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0:07 Ford Sweetens UAW Labor Deal
0:53 Could U.S. Justice Department Take Over the UAW?
1:29 GM Strike to Hurt November Sales
1:56 Car Sales Down in Mexico & Canada
2:17 European Automakers May Avoid U.S. Import Tariffs
2:55 DoJ Subpoenas Automakers Over CA Emission Standards
3:46 BMW Offers OTA Updates to Unlock Vehicle Functions
5:26 VW Teases EV Crossover Concept
6:00 Continental Shows New Camera Tech
6:57 Viewer Feedback on Camaro’s Future
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FORD SWEETENS UAW LABOR DEAL
Ford is sweetening the pot for its labor deal with the UAW, without the union even asking for it. The Detroit Free Press reports the update to the contract will increase pay for nearly 10,000 workers and will cost the company around $15 million more over the four-year contract. That allows newer workers who already received annual pay raises to get retroactive pay to catch up to the new contract’s better pay scale. But they only get that money once the contract is ratified. That sounds to us like Ford is worried about the contract getting ratified. One source tells us that 3 major locals are opposed to ratifying the deal. So this would explain why Ford is sweetening the pot without even being asked.
COULD U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TAKE OVER THE UAW?
Could the U.S. Department of Justice take over the UAW because of its widespread corruption practices? That’s one of the things the union’s new president Rory Gamble is worried about. There’s a precedent for that. In 1989, the Justice Department took over control of the Teamsters, after union officials were convicted of corruption and racketeering. In fact, the DOJ kept control of the union for 26 years. And here’s an interesting historical footnote. The charges against the Teamsters were first brought by then-US Attorney Rudy Giuliani.
GM STRIKE TO HURT NOVEMBER SALES
By the way, General Motors was badly wounded by that UAW strike last month. Wards estimates that the strike reduced the SAAR last month by 400,000 vehicles. It says GM’s inventory dropped by nearly 22% and that this could drag the November SAAR down to somewhere between 15.3 and 16.3 million. But Ward’s is forecasting the SAAR could return to 17 million in December.
CAR SALES DOWN IN MEXICO & CANADA
Even so, sales in Mexico and Canada are falling, which could drag down the entire NAFTA region. Wards reports that sales in Mexico plummeted over 12% in October. For the year, they’re down over 7%. And in Canada, they were down 5% last month and are off nearly 4% for the year.
EUROPEAN AUTOMAKERS MAY AVOID U.S. IMPORT TARIFFS
President Trump’s threats of increased tariffs on imported vehicles is causing a lot of headaches and uncertainty in the auto industry. But European automakers might be able to breathe a sigh of relief. The outgoing President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, predicts that Trump will not impose tariffs on European cars. The U.S. has until the 14th of this month to decide on the tariffs, which could go to 25%, up from 2.5% today. But the decision was already delayed by six months and trade experts expect it to be delayed again.
DOJ SUBPOENAS AUTOMAKERS OVER CA EMISSION STANDARDS
The Department of Justice is going after Honda, BMW, Ford, and VW for siding with California and its emission standards. The DOJ subpoenaed them for information to see if they colluded amongst themselves to set the deal with California. Toyota, GM, FCA and the lobbying group called Global Automakers sided with the Trump Administration to stop California from making its own emissions rules. And so this issue has split the industry down the middle, setting automaker against automaker.
BMW OFFERS OTA UPDATES TO UNLOCK VEHICLE FUNCTIONS
BMW will use Over the Air Updates or OTAs for infotainment systems, patching up security vulnerabilities or booking digital services. Nothing new there. But it will also use OTAs to unlock vehicle functions, like activate automatic high beams, Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go and BMW Drive Recorder, which uses cameras from the driver assistance systems to take video around the vehicle, even if the vehicle didn’t have these functions when they were sold. The services can be added, extended or canceled through the BMW ConnectedDrive Store for a set period and some can be tested for a short time. BMW did not reveal what it charges for these functions. In the future, it could add remote start and Adaptive M Suspension and BMW is considering linking these digital services to the customer rather than the car. This would be useful to secondhand owners who wouldn’t be tied to the previous owner’s features, but we think it’s more for car sharing. That way a customer could have their functions no matter what BMW they get into. Tesla allows for functions to be unlocked, like AutoPilot, but does anyone know if other functions are unlockable, similar to what BMW is doing? Also, I’ve seen plenty of complaints over the years in our comments section about the sometimes goofy way automakers package functions together like, why do I need the bigger infotainment screen if I want Adaptive Cruise Control? Does this more a la carte system appeal to you?
VW TEASES EV CROSSOVER CONCEPT
VW has made it abundantly clear it’s going all in on BEVs and it’s going to have another new EV at the LA Auto Show later this month. The ID. SPACE VIZZION concept looks like a station wagon, although VW calls it a crossover of tomorrow. It’s based on the automaker’s MEB electric platform and is said to have a range of up to 300 EPA miles. A production version of the concept will come out in late 2021 and will come in different versions for North America, Europe and China.
CONTINENTAL SHOWS NEW CAMERA TECH
Continental is showcasing its new driver safety technology by allowing drivers to see through the hood while driving. No, this isn’t a magic trick, but instead the work of existing cameras. This spun off from Continental’s Surround View system that gives a 360-degree picture of the car’s exterior, so the only new addition is the control unit. Drivers will be able to see the ground in front of them without relying on a typical front-facing camera. Land Rover showed a similar system a couple of years ago, though we don’t know if it was working with Continental. Technology like this would be fantastic for hard-core off-roaders who could see exactly where their front wheels are, and would make it easier to drive into treacherous areas without the need for a spotter.
VIEWER FEEDBACK ON CAMARO’S FUTURE
The other day we reported that there’s currently no replacement for the Chevrolet Camaro scheduled after 2024. Does that mean it’s going away entirely? Sure looks that way. So we asked what you would do if you ran GM. And wow, we got so many great responses.
Some of you feel that design has to change. Klasse Act says, “Make the Camaro smaller and NOT Fugly, pretty simple.” While Technically Working adds, “If I ran GM I would make a Camaro that the driver can actually see out of.” As we’ve said in the past, with a low seating position, high doors and thick pillars, the Camaro can kind of feel like riding around in a bathtub. So, we’re not surprised to see these suggestions.
Others have Camaro going in a new direction. Several agree with Curt Oien who simply says, “Electric Camaro.” George Ricci takes that one step further, “I would do the same thing that Ford is doing with the Mustang-inspired EV crossover and make a very sporty EV CUV.”
We like the people that were really thinking outside of the box. Lambo2015 says, “I would develop the 2024 Camaro to utilize the outgoing front engine Corvette platform and bring back the hatchback design. Essentially maintain the Camaro interest and front engine Corvette enthusiasts with a car that satisfies both consumers. Basically a 4 passenger Corvette.” We wonder if the old Corvette platform could be stretched to add a back seat, but if it could, that would save GM a bunch of money on development costs.
Lastly, Buzzerd ponders killing off the Camaro, then “make Corvette a brand and add a Camaro type vehicle 2+2 and a hi performance crossover, maybe use XT4 as a base.” We’ve heard a lot of talk about making Corvette its own brand and that would be one way of expanding its lineup and drive customer interest to the new brand.
These were just a few of the responses we got and we’d like to thank everyone who took the time to comment.
Automakers are rushing into mobility services, which involves ride sharing, ride hailing, electric scooters and e-bikes. But the question is: is there a business case for mobility services? That’s the topic on Autoline This Week and you can watch the entire show on our website, Autoline.tv or you can find it on our YouTube channel.
But that’s it for today, thanks for watching and have a great weekend.
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John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.