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Reuss succeeds Ammann as GM president

Michael Wayland, Automotive News  /  January 3, 2019

DETROIT -- General Motors product chief Mark Reuss will succeed Dan Ammann as president, the automaker said Thursday. 

Reuss, 55, will assume responsibility for GM's quality organization in addition to leading its Global Product Group and Cadillac. The appointment is effective immediately, according to GM.

In November, GM said Ammann, 46, would step down from the role to lead the company's Cruise autonomous vehicle unit, effective Jan. 1. A replacement was not named.

Reuss, whose father, Lloyd Reuss, served as GM’s president from 1990-1992, described the appointment as “truly a great honor.”

The position’s responsibilities will be more product-focused for Reuss than they were for Ammann. GM CEO Mary Barra will retain direct responsibility over global regions and GM Financial, while GM CFO Dhivya Suryadevara will continue to oversee corporate development -- previously all responsibilities of Ammann. 

Reuss added responsibilities for Cadillac and global portfolio planning from Ammann in June 2018. Since then, he has been restructuring and building an integrated product development team that will focus significantly more resources on autonomous and electrified vehicles -- particularly battery-electrics -- while streamlining GM's army of engineers.

Barra, 56, said Reuss’ appointment to president will continue to “strengthen” the automaker’s core business and “take advantage of growth opportunities and further define the future of personal mobility.”

“Mark has played a critical role in leading the development of the company’s award-winning vehicles while transitioning his team to prepare for growing electrification and autonomous technologies,” she said in a statement. 

Reuss, a mechanical engineer and road racer, began his GM career as a student intern in 1983. The 35-year GM veteran has risen through the ranks to be one of the most well-known executives in the company -- particularly for his contributions to GM’s product portfolio and performance chops.

Previously, Reuss was executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain from 2013-2018. Before then, starting in 2009, Reuss was president of GM North America, responsible for the automaker’s performance, manufacturing, portfolio and dealer network. He also created and led the GM Performance Division in 2001 while serving as executive director of Architecture Engineering.

Reuss will continue to serve on the board of GM China’s joint venture, Shanghai General Motors Co. He also serves on several non-GM boards such as The Henry Ford and other Detroit-area philanthropic, business and educational organizations.

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Reuss consolidates power over product

Michael Wayland, Automotive News  /  January 7, 2019

DETROIT — Mark Reuss now has his father's old job. His assignment is to make sure it won't be his father's General Motors.

Reuss' appointment as president of GM last week caps a year of executive realignments designed to position the company for a wrenching restructuring that calls for not only staff and capacity cuts, but wholesale changes in how GM does business, from headquarters to r&d labs to the factory floor.

Aside from the title change, the 55-year-old Reuss will assume responsibility for GM's quality organization from CEO Mary Barra.

The promotion gives Reuss complete oversight of the vehicle side of the business. And it signals the urgency with which GM is pursuing its mission to prepare for potentially transformative change in the auto business.

Reuss, a 35-year GM veteran whose father, Lloyd Reuss, was president from 1990 to 1992, described the appointment as "truly a great honor." He succeeds Dan Ammann, 46, who on Jan. 1 became CEO of GM's Cruise autonomous vehicle unit in San Francisco.

"Mark has played a critical role in leading the development of the company's award-winning vehicles while transitioning his team to prepare for growing electrification and autonomous technologies," Barra said in a statement last week.

Reuss' responsibilities as president will be more product-focused than Ammann's were. Barra will retain direct responsibility over regional operations across the globe and GM Financial, while CFO Dhivya Suryadevara will continue to oversee corporate development — previously all responsibilities of Ammann.

20 new vehicles

Reuss had already taken over responsibility for Cadillac and global portfolio planning from Ammann in June 2018 and quickly began restructuring the product side of the house — a vast network with 32,000 employees that includes r&d, engineering, design, safety, quality and product planning — to focus more resources on autonomous and electrified vehicles.

That transformation will continue, if not accelerate, as GM plans to launch at least 20 new battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles globally by 2023. Reuss has said GM is doubling the resources allocated to electric and autonomous vehicle programs in the next two years.

The reorganization has been mirrored across the company with many top lieutenants of Barra and Reuss refocusing on autonomous and electrified vehicles. The efforts are meant to fulfill GM's "triple zero" vision of a future with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.

One of the most high-profile moves was the appointment of Pam Fletcher, vice president of global EV programs, to the new position of vice president of global innovation and r&d laboratories in October.

For more than a decade, Fletcher has been in leadership roles supporting the engineering of GM's EV and self-driving technologies. In her new role, in which she reports to Barra and Reuss, she is leading the teams at GM "whose mission is to disrupt the traditional automotive industry," according to her GM profile.

That includes directing seven r&d labs around the globe that are focused on technologies such as battery chemistry, mixed-materials science, smart manufacturing systems and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.

More shuffling

Other moves included Doug Parks' role as vice president of autonomous and EV programs expanding to include Fletcher's EV responsibilities; Michael Ableson, GM vice president of global strategy, moving to the new position of vice president, EV infrastructure; and changed assignments for several other vice presidents in the Global Product Group.

The last major overhaul of GM's product development operations, led by Barra and Reuss, came nearly five years ago, as GM responded to the ignition switch crisis that was linked to 124 deaths and was facing stricter oversight from federal safety regulators at NHTSA.

At that time, Reuss said the new structure would have "a militaristic zeal for preventing and resolving" issues like the defective ignition switch before they occurred.

