Waves and troughs in car hauler load volumes ahead.

GM, Toyota models delayed by hauler dispute | Detroit Free Press | freep.com
Buyers of certain Toyota and General Motors models are facing unexpected waits as automakers reassign transport work after terminating contracts with an Atlanta-based carhauler.

Cassens, Jack Cooper and United Road are picking up a lot of this freight, which means a huge wave for them and their sub-haulers.  However, according to information from today's Automotive News,  I would expect slow-downs a bit later.    Port traffic will slow because of the Japanese situation (everybody expected that)-- as well as for Japanese-owned assembly plants in North America that rely on some parts from Japan.
Honda is cutting hours by 50% at assembly plants in AL, OH and IN.  Subaru announced cuts at Lafayette, IN plant of 50%.  Toyota's 18 Japanese assembly plants are closed until April 18th, and there is no guarantee they won't extend those closures. 

Allied transport holding cars hostage? Or is Yucaipa folding this hand?

GM, Chrysler sue Allied over "hostage" vehicles - CNBC
DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co and Chrysler Group LLC have sued Allied Systems Holding Inc , accusing the auto hauler of "holding hostage" more than 2,400 new cars and trucks.

GM, in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, charged that Allied had breached a contract under which it provides car-hauling services for the U.S. automaker.

"Defendant is holding hostage 1,704 new GM vehicles, with an estimated value of $46.6 million," according to the lawsuit. "It simply has no claim to the vehicles; they are GM's property."

In a separate suit, Chrysler said Allied was holding about 700 of its vehicles.

Allied, which calls itself the largest auto transporter in North America, could not immediately be reached for comment.

If this was a poker game, looks like both the union and the automakers are saying: "Call!"  So is Yucaipa going to fold, or do they have an ace up their sleeve?

I'm wondering if the recent spikes in fuel cost precipitated Allied's demand for increased load price, and if GM and Chrysler's refusal caused Allied to unilaterally offer their employees 20% less. Switch of metaphors... Are the chickens finally coming home to roost, viz, unsustainable load pricing vs. increased fuel cost?  Or has Yucaipa, the company that owns Allied,  looked at assets and liabilities and concluded that now is the best time to exit the auto transport industry?   To crib a line I read recently in The Economist.  "If something can't go on forever, it will stop."

Allied labor trouble isn't going away soon.

According to Automotive News, the trouble at Allied stems from Chrysler refusing a fee increase to haul cars.  Representatives say the problem isn't going to be resolved any time soon.  See video here from Automotive News here.

Ford's Alan Mulally worth every penny of 33 million dollar pay package.

According to the Automotive News: "After taxes, Mulally received $33.4 million."  My opinion, he's earned it. 

"Ford earned $6.56 billion in 2010, the most since 1999. New models such as the Fiesta and redesigned Taurus sedan helped 2010 U.S. sales rise 17 percent, outpacing the industrywide gain of 11 percent"

Allied car haulers strike.

From the Winston-Salem Journal: 
Union workers at Allied Systems Ltd. in Walkertown are expected to go on strike this morning.
"They are planning to walk out at 6 a.m.," Ricky Stone, the manager of Allied Systems, said Wednesday, declining to say how many local employees work at Allied Systems, a division of Allied Systems Holdings that delivers new cars to dealerships.

For rest of article, click here. 

The word on the street is that management lowered effective pay by about 20% and said "take it or leave it."  Have not confirmed this, but something must be pissing off the teamsters, because I'm pretty sure those guys have bills to pay.

Wonder what would happen to load rates if everybody else joined the strike for a week or two?  It'll never happen, but it's fun to think about it.

UPDATE:  5PM Eastern DST
  • Chrysler announced they have been affected by labor disruption as well.
  • GM switching carriers

Japan vs The Mideast: what affects American car-buyers the most?

Looks like most Japanese auto makers are spinning up their parts and assembly factories this week or next.  Toyota to start shipping parts to auto assemblers in U.S. next Monday, according to Automotive News.  That's going to come in handy, I think, because as soon as gas gets above $4.00 per gallon, there aren't going to be enough Ford Focuses (Foci?) and Fiestas to go around.  The problems in Japan are compelling news, but the turmoil in the Mideast... and its knock-on effects on fuel price are the more compelling story for the car and transport industry.  The good news in this?  If you're hauling for Hyundai or Kia, you'll probably be getting some overtime this year!

Car hauler travels throught time, crashes.

In a surprising turn of events, a car hauler from 1959 crashes through a rift in the space-time continuum and ends up in 2011.  Scientists are baffled.  To see more footage of this event, go here.  The National Security Administration has impounded the unlucky carhauler's rig, pending further investigation.