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Raj Nair, Ford's
president of
North America, is out after
an internal
investigation into reports of


Fiat Chrysler’s
paid nearly
$12M in 2017


Full CPP
benefits are
a tough goal
to reach


Ford, GM
shares drop
as Commerce
metal tariffs


Ford to
end Focus
RS output
in April


Glut of
SUVs may
slow new-
vehicle sales


Air bag
danger: Ford,
Mazda add to
drive list


Sears retirees
wait to learn
fate of their
pensions and
wonder where
the money went


Ford marshals
for SUV


Ford Performance
boss hints at
Ranger Raptor
for U.S.


Ford will
build Ranger
Raptor for
Asian market


Ford targets
boomers with
Transit wagon


Widow of
UAW exec
‘contrite’ after
guilty plea


GM announces
checks up to


Ford Workers,
others, on
strike in
German wage


FCA workers
suing for
of millions’
amid probe


UAW chief:
not tainted
by corruption


Ford to award
checks of


With TPP,
auto sector
under the bus


Ford reports
$7.6B profit in
2017, up 65%


Ford urged
to recall 1.3M
Explorers over
fume fears


FCA officials
paid to
sway UAW
feds say


Notice to
on Unifor’s
from the


Ford's plan:
40 new electric
vehicles in
4 years


More SUVs,
fewer cars in
Ford’s future


Ford plans
new Shelby
GT500 with




New Ford
Ranger pickup
expected at
auto show


Ford debuts
new Edge ST
ahead of
auto show


benefits to
wage workers


Ford offers
its first diesel
for the F-150


Death of
the great
car draws


Tim Hortons heirs cut paid breaks and worker benefits
after minimum wage hike, employees say


Passes Away
Jan 6, 2018


Canada's top
CEOs earn 193
times average
worker's salary


Car sales
end 7-year
expansion, but
remain strong


future for
Ford Fusion


Pickup truck
market to heat
up in 2018


Ford recall



Dec 2017

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Raj Nair, Ford's president of
North America, is out after an internal investigation into reports
of "inappropriate behavior."

Julia Horowitz and
Peter Valdes-Dapena  
Feb 22, 2018

He'll leave the company immediately, Ford said Wednesday.

The recent review found that "certain behavior" by Nair violated Ford's code of conduct, the company added.

"We made this decision after a thorough review and careful consideration," CEO Jim Hackett said in a statement. "Ford is deeply committed to providing and nurturing a safe and respectful culture and we expect our leaders to fully uphold these values."

Nair has been head of Ford's North America division since June 2017. Before that, he served as Ford's head of global product development and chief technical officer. He first joined Ford in 1987 as an engineer, according to a company bio.

In a statement released by Ford, Nair expressed regret for past behavior.

"I sincerely regret that there have been instances where I have not exhibited leadership behaviors consistent with the principles that the Company and I have always espoused," he said. "I continue to have the utmost faith in the people of Ford Motor Company and wish them continued success in the future."

The culture at Ford's factories has also come under scrutiny following a lengthy investigation by the New York Times, which explored decades of misconduct at two plants in Chicago.

Accusations of sexual misconduct and assault have toppled many powerful men in media, entertainment, business and politics in recent months as the #MeToo movement has taken hold.

"Companies in all industries are scrutinizing complaints against employees and looking at their culture to make sure behaviors are appropriate. The auto industry is no exception," said Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst at Autotrader who said Nair was a "rising star."


Fiat Chrysler’s Marchionne
paid nearly $12M in 2017

Feb 21, 2018
Nora Naughton
Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV CEO Sergio Marchionne was paid 9.67 million euros (nearly $12 million) in compensation in 2017.

That’s slightly more than the nearly $11.5 million he made in 2016, and Marchionne will also receive shares of stock for the first time in three years based on the company’s recent financial success.

Marchionne’s base salary in 2017 totaled 3.5 million euros ($4.3 million), and he earned a 6.1 million-euro ($7.57 million) bonus based on 2016 performance, according to an annual statement issued Tuesday by the Italian-American automaker and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He received 2.79 million shares of FCA stock which have a current value of 28.98 million euros ($35.77 million), and cover the three-year period from 2014 to 2016 during which Marchionne received no shares.

The delayed delivery of shares was laid out in a five-year business plan Marchionne presented in 2014, which was designed to make FCA profitable. The company designed a compensation plan that would give its CEO ownership of shares, so long as he met annual performance metrics, in three separate tranches. The shares delivered for 2017 are the first tranche, the second will be delivered in 2018 based on performance in 2014-2017 and the third will be delivered in 2019, based on performance during the full five-year business plan.

Marchionne, who has said he will retire in April 2019 when his five-year plan is complete, received 2.7 million euros ($3.37 million) in other compensation, including insurance premiums and tax preparation.

FCA also announced Marchionne’s bonus for this year, based on the company’s performance in 2017: He is set to receive more than 4.6 million euros ($5.7 million).

The Fiat Chrysler CEO earned in 2016 10.8 million euros, at the time worth nearly $11.5 million, including a 3.61 million euro base salary ($3.82 million) and a 6.3 million euro bonus worth about $6.89 million when it was announced in 2015.

FCA Chairman John Elkann was paid in 2017 a base salary of 1.77 million euros ($2.18 million) and other compensation of 405,399 euros ($500,238).

Fiat Chrysler’s stock price closed Tuesday at $22.10 a share, down 1.3 percent.

General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have not yet released annual proxy statements and executive compensation for 2017.

GM CEO Mary Barra was the highest-paid Detroit Three executive in 2016. GM paid Barra $22.58 million in total compensation in 2016. The Detroit automaker usually releases its annual proxy in April.

Ford’s former CEO Mark Fields, who was replaced by Jim Hackett in May, was paid $22.1 million in total compensation in 2016.

The Dearborn-based automaker said in a regulatory filing after Hackett took the job that he would receive an annual salary of $1.8 million and an accession bonus of $1 million. Including other incentive- and performance-based pay and stock, Hackett could have received as much as $13.4 million in 2017 as CEO. Ford typically releases its annual proxy in mid-March.



Full CPP benefits are
a tough goal to reach

Globe & Mail
Rob Carrick
February 20, 2018

Monthly Canada Pension Plan retirement benefits will total a maximum $13,610.04 for 2018 – nothing flashy, but still significant.

Unfortunately, few will get it. In 2016, roughly 6 per cent of CPP retirement-benefit recipients received the maximum, data from Employment and Social Development Canada shows. "That's it – 6 per cent?" financial planner Sheila Walkington said on hearing this number. "Wow, that's amazing."

The CPP is rightly mentioned in every serious discussion of retirement planning. Along with Old Age Security, it's a valuable resource because it pays monthly cash for life and adjusts for inflation. Bummed out about falling stock markets, low interest rates and high investment fees? Payments from the CPP are serenely unaffected by all.

However, there is a tendency to default to the maximum payout when talking about CPP retirement benefits. We'd do better to focus on the average, which, for 2018, is just about $7,700, or 56.6 per cent of the maximum. In our new When Should I Start My CPP calculator, we use the average CP retirement benefit while allowing users to plug in the maximum or whatever their personal entitlement is.

Ms. Walkington, Vancouver-based co-founder of Money Coaches Canada, says her clients tend to have family income over $100,000. In a quick review of 21 retired or soon-to-be retired clients, 43 per cent were getting full CPP and 57 per cent were not. "You can't just assume everyone's going to get the max," she said. "It's more complicated than you think."

Let's take a look at some specific situations that Ms. Walkington found in her review of clients:

A self-employed man who was in and out of the work force was getting 45 per cent of the maximum.

A woman who left the work force early was getting 70 per cent.

A woman who had kids and entered the work force late was getting 30 per cent, while another woman who had three children and was in and out of the work force was getting 73 per cent.

A woman who was a health-care worker with a stable job was getting the maximum.

A pair of municipal government employees, a man and a woman, were getting the maximum.

On average, the clients surveyed by Ms. Walkington were on track to get 76 per cent of the maximum. Doug Runchey of DR Pensions Consulting says it's rare for any of the 300 clients he annually talks to about CPP to get the maximum. "I probably see one or two a year," he said.

His explanation starts with the fact that it requires 39 years of contributions to the CPP at the maximum level to get the biggest possible retirement benefit. To top out on your contributions, you need a paycheque that meets or exceeds the yearly maximum annual pensionable earnings threshold, which in 2018 is $55,900.

People who join the work force late or drop out for a period of time, who retire early or who have low incomes, may not hit the maximum annual personable earnings level often enough over the years to get the highest possible CPP retirement benefit. "I see very few of the clients I deal with who have 39 years at the maximum," Mr. Runchey said. "They're few and far between."

Ms. Walkington said her firm has clients get their personalized CPP statements from Service Canada (see our CPP calculator for further details) so a planner can take a close look at how much has been contributed and how much may be coming in retirement benefits.

She says clients are mostly interested in when to take their CPP, which is understandable. The standard age is 65, but you can either take a reduced benefit as early as 60 or an enhanced benefit as late as 70. But it's at least as important to know how much CPP you're on track to receive based on your current situation, particularly if you don't have a workplace pension. The lower your CPP, the more onus there is on you to save on your own.

However much CPP her clients are on track to receive, Ms. Walkington encourages them to see it as a solid base. "It might not be enough to retire on, but I don't want people to think it's useless."


Ford, GM shares drop as
Commerce endorses metal tariffs

Keith Laing,
Detroit News
Washington Bureau
Feb 18, 2018

Washington — Shares of automakers Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. declined Friday after the U.S. Commerce Department recommended stiff tariffs for imported steel and aluminum that could increase the cost of building cars.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recommended a 24 percent global tariff on steel imports and 7.7 percent tariff on imported aluminum. President Donald Trump is expected to make a decision on the recommendations from Ross by April.

Ford stock closed down 1.4 percent by the close of trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, and GM fell 1.8 percent. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles stock was unchanged for the day.

Charles Chesbrough, senior economist and senior director of industry insights for Cox Automotive, said an increase in steel and aluminum tariffs will be “a net negative” for the automotive industry.

“At best, it adds uncertainty to automotive supply chain – who/how will other countries retaliate is unknown and thus make longer-term planning more difficult,” Chesbrough said in an email. “At worst, it could force higher prices for manufacturers that would be passed along to vehicle buyers which would negatively impact market demand.”

The Commerce Department said Friday its proposals are “intended to increase domestic steel production from its present 73 percent of capacity to approximately an 80 percent operating rate” and “raise production of aluminum from the present 48 percent average capacity to 80 percent.”

Ford said in January that it expected that it is expects to see a decline in its profits from the $1.78 per share it earned in 2017 due to higher commodity prices in 2018. GM has projected that its 2018 adjusted earnings per share will be similar to last year’s result, when it reported earnings of 22 cents per share.

Two groups that lobby for the manufacturing industry predicted the proposed tariffs “would devastate downstream U.S. steel-consuming manufacturers who employ 6.5 million Americans, compared to the 80,000 employed by the domestic steel industry.”

“If these tariffs are imposed, the U.S. will become an island of high steel prices resulting in our customers simply importing the finished part and threatening thousands of jobs across the United States in the steel-consuming manufacturing sector,” Roy Hardy, President of the Precision Metalforming Association, and Dave Tilstone, President of the National Tooling and Machining Association, said in a joint statement.

“The last time the U.S. imposed steel tariffs in 2002, more than 200,000 American jobs were lost because of high steel prices due in large part to the tariffs,” they continued. “We urge President Trump, who campaigned to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs, to reject these recommendations by the Commerce Department to avoid devastating the U.S. manufacturing sector.”

Steel stocks soared: U.S. Steel shares closed Friday up 14.7 percent, while AK Steel was up 13.7 percent.


Ford to end Focus RS
output in April

Photo credit: REUTERS

February 16, 2018
Automotive News

Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it will end production of the popular Focus RS hot hatch on April 6 after a limited run of 50 "Heritage Edition" cars to be sold in the U.K.

Ford announced last year that the Focus RS would go out of production in 2018 but did not provide a timeframe.

The automaker builds the Focus RS in Saarlouis, Germany, for global markets. It brought the car to the U.S. in the spring of 2016 as part of an expansion of its Ford Performance portfolio.

The 350-hp, all-wheel-drive, five-door hot hatch comes with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

Ford plans to end Focus production in North America this year when it retools its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne to build the Ranger pickup and Bronco SUV. It will import the next-generation Focus from China for the U.S.

U.S. sales of the Focus fell 6.2 percent to 158,385 last year, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

The "Heritage Edition" RS will come in deep orange and feature gray brake calipers behind black forged alloy wheels.

It's timed to the 50th anniversary of Ford's Escort nameplate in the U.K.


Glut of off-lease SUVs
may slow new-vehicle sales

Nora Naughton,
The Detroit News
Feb 15, 2018

The heyday of the automotive industry’s post-recession rally is in the rear-view mirror, but the seven-year growth streak is still leaving ripples.

A decline in U.S. auto sales expected this year is due in part to the industry’s success in previous years — particularly the record-breaking sales of 2015 and 2016. Roughly 4 million vehicles on U.S. roads will come off lease this year. That’s about 1.5 million more than is considered normal, according to economist Jonathan Smoke.

All of those late-model vehicles hitting the used-market is a good thing for buyers, who increasingly are being priced out of the new-car market as prices of larger and more-tech-heavy SUVs and crossovers continue to rise. But it could pose a challenge for automakers, who may find that the used-sides of dealer lots are stealing sales from the new-car sides.

One-third of the off-lease vehicles hitting the used-car market this year will be the popular crossovers that automakers introduced at the peak of the sales boom to meet sizzling customer demand for sporty SUVs. This will represent the first time the small-SUV market, the fastest-growing segment in 2017, will have to compete heavily with its more-affordable pre-owned ancestors.

“These are the vehicles consumers changed (cars) for a few years ago,” said Smoke, who works for Cox Automotive, the parent company of Kelley Blue Book and AutoTrader. “Crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks are where all the growth is with manufacturers competing for new-vehicle sales. And all the growth enjoyed over last several years was without competition in the used-vehicle market.”

Smoke says the industry is not headed toward dangerous territory yet. Cox’s forecast of 16.7 million new-vehicle sales in the U.S. for 2018 is still a very healthy auto market, even if it falls off the 17-million precedent set in previous years. But automakers could see pressure on new-vehicle demand and pricing that they haven’t seen since before the recession.

Still, demand for SUVs and crossovers isn’t expected to cool anytime soon. SUV and crossover sales grew 5.7 percent in January, driven by a 9.6-percent increase in small-SUV sales and a 9.1-percent increase in sport-wagon and crossover sales, according to Autodata Corp.

“I don’t think demand changes at all,” said Mike Ramsey, an automotive analyst for research firm Gartner. “What changes is whether the automakers are going to be able to keep making as much money on SUVs.”

There is an upside for dealers, however, if the mix of used vehicles heading to their lots is moving away from the money-losing sedan market.

