Daily Edition: Dec. 5, 2005 Page 2

December 5, 2005

UAW Prepares for Leadership Change (12/4/2005)
New faces mean new relationships in Detroit.

Delphi, Unions Struggle to Bargain

Delphi Corp. Corp., under prodding from General Motors Corp., is attempting to restart negotiations with its unions in an effort to reach an accord that will defuse a potentially disastrous confrontation between labor and the supplier's management team.

The United Auto Workers said that they were willing to negotiate, but they also staged demonstrations and pickets at several Delphi plants last week, underscoring the gulf between the bankrupt automotive supplier and the unions. Unions are still smarting from the verbal broadsides of Delphi CEO Robert "Steve" Miller, who has said workers are overpaid by global standards.

The protests were originally planned to coincide with a hearing in bankruptcy court in New York on compensation for Delphi executives. The hearing was postponed but the union went ahead with the protest anyway to show their opposition to broad cuts in wages and benefits demanded by Delphi's top management.

Delphi, Unions Struggle to Bargain (12/4/2005)
No common ground apparent as death match continues.


Citroën Shows New Concept Off the Beaten Auto Show Track

Citroen Air Play

Citroen Air Play

Enlarge Photo

Citroën has chosen one of the lesser-known European auto shows, the Bologna Motor Show, which opens in the Italian city on December 3, to announce the C-Air Play, a new concept car that concentrates on the fun and sensation of driving without emphasizing sheer speed. The C-Air Play, a two-seater with space for luggage or one or two detachable child seats in the rear, aims to let its occupants enjoy driving as an outdoor pursuit. It has a removable roof panel, an opening rear window and extended ‘portholes’ in the lower half of the door that provide a close-up of the road intended to add to the enjoyment of driving.

The car is very compact, measuring just 129.9 inches overall with a wheelbase of 87.8 inches. It is 66.1 inches wide and 54.7 inches high, and underlining the “enjoyment without speed” message, it’s powered by a 110-hp gasoline engine that drives through an automatically actuated conventional gearbox. The combination is straight out of Citroën’s small sedans.

There are shift paddles behind the steering wheel to select gears in the gearbox’s manual mode, but when it is in automatic, Park, Drive and Neutral are selected by ‘soft-touch’ buttons incorporated into the material trimming the one-piece unit that forms the driver and passenger’s seats. Grouped together with the selector buttons are controls for the power windows and rear-view mirrors. Along with the shift paddles, the steering-wheel area also houses the speedometer, rev counter, and gas gauge, together with an airbag.

The C-Air Play’s design features soft shapes inside and out, with sloping, rounded contours front and rear, the former being broken up by large air intakes. Together with the big, wheel-arch-filling wheels, the air-intakes give the car a ‘power’ look that is more a style statement than a sign of actual performance.

The interior is cool, clean, and minimalist, with unusual ‘clamshell’ front seats that swing up and toward the center of the car to give access to the rear. There is no conventional trunklid; instead, two panels that take the place of the rear parcel shelf are accessed through the opening rear window to allow soft bags to be put in the luggage compartment.

Aimed squarely at the youth market, the C-Air Play bows to environmental trends by including Citroën’s ‘Stop & Start’ technology, which stops the engine when the car is halted in traffic and re-starts it automatically when the gas-pedal is pushed. This is already available on some of the company’s production cars.

The Bologna event traditionally brings the European auto show year to a close. It started thirty years ago as an enthusiast-oriented motor sport show, but over the past decade or so it has become more mainstream, with major European manufacturers, who were denied an Italian showcase with the death of the Turin Show in the Nineties, putting on expansive displays. It still maintains its motor sport roots, however, with displays of two and four-wheeled competition machinery and races in an arena that forms part of the show site. —Ian Norris

Renault Looking at Jaguar?

According to a report in L'Expansion, a leading French business magazine, Renault is looking at the possibility of buying Jaguar. The French company has never seen satisfactory sales for its top-of-the-range models, and new boss Carlos Ghosn is said to be keen to reverse that trend, knowing that luxury cars are more profitable than the small models that are Renault’s specialty.

The report says Renault has been rebuffed by Volvo but Jaguar is seen as a possible target. Both Volvo and Jaguar are owned by Ford, and while it is reasonable that Volvo, the most profitable of the Premier Automotive Group brands, would not be available, Jaguar has contributed little but red ink to the Ford balance sheet since it was bought in 1989. In view of Ford’s current business situation, shifting the British manufacturer for a cash injection could be more acceptable.

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