Episode 1031 – Fiat Goes After VW, Taxi Drivers Sue Over Nissan Cab, Ne’er-Do-Wells Reinstated

December 11th, 2012 at 11:34am

Runtime: 8:39

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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 The taxi companies say the vehicle was not tested in stop and go traffic, uses “outdated engineering, design and technology,” doesn’t use a hybrid powertrain, wouldn’t hold up to New York potholes, and requires replacement parts built outside the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.

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.

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61 Comments to “Episode 1031 – Fiat Goes After VW, Taxi Drivers Sue Over Nissan Cab, Ne’er-Do-Wells Reinstated”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    This one about Sergio’s Maserati (daydream); ‘if you build it(them), he(they) may not come’. I’m wondering if the demand is going to be there if production is increased.

  2. HtG Says:

    I’m not getting Ford’s recall announcement. Have they fixed the overheating issue, or only the fire issue that might follow? Why does it take half a day to re-flash the computer? Why are the 1.6L motors overheating? The press release sounds like a certain Massachusetts governor trying to explain why he was out late.

  3. Tony Gray Says:

    Much like the occasional tale of welfare folks spending their cash on cigarettes, tattoos and booze tainting a program that has real merit when properly administered, this story goes to show how an arbitration process can go horribly wrong.

    I’m not union bashing here, but I know EXACTLY what he is talking about with regards to bad behavior being ignored by local union leadership, to the detriment of honest, hard working union members. I saw it, I lived it. And I don’t have to do it any more.

  4. walter Says:

    Well, well, well, I am not at all surprised those pot smoking, boozing buddies got their jobs back. UAW and CAW stands for protect all workers in any ‘condition’ we need you dues.

    This rehiring goes on far too often in unionized companies. Bet they were reinstated to former seniority levels with back pay.

  5. Dano9969 Says:

    I’ve owned six Jeeps, including my current 2008 JK and 2012 Grand Cherokee, but seeing these guys get rehired is the last straw. I’m moving to right to work products.

    The union is about protecting workers, so doesn’t a stoned worker represent a danger to himself and others? If Chrysler would place that same worker in an equally dangerous situation, the UAW would be up in arms. Sorry to say, unions are killing this great country.

  6. Chuck Says:

    Wow, that UAW story really makes you want to buy a new Jeep in the future – I’m sure dem boyz done give up the habit and are clean and hard-working now!! Guess I now know why a friend had to spend thousands on a recent vintage Jeep Cherokee after buying it – you name it, it broke…just like the old days of the 70s Mopar stuff.

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    Most carnival rides are set up by boozing, drugged up carnies, so I don’t see the big deal here, so what if the steering wheel falls off, you still have the brakes (hopefully).

  8. HtG Says:

    Come on now, Ford. Even the pimple faces commenting at Autoblog have picked on the overheating question more so than the fire ‘safety recall’ necessity. What are the extreme conditions causing high temperatures? Trouble with tribbles?

  9. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ #5: Hey…..the new ones (jeep jk’s)aren’t much better then the ‘vintage’ ones.There is a continuing problem with the pentestar v6 heads,even into the 2013 models.Still no recall.Automatic transmission lines,the bracket that holds them away from moving and hot parts just breaks.One dealer had replaced 41 of those.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    #9 I was not aware of the Pentastar issues, it is so well liked by reviewers in every application, that you would think it’s Chrysler’s salvation.

  11. Dave Foley Says:

    I’m just guessing (or maybe hoping) that the only reason those idiots got their job back is a kind of weak, but possibly true technicality.

    Maybe they weren’t caught by management while actually AT work. They were on their lunch hour, and were caught on TV doing something that will not clear their system before they go back to work, but maybe they were not caught on-the-job. Was there a breathalyzer or blood test done to prove their guilt?

    We all know they are as guilty as the day is long, but that is the only reason I can even see for any kind of grievance being filed in the first place. A technicality.

    The other assembly line mates should ostracize them until they quit. These idiots made everyone in the plant look bad.

  12. jesse Says:

    Wow,what a shocker!!!The union dope heads got their jobs back…imagine that!!!Goes to show why UNIONS need to just go away and fade into the night..they are useless albatrosses who are bringing down American manufacturing hand over fist!!Their time has come and gone.Please go away and never come back.If their workers were to get real jobs based on their skills,they’d all be making minimum wage at a car wash somewhere!!!

