Category: Production

By on October 16, 2017

Volvo Cars Torslanda assembly plant - Image: Volvo

It’s often hard to remove an ingredient after the cake’s emerged from the oven. Because of this, news of Kobe Steel’s falsified inspection reports no doubt came with a fair bit of nervous collar tugging for executives at several automakers.

The Japanese company, which has subsidiaries in numerous countries, is a go-to supplier for the automotive and aircraft industries, providing steel, copper and aluminum components to companies as diverse as Ford and Boeing. Last week, Kobe admitted to selling substandard (or suspected substandard) materials to 500 companies, among them Ford, Volvo, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and possibly Mazda.

Oh, and Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, General Motors, Hyundai, and Renault.

Maybe you’ve heard of them. Read More >

By on October 14, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox Diesel - Image: GM

After a month-long strike and a war of words that erupted earlier this week, General Motors and the union representing workers at its CAMI assembly plant have struck a tentative deal.

Late Friday, Unifor Local 88 posted a statement claiming a breakthrough in bargaining talks that reached an impasse on September 17th. That means Chevrolet Equinox crossovers could restart production at the Ingersoll, Ontario facility on Monday — easing dealer fears over a shortage of the hot-selling vehicle. Read More >

By on October 13, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Impala LTZ Detroit - Image: GM

It’s going to be a black Christmas at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant this year. Amid rising inventory levels for the Cadillac CT6, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, and Chevrolet Volt, General Motors plans to shut off the lights for the rest of the year.

Blame the American consumer’s rapidly changing automotive tastes. Read More >

By on October 10, 2017

Ferrari emblem logo

Despite months of denial, Sergio Marchionne confirmed that Ferrari will put a sport utility vehicle into production on Monday. “We’re dead serious about this,” Marchionne said at the New York Stock Exchange earlier this week. “We need to learn how to master this whole new relationship between exclusivity and scarcity of product, then we’re going to balance this desire to grow with a widening of the product portfolio.”

The working title for Ferrari’s SUV is “FUV” and its confirmation undoes months of Marchionne’s claims that it would “never be built.” In February of 2016, the CEO even said he would have to be shot and killed before Ferrari made an SUV. For his sake, we hope that is no longer a provisional aspect of the build.  Read More >

By on October 9, 2017

2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE, Image: FCA

Looking for a full-size pickup with class-leading fuel economy? Can’t lick that diesel addiction, but not willing to go heavy duty? Since 2014, the Ram 1500 HFE has been your full-size, light-duty diesel go-to, at least until the Environmental Protection Agency yanked the model’s certification for the 2017 model year.

Following this year’s minor disagreement (the EPA wanted to know what those undeclared auxiliary emission control devices were all about, Fiat Chrysler said it was no big deal), as well as the federal investigations and lawsuits that followed, the thriftiest Ram is back on the market. In late July, environmental regulators finally gave the model a clean bill of health, certifying it for sale in the U.S.

However, Ram EcoDiesels are only now finding their way onto dealer lots. Read More >

By on October 7, 2017

tesla model 3

It’s been of week of bad PR and reports that should have Tesla investors tugging their collars and thinking twice, though in Teslaland these well-publicised issues only propel the automaker’s stock even higher.

The company’s electric big rig (aka the Tesla Semi), rumored to have a range of 200 to 300 miles, won’t see the light of day until November 16th, CEO Elon Musk claims. That’s two months after the initial reveal date, which was subsequently pushed back until late October.

The larger problem facing the company is the slow ramp-up of Model 3 production, which kicked off in July, but only resulted in only 220 deliveries by the end of September. The company forecasted 1,500 Model 3s in the month of September, with an expected production rate of 5,000 vehicles per week by the end of the year. Blame the slow trickle of cars on a “manufacturing bottleneck issue,” the company said in a statement.

As Musk attempts to soothe fears, a new report claims the automaker was hand-building parts away from the assembly line even as the high-tech facility was supposed to be cranking out Model 3s at a steady clip. Tesla is not happy about this report. Read More >

By on October 5, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox red - Image: GM

It was another hot month for the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox in September, especially when contrasted with last year’s sales. U.S. sales last month amounted to an 80-percent year-over-year increase, with 27,512 vehicles sold, while Canada’s 2,079 vehicles sales represented a 27-percent increase, year-over-year.

Both countries’ year-to-date tallies are on the upswing, outranking last year’s total by 22 percent in the U.S. and 27 percent north of the border. Good news for General Motors, but worrisome when you consider the main Equinox production line shut down over two weeks ago. Workers at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, are still on strike. Meanwhile, the amount of Equinoxes in GM’s inventory is dropping steadily.

It’s not a crisis yet, but if GM and its unionized plant workers don’t reach an agreement soon, it could turn into one. Read More >

By on October 4, 2017

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

Yesterday, we mentioned how Tesla was behind schedule with its everyman Model 3 — delivering only 220 units to the half-million reservation holders since the start of production in late July. While we knew it would get off to a slow start, CEO Elon Musk previously assured the public that production would increase exponentially through the end of the year by way of a “production hell” trial by fire.

Musk claimed there should be “zero concern” about Tesla achieving a production rate of 10,000 cars a week before the end of next year. But many wondered if that was even possible. Despite Tesla making serious strides to increase production volume this year, we remained dubious that the proposed numbers were even feasible for a fledgeling automaker.

As it turns out, they weren’t — and the company knew it.  Read More >

By on October 4, 2017

Ford Escape Titanium badge logo, Image: Ford Motor Company

After much speculation, Ford CEO Jim Hackett has finally outlined where his company’s dollars will be spent in the foreseeable future. Hackett spent his summer performing what Ford called a “four-month deep dive” into the company’s strategy and business operations to see what changes needed to be made. His conclusions? This may surprise a few readers, but Ford will continue building and selling automobiles.

Alright, that isn’t a bombshell, but the brand is trying to frame itself as the Ford you’ve always trusted while also letting everyone know it’s still a “mobility company” with its eyes fixed on tomorrow. Without the public relations veneer, that plan translates into a reduced number of production models and trims, more money for electrification R&D, less for internal combustion engines, and a significant reduction in material costs.

Hackett’s address also served to reassure the nervous shareholders who ousted his predecessor, Mark Fields. Ford’s stock declined more than 30 percent during Fields’ tenure and many complained that his vision of transitioning from a traditional automaker to a Silicon Valley look-alike was partly to blame. Hackett did everything in his power to ease those fears.

“We’re going to be in the vehicle business moving both people and goods. Some myth about not being in the car business is gone,” Hackett told Wall Street. Read More >

By on October 3, 2017

tesla-model-3-1-610x407

While the venerable Tesla Model S and X reached more customers than ever before in the last quarter, the hotly anticipated and far cheaper Model 3 stumbled out of the gate.

In a quarterly statement released yesterday, Tesla says just 260 Model 3s made it off the Fremont, California assembly line between the launch of production in late July and the end of September. Of that number, 220 made it to customer driveways. That’s not encouraging news for investors, nor for the model’s roughly half-million reservation holders, some of whom were told at launch not to expect their vehicle until the end of next year. Read More >

By on October 2, 2017

Toyota TNGA platform, Image: Toyota

Of all automakers, no company holds out hope for the gasoline engine’s longevity quite like Mazda. Not only does Mazda anticipate many decades of continued hydrocarbon-fueled driving, it’s also ensuring gas stays viable by inventing a new Skyactiv engine that (supposedly) uses much less of it. That motor, a first-of-its-kind gas compression ignition four-cylinder, debuts in 2019.

For now, Mazda’s North American lineup remains pure in terms of propulsion. The promised CX-5 diesel is taking its sweet time showing up, and neither a hybrid or EV can be found among the model ranks. That will soon change, but given Mazda’s size and finances, it won’t be a Mazda platform underpinning the next Mazda EV. Read More >

By on October 2, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox - Image: Chevrolet

The sound of workers slapping together 2018 Chevrolet Equinox crossovers is not ringing through the streets of Ingersoll, Ontario, this morning.

A strike that began late on September 17th continues today after a weekend labor update that might have heralded good news turned into just another day on the picket line. The workforce at General Motors’ CAMI assembly plant, represented by Unifor Local 88, continue advocating for a new collective agreement that cements the plant’s future in GM’s production roster.

Meanwhile, inventories of the hot-selling crossover are dwindling. Read More >

By on September 27, 2017

Detroit (Bryan Debus/Flickr)

Detroit’s dominance in the domestic automotive sphere continues to erode. Whereas the manufacturing hub, home to Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, once churned out the bulk of vehicles built — and sold — in the United States, times have changed.

The former Big Three automakers no longer hold the majority market share in the U.S. (in 2016 it was 44.9 percent), necessitating a name demotion to “Detroit Three.” From Silicon Valley to the Midwest and South, a diverse group of automakers is busily assembling cars and SUVs for a population with very wide-ranging tastes. We’ve long since become used to the idea that many Hyundais now hail from Alabama, several Subarus come from Indiana, Honda models grow in Ohio, and BMWs arrive from South Carolina with a Southern drawl.

Now, one industry watcher claims the Detroit Three won’t even finish the year as the majority builder of North American-made vehicles. Read More >

By on September 27, 2017

Dyson vacuum

Herbert Hoover promised Americans a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage, but another man with a vacuum-associated name, James Dyson, wants to put electric cars in every parking spot.

Dyson, maker of strangely desirable vacuum cleaners and unsettlingly futuristic fans shaped like an elongated oval, wants to build you a car. Of course, we told you this last year, after the British government let slip that it was “funding Dyson to develop a new battery electric vehicle at their headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.”

The secretive UK-based company now claims you’ll see its new car in just three years. Read More >

By on September 27, 2017

2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid - Image: ToyotaToyota announced yesterday that its plans to invest $10 billion in the United States, revealed earlier this year, will grow by another $374 million with big spending at five different factories in five different states.

Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Alabama, and Missouri will all benefit. Though it’s unlikely the investments will directly translate to much in the way of new employment — Toyota promises 50 new jobs in Alabama — Toyota says “these investments will help to ensure the stability of the plants’ employment levels in the future.”

At the core of the investments? Toyota is spending money to enable greater production of the new TNGA 2018 Toyota Camry’s 2.5-liter engines and hybrid transaxles. Why America? “The investment is part of our long-term commitment to build more vehicles and components in the markets in which we sell them.”

Toyota sells 200,000 vehicles per month in the United States. Read More >

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