December 11th, 2012 at 11:34am
Fiat can’t fight Volkswagen financially in Europe, so it is broadening the war against the German automaker in the American market. New York is facing a lawsuit from taxi operators and Nissan is stuck in the middle. Remember two years ago when a bunch of Chrysler workers at the Jeep plant in Detroit were caught drinking and smoking pot on the job? Now they’ve got their jobs back. All that and more, plus a look at BMW’s 2013 M5.
Well, we’re back with the most interesting news going on in the automotive industry. Coming up later, we’ve got a story that is really going to make you mad, but let’s get to some of the other news before we do that.
MASERATI THINKS BIG
Last year luxury car brand Maserati sold about 6,200 cars. So far this year it sold 4,700. But thanks to a big investment from Fiat, Maserati plans to boost that to 50,000 units by 2015. Sergio Marchionne says he wants the all-new Quattroporte to hit 13,000 in 2013. He is banking on Fiat’s partnership with Chrysler, its technology, and dealership network to help him hit that goal.
ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM CARBOTS
In other Fiat news, the Italian carmaker and Chrysler are now offering a $1,000 rebate to current Volkswagen owners in the U.S. to trade in their vehicle. This is Marchionne’s latest jab at the German automaker as it offers large car-loan discounts to customers in Europe, a move that Marchionne says has created a “bloodbath” in the European market. Fiat can’t fight back financially in Europe, so it is broadening the war to the American market.
RARE EARTHS GET RARER
Ever since China began limiting exports of the rare-earth metals which are critically important for hybrids and electric cars, everyone else has been figuring out how to get by without them. Ford is the latest. Ford’s new lithium-ion batteries use fewer rare-earth metals than the outgoing nickel-metal hydride packs. It also slashed what it needs for magnets in its hybrid motors by 50 percent. Ford says that it could cut its use of rare-earth metals by 500,000 pounds a year.
HACKS SUE THE CITY
New York City is being sued again. Last week we reported that the Big Apple is getting sued over its red-light traffic cameras, now the city is facing a lawsuit from taxi operators over Nissan’s NV200 being the official cab of New York. The taxi companies say the vehicle was not tested in stop and go traffic, uses “outdated engineering, design and technology,” doesn’t use a hybrid powertrain, wouldn’t hold up to New York potholes, and requires replacement parts built outside the U.S. A spokeswoman for New York City says the lawsuit lacks merit.
LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL
OK, here’s that story which will really make you mad. Remember two years ago when a bunch of Chrysler workers at the Jeep plant in Detroit were caught drinking and smoking pot on the job? Chrysler fired them immediately, but the UAW made sure those partying dudes all got their jobs back. The union filed grievances against the company, the company denied those grievances, but they got their jobs back through arbitration despite ample video evidence of them drinking and toking on their lunch break. There’s ample video because a local TV station, Fox 2 Detroit, was tipped off. It followed them for 10 days video-ing them in multiple locations. When the camera crew finally emerged from the bushes those workers scattered like cockroaches. They knew what they were doing was wrong. Who ever the tipsters were, they went to Fox 2 because they knew their union reps would never do anything about these guys getting drunk and high on the job. How ironic that this story breaks just as the UAW is screaming against the right-to-work law being enacted in the state of Michigan. The union has never said peep about the guys who were fired for getting high on the job at the Jefferson Jeep plant or at Chrysler’s Trenton engine plant. If there was ever a justification for the right-to-work law, this is it.
Coming up next, we’ll take a look at all the plusses and minuses of driving the BMW M5.
2013 BMW M5
(2013 BMW M5 can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)
BMW really does a terrific job with its entire M line. I went to the M factory some years ago and was really impressed to see how much tender loving care those cars get as they’re built.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching.