March 22nd, 2013 at 11:45am
General Motors is moving forward with plans to close its Opel plant in Bochum, Germany. Sales for the Lincoln brand are down almost 25 percent through the first two months of the year, but that could change now that one vehicle is back on track. Hyundai just revealed renderings of a luxury sports coupe concept it will unveil at next month’s Seoul Motor Show. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week about how the automotive industry can attract more female talent.
Hello and welcome to another new episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Friday, the 22nd of March, 2013. I’m Todd Lassa from Automobile Magazine filling for John once again while he is out of town. But now the news.
GM ACCELERATES OPEL PLANT CLOSING
General Motors is moving forward with plans to close its Opel plant in Bochum, Germany after workers rejected a cost cutting deal. Earlier in the year, the company and union leaders agreed to a plan that would keep production at the facility until 2016, in exchange for a wage freeze, other cost cutting changes and also would have kept about 1,200 jobs at the plant beyond 2016. But workers rejected the deal in a vote yesterday, so now GM will close the plant next year and eliminate 3,300 jobs.
FORD AGREES TO SEVERANCE PAY
But it probably won’t be cheap for GM to close that plant. Earlier in the week Ford announced it will pay 4,000 hourly workers, $750 million in severance to shut its plant in Genk, Belgium which builds the Mondeo.
JAPANESE LOSE YOUNG BUYERS
After years of trying, it looks like the coveted younger buyer is finally turning to Detroit and South Korea and away from Japan. Bloomberg News reports that according to both R.L. Polk and Edmunds.com, the gains have come in the smaller and midsize car segments where Detroit, at least, had always struggled. But now with snappier, more fuel efficient product, retail registrations for the Detroit 3 along with Hyundai & KIA are up with 18 to 34 year old buyers and down with Japanese automakers. But before Detroit and Seoul start popping the champagne, Japan still dominates youth retail sales by a significant margin…but at least it’s a start.
HEAVY TRUCK SALES SLOW
Meanwhile, the road isn’t as smooth for the big rig set. The Wall Street Journal reports from the annual truck makers’ trade show in Kentucky that many believe sales of heavy-duty trucks have peaked. Last year’s sales of just over 272,000 were short of projected goals and this year they expect to drop another 10,000. The reasons? Not only is the average length of a haul shorter, but trucks are carrying lighter weight packages, have better routing and are rarely empty, improving productivity of existing vehicles.
MKZ BACK ON TRACK
Sales for the Lincoln brand are down almost 25 percent through the first 2 months of the year, due largely in part to production delays with the MKZ. Vehicles built at the company’s plant in Mexico were then shipped to its Flat Rock plant for additional inspection and repairs. Ford has never specifically addressed what the problem was. However, the company says the MKZ’s are no longer being shipped between the two plants and inventory should be back to normal by the end of the month.
HYUNDAI’S CONCEPT SPORTS COUPE
Hyundai just revealed renderings of a luxury-sports-coupe-concept it will unveil at next month’s Seoul Motor Show. It’s the ninth concept designed by Hyundai’s R&D Center in Korea, which is reflected in its name, HND-9. The concept has a turbocharged V6 rated at 365 horsepower that is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai says the HND-9 represents an evolution of its fluidic sculpture design that may travel down into production models.
Coming up next, a look at how female executives are mentoring young women in the auto industry.
WOMEN AND THE AUTO INDUSTRY
It’s not easy getting young people to consider the auto industry as a career, especially women. On Autoline This Week, John talks with a panel of women, both professional and at the university level, to discuss how the industry can attract more female talent. Here’s a clip from that show.
(The clip from Autoline This Week can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)
You can watch that entire interview right now at our website Autoline.tv.
But that wraps up this week’s episodes. I’m Todd Lassa from Automobile Magazine, thanks for watching and I will see you next time.