December 7th, 2012 at 12:03pm
The state of Michigan’s right-to-work legislation will have immediate implications for the UAW. A test done by Consumer Reports shows that Ford’s hybrids fall short of their EPA ratings, but this problem doesn’t end with the Dearborn auto maker. Manufacturers are always looking for new ways to improve fuel efficiency, and one company has some new technology that can do just that. All that and more, plus John talks with Mazda’s John Doonan about its latest effort to use diesel engines in long distance races.
Hello and welcome to another edition of Autoline Daily. It’s Friday, and we have plenty of news and a very hot-button poll question to get to later on. So let’s get on the road.
UAW THREATENED BY RIGHT-TO-WORK LAW
In a stunning development that will have immediate implications for the United Auto Workers union, the state of Michigan enacted right-to-work legislation. Currently, Michigan is a “closed shop” state, that is, if a company is unionized, any hourly worker joining that company must join that union. Under right-to-work legislation no worker can be forced to join a union or pay union dues. Michigan is the home to the UAW and this legislation could be devastating for it. In other states that adopted right to work legislation the impact was immediate and severe. The Wall Street Journal reports that in Wisconsin, almost half of members in the state employees union stopped paying their union dues. One third of teachers stopped paying theirs. In Indiana 90 percent of state union workers stopped paying their dues. If this pattern holds true for the UAW it could be financially crippled within a year. It may turn out that UAW workers are more loyal to their union, but we are soon going to find out how much solidarity there is in the labor ranks. The Michigan law will go into effect April 1st of next year.
So, we want to hear what you think. This week’s Autoline Poll is a fill-in-the-blank question. Do you think Michigan’s move to enact right-to-work legislation will — One: hurt the UAW? Two: help the UAW? Or three: not make any difference. As always, cast your vote by clicking the link under today’s show on Autoline.tv. We’ll review the results on Monday, so make yourself heard.
CONSUMER REPORTS SLAMS FORD’S HYBRIDS
Ford is in the doghouse with Consumer Reports again. Previously the magazine slammed the company’s MyFord Touch infotainment system, now it’s criticizing Ford’s fuel economy claims. Tests done by Consumer Reports show that the Fusion Hybrid and C-MAX Hybrid fall way short of its 47 MPG combined EPA rating. The Fusion only got a combined 39 MPG while the C-MAX only averaged 37 MPG. This is exactly what we here at Autoline experienced in these cars, but it’s not just Ford. In my time in the Toyota Prius C and V, the C fell 6 miles per gallon short, the V was off by 9. And Honda was sued earlier in the year because the Civic Hybrid didn’t live up to its fuel economy claims either. Earlier hybrids seemed to nail their EPA numbers with ease, so we need to find out what’s changed with the latest generation of hybrid technology.
BLACK BOXES TO BE MANDATORY
Looks like those event data recorders, or “black boxes”, are going to become standard on all light-duty cars and trucks. The White House Office of Management Budget made if official yesterday and that allows the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to publish its final regulations. About 92 percent of all vehicles today have “black boxes.” Now that goes to 100 percent of light-duty vehicles.
FUEL EFFICIENT WHEEL
Here’s some new technology on the fuel economy front, but from a wheel no less. This is the eVOLVE hybrid wheel, by Lacks–not hybrid in the sense that they are made only for hybrid vehicles, but in the sense that they are constructed from multiple materials. The eVOLVE wheel has a light-weight aluminum backbone that is covered with a hybrid-composite outer surface. Not only is the wheel lighter, it’s more aerodynamic. Lacks tested its wheel on a 2013 Ford Focus SE noting a .04 mpg increase in the city and 1.1 mpg increase on the highway, using the same size wheel as the stock version.
Mazda wants to change the public’s perception about diesel engines, so it’s going to race them, using a synthetic bio-fuel no less. It’s a great story and that’s coming up next.
MAZDA TAKES DIESELS RACING
(Video for Mazda Takes Diesels Racing can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)
Audi has been incredibly successful racing diesel engines in long distance races. Same with Peugeot. And now Mazda is about to do the same thing. John Doonan is the director of Motorsports for Mazda North America and I asked him to tell us about their latest effort.
If diesels get so much better fuel economy that has got to translate into fewer pit stops, right?
OK, that’s all very fine and good, but I asked John Doonan to give me some specific numbers about the engine’s output.
Race engines tend to be built by hand using prototype parts, but that’s not the track that Mazda is taking.
Mazda loves to go racing to build its brand, but I asked John Doonan if this was more about changing the public’s perception about diesels.
We’ll know soon enough how Mazda’s diesels perform on the race track. The 24 Hours of Daytona runs at the end of next month.
And that concludes another week of Autoline Daily, but don’t forget, the automotive insight doesn’t end here. You can follow us seven days a week through Twitter and Facebook where we post photos and provide instant impressions on the cars we’re test driving. Follow us at Twitter.com/Autoline or Like our Facebook page at Facebook.com/AutolineNetwork.
But, that’s it for this show. See you Monday.
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