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UAW suggests GM build police cars at aging Lansing plant
Union contends proposal could save LCA jobs
By Barbara Wieland
Lansing State Journal

A union proposal to build cop cars at Lansing Car Assembly could arrest job losses at the plant.

Representatives of United Auto Workers Locals 602 and 652 made a pitch to build police cruisers earlier this month. Officials at General Motors Corp. haven't yet decided whether to accept the proposal.

"We've got the capacity. We've got the people," said Jim DooLittle, vice president of UAW Local 652.

If the proposal is accepted, it could save jobs at the aging car assembly plant. GM warned last month that 1,500 people could lose work there next week.

Bolstering the proposal, DooLittle added, is the fact that police departments are looking for a better cruiser.

Many police departments use the Ford Crown Victoria in their cruiser fleets. Those cars in February became the subject of a new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation after police departments complained of rear-wheel assembly problems.

The agency in 2002 closed an investigation into the deaths of a dozen police officers who died when the Crown Victorias' fuel tanks exploded, finding the car did not have a defect.

The controversy continues, however. Last week, Ford Motor Co. settled a lawsuit with the family of a police officer who died in a fiery crash.

"Police departments are looking for a larger, rear-wheel-drive car that has engine performance," DooLittle said.

Two GM cars could fit that bill, union officials said.

Chevrolet Caprice

One of them, the Chevrolet Caprice, already has been used in police fleets. It was considered the cruiser of choice by many police officers, but went out of production in the United States in 1995, said Mike Braun, product development coordinator for UAW Local 652. The car is still made in Australia.

"The cops loved them. They were rebuilding our cars rather than using the Crown Victoria," Braun said.

Rumors that GM may bring back the Caprice in the United States have surfaced. A story in Canada's Ottawa Citizen published May 7 said GM might produce the Caprice Royale, a souped-up, V-8 version of the sedan.

Holden Commodore

Another cop-car candidate is an Australian-made GM vehicle that is being redesigned.

Like the Caprice Royale, the Holden Commodore is a large, rear-wheel-drive car with a V-8 engine and four doors. It sells for about $30,000 Australian, or $20,000 in U.S. currency, Braun said.

Art Luna, president of UAW Local 602, said he'd like to see the current version of the Commodore made in Lansing. It will be redesigned in 2006.

Full Article Here

 

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"...The real issue is perfectly clear, and here it is: Will a labor organization run the plants of General Motors Corporation or will the management continue to do so." Alfred P. Sloan. January 6, 1936

This article infuriates me! Imagine the audacity of the UAW to attempt to shape the future product plans at GM. I think they've definitely overstepped their boundaries, and it certainly deserves a public rebuke from GM.

And what does it say when representatives of the UAW speak poorly about the products produced by members of another chapter of their own union (i.e., UAW brothers and sisters who build the Crown Victoria)?

Mr. Jim DooLittle, you need to focus your business acumen elsewhere.
 

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Hey if it gets Zeta cars here faster then by all means give into the Union, we all know Zeta is very Sigma like and that means modular, get the plant started early with the Caprice and the Chevy Coupe will come out faster also.
 

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If CV safety was really an issue it would cost Ford a fraction to re-engineer it compared to what it would cost GM to bring out a whole-new car.

Also, why would police departments care about a car being RWD or not? It's the size and reliability they're after.
 

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Interesting. Unless GM wants to ship the old presses or plans to GMNA the only way I see it happening is if Holden builds CKD kits for Lansing. Ie ships them over there as knock down kits and have them built in the factory from the kits. I think Holden will be doing that with the Korean caprices etc soon.
 

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Ummm, I could be wrong here, but the Caprice now built overseas is completely different than the Bbody that was built up to '96 in Texas.

Anybody care to back me up on this one?
 

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Yes they weren't specific enough in that. The only thing the holden and old chevy caprice shared was their name and approximate size.
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 26 2004, 10:36 PM
If CV safety was really an issue it would cost Ford a fraction to re-engineer it compared to what it would cost GM to bring out a whole-new car.

