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  1. #1
    Senior Member smurfy's Avatar
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    Working for the Auto Industry

    Hi, all!

    From what I've heard the auto industry and related auto-based businesses and services are one-sixth of our nation's economy. There have been alot of comments here in this forum about our American car-crazy culture and our dependence on the private automobile.

    I guess what I'm curious about is who here on Bike Forums works for the auto industry, either directly or indirectly. Working in the "belly of the beast" I might add!

    I'll start. I work for a company that custom designs and builds fluid-fill equipment (among other things) for assembly lines. The auto industry accounts for, on average, 58% of our business, although the past few years or so it's been seemed to be about 90% because that's all the business we could get due to the recession and such. Our company's goal is to get the transportation sector down to about 46% of sales because profit margins with the auto industry are low. The appliance industry and commercial sectors generate more profit.

    Anyway, not to bore you with all that, but I guess I work indirectly for the auto industry. During the initial SUV craze in the mid to late ninties we were working overtime like crazy to build new equipment for these gas-guzzlers. Can't bite the hand that feeds me, ya know!

    Anybody else?
    "You handle it like you handle a bicycle" - Jacques Rosay, Airbus A380 test pilot

  2. #2
    militant commuter
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    I understand your position on the matter of slamming the car culture that is current day America. Could the hand that feeds you be refitted to manufacture other goods? Respectfully, should we continue a practice that is as harmful as the car culture because we will loose jobs? I hear that argument quite often and wonder at what point is temporary job loss better than feeding an insatiable cancer?

  3. #3
    EmperorNorton II norton's Avatar
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    From 1970 until I retired in December last year, I worked as a transit & school bus driver. Not the private auto I know, but certainly the transportation industry. I loved my job! I adore my Mini Cooper! I love the siren call of the Open Road!....the fresh breeze in my face!....the lure of the mystery just over the next hill! Sad that these joys are ceasing to exist.....the Clogged Road......the pollution in my lungs.....the same thing on the other side of the hill as on this side


    It is a tragi-comedy

  4. #4
    Junior Member Reptar's Avatar
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    Yes, I work "directly" in the auto industry, in a suburb of Detroit. 100% of my companyís business is in the automotive or heavy truck sector. I enjoy driving cars and in particular racing them. Iím actually in the process of designing and building a sports car from scratch. All that being said, I also believe that cars are generally not the best solution to get from point A to point B for most trips. Aside from the environmental aspect, I donít particularly enjoy utilitarian driving, Iíd much rather take my bike for shorter routine trips. Even out in the suburbs, I commute to work on my bike (Iím the only one in my office of ~450 people) in the non-snowy months, usually late March through late November. I also try to take my bike for whatever errands I need to run.

    The other point Iíd like to add is that while there is a tendency to ďblame DetroitĒ for the car problem in the US, people need to keep in mind that the companies in the auto industry are just regular businesses. Ultimately, to be successful, businesses will produce what the consumer demands. I think if there were really a strong demand for more fuel efficient, smaller, etc vehicles, the industry would be forced to respond. Maybe not immediately (since smaller cars are generally less profitable), but eventually it would happen.

    - Keith

  5. #5
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    If people want the auto industry to become a smaller portion of the economy, then they can always spend less of their income on things automobile related.

    I happen to love my Honda Element, almost as much as I love my bikes. I'm just sad that American manufacturers haven't figured out how to build smaller, more efficient SUVs at such a high level of design quality and manufacturing quality as the Japanese do now.

    Some Americans prefer much bigger vehicles than mine, and I support their right to buy them. I only want them to drive them a little more carefully, and keep their noxious emissions to a minimum. Those are the things that affect me most directly.

  6. #6
    Senior Member FXjohn's Avatar
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    I work in the Automotive industry.
    The company designs noise, vibration and handling components.
    I'm a CAD designer. Mostly we supply to the big 3, but are making inroads into Japanese companies. People in the country are going to need cars, regardless of some of the comments posted here.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Ebbtide's Avatar
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    I'm just sad that American manufacturers haven't figured out how to build smaller, more efficient SUVs at such a high level of design quality and manufacturing quality as the Japanese do now.
    In all fairness to the US auto maker, they have figured it out. There is not enough money to be made as only a few Americans care about efficiency. It is easy to blame the car maker, but its our neighbors that need to "figure it out".

    I am "required" to have a car for my job. I drive about 300 miles a month but I'm not in the auto industry, just an auto town. Which makes me in fact, dependent on the auto.

  8. #8
    Senior Member FXjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ehenz
    In all fairness to the US auto maker, they have figured it out. There is not enough money to be made as only a few Americans care about efficiency. It is easy to blame the car maker, but its our neighbors that need to "figure it out".

