Unifor Banner


Twitter RestorePcola



June 2018

Made In Canada Matters

Contact Us

East Court Ford Lincoln East Court Ford Lincoln East Court Ford Lincoln

East Court Ford


January 1 to June 30, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court deals
blow to unions, rules
against forced fees for
government workers

By Bill Mears
Fox News
June 28, 2017

In a major legal and political defeat for big labor, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Wednesday that state government workers cannot be forced to pay so-called "fair share" fees to support collective bargaining and other union activities.

While the current case applies only to public-sector employees, the political and financial stakes are potentially huge for the broader American labor union movement, which had been sounding the alarm about the legal fight.

The unions say 5 million government employees in 24 states and the District of Columbia would be affected by this ruling.

At issue in the high-stakes case was whether states can compel government workers -- whether they are in a union or not -- to pay fees to support union activities. The case centered on the complaints of an Illinois state employee who sued, saying he was being asked to support the union's political message.

Justices split 4-4 on the issue in a similar case two years ago. But with Neil Gorsuch now filling the vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia, he was seen as the deciding vote this time – and sided with the conservative majority in Wednesday’s opinion. 

But while his colleagues were closely divided in arguments back in February, Gorsuch played it close to the vest and left court watchers guessing for comments. He had no comments or questions from the bench during nearly 70 minutes of oral arguments.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, often a swing justice in other cases, cast a skeptical eye toward the union argument in February He said repeatedly that separating politics from the union's collective bargaining mission was impossible.

"We're talking here about compelled justification and compelled subsidization of a private party that expresses political views constantly," Kennedy said. He told the union's lawyer, "It seems to me your argument doesn't have much weight."

The plaintiff in the case, Mark Janus, has worked for years as an Illinois state employee and pays about $550 annually to the powerful public-sector union known as AFSCME.

While not a member of the union, he is required under state law to hand over a weekly portion of his paycheck, which he says is a violation of his constitutional rights.

"The fundamental issue is my right to choice," Janus said outside the court in February.

Labor leaders oppose so-called "free riding" by workers like Janus, however, and say they have a legal duty to advocate for all employees. 

The high court was asked to overturn its four-decade-old ruling allowing so-called "fair share" fees for public employees.

The repercussions could affect unions nationwide. Union membership nationwide is less than 11 percent of the American workforce, but about a third of government employees are members.

The Supreme Court had deadlocked when the issue was revisited two years ago, just after Scalia died.

Gorsuch, the replacement named by President Trump, faced strong labor union opposition at his confirmation hearings last spring, but told senators his record backing workers was strong.

Trump's Justice Department has been clear on its position -- announcing in December it was reversing course from the previous administration and supporting Janus.

Nearly 30 states have so-called "right-to-work laws" that prohibit or limit union security agreements between companies and workers' unions.

States that do allow "fair share" fees say they go to a variety of activities that benefit all workers, whether in the union or not. That includes collective bargaining for wage and benefit increases, grievance procedures, and workplace safety.



2019 Lincoln Nautilus gets higher
price with new name, updates

Lincoln's 2019 Nautilus. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

Michael Martinez
June 27, 2018
Automotive News

Lincoln's top-selling U.S. nameplate is getting a little pricier as it undergoes updated styling and a new name.

The 2019 Nautilus midsize crossover, formerly known as the MKX, will start at $41,335, including shipping, Lincoln said Tuesday. That's 3.2 percent more than the $40,030 starting price for the 2018 MKX.

The Nautilus will top out at $65,260 for a fully loaded Black Label version, up from $64,232 for the outgoing model.

The Nautilus Select starts at $45,540, while the Reserve trim starts at $49,870.

In addition to a new name, the 2019 Nautilus, unveiled late last year at the Los Angeles Auto Show, comes with a host of new design elements and technology features.

Robert Parker, Lincoln's director of marketing, sales and service, said that everything from the A-pillar forward has been redesigned. The Nautilus is the latest Lincoln vehicle to adopt the brand's mesh grille, which debuted on the MKZ and Continental in 2016.

A new 2.0-liter four-cylinder, twin-turbocharged engine that gets 245 hp is standard. Buyers can upgrade to a 2.7-liter V-6 that gets 335 hp. Both will be paired with Ford Motor Co.'s new eight-speed automatic transmission. Auto stop-start is standard with both engines.

All-wheel drive is optional.

The interior includes improvements that will give the Nautilus best-in-class legroom and headroom, which is a major factor for midsize utility customers, Parker said. Among the available options are 22-position front seats with lumbar massage.

The Nautilus will be the first vehicle with Lincoln Co-Pilot360, a suite of standard driver-assist features that consists of automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot information with cross traffic alert, lane keeping system, backup camera and auto high beams.

MKX sales in the U.S. are down 15 percent so far this year to 11,026, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

Lincoln will rebadge the MKX the Nautilus when the 2019 crossover reaches showrooms in the spring. The new Nautilus will get a new front end and new eight-speed transmission to better compete in the U.S. and China. Lincoln's transition back to conventional names comes with the brand on pace to close out its fourth consecutive year of rising U.S. sales.



Killing the sedan is a headache
for Detroit, bargain for drivers

Over the next few years, Ford jettison parts of its lineup that aren’t considered an SUV or crossover, including Taurus (production ends March 2019), Fiesta (May 2019) and the Fusion sedan (sometime in 2021). (Jeff Kowalsky / Bloomberg)

By Kyle Stock and Keith Naughton
June 26, 2018

Some recommended viewing for Ford Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett and his automotive C-suite rivals in Detroit and elsewhere: Walking Dead, World War Z and Dawn of the Dead. With the coming death of the sedan, these executives have some zombie cars to kill.

And as any horror aficionado knows, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Snuffing out a tired, clunky product in favor of a new, shiny one remains one of the trickiest tasks in management, especially as consumers become more attuned to blockbuster release events (thank Steve Jobs for that). A company that shuts down production too quickly leaves a lot of money on the table and tarnishes its brand. Do it too slowly, and the zombie goods stack up as consumers cotton to its demise. That means rolling out fire sale prices which-you guessed it-tarnishes the brand.

“It’s a pretty complex equation . a complete nightmare to manage,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, a research firm.

For consumers, however, the auto industry’s wholesale shift to SUVs represents a massive buying opportunity, at least for those who don’t mind driving a car that looks like, well, a car. If you’re not interested in climbing sand dunes, carting around soccer teams, or seeing around the row of SUVs in front of you at the stop light, then this is your time.

Indeed, the first casualties in the sunset of sedans became the subject of some ripe deals. Back in 2015, when the Dodge Avenger was mercifully relegated to a footnote in Fiat Chrysler history, the last models sold for more than 15 percent off the sticker price, a savings of roughly $4,000. Earlier this year, the company was forced to put a similar chunk of cash on the hood of its last 200 sedans.

Over the next few years, Ford will be navigating a similarly fraught path. It’s preparing to jettison parts of its lineup that aren’t considered an SUV or crossover, including Taurus (production ends March 2019), Fiesta (May 2019) and the Fusion sedan (sometime in 2021).

“They need to do this very delicately,” said John Murphy, Bank of America Corp. auto analyst.

Jack Kain, an 89-year-old Ford dealer near Lexington, Kentucky, is expecting the manufacturer to roll out hefty incentives in the coming months. His team is already having trouble selling sedans – the word is out. “It’s incumbent upon them to do what’s right,” he said. “It’s money that moves the metal; we all know that.”

Beyond the wary consumer, what also makes the transition process tricky is that it puts different factions of a company at odds. The team in charge of the outgoing vehicle has every incentive to pump up production and sell as many vehicles as possible in the final days. After all, the equipment has been amortized and the unit economics are good. But managers in charge of incoming products (read: SUVs) are facing the opposite economic equation. What’s more, their vehicles sell at higher prices.

Meanwhile, dealers such as Kain don’t want anything to do with the zombie machines. They are systemically flawed in the minds of most consumers and likely to take up valuable lot space.

To make matters worse for the old cars, traditional demand forecasts no longer apply – those making production decisions largely have to guess at how much a decision to kill a vehicle has trashed its appeal.

“Consumers don’t know when inventory is going to dry up and automakers sometimes don’t know either,” said Joe Wiesenfelder, executive editor of Cars.com, an online listing platform for dealers and individuals alike.

So the trick to a successful transition? A cool head. Automakers should move adroitly to trim production as they move to new vehicles, avoiding any need to slash prices too much. That’s what Volkswagen managed to do when it scrapped its Eos sedan in 2016. Ford has assured investors that its transition will be “orderly,” with no threat to resale values or dealership relations.

“They’ve been getting better at that across the board,” Wiesenfelder said. “They’re just deciding when the plug gets pulled – and they’re pulling it.”

In some ways, a dying car is easier to manage than one that’s being replaced by an updated model. TrueCar analyst Eric Lyman said automakers retain some pricing power simply because outgoing models aren’t being replaced: they are the last of their kind.

“Obviously, these are distressed vehicles,” he explained. “But there’s a lack of pressure from that conveyor belt of inventory that you typically see in a showroom.”

In fact, high-performance variants such as the 350-horsepower Focus RS might even see prices spike before coasting into oblivion. These cars tend to have a small, cultish following – and the fixed expiration date tends to draw buyers who’ve been on the fence.

But a Taurus? Probably not.

“With midsized sedans, there’s not quite as much of ‘I’ve got to have one of the last ones,’” said Brian Smith, Hyundai chief operating officer.

Hyundai, and carmakers like it, will be looking to exploit such planned wind-downs. It has no immediate plans to scrap its sedans, and will be targeting would-be buyers of the Fusion and other outgoing models. Price wars could flare up.

Lyman at TrueCar, however, doesn’t think it’s savvy to wait until the bitter end to buy a zombie car. Inventory could be scarce and the deals may not materialize.

“The variance between one of the best days of the year (for pricing) and the worst days of the year are going to be less than the cost of a major mechanical repair on a vehicle,” he said.

However, there are thousands of people tooling around in near-new Chrysler 200s and Dodge Darts that would beg to differ. Either way, zombie machines offer more negotiating leverage than usual and, at the moment, they are still very much alive.



Canada prepping 'support
of auto sector' as U.S.
tariffs loom, Freeland says

June 25, 2018
Automotive News
Greg Layson

The federal Liberal government insists it has a plan to combat U.S. auto tariffs should its neighbour deem auto imports a national security threat and subject them to a 25 per cent tariff. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystria Freeland just isn’t saying what the plan is.

The Standing Committee on International Trade grilled Freeland Tuesday, with several members demanding to know what, if anything, the government has planned to offset tariffs U.S. President Donald Trump wants slapped on automotive imports.

On May 23, the U.S. Department of Commerce started an investigation into auto imports to determine whether they "threaten to impair the national security,” a move that could lead to 25-per- cent tariffs on assembled vehicles shipped to the United States from Canada.

Just this week, TD Economics said such a move would kill up to one in five manufacturing jobs in Ontario alone.

Conservative MPs Randy Hobak (Prince Albert, Sask.) and Colin Carrie (Oshawa, Ont.) said they were “worried” about Trump’s threat, noting his administration eventually followed through on steel and aluminum tariffs under the claim of protecting U.S. national security. A 25-per-cent tariff on steel imports and a 10-per-cent tariff on aluminum products went into force June 1.

“What is the status of the plan? What can you do to ensure autoworkers won’t lose their job?” Carrie asked. “I’m worried and I don’t know what the plan is.”

Freeland didn’t directly answer Carrie’s question. Instead, she sang the praises of Canada’s auto sector.

“The auto sector is absolutely essential to our country, absolutely essential to this government and it has been an absolute focus in our discussions with the United States,” Freeland said. “We absolutely understand the centrality of the auto sector to our economy.”

Toward the end of the committee meeting, Hobak demanded to know the government’s plan of attack.

“I’m not going to reveal the details today,” Freeland replied.

But, she assured the committee a plan is coming together, just as it is for the country’s steel and aluminum sectors.

“It is absolutely the case that our steel and aluminum…industries need our support,” Freeland said.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Industry Minister NavDeep Bains are “working on ways” to support those industries.

“The prime minister’s response, and my own on May 31, when the Section 232 [steel and aluminum] tariffs by the U.S. were announced was firm, clear and resolute, and it spoke to detailed preparation,” Freeland said. “And our preparations in support of the auto sector are equally detailed and our support will be equally firm and clear. That’s a commitment.”

Hoback ended the meeting by asking the committee meet again twice next week for a total of four hours in order to hear from witnesses
who will be impacted by the tariffs. The motion passed 4-0.



Hurry up and buy? How
Trump’s auto tariffs could
affect car prices in Canada

By Erica Alini
Global News
June 24, 2018

In an escalating war of tariffs, tirades and tweets, U.S. President Donald Trump is now dangling the prospect of steep duties on all auto imports from America’s trade partners.

The U.S. president has floated the idea of imposing tariffs of 25 per cent on all vehicles crossing the border into the U.S. In Canada, which sells more than 80 per cent of its motor-vehicle production south of the border, the move would have a devastating impact on the auto industry.

But what would the tariffs do to car prices in Canada? And if you’re thinking of buying a car, should you hurry up and before the White House strikes again?

Global News asked three auto industry experts to weigh in.

The impact on new-vehicle prices would depend on how Canada retaliates

A 25 per cent tariff on auto imports would add US$6,400 in extra costs for a US$30,000 vehicle in the U.S., according to a report by U.S. consulting firm Trade Partnership Worldwide.

Under current NAFTA rules, a passenger vehicle travels tariff-free across North America as long as at least 62.5 per cent of it is made in Mexico, the U.S. or Canada.

Canada charges a 6.1 per cent surtax on imported passenger vehicles that aren’t exempt from tariffs, while the U.S. charges 2.5 per cent.

In Canada, where the average transaction value for a new car is worth $40,000, a 25 per cent import tariff would translate into a cost increase of about $5,000, as the tariff would apply to only about half what makes up the final market price, according to Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

The latter scenario, though, would only come true if Canada were to respond to U.S. auto tariffs by slapping identical duties on U.S. car exports into Canada.

DesRosiers believes that’s scenario is unlikely.

While Canada would “almost for certain” retaliate, DesRosiers thinks the chance Canada would punish its own car-shoppers with symmetrical auto tariffs is slim. Instead, Ottawa would probably try to hit Washington where it hurts, by targeting agricultural products exported by key Republican states.

A 25 per cent tariff on U.S. auto imports would still result in higher car prices for Canadians, as even vehicles made in Canada are made of parts that usually criss-cross the border several times before final assembly. The tariff would apply to those components as well, DesRosiers said.

But even accounting for the added paperwork involved in processing a surtax at every border-crossing, the cost increase for new vehicles in Canada would be “marginal” in the absence of Canadian countermeasures targeting auto imports from the U.S., according to DesRosiers.

While Americans who are thinking about buying a new vehicle had better rush to buy now, there’s little reason for Canadians to rush their purchase, DesRosiers told Global News.

Not everyone, though, is as confident that Canadian tire-kickers have little to worry about.

Brian Murphy, vice-president of research and editorial with Canadian Black Book, said anyone considering a new-vehicle purchase “may want to buy sooner rather than later.”

David Adams, president of Global Automakers of Canada, offered another take on the buy-now argument.

After years of record sales, Canadians seem to have lost some of their appetite for shiny new four-wheelers. Sales activity has come in slightly below year-ago levels for the past three months, Adams noted.

“Consumers are probably more likely to get a better deal now,” he said.

And even if the dreaded Trump auto tariffs do not become reality, more belligerent rhetoric on trade from Washington could cause the Canadian dollar to fall further, pushing up car prices across the board, he added.

Used vehicles could see price swings, too

U.S. auto tariffs could also have a significant impact on used vehicle prices in Canada, Murphy said.

That’s because Canada tends to export significant volumes of pre-owned cars and trucks to the U.S. whenever the Canadian dollar weakens. Around 300,000 used vehicles have moved south of the border each year since the loonie hit 80 U.S. cents in 2015, according to Murphy.

But a 25 per cent tax would erase that profit-making opportunity of used-vehicle dealers, leaving the Canadian market with an extra supply of vehicles that would push down prices “quite a bit,” Murphy said.

This effect, on the other hand, could later fade as a result of increased domestic demand for used vehicles should Canada impose its own 25 per cent tariff on U.S. auto imports, he added.

The tariffs could take effect as early as this fall

Trump is invoking the same national security provision he used for the steel and aluminum tariffs to explore the possibility of raising duties on vehicle and auto-part imports. The U.S. Department of Commerce began a national security investigation on the matter on May 23 and has until mid-February 2019 to present its findings and recommendations.

However, some believe the results could come much sooner if the White House wants to use the auto tariffs to rally support for the president’s base ahead of the upcoming U.S. midterm elections in November.

Patriotic car-shopping won’t be easy

Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum and Ottawa’s $16.6 billion worth of retaliatory countermeasures on a variety of U.S. products have prompted calls on Canadian consumers to boycott made-in-American products.

But buying Canadian is a trickier proposition when it comes to car shopping. While some models are manufactured exclusively in the U.S., North American auto supply chains are so integrated that even those vehicles likely contain a variety of components made in Canada, DesRosiers said.

The thing about trade wars, Murphy said, is that, ultimately, “everybody is going to lose.”


Workers Past 65 Should Do
The Right Thing And Retire

Labour leaders warned that getting rid of mandatory retirement
would create a block to young workers entering the workforce.

Huffington Post
Jerry Dias
National President, Unifor

Sometimes, it's best to just get out of the way.

I recently attended the last United Auto Workers convention for Dennis Williams, who retired as president of the union. Williams, in my opinion, is articulate, determined and deeply principled.

We need more like him, but at age 65 Williams decided it was time for him to step aside and let the next generation of leadership take over. To me, it was the latest principled move by him, and made room for Gary Jones to be elected president.

With Jones as president, someone else will take his job, and someone else will take that person's job, and so on down the line until a new opportunity is created for a young worker.

Mandatory retirement began to disappear more than 10 years ago

Several decades ago, I can almost guarantee it, someone at de Havilland (now Bombardier) retired, creating a chain reaction that would open up a position in the plant where I would eventually get my first job. The time will come for me to retire, and I will, because it is the right thing to do — both for young workers and for the strength of the labour movement.

In order for the labour movement to flourish — or any business, agency or school, for that matter — the current generation of leadership must work with the youth to ensure they are able to lead.

Mandatory retirement began to disappear more than 10 years ago as province after province voted to end the ability of employers to compel workers to retire when they turned 65, followed by the federal government in 2012.

Forcing people to retire at a certain age came to be seen as discrimination on the basis of age. If people wanted to work past age 65, the argument went, they should be allowed.

Quite rightly, labour leaders warned that getting rid of mandatory retirement would create a block to young workers entering the workforce. It was the right stand to take then, and it's the right stand to take now. The law may have changed, but our principles must not.

Workers should retire at age 65, if only to create a new job that a young worker can fill. I can promise that I will retire before I turn 65, just as my predecessors at the Canadian Auto Workers union — Bob White, Buzz Hargrove and Ken Lewenza — did before me.

I just hope I am not alone, and I am calling on labour leaders to lead this effort. No labour leader claiming to put the needs of young people first can do so with any legitimacy while also clinging to their jobs past the age of 65.

There are really only two reasons a labour leader does not retire by 65. They are either so arrogant that they think no one else can do their job, or they have not done the work needed to prepare the next generation to take over.

They may think they are keeping the labour movement strong by sticking around and continuing to lead on the basis of their experience, but the process of preparing future generation is what ultimately makes for a stronger union.

The same goes for any business, agency or school where the old guard refuses to leave.

Despite this, there are too many examples of labour leaders working well past the traditional retirement date, and even well into their 70s. We spend much of our time as labour leaders fighting for good pensions. It's hypocritical not to use them when we have the chance.

There is no excuse for this. If you are in your 70s, you come from a different era. It is time to retire, and let some new blood flow into the organization. Those refusing to retire are putting their own agenda and ambition ahead of the needs of young people, and in the process stifling the young leaders.

The labour movement is not alone in this. Corporate leaders also often work past retirement age, and in academia we have the unseemly situation of professors who refuse to retire, while young people are forced on strike for weeks in hopes of getting something approaching a stable teaching job.

Don't get me wrong. I love the work I do. I could not imagine doing anything else. When the time comes, however, I will do the right thing and retire, and open up a position for a young worker, with fresh ideas and fresh perspectives on the challenges we face.

Having spoken to so many committed and talented young people in my time as president, I know I will be leaving things in good hands.



Pensions to be clawed back
from overpaid Sears retirees

A letter from the pension plan's administrator says
retirees have been overpaid for the past 10 months

CBC News
 Jun 21, 2018

Sears Canada's pension plan is underfunded by about $270 million. Pensions have been slashed by nearly 20 per cent for an estimated 16,000 ex-Sears employees. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Sears Canada pensioners have been dealt another financial setback.

The company that took over the defunct retailer's pension plan says former employees have been getting paid too much — and now they have to pay it back. 

When Sears Canada closed its doors for good last fall, retirees were told the plan was underfunded by about $270 million. Pensions were slashed by nearly 20 per cent for an estimated 16,000 ex-Sears employees. 

A letter obtained by CBC News from pension administrator Morneau Shepell says that for the past 10 months, retirees have been getting pensions greater than 80 per cent. 

Starting August, monthly pensions will drop to 70 per cent, the letter says. That extra money — in many cases, hundreds of dollars — will be clawed back for 10 months. 

"It's sad that people have to go through this," said Ken Eady, vice-president of the Sears Canada Retirees Association. 

"It's money that's coming out of their pockets.… It's money that they're not going to have to pay their bills."

Some retirees hit harder

The impact of the clawback depends on where pensioners live.

The Ontario government has guaranteed the first $1,500 of their monthly pensions, thanks to a fund that covers workers whose employers run out of cash. 

But other provinces have no such safety net. 

Eady said the problem is due to a legal delay in winding down the pension plan.

"It took them months to integrate the pension plan from the Sears administration to the new plan administrator," he said.

"You don't just flip a switch. It takes time."

Eady said the temporary pension cuts will be tough for many, but necessary to ensure the pension is sustained.  


Auto tariffs could cost Canada
160,000 jobs, TD estimates

Pete Evans
June 20, 2018

Donald Trump's threat to slap tariffs on Canadian cars and car parts could cost the country up to 160,000 jobs, especially if Canada retaliates, TD Bank warns.

In a report Monday, senior economist Brian DePratto crunched some numbers on the economic impact of a 10 per cent tariff on car parts, and a stiffer 25 per cent levy on fully assembled vehicles.

Those numbers aren't just pulled from thin air. They're the exact tariff levels the Trump administration recently implemented on aluminum and steel , and DePratto assumes a similar breakdown is a decent base-case scenario to work from, with 10 per cent on car parts, and 25 per cent on more high-value fully assembled vehicles.

His analysis also assumes that Canada would respond with some sort of tariff on U.S. cars and car parts, just as it did with metals .

Technically, nothing is written in stone and the earliest we'd likely see any vehicle tariffs would be August. But the wheels are certainly in motion for another front to soon open in the unexpected trade war between Canada and the United States. The first warning shots were fired in May when the Commerce Department began an investigation into the auto sector along national security grounds — the same justification that was made in slapping tariffs on steel, aluminum and other products.

Almost half of the 17 million new vehicles sold in the U.S. last year were imported from abroad, and about half of those imports were primarily assembled in either Canada or Mexico.

Even those vehicles that are considered "American-made" almost certainly contain components from afar. The Toyota RAV-4 sport utility vehicle is the best-selling vehicle in America that isn't a pickup truck, and almost all of the ones sold in the U.S. last year were made at the Toyota plant in Woodstock, Ontario.

But the engines in them were made in Alabama, and the transmissions in West Virginia. Countless other components came from Mexico, Japan and beyond. Figuring out what parts will see a tariff and when would be a nightmare to calculate, but all told, DePratto figures roughly $74 billion worth of automotive exports between Canada and the U.S. could face some sort of tariff soon. 

With tariffs of 10 and 25 per cent as a benchmark assumption, DePratto's number-crunching paints a pretty bleak picture in a hurry. He calculates that Canada's economy would lose about 0.4 per cent of GDP growth within a calendar year of any tariffs being implemented, compared to what he thinks would happen under the status quo.

Worse, there would be a "scarring" effect, he says, whereby the economy takes wounds from which it will never recover. That means "the level of investment is permanently lower as a result, reducing Canada's long-term economic capacity," as DePratto puts it.

But not all the pain would be shared equally. Manufacturing is a key sector in Ontario's economy, as roughly 40 per cent of the province's exports consist of manufactured products, mainly destined for the U.S., and much of them cars or car parts.

A loss of 0.4 percentage points may not be much on a national scale, but the slowdown could be as much as two per cent for Ontario alone, DePratto says.

Roughly 1.7 million Canadians worked in manufacturing last year, of which 771,000 were in Ontario, DePratto notes.

"This shock thus means there is the potential of losing nearly one in 10 of the jobs in this sector, or one in five in Ontario," he says.

While jobs in the auto sector would take a direct hit, that wouldn't be the sole economic impact because the sector filters into just about every facet of the economy. "Even those Canadians fortunate enough not to be in the direct line of fire are likely to feel the pinch in their pocketbooks," he says.

That's because tariffs tend to create what economists call "deadweight loss" in that the impact they have on prices and consumer confidence are usually far greater than the amount of any revenues that governments generate from them, he says. So even if governments spend tariff money and other revenues trying to support affected sectors, it can't possibly be enough to fully offset the pain.

When those broader impacts are included, the toll on Canada's economy is even starker. All in all, DePratto calculates that Canada could lose up to 160,000 jobs, if Canada and the U.S. start trading tit for tat tariffs on cars and car parts.

"Almost all of these losses would occur in Ontario," he says.

Effectively, that would be a repeat of the pain the sector and the province experienced during the downturn of 2008. "Such a shock would be enough to erase all of the gains in employment that Ontario experienced over the last two years," DePratto says.

And jobs wouldn't be the only victim. DePratto says in his worst case scenario, he calculates the Canadian dollar would depreciate by as much as eight to 15 per cent from where it is now. 

On the low end, that translates to a 64-cent US loonie by the end of next year.

Ultimately, however, DePratto is optimistic that his most gloomy predictions won't come to pass, and that negotiators on both sides are likely to hammer out some sort of compromise. But if they don't, his analysis outlines in stark relief just how serious the stakes are.

"The importance of the auto sector and of trade more generally to the Canadian economy underscores the magnitude of the challenges facing Canada's trade negotiators," he says.



Explorer, Grand Cherokee
get poor crash-test ratings

Keith Laing,
The Detroit News
June 19, 2018

Washington — The 2018 Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee earned “poor” ratings in crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which represents the insurance industry.

The institute said the Explorer and Grand Cherokee were the only models to receive low marks in its most recent tests of mid-size SUV crashes when the front passenger-side corner of the vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. Such crashes are known as small-overlap collisions. The IIHS said the Explorer and Grand Cherokee had "serious issues with structure, restraints and injuries."

Six other models that were tested by the group  — the 2019 Kia Sorento and 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, GMC Acadia, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder and Honda Pilot — received "good" or "acceptable" rating in the tests. 

IIHS said the Explorer "rates poor because its structure was seriously compromised." 

"Intrusion reached 15 inches at the lower door hinge pillar and 13 inches at the upper door hinge pillar and the dashboard," the group said. "The door sill was pushed in 6 inches toward the dummy. Measures taken from the dummy showed a high likelihood of injuries to the right hip in a real-world crash of the same severity, as well as a possibility of left lower leg injuries."

The group said the Jeep Grand Cherokee had maximum intrusion of 10 inches at the lower door hinge pillar.

"More alarming was what happened to the passenger dummy’s head," IIHS said of the Grand Cherokee. "It hit the dashboard hard through the front air bag and then, because the side curtain air bag didn’t deploy and the door opened, it moved outside the vehicle during rebound. Measures from the dummy indicated that right leg injuries would be likely in a crash of this severity, and a head injury would be possible." 

IIHS said three of the SUVs it tested — the GMC Acadia, Kia Sorento and Volkswagen Atlas — earned good ratings.

“Although some vehicles in this group offer very good protection, in other models, the air bags, safety belts and structure showed serious deficiencies,” IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby said in a statement. “In those SUVs, a front-seat passenger would be at risk of injuries to the head, hip or leg in a right-side small overlap front crash." 

Only the Sorento qualified in crash-testing for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick+ designation, which is the highest award from the group that represents the insurance industry.

To qualify for the top safety pick award, a vehicle must earn a good or acceptable rating in the testing, and also score good ratings in the other IIHS crashworthiness tests. Vehicles also need to have an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and good-rated headlights.



Trump tariffs could 'devastate'
local auto jobs, economy

London Free Press
Norman De Bono
June 17, 2018

Hitting Canadian auto shipments to the U.S. with a 25 per cent tariff would “devastate” the Southwestern Ontario economy and put thousands of workers off the job, automotive industry officials warned Monday.

But they were quick to add the American and Canadian manufacturing sectors are so closely integrated that tariffs also would hurt American business and workers.

“The impact would be devastating for the Canadian economy. It would be a game-changer for the sector,” said Alan Arcand, an economist with the Conference Board of Canada.

But Arcand said he’s also certain U.S. industry, especially the Detroit Three automakers, are banging on the White House door saying the tariffs would hurt them and their workers.

“These are American companies making these cars here. They would be cutting off their nose to spite their face. There would be a lot of pressure for them not to apply these tariffs.”

Underscoring that point is that about 60 per cent of the parts that go into Canadian-made vehicles are made in the U.S., and the tariffs would kill those American jobs, too.

“Just the threat of a tariff is an issue for the Canadian economy. We are taking it seriously, but our assumption now is that unlike steel and aluminum, this will not be implemented,” Arcand said.

Fears of possible American tariffs are rippling through the Canadian auto industry, concentrated in Southwestern Ontario, in the aftermath of a chaotic G7 summit in Quebec.

While on his way to Singapore for a summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed a barrage of tweets critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and saying his administration was looking at new tariffs on automobiles “flooding” the U.S. market

A truck loaded with Chrysler Pacifica models makes its way onto the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, ON. on Monday, June 11, 2018. (DAN JANISSE/THE WINDSOR STAR)

“Putting a 25 per cent tariffs on vehicles is a nightmare scenario,” said auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

“It’s the end of the world as we know it,” he said. “We have a U.S. administration determined to screw up the North American auto industry.”

At Attica Manufacturing in east London, owner Andy Mavrokefalos hopes Trump is making idle threats about Canada. Mavrokefalos makes machines parts for the automotive sector, and boosting the cost of Canadian-made vehicles to the U.S. by 25 per cent would see his auto sales and production wind down.

“There is no good news here for sure. The only thing we can do is sell into foreign markets, but prices will have to go up, even in the U.S. This would be such a foolish move.”

Mavrokefalos is also on the board of the London Region Manufacturing Council. When he considers the major assembly jobs in the region, as well as the parts suppliers, job losses here would number in the thousands, he said.

“It will mean a slowdown for suppliers, a downward spiral if demand drops. In 2008 (the last recession) there was a dead stop. You don’t want to disrupt the engine of the economy,” said Mavrokefalos, who also has a plant in Port Huron, Mich.

At Attica on Invicta Court, auto parts is a small chunk of his business but a tariff would stop expansion and hiring plans at the plant that employs about 60, he said.

The impact of such tariffs cannot be overstated. The regional automotive sector is dominated by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, with more than 8,000 workers in Woodstock and Cambridge, and Cami Assembly in Ingersoll, a GM plant, that employs about 3,000.

In London and area, there are about 4,000 auto-parts workers among the more than 30,000 working in the manufacturing sector. That is about 10 per cent of all employment in London region.

“I don’t know how the Canadian auto industry would function,” said Jim Reid, president of Unifor Local 27, representing about 1,000 of those parts workers in London and area.

“It would be enormous. It could push us into a recession. I don’t think (Trump) understands the industry, and I don’t think he cares,” Reid said.

“Trump is a player. I think this is a bargaining tactic, and it is transparent.”

Canadian vehicle exports to the U.S. is an $80-billion industry, impacting more than 100,000 workers here.

Of the 2.2 million autos manufactured each year in Canada, about 1.8 million are shipped to the U.S. All of these units are assembled in Ontario, according to Scotiabank, and its automotive outlook report.

Brett House, vice-president and deputy chief economist for Scotiabank, takes comfort in the fact U.S. and Canadian officials will meet this week in Washington to resume trade talks.

“Discussions are continuing,” he said. “I don’t want to minimize the impact,but there is no clear rationale for these tariffs,” and if imposed a NAFTA or Word Trade Organization appeal would likely see them overturned.

In 2002 tariffs on steel imports by the U.S. were overturned after about 20 months, House said.

“I’ll believe this when I see it. Industry is so integrated, there will be a push back from Congress and the Senate,” he said, adding there has already been a move to limit presidential authority in implementing tariffs.

The auto and parts manufacturing sector accounts for about 2.5 per cent of Ontario’s GDP. If one adds in both wholesale and retail vehicle and parts sales, then the total industry accounts for somewhere between 3.5 and 4 per cent of Ontario GDP.


Ford Canada OKs public
ownership of dealerships

Greg Layson
June 15, 2018
Automotive News

Ford Motor Co. of Canada will allow publicly traded companies to own dealerships, reversing a long-standing policy and paving the way for AutoCanada Inc. to start acquiring stores across the country, should the dealer group so choose.

“Ford of Canada has been reviewing the landscape of dealership ownership globally, and after consulting with dealers, we believe now is the right time to allow for public ownership of Ford and Ford-Lincoln dealerships in Canada,” Ford Canada’s Communications Manager Matt Drennan-Scace said in an email to Automotive News Canada.

Dan DeBoer, a partner in Parkway Ford Sales Ltd., in Waterloo, Ont., and co-chair of Ford Canada’s dealer council, known as the National Roundtable (NTR), said the automaker proposed the change “about six to eight weeks ago.”

“I went to a couple dealers who have been involved in things longer than I have and got their opinion. I personally supported the idea after that,” DeBoer said. “Ford then brought it to our roundtable and NTR didn’t have any objections. As dealers, we didn’t have a problem with it.”

The roundtable approved the change and Ford Canada recently notified dealers nationwide through a memorandum.

Ford Canada’s parent company, Detroit-based Ford Motor Co., already allows publicly traded companies to own dealerships in the United States. In fact, AutoCanada Inc., which is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, recently purchased nine of 10 stores in the Grossinger Auto Group of Chicago.

AutoCanada, which is based in Edmonton, operates 54 dealerships in Canada, according to its website. It reported more than C$3 billion (US$2.3 billion)  in annual revenue last year and is the only public dealership group in Canada.

AutoCanada Inc. officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ford is just the latest automaker to change its ownership policy. In December, General Motors Canada began allowing public groups to buy dealerships. GM Canada had previously prohibited public groups from owning its stores outright, but had allowed AutoCanada to hold majority equity stakes — without voting rights — in nine stores.

Now, Honda Canada Inc. and Toyota Canada Inc. are among major automakers that prevent publicly traded groups from owning dealerships in Canada.

“Everybody has come to the realization it’s getting more and more difficult to find an individual — in the past it was usually somebody who worked for you, someone like your sales manager —  to come up with any capital,” DeBoer said. “Dealers are starting to realize ‘I’ve got something I might not be able to sell.’”

Ford did apply certain conditions to the sale of a store to publicly traded companies. Citing competitive reasons, Drennan-Scace declined to say what those conditions are.

But, DeBoer said a public company will have to sign a five-year dealership sales and service agreement. If certain terms are met, another five-year agreement may be granted. Privately owned Canadian Ford stores, such as Parkway Ford Sales, operate under a perpetual sales and service agreement. It remains in place as long as they meet sales, customer satisfaction, market share and other requirements, DeBoer said.

DeBoer said the special terms for public ownership are “rules everybody can be happy with" and were looked at by dealers as “welcome and positive.”