  13. HtG Says:

    My money is on the arbitration panel getting a visit from Santa in consideration for making the UAW look like brass knuckled ham hands.

    (Just kidding, no suits writing me letters, please.)

  14. ColoradoKid Says:

    Maserati – Read the fine print . That idiot Marchionne is planning on basing those new Maser’s that won’t make a dime of profit .. just like every other model the company has made for going on the last …. oh …. actually since forever on …

    Chrysler platforms !

    Yeah Maserati’s thinking big alright . Big Casket . Big tombstone . Big funeral etc

    NYC Cabbies Unite !!! Get that travesty of an excuse for a Cab ( the Nissan ) the ____ off the streets . Call it junk – call it visual pollution – call em what ever – just get those hideous piles out a my favorite City .

    ( scene from inside the Lincoln boardroom )

    Gentlemen . Our sales are in the ditch – our product line up is mediocre at best – the average age of our customers is now over 60 – and the entire brand is on the verge of extinction .

    What’ll we do ?

    Wait … I know … lets hire a new Ad Agency ! That’ll fix it !


    Yeah right !

  15. Zieke Says:

    Re: #9 Maybe these union guys are being driven to this by Chrysler who for one reason or another can’t produce a decent set of engine heads yet. Or maybe it’s because they know those transmission line brackets are junk from the onset. I know one thing, it’s a real good reason I will not spend my hard earned cash on their products.

  16. ColoradoKid Says:

    Marchionne better watch his little duppa going head to head against Winterkron & Co . According to all the EU press I’ve seen Winterkorn is still gunning for Alfa Romeo ( though god know why ) and has Marchionne’s head clearly in his sights .. just waiting to pull the trigger ;-)

  17. Earl Says:

    Would someone in the Detroit area that knows the address of the UAW office contact a local abattoir. They can easily arrange for the abattoir to send over,say at least a couple hundred pounds of entrails. There has to e people over that are need of some guts.

  18. C-Tech Says:

    John, here’s the concern I have with your report on the UAW and the Potheads. 1.) There is no reporting of the reason or rational of giving these guys their job back. If there were off the clock and off property when these events happened, then did Chrysler fire them illegally ? 2.) If they were doing something illegal, why didn’t the hidden camera crew contact the Police or Federal agents? 3.) There are things many of us feel obligated to attend to with friends and family members who are in the wrong. These guys paid their union dues and the union is thus required to hold their nose and see this case through. 4.) A handful of questionable assembly workers does not nessarily undermine the entire vehicle assenmble and quality build process. 5.) I would think the hiring of certain questionable high executives and their decisions would REALLY raise your ire. They have more control of the quality and marketing of vehicles.

  19. C-Tech Says:

    Expansion of Maserati? Perhaps there really is more room at the top?

  20. C-Tech Says:

    Why does NYC need an “official” cab anyway? Is there some kickback from Nissan for this dubious honor?

  21. ColoradoKid Says:

    The Union / RTW Discussion ;

    Well. It sure seems like this subject has gotten most folks here up in arms over the discussion whether it be rehiring of possible low life’s or the whole Right To Work issue

    What has me more than a little disturbed though is that 95% of the comments here are as / if not more polarized than the Political Rhetoric thats dominating the Country of late … with little or no ‘Middle Ground ‘ to be seen ( such as ; The Unions are in desperate need of reformation but they are a needed evil in light of the current corporate mindset that employees are nothing but a commodity to be done with what one pleases … etc )

    Thats when the future of this Country truly frightens me . Bad enough that the Politicos have to inhabit the extremes .. but when the common man ( us here ) does so as well …… Well then . What chance do we stand as a Nation in the long run ?

    Just one mans opinion .

  22. Danny Turnpaugh Says:

    I knew the Chrysler workers would get rehired, even told John that and he replied they were fired, saw a Chrysler employee once threaten a supervisor to burn down his house and kill wife and kids, union got her job back with back pay at Kokomo Transmission plant.

