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Monday, November 28, 2011

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GM to build Chevy Equinox at former Saturn plant By Chrissie Thompson Detroit Free Press

General Motors/Detroit Free Press/MCt

Customer demand has outpaced production for most of the two-year life of the Chevy Equinox. General Motors will reopen its former Saturn plant in Tennessee to build the popular crossover and other hot products.

DETROIT — General Motors will reopen its former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., to build the Chevrolet Equinox and other hot products, providing an opportunity for at least 280 Lansing, Mich., workers to return to their homes in Tennessee. The assembly plant, which closed two years ago last week, will at first add 685 jobs next year after a $62-million investment, GM labor chief Cathy Clegg said Nov. 21 in an address broadcast from Tennessee. The “ultra-flexible”

factory will be able to build vehicles that are in short supply, assisting primary factories around the country. It will also build vehicles while their primary plants retool. “We do not want to miss an opportunity to get a customer in one of our vehicles,” Clegg said. GM has already missed thousands of sales of its Equinox crossover, as customer demand has outpaced production for most of its two-year life. Later, for the 2015 model year, GM plans to add 1,200 additional jobs in Spring Hill and invest $183 million to build as-yet-unidentified mid-

size vehicles, Clegg said. The Saturn plant closed at Thanksgiving time in 2009, as GM adjusted to slow U.S. sales. More than 800 Spring Hill workers were offered the chance to follow their product, the Chevrolet Traverse crossover, to the Delta Township assembly plant near Lansing. About 280 of those workers took a small relocation bonus, which will allow them to return to Spring Hill. The rest took a larger payment, so they might be able to request a transfer back, but they aren’t guaranteed a first shot at the new jobs.

The Spring Hill factory had opened in 1990 with special labor rules, vowing that Saturn was “a different kind of car company.” Those rules disappeared over time, and the plant built only Chevrolets starting in 2008. But GM intends to make Spring Hill a unique plant once again with the build-what’s-hot model. Reopening the Saturn plant also gives the United Auto Workers union a foothold in the non-unionized South, as UAW President Bob King pursues his dream of organizing workers at factories such as Volkswagen’s in Tennessee or Hyundai’s in Alabama.

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Page 2 / Monday, November 28, 2011

Tallahassee Democrat / OnTheMOve

Toledo, home to Jeep, sees an auto revival By John Seewer The Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio — This town that has been churning out Jeeps since World War II, watching its fortunes rise and fall with the wellbeing of Detroit’s automakers, is now finding itself in an enviable position within the car industry. Chrysler and General Motors have promised in recent months to spend more than $800 million on retooling and expanding their factories here. These moves will create 1,400 jobs and keep thousands more at the three factories operated by the major automakers and at the smaller parts plants that supply them. The auto revival is raising spirits around Ohio’s fourthlargest city, where high-paying factory jobs have dwindled. Just an hour south of Detroit, the city for generations supplied the auto industry with spark plugs, transmissions and glass. But it has lost a third of its manufacturing jobs over the last decade and unemployment now hovers above 10 percent, just above the state average. That’s why Toledo Mayor Mike Bell called Chrysler Group L L C’s decision announced Wednesday — to add 1,100 jobs and make its assembly plant a key part of its future — “the equivalent of a blood transfusion for our city.” It’s safe to say these deals would have been hard to pull off without cooperation among the major players. “This didn’t happen overnight,” said Ken Lortz, who’s in charge of the United Auto Workers in Ohio. “It was labor, it was management, it was government, it was everybody sitting there saying what do we need. And through that process we got tremendous investment made all over Ohio and particularly in northwest Ohio.”

Report: Fuel efficiency efforts foster 155,000 jobs By Aaron M. Kessler Detroit Free Press

Madalyn RuggieRo/aP files

Pam Bialecki works on a 2012 Jeep Wrangler at the Chrysler Toledo Assembly complex in Toledo, Ohio. Chrysler says it will add 1,100 jobs at the assembly complex as part of a $1.7-billion investment to build a new Jeep sport utility vehicle. This town that has been churning out Jeeps since World War II and watched its fortunes rise and fall with the fortunes of Detroit’s automakers is now finding itself in an enviable position within the industry. In little over half a year, automakers have promised to spend millions of dollars on retooling and expanding their factories in Toledo, moves that will create jobs and keep many more.

