Episode 271 – Porsche Posts Huge Loss, Mercedes Moves Smaller, UAW Votes to Strike Ford

November 13th, 2009 at 12:08pm

Runtime 7:35

Porsche says it will post a pretax lost of 4.6 billion euros, or a loss of $6.6 billion. Mercedes may finally bring some of its fuel efficient small cars to the U.S. UAW workers at a Ford plant near Kansas City, Missouri, are voting on whether or not to authorize a strike. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit with Ian Callum, the head of design at Jaguar.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Porsche racks up massive losses. Mercedes wants more small cars in the American market. And the UAW takes a strike vote at one of Ford’s plants.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, November 13, 2009.

Hey, help us out by voting on the podcast awards. You got us nominated. Now we need you to go back and vote again. Go to Podcastawards.com, scroll down to the Business category and vote for Autoline Daily. Hit the pause button and go vote for us now.

And now, the news.

Last year we all sat back in wonder as Porsche posted a pretax profit of 8.6 billion euros. What a difference a year makes. Now Porsche says it will post a pretax lost of 4.6 billion euros, or a loss of $6.6 billion. The company took a bath on options it had issued as part of its attempt to take over Volkswagen.

Chinese automaker SAIC is accused of stealing hybrid technology from Korean parts supplier Ssangyong. According to the Korea Times, several Ssangyong employees leaked the technology to SAIC, which pressured them into giving it the technology because of difficulty in developing it on its own. The Korean government helped fund the development of Sssangyong’s technology, so the employees confessed and were charged with giving it away without state permission. There are no plans to take legal action against SAIC.

Mercedes may finally bring some of its fuel efficient small cars to the U.S. (subscription required).  Ward’s reports that Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said North America may get some of the company’s next-generation a- and b-segment models. The current versions of these cars are at the end of their lifecycles. The tiny A-Class hatch seems unlikely to make the trans-Atlantic trip, but the company’s B-Class MPV – similar to a Mazda 5 – could prove to be a hit. Dr. Z wouldn’t give any time frame for when these cars would arrive.

Ford is on a roll. The Ford Fusion made it onto the top 10 best-selling vehicles list in the U.S. Year-to-date the company has sold 151,000 Fusions beating its previous all-time best sales YEAR – 2007 – by 2,000 units. And Ford’s EcoBoost is proving to be popular. The Detroit News reports that more than 40 percent of Lincoln MKT buyers are taking the EcoBoost option while the Taurus SHO is selling TWICE AS FAST as Ford had projected, at 20 percent of nameplate volume.

But it’s not all good news at Ford. UAW workers at a Ford plant near Kansas City, Missouri are voting to authorize a strike. According to the Detroit Free Press, they’re upset over changes in job requirements that have resulted in more disciplinary actions and are concerned it may lead to job cuts. Voting to authorize a strike gives leadership the ability to call a strike but doesn’t necessarily mean they will go through with it. The two sides are continuing to negotiate.

I know I shouldn’t, but I laughed my head off when we came across this story. The AP reports that a guy near Houston in Texas was driving his Bugatti Veyron, you all know the Bugatti Veyron, it costs over a million dollars. Anyway, the driver claimed that a pelican flew very low over his car, causing him to drop his cell phone. When he leaned over to try and pick it up, he claims the car veered off the road drove into a salt marsh. Now, either this is a guy who is very easily distracted, or there’s more to this story than he’s telling the police.

Coming up next, I sit down with Ian Callum, the head of design at Jaguar to learn about how they’re changing the look of the brand.

On Autoline Detroit this week my guest is Ian Callum, the head of design for Jaguar. Jag, as you all know, is undergoing a design revolution, coming out with an all-new look. And in the following clip, Ian Callum talks about what they want to do with design at Jaguar.

Ian Callum also talks about what it’s like at Jaguar now that it’s owned by Tata, and you can watch the entire interview later today at AutolineDetroit.tv.

I’d also suggest you take a look at last night’s Autoline After Hours that we did with Hal Sperlich, the former president of Chrysler. He has some fantastic insight on where he sees huge opportunities in the auto industry for the right kind of product, and he talks all about what that product should be like. Remember, this is the guy who did the Mustang at Ford and the minivan at Chrysler, he has some brilliant insight.

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 tell us what, Italian truckmaker IVECO name stands for. As most of you correctly responded it’s Industrial Vehicle Corporation. And today’s lucky winner is Judith Fox of Detroit, Michigan. Congratulations Judith, you’ve just won a Autoline Detroit coffee mug.

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

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, vLane, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

39 Comments to “Episode 271 – Porsche Posts Huge Loss, Mercedes Moves Smaller, UAW Votes to Strike Ford”

  1. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    The Chinese stealing technology, nah, not them that has to be a mistake, they wouldn’t steal a thing. There goes the UAW again, you know they remind of the obnoxious kid in class that would act up and then the whole classroom would get in trouble because of him.

