By on June 16, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Fairfax, Kansas - Image: General MotorsIn September 2017, General Motors will be forced to lay off a large number of workers at its Kansas City, Kansas assembly plant where the Chevrolet Malibu is built.

Only two days ago we learned General Motors would stretch the Fairfax assembly plant’s summer shutdown by an additional three weeks — from two to five in 2017 — because of excessive Malibu inventory. But as GM seeks to maintain a more reasonable grip on incentives than in the past, the only remaining way of reducing an inventory glut is to stop building so many cars.

Unfortunately for some of GM’s Kansas employees, the announcement of a temporary shutdown — the third this year according to the Kansas City Business Journal — will be an insufficient means of reducing stock. The Kansas City Star reports the number of shifts at the plant will be reduced to two in late September.

After Chevrolet’s U.S. midsize sales rapidly elevated to a 36-year high in calendar year 2016 during the ninth-generation Malibu’s launch, volume has declined hard and fast in early 2017. (Read More…)

By on February 14, 2017

Donald Trump Sr. at #FITN in Nashua, NH, Image: By Michael Vadon (Donald Trump Sr. at #FITN in Nashua, NH) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Since the inauguration of U.S. president Donald Trump, Canadian political and auto industry officials have taken every opportunity to highlight the economic prosperity and millions of jobs that depend on cross-border trade. And the lobbying seems to have paid off.

At a joint press conference following the first official meeting Monday between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the U.S. leader praised the economic ties between the two countries.

“We have a very outstanding relationship with Canada. We’ll be tweaking it,” said Trump. “We’ll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries.”

At the same time, he took a swipe at the trading relationship with Mexico, calling it “unfair to the United States.”

(Read More…)

By on February 11, 2017

Franka Emika Robot Arm, Image: Franka

We’ll always need humans to manufacture robots for automated manufacturing, or at least that’s been the prevailing wisdom for years.

But what if that wasn’t the case?

Robot arms, such as the Franka Emika pictured above, might change all that, as they now have the ability to clone themselves.

(Read More…)

By on January 16, 2017

2016 Honda Civic Sedan - Image: Honda

The first Honda Civic made its way to the United States during the Nixon administration. Honda began building Civics in the United States in 1986. Two years later, Honda of Canada Manufacturing began Civic production, as well.

In 2016, with an assembly plant in Greensburg, Indiana, and Alliston, Ontario, Honda is building more than 38,000 Civics per month in North America.

Yet seven years after Honda discontinued the Civic in its Japanese home market, Civic production is returning to Japan.

Civic sales resume in Japan this summer, and some of those Japanese-built Civics, Automotive News reports, might make their way to America. (Read More…)

By on December 19, 2016

MARKHAM, Ontario, Canada, Dec. 16, 2016--Raj Nair, Ford executive VP, global product development and chief technical officer, drove the Ford GT supercar off the line to help celebrate the event along with employees and guests. The all-new Ford GT is entering the final phase of development and production has begun. One of the first Ford GTs is being driven off the line at the Multimatic assembly location with the first behind the scenes look at the assembly line for all-new Ford GT. The Ford GT is the culmination of years of Ford innovation in aerodynamics, lightweight carbon fiber construction and ultra-efficient EcoBoost engines. Photo by: Sam VarnHagen

An invitation to automotive industry supplier Multimatic in suburban Toronto is one you never turn down.

It’s legendary in the racing world, winning countless major races and championships, and it’s also the unsung hero supplier behind cars like Aston Martin’s One-77 and Vulcan. With those projects, it produced the carbon tubs, suspensions, and performed much of the engineering required for Aston to deliver complete cars.

While Ford’s been trotting out GT prototypes and pilot cars for what seems to be an eternity, I’m a bit impartial to the project given my indifferent relationship with the carmaker. Still, for Multimatic, assembling the Ford GT takes its business to another level altogether. In the back of my mind, I know the Multimatic factor is going to figure prominently into this car.

(Read More…)

By on November 9, 2016

Ford F150 assembly line

That sound you hear — besides that of pollsters hastily preparing new career paths — is the American automobile industry collectively holding its breath.

Donald Trump’s move from presidential candidate to president-elect, largely the result of disaffected voters in traditional manufacturing hot spots (though a nationwide movement to shake up D.C. can’t be ignored), could spell a tumultuous near future for automakers.

“May you live in interesting times,” the saying goes. How interesting remains to be seen. (Read More…)

By on October 27, 2016

coil spring

Interpretive dance isn’t for everyone, but we can all appreciate the efficient, graceful and damn near artistic manner in which automotive parts are made.