Trump tariffs could sink
Canada's auto industry

President Donald Trump, seen with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the G7 Summit in Quebec on June 8. Photo credit: REUTERS

Kristine Owram
June 14, 2018

TORONTO -- Donald Trump's heightened attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are raising concerns that he might follow through on threats to impose auto tariffs, a move that could devastate the car industry in Canada and lead to higher U.S. prices.

The Trump administration's pledge to consider tariffs on all imported vehicles took on more urgency last weekend after Trump and his advisers accused Trudeau of "bad faith diplomacy" for his trade comments following a meeting of Group of Seven leaders in Quebec.

"I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!" Trump tweeted Saturday evening while en route to Singapore aboard Air Force One. "Very dishonest & weak," he said of Trudeau.

Trump has asked the Commerce Department to review whether vehicle imports threaten national security, which would add to levies already imposed on steel and aluminum. The car tariffs could apply to all countries, including Nafta partners Mexico and Canada, the two biggest exporters of autos to the U.S.

"I think we are all sitting with bated breath hoping that cooler heads prevail, but most of us believe there's an equal chance that they won't," said Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

The tariffs would have to clear several hurdles before being implemented, including fierce opposition from the industry and Republican lawmakers who tend to favor fewer and lower taxes.

Yet after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said there's a "special place in hell" for foreign leaders like Trudeau who engage in bad faith with Trump, Canada's auto sector may be more at risk.

Motor vehicles and parts were Canada's biggest export after energy products, representing about 16 per cent of the C$7.4 billion ($5.7 billion) in shipments over the first four months of this year. The Canadian auto industry directly employs about 130,000 people and contributes more than C$20 billion annually to gross domestic product, according to the Canadian Vehicles Manufacturers' Association, which represents the Canadian arms of General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

If the tariffs are implemented, they would shave about 0.6 per cent off Canadian economic growth, estimated Brett House, deputy chief economist at Bank of Nova Scotia.

Growth impact

With the economy growing at about 2.2 per cent, that's lopping off more than a quarter of growth, he said. "There's no question it would be felt."

Five automakers -- GM, Ford, FCA, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. -- produced about 2.2 million vehicles in Canada last year. Approximately 85 per cent of those vehicles are exported, with the vast majority going to the U.S. The most popular models shipped to the U.S. include the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda Civic, both assembled in Ontario plants.

If the U.S. imposes a 25 per cent tariff on those exports, suddenly they don't make much economic sense, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labour and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

"It's not an economically feasible prospect to import vehicles to the U.S. market in a 25 per cent tariff situation," she said. "It would be very difficult to sustain a Canadian industry without relatively free access to the U.S. market."

Sector shrinks

The tariffs threaten an ever-shrinking sector in Canada that lost 53,000 jobs between 2001 and 2014. Canada's loss has been Mexico's gain, as production there has soared thanks to Nafta and other trade deals. In 2008, Mexico surpassed Canada for the first time to become the second-largest North American producer of light vehicles, according to the Center for Automotive Research. While total Canadian production may decline by 135,000 units between 2016 and 2020, Mexico's are forecast to rise by 850,000. The threat of tariffs add to the uncertainty in the industry, which faces a potential trade overhaul as a result of Nafta negotiations.

Most analysts agree that the tariffs would also be bad for the U.S. American consumers would have to pay US$5,000 to US$7,000 more for their vehicles on average, potentially reducing U.S. auto sales by 4 million to 5 million units a year, said DesRosiers, who called it "a nightmare scenario."

"It would potentially bring down the entire economy and push it into a recession," he said.

Jeff Schuster from LMC Automotive estimates the impact would be less severe, cutting new light-vehicle sales by about 1 million.

Trump's statements could be merely "chest thumping," he said, but after moving to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum on the basis of national security, the threat of new taxes must be taken seriously. "The escalation is starting to happen," Schuster said.

Still, the potential U.S. fallout could make the tariffs a difficult sell to Trump's manufacturing base, said Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, which represents Canadian autoworkers at GM, Ford and FCA.

Canada retaliated when the U.S. imposed duties on imported steel and aluminum last month and would likely do the same on auto tariffs, Dias said. The U.S. exports more vehicles to Canada than anywhere else in the world.

Hurts U.S.

"It'll hurt the U.S. as much as it'll hurt Canada," said Dias, who pointed out that the majority of parts in Canadian-built vehicles come from the U.S. "He's going to have to explain to all those auto-parts workers why his strategy makes sense as they're sitting on the unemployment line."

The problem with auto tariffs is that it takes a long time to shift production, meaning American consumers would pay the price for several years, said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, which represents Canada's auto suppliers.

"If your objective is to have the American companies as well as the Japanese set up on the U.S. side of the border, you're asking private companies to absorb billions of dollars of costs," Volpe said, adding that it would make the North American industry less competitive against rising Chinese players. "At a time when the U.S. is targeting China, it is infinitely dumb."


UAW will present outgoing
Williams with retirement perks

Automotive News
June 13, 2018
Michael Wayland

DETROIT -- UAW delegates are expected to present outgoing UAW President Dennis Williams with the use of a cabin at the union’s Black Lake retreat and conference center in northern Michigan when he retires this week.

The gesture is outlined in the union’s proposed resolution book for this week’s 37th UAW Constitutional Convention here.

A cabin at Black Lake for retired union presidents has been a standing practice for decades, according to a UAW spokesman. It was not a formal resolution at the convention four years ago, however the spokesman said it was passed for Williams’ predecessor, Bob King, at the union’s collective bargaining conference in 2015. It is not part of the union’s constitution.

The UAW, under the 2018 proposed resolution, would authorize “the availability of a cabin” and pay “any related costs associated with [Williams’] use of the cabin during his stays” at the Walter and May Reuther Family Education Center at Black Lake, also known as Black Lake

Under the resolution, Williams, a one-term president, would also become president emeritus -- a traditional gesture of appreciation that also was granted to King, who referred questions Monday to the UAW.

The cabin and emeritus status, according to the resolution book, recognize Williams’ “steadfast dedication and commitment” to the UAW’s principles and ideals.

Black Lake

Black Lake is a sprawling property near Onaway in the northeastern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula that includes a conference center, overnight lodging, condos, Olympic-size indoor swimming pool and award-winning golf courses.

The conference center, funded by interest from the UAW's strike fund, opened in 1970 as an educational outpost for UAW members. It has become a point of debate among some members because the union has kept the center amid declining membership and financial instability during the Great Recession.

Williams last month said Black Lake has been doing "very, very well lately." He said the center, which was previously for sale, requires about 2 percent of the union's annual budget to operate.

"We're not out of the woods yet. We're doing a lot of investing in it," he said during a briefing with journalists in Detroit on May 24.

The UAW, according to Williams, annually sends 7,800-8,400 members to the center for workshops.

Williams reconfirmed the union’s “recommitment” to Black Lake in his state of the union address Monday, saying the union has “rebuilt Black Lake” in an attempt to make it more admirable to members and their families.


Williams, 65, is retiring after more than 40 years with the union, including a contentious, yet productive, four-year term as president.

Williams restructured the UAW's regional operations, cut costs, instituted budgets by departments and balanced the union's books.

“We have achieved our goals,” William told delegates at the convention on Monday, citing a balanced budget, organizing efforts and increased membership.

UAW membership grew under Williams, but his tenure also included high-profile organizing losses in the southern U.S. and the emergence of a federal investigation into the union’s joint training centers with automakers.

The federal case initially focused on events before Williams became president but has expanded to include his tenure. He has not been named or charged in the case.

Williams outlined a series of safeguards the union and training center have implemented in an attempt to cease such actions from happening again.

The UAW Constitutional Convention is a gathering of thousands of delegates that represent the union’s more than 430,000 members. Union leaders present business updates, and new officers are elected.

This year’s meeting also includes a Tuesday vote to reaffirm an increase in monthly membership dues that was approved at the 2014 convention.



More-lethal Mustang Shelby
GT350 debuts for '19

New for 2019, the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 gets stickier Michelin tires, a new rear aerofoil, as well as comprehensive suspension upgrades. It all adds up to better performance to compete with Chevy's quick Camaro.(Photo: Henry Payne, The Detroit News)

Henry Payne,
The Detroit News
June 12, 2018

Pontiac – The Snake is back, and it's more poisonous than ever.

For the first time since it was unveiled for the 2015, the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 gets upgraded performance for the 2019 model year. The patriarch of the Mustang family, the ferocious GT350 gets improved tires, suspension tuning and aerodynamics to improve its on-track performance and keep up with the Joneses. Make that the Chevys.

In its muscle-car war with cross-town rival Camaro, Mustang has come up shy in performance compared with Chevy's holy trinity of 1LE, ZL1 and winged ZL1 1LE performance grades. The Camaros have consistently bested the Shelby in on-track comparison tests.

How to tell the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 apart from the 2018? Gray pinstripes and a new rear spoiler. (Photo: Henry Payne, The Detroit News)

Introduced at the M1 Concourse's Champion Motor Speedway on Monday, the 2019 GT350 aims to close that gap.

"This car brings more grip with better tires," said Mustang Chief Engineer Carl Widmann, citing new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires developed specifically for the car. "We can integrate the (magnetic) shock tuning with the tire with the ABS brake system to really get something that's a step forward."

Performance comparisons haven't slowed sales. Since its introduction, the sixth-generation Mustang has re-established itself as the best-selling pony car in the 50 states with overall sales besting 100,000 units in its first two sales years, and topping the Camaro by 81,866 to 67,940 last year.

Though the GT350 makes up less than 10 percent of Mustang sales, its wicked looks and Ferrari-like, high-revving, flat-plane crank V-8 has set it apart as one of the sexiest ponies ever made.

Ford has sold them as fast as they can be made.

The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350's price jumps $3000 with performance upgrades - as well as interior tweaks like standard wrapped console, 4G WiFi, and SYNC 3 infotainment. (Photo: Henry Payne, The Detroit News)

"There's more than pure numbers to selling a muscle car. There's also pure emotion," said Mustang Product Manager Mark Schaller as the Snake's V-8 raged by on M1's back straight.

The GT350's drivetrain remains unchanged for 2019: a 526-horsepower (the most from a normally aspirated Mustang ever) 5.2-liter V-8 mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. At full cry, the unique eight-holer hits an ear-rattling 8,250-rpm redline.

Schaller says the focus of the 2019 changes was on tweaking tires, springs, roll bars, magnetic shocks and a more aero-friendly rear spoiler to increase handling.

"The new Shelby flatters the novice and rewards the professional," he quipped.

The GT350 R – a lighter, even more track-focused version of the Shelby – remains unchanged for 2019. Engineers say the tweaks to the standard GT350 bring it closer to the R-spec car. 

Named after the legendary Carroll Shelby's mod shop, the current Shelby car was the first GT350 to be manufactured in-house by Ford since 1968. How to tell the 2019 from the 2018? The rear spoiler and gray pinstripe separating the signature, dual Shelby stripes.

The price for the new car increases by about $3,000 to $61,340 ($69,325 for the R) as it gains standard options like SYNC 3 infotainment, 4G WiFi and a wrapped center console.

The updated Snake goes on sale in the first quarter of 2019.


UAW-Chrysler training
center sues to recoup $4.4M

Robert Snell,
The Detroit News
June 11, 2018

TheUnited Auto Workers-Chrysler National Training Center sued two former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials and a labor leader's widow Friday to recoupmore than $4.4 million, portraying itself as a victim of a conspiracy that has jolted the auto industry and labor movement.

The UAW-Chrysler National Training Center lawsuit targets several of the key figures charged so far in an ongoing conspiracy case. They include former FCA labor negotiator Alphons Iacobelli; Monica Morgan-Holiefield, the widow of former UAW Vice President General Holiefield; and Jerome Durden, a former FCA financial analyst.

The training center wants to recoup millions it claims was embezzled by Iacobelli that led to a criminal case involving a broader conspiracy of Fiat Chrysler executives funneling illegal payments and benefits to UAW leaders. The money was funneled through the training center under a policy created by the auto company’s officials to keep UAW leaders “fat, dumb and happy” and wring concessions favoring the automaker, according to the federal government.

The 20-page complaint filed in Oakland County Circuit Court on the eve of thousands of UAW officials arriving in Detroit for the union's Constitutional Convention, also attempts to refocus attention on the training center's good deeds that have been overshadowed by indictments and headlines about illegal payments and conspiracy.

The lawsuit noted several programs — including new-hire orientation, skilled-trades and diversity training and classes aimed at preventing discrimination and sexual harassment — that have reached approximately 750,000 people in the last seven years.

The federal investigation, started with Fiat Chrysler and the UAW, has led to charges against seven people and has since expanded to Detroit’s other automakers and UAW training centers.

“Alphons Iacobelli and Jerome Durden were participants in crimes committed against the (training center)," the center's co-directors Shawn
Fain and Tom Rolands said in a statement. "Their conduct not only victimized the (training center) but also has resulted in indictments and convictions for violations of federal law.”

Iacobelli and others spent millions on luxuries and sundries, including a $365,000 Ferrari, two pools, a house, new carpet and two solid-gold, bejeweled Montblanc fountain pens that cost $35,700 each, according to federal prosecutors.

“This is really an egregious victimization of the (national training center), which had to be addressed,” said Walter Piszczatowski, one of the center’s lawyers. “When somebody takes money that doesn’t belong to them and puts it in their pocket, they need to pay it back and be held accountable.”

Morgan-Holiefield, 55, pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and could spend up to 27 months in federal prison. She also agreed to pay almost $191,000 restitution to the government.

The lawsuit reiterates allegations contained in the federal indictment, specifically, that more than $262,000 in training center funds were used to pay off the mortgage on the Holiefields' home.

Keith Mickens, another former UAW official, admitted buying more than $7,000 worth of personal items with money that was supposed to help train blue-collar workers and using more money to help General Holiefield buy a pool.

Mickens, 64, of Clarkston, who served on the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, used the facility’s credit cards to buy luggage, electronics, designer clothes and golf equipment.

Durden, 62, of Rochester, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and failure to file a tax return. Durden, who allegedly used some of the training funds for $4,300 in new carpeting at his home, faces up to 37 months in prison.

Lawyers for Iacobelli and Morgan-Holiefield declined comment. Durden's attorney did not respond to a message seeking comment.

The 10-count civil lawsuit filed Friday accuses Iacobelli and Durden of fraud, fraudulent concealment, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment and civil conspiracy.

The training center also sued Iacobelli’s wife, Susanne, alleging that training center funds were used to pay for more than $868,000 in personal charges on her credit card.

The training center wants the following judgment:

• $2,661,189 from Alphons Iacobelli

• $1,145,736 from Susanne Iacobelli

• $539,219 from Morgan-Holiefield

• $70,300 from Durden

Since the scandal was uncovered, training center officials say they have enacted changes to prevent similar illegal activity. That includes internal accounting controls, strict enforcement of expense policies and hiring an independent accounting firm.

"The (National Training Center" was unaware of defendants' illegal activities due to the active concealment of such activities by defendants Alphons Iacobelli and Jerome Durden and due to the fact that the (training center) reposed trust, faith and confidence in (Iacobelli and Durden) that they were properly performing their legal duties," the training center's lawyer Michelle Harrell wrote in the lawsuit.


As Ford Nation conquers
Ontario, federal parties
ponder what it
means for them

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford reacts in Toronto after winning the Ontario provincial election to become the premier-designate on Thursday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Trudeau lost a valuable ally — but gained a political foil

Chris Hall
CBC News
June 8, 2018

It's time, Canada, to recognize the emergence of Ford Nation in the province known as Ontario.

Doug Ford — the bombastic, blustering and populist former Toronto city councillor — is going to be the next premier of Canada's most populous province. His victory, convincing as it was, came with an exclamation mark. He put an end to 15 straight years of Liberal rule.

Ford's victory also signals the arrival of a new dynamic in federal-provincial relations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne were allies. Wynne could be counted on to support the prime minister's progressive ideals. She shared his view of government as an agent for change

And Ford? Well, he isn't, can't and doesn't.

A price on carbon? He's against it. Asking the wealthy to shoulder a greater tax burden? He's against that, too.

Pharmacare? Social housing? Gender-based analysis of government initiatives? All entitlement programs that rate no mention on the list of Ford government priorities, a list that begins with A for austerity.

In other words: chalk, meet cheese.

"The party with the taxpayers' money is over. It's done," Ford told cheering supporters. 

Ford may be the antithesis of Trudeau in terms of personality, style and politics. But longtime Conservative strategist Chad Rogers of the public affairs firm Crestview Strategy said it's not all bad news for the federal government.

"The prime minister gets a new foil," he said. "Ford gives him someone to campaign against next year on carbon pricing and pharmacare — which will be the two-step of the Trudeau agenda."

Liberal MPs say they prepared for the change in government — even before the deeply unpopular Wynne made her stunning concession in the waning days of the campaign that her Liberals simply couldn't win.

Liberal Adam Vaughan represents the federal Toronto riding of Spadina-Fort York and also served on city council with Doug Ford.

Vaughan argues many of the federal government's policy priorities are in place now, with long-term financial commitments on housing, child care and other shared-cost programs.

"There will be lots of ways to read results. But at the end of the day, the demand for daycare doesn't change with the ideology of who's in power. The demand for transit doesn't change and the demand for housing doesn't change," he said.

"There may be different ways of delivering programs, but it's in all of our interests, regardless of which political party or government we serve, to find a way to make sure that things people need to live good lives arrive in their communities."

'Let Ford have his outbursts'

OK. But a number of those federal Liberal ridings in Toronto flipped Thursday to the PCs — a sign, perhaps, that voters even in that party fortress are growing weary of all the spending by Liberals at both levels of government.

Liberal MP John McKay concedes that Ford's victory poses a significant challenge to the federal government after years of mutual co-operation and support between Trudeau and Wynne.

McKay represents Scarborough-Guildwood. All six of the federal ridings in the Toronto suburbs are held by Liberals. Four of the six provincial ridings were also Liberal. On Thursday, only one of the Liberals held on. The Conservatives and NDP split the rest.

"We discussed this prospect in our Scarborough caucus and decided to invite the winners, whoever they might be, to a meeting where we'll try to identify priorities and issues we can work on together," McKay said, listing transit, housing and child care as priorities in the region.

Dealing with Ford, McKay said, does present a challenge for the Trudeau government. He said he expects the prime minister will approach him with the same strategy he's used with U.S. President Donald Trump.

"Let Ford have his outbursts. Let him selectively choose his facts — but stay with our agenda."

An ally for Scheer's Conservatives

Federal Conservatives are no doubt pleased by the outcome, even if Ford is closer to the blustering Trump in style and substance than he is to the studied competence of former prime minister Stephen Harper.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer put out a brief statement on social media Thursday night, congratulating Ford.

"Only positive Conservative policies put people first and create prosperity for all Canadians," the statement read. "I look forward to working closely with Premier Ford and his government for the benefit of the people of Ontario."

While not exactly a ringing endorsement, make no mistake the federal Conservatives will be up to their elbows in riding poll results and other voting data, looking for any opening offered by Ford's win. There will be plenty of conversations ahead with the many former Harper aides who helped run the PC campaign, and former Conservative MPs who ran under the Ford banner this time after losing their federal seats three years ago.

They'll also be looking to see what Thursday's results suggest about upcoming provincial elections in Quebec and Alberta, where premiers now aligned with much of the Trudeau agenda appear to face the same challenges as Wynne.

"The Conservatives and Andrew Scheer get a well-resourced ally in the manufacturing centre of the country," said Rogers, adding the federal New Democrats can also take something positive from these Ontario results.

NDP, Liberals open new battlegrounds for progressive votes

Like Ford, the NDP doubled the number of seats held, and captured just over 34 per cent of the popular vote. The party also increased its support in southwestern Ontario ridings where the federal NDP has no track record of success — not even in 2011, when the late Jack Layton led New Democrats to Official Opposition status in the House of Commons for the first time.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath's solid showing, at the very least, gives her federal cousins a basis on which to target progressive voters, and to claim that it's New Democrats rather than the Liberals who are the agents of real change in federal politics.

"The NDP's positive message clearly resonated with many voters who saw the Liberals' record on progressive issues to be all talk and no action," said Melissa Bruno, the NDP's national director.

"This led to the NDP making historic gains, especially in the GTA's 905 and becoming the Official Opposition. Andrea and Jagmeet began building that GTA strategy while they worked together in Queen's Park. Tonight, we saw the plan pay off in some big ways and has provided an important base to build on for the federal election in 2019."

So there's a new electoral map in Ontario. After 15 years of Liberal red, the province is now Ford Nation blue, with some large swatches of NDP orange. 

It suggests Ontario — the province where federal elections are most often decided, where all of the main federal political parties must deploy considerable time and resources — could be even more interesting in the 2019 election.

And much harder to predict.


Rotting Ford Mustang on Ebay
turns out to be a rare classic

Gary Gastelu
Fox News
June 7, 2018

One of the rarest Ford Mustangs in the world is for sale on Ebay right now for $3,000, and that's either way too much or not nearly enough for it.

It’s a 1970 Mustang Mach 1 428 Super Cobra Jet Drag Pack that’s a shell of its former self. Literally.

Stripped of its engine, transmission, rear axle, hood, doors, dashboard and pretty much everything other than its body and windows, the weathered coupe is sitting in a yard in Iowa with weeds growing out of it and a rusty undercarriage, according to the seller.

It still has its VIN and buck tags, however, and Mustang historian Kevin Marti used them to check his extensive archives for Fox News. There, he found that it is one of just 23 cars like it that were built in 1970 without the Ram-Air option, and is the only one of them that was originally painted Lime Green. In other words: It’s a one-of-one car.

If it were in perfect condition, such a unique vehicle could be worth well over $100,000. As is, it hadn’t attracted any bidders with little over a day to go in the auction.

Still, Marti says he’s “seen worse cars brought back to life,” and he isn’t kidding. One of them that he helped authenticate was a 1968 Ford Mustang GT in similar condition to the Mach 1 that was found rotting away in a Mexican junkyard last year and turned out to be one of the cars used in the making of the Steve McQueen thriller “Bullitt.” The other resurfaced at the Detroit Auto Show in January after being kept hidden away by the family that owned it for decades.

Ralph Garcia, Jr hastily fixed up the Mexican Mustang following its discovery, but is now putting it through a proper restoration with input from Ford experts that he says is expected to be completed by the end of this summer.

If he's looking for another challenging project after that, we know where he can find one.


Canadian Ford dealers not
worried in the least over
end of sedan production

Move to cut cars is an admission
Japan, Korea 'own' the car market

The Mustang will soon be the last car with a trunk left standing in the Ford lineup. Photo credit: Ford
Automotive News
Mark Richardson
June 6, 2018

Canadian Ford dealers say they’re not worried about sales even as the automaker plans to drop most of its sedan models in North America. Dealers are also not surprised by the decision.

“I think most of the dealers — though I’m only speaking on my behalf — don’t see it as an issue,” said Craig Riley, chairman of Markville Ford-Lincoln in Unionville, Ont. “We see it as moving toward what the market [is] demanding right now. There’s been a dramatic change in the last three, four, five years and I look at it positively that Ford’s getting ahead of the wave.”

Riley said his dealership sells few cars compared to utility vehicles and pickups.

“If I’m selling 100 new [vehicles] a month, 80 to 90 of those are the SUV/truck products,” he said.

Those are retail sales and not fleet sales.

Ford announced in late April that it will not replace or refresh the current generations of its Fusion, Taurus, Focus and Fiesta sedans, leaving the Mustang as its only non-utility vehicle. In the United States, it will introduce a variation of the Focus, called the Focus Active, but it will not come to Canada.

“Right now, at our store, we don’t even sell Fiesta,” said Riley. “We used to, and it’s a great car, but maybe only one every couple of months. You know, Toyota and Honda own the car market, along with probably the Koreans Hyundai and Kia.”

Ford said in a statement that the lack of sedans will not create a hole in its portfolio.

“To respond to the needs of our customers and grow our business, we are significantly expanding our North America utility portfolio while also exploring new ‘white space’ vehicle silhouettes that combine the best attributes of cars and utilities such as higher ride height, space and versatility.”

Of the cars that Cam Clark Ford-Lincoln in North Vancouver sells today, the Focus and Mustang are by far the most popular, says Dick Lau, general manager. About 80 per cent of his car sales are split evenly between Focus and Mustang.


“In our case, this will have very little impact on us. It makes sense to me,” he said, adding that families, grandparents and people with dogs are not interested in vehicles with an enclosed trunk.

“If there are pets in the house, then a sedan just isn’t in the equation.”

In Canada, Ford said the car segment has been declining since 2012 and now makes up about 33 per cent of the overall market, while utility vehicles account for about 44 per cent of all vehicle sales.

“This is not a new trend; this has been going on for years. Clearly, Ford is playing to its strengths,” says Robert Karwel, senior manager of the Power Information Network at J.D. Power Canada.

“Sergio Marchionne probably led the charge when he decided FCA was going to cease making Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart because he knew they had to free up capacity to build more Jeeps, more utility vehicles and more trucks. He was probably quite prescient in that decision.

“Will others do this? I’ve seen that all manufacturers are starting to not refresh, or lengthen the span between redesigning their car lines, as they need to refocus investment on their utility and light-truck lines. “I think you’re going to see car nameplates disappear, and they won’t come back.”


Retirees Luncheon
June 6, 2018


Retirees Spring Luncheon June 6, 2018
(Click photo to enlarge)

Eli Celebrates his 77th Birthday



Caesars Windsor workers
agree to new contract,
casino to re-open Thursday

After 60 days of striking, the longest labour dispute in Caesars
Windsor history is finally over: The casino resort's employees
have voted 75 per cent in favour of ratifying their new deal.

Windsor Star
Dalson Chen,
Trevor Wilhelm
June 5, 2018

It took 60 days of striking and three attempts at a deal, but the longest labour dispute in Caesars Windsor history is finally over.

Represented by Unifor Local 444, almost 2,000 employees of the casino resort ratified their latest agreement on Monday.

The vote was 75 per cent in favour.

“It was tough,” said a relieved Dave Cassidy, president of Local 444. “This was probably the toughest set of bargaining I’ve been in.

“This is a landmark in the city of Windsor. Could anybody imagine what we would be like without Caesars Windsor, or a casino in Windsor?”

Shortly after the ratification, Caesars Windsor management issued a statement expressing happiness at the resolution and announcing that the property would be ready for customers on Thursday at 11 a.m.

“Amenities including all restaurants and the box office will resume their regular business hours upon re-opening,” the company said.

Casino management did not respond to a request for further comment.

Additionally, Caesars Windsor announced new show dates for five more concerts that had been postponed due to the strike — including multi-platinum rapper Pitbull.

The workers have been on strike since April 6. Past tentative agreements have been voted down by majorities of 59 per cent and 53 per cent.

The agreement that succeeded on Monday is a three-year deal, rather than a four-year deal like the one that was rejected last time.

“We missed the mark (last time),” Cassidy said. “Once we announced that it was a four-year deal at the last one, we lost the crowd.”

In monetary terms, the new deal is not greatly different from past offers. There is a cumulative general wage increase of $1.75 after three years — the same as the last deal contained at the three-year mark.

The schedule of the wage increases has changed slightly: $0.75 in the first year, $0.75 in the second year, and $0.25 in the third year.

Signing bonuses remain unchanged: $1,600 for full-time employees, $1,200 for part-time employees, and $675 for casual employees.

There have been improvements in job security. According to Local 444, Caesars Windsor has assured that there are no plans to close any existing food service outlet and no department will be eliminated or outsourced for the duration of the agreement (April 4, 2018 to April 3, 2021).

“We were able to maintain everything we had,” Cassidy said. “We made some slight changes to the long-term disability plan, but not to negatively affect any member.”

“We moved things around, and we got some tighter language on things that we needed.”

The vote took place at the Ciociaro Club at 10 a.m.

Local 444 arranged buses to shuttle members from the union hall on Turner Road to the meeting place. Arrangements were also made so that members with picket duty would have the opportunity to vote.

Ballots were cast quickly and the count was done by noon.

Unlike the mood at the failed ratification vote on May 18, the atmosphere was light on Monday. Many members left the meeting smiling and embracing each other.

“I want to go back,” said Caesars Windsor employee Mike Quaglia. “I think it’s time to go back.”

Another employee, dealer Erlinda Roque, whooped in celebration when she heard Cassidy announce the ratification.

“We should have done this last time,” Roque said. “We should have said ‘Yes’ last time.”

City officials, tourism promoters, and business owners outside the casino were also smiling Monday after learning the strike was over.

“It’ll be great to have 2,300 people back working, contributing to the economy and I think they’re breathing a sigh of relief,” said Mayor Drew Dilkens. “So is the City of Windsor and the businesses in the community.”

Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, called it a “fantastic day” for the entire region.

“We’re very fortunate to have a signature attraction like Caesars Windsor in our own backyard, and the fact that it was closed was not a win for anybody,” he said. “So now that it’s opening again, it’s able to continue to be that tourism trip motivator that will get people to cross an international border, drive down the 401 or fly into Windsor Airport to come and see this first class gaming facility.”

Orr said selling the Windsor region without its “No.1 tourist attraction” presented some problems during the two-month strike.

“We continued to market our tourism assets in the region,” he said. “Of course, it was noticeable to those that had booked meetings, conventions, those who had show tickets. Obviously the longer it went on, the more negative a reaction would come of that. This end to the strike means that messaging will stop.”

Orr has said the dispute also created a negative “spinoff impact” for restaurants, malls, wineries and other establishments that were losing business from both tourists and striking casino employees.

Walter Bezzina, general manager of Vets Cab, said taxi drivers were among those feeling the pain.

“It’s good for the city, it’s good for our drivers for sure, it’s good for everybody,” said Bezzina. “Nobody ever wins in these kinds of deals, so it’s just good that they’re back. Hopefully we can look forward to the next three years as being good.”

The terms of the agreement were reached after about eight hours of bargaining on Saturday.

Caesars Windsor representatives and Local 444’s bargaining committee resumed negotiations following “exploratory discussions” last week with the assistance of a provincial mediator.

The discussions were attended by Kevin Laforet, regional president of Caesars Entertainment, and Jerry Dias, Unifor’s national president.

Cassidy said the mediator’s help and the presence of Laforet and Dias all played a part in making a resolution possible.

“I can tell you, the casino wasn’t calling me (after the second rejection),” Cassidy said. “They didn’t want to get back to the table.”


Digital license plates that change
displays and track your car being
tested in California

June 4, 2018
Gary Gastelu
Fox News

A futuristic digital license plate that can change its display and track the vehicle that it’s attached to is being tested on California roads.

Over 100 of the high-tech tags are already in use as part of a pilot program, and now Sacramento has become the first city to add them to its municipal fleet.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the city government took delivery last week of 24 Chevrolet Volts equipped with the plates, which are priced at $699 each, but were provided at no cost by the manufacturer, Reviver Auto, for evaluation.

The plates use e-ink screens like e-books, and are equipped with a GPS tracker that can transmit the location of the vehicle. They have a reflective surface, backlighting, weatherproofing and are hardwired to the car.

Reviver Auto says that the technology conforms to the General Data Protection Regulation standards, and that the tracking and display features are controlled by each plate’s owner. 

Sacramento Innovation Officer Louis Stewart said that the city is assuring labor representatives that it won’t use them to monitor individual employees.

Reviver Auto VP of Marketing Bobby Penn told Fox News that the telematics data will never be shared with the DMV or law enforcement, and promises that the company will not sell any information to outside companies. No personal data is stored in the device itself.

Users can modify the display with custom messages via an app and electronically update their registration without the need for a sticker or visit to the DMV. They’re being marketed as a fleet management tool for commercial outfits that can double as a promotional platform, as the screens can display company branding and advertisements when the vehicles are parked, while still showing the plate number in a smaller font.

Along with the convenience factor, a pitch to retail customers is that they are the ultimate vanity plate, with the potential to update them on a whim to show support for causes or sports teams, or simply to project a personal message for the day.

Owners can also have the plates display the word “stolen” if their cars go missing, while emergency messages, like amber alerts and flood warnings, can be blasted to all of the devices in an affected area in an effort to reach other motorists.

Penn says that future functionality being worked on includes automatic toll and parking payments.

A $7 monthly fee is required, with additional costs for the GPS tracking feature.

One retailer, Galpin Motors in Van Nuys, is offering three-year plans priced at $189 and $279, respectively, plus $99 for installation.

A conventional license plate with the traditional registration sticker needs to be kept with the car during the trial. California requires front plates, so owners can mount one there instead of getting two of the digital devices. In the event that the DMV program is abandoned, any of the Reviver Auto plates still in circulation will be grandfathered in permanently, according to Galpin.

Consumer sales are scheduled to begin on June 1, and Galpin says interest and demand have been strong, but a California DMV spokesperson told Fox News that there were just 116 of the units in operation as of May 22.

The program will allow up to 175,000 vehicles to be equipped with the plates during the evaluation period, which ends on Jan 1, 2019. A report is due to follow no later than July 1, 2020.

The Arizona Department of Transportation is also testing the plates on a dozen of its state-owned vehicles.


FCA, Ford ride strong
truck, SUV sales in May

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News
June 3, 2018

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Ford Motor Co. reported better-than-expected U.S. sales increases in May, driven entirely by the automakers' trucks and SUVs as consumers continue to ditch passenger cars in favor of larger vehicles. General Motors Co., which no longer reports monthly sales figures, is also estimated to have a strong month.

Analysts had forecast strong May U.S. sales across the industry due to Memorial Day weekend dealer sales.

With Ford and Fiat Chrysler reporting double-digit percentage increases for the F-Series and Jeep brands, consumers' desire for trucks and SUVs appears to have overshadowed rising fuel costs. Strong SUV and truck sales are driving up average transaction prices for the industry as new-vehicle sales normalize following a few years of record numbers.

"Despite rising transaction prices and higher fuel costs, the new vehicle market remains strong," Karl Brauer, executive publisher for analysis companies Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. "Consumers continue to buy trucks and SUVs at an accelerated pace, more than offsetting the ongoing drop in car sales. Economic indicators suggest we’ll see this trend throughout the summer and fall, though talk of tariffs and the specter of $4-plus-a-gallon fuel could end the party, and inventory levels remain relatively high at several automakers."

Fiat Chrysler's May U.S. sales rose 11 percent, while Ford's overall sales increased less than 1 percent compared to the same month a year ago. Both companies beat analyst expectations. GM announced in April it would no longer report sales every month, and will instead report sales quarterly.

Analysts at Edmunds.com estimate that GM sales were up 11.7 percent for the month, with an estimated 265,030 vehicles sold. The Detroit automaker won't report its sales figures until July 3 as a quarterly number.

Jeep was king for Fiat Chrysler in May. The automaker moved 97,287 Jeep vehicles in the U.S., up 29 percent, and the Wrangler model saw a 26 percent increase in sales, marking its best May ever with 25,102 vehicles sold.

Toyota Motor North America reported its U.S. sales slipped 1.3 percent in May. The automakers' car sales slipped 11 percent overall. Truck sales were up 5.8 percent for the automaker.

Ram retail sales increased by 18 percent last month, sales volume for both fleet and retail was only up 2 percent. The Chrysler brand tumbled 18 percent, the Fiat brand plummeted 46 percent, and the Dodge brand saw a 4 percent increase.

The Jeep and Ram brands are the focus of the company's new five-year forecast presented Friday by CEO Sergio Marchionne in Balocco, Italy. The automaker moved 214,294 vehicles in the U.S. in May 2018.

Ford meantime saw fleet sales drop 4.6 percent in May. The company's retail sales increased 3.5 percent compared to a year ago. Ford's truck sales went up 9.4 percent, and its SUV sales increased less than a percentage point. Ford passenger car sales meanwhile slid 13.3 percent.

The Blue Oval again pointed to the strength of its F-Series trucks, sales of which went up 11.3 percent in May, marketing 13 straight months of year-over-year sales increases. The truck brand posted its best May sales performance since 2000, the company reported. 

Retail sales of the Expedition also increased 41.8 percent. The hulking SUV sits on dealer lots for an average of 19 days, low for an auto industry that likes to keep days' supply at least double that amount.

