Episode 148 – GM’s Union Problems, Chrysler Dealers Ready to Fight, Penske Hires LaSorda

May 20th, 2009 at 12:18pm

Runtime 6:01

General Motors is running into problems negotiating new contracts with the UAW and CAW. 300 Chrysler dealers are forming a committee to fight the termination of their franchise agreements. Roger Penske hired former Chrysler president Tom LaSorda as an adviser in his bid to acquire Saturn. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions in the “You Said It!” segment.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. GM runs into union problems. Chrysler dealers will fight the company in court. And Roger Penske hires Tom LaSorda.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, May 20, 2009. And now, the news.

The Detroit Free Press reports that General Motors is running into problems negotiating new contracts with the UAW and CAW. It quotes a flyer the CAW sent to members saying the next few days will be “worrisome and frightening.” GM wanted these deals finalized by next Tuesday but now it looks like that will not happen, all of which makes a bankruptcy filing all the more likely.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that 300 Chrysler dealers are forming a committee to fight the termination of their franchise agreements. Calling itself the “Committee of Chrysler Affected Dealers,” they’re asking the court to delay hearings. They want more time to prepare their defense. And it is actions like this that lead bankruptcy experts to say this will not be accomplished in a month or two.

Proposals for a partnership with Opel are due to the German government today, although GM will have final say on whom Opel teams up with. And according to Reuters, if Opel goes to Fiat, it may dump its Lancia brand, which only sold 100,000 units last year, about the same as Saab.

Roger Penske hired former Chrysler president Tom LaSorda as an adviser in his bid to acquire Saturn. According to WWJ, LaSorda will offer his manufacturing experience to help Saturn find a new source for products. Penske also is reportedly looking at two of the Detroit area’s biggest auto dealers, Joe Serra and David Fisher, to help with distribution.

German giant Daimler has taken a 10-percent stake in Tesla. This move is designed to accelerate the development of commercial electric vehicles by relying on both companies’ strengths, however, this is not the beginning of their relationship. The two companies have been working together on installing Tesla’s lithium-ion battery pack in 1,000 smart cars. Production of the electric smart ForTwo begins later this year with the vehicles being used in electric vehicle pilot programs like e-mobility Berlin.

As we’ve reported, Jolly-old-England recently instituted a cash-for-clunkers program to get drivers to scrap their old, inefficient vehicles for newer and cleaner models. That’s an honorable goal, but Autotrader UK reports that two motorists in the Kingdom used the provision to purchase Nissan GT-R’s. They bought the supercars within five hours of the start of the program.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

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

This is “You Said It!” Every day we get dozens of comments and questions from you, our viewers. “You Said It!” gives me a chance to respond.

Alex Kovnat wrote in to ask, “Will the cars available in the future be such overburdened, weak and weedy things (owing to the double-whammy of increasingly stringent safety combined with draconian fuel economy requirements) that we will be limited to travel at no more than 45 miles per hour?

Alex, no, not 45 miles an hour. Our cars are going to look a lot like they are in Europe, small cars, small engines.

And along those lines, George wrote in to comment on the new fuel economy regulations, “The government is saying the new fuel/emissions standards will add $1,300, but all the current hybrids cost $3000 plus more than non-hybrid versions and to get the substantial weight reduction will require expensive materials. I do not disagree with the need for higher mileage and better emissions, I just wish the government would tell us the truth (what it really means to the consumer) instead of sugar-coating these announcements.

And Tony Gray says, “Agree with you John, a two door G8, rebadged as a Chevelle SS, would be a wonderful addition, and I don’t think it would kill Camaro sales, but I suppose that is what Chevy is worried about. I’d dump the aging Impala and bring over the G8, but then, I’m not a GM exec!

Hey, don’t forget to checkout Autoline After Hours. The show kicks-off tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time or 23:00 GMT. Besides Peter and Jason, we’ll be joined by one of the best motorsport journalists in the business, Robin Miller, talking about this Sunday’s Indy 500. And Sam Abuelsamid from Autoblog will be along to talk about driving the Chevy Volt. Also, we’ll be taking your questions and comments in another dazzling edition of “Rapid-Fire.” To let your voice be heard, shoot us an e-mail at viewermail@autolinedetroit.tv, and put “AAH Question” in the subject line so we can find it in the inbox easier.

