Mercedes-Benz has been making improvements to its manufacturing facility near Tuscaloosa, Alabama in anticipation of the introduction of the all-new 2015 C-Class. On December 18, Mercedes held a grand opening ceremony for a new 900,000 square foot parts logistics center at the plant. Mercedes claims the $70 million dollar facility will employ 600 people.
Production of the Lexus ES will move from Toyota’s plant in Kyushu, Japan to a plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, where its platform twin, the Toyota Avalon, is built.
Ford last closed a plant in Europe a decade ago, when its Dagenham assembly plant was shuttered, but the Blue Oval may be forced to do it again.
GM has just gotten back to us about the Oshawa Consolidated plant closing down next year, and despite the carefully worded, PR-approved statements, there are some good nuggets of information, and perhaps a couple conclusions to draw from here.
Exports have been mentioned before as a way to help improve Opel’s precarious near-term fortunes, and now one of Germany’s state-level Prime Ministers is throwing his support behind the export plan.
A study commissioned by Canada’s federal government suggests that Canada could be in a position to benefit from strong auto sales from the Big Three OEMs, and a lack of capacity could lead to more manufacturing jobs for Canada, including the revival of mothballed factories.
Ford’s Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1, which is responsible for building their popular Ecoboost V6, as well as the naturally aspirated 3.7L V6 used in the F-Series and Mustang, is adding a third shift to keep up with demand. But the extra 250 jobs will largely come from the Cleveland Engine Plant No. 2, which is being shuttered this week.
Toyota will increase production of the Toyota RAV4 from 150,000 to 200,000 per year at their Woodstock, Ontario, Canada plant. The investment will add 400 new jobs and Toyota’s investment will total $80 million.
The diesel powered version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee will return to our shores in 2013, 5 years after it was last offered in North America. Chrysler announced that 1,100 jobs would also be added to a third shift at the Jefferson North assembly plant in Detroit.
The new hires will help build the Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango and portions of the upcoming Maserati Kubang SUV. The 3.0L diesel makes 237 bhp in European trim, as well as 405 lb-ft of torque.
Though the auto bailout is being widely defended in the political realm as a jobs-saving measure, the industry sees the rescue’s value in precisely the opposite light, as industry and supplier execs rate “capacity rationalization” as the most positive effect of the bailout. And, reports Automotive News [sub], Ford and GM could still end up cutting as many as six more plants over the next few years as questions linger about volume recovery in the larger market. Of the three GM plants likely to be shut down, the former Saturn plant at Spring Hill, TN, is the most likely to survive as it includes a paint shop, a small engine plant and associated parts manufacturing facilities. In contrast, analysts note that GM’s Janesville, WI, plant is the firm’s oldest and is therefore far less likely to survive, and its Shreveport, LA, compact truck plant is part of “Old GM” and will likely be liquidated. Similarly, Ford’s Ranger plant in Minnesota, as well as its Avon, OH Econoline plant and its Flat Rock, MI Mustang plant could face shutdowns. Ranger is running out of production, Econoline has been losing share to Ford’s more-efficient Transit Connect, and Mustang has been losing market share to Camaro while facing a Mazda pullout from the Flat Rock plant.
Because GM is adding jobs at other plants, the net job loss from its three likely shutdowns (two of which are currently idle) could be relatively low, but then cost savings aren’t likely to match those accrued by past shutdowns either. Ford, meanwhile, is facing a bit more disruption if Mazda pulls out of Flat Rock, but could accrue more savings than GM as only the Ranger plant is scheduled to lose its production. In any case, the UAW will have to weigh its desire to keep plants open with its desire to mitigate the inequity of the two-tier wage system… as well as its desire to gain board seats. All of which could make the UAW’s upcoming bargaining session (not to mention the political debate about the auto bailout) much more interesting…