  2. Tony Gray Says:

    Rumor has it that next week’s trivia winner will receive a slightly used, salty Veyron as a prize.

    Just a rumor.

  3. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    The UAW still has not learned the lessons from the USW or the UMW. You can only push so long before someone pushes back or you are ELIMINATED!!

    Ask the Steel Workers and the Mine Workers how well it worked for them!!!!

  4. EAB Says:

    Ok, so how about this. Ford goes to Morraine OH, or Flint MI, or Edison NJ or any one town that has lost a plant, and either hire Union folks that WILL work or, better yet, throw $10,000 an employee in relocation moneys for them to start working in Kansas City next week. Seems to me if the guys are union, or were union and lost their jobs due to plant closures, the UAW couldn’t call ‘em scabs. I know one thing. You throw me the kind of money they make and I’d move…TODAY!!!

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s nice that MB is considering selling some of thier smaller cars in America, but I wish they’d sell some of the good versions of cars they already sell here. One that comes to mind is the C-Class wagon, preferably with a 4 cylinder diesel and manual transmission.

  6. Alex Kajdi Says:

    John,

    What took Dieter Zetsche so long to wake up to the fact that Honda is selling the “FIT” in North America. I wrote to you about those fantastic “A” and “B” segment Mercedes models running all over Italy a couple of years ago.

    Dr. Z will have a hit on his hands if he builds a gas power “B” segment and a EV powered “A” segment in North America. These models may be at the end of their life cycles in Europe, but they will be “Brand New Again” and “RED HOT” if sold in North America. The A & B segment vehicles will sell especially well in Canada and Mexico. American Consumers are moving down scale and shopping more and more at Walmart and other discount retailers. This move will buck the trend and give American Consumers an upscale brand at a very affordable price with plenty of utility. These vehicles could even re-engerize the “Smart” Brand and it’s Dealerships in North America. Tell Roger Penske to contact Dr. Z. and tell him to cancel any future shipments of Smarts and send over those “A & B” segment vehicles right away.

    We all know that the price of gas is heading upward, and that Algae based gasoline is being squashed by the Petrolium Industry. The need for small cars will only increase. These “A & B” segment Mercedes build vehicles are practical and fuel efficient. Mr Penske, I hope you are listening!

  7. Mart Says:

    M-B has been successfully selling the current B class in Canada for a few years now. This product is way overdue in the states.

    Im sorry, but is there no news service in KC? Do the UAW members there not talk to ANYONE else in the “brotherhood?” Has no one enlightened these folks as to what’s happened to the economy and the automotive industry in the past 15 months??? And now they’re voting to authorize a STRIKE??? LMAO – nothing like calling negative attention to yourself when the industry is in the precarious state it’s in.

    I agree witih Pedro, Its too bad a small minority has to do something like this and give a black eye to all the efforts that have been made on both sides to move forward and secure the future. To paraphrase an old saying “you can tell a union worker….”

  8. Len simpson Says:

    I wonder if new plant locations are headed for right to work states?

  9. Michael J. Brown Says:

    Salty, soaked Veyron. How much you wanna bet THAT won’t show up on the CarFax report.

  10. Salvador G. Says:

    1. Let me get this right…
    -I’m Shock, shock that stealing goes on from China.

    2. Your absolutely right JohnMc. last night show was great, but if it’s there a group who should see last night show seems to be Mercedez Bens, since they’re about to do what Mr. Hal Sperlich says was a bad idea; introduce a fuel efficient car to a place where is no market build for it.

    3. You know, I’m starting to think I’m a freaking great driver, a while ago I almost hit a deer and amazingly I did not panic and hit a tree – Now some of you may say, but Sal, you were not on your cellphone driving your Veyron at I’m surely a fairly high speed probably braggin about it like some A-hole, right — Well, No; but I still think I should get a medal.

    -

  11. Salvador G. Says:

    1. Your absolutely right JohnMc. last night show was great, but if it’s there a group who should see last night show seems to be Mercedez Bens, since they’re about to do what Mr. Hal Sperlich says was a bad idea; introduce a fuel efficient car to a place where is no market build for it.

    3. You know, I’m starting to think I’m a freaking great driver, a while ago I almost hit a deer and amazingly I did not panic and hit a tree – Now some of you may say, but Sal, you were not on your cellphone driving your Veyron at I’m surely a fairly high speed probably braggin about it like some A-hole, right — Well, No; but I still think I should get a medal.

    -

  12. Salvador G. Says:

    sorry about that folks, wrong press key

  13. HtG Says:

    Hey John, did you notice during the pause-and-vote period that if you were to grow a beard and put on a lid, that you could double for one Mr. Brad Pitt when he needs to fool the paparazzi?

