Episode 78 – Bernhard Back At Benz, Korean Union Wants Global Hyundai Union, Chicago Auto Show

February 11th, 2009 at 12:48pm

Runtime 7:59

Wolfgang Bernhard is rejoining Daimler, this time in charge of Mercedes-Benz vans. A Korean labor union wants to organize Hyundai’s workers, everywhere in the world. A review of what’s new at the Chicago auto show. All that and more, plus John answers viewer comments and questions in the “You Said It!” segment.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Wolfgang Bernhard is back at Benz. A Korean labor union wants to organize Hyundai’s workers, everywhere in the world. And a quick review of what’s new at the Chicago auto show.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, February 11, 2009. And now, the news.

Heeee’s back! WardsAuto.com reports Wolfgang Bernhard is rejoining Daimler (subscription required), this time in charge of Mercedes-Benz vans. Wolfgang had a stellar career at Mercedes before joining Chrysler as the Number Two man to Dieter Zetsche. When Zetsche returned to Daimler, he tried to bring Bernhard back with him to run Mercedes, but in a boardroom putsch, Bernhard was bounced out of the company. He landed at Volkswagen but was given the heave-ho when Ferdinand Piech took control, again, and paved the way for Martin Winterkorn to take over. So Bernhard did a stint a Cerberus and consulted with Magna, but now he’s back at Daimler. You know, there’s no way Zetsche brought him back just to do commercial vans. So who’s in charge of Mercedes-Benz cars right now? Dr. Thomas Weber. Better watch your six, Dr. Weber, they sent me an early script and I already know which way this story is going to go.

But as one exec jumps back into the automotive fray, two more are jumping out. This time, dropping out of the public relations arena. Tony Cervone announced earlier this week that he’s leaving GM to head up PR for United Airlines. And this morning Simon Sproule announced he’s leaving as head of PR at Nissan to go to Microsoft. I’d like to tell you what position he got at Microsoft, but Simon sent me a copy of the release as a .docx document, which is a Microsoft standard, but the Microsoft software that I use can’t open that kind of document.

The Korean Confederation of Labor Unions wants to create a global union to organize all workers at the Hyundai-Kia Group (subscription required). According to Ward’s Hyundai-Kia has plants in the US, China, Czech Republic, India, Slovakia and Turkey. The US workers are the only ones not represented by a union and the KCLU wants to work with the UAW to help organize them.

Nissan applied for U.S. government financing to help make electric vehicles and develop advanced batteries. According to Reuters, Nissan plans to upgrade its Smyrna, Tennessee, plant, and build a new facility for battery production. Nissan plans to bring an electric car to the United States by 2010.

Autoblog reports that a company called Ice Engineering developed a system that will almost instantly clear the ice off a windshield. By coating the glass with a transparent but electrically-conductive film, the system can zap the glass with a high-voltage pulse of electricity that melts ice in a matter of seconds. This technology is already in use on a bridge in Sweden and the glass roof of a mall in Moscow.

The doors open to the media at the Chicago Auto Show today and here’s some of the big news blowing out of the windy city.

Ford is bringing back the Taurus SHO, which stands for super-high output. The original SHO was a real performer when it came out in 1989 thanks to its 220 horsepower Yamaha V-6. Today’s car offers a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine with 365 horses, a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive. You’ll see it this summer with a price of about $38,000.

Ford is also debuting a new Harley-Davidson version of the F-150. It features a unique grill and front fascia, plus a sport-tuned suspension with 22-inch wheels. The interior also gets dressed up with special leather and Harley badges.

Nissan chose Chicago to announce the pricing of its compact Cube. A base version of this little five-door will set you back about 14 grand. The company’s also announcing a trim line for it called “Krom” that offers unique exterior pieces and 16-inch wheels. The cute little Cube is set to go on sale in early May.

Pricing of the all-new Hyundai Genesis Coupe has also been announced. A base model with the 2.0-liter turbo will sticker for $22,000, while a top-of-the-line version will set you back about 31 grand.

That’s the latest from the Chicago show, coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now it’s time for some of your feedback.

We get all kinds of comments and questions from you, our viewers. “You Said It!” gives me a chance to respond.

Charles Hurst writes in to say, “Please do me a favor, pronounce the name of Hyundai properly. The company name is pronounced HUN-DAY, like Sunday. For some reason you, and many other Detroit automotive reporters, insist of pronouncing it HUN-DIE. Please, get it right.”

Well Charles, me and a bunch of Detroit automotive reporters get to interview the company’s top execs from Korea and they all pronounce it Hyundai. In fact, the United States is the only country in the world where their American marketing department wants us to pronounce it HUN-DAY. Sorry, but I’m not falling victim to a marketing ploy. I’m pronouncing it like the people who run the company pronounce it.

Pedro Fernandez wrote in with a comment on our report that Chinese cars could be made in Mexico.

“WOW,” he says, “a Mexican-built Chinese car? Not even Nostradamus would have predicted that mess. It should be called ‘Yugovega” and come with a life insurance policy.”

