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Episode 257 – Ford’s UAW Problems, Fisker To Get GM Plant, Monster Genesis for SEMA

October 26th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:08

Ford faces issues negotiating with the UAW because of its expected third-quarter earnings. GM is selling its Delaware plant to Fisker to make plug-ins. Rhys Millen Racing and Hyundai have partnered to build a special, Genesis coupe for this year’s SEMA show. All that and more, plus a look at BMW’s new flagship.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Ford faces issues negotiating with the UAW. Fisker gets a GM plant to make plug-ins. And a monster V-8 Hyundai Genesis for the SEMA show.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, October 26, 2009. And now, the news.

Gee, but it’s great to be back home. I was on vacation for the last two weeks and traveling outside of the United States, where you really start to feel the falling value of the American dollar. And that in turn is driving up oil prices, which are pegged to the dollar, and are hovering at $80 a barrel. The Lundberg Survey reports that gasoline prices have risen nearly 18 cents in the last two weeks to an average of $2.66 a gallon in the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal reports that General Motors is headhunting for a new Chief Financial Officer (subscription required). It says that Ray Young, who currently holds that position will be reassigned to the company’s International Operations, reporting to Nick Reilly.

Many analysts are predicting good news for Ford’s third quarter earnings but according to the Detroit Free Press that is complicating negotiations with the UAW. Workers are voting on contract changes before Ford reveals its earnings on Monday. But with good news expected, some elements in the union are digging in their heels on more concessions. But UAW president Ron Gettelfinger is in favor of the new contract.

And speaking of Ford and labor unrest, the Wall Street Journal reports the company is idling a Canadian plant next week due to worker protests at an auto supplier in India, which we reported on last week. The Canadian plant builds the Ford Edge, Flex, Lincoln MKT and MKX, and the shutdown is expected to cost the company 5,000 vehicles in lost production.

But things aren’t all that bad in the Indian market. According to the AFP, Indian carmaker, Maruti, which is owned by Suzuki, saw its net profit jump 93 percent, for a profit of $123 million for the quarter. The company cited government stimulus plans and low interest rates for its rise in sales.

Ward’s reports that General Motors Liquidation Corporation is selling GM’s Wilmington, Delaware, plant to Fisker Automotive (subscription required). The facility, which closed at the end of July, used to be home to the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky and Opel GT. Fisker plans to source its Karma hybrid model from Finland, and it’s unknown what it would build at its new Delaware facility, but the company may be working on a lower-cost car. The luxurious Karma stickers for about $90,000.

In related manufacturing news, The Detroit News tells us Chrysler is looking to ditch its mothballed Newark, Delaware, factory which built the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen. The company wants to sell the plant to the University of Delaware for about $25 million, which will demolish the facility and build a new research and technology center.

Rhys Millen Racing and Hyundai have partnered to build a special, V-8-powered Genesis coupe for this year’s SEMA show. The car features a 500-horsepower, mid-mounted version of the company’s 4.6-liter Tau engine, which replaces the entire back seat. The car will sport other upgrades like special carbon-fiber body work and Alcantera trim inside.

Coming up next, a look at BMW’s new flagship. We’ll be back right after this.

BMW has struggled with sales as all automakers have this year but at least they’ve avoided all the drama its German colleagues, Opel, VW, and Porsche have gone through. Earlier in the year the company released the new 7 Series and following on its heels is the company’s new flagship for the model, the 760i and the 760Li.

It’s larger than rest of the 7 Series line-up, but it still maintains the same look as the other models. Under the hood it’s equipped with a monster engine, a newly developed 6.0 Liter twin-turbo 12-cylinder with direct injection. And making its debut for the first time in a production BMW is a new eight-speed automatic that weighs the same and is equal in size to a six-speed transmission.

It goes from 0 to 100 kilometers an hour, in just 4.6 seconds and cranks out 544 horsepower while producing 553 foot-pounds of torque. And the combined fuel economy is 12.9 liters per 100 kilometers or 18 miles per gallon.

As you can probably imagine, there is a boatload of standard equipment, like the normal stuff you’d expect, such as a nav system and multiple airbags. And there’s the standard equipment that doesn’t seem standard or probably even necessary. Like four-zone automatic air conditioning, and doors that close automatically. And if you’ve got a few more bucks to throw around you can upgrade with features like massage seats, DVD entertainment and an iDrive controller, all in the rear of the vehicle.

There is a lot of technology aimed at improving the safety, ride and handling of the vehicle. On the safety side it’s available with BMW Connected Drive, which is a host of features including cruise control with stop and go, lane change and departure warning, night vision, and a side view and backup camera.

To help deliver the ride and handling BMW owners come to expect, the vehicle features a double-wishbone front axle, integral-v rear axle, hydraulic rack and pinion and also air suspension and self leveling on the rear axle.