“F-Series didn’t miss a beat last month," Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said. And "the move into SUVs out of cars is accelerating."

That has analysis companies keeping a closer eye on the average price of vehicles, and the interest rates buyers are taking on loans to buy those vehicles.

Loan interest rates reached highs not seen since 2009, according to California-based industry analysis company Edmunds. The annual percentage rate on new financed vehicles averaged 5.75 percent in May, compared to 5.04 percent in May 2017 and 4.17 percent in May 2013, according to Edmunds.

The company forecast the entire industry would report selling 1,565,683 new vehicles in the U.S. in May, a 3.5 percent increase over the same month a year ago.

Analysis company Kelley Blue Book reported new-vehicle average transaction prices jumped 3.4 percent over May 2017. That's good for the automotive industry – through likely bad for consumers, as it could indicate the cost of vehicles is increasing.

But Edmunds expects the spike in auto loan interests rates could be beneficial in the short term.

"Higher interest rates appear to be incentivizing car shoppers, which is likely why we’ve seen stronger than expected sales so far this year,” Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds' manager of industry analysis, said in a statement. “Since interest rates have been creeping up all year, shoppers are likely thinking it’s better to buy now before rates get any higher. However, this is likely a temporary pull-ahead effect, and could come back to bite automakers later in the year."

The auto industry is expected to see sales decline this year after record years in 2015, 2016 and a near-record in 2017. Average transaction price is expected to increase, driven largely by truck and SUV sales.

“Depending on how shoppers respond, this could set the trend for even sweeter deals as we head deeper into the year," Acevedo said.


Ford hybrid pitched as
durable, stealth cop car

By Phil Berg
Detroit News
May 31, 2018

Driving downtown on Leningradsky Avenue in Moscow in 1999, I spied an ominous sign of authority. Not a Vladimir Lenin statue, but a Ford Crown Victoria, complete with a full Federal Signal light-bar, parked in the boulevard’s median, with officers inside watching traffic. Ford’s large rear-drive sedans have made up the mobility of many police departments for decades — currently Ford’s Interceptors, based on the all-wheel-drive Taurus and Explorer, make up 63 percent of new cruisers sold.

This year Ford introduced its latest tool for the folks in blue, a Responder Hybrid sedan, which is a modified 2018 Fusion Hybrid five-seater. It’s the first gasoline-electric hybrid dedicated police cruiser, a more sturdy version of the Hermosillo-built Fusion, up-fitted in Ford’s Chicago modification center, says Steven Tyler, head of Ford’s cop cars.

The new Responder Hybrid gets special abilities: It can pick its way through 18-inch deep flood waters, or 10-inch deep water, at 40 mph without water intruding on any electrical equipment or stalling the car. The 188-horsepower powertrain is a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine that’s boosted by a 47-horsepower electric motor that will go from zero to 100 mph in about 21 seconds, which is the same performance as a V-8-powered Crown Victoria. The EPA rates the Fusion Hybrid at 38 miles per gallon, more than double the 18 miles per gallon of the current gasoline-only Interceptor. Although the newest Fusion is available in all-wheel drive form, the Hybrid doesn’t share this optional equipment, likely a disappointment for cops in the Rust Belt.

Other things the Responder Hybrid can do is drive over an 8-inch tall curb at speed without damaging the suspension or steering, an ability the long-running rear-drive Crown Vics — and current Interceptors — possess.

I’ve ridden in a lot of cop cars — not as a suspected violator, but as a cub beat reporter in Minneapolis on slow news days — and often noted the cars’ inefficiencies. Back then cops preferred large, rear-drive machines, and nobody ever complained about the poor fuel economy of a V-8 engine that was kept running from the beginning of an eight-hour shift to the end. The fuel economy of the Minneapolis Dodge Diplomat police cruisers of the day averaged a low 5 mpg because whenever the car was stopped, the engine remained running, an operational necessity especially in winter, the cops told me.

Lansdowne also explained that his city’s police department considered installing kill switches in their squad cars, but one reason they declined the idea was a concern hackers would by able to shut down all of the police cars in the city.

Ford’s new Responder Hybrid will be able to drive away instantly on battery power, meaning that for the majority of the time it is parked, the gasoline engine does not need to run. The Responder Hybrid will cruise 25 miles on battery power alone, which is a boon for cops sneaking up on perpetrators without making engine noise. 

“The Hybrid is exactly right for a police vehicle,” says Ford’s Tyler. “They will average $3,600 savings in gas per year. A Hybrid will support a lot of electrical equipment, two-thirds of the time the gas engine is shut off. A gas vehicle has to run 100 percent of the time to do this.

The Responder Hybrid is not the first electrically powered cop car — that was the country’s first-ever police car in Akron, Ohio, with a top speed of 18 mph and a range of 30 miles, propelled by two four-horsepower electric motors. Unlike police cars introduced in the 1950s from Detroit’s automakers, the Responder Hybrid does not have a special powertrain just for cops. Still, it’s only available to police departments.



John Christensen

Passed Away
May 29, 2018

June 22, 1938 – May 29, 2018

Aug 1, 2002

31 Years Service

It is with great sadness that we
inform you of the passing of
Jorgen (John) Christensen
who passed away May 29, 2018

Gilbert MacIntyre and Sons Funeral Home
252 Dublin Street North
Guelph Ontario


Thursday May 31
2pm to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm

Also Friday June 1, 2018
12pm to 1pm


Celebration of life Service
to follow and reception.


Map to Dublin Chapel

Obituary for Jorgen Sloth
"John" Christensen

Christensen, Jorgen Sloth (John) –
Passed away peacefully at home, with his wife at his side, on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. John Christensen in his 80th year, was the beloved husband of Marion (Wright) Christensen of Guelph. Predeceased by his brother Ole and by his sister Inger. He is survived by his sister-in-law Anne Marie Christensen of Denmark. John was the dear uncle of Karen, Per, and Johannes. He will be fondly remembered by his mother-in-law Pat Wiggins, and by Marion’s children and their families, and also by his close friend Reid Bickerton, and by his many neighbours and friends.


2018 Ford EcoSport
supermini SUV arrives
in Canada with major
exterior, interior

Hearld Wheels
May 29, 2018


ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — One of the fastest-growing segments in the auto industry is that of sub-compact utility vehicles, or crossovers as they are called.

Ford may be late to the party, but it has brought a serious contender. The 2018 EcoSport is already at Ford stores and the early take rate indicates it is a success.

The EcoSport is not a new vehicle; it was originally developed for markets in South America and India and produced in Brazil 15 years ago.

A second generation, launched in 2012, was developed for a more global market. It is produced in China, Brazil, Romania, Russia, Thailand and India.

The version we get rolls off one of two assembly lines in India and makes its way to Canada via Autoport in Dartmouth.

This is a very small vehicle — based on the same platform used for the Fiesta, it is the smallest of Ford’s utility vehicle fleet, by a considerable margin. The Eco-Sport is 43 cm shorter overall and the wheelbase 17 cm less than the next smallest Ford ute — the Escape. It is among the smallest in the segment, a half-foot shorter than the others — and taller.

That short and tall shape looks better in person and on crowded city streets than in photos. The diminutive size makes it ideal for crowded urban environments whether coping with heavy traffic or into tight confines and parking spaces.

The large cargo door is hinged to open sideways with the opening on the curbside. The handle is cleverly hidden within the passenger side taillight assembly.

The EcoSport comes in S, SE, SES and Titanium trim levels at prices ranging from $22,000 to $31,100. Front-wheel drive is standard on all but the SES, where all-wheel drive is standard. AWD is available on all trim levels.

The standard engine is a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder producing 123 horsepower. It comes on all front-drive models. AWD is paired with a normally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that puts out 167 horsepower. All EcoSports are equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Although there is not much distance between the bumpers, the EcoSport is not short of features. Standard equipment on the most basic model includes 16-inch alloy wheels, SYNC with 11-cm screen, six speakers, rear-view camera, a pair of fast-charge USB ports, cruise control and automatic headlamps.

Ford expects more than 50 per cent of EcoSport buyers to chose the SE model, which adds a power sunroof, remote keyless entry, heated front seats, six-way power driver’s seat, automatic climate control, reverse sensing system, SYNC 3 with 16.5-cm touchscreen and satellite radio, remote keyless entry and push-button start.

The SES trim gets a blind spot information system, 110-volt outlet, navigation, a 20-cm screen, 17-in alloys and the ability to connect up to 10 devices through a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Titanium version has all that, plus leather seats, heated mirrors, heated steering wheel, and a 10-speaker, 675-watt B & O audio system.

There are bins, cubbyholes and storage spots scattered throughout, even provision for tablets on the back of the front seats. There is 592 litres of space behind the rear seat, 1,416 with it folded down. A slick three-position cargo shelf allows you to maximize cargo space or privacy.

The view from the tall perch is good in all directions with the exceptions of a serious blind spot at the very wide base of the A-pillar.

On the road, the EcoSport impressed for its quiet cabin and refined ride — much more supple than you would expect from such a small and tall vehicle riding on such a short wheelbase.

Now let me dispel two claims:

1. Five-passenger capacity — The EcoSport may have belts for five, but only the two in front will be comfortable. Rear seat space, especially knee and legroom, is minimal with the front seats set to accommodate a decent-size adult. Child seats might be an issue.

2. Fuel economy — The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine is an award-winner. But it struggles to cope with 3,500 lbs. plus occupants on anything less than level ground. It will propel the vehicle and a couple of folks inside with relative ease — but you can have Eco or Boost — not both.

Over several 50-70-km-long legs of the drive here in very hilly eastern Newfoundland, my driver and I witnessed average fuel economy numbers in the 13-14 litres/100 km range in a front-drive EcoSport with the 1.0-litre engine.

Those numbers are a far cry from the laboratory-produced ratings, and they improved dramatically to nine on the return trip in an EcoSport equipped with the normally aspirated 2.0-litre engine and all-wheel-drive.

The little motorcycle-size engine is at ease — and extremely thrifty — on relatively flat surfaces. But should you encounter a hill or need to accelerate to join traffic, for example, the turbo forces more air into the engine, which in turn requires more fuel.

Having said that, we drove around the city, up Signal Hill and out into the surrounding countryside commenting on how the vehicle did not feel underpowered. It performed well. It was only when we started to log fuel mileage that we saw the cost of that seemingly effortless performance.

We tried a few 0-100 km/h runs when we found the rare flat spot and here again, the little engine did not fare well — 12-13 seconds.

With the larger engine, the times dropped by more than a second and fuel consumption dropped dramatically. Ford expects the EcoSport to attract urban dwellers and in these situations, in relatively flat spaces, the 1.0-litre will be suitable.

I expect the majority of Eco-Sport buyers will opt for the all-season security of all-wheel drive and will thus have the 2.0-litre engine and fewer trips to the gas station.

Ford says the EcoSport will tow up to 2,000 lbs. when properly equipped. That would be an interesting proposition.

With the four-cylinder engine the EcoSport is a contender, especially for city dwellers. It has a stylish interior, pleasant ride and the features consumers have come to expect.

The specs

•Model: 2018 Ford EcoSport

•Engine: turbocharged, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, 123 horsepower, 125 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel; 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 167-horsepower, 149 lb.-ft. of torque

•Transmission: six-speed automatic

•NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 8.6/8.1 (1.0-litre); 8.0/9.3 (2.0-litre)

•Length: 4,097 mm

•Width: 2,057 mm

•Wheelbase: 2,520 mm

•Weight: 1,370-1,409 kg

•Price: $22,099 (S-FWD) - $28,599 (Titanium), plus freight



Former FCA exec
pleads guilty to conspiracy cover-up

Nora Naughton,
The Detroit News
May 28, 2018

Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executive Michael Brown pleaded guilty Friday to misprision of a felony, meaning he admitted to providing misleading and incomplete information to a federal grand jury when he knew of a conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act.

In charges filed in U.S. federal court in Detroit last month, Brown, 60, of West Bloomfield Township, was accused of lying to cover up a conspiracy involving auto executives funneling illegal payments to United Auto Workers leaders.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison, but under the plea agreement Brown can only be sentenced to 12-18 months. The plea agreement does not cover fines, a maximum $250,000.

As part of the plea, Brown has also signed a separate cooperation agreement, in which he can aid federal investigators without facing additional criminal charges.

Brown's sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 20.

Brown helped run the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center. In federal court Friday, Brown admitted to "providing misleading and incomplete information" while testifying in front of a federal grand jury in December 2015 in an attempt to cover up a conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act.

The plea agreement states that Brown knew of FCA executives including former FCA vice president Alphons Iacobelli and financial analyst Jerome Durden using credit card accounts and bank accounts associated with the National Training Center to conceal more than $1.5 million in "prohibited payments and things of value" to UAW officers and employees.

When asked about the conspiracy in court Friday, Brown said he was aware that FCA executives provided "things of value" to UAW officials and members that included funds, illegal payments, salaries for individuals who didn't do work and trips and vacations not related to work.

At the time, Brown was director of Fiat Chrysler's employee relations department.

He has since left the company, but Brown worked in a department that reported to Fiat Chrysler executive Michael Keegan, who took over as head of the Italian-American automaker's global communications in August.

FCA declined to provide comment on Brown's guilty plea.

Brown is the third former Fiat Chrysler official ensnared in an ongoing investigation that emerged publicly last summer and has since widened to Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. The conspiracy described by prosecutors raises questions about the sanctity of labor contracts negotiated between the UAW and Fiat Chrysler.

Two other former Fiat Chrysler executives have been charged and struck plea deals with federal prosecutors. They include former Fiat Chrysler executive Iacobelli, who prosecutors say bought a $354,000 Ferrari and two, rare $35,700 fountain pens with training center funds.

The other former FCA executive is Durden, who is alleged to have helped transfer millions of dollars in training center funds to the late UAW Vice President General Holiefield, widow Monica Morgan-Holiefield and Iacobelli.

Morgan-Holiefield struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors in February.

Brown co-directed the training center for a time with UAW counterpart Keith Mickens. Mickens was charged in March and accused of buying luggage, electronics, designer clothes and golf equipment with money that was supposed to help train blue-collar workers.

Mickens, 64, pleaded guilty last month, admitting he bought more than $7,000 worth of personal items with money that was supposed to help train workers and used more money to help Holiefield buy a p



What Trump's proposed auto
tariff could mean for Canada

The measure is aimed more at Mexico, but could
cause deep collateral damage in Canada

Evan Dyer
CBC News
May 27, 2018

As with many of the trade actions announced by the Trump administration, the possible effects of his proposed Section 232 investigation of vehicle imports are both menacing and unclear.

To understand how it might affect Canada, one first has to know how the Trump administration intends to define an "imported car."

Clearly, a Japanese car made in Japan, or a German car made in Germany, would fit the bill. But what about a Cadillac XTS assembled by General Motors in Oshawa using mostly U.S. parts?

Although the exact breakdown of vehicles by NAFTA country of origin is a closely-guarded commercial secret, it's safe to say there's a lot more U.S. content than Canadian content in cars and trucks assembled in Canada. An average ratio might be about seven-to-one.

But the words Trump used the day his administration announced this latest Section 232 investigation (calling Canada and Mexico "spoiled," for example) strongly suggest he had NAFTA imports in mind, as well as cars and trucks from other continents.

The threat may be an attempt to frighten Washington's NAFTA partners into agreeing to a deal that's worse than they might otherwise accept.

Even if NAFTA collapsed tomorrow, tariffs on Canadian and Mexican cars would only rise to the WTO-approved rate of 2.5 per cent — and it might still make economic sense to keep making the cars where they're made now.

After all, Ford has decided it's cheaper to make its next-generation Fusion in China and just pay the tariff, rather than producing it tariff-free in the NAFTA zone.

But under Section 232, which allows Washington to cite "national security" to justify erecting tariff walls against imports, Canada and Mexico could face auto tariffs of 25 per cent. That amount is likely high enough to change carmakers' calculations about Canada.

They could respond by moving production to the U.S., avoiding all tariffs. Or they could respond by building new plants in Asia, hoping to absorb the tariff by moving production to a low-cost environment.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, announcing the Section 232 probe on Thursday, said it would look at whether imports "are weakening our internal economy and may impair the national security."

But the U.S. auto industry Donald Trump says he is acting to protect came out quickly against the proposals.

No support from industry

Through its industry association, the Auto Alliance, American carmakers issued a warning: "This investigation under Section 232 is a process that has rarely been used and traditionally has not focused on finished products. We are confident that vehicle imports do not pose a national security risk to the U.S.

"Last year, 13 domestic and international automakers manufactured nearly 12 million vehicles in the U.S. The auto sector remains the leading exporter of manufactured goods in our country. During the last 25 years, 15 new manufacturing plants have been launched in the U.S. — resulting in the creation of an additional 50,000 direct and 350,000 indirect auto jobs throughout America — and new plants are on the way."

Indeed, the U.S. car industry is enjoying a burst of investment that's hardly consistent with the gloomy picture painted by Ross, who argued that there are 22 per cent fewer jobs in auto manufacturing now than in 1990. He failed to mention, of course, that automation has greatly reduced the number of workers it takes to build a car.

Canada has also seen a decline in auto manufacturing jobs since joining NAFTA in 1994.

Parts in, cars out

The vehicles leaving Canadian car plants for sale in the U.S. typically contain around 70 to 75 per cent NAFTA-zone content. Of that, by far the greatest share is American.

In fact, so many U.S. car components enter this country for assembly that Canada runs a trade deficit of $13 billion with the U.S. in this category alone — an amount equivalent to Canada's entire manufactured goods surplus with the U.S. in 2016.

But the parts deficit is more than offset by a surplus in shipping back finished cars.

In the auto sector, the standard is to have a dedicated production line for each car or truck model in a particular plant. It would be difficult, for example, to greatly reduce Canadian participation in the making of a Ford Flex without seeing Ford move the entire production line to a U.S. plant.

This appears to be the result Trump is seeking. He's already celebrated as a great victory the decision by Fiat Chrysler to move production of one truck line from Mexico back to the U.S.

"Economic security is military security," said Ross, explaining his unusually broad definition of a national security threat.

"This investigation will consider whether the decline of domestic automobile and automotive parts production threatens to weaken the internal economy of the United States," reads the Commerce Department's statement.

The Trump administration's discovery of this obscure section of a 1962 law allows it to skip an essential step in most trade complaints: proving the other side did something wrong. All the administration has to do is prove national security is weakened.

Mexico is the most exposed

But recent rounds of NAFTA talks have strongly suggested that Mexico may be more of a target than Canada. The American side has been more flexible on content rules that could affect Mexico and Canada equally, and instead has focused on hourly wages — which is really just about Mexico.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer wants rules that establish a minimum amount of every NAFTA-produced car that must be made by workers earning at least $15 an hour. That's far more than most Mexican plants pay.

It is also true that car production has been moving from both the U.S. and Canada to Mexico.

As far as Canada goes, there was indeed a great auto sector imbalance with the U.S. — way back in the mid-1990s. Back then, Canadian plants produced two cars for every car sold in Canada. But the number of vehicles made in Canada has fallen by about a quarter since 2000 and today barely outstrips the number sold here.

So forcing Mexico to pay higher wages is a goal both the Canadian government and unions can get behind.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was embarrassed during a trip to Mexico last October when GM announced it was considering shifting production of the Chevrolet Equinox from Ingersoll, Ontario to a Mexican plant.

It already had moved production of the GMC Terrain out of Canada earlier in the year.

"This decision reeks of corporate greed," Unifor's national president Jerry Dias said at the time. "It is not based on sales. It is an another example of how good jobs are being shifted out of Canada for cheaper labour in Mexico."


Ford to invest $236M
in Romanian plant

Associated Press
May 23, 2018

Bucharest, Romania – Ford says it plans to invest some 200 million euros ($236 million) and create 1,500 new jobs to build a second vehicle at its plant in Romania.

The automaker did not unveil the model when it made the announcement Tuesday about the new model, which will be manufactured at the Craiova assembly plant starting in 2019.

Ford currently produces the EcoSport, a small SUV, at its factory in southern Romania as well as a 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine.

The company has invested almost 1.5 billion ($1.77 billion) since acquiring the facility in 2008.

It said it expects to hire some 1,500 operators, adding to its current workforce of more than 4,400.

The Craiova-built EcoSport was launched in 2017, is sold across Europe and features a new 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel engine.


Run Off Election Results

Plant Chairperson

Gary Rumboldt 86
Richard Green 81

Total Votes 170

Alternate Committee-Person

Lisa Girgenti 70
Chris Scott 96

Total Votes 170


Ford's Team Edison moves
fast on electric crossover

Michael Martinez
Automotive News
May 22, 2018

Ford Motor Co. says its upcoming long-range battery-electric crossover -- tentatively called Mach 1 -- is inspired by the Mustang.

It's also inspired by the Ford GT.

The group in charge of making the electric vehicle, dubbed Team Edison, was formed last year and has been modeled after the small, close-knit bunch that created the latest Ford GT supercar in a secret basement room in a far corner of the company's product development center.

Details about the Mach 1, due in 2020, have been scarce (Ford still won't even confirm the name), but Hau Thai-Tang, head of product development and purchasing, has offered some insight into its development.

Team Edison was recently in China to study EV buyers there and discovered that they like larger display screens than what was originally planned for the Mach 1. Some wanted to suggest changing the size of the display, but others hesitated because the traditional Ford product development process says it's too late for a change that substantial.

"Everybody felt they were doing the right thing," Thai-Tang said. "One team was trying to react to customer trends; the other was trying to protect engineering discipline."

That's when he reminded them to think of the GT team.

"The Ford GT had a very singular mission: Go back to Le Mans and beat Ferrari," he said. "If we have a singular mission now, it's to launch this car in 2020 and for it to be our best BEV vehicle. If the GT team found out Ferrari had some competitive advantage that would give them the edge at Le Mans, how would we react? We'd do anything possible to figure out how to replicate it and beat them. Why are we not taking the same approach?"

They did, and decided to make the late change.

Thai-Tang wouldn't reveal what size the display will be and was mum on any other details about the car.

But when you finally get behind the wheel and glance at the display, you can thank the GT -- and Ferrari -- if the size feels just right


Shelby finally puts the
1967 GT500 Super
Snake into production

By Viknesh Vijayenthiran
Motor Authority

May 21, 2018

As the saying goes, “better late than never.”

That's certainly applicable to the 1967 Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake, which Shelby American will finally produce as a limited edition continuation model.

During the 1960s, Shelby built a demonstration Mustang for Goodyear powered by a lightweight 427-cubic-inch race engine lifted from a Le Mans-winning Ford GT40, branding the car the Shelby GT500 Super Snake in the process. It was thought to be producing 520 horsepower upon its debut, which was a crazy figure for the time.

Seeing the opportunity, Shelby dealer Don McCain was keen to get a run of the cars built but the expense of the project meant only the one demonstration model came to life. It last went up for sale in 2013, with its buyer parting with $1.3 million to secure it.

Now, Shelby will build 10 more examples for collectors, each priced from $249,995.

The company will use original 1967 Mustang donor chassis and keep the original Ford VINs, but will include a Shelby serial number for the official Shelby registry. Or should the buyer desire, an original 1967 Shelby can be used, though naturally this will cost extra.

A race-inspired 427 V-8 will remain the heart of the car, with the peak output to come in at 550 hp. Both aluminum and cast-iron blocks will be available, backed by a four-speed manual transmission. Just like the original, the cars will have disc brakes and the famous triple stripes.

As a bonus, buyers will also receive an original signature by Carroll Shelby and Don McCain, who have both passed away. You might be wondering why Shelby has a stack of their unused signatures, especially those from McCain. It turns out McCain remained close to Shelby throughout the years and promoted the idea of a rebirth of the Super Snake program. He signed ten dash plaques for the cars, as did Carroll Shelby.


Ex-Ford exec Nair
named president of
Canadian racing firm

Automotive News
May 20, 2018
Michael Martinez

Raj Nair, the Ford Motor Co. executive ousted earlier this year over unspecified "inappropriate behavior," has been named president and COO of Multimatic Inc., the Canadian supplier confirmed to Automotive News on Friday.

Multimatic works extensively with Ford, building the GT supercar — which was created while Nair was Ford's head of product development — near Toronto.

Road and Track reported Nair's hiring earlier Friday. The appointment was effective May 7.

“Raj brings an extensive amount of experience in the auto industry both in product development and manufacturing,” Michael Guttilla, the company's head of sales and marketing, said in an interview. “He is a real good fit for extending what Multimatic’s purpose is.”

Nair will split time between Canada and the company’s offices in Southfield, Mich., among its other global locations, Guttilla said. He’ll be responsible for each of the company’s business units, including manufacturing and engineering.

Nair, 53, abruptly left Ford in February after an internal investigation found that "certain behavior by Nair was inconsistent with the company's code of conduct," the automaker said.

Ford has not divulged the nature of the complaint, which a spokesman said was submitted anonymously through a 24-hour company hotline. Ford said it had not previously received any such allegations against Nair.

“The situation was thoroughly vetted,” Guttilla said. “Multimatic has the highest standards for all of our employees. We expect everybody to live up to and honor those high ethical standards. We have no concern that it will be an issue.”

Before being named head of North America in May 2017, Nair was Ford's head of product development and chief technical officer. In addition to the GT in 2016, he oversaw the launch of the the aluminum-bodied F-150, the 50th-anniversary Mustang and a plethora of other prominent vehicles. Nair took delivery of his own GT less than two weeks before leaving Ford.

Nair started at Ford in 1987 as a body and assembly operations launch engineer and held various positions on more than 11 vehicle programs in 13 assembly plants, according to Ford's media website. He also worked on assignments in Europe, South America and Asia Pacific.



Hackett’s Ford still
trying to gain traction

Nora Naughton,Ian Thibodeau
Daniel Howes
The Detroit News
May 18, 2018

Jim Hackett arrived atop the Glass House a year ago to navigate the Blue Oval through some of the biggest changes the automotive industry has ever seen.

But Ford Motor Co.’s newest CEO, whose track record includes leading Grand Rapids-based furniture company Steelcase Inc. and a stint as interim athletic director for the University of Michigan, has only just started to give shareholders, Wall Street and the news media tangible evidence that he’s delivering change to the Blue Oval.

“He’s put in place a lot of important things for Ford’s future,” said Karl Brauer, an analyst for Cox Automotive. “But these are things that are not going to manifest in terms of revenue, shares or market share for a while.”

That’s proving problematic, especially in contrast to crosstown rival General Motors Co. As Hackett and Ford push to gain traction in what feels like yet another turnaround, Detroit’s No. 1 automaker is shifting into a higher gear with an aggressive restructuring of its global footprint, expanded production of its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle and concrete plans for a derivative model set to be GM’s entry into the autonomous vehicle space.

And Hackett’s had more than his share of challenges to manage since his appointment as CEO last May 22 — owners unhappy with flatlining shares, analysts clamoring for details of his plan to get Ford back on track, disappointing results so far this year in China, and a fire at a Chinese-owned supplier in Eaton Rapids that forced Ford to stop production of its profit-rich F-150 pickup for a week.

Hackett, 63, is a big thinker with an affinity for philosophy, technology and long answers to complex questions. He often compares Ford’s efforts to meet the challenges of a rapidly transforming automotive landscape to founder Henry Ford’s efforts to change the way people moved with the Model T.

“We’re looking to reinvent the American car,” he said at Ford’s annual meeting last week. But it won’t come without some startling changes to the company and the products it ships to showroom floors. Within two years, nearly 90 percent of the vehicles Ford plans to sell in the United States will be trucks or SUVs.

At the end of April, more than 11 months after Hackett replaced the fired Mark Fields as CEO, Ford used its second-quarter earnings announcement to say it would trim $25.5 billion in operating costs by 2022. And it would cut its North American passenger car lineup by more than 80 percent, eliminating the Taurus, Fiesta, Fusion, C-Max and Focus sedans within a few years.

The decision — years away from materializing — generated an uptick in Ford’s stalled share price and buzz among analysts and investors. It also elicited disbelief from those customers and dealers who worry that heavy reliance on pickups and SUVs will leave the Blue Oval exposed should oil prices skyrocket for an extended period.

Hackett’s vision extends beyond the metal. He performed a Blue Oval rite of passage at the CES technology show in Las Vegas earlier this year, delivering a keynote address in which he put Ford at the center of a transportation “cloud.” Since then, Ford has made incremental advancements in its mobility and autonomy initiatives, sectors where Hackett’s predecessor failed to make much progress and paid for it with his job.

“We need to modernize our business,” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said at the press conference announcing the Blue Oval’s new CEO. “We have to continue to develop and also invent the new businesses. Any one of those is a big task. We have to do all three, and I’m very confident that we can and that we will under Jim’s leadership. I’ve never felt more confident in our future.”

Investors are less sure, judging by the performance of Ford’s shares. Hackett’s first official day as CEO was June 1, 2017. The stock closed at $11.41 that day, and it hasn’t budged much since then. Ford shares closed at $11.45 Thursday.

“With U.S. vehicle sales slowly eroding, we think investors are looking for more fundamental changes from Ford — and from automotive companies in general,” Piper Jaffray, an investment firm, said in a note this week. “Ford may yet capture its share of the $1 trillion-plus market for autonomous rides, but in our view, the company isn’t a leader in this market — at least not yet.”

The modernization touted by Bill Ford at Hackett’s debut is partially an effort to revive Ford’s sagging share price, which had slipped roughly 40 percent under Fields after he replaced superstar CEO Alan Mulally in July 2014. And Ford’s relationship with Wall Street hasn’t exactly been cozy since Hackett arrived.

After disappointing financial results for 2017, analysts began to lose patience. “How long do we have to wait?” Adam Jonas, Morgan Stanley’s top automotive analyst, tersely asked Hackett on the earnings call that evening.

The Blue Oval responded a few months later with what it called “Ford Uncovered,” a rare event in which analysts and the news media were invited to Ford’s product development center in Dearborn for a sneak peek of the company’s product plans for the next two years.

To deliver its cost-cutting mandate, Hackett and his lieutenants have spent the first year of his tenure finding ways to get Ford “fit.” That means streamlining production, trimming the number of combinations customers can order, cutting unprofitable vehicles and finding other ways to amplify profits. Hackett also pushed for all new vehicles to be built on one of five flexible architectures, another cost-cutting measure.

Hackett, former chairman of Ford’s smart mobility unit until his promotion, coined Ford’s new “Smart Vehicles for a Smart World” slogan in October when he outlined parts of his plan to the investment community. But the phrase repeated most often in the company’s executive suite — and elsewhere in the company — is “fitness,” an ambiguous term Hackett uses to define his operational goal for Ford.

Jim Farley, president of global markets, used the term to describe his vision for Ford’s future product line. Joe Hinrichs, president of global operations, used it to talk about how the company is using new technology to increase the rate of production on its profit-rich Expedition and Navigator SUVs.

Andrew Tapp, plant manager at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant, used the term when referencing a specific time one of his engineers used 3-D printing to quickly replace a tool on the assembly line.

And Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks has used the term during the last two quarterly earnings reports to express discontent with financial results — which nonetheless have delivered profits — and to emphasize the company’s message: Ford wants to make more money in the traditional car and truck business to fund big, expensive bets in mobility, autonomy and electrification.

That goal permeates the company. And it’s driven internal conversations in which Hackett has studied many pieces of Ford to determine where the company is too fat, too slow and too exposed. Rationalizing sedans for the U.S. market is the first concrete step, and company executives signal more are likely.

The newest round of cuts could come from the company’s marketing and sales departments. The return on investment from advertising, for example, doesn’t justify spending, according to Ford’s quarterly earnings statement released in April.

The automaker is pushing to focus on high-margin parts of the business, improving profitability in segments that are profitable but don’t currently make a lot of money — and either cutting or changing the pieces of the company deemed “low performing.”

That resolve, coming comparatively late next to moves by GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, is winning qualified praise from industry analysts. But Ford’s reticence to exit under-performing markets as rival GM has, or to detail its plans for fielding its own self-driving vehicle, raises more questions than answers.

“Everything is on the table,” Shanks said in April. “We can exit products (and) markets. We will do that. That work (started in October) has really gained traction. We have looked at every single part of the business. It’s a very complex endeavor. We are determined to turn this business around right throughout the whole company. There’s more work that’s underway.”

For now, it’s wait and see. The analyst community has backed off Hackett, whom they lambasted for months after the October investor meeting for declining to give definitive, concrete examples of his road map for the transformation of Ford.

“He’s made a lot of bold decisions,” Brauer said. “They’re things that suggest a brighter future, but I think it is hard to visualize the benefits of what he’s doing so far.”



No NAFTA deal will be reached
by Thursday’s U.S. deadline,
Canada and Mexico say

By Daniel Dale
Washington Bureau Chief
May 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — No North American Free Trade Agreement deal will be reached by the Thursday deadline imposed by a top U.S. legislator, a Canadian government source and Mexico’s economy secretary said on Wednesday.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan says a NAFTA deal would have to be made by Thursday in order for this Congress, which is controlled by trade-friendly Republicans, to hold a vote by the end of the year.

The Canadian source said there will be no deal of any kind by Thursday, even a partial “agreement in principle.”

Mexican economy secretary Ildefonso Guajardo also said there will not be a deal by Thursday. Jerry Dias, president of the Unifor union that represents Canadian auto workers, said “there’s a better chance of me beating Usain Bolt in a sprint than this thing being done tomorrow.”

The apparent inability to make an immediate deal does not mean the negotiations have failed for good: talks can continue indefinitely, and Guajardo said he would not rule out a deal by June. But it is possible that there will soon be a prolonged delay because of the Mexican presidential election in July and the U.S. congressional midterm elections in November.

The Canadian government does not appear to be in any rush for a deal. Though the Bank of Canada has said that trade uncertainty is already reducing investment in Canada, government officials and trade experts have argued that a bad deal would cause more long-term harm than a prolonged holdout for a better deal.

“All along we have said that it is important to reach a deal quickly. It’s important to provide that stability and predictability to industry and workers in all three countries. We recognize that need. However, we are not going to be rushed into a deal that we’re not happy with just based on that,” said the Canadian source, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about the state of the negotiations.

Adam Austen, press secretary for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said “the process of congressional ratification is internal to the U.S.,” not a matter for Canada. Austen said the three countries have made “good progress” during this spring’s “intensive phase” of talks, “particularly on auto rules of origin.”

“We still want to see something happen and we're going to continue in those conversations — they're ongoing now — and we're pushing forward and hopeful that we can get something done soon,” Sarah Sanders, press secretary for U.S. President Donald Trump, told Fox News.

The absence of a rapid deal means Canada’s steel and aluminum industry will continue to face a tariff threat. Trump has exempted Canada from his tariffs only until June 1, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Tuesday that Trump’s decision on whether to extend the exemption will be based on the state of NAFTA talks.

Any prolonged break could increase the possibility of a Trump tantrum that could transform the negotiations or produce a U.S. withdrawal from the existing NAFTA the president calls a “horrible disaster.” Trump lashed out at Mexico on Wednesday, saying “they do nothing for us,” and he has periodically continued to threaten to trigger the NAFTA withdrawal process.

“I’m hopeful that there’s a pause. My concern is that there’s frustration in some quarters that there is not a deal and that the pause turns into a withdrawal letter,” said Robert Fisher, a U.S. negotiator in the original NAFTA talks and now managing director of Washington trade consulting firm Hills and Co.

The apparent failure to hit Ryan’s deadline does not come as a surprise to trade experts, who have long thought an immediate agreement was unlikely given how far apart the three countries have been on key proposals from the Trump administration.

Recent negotiations between Freeland and her counterparts have been almost exclusively focused on the complicated trade rules governing auto manufacturing. Those talks have stalled, it appears, over differences between the U.S. and Mexico.

Even if the auto issues were to be resolved, negotiators would then have to address a variety of other matters on which there are big disagreements. Among them: government procurement, U.S. access to Canada’s dairy market, the system for resolving trade disputes, and the U.S. proposal for a “sunset clause” that would automatically terminate NAFTA in five years absent a new endorsement from all three countries.

