March 21st, 2013 at 11:47am
The head of Germany’s IG Metall union sends a letter to VW workers in Tennessee urging them to join the UAW. Subaru announces it will introduce its first production hybrid at the New York Auto Show. Jeep unveiles six new concept vehicles at the Moab Easter Jeep Safari that are equipped with off-road parts from the Mopar catalog. All that and more, plus today’s host Todd Lassa gives his thoughts on the company culture over at General Motors.
Hello and welcome to another episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Thursday the 21st of March, 2013. I’m Todd Lassa from Automobile Magazine. Let’s get to today’s news.
UAW GETS IG METALL SUPPORT
It’s looking more and more like Volkswagen’s plant in Tennessee could be represented by the UAW. Earlier in the week we reported that VW management is considering setting up a works council for its employees that could work in tandem with the UAW. And now Reuters reports that the head of Germany’s IG Metall union sent a letter to VW workers in Tennessee urging them to join the UAW. There are still some hurdles to clear but this would be a big victory for the UAW.
EV OWNERS WON’T BE BACK
Electric vehicles aren’t selling that well around the world and a new report suggests it will be hard for automakers to keep EV customers. About one-third of Japanese EV owners say they won’t buy another one, according to a new study from McKinsey and Company. The respondents say they bought an EV because of the green image of the cars, government subsidies and enjoyable test drives, but they don’t want another EV because of higher electric bills and a lack of a charging infrastructure. The researchers say this could be a problem for the U.S. as well, especially since federal tax credits will eventually run out.
CAMARO SS TO DEBUT IN NEW YORK
We’ve got a few more teases ahead of next weeks New York Auto Show. Chevy released this picture of the front end from the 2014 Camaro SS. No other details were shared but the company says the new model will have the most significant updates since the fifth-generation Camaro was introduced a couple years back.
SUBARU TO INTRODUCE FIRST HYBRID
Subaru announced it will introduce its first production hybrid at the show, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid. As you can guess from the name, it’s based on the company’s XV Crosstrek crossover. The company didn’t share many details other than the hybrid system was engineered by Subaru and like all Subaru’s it will be equipped with all-wheel-drive. Subaru also revealed that it will unveil an all-new performance concept car in New York but we’ll have to wait until next week for the details on that.
JEEP REVEALS MOAB CONCEPTS
And speaking of concepts, Jeep unveiled six new concept vehicles at the Moab Easter Jeep Safari that are equipped with off-road parts from the Mopar catalog. Each variant has been upgraded to withstand the punishment of off-road traveling with everything from performance upgrades, to skid plates and larger wheels and tires. While these are just concepts, Jeep has been known to devise a package based on the vehicles it shows off at Moab.
A recent announcement from General Motors has me wondering if the company’s culture has really changed since emerging from bankruptcy. That’s coming up next.
GM’S COMPANY CULTURE
A rare positive effect from the 2008 Lehman Brothers’ collapse, the subsequent GM and Chrysler bankruptcies and Ford’s downsizing is that North American automotive production capacity has declined since 2009. Even when U.S. sales were in the 17-million range, NAFTA capacity for foreign and domestic makes, estimated at 21 million per year, was far too high. Now European automakers are fighting governments and unions in hopes of rationalizing production capacity like automakers have here.
So what’s NAFTA auto production capacity right now? No one seems to know for sure, though some news from General Motors indicates it hasn’t declined as much as we thought.
At the launch of the 2014 Chevrolet Impala in San Diego last week, GM announced it will continue to build the old model, to be called “Impala Limited” and sold only to fleets, like its Captiva CUV. Even Ford has finally put the Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town Car to rest.
The front-drive Impala got a major facelift for 2006, but is basically the same car that premiered for the 2000 model year. The Chevy Impala Limited seems like something that would have been sold to GAZ or ZIL, if the Soviets were still around.
As a fleet-only car for the U.S. market, it reeks of the sort of thing you’d only expect from the Wagoner-era Old GM. It raises questions about whether company culture has really changed, like Ford’s and Chrysler’s.
And speaking of General Motors, we’ll have John Manoogian II, a former designer at the company on tonight’s episode of Autoline After Hours. With John out of town, the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo takes over hosting duties. He will be joined by Gary Vasilash from Automotive Design & Production and the one and only Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics. So tune in tonight at 6PM eastern time at our website Autoline.tv for the best insider discussion in the industry.
And that’s it for today’s show, once again I’m Todd Lassa from Automobile Magazine, thanks for watching and I will see you here again tomorrow.