gains and ginormous profits if automakers adopt stringent fuel economy regulations. But he’s also hearing from Jeremy Anwyl from Edmunds who is testifying that few consumers are buying hybrids because fuel economy is not their highest priority. He says regulators have failed to pay attention to what car buyers are actually buying and that they’re pushing fuel economy regulations too far. Check out our show notes to see Anwyl’s complete testimony.
SPARK EV COMING TO U.S.
GM will announce it’s going to sell an all-electric car in the U.S. later today — an electric version of the Spark, which is sold elsewhere in the world. The EV version will come to select U.S. cities in 2013 as well as other global markets. Its battery packs will be supplied by A123. Here’s Global Product Chief Mary Barra explaining why they will introduce the Spark EV.
We’ll have more info about the car tomorrow.
STRICTER CRASH STANDARDS IN CHINA
China just unveiled stricter crash-standard rules for passenger cars. According to Gasgoo, for the first time, rear-seat passengers will be accounted for, low-speed tests will be introduced and safety systems like electronic stability control will be considered in the scoring. Boy they need this. Check out this crash test of a Land Wind, watch the airbag deploy, just like it’s supposed to. Now watch the steering column come up through the airbag and damn near take the dummy’s head off!
ATS TEASER SHOTS
Cadillac is taunting us with more teaser shots of its brand-new small sports sedan, the ATS. The wreath-and-crest brand just released a video of a heavily camouflaged car zipping around Germany’s vaunted Nürburgring. The ATS is expected to be a little bit smaller than the segment benchmark, the BMW 3 Series. Rumor also has it the car will be built at GM’s plant in Lansing, Michigan. Company President, Mark Reuss, has some mighty strong things to say about the new ATS. Hit the link on our website, Autoline.tv, to hear what he has to say about the car and to watch the rest of this video.
VW LEGO VAN
Despite what the packaging may say, LEGOs are fun for all ages. It doesn’t matter if you’re 8 or 80. We found this little treat on Autoblog. A guy named Marshall Matlock assembled a model of a Volkswagen camper van. It’s a relatively simple task, anyone could do it, BUT, he was thoughtful enough to make a time-lapse video of the process. This minute-and-a-half-long film shows the project piece by piece, from start to finish. It’s mesmerizing to watch this vintage Vee Dub rise from the tabletop and drive out of frame. Great work!
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
Tony Gray saw our report on the most popular colors of cars and had this to say about the popularity of white cars. “I wonder if the rise in white had anything to do with pigment problems resulting from the tsunami that affected certain colors.”
No Tony, white has always been a very popular color. In fact, silver, black and white almost always rank in the top three and have for decades. Maybe that has to do with a lot of commercial vehicles being painted white. But most cars buyers are very conservative in their color choice.
One of you reposted the rantings of someone calling themselves the “Autoanarchist” who rails against Chrysler. He says, “Chrysler’s actual sales numbers not the percentage of sales increases are NOTHING to brag about. Their sales are still Dreck in comparison.”
Well, sorry Autoanarchist, Chrysler’s sales numbers are actually quite impressive. Last month it outsold Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai-Kia. In fact, Chrysler was only 4 percentage points of market share behind Ford. And you just wait, the new product onslaught from Chrysler is still a year away.
Tj Martin thinks he may know why Honda has delayed the introduction of its HondaJet. “The real problem, if you ask me, is the fact that the sales of new private jets are way down with so many used ones on the market, why buy new?”
Tj, a weak market is an issue, but even Honda admitted it is running into development problems with the engine on that jet. Believe me, if they could blame it on a soft market, that’s what they’d prefer to do rather than admit they’re running into engineering problems.
Jim saw Craig Cole’s review of the Buick Regal Turbo in which Craig said Buick’s tend to be fairly mundane cars. Jim retorts, “I used to own a 1972 Buick Skylark with a 350 ci engine. I thought that was a fun car to drive. Craig’s too young to know there were a lot of fun Buicks in the past.”
Jim, you’re right, there have been fun Buicks, like the T-types and the GNX in the 1980s. But Craig’s also right. For the past couple of decades, Buicks were boring.
Ron Paris noticed that Peter De Lorenzo had a gash on his head when he did Monday’s broadcast. “Wow! Am I the only one that noticed Peter’s injury? Did I miss something? Looks nasty!”
Yes, Ron, it is a nasty cut, requiring 16 stitches, and we’ll get the full story of what happened tomorrow night on Autoline After Hours.
And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.