“The last thing a dealer wants is a bunch of Ford Focuses or Fusions coming back to them,” Ramsey said. “It’s hard enough to move the new cars, so what it could mean is a very big year for dealers as mix shifts to benefit them.”

It’s a different story for automakers: The SUV and crossover segments aren’t just driving growth, they’re driving profits. Rising transaction prices of these popular vehicles drove profits at Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2017, and the Detroit Three are counting on that gravy train to keep running in 2018.

GM introduced a whole slate of SUVs and crossovers last year, the popularity of which led the company to a record-matching pre-tax profit in 2017. The Detroit automaker hopes to ride that wave through the first half of 2018, until its all-new Silverado pickup hits the market.

Both GM and Fiat Chrysler introduced new pickups at the Detroit auto show. The average transaction prices on these full-size trucks, which are offered with a wide array of options and luxury features, reached an average of $47,500 last year. That outpaced the industry average by $10,600.

As vehicles get bigger and more infused with technology, prices are rising out of reach for a large number of buyers. Couple that with a forecast of rising interest rates, and the ballooning average monthly payments on new vehicles become out of reach for a large segment of customers. That’s especially true for those in in their 20s and 30s, who are strapped for cash and opting to buy used more often than their parents.

“If you look at who is most likely to be subprime (borrower), it’s someone under the age of 35,” Smoke said. “Challenges facing that generation, like student loans, make monthly payments a big part of purchase decision-making.”

Cox data show that those millennials and even buyers age 35 to 54 are most likely to buy used, with the 55-and-older demographic most likely to buy new. While conventional wisdom holds that millennials will eventually buy new cars just like their parents, Smoke says they could break that trend. Consumers from the generation who grew up with the internet do a lot of research before they make a purchase, and they’re very proud of their buying habits.

“It’s possible we’ll see a new level of loyalty (to used cars) from this generation,” Smoke said.

Still, Ford announced this week it’s investing in its Kentucky Truck Plant to ramp up production of its profit-driving behemoths: the all-new Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition. The Blue Oval says it’s a necessary move heading into a lower-volume, lower-profit year.

But production could be a sticking point as automakers attempt to strike the right balance amid the industry’s plateau. It’s not easy for automakers to pull back on production by cutting workforces and shifts.

“All of the discipline needs to be on the production side,” Ramsey said. “While there’s evidence that demand is still quite strong ... where companies get into the most trouble is over-estimating production demand, and then they end up with too much inventory.”


Air bag danger: Ford, Mazda
add to do-not-drive list

Associated Press
Feb. 14, 2018

Ford and Mazda are adding more than 35,000 pickup trucks in North America to a list of vehicles that should not be driven because they have Takata air bag inflators with a high risk of exploding.

The warning includes 33,428 Ranger and 1,955 Mazda B-Series small pickups from 2006 model year, according to both companies.

Ford, which made the B-Series for Mazda, found test results showing that the trucks had inflators that ruptured or recorded high internal pressure readings, spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt said Monday.

The companies and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said dealers will tow the pickups to service bays to replace the faulty inflators and provide loaner vehicles. Parts for the repairs already are available.

Rangers added to the do-not-drive list were built between Aug. 5 and Dec. 15, 2005.

“Affected owners are urged not to drive these vehicles and to contact Ford and Mazda immediately to schedule a free repair,” NHTSA said in a printed release.

Takata uses ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate air bags. But the chemical can deteriorate and burn too fast, blowing apart metal canisters and hurling shrapnel into drivers and passengers.

At least 22 people have died and more than 180 have been hurt because of the problem.

The inflators also caused the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history. About 69 million inflators are being recalled in the U.S. and over 100 million worldwide are being recalled.

Last month Ford told 2,900 owners of the 2006 Ranger not to drive them after finding out that a West Virginia man was killed by an exploding inflator.

Steve Mollohan, 56, of the Hedgesville, West Virginia, area died July 1 in nearby Martinsburg, about 80 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., according a Pittsburgh-based law firm representing the family.

Ford said it was notified of the accident in December. After some investigation, the company determined that the truck’s inflator was made on the same day as one that exploded and killed a South Carolina man driving a Ranger in 2015.

Ford’s Weigandt said the small pickups already were under recalls for driver and passenger inflators.

In most cases owners can still drive recalled vehicles, but Ford issued the do-not-drive warning because of the elevated risk.


Sears retirees wait to learn fate
of their pensions and wonder
where the money went

Feb 13, 2018

Sears Canada retirees are still waiting to learn the fate of their pensions. Many are also still struggling to understand how it got to this point.

"I accepted it, but now I'm back in the anger stage again," said Gail McClelland, who worked in furniture sales in Calgary for most of her 33-year career with Sears.

The retailer closed its doors last month, leaving behind an underfunded pension plan. About 16,000 ex-employees are bracing for a reduction in their pensions sometime this year, estimated at 19 per cent by the Sears Canada Retiree Group (SCRG), a volunteer organization representing retirees.

"I'm just going to have to cut back and I mean, that's what you worked your life for, and now it's compromised," said McClelland, a 68-year-old widow.

Some retirees, like McClelland, blame much of their fate on Sears Canada's largest shareholder, Eddie Lampert, CEO of U.S. hedge fund, ESL Investments.

After Lampert took control of Sears Canada in 2005, billions were paid out in dividends to shareholders like himself, while the retailer struggled for survival.

"They couldn't afford to [top up the pension fund], but they could pay out dividends," McClelland said.

However, Lampert said the critics have it all wrong. In a lengthy statement to CBC News which he also posted in a blog, he said that Sears Canada met its demise not because of big dividend payments, but due to bad moves made by management.

Lampert also said the pension fund's deficit has been overestimated and anticipates that by the time it's wound up, there likely won't be a shortfall.

"I wish he was right. Then I wouldn't have to be worried," Sears retiree and SCRG vice-president Ken Eady said.

He said according to Sears's own actuaries, the latest statistics from 2015 show that plan was more than $266 million short if it were to be paid out.

"The possibility of Sears meeting its [pension] obligations, I would say is close to nil."

$3.5B returned to shareholders

Eady said Sears Canada's pension plan has been underfunded since 2007.

According to court documents, since 2012, SCRG continually expressed concerns about the diminishing plan at a time when the retailer's sales and profits were declining and millions were being paid out to shareholders in special dividends.

"Sears didn't appear to be committed to investing in Sears's future," Eady said.

A 2014 letter sent to the retailer's legal counsel from lawyer Andrew Hatnay with Koskie Minsky, the law firm representing Sears retirees, also expressed concerns.

Hatnay wrote that "despite the deteriorating financial situation at Sears Canada," its board of directors continued to approve big payouts to shareholders following the sale of assets such as valuable real estate.

​He said that since 2005, when Lampert's ESL Investments acquired control of Sears Canada, the retailer had returned $3.5 billion to shareholders, largely through special dividends.

Hatnay also noted that as a major Sears shareholder, ESL Investments benefited significantly from the dividend payouts.

"It's not necessarily the [pension] shortfall that was the problem," Eady said. "It was about taking the money out of the company and allowing the company not to operate properly, thus leaving the pension plan high and dry."

'Payments had no impact whatsoever'

Sears Canada didn't respond to CBC News's request for comment.

But Lampert defended the dividend payouts, stating that a company needs to provide adequate returns to shareholders to stay viable.

He also said the payouts — which ceased in 2013 — didn't hurt the retailer because it continued to invest in the company at consistent levels, and meet its pension plan funding requirements.

"The [dividend] payments had no impact whatsoever on the Sears Canada pension plans," wrote Lampert who is also CEO of Sears Holdings in the U.S., which operates separately from Sears Canada.

As for Sears Canada's demise, Lampert said it was primarily the result of a costly but unsuccessful restructuring strategy launched in 2016.

"I raised concerns about this strategy with management but the company decided to proceed," he said.

Regardless of who's to blame, according to SCRG, Sears employees now face diminished pensions.

"It's a big disappointment after working for a company for 27 years and you dedicate your life to them," said Gail Paul, who sold appliances for Sears in Corner Brook, N.L.

"I never thought I'd be in this situation," she said. "You figured your retirement was going to be set."

Meanwhile, SCRG has reached out to the Ontario government, asking for help. Its proposals include keeping the pension plan active and hopefully recouping some of the shortfall by either the government taking it over, or by amalgamating the fund with another pension plan.

"It's quite doable," Eady said.

The Ministry of Finance told CBC News it's currently reviewing the letter.

Some retirees also believe there's one other glimmer of hope. The court appointed monitor for Sears Canada's insolvency is reviewing $611 million the company paid in total in special dividends in 2012 and 2013.

"I'm holding out hope that something will happen, that somebody will get that money back for us," said retiree McClelland.

Lampert, however, said that there's nothing suspect about those dividend payments. The money was generated by real estate sales and he said Sears kept roughly half the proceeds to invest in the company.

"I too very much regret the failure of Sears Canada," he said. "Like all other stakeholders, ESL has suffered significant losses from the bankruptcy of this storied company."


Ford marshals reinforcements
for SUV production

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
Feb 12, 2018

Louisville, Kentucky — At a time when General Motors and Fiat Chrysler are assembling their forces for the upcoming pickup wars with Ford Motor Co., the target of their attacks is strategizing a new front for battle.

Ford is looking to outflank the competition with its all-new Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition. It just needs to draft more of them into service.

Ford President of Global Operations Joe Hinrichs stands in front of Kong, the robotic arm that places the bodies of Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators on skids to roll down the assembly line in Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant on Feb. 9, 2018.
Ford President of Global Operations Joe Hinrichs stands in front of Kong, the robotic arm that places the bodies of Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators on skids to roll down the assembly line in Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant on Feb. 9, 2018.
(Photo: By Ian Thibodeau)

The Blue Oval’s Kentucky Truck Plant is the staging area for that part of the fight. The profit-rich SUVs built here have pushed up average transaction prices since going on sale in November, and that’s helping fund development of the self-driving and electrified vehicles that will be critical to Ford’s future.

But with vehicle sales plateauing industrywide, and Ford’s top officials forecasting a rough year for profits, the company is amplifying production goals for the Navigator and Expedition to meet demand for its vital new living rooms on wheels.

“Basically, everything this plant produces, we can sell,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of global operations, said during a media trip here last week. “Every tenth of a second matters.”

The 8,400 employees here build behemoths: Expeditions, Navigators and Super-Duty pickups. The plant runs 24 hours a day, six days a week, with one 24-hour period of scheduled downtime on the weekend. The revenue generated from this plant alone would technically qualify it as a Fortune 500 company, the employees like to brag.

Last year, the plant produced on average just over 1,000 vehicles per day. Hinrichs and Kentucky Truck Plant Manager Andrew Tapp want more.

The company is spending $25 million here — in addition to $900 million in previously announced investments — on robots, data analytics systems and other technology to produce 25 percent more big SUVs than the company had originally planned. The investments come as Ford scales back investment by $7 billion on cars to reinvest that in the SUV and truck lineups

Hinrichs won’t say how many Expeditions and Navigators the company had planned to produce in 2018 when they launched the new vehicles. But the company was conservative in its expectations.

“(This is) a segment where we had lots of potential, but we just didn’t want to be too optimistic until we started seeing the response to the vehicle,” he said.

Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said when the company released its January sales results that if Ford had them available, it would have sold “a lot more” than the 1,288 Expeditions and 3,439 Navigators that it did sell. The big SUVs are sold on average within seven days of hitting dealer lots; that’s the fastest turn-rate in the company.

Part of the plan to accelerate production is to operate more efficiently. Hinrichs said that in part illustrates part of what CEO Jim Hackett means when he talks about “fitness,” a term he favors when talking about his goals for the automaker.

“Fitness is a lot about cost, but there’s a lot of other ways we can manifest our progress and the fitness of our business in the manufacturing side,” Hinrichs told reporters in Kentucky. “If we can make more units of things that are in demand, or if we can have less downtime, or if we could have better quality ... fitness is all-inclusive. Fitness is about competing. Fitness is about getting yourself in a spot where you feel confident, and you can compete with everybody else.”

Bodies for the 2018 Ford Expedition and 2018 Lincoln Navigator move down the assembly line in the Kentucky Truck Plant, Feb. 2018. Ford has investment hundreds of millions in plant to produce the high-profit vehicles there. (Photo: Ford Motor Co.)
Louisville workers will be able to 3-D prBodies for the 2018 Ford Expedition and 2018 Lincoln Navigator move down the assembly line in the Kentucky Truck Plant, Feb. 2018. Ford has investment hundreds of millions in plant to produce the high-profit vehicles there. (Photo: Ford Motor Co.)int tools in-house. An enhanced analytics system can pinpoint lagging parts of the line so workers can more quickly address issues. More robots will streamline repetitive parts of the line.

Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis at industry consulting firm AutoPacific, said, “Ford needs to pull all the levers they can to improve 2018. Even if this only lasts a year or two, it should have a direct impact on their bottom line. Expedition and Navigator are both priced on the high end of the segment. Were customers willing to pay a premium for these? The answer, for now, appears to be yes.”

Hedging bets

Sales of new vehicles have leveled off across the industry. GM and Fiat Chrysler are introducing all-new pickups this year to directly challenge Ford’s industry-leading F-150.There’s a general dissatisfaction with Ford’s profit margins in 2017.

Against that backdrop, Ford can’t afford to miss sales for the new SUVs. Especially when GM’s pre-tax profit in 2017 was driven by the automaker’s investments in strengthening its lineup of SUVs and crossovers to meet rising consumer demand.

GM introduced a whole slate of SUVs and crossovers last year. Its Chevrolet brand had the fastest-growing crossover lineup in the market in 2017. The popularity of those crossovers is expected to tide the automaker through its manufacturing changeover to the profit-driving 2019 Silverado pickup, which hits dealer lots later this year — and the 2019 GMC Sierra/Denali, which will be seen for the first time next month in Detroit.

With the SUV market saturated by the competition, analysts said it’s not surprising Ford kept expectations comparatively low for its new SUVs.

The body of a 2018 Ford Expedition of 2018 Lincoln Navigator is painted at the Kentucky Truck Plant. (Photo: Ford Motor Co.)
The body of a 2018 Ford Expedition of 2018 Lincoln Navigator
is painted at the Kentucky Truck Plant. (Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

“Every automaker is learning about SUV demand in real time,” said Karl Brauer, analyst industry analyst and executive publisher of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. “Even after years of watching it grow, I think many car companies still, rightfully, wonder when and where it will end. It’s not surprising Ford hedged its bets. The reality is that the new Navigator is very good. And Lincoln, after a long drought, has a reason to be confident in the face of their cross-town rival.

“I think the Expedition and Navigator, like the current F-150, represent the best of Ford right now.”

Timing advantage

Since its launch last fall, 85 percent of all Navigators sold were either the $93,705 Black Label trim or $81,205 Reserve Trim. Though Ford won’t say it directly, they’re going after GM’s Cadillac Escalade. In January GM sold 1,403 Escalades and 838 of the larger Escalade ESV, compared to the 1,288 Navigators sold.

