Tag: production

By on August 17, 2017

last-viper

It’s a wrap on the Dodge Viper. FCA’s flagship supercar just rolled down the assembly line for the last time. In production from 1992 to 2010 and from 2013 through 2017, we’re hoping this is just another three-year hiatus for the snake. But, as production is ending indefinitely, we have no way of knowing if that will be the case.

What is assured is that the Viper’s current incarnation is over. Ralph Gilles, FCA’s head of design, posted a series of photos on social media documenting the vehicle’s last two production models as they made their way out of Detroit’s Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, the Dodge Viper’s home since 1995. (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2017

2017 Honda Civic hatchback - Image: Honda

The lifespan of an average car-model usually lasts a half-decade before the automaker shells out for a full redesign, unless it’s a Nissan Frontier or Lincoln Navigator. That’s more or less the rule at Honda when it comes to the top-selling compact car in North America, the Civic.

While the eighth-generation Civic soldiered on for a lengthy six years, Honda sold the preceding seventh, sixth, fifth, and fourth versions of the model for either four or five years. Thanks to a boring design and lackluster reviews, the automaker spirited the ninth-gen model off of dealer lots after just four years, but not before adding extra content and style via an emergency 2013 model year refresh.

We’re now hearing the current generation — larger than ever before, radically redesigned for 2016, and a sales leader in a shrinking segment — won’t see a full redesign until the 2022 model year. That’s a six-year stretch. A stretch where automakers will be scrambling to hold on to compact-car market share in a land flush with small crossovers. (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2017

Nissan Titan XD assembly plant, Image: Nissan

The United Auto Workers spared no effort in its attempts to organize foreign automakers operating in the United States, but the workforce — and the South, for the most part — remains off limits to the union.

Yesterday, workers at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi assembly plant voted overwhelmingly to reject the UAW’s overtures, spelling an end to a heated, nearly decade-long unionization bid that saw the union file complaints with the National Labor Relations Board. Both sides have accused the other of dirty and unfair tactics aimed at swaying worker sentiment towards or against organized labor. Both sides, of course, deny any wrongdoing.

The UAW, which failed in two previous attempts to unionize Nissan’s Tennessee plant, described Nissan’s Mississippi efforts as one of the “nastiest anti-union campaigns in the modern history of the American labour movement.” Ultimately, it all came down to the vote. (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2017

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

The production Tesla Model 3, revealed in full at a Friday evening handover ceremony, is an impressive vehicle, but it’s also the California automaker’s most important vehicle. With 220 miles of range in stripped-down base trim, or 310 miles for the starting sum of $44,ooo (the only version available at launch), the curvaceous sedan has no shortage of fans. It’s also facing no shortage of threats.

The company’s future as a mass-market “disruptor” of the American automotive landscape hinges on the Model 3’s trouble-free production at Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant, as well as timely deliveries to the half-million reservation holders. Unforeseen quality issues, a breakdown in the supply chain, or worker strife could all conspire to give the vehicle — and company — a black eye.

After a year spent giving investors everything they wished for, the company’s once-skyrocketing stock isn’t on the same firm ground as before. The first trading day after the event reflected this. Investors are nervous about a number of things: the model’s easily inflatable price, the company’s extremely lofty production target, and CEO Elon Musk’s repeated mentions of “hell.” (Read More…)

By on July 26, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Chattanooga - Image: VolkswagenJune 2017 was only the Volkswagen Atlas’s first full month on sale in the United States, but the Atlas, still ramping up inventory, already accounts for more than half of Volkswagen’s U.S. utility vehicle sales. In fact, the only Volkswagens that sold more often than the Atlas in June were the Jetta, Passat, and (if you count all variants together) the Golf.

2,413 units is not a terribly impressive number, although it’s stronger than what the Mitsubishi Outlander, Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9, and Volkswagen’s two other utility vehicles managed last month. But the rate at which Volkswagen is building the Atlas at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, assembly plant suggests dealers are only beginning to see just how many copies of the Atlas they’ll soon have to sell.

Will there be buyers? (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2017

Ford GT Job 1, Image: Sam VarnHagen for Ford

Handcrafted automobiles are a rarity these days but, if you add enough digits to the vehicle’s price tag, companies can still find a handful of buyers willing to fund the expensive production method. One model included on that short list is the Ford GT, the iconic American mid-engine two-seater assembled in Canada. With the help of Multimatic, Ford can usually slap one together every 24 hours under ideal circumstances.

Unfortunately, deliveries of the GT are starting to fall behind. It’s a little embarrassing, especially when you consider Ford only wants to build 250 a year, but it’s also entirely understandable, as a large portion of the assembly process seems to involve pushing the chassis around on a dolly through a mostly empty factory. You can’t rush perfection, and handcrafted perfection takes even longer.

At least, that’s what the automaker cites as the reason for the delivery delay.  (Read More…)

By on July 3, 2017

2017 Hyundai Tucson - Image: Hyundai

Since 2009, Hyundai’s North American volume has seen record sales every single year. While the last few annual assessments haven’t resulted in the same volume boom as the immediate post-recession years, the company hasn’t seen any shrinkage — despite below-average incentive spending and a lineup that doesn’t exactly sync with the region’s evolving automotive tastes. Hyundai dealers are probably singing the brand’s praises and getting its logo tattooed on their staff then, right?

