FERRARI MAKES ITS LATEST “ENZO”
What once was called the Ferrari FX is now headed for production as the “Enzo,” after the company’s legendary founder. The Enzo, shown as a concept recently in Tokyo, is now confirmed for very limited production — just 349 units — and for an official debut at September’s Paris auto show. Ferrari promises F1 performance for the road, with a 6.0-liter V-12 pumping out more than 650 hp and reaching a top speed in excess of 217 mph.
Fiat: GM’s “Italian Patient?” by Jim Burt (6/17/2002)
TCC DRIVES: ’03 PORSCHE BOXSTER S
A drop-top Porsche, clear roads and good weather. It’s been a recipe for fun for years now, and the new version of the company’s entry-level model is going to keep that recipe on the boil. The Boxster was introduced in 1996 and has remained unchanged since, although the more powerful ‘S’ version was added to the range in 1999 — but this year it will get more horsepower and revised styling. Ride along with Ian Norris as he drives the touched-up model:
Preview: '03 Porsche Boxster by Ian Norris (6/24/2002)
GM: OSHAWA GETS GRAND PRIX
GM is moving the Pontiac Grand Prix to a more cosmopolitan neighborhood. The 2004 model of the mid-size sedan will shift production from Fairfax, Kan., to Oshawa, Ont., on the outskirts of Toronto. Oshawa is GM’s most efficient plant and was named by the recent Harbour Report as the most efficient car plant in North America. The Grand Prix will be assembled in Oshawa #2 alongside the Buick Century/Regal; the Kansas plant will be home to the next generation of Chevrolet Malibu.
GM POWERTRAIN AIMING FOR WORLD BEST
General Motors Corp.’s engine and transmission plants are on track to become world leaders in quality and productivity, says Homi Patel, GM vice president of manufacturing for GM Powertrain. “We aim to make GM Powertrain manufacturing the benchmark for productivity, quality and costs,” Patel says. The company’s Romulus, Mich., engine plant was the most productive plant producing V-8 engines in North America last year, according to the Harbour Report of automakers’ productivity. GM reduced the number of hours it takes to produce an engine at its plants by 3.9 percent last year. It reduced the time it took to build an automatic transmission 1.3 percent, Patel says. GM Powertrain had the fewest problems per 100 cars and the second lowest number of truck problems behind Toyota in the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality survey, says Bob Moran, manufacturing manager, Engine Sector, GM Powertrain. GM’s Romulus engine plant, which produces V-6 and V-8 engines for light trucks, produced two V-8s with fewer problems per 100 than Toyota’s 4.7-liter truck V-8, and four V-8s with fewer problems per 100 than Ford’s 5.4-liter truck V-8, according to the survey. — Mark Phelan
MASERATI BREEDING RACE COUPE
Testing has begun for a racing version of the Maserati Coupe. The “Trofeo Maserati” is stuffed with plenty of racing necessities, says Maserati, including specific spring and damper ratings, racing bucket seat, full safety roll cage, bigger wheels and tires and a specially modified engine management unit. Maserati plans a return to racing in the near future, although it’s not certain if the brand will return to Formula One, where it has won one championship.
2002 Maserati Coupe by TCC Team (3/25/2002)
RED BULL GOES AFTER YOUNG DRIVERS
Former Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan has joined forces with Red Bull sports drink in a program to promote young drivers from the United States on the path to Formula One. "We haven't had any American drivers doing F1 since Michael Andretti in 1993,” Sullivan says. “There is a lot of talent out there, but we don't have anywhere for them to step up and prove their stuff.” Americans have a rich history in F1, with Phil Hill and Mario Andretti winning the championship and many drivers winning races. Yet, in the last 20 years, few U.S. drivers have passed up NASCAR and Indy racing for the grueling effort that is not even well-covered by the U.S. media. Sullivan competed in F1 in 1983 when he drove in 15 Grand Prix races for Team Tyrrell. Red Bull, an energy drink company, sponsors 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. and rookie Tomas Scheckter in the Indy Racing League, and it sponsors the Sauber-Petronas and Arrows-Cosworth teams in F1.—Bob Storck
DAILY IN DEPTH
Schrempp: DC In Black, Maybach Rolls
DaimlerChrysler CEO Juergen E. Schrempp said the Chrysler Group is headed for an operating profit this year. That’s a sharp reversal from 2001’s $2.12 billion loss and amounts to DC’s rebuff of a recent declaration by Web site analyst Eric Noble that “DC is crumbling.”
Schrempp told a Wall Street Journal interviewer in Stuttgart that the North American Chrysler Group is “having a very, very good second quarter” on an operating fiscal basis. DC doesn’t report net income reflecting one-time charges, but Schrempp indicated that the upbeat mood would be reinforced by first-half fiscal results when they are released July 18.
As if to frost Schrempp’s upbeat mood, Maybach’s Job 1 left the Mercedes Sindelfingen plant in Germany June 24 en route to New York City aboard the Queen Elizabeth II. The ultra-elegant Maybach will carry a $349,000 MSRP and will be sold by selected Mercedes dealers. About 1000 will be built in the first full year of the top-of-the-line Mercedes, with 400 targeted for the U.S.
Joachim Schmidt, DC’s board member in charge of marketing Maybach, Mercedes and Smart cars, said the Maybach was revived after an absence of more than 40 years to beat archrival BMW into the superluxe market in 2003 with its first Rolls-Royce. BMW takes over Rolls from Volkswagen on January 1, 2003, and will build the British flagship in Goodwood, England while VW retains Bentley and Crewe.
