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Despite Fears of Rejection, Workers at Ford, GM Ratify Contracts

Approval frees union leaders to shift focus to new organizing efforts.

by on Nov.21, 2015

GM and UAW officials shown on July 13, 2015 marking the opening of contract talk.

Workers at both Ford Motor Co. and General Motors voted to accept each of their new four-year contract offers, in the process ending what had turned into an unexpectedly contentious round of negotiations – workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles soundly rejecting their own first contract offer.

A variety of offers pitted not only the United Auto Workers Union against Detroit’s Big Three but also saw the UAW having to fend off more militant members of the union. Starting with President Dennis Williams on down, Autoworkers leaders mobilized to sell a revised Chrysler contract. But they continued to run into trouble even with more lucrative offers from GM and Ford.

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At the smaller of the two, 51.3% of production workers and 52.4% of Ford’s skilled tradesmen voted for the contract. Among other things, that vote will earn 53,000 Ford workers ratification bonuses of $8,500.

“Through a fair and democratic process UAW-Ford members have delivered job security and strong economic gains for their families and communities,” said Jimmy Settles, vice president of the UAW’s Ford department.


Redesigned Buick LaCrosse Builds on Avenir Concept

New sedan taking aim at Lexus ES sedan.

by on Nov.18, 2015

The 2017 Buick LaCrosse borrows heavily from the brand's well-received Avenir concept car.

Buick has been trying to convince skeptical American auto buyers that its latest offerings aren’t the bland and forgettable products of the past. And perhaps nothing has come closer to getting that message across than the striking Buick Avenir concept vehicle that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show last January.

While there are currently no plans to put the show car into production, the General Motors “premium” brand could turn heads again with the Los Angeles Auto Show debut of the new 2017 Buick LaCrosse. The familiar nameplate gets an all-new look that borrows liberally from the Avenir concept.

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“The new LaCrosse signals the next phase of Buick’s international momentum,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick Sales and Marketing, who not so modestly declares the new sedan “drop-dead gorgeous.” (more…)

Workers Close to Rejecting New Ford Contract

UAW leaders step up effort to win over rank-and-file.

by on Nov.18, 2015

UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles now has to win over workers at two key Ford plants.

Workers at two major Ford Motor Co. plants have roundly rejected the tentative four-year contract they’ve been offered by the automaker, raising the specter that this agreement might also go down to defeat, much like the settlement originally offered by Fiat Chrysler AG earlier this autumn.

That would be the latest setback for the leadership team at the United Auto Workers Union, UAW bargainers already struggling to pull things together at General Motors. Line workers there accepted their own contract offer, but that deal was rejected by skilled trades employees.

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In an unusual move, union leaders were scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday morning to address the situation and lay out plans to move forward. Under UAW President Dennis Williams, the union has been struggling to win over workers who want to make significant gains after years of concessions and who see the auto industry setting record sales and near-record profits.


GM Settling Ignition Switch Class-Action Lawsuit

Pensioners lead effort toward $300 million plan.

by on Nov.17, 2015

General Motors is moving toward a $300 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit about its faulty ignition switches.

General Motors is moving towards a $300 million deal that will end a class-action lawsuit that charges the automaker with concealing the deadly ignition-switch defects, which drove down the value of GM stock.

The New York State Teachers’ Retirement System filed papers in the federal court for the Eastern District of Michigan asking for approval of the $300 million deal, which will end a consolidated class action claiming General Motors Co.’s stock price was inflated during a period when the company concealed ignition-switch defects that the plaintiffs say killed more than 124 motorists.

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The $108.2 billion pension fund was approved as lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit last year in which the plaintiffs claimed GM committed fraud by failing to disclose the scope of the problem of faulty ignition switches. Costs of the ignition switch scandal has now topped more than $5 billion and continue to grow. (more…)

GMC Pickups Going Upscale with Denali Package Next Year

Canyon, Sierra looking to exploit demand for luxe trucks.

by on Nov.17, 2015

GM President Dan Ammann (left) and GMC VP of Sales and Marketing Duncan Aldred with the 2017 GMC Canyon Denali at its L.A. Auto Show reveal.

Everyone seems to want a really nice pickup truck these days and GMC is working to ensure that Canyon and Sierra buyers can get as both are now available in the high-end Denali package.

The package includes the signature Denali chrome grille – premium materials and the latest safety and infotainment technology. Features such as a 10-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster on the Yukon Denali series and Magnetic Ride Control on Sierra Denali are exclusive to their respective vehicle segment.

