Daily Edition: Apr. 6, 2006

April 6, 2006

'07 Durango: Re-Grilled, E85ed and ESPed

Dodge will update the Durango SUV for the 2007 model year in anticipation of a new hybrid version coming in the 2008 model year. For this year, the Durango sports a revised grille that mirrors the one installed on the Caliber hatchback. The 4.7-liter V-8 engine available on the Durango is now available as an E85-powered vehicle, which means it can use ethanol-blend fuel instead of gasoline. And inside, the Durango gets curtain airbags, electronic parking assistance, and stability control. Dual-zone climate control, remote starting, and 20-inch wheels are new options. In the 2008 model year, the Durango will get more updates to its floorpan, second-row seats, and electrical system so that the HEMI-powered versions can be mated to a battery pack, turning the HEMI into a hybrid powertrain. Dodge promises up to a 25-percent fuel-economy benefit from the dual-mode hybrid coming in '08.

Spy Shots: '07 Chrysler Aspen by Brenda Priddy (12/12/2005)
New Durango-based ute coming in January.


Miller Says GM Is the Key

Ultimately, General Motors will provide the key to locking down a settlement between bankrupt supplier Delphi Corp. and its increasingly angry union workers, Delphi CEO Steve Miller told TheCarConnection on Wednesday.

The automaker, Miller noted, has already booked $5.5 billion to cover the anticipated cost of a bailout. GM recently unveiled a proposal to buy out thousands of Delphi workers and bring still more back to the automaker's own plants. But that proposal has not secured a settlement, especially now with Delphi asking that the judge in its bankruptcy case to toss out its current labor agreement. If approved, that would slash wages and eliminate thousands of jobs.

"We're broke," said Miller, insisting that only GM can ante up what it will take to satisfy the UAW and Delphi's other unions. But with the automaker facing its own troubles, "It's a question," said Miller, "of whether they can afford it."

Despite the angry rhetoric flowing from labor leaders, Delphi's CEO said he's confident union officials understand the supplier's situation and recognize the need to sidestep a confrontation. "I'm confident we can avoid one. A strike doesn't do anyone any good. It just destroys value." Even so, Miller acknowledged that there's a political issue at stake as well. Many top leaders of the UAW are up for re-election in June, while others are stepping down. That could make it more difficult for the union to take what Miller believes are the necessary steps. -TCC Team

Find out why Steve Miller wants Delphi to band together


Bill Ford Says No Bankruptcy

The challenge for Ford Motor Co. is to institutionalize change, said CEO Bill Ford, "without it being chaotic. We have to make (innovation) part of the decision-making process without disrupting the company." Ford had plenty more to say during an appearance on Wednesday, where he was named Industry Executive of the Year.

Has Ford stabilized, or is it still in freefall?


Tower Prepares Chapter 11 Exit

Tower Automotive Inc. has reached an agreement with retirees on pension and healthcare issues and remains in talks with its unions on proposed wage and benefit cuts, chief executive Kathleen Ligocki said on Wednesday. Ligocki said the agreement was an important step forward in the company's effort to exit bankruptcy by the end of next summer.
Tower, a metal vehicle frames producer that filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2005, has asked a bankruptcy judge to cancel its labor agreements with its unions, including the United Steelworkers and the United Auto Workers. The judge, however, has not yet ruled on the motion.

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