The plant will begin producing a new Jeep sport utility in 2013 to replace the Liberty. But expectations are that it won’t be the only new model coming to Toledo. Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Toledo who is wildly popular among auto workers, credited them for sacrificing pay and benefits and accepting lower wages for new hires in recent contracts in order to make sure the automakers didn’t leave town. “Sacrifice and partnership,” she said. “Sacrifice by all the workers. Partnership between the company,

the union, the city, state and federal government. They worked together to do something no one of them could have done alone.” Chrysler worker Richard Gartee, who’s been making Jeeps for 28 years, said all sides recognized what was at stake. “It’s been a pretty big turnaround,” said Gartee, 56. “We still make a good wage, but remember we gave up a lot.”

Chrysler’s assembly plant, which opened in 2001, now has about 1,800 workers and produces the Jeep Liberty and Wrangler along with the soon-to-be-discontinued Dodge Nitro. The plant will begin producing a new Jeep sport utility in 2013 to replace the Liberty. But expectations are that it won’t be the only new model coming to Toledo. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said last week there will be a new vehicle to replace the Nitro and hinted that other vehicles could be built on the same assembly line. He also said there’s a chance of expanding Wrangler production if its sales increase overseas. “This plant has been at the heart of what we’ve

done,” he said, adding that the latest expansion “reinforces the special relationship between Chrysler and the city of Toledo.” Chrysler in August said it would put $72 million into its suburban Toledo plant that makes torque converters and steering columns, allowing it to maintain 640 workers. That came after General Motors Corp. said in May that it would hire at least 250 workers at a transmission factory that already employs 1,700 people. Chrysler worker James Young, 39, said he’s hoping the investments will spread throughout the city. “Hopefully it trickles down,” he said, “to everybody, not just us.”

WASHINGTON — At least 155,000 auto industry jobs now exist in the United States devoted to fuel-efficient vehicle technologies, with that number likely to grow, according to a joint report by the United Auto Workers union and two environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Wildlife Federation. The study found that more than 300 companies in 43 states and the District of Columbia are currently involved in manufacturing tied directly to clean and fuel-efficient technologies. That number is likely to expand even more in the wake of recently announced fuel economy standards that would require a fleet average of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Michigan led the nation with 97 facilities in the state employing about 38,000 workers, the report found. That was followed by Ohio, with about 14,000 workers employed at 28 facilities, and Indiana with about 12,000 workers at 30 facilities. But the jobs are not confined solely to traditional autoproducing states. California, while only having about 7,000 workers, ranked second only to Michigan in the number of facilities — with 79 — indicating it’s a growing home for Silicon-Valley-type startups. Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the report — which he said aimed to be conservative in reaching its numbers — proved that cleaner cars are indeed leading to more jobs. “This is not a question of what might happen. This is what’s happening today,” Lehner said.


OnTheMOve / Tallahassee Democrat

TD-0000192350

Monday, November 28, 2011 / Page 3


Page 4 / Monday, November 28, 2011

Tallahassee Democrat / OnTheMOve

MyFord Touch upgrade to be faster, less distracting By Chrissie Thompson Detroit Free Press

Ford will offer an upgraded version of its MyFord Touch infotainment system early next year and will allow current owners to install the new software for free, as the automaker continues to tweak the system amid customer complaints. The new version of the touch-screen system is twice as fast and reduces some clutter in the graphics, which control music, navigation, phone calls and heating and cooling. Ford has held four customer clinics since MyFord Touch launched last fall, and the changes to the new system address two of the biggest complaints. In launching the voice-activated MyFord Touch, Ford built on the infotainment lead it established with its Sync cellphone connectivity system. The automaker said MyFord Touch has brought

new customers. For instance, four of the top seven reasons people bought the 2011 Ford Edge were linked to the system, such as its touch screen, steering-wheel controls and voice recognition. But in January, Consumer Reports intensified the debate over the infotainment system, saying its touch-screen interface was so complicated and distracting that the magazine would not recommend the vehicles on which it debuted. Ford improved the system in response and has instituted more customer training and support. Since introducing the system on the Ford Edge and the Lincoln MKX in August 2010, Ford has worked to improve the software as it introduced MyFord Touch in the Explorer and the Focus. “Just as we love our electronic devices and can’t live without them, we always want them to be better. And that’s exactly what our customers told us,” said Graydon Reitz,

Ford’s electronics and electrical systems engineering director. The new rendition will launch on the 2013 Ford Taurus, Flex and all-new Escape. Ford will send each owner of a current MyFord Touch system a USB stick with the new software on it. Owners can install this system themselves or have a Ford dealership do the upgrade for free. The new MyFord Touch has larger, more distinct fonts. Screens have fewer buttons, a bigger clock and a more consistent layout. Voice commands can be less specific now, and Ford will use Sirius’ new Game Finder feature to allow drivers to find their favorite sports team by saying something like, “Tune to Detroit Lions game.” Customers also will be able to access music from tablets such as the Apple iPad via a USB connection and listen to audiobooks via www.audible. com.

