Ford Plants Are Bursting, Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series Is Bright, And Gas Rationing Is A Burden

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Ford Plants Are Bursting, Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series Is Bright, And Gas Rationing Is A Burden

1st Gear: Ford Is Turning Up The Production Dials
Bloomberg reports that Ford has added 5,200 jobs this year, all but 400 two-tier hires under terms of its newest UAW contract. But here's an even more important development. Ford says its U.S. plants are operating at 114 percent of straight time capacity. That means they're running full, plus 14 percent more on overtime. That's how it did things in the late 1990s and into the 2000s, when it was posting record profits. The last time out, it achieved high productivity by resisting adding more people (or "socials" as they're called, for social security numbers). But this time, the lower starting pay and more modest benefits are allowing it to hire. And, it's building more cars at a cheaper cost. Chalk up a win for both the union and the company on this one.


Ford Plants Are Bursting, Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series Is Bright, And Gas Rationing Is A Burden

2nd Gear: Gas Rationing Makes A Comeback
As we reported yesterday, Hurricane Sandy-forced gas rationing began in New York City and on Long Island this morning, and it's likely that they're going to cause all kinds of confusion until people get used to the system. But let's pull back the lens for a second. This is a historic, historic moment. There has not been formal gas rationing in the New York area since the 1979 energy crisis, which was sparked by the Iranian Revolution, the one you've seen in Argo.

That rationing used the same kind of odd-even system that's going on in New York, but rationing took place in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Texas as well. You'll hear a lot of jokes and probably some actual news stories over the next few days about people swapping license plates in order to keep filling up. But the culprits will probably stop laughing when they get arrested for it. Take a good look at the news reports and pictures as this happens because we're likely to be talking about it for years.


Ford Plants Are Bursting, Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series Is Bright, And Gas Rationing Is A Burden

3rd Gear: A Little Thai Toyota Is On Its Way
Kyodo News says Toyota plans to unveil a new compact specifically for the Thai market next year, echoing the small cars it's designed specifically for India and Brazil. The step is logical for Toyota, which is reporting a 72 percent increase in sales in Thailand, compared with 2012. It sounds like Thailand is becoming a much more important market for Toyota, which says it would like to begin building Lexus models there, too. Thailand is already an export hub for Toyota, which has shifted production there from more-expensive Japan. But because Lexus is Toyota's high-end model, the company says it has to think carefully about whether it can build cars in Thailand that meet customers' quality expectations.


4th Gear: Wheels Made Of Jellyfish, Headlights Of A School Of Fish
Superfad, the design-driven production company, has applied some unique animation techniques to the Fiat 500. In a spot created for SEMA, Superfad imagines two new versions of the Fiat 500, the Beach Cruiser and the Cafe Racer. If you like animation, you'll enjoy seeing wheels made of jellyfish and headlights of a school of fish on the Beach Cruiser. The Cafe Racer gets a high-contrast chrome look. Each vehicle got a 3D rendering, and then cel animation was also employed. You might remember some United Airlines ads a few years ago that focused on animation, and this spot seems to bring those to mind.


Ford Plants Are Bursting, Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series Is Bright, And Gas Rationing Is A Burden

5th Gear: The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series Will Kill You In Your Sleep

Sleep with one eye open if there's a Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series in your garage. It's a brutal killer. Just look at it. It's an SLS AMG GT3 if the SLS AMG GT3 is being hunted by Interpol.
If there's any consolation, it's that it'll be a quick death. More »


Ford Plants Are Bursting, Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series Is Bright, And Gas Rationing Is A Burden

Reverse: Whiz Kid (Briefly) Takes Control At Ford
On this day in 1960, Robert McNamara became president of Ford Motor Company. He held the job for just a month, heading off to Washington to become President Kennedy's defense secretary. McNamara's promotion capped a period of dominance by Ford's "Whiz Kids," a group of youngish executives brought in by Henry Ford II to rejuvenate the company after World War II. The 10 executives, all from the Army Air Corps, streamlined the company and made it more profitable, although they couldn't keep the Edsel from happening. {History]

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Today, what's your view of gas rationing in New York? Do you think we'll ever see it again in the rest of the U.S.? Any memories of the last round of gas rationing? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.

Ford Plants Are Bursting, Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series Is Bright, And Gas Rationing Is A Burden
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Ford Plants Are Bursting, Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series Is Bright, And Gas Rationing Is A Burden
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