Tuesday Night Snippets

There are several reaction articles coming out now about the UAW strike.

The consensus opinion seems to be that things will be OK if it’s a relatively short strike. Anything under a month will make a point, but not cripple anyone except maybe some parts suppliers who have no-one to ship their parts to.

GM have a backlog of vehicles to sell, and as long as demand doesn’t exceed supply by too much then there won’t be too many disappointed customers.

“There are enough cars in the pipeline right now to keep going,” Rodgers said. “But the difficult part is knowing how long the strike might go on, because we’re trying right now to determine October (inventory).”

Brian Castonguay, president and general manager of Hubacher Cadillac at Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard in Sacramento, also was optimistic: “I think both parties are working steadfastly to produce something where everybody wins. … I don’t see it as a long-lasting thing.”

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From a Saab point of view, it’s a similar situation.

There are some US sourced parts in Saabs made in Sweden, so if parts suppliers are off the job for too long, it could possibly cause some delays. Saab Sweden have told me that they’re OK for the time being, however, and that it’s only a prolonged strike that could see them effected.

The word from Saab is that the 9-7x may be effected, thought the Moraine plant that produces the 9-7x is apparently a non-UAW site. I’m left to guess that they could possibly be relying on parts coming in from suppliers that close due to a lack of work at other UAW sites.

Here’s hoping the delays are minimal.

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A short while ago, the state government in Victoria, here in Australia, decided to ban all probationary drivers from driving turbocharged cars except for diesels.

I didn’t make too much of this at the time. As a matter of fact, I made jokes about it. I didn’t really think it’d affect Saab to much here. As time’s gone on, though, I can see why Saab and other manufacturers have been so vocal about it. In the short time between then and now, my 16 year old stepson has started to mutter about getting his learner’s permit. Which means that he’ll be after his probationary licence and therefore a car.

What sort of car do I want to encourage him to look at? You guessed it. But if we lived in Victoria then he wouldn’t be able to even glance sideways at a turbocharged Saab. As much fun as the 900 is, it’s not a car that’s going to get him into too much trouble with the law, but it’s one that’d quite possibly save his life if he got out of shape.

Like me, there’s plenty of other parents out there with Saabs that aren’t designed for drag racing – the target of these stupid one-size-fits-all laws – and those parents are probably quite content knowing their kids are safe and sound in a Saab.

This long-winded preface is meant to introduce this article, in which the manufacturers concerned indicate their willingness to speak out about it and seek to get the laws revised.

The importers group of the industry’s peak body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), met with VicRoads officials last week to discuss the rationale behind the laws and a number of anomalies that appear to discriminate against some of the safest cars on the road.

Importers group head Lindsay Smalley described the situation as “almost like Alice in Wonderland”.

“We’re regulating for old technology, but the world’s moved on and newer technology vehicles are being swept up with the older definitions. The whole thing is riddled with contradiction,” said Mr Smalley, who is also the managing director of Honda Australia.

FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar described the rules as “ludicrous” and said there was no evidence they would deliver any sort of safety outcome.

“To be banning vehicles on the basis that they constitute some sort of safety risk to young drivers when in fact, quite the contrary, we are talking about brands with some of the best safety track records going around, just highlights the ludicrous nature of the regulations,” said Mr McKellar.

Go get ’em, tiger!!

The laws really are quite stupid, catching some very safe and non-high-performance vehicles in their net whilst letting various normally aspirated death traps pass on by.

It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on this one. If a transport department in your area tries a similar stunt, then point them this way.

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A little more Aussie news:

Meanwhile, Simone Stella has been appointed product program co-ordinator, reporting to product communications national manager Dieter Lehmann. Kate Foley has taken up the post of executive assistant for corporate affairs, reporting to corporate affairs executive director Alison Terry. Ms Foley was most recently administrative assistant for GM Premium Brands.

I’ve come across both Simone and Kate in the last year or so in my dealings with Saab Oz. I’ve expressed concerns about the resourcing of GM Premium here in Australia. Has it grown in size with the addition of Hummer to what was basically Saab Australia? Or have the people that were running Saab just had their workloads doubled?

Well, here’s two gone. Here’s hoping they’re replaced soon, and more than adequately. It’s a very busy time coming up for Saab here in Australia, with the Australian International Motor Show, the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and the 2008 Saab 9-3 launch all grouped together over a month span.

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7 Comments

  1. “…decided to ban all probationary drivers from driving turbocharged cars except for diesels.”

    I missed it the last time you wrote about it, but that must one of the more stupid things I ever heard…

  2. I could see banning young drivers from modifying or adding turbochargers to a stock configuration. But banning them from stock turbocharged cars? Geez.

    So that n/a 6 liter, 400 hp V-8 is OK, but a turbocharged 2 liter, 175 hp inline four is not?

    Dumbest car regulation I ever heard of.

  3. SO Swade, the penny finally dropped on the P-plater thing. I’ll spell it out again: “A Victorian P-plater cannot drive any Saab of the last ten years and many that are older.” I believe it is the same in NSW. How about Tassie next?

    You now realise how damaging that is for a brand.

    I love the quote from David McCarthy of Daimler: “Vicroads has given it about as much thought as cutting a toenail”.

  4. Greg, there’s bans on other congurations as well. I just mentioned turbo in the article as it relates to Saab. Here’s another quote that expands on the fuller list, as well as how stupid it is.

    And Turbin, yes, I concede….

    The new regulations prevent people who gained their licence after July 1 from driving any turbocharged, supercharged or V8-engined vehicle, as well as a dozen listed six-cylinder cars or any car fitted with a modified engine.

    All turbo-diesels, many of which provide exceptional performance, have been exempted.

    The FCAI believes the rules have been designed in response to tabloid publicity over road hoons driving hot Commodores, Impreza WRXs, Skyline GTRs and the like.

    However, cars like the C180 and the 120kW Audi A4 1.8T, which have cutting-edge safety equipment, are among those that have been swept up in the legislation while the likes of the VW Golf R32, Audi A3 3.2 quattro and Alfa Romeo 147 GTA – each of which produce 184kW from V6 engines – have slipped through the net.

    Peugeot will also have a problem with its forthcoming 308, which will apparently be fitted with a low-boost 1.6-litre turbo instead of a 2.0-litre engine for environmental reasons.

    Meanwhile, the Honda S2000 sports car – a car that can be challenging to drive and was banned under the previous 125kW-per-tonne power-to-weight ratio rule – is now allowed because it only has a four-cylinder engine, albeit one that develops 176kW and revs to 9000rpm.

    And, although the new banned list includes the 160kW BMW Z4 sports car, which is fitted with stability control, the older Z3 with 170kW but without ESC is not listed.

  5. Swade, in NSW (Australia) the ban on turbo,V8’s and V6 super charged cars came into force July 1 2007 for probationy licence holders. I agree this is stupid and ill thought out regulation.My son could drive a Commodore V6 of Falcon which are 150-160 kw + yet he cannot drive the 9-5 136 kw.This is just plain stupid

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