Eric SEalS, DEtroit FrEE PrESS/Mct

The interior of the Ford Focus Electric is featured as the media crowds around it at the 2011 North American International Auto Show held at Cobo Center in Detroit, Mich. The Ford Focus is one of four Ford cars carrying the MyFord Touch infotainment system, which is being upgraded and, Ford says, improved for 2013.

Car won’t start after sitting a few days? Check the electrons By Paul Brand Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

QUESTION: We have a 2004 Taurus with 88,000 miles on it. About a year ago we started having problems. After sitting for two days, it wouldn’t start. It would click, and that was it. The dealer replaced the starter, and everything was fine for a few months. Then the same thing happened again. AAA came out and installed a new battery, and everything was fine again for six months. But now, if it sits for two days, it will not start. Do you have any ideas? ANSWER: I’d be looking for electrons. Somehow, while the vehicle is parked, electrons are escaping from the battery. When enough of ‘em get away, well, the few remain-

ing can’t carry the load of starting the car. A more professional description of this problem is “parasitic loss.” Personally, I like “escaped electrons” better — doesn’t sound so creepy. Apparently, an electrical circuit in the car is drawing excess current when the ignition is off. Normal parasitic loss is in the range of 50 milliamps or less, to keep the computer systems and memory settings alive. This minor loss would take several weeks to drag down a good battery and prevent the car from starting. To find the excess parasitic loss, a shop can connect an ammeter to measure current flow from the battery with everything turned off. Unplug each fuse and relay — one at a time — to find the circuit

drawing too much current. My homemade ammeter is an old taillight lamp with wires soldered to it. I disconnect one of the battery cables and connect my ammeter in series, meaning all the current flowing from the battery goes through the lamp. Normal parasitic loss won’t illuminate the lamp; there’s just not enough current flow. But a significant loss will cause the lamp to at least glow. As you pull fuses and relays, when the lamp goes out you’ve found the circuit causing the excess electron loss. Also, make sure to have the alternator’s output tested to make sure it’s keeping the battery fully charged. Q: I have a ‘95 Dodge Ram 1500 with the 318-cubic-inch V8 engine. When it gets below 35

degrees at night, the starter grinds a couple of times before it engages and starts the engine. It’s like the starter is spinning before engaging. I’ve replaced two starter relays and two batteries, and the battery cables are good. What am I missing? A: Here’s the way I would troubleshoot this problem. On a colder morning when you know this will happen, connect a voltmeter to the starter’s (+) terminal and ground. Check the voltage that is reaching the starter as you crank the engine. If the voltage stays above 10 volts, the problem is in the starter. Perhaps the starter pinion shaft is rusty or gummed up with grease or oil and not sliding cleanly into engagement with the

flywheel/flexplate. Flushing with Deep Creep may resolve this issue. Another possibility: The starter’s clutch is slipping. A replacement starter would eliminate both of these possibilities. If the voltmeter shows battery voltage dropping below the 10-volt level, check for high resistance in the start circuit from battery to relay to solenoid to starter motor, and the ground connection between the drivetrain and chassis. MOTORING NOTE: In response to a recent column about how to rid a vehicle of skunk smell, James Cappuccilli shared his technique. “I have always had success with charcoal briquettes (nonself-lighting type). I spread them out to get as much

surface area as possible. Sometimes in less than 20 minutes the briquettes get replaced with fresh ones. This exchange may go on for quite some time, but it has worked wonders for me. Afterward, when everything is smelling just peachy, I have a barbecue after airing out the used briquettes.” Great idea — but I won’t ask what he’s cooking! — Paul Brand, author of “How to Repair Your Car,” is an automotive troubleshooter, driving instructor and former race-car driver. Readers may write to him at: Star Tribune, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488 or via email at paulbrandstartribune.com. Please explain the problem in detail and include a daytime phone number. It isn’t always possible to send a personal reply.


Monday, November 28, 2011 / Page 5

OnTheMOve / Tallahassee Democrat

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Page 6 / Monday, November 28, 2011

Tallahassee Democrat / OnTheMOve

2012 Mercedes SLK350:

There’s magic above — and on the road, too By Barry Spyker McClatchy Newspapers

Mercedes-Benz/McT

Mercedes has sharpened the looks and performance of the 2012 SLK 350.

