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By William Maley
It has been a tense couple of months at GM Korea. Back in February, the company announced a restructuring plan for the division which included the closure of the Gunsan plant (one of the four plants operating in South Korea), and voluntary redundancies for 2,600 workers to stem the hemorrhaging of cash. Recently, GM has been pushing its workers’ union for concessions that would total $80 million. This is part of an effort to get a $500 million injection from the South Korean government to pay suppliers and workers. The workers union weren't buying, threatening to strike and trashing company executive offices earlier this month. Then GM threw down the gauntlet, either agree to the concessions by April 20th or we begin bankruptcy proceedings.
“Without concessions from the labor union and clear resolution from stakeholders, the company has no choice but to go ahead with rehabilitation proceedings,” said GM Korea executive Kaher Kazem in an email to employees.
Unfortunately, the date passed with no agreement and it seemed bankruptcy was on the horizon. But both GM and union rep would continue to talk over the weekend to see if a deal could be reached. At the 11th hour, an agreement was reached.
“Through the latest agreement, GM Korea will be a competitive manufacturing company,” said Kazem in a statement today.
According to Reuters who got to see the deal, the union agreed to freeze base wages, skip bonuses for this year, and cut back on benefits.
“The labor union made huge concessions to save the company,” said Hong Young-pyo, a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party who worked on the mediation between the two groups.
A union spokesman declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, only saying that workers will vote on the agreement later this week.
The deal now allows the Korean government to fund Korea Development Bank (KDB) - the second largest shareholder in GM Korea - to provide support. It also allows GM to allocate two new models for the region. But some analysts are still uncertain as to the future of GM Korea. Labor costs, poor sales, and expensive export costs have some wondering if GM is in it for the long run or are planning an exit strategy.
“GM has extended the lifeline of GM Korea, but not sure how long it will last,” said Lee Hang-koo, a senior research fellow at Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade.
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By William Maley
In April of 2013, Ford and General Motors announced they would be working together on developing new nine and ten-speed automatic transmissions. The nine-speed automatic would be for front-wheel drive models, while rear-drive models got the ten-speed. Already, a number of Ford and GM vehicles are using the ten-speed. But GM will be the only one using the nine-speed.
Automotive News reports that Ford is electing to use a new series of eight-speed automatic transmission on their vehicles. The company said the new nine-speed didn't provide enough of an improvement in fuel economy to justify the added cost and weight. According to a source, Ford made this decision before GM began to use this transmission on their production models.
"Typically, if anyone gave me a transmission that didn't require much work, outside of tuning it for a specific vehicle, I would take it and run. It's a lot of design work after the fact to come up with their own flavor. It shows there might be some different schools of thought in terms of transmission efficiency," said Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific Inc.
While GM claims the nine-speed brings “smoother shifts” and a better driving experience, it hasn't brought any real gains to fuel economy. The 2017 Chevrolet Malibu 2.0T only saw an increase of one mpg on the highway when compared to the 2016 model with a six-speed automatic (33 vs. 32). The 2019 Buick Envision 2.0T saw its highway fuel economy drop by one when equipped with the nine-speed auto (25 vs. 26).
It should be noted that one of the eight-speed transmissions Ford is using is based on the new nine-speed, minus a gear.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
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By William Maley
Buick is expanding their electrified options in China with the introduction of the Velite 6 plug-in hybrid and electric. They'll join the the Buick Velite 5 - a rebadged Chevrolet Volt.
The design is interesting to say in the least with a fair number of creases and a blacked-out rear pillar on this hatchback body.
Arriving first is the plug-in hybrid which is comprised of a 1.5L four-cylinder, two AC permanent-magnet synchronous motors, and lithium-ion battery pack. With a full tank of gas and fully charged battery, Buick estimates a range of 700 kilometers (about 435 miles). Not much is known about the electric variant, aside from Buick saying the model "will adopt a new-generation pure electric drive system to offer customers a smooth, quiet and natural driving experience." The electric variant will arrive next year.
