Category: Production

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 >

By on September 26, 2017

2017 Cadillac XT5 - Image: Cadillac

Layoffs at an assembly plant producing recently redesigned midsize crossovers? Seems an unlikely scenario. But that’s what General Motors is doing in Spring Hill, Tennessee, where the automaker builds the Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia.

GM has announced it is cutting the plant’s third shift for an undetermined length of time starting in late November. The move comes just eight months after Spring Hill added hundreds of workers for that very same shift. While it might appear that demand for the vehicles is drying up, the numbers tell another story. Read More >

By on September 25, 2017

2017 Volvo XC90 T8 R Design - Image: VolvoReports last week that Geely-owned Volvo would double its investment in Berkeley County, South Carolina, were confirmed today by the Swedish automaker. Volvo’s investment rises to $1.1 billion, the employee count is expected to climb to 4,000, and the Charleston plant will build not one but two Volvo models.

Volvo announced its intention to build its South Carolina plant in May 2015. The first vehicles, set to be third-generation Volvo S60s, will begin rolling off the assembly line in the fall of 2018, just one year from now. By 2021, Volvo revealed today, the company will also be assembling its flagship SUV, the XC90, in South Carolina.

Surprised? Of course not. Read More >

By on September 23, 2017

[Image: GM]

The Chevrolet Equinox assembly line at General Motors’ CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, remains shuttered, and the impact from the dried-up flow of crossovers now extends across the border.

Unionized workers at the plant walked off the job Sunday night after their Unifor Local 88 bargaining team failed to reach a contract agreement with GM. Though the week began with marching and signs in Ingersoll, it ended with layoffs at an Ontario transmission plant and the promise of more in Michigan and Tennessee. Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

Mercedes-Benz Alabama Assembly Line - Image: Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz is investing $1 billion into its Tuscaloosa, Alabama, assembly operations in order to facilitate the production of its first EQ-branded SUVs in 2020. The investment, timed to roughly coincide with the beginning of Mercedes-Benz ML production in Alabama, is expected to result in the hiring of another 600 employees.

In the near term, Mercedes-Benz has been open with its doubts regarding the profitability of pure electric vehicles. Evidently, the long-term view is different. And it probably doesn’t hurt to pour more money into a U.S. operations hub that accounts for nearly half the vehicles sold by the automaker in America. Read More >

By on September 19, 2017

2015 Ford Transit

Ford Motor Company will be idling Transit production at its Kansas City Assembly Plant for seven days next week to account for waning sales (Update: Ford says its because of a recall. See the end of this post for details). Diminished deliveries aside, Ford’s Transit remains the preferred choice among van connoisseurs and was America’s best-selling large van in 2016. But not every year can be better than the last.

U.S. Transit sales dropped roughly 15 percent in August and stands at 80,292 units through the first eight months of the year —representing nearly a 22-percent loss against last year’s volume. Meanwhile, Canadian deliveries have been exceptional. But that’s not enough to compensate for the U.S. slump.  Read More >

By on September 19, 2017

Volvo Cars Torslanda assembly plant - Image: VolvoVolvo continues to look forward to real U.S. sales recovery, meeting the goal of record U.S. sales volume by 2020, and a fourth consecutive year of record global sales. To get there, Volvo is already altering plans at the Charleston, South Carolina, assembly plant where construction is already in full swing.

Altering? According to Reuters and Charleston’s Post and Courier, it’s more like deciding that the plant should be twice as large, build twice as many vehicles, house more than twice as many employees, and cost twice as much. Read More >

By on September 19, 2017

2018 Honda Accord Ohio assembly plant - Image: HondaAmerican Honda’s vice president for sales, Ray Mikiciuk, won’t provide a firm forecast for sales of the 10th-generation Honda Accord. But as far as next year goes, “I don’t expect to sell fewer Accords in 2018 with this great new product,” Mikiciuk tells CNBC.

With belief in the company’s new product, Honda has invested $267 million into its Marysville, Ohio, plant where the Accord, Acura TLX, and Acura ILX are assembled. With 300 additional employees, American Honda is following the lead of Toyota’s all-new 2018 Camry.

At the Camry’s Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant, production of the new TNGA-based Camry required Toyota to build up its employee count to the highest level ever. That’s certainly not the way rivals are approaching America’s midsize segment. You’ll recall that General Motors cut Chevrolet Malibu production — and consequently, jobs — in Kansas City earlier this summer. Prior to the new Camry’s launch this summer, the Malibu was the freshest midsize sedan on the block, yet Malibu sales have plunged by more than a fifth in 2017.

Ohio production of the 2018 Honda Accord began yesterday, September 18th. But what do Honda’s vague sales forecasts mean in the broader American midsize segment?

More market share. Read More >

By on September 18, 2017

Old Mazda dealer- Burdick Mazda - Image: Mazda“We have been working more closely with our dealers to evolve their businesses and through that process,” Mazda tells Automotive News, “some new dealers have chosen to begin working with us, while others have made the decision to leave the Mazda brand.”

Mazda has been open about its goal of earning 2 percent of the U.S. market while being forthright about the brand’s intentions to do so only on solid ground. This means fewer discounts, a premium vibe, and the kind of higher margins that make dealers happy.

