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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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On: Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 2:34PM | By: John Welch

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

GM is selling so many CUVs they can't make enough of them;

Opel is forced to close a plant in Belgium;

and Toyota just keeps trying to murder us with floormats . . .

The Good: The Chevy Equinox was a dud at best when it was originally introduced. Bland styling, stupid, Chinese-built pushrod engine, cheapo low-rent interior. It had all the makings of a fine GM crap-wagon. Then GM had a corporate stoke of sorts, and somehow a new Equinox was designed with decent engines, a sophisticated interior, and above-average fuel economy. Then the General decided to spit out two new versions of the Equinox, the GMC Terrain, and Cadillac SRX. I remember hearing our old friend Fritz saying something about hating rebadging? Oh, that's right, he just hates good cars from Australia, not so much the badge exercises . . . jerk.

So now it turns out, the Equinox and its siblings are so damn sweet the public cant get enough of them. Instead of the usual 60-day supply GM would have available for a vehicle like this, the Terrain carries an 18-day supply, while the Equinox sits at a 13-day supply! Whoops!

To help keep up with demand GM started a third shift at the Equinox and Terrain plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. Therein lies the 'Good'. This hasn't been enough to stem limited quantities, so the management in Detroit is considering adding a Sunday shift. GM plans to open another body shop in the plant by the middle of this year. That will add 40,000 units of production annually, GM has said. Excellent, now get this sort of thing done down here in the States . . .

Mark Reuss, GM's president of North America, said long term, the company may reopen plants.

"I want our assets utilized," Reuss said. "We sit with assets that aren't utilized. That's a problem." He declined to say which plants GM was considering opening. But he did mention GM's plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., saying, "We've got a damn good plant in Spring Hill sitting idle."

I like you, Mr. Ruess, keep up the man-talk and get that Saturn plant running please . . . Gracias.

The Bad: Opel has made it clear publicly, that workers in Opel factories, located in Germany, will all have their jobs come 2011. Other countries containing Opel factories might not want to assume this applies to them. In fact, Flemish friends, time to file for unemployment.

Opel announced Tuesday it would close its car assembly plant in Antwerp, Belgium. “In order to keep Opel going and have a sustainable future we have to take some of these types of decisions," Opel CEO Nick Reilly said at a news conference.

The closure could be completed by June or July, unless an alternative can be found through negotiations with the unions, Reilly said. He added that GM has tried to find an alternative to closing the plant and was unsuccessful. Due to the global economic crisis, Opel expects the western European car market to be 1.5 million vehicles below the 13.6 million units sold in 2009 and almost 4 million below the market's peak in 2007. A strong rise in demand is not foreseen in the near future, the company said in a statement, adding that Opel must reduce its production capacity by approximately 20 percent to survive.

So that's that. I guess things really do suck all over, not just in the US.

The Ugly: Geezus Toyota, what the hell?! In a satisfyingly stupid turn of circumstance, it turns out Toyota must recall a further 2.3 million vehicles. Not because the accelerator could get stuck on the floormat, sending your Camry careening toward a school bus. No, apparently Toyota skinny-pedals like to stick for other damn reasons. Yikes! Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the first recall has to do with pedal entrapment and the second involves a faulty pedal design by a supplier.

In the latest recall, all of the vehicles were built in North America and the pedal mechanism was from a North American supplier. Of course it was. "We're finding that they prematurely wear," Hanson said.

In addition to the Avalon and Camry, the second recall involves 2007-10 Tundras; 2008-10 Sequoias; 2009-10 Corollas, RAV4s and Matrixes; and 2010 Highlanders.

Hanson did not name the supplier involved. A second supplier also builds the same pedal mechanism for these vehicles.

"There was no evidence of a similar situation with the other supplier," Hanson said. "Those not affected have the same pedal but built by a different supplier."

He said he did not have the number of complaints and no mileage information of when the pedal mechanism starts to wear. "It's extremely rare, but it is a wear issue," Hanson said. "We wanted to get out in front of this." Good thinkin' guy. Wouldn't want to be accused of covering anything up again, would we?

Awww, poor Toyota . . . this video loves to state the obvious. "It's an out of control machine . . . " No ess, Sherlock . . .

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