Both Velite 6 models will come with Buick's new eConnect cloud connectivity system. Different drivers can setup their own accounts to personalize settings for navigation, audio, and internet use. eConnect will also provide real-time intergration of WeChat, a Chinese social media service. Owners can use their smartphone as the key for the Velite 6.
Buick VELITE 6 Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle and Enspire All-Electric Concept SUV Make Global Debut in China
WUZHEN – The Buick VELITE 6 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and the Buick Enspire all-electric concept SUV made their global debut this evening at a launch event in the scenic Chinese city of Wuzhen, Zhejiang.
Buick also announced that the VELITE 6 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle will be launched this year and its sibling, the VELITE 6 electric vehicle, will be introduced in China at a later date.
Buick VELITE 6
Buick is focused on electrification, connectivity, intelligence and sharing in line with its Buick Blue new energy vehicle strategy. The VELITE 6 represents the latest application of this strategy.
The two VELITE 6 models leverage electrification and connectivity technology from SAIC-GM’s parent companies, including Buick’s newest electric propulsion technology and connectivity technology. They are based on the VELITE Concept new energy vehicle that was unveiled in November 2016.
The VELITE 6 has a dynamic posture coupled with a wide stance. The modern, streamlined shape aptly represents the innovative exterior styling that matches the new nameplate’s exciting technological character.
The high-performance propulsion system of the VELITE 6 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is composed of an EVT electronically controlled variable transmission, two AC permanent-magnet synchronous motors with a high-performance lithium-ion battery, and a 1.5L naturally aspirated engine especially tuned for hybrid vehicles.
The motors and engine efficiently optimize power in different driving modes – such as the hybrid-driven mode of the motor and the engine, the single-driven mode of the motor, and the single-driven mode of the engine. It has a range of 700 km and combined fuel consumption of 1.4 liters/100 km.
The new-generation modular high-performance ternary lithium-ion battery pack will be assembled at the new state-of-the-art SAIC-GM Power Battery Development Center in Shanghai. The battery incorporates leading battery heat management technology, providing independent and uniform temperature control of each battery unit via liquid cooling. This will ensure a longer life cycle and more stable performance.
The VELITE 6 electric vehicle will adopt a new-generation pure electric drive system to offer customers a smooth, quiet and natural driving experience.
The flexible and open cloud-based Buick eConnect technology in both models enables cutting-edge services and over-the-air update capability. With exclusive accounts, users can personalize their settings for OnStar, navigation, internet use and more. Music and destinations can be sent to the car display screen via WeChat in real time, for one-button navigation and listening. Users can also directly receive information about their vehicles’ condition and recommended maintenance.
VELITE 6 users’ smartphones serve as a virtual key to enter and start the vehicle. They can authorize others to use their vehicles through their phones as well. Additional functions and new features will continuously be added to improve the user experience.
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By William Maley
Cadillac's leadership is seeing a major change as current president Johan de Nysschen will be stepping down effective immediately. In his place will be Steve Carlisle who is currently president and managing director of GM Canada.
“We appreciate Johan’s efforts over the last four years in setting a stronger foundation for Cadillac. Looking forward, the world is changing rapidly, and, beginning with the launch of the new XT4, it is paramount that we capitalize immediately on the opportunities that arise from this rate of change. This move will further accelerate our efforts in that regard,” said General Motors President Dan Ammann in a statement.
No reason was given as to why de Nysschen is leaving after leading the brand for over three years. His tenure saw Cadillac make a number of dramatic changes including moving the brand's headquarters to New York City and introducing a new nomenclature system.
Steve Carlisle has been part of GM since 1982 when he was an industrial engineering co-op student at the Oshawa assembly plant. He was named the president of GM Canada back in 2014 and helped the region get back on its feet. Last year, GM was number one in retail sales in Canada, with Buick, Cadillac, and GMC posting their best ever sales.