The top officials for the three countries have agreed to leave these other issues “untouched” while they attempt to figure out the auto file, the Canadian source said.


Herman Oliveira

11/3/1954 - 5/16/2018

July 1, 2008
32.8 Yrs

It is with great sadness that we inform you of
the passing of Retiree Herman Oliveira on May 16, 2018.

Our deepest condolences go out to his entire family

Brampton Funeral Home
(Chinguacousy & Bovaird)
10061 Chinguacousy Road

Friday May 18,2018
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Memorial Service
Following (May 18, 2018)
Brampton Funeral Home
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM




How a 'bionic' vest is boosting
human abilities at a Ford plant

Mechanical eksoVest gives workers a lift to take
strain off arms, boost their stamina

Andrew Chang
CBC News
May 16, 2018-05-15

In theory, Paul Collins can do his entire job in 50 seconds. In reality, he has no choice.

That's how much time he has to work on the car suspended above him, before the next one takes its place — and he has to keep up that pace all day long. But lately he's had some help from what's best described as a "bionic vest."

Collins has been on the moving assembly line at Ford's Michigan plant for almost 24 years.

"It affected my life," Collins says. "My wife would say, 'honey, let's go do something' ... and she'd see me walk in the door and knew I was gonna tell her no. I was just too tired to do anything."

His job requires him to make very small changes to the vehicles that rumble by — a tweak here, a twist there. But being on the "high line," as it's called, means he is constantly raising and lowering his arms as he works on cars overhead.

Whether it's to push in a fastener or snap a fuel line into place, a worker on the line will raise and lower their arms thousands of times in a single 10-hour shift.

Try doing that five days a week, year-round, for decades.

"I was going home at night, flopping down on the couch, and I was Icy-Hotting my neck every single night," Collins says. "It's hard to explain pain, but you're tired, you're exhausted, you're fatigued."

The human shoulder is a wonderfully versatile and flexible joint — but it's also one of the weaker ones, and prone to injury.

When workers get injured, it can have a huge impact on their lives and they need time to heal. And it's also a big issue for their employers.

"The problem with the shoulder is once it's injured, it takes a long time to return to full functionality and it's very costly," says Marty Smets, the engineer at Ford who's taken charge of a pilot program to reduce workplace injuries.

"Depending on the length of time you're off work, it can be between $30,000 and $100,000 to repair a shoulder injury."

Augmenting humans

You might, at this point, ask: why do we still build cars by hand?

Humans, after all, have already largely been replaced in many factory jobs. Painting, for example, can be done almost entirely by machine.

But jobs like those are exceptions to the rule; building vehicles is still very much a human-powered endeavour. In a complex work environment like a moving assembly line, machines notably lack intelligence, adaptability, and even precision.

So, Ford asked itself a question: if we can't yet give machines human-like intelligence, can we give humans machine-like stamina?

"Augmenting a human provides the best of both worlds," Smets says.

The 'bionic' vest

Ford has been offering a small number of its workers bionic vests for almost a year now as part of a pilot program.

The company makes it clear from the start: it's completely optional, and if employees don't want to wear one, they'll never have to. The union, for its part, has worked hard to get that in writing.

But you can see why a person might be curious.

The eksoVest, designed by Richmond, Calif.-based Ekso Bionics, doesn't give the wearer super-human strength. But giving each arm an additional 10 to 15 pounds of lift is enough to make a person's arms feel weightless — so all of a sudden, the prospect of working overhead all day isn't so tiring or hard on the body.

What also sets the vest apart is that it's completely mechanical. There's no cord, no battery, no electricity; it's powered by springs. They kick in gradually once the wearer raises their arms to about chest-height and beyond.

It takes a veteran user about 45 seconds to strap in. Once fully adjusted, the vest doesn't feel much different than wearing a climbing harness.

Paul Collins — "Woody" to his friends — remembers the first day he put it on.

"I've heard RoboWoody, RoboCop, I've heard Rocket Man," Collins says. "When I first had that thing on, they had a field day — you can imagine guys in the plant.

"[But] I'm not using any of my muscles at all — the vest is holding my arms — so instead of me exerting energy, the vest is doing that, taking all the pressure off my shoulder."

So how does he feel after a full day of working with the vest on?

"Aw, I feel fine. My neck — instead of having to Icy Hot it down three or four times like I told you earlier, I feel fine at the end of the day."

Cost vs. benefit

According to the manufacturer, a single vest sells for between $4,000 and $7,000 US.

But whether the company will save more than that in workers' compensation claims and health care costs is still an open question.

All of Ford's early data is quite deliberately anecdotal — after all, if workers don't like wearing it, the impact on the company's bottom line may not matter; a union uprising is in nobody's best interest.

"If anyone knew Ford workers," Collins says, "anything Ford wants us to do, usually we don't wanna do it."

But so far, the feedback has been positive. Collins, for example, doesn't want to give his trial vest back.

So Ford is now considering moving onto Phase 2, collecting actual empirical evidence that the vests are worth the cost. That means more trials on more people.

And according to Smets, there's no shortage of potential testers. Workers in Ford plants around the world — including from the company's assembly plant in Oakville, Ont. — have expressed interest.

And while this vest only provides lift assistance for a very specific range of motion — arms over your head, and not, for example, picking up something off the ground — the vest's manufacturer is already looking into ways to adapt the technology to other parts of the assembly line.

"It's best for chassis assembly … but in 10 years, we're gonna see these in a lot of places," says Ekso Bionics product manager Zach Haas. "Maybe painting can work too. Powertrain assembly is also possible."

The company has also developed similar suits for use in construction, and in physical rehabilitation.

But as for when we can expect exoskeletons to give us the super-strength required to lift entire cars overhead: don't hold your breath, says Haas.

"That's certainly more than five years away," he says. "More than 10, probably, to be able to lift your own body weight with minimal effort. More than 20 until we see real application in a plant."



Ford stands by decision
to cut sedans

Nora Naughton,
The Detroit News
May 15, 2018

Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. says the automaker’s decision to slash its sedan lineup is in the best interest of its shareholders, despite criticism and hand-wringing at the annual meeting.

“We’ve been listening to our customers and watching shifts in the marketplace,” Ford said in response to a question from a shareholder about the pivot away from sedans. “We’re placing bets where we believe we can get you, the shareholders, very good returns.”

The Dearborn automaker announced last month it plans to cut its North American passenger car lineup by more than 80 percent, eliminating the Taurus, Fiesta, Fusion, C-Max and Focus sedans within a few years. Only the Mustang and a crossover version of the Focus will survive the cuts.

“This doesn’t mean we intend to lose those customers,” CEO Jim Hackett said. “We’re simply reinventing the American car.”

Ford criticized press coverage of the decision to cut nearly its entire sedan lineup, encouraging shareholders to read “beyond the headline.”

“I wish the coverage had been a little different of that announcement,” he said. “The headlines looked like Ford was retreating when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. We are actually going full-speed ahead on new products.”

The announcement of the reduction in sedans came on the heels of a commitment to add five all-new SUVs over the next two years, along with the 2019 Ranger midsize pickup that debuted at the Detroit auto show in January. The company plans for nearly 90 percent of its vehicles sold in 2020 to be a truck, SUV or commercial vehicle.

At the Blue Oval’s annual meeting — held online for the second year in a row — shareholders expressed concern with the drastic portfolio change and wondered if Ford was abandoning promises to reduce emissions or improve fuel economy.

Gas prices are surging, with crude oil prices at the highest level in more than three years.

Hackett rebutted the concerns, referring to a Medium post he authored with Ford in March.

“What we’re suggesting to you, is in the future,” Hackett said. “Customers will have propulsion options that essentially don’t give them the fuel penalty that they would have had in the past.”

Ford said earlier this year it would up its investment in electric powertrains, spending $11 billion to launch 40 new electric vehicles by 2022 — including 16 full battery-electric vehicles.

At the 2017 annual meeting, less than two weeks before former CEO Mark Fields was ousted in favor of Hackett, Ford said he was just as frustrated with the stock price as shareholders. A year later, he’s still not happy — and neither are shareholders who called Ford’s stock price “dismal” and “ridiculously low.”

“I share your frustration and actually the whole management team does,” he said.

Hackett was brought in after Ford shares slipped about 40 percent on Fields’ watch. Hackett was lauded as a “change agent” who would right the ship and bring Ford into the 21st Century.

But the stock price has barely budged. The automaker’s stock price closed at $11.41 the day Hackett officially took over last summer. Ford’s stock price was up 12 cents to $11.18 Thursday morning, a day after shares fell nearly 2 percent following a fire at supplier plant that stopped F-150 production.

The Blue Oval’s top brass did not address continuing negotiations to acquire the Michigan Central Depot at the annual meeting. The Detroit News has reported that Ford is advancing talks with the historic train station’s owner, the real estate arm of the Moroun family’s Central Transport International Inc., to buy the depot and assemble land for a surrounding urban campus. The Corktown presence would anchor the Dearborn automaker’s mobility, electrification and autonomous vehicle development.


Ford to restart F-150
production at 2 factories

Associated Press
May 14, 2018

Ford expects to restart production of F-Series pickups May 18 at two factories that stopped making trucks due to a fire at a parts supplier plant.

A spokeswoman says Friday that production should resume in Dearborn and Kansas City. Super Duty pickup assembly in Louisville will remain idle but workers will keep producing big SUVs.

Earlier this week Ford temporarily laid off 7,600 workers after a May 2 fire at Meridian Magnesium Products in Michigan. A spokeswoman says Ford is working with Meridian and others to get parts.

Also Friday, Mercedes said it ran out of Meridian parts at its SUV plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama. As a result, production was canceled Thursday and Friday. No layoffs are expected. Employees will work next week on a limited schedule.



Mexico said to offer compromise
on car content, wages
in NAFTA talks

May 11, 2018
Jenny Leonard, Josh Wingrove
and Eric Martin
Bloomberg News

Mexico is opening the door to compromise on the key NAFTA issue of auto manufacturing, though it's unclear if the flexibility is enough to reach a deal with the U.S. and Canada, according to four people familiar with the talks.

In talks in Washington on Monday and Tuesday, Mexico for the first time indicated a specific level to which it's willing to raise North American automotive content -- 70 per cent, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations.

While that's up from the current 62.5 per cent, it's unclear if it's enough to strike a deal because the U.S. has been calling for 75 per cent for the biggest components of cars. Mexico is also seeking to implement the changes more slowly than the U.S. wants -- over a period of a decade, according to two of the people.

The issue of auto wages remains contentious. While Mexican negotiators rejected a U.S. demand that almost half of every car be built by higher-paid workers, two people late Tuesday said the Mexican government left room for using some level of higher-wage production as a way to meet new NAFTA content criteria. Setting wages through NAFTA is controversial in Mexico's auto industry, and two other people on Tuesday said the Mexican proposal included no wage targets, underscoring the competing interests in the complicated talks.

President Donald Trump has blamed low-cost Mexican production for the outsourcing of U.S. manufacturing jobs south of the border, which was a key motivation for him to demand the 24-year-old pact be renegotiated last year. U.S. proposals have been oriented around increasing Mexican salaries and providing incentives for auto manufacturers to either move production back to America or at least stop investing so much south of the border.

The U.S. wage proposal "is likely to price Mexico out of the market -- by all accounts, Mexican negotiators are well aware of that," Phil Levy, a former senior trade economist in George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers who is now a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg television on Tuesday. "And that doesn't actually help any of the North American producers, so it doesn't seem like a terribly viable strategy."

The press office of Mexico's Economy Ministry and the press office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer declined to comment,.

Deadline looms

The most interesting Mexican proposal may have been an option -- Mexico responded to U.S. demands on steel, aluminum and wages by saying cars would have to essentially check off a box on one of the three issues, according to two people familiar with talks.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said the Mexican auto proposal was discussed in a bilateral meeting with the U.S. on Tuesday.

"We are trying to accommodate the different positions" on autos, he said. "But again, autos is only one of many items."

Lighthizer is pushing for a deal this month as the country's attention shifts to China, and as the U.S. weighs permanent tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum imports from certain allied countries, including Canada and Mexico. Exemptions from tariffs have been tied to NAFTA talks and expire June 1.

'Long way' from deal

Jerry Dias, the head of Canadian labor group Unifor who consults regularly with the nation's negotiating team, said in an interview Tuesday that he still hadn't heard of Mexican willingness to accept automotive wage levels in NAFTA.

"It completely ignores the two basic principles of the U.S. proposal, which talks about a wage level and a percentage of the vehicle that has to be be built with that wage," Dias said. "It leaves us a long way from a deal."

Under timelines of U.S. trade law, the Trump administration has only a few weeks or so left to present a deal to Congress and put wheels into motion on passing the agreement this year. Lighthizer has warned that waiting for the next Congress will change the outlook.

Several other sticking points remain as the clock ticks down. They include a U.S. proposal for a sunset clause that would kill NAFTA after five years unless all parties agree to extend it; U.S. demands to limit Canadian and Mexican access to American government contracts; wrangling over whether to keep panels that adjudicate certain disputes; and a U.S. desire to break open Canada's system of quotas and tariffs on dairy.

Canada to take time

The Mexican proposal on wages falls short of what the U.S. has reportedly sought. The Trump administration has been proposing that 40 per cent of a car, and 45 per cent of trucks, be made by workers earnings wages of at least US$16 per hour, Mexico automobile association President Eduardo Solis has said. His group says that proposal is unworkable.

The U.S. Trade Representative's Office hasn't made public the American autos proposal.

Mexican elections are scheduled for July 1 and look set to bring change. Mexican left-wing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has stoked investor concern with some moves, has consistently led in polls. U.S. midterm elections are set for the fall. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland downplayed expectations for a quick agreement.

"We've always been committed to take the time it takes to get a good deal," she told reporters Tuesday in Washington.

"If we don't see progress soon probably we won't see it for quite a little while toward the end of the year, if at all," U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said at an event on Tuesday.



Rearview cameras now
required on all cars

Jaclyn Cosgrove,
Los Angeles Times
May 10, 2018

As thousands of passenger vehicles roll off the assembly line this week destined for the U.S. market, each of them will be equipped with backup cameras — the result of a long-awaited federal rule that went into effect Tuesday.

The technology, which has already become standard in many vehicles, is expected to further reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by so-called backover crashes.

An estimated 210 people die and 15,000 are injured each year because of backover crashes, federal data show. Children younger than 5 account for 31 percent of backover deaths each year, and adults 70 and older account for 26 percent.

“This technology helps drivers see behind the vehicle, which ... will help save lives and prevent injuries,” Heidi King, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration deputy administrator, said in a statement this week.

However, safety advocates had at best mixed feelings over the mandate, arguing that the rule was years in the making and the auto industry should be required to do more to protect drivers and their families.

“It took a long time, and sadly, along that journey, we had more families joining us in our fight because they had lost their children while knowing there is this preventable technology,” said Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which helped lead the campaign for the change. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Under the rule, all cars, buses and trucks under 10,000 pounds manufactured or made to sell in the United States are required to have rearview video systems as standard equipment. The field of view must include a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle.

In response to the federal requirement, Ford standardized rearview cameras for all cars and trucks under 10,000 pounds in November. Nissan and Toyota both are in compliance with the rule as well.

Automakers started rolling out the rearview technology in the early 2000s, but it was largely only available in more expensive models and trim levels.

Since that time, it has become increasingly more common and advanced, with some manufacturers offering a birds-eye view outside the vehicle.

However, Chase noted that many families couldn’t previously afford the trim levels of vehicles that came with backup cameras.

The federal regulation addresses that disparity.

“It is a tremendous safety victory,” Chase said. “It means that a family will not lose their little baby because this camera alerted them that the baby ran behind the car. How can you put a price tag on that? It’s just comforting to know when people are going to buy cars now that they have this safety feature, and they don’t have to shell out an additional $2,000 to $4,000.”

An organized campaign to require the technology was partially inspired by a 2-year-old boy, Cameron Gulbransen, who died in 2002 after his father, a pediatrician, accidentally backed over him in the driveway because he was unable to see the toddler in the blind zone behind his vehicle.

Janette Fennell, president and founder of the child safety organization Kids and Cars, said her organization had been trying to raise awareness about the need for backup cameras after watching the numbers of children dying from backover accidents increase since the late 1990s.

She was at the American Academy of Pediatrics, about to present on the topic in 2002, when her staff member called her and told her about Cameron’s death. She told the room full of pediatricians about how a backover accident could happen to anyone, even a pediatrician.

Fennell later met Cameron’s father, Greg, and they worked with other advocates and federal lawmakers to pass the legislation.

In 2008, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act was enacted by Congress. It required that federal transportation officials write a regulation addressing vehicle rear visibility, among other mandates. Regulators and automakers later agreed that cameras would be the best solution.

However, that effort floundered, until finally, in 2014, facing a lawsuit from safety advocates, transportation officials announced that backup cameras would be required in all passenger vehicles starting this week. Automakers were given four years to phase in the technology.

“Obviously, some of the automakers started to phase them in before, but I would have preferred to have seen such an obvious safety enhancement be required much sooner after that rule making,” said John Simpson, a consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog.


Feds repeat ‘do not drive’
warning for ’06 Ford Rangers

Keith Laing,
Detroit News
May 8, 2018

Washington — Federal regulators are again warning owners of 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series pickups that their vehicle are not safe to drive because they have defective air-bag inflators that can explode with deadly force.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday that is issuing a second “do not drive” warning for owners of the trucks which have faulty air bags that were made by former Japanese manufacturer Takata. The original warning was issued in January.

NHTSA said just 44 percent of the 33,320 recalled Ford Rangers have been fixed and 55 percent of the 2,205 recalled Mazda B-Series trucks have been repaired. The agency said Ford and Mazda have authorized their dealers to tow the vehicles for free.

“NHTSA’s number one priority is making sure that everyone is safe on our roads. I cannot stress strongly enough the urgency of this recall – these air bags are dangerous,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King said in a statement. “Every vehicle must be accounted for now.”

Ford said in a statement that its “dealers are prepared to get vehicles directly from customers, make permanent repairs that will resolve the safety risk and provide a free interim loaner vehicle, if necessary.”

The recalled Ford and Mazda vehicles are part of a widespread callback of Takata air bags has impacted nearly 13 percent of the total number of registered vehicles in the United States. The faulty air bags have been linked to at least 13 deaths and more than 180 injuries in the United States. Worldwide, 22 have died.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says only 22.9 million of the 50 million air bags recalled by March 30 have been repaired. The defective safety devices from the now-bankrupt Japanese auto supplier were used in 37 million cars, and the problem is expected to grow. Another 20 million faulty air bags in newer cars are expected to be added in the next couple of years.

The older the cars get, the higher the risk: Over time, high humidity can cause the propellant that inflates the safety devices to become unstable and explode with too much force during a crash. That ruptures the metal inflator and throws shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

Ford has 1.57 million recalled air bags, of which it has fixed 785,000. Mazda has recalled 1.07 million inflators, of which it has fixed 536,000.



Stealthy Ford F-150
diesel is tech-tastic

The Ford F-150 diesel can tow up to 11,400 pounds. This car trailer weighs a little over 6,000 pounds, and the Ford towed it without incident — an electronic sensor once intervening to dampen trailer sway on a rainy day.  Henry Payne, The Detroit News

Henry Payne,
The Detroit News
May 7, 2018

In Broomfield County, home to Colorado’s “Creative Corridor” 30 minutes north of Denver, the disparate forces of high-tech office parks, traditional oil and gas development, and farmland collide like oil paint on a Jackson Pollock canvas. The result is a dynamic co-existence of cultures in one of the fastest-growing communities in America. It’s Washtenaw County on steroids.

Appropriately, Ford chose Broomfield for its media debut of the 2018 F-150 Power Stroke Diesel pickup — a tech-tastic, old-world oil-burner built for the open spaces of rural America.

It’s the Blue Oval’s first diesel in the light-duty segment, expanding on its years as the stump-pulling, steroid-fed heavy-duty champ. But this is a kinder, gentler light-duty.

Start with the technology. It will unite families and save marriages.

The Power Stroke was my first opportunity to drive the F-150 since its 2017 mid-cycle refresh that brought even more innovation to this oversized Swiss Army Knife. There is 10-device 4G Wi-Fi and smartphone app connectivity and automatic braking. But most notable is Pro Trailer Backup Assist. Married couples of the word, rejoice.

My grandma used to say the greatest threats to marriage are finances and mixed doubles. Add backing a trailer to a boat slip.

How many unions have been strained when Spouse A tries to line up the trailer with Spouse B at the wheel? Nerves are rubbed raw as the driver tries to align trailer with boat. A miss there. A jack-knife here.

Just turn the wheel to the left. No, the other left! No, right, now left ...

Dang it, just start over!

All the while dozens of boaters look on at the town idiots, ridiculing, correcting ... and dreading their own moment in the backup spotlight.

After an initial calibration of truck-to-tow vehicle involving grade-school math and camera guidance stickers, the F-150 will self-steer to the desired spot. Just point the truck in the right direction using the console knob, then sit back and let technology do the rest. My tester parked a 6,240-pound car trailer into a perpendicular parking spot. Take a bow, big fella.

The autonomous wonder is similar to self-parking (first seen on the Escape SUV) — a whizzbang feature also optioned on the F-150. Get them both. Trailer backup-assist comes with the tow package for $995.

These are must-buys because diesel trucks are aimed at people who tow. A lot.

I’m thinking about my buddies, Chris and Tom, who have contracted the Airstream bug. Nature nuts, they want to see the country — Yellowstone! Georgian Bay! The Grand Canyon! — up close. No hotels. No restaurants. Just man, nature, campfire ... and a diesel truck.

Diesel? The scourge of VW? Isn’t diesel dead? What outdoorsman would invade the Outback with a smoke-belching, old-world dinosaur?

Well, Phoenix-saurus has risen from the ashes because customers love it. It’s powerful, fuel-efficient ... and clean. Credit technology again.

Contrary to popular perceptions of diesel as dirty clatter-traps (right there with other perceptions like “toads cause warts” and “broken mirrors mean seven years bad luck”), modern common-rail-injection diesel cleaning-fluid scrubbed diesels are quiet workhorses.

Last year, sales of diesel trucks nearly matched the combined sales of hybrids, plug-ins and electric cars: 537,000 diesels to 553,000 battery-mobiles.

Oil-burning giants like the Ford F-450 and Silverado 3500 and Ram 3500 in the heavy-duty segment have long clashed like robots in “Pacific Rim: Uprising.” Sporting sick specs like F-550’s 935 pound-feet of torque, these behemoths throw around 30,000-pound trailer rigs like matchsticks.

But the light-duty Power Stroke is hardly Heavy-Duty Jr. Where the 6.7-liter big brother is the ripped clean-and-jerk towing champion of the world, the F-150 diesel is happy with efficient refinement.

With its low 1,750-rpm peak torque and 10-speed transmission, my 3.0-liter diesel effortlessly towed a 3-ton trailer. It delivered power more smoothly and predictably than the higher-strung, twin-turbo V-6. It’s the V-6, not diesel, that boasts best-in-class 13,300-pound towing capacity. The Power Stroke is content with 11,400 pounds of capacity. If you want to pull a house, let Ford show you the heavy-duty aisle.

Through the Rocky Mountain foothills, the 3.0-liter Power Stroke was whisper-quiet. So quiet that if I did a blindfold test (not recommended at 60 mph), I couldn’t tell it was a diesel without reading the 4,500-red line tachometer. Even under the cane, the Power Stroke sounds like a gas V-6. Contrast that to my old 2003 Ram 2500 that sounds like a cement mixer.

Quieting the diesel beast ain’t cheap. The Power Stroke up-charge is $4,000 on the Lariat (versus the 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V-6’s $1,600), and diesel cleaning fluid refills will set you back $24 every 7,000 miles. So Ford only offers the diesel to individual buyers on premium trims — Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum — a space where customers likely own other pricey toys like Airstreams and horses.

The payback, I tell Airstream Tom, is in convenience rather than recouping lower fuel costs.

The diesel gets about 20 percent better fuel economy than the twin-turbo V-6, which translates to about 400 miles of range at 15 mpg highway (trucker rule of thumb: towing a 6,000-pound trailer cuts gas mileage in half. The Power Stroke’s EPA rating is 30 mpg). The V-6 will stop every 310 miles — or worse, given turbo’s notorious thirst under load.

Diesel means fewer stops on your way to Shangri La, U.S.A.

Speaking of paradise, my $63,435 Lariat interior was a luxury suite. Only luxe sedans rival Detroit trucks for premium cabins. Heck, with the Airstream, the whole family can fit easily in the palatial SuperCrew cab. Take a $70,000 King Ranch Power Stroke up north and its interior will rival nearby yachts.

The light-duty Power Stroke takes aim at the Ram 1500 diesel. Ford has thrown down the gauntlet with its record-setting 30 mpg highway, besting Ram’s 27. Chevy and GMC have their own diesels suiting up in the locker room for 2019. Ram, too, will counter with its own upgraded, 2019 diesel.

I got a preview of Ram’s upscale platform when I test drove the 2019 gas model last month. It sees the F-150’s tech and counters with a Tesla-like tablet interior display and a digital rotary shift knob opening more console space. Oh, yeah? Ford’s console knob will autonomously back up its trailer. Game on (if you’ve got $50,000 to play).

Premium sedans once introduced new technology. Now big, bold, diesel pickups are the new canvas for tech innovation.

2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel

Vehicle type

Front-engine, rear- and four-wheel drive, five-passenger pickup


$46,410 base ($63,435 4WD Lariat and $70,360 4WD King Ranch as tested)

Power plant

3.0-liter, turbo diesel V-6


250 horsepower, 440 pound-feet of torque


10-speed automatic


0-60 mph, 7.2 seconds (Car and Driver est); towing capacity: 11,400 pounds; payload: 2,020 pounds


5,077-5,335 pounds (diesel adds 350-pounds to comparable gas-powered trucks)

Fuel economy

EPA fuel economy: 22 city/30 highway/25 combined (4x2); 20 city/25 highway/22 combined (4x4)

Report card

Highs: Diesel fuel economy; self-driving towing, parking features

Lows: Diesel $3,000-$4,000 premium; diesel does not out-tow cheaper, twin-turbo V-6


Grading scale

Excellent ★★★★Good ★★★Fair ★★Poor ★



Trudeau helps Toyota with
$1.1B bet on SUVs in Canada

Josh Wingrove and John Lippert,
May 6, 2018

Toyota Motor Corp. is investing C$1.4 billion ($1.1 billion) in its Canadian operations to build traditional and hybrid RAV4 sport utility vehicles, banking on the nation’s manufacturing sector amid a cloud of uncertainty from Nafta talks.

The Japanese automaker’s Canadian unit made the announcement Friday afternoon at its plant in Cambridge, Ontario, alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. The expansion there and in nearby Woodstock will create 450 jobs, supported by C$110 million each from the federal and provincial governments. The two Toyota plants west of Toronto now employ about 8,000 people and made more than 600,000 vehicles last year.

The investment will allow Canada to built a “hybrid ecosystem,” becoming the largest producer of hybrid Toyotas in North America and supporting Canada’s supply chain of auto-part markets, Trudeau said. “This is a great day for the auto sector,” he said.

Toyota and other automakers are shifting focus to meet consumers’ growing preference for SUVs over cars. Toyota, the world’s second-biggest carmaker, has already announced it will move assembly of the Corolla compact to the U.S. to make room for RAV4 output. During 2017, Toyota sold 407,594 RAV4s in the U.S., topping Camry sedan sales for the first time.

“That type of investment is very good news for the province – at the same time it’s long overdue,” Rob Wildeboer, executive chairman at auto-parts maker Martinrea International Inc., said in an interview on BNN Bloomberg television Friday. “We have not been punching above our weight in Ontario.” He called for lower corporate taxes to boost Canadian competitiveness.

The auto industry is at the heart of ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement talks, with ministers due to meet Monday in Washington. The U.S. wants more cars and auto parts made in North America and is proposing to raise the share of content sourced from the region to 75 percent from the current 62.5 percent. The countries are pushing for a deal in principle this month in hopes of passing it in the current U.S. congress, and before Mexico’s July 1 elections.

Toyota will also invest in Canadian research and development over 10 years, and create 1,000 new co-op placements with the announcement. New RAV4s, including hybrids, will be built at the two Ontario plants, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada President Fred Volf said at the news conference. “We’re aggressively adopting new technology and innovative processes to ensure our ongoing success,” Volf said in a statement.



Lear to close Ajax seating plant
after Unifor rejects contract offer

Automotive News
May 4, 2018
John Irwin

Lear Corp. will close its Ajax, Ont., seating plant after 94 per cent union members who voted there rejected a tentative contract on May 1 and remained on strike.

The supplier informed Unifor Local 222 of its decision through a letter sent to the Ajax plant chairman on May 2. The union posted a copy of the letter on Twitter on Thursday morning.

The plant’s 320 workers have been on strike since April 28 over disagreements about economic issues such as wages and benefits. Unifor and Lear reached a tentative deal this week but it was overwhelmingly rejected by workers.

“Due to the resounding rejection of the Tentative Agreement by the membership on May 1, 2018, and other recent developments from our customer regarding the future work, the Company is announcing a Closure at the Lear Ajax Plant,” the letter reads.

Lear’s Ajax plant provides seating to the nearby Fiat Chrysler assembly plant in Brampton, Ont. FCA Brampton builds the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300. It’s not immediately clear from the letter what company officials meant when referring to “recent developments from our customer.” Representatives from FCA and Lear were not immediately available for comment.

The letter said Lear would close the plant “as soon as practical but not later than the conclusion of the current programs” at the facility.


Unifor Local 1285 President Jaspal Brar, who represents workers at the Brampton plant, said production there has stopped due to the strike. He said he has not heard from FCA regarding its long-term strategy in getting the plant running again in the event of a prolonged strike and the eventual closure of the Ajax plant.

“It’s a shame it’s come to this, but obviously we respect the Lear workers and hope something can be worked out to get them back to work,” Brar said.

Voicemails left for an FCA spokeswoman were not returned.

According to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit, U.S. inventory levels for the Chrysler 300 stood at 35 days of supply on April 1, down from 41 days on March 1. Dodge Charger supply stood at 80 days, down from 82 in March, and Dodge Challenger inventory was at 74 days, down from 85 days. Average car inventory across all brands was at 66 days on April 1, while FCA averaged 79 days.


According to the letter, Lear said it withdrew the tentative agreement and its prior offers. The letter states that the company will provide notice to the Government of Ontario when it determines the plant’s closure date and will be open to discuss “the closing provisions and the effects of this announcement” with the union.

Unifor President Jerry Dias said he is confident Lear will rescind the letter and come back to the negotiating table due in part to pressure from FCA to supply seats to the plant.

“Everybody’s under pressure,” Dias said. “We need seats in order to build cars at the Brampton assembly plant.”

A voicemail left for Unifor’s Brampton plant chair was not immediately returned.

The strike caused the FCA Brampton plant to scale back production this week, as the Lear Ajax plant is a just-in-time supplier.

It would not be the first time Lear closed its Ajax plant. Lear closed the plant in 2009 after General Motors shut down its Oshawa Truck Assembly plant, which it supplied. The plant re-opened in 2010 following a round of collective bargaining.

Wages and benefits have been at the heart of the current labour dispute. An April 10 post on Local 222's website indicated the union foresaw "challenges" with the company in negotiating on economic issues and on the issue of job rotation at the plant.


CANADA: Second straight
month of declines

Automotive News
May 2, 2018
Greg Layson

Canadian new-vehicle sales were down 2.7 percent to 192,388 vehicles in April, marking the second consecutive month of decline, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

However, overall year-to-date sales are still at record levels, 0.5 percent ahead of last year’s sales through four months.

April’s sales also were still ahead of the five-year historical average for the month, coming in at 2.3 percent over that average, according to the Global Automakers of Canada.

Trucks continued to grow their presence, accounting for 70 percent of all new-vehicle sales in April, up from 66 percent a year ago, according to the GAC.

Once again the Ford F series and Honda Civic reprised their roles as the best-selling vehicle and passenger car respectively for April 2018.

The GAC’s president wondered if weather might have had to do with the overall drop in sales.

“The weather in April has been decidedly cool across most of the country -- perhaps delaying the traditional spring market a bit,” David Adams said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Scotiabank Economics warned of an upcoming downturn in sales. But the financial institution said it will primarily be caused by rising interest rates. The bank’s report projected annual sales of two million vehicles, down from last year’s 2.04 million but more than the 1.95 million sold in 2016.

Here’s a look at how some of the automakers did in April.

GMC only winner for GM

General Motors sales slipped 4.6 percent in April, with all but the automaker’s GMC brand posting sales declines.

Buick sales took the biggest hit, down 30.4 percent year over year. Cadillac sales fell 9.3 percent and Chevrolet sales dipped 6.3 percent. GMC sales were up 5.1 percent as all but the brand’s Sierra pickup posted gains. Sierra sales fell 1.7 percent to 5,947 units. But those losses were more than made up for by increased sales of its cousin, the Chevy Silverado, which saw sales increase 15.2 percent to 6,105 units.

Sales of the Chevy Cruze sedan and Canada-made Equinox utility vehicle plummeted 34 and 25.1 percent, respectively. Even the popular electric Bolt saw its sales dive 37.4 percent last month.

Nissan gains

Nissan was one of the few automakers to post sales gains in April, with total sales up 7.4 percent to 12,198 vehicles year over year. It was the automaker’s best April on record.

The Nissan division set an April sales record with 11,457 units sold, an increase of 10.9 percent year-over-year. The Infiniti brand sold 741 vehicles.

The Nissan Rogue utility vehicle, Nissan’s best-selling vehicle in Canada, had its best April ever with 3,821 vehicles sold, up 8.7 percent year over year. The Nissan Qashqai compact utility vehicle held its position as the second best-selling model in the Nissan lineup with 1,451 vehicles sold.

But, sales of the Sentra, the automaker’s top-selling car, were down 23.6 percent to 1,013 units.

Total Infiniti sales were down 27.4 percent with only the QX70 and QX80 posting gains.

Ford falls despite trucks

Ford sales were down 1.2 percent even though the F series pickup continues to prove as popular as ever.

The F series had its second-best April on record with 14,166 units sold. Canadians bought more Ford F series super duty pickups than any prior month on record. Sales were up 18 percent.

Ford EcoSport sales increases for fifth consecutive month since launch.

Even the cars Ford said last month it would kill saw sales increases. Fusion sales were up three percent while the Taurus saw an increase of five percent. Focus sales were 18 percent; Ford said it and the Mustang will be the only cars to survive the new plan. Mustang sales were up 26 percent to 1,291 units.

Jeep can't save FCA

FCA Canada reported sales dropped 15.8 percent to 23,057 vehicles in April when compared to the same month last year. Chrysler, Dodge and Ram brands suffered declines.

Jeep sales were up 5.2 percent to 6,186 units as the redesigned Compass continues its solid debut. The automaker sold 1,205 of the compact utility vehicle. Wrangler sales were up 54 percent to 2,073 units.

The decline in Chrysler sales — down 20.3 percent — was mainly due to the discontinuation of the Chrysler 200 sedan and Town & Country minivan. Sales of the 300 and Pacifica were up 100 and 16 percent, respectively.

On the Dodge side, where sales were down 4.2 percent, Charger sales were up 30 percent to 799 units. But those sales couldn’t offset losses by the Journey (down 76 percent) and Challenger.

Ram suffered the biggest slide, with sales down 34.4 percent. Sales of the popular Ram pickup alone were down 35 percent.

Toyota flat

Toyota sales were essentially flat in April, down just 0.3 percent as its total car sales, including Lexus, fell 10 percent.

When split, sales of Toyota brand cars were down 9.7 percent while Lexus car sales slid 20.5 percent. Lexus truck sales were also down 4.8 percent while Toyota truck sales gained 9.8 percent.

Overall, Lexus sales were down 9.2 percent.