Mercedes sharpened the looks and performance of the 2012 SLK 350, yet that’s not where the real “magic” is. For that, one must look to the stars. It’s the coolest feature, an optional sunroof with a blue hue that blocks the sun until you press a button above: Then, it’s clear as glass and lets the sun shine in. Called the Magic Sky Control Roof, this unique sunroof is made up of metallic particles that stand when given an electrical charge. Something like that. Anyway, the result is a functional dimmer when you want the sun out, and an “oh, wow” feature to show your friends. The magic doesn’t come cheap — it’s a $2,500 option. To make matters worse, you’ll probably need to get it: the ordinary-glass version ($500) lacks a sunshade. Cool option, but there’s plenty more to like about the new SLK. And I’m talking to the male roadster lovers, too. This year, SLK goes beyond the chick-car status of the previous generation. By that I mean Mercedes toughened SLK’s look with a bolder, more aggressive front: larger grille and bigger three-point star. And this third-generation SLK 350 also has the guts and glorious handling it never had before. It used to be quite satisfied being stylish, sexy and comfortable. And it’s still all those things. But now it gets a new 3.5-liter, direct-injected V-6 engine that moves the roadster with spunk and finesse. With 302 hp and 273 poundfeet of torque, it’ll pull you to 60 mph in a grin-evoking 5.4 seconds. That’s on par with the beastly SL550. Mileage for the rear-wheeldrive SLK350 is around 24

MercedeS SLK 350 MSrP: $54,800 As tested: $64,965 (with Premium 1, Lighting and Multimedia packages)

mph combined — 20 in the city, 29 on the highway if you behave. By the way, also new this year: The 350’s little brother, the 250, gets a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine that gets 201 hp and gets you to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. SLK handling is boosted with Mercedes’ Direct Steering system which offers good response on the curves. Taking corners is smoother and flatter than ever, now in the same league as its popular foes, the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxter. It rides on an updated platform stemming from the C-Class. Suspension is a tick less roady than the competition but is still sportier than last year’s model. All things considered, this is more of a driver’s car than ever. Retract the roof and the cabin still feels comfortable, thanks to optional fixed-glass deflectors behind each seat and standard mesh wind deflector. An Air Scarf feature blows warm air on your neck if you can’t resist putting the top down when it’s chilly. There are barely any body rattles often associated with roadsters and convertibles. Equally important, when the top is down there is still decent cargo space in the trunk. It gets reduced from 10 to 6 cubic feet, but it’s at least enough for an averagesize suitcase or a couple of duffles. Seats are firm but comfortable and roomy enough, as are leg and head room. Not abundant for a six-plus footer, but enough. Materials are nothing short of exquisite,

with standard leather and aluminum trim. Pay more and you can get even finer leather and wood trim. Both gorgeous. Gauges are easy to see even in bright sunlight since they’re set back in little tunnels. The 7-inch LCD screen is sharp and clear. Controls and dials are within nice view and reach. The SLK is loaded with safety features like the usual ABS, traction and stability control, but also multiple air bags that cover the head, knees and body. It also has what Mercedes calls Attention Assist, which monitors the driver’s drowsiness. Among the standards on the 350 are 18-inch wheels, automatic wipers, eight-way power seats with lumbar adjustment, eight-speaker sound and Bluetooth. The Premium 1 package ($2,590) adds remote roof activation—you can put down the roof before you even reach the car—and a Harmon Kardon sound system with satellite and iPod connection. But there’s more: A multimedia package ($2,150) gets a nav system with bigger screen, a six-CD changer and voice control capability. Lighting package ($1,070) has bi-xenon lamps with active curve lighting. A Distronic Plus package offers adaptive cruise control and a Dynamic Handling package brings adjustable suspension and better brakes. Additional options, like the dimming sunroof and parking sensor, can be had as solo options. The great actor and director, John Cassavetes, as he looked to the sky in the flick, Tempest, said “Show me the Magic.” Well, just look to the sunroof in the 2012 SLK and you’ll see it. But you’ll discover even more magic when you hit the open road.


