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Chevrolet Volt
GM isn't going to let a little thing like a lack of money prevent the Volt from coming to market in 2010

General Motors has been in a downward spiral all year with lagging sales and losses in the billions. GM and its cross town rival, Chrysler, asked Congress for monetary assistance to stave off bankruptcy by the end of the year. In the end, the Senate failed to hand over even $14 billion USD to the two struggling Detroit giants.

Now as the White House mulls what plan it will present to help GM and Chrysler stay in business during 2009, GM is stating that it will bring the Chevrolet Volt to market no matter what. This confidence in the Volt program comes despite that fact that GM announced yesterday that it would halt the production on a new engine assembly plant which will produce the 1.4-liter gasoline engine/generator for the vehicle.

Despite the setback with the engine assembly plant, billions of dollars in losses, and a production schedule that leaves little room for error, GM is still committed to bring the Volt -- and the Chevrolet Cruze -- to market by the end of 2010 as it has always stated.

If the engine assembly plant is unable to be completed in time to get the production Chevrolet Volt and Cruze out the door in 2010, GM will be forced to rely on one of its overseas facilities to produce the engine according to the Wall Street Journal. Interestingly enough, the Chevrolet Cruze is already available in overseas markets like South Korea albeit with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine -- two years ahead of the car’s North American launch.

"Everything that involves heavy cash outlays obviously is under review," said GM spokeswoman Sharon Basel on Wednesday. "Our intent is to still go forward with a new facility bringing that engine to Flint, Michigan."

"Although we are temporarily absolutely stopping all work on everything, the Volt will be out as originally scheduled," added one GM executive.

GM is banking on the Volt to bring it some of the same positive press that has been bestowed upon the Toyota Prius. However, the Prius and its rival, the Honda Insight, have base prices below the $24,000 mark. The Volt, however, will be priced near or will surpass the $40,000 mark before a $7,500 tax credit.



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RE: Price
By deeznuts on 12/18/2008 4:49:46 PM , Rating: 2
The UAW only represents 150,000 of all auto workers, or less than 50,000 at GM. That's pretty significant but not everyone on the factory floor is UAW. I think their membership has dropped in half in just the past few years.


RE: Price
By foolsgambit11 on 12/18/2008 6:00:22 PM , Rating: 4
I think the UAW's numbers are close to 500,000 - down from 1.5 million at their peak. And while some of those may be in non-automobile-related jobs, I doubt 350,000 of them are.

As for the union/non-union issue - isn't it a non-issue? I mean, haven't the unions pretty much given up everything they had over their non-union counterparts? The job bank is closing (it only had about 300 people in it, and it was an idea that came from non-unionized Honda in the first place), legacy costs are being taken off the Big 3's hands by 2011, and wages for new workers are within a couple of dollars of transplant factory wages.

I imagine, once you consider cost of living differences between Michigan and Alabama, they'd be close enough to equal for employees in non-union factories to have absolutely no incentive to unionize. That's what you all want in the first place, isn't it?

I love unions (or, at least, the principle of unions). I would think most of the people here would, too. It seems that many posters here are libertarian-minded. Unions keep corporations on the up-and-up with their employees. They can keep government from having to be the ones stepping in to the labor market.


RE: Price
By Ringold on 12/18/2008 6:16:33 PM , Rating: 5
Out of curiosity, as someone who has been to both Alabama and various parts of the rust belt, what is this great cost of living difference people talk about? Both are recovering third world countries; Alabama was obliterated in the 1860s, Michigan by socialism. The only difference I can see is higher heating costs in the Winter.

Anyway, even stripping out those legacy costs, I read in the Detroit News a day or so ago the hourly cost is still $55 for the Big Three vs. $45/hr for the "foreign" makers. The numbers vary slightly according to where you read them, but the gap always remains. To be fair, they are predicted to slowly go down, but only as the older UAW workers die off or get forced out the door.

quote:
I love unions (or, at least, the principle of unions). I would think most of the people here would, too.


