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By on September 22, 2011

A bloated management, run-away costs, declining market share, imploding volume, a sell-off of assets and investments, headquartered in Detroit – what is it? No, it’s none of the Detroit automakers. It is their former nemesis and current co-owner, the United Auto Workers.

“Two years after the wrenching restructuring of the U.S. auto industry and the bankruptcies that remade General Motors and Chrysler, the UAW is facing its own financial reckoning. America’s richest union has been living beyond its means and running down its savings, an analysis of its financial records shows. Unless King and other officials succeed with a turnaround plan still taking shape, the next financial crisis in Detroit may not be at one of the automakers but at the UAW itself.”

This is the beginning of a special report written by the best in the reporting business, by Deepa Seetharaman and her boss, Kevin Krolicki, Chief of the Detroit Bureau of Reuters, with the help of their team of combat reporters from the Detroit front-lines. Read More >

By on September 22, 2011

Matt writes:

Hey Sajeev. Looking for your wisdom, or perhaps that of the B&B. I’ve got a 2005 Hyundai Elantra with about 50k miles. Back around 40k, we had new tires put on it at Sears. Now I want to rotate the tires (yes, I know, I should have done this a while ago), but when I got to the very last wheel, I ran into a roadblock. The rear right wheel is fused to the hub! It seems to be rusted on. Poking around a few forums online, I got a couple of ideas:

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By on September 22, 2011

Motorists issued a traffic ticket in Massachusetts will have to pay money to the state whether or not they committed the alleged crime. According to a state supreme court ruling handed down yesterday, fees are to be imposed even on those found completely innocent. The high court saw no injustice in collecting $70 from Ralph C. Sullivan after he successfully fought a $100 ticket for failure to stay within a marked lane.

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By on September 22, 2011

After I hauled all my stuff 2,500 miles in the Impala and settled in Georgia, it was time for me to go job-hunting. After a few boring office-temp jobs, I spotted an ad that got my attention: Copywriter needed to write catalogs for large auto-parts company. Must know classic American cars. Within minutes of showing up for my interview at Year One, I had my first full-time writing job… and a nickname inspired by my car: Mad Max. Read More >

By on September 22, 2011

The board of GM has a week-long meeting in Shanghai. Someone  just happened to be in the same place at the same time, and quite possibly unearthed the secret all of India is dying to hear: Under what brand will the Wuling cars be introduced once they hit India? Apparently, not Wuling. Read More >

By on September 21, 2011

Give any long-haul truck driver enough beer to loosen his tongue, and he will tell you something you don’t really want to know: that tractor-trailer drivers are both fully aware of their ability to murder their fellow motorists with impunity and occasionally desirous of doing so. This simple fact — that in a collision between car and truck, the truck always wins — is the basic premise behind Steven Spielberg’s 1971 film, Duel. Originally produced as a made-for-television “Movie Of The Week”, Duel could easily have been forgettable garbage, a simple thriller, or a plodding drama.

Instead, with just one minor change from what was already a conventional formula, Spielberg created a truly great movie. The change? It’s simple: we never meet the truck driver. (More) spoilers ahead…

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By on September 21, 2011

Conventional wisdom and Senator Stabenow have it that the wily Chinese are after precious Americans secrets of how to make new energy cars. Never mind that Ford and GM loudly deny that they have any current plans to build or sell electric vehicles in China. That appears at least half true in the case of GM. GM doesn’t have plans. Its plans are made in China. GM completely outsourced the development of electric vehicles – along with other future technologies – to China. Read More >

By on September 21, 2011

Reuters reports:

Opel, part of GM Europe, has long sought to free itself of the constraints imposed by GM, which aims to keep it as a regional brand.

“One proposal would be to give Opel shares to SAIC,” [Opel union boss] Klaus Franz told Reuters, adding this move would allow GM to receive in return the 1 percent in the SAIC joint venture it is missing for a 50 percent stake.