  23. HtG Says:

    21 Tattered Cover probably has a copy of The Republican Brain, by Chris Mooney. Ignore the title; it’s a grounded critique of different cognitive styles which happen to divide people politically, and which also flies in the face of any faith you may have in reason.

    Personally, I question the ethics of taking home a union negotiated compensation package and being protected at the job by same, but then not paying dues. Go try negotiating alone with factory man.

  24. GPL Says:


    That’s why I like the RTW laws. Let the workers to decide how much power the union has by voting with their dues. As someone mentioned, the other workers probably don’t appreciate these guys making them look bad and don’t condone the union’s support of bad behavior. Without RTW laws they don’t have effective means of voicing their displeasure. The union does what it wants and they can’t do much about it.

  25. ColoradoKid Says:


    The book . Read it . Its good except it does nothing to explain why the far left Democrats are just as bad if not worse

    Tattered Cover – Love the place – Joyce – etc . That and Twist & Shout being my two regular haunts .

    Your Union comment . Spot on . A continuation of Kit Gerharts’ Condo Association Fee analogy which I loved .

    And yeah . Just try all ye Union naysayers to negotiate with the big guns over much of anything . Oh they might be patronizing as all get out to your face but they’ll be laughing their heads off once you’re out the door and will then help you right out the building as well .. permanently ;-)

  26. buzzerd Says:

    I can’t disagree with you more John in regards to the booze incident and the UAW. In the end do you want the employees fired or do you want them to change their actions? Firing may make you feel better on some level but workplace reprimands are suppose to be corrective not punitive. If the worker will not change then he must go but what’s wrong with a second chance? Think of it this way- say you’re test driving a really great fast car and a cop catches you doing something really dumb, should we take away your license for good oooooooooor do we maybe give you a fine and hope you will be a good boy in the future? and or do you not deserve representation if you go to court?

  27. Rocky Hund Says:

    I think your Republican bias is showing on the union article. I’m not not defending these few bad apples, but I don’t see you spending equal airtime denigrating all the corporate executives at the heart of some of the recent financial scandals and the gutting of the North American standard of living. How about articles about each of them everytime they make a mistake in judgement (that would keep you busy). All these “right to work” laws are a race to the bottom to see who can work for the least amount of money. Which are the bigger issues? I guess you decided it was these few bad apple blue collar guys…Sheesh…gimme a break

  28. gmveteran Says:

    And yet somehow it works in all of the non-union plants down south. The workers there are not up in arms and complaining about the “factory man”.

    Maybe its just their charming southern hospitality . . .

  29. HtG Says:

    25 off topic

    As a pipsqueak arguing to the US, I’ve learned that one’s reasoned, evidence based argument has little bearing on what academics and your DC worthies will think. Get your argument associated with Power, and suddenly you have become very persuasive indeed. I love hearing people sing my song. (the climax hasn’t arrived yet, but we wait)

  30. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ # 10,Pedro: Here’s a link to a popular JK forum,and the relevent thread about the pentastar.


  31. NannieState Says:

    My brother-in-law was a Union Steward for a large local automotive supplier. He had to go-to-bat for similiar inappropriate actions by his union brothers and sisters. In the end, he was pretty disgusted that he had to save these worker’s jobs that they certainly did not deserve to have.

    Unions today eliminate the desire to excel because no matter what you do you are no better or worse than the next guy. Organized labor unions were first introduced to the world by Karl Marx in his book “The Communist Manifesto”!

    By Michigan now being a right-to-work state it will give Michiganders the FREEDOM to choose a one-size fits all workplace or a workplace that if you work hard you will find success.

    Congratulations Michigan and Detroit, you are on your way to a better place.

  32. HtG Says:

    The attempts of laborers to protect themselves through combination precede Marx. No name calling allowed on ALD.


  33. ColoradoKid Says:


    Seriously ! I guess someone has neglected to read about an entire part of US History ( 1855 – 1900′s ) when miners ( coal gold ) etc unionized in order to protect themselves from what was for all practical purposes an Indentured Servant State of affairs for the miners . I also must assume Mr NannieState also neglected to study about Company Towns … company owned stores .. company script instead of cash for pay etc . Excuse me HtG but I’m afraid I’m gonna have to go off on NannieState for a bit as the individual is clearly in need of a bit of correction

  34. HtG Says:

    Let it lie. It’s so inflammatory

  35. G.A.Branigan Says:

    ‘you owe your sole to th’ company store’,not just a saying or lyric.It was a fact of life,and not a good one either.