Pricing for the BMW 760i starts at $140,000.

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

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24 Comments to “Episode 257 – Ford’s UAW Problems, Fisker To Get GM Plant, Monster Genesis for SEMA”

  1. paulstewart Says:

    Hi John, good to see you back. I now understand the concept of your pookie with the passing of Soupy Sales. Sorry, I should have remembered I grew up in the Motor City. My older sister & brother grew up with Soupy more than me. I grew up more with Sonny Elliot on the radio for weather in the 70′s. Sonny still does the radio occasionally in Detroit with his bad jokes, of course.Hope your vacation was Fun ! White Fang forever !!!

  2. Tom Martin Says:

    With a mid-engine, 500 hp, and carbon-fiber body, it is difficult calling this a Genesis Coupe.

    It’s almost as bad as calling Tony Stewart’s NASCAR vehicle is a Camry, and John Force’s Funny Car a Mustang.

  3. Tom Martin Says:

    It just occurred to me, Tony Stewart is now driving a Chevrolet. Sorry.

  4. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Nice to see you back John. Your substitutes did just fine; hope your vacation was enjoyable and you’ve gotten yourself rejuvenated.

  5. Tony Gray Says:

    So, we gave Fisker a bunch of US taxpayer money and now they are going to buy a plant that will manufacture vehicles to compete against companies that we spent a bunch of US taxpayer money to keep alive. (Apologies to Ford, of course).

    Exactly what is this going to do to eliminate all that excess capacity everybody has been clamoring about?

    At least the Chrysler plant is going to be repurposed…the land anyway.

  6. Jonathan Says:

    paulstewart Says: I grew up more with Sonny Elliot on the radio for weather in the 70’s.

    Oh man that brings back memmories from when I lived in Birmngham. I remember watching him on the TV news weather when I was a really little kid. I think my parents used what him for his sillyness and wacky behaviour.

  7. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Welcome back, John, I’ll bet you ate some good Argentinian meat while vacationing there. The new 7 Series further proves that these automakers have lost all sense of reality with the world, even the well-to-do are struggling and they just keep raising the price of all cars to astronomical levels. The 7′s price is now what the Bentleys and Rolls used to cost a few years ago. That’s why the used car market is rising so much.

  8. Nick Stevens Says:

    Pedro,

    Not only does BMW own Rolls ROyce now,

    In fact the new, “smaller” but still huge rolls will be based on exactly this 7 series platform, will be longer and heavier, and probably have the exact same engine as this 760iL V12,

    but it will be priced at TWICE the $150k or less I estimate the 760 will go for, close to $300k.

    And the regular Rolls phantom sells for much more than that, even the small drophead coupe, they go for about $450k each.

    But the Rollses of today are far more complex vehicles and have a ton more power and safety systems than a 60s Silver Shadow.

  9. Nick Stevens Says:

    “The 7’s price is now what the Bentleys and Rolls used to cost a few years ago”

    A regular 750iL is about 100k. I estimate the V12 to go for 130-150k, and in fact I was dead right, John above says $140k.

    TO find Rollses that cheap, you will need to go 20 years ago.

    But back in the 50s, a Rolls or a Bentley sold for $17,000, I think, and that was LESS than some top Cadillac Biarritzs were going at the time.

  10. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Smart buyers will then just wait a few years and buy a “pre-owned” for half the cost of a new one, right?

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Most if not all high end BMW drivers are not really concerned at the price point of a vehicle. (It’s a concept, us regular folk, fine hard to grasp; kind of like the money being spent at the Barrett Jackson, chump change to these folks).

  12. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Pedro Fernandez Says:
    October 26th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Smart buyers will then just wait a few years and buy a “pre-owned” for half the cost of a new one, right?”

    They will probably go for the cheaper but still plenty powerful at 400HP and 450 lb-ft, 750i or iL. And If they wait 7 years, they can get one for as little as 1/5th to 1/10th of the cost of a new one.

    Note that the original 750iL v12 had 300 HP, a lot for the time, (1987 or so) but today’s v8 is 33% more powerful than that old V12!

    “# Chuck Grenci Says:
    October 26th, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Most if not all high end BMW drivers are not really concerned at the price point of a vehicle.”

    Many of them may get it for free, as a company or Government car anyway!

    But I agree, even those that have to pay to get one new, usually have plenty of dough and even pay cash.

    My recent visit to a BMW showroom left me with the impression that not just the $100k-$140k 7, but everything, even the most lowly, small, and sure not luxurious BMW there, was way overpriced.

  13. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    V12 is such a waste of money and natural resources, what the hell for? it’s not like they’re ever gonna drive on the autobahn or anything like that. It’ll be a crowded, slow-ass expressway with all that power just sitting there. Long live the 4 banger!!!!!