That commitment hasn't changed with Reuss taking over quality from Barra, said spokesman Mike Albano. Quality and safety remain "paramount, and that will never change no matter the organizational structure."

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GM's Washington charm offensive sidelined by Wall Street's push for profit

David Shepardson, Reuters  /  January 16, 2019

General Motors code named its November announcement to cut nearly 15,000 jobs in North America and restructure itself “Turbo,” suggesting a leaner approach for the largest U.S. automaker would “accelerate its transformation.”

Wall Street investors cheered the ambition to get smaller and boost profits. But in Washington, the move remains a public relations crisis that threatens to derail a methodical effort by Chief Executive Mary Barra to keep GM in good graces with the White House and other politicians.

President Donald Trump called Barra’s decision “nasty” and said GM had “better” find a product to build at a plant in Ohio, a pivotal state for Trump’s 2020 re-election effort. Representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from southeast Michigan and former GM employee, said at the time that GM had become “the most thoroughly disliked company in Washington.”

At the Detroit auto show this week where GM is faces off with politicians from the states most impacted by its job cuts, Dingell told Reuters that “GM is going to work hard to improve relationships.”

Despite the angst in Washington, Barra and her deputies are showing no signs of shifting gears.

“We’re not here to make everybody angry,” GM President Mark Reuss told Reuters this week at the auto show. He said GM’s restructuring is driven by many factors - including the need to offset tariff costs and finance new electric vehicles and battery technology. That requires GM to stop “investing money in things that don’t make money.”

It is a message Barra herself hit hard on Friday during a presentation to investors in New York, where she promised stronger profits and outlined plans for its Cadillac brand to challenge Tesla.

“We have demonstrated time and again that we are willing to make tough and strategic decisions to not only meet our commitments but to secure the company’s future,” Barra said.

Barra’s charm offensive had proven successful for most of President Donald Trump’s first two years in office. Atop Barra’s list of accomplishments: shielding GM’s profitable Mexican truck production and its $5 billion investment in its Mexican operations announced in 2014 to double capacity in Mexico from punitive trade measures from the Trump administration.

But the new conflict with Washington comes at a critical time for GM, which wants to sell many more electric vehicles and has been lobbying Congress to expand the $7,500 tax credits. It still needs help from regulators to get self-driving cars without steering wheels on U.S. roads.

And GM stands to benefit from the Trump administration’s plan to weaken fuel efficiency standards

“We’ve done this to help you, and I think his disappointment is it seems like they kind of turned their back on him,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters in November, referring to Trump’s reaction.

Kyle Martin, research analyst with Westwood Management in Dallas, which owns GM shares, said GM needs the cash to develop to electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle technology.

“That money has to come from somewhere,” he said.

Trump’s election win brought a dire warning from GM executives in a presentation in late 2017 and early 2018 to the company’s board: an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could cost the automaker billions of dollars in tariffs on GM’s Mexican vehicles. They concluded that the costs would still be less than the billions of dollars and years it would take to shift production to the United States.

GM argued that while it was building autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles in the United States, it needed to keep generating profits on Mexican-built trucks to fund those operations.

So Barra made engaging with the White House after Trump’s election a key focus.

She went to dinner at the house of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and spoke on several occasions with Trump himself. Barra hired a former senior Trump aide who handled trade policy issues, Everett Eissenstat, to run GM’s DC office in August.

And she has had numerous talks with U.S. officials, including conversations with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, about the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada - including a key call in August to address concerns from GM that the new trade deal could have disadvantaged its Mexican operations.

Barra is now counting on those relationships to help her steer through 2019, and mend fences in Washington.

She invited Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to Michigan to attend a board meeting in June 2017 and take a ride in an self-driving car in Michigan, according to previously unreported government records reviewed by Reuters. Barra also had a previously unreported lunch in April 2017 with Chao at the White House with other officials.

She spent two days last month on Capitol Hill meeting with angry lawmakers and explaining the cuts. In a brief interview with Reuters in December, Barra said she understands “that there’s a lot of emotion and concerns” but emphasized that the actions were about safeguarding the company’s future.

She has her work cut out for her.

Representative Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat who took office this month, noted the Detroit-Hamtramck plant - one of the facilities losing production - is on a site that GM won approval in the early 1980s to dislocate more than 4,200 people as the state tore down about 1,500 homes and 140 businesses.

“We as a society made a huge sacrifice for GM so they could have a new plant. And 30 years later they are just going to throw it away?” Levin said. “We’re not going to stop and just say, ‘Oh this is a cost of doing business.’”

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Cadillac: ‘We've got one chance'

Micahel Wayland, Automotive News  /  January 21, 2019

Returning Cadillac to some measure of its previous glory, and positioning it as an EV leader, promise to be a heavy lift.

DETROIT — Behind General Motors' bold pronouncements about a high-tech, electrified future for Cadillac lies a grimmer reality: Despite a decade of similar efforts to elevate and transform the brand, it remains in fragile shape.

Strong China results lifted Cadillac to record global volume last year, but U.S. sales for the quintessentially American luxury marque were down for the third straight year, and 2018 marked another upheaval of its executive ranks.

But Americans love a comeback story, and Cadillac, led by GM President Mark Reuss and brand chief Steve Carlisle, is promising to deliver one — first, through an influx of new and freshened sedans, crossovers and SUVs, and then through leadership of GM's charge toward all-electric vehicles.