Schrempp said Mitsubishi’s fortunes also are improving, but declined to say whether DC would exercise an option to boost its 37-percent stake in the Japanese automaker next year. DC also has a 10-percent stake in Hyundai Motor, South Korea’s leading automaker.—Mac Gordon
UAW Turns to Honda Safety in Transplant Drive
Auto union leaders are keeping up the drumfire in a re-energized drive to organize unorganized transplant workers. A New York Times story Wednesday centered on the UAW’s attempt to leverage a high injury rate at Honda’s assembly plants in mid-Ohio into ammunition that could help its cause in a future representation election. Although the story noted that federal government data show that in the 1998-2000 years the injury rate per 100 workers at Honda’s plants was more than double the industry average, Honda officials were firm in denying that its safety record was excessively high. Honda of America Manufacturing Executive Vice President and general counsel Rick Schostek said U.S. Department of Labor safety logs unfairly inflate its injury rates because the automaker insists on reporting even minor injuries and does not rush victims back to work.
With the injury rates at Honda’s Marysville and East Liberty, Ohio, plants per 100 workers running at 23.5 in 2000 vs. an industry average of 10.5, the UAW has declared that assembly speeds at Honda and other unorganized transplant facilities are “a central issue” in its intensified organizing drive. The Times story quoted a number of Honda workers who have sustained workplace injuries, as well as citing Honda’s efforts to improve workplace safety.
Since Ron Gettelfinger took office as UAW president early in June, the union has moved its transplant organizing operation into top gear. A card-check organizing drive was staged at the Toyota plants in Georgetown, Ky., and Tier One supplier Johnson Controls recognized the union after a brief strike at four of its plants.—Mac Gordon
Chrysler, Canadian Union Face-Off over Job Flexibility
STUTTGART -- DaimlerChrysler will push for more job flexibility in its upcoming contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers and Canadian Auto Workers unions, DaimlerChrysler Corp. President and CEO Dieter Zetsche said in an interview here.
The alternative, Zetsche says, is to “lose the last (unionized auto job) plus the Big Three.”
“We have to work together,” Zetsche says. “Flexibility is probably the most important element.” DaimlerChrysler’s CAW contract expires this year. Its current UAW contract ends in 2003.
The UAW did not return phone calls for this story, but CAW President Buzz Hargrove was unsympathetic.
“With the greatest respect to Mr. Zetsche, DaimlerChrysler’s Canadian plants are already very flexible,” Hargrove says. The CAW will seek pay and cost-of-living increases, more paid time off and a reduction of overtime in favor of hiring new workers, he says.
“DaimlerChrysler also owes us a new product in the Pillette Rd. (Windsor, Ont.) assembly plant,” Hargrove says. DaimlerChrysler plans to close the plant in July 2003. In its last contract, the automaker had guaranteed the union Pillette Rd. would get a new product to replace the full-size vans it now assembles. “We want a time frame pinned down for when Pillette Rd. gets a new product,” Hargrove says.
However, Zetsche says he is optimistic DaimlerChrysler and the unions will reach an agreement. “We can look at this together as an opportunity for both of us to create a win-win situation, rather than a situation where both of us lose.”
The unions “basically have two choices,” he says. “You have the American manufacturers working in UAW and CAW plants, and you have the Japanese and European companies working in non-organized plants.”
“The question is whether the UAW and CAW watch what has happened to their membership and the market share of the Big Three. Labor is certainly not the only element, but it is an element.”
While Zetsche says “management has the responsibility for the lack of competitiveness,” he added that “The unions must work together with us to improve our competitiveness.”
DaimlerChrysler will not seek reduced pay or benefits, he says, “but there are a number of areas to increase flexibility.” The alternative, he says, is better compensation for “a shrinking number of (union) members.”
He compared DaimlerChrysler’s quest for flexibility to the old railroad contracts that allowed coal shovelers to keep their job designation and ride idly after trains switched from steam to electric power.
“That’s crazy,” Zetsche says. “This guy has to learn another job. You have to have levels of flexibility and the possibility for productivity gains, which allow you to maintain the high standard of life we all want.” — Mark Phelan
WJR AUTO REPORT
How’d you like to buy a car made just for you? When Maybach, the new ultra-luxury brand from DaimlerChrysler, debuts next year, it will sell only custom-made vehicles. Want a marble bar or gold-plated switches? No problem—at least not if you have about $300,000 to spend.
But things may be changing. Even mainstream automakers are looking for ways to produce specialized niche products — unique, low-volume spin-offs of mainstream vehicles. Typically, a carmaker needs to build at least 100,000 copies a year to earn a profit. But a General Motors official told TheCarConnection his goal is to build niche vehicles in batches of as few as 1000.
Chrysler came close with products like the Viper and Prowler, but these models were expensive and at best, barely profitable. So the automaker will focus on volumes of at least 40,000 in the future.
Niche cars are an automotive Holy Grail, but to pull it off, a carmaker is going to have to come up with a radically new way to design and produce its products.
FROM THE SOURCE
Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) recently demonstrated its commitment to supplier diversity initiatives by participating in the Supplier Diversity Challenge Signatory Ceremony at SuperComm, the annual global trade show for the communications industry. The ceremony took place in Atlanta on June 3. Johnson Controls has continually increased the amount of money it spends with diverse suppliers, and has implemented plans to purchase $1 billion in goods and services from minority- and women-owned businesses by 2003. That is approximately 16 percent of the $6 billion in external goods and services the company purchases each year. Last year, Johnson Controls spent more than $505 million buying from businesses owned and operated by non-white Americans, women and veterans.
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|HONDA MOTOR CO||HMC||19.90||-0.10|
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