If I were unskilled, uneducated, or unmotivated, sure I would. But I'm not unskilled, uneducated, or unmotivated. Why should I negotiate according to the lowest common denominator of my peers? I don't know about you, but I've always negotiated one and one. It's hard for unions and individuals both in a recession, but we spend far more time in expansion than contraction on average and during those times it's easy to walk away if an employer doesn't meet my demands. Unskilled labor rarely has that option -- they're unskilled, and this is an advanced economy.

But you're right, it's also partly a libertarian bent I have, but still mostly the fact there is no way that I would benefit from a union.


RE: Price
By Ringold on 12/18/2008 6:34:00 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and speaking of cost of living differences.. yes, I'm sure there are huge cost of living differences between UAW plants in Indiana and Hyundai and Honda plants in Indiana. :P

That sounds like an excuse UAW defenders toss out there that sounds good and people nod their head to, but in reality may be irrelevant in the wider view.


RE: Price
By foolsgambit11 on 12/18/2008 6:53:30 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know what UAW contracts say about cost of living allowances in different parts of the country. I do know that the costs per labor hour quoted are the national averages for union and non-union plants. And that it seems on a cursory glance that union plans are in areas with higher costs of living than non-union plants.

Are the national average numbers already adjusted for cost of living? Any experts out there know whether UAW workers in Indiana get paid differently than UAW workers in Flint? They should, I should think, since the UAW is supposedly all about equitable pay. (Wages should be lower in Flint by almost 5%). These are important questions to know the answers to before making a judgment.

Hyundai has a plant in Alabama. No plant in Indiana, as far as I can tell. Maybe you meant Toyota. The Toyota plant's address is in Princeton, IN. GM's plant is in Fort Wayne. The cost of living in Fort Wayne, IN is something like 9.7% higher than Princeton, IN. However. Honda's plant is in Greensburg, IN, which has a slightly higher cost of living than Fort Wayne - somewhere around 1.8% higher. All of these locations, though, are well below the national average for cost of living.


RE: Price
By foolsgambit11 on 12/18/2008 7:03:58 PM , Rating: 2
Many, if not most, of the UAW's jobs are considered skilled labor. Uneducated? Maybe. Unmotivated? Who knows - let's see some productivity figures. But unskilled? No. Unless by unskilled, you mean to say 'unwhite-collar'.

I agree, unions for jobs like doormen and hotel cleaners seem a little odd. From where do they get their negotiating position? They don't really have skills the average person couldn't pick up in a day. But machinists, welders, and many other workers in auto factories are highly skilled and constantly training to advance their craft.

And now I'll reemphasize my initial point. Would you rather have a contract negotiated between two willing parties, or would you prefer the government get involved? Because that's what unions boil down to. They are a way for the 'disadvantaged' in the employer-employee relationship to assert their strength without the government stepping in to protect them. And so, between the two, I'd prefer unions.


RE: Price
By Ringold on 12/18/2008 8:10:44 PM , Rating: 5
We might have two definitions of skilled labor. I was thinking college graduates; engineers, accountants, financiers, etc. Post-industrial age jobs. I know machining and a lot of those types of jobs involve two year technical degrees, they are productive than just high school grads, but I wonder how many of those there even are, particularly among the older demographic which is really the one that costs GM and the others the most money. Another problem with unions; they reward seniority, and not so much productivity.

quote:
or would you prefer the government get involved? Because that's what unions boil down to. They are a way for the 'disadvantaged' in the employer-employee relationship to assert their strength without the government stepping in to protect them.


Not sure what you mean. The unions give hundreds of millions to political campaigns, and everyone knows the Democrat party is the party of union support. The government doesn't have to step in on each and every contract discussion because the Democrats insure that support for unions is systemic.


RE: Price
By Nfarce on 12/18/2008 8:47:43 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Another problem with unions; they reward seniority, and not so much productivity.


Don't forget about:

o Making it all but impossible for a company to fire based on poor performance, especially in government unions.

o Forcing people to become a union member when he/she doesn't want to be a part of one.

o Mandatorily taking month or annual dues from paychecks (see above).

o The new "open vote" unionization proposal floating around out there that basically intimidates people into voting for unionization because their vote will be public instead of private (Democrats support this).

o Unions (UAW) not making concessions to save the Big Three.

And other things that you don't hear about much. My airline pilot buddy friend is none too happy about having to shell out $2,500 annually to his pilot's union. He sees zero benefits other than the fat cat union goons living it up like CEOs.

