October 30th, 2009 at 12:10pm
Ford’s problems with the UAW are turning out to be more serious than anyone anticipated. GM has to shut down an assembly plant because of parts shortages for transmissions from a supplier in India. A look at Toyota’s breakthrough in using carbon fiber for cars. All that and more, plus Mark Reuss the vice president of global vehicle engineering for General Motors, explains why GM needs to make its vehicles lighter.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Ford’s problems with the UAW are more serious than thought. GM runs into problems with a supplier. And a look at Toyota’s breakthrough in using carbon fiber for cars.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, October 30, 2009. And now, the news.
Ford’s problems with the UAW are turning out to be more serious than anyone anticipated. The Associated Press reports that eight locals representing 12,500 workers have rejected a new contract. Only four locals representing 7,000 workers have approved it. But the Detroit News reports that Ford’s axle plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan may ask for a re-vote. Workers there rejected the contract but now some are afraid Ford will outsource a lot of the work done at that plant, and they want to vote again.
A report from the Associated Press says that General Motors has to shut down an assembly plant because of parts shortages for transmissions from a supplier in India, losing production of the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave. As you’ll remember, we reported the same problem at Ford earlier in the week, losing production of the Edge, the Flex, the MKT and MKX. These vehicles use the same six-speed automatic transmission that GM and Ford designed together. And it shows the risk of buying parts from allegedly “low cost suppliers” who are half a world away.
Edmunds.com says the cash for clunkers program was mighty expensive. It claims that most of the 690,000 vehicles that qualified for the program would have been sold anyway. Only 125,000 were incremental sales, meaning it cost taxpayers $24,000 per car. Now, the White House is hitting back Fox News-style, calling the report “faulty” and “implausible” according to the Detroit News. The White House says the number could be as high as 560,000 incremental sales. Ford estimates the number at 280,000 and GM predicted it was around 500,000. Autoline Daily estimates them at 140,000, and while I fully support the clunkers program, Edmunds is making a really good point.
And speaking of sales, General Motors is extending its 60-day satisfaction guarantee. The company says its “May the Best Car Win” campaign has been successful in boosting consumer’s opinion of the company and getting them to consider its vehicles. The guarantee, which allows customers to return a vehicle up to 60 days after they bought it, will now run until January 4.
As you know, Bob Lutz threw down the gauntlet with the “V-Series Challenge.” He dared anyone with a stock, four-door car to beat his lap time in a Cadillac CTS-V. It’s a real-life version of GM’s new, “May the Best Car Win” advertising campaign. John Heinricy, GM engineer and race driver officially took first-place, but a mystery driver allegedly beat his time. No, it wasn’t “the Stig” from Top Gear, Autoline Daily has learned it was Johnny O’Connell, a Corvette-racing American Le Mans winner.
Cost be damned, many supercars – and even some not-so-super cars – feature carbon fiber. This high-tech material is strong and light, which is why Toyota is using it extensively in the new Lexus LFA. Autoblog has a mesmerizing video of how the company weaves the car’s A-pillars. It uses a circular loom with what looks like hundreds of little spindles to form the parts. This is interesting because TOYOTA started out as a loom company over a century ago. The company is probably using its experience building the LFA to start moving the material down to mass-market vehicles. They’ve just got to figure out how to do it cheaper.
And speaking of how to design light-weight cars, you’ll want to hear what Mark Reuss had to say on last night’s edition of Autoline After Hours, we’ll be back right after this.
Mark Reuss is the vice president of global vehicle engineering for General Motors. Last night he joined us for Autoline After Hours and the talk turned to how and why GM needs to make its vehicles lighter. In the following clip Mark gets into some of the specific details of how GM is going to do that.
By the way, Mark Reuss says these changes he’s talking about making cars lighter will not add any cost. You can watch the entire episode on our website at AutolineDaily.com.
Ok, it’s the end of the week and that means it’s time to announce the winner of our trivia contest. We asked you to identify what kind of car this is. As most of you correctly responded, it’s a Land Rover Defender. And today’s lucky winner is Robert Petrach of Troy, Michigan. Congratulations Robert, you’ve just won a Volkswagen Golf model car.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week, and have a Happy Halloween.