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Canadian Workers Ratify New Pact with GM

Longest strike in nearly two decades over.

by on Oct.16, 2017

The strike by Unifor workers at GM's plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, ended with a new four-year deal.

This story contains updated information.

Striking workers at the General Motors plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, have ratified a new four-year contract with the automaker, ending the longest walkout at a GM plant in nearly two decades.

Unifor Local 88 announced the results of the ratification vote Monday afternoon and said workers would begin returning to work begin immediately. The agreement was passed by 85.9% members and 78.7% of trades, the local said.

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“The ratification of a new four-year agreement between GM Canada and Unifor Local 88 at CAMI Assembly is welcome news for our company, employees and the community,” Steve Carlisle, president and managing director, General Motors Canada, in a statement.

“We have an outstanding new product at CAMI with the Chevrolet Equinox and I am confident that we will quickly pull together to continue to demonstrate to the world the outstanding productivity, innovation and quality that is synonymous with the CAMI workforce.”

The tentative agreement came late Friday after GM had warned Unifor Local 88, the union representing some 2,750 workers employed at the plant, the company was prepared to shift more production of the popular Chevrolet Equinox from Canada to Mexico if the four-week-old strike continued.

(GM reaches deal with Canadian workers. For the story, Click Here.)

The threat had appeared to lead to a deadlock in the talks, which had stalled out the previous week.

Local 88 employees were angry about GM's decision to move production of the GMC Terrain to Mexico.

Details of the tentative agreement are being withheld pending ratification, but one of the union’s key demands was a commitment from GM that the Ingersoll plant would remain the lead plant for production of the Equinox, a compact sport utility vehicle that is one of the most popular vehicles sold by GM in North America.

The union wanted a written commitment from GM that Ingersoll would be the lead plant, meaning production would be reduced at factories in Mexico if production of the Equinox need to be reduced because of a decline in sales.

(Click Here for details about Unifor’s demand for new product in Ingersoll.)

Inventories on dealer lots had dwindled to less than 40 days and GM faces stiff competition for sales in the segment from competitors such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV and Ford Escape.

The dispute over the merits of the North American Free Trade Agreement. GM has long-favored NAFTA, which allows it to build vehicles and components in Mexico duty free, while Unifor, like its counterpart in the U.S., the United Auto Workers, has criticized the trade pact claiming it’s destroying jobs in the U.S. and Canada.

The dispute in Ingersoll intensified in July after GM laid off 600 employees and shifted production of the GMC Terrain to Mexico. GM countered that it had already invested $800 million in the remodeling the plant but layoffs led directly to the strike union representatives said when the strike began Sept. 17.

(To see more about the negotiations between GM and Unifor, Click Here.)

“This strike has shown all of Canada why a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement must address the needs of working people first,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias in a statement after the tentative settlement was reached.

Tesla Purges Hundreds of “Underperforming” Employees

EV maker says workers will be replaced.

by on Oct.16, 2017

Tesla reportedly fired hundreds of underperforming workers at its plant in Fremont, California, as well as its Palo Alto headquarters.

Claiming it was weeding out underperforming employees, Tesla dismissed hundreds of employees at its Palo Alto, California, headquarters campus and its Fremont assembly facility, according to multiple reports.

The San Jose Mercury News puts the number of firings at between 400 and 700 people, and they affected everything from factory workers to engineers to managers. According to that report, workers were not given advance notice of the decision.

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Tesla, in a statement, cited a company-wide annual review and said that it had not laid employees off, but rather that it let employees go based on lackluster job performance. (more…)

GM Reaches Deal with Canadian Auto Workers

Uniform Local 88 holding ratification vote on Monday.

by on Oct.15, 2017

After four weeks on the picket lines, it appears Unifor employees have struck a deal with GM. (Photo credit: Arnie De Vaan)

Striking Canadian auto workers said late Friday they had reached a tentative deal to end a four-week-old walkout at a key GM assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario.

“The Master Bargaining Committee, along with our Unifor National Representatives, is pleased to announce that a tentative agreement has been achieved,” Unifor Local 88 said on its website.

Union News!

“Details of the Tentative Agreement will not be released until the membership ratification meeting,” the Local said in its announcement, adding it would hold a ratification meeting and vote on Monday. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Volvo V90 R-Design

An engaging package of style, performance and luxury.

by on Oct.13, 2017

The Volvo V90 may be the leader of the pack when it comes to the resurgent station wagon segment.

Don’t look now but the station wagon is quietly making something of a comeback.

It might not be a huge comeback and a fair number of manufacturers are loath to even mention the words “station wagon” in their various sales pitches. However, with the appearance of the V90, Volvo is definitely embracing the station wagon.

Reviews You Can Use!

