Category: Production

By on May 22, 2017

hyundai-kona-teaser

Hyundai, which found itself lagging behind its rivals in the lucrative crossover and SUV market and figured it should do something about it, is having trouble getting its desperately needed subcompact crossover into production.

The 2018 Kona, which we’ve so far seen only a portion of, is part of a better-late-than-never product push by the Korean automaker. A new small crossover was needed to to mine a growing segment and boost Hyundai’s flagging U.S. sales, but the reality of building cars in Korea has thrown up a roadblock. Read More >

By on May 18, 2017

Tesla Factory California

In the face of what it describes as “a concerted and professional media push intended to raise questions about safety at Tesla,” the California electric automaker has attempted to counter an apparent unionization tactic.

In a May 14th blog post titled “Creating the Safest Car Factory in the World,” Tesla said it was contacted by numerous media sources claiming to have spoken with similar workers at its Fremont assembly plant. The automaker sees this as an attempt by both the United Auto Workers and Tesla employees intent on organizing the plant to use instances of workplace injury as an organizational tool.

This morning, the story Tesla was working to get ahead of landed in The Guardian. Read More >

By on May 18, 2017

[Image: Nissan]

It won’t come with a minimum of 808 horsepower, nor will there be a crate to turn it into a dragster. However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles raised the bar on how to intrigue fans (and annoy journalists) with its weekly pre-reveal teasers for the Dodge Challenger Demon, and who is Nissan to ignore FCA’s success?

The Japanese automaker has embarked on a summertime teaser campaign leading up to the unveiling of the next-generation Leaf “later this year.” Back in March, Nissan tweeted that the new Leaf would appear at a global launch event in September before going on sale before the end of the year.

So, what lies in store for the long-in-the-tooth electric’s replacement? Read More >

By on May 18, 2017

General Motors Renaissance Center

In its global push for profitability, General Motors plans to yank the Chevrolet brand out of the hands of Indian consumers.

The automaker announced a wave of restructuring in overseas markets yesterday, a large part of which is the cancellation of nearly $1 billion in investment in India and the pull-out of its only brand. Until recently, GM had hoped to cater to the country’s growing middle class with a new line of region-specific Chevy models.

GM also plans to sell its South African division and cut back on staff in Singapore. The move will help the automaker free up money to funnel towards its biggest markets — North America and China. Read More >

By on May 18, 2017

2016 Mazda2, Image: Mazda

It was January of 2015 and I was standing in a small venue in Montreal. The space was dark save some access lighting and red spotlights pointed at a sheet-covered car.

A few moments later, the sheet was pulled off, and Mazda Canada announced the 2016 Mazda 2 would be coming to The Great White North.

Eleven months later, Mazda Canada would reverse that decision, citing other all-new products — namely the CX-3 and MX-5 — requiring Mazda’s full attention. After all, the small automaker didn’t want to spread itself too thin, and it wasn’t like the previous-generation Mazda 2 set the sales charts on fire — on either side of the border.

In America, Mazda North America Operations had zero intention of selling the subcompact in any region other than Puerto Rico. Yet, year after year since the model went on sale in other global markets, Mazda continues to certify the Mazda 2’s emissions system with the California Air Resources Board, effectively making it eligible for retail sale in any of the 13 “CARB states” and District of Columbia.

Meanwhile, Mazda says it still has no intention to sell the Mazda 2 in America. What’s going on? We reached out to Mazda to get an answer.

Read More >

By on May 16, 2017

Chevrolet Traverse 2018

Like floodwaters pooling in a reservoir, unsold General Motors vehicles are getting close to breaching the dam. Not since November 2007 has the automaker held so many vehicles in reserve, though GM claims there’s nothing odd about the buildup.

With several updated models either imminent or on the way, it would make sense for GM to stock up in order to keep dealers and customers happy during production gaps. In this case, however, the numbers don’t seem to add up. Read More >

By on May 10, 2017

toyota camry

Even as it develops efficient new platforms and streamlines its operation where it can, Toyota finds itself against the ropes as a falling yen and rising costs sends profits tumbling. Its end-of-fiscal-year financial statements, released today, are enough to send bean counters to the medicine cabinet in search of antacid, while the company’s president warns of more trouble ahead.

To Akio Toyoda, the increasingly gloomy picture has all the hallmarks of a failing sports team. Read More >

By on May 9, 2017

2016 GMC Sierra with eAssist, Image: General Motors

General Motors hasn’t made an official announcement about the new product destined for Ontario’s Oshawa Assembly plant, only saying that pickups would be sent there for final assembly. However, much like with Ford’s returning Bronco and Ranger, it often comes down to union brass to spill the beans about product allocation.

In this case, the union representing both autoworkers and employees at a seat supplier has provided proof of Oshawa’s new product. Two truck models snatched out of Oshawa by GM’s 2009 bankruptcy will indeed return. Read More >

By on May 8, 2017

[Image: Volkswagen/YouTube]

Lost amid the automaker’s newfound focus on bringing as many utility vehicles to global customers as possible, Volkswagen’s stalwart Jetta soldiers on without a diesel option, wearing more or less the same duds it donned for 2011. A mild — some would say unnoticeable — refresh came in 2016, but the Jetta’s U.S. sales have continued to slide at a remarkably steady rate ever since the current generation’s debut.

