Tag: production

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…)

By on June 1, 2017

Volkswagen Atlas in front of Chattanooga sign, Image: VW

Volkswagen’s sole U.S. assembly plant was spared any fallout from the company’s wildly expensive diesel emissions scandal, but the upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations could see VW throttle back its future plans for the facility.

The Chattanooga plant, which builds the Passat and Atlas, has seen $900 million in investment over the last couple of years. More models are anticipated, and the automaker said it expects the plant to reach full production by 2020. However, recent threats of an import tax to be levied on German automakers has VW brass in wait-and-see mode before sending any new models or money to Tennessee. (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2017

[2015 Mercedes C-Class, Image: Daimler AG]

Call it the Americanization of Mercedes-Benz. While the German automaker has assembled C-Class, GLE and GLS models in Alabama for some time (and, more recently, Sprinters in South Carolina), recent pressure from the Trump administration has led the automaker to reconsider what goes into those vehicles.

After being characterized by President Trump as “very bad,” it’s possible other German automakers operating in the U.S. could follow Mercedes’ lead in a bid to avoid further heat. (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2017

2017 Genesis G80 winter mountains - Image: Genesis Motors

Amid stagnating U.S. sales, a crash-dive in China, and a product lineup not optimally suited for growth, Hyundai is furiously crafting a salvation plan.

In North America and other utility-loving countries, the strategy is clear: more crossovers and a significant product shakeup. The little Kona is already on the way, though perhaps not as quickly as Hyundai had hoped.

China, however, presents a serious problem for the automaker. What was supposed to be a growth market for the company has now turned into the opposite. Hyundai’s share of the market has shrunk to 5 percent from last year’s 8.1 percent, which was down from years past. In March alone, after news of South Korea’s installation of a U.S.-supplied anti-missile defense system, Hyundai and Kia sales dropped 52 percent.

Determined to make the Chinese fall back into love, the automaker has a plan brewing. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2017

lansing assemblyl

As the clock counts down to the beginning of talks aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement, automakers in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada know one thing they don’t want to see changed — rules of origin.

Auto manufacturers must abide by minimum regional (NAFTA-wide) content rules in order for vehicles to remain free from import tariffs. President Trump’s proposed reforms aim to benefit U.S. companies, but could lead to greater costs heaped onto automakers — something no profit-minded company desires.

Naturally, automakers wants their feelings known well before the three countries get down to brass tacks. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

hyundai-kona-teaser

Hyundai, which found itself lagging behind its rivals in the lucrative crossover and SUV market and figured it should do something about it, is having trouble getting its desperately needed subcompact crossover into production.

The 2018 Kona, which we’ve so far seen only a portion of, is part of a better-late-than-never product push by the Korean automaker. A new small crossover was needed to to mine a growing segment and boost Hyundai’s flagging U.S. sales, but the reality of building cars in Korea has thrown up a roadblock. (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2017

General Motors Renaissance Center

In its global push for profitability, General Motors plans to yank the Chevrolet brand out of the hands of Indian consumers.

The automaker announced a wave of restructuring in overseas markets yesterday, a large part of which is the cancellation of nearly $1 billion in investment in India and the pull-out of its only brand. Until recently, GM had hoped to cater to the country’s growing middle class with a new line of region-specific Chevy models.

GM also plans to sell its South African division and cut back on staff in Singapore. The move will help the automaker free up money to funnel towards its biggest markets — North America and China. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2017

Chevrolet Traverse 2018

Like floodwaters pooling in a reservoir, unsold General Motors vehicles are getting close to breaching the dam. Not since November 2007 has the automaker held so many vehicles in reserve, though GM claims there’s nothing odd about the buildup.

With several updated models either imminent or on the way, it would make sense for GM to stock up in order to keep dealers and customers happy during production gaps. In this case, however, the numbers don’t seem to add up. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2017

2016 GMC Sierra with eAssist, Image: General Motors

General Motors hasn’t made an official announcement about the new product destined for Ontario’s Oshawa Assembly plant, only saying that pickups would be sent there for final assembly. However, much like with Ford’s returning Bronco and Ranger, it often comes down to union brass to spill the beans about product allocation.

In this case, the union representing both autoworkers and employees at a seat supplier has provided proof of Oshawa’s new product. Two truck models snatched out of Oshawa by GM’s 2009 bankruptcy will indeed return. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2017

[Image: Volkswagen/YouTube]

Lost amid the automaker’s newfound focus on bringing as many utility vehicles to global customers as possible, Volkswagen’s stalwart Jetta soldiers on without a diesel option, wearing more or less the same duds it donned for 2011. A mild — some would say unnoticeable — refresh came in 2016, but the Jetta’s U.S. sales have continued to slide at a remarkably steady rate ever since the current generation’s debut.

Naturally, Volkswagen wants to arrest the plunge. As part of its newly crafted product strategy, the automaker plans to find time for a new Jetta among all the crossovers. (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2017

The enduring popularity of the Chevrolet Equinox has led General Motors to some creative manufacturing approaches to keep up with demand. In addition to the crossoverÕs assembly home in Ingersoll, Ontario, GM runs a shuttle system that takes Equinox bodies to Oshawa, Ont., for painting and final production, Image: General Motors Canada

A General Motors plant once described as being on life support might not be out of the woods yet, but there’s a new ray of light at Oshawa Assembly — Canada’s oldest auto factory.

The plant’s supply of models has dwindled in recent years, with only the Chevrolet Impala and aging Cadillac XTS sharing space with the soon-to-depart Buick Regal. For years, Oshawa’s Consolidated Line handled final assembly of Chevrolet Equinox overflow models from GM’s CAMI plant, but supply will dry up this summer as the next-generation model becomes a CAMI-only deal.

Enter a hazy GM promise to deliver pickups for final assembly. While GM hasn’t confirmed that Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra models are destined for Oshawa, at least one truck certainly is. The first truck shift hasn’t yet begun, and already the local union is alerting workers to a second. (Read More…)

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