Ford sold 3,439 Expeditions in January. The company said the most expensive Platinum trim accounted for 29 percent of overall sales since the Expedition’s introduction.

GM sold 5,288 full-size Chevrolet Suburbans and 2,701 GMC Yukons in January. Fiat Chrysler sold 5,145 Dodge Durangos that month.

But Ford has an advantage on timing, according to Sullivan: The Navigator and Expedition hit in the middle of the competition’s product cycles, which could give Ford an edge until GM can reboot its Escalade.

Robotic arms hoist the body of a 2018 Ford Expedition or a 2018 Lincoln Navigator at the Kentucky Truck Plant. (Photo: Ford Motor Co.)
Robotic arms hoist the body of a 2018 Ford Expedition or a 2018 Lincoln
Navigator at the Kentucky Truck Plant. (Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

And Hinrichs, whose last 14 out of 15 personal vehicles have been Navigators, wants to lean in to what he said is one of Ford’s best-ever products in order to keep the company moving.

“We have a better product,” he said. “We’re not the dominant volume player in this segment, but we think we’ve got a really great product, so we want to get out there and be a challenger brand that allows us to grow the business and have a big impact on the bottom line.”



Ford Performance boss
hints at gas-powered
Ranger Raptor for U.S.

By Viknesh Vijayenthiran
Fox News
Feb 11, 2018

When Ford on Wednesday took the covers off its new Ranger Raptor, the question on everyone's lips was whether we'll see it in the United States.

That's still to be determined but the head engineer at Ford Performance has hinted strongly at the Ranger Raptor making its way to the states, and with a gasoline engine instead of the 210-horsepower diesel 4-banger it was revealed with.

Speaking with Drive, Jamal Hameedi, Ford Performance chief vehicle engineer, said the Ranger Raptor would be a hit in the U.S. but would require a gasoline engine, even though he thinks the diesel is the right choice for the rest of the world.

“Raptors are a slam dunk for the U.S.; I think [the Ranger Raptor] would do really well in the states, Hameedi said in an interview published Friday. “I think most American off-roaders would actually prefer a petrol gas engine, but a diesel is the absolute way to go for the rest of the world.”

Interestingly, Hameedi described the handling of the Ranger Raptor as being better than on any other pickup he's driven, including the F-150 Raptor. He praised the smaller truck's new Watts Link rear suspension, which again he said would make the Ranger Raptor well-suited to the U.S.

“[The Ranger Raptor] really is the best handling pickup truck I’ve driven and not by an insignificant margin,” Hameedi said. “The watt’s link and everything, I think it would go pretty well in America.”

When asked by Drive why Ford hasn't announced the Ranger Raptor for the U.S., Hameedi's response was that Ford's priority right now is ensuring the rest of the world finally has access to a Raptor of some sort.

 Should it come here, Ford has two worthy gas engines that would ensure the Ranger Raptor has enough oomph without stepping on the toes of its big brother. One is the 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 of the Mustang EcoBoost, which produces 310 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque (or as much as 350 hp and 350 lb-ft in the Focus RS); the other is the 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 of the Fusion Sport, which produces 325 hp and 350 lb-ft. As a reminder, the F-150 Raptor comes with a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 with 450 hp and 510 lb-ft.


Ford will build Ranger
Raptor for Asian market

Ford will launch a Ranger Raptor in the Asia Pacific market this year

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
Feb 10, 2018

Ford Motor Co. announced Wednesday plans to introduce an all-new Ranger Raptor off-road performance pickup overseas.

The new vehicle from Ford’s performance team will launch in the Asia Pacific market. It builds the company’s performance lineup. Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets, said in January the Blue Oval plans to launch more performance vehicles.

“The Ford Performance team is excited to extend the Raptor name from our flagship off-road performance F-150 to Ranger,” Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer of Ford Performance, said in a statement. “Just like the F-150 Raptor, the Ranger Raptor builds upon the core capability of the range of vehicles it comes from and carries the unmistakable Ford Performance DNA appearance.”

The company would not comment on whether a Raptor version of the new truck would be introduced in the United States. It will go sale in the Asia Pacific market ahead of the Ranger’s return to North America scheduled for early 2019. Ford had previously announced plans to launch the performance Ranger Raptor in 2019 in South Africa.

“We'll have more to share about Ranger Raptor at a later date,” Ford spokesman Mike Levine said.

Ford showed its redesigned midsize Ranger for the North American market in January at the Detroit auto show. The automaker will begin building the truck later this year for a first-quarter 2019 launch. That will mark the first time the truck is sold in North America since Ford pulled it in 2011.

The 2019 Ford Ranger built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne for North American sales will have three trim levels, an off-road package and one engine option, a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The truck will replace the Focus and the C-Max there. Focus production will move to China. The C-Max will be discontinued once Michigan Assembly is retooled to make the Ranger and the 2020 Bronco.

The Thailand-built Ranger Raptor brings more power to the truck. The Ranger Raptor boasts a 210-horsepower 2.0-liter Bi-Turbo diesel engine mated to a 10-speed transmission it shares with the popular F-150 Raptor.

It looks like a F-150 Raptor, too. The trucks grille takes design cues from the performance pickup, with “Ford” stamped in block print across the front. The new performance pickup is taller, wider and longer than the base model. Inside, the seats offer “high speed performance support,” among other changes to the cabin.

The company engineered the truck to tackle terrain, but handle well on paved roads, too. The vehicle has six driving modes.

“The standout experience of the Ranger Raptor, hands down, is how far you can push it off-road versus any other available production road vehicle in our markets, and still ride like a millionaire on-road,” Damien Ross, chief program engineer of the Ranger Raptor, said in a statement.

Wednesday’s announcement comes just over a year after Ford announced it had started shipping 2017 F-150 Raptors to China. A black market had developed there, in which truck enthusiasts were paying up to four times the U.S. sticker price for the mean-looking pickups.

The Ranger Raptor could build on demand for the performance truck there. The company also announced in December it would launch the Ranger Raptor in South Africa in 2019.


Ford targets boomers with
Transit wagon redesign

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
Feb 8, 2018

If you liked the Volkswagen bus, Ford thinks you’ll really like the company’s 2019 Transit Connect Wagon.

Ford Motor Co. showed the new vehicle ahead of a press event at the Chicago Auto Show on Thursday. The company hopes the redesigned Transit Connect Wagon will resonate with baby boomers and families on a budget, and help the company grow its share among consumers looking for bigger vehicles.

The five-passenger van — available third-row seating can boost the total number to seven — gets a tweaked fascia, technology updates and new engine options.

But the refreshed vehicle’s biggest selling point will be the price tag. Most of Ford’s new big SUVs and trucks come with a new, big price-tag. The seven-passenger Expedition Ford debuted during last year’s Chicago show starts at $51,695, for example. Although pricing for the 2019 Transit Connect Wagon hasn’t been announced, the current version on dealer lots sells for about half that price.

For families with tight budgets, minivans and SUVs are out of reach, said Imran Jalal, Ford marketing manager for commercial trucks and vans. The Transit Connect Wagon doesn’t have a built-in vacuum cleaner or power-sliding doors.

The price point also targets another valued demographic: baby boomers. Jalal and others think the Transit Wagon could resonate with those who might have owned an old Volkswagen van some time ago.

And 1-in-3 boomers expect to buy a car in the next three years. Ford is marketing the wagon to some of those buyers. The refreshed wagon drives like a car, according to Tim Stoehr, Ford’s fleet marketing manager. And passengers don’t have to step up or down to get into the vehicle.

“From being easy to get in and out of, plus flexible seating and cargo space, Transit Connect Wagon makes it convenient for boomers to keep enjoying family time or explore new hobbies and careers,” Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service, said.

The refreshed wagon gets all-new gas and diesel engine options – at 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gas engine, or a 1.5-liter EcoBlue diesel – in addition to driver-assist features like standard automatic emergency-braking. Engine options are a

It’s available in two wheelbases for five or seven passengers, and an XL, XLT or Titanium trim level.

The center console has an available 6.5-inch touch screen. The Transit Connect Wagon, like all new Ford vehicles, comes with a standard 4G LTE modem that can provide Wi-Fi.

Ford leadership hopes the refresh could generate some momentum for a vehicle that’s known more for its commercial vehicle cousin than as a passenger vehicle. Transit Connect sales fell 20 percent in 2017 even as U.S. consumers move out of passenger cars in favour of bigger, more capable SUVs.

The lay-flat seats also covert the interior to haul cargo. Ford expects the wagon to be able to tow 2,000 pounds with a trailer tow package.


Widow of UAW exec
‘contrite’ after guilty plea

Robert Snell,
The Detroit News
Feb 7, 2018

Detroit – The widow of former United Auto Workers Vice President General Holiefield could spend more than two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a tax crime Tuesday as her lawyer blamed others for a $1.5 million corruption scandal that “cheated the hell out of auto workers.”

Monica Morgan-Holiefield, 54, pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and prosecutors have agreed to drop a five-year conspiracy charge and other counts related to a scandal involving Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and the UAW. She is the fourth person to strike a plea deal in the scandal and admitted guilt two weeks after former Fiat Chrysler labor negotiator Alphons Iacobelli pleaded guilty.

The plea marks a stark downfall for Morgan-Holiefield, a celebrated photographer who portrayed a lavish lifestyle on social media and in society columns – a lifestyle secretly bankrolled by money that was supposed to help train blue-collar UAW workers.

“Of course she’s contrite,” her lawyer Steve Fishman said. “General Holiefield and Al Iacobelli cheated the hell out of auto workers.”

A federal investigation that started with Fiat Chrysler and the UAW has since expanded to Detroit’s other automakers and UAW training centers.

Terms of the plea deal call for Morgan-Holiefield to spend up to 27 months in federal prison and pay almost $191,000 restitution to the government. She will be sentenced June 4 by U.S. District Judge Paul Borman.

The case against Morgan-Holiefield offered a detailed look at how, according to the government, officials at Fiat Chrysler tried to tilt contract negotiations in the automaker’s favor by lavishing labor leaders with first-class airfare, expense accounts and hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal payments. Some of the illegal payments to Morgan-Holiefield coincided with 2011 labor negotiations between Fiat Chrysler and the UAW, and were hidden behind an alias and sham companies, including a fake hospice and a deliberately misspelled firm.

Morgan-Holiefield pleaded guilty seven months after being indicted in a conspiracy that raises questions about the sanctity of labor negotiations that determine pay, benefits and working conditions for thousands of workers.

She knew nothing about the alleged conspiracy but knowingly filed a false tax return, Morgan-Holiefield’s lawyer said.

“If General Holiefield were here, he’d have a lot to answer for,” Fishman said. “This had nothing to do with her.”

General Holiefield died in March 2015.

Payments to Morgan-Holiefield started in 2011, the same year Fiat Chrysler and the UAW engaged in contract negotiations.

The money involved in the conspiracy was supposed to benefit workers at the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center.

In January 2011, the training center gave Morgan-Holiefield’s company, Wilson’s Diversified Products, a no-bid contract to provide shirts, key chains, coffee mugs and other trinkets, according to the government.

By 2012, the training center had funneled more than $425,000 to Wilson’s Diversified Products.

A company with that name does not exist in state business records. That’s because for at least two years in a row Morgan-Holiefield signed state business records with the name “Wilson’s Diversifed Products,” according to state records.

Her full name also does not appear on state business filings. Instead, the records were signed by “M. Alise Morgan.”

The payments continued amid UAW-Chrysler contract negotiations in late fall 2011 and lasted until July 2012, according to federal court records.

The money transfers were approved by Iacobelli, who at the time was a Fiat Chrysler labor negotiator, and others.

Morgan-Holiefield withdrew approximately $65,000 and spent the money on personal items, including a new home in Harrison Township.

Iacobelli faces up to eight years in federal prison after pleading guilty last month.

Two others have struck plea deals in the scandal and await sentencing in federal court:

■Former Fiat Chrysler financial analyst Jerome Durden, who prosecutors say helped transfer millions of dollars in training center funds to Holiefield, Morgan-Holiefield and Iacobelli. He faces up to 37 months in prison and is expected to cooperate with prosecutors.

■Former UAW official Virdell King, who admitted misusing funds that were intended to train and retrain blue-collar workers. She faces up to 16 months in prison and is expected to cooperate with the investigation.

Morgan-Holiefield is being held accountable for a scheme that undermined trust and work of union members, said Timothy Waters, acting special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit field division.

“Union workers sacrifice every pay period by having money withheld from their salary to invest in their future training opportunities,” Waters said in a statement.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the UAW said it has “taken several steps to ensure the type of wrongdoing uncovered cannot be repeated, including seeing to it that more stringent procedures are followed for awarding and reviewing vendor contracts.”

The statement continues: “It’s important to underscore that the wrongdoing here did not involve the loss of any union funds, the monies at issue did not come from union member paychecks or wages, and the misconduct did not affect the negotiation of the terms of our collective bargaining agreements. Nevertheless, the intentional misconduct by certain individuals at the training center is extremely disheartening.”

According to court records, Morgan-Holiefield received “significant payments” from her husband’s Leave the Light on Foundation, according to court records. Iacobelli and others acknowledged using Wilson’s Diversified Products and the nonprofit to conceal payments made on behalf of Fiat Chrysler to General Holiefield.

“This plea is yet another step taken towards combatting the years-long corruption that plagued the relationship between senior officials at FCA who illegally lined the pockets of UAW officials and, in this instance, the wife of General Holiefield…,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement.

Morgan-Holiefield admitted failing to report approximately $201,000 in income in 2011.

She agreed to pay $190,747 restitution for taxes owed from 2011-14. Investigators two years ago seized $103,000 from her bank account and that money will be applied to the restitution.

“In this particular case, Monica Morgan intentionally took funds which were intended to train hard-working men and women,” said Manny Muriel, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation’s office in Detroit. “Those who choose self-enrichment at the expense of others will be caught.”


GM announces profit-sharing
checks up to $11,750

Nora Naughton,
The Detroit News

Feb 6, 2018

General Motors Co. will pay about 50,000 United Auto Workers hourly employees profit-sharing checks of up to $11,750 this year, the company said Tuesday.

The Detroit automaker, which lost $3.9 billion last year, announced profit-sharing as part of its full 2017 earnings report.

GM paid about $12,000 to some 52,000 UAW workers on a $9.43 billion profit last year.

Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV announced profit-sharing amounts last month. Ford will give more than 54,000 UAW workers about $7,500 each. FCA will pay 40,000 workers about $5,500 — on top of $2,000 bonuses the automaker said it will pay all employees as a result of the tax overhaul passed by Congress.


Ford Workers, others,
on strike in German
wage dispute

Associated Press

Feb 3, 2018

Berlin – Thousands of workers have walked off the job at a Ford plant in Germany and other factories as the country’s largest industrial union pressed ahead with a campaign of 24-hour strikes to pressure employers for higher wages.