Moreover, the V90 is hardly a retro-vehicle eager to get in touch with some kind Mad Men-era chic. Instead it’s a fully updated vehicle with a luxurious interior and an exterior that completely re-invents the appearance with fresh lines, curves and angles kept well within envelope traditionally occupied by station wagon with its low but elongated profile.  (more…)

GM Appoints Bolt Boss to New EV Post

Fletcher named Vice President, Global Electric Vehicle Programs

by on Oct.13, 2017

Pam Fletcher, GM's electric vehicle chief, and North American President Alan Batey hold the Motor Trend Car of the Year trophy. for the Chevrolet Bolt.

With the pressure mounting in several corners of the globe to promote the use of electric vehicles on the road, General Motors Co. appointed Pamela Fletcher to the newly created position of Vice President, Global Electric Vehicle Programs.

Fletcher, who has spent a substantial part of her career with GM working on electric vehicles, led the team that launched the Chevrolet Bolt EV and “created the plan to accelerate us along the pathway to our vision of a zero emissions world,” the company noted.

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The Bolt has been considered a technical success and is considered an integral part of the company’s future fleet of autonomous vehicles and GM’s car sharing initiatives. (more…)

Asian Makers Sweep Green Car of the Year Nominations

Honda gets two chances at the title.

by on Oct.12, 2017

Honda's new 2018 Accord is one of the nominees for the Green Car of the Year Award.

The list of nominees for the 2018 Green Car of the Year award, which will be handed out in late November during the Los Angeles Auto Show press preview, is dominated by Asian automakers, including two nominations for Honda.

The 2018 models include the Honda Accord, Honda Clarity, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan Leaf and Toyota Camry, according to Green Car Journal. Noticeably absent from the list? Tesla Model 3.

Global Auto News!

The all-new 2018 Accord champions style, efficiency, and performance with three advanced new power plants – two direct-injected and turbocharged 4-cylinder engines and the third generation of Honda’s two-motor hybrid powertrain. (more…)

Commerce Secretary Ross Optimistic about NAFTA Talks

President Trump still pushing to kill deal.

by on Oct.12, 2017

President Donald Trump continues to threaten to walk away from NAFTA, but officials are positive the revised deal can be completed.

While President Donald Trump continues to talk about walking away from the North American Free Trade Agreement if necessary, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he still expects to reach a deal with Mexico and Canada on revising the existing agreement.

“From time to time (the President) has expressed a total willingness to depart from NAFTA should that become necessary,” Ross, whose personal investment portfolio includes controlling interest a major automotive supplier with factories in Mexico told a panel in Washington D.C., according to TheHill.com.

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“We don’t hope it will, we don’t desire that it will, we don’t believe that it will, but it is at least a conceptual possibility as we go forward.” (more…)

Magna Joins BMW-Led Autonomous Car Consortium

Canada-based supplier customizing computer systems.

by on Oct.11, 2017

Magna International's Swamy Kotogiri outlines the parameters of the autonomous vehicle deal with BMW, Intel and Mobileye.

Magna International Inc., one of the world’s largest auto-parts suppliers, is joining the consortium launched by BMW AG, Intel Corp. and Mobileye to develop fully automated driving systems by 2021.

Ontario, Canada-based Magna will help customize computing systems designed by the partners to integrate technology and customize the controller designed by BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye.

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“Many of the autonomy challenges the industry is facing can’t be handled in isolation,” said Magna’s Chief Technology Officer Swamy Kotagiri. (more…)

Gas Prices Fall as Autumn Hits US

Hurricane Nate having no impact on gas prices.

by on Oct.11, 2017

Gas prices continued to fall last week despite Hurricane Nate making landfall.

Even though another hurricane swept across the Gulf of Mexico this past weekend, the average price that consumers pay for gasoline dropped again this week, according to AAA.

AAA reported that motorists are paying on average six cents less for a gallon of gasoline on the week with all states seeing prices at the pump either drop or hold steady.

News You Can Trust!

The national average is $2.49 per gallon, which is 18 cents cheaper than a month ago just after Hurricane Harvey had slammed in the Texas coast near Houston. The latest Energy Information Administration report shows gasoline demand at 9.2 million barrels daily, down 281,000 barrels per day from the week prior. This rate suggests that retail gas prices are showing steady promise of returning to pre-hurricane rates, AAA said. (more…)

NADA Chief Warns Makers about Unfair Sales Practices

Scarpelli says consumers will lose trust in brands.

by on Oct.10, 2017

NADA Chairman Mark Scarpelli told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit that makers must eliminate gimmicky incentives or risk losing loyal customers.

The National Automobile Dealers Association defeated regulations proposed by the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that its dealers believe made it more difficult for consumers to obtain credit, NADA Chairman Mark Scarpelli told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

The CFPB recently finalized its recommendations that, among other features, requires lenders to make “ability to repay” determinations when extending certain payday, vehicle title and other loans to consumers.

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Although the proposed rule would have covered certain “high cost” vehicle finance contracts, the final rule generally excluded those contracts unless they have a balloon payment feature. A balloon payment is defined as at least one payment that is more than twice as large as any other payment, Scarpelli noted.  (more…)