DAILY EDITION: Oct. 7, 2003

October 6, 2003


RELAY Gets Saturn’s First Metal Bod

When it joins the rest of the Saturn lineup in the 2005 model year, the RELAY “crossover sport van” won’t just be Saturn’s first minivan —it’ll be the brand’s first vehicle with a mostly sheetmetal body. Most Saturns — the ION, VUE, and L300 — feature bodies that blend horizontal sheetmetal surfaces (roofs, hoods, and decklids) with polymer vertical panels, like doors and fenders. The RELAY will be one of four new GM minivans styled and pitched as “crossover”-style minivan alternatives: the RELAY will be joined by the Uplander (replacing the Chevy Venture), the Buick Terrazza, and the Pontiac SV6. Saturn tells Automotive News that the ION and VUE will retain their plastic panels for the near future, but the weekly says the next L-Series vehicle will likely have a sheetmetal body.

SATURN by Bob Plunkett (9/1/2003)

Ford Going South of the Border for Futura

2006 Ford Futura

2006 Ford Futura

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It sounds a little too prescient, given last week’s UAW contract signings: the Futura of Ford is moving to Mexico. The company said on Monday that the coming 2006 model-year sedan will be built at an expanded plant in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, beginning in 2005. The plant currently builds versions of the Focus compact (ZX3/ZX5 and the SVT Focus), and will expand and likely add 2000 workers to accommodate production of the new, Mazda6-derived four-door. Once the expansion is complete, the factory will have the capability to produce about 300,000 vehicles each year. The plant also will be able to build Lincoln and Mercury-brand vehicles derived from the same platform — part of Ford’s move to make many of its North American factories “flexible” plants, capable of producing many different models on the same lines. The Mazda6 platform will spawn up to ten new Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln vehicles in the next few years, including a pair of sport wagons to be built at Ford’s Atlanta, Ga., plant.

Ford Atlanta Plant Seeks Lease on Life by Joseph Szczesny (9/1/2003)
Quality may be number one, but it’s not a guarantee.

UAW Ratifies GM, Delphi Deals

GM and Delphi are the last automakers and suppliers to put the ink to their recent deals with the United Auto Workers. The union says it has ratified the new four-year deal with the world’s biggest automaker and its former captive parts supplier, now independent. The new contract will allow GM to close one of its assembly plants and one parts plant; the deal is essentially similar to that enjoined with Ford and Visteon, which keeps the current pay package (with raises) and healthcare benefits intact. “We accomplished our major bargaining goals and are pleased that the membership expressed confidence in those efforts,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger in a release. The contracts cover nearly 150,000 workers at GM and Delphi.

Detroit Reacts to UAW Contract by Joseph Szczesny (9/29/2003)
The UAW and Detroit are done, but analysts aren't impressed.

GM Shareholders Want to Spin Off Hughes

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