Cadillac this month previewed an electric crossover expected in 2021 that will be the first vehicle to ride on GM's next-generation EV platform.

"We've got one chance. This is it," Reuss told Automotive News last week. "We will leave nothing on the table, but we've got to get there. ... We're going to get there."

Reuss and Carlisle expect to succeed where others have failed by leveraging Cadillac's growing popularity and profits in China, which became Cadillac's top market in 2017.

They'll be building on an aggressive product plan orchestrated by Johan de Nysschen, the former Audi and Infiniti executive who left a plodding brand-building effort unfinished when he was ousted as Cadillac's president in April.

At the same time, they're erasing some hallmarks of the previous leadership era, during which Cadillac moved its headquarters to New York, embraced esoteric marketing and sought more autonomy from executives in Detroit.

Cadillac is now giving up its New York presence entirely and relocating to a refurbished building in suburban Detroit. Reuss took oversight of Cadillac from then-GM President Dan Ammann in June.

Cadillac Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl, who returned to the auto industry after a 10-year hiatus to succeed Uwe Ellinghaus last year, is bringing more upbeat, less-pretentious marketing and advertising to the brand.

Cadillac is still dogged by a reputation as a large-car brand, she said, but there are "pieces of its heritage that are still strong in people's mind."

Returning Cadillac to some measure of its previous glory and positioning it as an EV leader promise to be a heavy lift. It means going up against not only the traditional luxury leaders from Europe, but also electrification pioneers with far stronger brands that are establishing beachheads in high-performance or luxury EVs, including Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche.

Cadillac's performance against luxury rivals during its current three-year product blitz will either build a firmer foundation for the brand to make that climb into EVs or bury it in an even deeper hole.

Head-scratcher

Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer, who is leading the launch of Lagonda as a zero-emission luxury marque, is skeptical that Cadillac can break through. "There's a real disadvantage of being a premium brand inside a mass company," the former Nissan executive said last week at the Automotive News World Congress. "Basically, Cadillac inside of GM, Lincoln inside of Ford or Infiniti inside of Nissan — none of them will make it."

Within a mass-market company, Palmer said, such brands are forced to push sales volume and profits for the company, even when it risks undermining the brand with incentives. Brands such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, he said, don't have that problem.

In 2018, Autodata estimates, Cadillac's incentives averaged nearly $8,900 per unit sold — among the highest in the auto industry. BMW and Mercedes-Benz were both at roughly $5,750.

As Cadillac unveiled the XT6 three-row crossover last week in Detroit, there were already murmurs that it may not be up to the challenge. A long-awaited vehicle in a fiercely contested segment, it opened to middling reviews for its performance numbers, technology and conservative design, similar to the response that greeted the XT4 compact crossover when it launched last year.

"There's no reason why the XT6 can't sell well," said Stephanie Brinley, IHS Markit principal analyst. "But when you think of Cadillac as the leading technology brand, it doesn't have as much technology as some of its competitors."

Given the amount of time Cadillac spent on the vehicle, and its being on an established platform — shared with the midsize XT5 and other large GM crossovers — the lack of innovations "leaves you scratching your head a little bit," Brinley said.

Missing from the XT6, for example, is Super Cruise, the hands-off driver-assistance system for highways that launched in 2017 on the Cadillac CT6 sedan. It's designed for the kinds of long-haul road trips that a family might take in an XT6.

‘The way it is'

Reuss, who last year announced the technology would expand across Cadillac's lineup beginning in 2020, made no excuses for the technology not being on the XT6.

"I'm very respectful of all the people who have worked on Cadillac in the past [and] work on it now," said Reuss, who has led GM's product development arm since 2013. "I will take all the heat for it not being there, and that's the way it is."

Removing excuses has been part of Reuss' plan since he took oversight of Cadillac last year. It's one of the reasons why he says it was important to move Cadillac's headquarters back to Michigan after the four-year run in New York.

The move back, he said, eliminates travel time and moves Cadillac's leadership right across the street from the GM Technical Center just north of Detroit, the automaker's epicenter for product design and development, including battery EVs.

"Nothing against New York, but we need really talented people to ... bring Cadillac to a different place than it's been in my entire career, frankly," Reuss said. "I'm trying to eliminate all the excuses of why we're not. And that's one of them."

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GMC adds AT4 subbrand, Sierra 1500 features to HD lineup

Michael Wayland, Automotive News  /  January 22, 2019

SAN DIEGO — GMC is expanding its new AT4 subbrand and many defining characteristics of the Sierra 1500 to its heavy-duty brethren.

Like the light-duty model, the 2020 GMC Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD will feature the brand's six-way MultiPro tailgate, large head-up display and advanced trailering system with an app, among other things.

Compared with the current Sierra HD, the redesigned pickup is taller and longer but features a 1-inch lower bed lift-in height. It incorporates design elements similar to its light-duty sibling, including redesigned C-shaped headlamps and taillamps and a larger grille — unique to each trim — and functional hood scoop.

"It's bigger, stronger and smarter," Duncan Aldred, vice president of GMC, said during the vehicle's Tuesday unveiling. He called the Sierra HD "the crown jewel" of the brand’s lineup.

The pickup, expected to go on sale late summer, will be available in base, SLE, SLT, AT4 and Denali in dual-rear-wheel and single-rear-wheel configurations. Like its Silverado HD sibling, the Sierra HD will be powered by an all-new gasoline engine or Duramax 6.6-liter diesel engine with SAE-certified 445 hp and 910 pound-feet of torque.