    I am "required" to have a car for my job. I drive about 300 miles a month but I'm not in the auto industry, just an auto town. Which makes me in fact, dependent on the auto.
    US companies make most of their money off from SUV's, Trucks and bigger cars, not small cars.
    If Americans cared about efficiency we would not be driving such high HP cars, even the 4-cylinders.
    Matter of fact the Prius has 105HP, whereas years ago the Dodge Omni which got 45mpg only had about 70hp.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    My job is directly related to revitalizing cities, improving public transit, developing greenways and bikeways. I choose to live in a place where I do not have to depend on my car on a daily basis. I refuse to live in the 'burbs. I have a car, and I use it sometimes, but not often. It's a 1992 Honda Accord with 157,000 miles on it and I will not replace it until I have to. When that time comes, I will get a Prius or similar vehicle. Being a Honda person, I'm interested in the new Accord Hybrid.

    I'm not some hippy-dippy idealist. I dress smart; I wear make-up. My company is a for-profit firm, one of the most respected in its field, that employs several thousand people. I have to turn a profit for them on my projects. I do not have a problem with this. I WOULD have a problem if I were designing parking lots for Wal-Mart. I would find another job in that case.

    Providing alternate means of transportation will not hurt the economy and drive people from jobs. I'm no economist, but I'm just talking about PROVIDING A CHOICE and making it POSSIBLE for people to be less dependent on cars.

    People are needed to build trains just as they are to build cars. I noticed that the old Metro trains in Washington were built in Spain and Italy, while the new ones are being built in New York State. There are opportunities for cross-pollination of auto- and transit industries.

  10. #10
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    I do traffic counts at intersections throughout NC for the DOT. In a way I feel that this is good because lots of times the data I give them helps them change traffic signal timing and the way intersections are arranged thus allowing traffic to flow more smoothly and safely.
    Sometimes the traffic counts lead to suburban sprawl though, which really sucks. I feel guilty when I am doing a traffic count right next to a farmhouse from the early 1900s where they are building a new mall 1/2 mile away.

  11. #11
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    Volvo is an infrequent client of mine. I try to avoid their assignments if I can afford to do so. I feel much worse about the work I did for MCI/Worldcom at the height of their deception than what I've done for Volvo, for what that's worth.

  12. #12
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I live in a city that manufactures more cars than any other city in North America (locals claim). Yet our local economy is decreasingly dependent on autos for jobs. The reason is that manufacturers are automating production more and more. They will continue to cut employment at every opportunity, with absolutely no regard for workers or their communities. Of course, our Republikan government will have even less regard for displaced workers. IF effective safety nets for workers were in place, I would love to see the auto industry diminish. Auto manufacturing has certainly been a mixed blessing for Michigan and the world in the last 100 years. But if you work for an auto company and you believe your employer cares about what happens to your job, you are living in a fool's paradise.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Ebbtide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    But if you work for an auto company and you believe your employer cares about what happens to your job, you are living in a fool's paradise.
    I have not heard that kind of talk since 1977

  14. #14
    Senior Member FXjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    I live in a city that manufactures more cars than any other city in North America (locals claim). Yet our local economy is decreasingly dependent on autos for jobs. The reason is that manufacturers are automating production more and more. They will continue to cut employment at every opportunity, with absolutely no regard for workers or their communities. .
    Would you want to do a job that a robot could do? Come one now, the company doesn't owe you cradle to grave bennies, grow up.

  15. #15
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    New two-tier pay structure will cut auto worker's pay by ~ 2/3. United Auto Workers to go from $65 an hour for current employees to $23 an hour for new hires.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/16/bu...vadl6crTq86A8A

  16. #16
    Senior Member FXjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    New two-tier pay structure will cut auto worker's pay by ~ 2/3. United Auto Workers to go from $65 an hour for current employees to $23 an hour for new hires.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/16/bu...vadl6crTq86A8A
    Sounds like a fair deal to me.

  17. #17
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FXjohn
    US companies make most of their money off from SUV's, Trucks and bigger cars, not small cars.
    If Americans cared about efficiency we would not be driving such high HP cars, even the 4-cylinders.
    This is all a matter of shrewd marketing and advertising, and has very little to do with what people 'want'. Most people are sheep and buy what they are led to desire through advertising. The sane people ignore the advertising, which is why there is still a small but strong market for smaller cars in the US. The 'big three' US auto manufacturers continue to lose market share to asian manufacturers in this market segment, while they blindly continue to build obsolete dinosaurs.

  18. #18
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    One of my neighbors left her apartment suddenly without paying her last months rent. As you can imagine, her mail continues to arrive and it's being dumped in everyones box! Letters from collection agents and creditors are tossed on the floor. It's quite sad really.

    There was an open letter on the floor from an auto creditor (HSBC) and it came to me at that very moment why she was broke. The poor girl was working for the auto finance company. She recently purchased a new car costing 17K and was stuck having to shell out $479.70 per month to the bank. This did NOT include her insurance payments which must have been full coverage considering the car was new. This high monthly payment did not include gas, maintenance, tolls, tickets and repairs.