Anyway, that’s it for today’s edition of Autoline Daily, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

11 Comments to “Episode 148 – GM’s Union Problems, Chrysler Dealers Ready to Fight, Penske Hires LaSorda”

  1. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Do you really need to hire a failed executive from a failed company to help you find new cars? Just pay me 1/3 of what they pay him and I’ll go to China and bring those cars here. And if they fail, well then too bad. I’m sure someone made money with Bricklin and Yugo.

  2. Thor Says:

    Interesting segment.

    John thinks that cars here will look like those in Europe. But more than half new cars there are modern DIESELS. I doubt diesels will sell as many here. And they are also quite small, due to both fuel economy AND parking problems.

    We do not need to have small cars here, even under the new rules. We can have family sized cars with modest engines and minimal weight, and a TURBO which will be used sparingly to allow merging, acceleration etc.

    Today’s cars, even the lousiest econoboxes, are both obese and overpowered. 600 HP is the new 300 or 400 HP. COmpare specs of 2009 cars to 1989 cars and you will see it for yourselves.

    COnsumers will buy what they can AFFORD and think is Decent VALUE.

    John believes that econoboxes will cost 5000 extra in the future. But these will not be the same car as a lousy econobox of today, and in addition, the US $ is planned to go down the drain by all that reckless spending in DC, so in REAL terms, actually these cars will NOT be at all more expensive than today’s $12k-$18k econoboxes.

    And people will always have the option (at least for the next 5-10 years) to buy USED, and get a “Magnificent 7″ series BMW for 10 grand, like I DID in 2005 (!)

  3. Jamie Thompson Says:

    AAH Question

    Why is it taking so long for General Motors to go bankrupt, isn’t it best for all concerned
    to plan for the future and change the way of doing business.

  4. George Ballow Says:


    Why are we going to so much trouble to replace our fossil fuel burning autos with electric cars? Wouldn’t it be much easier just to replace all those oil and gas burning residential boilers and furnaces with 100% efficient electric baseboard heat or 250% efficient heat pumps?

  5. Larry Lenihan Says:

    Never mind the G8 2dr, I have been a Chevy Salesman for decades and what I would like to see is a 2dr and conv. version of the Malibu. With all the vehicles Chevy, has both in cars and trucks, until the Camaro rag top is built the only conv. we have is the ‘Vette. Just about every other car maker has a reasonably priced conv.

  6. Salvador G. Says:


    1. I wish I could express how I feel about those Brits who bought GTR’s….. AHHhhh… I just can’t.
    so is somewhere between Envy/and Bomb England.

    2. I kind of get why Penske would hire a former executive to help him run Saturn (no LaSorda), but what does it mean to “help Saturn find a NEW Source for products”?… is that New suppliers?? More Suppliers?

  7. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Salvador, its not new suppliers of parts, but suppliers of cars, as in the Chinese or maybe the Indians. Wow! that’s gonna be a disaster of biblical proportions

  8. C-Tech Says:

    Just wondering what happened to GM’s turbo technology? Did they bury it with the Grand National and Buick’s performance image? Where does the Chevy Volt fit in? At $40K is it better yhan the 3rd gen Prius or Ford Fusion Hybrid? Will Chrysler/Fiat every build another interesting and reliable vehicle? A question for Robin, with the proposal of a $59 million limit in F1, could a U.S. company (say Cadillac division) field a F1 team to polish their image worldwide?

  9. Salvador G. Says:

    They haven’t made an announcement about what New suppliers meant… So I gonna give Penske the benefit of my doubt as to what that means, now LaSorda-… I understand what you mean.

    What I would like to see Penske do is, announce a contract with current American suppliers from GM or Ford and Chrysler or even create his own supply company.

    We still dont know what are his exact plans for Saturn are. So I gonna keep an open mind.

  10. julius lambert Says:

    It doesn’t sound like an assembly line to me.All assemblies and parts have to arive at their destination at the RIGHT MOMENT, for efficiency.ROSS PEROTT please stand up.

  11. julius lambert Says:

    I think it’s coming down to walking into a manufactures SHOW ROOM,Pick out what you want ,PAY for it and they’l build it in x amount of TIME.Newell Coaches has done this for decades.Agriculture mfg’the same.Oh I forgot the BLOOD SUCKING USERY BOYS would not allow this to happen.It’s just like electric POWER GENERATION and DISTRIBUTION.If we take the 35% profit off the top they will bail for something more lucrative.