One of the biggest gainers for Toyota was the Sienna minivan, which saw sales rise 30.6 percent to 1,647 units. When it came to cars, the Camry was the only one to see its sales increase, up 6.2 percent to 1,478. Corolla sales fell 15.6 percent to 4,930 units.

Hyundai off double digits

Total Hyundai sales, including the luxury brand Genesis, were down 13.7 percent in April.

The Genesis brand, while small in numbers, saw its sales increase to 137 units, up 291 percent from the 35 it sold a year ago.

But the Hyundai brand suffered a 14.4 percent loss.


Ford sales down 4.7%;
Fiat Chrysler up 5% in April

Nora Naughton,
The Detroit News
May 1, 2018

Ford Motor Co. sold 204,650 vehicles in April, down 4.7 percent from the same month last year, as new vehicle sales for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV increased 5 percent in April.

Both the Ford and Lincoln brand posted decreases in April, down 4.3 percent and 12.1 percent respectively. Only the Dearborn-based automaker's trucks posted an increase in sales last month, up nearly 1 percent on a 3.5 percent gain for the F-Series and a 4.5 percent increase for the Ford Transit.

Ford cars were down 15 percent in April. The automaker announced last week it is largely getting out of the car market and focusing on its more profitable SUVs and trucks.

"The industry continues to operate at historically strong levels. We are seeing this with our F-Series trucks, which have now posted 12 consecutive months of year-over-year gains," Mark LaNeve, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said in a statement. "The market continues to strongly favor well-equipped SUVs and trucks and our F-Series and new Expedition and Lincoln Navigator are capitalizing on this generational shift.”

Sales of the Expedition was down 22.3 percent in April, while the popular and pricey Lincoln Navigator posted a 122.4 percent increase.

FCA's increase in April was driven by a record month for its Jeep brand, up 20 percent from April 2017. That success was driven by gains for the Wrangler, Cherokee and Compass. FCA's Dodge brand also posted an increase in deliveries last month, up 4 percent as the Journey and Caravan were up 39 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Sales of the Italian-American automaker's Ram trucks brand fell 9 percent in April. The Chrysler brand fell 18 percent and Fiat was down 45 percent.

General Motors Co. is no longer reporting monthly sales, announcing last month it will only report its sales quarterly.

Analysts are expecting lower sales volumes in April compared to the same month in 2017, but still expect a "strong sales pace," according to Cox Automotive.

“This year, April has two fewer selling days than last year, so sales volume can decline and the pace can increase,” Cox Automotive economist Charlie Chesbrough said in a statement. “That’s what we are expecting this month: Volume of 1.37 million units, down 50,000 from last year, but a healthy sales pace of 17.3 million units, closer to last month’s robust 17.4 million pace.”


New NAFTA auto rules would
hurt new-vehicle sales, study finds

Negotiators are refining a proposal that would insist that every car include more North American parts. Photo credit: Reuters

April 29, 2018
The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON — New NAFTA rules could increase the cost of a car by hundreds or even thousands of dollars, act as a multibillion-dollar tax, and ultimately hurt sales as consumers keep their wallets shut, a new study predicts.

The study by the Center for Automotive Research attempts to predict the impact of proposals under consideration as the three North American countries huddle in a marathon negotiating session in Washington to try getting a deal.

Negotiators are refining a proposal that would insist that every car include more North American parts; use primarily North American steel; and favour production in high-wage jurisdictions, meaning the U.S. and Canada.

The study calculates that at least 46 vehicle-types currently produced on the continent would fail to meet these new standards, more than doubling the current number of products that fail to comply with existing NAFTA rules.

The companies making these vehicles always have a choice: comply with the NAFTA rules, or pay the tariff, which is 2.5 per cent for a light vehicle in the United States, 6.1 per cent in Canada.

The study offers a broad estimate, with a range of outcomes. It finds that 25 to 87 per cent of vehicles currently sold in the U.S. would fail to meet the standard and would wind up paying a tariff.

"Tariffs [would] add at minimum a US$2.1-billion to US$3.8-billion tax on U.S. consumers," said the study, released Thursday.

"The tariffs would add between US$470 and US$2,200 to the cost of these particular vehicles ... [and] the result would be an estimated loss of 60,000 to 150,000 annual U.S. light vehicle sales."

The group behind the research is funded by the auto industry, governments, unions and other organizations. The study was commissioned by Trade Leadership Coalition, an industry-funded group.


But its findings are consistent with the view of Jeff Rubin, a senior fellow at Canada's Centre for International Governance Innovation and a former chief economist at CIBC World Markets.

He says that under the current NAFTA many groups win: consumers with cheaper cars, car companies with higher profits, and Mexican auto workers with higher salaries than Mexicans in other sectors.

The losers under the current NAFTA, he says, are auto workers in the U.S. and Canada, where employment has dropped, and, Rubin says, the auto sector faces a long-term terminal decline.

He's unsure the new NAFTA rules will change that.

He said it's a no-brainer for companies trying to decide whether to adjust practices to comply with the new rules. He figures compliance with NAFTA might add five per cent to the cost of a vehicle, versus the tariff of 2.5 per cent for light vehicles sold in the U.S.

"If I was a shareholder at [auto-parts-maker] Magna, or GM, I know what I would be telling management to do — which is, instead of tripling wage costs [in Mexico], pay the tariff," Rubin said.

"Ultimately GM and Magna are going to do what's in the best interest of their shareholders. And right now the best interest would be keep the production in Mexico, pay the low wage rate, and pay the 2.5 per cent tariff."

As long as the tariff remains low, Rubin added that the new NAFTA will be "a paper tiger."

However, it would be "a totally different ball game," if the countries raise their tariff, he says, arguing that it would make paying the higher cost of compliance the better alternative and steer production back to the U.S. and Canada.

"It would be a total game-changer."

But under the current proposal, with no change to the tariff level, Rubin sees the new NAFTA as producing a 2.5 per cent added tax on cars and no improvement in the lives of Canadian and American workers — a scenario that "isn't going to bring a single job back to the U.S."


GM paid CEO Mary Barra
nearly $22M in 2017

Nora Naughton,
The Detroit News
April 28, 2018

General Motors Co. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra was paid $21.96 million in total compensation in 2017, a 2.8 percent decrease from the $22.58 million the company paid her in 2016, to make her the highest-paid Detroit Three executive.

Barra is ahead of Ford Motor Co.’s ousted former CEO Mark Fields, who was paid $21 million, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV CEO Sergio Marchionne, who was paid $12 million. Ford’s new CEO Jim Hackett, who took over on May 19, was paid $16.73 million in 2017.

But Ford and GM report their executive salaries differently than FCA, which does not include some stock and potential performance-based equity awards. FCA set aside 6.79 million in FCA shares in 2015. Those shares were to be granted once Marchionne met performance standards over a three-year period. The first tranche of shares – 2.79 million – were granted in 2017. Those shares were valued at $41 million based on a fair value share price of $14.84 for 2017.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a corporate pay deal that could net him $55.8 billion over a decade. Tesla Inc. granted Musk a $2.6 billion award in January — contingent upon him staying on as CEO, executive chairman or chief product officer — in an attempt to put to rest questions of the co-founder’s future at the company.

Barra’s 2017 pay included a $2.1 million base salary, up from $2 million in 2016, and nearly $14 million in stock awards, according to GM’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission released Friday. Ford and FCA made those filings earlier.

GM reported record-matching pre-tax profits of $12.8 billion in 2017, but posted a net loss of $3.9 billion as it took a hit on the sale of its European business and adjusted for the new tax law.

The Detroit automaker also spent $233,323 on other benefits for Barra, including $168,085 for travel on a chartered aircraft and a GM-owned plane, and $12,597 on security.

Barra, 56, is the auto industry’s first female CEO.

Pay for other GM executives includes:

■Chuck Stevens, executive vice president and chief financial officer: $7.1 million in total compensation, down from $7.6 million in 2016. His base salary remained flat this year at $1.1 million.

■Dan Ammann, president: $9.3 million in total compensation, down from $10.2 million the year before. His base salary remained flat at $1.45 million. GM also paid $14,690 for Ammann’s travel and $37,511 for security, about $25,000 more than it paid for Barra’s security.

■Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain: $7.7 million in total compensation, down from $8.4 million the year before. His base salary stayed the same at $1.2 million in 2017.

■Alan Batey, executive vice president and president of North America: Nearly $6 million in total compensation. His base salary was $1.03 million, up from $950,000 in 2016.

■Karl-Thomas Neumann, former executive vice president and president of Europe: $6.8 million in total compensation. His base salary was $916,936.

Barra, Stevens, Ammann, Reuss, Batey and Neumann all received incentive-based bonuses in 2017, which was included in their total compensation. The way the bonuses are calculated relies heavily on the company’s financial performance, with metrics for individual performance and automotive free cash flow.

Barra received a nearly $5 million incentive-based bonus for 2017.

GM will hold its annual shareholders meeting on June 12 at its Detroit headquarters.


Ford Canada spared from parent's plan to cut most car models

Oakville Assembly just west of Toronto. Photo credit: Greg Layson

April 28, 2018
The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Ford's decision to discontinue almost all of its car models in North America within two years will leave its Canadian operations intact, since they are focused mainly on utility vehicles, light trucks and luxury brands.

The car segment of automotive sales has been shrinking since 2012, while sales of utility vehicles have grown over the same period — a trend that's expected to continue.

"So, we are focusing our efforts on vehicles customers prefer," Ford Canada's Lauren More said in an email Thursday.

The company's Oakville, Ont., complex currently assembles the Ford Edge, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKX and Lincoln MKT — all sport utility vehicles.

Meanwhile, Ford's two plants in the Windsor area make larger engines for F-Series pick-ups, E-Series vans and the V8 for the Mustang sports car, which will continue to be made in Michigan.

Apart from the Mustang, the only other car model that Ford will be making in future will be a new compact crossover called Focus Active, starting in 2019.

Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, said his union's members at Canadian Ford plants won't be affected in the short term by the accelerated cost-cutting program announced Wednesday.


"It's not going to have any impact based on our current product portfolio in Oakville," Dias said in an interview.

"Also, if I take a look at our Windsor engine plants…I think we should be all right there as well."

However, Dias said there are longer-term questions about what Ford will do with the Mexican plants that make the Ford Fiesta subcompact and the Fusion mid-sized sedan and the Chicago plant that makes the Taurus full-sized sedan.

"It's pretty difficult to make that prediction today based on volumes," Dias said from Washington, D.C., where trade talks were being held between Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Negotiations surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement is another factor, he added.

"I don't think you're going to see Ford make any sort of major announcement in the facilities where they're making the Fiesta and Fusion until after NAFTA's done."

Ford said Wednesday — when it announced first-quarter results — it's aiming for an additional $11.5 billion in cost cuts and efficiencies, bringing the total to $25.5 billion expected by 2022.

Ford previously predicted $14 billion in cuts by 2022.

Bob Shanks, Ford chief financial officer, told reporters Wednesday that he expects one-third of the cuts to be achieved by the end of 2020.


Only Mustang, Focus
crossover to survive
Ford car cuts

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
April 26, 2018

Dearborn — Ford Motor Co. plans to trim $25.5 billion in operating costs by 2022 and cut its North American passenger car lineup by more than 80 percent, eliminating the Taurus, Fiesta, Fusion, C-Max and Focus sedans within a few years.

CEO Jim Hackett said Wednesday that Ford will not make the next generation of those sedans, confirming months of reports that the automaker was considering cutting some of its unprofitable car models in favor of trucks and SUVs. The Mustang will be soon be Ford’s only car; the new Focus will launch next year in North America as the Chinese-built Focus Active crossover.

That’s a deeper cut to the car lineup than industry analysts expected. That move, coupled with the reduction in operating costs and a plan to reduce capital spending from 2019 to 2022 by $5 billion announced Wednesday, come from the “fitness” initiative Hackett outlined in October.

“We’re going to feed the healthy parts of our business and deal decisively with the areas that destroy value,” Hackett said. “It’s been easy to identify what’s wrong and what we need to do about it. The hand-wringing maybe that has been around in our business is gone. We’re starting to understand what we need to do and making clear decisions there.”

Ford reported Wednesday it made $1.7 billion in the first quarter of 2018. That’s 9 percent more than the same period a year ago, but Bob Shanks,  Ford chief financial officer, said the work under Hackett will start to show results next year.

Revenue increased 7 percent to $42 billion compared to a year ago, the company reported. Its earnings before interest and taxes margin slipped 1.2 percentage points to 5.2 percent. Shanks said Wednesday the company would hit an 8 percent margin by 2020 as a result of reduced spending and cost efficiencies. Ford announced in October it would trim $14 billion in operating costs by 2022.

“Everything is on the table,” Shanks said. “We can exit products (and) markets. We will do that. That work (started in October) has really gained traction. We have looked at every single part of the business. It’s a very complex endeavor. We are determined to turn this business around right throughout the whole company. There’s more work that’s underway.”

The company found an additional $11.5 billion to those cuts, Shanks said, emphasizing there could be more. The largest portion of that reduction will come from Ford’s marketing and sales departments, the company said, which includes incentive spending.

While Ford will shrink its car lineup, it also plans to add five all-new SUVs over the next two years, along with the 2019 Ranger midsize pickup that debuted at the Detroit auto show in January. The company plans for nearly 90 percent of its vehicles sold in 2020 to be a truck, SUV or commercial vehicle.

The company has said every new Ford or Lincoln vehicle introduced over the next two years will have either a hybrid or plug-in hybrid engine option, which should buffer against rising gas prices as the vehicles get bigger, according to Hackett and Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets.

Ford said it is exploring new “white space” vehicle silhouettes that combine attributes from cars and utility vehicles. The Detroit News reported in January when the automaker moved to cancel the North American redesign of the Fusion sedan that the company could use that nameplate on a new or different vehicle architecture.

Despite dwindling sales for most of Ford’s car lineup, the move to ax sedans surprised the analyst community.

“Ford is dumping five model lines in less than two years, which has to be a record for nameplate death in the auto industry,” Karl Brauer, analyst with Cox Automotive, said Wednesday. “Given where the American — and even the global — consumer have gone over the past five years, it makes sense.

“Modern technology has removed nearly every advantage a car has over an SUV. With the exception of extreme performance or fuel efficiency, there really is no downside to owning a utility vehicle, and there are many advantages in terms of functionality, flexibility and safety. And I can guarantee, these are far from the last car lines we’ll see slashed over the next two years.”

The automaker is pushing to focus on high-margin parts of the business, improving profitability in segments that are profitable but don’t currently make a lot of money – and either cutting or changing the pieces of the company deemed “low performing.”

Shanks did not detail which parts of Ford fall into which segments. But the automaker made clear that sedans can’t be a part of its future.

“Ford realized it can’t be everything to everyone, and in today’s market that could be OK,” said Jessica Caldwell, analyst with Edmunds. “The key to success is focusing on where your customers are and where your strengths lie, and for Ford doubling down on trucks and SUVs could be just what the brand needs. But this move isn’t without risk: Ford is willingly alienating its car owners and conceding market share in segments that, while declining, are still relevant to some buyers.”

The first quarter of 2018 brought earnings of 43 cents per share, the company reported. Ford’s automotive segment reported earnings before interest and taxes of $1.7 billion. The North American segment reported earnings before interest and taxes of $1.9 billion, a 7.8 percent margin. Ford made $119 million from its European business, and lost money in South America, Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific. The company also lost $102 million on its mobility segment.

Investors reacted positively to the news in after-hours trading Wednesday. Shares of Ford were up 2.6 percent to $11.40.

Ford is the first U.S. automaker to report first-quarter earnings. General Motors Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will report results Thursday morning. Ford’s results follow what executives characterized as disappointing 2017 full-year results. The company earned $7.6 billion last year, including a $7.3-billion pre-tax profit on $145.7 billion in revenue from the company’s automotive segment.

Around the time Ford reported the full-year results, the company changed its guidance for 2018 due to expected rising commodities costs and an increase in spending on mobility service.

Shanks said then that if Ford had been more fit, it would have been able to absorb those hits and grow its 2018 profit. 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 for 2017. The company updated its revenue and operating cash flow targets to be better than 2


Ford says no thanks to
GM's 9-speed automatic

Motor Authority
Sean Szymkowski
Apr 25, 2018

After General Motors and Ford committed to co-developing new 9- and 10-speed automatic transmissions, Ford has passed on the former.

Per the agreement, Ford took on work for the 10-speed automatic, used for rear-wheel-drive vehicles, and GM undertook the 9-speed automatic for front-wheel-drive applications. Ford's reason for rejecting GM's transmission? The efficiency gains didn't outweigh the extra weight and cost, Ford spokesman Mike Levine said in a statement to Automotive News on Monday. Strangely enough, Ford apparently decided against using the 9-speed transmission before GM introduced the unit.

Instead, Ford plans to adopt GM's 9-speed automatic for an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 8-speed auto will find its way to a handful of Fords and Lincolns to start such as the 2019 Edge and 2019 Nautilus. Ford plans to rework one of its 6-speed automatics to create an 8-speed automatic for performance-oriented vehicles. Ironically, the 6-speed automatic comes from a previous GM tie-up in 2002.

To Ford's point, the GM vehicles equipped with the 9-speed automatic feature minimal fuel economy gains. In fact, the 2019 Buick Envision, which switched from a 6-speed to the 9-speed, achieves one mile per gallon fewer than before on the highway at 25 mpg versus 26 mpg.

GM believes the 9-speed automatic provides a more seamless shifting experience and more premium feel.

"Smaller steps between gears in a nine- versus an eight-speed enable smoother shifts for customers," GM spokesman Tom Read said.

Although Ford has said "no thanks" to the 9-speed, GM has happily utilized the 10-speed automatic. The transmission is found in the Camaro ZL1 and GM's trucks and SUVs.


GM, Korean union reach
tentative deal on wages, workers

Nora Naughton,
The Detroit News
April 24, 2018

General Motors Co. is still in business in South Korea, reaching a tentative agreement Monday with the labor union and potentially avoiding bankruptcy for its operations there.

The tentative labor agreement — the details of which aren’t yet available — acts as the 2018 collective bargaining agreement. Beyond a previously announced closure of the Gunsan plant at the end of next month that will lead to some 2,000 layoffs company-wide, it’s not clear if GM Korea Co. is asking for a drastic reduction in headcount.

The labor agreement was a pre-condition for negotiations with the Korean Development Bank, which owns a 17 percent stake in the company. These talks are the next step in GM Korea’s efforts to avoid a path to bankruptcy. A spokesman for GM said the Korean business unit will run out of cash by the end of this month if it cannot reach an agreement.

“Ratification of the tentative agreement is critical to our viability plan and securing support of the Korean government and our shareholders, KDB and GM,” GM Korea CEO Kaher Kazem said in a statement Monday. “The labor union has demonstrated its commitment, and we continue to work with our other key stakeholders to gain their support.”

GM Korea is asking the KDB to essentially match the company’s promised $2.8 billion investment in its remaining South Korea plants, part of a plan to switch its output to favor more-popular SUVs and crossovers. Based on its 17 percent ownership of the company, KDB would be asked to invest roughly $476 million in GM Korea.

The automaker is also in talks with the South Korean government as GM looks for ways to make its money-losing Korean business profitable. GM spokesman David Albritton said those negotiations are in early stages, and range from potential cash investments to tax incentives.

Intense negotiations with GM Korea’s labor unions began in February when the automaker said it was preparing to shut the Gunsan plant, one of four GM manufacturing facilities in South Korea. The Gunsan plant builds the Chevrolet Cruze compact car and the Chevrolet Orlando compact SUV. At the time, GM International President Barry Engle said GM’s South Korean operations needed to be “urgently addressed. As we are at a critical juncture of needing to make product allocation decisions.”

Since the shutdown was announced, the Associated Press reports that about 2,600 GM Korea workers — 16 percent of its 16,000 South Korean workers — have agreed to a voluntary severance program that includes 1,100 Gunsan employees. Partially at issue during the ensuing negotiations were the 680 Gunsan workers who did not want to leave GM Korea.

GM’s South Korea operations were founded in 2002 from the assets of Daewoo Motor Co. The company suffered a series of hits beginning in 2013 when GM ended Chevrolet sales in Europe, its Chevrolets typically imported from Korea. This decline accelerated with GM exited Russia and India, and then sold its European operations to PSA Groupe SA of France — all markets partially supplied by GM’s South Korea plants.

GM Korea’s proposed restructuring would transform a manufacturing network established as a hub for small cars into a producer of smaller SUVs and crossovers for foreign markets because the Korean business unit only sells some 130,000 vehicles annually in its home market. That could include GM’s South American and Asian Pacific markets.

“This is a very dynamic process,” Albritton said. “All focus right now is on turning the business around toward profitability.”

The union is expected to ratify its tentative labor agreement with GM Korea by Thursday, at which time negotiations with the Korean Development Bank and the South Korean government can begin in earnest.


China auto show highlights
industry’s electric ambition

Invited guests and journalists listen to a staff member in the driver's seat of a BYTON electric concept car during a test drive event ahead of the Auto China 2018 automotive exhibition in Beijing, Sunday, April 22, 2018. The biggest global auto show of the year showcases China's ambitions to become a leader in electric cars and the industry's multibillion-dollar scramble to roll out models that appeal to price-conscious but demanding Chinese drivers.

Joe Mcdonald,
Associated Press
April 23, 2018

Beijing – The biggest global auto show of the year showcases China’s ambitions to become a leader in electric cars and the industry’s multibillion-dollar scramble to roll out models that appeal to price-conscious but demanding Chinese drivers.

Auto China 2018, which opens this week, follows Beijing’s decision to allow full foreign ownership of Chinese automakers in a move to make the industry more flexible as it promotes electrics.

The ruling Communist Party has transformed China into the biggest market for electrics with billions of dollars in subsidies to producers and buyers. Now, Beijing is winding down that support and shifting the financial burden to automakers with sales quotas that push them to develop models Chinese drivers want to buy.

That is reflected in the auto show lineup: Global and Chinese brands including General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Co. plan to display dozens of electrics and hybrids, from luxurious SUVs to compacts priced as low as 152,000 yuan ($24,000).

Communist leaders see electric cars as both a way to clean up smog-choked cities and a key ingredient in plans to transform China into a global competitor in an array of technology fields from robotics to solar power to biotech.

“Just in the last two or three years, China rose from being a very small player in the global EV market to be nearly 50 percent of sales in 2017,” said Christopher Robinson, who follows the industry for Lux Research.

“It attracted nearly every automaker in the world,” said Robinson.

Starting in 2019, automakers will be required to earn credits by selling electrics or else buy them from competitors. More stringent fuel efficiency standards will require a big share of each brand’s sales to be non-gasoline models.

Global automakers say electrics should account for 35 to over 50 percent of their China sales by 2025.

“There is huge potential for vehicle electrification here,” said Roland Krueger, chairman of Infiniti Motor Co., Nissan’s luxury brand.

Chinese sales of electrics and gasoline-electric hybrids rose 154 percent in the first quarter over a year earlier to 143,000 units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. That compares with sales of just under 200,000 for all of last year in the United States, the No. 2 market.

GM plans to display five all-electric vehicles including a concept Buick SUV it says can travel 600 kilometers (375 miles) on one charge, plus a hybrid Cadillac XT5 28E.

The Detroit automaker, which vies with VW for the status of China’s biggest brand, is launching 10 electrics or hybrids in China from in 2016 to 2020.

VW is due to launch 15 electrics and hybrids in the next two to three years as part of a 10 billion euro ($12 billion) development plan announced in November.

Nissan is unveiling an electric model at the auto show designed for China and will display an updated version of its Leaf and an electric concept car.

The Japanese automaker also plans to develop a lower-priced electric with a local partner, state-owned Dongfeng Motor Co. Two more versions of that are to be sold under their jointly owned Venucia brand.

China’s BYD Auto, the biggest global maker of electrics by volume with 2017 sales of 113,669 units, plans to unveil two new hybrid SUVs and an electric concept car. The company also plans to display nine other hybrid and plug-in electric models.

Infiniti plans to display a concept sedan, the Q Inspiration, that Krueger said will be the basis for future electric models.

The sleek Q Inspiration has no air-drawing engine, and thus no front grill – a change Krueger said was suggested by Chinese designers at Infiniti’s Beijing studio.

The car has the roomier back seat that has become standard among luxury brands that want to appeal to Chinese customers who have a driver and ride in back.

“The first car is going to cater specifically to the needs of the Chinese market,” said Krueger.

Ford Motor Co. has announced a “product onslaught” this month for China that includes at least 15 electrified vehicles and 35 other models through 2025. Ford’s first plug-in hybrid in China, the Mondeo Energi, went on sale last month.

Washington and other trading partners have been irked by the Chinese controls that required global automakers to work through state-owned local partners and imposed other restrictions.

Automakers complained joint ventures were cumbersome and expensive but complied because they gained access to a market that passed the United States in 2009 as the world’s biggest.

Last year’s sales of SUVs, sedans and minivans totaled 24.7 million units, compared with 17.2 million for the United States.

The Cabinet’s planning agency announced last week Beijing will loosen those controls by allowing full foreign ownership in the industry, starting with electric vehicle producers this year. Limits for commercial vehicles would end in 2020 and for all passenger vehicles in 2022.

That would end a 50 percent cap on foreign ownership of an auto venture, a limit that required automakers to share technology with potential competitors, adding to President Donald Trump’s trade complaints against Beijing.

“Now you’re going to see the difference between the partners that you want and partners imposed on you,” said Carlos Ghosn, chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

Ghosn said his companies were happy with their Chinese partners. But he said with electrics, autonomous driving and other innovations give companies a new chance to consider a partnership or work independently.

“Every time there is a new opportunity we’re going to consider, should we go with a partner? What are the advantages? Or should we go by ourself?” said Ghosn. “This is a new freedom for carmakers, which is welcome.”

Still, while electrics may be China’s future, most brands lose money making them. Profits come from sales of SUVs that are wildly popular with Chinese drivers who see them as the safest option on the country’s rough, chaotic roads.

First-quarter SUVs sales rose 11.3 percent over a year earlier to 2.6 million, or almost 45 percent of all auto sales, according to CAAM. Electrics accounted for just over 2 percent.


Diesel fuel economy gives
Ford F-150 new edge

Ford F-150 is delivering another first – its all-new 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine targeted to return an EPA-estimated rating of 30 mpg highway

Ian Thibodeau,
 The Detroit News
April 21, 2018

In its never-ending quest to keep the F-150 America’s best-selling pickup, Ford Motor Co. has a new idea: diesel fuel.

The Blue Oval says its new 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine — the first diesel for the F-150 — delivers best-in-class EPA-estimated fuel economy to its most popular vehicle. And that could make the so-called 2018 “pickup wars” even more competitive.

Ford’s move comes as OPEC oil stockpiles dwindle and oil prices have climbed recently close to their highest point in three years. Rivals General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will debut all-new full-size pickups this year, which will compete directly with the aluminum-body F-Series. Ford refreshed the F-150 for 2017, but snagging the highest EPA rating with the diesel engine on 2018 models may give the Blue Oval an edge.

It’s an added bonus for a vehicle that’s been a favorite for years among Ford dealers. Tim Hovik, owner of SanTan Ford outside of Phoenix, Arizona, said there’s demand for a diesel F-150 from both fleet and retail customers. And the new engine keeps Ford moving, preventing the truck from getting stale as competing products hit showrooms.

“I’ve been getting asked about this for probably the last two years,” he said in an interview Thursday. “There’s pent-up demand and a pent-up excitement for this. It’s going to pour some gas on an already hot fire of buyers. You always want to add another advantage when you’re playing from a position of strength.”

Diesel fuel cost roughly 10 cents more per gallon than gasoline in the U.S. last year. Hovik said his customers typically look to a diesel engine for more power, and many of them are more comfortable with a diesel truck. The fuel economy on the Power Stroke is more or less a bragging point for Ford.

The diesel engine is also the sixth engine option on the F-150. It adds a product to Ford’s truck lineup that its direct competition won’t have available for at least a year.

The Power Stroke will be available on the F-150 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 5 1/2-foot or 6 1/2-foot beds, or the SuperCab with a 6 1/2-foot bed. The engine will cost between $3,000 to $4,000 more than standard engines on those vehicles.

“An EPA-estimated 30 mpg highway enables Ford to win today’s fuel economy brochure war with a meaningful benefit,” said Stephanie Brinley, auto product analyst with IHS Markit. “The F-150 has two all-new competitors for 2019 model year and wants to demonstrate continued improvement as the GM and Ram products come on line. Ford’s ability to achieve 30mpg highway sets the bar at a new level.”

Ford says the 2018 F-150’s diesel engine officially has an EPA-estimated 30 mpg highway and 22 mpg city rating, for a 25 mpg combined fuel economy rating. That’s the highest EPA-estimated rating available in a full-size pickup.

Mated to a 10-speed SelectShift Transmission, the engine offers 250-horsepower and 440 lb.-ft of torque. Those factors give the truck best-in-class diesel towing and payload, according to Ford. The F-150 can tow 11,400 pounds, and haul 2,020 pounds in the bed.

“Even a few years ago, customers wouldn’t have imagined an EPA-estimated rating of 30 mpg highway would be possible in a full-size pickup, but our team of crazy-smart engineers rose to the challenge,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford executive vice president, product development and purchasing, said in a statement.

The F-150 is built in Dearborn, Louisville and Kansas City, Mo. Prices will range from around $28,600 to nearly $64,000 for the upper-trim levels. Ford began taking orders for the new engine configuration in mid-January, and it is scheduled to start arriving in dealerships in May.

Hovik said he wanted to get closer to launch before pushing to sell the new engine. He’s been selling Fords for more than two decades, and hasn’t had a diesel F-150 in his cache. He doesn’t know how many will sell, but he expects the new engine will be popular in big truck markets in the U.S. south and west.

“It will be a question of will Ford be able to make enough of them,” Hovik said. “The demand will be considerable.”


An Ontario-born senior VP at
GM a 'huge benefit' for
Canada, Unifor says

April 20, 2018
The Canadian Press

The Ontario-born head of General Motors Canada has been named a senior vice president at the automaker and will head Cadillac, and that’s good for GM’s Canadian operations says the union representing workers at several Ontario factories.

Steve Carlisle, a native of Woodstock, Ont., who began his career in 1982 as an engineering co-op student at GM's Oshawa Truck Plant, had risen through the ranks to become president of the Canadian operation in November 2014.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said he considers Carlisle as an ally in protecting the Canadian operation.

As head of GM Canada, Carlisle led the automaker through two labour negotiations with the Canadian union Unifor. The first, in 2016, ultimately led to a new contract with most GM Canada workers and, eventually, a $500 million retooling of the Oshawa, Ont., plant, which now does final assembly of Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks on one of its lines.

The second round of negotiations, in 2017, was contentious, ultimately leading to a month-long strike at GM’s CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., which builds the top-selling Chevrolet Equinox. GM threatened to close the CAMI plant and shift output to Mexico before reaching a deal with Unifor days later.

Dias said the Oshawa complex, where GM Canada has its headquarters, was headed for closure in June of this year, but Carlisle was determined that it wouldn't close under his watch.

"For me, it was imperative, during the 2016 contract negotiations, to have someone who I believed was an ally and who was looking for a solution," Dias said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press.

"There was always an element of comfort knowing the head of GM Canada was actually a Canadian."

Carlisle's replacement as president of GM Canada is Travis Hester, who began his GM career in 1995 in Australia. Since moving to the United States in 2005, Hester has had engineering positions in the U.S. and China. He became GM's vice-president for global product programs in 2016.

Dias said he plans to meet with Hester soon, but didn't know him yet and wouldn't comment on his appointment.

Carlisle will replace Johan de Nysschen, who is leaving effectively immediately as head of the Cadillac group, as it prepares to bring out the XT4 — a compact utility vehicle.

"We appreciate Johan's efforts over the last four years in setting a stronger foundation for Cadillac," said General Motors president Dan Ammann said in a statement.

Carlisle, who becomes a senior vice-president of the parent company as well as president of Cadillac, will report to Ammann while Hester will report to Alan Batey, president of GM North America.

Dias said Carlisle's appointment to head Cadillac will raise his profile and influence within General Motors headquarters in Detroit and that "would be a huge benefit for us."

Cadillac is actually based in New York, not Detroit. That’s because de Nysschengiven was given unprecedented freedom over managing Cadillac, including moving the venerable luxury brand's headquarters out of Detroit to New York City and operating separately from GM’s core brands.

David Paterson, vice president of corporate and environmental affairs at GM Canada, said Hester will be in Canada this week to meet with employees, while

Carlisle is in New York today to do the same. He said the two will work together in the coming weeks as they transition into their new roles.

“I think the message today was that Steve is a change agent to help accelerate that Cadillac global plan,” Paterson said.

He said Hester, 46, will develop his goals and plans for GM Canada in the coming weeks as he learns more about the unit. He said he anticipates Hester's deep knowledge of GM products will help him connect with dealers and build up the automaker’s Canadian sales.


The 2018 Cobra Jet Is Right
Around The Corner & It’s The
Wildest Factory Muscle Car yet!

Hot Rod
Henry De Los Santos
April 19, 2018

Cobra Jet Mustangs are what legends are made of and it was fifty years ago, the original factory muscle took to the staging lanes at dragstrips everywhere, and along with the resulting wins, an automotive icon was born. Now comes the return of the Mustang Cobra Jet dragstrip race car by Ford Performance that's targeted to be the most powerful and quickest version from the factory yet, capable of running the quarter-mile in the mid-8-second range while topping 150 mph.

"From the very first Mustang Cobra Jets dominating the 1968 NHRA Winternationals to our modern-day Cobra Jet racers, the Ford Performance Parts team continues to build the Cobra Jet brand based on its success at the track over five decades," said Eric Cin, global director, Ford Performance Parts. "That, in turn, has inspired generations of Mustang fans to create their own performance machines for the street."

Engineered by Ford Performance Parts, the purpose-built drag racer developed on the 2018 Ford Mustang platform is limited to 68 non-VIN production cars. It includes a supercharged 5.2-liter Coyote V8 and unique four-link rear suspension, along with a Ford 9-inch solid rear axle from Strange Engineering. Race add-ons include NHRA-certified roll cage, Racetech FIA seats, and a drag race specific coilover suspension with specially designed Weld Racing wheels with the 50th anniversary badging.

The result is a turnkey racer that showcases many performance add-ons available from the Ford Performance Parts catalog for Mustang dating back to the original 1968 Cobra Jet. For 2018, the all-new Cobra Jet will be offered in Race Red or Oxford White, including an available commemorative 50th anniversary graphics package and anniversary badging.

If you're looking to add one to your stable, the final 2018 Mustang Cobra Jet ordering and product specifications will be released this summer. And for those of you wanting to campaign the 2018 Cobra Jet, you'll be happy to know that it's designed to be legal for National Hot Rod Association drag racing, along with several National Mustang Racers Association and National Muscle Car Association classes.


NASCAR is getting a little
more muscle in 2019


By Gary Gastelu
Fox News
April 18, 2019

Ford has revealed plans to enter a Mustang-branded car in the Sprint Cup series next year, where it will replace the Fusion that currently competes against the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that debuted for the 2018 season.

The announcement was made on the 54th anniversary of the original Mustang’s introduction on April 17, 1964.

Aside from a rendering of the front of the car (which we’ve brightened up to show more of its design), Ford isn’t offering much information on the new spec racer. That includes whether or not it will wear a specific model designation, like GT or Shelby GT500.

Mustang and Camaro-bodied cars have been competing against each other in NASCAR’s second-tier series – now called Xfinity – since 2013, but this will be the first time that the two pony cars have ever faced off in Cup.

 Toyota has not indicated any plans to change its Camry sedan-based entry, which was redesigned last season.

Ford will fully unveil the new Mustang after testing is completed and the design has been approved by NASCAR later this year.


NDP promises $12-a-day child
care and lower deficits if elected

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath: “Our plan is not based on your little one’s age; it’s based on making sure everyone has childcare they can afford,” said Horwath, taking a shot at the Liberals’ new free daycare plan, which is limited to pre-schoolers aged two-and-a-half years until junior kindergarten.   (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS file ph

The child care promise is the cornerstone pledge
of party’s ambitious 97-page platform, Change
for the Better, launched Monday.