The performance of the diesel engine, mated to an Allison-branded 10-speed transmission, is similar in horsepower to similar Ford and Ram models, but with lower torque output. Ford's 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 diesel is rated at 450 hp and 935 pound-feet of torque, while the Ram HD's Cummins 6.7-liter diesel engine features 400 hp and 1,000 pound-feet of torque.

More than 90 percent of current Sierra HD buyers purchase crew cab models with diesel engines, according to Aldred.
Towing capacity, according to GMC, will exceed 30,000 pounds. GM did not release pricing or payload for the pickup. Aldred called the pickups “the ultimate trailering machines,” following a Sierra HD 3500 model pulling a large boat and marine lift behind it during the unveiling.

The boat and hoist weighed more than 225,000 pounds. GM said it will release specific towing, payload and other specifications closer to launch.

The Sierra HD AT4 model, like its light-duty siblings, features darker or blacked-out parts as well as additional off-road components such as off-road suspension, Rancho shocks, skid plates and an Eaton locking rear differential.

GMC launched the AT4 subbrand last year on the 2019 Sierra 1500.

GM invested $1.5 billion to support the launch of the redesigned Sierra HD and Silverado HD at Flint Assembly in Flint, Mich.

GMC's annual sales declined 0.8 percent last year to fewer than 560,000 units, while Sierra sales increased 0.7 percent to nearly 220,000.

Other features on the 2020 GMC Sierra HD:

  • Cargo bed side steps on all box styles, located in front of the rear wheel openings, ahead of corner steps in the rear bumper to improve access to the cargo area.

  • ProGrade Trailering System that includes an in-vehicle Trailering App that allows trailer diagnostics and pre-maintenance reminders, among other things.

  • Best-in-class front head and legroom, with crew cab models.

  • An available camera system with 15 views, including a "transparent trailer view," which helps optimize the driver's view around the truck and compatible trailers.

  • Available rear camera mirror.

  • Available 15-inch-diagonal head-up display that offers useful trailering information, including vehicle speed, navigation information and an inclinometer display for the road grade.

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GM, facing losses in Brazil, seeks tax breaks in Sao Paulo state

Marcelo Rochabrun, Reuters  /  January 23, 2019

SAO PAULO -- General Motors' Brazil unit is in advanced talks with Sao Paulo state to receive tax incentives, the company told public officials and union representatives at a meeting on Tuesday, a few days after telling workers in a memo that it was losing money in the country.

GM's top executives in South America attended the meeting along with union representatives and mayors of the two cities where the automaker's Sao Paolo state plants are based. Two officials representing the two cities told Reuters GM disclosed the tax incentive discussions at the meeting.

"They told us that the conversation with the state is very advanced, very positive," said Alberto Marques Filho, secretary of innovation for the city of São Jose dos Campos, where one GM plant is based and where the meeting took place.

GM declined to comment.

A representative for the state government said in a statement it has "been working to show the public that it is advantageous to keep the company in Sao Paulo."

GM's dominance

GM is the undisputed market leader for small cars and trucks in Latin America's largest economy, but it was not revealed until recently that the automaker was losing money there.

Earlier this month, GM CEO Mary Barra said the company had lowered its break-even point in the region in recent years by 40 percent, but it still faced "unacceptable losses that need to be addressed."

"We've begun work with key local stakeholders, dealers, suppliers, unions and government officials to take all necessary actions to generate acceptable returns in the near term or to consider other options," she added at an investor presentation on Jan. 11.

Worker warnings

GM posted a memo in its plants in Brazil warning workers that it had experienced deep losses in the past two years and could not keep operating that way. GM has yet to comment on the memo, which was seen by Reuters.

GM, which is undergoing a global restructuring, also has announced thousands of layoffs in the United States and Canada. It also plans to shut two plants outside the United States which it has not yet identified.

The automaker is also looking to negotiate future investments with its unions, the governments of cities where it operates, and suppliers, said José Auricchio, the mayor of another GM plant location, Sao Caetano do Sul.

Auricchio and Marques Filho said GM had told them at the meeting that the governor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, had personally participated in five meetings with the automaker to discuss tax incentives.

The memo added that any turnaround plan for GM would require "sacrifices from everyone."

Last year, Brazil's federal government granted carmakers with local plants a 15-year package of tax breaks, extending subsidies for an industry that has struggled to compete.

Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, who took office with a new government this month, has said Brazil cannot afford to keep subsidizing powerful industries, arguing that an end to protectionist policies will make the economy more competitive. 

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GM Canada HQ blocked by Unifor in protest of Oshawa decision

John Irwin, Automotive News  /   January 23, 2019

TORONTO — Unifor members on Wednesday morning formed a blockade outside of General Motors’ Canadian headquarters in Ontario, to protest the automaker’s plans to end production at the nearby assembly plant in Oshawa.

Unifor President Jerry Dias said the union’s members would prevent GM Canada employees from entering the building. The move is in response to GM’s plans to stop allocating products to Oshawa Assembly beyond 2019. 

“GM headquarters will be down and it will stay down,” Dias said. “This is going to become a very major community initiative for us.”

David Paterson, GM Canada vice president of corporate and environmental affairs, said GM employees would work from home Wednesday and that the company’s operations would be unaffected. He estimated about 700 GM employees work at the Oshawa headquarters.

“We have the ability to work from home or at other locations, so we won’t be affected,” Paterson said. “We’ll have planned for this and have alternate arrangements.”