Naturally, Volkswagen wants to arrest the plunge. As part of its newly crafted product strategy, the automaker plans to find time for a new Jetta among all the crossovers. Read More >

By on May 5, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas yellow front quarter on road

Volkswagen Group’s core brand has targeted an end to profit losses in the North America by the end of the decade, setting its break-even point for 2020. Central themes of the plan are dependent on cost cutting measures and higher-margin SUV models it believes will bring it back from emissions scandal purgatory. In its most recent announcement, VW continued to tout electric vehicles as an inevitable key focus by 2025, but hasn’t lifted the veil on all that entails.

In the short term, however, Volkswagen is promising the “biggest product offensive in its history,” with ten new models coming this year alone. In actuality the number is half that, as five of those vehicles are updated versions of existing models. The real number could be even smaller if VW is counting the Atlas/Teramont as separate vehicles; the same goes for the two wheelbases of the Tiguan. And, based on the information it provided us, that does appear to be the case.  Read More >

By on May 5, 2017

tvr griffith

It’s exciting times for the independent British automaker. TVR, which reappeared on the automotive scene in 2013 after an absence of seven years, plans to unveil a production sports car in September.

Apparently, many TVR aficionados were itching for an opportunity to get their hands on a boutique vehicle from the low-volume automaker, money in hand. When the company showcased a prototype at a private event, hundreds ponied up deposits for a vehicle that might appear bearing a familiar name. Read More >

By on May 4, 2017

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn’t getting any. By that we mean profits, as the electric automaker reported a $397 million first-quarter loss yesterday, adding to the red ink spilled in the previous quarter.

While the company’s revenue rose 18.4 percent in Q1 and deliveries climbed 12 percent, spending on Model 3 production more than offset the increase in cash flow. Musk took the loss in stride, playing the long game in a quarterly investors call, and claimed a combination of higher production numbers and lower operating costs will send those gray clouds packing.

Finances aside, the conference call yielded far more interesting topics, including details of the upcoming Model Y. Also, it seems people are becoming confused by Tesla’s naming strategy, and Musk has no one but Ford — and a dirty mind — to blame. Read More >

By on May 3, 2017

2017 Bolt

Profitability is right around the corner, but so far the sign marking the turn isn’t in sight. That seems to be the gist of comments made by Mark Reuss, General Motors’ executive vice president for product development, who recently claimed his company would be the first automaker to turn a profit selling cheaper electric vehicles.

Right now, the high cost of producing EVs makes it a money-losing proposition for automakers struggling to find an edge in the growing technology war. While Tesla might disagree with Reuss’ insinuation, the dedicated electric automaker has only ever posted a couple of slim quarterly profits, with revenue from its pricey EVs eaten up by expenditures elsewhere.

At a company like GM, piles of truck and SUV-generated cash allows for a model like the Chevrolet Bolt — a low-priced EV that beats the competition in range, but allegedly drains $8,000 to $9,000 from the company with each unit sold. That’s all going to change, said Reuss. Read More >

By on May 2, 2017

The enduring popularity of the Chevrolet Equinox has led General Motors to some creative manufacturing approaches to keep up with demand. In addition to the crossoverÕs assembly home in Ingersoll, Ontario, GM runs a shuttle system that takes Equinox bodies to Oshawa, Ont., for painting and final production, Image: General Motors Canada

A General Motors plant once described as being on life support might not be out of the woods yet, but there’s a new ray of light at Oshawa Assembly — Canada’s oldest auto factory.

The plant’s supply of models has dwindled in recent years, with only the Chevrolet Impala and aging Cadillac XTS sharing space with the soon-to-depart Buick Regal. For years, Oshawa’s Consolidated Line handled final assembly of Chevrolet Equinox overflow models from GM’s CAMI plant, but supply will dry up this summer as the next-generation model becomes a CAMI-only deal.

Enter a hazy GM promise to deliver pickups for final assembly. While GM hasn’t confirmed that Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra models are destined for Oshawa, at least one truck certainly is. The first truck shift hasn’t yet begun, and already the local union is alerting workers to a second. Read More >

By on May 1, 2017

Mitsubishi Lancer GT

While nothing is set in stone just yet, Mitsubishi should have a blueprint for its U.S. product strategy as early as September. The automaker, recently enlivened by its entry into the Renault-Nissan Alliance, suddenly finds itself with new options on the table as it plots a course towards greater U.S. market share.

Part of that strategy will likely mean covering segments now left empty in the brand’s product lineup. Before entering the Alliance, Mitsubishi’s main goal was getting more utility vehicles out the door, and that will remain the company’s growth driver in the near future, says chief operating officer Trevor Mann.

Still, the newfound ability to share components and platforms with Nissan opens the door to interesting new possibilities, and Mann knows what he wants. Read More >

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