By Robert Benzie
Toronto Star
April 17, 2018

Andrea Horwath is promising affordable child care — free for families who earn $40,000 or less and an average of $12-a-day for most others — if the NDP wins the June election.

That’s the cornerstone pledge of the party’s ambitious 97-page platform, Change for the Better, launched on Monday at Toronto Western Hospital.

“Our plan is not based on your little one’s age; it’s based on making sure everyone has childcare they can afford,” said Horwath, taking a shot at the Liberals’ new free daycare plan, which is limited to pre-schoolers aged two-and-a-half years until junior kindergarten.

About 70 per cent of Ontario parents would either have free child care or pay an average of $12 a day in a licensed not-for-profit daycare — considerably lower than the $100-daily-rate, now paid by some.

The NDP leader, who also vowed to increase by 50 per cent the number of child-care places in her first four-year mandate, said change is in the offing June 7 after almost 15 years of Liberal governance.

“Who will replace (Premier) Kathleen Wynne?” asked Horwath, cautioning against gambling on right-wing rookie Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford.

“Doug Ford’s billions of dollars in cuts will hurt the very people who need help. He’ll cut hospitals. He’ll cut our children’s schools. He’ll cut transit, child care and so much more,” she said.

“That’s not change; that’s going from bad to worse.”Horwath insisted an NDP government would be more fiscally responsible than Wynne’s Liberals.

In that vein, her administration would run a $3.3-billion deficit this year — this is half the Liberals’ $6.7 billion shortfall — and, just as the Grits have forecast, remain in the red for five years before balancing the books.

The New Democrats’ fiscal plan, signed off on as “reasonable” by former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page, is bolstered by higher taxes.

An NDP government would raise the corporate tax rate to 13 per cent from 11.5 per cent, close big business loopholes, and increase personal income tax on amounts earned more than $220,000 by one percentage point and on earnings more than $300,000 by two percentage points.

As well, a new three-per-cent surcharge will be slapped on luxury cars and SUVs that cost more than $90,000.

“We are going to protect middle- and lower-income families and make sure everyone has better services,” said Horwath.

“To get it done, we will make sure the most profitable corporations and the wealthiest people start paying their fair share,” she said, noting rich businessmen such as Ford will see their taxes rise.

“Let’s ask those at the top to pay a bit more.”

Along with means-tested child care, which would be free for low-income earners and an average of $12 per day for others, the NDP is promising publicly funded dental care for the one-third of Ontarians without workplace coverage.

While the Liberals have a free pharmacare program for seniors and those 24 and under for 4,400 medications, the NDP would cover all age groups, but only for 125 prescription drugs.

The New Democrats would hike hospital spending by 5.3 per cent annually and add 2,000 beds immediately.

On electricity, the NDP would buy back the majority stake of Hydro One that Wynne sold off, using dividends from the shares to bankroll that.

But the party would cancel the Liberals’ “Fair Hydro Plan,” which has already cut bills by 25 per cent through a costly borrowing scheme.

“It was a desperate move and completely unsustainable,” the platform states.

The NDP believes its own proposals, including an end to time-of-use pricing, could cut hydro bills by 30 per cent, more than offsetting the end of the Liberal subsidy.

As a sop to teachers’ unions, Horwath would end standardized Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) testing.

“We should focus on improvement without driving teachers to ‘teach to the test.’ We estimate this will save $40 million, which we will reinvest in the classroom,” the platform states.

The Tories, who have abandoned the 78-page People’s Guarantee program of former leader Patrick Brown, have yet to unveil their new election platform under Ford.

Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care interim co-ordinator Laurel Rothman lauded the NDP for focusing on affordability for infants and toddlers as their first priority. However, she said it would be “a challenge” to ensure there are enough new licensed spaces and trained early childhood educators (ECEs) to work in them.

“Many more ECEs are required to work with infants and toddlers than preschoolers. And they require a physical space that is more specialized,” she said.

The Liberals have promised offering free child care for preschoolers by 2020 as their first priority because there are already 110,000 licensed spots available. By contrast, there are only about 12,000 infant spaces and 43,000 toddler spots.


Horwath: It’s time for change.
Let’s make it change for the better

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath launches her campaign to become Ontario's next Premier and committed to defeat Premier Kathleen Wynne and new Ontario PC leader Doug Ford at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Toronto, Ont. on Saturday March 17, 2018. Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/Postmedia NetworkStan Behal / Stan Behal/Toronto Sun

April 15, 2018
Toronto SUN

It’s time for change in Ontario. And Toronto needs change that will make this great city more liveable and more affordable for everyone.

This vibrant and dynamic city is on the cusp of becoming a great global metropolis. And it offers an incredible promise to people from around the world: The promise of building a better life.

But it’s not hard to see why 80% of Ontarians have decided that it’s time for change in this June’s election.

After 15 years, Kathleen Wynne hasn’t made life better. She’s ignored our crumbling schools, sold off Hydro One, left seniors waiting for care, and left thousands of people waiting in hospital hallways.

The cost of living is unaffordable for many folks. Homeownership is out of reach for a lot of families. And working families are finding it harder to build a better life for their kids.

Congestion on the roads is stealing too much time from people’s lives.

It’s time for a new government – and a new premier.

The question is what comes next.

As Ontarians choose change in this election, do we want more cynicism, more anger, more division and more cuts?

Or do we want a leader who can bring people together by offering hope and change for the better?

The choice has never been so clear.

Doug Ford has been rejected by the people of Toronto before. And for good reason.

His sales pitch offers nothing to help people. Because angry soundbites are not good solutions.

Billions of dollars in cuts will hurt hard-working families.

More than $6.1 billion in cuts to transit, to health care, and to our children’s schools will drag Ontario backwards.

We can do so much better. We can move Ontario forward – and that’s what this election is about.

I am running to be the next premier. And I am offering something completely different from Doug Ford.

Not just change that bounces between bad and worse in Ontario – but something completely different. Change for the better.

We need better transit to get Toronto moving and relieve congestion. I’m committed to restoring $330 million dollars in vital operating funds for the TTC that will improve service.

We need better support for affordable housing. That’s why I’ve committed to Mayor John Tory to restore provincial support for crucial social housing repairs so Toronto doesn’t have to close down thousands of units.

We need to do a better job of making life more affordable. My plan lowers hydro bills by 30%, and keeps them down by returning Hydro One to the people it belongs to – the people of Ontario. And it delivers universal pharmacare to make sure people get the prescriptions they need, while lowering their expenses. And I will extend dental coverage to everyone – with workplace benefits for every worker and public dental coverage for seniors and the most vulnerable Ontarians.

We need to help young families by making child care affordable for everyone – not just for parents with preschoolers, but for those with infants and toddlers, too.

Toronto needs a better partner. This city needs a premier who will make this great city more liveable and more affordable for everyone.

And that change is possible. And that’s why I’m running for premier.

At a time when people want change, let’s make it change for the better.

— Andrea Horwath is the leader of Ontario’s NDP


NAFTA deal 'not close at all,
' says Unifor boss Jerry Dias

Thursday, April 12, 2018
The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON — Talk of an impending NAFTA deal is premature, Canadian union leader Jerry Dias said in Washington while officials were negotiating there Wednesday.

The Unifor boss said he's been in contact with the Canadian negotiating team and said speculation from some about an imminent agreement in principle is divorced from reality.

The United States has been increasingly anxious to get something announced this month, before it becomes impossible for the rest of this year because of elections in Mexico and the U.S. Congress.

"They're not close to a deal at all," Dias said in an interview.

"There's way too many tables that have yet to be closed... The main issues around auto, labour standards, [dispute-resolution rules under] Chapter 11 — those issues haven't been resolved yet at all."

The sides are meeting constantly in an effort to reach some sort of deal this spring.

In addition to the current sessions in Washington, the ministers leading the talks will be in Peru at the Summit of the Americas this week. Chrystia Freeland, Robert Lighthizer and Ildefonso Guajardo will likely hold separate bilateral sessions, possibly capped with a trilateral meeting.

Mexico's minister has expressed optimism about an agreement this month, pegging chances of that at 80 per cent.

But the idea of an agreement in principle being announced at the Peru summit, as some had hoped, will not pan out. U.S. President Donald Trump is not even attending anymore, as he weighs a possible military strike in Syria.

Dias said the notion of a deal this week was a pipe dream from the start.

Sources confirm Dias's view that several major issues are far from being settled — with irritants like dairy remaining unresolved, while autos have been the main focus of talks.

Other observers say a more realistic short-term possibility is something that falls short of a formal agreement.

Trade lawyer Dan Ujczo describes this scenario as an "agreement in passing" — an interim document that's more detailed than a press release, less detailed than something parliaments can ratify.

Dias questions the point of such an interim agreement.

He wonders what the countries would actually gain by issuing a document this spring announcing they almost have a deal, whose details will be settled months later.

"That's [like] me agreeing to buy your house, you allowing me to move in, and we'll negotiate the price later," Dias said.

"Things just don't work that way. It's foolish to even contemplate it... This is 24 per cent of the world's GDP. This isn't bargaining a popsicle at the corner store."



Ford to ramp up Lincoln rollout
in China in bid to catch
rivals, report says

April 11, 2018
Paul Lienert and Norihiko Shirouzu

DETROIT/BEIJING -- Ford Motor Co.'s premium Lincoln brand plans to build as many as five new vehicles in China by 2022, according to two U.S. sources, in a move to expand sales in the world's largest vehicle market that would also blunt the impact of U.S-China trade spats.

Ford has said it plans to build an all-new SUV in China by the end of 2019, however the company has not detailed future production plans for the Lincoln brand in China beyond that.

"Our localization plans to support the China market are on track and will serve to further drive Lincoln’s growth in China," Lincoln spokeswoman Angie Kozleski said. "Beyond that, it would be premature to discuss our future product and production plans or timing."

Sources familiar with Ford's production plans told Reuters the automaker now expects to begin building the new Lincoln Aviator in China in late 2019 or early 2020, along with replacements for the MKC compact crossover and the MKZ midsize sedan, followed in 2021 by the all-new Nautilus, which replaces the Lincoln MKX crossover.

A fifth model, a small coupe-like crossover, is tentatively slated for production in China in 2022, the sources said.

Ford has much to lose if the war of words over trade between China and U.S. President Donald Trump escalates into a full-blown tariff war. Last year, it shipped about 80,000 vehicles to China from North America, more than half of them Lincolns to support the brand's growth.

All Lincoln vehicles that Ford now sells in China are brought in from North America.

Even if China does reduce its 25 percent tariff on imported vehicles -- as Chinese President Xi Jinping promised on Tuesday -- it is not clear that would mean a big, long-term increase in Fords and Lincolns made in U.S. factories heading to Chinese showrooms.

Ford is pursuing long-range plans to build more vehicles in China to serve a market that is now roughly 60 percent larger than the U.S. market, and projected to keep growing.

But it is playing catch up to hometown rival General Motors and German luxury brands including Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which have invested heavily in Chinese production in recent years as a form of insurance against trade, political and currency gyrations and to lower price points for their premium cars.

Chinese vehicle imports from all markets last year climbed to 1.2 million, but still represent less than 5 percent of total vehicle sales in the country, according to figures from the China Automobile Dealers Association. Less than a quarter of the imported vehicles sold in China -- 267,473, according to Statista -- came from U.S. auto plants.

The current 25-percent tariff rate makes it tough for Ford's American premium brand to compete with GM's Cadillac and the Germans, which avoid the import tariff on their locally built vehicles.

“As long as Lincolns are not manufactured in China, the brand’s sales will no doubt suffer continuously,” Zhu Kongyuan, secretary general of the China Auto Dealers Chamber of Commerce, told Reuters.

Slower start in China

The Lincoln brand launched in China four years ago, and local production of the first Lincoln-brand vehicles will not start for another 18-24 months, people familiar with the company's plans said.

The entire localization process could take Ford as long as four years.

All five Lincoln models are expected to offer hybrid gasoline-electric variants, to help Ford meet China's tough new quotas for electrified vehicles, the sources said.

While it sold 54,124 vehicles in China last year -- a record for the brand -- Lincoln continues to trail Cadillac and the German luxury brands by a wide margin in that market.

Cadillac -- which GM launched in China in 2004 -- builds in China virtually all of the vehicles it sells there and thus avoids the steep import duty. Cadillac outsold Lincoln by more than three-to-one in China last year, selling a total of 175,489 vehicles though a network of roughly 180 retail stores. China is Cadillac’s largest market.

If Beijing follows through on its threat to double import tariffs before Lincoln can ramp up local production, the resulting price hikes on its imported models could persuade many people to buy a Cadillac or a Lexus instead, Zhu said.


Ford redesigns the Focus
for a global market

This is European version of the 2019 Ford Focus ST. Ford has not said what versions of the Focus will be sold in the U.S.

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
April 10, 2018

Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday showcased an all-new global-platform 2019 Focus, giving hints as to what the the car will look like in the U.S. when it arrives next year.

Details of the all-new platform came Tuesday at press events in Europe and China. The car goes on sale in those markets this year, and will hit U.S. dealers in the second half of 2019. The Focus for North America will be manufactured in China and imported to the U.S., a first for Ford.

While the company plans to launch four-door sedan, five-door wagon and five-door hatchback body styles in Europe and China, it didn’t say which of those models would be available in the U.S. The company will also launch a luxury Focus Vignale, a sporty ST, an “adventure-oriented” Active trim and a Titanium trim in Europe. The ST and Titanium will be sold in China.

The redesigned Focus will hit the U.S. market amid a lineup revamp at Ford. The company has said nearly 90 percent of the vehicles it sells by 2020 will be SUVs, trucks or commercial vehicles.

But the company has been adamant that cars will still be a part of its product offerings. Ford spokesman Mike Levine did not offer specifics on which of the new Focus trims or body types would be sold in the U.S. next year. The previous generation Focus had several trim levels and performance options.

As Ford CEO Jim Hackett pushes for financial and operational “fitness,” the company is cutting back orderable combinations on other vehicles. It is unclear how many Focus options will be available on the new global platform. The company said it has reduced the number of configurations by 92 percent compared to the previous generation.

Depending on the market, the combinations shrank from 360 to as few as 26, according to a statement. The company said the car is more “refined” and “upscale.”

The global platform gets standard drive-mode technology that allows a driver to toggle between normal, sport and eco modes. In China, it gets a 1-liter EcoBoost engine option or a 1.5-liter EcoBoost option. In Europe, there will be a 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine, or a 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel. All of those are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The company did not say which powertrains would be available on the North American model.

Ford and other Detroit automakers are cutting back sedans in favor of bigger, profit-rich SUVs and trucks. It’s expected that Focus will be one of two surviving sedan models as the the U.S. auto industry moves toward larger vehicles.

The Detroit News has reported that Ford is expected to ax at least two car models. The company in November canceled the 2020 redesign for the North American Fusion. That doesn’t mean Ford will drop the nameplate. Ford executives are rethinking the next-generation Fusion for this region, and that could include shifting the model name to a different vehicle architecture.

The Focus for Europe and China will have a longer hood and a “strong” on-road presence. It looks larger than the previous generation, but its dimensions have not changed, the automaker said. The interior is revamped for more room and cargo space.

The all-new Focus also gets Ford’s Co-Pilot360 standard driver-assist features, which includes adaptive cruise-control and lane-centering, and it’s equipped with internet connectivity.


Feds raided UAW leader’s
house amid corruption probe

Robert Snell,
The Detroit News
April 9, 2018

Detroit — Federal prosecutors revealed Thursday that investigators raided the home of United Auto Workers Vice President Norwood Jewell while investigating a widespread conspiracy involving Fiat Chrysler and the union.

The raid happened Nov. 3 at a home on the 2200 block of Macscott Court in Swartz Creek, according to a sealed federal court filing. It is unclear exactly what was seized during the search but is another indication linking Jewell to the ongoing corruption investigation that has netted charges against seven people.

Jewell, 60, the former head of the union’s Fiat Chrysler department, has not been charged with a crime but his name has repeatedly surfaced during an investigation focused on a conspiracy involving Fiat Chrysler executives funneling illegal payments and benefits to UAW leaders. The money is funneled through the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center under a policy created by the auto company’s officials to keep UAW leaders “fat, dumb and happy” and wring concessions favoring the automaker, according to the government.

In August 2014, Fiat Chrysler executive Alphons Iacobelli approved spending more than $30,000 in worker training funds on a party for Jewell, a bash that included “ultra-premium” liquor and strolling models who lit labor leaders’ cigars. The expenses were paid for by the national training center with Fiat Chrysler funds, which covered the $7,000 cigar purchase and a $3,000 tab for wine bottles with custom labels that featured Jewell’s name, sources told The News.

The News first reported that Jewell also received a $2,180 shotgun in 2015 paid for with money that was supposed to benefit blue-collar UAW workers. Jewell, whose compensation totaled $224,173 last year, reimbursed the training center in 2016 after learning the shotgun was purchased with a training center credit card.

Jewell’s criminal defense lawyer, Joseph Duffy, did not respond to a message seeking comment Thursday.

The Nov. 3 raid at Jewell’s home came four weeks before the UAW, in a surprise move, announced that Jewell would retire Jan. 1, roughly six months before his current term was scheduled to end.

Prosecutors revealed the raid in a separate federal court filing Thursday that outlined protections against disclosing tax records and other materials seized during a series of searches. The filing reiterated that federal agents also searched the homes of Iacobelli and Monica Morgan-Holiefield, widow of former UAW Vice President General Holiefield.

Iacobelli and Morgan-Holiefield have pleaded guilty to crimes related to the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing in federal court.

Materials seized during the searches include documents containing social security numbers, tax identification numbers, dates of birth, financial accounts, home addresses and other personal identification information, according to the filing.

The search at Jewell’s home was revealed in a document filed in the case against his former top administrative assistant, Nancy Adams Johnson.

Johnson, 57, of Macomb Township was indicted last month and accused of conspiring with other union and Fiat Chrysler officials to corrupt the labor negotiation process. She received tens of thousands of dollars in illegal payments and benefits from Fiat Chrysler during the alleged conspiracy, including $1,100 designer shoes, first-class flights to California, resort stays, limousine rides and a $6,912 dinner at famed Detroit restaurant London Chop House, according to federal prosecutors.


Ford recalls trucks, SUVs
to fix transmission shifter

Associated Press
April 8, 2018

Dearborn – Ford is recalling about 350,000 trucks and SUVs in the U.S., Canada and Mexico because they might be in a different gear than the one shown on the shift indicator.

The recall covers the 2018 F-150 pickup and Expedition large SUV with 10-speed automatic transmissions. Also covered are 2018 F-650 and F-750 trucks with six-speed transmissions.

Ford says that on some vehicles, a clip that locks the gear shift cable to the transmission might come loose. The company says a driver might be able to shift into park and remove the key while the transmission is in another gear, allowing unintended movement.

Ford knows of one crash and one injury due to the problem.

Dealers will make sure the clip was installed correctly and secure it if needed.

Here's where the affected vehicles were made.

  • 2018 Ford F-150 pickups built at Dearborn Assembly Plant, Jan. 5, 2017 to Feb. 16, 2018.
  • 2018 Ford F-150 pickups built at Kansas City Assembly Plant, Jan. 25, 2017 to Feb. 16, 2018.
  • 2018 Ford Expedition SUVs built at Kentucky Truck Plant, April 3, 2017 to Jan. 30, 2018.
  • 2018 Ford F-650 and F-750 pickups built at Ohio Assembly Plant, April 25, 2017 to March 9, 2018.

Second recall

Ford on Friday also issued a recall for about 161 2017-18 model year F-150 pickups, 2018 Expedition SUVs, 2018 Lincoln Navigator SUVs and 2018 Mustang cars with 10R80 transmissions for a potentially missing roll pin that attaches the park pawl rod guide cup to the transmission case. Eighteen of the affected vehicles are in Canada.

The issue could lead to the vehicles eventually losing their park function even when the shifter and instrument panel display indicate the vehicle is in park, leading to unintended movement without any warnings.

Here's where the affected vehicles were made:

  • 2017-18 F-150 pickups built at Dearborn Assembly Plant, Oct. 20, 2016 to March 5, 2018.
  • 2017-18 F-150 pickups built at Kansas City Assembly Plant, Dec. 22, 2017 to Feb. 26, 2018.
  • 2018 Expedition SUVs built at Kentucky Truck Plant, Nov. 28, 2017 to Feb. 14, 2018.
  • 2018 Mustang vehicles built at Flat Rock Assembly Plant, Nov. 6, 2017 to Feb. 12, 2018.
  • 2018 Lincoln Navigator SUVs built at Kentucky Truck Plant, Dec. 13, 2017 to March 8, 2018.



March sales reflect who has
fresh vehicles, who doesn’t

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
April 5, 2018

General Motors Co. says it’s moving to quarterly U.S. sales reports to give better context to the numbers. But analysts say March’s monthly sales numbers from the Detroit Three suggest which companies have the freshest product.

The Detroit automaker’s March sales jumped 15.7 percent in the U.S. compared to a year ago when sales increased just more than 1 percent. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV saw a 13.6-percent increase overall, and sold roughly 3,300 more retail vehicles than Ford Motor Co. The Blue Oval’s sales increased 3.5 percent overall, driven mostly by fleet sales, a little more than half the 6 percent gain for the month.

The fact that Fiat Chrysler outsold Ford for a month could mean a lot — or very little, depending on what happens in coming months. Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said the Italian-American automaker has outsold Ford on a retail basis before, and results fluctuate month-to-month.

“We’re not going to blow our brains out on incentives on these products at the end of their life cycle and damage the brand health,” LaNeve said.

Industry analysts said Ford isn’t seeing the same sales boosts as its U.S. competition due largely to the Blue Oval’s aging lineup. Fiat Chrysler and GM both have newer vehicles in the crossover and utility segment than Ford, which plans to update its Edge SUV later this year, followed by the Escape and Explorer SUVs within two years. The company will also debut new Lincolns this year.

“March proved to be a lion for the domestic automakers, with double- and even triple-digit sales increases posted for redesigned SUVs like the Lincoln Navigator, Jeep Compass, and GMC Terrain, proving today’s buyers want fresh, new products,” Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst for Kelley Blue book, said in a statement. She said Jeep seems to be putting its portfolio woes behind with strong sales of its all-new Wrangler, Compass and Cherokee.

Ford still is ramping up production for the all-new Expedition and Navigator full-size SUVs, though LaNeve said the automaker might not be able to meet demand in 2018. Navigators sit on dealer lots an average of 10 days, compared to an average of 17 days for the Expedition. Most automakers like vehicles to have around 60 days’ supply.

Despite LaNeve’s implication that March’s results don’t tell the full story at Ford, the automaker said Tuesday it had no immediate plans to follow GM’s example and change how it reports sales figures.

Tuesday marked the last time GM will report monthly sales. The automaker said it would begin reporting its sales quarterly, just like its earnings, breaking an auto industry practice that has outlasted similar shifts in retailing, technology and other industries.

“Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market,” Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. vice president for sales operations, said in a statement regarding the sales change. “Reporting sales quarterly better aligns with our business, and the quality of information will make it easier to see how the business is performing.”

Said Ford’s LaNeve: “We’re going to assess what they’re doing. It’s interesting and a pretty significant development for the industry.” An FCA spokesman said the company does not have plans to change its sales reporting.

Warren Browne, president of industry consultancy WP Browne Consulting LLC and former GM executive in Europe, doesn’t expect any automaker to follow GM’s decision. The Detroit automaker will still analyze its monthly numbers, he said, because that’s how GM makes production decisions with suppliers and dealers.

“There’s no rationale for doing it quarterly,” Browne said. “The system operates on a monthly schedule. That’s how it breathes. GM is not going to change that system.”

GM ended its monthly reports on a high note. Retail sales were up 14 percent in March on strong performances from all of its brands. Buick sales jumped 28 percent, its best March sales result since 2004. Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC tallied 12.7 percent, 15.6 percent and 11.4 percent increases, respectively.

The March boost puts GM sales up 3.8 percent through the first three months of the year. The company has sold 715,264 vehicles in the U.S. this year, according to Autodata Corp.

FCA saw its retail sales jump 11 percent to 162,304 vehicles. Jeep brand sales shot up 44.7 percent compared to the same month a year ago. Ram brand sales slipped 13.3 percent as the company prepares to launch its all-new Ram 1500 this year.

Ford’s retail sales increased less than 1 percent compared to the same month a year ago, though overall sales increased 3.5 percent to 242,021 vehicles, according to Autodata Corp. Truck sales were up 6.7 percent, SUV sales up 7.5 percent, and car sales slid 8.1 percent. The Lincoln brand saw sales drop 2.1 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

Toyota reported a 3.5 percent increase in March compared to the same month a year ago. American Honda Motor Co. Inc. saw U.S. sales increase 3.8 percent compared to the same month a year ago. And Volkswagen AG’s new Atlas and redesigned Tiguan SUVs buoyed March sales for Germany’s largest automaker, even as car sales fell 31.4 percent for the month.

Silicon Valley electric vehicle-maker Tesla Inc. also reported Tuesday the company made 34,494 vehicles in the first quarter of the year. The company called the quarter Tesla’s most productive quarter in the company’s history. The company made 9,766 Model 3 sedans, which are pegged as Tesla’s “affordable vehicle.”

CEO Elon Musk has been pushing the company to hit production goals on the new Model 3, which have repeatedly been pushed back and delayed. Tesla made 2,020 of the total number of Model 3s in the last seven days, the company reported, missing its goal of producing 2,500 per week. The company delivered 29,980 vehicles in the first quarter of the year. Of those, 11,730 were Model S, 10,070 were Model X, and 8,180 were Model 3.

Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis, said healthy first-quarter numbers indicate the industry is on solid ground, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we another banner year for new-car sales.

“Though March tends to be a prognosticator for the year as a whole,” she said, “if automakers remain disciplined with incentives and further rein in spending, we could potentially see sales start to tumble in the high-volume summer months when shoppers aren’t seeing the deals they are looking for.”


Detroit 3 to get $182M from
Takata for faulty air bags

Keith Laing,
Detroit News
Washington Bureau
April 4, 2018

Washington — Detroit automakers will receive $182.3 million from the restitution fund the former Takata Corp. established as part of its guilty plea for producing millions of defective air-bag inflators that can explode with deadly force.

The United States District Court in the Eastern District Of Michigan said Tuesday that General Motors Co. will receive $86.8 million, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will get $51.8 million and Ford Motor Co. will receive $43.7 million.

The figures are down slightly from a recommendation from those from a special master established to oversee the fund. Recommendations had called for GM to receive $90 million, while Fiat Chrysler would have gotten $53.8 million and Ford would have received $45.3 million.

The payouts follow the recall of nearly 70 million Takata Corp. air bags, which is the largest automotive safety recall in U.S. history. More than 60 companies in all will receive restitution totaling $850 million.

The Japanese air-bag manufacturer, which was sold to Chinese-owned Key Safety Systems that is headquartered in Sterling Heights, will be required to pay $121.5 million to Honda Motor Co., which had the most Takata air bags recalled of any automaker.

The recall of Takata air bags has spread to nearly 13 percent of the total number of registered vehicles in the United States. The faulty air bags have been linked to at least 13 deaths and more than 180 injuries in the United States. Worldwide, 22 have died.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says only 22.3 million of the 50 million air bags recalled by March 2 have been repaired. The defective safety devices from the now-bankrupt Japanese auto supplier were used in 37 million cars, and the problem is expected to grow. Another 20 million faulty air bags in newer cars are expected to be added in the next couple of years.

The older the cars get, the higher the risk: Over time, high humidity can cause the propellant that inflates the safety devices to become unstable and explode with too much force during a crash. That ruptures the metal inflator and throws shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

Fiat Chrysler has about 8.56 million inflators impacted by the recall, and it has repaired about 3.25 million of them according to NHTSA. Ford has 1.57 million recalled air bags, of which it has fixed 756,000. GM has 712,000 recalled air bags and has repaired 400,000.

Honda Motor Co. vehicles are disproportionately represented in the recall numbers. About 16.3 million air bag inflators installed in 11.4 million Hondas and Acuras have been recalled because of safety concerns. The company has repaired about 12.2 million of its faulty Takata air bags, according to NHTSA.


March auto sales: GM up 16%,
FCA up 14%, Ford up 3%

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
April 3, 2018

The Detroit Three all saw U.S. sales increases in March compared to the same time a year ago — a boost after a sluggish start to 2018.

General Motors Co. saw March sales leap 16 percent compared to a year ago on strong Buick, Chevrolet and GMC sales. The Detroit automaker moved 296,341 vehicles in the U.S. last month. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV saw a 14 percent increase in overall sales to 216,063 units. Ford Motor Co., meanwhile, saw sales increase 3.4 percent overall, driven by an 8.7 percent jump in fleet sales.

Tuesday also marked the last time General Motors Co. will report monthly sales. The Detroit automaker announced it would begin reporting its sales quarterly along with earnings.

“Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market,” Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. vice president for sales operations, said in a statement regarding the sales change. “Reporting sales quarterly better aligns with our business, and the quality of information will make it easier to see how the business is performing.”

It’s ending that practice on a high note. GM’s retail sales were up 14 percent in March. The company’s Buick brand sales jumped 28 percent, its best March sales result since 2004. Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC saw 12.7 percent, 15.6 percent and 11.4 percent increases, respectively.

The March boost puts GM sales up 3.8 percent through the first three months of the year. The company has sold 715,794 vehicles in the U.S. this year.

“March was an exceptional month for us. A growing economy and strong new products helped us execute a very successful plan to conquest customers from other brands,” McNeil said in a statement. “Once customers purchase a GM product, they tend to stay in the family as we deliver an award-winning ownership experience that is hard to beat.”

FCA saw its retail sales jump 11 percent to 162,304 vehicles. Jeep brand sales shot up 45 percent compared to the same month a year ago. Ram brand sales slipped 13 percent as the company prepares to launch its all-new Ram 1500 this year.

Ford’s retail sales increased less than a percent compared to the same month a year ago, though overall sales increased 3.4 percent to 244,306 vehicles. Truck sales were up 6.7 percent, SUV sales up 7.5 percent and car sales were down 8.1 percent. The Lincoln brand saw sales drop 2.1 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

Ford’s F-Series saw its best March performance since 2000. Sales of the all-new Expedition grew 46.1 percent, and the Navigator leapt 90.7 percent. Ford reported its average transaction price sits at $36,300 thanks to the new full-size SUVs. The company also moved 3,296 EcoSport compact SUVs last month.

“March represented a strong start to the spring selling season for both Ford and the industry,” Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said in a statement. “We saw incredible demand for our trucks and SUVs, selling over 87,000 F-Series pickups. Ford brand SUVs established a new sales record in March. Demand for our all-new Lincoln Navigator is off the charts, with some customers buying the SUV sight unseen.”

Silicon Valley electric vehicle-maker Tesla Inc. also reported Tuesday the company made 34,494 vehicles in the first quarter of the year. The company called the quarter Tesla’s most productive quarter in Tesla history. The company made 9,766 Model 3 sedans, which are pegged as Tesla’s “affordable vehicle.”

CEO Elon Musk has been pushing the company to hit production goals on the new Model 3, which have repeatedly been pushed back and delayed. Tesla made 2,020 of the total number of Model 3s in the last seven days, the company reported.

“The Model 3 output increased exponentially, representing a fourfold increase over last quarter,” Tesla said in a statement. “This is the fastest growth of any automotive company in the modern era. If this rate of growth continues, it will exceed even that of Ford and the Model T.”

Sales are expected to increase overall in March after automakers saw overall numbers slip in February, and sales tick up a percent in January. Compared to March 2017, analysts from Edmunds expect a roughly 3 percent increase over the same month a year ago. The company’s sales are up 1 percent compared to the first three months of last year.

“Healthy first-quarter numbers indicate the industry is on solid ground, but that doesn’t mean we can expect another banner year for new car sales,” Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis, said in a statement “Though March tends to be a prognosticator for the year as a whole, if automakers remain disciplined with incentives and further rein in spending, we could potentially see sales start to tumble in the high-volume summer months when shoppers aren’t seeing the deals they are looking for.


U.S. explores including wage factor
in NAFTA auto rules, report says

April 2, 2018
Dave Graham

MEXICO CITY -- U.S. trade negotiators have floated a plan to introduce rules under a reworked NAFTA that stipulate a certain amount of automotive production must be carried out in areas paying higher salaries, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Setting such wage requirements for the auto industry under the North American Free Trade Agreement could benefit the United States and Canada, whose unions say that lower Mexican pay has caused a drift in manufacturing capacity to Mexico.

The U.S. plan aims to explore what percentage of output could be in areas paying higher salaries, and at what levels of pay the plan could be targeted, said one of the two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mexico's government and its NAFTA partners were all analyzing the U.S. idea, the source said.

The news follows a week in which hopes have risen that the United States, Mexico and Canada could be closer to brokering agreement on one of the thorniest issues surrounding renegotiation of NAFTA -- content levels for the auto industry.

Last week, industry sources said that the United States had withdrawn a divisive demand that at least 50 percent of NAFTA auto content should come from the United States.

The wage idea was floated after that, the sources said.

The United States, which also wants to raise the minimum auto content threshold for the NAFTA region to 85 percent from 62.5 percent, is exploring setting a wage floor at $15 per hour for the salary component, the second of the sources said.

However, if a deal is reachable, it would likely end up at a lower level than that, the source added.

Mexico's economy ministry had no comment on the matter, a ministry spokesman said.

Alex Lawrence, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said it was a question for the office of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer "as to whether they are going to present something along those lines."

A USTR spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Freeland's office said she would be meeting her NAFTA counterpart Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo on Friday in Toronto to discuss the ongoing renegotiation.

U.S. President Donald Trump has railed against jobs migrating from the United States to Mexico, and threatened to dump the trade deal if it cannot be reworked to his liking.

Making tariff-free access for the industry under NAFTA dependent on using higher-cost labor could reduce the allure of Mexico either by making the target unreachable, or by obliging automakers to pay higher salaries to Mexican workers.

That could send more work to U.S. or Canadian plants.

Progress on auto rules have spurred optimism that the three sides, which have been locked in sluggish talks for months, could reach a deal "in principle" in the coming weeks.

No date has yet been agreed for another formal round of talks, one of the sources said. Mexico said earlier this month the talks had been tentatively set for April 8 in Washington.


Ford CEO Jim Hackett
made $16.7 million last year

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
March 31, 2018

Dearborn — Ford Motor Co. paid new CEO Jim Hackett $16.73 million in 2017. The automaker disclosed its top executives’ pay in a Thursday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The amount paid to Hackett is less than the $22,102,498 the company paid former CEO Mark Fields for all of 2016. The Blue Oval ousted Fields in late May last year, but paid him $21 million in 2017. Hackett officially took over on May 19.

The document filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission details the pay for Ford’s top executives, all of whom have new or expanded roles under Hackett. Joe Hinrichs, president of global operations, and Jim Farley, president of Global Markets, both got pay increases.

Executive pay other than Hackett’s includes:

■Bill Ford Jr., executive chairman: Bill Ford Jr. made $15.63 million last year, which included a $1 million incentive-based bonus. That’s more than the $13,862,938 in total compensation he received in 2016. His base salary dropped to just over $1.6 million in 2016. In 2017, it increased to $1.65 million.

■Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of global operations: Hinrichs’ pay nearly doubled. He made $12.12 million last year, up from the $6,723,531 in total compensation he received in 2016. His 2017 pay included a $1.08 million base salary, and a $1.09 million incentive-based bonus. Hinrichs was appointed to president of global operations under Hackett in 2017. Much of his pay bump is die to stock awards given in 2017.

■Jim Farley, executive vice president and president of global markets: Farley made $13.47 million last year. That’s more than double the $6,609,453 in total compensation he received in 2016, when he was running Ford’s Europe, Middle East and Africa operations. The 2017 pay included a $973,417 base salary, and a $1 million incentive-based bonus. Under Hackett, Farley is head of Ford’s global markets, which involves developing global product plans. Farley was paid a $200,000 discretionary bonus in 2017 for his performance in 2016.