Also, why would police departments care about a car being RWD or not? It's the size and reliability they're after.
same reasons most people state for wanting a RWD v8. more power, more durable, less torq steer. sure someone will mention other reasons too.
 

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Originally posted by IMPALAon20s+May 27 2004, 01:10 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (IMPALAon20s @ May 27 2004, 01:10 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-stewacide@May 26 2004, 10:36 PM
If CV safety was really an issue it would cost Ford a fraction to re-engineer it compared to what it would cost GM to bring out a whole-new car.

Also, why would police departments care about a car being RWD or not? It's the size and reliability they're after.
same reasons most people state for wanting a RWD v8. more power, more durable, less torq steer. sure someone will mention other reasons too. [/b][/quote]
I agree that most departments still want RWD for some of the same reasons that a lot of GMI people want RWD.

But a lot of it has to do with the FWD models that have put out there for police duty. They simply weren't durable enough (Taurus, Lumina, Intrepid) for police work, nor were they powerful enough.

I wonder if the Impala is changing at least some of that perception. I see a lot of departments using them, and I haven't heard any complaints of durability. That makes sense since the Impala was designed from the start for police duty.

A cop I talked to still much preferred the Caprices (I was riding in the back of one at the time) over the Impalas because of the power and room. Cops, wearing bullet-proof vests, gun belts, radios, cuffs, and all the other stuff need a lot of room in a car.

With the 5.3 V8 in the Impala, it should easily pull away from the Crown Vic, so that may be one less complaint they have about FWD cruisers.
 

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Also, why would police departments care about a car being RWD or not? It's the size and reliability they're after.

Actually police departments in the US need rear wheel drive cruisers because
they are much more durable in extreme heavy duty useage. Front wheel
drive vehicles cannot take the same extreme duty.
 

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Anyone find it ironic that the last name of a UAW vice president is DooLittle :huh:
 

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The Impala has done a fine job as a police cruiser, and more and more departments are switching over. RWD/FWD is NOT an issue. These aren't sports cars! If it can prove it's reliability and safety is the equal of the BoF Vic' then the market will move even more towards Chevy'.

The Five Hundred and 300 oould be threats but not having bench options I'm pretty sure rules them out...
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 27 2004, 03:01 PM
The Impala has done a fine job as a police cruiser, and more and more departments are switching over. RWD/FWD is NOT an issue. These aren't sports cars!
True, they aren't sports cars, but they probably get driven at their limits a lot more than the vast majority of sports cars out there.
 

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This article infuriates me! Imagine the audacity of the UAW to attempt to shape the future product plans at GM. I think they've definitely overstepped their boundaries, and it certainly deserves a public rebuke from GM.
And what does it say when representatives of the UAW speak poorly about the products produced by members of another chapter of their own union (i.e., UAW brothers and sisters who build the Crown Victoria)?


i absolutely agree. the idea of the union had it's time, but today is costing the u.s. business and jobs--and creating products that cost the consumer more than it should.

they could bring the car here in one form or another to be built in north america, but with union labor, you can bet the final product won't still cost $20,000us--not with the v8, anyway. like the pontiac gto coming to north america. when it does, it will undergo the desired design changes, but will likely go from the low-$30k range to the low-$40k range.

australian auto labor gets paid an average of something like $20/hr. (converted to u.s. $)--making a perfectly good living. in north america, it's something like $50/hr! with overhead like that, it's no wonder american makes have had such a difficult job making a competitive-quality product at anywhere near similar price to the competition (can anyone say cheap materials or "aging factory" or lay-offs?). we'd better get back to the free-market model of competition.

sorry, that's just a bit of my "unions must be stopped" rant.
 

