The Truth About Cars » Plant The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 04:01:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Plant Mercedes-Benz Expands Alabama Facilities, Deals With Labor Issues Ahead of C-Class Introduction Mon, 23 Dec 2013 12:00:29 +0000 Mercedes-Benz C250, AMG Line, Avantgarde, Diamantsilber metallic

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.


Most of those new hires will be contract employees working for outside suppliers, but some will be directly employed by Mercedes as transfers from existing facilities. The facility will handle daily parts deliveries as part of the just-in-time production method. Governor Robert Bentley was in attendance, remarking that “Mercedes has been a great partner for Alabama” since the plant opened. Mercedes began production at the facility in 1997.

Mercedes says that the addition of C-Class production will add about 1,000 employees at the facility in total. That number may increase in 2015, when the company plans to add another SUV to the production line. Auto Evolution claims that new SUV will probably be the next-generation GLK. This is yet to be confirmed by Mercedes, but it seems likely given that the C-Class is built on the same platform. It would also make a logical replacement for the aged and slow-selling R-Class. Mercedes discontinued R-Class sales in the United States last year, but still produces the vehicle in Tuscaloosa for the world market.

The expansion of the Tuscaloosa facility, like the founding of VW’s Chattanooga plant, has created waves in labor relations around the globe. Building cars in Alabama is part of a global production strategy that has seen Mercedes parent company Daimler shift more capacity to America.  When Daimler announced plans to transfer C-Class production out of its Sindelfingen, Germany facility back in 2009, it led to mass protests by workers affiliated with the union IG Metall. IG Metall has since backed unionization efforts at both Daimler and VW’s American facilities by the United Auto Workers, out of fear of being undercut by cheaper American labor. The UAW has lobbied Tuscaloosa workers extensively with IG Metall’s assistance, but has had no success thus far. The continued expansion of the facility will undoubtedly focus ever-greater attention on labor relations and compensation at the plant.

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Lexus ES Production Moving To Kentucky Fri, 19 Apr 2013 14:46:35 +0000

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.

Previously, the Lexus RX was the only Lexus vehicle made outside Japan, produced at a plant in Ontario. The move to Kentucky was no doubt helped along by a $146.5 million “tax incentive package”. The Wall Street Journal reports that the expansion taking place to accommodate Lexus will result in 570 new jobs.

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Chevrolet Malibu Plant Idled Mon, 17 Dec 2012 22:42:05 +0000  
General Motors had idled its Fairfax, Kansas plant where the Chevrolet Malibu is built, as slow sales hamper the brand’s mid-size sedan.

A GM spokesman confirmed to Automotive News that GM “is taking idle time in December,” to “make sure we are aligning our production with demand.”

But a statement released by GM was evasive regarding the Malibu’s impact on the idling“We have strategically built Chevrolet Malibu stock levels based on scheduled downtime and a strengthening vehicle market…This idle time gives us an opportunity to conduct scheduled facility projects aimed at improving the plant’s future competitiveness.”

As of December 1st, GM had a 106-day supply of Malibus, higher than anticipated. The Malibu has endured a barrage of negative criticism since its introduction, and the car will get an early mid-cycle refresh after just 18 months on the market.


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Ford Plant Could Be Next On Europe’s Chopping Block Fri, 20 Jul 2012 21:45:09 +0000

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.

Faced with excess capacity and mounting losses on the continent, Ford needs to trim some fat. According to a report by Bloomberg

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker’s assembly plants in Southampton, England, and Genk, Belgium, may be vulnerable.

The Southampton factory is apparently running at less than one-third capacity, and built fewer than 30,000 Transit vans last year. The Genk plant builds the Mondeo – an important car for Ford, but one that is cursed with a small market and a declining customer base. Europe’s already volatile economy is hardly the place for a pseudo-upscale sedan like the Mondeo, as well as the S-Max crossover and the Galaxy minivan (which did have a slight uptick in sales this year).

Ford isn’t the first automaker trying to shed capacity, with Opel and PSA undertaking plans to shut down underperforming factories. And they probably won’t be the last either.

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Is There A Silver Lining Amid The GM Oshawa Closure? Fri, 01 Jun 2012 17:06:10 +0000

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.

The Consolidated line was originally set to close in 2008, based on plans drawn up in 2005. Demand for the Equinox and Impala meant that the line stayed open until now. The shutdown will occur in phases, with the third shift phased out in the fourth quarter of 2012, and the second shift ending in the first quarter of 2013. Production will end when the final current-gen Impala rolls off the line in 2013.

With the introduction of the new Impala and the Cadillac XTS, production will shift to the Oshawa “Flex” line that builds cars like the Buick Regal and Chevrolet Camaro. Currently, GM estimates that two shifts should be sufficient to meet demand for all cars, but, as a GM spokesperson noted

“…based on market demand and the introduction of the next generation Impala on the Flex Line, there may be a need for additional capacity in the future.”