■Bob Shanks, executive vice president and chief financial officer: Shanks made $6.74 million in 2017, which is more than the $6,293,462 in total compensation he received in 2016. Shanks was paid a $309,750 bonus in 2017 for his performance in 2016. His total 2017 earnings included a $885,000 incentive-based bonus.

Bill Ford, Hackett, Hinrichs, Farley, Shanks and Fields all received incentive-based bonuses in 2017, which was included in their total pay. The executives had to meet performance goals in quality, automotive-segment operating cash flow and operating margin, Ford Credit pre-tax profit and automotive revenue to get those bonuses.

Hackett received a $3.6 million incentive-based bonus last year, as did Fields.

The company paid $384,529 for Bill Ford’s personal use of the company’s aircraft, and $957,225 for personal security. Ford paid $282,661 for Fields’ use of the jet.

The Blue Oval will conduct its annual meeting of shareholders online again this year. The Virtual Annual Meeting will take place at 8:30 a.m. May 10. Shareholders can listen, vote and submit questions virtually by logging in at www.virtualshareholdermeeting.com/FORD2018.

Ford and General Motors Co. report their executive salaries differently than Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which does not include some stock and potential performance-based equity awards. GM has not yet reported 2017 salaries.

Ford reported as part of the proxy filing that the median annual total compensation of all its employees other than Hackett was $87,783. FCA did not report this number, because the company reports executive pay differently than Ford.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was paid 9.67 million euros (nearly $12 million) in compensation in 2017, slightly more than he made in 2016, but falling short of 2015 totals when including millions of dollars in stock grants.

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 by the Italian-American automaker in February 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.

GM typically releases its annual proxy in April. GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra was the highest-paid executive in the Detroit Three in 2016, earning $22.58 million. That was down from the $28.59 million she made in 2015. Her 2016 pay included a $2 million base salary, up from $1.75 million in 2015, and $13 million in stock awards, according to GM’s preliminary filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.


New Lincoln Aviator
signals Ford’s direction

Lincoln Motor Co.’s next act begins with an all-new three-row, rear wheel drive SUV, the 2019 Lincoln Aviator, aimed at the heart of the premium market.  Lincoln

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
March 29, 2018

The all-new Lincoln Aviator is a signal how Ford Motor Co. plans to get where it has said it wants to go.

The Dearborn-based automaker two weeks ago gave a product overview for the next two years. The company wants nearly 90 percent of its total vehicles sold in the U.S. to be trucks or SUVs by 2020. This as CEO Jim Hackett and his team work to cut operational costs, streamline production and introduce new or updated vehicles around the world.

Jim Farley, president of global markets, cautions that cuts alone won’t get the company where it wants to go.

“We can’t cut or redesign our way to success,” he told The Detroit News at the New York auto show. “We have to launch product that people love.”

The 2019 Aviator will be about the same size as the Explorer. The pre-production SUV shown in New York has the new Lincoln look: It’s sleek, commanding, reminiscent of other popular three-row luxury utility vehicles, yet unique in its sharp angles, tapered body and beefy front end.

The size is important. The huge Lincoln Navigator is selling faster than Ford can make it, but for some it’s just too big. The Explorer is the company’s second-best-selling SUV, and Farley says should translate over to Lincoln.

If the Aviator sees even part of the success that Ford’s new Expedition and the new Navigator have had since launch, it will boost Lincoln’s bottom line. The automaker is currently in a sales slump — along with much of the rest of the industry — as it moves to start selling a new MKC and the Nautilus crossover SUV later this year. It’s also moving to increase production of the profit-rich Navigator at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant.

Joy Falotico, the new Lincoln president, said the company wants the three-row, rear-wheel drive SUV to nab a chunk of the 20 percent growth automakers expect the luxury SUV segment to see over the next two years.

Falotico, Farley and Lincoln executives all separately said the Aviator is a big moment for a company that’s spent the last four years reinventing itself. The SUV kicks off the next leg of new vehicles for the company, and it does by carrying design cues seen on the eye-catching Continental and Navigator vehicles and amplifying them.


Higher auto wages the
centre of major U.S.
NAFTA proposal

The Canadian Press
March 28, 2018

WASHINGTON — Mexican workers' wages are at the heart of a major proposal from the United States aimed at breaking through an impasse on automobiles and securing a new North American Free Trade Agreement.

The latest U.S. idea incorporates worker salaries into the formula for calculating which cars can avoid tariffs under the auto rules of origin, several sources in different countries said Tuesday.

Sources familiar with the negotiations said it would create incentives for car companies to pay wages far higher than the current average salary in Mexico, which, according to some estimates, is about US$2.04 per hour.

The U.S. has identified Mexican wages as a key priority, for two reasons: creating more middle-class Mexican buyers of imported goods, and reducing the incentive to shift car plants from high-wage countries.

The revelation adds context to enthusiastic comments last week from the Canadian government. Canadian officials said the Americans had proposed creative solutions for achieving their main overarching goal, which is more production in the U.S.

"There's no question it's a step forward," Canadian union leader Jerry Dias said in an interview Tuesday.

"At least people are starting to understand that we have to fix the main problem — which is wages in Mexico," said Dias, president of Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union. "The Mexicans will obviously push back ... but Mexico knows there's not going to be a deal without higher wages."

The negotiations have accelerated, as the U.S. pushes for a new NAFTA within weeks.

Sources say the U.S. has introduced wages as a substitute for dropping its controversial demand that cars have 50 per cent American content, deemed a non-starter by both Canada and Mexico.

The U.S. continues to demand a big increase in the percentage of car parts that must come from North America, from the current 62.5 per cent to around 85 per cent, but higher-wage labour would count as a credit toward the total.

Different sources described different salary levels as the cutoff rate.

Inside U.S. Trade, which first reported on the development, pegged the rate at US$15 per hour. One American briefed on the proposal understood it to include a range from $13 to $17. Dias said he has been briefed and heard it's $15.

U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer hinted at the idea in a public appearance last week.

He told a congressional committee that there are several proposals being discussed that would help achieve his goal of driving up wages in Mexico — another involves guaranteeing that workers can vote on collective agreements by secret ballot.

"There's a whole series of processes that we're involved with in negotiating that (labour) element," Lighthizer told a House of Representatives committee last week.

"That's a hugely important issue. And the objective is to try to get wages up in Mexico — which makes the United States more competitive, but also creates customers for the United States."

The proposal was first floated several days ago, and appears to have kick-started the negotiations. Canada says it's pleased by some of the latest developments, and the U.S. says all three countries are finally converging on a common vision.

One American source, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak frankly about the idea, said some details remain unclear. One example is whether car-makers would get credits toward an overall formula when they use higher-cost labour, or whether every car would have to have a certain percentage of high-paid labour.

"The thing that's clever — ingenious, actually — is it creates an incentive to raise worker salaries," said that American, who is familiar with parts of the proposal.

"You'd be creating this incentive to improve wage levels."

One trade insider said there's strong desire in Washington to drive up Mexican salaries. It may be key to winning Democrats' votes, in particular, in ratifying an eventual deal.

The Democrats are especially vocal in bemoaning stagnant wages in Mexico as a drag on workers across the continent.

"If there is no wage increase (in NAFTA), there is going to have to be very strong provisions in the NAFTA getting rid of what some call white unions, or yellow unions — basically company-sponsored unions," said Dan Ujczo of the law firm Dickinson Wright.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see some type of movement towards setting a wage in Mexico. And I think that would be a red line — for Mexico."

He said Mexico finds itself in a tough spot.

On the one hand, that country is especially anxious to get a deal, with elections approaching and an anti-establishment outsider candidate leading in the polls.

On the other hand, the pro-establishment government in Mexico has systematically opposed the idea of enshrining wage increases in a trade deal.



Lincoln Continental
bringing back
'suicide' doors

A 2002 Lincoln Continental concept car featured 'suicide' doors, but it was never put into production.  (Lincoln)

By Gary Gastelu
Fox News
March 27, 2018

Don’t expect it to call them this, but Lincoln is bringing back “suicide” doors in an effor to inject some life into sales of its Continental.

The automaker revealed the plans to add rear-hinged doors to the full-size sedan at a closed-door meeting with its dealers on Saturday, according to Automotive News. Lincoln would not confirm the report.

More politely referred to as “coach” doors, the design was featured on the most iconic Continentals built from 1961-1969, including the convertible that President Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated in 1963.

The doors went away with the 1970 model and haven’t been seen on a Continental since, save for a 2002 concept that never made it to production. Rear-hinged half doors are common on pickups, and have shown up on a couple of SUVs and sports cars over the years, but the only thing even close to a mainstream brand that uses the full-size version on a sedan today is Rolls-Royce.

If the report is accurate, that’s certainly the kind of upper class image Lincoln will be looking to imbue the Continental with as it struggles to find success for a model that arrived in 2016 with a lot of buzz that hasn’t translate into many buyers.

It hasn’t had the same trouble with the 2018 Navigator as the market shifts towards utilities. Lincoln is planning to increase production of the Navigator by 25 percent this year to keep up with surprising demand for the full-size luxury SUV that’s become its de facto flagship product.


Lincoln to Launch
'Next Chapter'
at NY Show

Lincoln — like Ford’s Blue Oval — is in the midst of a lineup refresh. (Photo: Lincoln)

Ian Thibodeau
Detroit News
March 26, 2018

Lincoln Motor Co. uses the New York auto show as its megaphone, and his year won’t be any different

The luxury automaker’s future is going to look a lot like what was outlined in the Ford Motor’s two-year plan earlier in March. And Lincoln will open its SUV-laden “next chapter” Wednesday in New York when it shows the all-new Aviator ute.

The timing is crucial. Lincoln — like Ford’s Blue Oval — is in the midst of a lineup refresh. And those leading the brand are trying to channel the energy of Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets: They’re anxious to debut updated products with new names, to launch six all-new SUVs over the next several years.

They’re also ready to show a sales dip isn’t necessarily a death sentence, because Ford’s luxury brand is encountering headwinds this year. Sales were down 25 percent through the first two months of the year due in part to the company phasing out its MKX (to be redesigned and renamed “Nautilus” this year) and MKC SUVs as it readies to launch new models there later this year. Meanwhile, the MKZ sedan saw a 39 percent dip through February, and the plush Continental dropped 30 percent in the same time.

Those are big hits as the U.S. auto market shrinks slightly amid an industry-wide sales plateau that has luxury brands battling for market share. Crosstown competitor Cadillac this year is starting a six-month product cadence to flood its lineup with crossover and SUVs; Buick already has a flurry of SUVs. Meantime, Lincoln is bench-marking Acura, Infiniti, and Audi, which currently lead the luxury SUV market.

But Joy Falotico, the newly appointed group vice president of Lincoln, and Robert Parker, director of marketing, sales and service at Lincoln, say they aren’t flustered. Lincoln leaders — under Farley — have a calm confidence about them.

The new Navigator is stealing customers from Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz, the Lincoln executives say. Lincoln’s average transaction price is up $4,600 thanks to the all-new Navigator the company repeatedly says it can’t make enough of.

Since its launch last fall, more than 80 percent of all Navigators sold were either the $93,705 Black Label trim or $81,205 Reserve Trim. Lincoln’s incentive spending hasn’t increased since last year, while luxury carmakers’ incentives have increased more than $700 on average.

That’s an OK problem to have, according to Stephanie Brinley, product analyst with IHS Markit. Lincoln is making more money on a lower sales volume, and spending less money to lower the cost of its vehicles at the dealership.

“The Navigator (sales) are more indicative of where they’re going,” Brinley said. “They’re focusing on the quality of the sale. They’re in the right space. Based on Nautilus, my expectations are high.”

But a behemoth SUV can only carry the brand for so long. Lincoln’s new and refreshed SUVs will hit the market with a big job to do: carry the momentum built by Navigator.

The conversation around the brand has changed since the company launched the new SUV, likened by some to a living room on wheels. The company debuted its standard honeycomb grille on the Continental, but it’s the Navigator’s interior that sets it apart.

Coupled with the “lifestyle” perks Lincoln offers with its Black Label package — annual detailing, access to curated restaurants and additional service from the dealerships — the premium brand is pushing to play in the high-end luxury market.

Parker and others say all of that will carry into the Lincoln products set to debut over the next few years. First is the Aviator, expected to be bigger than the Nautilus, but smaller than the Navigator. After that, Lincoln will debut an unnamed SUV within the next 24 months. Four more vehicles will follow at some time after that.

Amplifying the interior design and materials also gives the brand more residual value, Parker said. Keeping incentive spending down is also important as leasing in the premium space Lincoln competes in grows. Once the vehicles come back to dealers, Lincoln needs to be able to make some money off them again.

The company is adopting Ford CEO Jim Hackett’s push for financial and operational fitness there, Parker said. The product plan that begins to roll out later this year with the Nautilus and MKC refresh will propel the company into a big 2019, he said.

Parker, who’s been in the business 29 years, said Farley’s vision for Lincoln is focused on the long term. Farley and Kumar Galhotra, the former Lincoln head who was recently promoted to lead North American operations, asked questions that looked out a decade or more.

“Lincoln was a collection of sprints,” Parker said. “You had a period of short bursts followed by, for various reasons, a bit of an energy lapse. We have a long-term strategy now. Jim (Farley) was looking a decade out. This is not even a marathon, this is one of those 100-mile races.

“There are things that are going to be a bit bumpy this year, but we know where we’re going. And it’s the right direction.”


2019 Ford Fusion adds
technology, trim options

Ian Thibodeau,   
The Detroit News
March 21, 2018

Ford Motor Co. plans to introduce more SUVs and pickups to its lineup by 2020, but that doesn’t mean all Ford cars are going away. The Blue Oval is updating the Fusion sedan for 2019 to give it a boost as industry sales plateau and U.S. consumers lose interest in cars.

The company on Tuesday showcased a refreshed Fusion sedan featuring an updated fascia and several new standard driver safety features. Though the automaker canceled a scheduled North American redesign for the 2020 model year, Ford officials have said the car is an important piece of the lineup for at least the next few years.

Despite the trend amid U.S. consumers to opt for larger utility vehicles and pickups, Ford’s Fusion was the company’s fourth-best selling vehicle in 2017. The company moved roughly 209,000 Fusions last year. Compare that to nearly 900,000 F-Series, Ford’s best-selling vehicle for years.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” said Corey Holter, car group marketing manager with Ford.

With consumers largely ditching cars, and the entire industry entering a sales plateau, Ford’s car teams packed the 2019 model with technology. The car comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360, a suite of safety features including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot information system, lane keeping system, a rear backup camera and auto high-beam lighting.

That’s a first for Ford. New vehicles over the next two years will come standard with that package. It’s an effort by Ford to lead with technologically-advanced vehicles. Sensors and safety systems are informed by Ford’s years of research on autonomous vehicles.

The 2019 Fusion also gets a boost from Team Edison, the crew of around 220 people involved with electrified vehicles and autonomous vehicle research and innovation.

Holter said the hybrid versions of the Fusion will have increased electric range. The Fusion Energi Titanium — the only plug-in hybrid in the Fusion lineup — will get a range boost using the same battery that’s in the current Fusion Energi models thanks to the electric research team, Holter and his team said Tuesday.

The 2019 model will have six trim levels. Three of those — the Fusion SE, SEL and Titanium — will have hybrid options. Other trims are the base model Fusion S, Fusion Energi and Fusion V6 Sport. The Titanium trim and hybrids also get standard adaptive cruise control.

The company still cut the number of orderable combinations on the 2019 model down to 36, down from thousands possible on the previous model. That’s a directive from CEO Jim Hackett, who’s currently steering the company to cut billions in operating costs, increase hybrid options and build bigger vehicles with bigger profit margins and a bigger audience.

Streamlining the possible combinations meant standardizing some features on lower trims that customers previously couldn’t get without additional fees. An 8-inch LCD touch screen is now standard for Fusion SE and above models, for example.

SE and above also come standard with with a 4G LTE modem as part of Hackett’s push to have 100 percent of new vehicles sold be “connected” to a network by 2019.

After the 2019 model year, it’s unclear what will happen to one of Ford’s best-selling vehicles.

The company won’t say what sedans it plans to cut over the next few years as it shifts to sell SUVS and trucks. Ford has said the next-generation Focus sedan will be built in China and exported to the U.S. starting in 2019. The automaker canceled the previously planned North American redesign program for the 2020 Fusion. The company has not released plans for the North American Fiesta, C-Max or Taurus.

The 2019 model will be assembled at Ford’s Hermosillo Stamping & Assembly plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, and will go on sale late this summer.



Ford bets future on rich
past of pickups, SUVs

Daniel Howes,
The Detroit News
March 20, 2018

Dearborn — The Blue Oval has seen the future and it looks a whole lot like its past, a rich heritage in trucks, SUVs and performance vehicles.

Ten months after CEO Jim Hackett’s battlefield promotion to replace Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co. began Thursday to detail how it plans to strengthen the core business and improve its financial gearing amid an industry shift toward mobility, autonomy and electrification.

It starts by embracing market trends that favor Ford’s legacy of producing the industry’s best-selling pickup and the best-selling three-row SUV. An estimated 86 percent of Ford’s sales volume in the United States by 2020 will be pickups, a proliferating SUV portfolio and the industry’s broadest truck-based lineup of commercial vehicles. Lincoln, struggling to keep pace with the luxury pack, will field six new SUVs over time — two within the next two years.

All gas guzzlers all the time? Not quite. Every model will be available with hybrid gas-electric powertrains, recognition that fuel economy must continue improving. Theoretically that means Ford will offer customers hedges against rising fuel prices, further legitimizing electrified options slow to gain traction in the market.

Another imperative: coming to terms with the death of the Great American Car, a reckoning Ford has been slower than its rivals to embrace. In its “Ford Uncovered” spiel Thursday at the Product Development Center showroom in Dearborn, the automaker confirmed nothing about the futures of its car lineup.

It didn’t have to. Saying next to nothing delivers a message all its own: in coming years, three-box sedans with names like Fiesta and Focus, Fusion and Taurus, are likely to occupy much less space in Blue Oval showrooms and account for a lot less revenue in the quarterly numbers.

Ford is likely to eliminate at least two car models from its U.S. lineup, to be confirmed perhaps by the end of the year. The truth is, Ford can’t grow its North American portfolio to nearly 90 percent pickups, SUVs and commercial vehicles without trimming car models — and, no, Mustang would not be one of them.

“To some extent, they got way too dependent on cars,” said Joe Phillippi, president of New Jersey-based Auto Trends Consulting. “The real question is, how did you miss the SUV explosion? Everybody’s betting on crossovers and SUVs. They are still a truck company, no doubt about it.”

Only now Ford is admitting it, unambiguously. Telling in confabs like Thursdays is what’s not said — implicit criticism of restructuring not done in the product development process and the model lineup during Fields’ profitable three-year tenure, to name one obvious example.

Or that superstar CEO Alan Mulally’s strategy of small, medium and large versions of cars, trucks and SUVs didn’t position Ford so well for the unmistakable market shift to trucks and SUVs. The result: too many cars fewer people want and not enough profit-rich SUVs and pickups they do want.

Or the reason that Ford is partnering with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co. in China on small battery-electric vehicles and the Mahindra Group in India: Ford’s offerings in those major global markets generally are too big and too expensive to grow the automaker’s business in two countries it does not want to abandon.

In that sense, Ford appears poised to follow a different path than its crosstown rival. General Motors Co. bolted Russia, left India and sold out in Europe after 90 years. The Blue Oval aims to stay the course in all three and boost margins, even if it means recruiting a partner or two to remain relevant and to get smarter.

The wisdom of the path taken will be in the execution, especially the bottom line. As much as the promise of new products excites would-be customers, it’s the duller, behind-the-scenes moves in engineering and manufacturing that can fatten profits and change sentiment among investors and those who might be.

Roughly six months ago, Hackett issued a challenge to Hau Thai-Tang, executive vice president of product development and purchasing: restructure Ford’s product development process to shorten the time from sketch to showroom and cut costs in the process.

The result, says President of Global Operations Joe Hinrichs, is a 20 percent reduction in the costly process. Ford will shift from “platforms” underpinning families of vehicles to five “flexible architectures” the automaker expects to reduce costs, improve quality and increase efficiency. And a 25 percent reduction in plant changeover time should add $50 million to the bottom line.

“Speed and execution is really important,” Hinrichs said in an interview. “It is fair to say on our process — which had become collegial and consensus-building ... it wasn’t clear who got to make the decisions. There’s clarity now in who makes what decisions and how we execute.”

There should be. After more than a year of relative turmoil, Ford’s management needs stability and a clear line of thinking to negotiate fundamental, often contradictory, change in the transportation space. Thursday’s product preview is a step in that direction, albeit just the next 24 months out.

Credit the product planners in Dearborn for recognizing that emotion still matters in the business. The next-generation Explorer will be offered in a performance ST model, joining the Edge ST unveiled at the Detroit auto show. A hybridized Mustang, coming to a showroom near you, will be available, too, as well as the most powerful Mustang ever, the GT500 with a punch of more than 700 horsepower.

Still, Ford is making up for lost time. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV CEO Sergio Marchionne abandoned car production in the United States a couple of years ago. His product folks routinely juice sales with hotter versions of Dodge Challengers and Chargers built in Canada.

And left unremarked is Ford’s strategy to play and win in the race for supremacy in self-driving cars. It’s no accident GM chose Thursday to say it would build its Cruise AV autonomous car and accompanying self-driving modules in southeast Michigan.

The competitive implication: What about this, Ford? It’s a fair question, and the Blue Oval will need to answer it soon enough — because that’s part of its future, too.


U.S. could be leaning toward
NAFTA compromise

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said “time is running
very short” to get a deal before “political headwinds” complicate matters.

Joan Bryden
The Canadian Press
March 19, 2018

OTTAWA—American trade officials are showing new-found interest in a Canadian proposal for revamping NAFTA’s automotive provisions as the U.S. seeks to swiftly conclude renegotiations of the continental free trade pact.

And that’s being taken in some quarters as a sign that the U.S. may realize it will have to settle for making only modest progress on a handful of American demands if there’s to be any hope of concluding a deal within the next few weeks.

At the conclusion of the last round of negotiations in Mexico earlier this month, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer said “time is running very short” to get a deal before “political headwinds” — Mexico’s presidential election in July, American midterms in November and provincial elections in Ontario and Quebec — start to complicate matters.

For the first time, Lighthizer made public his hope of completing a NAFTA deal — including the legally required six-month congressional consultation period and ratification vote — before a new Congress gets sworn in next January.

That would mean reaching a deal with Canada and Mexico during or very soon after the next round of talks, which have not yet been officially scheduled but are expected to start on April 8 in Washington and last at least 10 days.

Canadian government officials are privately skeptical that a deal can be concluded at such a breakneck pace, particularly since Mexico’s presidential campaign officially kicks off at the end of this month and no candidate can afford to be perceived as conceding anything to U.S. President Donald Trump, who is political kryptonite in that country.

They believe the only way it can happen is if the U.S. drops many of its controversial demands and accepts modest changes in just a few key areas — in particular on automobiles, which Canadian officials have believed from the outset would be the key to a successful renegotiation.

Lighthizer himself listed autos earlier this month as one of three priorities for the U.S.

Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, concurs with the Canadian assessment.

“I would agree with all of that,” he said in an interview.

And the fact that USTR officials finally agreed to meet with him two weeks ago leads Volpe to suspect that they may have come to the same conclusion.

“That was a good meeting. It gave me hope,” he said, noting that U.S. trade officials had not accepted an invitation to meet with him during the first six months of the negotiations.

“If you look at the fact USTR was willing to receive me in Washington for a real meeting, it is the best signal to me that we could be in a phase where we get over the hump.”

In the meeting, Volpe said the Americans reiterated their opening demand — that vehicles must have 85 per cent North American content and 50 per cent American content to be eligible for duty-free movement across the three countries, up from the current NAFTA requirement of 62.5 per cent North American content — which has been rejected as a non-starter by Canada, Mexico and the industry.

But he said they were also “intellectually curious” about Canada’s counterproposal.

Canada has proposed that NAFTA’s list of traceable components that go into cars and trucks be updated to include not just things such as steel, aluminum and plastics but also intellectual property — like the software behind the computerized parts that are now integral to most vehicles and destined to become even more so as the industry embarks on an era of self-driving automobiles.

That would favour the U.S., Volpe said, because of the concentration of high-tech electronics clusters in that country.

When Canada first put its proposal on the NAFTA table back in late January, Lighthizer rejected it, predicting it would lead to more Asian content in vehicles — precisely the opposite of what the U.S. was trying to achieve.

But Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, the union that represents Canadian auto workers, said his read is that the proposal “wasn’t offensive to anybody” and that all three countries could live with it.

Nevertheless, he doubted that it provides sufficient basis to strike even a scaled-down deal by next month, unless Canada and Mexico both “capitulate” on other unpalatable U.S. demands. And that, he predicted, is “not going to happen,” particularly not with Mexico embarking on its presidential campaign in two weeks.

“My guess is this thing isn’t going anywhere,” Dias said.

The U.S. has proposed a number of so-called poison pills that Canada and Mexico have flatly rejected, including: elimination of NAFTA’s dispute resolution mechanisms; a sunset clause that would automatically terminate NAFTA unless it was renewed by all three countries every five years; and Buy American provisions to limit the number of American public contracts that could be awarded to Canadian and Mexican companies.

The U.S. has also demanded an end to Canada’s supply management system, which limits imports on milk, cheese and poultry, and sets minimum prices. Some trade experts suspect the Trudeau government may be willing to accept a small increase in U.S. dairy imports, similar to what was agreed to in the original Trans-Pacific Partnership, before Trump withdrew the U.S. from that trade deal.


Ford launches product blitz,
plans to replace 75% of
N.A. lineup in two years

Four new nameplates planned

Automotive News
Michael Martinez
March 18, 2018

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. said it would replace more than 75 percent of its North American lineup and add four nameplates within the next two years. It said the product blitz would reduce the average age of its fleet to 3.3 years from 5.7, giving it the industry's freshest lineup among full-line automakers.

The automaker plans to add two off-road SUVs and create hybrid or electric versions of its other utilities with the expectation that light trucks will account for nearly seven out of every eight vehicles it sells in 2020.

South of the Canadian border, Ford said it aims to supplant Toyota Motor Corp. as the top seller of hybrid vehicles in the United States in three years as part of a dramatic reshaping of its lineup to focus heavily on utility vehicles and pickups.

By 2020, Ford expects pickups, utilities and vans to be 86 per cent of its sales, up from about 70 per cent today. It will have eight utilities in North America, up from six today.

Ford plans to offer a hybrid variant -- either a traditional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or both -- on every new utility it adds or redesigns moving forward. The automaker expects to overtake Toyota in hybrid sales in the United States by 2021. Ford is currently No 2.

"We're moving past hybrids as a science project," Jim Farley, Ford's president of global markets, told reporters during an event at the automaker's product development center. "They're an accepted, reliable technology, and we want to make them as emotional and valuable as the desirable EcoBoost."

The announcements followed months of pressure by analysts and investors who have asked for more concrete proof of Ford's plans to cut costs and transform its business. Wall Street and industry observers in recent months have criticized Ford as having an outdated product portfolio that, outside of the F series and Mustang, relies too heavily on low-margin cars and older SUVs.

"Our passion for great vehicles is stronger than ever," Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in a statement. "This showroom transformation will thrill customers, drive profitable growth and further build toward our future of smart vehicles for a smart world."


Ford's new utility offerings will fall into one of two categories: performance-oriented or off-road.

"Where we compete is what you're seeing Ford bet on," Farley said. "We don't just want to be in the generic SUV business. We want to be either in the performance or in the high-speed, off-road business."

That means an expansion of the Ford Performance ST badge, which Ford has already announced for the freshened Edge coming this year. There will also be an Explorer ST, Farley said Thursday.

He also said Ford will offer a "lineup of off-road SUVs," including a small, purpose-built SUV and the Bronco, which is arriving in 2020.

Farley said Ford was looking to target brands such as Jeep and Land Rover but with a different customer in mind.

"Both of these vehicles are for a growing group of people who want to simplify their life and get out there with their family and friends," he said. "For Jeep, that's rock-crawling in Moab. For Ford, our people want true off-road vehicles that are comfortable at high speeds. They don't want SUVs that look like doomsday vehicles or have spartan, government-issued interiors."

Additionally, Farley said Lincoln plans to offer two SUVs by 2020, including the Explorer-based Aviator. He said the luxury brand will add four utilities after 2020 but declined to go into specifics.

In addition to off-road SUVs, Ford has said it plans to unveil a Mustang-inspired battery-electric SUV, tentatively referred to as the Mach 1.

"That vehicle is going to be famous without having to shoot it up in space," Farley said, in a reference to Elon Musk's stunt that launched a Tesla Roadster via a SpaceX rocket last month.


Ford is working to make its vehicle-building process more efficient. It expects to achieve US$4 billion in engineering efficiencies over the next five years.

Among those efficiencies, it's reducing by 20 per cent the time it takes a vehicle to go from a sketch to the showroom, and it's improving its plant changeover time by 25 per cent.

Moving forward, Ford said it plans to build its vehicles off five flexible, modular architectures. They are: front-wheel-drive unibody; rear-wheel-drive unibody; commercial unibody; body-on-frame; and battery electric.

Ford also will significantly reduce the number of combinations available for order. For example, Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of global operations, said there will be just two or three different moonroofs instead of today's seven.

Roughly 80 per cent of Ford vehicles are built using only 10 to 20 per cent of combinations, he said.

"Every action we now take is driven by what will serve our customers in a way that supports our business priorities," Hinrichs said.


Ford also plans to offer more standard driver-assistance technology. It has rolled out a number of features over the years, but now plans to package five of them together under a new name: Ford Co-Pilot360. That includes automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitor, backup camera, lane keep assist and auto high beams.


Ford Canada recalls 62,000
sedans because steering
wheels could fall off

Automotive News
March 15, 2018
Michael Martinez

Ford Motor Co. is recalling nearly 1.4 million Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, including 62,479 in Canada, because loose bolts could allow the steering wheel to come off.

The automaker said it knows of two accidents and one injury linked to the problem, which U.S. federal regulators began investigating in October. Ford said the steering wheel bolt can loosen over time, resulting in detachment of the wheel and a loss of steering control.

The recall covers the following vehicles:

2014-17 Fusions built in Flat Rock, Mich., from Aug. 6, 2013, to Feb. 29, 2016.

2014-18 Fusions and MKZs built in Hermosillo, Mexico, from July 25, 2013, to March 5, 2018.

The vast majority of the vehicles were sold in the U.S., while some are in Canada and Mexico, Ford said.

Ford is telling dealers to install a longer steering-wheel bolt "with more robust thread engagement and larger nylon patch placed properly for proper torque retention."

It's the second time in the last month that an automaker has had to initiate a recall for steering wheels that can fall off. Hyundai recalled some of its Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport crossovers in late February, saying the steering wheel assembly could break. The automaker recalled 44,000 in the United States and Hyundai Canada recalled 8,456 of the utility vehicles.


Separately, Ford said Wednesday that it would recall about 6,000 cars for potential clutch plate fractures that could increase the chance of a fire. That recall covers the 2013-16 Ford Focus with a 1.0-litre Fox GTDI engine and B6 manual transmission and the 2013-15 Ford Fusion with a 1.6-litre GTDI engine and B6 manual transmission.

The Focuses were built in Wayne, Mich., from July 2014 through June 2016, while the Fusions were made in Hermosillo from March 2012 through June 2014. Ford said it's not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this recall.


FCA/UAW scandal widens
as 5th person charged

Robert Snell,
The Detroit News
March 14, 2018

Detroit – The UAW public corruption prosecution widened Tuesday as a former labor leader was accused of buying luggage, electronics, designer clothes and golf equipment with money that was supposed to help train blue-collar workers.

Keith Mickens, 64, of Detroit, a former senior UAW official assigned to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, is the fifth person charged in a corruption scandal that has led to four convictions. Mickens was charged in a criminal information, which means a guilty plea is expected.

He was charged in federal court with violating the Labor Management Relations Act, a five-year felony. The law prohibits employers or those working for them from paying, lending or delivering money or other valuables to officers or employees of labor organizations — and from labor leaders from accepting such items.

His attorney declined comment Tuesday.

The charge is the latest in a conspiracy that has led to a shakeup at the highest levels of the U.S. auto industry and which raised questions about the sanctity of labor negotiations that determine pay, benefits and working conditions for thousands of workers.

The charge, like the others, is part of a scandal involving UAW training centers funded by all three Detroit automakers.

Mickens is accused of conspiring with Alphons Iacobelli, a former Fiat Chrysler labor executive, the late UAW Vice President General Holiefield and others. Mickens served as Holiefield’s administrative assistant and left the UAW in 2015.

The conspiracy ran from 2010 until 2015 and involved Fiat Chrysler officials giving money and valuable items to UAW officials, according to prosecutors.

Iacobelli, former Fiat Chrysler analyst Jerome Durden and others used the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center bank accounts and credit cards to hide the payments to Mickens and others, including former senior UAW official Virdell King, according to the government.

Prosecutors allege that Iacobelli and other UAW-Chrysler training center officials created a liberal spending policy to keep senior UAW leaders “fat, dumb and happy.”

In May 2011, Mickens and others arranged for Holiefield’s then-girlfriend to fly first-class from Michigan to California, according to federal court records. The trip cost more than $2,100 and was paid for with training center funds.

The date of the trip matches an allegation that first emerged last summer when prosecutors indicted Iacobelli and Holiefield’s widow, Monica Morgan-Holiefield.

Iacobelli and Morgan-Holiefield have pleaded guilty for their roles in the scandal and are awaiting sentencing in federal court.

From 2012 to 2015, Mickens, Holiefield and others continued using training center credit cards to pay for personal purchases, according to court records.

In January 2013, Mickens used his training center credit card to buy more than $1,000 worth of luggage, according to the government.

By 2014, Mickens had spent more than $6,500 in training center funds on electronics, designer clothes and golf equipment for himself and other UAW leaders, according to court records.

Mickens also served as vice president of Holiefield’s charity Leave the Light on Foundation as recently as 2013. Prosecutors said the charity was used to conceal payments to Holiefield from Fiat Chrysler.

“We are deeply disappointed by the illegal misconduct alleged in today’s charge against Keith Mickens, a former UAW staff person," UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said in a statement. "The scheme set out in the charge against Mr. Mickens did not affect the negotiation of the terms of our collective bargaining agreements or involve the loss of any union funds.”

Durden and King, meanwhile, are awaiting sentencing in federal court after striking plea deals with federal prosecutors.

Durden 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.

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


Ford brings back California
Special Mustang for 2019

Ford Motor Co. will bring back the Mustang GT California Special for the 2019 model year.

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
March 12, 2018

If the limited edition 2019 Mustang Bullitt nods to Hollywood, Ford Motor Co.’s other limited run for the 2019 Mustang invokes the entire Golden State.

The Dearborn-based automaker will bring back the Mustang GT California Special for the 2019 model year. Launching this summer, the souped-up drop top gets a fading side racing stripe, a blacked-out open grille and a California Special script on the trunk lid for exterior cosmetic tweaks.

But the pony car gets a little more power, too. The GT has a 5.0-liter V-8 engine delivering 460 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft of torque. That’s mated to a 6-speed manual transmission with an available performance package.

The California Special gets black suede-trimmed seats and special badging throughout. The Mustang comes with a customized Bang & Olufsen audio system that uses 12 speakers.

The vehicle, like the Bullitt, will be available in “vintage-inspired” colors, Ford said, including Velocity Blue and Need for Green.

“No doubt, 2019 is an exciting year for Mustang enthusiasts, especially fans of our California Special and Bullitt models,” Corey Holter, Ford car group marketing manager, said in a statement. “This year further targets hardcore Mustang enthusiasts who want even more performance from Bullitt...”

