By on July 3, 2015

Takanobu Ito

In its 104-page annual sustainability report, Honda announced it would make English its official language by 2020, requiring all interregional communication be conducted in English. Similarly, English-language proficiency would be a requirement for promotion to management. The new mandate appears on Page 70 of the report.

Despite burying the lede, it’s a seismic change for the Japanese company. According to Automotive News, five years ago then-boss Takanobu Ito said — possibly in Japanese — that making English the official language of Honda was “stupid.” Five years from now, presumably all of Honda’s workforce, which includes more than 200,000 people — nearly three-quarters of it outside of North America — will be speaking the language.

(Read More…)

By on July 3, 2015

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Today is the beginning of the Independence Day holiday in America, which is this beautiful historical moment where we all take a few days off work and light things on fire. It’s also an excellent time to examine precisely what makes a car American.

I want to do this because there are a lot of Americans out there who will only buy an American car, just like there are a lot of Japanese who will only buy a Japanese car, and a lot of Germans who will only buy a German car, and a lot of South Africans who will only buy cars with bulletproof windows. But in today’s globalized world, what exactly defines a car’s country of origin?

Some would say where the car is manufactured – and that’s reasonable. After all, if a car is built in America, and sold in America by an American car dealership to someone in America, this is a pretty damn American vehicle, correct? You can only get more American if you were to get on a plane and ask personal questions to the stranger sitting next to you, even though they’re obviously trying to read the newspaper.

But wait! There are millions of cars that fit this definition that aren’t made by “American” automakers! The Volkswagen Passat, for example, is built somewhere in the marry-your-cousin hills of East Tennessee by an American factory worker, then shipped to an American dealer by an American truck driver where it’s prepped by an American employee and sold to an American rental car company for use in the commission of an American felony, likely with an American gun.

So is the Passat an American car? (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2015

gm_hq

If you’re a parts supplier to General Motors, you have two choices: bid for business as it comes up or open your books and factories to skip the bidding process.

According to Automotive News, the latter option is part of GM’s One Cost Model launched in 2013, allowing the automaker to analyse a supplier’s internal cost data to identify cost-cutting opportunities. In exchange, suppliers can receive exclusive parts contracts that can last the lifecycle of a model and GM will not put that particular piece of business up for bid.

This all requires a significant amount of trust from suppliers, a commodity which has been lacking at GM since the ’90s.

(Read More…)

By on September 11, 2014

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Although Toyota has previously looked to maximize capacity at its existing North American plants, a report by Bloomberg suggests that the company will depart from this policy and look to establish a manufacturing facility in Mexico, following the lead of Honda, Mazda and Nissan in the Japanese auto industry’s drive to localize production.

(Read More…)

By on August 8, 2014

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Toyota is not going to be expanding any plants in the United States, even as they are forced to absorb further production of the Toyota Camry as their assembly deal with Subaru winds down.

(Read More…)

By on August 1, 2014

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A report in Automotive News outlines how General Motors has committed to building a new Buick model at their plant in Russelsheim, Germany. According to AN, the logical choice is the next-generation Buick Regal, also known as the Opel Insignia, since this is a good fit for Buick, and it allows GM to use up some of the excess capacity that is currently plaguing their European operations. But for GM’s venerable Oshawa plant, this is not good news.

(Read More…)

By on June 2, 2014

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Hyundai-Kia will end an unofficial cap on NAFTA-area expansion with a new factory in Monterrey, Mexico.

(Read More…)

By on May 16, 2014

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Already considering a new plant in Mexico for its 1 and 3 Series, BMW may also bring MINI production to the line when the factory doors open in the near future.

(Read More…)

By on May 8, 2014

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A long-running lawsuit over the value of the land on which Hyundai’s Montgomery, Alabama plant is located has been settled. The Montgomery Industrial Development Board will pay former landowners $3.45 million to settle their claims. The particulars of the case illustrate the potential hazards faced by advocacy groups when they attempt to incentivize industrial development.

(Read More…)

By on April 8, 2014

holden-plant

In the span of 24 hours, Australia inked two free trade agreements with both Japan and South Korea. Even though Holden, Ford and Toyota had already committed to ending auto manufacturing in Australia, it’s hard not to see the agreements as the last nail in the coffin of Australia’s once strong auto industry.

(Read More…)

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