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The Impala has done a fine job as a police cruiser, and more and more departments are switching over. RWD/FWD is NOT an issue. These aren't sports cars! If it can prove it's reliability and safety is the equal of the BoF Vic' then the market will move even more towards Chevy'.
The Five Hundred and 300 oould be threats but not having bench options I'm pretty sure rules them out...


yea... everything i've read says the impala is superior to the crown vic in most ways as a police cruiser (in performance anyway). they even out-perform the last chevy caprice/impala model they've attempted to replace. that doesn't mean i think it's a car worthy of the name or position in the marque. that'd be where a new caprice/impala like the one rumored would come in nicely (if they can price it right).

i would hope the update to the current impala platform would be repurposed in the lineup and renamed. can't imagine what they'd call it, though.

anyway, the thing is, crown vic will likely get the redesign and probably be renamed (like the windstar minivan became freestar without a significant redesign--p.r. reasons). and the 500 won't be any real threat either to the existing impala or coming caprice unless they figure out a way to drop in a motor with more than 200 measely hp.
 

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Originally posted by 91z4me@May 27 2004, 03:22 AM
Hey if it gets Zeta cars here faster then by all means give into the Union, we all know Zeta is very Sigma like and that means modular, get the plant started early with the Caprice and the Chevy Coupe will come out faster also.
i agree,good point
 

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The major issue police departments have with the Impala, is the size(it's too narrow) and the durablity.(Not enough ground clearance, transmission needs to be stronger) No real complaint on the engine or handling.

If they want a real replacement, they need to improve on this.
 

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Originally posted by LakeMichigan@May 27 2004, 04:02 PM
this is off topic....the only complaints I've heard about the Impala FWD in police cruiser use has been that the car is too narrow in the dash area for 2 people and all the computer equipment that they now carry, and a concern as far as servicing, because of "off highway" manuevers, most body & frame cars can handle a jolt such as curb jumping, rather than a unibody FWD....I too though have heard all good otherwise, despite the 2 "issues" I brought up...such as much better fuel economy, better acceleration, better brakes, better handling sterring....
The narrowness is definitely an issue with them since they carry so much equipment with them these days, and there's nothing the Impala can do about that. When the Impala came out I remember Chevrolet said that the undercarriage was designed so that if the whole front end dragged on a curb, nothing but the subframe would touch. Everything else was tucked up underneath.

I would imagine that police in snowy states like mine would appreciate the FWD in the winter. With RWD, it's easy to get into embarassing situations, like simply pulling into a downsloping driveway and not being able to back out.
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@May 27 2004, 03:03 AM
"...The real issue is perfectly clear, and here it is: Will a labor organization run the plants of General Motors Corporation or will the management continue to do so." Alfred P. Sloan. January 6, 1936

This article infuriates me! Imagine the audacity of the UAW to attempt to shape the future product plans at GM. I think they've definitely overstepped their boundaries, and it certainly deserves a public rebuke from GM.

And what does it say when representatives of the UAW speak poorly about the products produced by members of another chapter of their own union (i.e., UAW brothers and sisters who build the Crown Victoria)?

Mr. Jim DooLittle, you need to focus your business acumen elsewhere.
I agree wholehearteldly that it's time to stop the tail wagging the dog. Unions are pretty arrogant when they attempt to influence decisions about product and corporate structure. Take component modularization: GM deemed this an important step in making small cars profitably, especially in a country where labor is so expensive. The union stood in the way, wanting overpaid UAW line workers to do the assembly instead of a domestic supplier with market-rate personnel (generously, about $12 and hour). So think about that! GM attempts to improve productivity so laborers can continue to make big bucks, and the unions block the initiative! Unfortunately, those who've taken a stand against the union on these matters, Mark Hogan for instance, have found a couple rungs on the corporate ladder undermined. Wagoner and Cowger might be taking the most risk-averse course with union relations, but they seem like wimps in the process.

My attitude is tempered in the subject posting, but only because I felt it was a mistake to stop production of the B. If memory serves, they justified it because it was more profitable for Arlington to make trucks. So why didn't they combine a couple of underutilized FWD plants and keep the Caprice going in one of them? It continued to outsell many other models in the GM portfolio, and they made money on each one. The Impala SS even gave the platform some credibility and momentum on the non-commercial side. Then they killed it. Now we find only Dodge and Ford in the mainstream, RWD sedan game. And there's the draw... the RWD Impala relacement is due out in a couple years, or so I think. It would take that long to get a plant cleared out and tooled up to do the old full-framed B car.

But if they do decide to bring it back, don't do it cuz the union says so.
 
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