The dpa news agency reported some 13,000 Ford’s Cologne plant participated in Thursday’s strike. The IG Metall union also targeted Volkswagen, auto part manufacturers Bosch and Mahle, and other companies.

The walkouts started with Tuesday’s night shift after talks broke down over the weekend. Further strikes are planned Friday at BMW, Audi, Daimler and Porsche.

The union is seeking a 6-percent pay increase for some 3.9 million workers and the right to reduce work weeks to 28 hours for up to two years, with a guarantee that workers can return to regular hours.



FCA workers suing for
‘hundreds of millions’
amid probe

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
Jan 30, 2018

Three Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV employees have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the company and the United Auto Workers amid federal accusations that FCA officials paid off UAW officers during union contract negotiations.

The plaintiffs allege on behalf of other dues-paying UAW members employed by FCA that “potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of their dues paid to the UAW for the purposes of good-faith negotiations have instead been spent on tainted and/or illegal collective bargaining negotiations” by former FCA labor negotiator Alphons Iacobelli and other former UAW leadership and FCA officials.

The plaintiffs — on behalf of UAW members who were FCA employees during the “conspiracy period” — want to be paid back for all union dues paid from roughly 2009 to 2015, according to court documents, when the $4.5 million corruption scandal involving Detroit’s No. 3 automaker is believed to have taken place. A judge will have to certify the case as class-action for it to move forward in court.

Raymond Sterling, a Bloomfield Hills attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the damages sought total “hundreds of millions of dollars.” The final number will depend on what prosecutors are able to determine was the extent of the conspiracy

There were “bribes and collusion going on,” Sterling said. “It’s usually for a reason, and our clients are the victims of that reason.

“Everyone paid dues, but no one knew what was going on. We know (now) it went on for years. ”

The lawsuit was filed less than a week after new accusations surfaced in a plea agreement with Iacobelli, though Sterling says he and his clients have been “watching” the case prior to the new information that surfaced in the Jan. 22 plea.

Federal prosecutors said in the agreement that FCA officials paid more than $1.5 million to UAW officials and employees to sway union negotiations.

The plea also suggested corruption was more widespread than previously disclosed. Four people have been formerly charged in the investigation.

The plaintiffs base their claims on a sworn statement from Iacobelli. He outlined there how he and unnamed FCA officials “unlawfully paid and delivered more than $1.5 million in prohibited payments and things of value” to late UAW Vice President General Holiefield, his wife Monica Morgan-Holiefield (who is expected to enter a guilty plea to unspecified federal charges on Feb. 6) and other UAW officials.

Plaintiffs also cite a sworn statement from former UAW official Virdell King, who admitted misusing funds that were intended to train and retrain blue-collar workers. She faces up to 16 months in prison and is expected to cooperate with the investigation.

The proposed class-action lawsuit was filed Friday, the day UAW President Dennis Williams defended the sanctity of the union’s bargaining process in a fiery letter to union members, in which he called Iacobelli a “crook and a liar.”

A UAW spokesman on Monday declined to comment on the lawsuit, referring instead to Williams’ Friday letter.

Williams wrote several times that the “betrayal” of Iacobelli and Holiefield did not compromise the collective bargaining agreement or impact union funds.

Williams wrote in the Friday letter that the corruption was self-serving and designed to funnel “millions of dollars” directly into Iacobelli’s pockets. He wrote that the 2011 agreement that Iacobelli says was influenced by his actions was patterned after other UAW agreements with Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.

Williams’ letter came four days after Iacobelli’s plea agreement.

He also said that a series of $50,000 payments, which Iacobelli says were offered as retirement packages to select senior UAW officials, were rejected after review by UAW legal counsel at the time.


UAW chief: Labor bargaining
not tainted by corruption

Nora Naughton,
The Detroit News
Jan 29, 2018

The president of the United Auto Workers is defending the sanctity of the union’s bargaining process four days after former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV labor negotiator Alphons Iacobelli’s plea agreement showed that officials paid more than $1.5 million to UAW officers and employees to sway contract negotiations.

“Let me speak clearly. Al Iacobelli by his own admission is a crook and a liar,” UAW President Dennis Williams wrote in a letter to union members Friday. “While Mr. Iacobelli will have to answer for his criminal conduct, it appears that in an attempt to get lenient treatment from the government he is now falsely spinning his crimes as an effort to corrupt the collective bargaining process between the UAW and Fiat Chrysler. In reality, it is plain as day that his motivation was nothing more than outright greed.”

Iacobelli, 58, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act, and one count of subscribing a false tax return. The two charges carry a maximum sentence of eight years in prison. Iacobelli could also be ordered to pay more than $835,000 in restitution fees. He will be sentenced in Detroit on May 29.

The former FCA labor negotiator was charged with criminal corruption connected to the Fiat Chrysler-UAW joint training center. But his plea deal suggests the corruption was more widespread than previously disclosed — lasting for years as Fiat Chrysler officials granted UAW labor leaders cash payments and luxury items, including airfare, jewelry and secret $50,000 payments.

Court records also show the relationship involved illegal payments spent on a Ferrari, gold Montblanc fountain pens and a custom-made Italian watch.

In his letter, Williams refutes the $50,000 payments, which Iacobelli says were offered as retirement packages to select senior UAW officials: “What Iacobelli’s plea agreement fails to disclose is that these proposed retirement payments were reviewed by UAW legal counsel,” the union president wrote, “immediately rejected by me and never paid to anyone.”

Iacobelli’s lawyer, David DuMouchel, declined comment Friday. The U.S. attorney’s office in Detroit did not immediately respond.

The conspiracy dates back to September 2009, three months after Chrysler exited bankruptcy and joined forces with Fiat SpA. It was then that Iacobelli told other Fiat Chrysler executives, including former FCA financial analyst Jerome Durden, to shift from cost-cutting to spending at the training center.

One of the first expenses Iacobelli identified in his plea agreement was a $50,000 payment to a nonprofit run by the late General Holiefield, head of the union’s FCA department. It’s one of several made over the next few years as part of a conspiracy “to obtain benefits, concessions and advantages for FCA in the negotiation, implementation and administration of the collective bargaining agreements between FCA and the UAW,” prosecutors allege.

The accusations made Monday in Iacobelli’s plea agreement say for the first time in the investigation that FCA executives’ actions were intended to sway UAW contract negotiations in favor of the Italian-American automaker. But Williams insists in his letter that union funds were neither stolen nor compromised by the actions of Iacobelli, Holiefield or any other conspirators.

Monica Morgan-Holiefield, the widow of General Holiefield, is expected to enter a guilty plea on Feb. 6 to unspecified federal charges. Iacobelli will have to cooperate with investigators as part of his plea deal, but it’s still unclear whether he has named any other FCA officials.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has been questioned by investigators amid the widening investigation and sought legal representation by white-collar criminal defense lawyer William Jeffress of the Washington-based law firm Baker Botts.

“The fact that Mr. Holiefield and others allowed themselves to be corrupted by Mr. Iacobelli was and is a terrible betrayal of our union’s trust. But there is simply no truth to the claim that this misconduct compromised the negotiation of our collective bargaining agreement or had any impact on union funds,” Williams wrote.

“As I have discussed before, General Holiefield did not single-handedly control the collective bargaining agreement. That collective bargaining agreement passed through many hands, and its terms were reviewed, negotiated and approved at the highest level of our union, including the UAW president and ultimately the membership.”

Williams says the corruption was self-serving and designed to funnel “millions of dollars” directly into Iacobelli’s pockets, and that the 2011 agreement that Iacobelli says was influenced by his actions was patterned after other UAW agreements with Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.

“Mr. Iacobelli’s case is one of personal greed, plain and simple. Iacobelli stole money because he’s a thief who wanted to live a lavish lifestyle well beyond his means. And he corrupted a few UAW officials because he needed their silence to protect his own crimes,” Williams wrote. “Those were terrible acts on all sides. But the fact is those people’s misdeeds did not affect your collective bargaining agreement and no union funds were stolen or lost.”

Iacobelli’s plea deals come as federal agents have expanded the corruption investigation to include a former member of General Motors Co.’s board of directors, as well as UAW training centers funded by all three Detroit automakers. Two others have struck plea deals amid the investigation, including Durden and former UAW official Virdell King.


Ford to award
checks of $7,500

Keith Laing,
Detroit News
Washington Bureau
Jan 28, 2018

Dearborn — Ford Motor Co. will give more than 54,000 United Auto Workers hourly employees profit-sharing checks of about $7,500 this year, the company said Wednesday.

The Blue Oval announced profit-sharing as part of its 2017 earnings. The company made $7.6 billion last year.

Last year, about 56,000 Ford UAW members received a record $9,000. That followed the 2016 profit-sharing results, which were the second-highest to last year’s results.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will pay its 40,000 hourly United Auto Workers employees profit-sharing checks averaging about $5,500, the company said Thursday. That’s in addition to the $2,000 bonuses the automaker has said it will pay all employees as a result of the tax overhaul passed by Congress.

The profit-sharing is a boost from the $5,000 checks announced a year ago.

The automaker announced the profit-sharing payouts Thursday as part of its 2017 earnings. It said its net profit nearly doubled for 2017, to nearly $4.35 billion (3.5 billion euros).

“We are pleased to see an increase in the average profit sharing, per member, over last year,” UAW-FCA Vice President Terry Dittes said. “This could not have been possible if not for the enhanced profit sharing formula negotiated in the 2015 National Agreement and was achieved due to the dedication and hard work of our brothers and sisters of the UAW that work for FCA.”

General Motors Co. reports its earnings results on February 6.


With TPP, Trudeau
throws Ontario’s auto
sector under the bus

Tom Parkin
Jan 26, 2018

Trade negotiations have become a confusing mash-up of abbreviations with an unclear list of countries.

But it’s simple to understand why auto sector representatives say Trudeau has put Ontario jobs at risk by signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. You just have to know that 45% is less than 62.5%.

The president of the Auto Parts Manufacturer’s Association, Flavio Volpe, said TPP “could not be a dumber move.” Mark Warner, a prominent trade lawyer, said he didn’t see any improvements from the TPP text Canada rejected just three months ago. Jerry Dias, president of UNIFOR, the major auto sector union, called TPP a “total disaster” and said Ford, Chrysler and GM were also “furious.”

But the Japanese Auto Association of Canada supports TPP. And so does at least one Canadian billionaire operating auto parts plants in China.

Under NAFTA, vehicles assembled in Ontario plants can be exported to the U.S., tariff-free, if 62.5% of the value of the vehicle’s parts originated in North America.

Because of that arrangement, Toyota and Honda have built assembly plants in Ontario, where they use at least 62.5% North American parts, and get tariff-free access to the Canadian and U.S. market.

But under TPP, a vehicle assembled in a TPP country can be sold in another TPP country (now including Canada), tariff-free, if just 45% of its parts are from a TPP country. TPP includes Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

Now Honda and Toyota don’t have to assemble in Ontario with 62.5% North American content in order to export tariff-free to Canada. They can export tariff-free directly from Japan with just 45% made-in-TPP content. The other 55% can come from China.

Ontario has lost manufacturing jobs to low-wage U.S. states and Mexico for years — and, thanks to Trudeau’s TPP, Ontario risk losing them to China, too.

The auto industry writes paycheques for 124,000 Ontario workers and accounts for almost 30% of Ontario’s exports, according to industry statistics. This is a big deal to Ontario.

Now look at TPP from the US perspective. TPP gives tariff-free access to Canada for vehicles built in Japan. That leaves a smaller market share for North American-built vehicles. How might the Detroit Three—GM, Ford and Chrysler—respond to that? Not well.

Trump has already proposed that NAFTA have a new requirement that vehicles exported from Canada into the U.S. to include at least 50% U.S.-made parts. That rule would have a brutal impact on Ontario auto parts and assembly jobs. And Trump’s negotiators will no doubt suggest that if Trudeau can give away Canadian market share to Japan for nothing, that’s not their fault — and exactly why the U.S. needs a 50% rule.

It is true that Ontario parts and assembly plants — regardless of who owns them — do get tariff-free access to new TPP markets and compete with Japanese cars stuffed with Chinese parts. We’ve already seen how the race to the bottom process play out. And if Trump wins his demand for high made-in-U.S. requirements on exports from Ontario to the U.S., Ontario parts plants will shut down and Ontario assembly plants will have to look farther afield for suppliers.

With the possibility that NAFTA may turn sour, Trudeau may think he needs a trophy to prove he’s a free trade enthusiast. But his political image isn’t more important than Canadian paycheques.

Tom Parkin is a former NDP staffer and social democrat media commentator.


Ford reports $7.6B
profit in 2017, up 65%

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
January 25, 2018

Dearborn — Ford Motor Co. delivered a 65 percent bump in annual profit Wednesday, but its leaders still aren’t satisfied. And neither are investors.

Jim Hackett, Ford president CEO, and Bob Shanks, Ford chief financial officer, repeated several times Wednesday that the company needs to become more financially “fit.” Investors want specifics on how they plan to make that happen.

But Hackett did not detail exactly how he plans to do that, outside of giving six bullet points — things like accountability, efficiency and simplicity — the company will focus on in a “fitness redesign.”

The patience of some investors is wearing thin.

“This is the time,” Adam Jonas, a Morgan Stanley automotive analyst, told Hackett during an earnings call Wednesday evening. “It’s a fair question to ask when are we going to know these six (fitness redesign initiatives). You’re clearly not wanting to talk about them. That’s a problem, Jim. When are we going to be very clear and transparent about this so that investors and your associates at Ford can kind of rally around the mission? How long do we have to wait?”

Hackett said it won’t be long. He told Jonas and others on the call that he couldn’t provide his plans to those outside the company before laying things out internally.

“You just have to stand in line. You have to wait until our people know,” Hackett said. “I’m really happy with the things that we’ve laid, the pipe we’ve kind of laid. I’m not happy at all that we’re not proving to you what that’s going to yield, and (I’m) really confident that you will be happy with us as we bring that forth.”

Ford’s 2017 net income totaled $7.6 billion, a jump from the previous year. But the company’s automotive segment reported a $7.3-billion pre-tax profit on $145.7 billion in revenue. Overall, pre-tax profit dropped $1.9 billion from a year ago to $8.4 billion.

Shanks twice has expressed discontent with the company’s position for 2018 — once at a presentation at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference a week ago in Detroit, and again after earnings results were reported Wednesday after the stock market closed.

Ford expects commodities costs to rise this year. It also expects to increase spending on mobility services such as its autonomous vehicle programs. These weigh on profits as U.S. sales begin to slip following record years, and Ford’s crosstown rivals General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV launch new pickup trucks that threaten to take a bite out of Ford’s best-selling F-Series sales.

The company is still too bloated to absorb all of those hits and grow profits in 2018, Shanks said Wednesday.

“We have to be fit, far fitter than we are,” he said. “The fitter we are, the more options we have to succeed in the future because we have more cash, more flexibility.”

Ford announced in October plans to trim $14 billion from materials costs and engineering by 2022.