    Just so you know.

  14. HtG Says:

    Hey John, did you notice during the pause-and-vote-for-the-best-podcast period that if you were to grow a beard and put on a lid, that you could double for one Mr. Brad Pitt when he needs to fool the paparazzi?

    Just so you know.

  15. Salvador G. Says:

    - I was going to write something else, but when I was deleting I accidently hit the wrong key and press enter. SO shoot me!

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Price will determine how well the A and B segment MB’s would sell in the US. If the Mercedes B segment car costs $10K more than a Honda Fit, it is not going to do that well; there is no way it can be THAT much better than the Honda. On the other hand, if they build it somewhere in the Americas and can sell it for only $2-3K more than the Honda, it should do well. The three pointed star is worth a few thousand over the Honda name, even if the car isn’t any better than the Honda, and is less reliable.

  17. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Kit, have you seen the price of the MB C class? It’s a hell of a lot more than the Honda Accord, around 10k more for a comparable model, and is it that much better? I don’t think so, but people are willing to spend a lot more for a name brand like MB because of what it represents, not so much for the value and even though they take a beating on resale, maintenance, insurance, etc they still pony up the big bucks to get one. Look at the Smart, people have been paying as much as a Corolla or a Civic to get one, and I think they’re nuts. I think a small MB will do ok here, but it’s not gonna break any records.

  18. Salvador G. Says:

    Pedro, I think price it just part of the problem, yes; there is people who just would buy one this cars and pay the extra cost because it’s a Mercedez, but people who that are capable of doing that wouldn’t buy a small size Merc. no matter how fuel efficient it was.

    The funny thing is, this the kind of situation where having a company partner here in the U.S. would be beneficial to Mercedez, so they can build cars here at a lower price than in Europe plus not shipping cost add it. Plus as Mr. Sperlich said -with the low price of fuel pushing new fuel efficient cars would not work.

    -

  19. paulstewart Says:

    I’l wait awhile to hear the facts from Kansas City before I rant aginst the union, Pedro.

  20. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Paul: with the high unemployment numbers, the ever declining manufacturing jobs in this country and the general malaise in the economy, these UAW folks should thank their lucky stars they still have a job that can give them a decent living. Start making demands and the plant just might be relocated to Mexico, and there is no UAW in Mexico.

  21. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Salvador: MB builds the SUV’s here in Alabama, I believe, and they still charge a lot for them. It’s all the engineering and the expensive parts that are used in these vehicles that make them so expensive. And remember, MB IS a luxury brand.

  22. Salvador G. Says:

    Pedro, your right a lot of foreign car companies build their SUV’s here in the U.S. so hopefully Merc. will build their small cars here, but also to my other point, we’re talking about a New small fuel efficient car and I say there’s not market for it here as low fuel prices stand.

  23. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Yes, you’re right and I’m afraid they will raise gas taxes, so the price of gas goes up and people will then buy the small cars that the government is pushing.

  24. Brentton Says:

    Here’s what really happend to the Bugatti. This is so funny in my opinion. This is really legit, completely real, and is the exact same Bugatti that you talked about!

    http://jalopnik.com/5404403/exclusive-video-of-bugatti-veyron-actually-crashing-into-texas-lake

    There is one thing I have to say though John, is that not everyone knows what a Bugatti is, and this is based on what the two people filming the event call the car. Halarious. :)

  25. HtG Says:

    Brentton, thanks for that video! If that is saltwater, say bye bye Lambo. If he was on the phone when he went in the drink, blaming a bird is poor character.

  26. Salvador G. Says:

    Brentton, you tha man, THanks.

    =Apparently the dude’s were mistaking the Bugatti Veyron for a Lamborghini, Wosh DUDE!

  27. Salvador G. Says:

    Pedro, think of it like this; the less fuel the U.S.A. buys, the less money terrorist get; and I am not accusing the Saudis of funding terrorist, I’m talking about that other country that funds terrorist and most of the terrorist of 9-11 came from. Praise Mohamed.

  28. SmokeH Says:

    Mercedes is scared that Hyundai will live out its promise of Premium Accents and Elantras in the Future, by the 2011-2012 model year. They probably also dont like the idea that VW builds Premium small car trims either, and is relatively successful in the US market doing it.

    Also, for CAFE as well. The A Class is underpowered for American Tastes though, and the interior doesnt say Benz. Upper Trim V Dubs and Hyundais look more premium than they do. So the Next gen will be needed.

