*Ugh! I don’t know why my portrait-style pics aren’t being automatically rotated today. I’m workin on it.*
So today we went to the GM plant in Strasbourg. Really. I felt like I was in Doraville!! It was a big mass of buildings with lots of machines and people performing repetitive, specific tasks over and over and over. There were some cool machines too. But, this plant apparently specializes in making transmissions, so I heard WAY more about GM transmissions than I ever even thought I could hear in one day. My goodness. But the Operations Manager was clearly very passionate about his work and proud of their end product. His name was Remy Walker, and he reluctantly admitted that Toyota surpassed GM in marker share for the first quarter of 07. I didn’t even know that. It really felt like he was forcing those words out of his mouth-it was just unheard of to him. But, they’ll be back on top of Mr. Walker has anything to do with it. This plant makes a 6 speed transmission, and apparently GM will no longer produce the lateral 5 speed transmissions after 2009. Don’t ask me what “lateral 5 speed” means. So what did I learn? Well, with new technologies, Mr. Walker states that there isn’t a difference in MPG for automatic and manual transmissions anymore. He also stated that the maintenance for both are the same now. I also learned that BMW is a main customer of GM transmissions for their 3-series and X3 vehicles. Of course, photos weren’t allowed in the plant so I technically have no proof that any of this even happened! It did.
Around 4, we headed to the European Parliament for a tour and speaker. I think we all set ourselves up for disappointment because we were expecting a similar experience as yesterday at the Council, and this was different. The building, let me say, is gorgeous and huge. It’s built in one big circle, with a huge open area in the middle. It’s gorgeous. The chamber holds 800 people and 600 visitors at once. The attached building has a nice double-helix staircase. Members sit with their political parties, then in alphabetical order, so a Portuguese member of the ecology party can easily be seated next to a French member of the same party. One-third of the entire staff of the Parliament are interpretors because all languages must be represented. Members present their speeches in their native tongue. The Council informed us yesterday that their entire budget (300 million Euro) is less than what the Parliament spends on translator services; the Parliament’s entire budget is “one hundred thousand million Euro” said the speaker. He said speaking in terms of billions of dollars was negative. Whatever!!
The next Parliamentary Session will be next week. More pics tomorrow! Miss you all.