By on August 18, 2017

Toyota Factory Kentucky

The funny thing about job creators is that they don’t always, you know, create any jobs. So, when a business lets slip that it might have 4,000 positions on offer in the near future, every state with an unemployment rate higher than zero takes notice.

Mazda and Toyota’s joint factory — codenamed Project Mitt — is one such example, and now over a dozen U.S. states are simultaneously competing for the opportunity to host the $1.6-billion factory and the thousands of direct and indirect jobs it will yield.

When the Japanese automakers publicly revealed their cooperative venture a couple of weeks ago, they made it clear they had not yet picked a site — sending economic development offices into a frenzy. But what locale will emerge victorious has a lot to do with what the region can offer the manufacturer, including potential tax incentives, tempting job training programs, and investments into infrastructure.

An affordable and abundant workforce is also desirable — an element that distinguishes many states from one another. But no single area has everything on offer, leaving the final decision of where to build up in the air.  (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro lineup - Image: ToyotaThere are a number of major consequences springboarding off the early August 2017 announcement that Toyota and Mazda would come together to build an assembly plant in Somewhere, United States.

First, Mazda production returns to the United States for the first time since the Mazda 6 left Flat Rock, Michigan, in 2012.

Second, the Toyota Corolla — produced now in Cambridge, Ontario, and Blue Springs, Mississippi — will be assembled in a second U.S. assembly plant.

Third, Toyota will acquire a 5-percent stake in Mazda, while Mazda returns the favor by claiming a 0.25-percent portion of Toyota.

And to the increasingly pickup-truck-conscious U.S. consumer, the most significant consequence of the Toyota-Mazda partnership will be more Toyota Tacomas. That’s right: more pickup trucks for America. (Read More…)

By on July 27, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry Georgetown Kentucky assembly plant - Image: ToyotaAmericans who take possession of a new Jaguar E-Pace can check their VIN to see that the subcompact luxury crossover was assembled in Austria. Each of the 36,813 Buick Envisions sold in the United States through June were imported from China. The Ford Fusion comes from Hermosillo, Mexico; the Honda Accord comes from Marysville, Ohio.

BMW builds SUVs in South Carolina. Mercedes-Benz builds cars and SUVs in Alabama. Volkswagen builds the Atlas and Passat in Tennessee. The Toyota Camry is built in Kentucky, although there’ll be a handful of new 2018 models coming all the way from Japan.

The global automotive market has spoken. “A lot of consumers have no idea where their cars are built,” Renault’s Francois Mariotte tells AutoExpress. Perhaps there are customers who struggle with the notion of German cars being assembled in Mexico, for example, but as Renault’s Mariotte says: “The quality of the car is never determined by the country it’s built in. It’s determined by the processes we put into the factory.”

But do you care where your next new vehicle is assembled? (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2017

Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant Cadillac CT6 - Image: GMThe possibility, or even the necessity, of turning General Motors’ Hamtramck, Michigan, passenger car assembly plant into an SUV/crossover facility in the next half-decade has the company considering the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Volt, Buick LaCrosse, and recently launched Cadillac CT6.

According to a report in Reuters, General Motors is in talks with the United Auto Workers about replacing the increasingly unpopular products currently built in Hamtramck with in-demand utility vehicles. Also in question is the future of the Michigan-built Chevrolet Sonic and the Canada-built Cadillac XTS, which has enjoyed stays of execution in the past.

On average, GM had a 111-day supply of the six models in its U.S. showrooms heading into July 2017. 70 days’ worth of supply would be appropriate. Combined, the Impala, Volt, LaCrosse, CT6, Sonic, and XTS account for 6 percent of GM’s U.S. sales in 2017.

In 2008, the Impala, LaCrosse, and the Sonic’s Aveo predecessor — merely three of the nameplates — accounted for 12 percent of a much more voluminous GM U.S. operation. (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2017

2017 dodge viper gts

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is abandoning Conner Avenue Assembly in Detroit, Michigan. The plant produced Dodge Vipers sporadically for over two decades, but low sales volume eventually led to FCA’s decision to remove the high-performing model from its lineup. In 2016, Dodge only sold 630 Vipers. A final, limited-edition 2017 run sold out in less than a week.