The company’s leadership signaled Wednesday that they know — at least among themselves — what their plan is. Hackett said he and Shanks have it laid out to review quarterly with Ford’s board of directors.

Shanks more than once Wednesday characterized the plan as the executives’ “north star”. The executives want to roll out the changes without disrupting the overall business, though it has to move swiftly to address slowing North American sales.

Ford’s North American performance has buoyed the global performance since the last economic downturn. As sales slow and commodity costs rise, the impetus is growing for Ford’s leadership to move on the decisions they keep teasing.

“In a declining overall market, do they have the product line-up needed?” David Kudla, CEO of Mainstay Capital Management LLC, said. “The new Silverado and Ram will put pressure on F-Series truck sales. (Ford) gave guidance early last week on their increased investment in EVs, a growing and important segment for the future, but also a massive capital expenditure for Ford.”

Ford said Wednesday it will roll out 23 new products globally in 2018. Eleven of those will launch in North America. Ford will launch 21 of them in Europe, where the company made a $234-million pre-tax profit in 2017.

Ford plans to introduce16 new products in its Asia Pacific segment. It made a $561-million pre-tax profit there last year.

The Blue Oval’s mobility arm will also launch a test fleet in one city within the first quarter of 2018, Hackett reaffirmed Wednesday. Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets, said the company will roll out its prototype fleet over the next two years in multiple cities.

Ford has said it will manufacture an all-new hybrid-electric vehicle with a new nameplate for its autonomous program, which will be purpose-built and run upwards of 20 hours per day. Getting there is going to cost money in addition to the $11 billion the company plans to spend on bringing 40 new electric vehicles to market by 2022, though.

“The investments Ford is planning in autonomy and mobility don’t come cheap,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds, “which make strong sales of the company’s backbone truck products even more critical to Ford’s future.”

In the meantime, executives’ frustration with the company’s performance — and what’s been characterized as a “transition” year for Ford in 2018 — is reflected in the stock price. Ford expects adjusted earnings per share to fall between $1.45-$1.70 for 2018. That’s lower than the $1.78 earnings per share posted Wednesday afternoon for 2017. The company’s cash flow will be lower as well.

Though the stock price had increased since Hackett took over at the end of May, it dropped last week when Shanks delivered his bleak outlook for 2018. Ford stock closed at $12.05 on Wednesday, a 12.6 percent increase from Hackett’s first day.

Ford’s leadership said Wednesday it’s confident Hackett’s “fitness redesign” plan will prove the company is ready for an uncertain future.

“It’s getting close to the point where I think we can start to bring you under the tent, but it’s not tonight,” Hackett said. “I get how important this year is to prove this management team’s ability to convert. And I look forward to proving to you that our vision is really going to make Ford an exciting brand in the future.”


Ford urged to recall 1.3M
Explorers over fume fears

Ryan Beene,
Bloomberg News
Jan 24, 2018

A Washington-based auto safety group is repeating its call for Ford Motor Co. to recall more than a million Explorer sport-utility vehicles, citing an increase in the number of complaints about exhaust fumes seeping inside the vehicles.

Nearly 1,400 complaints about the exhaust fumes in the sport utility vehicles have been lodged with regulators, according to a tally by the the Center for Auto Safety. Hundreds of people said they had been affected by fumes, and the complaints included reports of more than 80 injuries.

The automaker in October announced a nationwide service campaign to reduce the potential for exhaust fumes to enter the cabins and said that an internal investigation had not found carbon monoxide levels exceeding what people are exposed to every day.

“Explorers are safe,” Ford said in a statement Tuesday, adding that concerned customers can visit their dealer for a free repair. “Ford’s investigation and extensive testing has not found carbon monoxide levels that exceed what people are exposed to every day.”

According to the complaints, drivers reported feeling ill, with symptoms ranging from headaches and dizziness to nausea and loss of consciousness, Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said in a statement on Tuesday. No deaths have been reported.

“It is easy to imagine a roadside crash caused by carbon monoxide exposure resulted in a fatality but was written off as drowsy driving,” Levine said in an open letter the group planned to send Tuesday to Jim Hackett, Ford’s chief executive. “It is possible that Ford and Ford’s customers have just been lucky up until this point, but the time for Ford to take more serious action is now, before that luck runs out.”

The letter marks an escalation in the group’s push for Ford to recall the SUVs, after a similar request in October.

In 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating the issue in 2011-2015 model-year Explorers. The agency expanded the scope of the inquiry last July to include 2016 and 2017 Explorers, totaling 1.3 million vehicles


FCA officials paid to sway
UAW negotiations, feds say

Ian Thibodeau and
Robert Snell,
The Detroit News
January 23, 2018

Detroit — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV officials paid more than $1.5 million to United Auto Workers officers and employees to sway union contract negotiations, federal prosecutors said, part of a $4.5 million corruption scandal involving Detroit’s No. 3 automaker.

The accusations made Monday in a plea agreement with former FCA labor negotiator Alphons Iacobelli say for the first time in the investigation that executives’ actions were intended to corrupt UAW contract negotiations to favor Fiat Chrysler.

The plea deal suggests the corruption was more widespread than previously disclosed. It lasted for years as Fiat Chrysler officials lavished UAW labor leaders with cash payments and luxury items, including airfare, jewelry and secret $50,000 payments.

Federal court records also portray a cozy relationship between Fiat Chrysler executives and labor leaders after the automaker emerged from its 2009 bankruptcy.

Court records also show the relationship involved illegal payments spent on a Ferrari, gold Montblanc fountain pens and a custom-made Italian watch.

“The UAW is appalled at these charges,” UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said in a statement. “We have worked with the (National Training Center) and Fiat Chrysler to implement a range of measures aimed at enhancing transparency and internal controls at the NTC to reduce the risk of any future recurrence of these activities.”

Iacobelli, 58, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act, and one count of subscribing a false tax return.

The two charges carry a maximum sentence of eight years in prison. Iacobelli could also be ordered to pay more than $835,000 in restitution fees. He will be sentenced in Detroit on May 29.

According to the deal, Iacobelli, Jerome Durden, a former FCA financial analyst, and other unnamed FCA executives and employees made illegal payments to UAW officials to “obtain benefits concessions, and advantages for FCA in the negotiation, implementation, and administration of the collective bargaining agreements between FCA and the UAW.”

The conspiracy dates to September 2009, three months after Chrysler exited bankruptcy and forged an alliance with Fiat.

That month, Iacobelli told other Fiat Chrysler executives, including Durden, to shift from cost-cutting at the automaker’s UAW training center and start spending money.

One of the first expenses Iacobelli identified was giving $50,000 to a nonprofit run by the late UAW Vice President General Holiefield, head of the union’s FCA department.

The payment is among several made over the next few years as part of a conspiracy “to obtain benefits, concessions and advantages for FCA in the negotiation, implementation and administration of the collective bargaining agreements between FCA and the UAW,” prosecutors allege.

In February 2015, Iacobelli directed an unnamed senior manager to offer the UAW a $50,000 lump-sum retirement payment for select labor officials. The “one-time” offer was designed to be hidden from rank-and-file UAW members and only offered to senior UAW officials, according to the government.

“My people will process the transactions to keep them out of the plants,” an unnamed Fiat Chrysler official told a UAW leader, according to federal court records filed Monday.

A UAW source familiar with the federal investigation said the $50,000 offer “never went forward after legal review in Solidarity House,” the UAW’s international headquarters.

Five months later, in February 2010, an unnamed Fiat Chrysler executive gave Holiefield a custom-made Terra Cielo Mare watch worth several thousand dollars.

The rare, Italian chronograph — only 150 were produced — was a special-edition automatic timepiece that featured the Fiat logo and a mustard-yellow dial.

The watch sells on the used market for about $2,000.

The watch came with a hand-written note from the FCA executive, which said “Dear General, I declared the goods at less than fifty bucks. That should remove any potential conflict. Best regards, and see you soon,” according to federal court records.

It was unclear Monday which Fiat Chrysler executive gave the watch. An FCA spokeswoman declined to comment.

Iacobelli must cooperate with investigators as a condition of his plea, but it was unclear Monday whether he has led investigators to other FCA officials.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has been questioned by investigators amid the widening investigation. He is represented by a white-collar criminal defense lawyer, William Jeffress of the Washington, D.C., law firm Baker Botts.

In a 2011 email to Durden, Iacobelli instructed Durden not to put details of charges made to the “benefit of (Holiefield) in writing.”

According to court documents, Iacobelli has agreed to forfeit the two $35,700 fountain pens and has had $354,000 seized by federal authorities. As part of the plea, Iacobelli cannot contest the seizures of the funds.

He’s also sold the 2013 Ferrari 458 Spider convertible with an “IACOBLI” vanity plate that he is accused of using UAW training center cash to buy.

Monica Morgan-Holiefield, the widow of General Holiefield, is expected to enter a guilty plea to unspecified federal charges on Feb. 6.

Iacobelli told U.S. District Judge Paul Borman in Detroit that he knowingly joined in an ongoing conspiracy from 2009 to 2015 in which FCA officials agreed to pay or deliver more than $1.5 million to UAW officials.

He said he authorized $450,000 given to General Holiefield and others that was used to buy jewelry, electronics and designer clothing.

Iacobelli also said in June 2014 he approved funds to pay off Holiefield’s mortgage. When he pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return, Iacobelli said he submitted in March 2015 tax forms that he did not believe to be true. He owes over $860,000 in taxes.

The plea deals come as federal agents have expanded the corruption investigation to include a former member of General Motors Co.’s board and United Auto Workers training centers funded by all three Detroit automakers.

In a July letter to FCA employees, Marchionne wrote that those charged in the conspiracy “abused their positions and misappropriated substantial funds that FCA US contributed to the NTC — funds that were earmarked for employee training and development.

“I encourage you not to be discouraged by the actions of a few people that betrayed our core principles and our standards of morality, integrity and quality,” he wrote.

“We dealt swiftly with these individuals as we will anyone who does not abide by our code of conduct and who disregard the ethical principles that lie at the foundation of FCA.”

Iacobelli sanctioned the use of training center credit cards by UAW leaders for personal expenses in a bid to keep senior labor leaders “fat, dumb and happy,” according to a court filing.

Iacobelli is also accused of spending more than $1 million of union funds on luxury items, including his house, pool, outdoor spa and kitchen, a Ferrari and the two limited-edition, gold Montblanc fountain pens.

Investigators have seized money and assets during the investigation, including the two gold pens Iacobelli is accused of buying with stolen money.

Search warrant documents obtained by The News reveal that in March 2016, agents seized $354,000.

Between October 2013 and September 2014, Iacobelli and others transferred more than $350,000 from the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center to buy the Ferrari, prosecutors said.

He was indicted alongside Morgan-Holiefield in July on eight counts, including conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act, making prohibited payments to union officials, conspiracy to defraud and subscribing false tax returns, the most severe of which carry penalties of up to five years in federal prison.

Two others have struck plea deals in the scandal and are awaiting sentencing in federal court. They are:

■Former Fiat Chrysler financial analyst Jerome Durden, who prosecutors say helped transfer millions of dollars in training center funds to Holiefield, Morgan-Holiefield and Iacobelli. He faces up to 37 months in prison and is expected to cooperate with prosecutors.

■Former UAW official Virdell King, who admitted misusing funds that were intended to train and retrain blue-collar workers. She faces up to 16 months in prison and is expected to cooperate with the investigation.


Notice to Members on Unifor’s
Disaffiliation from the
Canadian Labour Congress

January 18, 2018

Over the course of the past year Unifor has been vocal and public about our concern with US-based unions trampling on the rights of workers and their democratic right to choose their own representation or to express dissent. In light of the ongoing lack of action and will by the affiliates of the Canadian Labour Congress to address the aggressive and undemocratic tactics shown by US-based unions towards workers in Canadian locals, a decision was made by the leadership of our union.

The National Executive Board (NEB) made a unanimous decision on January 16, 2018 to discontinue Unifor’s affiliation and membership in the Canadian Labour Congress effective immediately. The CLC has been notified of this decision today, along with other labour federations.

Our union will remain affiliated and continue to participate in and support the federations of labour and labour councils and our collaborative campaign work. The NEB and leadership of Unifor feel strongly that this is the principled action to take at this time. Ongoing communication will be provided to members in a timely matter as we move forward.

Unifor stands in support of union democracy and the rights of workers. Our union is opposed to any union that threatens, harasses, intimidates, or silences workers for simply asserting their democratic rights to choose a union or for the purpose of quelling dissent within the local.

Unifor is proud to defend the rights of working people and unions and will continue to do so in a stead fast manner.

Should you have any questions on this decision please contact the Executive Assistant to the President, Scott Doherty scott.doherty@unifor.org.

Please see this letter that was sent to Brother Yussuff on Wednesday, January 17.

In solidarity,

Jerry Dias, National President and Renaud Gagné, Quebec Director



Ford's plan: 40 new electric
vehicles in 4 years

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
Jan 18, 2018

Detroit — Ford Motor Co. plans to increase its investment in electric powertrains, spending $11 billion to launch 40 new electric vehicles by 2022.

The EVs include 16 full battery-electric vehicles; the rest will be hybrids, the automaker announced Sunday at the Detroit auto show.

The Blue Oval’s tweaked electric strategy gives a tangible glimpse of how the company is bridging its past with a future that some argue is going to be here sooner than anticipated. Part of the company’s North American plan seems to be to electrify nameplates people recognize in higher-margin segments.

“We think that electrifying the vehicles that we’re best known for, that really drive our business results, and making them electric is really what (CEO) Jim (Hackett) means by smart vehicles in a smart world,” Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets, said Sunday after Ford made its North American International Auto Show announcements.

“People want nice (electric) products. They want a higher-end product.”

The automaker is leaning on history to drive the company forward. Company leaders said as much with the new takes on legacy products unveiled Sunday.

“We were the original transportation disruptor,” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said at a press conference. “(We) have reinvented our company many times over the last 114 years. Our heritage and our future are intertwined.”

The Dearborn-based automaker rolled out three vehicles Sunday — including a 475-horsepower limited-edition Mustang Bullitt and the 2019 Ranger — and announced plans for a hybrid F-150 and a battery electric performance Mach 1.

The electrification plans, though vague, show that Farley and his team want to reinvent the brand’s storied products.

The company won’t have to work as hard to convince buyers to choose a hybrid if the powertrain is stuffed in an F-150 — as long as Ford can prove there’s no change in performance. That’s the goal, based on comments made in recent months by Hackett and others.

Meantime, Ford is packing product into its existing lineup. The company this quarter launched a much-needed compact SUV in North America with the EcoSport. Ford leadership used the Detroit show to show a new performance-SUV, the Edge ST, which is the first in a news “series” of performance models.

Ford has trailed the competition in the growing segments EcoSport and Ranger will enter. But Farley said Sunday that Ford’s lineup is flush with fresh product that’s well-timed.