But you never hear about that nor hear Obama request that unions make concessions, do you? Unions were great back when we had no federal labor laws. They are outdated, and have been for quite some time. And I come from a family of union tradespeople (plumbers).


RE: Price
By foolsgambit11 on 12/18/2008 8:53:06 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, I was using the definition of skilled labor. Like I said, you must have meant to say 'white collar' where you said 'skilled'.

If you refer to my original post, I'm talking 'in principle'. I know the union system is pretty screwy currently. So talking about union contributions to political parties is irrelevant. Even so, I would argue:

1. That political support for unions is similar in principle to political support for faith-based outreach programs - they do a job so government doesn't have to.

2. That employers support many politicians on both sides of the aisle, at least in equal measure to unions (though probably not as such a unified block).

Also, it's not the unions that give money to politicians, it's the unions' political action committees - those dollars are contributed separate from union dues, by the individual worker's choice. It's how you get your voice heard - you can start an anti-union PAC if you want, and donate even more money than the unions to Democrats, if you think it will work. It won't though, because Democratic support for unions stems not from their contributions, but rather from their own ideology. They both (Dems & unions) have similar objectives.

On the other hand, I can't see where Republican antipathy to unions comes from. Is it misguided vestigial Cold War association with Communism? Is it financial campaign support from corporate interests? Is it bourgeois contempt for the average worker? It certainly can't be free market principles, since the free market would allow unions to amass a labor pool just as much as it would allow an oil company to amass oil reserves. It allows individuals to pool their labor together for greater returns the same way it allows mutual fund or hedge fund investors to pool their assets together for greater returns. Labor is a valuable commodity, and those who have it should leverage it to the greatest extent they can.

Sorry, I think this post has turned into a rant. I didn't mean it to. Apologies.


RE: Price
By Ringold on 12/18/2008 9:33:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure if labor unions is really so easily compatible with free market philosophy. When workers combine and lean on the company for which they work, they can end up acting similar to a lawless mob. Note in history how many times a firm has tried to fire the entire union, the union would seize the firm's facilities, and vicious gun battles would ensue as owners try to repulse the intruders from their properties. Labor becomes a coercive monopoly.

In free markets, people should be able to accept or reject business proposals freely with little consequence. A union, on the other hand, raises the stakes and can easily play a black mail card. If you've studied labor economics, you know in the end it comes down to the amount of labor needed of a certain skill, the amount of labor that exists, and wage ends up being some equilibrium amount. Free markets would prefer, it would seem to me, labor to negotiate freely and individually, thus allowing markets to clear rather than trying to force some other wage level. It also allows wages to more easily track individual productivity, rather than protecting laggards in the herd.


RE: Price
By cokbun on 12/18/2008 9:16:47 PM , Rating: 2
and what exactly are these " skills? " dont car companies have job trainings and all? are toyotas made by unskilled workers?


RE: Price
By mindless1 on 12/20/2008 4:55:35 PM , Rating: 2
It's not about skills, it's about the same old excuse as always that someone claims their "skills" should entitle them to sit on their bum and earn more than people doing real work. Why? Oh, because they sat on their bum for several years at higher education while their counterpart was doing what? Something already benefitting society.

I'm not suggesting someone with valuable skills shouldn't be paid well, rather than anyone who does an honest day's work should not be working for peanuts, if anything the worse the job is the more it should pay. I'm saying that besides enough money to pay back college loans, the local garbage man should make as much as a lawyer because picking up garbage all day would be terrible. The lawer has more skills, but who really thinks someone given the opportunity wouldn't take the later before the former? Truth is, even in the so-called land of opportunity it is not just what one chooses to do, it's still random circumstance that decides skilled or unskilled labor and the pay should be based on the work, not on some overly conceptualized idea about skill.

Someone is bound to come along and challenge that this leaves no incentive for people to learn the advanced skills. Quite the contrary, the average high school kid wants to loaf around and party at college then have the prestige of the higher skilled job, easier job, either way.

What is needed to make auto workers even better at their jobs? Make the job more desirable so there is more competition for it, so the best candidates possible pursue the jobs. That increases productivity and quality.


