Posts By: Samir Syed
On June 23, 2008, GM announced it was hiring Citigroup to help it in a strategic review of the HUMMER brand. After being inflicted with a base H3 for a week, I’d suggest the venerable the General skip to the denouement and sell off the brand to anyone who wants it. By offering vehicles like the base H3, GM demonstrates it is/was unwilling and/or unable to nurture what is/was the most focused brand in its bloated portfolio.
One day, we’ll look back fondly on the rivalry between Xbox and Playstation. Inevitably, we’ll discuss the competing pairs of game that these consoles offered, genre by genre, sequel by sequel. We’ll debate Final Fantasy vs. Oblivion, Halo vs. Resistance, and ,of course, Gran Turismo (“GT”) vs. Forza Motorsport. And everyone will pick the Playstation(s)’s GT series. That said, Xbox owners need not lament as the Xbox’s own flagship racer is a solid game indeed and one of the most intuitive, purest racing games available today.
Evaluating the Canadian-designed, built and sold Acura CSX without mentioning the Honda Civic is no easy task. (See?) Comparisons are so tempting, namely because the latter is an excellent car in its own right. The feeling’s mutual. Honda of Japan loved the Acura CSX so much that it served as a template for the JDM Civic. And why not? The CSX delivers an excellent compact luxury package without the reliability issues bedeviling certain (cough German cough) imports. Said otherwise, the CSX is the penny-pinching—I mean, thinking man’s luxury compact.
As Reuters notes, 90 percent of the vehicles Ford builds in Canada end-up in the U.S. So, despite the fact that the Ford F-series is still the best-selling vehicle north of the border, Ford Canada is suffering. All of which leads to the suprise (really?) resignation of Barry Engle, Ford of Canada's president. Though Engle has served for several years for Ford and Chrysler, working in several capacities around the globe, he decided to exit the auto industry just six months after assuming FoMoCo Canada's top job. Engle's new job will be in his native Pennsylvania, working for an agricultural equipment company; IMHO he's using "family time" as a smokescreen. Time for a Lilly Pulitzer: did he fall or was he pushed? And why?
How does a Mustang fare in a harsh, North-eastern winter? More specifically, Canada. I only ask because last year, Montreal, where I live, was covered with over 200 inches of snow. I've already done the rear wheel-drive-in-winter thing in my first car. I was behind the wheel of a Chevette with about four hp and two ft.-lbs of torque (slight exaggeration). In other words, it came standard with engine-limited traction control. A buddy of mine tried to negotiate last winter in his Twin Turbo Supra. Fancy snow tires and 200 lbs. of gravel in the trunk still made it the worst winter car in the universe. He ended up buying a Hyundai Accent to get through the season (ouch). True fact: in my entire life, I think I can count on one hand the amount of winterized Mustangs I've seen, complete with ugly black wheels and skinny winter tires. So, do the other Mustang owners who leave theirs in the garage all winter know something I should know?
Buzz Hargrove doesn't mince his words. As demonstrated in Part 1 of this interview, the outgoing Canadian Auto Workers leader is fully aware of the Detroit domestics' dire financial peril. What's more, Buzz understands the balance between his members' welfare and the health of the automotive industry. Or lack thereof. "My first responsibility is to look after the interests of my members," Buzz admits. "But I tell my boys to look after the industry too. At every meeting." So, how's that going?
Buzz Hargrove describes himself as "full of piss and vinegar." Well exactly. The combative Canadian has been instrumental in his country's union movement since 1964, when he represented a couple of thousand employees in Chrysler's Windsor plant. Now, having announced his 2009 departure from the Canadian Auto Workers' (CAW) presidency, Hargrove's enthusiasm for the labour movement remains undimmed. "I still love it," he says. "If I were 55, not 65, I'd be doing this for another 10 years." That said, Hargrove doesn't think Ford, GM or Chrysler will last that long.
Scott Held draws a line in the sand. “I firmly believe we will be selling Chrysler for quite a long time.” Held is the president and managing partner of Sherwood Partners. In the same year that Chrysler’s U.S. sales have shrunk by 35.9 percent, his group has just spent CA$18m on a new, super-sized Chrysler dealership in Edmonton, Alberta. What if Held’s wrong and Chrysler goes belly up? “I know I am taking a risk,” Held admits. "But I have faith."
July 1st was truly a landmark day for Canadian motorists. In addition to the start of a cell phone ban in Quebec and a carbon tax in British Columbia, drivers across Canada now face huge penalties for driving while stoned. No longer can Canadians re-create the infamous Cheech & Chong hotboxed car sketch. The CNews reports that police can now require drivers to submit to roadside drug tests. In addition, police can force suspected stoned motorists to go to a hospital or a police station for further testing. The whopping penalty for driving under the influence of drugs: CA$1,000 (minimum) for Strike 1 and jail time for Strike 2. Refuse the tests and you've committed a criminal offense. Though it goes without saying in The Sun, all of this is in addition to any other charges for possession and trafficking of classified substances that may be brought. Bummer.
Ontario's struggling manufacturing sector took another blow yesterday. CNews reports that Oakville, Ont-based automotive supplier Polywheels has shut down indefinitely. Workers arrived for their 7am shift on July 2 only to find the plant closed and shut down notices posted at the entrances. The workers, represented by the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), were surprised that the company shut its doors without warning. "I'm upset because this is a good factory, they had good, good benefits," emotes a local worker in a moment of unionist entitlement. The Toronto Sun reports that American Axle's own strike, which halted production of Polywheels' bread and butter models (e.g. Sierra/Silverado) was a body blow for Polywheels. The subsequent rise in gas prices was the coup de grace, according to another worker: "We figure out how to bring the price of oil down and we'll all be fine." Easier said than done, I suppose. [Thanks for Michael Kirouac for the tip]