ESCALATING PROTESTS

Unifor’s action is the latest in an escalating feud between the union and GM. Unifor has undertaken an international campaign to save the Oshawa plant, taking out advertising in Canada and the United States and staging protests that briefly halted production at the factory and at one of its nearby suppliers. GM Canada, meanwhile, has taken to social media to refute claims by Unifor that the company is moving the Oshawa jobs to Mexico and has repeatedly urged the union to work with it on securing new jobs for workers.

The war of words continued on Wednesday afternoon. During a news conference at the blockade, Dias said Unifor’s actions would happen on an ongoing basis at different GM facilities and suppliers.

“What is happening here today is going to happen tomorrow,” Dias said “It’s going to happen on Friday. It’s going to happen at different locations, General Motors. We’re going to see you at the [Detroit] auto show that runs until the 27th. The simple reality is that we’re not going to stop.”

Dias said Unifor's actions would not include an outright boycott of all GM products.

"I'll never call for an outright boycott," Dias said. "Our members in Ingersoll make the incredible Equinox. Our members that work in St. Catharines provide powertrains for so many different vehicles that are sold in the United States.

"But I have a real problem with the Mexican vehicles that GM thinks it can just dump on the Canadian and U.S. market. I'll leave it at that."

In an interview following Dias’ press conference, Paterson downplayed the significance of the blockade and said he “felt bad” for Unifor members who have stood in cold, snowy and rainy conditions.

“There’s nobody in the building today,” he said. “Basically, it’s a protest outside an empty building. I think the urgency, given that, is probably overstated.”

Paterson said GM Canada considers Unifor’s blockade to be illegal, and the automaker could consider taking legal action in response. He said GM has asked local police to stop protesters from blocking the road to the headquarters, though he was unaware as of Wednesday afternoon if the company had filed for an injunction.

“I believe this is an illegal action, so we’ll see how long they’re there,” Paterson said. “I honestly don’t know what our legal staff will do on that, but I presume from experience where Unifor has done this before, generally it’s agreed it’s an illegal action. In past instances, where they’ve done this before, there have been injunctions that have been secured.

An Ontario Superior Court judge ruled in 2008 that a nearly two-week blockade of GM Canada’s headquarters by the Canadian Auto Workers, a predecessor of Unifor’s, that year was illegal. That blockade was in response to GM announcing that it would close its Oshawa truck assembly plant, which would shutter in 2009.

“We’ve been saying for several weeks that we would like the union to sit down and discuss the packages that will be made for affected workers at the Oshawa plant over the next year,” Paterson said. “Until these types of actions are done, that’s not really possible until Unifor is ready to come to the table.”

‘IT’S GOING TO GET UGLY’

Dias said the blockade would be a sustained effort, lasting beyond Wednesday and again threatened to escalate Unifor’s battle with GM.

“It’s going to get ugly and it is going to get ugly very quickly,” Dias said. “The bottom line is we’re not going away.”
Dias said he was set to meet Wednesday morning with officials in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office to discuss the Oshawa plant. He said he would urge the federal government to get more involved in its fight with GM and said he ultimately wants a meeting between himself, Trudeau and GM CEO Mary Barra.

“I’m looking to get the federal government engaged immediately,” Dias said. “It’s past time.”

Barra met with Navdeep Bains, the federal minister of innovation, science and economic development, in Detroit last week. Bains said he urged GM to reverse course on its Oshawa plans, though Barra said the decision was final.

A Unifor spokeswoman said non-GM employees who work at the company’s Canadian headquarters will be allowed in by union members. Paterson said non-GM tenants of the building include Ontario Power Generation Inc. and cafeteria services.

Oshawa Assembly is one of three North American assembly plants GM plans to stop allocating production to in 2019 as part of a larger corporate restructuring. Oshawa builds the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala sedans and does final assembly on previous-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup bodies shipped from the United States.

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The Four-Cylinder Chevrolet Silverado Got Worse Fuel Economy Than the V-8 in Our Test

K.C. Colwell, Car & Driver  /  January 22, 2019

Here's more proof that downsizing and turbocharging have their limits.

Small gains in the efficiency of a heavy, wind-catching pickup truck result in a sizable percentage swing. Take two versions of Chevrolet's new 2019 Silverado 1500, for example. One is powered by the equally new turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four and the other has an updated 5.3-liter V-8; both engines are paired with General Motors' eight-speed automatic transmission and a four-by-four transfer case. The largest font on their respective window stickers belongs to the EPA's combined fuel-economy estimate: the 2.7 boasts a big 20 mpg, while the tried-and-true small-block posts a score of 18 mpg. These 2 mpg represent an 11 percent improvement for the 2.7. "Actual results will vary for many reasons" is among some of the smallest print.

On the highway cycle, however, the EPA says the trucks should get an identical 22 mpg. For all the chest pumping that manufacturers do over downsizing and turbocharging, we found it curious that a pushrod V-8 could even come close to challenging it in any area of efficiency. So, since we recently had a Silverado 2.7T, specifically a Double Cab in RST trim, in the office, we ran it on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, which we call the "HFE test" for short.

We couldn't have been more shocked by the result. The 2.7T averaged 18 mpg over the 200-mile test, a 14 percent drop from the 21 mpg we observed in the 5.3-liter RST Crew Cab, which was a full 314 pounds heavier.