“GM has never accepted that it owns 49 percent in the joint venture with SAIC and that the Chinese partners have 51 percent,” Franz said.

The joint venture builds Chevy, Buick and Cadillac vehicles in China.

“It would be a win-win situation for all and it would be a good way for us to enter the Chinese market,” Franz said.

Franz has long been a provocateur, but this one probably takes the cake. After all, SAIC and Opel together would almost be a better GM than GM… product development and booming China/India sales with none of the North American legacy costs. Don’t count on this happening, but it is an interesting sign of Opel’s renewed desire for independence from Mother GM.

By on September 21, 2011

Today, credit rating agency Moody’s cut the rating on Fiat’s bonds down two notches from Ba1 to Ba3. Merrill Lynch wrote  in a letter to customers that it is ”worth remembering that Fiat debt is already junk rated so there will not be a change in the credit investor base for Fiat, but cost of refinancing goes up.”

Officially, bonds in the Ba family are regarded to be of “questionable credit quality”. In the business, “Ba1” is known as junk, B3 as “bad junk”. It is interesting what got Fiat the demerits: Chrysler. Read More >

By on September 21, 2011

While in California to check out Billetproof Nor-Cal last weekend, I had the chance to visit The Island That Rust Forgot. It didn’t take long to find this ’67 Barracuda convertible and today’s find. Read More >

By on September 21, 2011

Saab is on court ordered life support.  On appeal, the Court of Appeals for Western Sweden has approved Saab’s request for protection from creditors. Saab can now attempt a business reconstruction without the threat  of imminent bankruptcy, The Local reports. Read More >

By on September 20, 2011

Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes. Robert Farago didn’t invent the idea of telling the truth about this business, but he made it possible for me, and others like me, to bring that truth forward. At this very moment, there are several “respected journalists” flying business class to Europe where they will be fêted and pampered like kings in five-star hotels along the Spanish coast. There, they will pretend to be the customers for cars they will never be able to afford as they attempt to drown the still, small voices of their stunted consciences with free alcohol. Best of luck to them.

Back here in the United States, one East Coast autowriter received the following email and decided that the best, the most fitting, the most ethical thing possible would be to forward it to me, so that I, and all of our readers, can see “how the sausage is made.”

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By on September 20, 2011

This man has become a fixture at Nissan’s press events. He walks around with a small video camera and a laptop hanging from his neck, as if he’s selling hot dogs at a ballgame. His name is Shotaro Ogawa, and he is most likely the biggest revolution when it comes to automakers connecting with their customers. Ogawa is Nissan’s walking live video stream and real time social networker. And he may put us old timey bloggers out of business. Read More >

By on September 20, 2011

When we went on the plane this morning for the some 600 mile trip to see a Nissan plant in Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main Japanese islands, we asked ourselves: Why?

After all, the plant had been there since 1975. What’s new? We soon should find out: Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn went on a full frontal attack against the high yen, threatened several times that Nissan and most of the Japanese industry would pack up and leave, and delivered an ultimatum: “If six months down the road we are still in this situation, then this will provoke a rethinking of our industrial strategy.” Read More >

By on September 20, 2011

At the launch event for the 2012 Toyota Camry, the presenting executive noted price reductions of up to $2,000. Quite often such reductions are accomplished by deleting previously standard features. Case in point: the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, where we found that once you adjust for feature differences a $7,180 price drop shrunk to a much smaller, if still substantial, $2,400. So with the redesigned Camry I withheld commenting on the price reduction until I could run the car through TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool.

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Recent Comments

  • JimZ: there’s no arrogance quite like British arrogance.
  • threeer: Visions of the bloated passengers residing on the starship of the movie Wall-E dancing in my head. While I...
  • dwford: VIN etching is one of those overly expensive, minimal value “services” dealers offer. It’s...
  • Maintainer: “I’m 38 years old. When I bought the store I was 35. I was green.” This brings back some memories. When I...
  • newenthusiast: I’m not sure ‘punish’ is the right word. This is the natural course of a business...

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