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Debuting the two new offerings at the Los Angeles Auto Show, GMC gave the media an early look at the two new models. (more…)

UAW Reopens Contract Talks with General Motors

Skilled trades vote against deal causes new talks.

by on Nov.16, 2015

The UAW reopened contract talks with GM after its skilled trades employees voted the deal down.

After a week of consultation with union members throughout General Motors manufacturing system, the United Auto Workers executive board has elected to re-open negotiations with the automaker on issues of concern to skilled trades.

UAW members classified as skilled trades at GM decisively rejected the union’s tentative contract with the auto giant by a decisive margin of more than 59% even though the contract included an $8,000 signing bonus and 3% pay increase for workers hired before 2007.

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The agreement was ratified by production workers, but the UAW executive board has held off on declaring the contract ratified. (more…)

Buick Moving Ahead with Plans to Bring Chinese Car to US

Compact crossover could go on sale by late 2016.

by on Nov.13, 2015

The Buick Envision is already on sale in China.

General Motors’ Buick division is moving forward on plans to bring a Chinese-made vehicle to the U.S. market.

A version of the Buick Envision already on sale in China, the compact crossover is expected to go on sale here by late 2016, according to a Wall Street Journal report. That would make GM only the second manufacturer to import a vehicle from China.

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The booming Asian market – which is just rebounding from an unusual slump – is the largest outlet in the world for Buick, and GM now sells more vehicles in China than in the U.S. But as the market slows from years of high double-digit growth, the Detroit maker is looking to find other opportunities for the production capacity it has set up in Shanghai and other cities.


GM Plugging in a Potential Game-Changer

New Chevy Bolt expected to see huge drop in battery costs.

by on Nov.11, 2015

The Chevy Bolt shown during its January 2015 debut at the Detroit Auto Show.

When it comes to electric vehicles, it’s all about the batteries. They determine range, charging time, performance and, of course, price. And the longer the range the higher the price tag.

But General Motors believes it’s close to the proverbial paradigm shift as it gets ready to bring its new long-range Chevrolet Bolt to market. The 200-mile battery-electric vehicle is expected to have the lowest-priced batteries available, breaking a target price many experts didn’t anticipate could be reached for at least five more years.

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“We’re going to be at $145 a kilowatt-hour when we launch the Bolt,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s global product development director, during a lunchtime interview.


Regulators in US, Germany Crack Down on Emissions, Mileage Testing

Dozens of vehicles brought back for new testing in wake of VW scandal.

by on Nov.11, 2015

A Z71 version of the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel which won a 31 mpg EPA highway rating.

Not so fast. When General Motors asked the Environmental Protection Agency to issue its official fuel economy rating on the new Chevrolet Colorado Duramax diesel pickup, the agency took a little longer than expected, EPA officials asking if they could keep the test truck a bit longer than normal, says Mark Reuss, GM’s global product development chief.

The EPA is taking a much more careful approach when it comes to testing for emissions and fuel economy, Reuss and other industry officials tell And U.S. regulators are not alone. Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority says it will run new tests on dozens of vehicles sold in that country to ensure they comply with diesel emissions standards.

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Those moves come in the wake of revelations – first announced by the U.S. EPA on September 18th – that Volkswagen AG had cheated on emissions testing for vehicles equipped with the maker’s 2.0-liter EA 189 diesel engine. A total of 482,000 of those vehicles were sold in the U.S., 11 million worldwide. Since then, VW has admitted to other emissions “irregularities.”


GM Dedicates New Wind Tunnel to Boost Fuel Economy

Second tunnel focuses efficiency efforts.

by on Nov.11, 2015

General Motors Aerodynamic Engineer Nina Tortosa tests underbody airflow on a Chevrolet Cruze 40% scale model.

General Motors is putting the finishing touches on a new $30 million wind tunnel for testing scale models on the campus of the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, as part of its overall effort to meet tougher fuel-economy regulations that are looming over the next decade.

GM is also planning an overhaul of its full-size wind tunnel, which is adjacent to the new test center. The overhaul will begin late next year and will take about a year to complete, and will include the construction of a full-scale rolling road system and other improvements.

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“The combined capabilities of our new reduced-scale and full-scale wind tunnels allow us to reach industry-leading levels of aerodynamic refinement,” said Ken Morris, vice president, GM Global Product Integrity. (more…)