The two-seater doesn’t meet upcoming safety regulations due to its absence of side-curtain airbags. Rather than undergo a costly redesign, FCA chose to let nature take its course and placed the model in hospice care back in 2015. However, the future of the assembly plant and its employees were uncertain at the time.  (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry production line - Image: ToyotaAs all-new 2018 Toyota Camrys begin to trickle into Toyota’s U.S. dealers over the coming weeks, take a close look at the VIN.

It’s viewable through the windshield on the driver’s side. See that first number? It’s likely a 4, which means this Camry was built in Georgetown, Kentucky.

But there’s a chance that the VIN on the new 2018 Camry sitting on your local Toyota dealer’s lot doesn’t begin with a number at all.

You’re looking at the once-coveted J-VIN. Ooh la la. (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2017

2017 Ford Escape Assembly Factory Production, Image: Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is reducing the length of its usual summer suspensions by a full seven days in Kentucky. According to the automaker, production at the Louisville Assembly Plant will resume only “one week” after the normal July 4th shutdown. Like the horrendous Barenaked Ladies song of the same name, the news should prove very popular among a highly specific subset of America — assuming they get paid hourly and weren’t planning an extended vacation.

Normally, Ford takes around 14 days to overhaul factories for the following year’s production, but demand for the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC has just been too high.  (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2017

Volkswagen Atlas in front of Chattanooga sign, Image: VW

Volkswagen’s sole U.S. assembly plant was spared any fallout from the company’s wildly expensive diesel emissions scandal, but the upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations could see VW throttle back its future plans for the facility.

The Chattanooga plant, which builds the Passat and Atlas, has seen $900 million in investment over the last couple of years. More models are anticipated, and the automaker said it expects the plant to reach full production by 2020. However, recent threats of an import tax to be levied on German automakers has VW brass in wait-and-see mode before sending any new models or money to Tennessee. (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…)

By on March 20, 2017

Marijuana weed pot joint

If you end up purchasing a BMW 3 or 4 Series model build at the automaker’s Munich assembly plant in early march, just know this: two of the workers building it might have been high as a kite.

A report in today’s Bild newspaper claims that two workers were so blitzed on booze and synthetic marijuana that they passed out while working on the assembly line, causing a temporary — and costly — shutdown. Yes, this happened, BMW has confirmed. (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2017

oldsmobile-ciera-coupe

A bill for the assembly of two decades-old models — one from a defunct marque — will come due on April 1. And unlike much of the debts written off during General Motors’ bankruptcy, a major subsidiary now has to pay this chunk back.

The money, $220 million in all, was handed to GM Canada back in 1987 to save the Montreal-area Sainte-Thérèse Assembly plant. GM Canada used that bankroll to build the stunningly sexy Chevrolet Celebrity and Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. It later cranked out the last Pontiac Firebirds and fourth-generation Chevrolet Camaros.

The thing about 30-year interest-free loans is that someone eventually comes to collect. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2017

Hyundai Tucson, Image: Hyundai

Hyundai Motor Company and its Kia affiliate are starting off the New Year with a promise to float barges full of cash to U.S. shores.

The automaker has announced a plan to funnel $3.1 billion into its American operations over the next five years, handily killing two birds with one stone. Not only would it (potentially) placate President-elect Donald Trump’s thirst for non-Mexican automotive investment, it would also fix a thorny problem facing Hyundai’s vehicle lineup. (Read More…)

By on November 16, 2016

Mark-Fields (Image: Ford)

There’s something about billions of dollars in investment and carefully planned long-term product strategies that make it hard for an automaker to turn on a dime in the face of a threat.

Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields says his company has no plans to reverse course on its goal of boosting production of cars and components in Mexico, even after President-elect Trump’s promise of a 35-percent tariff on vehicles crossing the Rio Grande.

It’s a game of chicken Ford intents to win. (Read More…)

By on November 9, 2016

2015 Cadillac ATSs at Lansing Grand River Assembly

Lackluster demand for several General Motors models has forced the automaker to announce shift cuts at two assembly plants, leading more than 2,000 lost jobs.

It’s unpleasant news for autoworkers in America’s manufacturing heartland, but the General hints that four-wheeled saviors are on the way. (Read More…)

By on November 4, 2016

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Maybe God has it out for Windsor, Ontario. Or maybe fate has a sense of irony, at least when it comes to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The automaker’s minivan plant, which builds the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica, handily sidestepped a supplier-related shutdown this week, only to be unexpectedly hit with another. The assembly lines go dark in Windsor next week. (Read More…)

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