    Make no doubt about, she was employed full time for the auto industry and didn't even know it. I'm sure she worked hard but in the end, all of her discretionary income had to go to her even bigger employer - General Motors! There must be millions of people like her living pay check to pay check who can't even pay their bills (or rent!) because their transportation costs drains them of every cent they make.

    I consider these folks, non-paid employees of the auto industry.

  19. #19
    Senior Member smurfy's Avatar
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    I know what you mean, Dahon. Have you ever noticed all the Avalanches and Escalades and similar vehicles all over the roads these days? All these people can't possibly have that much money to afford one of these (some do, of course). Actually some of them are GM employees so they get a good discount.

    When the oil runs out, don't come crying to me!

  20. #20
    Senior Member FXjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    One of my neighbors left her apartment suddenly without paying her last months rent. As you can imagine, her mail continues to arrive and it's being dumped in everyones box! Letters from collection agents and creditors are tossed on the floor. It's quite sad really.

    There was an open letter on the floor from an auto creditor (HSBC) and it came to me at that very moment why she was broke. The poor girl was working for the auto finance company. She recently purchased a new car costing 17K and was stuck having to shell out $479.70 per month to the bank. This did NOT include her insurance payments which must have been full coverage considering the car was new. This high monthly payment did not include gas, maintenance, tolls, tickets and repairs.

    Make no doubt about, she was employed full time for the auto industry and didn't even know it. I'm sure she worked hard but in the end, all of her discretionary income had to go to her even bigger employer - General Motors! There must be millions of people like her living pay check to pay check who can't even pay their bills (or rent!) because their transportation costs drains them of every cent they make.

    I consider these folks, non-paid employees of the auto industry.

    17 grand isn't so much for a vehicle...

    You make it sound like all her problems were because she had wheels...dah

    she could have sold it and bought a used car outright and she would have been broke for other reasons.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by FXjohn
    17 grand isn't so much for a vehicle...

    You make it sound like all her problems were because she had wheels...dah

    she could have sold it and bought a used car outright and she would have been broke for other reasons.
    Your right in that 17K isn't a lot of money for a vehicle. But when you consider that insurance and gas and the rest will probably add an additional $250.00 dollars or maybe more. All this is aftertax money so she will have to gross about $800.00 to $1,000.00 dollars per month for the vehicle! Do you see the problem here?

  22. #22
    Senior Member FXjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    Your right in that 17K isn't a lot of money for a vehicle. But when you consider that insurance and gas and the rest will probably add an additional $250.00 dollars or maybe more. All this is aftertax money so she will have to gross about $800.00 to $1,000.00 dollars per month for the vehicle! Do you see the problem here?
    That's why I drive paid off vehicles with PLPD.
    I don't mind paying a grand in maintenance about every 2 years, i still come out WAAAY ahead.

  23. #23
    Senior Member nick burns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FXjohn
    Would you want to do a job that a robot could do? Come one now, the company doesn't owe you cradle to grave bennies, grow up.
    Man, that is cold. There are many people who proudly performed the work that has since become automated. What do you expect the 295 million in the US to do for a living?

    If greedy companies paid their employees enough to set aside money themselves for retirement, then cradle to grave benefits wouldn't be such an issue, would it? Without that, those retired people will become a burden on the rest of the country. I think I'd rather have that burden placed on the corporations they worked for.

  24. #24
    Senior Member FXjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nick burns
    Man, that is cold. There are many people who proudly performed the work that has since become automated. What do you expect the 295 million in the US to do for a living?

    If greedy companies paid their employees enough to set aside money themselves for retirement, then cradle to grave benefits wouldn't be such an issue, would it? Without that, those retired people will become a burden on the rest of the country. I think I'd rather have that burden placed on the corporations they worked for.

    I hope you're ot saying that 295 million people in the US are all inskilled laborers.
    There have been cases of UAW janitors making 6 figures...LOL.
    Honestly, in this day and age a company will go broke paying someone 70 grand plus top of the line benefits to run screws into a car all day long.
    It's not cold, it's part of the self sufficient attitude of some Americans.
    Sure retirement is owed to you if you have earned it. If someone does unskilled labor for 5 years, that a robot can do and gets displaced, the company is not obligated to pay them just for existing.
    Unskilled labor, it's not where the govt or society should be encouraging people to languish.
    It's just wasteful to all. We've known for years that we may have to change careers several times over our lifetime and adapt. Life is cold, man.

    EDIT: I am all for spending money to retrain people, and get them skilled.
    Last edited by FXjohn; 01-19-05 at 09:02 AM.

  25. #25
    Esspect 9
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    I work for an oil refinery (450+ million barrels a day) Most of our products are deep conversion either makeing heating oil (for you folks up north) or gas, desile, or jet fuel.

    FYI most of the oil used by the US doesnt come from the middle east.

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