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: Ford Gets To Be The CAW's Strike Target
The Globe and Mail reports the Canadian Auto Workers have decided to concentrate on negotiations with Ford of Canada, as tonight's strike deadline looms. In an unusual twist, CAW president Ken Lewenza says that if the union reaches a deal with Ford, and either General Motors or Chrysler rejects it, the union will strike the company that says no. And, if there's no deal with Ford, the CAW will strike all three companies at midnight. Kind of sounds like the union wants to strike somebody, doesn't it? There are 20,000 auto workers at the Canadian branches of the Detroit automakers. And a strike in Canada always screws things up somehow here — either because it cuts off supplies of parts that the Detroit companies need in their American plants, or it affects inventories of vehicles built in Canada.
The union is pushing hard to win new investments from Ford, which has 1,200 laid-off Canadian workers. Ford's chief negotiator says the company hasn't put forward any investment plans for Canada as of yet. The Globe and Mail says the CAW has offered to cut hourly labor costs for the three companies by reducing wages for newly hired employees. They'd receive less than 70 per cent of the $34 an hour paid to longer term workers. In addition, the union told the companies it would stretch the time it takes new employees to reach the full wage rate out to 10 years from the current six. It also offered different pension plans that would reduce the companies' costs.
2nd Gear: Sunday! Detroit Drag Racing Crackdown!
The Detroit Free Press reports that Detroit area law officials cracked down this weekend on illegal drag racing. There were three arrests, and 30 cars impounded in a sweep that was conducted by the Detroit Police Department with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. Two arrests were for multiple traffic violations, the third on a cocaine charge out of Wisconsin. Three of the impounded vehicles were race cars, including one that was stolen.
This isn't just old-style fun that's always taken place on Woodward Avenue and other wide surface streets around the city. The Freep says authorities are cracking down on illegal drag racing because of complaints of raucous crowds and souped-up vehicles racing up and down neighborhood streets. The sheriff's office said that in the past year, there have been serious accidents and altercations, shots fired and several deaths.
3rd Gear: Could The Mercedes CLA Be Built In Tuscaloosa?
We showed you photos of the Mercedes CLA last week and they've got us wondering about where they might build it.
The CLA will be very close (if not slightly longer and wider) in size to the current C-Class. Buyers are expected to get the option of front- or all-wheel drive versions. Carscoop thinks Mercedes-Benz will position the car both in terms of pricing and features right under the C-Class. The current rumor is the CLA will debut at the Detroit Auto Show next year and we already know a mystery vehicle will be built in Tuscaloosa at some point in the future.
An American-built Mercedes small sedan? It worked in Blazing Saddles.
4th Gear: Italy's Getting Fed Up With Fiat
Reuters says the Italian government is running out of patience with Fiat, and wants the company to clarify its investment plans in its home market. Last week, Fiat kicked up a fuss at home when it said that its multi-billion dollar investment program isn't an absolute pledge. Two years ago, Fiat unveiled a $20 billion plan called "Fabbrica Italia," which was supposed to be a five-year investment program. In return, Fiat would get flexible labor rules at its money-losing Italian plants. But now it says the dire market conditions in Italy and elsewhere in Europe put the plant into jeopardy.
"It is right, important and urgent that (Fiat) gives some clarification to the market and to the Italian people," industry minister Corrado Passera said. "We will do whatever is possible to ensure that Fiat's commitments towards Italy are honored." Fiat's apparent retrenchment prompted criticism from a prominent Italian businessman, Diego Della Valle, the owner of J.P. Tod's footwear (you know, the expensive driving loafers with the little beads on the bottom). He accused the company and CEO Sergio Marchionne of a lack of coherence and commitment to Italy, according to Reuters.
Right now, you can get a Lexus IS in any configuration as long as it's a sedan or convertible. Most of their competitors offer coupe versions of their luxury mid-sizers but not Lexus for some ridiculous reason probably having to do with the company's hopefully fading case of anhedonia. More »
Reverse: Snoopy's Nemesis Hits His First Target
On this day in 1916, Manfred von Richthoven shot down his first plane along the western front of World War I. He would soon be known as the "Red Baron" and become the war's first flying ace. In his first year in the air, von Richthoven shot down 30 planes and by the time he was killed in 1918, he had destroyed 80 aircraft. His favorite plane was a Fokker triplane, painted entirely in red in tribute to his old cavalry regiment. Of course, Fokker is still in business and the Red Baron was immortalized in Peanuts. [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, what do you think of Detroit's drag racing crackdown? When is this just fun and when does it get out of hand? Have you ever burned rubber and lived to tell the tale? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.