RE: Price
By Dwayno on 12/18/2008 7:59:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Out of curiosity, as someone who has been to both Alabama and various parts of the rust belt, what is this great cost of living difference people talk about? Both are recovering third world countries; Alabama was obliterated in the 1860s, Michigan by socialism. The only difference I can see is higher heating costs in the Winter.

The Cost Of Living Index (COLI) is determine by the government. It determines the index based on the cost of housing, food, transportation, untilities, and healthcare. These vary from state to state. CNN has a very simple calculator to determine the differences:(http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/costofliving/costof...
So you can take off your third world rose color glasses and look at the real world.
quote:
It's hard for unions and individuals both in a recession, but we spend far more time in expansion than contraction on average and during those times it's easy to walk away if an employer doesn't meet my demands. Unskilled labor rarely has that option -- they're unskilled, and this is an advanced economy.

My are we full of ourself! Actually, it is easier for unskilled labor to move to meet demands of work that demands an unskilled labor force. A skilled worker often establish roots on the basis of their income. They are the ones that have the higher cost of living...they live in newly mortgage homes, buy new cars, sent their kids to private schools and on to higher education, etc. When was the last time a migrant worker got a moving allowance?
quote:
But you're right, it's also partly a libertarian bent I have, but still mostly the fact there is no way that I would benefit from a union.

Here are some simple facts about you not "benefitting from a union". If your job has paid time off (holiday, sick, or personal), provides healthcare, or pays more than minimum wages, then you need to walk up and kiss the hand of the nearest union member. The reality is that prior to the unions, you had none of these. The government has NEVER defined a non-working holiday. The government only started defining minimum wages after the unions pushed this issue into the various businesses. Government healthcare is STILL the stuff of legends! Like it or not, the unions has made the job that hired your skilled, educated, and motivated butt a better place (and, no, I have never belong to a union!)!


RE: Price
By Ringold on 12/18/2008 8:33:15 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
So you can take off your third world rose color glasses and look at the real world.


Take off your own, and look at Detroit high school graduation rates. Look at the price of homes in Michigan, some of which have sold for a dollar. Look at their unemployment -- and not just current unemployment, but the rate going back ten years. Check out their budget problems, which aren't exactly new. If anywhere in America comes close to resembling a dysfunctional, rapidly failing socialist state, it's Michigan.

Also, that link is strange. Housing 18% higher in Detroit? I can probably get twice the house for the money up in Michigan, if not three times in some areas. Also understates the difference between FL and IN, a lot. Either way, the link seems to support that cost of living is equivalent between Alabama and much of the rust belt. In fact, it's higher in Alabama (Mobile, where a lot of manufacturing jobs are going) than Indianapolis, IN.

quote:
A skilled worker often establish roots on the basis of their income.


Hm? The information age economy is marked by unprecedented mobility in skilled labor, where professionals change jobs some times every few years. Moving from one coast to another isn't uncommon, but of course once someone has a family geographical mobility would be expected to go way down. Not only do college grads change jobs, they're expected to change careers a few times.

As for unskilled labor, they've traditionally stayed in one place and worked for, or tried to work for, the same company for 30+ years until retirement. And in this day and age, where health services, IT, and other skilled professions are growing and manufacturing continues its multi-decade trend of shedding workers in favor of automation, who do you think has more options for work? Someone who has made bolts for 20 years or an accountant? (Hint: Even in this economy, I've got an accountant friend who has the enviable 'problem' of choosing between multiple job offers)

quote:
If your job has paid time off (holiday, sick, or personal), provides healthcare, or pays more than minimum wages, then you need to walk up and kiss the hand of the nearest union member.


Okay. Thanks for the union propaganda. I guess doctors, bankers, lawyers and other early professionals before labor unions were ever first formed who still were well compensated should thank yet-to-be-created labor unions? Or perhaps they were productive, added value, provided a scarce service and thus had negotiating power?

But yes. Marcus Agrippa, personal engineer/architect/admiral/general of Augustus, should send his thanks 2000 years in to the future and thank the UAW for his nice compensation.