“We’re in really good shape,” Farley said. “The flavor for Ford is that we are competing in the parts of the market that we can really win in. We make sure new product is in segments where Ford is very strong, and we can move to even more strength.”

Ford wanted to show that even in a world full of robot cars, there will be consumers looking for brands and vehicles they can trust.

“This is an era change,” Hackett said, referencing Ford’s increased investment in electrification. “That’s something we’ve all expected, and I think Ford’s ability to marry this propulsion capability with the passion of the vehicles is the story.”


More SUVs, fewer cars
in Ford’s future lineup

Ford Executive Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. and CEO Jim Hackett pose with the 2019 Ford Ranger truck at the auto show.

Ian Thibodeau
Detroit News
Jan 17, 2018

Detroit — Ford Motor Co. will cut its car lineup in favor of SUVs to drive profits.

The automaker outlined the plans during the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference here Tuesday. Ford plans to grow its SUV lineup by 10 percentage points, and shrink the car lineup accordingly “over the next couple of years” in North America.

The company also plans to launch seven new battery-electric vehicles in North America by 2022.

“We have a rock-solid foundation and we have seen growth in key areas, but we know we must evolve to be even more competitive, and narrow our full line of nameplates in all markets, to a more focused lineup that delivers stronger, more profitable growth, with better returns,” Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets, said in a statement.

Farley joined Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks at the presentation. The officials provided financial guidance for the next year, as well as preliminary 2017 results.

Shanks expects Ford will post a $7.8 billion profit for 2017. It expects to report $1.78 earnings per share for the year.

The company will also change how it reports its financial results to break out what it made or lost on the mobility segments. Ford expects to have lost $300 million on self-driving vehicle ventures last year.

Ford expects to post lower earnings per share in 2018 than it did in 2017 due to factors outside of the company. Ford expects to post an adjusted earnings per share of $1.45-$1.70 per share, the company reported Tuesday.

Shanks said he’s not satisfied with the company’s financial performance yet, but he’s much more confident in the company’s leadership changes and position in the market since a year ago.

Farley, meanwhile, outlined some of the business moves planned for the next few years.

Ford will “play to our strengths,” he said. Cars will give way to more crossovers and SUVs.

The company is planning to develop “authentic off-roaders and high-performance city crossovers.”

Farley also touched on news made earlier in the week at the Detroit auto show, where Ford announced plans to roll out 40 new electrified models by 2022, spending $11 billion to do so.

That presentation preceded a 45-minute fireside chat at the Automotive News World Congress where CEO Jim Hackett doubled down on his commitment to drive change at Ford.

He talked about positioning the company ahead of the curve in the future.

The company “is going to be so different than what you’re seeing at the show today,” Hackett said. “Ford is gonna aim ahead of where it has to be, because it has to be ahead in order for people to believe our strategy isn’t about catching up to somebody else’s old view.”

The interview ranged from Hackett’s start as CEO — a position he said he wasn’t sure at first he wanted — to whether or not he wishes Ford still owned the luxury brands it ditched during the Mulally era.

Hackett also said it’s not clear battery-electric vehicles are the key to the future. Hybrids, which Ford is strong in, might be better.

He wrapped with a promise that the Detroit auto show is sure to change as Detroit continues to compete with Silicon Valley in the autonomous vehicle race.

“The auto show as we know it is going to alter and mutate,” Hackett said. “It has to demonstrate these capabilities. If the cars are just sitting there ... it’s not enough.”


Ford plans new Shelby GT500
with 700-plus horsepower

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
Jan 16, 2018

Ford Motor Co. will roll out its most powerful street-legal vehicle ever in 2019.

The Blue Oval plans to launch an all-new Mustang Shelby GT500 next year, Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of global operations said Monday night.

The product re-enters Ford’s lineup for the first time in a few years. Ford made a GT500 Super Snake until 2014.

The new fast-back coupe will have a “700-plus horsepower” supercharged V-8 engine. Ford’s current Mustang Shelby GT350 boasts 526-horsepower. The new vehicle launching in 2019 will be twice as powerful as the original 1967 Mustang performance model.

The Dearborn automaker said the GT500 will be “the pinnacle of Mustang performance and highlights the innovation, ingenuity and passion of Ford Performance.”

The new ’Stang might aim to compete with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s 840-horsepower 2018 Challenger SRT Demon, which was released late last year. The Demon is billed as the world’s fastest quarter-mile production vehicle.

Ford on Monday didn’t release any specs or photos for the GT500. The announcement made at a party at the Detroit auto show Monday night was meant to be a teaser, Hinrichs said.

But it was the sixth product Ford announced or displayed at the 2018 show. The company on Sunday unveiled a new Edge ST, the 2019 Ranger, a limited-edition Mustang Bullitt, plans for a hybrid F-150 and an unspecified electric model named the Mach 1. Ford also announced plans to build 40 new electrified models by 2022.

In a video released Monday night, the company show a few close-ups of the vehicle, focusing on the iconic Cobra badging. The GT500 continues Ford’s relationship with Shelby, which dates to the 1960s.


Ford reveals all-new Ranger

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
January 15, 2018

Ford Motor Co. pulled the curtain off the new 2019 Ranger, bringing the midsize pickup back to North America for the first time since 2011.

The Ranger, which will be shown Sunday afternoon at the Detroit auto show, won’t be available for another year. It will play catch-up to Chevy and GMC which have capitalized on a revived small-pickup market with their successful Colorado and Canyon models.

The all-new Ranger looks similar to the models the company has sold around the world for the last several years. Ford pulled the Ranger from the U.S. market seven years ago so the company could focus on its full-size F-Series pickup. Ford sold nearly 900,000 F-Series trucks last year.

The company is leaning on its reputation for trucks for the North American relaunch of a truck it once sold hundreds of thousands of. Ford designed the new model on the platform used in global production. Todd Eckert, Ford truck group marketing manager, said the exterior, chassis and powertrain were redesigned for the U.S. market.

“Ranger has always held a special place in the hearts of truck fans,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford executive vice president of product development and purchasing. “The all-new Ranger is designed for today’s midsize truck buyer, delivering even more utility, capability and technology for those who blend city living with more off-the-grid adventures on weekends.”

The company said at last year’s North American International Auto Show that there’s immense consumer demand for the truck. The Ford says the midsize-pickup market has grown by 83 percent since 2014.

Analysts have said Ford might cut into F-150 sales by releasing the Ranger in the U.S., but Ford executives have said F-150 shoppers are typically completely different from those who’d look to buy a Ranger.

Those marketing the vehicle said they’re hoping the Ranger hits a sweet spot between F-150 buyers, and people who were looking for a smaller Ford vehicle.

The truck will be available in XL, XLT and Lariat trim levels with chrome or sport appearance options. The trucks will have SuperCab or SuperCrew cab configurations — which means the new Ranger will have an available four-door configuration. The truck will also have an FX4 Off-Road Package. There’s one engine option: a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, with which Ford engineers say they’re targeting best-in-class torque.

Ford did not release fuel economy projections for the new vehicle. There will be both two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive options.

Unlike the F-Series, the Ranger is built using a mix of aluminum and steel. The truck has a steel frame and steel bumpers. The vehicle has an aluminum hood and tailgate. The truck was designed with an athletic look in mind, which truck buyers favor.

The Ranger nameplate is stamped across the tailgate. Ford also prioritized ground clearance for off-roading. The FX4 trim features off-road tuned shocks, all-terrain tires, a frame-mounted heavy-gauge steel front bash plate, frame-mounted skid plates and FX4 badging. That trim also comes with a terrain management system similar to that found in the F-150 Raptor.

The 2019 Ranger will come standard with autonomous emergency braking, and the XLT and Lariat trims will have standard adaptive cruise-control, automatic high-beams, blind-spot monitoring, land-keep assist, parking aid and lane-departure warning. There are numerous optional driver-assist features, too.

Sync3 is available on the vehicle, as well as available FordPass with a WiFi hotspot. The center stack includes an 8-inch touch-screen system.

Ford sold more than 6.6 million Rangers in the U.S. over its 29-year history. Sales peaked in 1999 at around 350,000 but dropped steadily until its final year in 2011, when Ford sold 70,832.

The truck will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant. This year, it will replace the Focus and the C-Max there. Focus production will move to China. The C-Max will be discontinued once Michigan Assembly is retooled to make the Ranger and the 2020 Bronco.

The Ranger is scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter of 2019.


New Ford Ranger pickup
expected at auto show

Ford is expected to roll out an all-new Ranger pickup (the 2018 version for China is shown here). The vehicle scheduled for a 2019 model year builds on the pickup sales frenzy in the U.S. The Blue Oval pulled the midsize truck from the U.S. market in 2011. The truck will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly.

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
Jan 14, 2018

Ford Motor Co. is expected to roll out an all-new Ranger pickup Sunday at the Detroit auto show. The vehicle scheduled for the 2019 model year builds on the pickup sales frenzy in the U.S.

The Blue Oval pulled the midsize truck from the U.S. market in 2011, deciding then to focus on its full-size F-150. The company hasn’t exactly suffered without a small truck in its lineup — selling 897,764 F-Series trucks last year — but the Ranger could still give Ford’s U.S. sales a boost.

Newer versions of the truck are sold in roughly 180 markets around the world. The new U.S. models are expected to look similar to those currently sold elsewhere, though Ford officials have said the U.S. model planned to go on sale in 2019 won’t be a copy-and-paste version of the truck sold around the world.

The company said at last year’s North American International Auto Show that there’s immense consumer demand for the truck. The Ranger will play catch-up to Chevy and GMC which have capitalized on a revived small pickup market with their successful Colorado and Canyon models.

“We’ve heard our customers loud and clear. They want a new generation of vehicles that are incredibly capable, yet fun to drive,” said Joe Hinrichs, then Ford’s president of The Americas, at the 2017 show. “Ranger is for truck buyers who want an affordable, functional, rugged and maneuverable pickup that’s Built Ford Tough.”

The truck will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant. This year, it will replace the Focus and the C-Max there. Focus production will move to China. The C-Max will be discontinued once Michigan Assembly is retooled to make the Ranger and the 2020 Bronco.

Ford sold more than 6.6 million Rangers in the U.S. over its 29-year history. Sales peaked in 1999 at around 350,000 but dropped steadily until its final year in 2011, when Ford sold 70,832.

Analysts have said Ford might cut into F-150 sales by releasing the Ranger in the U.S., but Ford executives have said F-150 shoppers are typically completely different from those who’d look to buy a Ranger.


Ford debuts new Edge ST
ahead of Detroit auto show

The all-new performance Ford Edge ST SUV has a 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine that produces 335-horsepower and 380 lb.-feet of torque. That engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, standard all-wheel drive, and an available performance brake package and tuned suspension. Like the 2019 Edge, the Edge ST is loaded with driver-assist features.  Ford

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
Jan. 11, 2018

It’s the company’s first SUV tuned by the Ford Performance team responsible for the GT supercar, zippy Focus RS and powerful F-150 Raptor. It will bring Ford’s SUV lineup up-to-speed with crosstown rivals General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which last year unveiled performance trims for full-size SUV models.

Standard on all Edge models is FordPass® Connect, with a Wi-Fi hotspot that gives internet access to up to 10 devices. Using the FordPass™ app, drivers can also use their smartphone to start, lock, unlock and locate their Edge.  Ford

The new ST accompanies a refresh for the entire Edge lineup, which Ford calls its “medium-utility” vehicle. The Dearborn-based automaker sold 142,603 Edges last year, making it the third-best selling SUV for the company.

Designers tweaked interior and exterior components on the Edge, giving the vehicle a wider grille and new fascia, but the refresh focuses most on technology.

The Edge ST includes Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support; Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection; BLIS® with Cross-Traffic Alert; Lane-Keeping Alert; Lane-Keeping Assist; Auto High Beams; and Hill-Start Assist. In addition, standard safety features include AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control™ and Curve Control, and 911 Assist®.  Ford

Following CEO Jim Hackett’s mantra — smart vehicles for a smart world — the 2019 Edge is outfitted with a full suite of driver-assist features. Ford claims it has more features than any vehicle in its class.

The 2019 model comes standard with forward-collision warning, dynamic-brake support, pre-collision assist, pedestrian detection, blind-spot detection, cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping alert and assist, automatic high beams and hill-start assist. The Edge also has available post-collision braking, which Ford said automatically applies moderate brake pressure in the event of a collision to avoid further injury, damage to the vehicle or a second collision.

The vehicle also has available evasive-steering assist to help drivers steer around stopped or slowing vehicles. There’s also available adaptive cruise-control and lane-centering features.

SYNC® with AppLink™, an enhanced voice-recognition communications and entertainment system, is also standard. This system supports the new Ford+Alexa app, giving users access to their favorite media content, daily appointments, smart home controls, and the ability to search for nearby points of interest and even shop for everyday items, all from the road. Drivers can also upgrade to SYNC 3 with an 8-inch touchscreen for enhanced in-vehicle experience.  Ford

Ford’s also outfitted the updated SUV with a wireless charging pad and an available 12-speaker B&O Play premium audio system. Edge models will come standard with FordPass Connect, a WiFi hotspot that can connect up to 10 devices. Engineers said the service is free for a trial period, after which owners will have to pay for the connection through a provider. Sync comes standard on the vehicles.

But Aquino and others noted that all the technology wouldn’t be worth much if the Edge wasn’t a fun ride.

The ST isn’t meant to be a track vehicle. It’s an every-day driver that adds some pep to a smaller SUV. The goal for Ford was to make an SUV that is “fun to drive,” Aquino said.

Inside drivers will find an available wireless charing Pad nestled in the forward media bin, and they can opt for an upgraded audio experience, HD Radio and a 12 speaker B&O PLAY Premium Audio bt HARMAN specially tuned for Edge

The all-new performance SUV has a 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 engine that churns out 335-horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. That engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, standard all-wheel drive with selectable traction control. The ST has an available performance brake package and tuned suspension. Paddle shifters allow drivers to switch into manual mode.

The redesigned Edge comes in SE, SEL and Titanium trims. The standard vehicle comes with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine paired with an 8-speed transmission. All models have a redesigned center console housing the rotary gearshift dial Ford’s rolled out on some of its vehicles.

The redesigned Edge and Edge ST go on sale this summer. The vehicles are made at the Oakville Assembly Plant in Oakville, Ontario.


Denying benefits to minimum
wage workers outrageous: Unifor

January 10, 2018

TORONTO – The choice by Tim Hortons and other businesses to roll back benefits and paid breaks and then blame the cuts on Ontario’s minimum wage increase is a bully tactic by greedy business owners says Unifor.

“The minimum wage increase in effect since January 1 is long overdue and very much deserved. To see wealthy business owners now use that as an excuse for their own greedy desires is simply an outrage,” Dias said.

A Tim Hortons outlet in Cobourg, Ontario, owned by heirs to founders of the donut chain, made headlines for its decision to cut benefits and paid breaks for its non-union workers, and claimed the cuts result from an increase in the minimum wage to $14 that came into effect this week.