Ron Paris wrote in before asking about European pedestrian safety regulations and their effect on design, and then wrote in again to say:

“I guess your comment about the current trend toward “smiley face” front end treatments is kind of an indirect way of answering my question about European pedestrian crash safety regs and their effect on styling/design, eh?”

You’ve got a point Ron. Front bumpers now have to be shaped to buckle pedestrians at the knees to ensure they strike the proper place on the hood with their heads. Sounds gruesome, but it’s a way to save their lives. And the smiley bumper designs are a good way to hide how they have to jut out.

You know, there’s just not enough time to get to all the questions and comments we receive, but thank you for sending them and keep ‘em coming.

Anyway that brings us to the end of today’s show, but before we go I need to remind you about our trivia challenge. This week our lucky prizewinner receives a limited-edition Autoline 10th Anniversary DVD. For your chance to win, all you have to do is correctly answer the question – but not so fast. I can’t tell you what it is because it’s only available to our e-mail subscribers. If you want a chance to win all you have to do is sign up for our free newsletter. Just follow the link on our homepage and subscribe today. We’ll randomly pick the winner from the list of correct responses and announce their name on Friday’s Autoline Daily.

And that does it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

15 Comments to “Episode 78 – Bernhard Back At Benz, Korean Union Wants Global Hyundai Union, Chicago Auto Show”

  1. William R. Walling Says:

    ‘No surprise you can’t read a document within one of many ‘Redmond’s Finest’ formats as this problem is legendary!’
    (HINT: The OpenOffice [alternate] prevents this observed issue.)
    ‘IT’ maladies continue as Autoline Daily features fail while Autoline Detroit and Web Casts work fine.
    ‘Balls in your ‘IT’ Court!’
    Appreciate your ‘transcript’ feature during these times! :-)
    Read FORD will term the Chicago ‘Taurus’ other that ‘S.H.O.’, author suggested ‘EcoBoost’?

  2. Andy Says:


    Docx is the new MS Office 2007 format. Time to upgrade!!!

  3. George Says:


    To open docx (Windows 2007) files in Windows 2003, you need to install Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word.


  4. jim Says:

    Okay John, how about this: do the Brits pronounce Jaguar “Jag YOU are” or “JAG waar.” I’ve heard you pronounce it the latter but I believe the British pronounce it the former. What is it???

  5. Tony Gray Says:

    John, I had that docx problem as well, but Microsoft offers a patch on their office update website that will allow you to view those with your Office 2003 software.

    Here is the ungodly long link:


  6. Tony Gray Says:

    Hit submit too fast…sorry.

    And I the only one who thinks the guy in the Bridgestone commercial looks like a double for Former Governor/Presidential Candidate/DNC Chairman Howard Dean?

  7. John McElroy Says:

    To Jim: I pronounce it Jag-waar, because it’s a proper noun, not a name. I used to pronounce Porsche as “Porsh.” But when I learned that ‘ol Ferdinand pronounced it “Porsha” I started saying that way, too.

  8. Tom Says:

    Hey John,

    If you have any tech problems just put on the video we will solve it for you lol. seriously!

    You can go to the offical microsoft website and download a “Word 2007 Viewer” Docx is a new format created by Word 2007.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. Bowen Says:

    Hey John i forgot to mention that these patches and viewers mentioned above are all free. on the Microsoft website

  10. Len Verwey Says:


    Or Microsoft could use standard document formats that could be read by any version of Word, or any other word processor. People should switch to OpenOffice.org which does use a standard document format and it is free to boot.

    I agree with John that we should pronounce the names of companies or vehicles like the company staff do.

    Great format John. I look forward to your “Daily” every day.


  11. pedro Fernandez Says:

    John: I am so happy that automakers are designing “happy” faces to the front fascias, the last thing I want is to get splattered by a grumpy looking car.

  12. Salvador G. Says:

    I think John is watching too many soaps….

    .. “And the doctor left just be with him all over again again!!!”

    2- by the way JAGUAR is pronounce HA-guu-ar as HA-HA-HA.. ask anyone from south of the border ok.

  13. John Says:

    “to go to Microsoft. I’d like to tell you what position he got at Microsoft, but Simon sent me a copy of the release as a .docx document, which is a Microsoft standard, but the Microsoft software that I use can’t open that kind of document.”

    John McElroy, This is the Classic Microsoft File Format “Hook” to force (extort) you to spend more money to buy “upgraded” software that is loaded with other “hidden hooks” to continue the never ending Microsoft upgrade cycle that continues to bleed their poor users.

    Break the chain and compute for FREE !

    Replace the Microsoft Operating System for Free with:

    or with:

    Free Complete office suite:


  14. Dan Busch Says:

    WOW! 30 mpg for a nissan Cube. Can life get any better – small (but practical), ugly (but cute), and poor mileage (but stupid).

  15. Russell Stone Says:

    Hundai is doing business with Iran & N.Korea. I won’t support them.