  29. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Just heard a radio ad by Dodge claiming that the Grand Caravan is the most reliable new minivan according to JD Power, I went to JD power.com and I see no evidence of this claim, the Dodge is tied with the Odyssey and the Sienna comes on top. How can a company just make a claim like that without any merit is beyond me. ps. Salvador: I’m all for fuel efficiency and saving gas, that’s why every car I ever owned came with a 4 cyl. engine, even back in the 70′s when gas was super cheap.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pedro,

    If the Caravan is tied with Odyssey and Sienna, I suspect Dodge can legally make make the claim of having the best reliability according to JD Power, but, to me, it would be better to say that the Caravan is “unsurpassed” which would more honestly indicate the tie status.

  31. Brentton Says:

    Following up with more info about the Bugatti that went swimming, well, at least tried. I find this so funny. This is actually quite an ironic event for the owner of the car.

    http://jalopnik.com/5404505/exclusive-bugatti-lake-crash-driver-owns-infamous-eddie-griffin+crashed-ferrari-enzo

  32. Salvador G. Says:

    Pedro, I think we loosing the point of the conversation and what kind of car did you drive in the 70′s with a four cylinder engine, Nevermind I don’t want to know, I’m not that old or was close to being born…

    Today, I just want it to see if I can add a point of reference to the Veyron, so we can see the tragedy of the accident.

    Lets see…

  33. Salvador G. Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO0PgyPWE3o&feature=player_embedded

  34. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Savador: the point that I was making was that I have always felt the need to save our natural resources. Unless you’re pulling a trailer you don’t need 8 cyl.If there were more people like you and me, then perhaps we wouldn’t be depending on all these enemies of the US for oil.

  35. Edward Lipman Says:

    I see that the Ecoboost engine is selling like hotcakes in Ford cars.
    I have always said performance sells , I guess that the auto industry is finally getting proof !
    Maybe we will get back a version of the Pontiac G8 here , maybe as the Impala SS .
    The UAW wants to strike in KC huh ! Well how about a vote to decertify the union like the ILA workers did in South Carolina to help get the second Boeing plant to be in North Charleston S C.
    LLLLOOOUUUDDD AAAAPPPPPPPLLLLLAAAAUUUUSSSEEEE ! !

  36. Salvador G. Says:

    Pedro, I got your point the first time, but I wasn’t talking about oil and I think at some point it became about oil… I was talking about, and only about, the new small Merc. coming to the U.S. and that I think it’s a bad idea to bring A NEW SMALL Fuel Efficient Car WHERE’s Not Market for IT, and that’s all; which is why I was referring to Thursday Autoline Afterhours Show with Hal Sperlich, in which Mr. Sperlich talks on the matter.

    -You see this is how people forget how a conversation started. :)

    Maybe we should always start with a Subject title in the comment.

    TO Finish:
    I wish we could embed videos (like that Veyron crash) or pictures here on Autoline Daily.

    -

  37. Andrew Charles Says:

    The Mercedes A-Class is not an A-segment model, it’s a B-segment MPV like the first-generation Scion xB, Lancia Musa, Fiat Idea, Opel/Chevrolet Meriva and Toyota Ractis. The Mercedes B-Class is not a B-segment model either, nor is it similar to a Mazda5. C-segment MPVs come in two basic styles—smaller 5-seat models such as the Ford C-Max, Renault Scenic (the seminal 5-seat C-MPV), the new Scion xB (Toyota Corolla Rumion), VW Golf Plus, and the retro-styled PT Cruiser; and larger 5/7-seat models such as the original (c. 1983) Mitsubishi Chariot (I believe Dodge sold a version as well), the Opel Zafira (which revived the 7-seat C-MPV), the new Ford Grand C-Max, Renault Grand Scenic, VW Touran, Toyota (Corolla) Verso, Peugeot 5008, Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, Mitsubishi Dion, Mazda5, Toyota Wish and Nissan Lafesta (which went as far as road testing for the US market). The Mercedes B-Class is a smaller 5-seat C-MPV between the Scion xB and PT Cruiser in size—the 7-seat Mazda 5 adds substantially more length to accommodate a third row of seating.

    Despite using Mitsubishi engines (manufactured buy a former JV in Germany), the A- and B-Class have been costly to build with their unique platform—the former light van versions built on the same platform have already been cut and Mercedes is hoping to build the next generation on a cheaper, higher volume fwd platform from another manufacturer so they can actually make money.

  38. Kyle Santos Says:

    Mr. Zetsche comment strikes me as add given two days ago in a AP article he was giving advice for Daimler’s former parent Chrysler and stated Americans still want big cars and there is no market for cars the size of a Fiat 500 and that A and B segment cars are uneeded in the North American/USA market. Funny that he yet again changed his mind. Is it me or is Daimler one to just spew out whatever is on their collective minds at the time?

  39. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    If the Bugatti driver was not avoiding a Pelican, Was he Texting?

    His story comes up under Distraction search. Just wondering.