Since then, instances of additional Tim Hortons outlets and other chain restaurants cutting benefits, and even confiscating worker’s tips, have come to light. This follows complaints from Loblaw Chief Executive Officer Galan Weston last summer about the cost of the wage increase.

“We can’t continue to have an economy based on poverty-level wages for workers,” Dias said.

“At a time when CEOs are making record multi-million-dollar salaries, it is not too much to ask that workers be able to afford a decent standard of living – and that begins with raising the minimum hourly wage.”

Dias pointed out that there was no shortage of discussion about the minimum wage increase in the months leading up to it, giving businesses plenty of opportunity to prepare without hurting vulnerable staff. As well, small businesses were given a tax break to lessen the impact.

“There is no excuse for these wealthy business people for making these cuts. Workers deserve better and their rights should be respected," added Naureen Rizvi, the union's Ontario Regional Director. Rizvi also pointed out that workers in unionized shops are not seeing such arbitrary measures being taken because the employer can’t take away rights enshrined in a collective agreement.

“This week has really shown why workers need a stronger voice in the workplace,” Dias said.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

Will you sign the petition calling on Tim Hortons owners to stop attacking their workers? If enough of us come together to sign, we can have a real impact — but we have to make it huge! 


Protests planned at Tim Hortons over cuts to paid breaks, benefits

Jan 10, 2018

Protests are planned outside some Tim Hortons locations in Toronto on Wednesday, following a decision by some franchise owners to get rid of paid breaks and scale back on employee benefits — in the wake of Ontario’s minimum wage increase.

The protests, which have been organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour, will take place at over a dozen locations across southern Ontario, including eight in Toronto (list below):

3488 Lawrence Ave. E. (near Markham Road) – 8 a.m.

2708 Keele St. (near Wilson Avenue) – 8 a.m.

455 Spadina Ave. (near College Street) – 8 a.m.

1094 Bloor St. W. (near Dufferin Street) – 8 a.m.

1733 Eglinton Ave. E. (Bermondsey Road) – 9 a.m.

264 Bloor St. W. (at University of Toronto near St. George Street) – 2 p.m.

4700 Keele St. (at York University near Steeles Avenue) – 3 p.m.

444 Yonge Street (near College Street) – 4:30 p.m.

 Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath will be at one protest in Cobourg — that franchise is owned by the children of Tim Hortons founders.

The minimum wage went from $11.60 per hour to $14 at the start of the year.

The coffee chain has released a statement condemning the choice of the franchise owners, saying employees shouldn’t be treated as an expense or to “further an agenda.”


Passes Away
Jan 6, 2018

Duncan McCallum

1/7/1946 - 1/6/2018

July 1, 2003
31.2 Years

It is with great sorrow that we inform you of the sudden passing
of Retiree Duncan McCallum who passed away at the
Brampton Civic hospital on January 6, 2018.

He will be remembered fondly by his co-workers for his pleasant,
bubbly personality and interesting story telling. Every Christmas during his working life he strolled down every aisle in the Ford Warehouse playing his bagpipes.

He will be sadly missed by all.

Our deepest Condolences go out to the entire McCallum Family

Scott Funeral Home - Brampton Chapel
289 Main Street North
Brampton ON L6X 1N5

Event Times:
02:00 PM - 04:00 PM

07:00 PM - 09:00 PM

Funeral Service
St. Paul's United Church
30 Main Street South
Brampton ON L6W2C4

Event Times:
11:00 AM - 11:45 AM


Obituary Overview

In Loving Memory

McCallum, Duncan

We are heartbroken to announce the passing of Duncan on Saturday January 6th, 2018 at Brampton Civic Hospital,
one day shy of his 72nd birthday.  Duncan was the beloved husband of Donna for 45 years.  Loving father to Kirsty and Robert, and proud grandpa to Abbey.  Duncan was born in Renton Scotland to Sadie and Peter McCallum (deceased).  Brother to Eleanor (Andy), and predeceased by his sister Betty (Alan).  Duncan retired after 31 years from Ford Motor Company of Canada.  Duncan was a retired sergeant and piper with the Lorne Scots Pipes & Drums (Peel, Dufferin & Halton Regiment) and received the Canadian Forces of Decoration (CD) for 18 years of service to Canada, 1976-1984. 

Duncan was a member of the Royal Legion Branch 15, and the Flower City Lodge.  We will miss Duncan’s sense of humour, his corny jokes, his smile that could light up a room, and his beautiful Scottish tenor singing voice.  He had a huge heart, loved to laugh and lived life to the fullest. 

The family would like to thank the wonderful and compassionate ICU nurses who took care of Duncan, along with the physicians at Brampton Civic Hospital.  

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Heart & Stroke foundation, St. Paul’s United Church or a charity of your choice.


Facebook message from his son.

Duncan attended many Retiree Meetings over the years

When more details are available they will be posted here on our website.



Ford offers its first
diesel for the F-150

The 250- horsepower V-6 engine diesel that offers 440 pound-feet of torque will be sixth engine choice for F-150. (Photo: Photos by Ford)

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
January 9, 2018

Ford Motor Co. will offer a diesel F-150 for the first time ever this spring.

The automaker announced the option for a new 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine Monday ahead of the North American International Auto Show. In a Detroit show that’s expected to be packed with new pickup news, a move by Ford to bolster offerings in its pickup lineup could help the company clinch more of an increasingly competitive market.

Ford finished 2017 having sold 896,764 F-Series pickups, marking the 41st consecutive year the Dearborn-based automaker could claim the title of best-selling vehicle in the United States.

The 250-horsepower V-6 engine diesel that offers 440 pound-feet of torque will be the sixth engine choice for the F-150. Ford management in October said it would work to cut back the number of options on the Blue Oval’s vehicles. But U.S. customers apparently can’t have too many options for trucks.

“We really have the landscape cornered,” said Todd Eckert, Ford truck marketing manager. “It’s really about choice for customers.”

The new engine shares technology with the larger Super Duty’s existing 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel. It targets a small piece of the pickup market, but any gains in market share are valuable in pickups.

Ford Motor Co. will begin this year selling a diesel F-150 for the first time ever, the company announced Jan. 8, 2018.

Eckert said Ford is targeting truck customers who need more power for towing. Delivering an estimated 30 miles per gallon, the F-150 with the Power Stroke diesel can tow 11,400 pounds with a 2,020-pound payload capacity.

The engine will be available to retail customers in both the 4x2 and 4x4 variations of the 2018 Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum edition SuperCrew F-150s. Fleet customers can order the engine on all trim levels with SuperCrew 51/2-foot or 61/2-foot beds, or the SuperCab with a 61/2-foot bed. The engine will cost between $3,000 to $4,000 more than standard engines on those vehicles.

Ford will begin taking orders for the new engine configuration in mid-January.

Prices will range from around $28,600 to nearly $64,000 for the upper-trim levels. The current model starts at $28,025 for a base XL and tops out at over $64,000 in Platinum trim with all the goodies.

The F-150 is built in Dearborn, Louisville and Kansas City, Missouri.



Death of the
great American
car draws nearer

Daniel Howes,
The Detroit News
January 7, 2018

Mark your calendars: ol’ Sergio Marchionne is being proven right again.

He’s the heretical CEO who shocked the industry when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it would stop producing cars in its U.S. plants. It would convert them to building higher-margin SUVs because that’s what Americans want in more shapes and sizes.

The latest evidence of his vindication comes from year-end sales, out Wednesday, and rival Ford Motor Co. Bowing to reality, the Blue Oval appears to be steadily transferring production of its most recognizable cars to China from plants in Mexico and leaving their long-term U.S. future in doubt.

First the Focus compact, and now the next-generation Fusion, will be assembled in the world’s largest market for sale there and in other foreign markets — if not, as Ford has confirmed to several news outlets, for export to the United States itself. And Ford recently launched a new Taurus sedan in China, leaving its future (and that of the subcompact Fiesta) back home murky.

The Dearborn automaker is deep in the process of re-evaluating its entire North American car line-up, a necessity punctuated yet again by booming sales of pickups and SUVs as traditional car segments continue an inexorable slide that cannot be ignored.

Plans to produce a redesigned Fusion sedan in Mexico for North America have been killed, as The Detroit News reported this week, even as the automaker still weighs options for the nameplate. They include extending production of the North American Fusion beyond 2020, according to a source familiar with the situation, or redeploying the model name on a reimagined product intended to capitalize on consumers’ infatuation with SUVs and crossovers.

The trends are unmistakable. American hunger for profit-rich trucks and SUVs is forcing automakers to place bets where the money is. That’s not in the traditional mass-market car segments where Detroit brands long have trailed Asian rivals in sales and profitability, if not in quality.

The second trend: Ford CEO Jim Hackett is doing what his predecessor apparently wouldn’t, making radical calls that previous Ford CEOs would never consider, much less do. The automotive world is changing, and Detroit’s Three are pushing to keep up or be left behind.

Add the emerging capital demands for mobility, autonomy and electrification, and it’s undeniable that companies as large as Ford and General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG, are making hard choices on where to invest scarce capital promising the most lucrative returns.

Traditional car segments, particularly for mass-market volume brands, don’t rank high. And year-end sales numbers won’t help. Ford-brand cars closed last year down 14.9 percent, reports Autodata Corp. GM’s Buick car sales slumped 51 percent on the year; Chevrolet car dropped 16.1 percent; Toyota’s namesake car brand dropped nearly 10 percent, and its posh Lexus car lineup surrendered 23.3 percent last year.

Yet in December, Ford sold nearly twice as many F-Series pickups (89,385) as it did cars across its entire U.S. lineup (44,871) — evidence that Ford is coming late to a game its previous management team, under ousted CEO Mark Fields, mostly chose not to play.

For the year, light trucks accounted for 63.2 percent of the U.S. market, up 4.3 percent from a year earlier. Passenger cars slumped nearly 11 percent to 36.8 percent of total U.S. sales last year.

Somewhere (possibly 40,000 feet over the Atlantic) Marchionne is smiling. The reckoning implicit in his cars-to-trucks prediction is unspooling, and his group is mostly ahead of the curve as others scramble to catch up.

The good news for many automakers is that every truck or SUV sale that replaces a lost car sale generally delivers fatter per-unit profits to the bottom line. The bad news is that an entire industry could be caught out should an unforeseen catastrophic global event tank consumer confidence or cause oil prices to spike far higher than their expected trend line.

A growing number of automakers are betting more heavily on the former and less on the latter. That’s because they need a properly geared core business to generate the cash they need to navigate an electrified, self-driving future that is coming.

How and when it will arrives remains to be seen, but it will. And those unprepared to play will be left behind.


Tim Hortons heirs cut paid
breaks and worker benefits after
minimum wage hike, employees say

'I wasn't marching down the street asking
for this pay raise. Now I'm worse off'

By Aaron Saltzman
CBC News
Jan 5, 2017

Employees at an Ontario Tim Hortons owned by the children of the chain's founders say they have been told to sign a document acknowledging they are losing paid breaks, paid benefits, and other incentives as a result of the province's minimum wage hike.

"I feel that we are getting the raw end of the stick," said one front line employee who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of losing their job.

The franchise is located in Cobourg, Ont., about 115 kilometres east of Toronto. The owners are Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri-Lynn Horton-Joyce, the son and daughter of the chain's co-founders, Ron Joyce and the late Tim Horton, respectively. Employees say they are married.

In the document, copies of which were obtained by CBC News, Ron Joyce Jr. Enterprises wrote:

A picture of the document outlining cuts to paid breaks due to Ontario's minimum wage hike employees at Tim Hortons say they were told to sign.

"Breaks will no longer be paid. A 9 hour shift will be paid for 8 hours and 20 minutes."

"These changes are due to the increase of wages to $14.00 minimum wage on January 1, 2018, then $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2019, as well as the lack of assistance and financial help from our Head Office and from the Government."

The letter is signed "Sincerely, Jeri, Ron and Lisa."

The act doesn't require employers to give employees coffee breaks or any other kind of break other than eating periods.

Meal breaks are unpaid unless the employee's employment contract requires payment.

"Organizations are finding ways to transition to a higher minimum wage. We are encouraging them to work together to share best practices and innovations," said a spokesperson for Ontario's Ministry of Labour in an email to CBC News.

"The Ministry of Labour is dedicated to ensuring Ontario workers are protected and know their rights under the Employment Standards Act."

Besides losing paid breaks, the document states workers with more than five years of service will have to pay 50 per cent of the cost of benefits, and employees with between six months and five years service will have to pay 75 per cent.

An employee with more than five years service told CBC News that prior to this, their benefits were covered 100 per cent by the company.

"That was a big benefit for the people who work at Tim Hortons, because it's not a great paying job," said the employee, who said they were making $13 an hour prior to the minimum wage hike.

"The benefits are what kept me there. Now you are going to make me pay that.

"I don't understand why you can take it away. Sounds like you are penalizing your staff because the government is trying to help your staff," they said.

Employees are also losing incentives for working on their birthday and for working six months without taking a sick day.

"We did receive this letter. I have not signed it and I still have it," said another front line employee who also asked to remain anonymous.

"My shift has 15-year-olds, and I feel they should be taking the letter home to their parents to read before they sign anything," they said.

Wage hike but worse off?

Another employee said that with unpaid breaks and having to pay 50 per cent of the cost of benefits, their biweekly paycheque will actually be $51 dollars lower than it was before the minimum wage hike.

"I've worked for the company for a very long time, and I was very upset. I wasn't marching down the street asking for this pay raise. Now I'm worse off," they said.

James Pickersgill, a Cobourg resident whose friend's spouse works at one of the Cobourg locations, posted a picture of the document on his Facebook page. It was shared more than 600 times in less than 24 hours.

"Cobourg's a small place. Word of mouth goes mental. People are talking about it wildly," said Pickersgill.

He said some people are pointing to this situation as a reason why the minimum wage should not have gone up, because it forces small businesses into difficult decisions. But a far greater number of people are outraged, he said.  

No comment

"People are talking about boycotting their stores, and saying 'I'll go to another [Tim Hortons], but I won't go to that one,'" said Pickersgill.

Employees say the owners of the franchises are at their winter home in Florida.

A woman answering the phone at the Tim Hortons location on Division Street in Cobourg, who said she was the manager, told CBC News she had no comment.

In an email to CBC News, Tim Hortons corporate media relations said:

"Almost all of our restaurants in Canada are independently owned and operated by small business Owners who are responsible for handling all employment matters, including all policies for benefits and wages, for their restaurants."

"Restaurant Owners are expected to comply with all applicable laws and regulations within their jurisdiction."


Ontario premier calls Tim Hortons
heir 'a bully' over wage actions

Kathleen Wynne reacts to CBC story uncovering compensation
changes at franchise after minimum wage hike

By Aaron Saltzman
CBC News
Jan 6, 2018

The children of the Tim Hortons coffee chain founders cutting paid breaks and staff benefits for employees after a minimum wage hike "really flies in the face of fairness," Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told CBC News on Thursday.