RE: Price
By Dwayno on 12/18/08, Rating: 0
RE: Price
By Radnor on 12/19/2008 7:08:44 AM , Rating: 2
If I were unskilled, uneducated, or unmotivated, sure I would. But I'm not unskilled, uneducated, or unmotivated. Why should I negotiate according to the lowest common denominator of my peers? I don't know about you, but I've always negotiated one and one.

So do i, but "unions" have several incarnations. Some incarnations i see them as nothing more than a rotten part. In other incarnations i see them as vital to keep companies in check.

It's hard for unions and individuals both in a recession, but we spend far more time in expansion than contraction on average and during those times it's easy to walk away if an employer doesn't meet my demands.

A good example, is the Spanish Unions in this Auto Crisis. Check it out. Like everything there are several models. Some are good, some are not.

Saying "advanced economic" to deny the utility of some social parts of it, is pure ignorance. They evolved on other forms. I doubt the UAW has the initial model of a Union.

I guess it is just a "inflated capitalist" American bashing up a quite decent (if properly delivered) social idea.

Really.


RE: Price
By Suntan on 12/18/2008 7:13:03 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I love unions (or, at least, the principle of unions). I would think most of the people here would, too.


Nope, I've never once in my adult life (since being able to financially support myself) thought that I would be better off relying on the herd to keep me safe. I've always thought I could do better off on my own rather than rely on the lowest common denominator. So far, that's been true.

If a company wants to try and screw me, I'd rather deal with it straight up on my own (go find a job from an employer that better fits my needs) than rely on fellow coworkers to group together and perpetrate a lot of the same shifty tactics back on the companies.

Unions tend to believe in the, "Two wrongs make a right" theory when setting up their bullying tactics, I've never agreed with that.

Although I can understand how someone would enjoy the insulating protection of a union when they don't have any skill/knowledge/training that would make them different or more desirable than any other common Joe off the street, it still wouldn't be worth it to have to go into work each day thinking, "I'm going to threaten my employer to get what I want." (And don't kid yourself, that's exactly what unions do.)

-Suntan


RE: Price
By InsaneGain on 12/19/2008 12:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
UAW workers currently make on average $55/hour, about twice as much as the average American worker. One has to wonder how semi-skilled labor can justify this difference. On top of that are the overly generous pensions paid to retirees. Only the health care costs have been offloaded with a massive 1 time payment. Anyway, the Japanese plants in the U.S. pay about $45/hour.
Unionized labor distorts free market economics, and misallocates resources. A closed shop unions means that an employer cannot hire non-unionized employees. This means the union has monopoly power over the supply of labor, which gives it the ability to coerce higher benefits under the threat of plant closure. This is called extortion. Assuming that auto companies must adhere to a total cost per vehicle target, the extra costs for labor mean that there are fewer resources allocated to engineering and product design.
The wages paid to American auto workers should have nothing to so with how much the UAW thinks they are worth, and it should have nothing to do with how much Toyota workers think they are worth. It should be determined by the supply and demand for auto assembly workers, just like everything else in a free market economy. The equilibrium rate is the most efficient, and the deviation forced by unions create a huge cost for society as a whole. If the equilibrium wage rate is not high enough for an auto worker, they should remove themselves from the supply and train themselves for work in another higher paying field. This may result in a labor shortage, and the auto company would have to increase wages to attract workers. This is how resources are allocated in a free market. It has nothing to do with governments getting involved. I really don't see why unions should appeal to "libertarian-minded" people.
The current USA auto industry crisis is a perfect example of how unionized labor will destroy an industry in the long run.


RE: Price
By Hiawa23 on 12/18/2008 6:57:32 PM , Rating: 2
at $40,000, good luck GM, but there is noway this car will save the company at that price. Hell, people can't even get loans for the cheap cars so the only people who will be buying that are the rich. The Volt impresses me, but it needs to be at mass market price, or they are going to have a similiar problem that they have now....A more expensive failure sitting on auto lots with very few buyers.


RE: Price
By Tsuwamono on 12/18/2008 8:01:18 PM , Rating: 2
Well if this recession lasts until 2010 and nobody can get loans then i doubt there will even be a GM to buy the volt from anyway. Besides, new tech costs more at the beginning of its life cycle then reduces in cost over its life span as it moves to cheaper manufacturing plants for its various parts.


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