GM also confirmed that despite some early reports, there were no plans to build the Impala at a re-opened plant in Alabama. Detroit-Hamtramck would be the sole venue for U.S. Impala production. Presumably, GM is banking on strong sales and a third shift at Oshawa to meet demand, and hopefully the workers who will be on “indefinite layoff” would get a crack at those jobs. Those who aren’t may be able to opt for a retirement package.

Once again, we’d like to thank Mikey and other readers who have shared their experiences at GM/Oshawa and invite them to contribute in any way they feel comfortable. Comments can be left below, and as always, we can be contacted at


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German State PM Tells Opel “Go West, Young Man!” Tue, 15 May 2012 15:46:30 +0000

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.

Hesse PM Volker Bouffier told Just-Auto that he, like the labor unions, would like to see Opel cars exported to other markets.

“I also advocate for Opel to sell cars worldwide – I do not see any reasons why the disposal should be restricted,”

As Bertel discussed yesterday, Opel’s efforts in China has amounted to little, and their successful forays have been into small markets like Israel and Turkey. Australia, Latin America and the Middle East have been cited as potential markets, as well as North Africa. But Australia already has Holden, and elsewhere, Chevrolet products are selling well in markets – like Latin America- where affordable vehicles are more popular than premium cars.

The main actor with some common sense appears to be PM Bouffier. Regarding the demands of the labor unions, who are looking to keep all the plants open, he also qualified his export statements by telling reporters

“Even though I take the concerns of the workforce very seriously, politics can only set the frame conditions for our economy.”

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Shuttered Canadian Plants May Help Big Three Ease Projected Capacity Crunch Tue, 08 May 2012 18:23:22 +0000

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.

The Globe and Mail article quotes a study, done by CAR (Center for Automotive Research) an industry think-tank in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as stating that capacity shortages will be a major issue by 2018. 2.6 milion units of capacity were eliminated during the 2008-2011 era, and with auto sales projected to rise for the Big Three through 2018, it’s likely that they’ll be scrambling for places to churb out vehicles.

The shortage will cause the Big Three to scramble for capacity, and make it difficult for the OEMs to coerce Canadian governments into subsidizing their operations with threats of closing plants and moving production to cheaper locales . The study claims that GM may be at risk of losing market share as early as 2015, if sales rise and production capacity remains constrained, leaving GM and Chrysler unable to meet demand and sell trucks to consumers.

Ford had previously threatened to close their Oakville plant unless they received a $1 billion investment from governments, but the Ontario plant, which builds crossovers like the Ford Edge, would be a poor candidate for closure as production constraints and demand for the Edge and other crossovers continues to rise. But The Globe notes that some kind of government assistance and concessions from the unions would be required to help keep the plant running.

For its part, the CAW would also be left in a stronger position during labor talks, since automakers would be averse to jeopardizing their already shaky situation with a work stoppage brought on by a strike. The Globe cited Chrysler’s Bramalea, Ontario plant as one target where a strike would be disastrous. The Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger have seen booming sales in 2012, and a strike that affected production of these cars would be disastrous for Chrysler.

As for the shuttered plants? The article suggests that GM’s Oshawa truck plant is a candidate for having production re-started, or converted to build unibody cars. No mention was made of the Ford St. Thomas plant, spiritual home of the Panther platform. Keep dreaming, B&B.


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Ford Adding Third Shift At Cleveland Plant, Workers From Closed Plant Filling Spots Wed, 02 May 2012 18:36:58 +0000

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.

It’s unfortunate that no net jobs are being added in the move, but the flipside is that production isn’t moving to Mexico or elsewhere, like so many other companies have chosen to do. The F-150 Ecoboost in particular has been a smash hit, and Ford is adding another shift at their Kansas City plant to meet demand for the F-150.

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Toyota Bumping Up RAV4 Production By 50,000 Units Annually Thu, 29 Mar 2012 15:02:27 +0000

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.

Toyota credited strong sales of the RAV4 in North America for the increase in production.What isn’t clear is whether the increase, scheduled to start in 2013, will coincide with the introduction of a new generation of RAV4. The current car has been on sale since 2005, at which point the car will be 8 years old. Antiquated technology, like a 4-speed automatic, is still used on certain models. Given the length of time it’s been on the market, a new car should be expected very soon, along with a RAV4 EV.

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Chrysler Hiring Up To 500 Temporary And Part-Time Workers To Build Dodge Dart Thu, 26 Jan 2012 16:42:26 +0000  



Chrysler will hire 400-500 new workers to help build the upcoming Dodge Dart compacts at its Illinois plant.  The workers will be added to the plant’s current shifts.

The positions will be part-time hourly jobs or full-time temporary positions. We imagine the UAW will have something to say about the use of temp workers. The union has yet to comment on the matter, but Chrysler also said a third shift may be added. The plant also builds the Jeep Compass and Patroit and will produce their replacement, which should bow in 2013.

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Jeep Grand Cherokee To Get Diesel In 2013, 1,100 Jobs Created Fri, 06 Jan 2012 19:56:48 +0000

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.

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UAW Fights Likely Plant Closures Tue, 31 May 2011 15:20:36 +0000

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…

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