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.

Meanwhile, Tower, a major supplier to companies such as Ford and DaimlerChrysler, is continuing to negotiate with both the United Auto Workers and the United Steel Workers. The two unions, which represent approximately 2000 Tower employees, have threatened a strike should the judge issue a ruling that allows Tower to impose a new contract. Ligocki, however, said discussions are continuing and Tower still hopes to reach an agreement with the union fairly soon - perhaps as soon as the end of April.

"I believe, one way or another, that we will come to a solution," Ligocki said. "A work stoppage won't help anybody," said Ligocki, who noted Tower's customers are undoubtedly doing everything possible to line up alternative suppliers in the event of a strike.

However, she noted the discussions with the unions are making headway. "This is the same judge that handled the Northwest Airlines case and we know how that came out," she said. In the Northwest bankruptcy case, the judge basically forced the airline and the pilots union to negotiate until they reached a deal. "Everybody knows we have to figure this out," she added. "Rhetoric aside, the discussions are sober, tough, and everyone is very engaged."

"The unions are very sophisticated," she said, and appreciate the challenges facing companies such as Tower, who are being pushed by customers to offer the lowest possible price for their products.

Ligocki, an executive at Ford before moving to Tower, said she doesn't expect the cost pressures in the industry to relent because they reflect the competitive reality of a global economy. "To be successful, all of us are going to have to put aggressive productivity and cost reduction programs in place," she said. -Joe Szczesny

 

Chevrolet Prices New Avalanche

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche

The second-generation Chevrolet Avalanche - which the GM brand calls the "industry's most flexible utility vehicle" - will start from $32,490. Chevrolet will offer three trim levels on the new four-door pickup, with the midlevel LT starting at $33,170. The top-line LTZ will be priced at $39,905. Four-wheel-drive versions will be priced at $35,490 for the base version, $36,170 for the LT and $42,905 for the LTZ. All versions available at launch will be powered by Chevy's 5.3-liter V-8, which features cylinder-deactivation technology. The Avalanche also will be offered with E85 flex-fuel capability.

 

GM, VW Face Sibling Rival's Sedan in China

General Motors and Volkswagen are getting a new surprise competitor in China later this year, and after that in Europe and the U.S.  It's none other than their joint-venture partner in China - the government-owned Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC). SAIC has confirmed it will announce next week plans to build a luxury sedan based on the once British-built Rover 75 sedan. Job One of the as-yet unnamed new sedan will roll out within the next six months, according to a spokeswoman for the automaker, with a European export version coming in 2007. SAIC owns the rights to build Rover cars.

Spokesperson Zhu Xiangjun says the launch will inspire a "healthy rivalry" among the joint-venture partners. GM says it understands Shanghai Automotive's "desire for further growth," while VW says it recognizes "SAIC's wish to build up its own Chinese brand." SAIC projects 2010 production of about 200,000 of the new sedans, with 25 percent to be exported. SAIC has been building VW Passat and Santana cars since the early 1980s and Chevrolet and Buick cars since 1997. The GM-Shanghai venture has brought tidy profits to the struggling GM, amounting to $327 million last year.

Michael Dunne, president of Beijing-based consultancy Automotive Resources Asia, told the Wall Street Journal (April 5) that "the Chinese formed joint ventures for just one purpose: To learn how to do it themselves one day. That day is here." -Mac Gordon




 

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases

PRNewswire

General Motors to Open 'The Drive' Automotive Attraction




 

Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 4.69 +0.04 (+0.86%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 56.60 -0.21 (-0.37%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 22.12 +0.35 (+1.61%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 15.43 +0.09 (+0.59%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 16.96 +0.07 (+0.41%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 7.02 +0.11 (+1.59%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 60.40 +0.74 (+1.24%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 106.75 +1.04 (+0.98%)
Dana Corporation DCN 0.66 0.00 (0.00%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 60.04 +0.95 (+1.61%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.48 +0.17 (+7.36%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 74.39 +0.19 (+0.26%)
Ford Motor Company F 7.57 -0.11 (-1.43%)
General Motors Corporation GM 19.85 +0.37 (+1.89%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 16.46 -0.14 (-0.84%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 14.35 +0.08 (+0.56%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 31.91 +0.56 (+1.79%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 77.64 +0.74 (+0.96%)
Lear Corporation LEA 17.57 -0.04 (-0.23%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 75.20 -0.63 (-0.83%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 23.29 -0.08 (-0.34%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 23.976 +0.346 (+1.46%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 28.53 +0.35 (+1.24%)
Siemens AG SI 95.15 +0.14 (+0.15%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 5.04 -0.02 (-0.40%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 112.64 +2.24 (+2.03%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 23.68 -0.37 (-1.54%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.071 -0.004 (-5.33%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 43.24 -0.22 (-0.51%)
Visteon Corporation VC 4.66 -0.02 (-0.43%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 22.35 +0.74 (+3.42%)
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