How is that possible? you ask. Our real-world test runs vehicles at relatively high speed, and while the downsizing and turbocharging approach is a benefit to the EPA test cycles, the 2.7 still needs to move a brick through the air. We suspect it is on boost or making use of the turbo at 75 mph. The exact opposite—the engine essentially operating as a naturally aspirated four-banger—is probably true during the 48-mph EPA highway test cycle.

The 5.3 also benefits from some fancy bit of tech that GM calls Dynamic Fuel Management, which is capable of running 17 different ignition cycles to maximize fuel economy.

Yet another inner-GM ego blow comes in the form of a GMC Sierra 1500 Denali we evaluated during this year's 10Best Trucks and SUVs competition. Despite its 6.2-liter V-8 having more than twice the displacement and 110 additional horsepower—it also gets a 10-speed automatic rather than the 8-speed—the Denali managed to tie the 2.7T's 18-mpg HFE result. The only half-ton pickup we've tested that has done worse on the HFE test is a 2017 Toyota Tundra SR5 fitted with the TRD Off Road package. It got 17 mpg. Even the Ford F-150 Raptor matches the effort of the Silverado 2.7T.

All this talk of the worst begs the question, which truck is the best?

For all pickups we’ve tested to date, that honor goes to both the Honda Ridgeline and the diesel-powered GMC Canyon, each of which got 28 mpg.

The best half-ton result was 26 mpg, owned by a Ford F-150 Crew Cab 4x4 with the 3.0L V6 diesel.

It is worth noting that GM's 2.7-liter isn't the last engine it's releasing for the new half-ton siblings. There is a 3.0-liter diesel inline-six coming that should challenge the F-150 and maybe even those mid-sizers for the pickup crown of HFE. When and if it does, we'll let you know.

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GM to build new V8 engine at Tennessee plant

Automotive News  /  January 24, 2019

General Motors said on Thursday it will invest $22 million at its Tennessee plant to build fuel-efficient engines for GM's large pickups and SUVs.

GM will add more than 200 jobs at the Spring Hill plant to make the new generation of 6.2-liter, V-8 engines.

The Spring Hill complex, originally built in 1990 for GM's now-defunct Saturn brand, also makes the popular GMC Acadia large crossover and Cadillac XT5 crossover. It employs about 3,800 people.

GM claims the new V8's Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) technology is "the industry’s first cylinder deactivation technology which enables the engines to operate in 17 different cylinder patterns to optimize performance. DFM enables only the cylinders needed to deliver the power a customer wants."

“This investment will enable our Spring Hill team to continue building our award-winning engines enhanced with technology that will improve fuel efficiency and performance for our customers,” says GM CEO Mary Barra. “This investment reflects our commitment to vehicles and technologies our customers desire today and in the future.”

Meanwhile, the complex is slated to begin production of the Cadillac XT6 later this year. Barra attended an event at the plant to celebrate the planned launch of the three-row crossover. GM is investing $300 million and hiring 200 people for production of the new model. 

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GM now top producer in Mexico as industry output declines

Nick Bunkley, Automotive News  /  January 28, 2019

Mexico in 2018 accounted for more than a quarter of General Motors' estimated North American production for the first time, a proportion that will rise further if the company follows through with plans to end production at five plants in the U.S. and Canada this year.

GM is now Mexico's largest auto producer, topping Nissan Motor Co. in a year when it reduced output by an estimated 5 percent in the U.S. and an estimated 33 percent in Canada.

GM built 834,414 vehicles in Mexico last year, an increase of 3.6 percent, vs. a 10 percent decrease to an estimated 763,257 for Nissan, which had been No. 1.

GM's higher Mexican output at a time when it's eliminating jobs in the U.S. has angered President Donald Trump and other politicians as well as union officials set to negotiate a new contract with the automaker this fall.

"We want those cars here," says Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and former GM lobbyist. "That's why we have to support a public policy environment that encourages production in the U.S."

Overall production in Mexico fell by 1 percent in 2018. That's the first time Mexico production has declined since automakers began opening a flurry of plants south of the U.S. border to take advantage of lower costs from nonunion labor and favorable trade agreements with overseas markets.

But production in Mexico is expected to remain stable in the coming years, particularly now that the U.S., Canada and Mexico have signed a renegotiated free-trade agreement.

Total North American production declined for a second consecutive year. Production was down an estimated 2.6 percent overall, including an estimated 2 percent in the U.S. and an estimated 8.8 percent in Canada.

Just three automakers built more vehicles in the U.S. in 2018: Tesla, up 151 percent; Volkswagen Group, up an estimated 22 percent; and Honda Motor Co., up 2.7 percent. Ford remained the largest U.S. producer, building nearly 2.4 million vehicles domestically vs. about 2.1 million for GM.

In Mexico, Toyota built 49 percent more Tacoma pickups in Tijuana, and Hyundai-Kia made 33 percent more small cars in Nuevo Leon. Besides those two and GM, the only other automaker to raise output in Mexico was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — by 369 vehicles. Honda and Ford joined Nissan with double-digit cutbacks.

A GM spokesman said the company hasn't added any capacity in Mexico for a decade and has no plans to do so. Its 2018 gain there stemmed from falling demand for GM's U.S.-made cars and surging popularity of crossovers such as the Mexico-made GMC Terrain and the Chevrolet Equinox, which is built in both Mexico and Canada. Production of the Equinox and Terrain in Mexico nearly doubled from 2017, but GM built 11 percent fewer pickups and 74 percent fewer cars in Mexico last year. Mexico represented an estimated 30.8 percent of GM's 2018 light-truck production and an estimated 25.7 percent of its total output in North America. Ford got 9.7 percent of its North American supply from Mexico but doesn't build any pickups, SUVs or crossovers there.