On the dealer side of the equation, Mazda now wants those dealers to improve. In some cases, that means a new location. In others, a new exterior design is necessary. More thoroughly trained staff members is key, as well. But it’ll be slow going. Of Mazda’s roughly 600 dealers, the brand acknowledges that some have forsaken the automaker, though Mazda won’t say how many. Since the efforts to revamp dealers began last year, only 26 have been upgraded so far. By the end of the decade, Mazda believes roughly one-sixth of its network will have undergone a remodel.

In the meantime, Mazda is getting further away from reaching its 2-percent goal. Read More >

By on September 18, 2017

Citroen DS, Image: Wikimedia Commons

For some, including TTAC’s in-house Francophile, Chris Tonn, the wait is simply unbearable. PSA Group, maker of Citroën, Peugeot and DS cars, plans to re-enter a market it hasn’t done business in since the last Peugeot left a U.S. dealer in 1991.

It’s a slow and steady comeback for the French automaker. Steamlined, flush with products, and no longer the fiscal basket case it was earlier in the decade, PSA plans to conquer untapped and underperforming markets, including the United States. The American arrival comes by way of an extremely cautious 10-year plan. While the automaker remains hesitant to show its cards, it now admits that, if the buying public is willing, it can have cars ready for U.S. purchase in three years. Read More >

By on September 18, 2017

strike-union-baseball

Unionized employees at General Motors’ CAMI Assembly in Ingersoll, Ontario, are on strike. Unifor Local 88 and General Motors were unable to reach an agreement by Sunday’s deadline. At 11:00 p.m. ET, workers at the plant traded the assembly line for the picket one, ending production of the recently redesigned Chevrolet Equinox.

Despite both sides having spent the weekend saying they were making headway in talks, it wasn’t enough to avoid the shutdown. In a post-strike statement, General Motors reiterated this fact.

“While General Motors of Canada and our Unifor partners have made very positive progress on several issues over the past weeks, the company is disappointed that we were not able to complete a new agreement. We encourage Unifor to resume negotiations and to continue working together to secure a competitive agreement,” said GM. Read More >

By on September 17, 2017

cami assembly factory

The workforce at General Motors’ Canadian sport-utility plant are threatening to strike unless a new labor deal is reached by Sunday night. Traditionally union deals close at the last minute but GM is cutting it exceptionally close this weekend.

Between now and 10:59 p.m. ET, the automaker needs to pen an agreement with Unifor Local 88, which represents about 2,450 employees at GM’s CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. The union has already conducted a final meeting for Sunday on how to direct union members on picketing strategies or how to apply for strike pay and benefits. Unifor also updated its website on Saturday to indicate a “fair and responsible agreement” did “not appear reachable” by Sunday’s deadline.  Read More >

By on September 14, 2017

FCA Windsor minivan assembly Dodge Grand Caravan 2011 - Image: FCA

Fiat Chrysler will idle production of both the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan for over a month in autumn. But with the latter model seeing impressive sales in the United States last month, can FCA afford to hit “pause” on assembly?

Not really, but that doesn’t matter — the Grand Caravan has to meet updated U.S. safety standards if Dodge wants to keep selling them. Unfortunately, FCA only has a 19-day supply of the minivan in reserve after an exceptional August depleted inventories. On the flip side, Chrysler’s objectively good but slower-selling Pacifica has a 108-day vehicle surplus. Wait, that’s also bad news.

At least the line workers at FCA’s Windsor Assembly Plant have have some time off to look forward to.  Read More >

By on September 14, 2017

2018 Volkswagen T-Roc - Image: VolkswagenAmerica can’t have the Volkswagen T-Roc. Canada can’t have the Volkswagen T-Roc. As far as we know at this point, Australia can’t have the T-Roc even though the segment in which it competes owns a hefty one-tenth of the Australian market.

Volkswagen nevertheless sees huge global potential for the brand’s new subcompact crossover, all the more so since actually unveiling the new model in late August.

The Volkswagen T-Roc’s Portugal assembly plant will therefore not build a modest 70,000 annual units. Though sales aren’t yet underway, Volkswagen board member Jürgen Stackmann says the automaker has already determined it’s necessary to triple annual production, according to CarAdvice. Read More >

By on September 13, 2017

Concept EQ, Exterieur Concept EQ, exterior

Everyone’s doing it. It’s as popular as the fidget spinner and Pokémon Go crazes all those years months ago. In a rush to signal their environmental bonafides and display their dedication to the Next Big Thing, luxury automakers are tripping over themselves in an effort to promise an all-electrified model lineup as soon as technology and finances allow.

This time, it’s Mercedes-Benz. The world’s oldest car brand doesn’t want its rivals cashing in once governments around the globe start turning off the fossil fuel taps. So, earlier this week, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche stepped up and made a promise we’ve heard ad nauseum as of late: every model in the brand’s lineup will soon sport some form of electric propulsion, be it a hybrid setup or full-on battery electric powertrain.

For Mercedes-Benz, this means 50 hybrid or EV models, including at its irrelevant-to-Americans Smart brand. The move isn’t without a steep cost, however — Daimler is bracing for a slashing of vehicle profit margins. In some cases, the green collected from green cars could be half that of a gasoline Benz. What to do? Read More >

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