The California Special started when regional Ford dealers began personalizing Mustang designs shortly after the car launched in 1964. The original version had a blacked-out grille, fog lamps and a side racing stripe.

Ford began producing a limited number of the car in 1968. It’s since launched special edition pony cars of the California Special in 2007 and 2011.

The California Special gets black suede-trimmed seats and special badging throughout. The Mustang comes with a customized Bang & Olufsen audio system that uses 12 speakers. (Photo: Ford Motor Co


Automakers say ‘have it your
way’ with myriad options

Ford allows customers to personalize their Mustang emblem with a colorful design. Other automakers offer similar deals as they look for ways to make their most famous — and profitable — products stand out.

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
March 8, 2018

You can personalize your Nikes, why not your car?

Sales of new cars have leveled out after record years in 2015 and 2016. As the market shrinks, carmakers are offering as many customizable options as possible to grab new buyers and give others reasons to return.

Take Ford Motor Co.’s effort to promote the 2018 Mustang. Fans and owners can use a simple design-engine online to create a custom multi-hued pony-emblem for the grille. The cost to add stripes and swooshes for a horse of a different color is $68. They also can print their painted pony on T-shirts, mugs and stickers.

“When you start to talk about customization from a personalization standpoint, we haven’t seen the limit yet,” said Mark Schaller, Mustang brand manager at Ford. “Every car is set up a little different. There’s always customization in every single Mustang we sell.”

The Mustang is an example of what analysts say is an emerging trend across the industry. Automakers are looking for ways to make their most famous — and profitable — products stand out.

In the market for a new pickup? The 2019 Ram 1500 will debut with seven trim levels, all with different interiors aimed at different buyers.

The Rebel trim is the Ram’s sportiest model, outfitted with red highlights inside, an aggressive grille and off-road tuning.

Ram’s Longhorn trim targets the most specific market: It has a Western theme, which Fiat Chrysler says is a big seller in the Southwest. Its tan-and-brown leather and wood interior is branded with filigrees like you might find on a dinner-plate belt buckle.

Ford’s F-150 has more than 35 build-combinations. The Chevy Silverado has five specific appearance packages.

The 2018 Camaro has four trim levels with varying color schemes and interiors. A Redline Edition blacks out the front and rear emblems, has a red-accented grille, dark-finish tail lamps and 20-inch black wheels.

Toyota offers a Toyota Racing Development off-roading lineup for the Tacoma, 4Runner and Tundra. They get unique badging, blacked-out exterior details and LED lighting in addition to more powerful engines, Kevlar-reinforced tires, skid plates and terrain-control systems.

“It’s certainly good business for automakers,” said Brian Moody, executive editor of Autotrader and analyst with Atlanta-based Cox Automotive. “Without spending a lot of (research and development) money, they give buyers the option to buy a different-looking car but still offering them the car they want.”

Ford’s Schaller says the custom pony badge is one way to keep the product fresh and fun.

Ford is feeling the sales plateau like every other automaker and, while the pickup wars ramp up this year, the Big Three muscle-car teams are battling for market share, too.

“With the new-car market shrinking, automakers are exploring different ways to capture the attention of buyers in order to maintain or grow market share,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds, an industry analysis company. “The idea of customization is especially effective in segments where consumers are passionate about their vehicles like sports cars and SUVs. These owners typically delight in making adjustments to their vehicles as a greater reflection of their own personality.”

For the Mustang team, it’s easy to push the envelope with perks. A Mustang customer is already looking for something beyond basic transportation.

“Mustang is never a rational choice,” Schaller said. “Someone never says ‘I want a very practical car’ and walks away with a Mustang. We want that customer to be able to buy in and experience their car in their own way.”


Wynne gets rough ride
from autoworker at town
hall meeting in Ancaster

“I respect you as premier but I’m a little pissed off right now,” the man told the premier as she faced questions over why auto industry workers were excluded from new employment standards laws. Wynne was also grilled on the province’s marijuana legalization plan.

Toronto Star
By Rob Ferguson
Queen's Park Bureau
March 7, 2018

Premier Kathleen Wynne got a rough ride from an autoworker Tuesday night as she faced voters at a town hall meeting in Ancaster.

“I respect you as premier but I’m a little pissed off right now,” said a man in a bright yellow safety vest who identified himself only as Doug.

His concern was about the way auto industry workers were excluded from new employment standards laws providing others with a minimum of 10 personal emergency leave days a year, for illnesses or pressing family matters.

“You didn’t listen to autoworkers,” added Doug, who noted he gets just seven days and fears he could use them up in one go if he was injured or contracted a serious illness.

Wynne said the exclusion of auto workers is part of a pilot project that will be reviewed. Previously, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn has said the auto industry operates in “a particularly competitive global sector.”

“I get that there’s a difference” in the leave time, she added at the forum moderated by Hamilton Spectator managing editor Howard Elliott.

The talk is the latest in a series of town halls organized and paid for by the government to make Wynne, who is struggling with low personal popularity in public opinion polls ahead of the June 7 election, more accountable and accessible to the public.

She also faced questions about the future of the local steel industry amid threats of tariffs from U.S. President Donald Trump and the possible demise of NAFTA, the basic income pilot project as a possible alternative to traditional welfare, school repair budgets and the plan for government stores to sell marijuana instead of private cannabis stores once the federal government legalizes recreational pot this summer.

One woman who works at a private cannabis shop for medical users accused the premier of “criminalizing law-abiding citizens” and questioned her on why Ontario did not opt for a “mixed” retail model of government and private retailers as is the case in British Columbia and Alberta.

Wynne said the province is keeping stores in government hands to “undercut the black market” but was immediately challenged by the woman.

“Forty stores is not going to undercut the black market,” she retorted.

“I hear we’ve got a difference of opinion on this,” said Wynne, noting the plan for 40 stores is just a start.

The premier is holding another town hall meeting Wednesday evening at the Design Exchange in downtown Toronto to mark International Women’s Day.

Previous town halls have been held in Toronto, Ottawa, Brampton and Windsor.


Court Order Investigation of
$3 Billion Dollar Payout
to Sears Shareholders

Shoppers enter and leave a Sears retail store in Toronto in October 2017. The Superior Court is appointing a litigation investigator to review $3 billion in payments made to sears shareholders.

Canadian Press
March 6, 018

Superior Court has appointed a litigation investigator to review $3 billion in payments made to Sears Canada shareholders, while the company's pension fund had a nearly $300 million shortfall.

The court has ordered litigation investigator Lax O'Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP to look into the claims and report to a committee of creditors with recommendations about litigation to be pursued.

Sears pensioners requested the investigator's appointment in hopes of recouping some of the money they say has been missing since the company filed for bankruptcy last year.

The workers' complaints partially target U.S. hedge fund ESL Investments and its CEO Eddie Lampert, who took control of Sears in 2005 and received some of the $3 billion.

$611M in Sears Canada dividend payments under review by court monitor

Sears pensioners try to recoup missing money by going after billions paid to shareholders

In a blog post, Lampert has previously claimed that Sears had $500 million in cash available for use and no debt after the divided payments were made.

He said his company suffered significant losses from Sears's bankruptcy.

He also blamed former workers for conflating numbers in Sears' retirement plan with health, dental and life insurance that he claims has gone unfunded since 2008.


UAW trust sells $1.6B
worth of GM stock

Nora Naughton,
The Detroit News
March 6, 2018

The United Auto Workers’ retiree health care trust unloaded 40 million of its shares in General Motors Co. worth $1.6 billion, a move that risks the trust’s ability to replace retired UAW Vice President Joe Ashton on the automaker’s board of directors.

The UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust is still likely GM’s largest stakeholder with a remaining 100.15 million shares. But that might fall below the threshold detailed in the 2009 stockholder’s agreement between GM, the UAW trust and the U.S. Treasury that guarantees the trust representation on the board.

The 2009 agreement says the UAW trust must own at least 50 percent of the shares it initially acquired following the automaker’s federally-induced bankruptcy. But it’s unclear if the initial number of shares acquired includes a three-way stock split ahead of GM’s November 2010 initial public offering that increased the UAW trust’s shares from 87.5 million to 262.5 million.

The UAW’s health care trust sold 40 million GM shares Friday valued at $39.71 each, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In an earlier filing last Tuesday, GM detailed the trust’s intention to sell nearly a third of its stake in the automaker.

If the UAW trust’s 262.5 million shares reported in GM’s 2010 filing with the SEC are considered its original acquisition, the trust’s holdings would fall to 38 percent of what it initially acquired, no longer guaranteeing a board seat. But based on the 87.5 million shares reflected in the 2009 stockholder’s agreement, the UAW trust actually owns some 12 million more shares than first amassed.

The UAW trust lost its representative on GM’s board in December when Ashton abruptly resigned. It wouldn’t be able to nominate a replacement until the automaker’s annual shareholders’ meeting in June, at which time issues of governance would be addressed, a GM spokesman said.

As a large shareholder, the UAW trust still is empowered to nominate someone for the board in June. At issue with the stock sale is whether that board seat would be guaranteed.

Talks are continuing between GM, the UAW and the health care trust on whether the union trust would keep the seat, according to sources familiar with the situation. In a year-end roundtable, UAW president Dennis Williams said the union intended to keep the seat vacated by the resignation of Ashton.

A spokeswoman for the retiree trust declined to comment on discussions surrounding the UAW trust’s place on GM’s board of directors, and deferred comments on the stock sale to Brock Fiduciary Services, the trust’s independent fiduciary and investment manager for its GM shares. A representative from Brock did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The UAW retiree trust will receive all of the proceeds from this offering, and none of the shares are being sold by GM, according to the automaker’s Tuesday statement. GM plans to repurchase a portion of the 40 million shares the trust is selling, valuing about $100 million as the price per share at the time of the offering. Based on GM’s closing listed in the SEC filing, that would amount to about 2.5 million shares.

The UAW trust’s share sale comes as federal officials are pressing ahead with an investigation of the joint training centers funded by Detroit’s three automakers. A vice president of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and the wife of a deceased UAW vice president already have pleaded guilty to charges in an alleged scheme involving the embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the funds earmarked for member training.

It’s still not clear what caused Ashton’s sudden resignation, which GM announced in a four-sentence news release at the time. He left the board shortly after being linked to a federal grand jury investigation into auto industry corruption.

Ashton also resigned amid a separate internal investigation GM launched this fall after learning of the widening federal investigation. His departure came six weeks after The Detroit News reported that he had drawn the scrutiny of federal agents looking into potential corruption at UAW joint training centers funded by all three automakers.


Ford recalls 2,100 Taurus
sedans with key ignition

Nora Naughton,
The Detroit News
March 5, 2018

Ford Motor Co. is recalling about 2,100 newer Taurus sedans with a key-activated ignition, not push-button start, because the key could be removed from the ignition when the gear shift is not in the park position.

This potential defect could increase the risk of a rollaway vehicle, Ford said in a statement Friday announcing the recall.

Affected vehicles include 2017-18 Ford Taurus sedans with a physical key and non-push button start built at the Chicago Assembly Plant from July 21, 2017 to Feb. 13, 2018, Ford said.

Ford dealers will replace the vehicle’s shifter assembly for free.

The issue with the Taurus ignition and shifter assembly is different from an ignition switch recall at General Motors Co. in 2014 linked to 124 deaths. In those vehicles, the key could be bumped out of the “run” position by a knee or heavy keychain while the vehicle was driving, cutting power to the engine and power steering, and preventing airbag deployment.


Ford plans temporary layoffs
for Ranger, Bronco retool

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News
March 4, 2018

Ford Motor Co. will temporarily lay off 2,000 hourly employees at Michigan Assembly and Stamping Plants in Wayne in early May to retool the facility for production of the 2019 Ford Ranger and 2020 Ford Bronco there.

The temporary layoffs will last until Oct. 22, according a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notice obtained by The Detroit News.

Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said in a statement late Friday that the temporary closure will not eliminate any jobs. Employees with a year seniority will receive roughly 75 percent of their take-home pay during the layoff period, which lasts from May 7 to Oct. 22, according to the notice.

“This is a temporary measure as we undertake extensive retooling to transform the plant to build the Ford Ranger, followed by the Ford Bronco,” Felker said. “The affected employees all will return to work — either at Michigan Assembly or at another Ford facility.”

In an interview at the Detroit auto show, Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of global operations, told The Detroit News that the plant was “getting back to its roots” by retooling for the truck and SUV. He said then that employees at the plant were excited to build those two iconic nameplates.

The Dearborn automaker announced roughly a year ago that it would invest an additional $150 million at Michigan Assembly above investments negotiated as part of the 2015 United Auto Workers contract. Negotiated as a part of that contract was a $700 million investment to retool the plant for truck and SUV production.

The retooling comes as Ford pushes to grow its share of the lucrative SUV and truck market. Though the F-150 has been the best-selling truck in the U.S. for decades, the Blue Oval is reviving the Ranger in early 2019 to re-enter the midsize truck market it left in 2011.

The new Bronco, about which the company has not revealed many details, will join Ford’s SUV lineup at a time when U.S. consumers desire bigger vehicles.

To make room for those storied nameplates, Ford is removing the Focus and C-Max cars currently built in Wayne. The next-generation Focus will be built in China and exported for distribution to U.S. showrooms. The company has not said what will happen with to the C-Max, though there has been no announcement about where the vehicle will be made once Michigan Assembly begins the retooling process.

United Auto Workers representatives could not be reached Friday afternoon for comment on the retooling.


Bill Morneau downplays a
universal pharmacare program

The finance minister says the goal is to make sure all Canadians can
get the drugs they need but the federal strategy won’t necessarily
replace existing public and private plans.

By Bruce Campion-Smith
Toronto Star
Ottawa Bureau

March 2, 2018

OTTAWA—The federal government is reigning in expectations for a new national pharmacare plan, saying it will be “fiscally responsible” in moving forward on a program to only fill existing gaps in drug coverage.

Tuesday’s budget revealed the government’s ambition to make national pharmacare a reality with the creation of an advisory council led by Dr. Eric Hoskins, who resigned his post as Ontario’s health minister to take on the new role.

The government’s goal is to ensure “all Canadians have access to pharmaceuticals,” federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Wednesday.

But as he launched efforts to publicize budget initiatives, Morneau sought to dial down expectations that the potential pharmacare program would completely replace existing public and private drug plans.

He even took pains to stress that the government is considering a “strategy,” not a “plan.”

“We recognize that we need a strategy to deal with the fact that not everyone has access and we do it in a way that is responsible, that deals with the gaps, that doesn’t throw out the system that we currently have,” Morneau said during a morning event hosted by the Economic Club of Canada.

“There are parts of the system that are working well. There are parts of the system that really aren’t working,” Morneau said, adding that about 1 million Canadians can’t afford the prescription drugs they need.

In the Commons, NDP MP Guy Caron accused the Liberals of foot-dragging, saying no further study of the idea is needed. “The time for universal pharmacare is now,” Caron said.

But in his morning appearance, Morneau defended the need for study to weigh changes in the workforce that have increasingly left Canadians with no benefit plans to help cover the cost of prescription drugs and dramatic changes in the cost of pharmaceuticals. “We need to consider those factors,” he said.

“We need to consider how we can best make use of our existing system, which after all for most people is probably working but recognizing there are very significant gaps that we need to deal with,” he said.

The advisory council will consider models around the world and make recommendations on how best to move forward. It will be the job of the council to craft a model that ensures all Canadians have access to pharmaceuticals in a way that is “fiscally responsible,” Morneau said.

There’s speculation that the government wants be able to roll out the initiative in 2019, ahead of the next federal election.

In a 2017 report, the parliamentary budget officer estimates that $28.5 billion was spent on prescription drugs in Canada in 2015 — $13.1 billion by public insurance plans, $10.7 billion by private insurance plans and $4.7 billion by individuals.

But it said rising prices have put drugs beyond the reach of some Canadians, those who lack coverage and even those who do but don’t have the money to pay their required share.


Ban on door-to-door
sales starts March 1

Brampton Guardian
Pam Douglas
March 1, 2018

Starting March 1, all door-to-door sales of a long list of household appliances and services are banned in Ontario.

The new law will protect consumers from aggressive and misleading contracting at home, according to a news release from the province.

It applies to unsolicited sales, making any contracts signed in a consumer’s home void. The only time a contract signed in a consumer’s home would be valid is if the consumer had contacted the business ahead of time and invited them to their home. And those contracts come with a 10-day cooling off period, allowing cancellation for any reason without penalty.

The new law applies to:

• air cleaners;

• air conditioners;

• air purifiers;

• duct cleaning services;

• furnaces;

• water filters;

• water heaters;

• water purifiers;

• water softeners;

• water treatment devices;

• bundles of the above goods and services.

Businesses will have to keep a record of in-home contracts noting how contact was made with the consumer, according to the new law.

The province says door-to-door contracts have been among the top complaints made to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

Ontario is the second Canadian province to restrict door-to-door sales and contracts.


Time to Care Rally - Feb 27, 2018

Click on group Picture to enlarge

Seventy Unifor activists joined hundreds of workers who showed their support for the Time to Care Act, at a rally outside Queen’s Park in Toronto today.

The Act proposes to extend the minimum number of hours of care received in long term care to four hours, which is what Unifor’s #6minutechallenge campaign has been advocating for months.

“Right now long term care workers are rushed to provide adequate care for vulnerable residents and that creates a stressful environment for workers who are already overworked at understaffed centres,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director.

Long-term care workers - 9,000 of them in Ontario being Unifor members – are given an average of just six minutes to prepare residents at the start of the day.

Unifor has been asking Ontarians to try it for themselves with a social media campaign that called on people to try to get ready in the morning in under 6 minutes and post pictures or videos of them when the time’s up.

Thousands participated, and while sometimes humorous – the campaign made a powerful point.

The Time to Care Act, which was a private member’s bill proposed by the NDP Health Critic, unanimously passed second reading in November and is now stalled at the committee level.

Today’s rally was organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Ontario Health Coalition.

Jason Deneault, a Unifor 1106 member told the crowd that each personal support worker at the centre where he works in Kitchener must get eight residents dressed, administer medication and get them ready for the day.

“This bill is absolutely necessary. We’ll all be there one day and adequate and non-rushed care is something we need to ensure now,” said Deneault



Ontario wants $1.26B from feds to
offset auto losses caused by TPP

Feb 28, 2018
Greg Layson
Automotive News

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne thinks the newly agreed-to Trans-Pacifica Partnership is so bad for her province’s auto industry she’s calling on the federal government to give the sector $1.26 billion over the next 10 years to offset any losses.

Wynne made her demand while speaking at the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

She harkened back to a 2015 promise she says was made by former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, one of the architects of the original TPP, which at that time included the United States.

Wynne said Harper’s government calculated the TPP would reduce auto investment by two per cent. So, the Conservative Government of Canada said in 2015 that it would provide transitional assistance to the auto industry through the Automotive Innovation Fund (AIF), which no longer exists under Primer Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. And the new TPP the governing federal Liberals agreed to now excludes the United States.

The AIF was rolled into the Strategic Innovation Fund, managed by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. The ministry didn’t immediately respond to a media request placed by Automotive News Canada.


The new 11-country trade deal has been renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CP-TPP)

“That was the plan in 2015, and it needs to still be the plan in 2018,” Wynne said of the transitional assistance.

She believes it’s needed more now than it was three years ago.

“Based on the federal government’s previous commitments and the implications of U.S. withdrawal from the deal, this works out to at least $1.26 billion for Ontario’s auto sector,” Wynne said. “The CP-TPP no longer includes the United States, so the dynamics are now slightly different — and require further analysis. But the principle hasn’t changed. Our…auto workers should not be placed at an unfair disadvantage by this trade agreement.”

Flavio Volpe, the head of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, called Wynne's speech "an important acknowledgement that the CPTPP’s automotive content levels will negatively affect the value proposition of the sector’s Ontario-based manufacturing."

"Transitional funding that helps rebalance significant negotiating concessions could begin to address real concerns for thousands of people employed in the sector," Volpe said.

Neither Volpe, Wynne or a spokeswoman for the premier’s office would say exactly how $1.26 billion would be used within the auto industry.

Volpe and others are especially concerned about lower rules of origin for automobiles and their parts.

The CPTPP mandates 45 per cent of a fully assembled vehicle originate within the 11 countries in the agreement in order to be considered duty-free. The requirement for parts is 35 per cent.

That’s markedly less than what’s currently required under the North American Free Trade Agreement, in which the percentages are 62.5 and 50 per cent, respectively.

Volpe is worried cheaper parts made in Asia will flood the Canadian auto sector.


Meanwhile, the federal Liberal government doesn’t seem to agree with their Conservative predecessors, who drew up and analyzed the original deal. Trudeau’s government’s analysis of the new deal says, "production in the automotive sector is expected to rise very modestly, by $206 million."

The analysis also concludes: "The impacts on the automotive sector are slight, with a small increase in output and exports."

American imports into Canada could also fall by $3.3 billion under the recently rebooted deal, the federal government has concluded.

Volpe previously dismissed those predicted gains as insignificant. He said the gain would amount to only $171 million by 2040.

"Contextually, the Canadian auto sector ships about $85 billion in goods annually,” he said earlier this month. “This 22-year increase represents approximately 0.2 per cent on that number, and when one accounts for inflationary dynamics, this represents a serious decline in real dollars."

Not everyone is against the new CPTPP. Linamar, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, and Global Automakers of Canada all approve of the deal.

JAMA, for example, says the Japan-based manufacturers it represents export more than four times as many vehicles from Canada as they import from Japan.


GM to hire at Oshawa plant
despite current production
decline, Unifor says

Feb 27, 2018
Automotive news
John Irwin

General Motors Canada will likely hire fewer people than originally thought at its Oshawa, Ont., assembly plant as a result of cutbacks in car production, a local Unifor official said.

About 600 workers are on layoff while GM extends its one-shift operation at the plant amid a weak car market in North America, Unifor Local 222 President Colin James said.

He said he anticipates the laid-off workers returning to work later this year when the plant ramps up production of Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. The plant also builds Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala sedans.

“Once the truck [production] goes to two shifts, I’d imagine rather than the negative impact of having people on layoff, we’ll move them over to the truck line,” he said.

James said moving workers who would otherwise be building cars over to Oshawa’s truck line will likely result in fewer new hires at the plant than what was originally planned. Unifor officials said last year they anticipated GM hiring about 500 workers as truck production ramped up at the plant, which employs about 2,570 workers.

GM is continuing its one-shift operation at the plant through May 28 in the face of sharp declines in North American car sales. It builds the XTS and Impala on its flex line. Earlier this year, it also began final assembly on unfinished Silverado and Sierra pickup bodies shipped to Oshawa from Fort Wayne, Indiana, on its consolidated line, which GM recently spent about $500 million on to retool.

GM Canada spokeswoman Jennifer Wright would not confirm any details, though she acknowledged the automaker is having to adapt to the marketplace.

“We are managing through workforce planning as our new Oshawa truck production ramps up and we adjust other production to the market,” Wright said in an emailed statement to Automotive News Canada. “We don’t comment beyond that except to confirm that we expect to manage the transition without employment impact.”

GM stopped production of the XTS and Impala at the plant for three weeks in January before starting production again on one shift per day, instead of the two it had previously operated on. The one-shift operation was originally set to last only through the first quarter.

The move comes amid a weakening market for cars in the United States and Canada, where pickups and utility vehicles have been gaining momentum. Sales of the XTS in the U.S. dipped 27 per cent from a year earlier to 16,275 units in 2017, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit, while Impala sales fell 22 per cent to 75,877 units. Canadian deliveries of both vehicles rose last year, though not by enough to offset declines in the United States.

GM is expected to ramp up production of the Silverado and Sierra pickup trucks later this year. The plant began final assembly and painting on pickup bodies shipped from GM’s Fort Wayne, Indiana, plant in January. The plant will build about 60,000 trucks annually, GM CEO Mary Barra said last year.

The pickup production was secured as part of a four-year labour contract the automaker reached with Unifor in 2016. The pickups replace assembly of the Chevrolet Equinox crossover on the plant’s consolidated line.


Top UAW leaders let
charities go dormant

February 26, 2018
Michael Wayland
Automotive News

DETROIT — While federal investigators looked into the misuse of a former UAW officer's personal charity, several other union leaders idled their nonprofit groups.

At least seven UAW officials, including President Dennis Williams and vice presidents Cindy Estrada and Jimmy Settles, allowed state registrations of nonprofits they were leading to expire starting in July 2016, a year before the investigation was made public, according to the Michigan attorney general's office, which oversees nonprofit organizations.

According to a source familiar with the federal investigation, nonprofits linked to union leaders remain an area of interest in a continuing probe that centers on the misappropriation of more than $4.5 million in training center funds from FCA US to line the pockets of company executives and allegedly bribe union officials to take company-friendly positions.

The investigation initially focused on the FCA-UAW training center but has expanded to similar operations with General Motors and Ford Motor Co.

Other officials who let their Michigan registrations expire, according to state records, include former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, regional directors Gerald Kariem and Rory Gamble, and UAW executive administrative assistant Chuck Browning, who was president of a charity believed to be affiliated with former UAW President Bob King, who was a board member.

Since 2010, eight nonprofits have donated more than $4 million, or 70 percent, of their combined $5.4 million in revenue to philanthropic efforts and other charities, according to their most recent annual filings with the Internal Revenue Service. Several of the charities, including Williams', received money from the UAW and donated to other officers' charities.

The UAW-related donations, the structure of the charities and the use of nonprofit funds after the officers' retirements are all areas investigators are looking into, according to the person familiar with the probe.

That person said federal investigators are particularly interested in a charity led by former UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, which a state official said is still actively registered in Michigan through July 2018.

Union: No ties to charities

Prosecutors contend that FCA US executives -- most prominently former labor relations head Alphons Iacobelli -- used charities and other channels to redirect funds meant for worker training to union officials for their personal gain. The two charities that federal investigators have identified as being used this way are Making Our Children Smile, a charity founded by Jewell, who retired at the end of last year; and the Leave the Light On Foundation, a charity affiliated with Jewell's predecessor, General Holiefield, who died in March 2015.

Jewell hasn't been charged by prosecutors. He couldn't be reached for comment.

Four others -- two from FCA, including Iacobelli, and two linked to the UAW -- have been charged and entered guilty pleas in the case, while several unnamed individuals have been identified in court documents but not charged.

In some cases, it's unclear why UAW officials allowed the registrations to expire, or what happened to the funds they collected. Most calls from Automotive News last week to officers and the charities went unanswered.

A spokesman for the UAW said the union doesn't oversee the charities or have any affiliation with them, although several of the groups use UAW headquarters or union-affiliated buildings as their listed address. The spokesman referred questions to the organizations.

Williams, Jewell and Gamble, who is nominated to become a vice president, let their charity registrations expire on July 31, 2016, according to the Michigan attorney general's office. Settles' Estrada's, Kariem's and Browning's charity registrations expired July 31, 2017 -- days after the investigation was made public and a month after the UAW began restricting donations to such charities from the union and from joint programs with the automakers.

The expired registrations don't mean the charities are closed, only that they cannot raise funds. As of last week, none of the charities had filed with the state of Michigan to be dissolved, according to the attorney general's office.

The Williams Charity Fund, which focuses on helping children and homeless people, is dissolving, according to Amy Loasching, secretary-treasurer of the nonprofit.

In December, Williams said he was ending his charity because of his planned retirement in June.

Loasching said the remaining funds -- $181,764 at the start of 2016 -- were donated to philanthropic activities and charities by the end of 2017. From 2011 through 2015, the group donated more than $697,000 to philanthropic efforts.

Money in the bank

Settles, who will retire with Williams in June, said his JUST nonprofit let its registration lapse unintentionally and plans to re-register. He said he plans to keep running the organization after retirement.

"I'm helping people out," he said in a phone interview. "If I can't raise any money, I will stop."

Since 2009, JUST has raised nearly $1.4 million, of which 96 percent has been distributed to philanthropic efforts and other charities.

Charities for Ashton, Estrada, Gamble, Browning/King and Kariem didn't respond to requests for comment.

The eight nonprofits, based on the most recent IRS filings publicly available, had combined year-end assets or balances of $1.62 million.

Most of that was in the Ashton Fund, which grew from less than $100,000 in assets in 2010 to more than $900,000 in 2014 and 2015, the last years for which filings were readily available. Over that period, the nonprofit distributed just 20 percent of the funds it collected on average, compared with about 70 to 90 percent for most of the other charities.

According to its public filing, the Ashton Fund is among the charities to receive money from other UAW-related charities and affiliated organizations, including $157,750 in 2012 from the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, a joint training center similar to the one linked to the initial investigation into the UAW and FCA US.


Retiree Bill Clark Passes Away

Bill Clark

Bill Clark

Retired Feb 1, 1989
22 Years Service

It is with great sorrow that we inform you of the
passing of retiree Bill Clark.

Bill passed away on February 22, 2018.

We remember Bill as a happy jovial man with a great sense of humour.
attended and supported our Retirees chapter and was always willing to help out.

Our sincerest condolences go out to his wife Helen and his entire family.

He will be sadly missed by all.


Sunday, February 25th, 2018
2:00pm - 5:00pm

Fawcett Funeral Home
1 Highland Drive
Flesherton, ON
N0C 1E0


Monday, February 26th, 2018

Fawcett Funeral Home
1 Highland Drive
Flesherton, ON
N0C 1E0


Comrades of the Royal Canadian Legion,
Branch #333 are invited to join in the
chapel on Monday, at 10:30am


Royal Canadian Legion Branch 333
14 Elizabeth St
Flesherton, ON
N0C 1E0


Clark; William Wesley “Bill”

Peacefully, at Grey Bruce Health Services, Owen Sound on Thursday, February 22, 2018 in his 89th year. Beloved husband to Helen Wickens. Loving father of Vicki(Glen) Hanley of Paisley, Cindy(Bill) Nicholls of Kimberley and step father to Jeff(Elise) Morrison of Boston, Blair Morrison of Hamilton and Kim(Rob) Sinclair of Feversham. Much adored grandfather to Kyle(Rose), Siobhan(Drew), Kim(Craig), Bill(Jennie), Courtney(Cory) and Cody(Stephanie). He will be greatly missed by 11 great grandchildren and sister in law Ruth Clark. Predeceased by siblings Leila Hopkins, Robert Clark, Mary Coburn, Harold Clark and wife of 38 years Joan Hill.

Bill was born and raised in Rock Mills. As one of many children in the family, his family was always very important to him. Among his many talents, he enjoyed singing and dancing, teasing his family and coming up with “wacky” plans like going down a ski hill with a toboggan, riding his prototype side by side bicycle - run by a snowmobile engine - and his fertilizer spreader that may or may not have flipped over on him. Bill loved toys and inventions with his latest interest being RC soaring plans and drones. Everyone who met him, loved Bill. Many of his accomplishments include his fuel and oil business in Ceylon for many years, and didn’t give up his community involvement when he sold the shop, having received a pin for 50 years of membership from the Masonic Lodge. He will be fondly remembered by his Masonic brothers and Legion Comrades.

The family will receive friends at Fawcett Funeral Cremation Reception on Sunday, February 25, 2018 from 2-5pm. Brethren of the Prince Arthur Masonic Lodge #333 are asked to assemble on Sunday at 1:45pm. Comrades of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch #333 are invited to join in the chapel on Monday, at 10:30am. Funeral service at 11:00am. Donations to the Sick Kids Foundation – Brain Tumour Research would be gratefully appreciated. Condolences and online donations available at www.fawcettfuneralhome.ca 888-924-2810



'The not so golden years'
a quarter of retired
Canadians in debt,
survey suggests

About 20% of retirees found to be still paying for
mortgages, while 66% are carrying credit card deb

Retired Canadians on average had $11,204 in non-mortgage debt, according to the survey. (Shutterstock)

By Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani
CBC News
Feb 24, 2018

A "worry-free retirement" may be a thing of the past, according to a new Sun Life Financial survey, which finds that a quarter of retired Canadians are in debt in their golden years.

About 25 per cent of the 750 Canadians polled between the ages of 55 to 80 years for the Sun Life Financial Barometer said they have debt that ranges from mortgages to car payments.​

These Canadians were either fully or partially retired when they were surveyed in October as part of an online poll that included 2,900 people between the ages of 20 to 80 years.

"From credit card debt to a mortgage, retirees are faced with a list of expenses in life after work," said Jacques Goulet, president, Sun Life Financial Canada, when the findings were released this week.

"We recognize that managing finances can be overwhelming, particularly for those who are no longer working."

Of those in debt, about one in five were still making mortgage payments, while 66 per cent had unpaid credit cards.

Type of debt

Here's a look at the other types of debt those retired were carrying:

26 per cent were making car payments.

Seven per cent had unpaid health expenses.

Seven per cent owed money on holiday expenses or vacation property.

Six per cent hadn't paid off home renovations.

Retired Canadians on average had $11,204 in non-mortgage debt, according to the survey.

But among those that were still working, nearly 30 per cent said they continued to work because they need to.

Tom Reid of group retirement services at Sun Life Financial said retiring Canadians are carrying debt more often than they have in the past.

"One in four aren't paying off their monthly bills," he said. "Although it can seem far away, retirement creeps up faster than you think."

However, retirement expert Malcolm Hamilton of C.D. Howe Institute said that even though 20 per cent of the retired respondents were still making a mortgage payment, it doesn't necessarily mean they have a financial problem.

"Without knowing more about the size of their debts relative to their assets and the size of their debt repayments relative to their incomes, it is impossible to say whether seniors are experiencing financial hardship," he said.

Retirement savings

The survey also found that a quarter of working Canadians, those aged 20 to 64, were dipping into their retirement savings.

About 63 per cent were doing so because they said they needed to pay for things such as health expenses and other debt.

The findings are similar to a survey released last week by the Bank of Montreal that showed about 40 per cent of Canadians withdrew money from their RRSPs.

Toronto-based financial advisor and Industrial Alliance Securities portfolio manager John De Goey said he was not surprised by the results of the survey and thinks the findings are reasonably accurate.

"It suggests that a large percentage of the population either doesn't think about retirement much or doesn't think about it at all," he said.

"Even a good proportion of those who are aware of the need to save fail to properly quantify how much they'll need."

He said most financial planners are using return assumptions for retirement funds that are "unreasonably" high.

"A few people end up saving too much as in more than needed, but the majority fall short," he said, pointing out that expected returns from pension plans will be lower than they have been in the past as people live longer.

Living longer

Respondents of the survey retired at an average age of 59, but life expectancy in Canada is continuing to creep higher.

The average life expectancy in Canada is currently age 84 for men and age 87 for women.

De Goey points out that Canadians get the most money in retirement if they wait until age 70 to begin taking from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), as long as you live to be about 82 years or older.

"The majority of Canadians live to be more than 82, yet only a very small percentage of Canadians wait until age 70 to begin taking their CPP entitlements," he said.

He added that Canadians may be having trouble preparing for retirement because they are receiving mixed messages about it.

"We have chartered banks running ads that say you're richer than you think. In many cases, that's the exact opposite of what reality shows," he said.

"Now we have a double-whammy. People are actually poorer than they think, but they whistle past the graveyard because their bank is telling them that they're richer than they think."

But Hamilton of C.D. Howe pointed out that most studies have found relatively little difference between the standard of living of working Canadians compared to those who are retired.

"This suggests that Canadians have done a better job preparing for retirement than anyone gives them credit for," he said. 

The online survey of 2,900 adult Canadians by Sun Life Financial was conducted by Ipsos between Oct. 13 and 19, 2017. This included 750 Canadians aged 55-80 who are either fully retired or partially retired (working less than 30 hours per week). For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points for the retired respondents. For the employed sample, it would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.


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.



Congratulations to
our Newest Retiree

John McCloskey

John McCloskey

Retired February 1, 2018

27.8 Years Service



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.












Tame Domain - Best Prices On the Web

Home | About us | History | Gallery | Contact Us | Retirees | Links | Benefits | Humour
Ford Recycle Your ride program Recycle Your Ride Retire Your Ride