GM is poised for another Mexico production increase in 2019 with the addition of the Chevy Blazer, which started coming off the Equinox line at its Ramos Arizpe plant in November.

The decision to make the Blazer in Mexico — reached, company officials say, when sedan sales were higher and GM had less U.S. capacity to spare — has been a particularly sore spot for the UAW, which learned of it on the day GM reduced its Chevy Cruze plant in Lordstown, Ohio, to one daily shift. GM says it will end production in Lordstown after March 1, followed later in the year by assembly plants in Detroit and Oshawa, Ontario, and propulsion plants in Michigan and Maryland.

Unifor, the Canadian union that represents Oshawa workers, last week blocked access to the headquarters of GM Canada in protest of the potential plant closure.

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GM Brands Have Cut Complimentary Maintenance from Three Years to One

Drew Dorian, Car & Driver  /  January 30, 2019

General Motors has made changes to its brands' complimentary maintenance plans for 2019 model year vehicles. It now offers just one free service visit instead of the previous two or three visits (depending on brand). This sole free visit—which amounts to an oil change, a tire rotation, and a multipoint vehicle inspection—must be redeemed within the first year of ownership.

GMC and Chevrolet both offered two complimentary scheduled maintenance visits on last year's models; the GMC website now shows details about the new one-visit program starting with 2019 models. Chevrolet has not yet updated its consumer website with details about its 2019 models’ complimentary scheduled maintenance plan, but a company representative has confirmed the brand is dropping its two year maintenance program in favor of a one-visit plan.

A representative from Cadillac explained to us that the change aligns the company's offerings with those of many luxury rivals such as Audi, which offers exactly the same service. However, brands such as Jaguar and BMW continue their free-service programs, with Jaguar owners getting five years and BMW owners getting three years of complimentary maintenance.

Cadillac and Buick have made no other changes to their standard warranty offerings, which currently are above average for the auto industry with six-year or 70,000-mile powertrain coverage. GMC and Chevrolet have held steady on their warranties as well but aren't as generous as GM's premium brands.

For owners interested in prepaid maintenance plans, GM will continue to offer such products through franchised dealerships. The plans range widely in both cost and coverage—Buick, for example, offers plans as short as two years all the way up to 15 years—and can be made to cover basics such as oil changes or be far more inclusive by covering items such as spark plugs and air filters.

We're hoping to hear more from representatives from each of the GM brands about why the company is making these changes and will update this article with more information as it becomes available.

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GM truck plant in Michigan to add 1,000 workers

Reuters  /  February 5, 2019

FLINT, Mich. -- General Motors said Tuesday it will add 1,000 workers to build new heavy-duty pickup trucks at its plant in Flint, Michigan, and will give priority to GM workers who were laid off elsewhere.

GM has come under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump and Midwestern lawmakers for its plans to stop production at five North American factories and cut up to 15,000 jobs. The automaker has said it is trying to find new jobs for 1,500 U.S. hourly workers at the affected plants. Flint could be a haven for many of these employees.

Sales of heavy-duty pickups in the United States have grown to more than 600,000 vehicles a year, up more than 20 percent since 2013, according to industry data. Prices for luxury models can easily top $70,000.

GM on Tuesday will celebrate the launch of a new generation of heavy-duty GMC and Chevrolet pickups at the assembly plant in Flint, Michigan, that is now building all such trucks for the company. 

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GM powers up 2020 Silverado HD pickup line

Michael Wayland, February 5, 2019

FLINT, Mich. — General Motors is adding size, power and options to the redesigned 2020 Silverado HD pickup.

The vehicles, when they arrive in showrooms midyear, will be available in five trim levels — Work Truck, Custom, LT, LTZ and High Country — across 22 cab, bed, chassis and driveline configurations.

They, like their GMC Sierra HD siblings, will be available with two new powertrains.

The standard engine is a new 6.6-liter gasoline V-8 with direct injection making 401 hp and 464 pound-feet of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. That's an 11 percent increase in horsepower and a 22 percent increase in peak torque, respectively, resulting in 18 percent more towing capability —17,400 pounds — according to GM. It replaces a 6.0-liter gasoline V-8 that delivered 360 hp and 380 pound-feet of torque.

The optional engine is a 6.6-liter diesel V-8 rated at 445 hp and 910 pound-feet of torque coupled with a 10-speed automatic transmission co-developed with Allison.

The diesel model, combined with additional upgrades, boosts max towing 52 percent — now up to 35,500 pounds on Regular Cab, two-wheel drive, dually rear-wheel models.

The performance details from GM come as crosstown rival, Ford Motor Co., said it expects its 2020 Super Duty trucks with a new 7.3-liter engine to be the most powerful gasoline V-8 in its class.

The optional engine is in addition to Ford already offering a 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel and a standard 6.2-liter V-8.

The 2020 Silverado HD, according to GM, is 10.4 inches longer than the outgoing truck, 1.4 inches wider and 1.6 inches taller. Its wheelbase also is 5.2 inches longer.

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GM posts $2 billion Q4 net profit on strong North American results

Michael Wayland, Automotive News  /  February 6, 2019

DETROIT — General Motors swung to fourth-quarter net income of just over $2 billion, as strong North American results offset restructuring costs and losses in its international operations and autonomous-vehicle unit.