Not quite. While Hyundai has achieved nearly a decade of growth in the Wild West, dealers are growing increasingly disappointed with its tactics and are less than enthused about future business prospects — especially as it doesn’t appear Hyundai has any interest in scaling back car volume for the sake of SUV sales.

In fact, while both the Hyundai Elantra and Sonata remain higher-volume models, both have undergone a noticeable delivery decrease since 2012. Meanwhile, sales of utility vehicles like the Santa Fe and Tucson have nearly doubled in the same timeframe. Hyundai put 62,817 Tucson SUVs onto North American roads in 2012, and that figure rose to 113,502 last year. It could have been more, had the company been better at supplying those vehicles.  (Read More…)

By on June 27, 2017

2017 chrysler pacifica hybrid

Conflicting reports claim Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has either restarted, or is poised to restart, production of the Pacifica Hybrid minivan in Windsor, Ontario.

This comes after a tumultuous month for the automaker’s headline-grabbing plug-in minivan. First, a voluntary safety recall saw all Pacifica Hybrids built to date recalled for faulty inverter diodes, following incidents in which several vehicles lost power while underway. The recall then led to the shadowy shutdown of hybrid minivan production. (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (left) and Chrysler Pacifica (right) - Image: FCA

Despite being lauded for its high level of content, smooth ride, and all-electric range, Chrysler’s plug-in hybrid minivan has hit a large roadblock. After voluntarily recalling all Pacifica Hybrids due to a safety defect that could see the minivan go dark at inopportune times, it seems the assembly line has ground to a halt in Windsor, Ontario.

A recall earlier this month saw Fiat Chrysler Automobiles call back 1,368 vehicles in the U.S. and 309 in Canada following complaints of loss of propulsion. The issue reportedly stems from defective inverter diodes. While the wonky electrified powertrain hasn’t resulted in any crashes or injuries, electrified cars that suddenly stop sending current to the motor aren’t something customers or the automaker can tolerate.

It’s a serious stumble for FCA’s green halo car. (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2017

2015-Ford-Focus-06

Ford has plans to halt production of the compact Focus — a one-time juggernaut of a model — for an entire year. But wouldn’t you rather talk about the upcoming Ranger and Bronco?

Of course you would. You’d rather buy one, too, if only the resurrected nameplates were already on lots. Back in 2002, when Limp Bizkit was still on the charts and frosted tips hadn’t entirely disappeared from the hair scene, Ford unloaded 243,199 Focus cars to U.S. buyers. Compare that to the first five months of 2017, where 67,146 Foci left dealer lots in a marketplace where passenger car sales are falling like Brent crude prices in 2014.

It’s against this backdrop that Ford plans to temporarily pull the plug on the Focus. While there’s good reason for the shutdown, the automaker doesn’t seem all that concerned about it. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2017

ford focus st, Image: Ford Motor Co.

There’s a good chance the next Ford Focus you purchase will have arrived via a slow boat from China. Despite abandoning assembly plans in Mexico earlier this year, Ford Motor Company has decided the next-generation model will remain an import, now by way of Asia.

Current Focus production in Wayne, Michigan will be eliminated in the middle of next year to make way for Ford’s upcoming Ranger pickup (in late 2018) and Bronco (in 2020). The automaker assures hourly workers they won’t suffer from layoffs resulting from the changeover, but admits to prioritizing its U.S. assembly plants for trucks and SUVs — vehicles Americans will actually buy. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2017

Carlos Ghosn

Since acquiring Mitsubishi in 2016, the Renault-Nissan Alliance has found itself in the midst of Volkswagen and Toyota’s struggle for the title of World’s Largest Automaker.

At the end of 2016, VW was still on top but momentarily ceded ground as Toyota amped up volume in early 2017. Compared to last year, the Germans saw sales fall a half-percent in the first quarter of 2017 as the Japanese companies recorded more stable growth. But CEO extraordinaire Carlos Ghosn believes Renault-Nissan has what it takes to fill the top spot before the end of the summer.

While it would be a privilege to tell you that Ghosn entered a darkened room illuminated by a single spotlight to announce the time for the Alliance to crush its enemies was now, the reality was far more tame. The shareholders meeting was adequately lit and Carlos stated, without malice, that becoming the world’s largest automotive superpower is more of an inevitable accident than an intentional conquest. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Grille logo, Image: General Motors

General Motors has decided to further shrink its outgoing fleet of rental vehicles to prioritize its in-house vehicle lending service, Maven, and focus on getting newer cars to customers. That does mean building fewer vehicles overall, but GM shouldn’t care if it can keep raking in the profits — something rental fleets aren’t particularly good at in lower volumes, unless you’re the one charging a daily rate.

Alan Batey, president of GM’s North American operations, claims sales to rental fleets should drop by about 50,000 units this year and an undisclosed amount in 2018. It follows the company’s trend to scale back fleet sales in general. Big businesses accounted for 16.1 percent of its total U.S. sales in 2014, but that was reduced to 11.7 percent in 2016.  (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2017

2017 Bolt, image: General Motors

General Motors will begin selling the Chevrolet Bolt nationwide in August, a month earlier than it originally planned. While California power nerds like Bill Nye and Steve Wozniak received their EVs months ago, GM’s rollout schedule hinged on dealerships getting their ducks in a row before the rest of America could gain access.

“We were waiting for the training to be done, we were waiting for the right tools to be in place,” Steve Majoros, Chevy’s marketing director, said at a media event. “We are kind of ahead of schedule on implementing all of those things as well as making sure we have enough sufficient inventory.”  (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…)

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