This is the Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:00 AM. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parcel it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: General Motors, Outsourcer In Chief?
Forbes reports that while President Obama has been praising General Motors, GM has basically turned into the outsourcer-in-chief. Here are how the numbers stack up. GM North America accounts for 98,000 of the 207,000 GM jobs worldwide. But, that includes 12,000 of these jobs in Canada and 11,500 in Mexico. Without them, GM has 74,500 jobs in the United States and 122,500 abroad, even after Obama's touted surge in Detroit jobs. Overall, almost two thirds of GM's jobs are in other countries. Forbes notes that GM clearly states that foreign investment is an integral parts of its growth strategy.
For instance, take China. Forbes says GM's annual report states, "We will continue to grow our business under the Baojin, Jiefang, and Wuling brands. We operate in Chinese markets through a number of joint ventures and maintaining good relations with our joint venture partners, which are affiliated with the Chinese government, is an important part of our Chinese growth strategy." The magazine goes on, "Well, Obama likes government-private partnerships. Our GM is now in cahoots with the titans of the Chinese Communist Party." Now, everybody does business overseas, and of course Chrysler is foreign run. But GM seems to be the most closely linked to Obama, and it's always under greater scrutiny.
2nd Gear: Marchionne And The UAW In a $6 Billion Showdown
Bloomberg reports that Sergio Marchionne and the UAW's representative to the Chrysler board are playing a multi billion-dollar game of chicken. Here's what's going on. Marchionne wants to get his hands on the 41.7 percent of Chrysler that Fiat doesn't own, but which the UAW's health care trust does. Once he does that, he can tap $12.1 billion in Chrysler cash that the Treasury Department won't let him touch due to terms of the bailout. The trust, meanwhile, has a big chunk of Chrysler stock that gives it influence, but isn't worth anything in the real world, since Chrysler hasn't gone public. Bloomberg calculates that the money at stake is about $6 billion. Analysts say Marchionne will want a discount, but the UAW doesn't really have to give it one, since they aren't going to sell to anybody else. Cue that Ennio Morricone music.
3rd Gear: Das Polizei Get Some BMW Hot Wheels
AutoWorldNews takes a look at the concept cop cars that BMW is introducing in Leipzig, Germany next month. Yes, BMW makes police cars and it's showing 3-Series Touring, X3, 7-Series High Security, X5 Security, and an i3 Concept cruiser.
AutoWorldNews says the 3-Series Touring and the X3 production models have BMW's iDrive interface system that BMW considers to be ideal for police work. They also come with options such as LED identification lights and additional warning devices. The 7-Series and X5 Security versions are intended more for detectives and airport security work. We're not really sure how the i3 will be deployed, but it is an interesting idea to have something smaller in the mix.
4th Gear: Auto Talks Time In Canada
The Globe And Mail says the Detroit auto companies will open "difficult, intense" talks tomorrow with the Canadian Auto Workers union. The negotiations open first at General Motors, move to Ford on Wednesday and head to Chrysler on Thursday. Canadian workers are in a tough spot, because their labor contracts have put them out of sync with what their counterparts are earning in the U.S. and elsewhere. GM's Dan Akerson says Canada is "the most expensive place to build a car in the world right now." (That might be a slight exaggeration given what's up at Opel.) For its part, the CAW has never hesitated to walk out to make its point, and it's not afraid to do so this year. "My message to the Big Three is, there is a little momentum [and they are] turning around and making profits," CAW President Ken Lewenza says. "Don't get overzealous because a work stoppage will stop that momentum."
Reverse: He Made It Go Hmmmm
Wish a happy 110th birthday to Felix Wankel! (Well, he died in 1988, but it would be cool if he had lived this long.) He was born on this day in 1902 in Lahr, Germany. Wankel reportedly came up with the basic idea for a new type of internal combustion gasoline engine when he was only 17 years old. In 1924, Wankel set up a small laboratory where he began the research and development of his dream engine, which would be able to attain intake, compression, combustion and exhaust, all while rotating. Years later, the Wankel engine showed up on the Mazda Cosmo Sport and the technology was licensed to many other carmakers. [History]
In keeping with our new discussion system, here's a place for you to own the floor. We're asking each day what you think about an issue that comes up in TMS.
Today, let's talk about GM and its global investments. What do you think the Treasury Department should have required GM to do regarding investing overseas versus the U.S.? Or, should the company just be left alone to operate where it feels it needs to? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.