“The potential for Cadillac across the globe is incredible and I’m honored to be chosen to be a part of mapping that future. I look forward to building on our current momentum as we continue on our mission to position Cadillac at the pinnacle of luxury,” said Carlisle.
We'll be updating this story if any new information comes out.
UPDATE: Automotive News and Wards Auto have learned some possible reasons as to why de Nysschen was shown the door. One is Cadillac's slumping sales. In 2017, sales in the U.S. dropped eight percent - the second straight year of a sales decline. Sales are doing slightly better in 2018 - up 8.1 percent - some of this is due to incentives being placed on slow-selling models.
Project Pinnacle which was de Nysschen's ambitious incentive plan that would divide dealers into five tiers based on sales volume. Each tier would have different requirements in terms of showroom and service, along with perks. One contentious point that irked a number of dealers was smaller dealers setting up a "virtual showroom" where buyers could order vehicles. These dealers would not be able to stock Cadillac vehicles. Since then, Project Pinnacle has undergone a number of changes.
Wards Auto says de Nysschen didn't move fast enough to join the fast-growing trend of crossovers. Cadillac has introduced the XT4 at the New York Auto Show last month are there plans to launch a couple more in the coming years, but this is only going to widen the gap between Cadillac and competitors.
Both outlets report there has been growing tension between de Nysschen and GM. Such examples include him proclaiming that "Cadillac would be the technical leader at GM in the future," partly due to the launch of SuperCruise. Apparently, de Nysschen forgot about the Chevrolet Bolt and Volt. There was also the comment he made about Apple's CarPlay saying it was “extremely clunky”. (Mr. de Nysschen, have you even used CUE?! -WM)
Source: General Motors
GM Names Steve Carlisle Senior VP and President, Cadillac
Johan de Nysschen leaves GM to pursue other interests; Travis Hester becomes president and managing director, GM Canada DETROIT — General Motors today announced the appointment of Steve Carlisle as General Motors senior vice president and president, Cadillac, replacing Johan de Nysschen, who is leaving the company effective immediately.
Travis Hester, currently vice president, Global Product Programs, is named president and managing director, GM Canada, replacing Carlisle. The transition will begin immediately.
“We appreciate Johan’s efforts over the last four years in setting a stronger foundation for Cadillac,” said General Motors President Dan Ammann. “Looking forward, the world is changing rapidly, and, beginning with the launch of the new XT4, it is paramount that we capitalize immediately on the opportunities that arise from this rate of change. This move will further accelerate our efforts in that regard.”
Carlisle was most recently president and managing director of GM Canada, where he led a resurgence of the GM Canada franchise. In 2017, GM was number one in automotive retail sales in Canada, with Buick, GMC and Cadillac achieving their best ever sales years. Carlisle also reestablished key relationships in Canada with retailers, employees and government officials.
“The potential for Cadillac across the globe is incredible and I’m honored to be chosen to be a part of mapping that future,” said Carlisle. “I look forward to building on our current momentum as we continue on our mission to position Cadillac at the pinnacle of luxury.”
Carlisle will report to Dan Ammann.
Carlisle began his GM career in 1982 as an industrial engineering co-op student at the Oshawa Truck Assembly Plant. Over the course of his career with General Motors, Carlisle has held several senior leadership positions that have taken him across the globe, including vice president, Global Product Planning (2010-2014); vice president, U.S. Sales Operations (2010); and president and managing director, Southeast Asia Operations (2007-2010).
Hester brings extensive global leadership and global product development experience to his new role at GM Canada. Since 2016, he has led the team responsible for balancing all aspects of vehicle development, including quality, cost, appearance, purchasing, customer acceptance and performance targets.
Hester will report to Alan Batey, president, GM North America.
Hester began his GM career in 1995 in Australia as a technical support engineer for GM Holden. He held a variety of positions in Australia before moving to the U.S. in 2005. Since 2005, Hester has held engineering positions in both the U.S. and China, including chief engineer for several global premium luxury vehicles, the Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse and the Chevrolet Sonic. Hester became vice president, Global Product Programs, in 2016.
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