UAW-Chrysler up next, Ford "Drive One" ad takes more hits, and Opel might build RAK-e

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1st Gear: As United Auto Workers President Bob King prepares to brief local union leaders today on the tentative labor agreement with General Motors Co., attention is shifting to Chrysler Group LLC, where the clock on a one-week extension of the current contract is rapidly winding down. Chrysler's making all sorts of squawking noises about the GM deal being too rich for their blood.


2nd Gear: We welcome JoAnn Muller, Forbes' Detroit bureau chief, to our chorus of voices noting the hypocrisy in Ford's recent ad. Doesn't it seem a bit hypocritical for Ford to be attacking GM and Chrysler for taking bailout money — when the Dearborn, MI-based automaker took $5.9 billion in tax-free government R&D loans and their CEO supported a bailout because if it didn't happen, they would take Ford down with them? Muller says "the fact is, with the aid of that taxpayer loan and a well-timed bank loan of $23 billion, Ford managed to tiptoe past the graveyard and avoid bankruptcy." Couldn't agree more.

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3rd Gear: Opel claims its rakish ‘RAK-e' commuter concept is more than just a radical show car by confirming it is developing a business case for the all-electric motorcycle-like two-seater that could cost less than $14,000. Opel design vice-president Mark Adams told GoAuto that development of the RAK-e, which was just one of a number of personal mobility concepts to debut at last week's Frankfurt motor show, began a year ago with mass series production in mind.


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4th Gear: Earlier this month, Toyota announced pricing for the redesigned 2012 Toyota Tacoma, which will continued to be offered in two- and four-wheel drive and three cab styles: regular cab, Access Cab and Double Cab. The base 2012 Tacoma will start at $16,875 for the two-wheel-drive regular cab with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. The four-wheel-drive Double Cab long bed with the V-6 and five-speed automatic costs $27,835. (These prices do not include an $810 destination charges.)


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5th Gear: Do you want the latest in in-car entertainment, but don't want to fork out the dough at the dealership for a higher-level trim? Pioneer is hoping your answer is yes. Like Ford's Sync, Toyota's Entune, Chrysler's Uconnect and recent updates to GM's OnStar, Pioneer's just-introduced AppRadio harnesses the internet and the multitasking abilities of an Apple iPhone 4 to provide services like streaming internet radio and real-time traffic updates to you while driving. The unit is available now for $399, excluding third-party installation.


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6th Gear: SAIC Motor Corp. Chairman Hu Maoyuan and General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson signed an agreement today in Shanghai for the co-development of a new electric vehicle architecture in China. The electric vehicle architecture will be the first to be co-developed by the two companies; their Shanghai-GM joint venture introduced the Sail electric concept vehicle late last year.


Reverse:

⏎ Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series confirmed. [World Car Fans]

⏎ Zetsche no longer facing manslaughter inquiry by German prosecutors. [Automotive News]

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⏎ New Jensen Interceptor Due In 2014. [Motor Authority]

⏎ Texting Toyota Yaris slammed. [AutoExpress]

⏎ Swedish Court Grants Saab Right to Appeal. [Edmunds StraightLine]

⏎ Porsche names Andre Oosthuizen new head of North America marketing. [Automotive News]

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⏎ Banks tapped to cover bailout. [Detroit News]

⏎ Toyota Says U.S. Retail Sales to Rise in October After Quake. [Bloomberg]

⏎ Rear fender skirts look great, but flunk in other ways. [Automotive News]

⏎ We Say Goodbye to the Last Dodge Dakota. [PickupTruck.com]


Today in Automotive History:

On this day in 1960, California hot rodder Mickey Thompson takes another shot at the world land-speed record. A few weeks earlier, Thompson had become the first American to travel faster than 400 mph on land when he'd piloted his Challenger I (a car that he designed and built himself) across Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats at 406.6 mph. This drive had made Thompson the fastest man on wheels, but not officially: In order to win a place in the land-speed record books, racers must make a return pass within the hour, and Thompson's car broke down in the middle of his second run, necessitating a follow-up attempt. [History]

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