  14. paulstewart Says:

    Hi Jonthan, just to let you know Sonny is still alive & kickin. He was a crewman on a B-17 in 1944 and was shot down over Germany. The Allied prisoners kept his religious affliation top secret until the camp was liberated. Many allied prisoners who wenn’t Chrisian in the camps were very anxious to keep some things very quiet… just in case.

  15. paulstewart Says:

    Sorry spelled your name wrong… Jonathan

  16. paulstewart Says:

    Christian, man I’m batting a thousand.

  17. Salvador G. Says:

    -AHHHH… what happen to Christie Schweinsberg, they replace her with some old guy, OH! LORD WHY-WHY… Oh, Welcome back JohnMc. WE missed you. :)

    Now, that new BMW 7 series has an 8-speed automatic, isn’t that a bit too many? well, that new BMW better go above 200 miles per hour or its going to be really disappointing.
    It does kind of sound like a Phantom on a BMW body (not to say that RR Phantom is really a BMW) I mean a V-12 twin turbo – 8 speed- luxury fiil options car but a bit cheaper than a RR!!!

  18. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Salvador: the Lexus Ls 430 also has a 8 speed auto. If you’ve ever driven a 3 speed tranny like mine, you will feel like in heaven when you got all those gears to work with. AT highway speed your RPM’s are really good thus conserving not only fuel but also your engine.

  19. dave Says:

    No one needs a V12, but they are very smooth and great engines.Most V12s at least back in the day in Ferraris they were small engines. Most 4 to 4.5l or smaller. NOw they are 4.9ls, thats not a big engine. Most 6 cyl are 3.5+ now, so the number of holes is not the question.

  20. Salvador G. Says:

    I Know what the 8-speed auto ARE FOR– I just think it’s getting a bit ridiculous, what I wonder is that – then those that mean at some point we’re going to see a 10-speed or a 12-speed!!! woudn’t be easier to improve on current CVT technology???

  21. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Now, that new BMW 7 series has an 8-speed automatic, isn’t that a bit too many? ”

    I believe it is the Lexus LS that has an 8 speed auto, the BMW and if I am not mistaken the Mercs have 7 speed autos, which is also plenty. My old v8 has a 5-sp auto which is perfectly adequate. I don’t know if it had the lexus gearbox it might get 26-28 instead of 22-24 highway, but this is a minor improvement. I wish it had the DIESEL it is offered with in Europe, then it would get 30+ MPG Highway even with the 5-speed auto. Plus this 5-sp auto has a feature where you can force it to keep it in the present gear, so on the highway you can force it to stay in 5th instead of slippoing back to 4th, and improve fuel econ-if you care. OR keep it in 4th gear as you go faster and have better performance. I must say I never used it, the 5 sp auto is perfectly adequate. Nor did I shell out $150 or $250 as a friend suggested, so that my HP can go above 300 by some electronic chip modifications.

    “well, that new BMW better go above 200 miles per hour or its going to be really disappointing.”

    I have a hardbound brochure from the dealer for the new 7 (750 i and il only, no 760 v12) it is a whole book, and it states that, as I expected, the speed has a limiter at 150. This is an agreement between Merc, BMW and Audi. Only Porsches do not have a limiter, among top German dogs. But older 7s had much lower speed limiters, 128 MPH if I am correct. Which still should not be a big constraint in the 65-80 MPH speed limit USA.

  22. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# dave Says:
    October 26th, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    No one needs a V12, but they are very smooth and great engines”

    Sure, and nobody needs a v8 either, today’s i-4s make 190 and some over 200 HP, back in 1991, the Mercedes 300 SEL made a mere 177 HP from an I-6 3 lt engine!

    But I am intrigued with something David Davis wrote a while ago, that every auto enthusiast should have a chance to drive a V12 car once in his or her life.

    “Most V12s at least back in the day in Ferraris they were small engines. Most 4 to 4.5l or smaller.”

    Some much smaller, Ferrari even had a 2.0 lt v12 (!!!) if I remember well, on one of its tiny original race cars.

    Today’s 60 is the new 40, and the new V12 is the Veyron’s 1,001 HP W 16!

    LOL…

  23. Nick Stevens Says:

    BMWs and 7s in particular have also grown a lot in length and weight over their first and even third generation ancestors.

    I was looking at the wheelbase of the new 750i and iL, and the current short wheelbase is equal to the long wheelbase of the third gen 7, only 8 years ago. And the weight now even the ‘smaller’ 750il is 4,600 lbs, while the third gen started at 4100, and the first and second were below 4,000 or well below 4,000 lbs.

  24. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Nick’s observations re the 7 series also applies to just about any new vehicle introduced, when are these manufacturers going to realize they need to stop this size/weight/horsepower increase with every new model, it’s time for another round of “intelligent” downsizing. Not the crap GM did in the early 80′s.