    Unions,like both political parties,have lost their way,and are drunk with power.Unions,like politicians have become too greedy and they will go down for it.Right to work will replace,then the union will again be needed.

    Greed does this to both sides,and makes them into a symbiotic relationship of sorts.Feeding off each other with the workers being in the middle and subject to abuses by both.JMHO and worth nothing to anybody…

  36. ColoradoKid Says:

    @ NannieState

    Seems you’ve got a bit of Far Right Bias going on that is neither supported by History nor the Facts , but rather is based on a lot of Tea Party Extreme Right rhetoric coming from what has to be some of the most uneducated and ill informed morons ever to grace the political landscape

    Before I continue NS a bit of background for your edification

    I AM a registered Republican who is in fact disgusted with what the party has morphed into since the GWB bad ol’ days and the rise of the Tea Party ethic within the Republican ranks

    But as to Unions . My grand father and his father were both Victims of non union mines in the coal fields of Pennsylvania with the whole enchilada … that being said Company Town- Company Housing -Company Script instead of US Currency for Pay – Company Stores being the only place you could redeem said script for over priced goods etc etc .

    Add to that the company strong arms who would at the drop of a hat beat you and your family almost to death should you dare to speak out .

    Only my grand father escaped alive and that only due to a stroke of luck and Union help finally leading to a job well outside the confines of the ming industry and its union blockers

    So in closing Mr NannieState let me suggest to you that rather than believing all the rhetoric your Tea Party and Far Right cronies are feeding you …. perhaps you take a minute or ten to actually READ such things as US History books … the US Constitution etc etc and learn the facts rather than the myths being perpetrated by an ignorant and uniformed Conspiracy Theory based few .

    Remembering as you proceed that the whole World is not based on a Conflict between Communism and Democracy and that in fact much of the Tea Party’s agendas , rhetoric and thought processes are in fact rooted in blatant Fascism .

  37. ColoradoKid Says:

    #34 Nuff said on that . But thanks

  38. Wim van Acker Says:

    #33: The Manifesto by Karl Marx was published in 1848, so before the 1855 – 1900′s unionization you mentioned.

  39. pedro fernandez Says:

    Thanks, G.A. I always say the more “state of the art” it is, the more state of disrepair it becomes later.

  40. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Pedro: problem with jeep though the junk is breaking down sometimes with as little as 1 or 2k miles on them since ‘new’.Some later.And,that is just the engines.Torque converter shutter is reappearing and out of balance drive shafts on brand new bone stock jk’s,and on and on……

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    Maybe Chrysler and the UAW made a deal, it’s ok to drink O’Douls on the job.

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    Funny thing is I bet most people don’t even drive them through bad terrain due to their lofty price, imagine if folks used them the way they were meant to be?

  43. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Pedro: I said one dealer had replaced 41 of those auto trans line brackets,I was wrong.Jeep replaces around 41 per week.here’s another link:


  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    GA do you believe this is defective parts/design, poor assembly or a combination of both?

  45. Dave Britton Says:

    John you are quick to show the anti-union stand. Right to work for less might be OK if the Dept of Labor didn’t require the unions to fight for non-union workers. Also you brought up the Chrysler workers that got their jobs back, did they have a Medical card? Michigan is a Medical canabus state! I know because a Dr. that I visited in MI said I lived in the wrong state or he would recommend canabus for my chronic pain. Lets hear all of the facts not just your opinion on Unions, Remember your guest from VW’s Board that praised the unions!

  46. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I would say it was poor design and materials.Maybe it was really the designers that were out boozing and smokin’ weed…..

  47. HtG Says:

    I did like all the detail in Isaac’s review of the M5

  48. W L Simpson Says:

    Auto parts manufacturers make the poor quality parts, auto manufacturers catch the heat.

  49. G.A.Branigan Says:

    So the oem’s then don’t employ quality control?

  50. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Or the parts manufacturers are making to spec,what they contracted to do for a particular oem.So it would come back to the oem…..right?

