Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: No Strike In Kansas City
Between late Friday night and early Saturday morning, United Auto Workers Local 249 at Ford’s truck plant in Kansas City reached an accord (pardon the car pun) with the automaker that avoided a strike. This negotiation between the local union was different from the ongoing salary and benefit contract discussions at the national level between the UAW and automakers, which is currently happening with Fiat Chrysler. The Ford plant’s issues were said to be related to working conditions.
The plant makes the F-150 and Transit vans, so avoiding a strike there was a relief for Ford, writes the Wall Street Journal:
While it would have been relatively small, a strike at Ford’s Claycomo plant would have presented a major distraction for the UAW and would have the potential to stir up ill will on both sides.
“I think we have reached an agreement that our members will be proud of,” Local 249 bargaining chief Todd Hillyard said in a social media posting late Friday. “We protected all of our members seniority rights, improved safety provisions along with many other things.”
2nd Gear: Meanwhile At Fiat Chrysler...
The UAW members overwhelmingly rejected the contract proposal with Fiat Chrysler, as it failed to alleviate tensions over the two-tier wage system and concerns about jobs getting shipped overseas. Now what?
Well, according to Reuters, we don’t know yet:
Williams and the UAW made no public statement Friday about their next moves at Fiat Chrysler after 65 percent of UAW members rejected the proposed four-year deal. The union did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on whether negotiators had convened or approached the company on Friday.
[...] UAW officials and rank and file members told Reuters the contract lost support among Fiat Chrysler’s 40,000 UAW workers because it failed to lift lower-paid workers into the top tier within the four-year span of the contract. Confusion over proposed changes to the union healthcare plans also undercut support, local leaders and union members said.
“The FCA contract did not resolve the two-tiered wage system, it only made it worse,” said Scott Houldieson, a local UAW official at Ford’s Chicago assembly plant. “The pay increases included in the contract are only those that we agreed to give up in 2009.”
3rd Gear: News Of VW Firings May Come This Week
Besides the resignation of Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn in the wake of the diesel cheating scandal, no firings or resignations have been officially confirmed yet—although some major heads like Audi’s Ulrich Hackenberg and Porsche’s Wolfgang Hatz have been reported.
We may hear some of that following a Wednesday board meeting where finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch will likely get appointed head of a 20-member controlling panel, Reuters reports:
As well as appointing Poetsch, the board meeting on Wednesday will discuss the latest findings of VW’s internal investigation which has already led to more than 10 suspensions of senior managers, a source close to the board said.
[...] Bild am Sonntag reported that several engineers at VW have confessed to installing the cheat software in 2008 when Ulrich Hackenberg, the suspended head of research and development at premium brand Audi, was still head of technical development at the VW brand. VW declined comment.
4th Gear: What About Mazda’s Diesel?
Hey, remember how Mazda was supposed to have a diesel engine in the U.S. market by now? What ever happened with that? It turns out engineers have been working to make it meet U.S. emissions standards even when 45 percent of Mazda sales in Japan are diesels, but VW’s Dieselgate scandal may kill it for good—not surprisingly. Here’s Bloomberg:
“It’s been delayed and delayed, and Mazda keeps saying it’s coming,” Dave Sullivan, an analyst for industry researcher AutoPacific Inc., said by phone. “At this point, I don’t understand why they would need a diesel for this market. I don’t see it happening.”
Mazda’s engineers are trying to develop the Skyactiv-D engine in line with U.S. emissions standards without sacrificing performance, said Michiko Terashima, a company spokeswoman. The company doesn’t have a time frame for introducing the engine but won’t change its plan because of the Volkswagen case, she said.
5th Gear: GM To Investors: We Are Never, Ever, Ever Getting Together With Sergio
Publicly, General Motors CEO Mary Barra hasn’t had much to say about Fiat Chrysler head Sergio Marchionne’s desire for a merger besides “thanks but no thanks.” But in a meeting before investors and analysts—some of whom have argued in favor of a merger—GM executives told them to read between the lines on how well the company can do on its own. Via Automotive News:
GM President Dan Ammann framed it this way: “We must ... be spending our time and energy on redefining the future of mobility. If we’re to win in this new world order, we cannot be distracted by a serial restructuring of old business models.”
Barra & Co. detailed dozens of ways in which the company can grow in that new world order, from a ride-sharing service in New York City to an electric-bike concept. Sure, there were promises of cost cutting and bigger profit margins. But the annual conference took on a more urgent tone, amid the swift success of Uber and other emerging industry players, for example, and the threat of new ones, such as a rumored Apple car.
“There is no question this industry is being disrupted. But we are a disruptor as well,” Barra said, adding later: “We are disrupting ourselves.”
Reverse: You May Have Heard Of This Guy
Neutral: Should Anyone Go Diesel Right Now?
And I’m not talking about pickup trucks and industrial vehicles, because that’s pretty much always going to be married to diesel for the foreseeable future. I’m talking about passenger cars from Honda, Mazda, GM or even future cars from VW. Is diesel worth it anymore?
Photo credit AP
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