The fourth-quarter results compare to a year ago when the company reported a record operating profit of $3.1 billion for the period but a net loss of $4.9 billion due primarily to U.S. tax reform. Those results were based on continuing operations, after the company's sale of its European operations.

The company spent $1.3 billion on its ongoing restructuring in the fourth quarter, primarily employee separation charges and accelerated depreciation. GM, according to CFO Dhivya Suryadevara, expects to spend roughly $2 billion in cash overall for such actions.   

For the year, net income swung to about $8 billion, from a loss of $3.9 billion in 2017.

GM shares rose on the report, gaining 1.25 percent to $39.79 in midday trading. The shares earlier in the day had topped $40. 

In the fourth quarter, GM's adjusted earnings, before interest and taxes, decreased 8.3 percent to $2.8 billion, and its global margin declined 0.8 percentage point to 7.4 percent. Revenue increased 1.8 percent to $38.4 billion. 

For the year, the automaker's adjusted earnings, before interest and taxes, were down 8.3 percent to $11.8 billion from 2017, while income from continuing operations increased to $8.1 billion from $348 million.

Strong year

Suryadevara described the results as “strong,” despite outside commodity pressures, foreign exchange challenges and a volatile trade and political environment. GM, she said, was negatively impacted more than $1 billion due to changes in trade in 2018, however was primarily able to offset those costs. 

The first quarter of this year, according to Suryadevara, is expected to be the weakest for GM. That includes an expected 25,000-unit loss to its full-size SUVs – primarily in the first quarter – due to downtime at its Arlington Assembly plant for retooling for the next-generations of the vehicles in 2020.

GM last month advised that it would exceed its previously reported guidance of adjusted earnings $5.80 to $6.20 per share and automotive free cash flow of $4 billion.

It delivered on that promise. For the year, GM reported earnings of $6.54 per share, including $1.43 in the fourth quarter – topping Wall Street estimates of $1.25. The company's free cash flow was $4.4 billion for the year, excluding the impact of an expected $600 million payment to non-U.S. pensions in the third quarter.

For 2019, GM previously forecasted earnings of $6.50 to $7 per share and adjusted free cash flow between $4.5 billion and $6 billion.

“We are really repositioning this company from one that was trying to be all things to all people in all markets to a very strategic, agile and profitability company and we believe we are in a very differentiated position than many of the competitors in this industry,” Barra told investors.

Additional headwinds hindering its results for the year could include a flat to lower market in China and a potential contentious collective bargaining with the UAW in the second half of the year.

Regional results

  • North American earnings increased 5.8 percent to $3 billion in the fourth quarter. GM on Feb. 22 expects to pay up to $10,750 in profit sharing payments based on North American earnings to UAW members, down $1,000 from $11,750 in 2017.

  • The company's international operations lost $48 million, down from earnings of $416 million in 2017.

  • GM Financial reported earnings of $416 million, up 38 percent from $301 million a year earlier. Fifty-six percent of GM’s sales in the fourth quarter were financed through GM Financial. 

  • Operating profit margin: The North American margin for the year was 9.5 percent, including 10.2 percent for the fourth quarter. It was the first time since 2014 that the company’s profit margin for the region dropped below 10 percent. 

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Yet another LS derivative.  Looks like not much more than a larger L96 6.0L with direct injection and a steel crankshaft.  Decent output, should be completely reliable and durable.  Probably not as powerful as Ford's new 7.3L, but better fuel economy.  And, I'll bet GM spent next to nothing to develop the 6.6L..   

Edited by RoadwayR
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7 hours ago, RoadwayR said:

Yet another LS derivative.  Looks like not much more than a larger L96 6.0L with direct injection and a steel crankshaft.  Decent output, should be completely reliable and durable.  Probably not as powerful as Ford's new 7.3L, but better fuel economy.  And, I'll bet GM spent next to nothing to develop the 6.6L..   

It's a stroked 6.0 liter. 

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Idk why Chevrolet quit making the bb. (8.1)  those 6.0 don’t get any better mileage & they don’t have close to the torque 

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Note the use of Chinese Kuka robotics.

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GM is developing an electric pickup truck with a Tesla-sourced powertrain.

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On 2/10/2019 at 8:58 AM, kscarbel2 said:

Note the use of Chinese Kuka robotics.

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Chinese robots?? Based on our technology or home grown??

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22 minutes ago, Red Horse said:

Chinese robots?? Based on our technology or home grown??

Bob, the CPC has an initiative called "Made in China 2025" (中國製造2025). It's goal is to aggressively acquire leading edge foreign technology so as to leap China forward to the number one spot by 2025.

Kuka was a German robotics company, before being acquired by China. They're looking to buy FCA's robotics subsidiary Comau now.

China, for example, acquired German concrete pump makers Putzmeister and Schwing.

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12 minutes ago, kscarbel2 said:

Bob, the CPC has an initiative called "Made in China 2025" (中國製造2025). It's goal is to aggressively acquire leading edge foreign technology so as to leap China forward to the number one spot by 2025.

Kuka was a German robotics company, before being acquired by China. They're looking to buy FCA's robotics subsidiary Comau now.

China, for example, acquired German concrete pump makers Putzmeister and Schwing.

Kevin-enough bad news!  Did not know about the two pump makers.  

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Not surprising, given that China for awhile was the world's biggest consumer of cement...

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