"When … I read about how this man is treating his employees and responding to the rise in minimum wage, I was pretty upset about it," the premier said.

The premier was speaking to CBC News after a report Wednesday that the owners of a Tim Hortons franchise in Cobourg, Ont., were asking all staff members to sign a letter indicating that they agreed to a series of compensation changes, including eliminating paid breaks and asking them to pay the majority of costs associated with benefits.

The franchise owners are the scions of two families who founded the chain more than 50 years ago, Ron Joyce Jr. and his wife Jeri-Lynn Horton-Joyce. The former is the son of Ron Joyce, who co-founded the chain in 1964. The latter is the daughter of Tim Horton himself.

They are married to each other.

The story has become a flashpoint in the ongoing debate about minimum wage hikes. On Jan. 1, Wynne's Liberal government implemented new rules mandating a minimum wage of $14 an hour. That's a $2.40 raise from last year's level.

Critics have suggested that actions such as those of the franchise owners are to be expected in the face of suddenly increased costs. But Wynne defended the laws, and singled out Joyce Jr. for trying to take unfair advantage.

"I think that asking working people to sign a pledge agreeing to unpaid breaks or agreeing to less pay than the actual hours that they're working," Wynne said. "I mean, that's not fair, but it's also not decent."

"To be blunt," Wynne said, "I think it's the act of a bully. And if Mr. Joyce Jr. wants to pick a fight, pick that fight with me and not the people who are working at the service window of the stores."

The owners of the chain, TSX-listed Restaurant Brands International, told CBC News in a statement that franchisee owners, not the company, are responsible for all staffing matters, including wages and benefits.

CBC News has made repeated requests for comment from Joyce and Horton-Joyce in recent days, but none have been returned.

Chain disappoints franchisees

The two are members of a group called the Great White North Franchisee Association, which represents Canadian franchise owners who have been squabbling with their corporate parents over recent changes, including cost increases and other issues.

In a statement Thursday, the group said it has been disappointed with the corporate parent's lack of support for franchisees in the wake of added costs, which include not just higher wages but also CPP and EI premiums, along with higher statutory holiday pay, sick leave pay and vacation pay.

The group had hoped that Restaurant Brands "would lend support to the franchisees in the chain by lowering food and paper costs, reducing couponing and raising menu board prices to help offset these significant increased costs at store level." 

"While other competitors have received concessions from their franchisors, unfortunately our chain has not. Many of our store owners are left no alternative but to implement cost-saving measures in order to survive," the group said.

Directed to avoid media

They also say that franchisees are being told not to talk to the media about issues surrounding wage increases.

"Restaurant Brands International," a spokesperson with the group told CBC News, "have made it very clear in telephone calls to all of the franchises across the country that no one is to speak to the media, and there will be repercussions if they do."

The couple "have made it clear to me that because of RBI's statements in the past that they do not want to put themselves in jeopardy by speaking with the media."

For Wynne's part, the premier says the story hasn't changed her views on the minimum wage debate, and she says she will continue to fight "for a province where everyone can get ahead."

"Tim Hortons is a really important part of daily life of millions of Canadian families," Wynne said. "But so is having a decent living wage."



Canada's top CEOs earn 193
times average worker's salary

Salary of highest-paid CEOs jumps 7% in 2015

By Jacqueline Hansen,
CBC News
Jan 05, 2017

The compensation of Canada's highest-paid CEOs jumped seven per cent between 2014 and 2015, to a record high average of $9.5 million, according to a new study.

In a report published Tuesday, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a left-leaning think-tank focused on economic and social policy, analyzed salary information from 249 TSX-listed companies and identified the top 100 earners.

The 100 richest CEOs in Canada took in an average of $9.5 million in 2015, a figure that includes salaries, bonuses, share grants and stock options, the report said.

That's well ahead of the $49,510 the group says the typical full-year, full-time worker earned in 2015.

Based on 2015 earnings, Canada's 100 top CEOs will earn by 11:47 a.m. today what the average Canadian will make in a whole year.

"Nobody's worth that much money. I mean, this is absurd," said Hugh Mackenzie, a research associate at the think-tank and author of the report.

"Thirty years ago they managed to scrape by on 40 times what the average person is paid, and now, it's 193 times."

Between 2008 and 2015, the country's 100 top-paid CEOs saw their compensation climb about 30 per cent, while the average wage for Canadians increased by just 17.5 per cent.

The highest-paid CEOs, according to the study, in order were:

Valeant Pharmaceutical's Michael Pearson: $182.9 million in total compensation.

Donald Walker of Magna International: $26.5 million.

Hunter Harrison of Canadian Pacific Railway: $19.9 million.

Other notable names include BlackBerry's John Chen. He was the highest-earning CEO in 2014, but dropped to 91st in 2015, earning $3.8 million.

Eric La Flèche of Metro Inc. was the lowest-paid CEO on the list of 100, earning $3.6 million in 2015.

Only two women made the list — Linda Hasenfratz, of Linamar Corp., who was compensated a total of $14.2 million, and Dawn Farrell, of TransAlta Corp., who earned $4.5 million.

What's in a name?

Of the top 100 highest-paying CEOs on the list, five people are named Marc or Mark, five named Michael, four named Al, John, Paul and Steve, and three named Brian, Charles and Donald.


Car sales end 7-year
expansion, but remain strong

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
Jan 4, 2018

Annual auto sales for 2017 are expected be down for the first time in the U.S. since 2009, ending an unprecedented seven-year expansion that began the year after General Motors and Chrysler declared bankruptcy. But even with sales forecast to be down 2 percent for the year at 17.1 million vehicles, that would still make it the fourth-best year in history.

The Detroit Three all saw year-end U.S. sales numbers drop in 2017 from the previous year. As carmakers report sales numbers throughout the day Wednesday, most are expected to be down from 2016.

Ford Motor Co. reported Wednesday that sales fell 1.1 percent for the year. General Motors Co. sales slipped 1.3 percent. And Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV reported an 8 percent drop compared to a year prior.

GM sold 3 million vehicles in 2017. That included 2.1 million Chevrolets. The company reported it sold more than 1.3 million trucks and 965,090 crossover vehicles last year. GM’s December sales slipped 3.3 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

Meanwhile, Ford moved 2.59 million vehicles in 2017, which included a 4.3 percent increase in sales for trucks and a 4.3 sales increase compared to 2016 for SUVs as well.

Ford car sales fell 15.2 percent for the year. That includes ending the year with a 21 percent decline in Fusion sales — though it was still the automaker’s top-selling car — as Ford reconsiders the future the midsize sedan. Total sales jumped 0.9 percent in December compared to the same month a year ago.

Fiat Chrysler sold 2.1 million vehicles in 2017. Its Ram brand had the only sales increase for the year at 2 percent. The Alfa Romeo brand saw a big leap in sales due to new vehicle launches in the U.S.

The initial monthly numbers are roughly equal to what industry analysts expected for the month.

Toyota Motor North America reported that sales fell 0.6 percent in 2017, selling 2.4 million vehicles last year. The Japanese automaker saw an 8.3 percent decrease in December deliveries. The Toyota division fell 7.2 percent last month, but ended the year up 0.5 percent overall. Lexus sales fell nearly 14 percent in December, ending the year down nearly 8 percent overall.

Industry-wide, the group expected sales to slip 7 percent in December compared to the same month a year ago, and a 2 percent drop for the year.

“December should be the biggest sales month of the year,” Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said in a statement released before automakers reported the sales figures. “It’s also important to remember that December 2016 was the strongest month in nearly 15 years, fueled by heavy incentives and year-end sales objectives.

“We’re still expecting a year-end sales push from many manufacturers, which will translate into incentives and discounting, but since the sales objectives should be reduced from last year’s peak, we are projecting slower sales than last December.”

Industry analysis companies J.D. Power and LMC Automotive anticipated a 2.6 percent decline for the month of December, but expected retail sales to come in below 14 million units for the entire year. Total sales, which would include fleet vehicles, are expected to fall 1.9 percent compared to 2016, when automakers sold the most vehicles in U.S. history.

LMC Automotive expects total vehicle sales to sit just under the 17 million mark in 2018.

Meanwhile, GM’s Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem expects 2018 sales to be over 17 million for the fourth consecutive year.

“This year, many consumers will see their take-home pay rise because of tax reform,” he said in a statement. “That will keep the broad economy growing, and help keep sales at very healthy levels even as the Fed increases interest rates.”


Cancelled redesign muddies
future for Ford Fusion

Ian Thibodeau,
 The Detroit News
Jan 3, 2018

Ford Motor Co. is cancelling the redesign program for its Fusion and is revaluating the future of the midsize sedan in a move signalling the change new CEO Jim Hackett is bringing to the Blue Oval.

In a November letter sent to suppliers for the new Fusion program obtained by The Detroit News, Ford officials said the company is cancelling the previously planned North American redesign program — named CD542N — for the 2020 Fusion. The decision does not mean Ford is axing the Fusion nameplate, but it at least temporarily kills a scheduled redesign of Ford’s best-selling U.S. sedan.

Whatever Ford decides could illustrate an ongoing shift in the global auto industry, as well as the financial choices the Dearborn-based automaker must make amid growing demand for finite resources within the company.

A source with knowledge of Ford’s plans said the Fusion and Mondeo, its sister vehicle sold outside the U.S., will be a part of Ford’s portfolio for at least three to four years. Cancelling the redesign program suggests Ford’s top brass could be rethinking what a future Fusion might look like rather than eliminating the nameplate altogether.

It’s not unusual for automakers to cancel or change vehicle redesign plans. Such moves typically mean automakers decided they didn’t have the right product or product design to meet demand, according to a second source familiar with Ford’s plans. The sources wished to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the future of the Fusion.

Ford spokesman Mike Levine declined to comment on the supplier letter, marked strictly confidential, or to discuss specific plans for the Fusion. He said in a statement that “Fusion remains an important part of the Ford line-up for years to come with even more new fresh features on the way. We will have more news to share in the future.”

Hackett said in December that customers prefer a “bigger silhouette,” but bigger vehicles had been stymied by poor fuel efficiency in the past.

“The industry at large has had this shift,” he said. “We’re starting to crack that code. If you can get rid of the difference there because of fuel, you start to relieve the pressure of what kind of portfolio you have to have.”

Hackett’s comments indicate the Fusion could be bigger, or at least look a lot different, if the company decides to redesign it. That brings into question the future of the larger Ford Taurus sedan, which The News reported last summer might be discontinued by the end of 2018. Ford spokespeople have repeatedly declined to comment on the future of the Taurus.

A decision by Ford to cut midsize sedans would follow moves announced in 2016 by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. The Auburn Hills automaker confirmed plans to eliminate the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, effectively eliminating its car production in the U.S.

Ultimately, Hackett and his team need to figure out a way to make more money on the Fusion nameplate if they want to keep it around for more than a few years, experts said.

Sedans and small cars are traditionally low-margin vehicles for most automakers compared to SUVs and pickups. A larger Fusion would net a bigger sticker price. It would also give Ford a chance to add more utility to the Fusion nameplate.

Meanwhile, pulling plans for a sedan redesign isn’t a surprise to industry insiders.

“It does make sense,” Karl Brauer, industry analyst and executive publisher of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, said. “A lot of vehicles on the market right now that are not SUVs are kind of caught in this death spiral. They are on an aging platform and they’re in a segment that’s not showing any growth.

“Anyone at any high-level point of decision-making is going to ask why they’re spending this money.”

For now, the Fusion’s future is in limbo.

Sales have slowed for the midsize sedan over the last few years. Ford saw Fusion sales drop 22 percent through November following an 11 percent decline for the year in 2016. But the vehicle was still Ford’s best-selling car in the U.S. last year, and some say it won’t make sense for Ford to exit the sedan market completely.

“Maybe they’ll bring a product that is still competitive,” said Rebecca Lindland, automotive analyst for Kelley Blue Book. Canceling program plans, she said, “doesn’t mean that they’re never going to be in that market again.”

The company plans to move forward in China with plans for the Fusion it has canceled for North America, according to the supplier letter obtained by the News. The stop-order for the North American program only applies to those vehicles that would have been made at Ford’s Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly plant in Mexico and at Ford Valencia Body and Assembly in Spain.

Company officials have said Ford does not plan to export the next-generation Fusion or Mondeo from China to North America or Europe. The company in 2017 announced it plans to make the next-generation Focus in China, and export those vehicles from China to the U.S.


Pickup truck market
to heat up in 2018

Relax News
Jan 2, 2018

In 2018 the competition between pickup manufacturers is going to become fiercer than ever as Ford, General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler go head-to-head with new strategies for their truck ranges.

Pickups outsell all other vehicles in North America, but despite this, until quite recently they didn't get upgraded and redesigned anywhere near as frequently as passenger cars and SUVs. That's starting to change now, as it appears no potential competitive advantage is seen as too costly, and no gain by a rival is going uncontested.

General Motors was first to break cover in Texas, recently unveiling a redesigned version of its big-selling Chevrolet Silverado, which is promised to be leaner and meaner than ever when it gets its full debut late in 2018. The Silverado family is second only to the all-conquering Ford F-Series in the US in terms of overall sales, so Chevy will be hoping the redesigned model will close the gap on the top spot.

Ford has only recently refreshed the aluminum-bodied F-150 light-duty pickup, but next year it will add a diesel engine option for the F-150, and also reintroduce a new version of the mid-size Ranger, which is the Ford pickup sold outside North America. Trucks smaller than full-size models traditionally didn't have many fans in the US, but the likes of the Chevy Colorado, Toyota Tacoma, GMC Canyon and Honda Ridgeline are starting to change perceptions.

Ram is currently third in the pickup sales charts at the moment, and next year will see the first full redesign of the Ram 1500 since 2009.

Manufacturers are trying to achieve the long-sought-after goal of achieving an EPA highway fuel economy rating of 30mpg (almost 13 kpl) with their pickups. With a combination of more efficient engines and the use of new materials for construction, such as aluminium and carbon fiber, we might see that ambition realized in 2018.


NHTSA investigating Ford
recall involving F-150

The NHTSA is investigating whether Ford should have included up to 1.4 million F-150s, Navigators and Expeditions from the 2011 and 2012 model years as well as 2013 models in its 2016 automatic transmission recall.

The Associated Press
January 1, 2018

Detroit – Federal safety officials are investigating whether a Ford Motor Co. transmission recall should be widened to fix more than a million additional vehicles.

Ford recalled 153,000 vehicles in 2016 because their automatic transmissions could unexpectedly shift into first gear, causing drivers to lose control. The recall involved certain F-150 pickups, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs and Ford Mustang sports cars from the 2011 and 2012 model years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it’s now investigating whether Ford should have included up to 1.4 million F-150s, Navigators and Expeditions from the 2011 and 2012 model years as well as 2013 models.

The government says it’s continuing to get complaints from owners, including some who say Ford’s recall repair didn’t work.

Ford says it’s cooperating with the investigation.












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