Coil springs already look fun, but after viewing this video of a spring being made for the now-defunct Toyota FJ Cruiser, you’re liable to quit that paper-pushing day job for a shot at doing what this guy does. (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2016

Caterpillar truck, Image: Caterpillar

So, there’s an election on, and a certain candidate has made some high-profile, sometimes inflammatory comments about American manufacturing and jobs being sent south of the Rio Grande. That person’s name is Donald T. No, perhaps that’s too obvious. D. Trump.

The Republican nominee recently found himself in a cage match with Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields after accusing the automaker of sending its jobs to Mexico. But one manufacturer that Trump does favor, one that he invests heavily in and whose products he plans to use to build a certain wall, also has a “Mexican problem.” (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2016

2015 Ford Mustang Flat Rock production

Update: Added official statement from Ford.

Ford Motor Company is briefly shutting down production of the Ford Mustang at the car’s Flat Rock, Michigan, factory in a quest to avoid ballooning inventory ahead of the winter months, Bloomberg reports.

Year-over-year, U.S. sales of the Ford Mustang tumbled 32 percent in September 2016 in response to rapidly elevating incentives on the Chevrolet Camaro. As the Camaro outsold the Mustang for the first time since October 2014, Mustang sales fell to a 23-month low, causing inventory at the end of September 2016 to rise to an 89-day supply, up from 71 days of supply one month earlier.

The temporary idling at Ford’s Flat Rock facility will allow Ford to bring U.S. Mustang inventory down to more appropriate levels. 60 days of inventory is considered normal.  (Read More…)

By on October 6, 2016

Fidanza Ford Mustang

They say impersonation is the greatest form of flattery, but that flattery has some serious financial consequences in the world of aftermarket parts.

Ohio-based Fidanza Performance, a supplier of aftermarket clutches, flywheels, and other parts, is the latest victim of Chinese knockoff artists selling “Fidanza-like” products on eBay and through unauthorized retailers.

Needless to say, Fidanza president Jeff Jenkins isn’t thrilled by the mimicry.

(Read More…)

By on August 16, 2016

2016 Toyota TacomaAmerica’s midsize pickup truck segment grew 19 percent in the first seven months of 2016. But as demand for midsize pickups expands throughout the remainder of 2016, it’s increasingly unlikely that the Toyota Tacoma will be able to make the most of the heightened interest.

Tacoma inventory has been tight for months, requiring Toyota to take full advantage of very specific modifications put in place at the San Antonio, Texas, and Baja California, Mexico, production lines a number of years ago.

No longer does a Tacoma roll off the San Antonio line every 65 seconds — it now takes only 60 seconds. There’s even a Saturday shift that drives the San Antonio plant up to 123-percent capacity. (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2016

Vauxhall-Astra-297766

Britain’s recent vote to leave the European Union could cause General Motors to up and leave the country, industry analysts predict.

Production of Vauxhall and Opel vehicles could shift across the Channel if the EU places import tariffs on vehicles bound from Britain, LMC Automotive said in a report, ending GM’s decades-long presence. (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2016

GM

General Motors executives are breathing a sigh of relief after the automaker reached a deal with a supplier that threatened to shut down GM’s entire U.S. assembly operation.

The automaker hammered out an agreement with the bankrupt Clark-Cutler-McDermott Company, a supplier of trim and acoustic insulation that GM had been propping up financially since March, the Wall Street Journal reports. (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2016

General Motors #AMERICA

GM is facing off with a key parts supplier in bankruptcy court today, but the drama between it and the Clark-Cutler-McDermott Company started at the same time the automaker handed the company a nice award.

The Massachusetts-based CCM axed its workforce on July 8 and declared chapter 11 bankruptcy, leaving the automaker without the insulation and trim parts needed to build most of its vehicles. A continued disruption in the supply chain would be a massive blow to the automaker, forcing it to shut down assembly plants throughout North America.

Court documents show that at the same time GM was handing CCM a “Supplier of the Year” award at Detroit’s Cobo Center on March 10, CCM had already told GM it had defaulted on a loan and was looking for a handout in order to stay afloat. (Read More…)

By on July 7, 2016

GM-NASA Space Robot ‘Power’ Glove Finds New Life on Earth

Not too long ago, engineers from General Motors and NASA stood around a glove, thinking, we can rebuilt this — better, stronger, more dexterous than before.

Well, they did, and now RoboGlove — a term that conjures up images of a vaguely 1980s dystopian future — will soon get its manufacturing debut at the end of select GM workers’ arms. (Read More…)

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