DaimlerChrysler to Build New Factory for '06 Wrangler
Under a new eight-year contract with United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 12, DaimlerChrylser agreed to invest $2.1 billion to build a new supplier-operated factory where a redesigned '06 Jeep Wrangler will be manufactured. The new complex will be constructed next to Jeep's 3-year-old Toledo assembly plant and will have vehicle body and paint shops. A redesigned Liberty will also be made at the new factory, as well as two yet-to-be-identified Jeep models.
The contract is a pioneering move in the U.S. auto industry in that it allows suppliers to do some of the assembly work. The new body and paint shops will begin production of the vehicles, with the shells undergoing final assembly and testing at Toledo Jeep next door. The supplier-operated shops will replace what is left of the old Jeep Parkway factory, the nation's longest-running auto assembly plant. According to the new contract, union jobs will be transferred to the new plant, although no additional jobs are initially expected unless sales of the new vehicles take off. More than 90 percent of the 4,700 eligible Jeep workers cast ballots in the vote. The contract also pays each worker a $3,000 signing bonus.
Honda SUT Concept Makes Debut
Honda threw its hat into the sport utility truck (SUT) arena this past January with the debut of its Honda SUT concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The new truck concept offered the world its first glimpse at the direction Honda plans to take with a future-production sport-utility truck model.
With body lines similar to the Cadillac Escalade, another popular SUT-type vehicle, the new Honda SUT Concept is said to be a next-generation vehicle designed to meet the changing tastes of consumers purchasing trucks to accommodate their active, outdoor-oriented lifestyles. The unibody SUT Concept combines the interior space and functionality of an SUV with the utility of an open-cargo bed. In maintaining its commitment to environmental and safety leadership, Honda also cited that the new SUT Concept sets new standards for fuel efficiency, low emissions, and safety performance in the light-duty truck segment.
Judge Bans Snowmobile Use at YellowstoneIn a decision handed down on the eve of the official winter season in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, D.C. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled to outlaw snowmobile access to the parks after 2004. The ruling stated that the Bush administration should not have set aside a previous ban on snowmobiles in favor of a new proposal to allow a limited number of "cleaner and quieter" machines in to the parks, and ordered the Park Service to reinstate the plan to phase out snowmobiles entirely. The decision will implement a 50 percent reduction in the number of snowmobiles this year and a complete ban on the machines starting in the winter of 2004-2005.
Such a ruling marks a dangerous precedent for vehicular access to America's park system, which is already limited to paved roads for both autos and snowmobiles. Those affected the most by Judge Sullivan's decision will be the gateway communities surrounding park entrances whose economic vitality relies on park visitation and winter access to the area. The state of Wyoming, the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, and the Blue Ribbon Coalition have already filed motions asking for Judge Sullivan to stay his decision. For more information, contact: Blue Ribbon Coalition, (208) 237-1008, www.sharetrails.org.