The Truth About Cars » the globe and mail http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 22:58:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » the globe and mail http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Generation Why: Panel Discusson With The Globe And Mail http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/generation-why-panel-discusson-with-the-globe-and-mail/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/generation-why-panel-discusson-with-the-globe-and-mail/#comments Mon, 27 Jan 2014 21:40:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=725650 soul-hamsters-thisorthat-large-2

Just a quick note – tomorrow, Tuesday, January 28th at noon, I’ll be part of a panel discussion with the The Globe and Mail, a major newspaper in Canada, about the chief topic of Generation Why: the relationship between millennials and the automobile.  I’ll be joined by Chris Travell of Maritz Research, who should be able to provide an interesting, data-driven outlook on the issue. For those who prefer excellent automotive reporting to the rantings of a 20-something malcontent, Greg Keenan, the Globe’s auto industry reporter, is a must-read.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/generation-why-panel-discusson-with-the-globe-and-mail/feed/ 73
Oshawa’s Future Looks Bleak As The Clock Runs Out On GM’s Vitality Commitment http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/oshawas-future-looks-bleak-as-the-clock-runs-out-on-gms-vitality-commitment/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/oshawas-future-looks-bleak-as-the-clock-runs-out-on-gms-vitality-commitment/#comments Mon, 24 Jun 2013 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493097 450x270x001-2014-buick-regal-opt-450x270.jpg.pagespeed.ic.RilyP5jxqe

Ontario is home to a number of auto plants, both import and domestic, union and non-union, as well as numerous suppliers. None of them are so tightly intertwined as General Motors is with the town of Oshawa, about 40 miles from Toronto (though, as any area resident will tell you, it’s really 2 hours away, thanks to our horrendously inadequate infrastructure). For nearly a century, GM has been building cars in Oshawa in one form or another, as the plant has established a reputation as one of GM’s best, consistently building high quality cars, trucks and crossovers over the decades. But that tradition may be coming to a close by 2016.

A report by The Globe and Mail comes to the same conclusion that TTAC has reached since last year: Oshawa’s future is looking bleak in the face of unfavorable exchange rates, high labor costs and an exodus of product, with no plans to replenish the factory with any new vehicles. Since the bailout era, Oshawa has seen a glut of product leave for other destinations. First to go were the full-size trucks, followed by the Chevrolet Impala (now split with Hamtramck, along with the Cadillac XTS) and then the Chevrolet Camaro.

Now, The Globe is reporting that the Buick Regal, which is currently built at Oshawa, may not be replaced after 2016, while another report by Ward’s Auto says otherwise. With sales of the smaller Verano cannibalizing Regal sales, Buick has a good reason not to replace the Regal. The Regal, based on the Opel Insignia, may also be a victim of rapidly declining D-segment car sales in Europe. Opel may not see a reason to replace a car that competes in one of the weakest segments, especially in light of Opel’s declining fortunes.

With the potential loss of the Regal and the confirmed exit of the Camaro, also that’s left is the Impala and XTS (which is in danger of leaving altogether for Hamtramck) and overflow production of the Theta crossovers, which are built in Ingersoll, Ontario, halfway between Oshawa and Windsor, Ontario, at a modern facility of their own, as well as the newly re-opened Spring Hill, Tennessee plant where workers are paid on the lower end of the UAW’s two-tier wage scale.  Even the CAW has expressed their concerns that Oshawa will wither and die if new product is not brought over.

Product aside, two other factors are likely weighing on GM. The first is the expiration of the “Vitality Commitment” in 2016, which was made as a condition of GM receiving bailout funds from the Canadian and Ontario governments. While the exact terms have never been spelled out, it’s been widely reported that the terms require GM to maintain a minimum of 16 percent of its production in Canada until it repays its loan obligations or until December 31, 2016, whichever comes first. It’s also not known what the penalty would be if GM violated these conditions. Not even the original document, publicly released by GM and the Canadian government, delves into these specifics.

The second factor, according to The Globe, is the billions of dollars in financial obligations that will be due for GM at the end of the decade, including rapidly rising pension costs, interest free loan payments and payments for a note issued by GM to help cover health care costs. The timing of these obligations and the lack of product for Oshawa is almost certainly coincidental, but they represent an extremely unfortunate convergence of poor circumstances for GM’s Canadian operations.

The loss of Oshawa would not only be a blow for GM, but a massive one for Canada’s manufacturing sector as well. Despite possessing an educated, productive and conscientious workforce, the auto industry is on a massive drive to cut costs across the board, while the CAW has repeatedly taken a tough line on any concessions, as they seek to get the best deal possible. The best case scenario would be if GM uses the threat of leaving Oshawa to help get some government “assistance”, similar to how both levels of government helped chip in to revitalize Ford’s Oakville plant. More ominously, this is the model followed by Holden and Ford Australia for many years. Australia, which has many things in common with Canada (population, an abundance of resources, a strong currency) is currently experiencing a severe decline in its own auto manufacturing sector, in part due to high labor costs.

On the other hand, December 31, 2016 is a long way away; GM’s planners may be looking that far down the road, but one Robert Anthony Lutz would be the first to tell them that it’s impossible to predict what will happen months from now, let alone that far away.

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/oshawas-future-looks-bleak-as-the-clock-runs-out-on-gms-vitality-commitment/feed/ 18
Mulally Tells Canadian Newspaper Ford B-Max Coming To North America After All http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/ford-b-max-coming-to-north-america-after-all-mulally/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/ford-b-max-coming-to-north-america-after-all-mulally/#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2012 15:31:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=435255

Contrary to initial reports, Ford CEO Alan Mulally told Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail that the Ford B-Max MPV will be coming to North America after all.

Jeremy Cato, reporting from the floor of the Geneva Auto Show said that

“The nifty new Ford B-Max, which CEO Alan Mulally said will eventually go on sale in North America, will be sold here in Europe with a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo gas engine. 

…he added that it most likely will have a spot in Ford’s North American lineup. Exactly when he would not say, but he was pretty emphatic about the B-Max having a future in Canada and the United States.

As vague as that may be, Mulally is about as reliable a source as one can get within Ford. The B-Max doesn’t exactly seem like the kind of vehicle that Americans would adopt in droves – Canada, on the other hand, may be a much better market for a small, ultra-efficient MPV-type vehicle. But the specter of the $19,995 Dodge Caravan (an extremely popular choice in the Great White North) may prove to be a stumbling block to positioning the avant-garde but bite-sized B-Max at a reasonable price. The Grand Caravan is Canada’s fourth best selling vehicle so far this year, while the Chevrolet Orlando, which slots between the B-Max and the Caravan, doesn’t even crack the Top 30.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/ford-b-max-coming-to-north-america-after-all-mulally/feed/ 16