Monday, November 28, 2011 / Page 7

OnTheMOve / Tallahassee Democrat

Get your car ready for winter driving

By Larry Printz

roaD TriPs

The Virginian-Pilot

Be PrePareD

Is your car or truck up to the challenge of driving in inclement weather? Now is the time to make sure it’s ready for the onslaught. Here’s what you should check:

A breakdown, flat tire or other inconvenience can occur at any time. Preassembled emergency and first aid kits are available at auto parts stores, but you might want to build your own. Be sure to include: n screwdrivers (Phillips and flat-head) n pliers n wrenches n duct tape n electrical wire tape n electrical wire spray n WD-40 n flashlight with extra batteries

Tires

People ignore their tires until one goes flat, but nothing else affects your car as much as an under-inflated tire. Cold weather causes tires to lose air pressure, so it’s a good idea to check. The proper amount is not listed on the tire; it’s posted on the driver’s side front door jamb on most newer cars and trucks. While you’re at it, check the tread. Take a penny and place it upside down into several places across the tire. If the top of Abe Lincoln’s head is showing, it’s time to replace the tire. Also, check the state of the tread itself. If a tire is worn on both edges, it is underinflated. If it’s worn in the center of the tread, it’s overinflated. If you spot cups or dips in the tread, it is usually a sign of worn parts. Have the suspension or steering systems checked. Finally, if your car has summer performance tires, consider replacing them with winter tires.

32 degrees.

Lights

Don’t leave your auto’s performance to chance. Check it out before hitting the road this winter.

Seeing and being seen is important in nasty weather. Have a family member or friend stand outside the car, to make sure all the vehicle lights work: headlights, fog lamps, tail lamps and turn signals.

Battery

Cooling system

Joe BurBank/orlando Sentinel/MCt

As the temperature drops, more juice is required to get your car or truck started each morning. Replacing your battery ahead of time is beneficial in two ways: You can buy a new one on sale, and you won’t be left stranded. Deciding when to replace

it is simple. For example, if you have a 36-month battery, you can expect three years of trouble-free charging. But as the 36-month mark approaches, think about replacing the battery a bit shy of that point instead of waiting until the last minute. Also, have your car’s

alternator, voltage regulator, belts and connecting cables checked.

Wipers

If the wipers are streaking, replace them. Also, if you dilute windshield washer fluid with water, use it up. Replace it with pure washer fluid that won’t freeze below

If you can’t remember the last time your vehicle’s cooling system was flushed, check your records. Then, look at the owner’s manual. Flushing the system removes sediment and rust particles to prevent clogging. Be sure to use a 50/50 mix of antifreeze to water. Also, be sure to use

n coolant hose repair kit n small fire extinguisher n tire gauge n road flares n spare fuses n foam tire sealant or a

portable air compressor n jumper cables n rain gear n work gloves n roadside assistance phone number n a disposable camera (to record accident damage) n jumper cables n a first aid kit n cloth or paper towels n drinking water n nonperishable snacks n a blanket

the proper antifreeze. Many newer vehicles specify a new, longer-life engine coolant, not the traditional green type. Finally, replace any driedout, cracked hoses.

Brakes

When roads are coated with rain, sleet and snow, stopping distances increase. If your last vehicle check showed your brakes to be marginal, or the brakes squeal when coming to a stop, now is the time to get them checked or replaced.

Defrosters

Do all of your defrosters work? This might seem like an insignificant item — until you need it.

Should headlights be replaced before they burn out? By Steven Cole Smith The Orlando Sentinel

Question: Our car is five years old. It appears the headlights are not as bright as they used to be. Should they be replaced on some schedule, even before they burn out? Answer: First, make

sure the reason the lights don’t seem as bright isn’t because plastic covers over the headlights have weathered. That’s a big problem in Florida, but there are plenty of kits available at auto parts stories and big discount stores that help restore the clarity of the lenses,

which lets more light pass through. Some use waxtype polish and a manual buffer pad, and some add buffers that require an electric drill. Also, do the lights brighten substantially when you rev the engine? If so, you may have an electrical problem. Second, if you have new-

er HID (high-intensity discharge) bulbs — they have that bluish-white light, and mostly they come on premium cars — know that they are expensive, and really don’t lose intensity, so wait until they burn out or break. If you have conventional halogen bulbs, they aren’t hard or expen-

sive to replace on most vehicles, but they generally lose comparatively little of their illumination ability over time. If you are convinced they have, by all means replace them, but replace both sides, not just one. Use name brand bulbs. Finally, if you’d like to change your halogen lights

to modern HIDs, be aware that it’s possible on some vehicles, but they require an expensive installation kit — they don’t just plug in. —Steven Cole Smith is the automotive editor at the Orlando Sentinel in Florida. Send questions to scsmithorlandosentinel.com.


Page 8 / Monday, November 28, 2011

Tallahassee Democrat / OnTheMOve

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