  51. XA351GT Says:

    This UAW deal is exactly why most people have no love for unions. There are plenty of people who would love a good job like that. These jackasses not only endanger themselves and co workers ,but also the people who buy those vehicles . Right to work can’t happen soon enough. Maybe then UAW workers will appreciate the jobs they have and take them seriously.

  52. Jesse W. Henry Says:

    #2 HtG – I have been busy at work (a foot of snow over the weekend) but once things get back to normal and I have time I will ask one of the techs what exactly the “fix” is… I have been wondering myself what the end result will be.

    I can say the previous one for the fuel line was replaced with the same part number if I remember right and the parts looked identical… so I tend to believe it was in fact a manufacturing defect.

  53. GetmyCountryback Says:

    I truly wonder if Union sympathizers understand what “right to work” really is?

    What “support” are they going to lose? Their own?

    To me, the law allows me to join the Union or choose not to. I don’t have to forfeit my job, if I don’t want to join the Union.
    Is the UAW worried they can’t get support on their own merit? If so that would be a separate issue.

    There is something fundamentally wrong when you have to force people to join and pay dues to keep their job. Take it from me – I was a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Worker for 6 years working at a closed shop – Right to Work is a freedom of choice for the worker.

    I hope Minnesota follows…

  54. aliisdad Says:

    #50, I agree with you (as I often do in this forum), and it is a very timely topic in light of what went on in Michigan, today, over “right to work”… I was once an active union person, but the unions have gone far too far with things like supporting these Chrysler workers and using union dues to support causes that many members do not support..
    However, I do belive unions are needed, but they need to be reorganized, or abolished and new reasonable unions could be formed…A reasonable union should stand up strong for workers conditions and salaries; however, they must be reasonable and not just a fundrasing group for the Democratic party…What a shame what many unions have become!!

    Also, consumers now have another reason to avoid Chrysler products; who would want a car built by these guys!??!?

  55. Dave Foley Says:

    The long and the short of the RTW legislation clearly shows that a Republican with big corporation in his pocket, will screw the very state he has been elected to represent.

    Think about it. Union wages are typically higher. That means the income taxes they pay will be higher too. That means more money for the state. If wages are lowered by this legislation (which they will be), this is the clearest case of a candidate being bought off, at the detriment of the state’s own income.

    I’m not a pro union guy, but this is clearly self-interest being put ahead of the state’s ability to do its job. I see a larger scale Kwame Kilpatrick style investigation into this matter coming in the future.

    I don’t know how clearly this needs to be for people to see it. Installing RTW laws in a state where the very man that said Michigan has bigger problems to deal with, suddenly makes the RTW law happen, speaks to his honour and his word. Both are completely destroyed by this.

    He’s been bought off. That is the only justification I can see.

  56. Dave Foley Says:

    Clearly I used the word “Clearly” too often, but you clearly noticed that. ;)

  57. gary susie Says:

    Wow everyone jumps on the workers who work hard every day. A few bad apples and you guys blame all the workers. I never see you jumping on the excutives who make bad decisions. The UAW told the car companies that they were making crap for years and no one at the top would listen, but everyone blamed the guys working on the line. It was always their fault. What workers do and how they act are mostly the result of poor mangement.

  58. gary susie Says:

    Wow everyone jumps on the workers who work hard every day. A few bad apples and you guys blame all the workers. I never see you jumping on the excutives who make bad decisions. The UAW told the car companies that they were making crap for years and no one at the top would listen, but everyone blamed the guys working on the line. It was always their fault. What workers do and how they act are mostly the result of poor mangement.

  59. GPL Says:

    “Wow everyone jumps on the workers who work hard every day.”

    I think it is clear that everyone is jumping on the ones that are slacking and the bloated unions that protect them, not the hard working ones.

    “I never see you jumping on the excutives who make bad decisions.”

    Either you haven’t been around here very long, or your memory is selective. There is often quite a bit of jumping upon of the management of the auto manufacturers here.

  60. Philip Says:

    I bought three Chrysler products between 1985-1991. With the quality I see in their products I haven’t gone back since. I can’t believe those guys (drinking smoking) got their jobs back.

  61. HtG Says: