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GM, UAW Settle Minutes Before Strike Deadline

Four-year contract expected to largely mirror Fiat Chrysler agreement.

by on Oct.26, 2015

Handshakes and smiles marked the opening of GM-UAW contract talks last July. Shown in front: GM CEO Barra, UAW Pres. Williams, GM negotiator Cathy Clegg and UAW bargainer Cindy Estrada.

General Motors and the United Auto Workers Union reached tentative agreement on a new four-year labor contract Sunday only minutes before the UAW’s midnight strike deadline.

While neither side would discuss details before a meeting of the union’s rank-and-file plant leaders, it was expected the tentative contract would adhere closely to the so-called “pattern” agreement at Fiat Chrysler that won worker approval last week.

The Full Story!

“We believe that this agreement will present stable long-term, significant wage gains and job security commitments to UAW members now and in the future,” said UAW President Dennis Williams. “We look forward to presenting the details of these gains to local union leaders and the membership.”


GM Wants to Profitably Redefine Personal Mobility

CEO Barra outlines $5 bil investment in autonomous vehicles, carsharing and other game-changers.

by on Oct.01, 2015

GM is "working to redefine our relationship with customers and personal mobility," says CEO Barra.

With autonomous vehicles, car-sharing programs and alternative powertrains reshaping the auto industry, some manufacturers have begun referring to themselves as “personal mobility companies.” The challenge is finding a way to profit from that transformation, said General Motors CEO Mary Barra, as she opened the maker’s “Global Business Conference” with investors and financial analysts.

General Motors is exploring ways to expand the services it offers customers around the world and expects to invest $5 billion in the effort as part of an effort to meet the competition from new challengers such as Apple, Google and Tesla,  Barra said, during the conference at the GM Proving Grounds an hour outside Detroit.


“We’re working to redefine our relationship with customers and personal mobility,” Barry explained, adding that “We want to own that relationship inside and outside the vehicle.”


UAW Workers Reject Fiat Chrysler Contract

Strike could be looming for both FCA and for Ford.

by on Oct.01, 2015

FCA CEO Marchionne and UAW Pres. Williams were all smiles as they began contract talks.

A strike could be looming in the near future for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now that 40,000 workers represented by the United Auto Workers Union have rejected the carmaker’s tentative contract.

The UAW announced the results after the last major FCA assembly plant, in Sterling Heights, Michigan, turned thumbs down on the controversial agreement, which had generated widespread criticism by union activists. Almost 70% of the workers in Sterling Heights rejected the four-year proposal, according to a website run by the union local.

The Full Story!

The announcement comes as a major setback for UAW leaders, especially new President Dennis Williams who was overseeing his first round of national contract talks. The question now is whether the UAW can go back and renegotiate improvements to the agreement without a confrontation. Going into this year’s auto talks, Williams had said he would be willing to strike, if necessary, but said he would consider that possibility a “failure.”


FCA and UAW Extend Talks on an Hourly Basis

Signs of optimism despite missed deadline.

by on Sep.15, 2015

FCA's Sergio Marchionne and UAW's Dennis Williams shared a laugh during the opening of contract talks earlier this summer.

The United Auto Workers and FCA U.S. fell short in their bid to reach a new labor contract as the old pact expired at midnight on Monday night, but the two sides agreed to an “hour by hour” extension, which suggested negotiators believed they were relatively close to reaching a tentative four-year agreement.

Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat Automobiles NV. chief executive officer, was in Auburn Hills   as the deadline approached, rather than in Germany for the influential Frankfurt Auto Show. Besides skipping Fiat Chrysler’s various product introductions, Marchionne had been scheduled to meet with investors and analyst as part of the ongoing   effort to bolster the company’s image and stock price.

Always on Call!

The FCA CEO said he would have had a chance to promote his new pet project – a merger with General Motors.


American Motorists Cutting Back on Daily Trips

Online shopping, social networking likely a key factor.

by on Sep.03, 2015

More time online appears to translate into less time behind the wheel, finds new study.

While the number of cars on U.S. highways continues to grow, with congestion worsening in most metropolitan areas, Americans seem to be cutting back or combining daily errands, reducing the time they spend behind the wheel.

On average, American motorists spent about 10% less time in their cars to handle daily activities than they did a decade ago, according to a new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI.

News You Can Trust!

UMTRI researcher Michael Sivak, in one of a series of reports that examines recent motorization trends in the U.S., said that the average time spent traveling per day for all activities dropped from 1.23 hours in 2004 to 1.11 hours in 2014.


Auto Sales Slip a Bit, but Beat Expectations

Prices continue to push upwards.

by on Sep.01, 2015

Keep on trucking. Vehicles like the new Renegade helped Jeep score some of the industry's biggest gains in August.

Despite Wall Street’s shake-up, China’s sliding economy – and a fluke of the calendar – the U.S. auto industry did a bit better than anticipated in August, with far less of a downturn than some had predicted and a number of manufacturers managing to eke out strong gains.

While some brands, such as Toyota, saw sharp declines, others pushed into record sales numbers. And carnakers continued to see average transaction prices rise again last month, prices running at or near record levels for most of them, according to industry analysts.

Industry News!

“In spite of a tough 2014 comparison and extreme stock market volatility, our dealer’s competitive spirit kicked in and propelled us to our 65th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases,” said Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales. “Our Jeep brand turned in a double-digit increase while eight individual models, including four Jeep brand vehicles, set sales records.”


Toyota Restarts Chinese Plant After Fatal Blast

Explosion destroyed 1,000s of vehicles.

by on Sep.01, 2015

Thousands of burnt out vehicles sit charred after an explosion in the port city of Tianjin, China.

With global leadership in the auto industry hanging in the balance, Toyota is set to resume production at a big assembly complex in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, which was rocked earlier this month by a huge explosion that killed more than 140 and created a crisis for the government of the Republic of China even as it scrambles to contain the country’s mounting economic woes.

The slowdown in economic growth across China, highlighted by the plunge in Chinse stock indices, has cut into new car sales across the country. But major global carmakers, such as Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors still count on the Chinese market for a significant portion of the worldwide sales.

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The unexpected shutdown came at a critical time for Toyota. The Japanese maker saw its global sales slip behind Volkswagen for the first half of 2015, and the loss of production in Tianjin could give its German rival a stronger run for leadership during the rest of the year.


California Initiative Searches for Elusive Battery Breakthrough

Public-private effort aimed at “turbocharging the innovation process.”

by on Jul.30, 2015

The biggest problem with battery cars? The batteries -- shown here being assembled at a Nissan plant.

The biggest problem with today’s battery cars? The batteries, of course, which simply can’t deliver enough power in a compact, reasonably lightweight package.

A California-based initiative is aimed at “turbocharging the innovation process,” explained a senior official, looking for ways to boost power, drop costs and extend battery life. The project, dubbed CalCharge, has added six new partners, including major players like the Japanese auto giant Toyota and German mega-supplier Bosch.  In all, 18 automakers, parts suppliers and energy companies have joined the initiative – which has also teamed up with a number of national research labs.

Stay Charged Up!

“Connecting private companies with the talent at the labs means that innovators at both public and private organizations have a new opportunity to learn and share with one another,” said Horst Simon, deputy director at Berkeley Lab, one of the founding organizations of CalCharge.


GM Puts Its Products on a Diet

Efficiency is part of performance, says product czar Reuss.

by on May.19, 2015

The 2016 Chevy Camaro lost 200 pounds.

Pressure to improve fuel economy in the face of tough new federal rules is forcing General Motors to put its future products on a diet – something that will also require a major change in its internal culture, said the maker’s global product development chief.

The new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is an example of this shift in direction, said Executive Vice President Mark Reuss. In years past, each new product was heavier than the model it replaced. But the sixth-generation muscle car is 200 pounds lighter. Cutting mass, Reuss said, not only translates into a more fuel-efficient vehicle but one that is quicker and more nimble.

A Real Heavyweight!

“It still needs to be a wicked fast track car,” he said. But Reuss added that, “I include efficiency in performance.”


Automakers Regain Momentum in April – Market Looking at Best in Decade

Power forecast sees industry making up ground after cold winter.

by on Apr.24, 2015

Trucks, like this Ford F-150 shown with CEO Mark Fields, continue to gain momentum in the US market.

Consumer demand for new vehicles during April is the best it’s been in 10 years, according to a new analysis by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

With the warmer, spring weather finally settling in across the U.S., total light-vehicle sales are projected to reach 1,463,700, a 5% increase compared with April 2014 and the highest level for the month since April 2005.  The total seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales, or SAAR, is expected to hit 16.6 million units.

The Last Word!

“The industry continues to outperform prior-year levels with respect to retail sales and transaction prices,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. “The average new-vehicle transaction price so far in April is $30,680, on pace to achieve a new record for the month.” The current record was set in April 2014 when transaction prices averaged $29,948,” he said.