Category: Production

By on December 14, 2018

Image: GM

It won’t be a joyous Christmas for many General Motors workers. As it embarks on a wide-ranging cost-cutting plan, GM plans to cull six models and mothball five plants in the U.S. and Canada, eliminating up to 15,000 jobs in the process.

On Friday, the automaker said the process of notifying federal agencies of its plans has begun. It also offered up a glimmer for nervous workers. Read More >

By on December 13, 2018

2017 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Blacktop Package - Image: FCA

The only minivans coming out of Detroit these days aren’t actually rolling out of Detroit, but a plant a stone’s throw from the Detroit River, on the Canadian side. Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant, home to the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan, will go dark for two weeks starting on New Year’s Eve, presumably to manage inventories.

Short-lived shutdowns are commonplace at the plant, where workers assemble one of the newest and undoubtedly the oldest minivans on the market. The latter vehicle, while likely not having much of a future, certainly has a fan base. It’s not giving up on the model, and sales figures show it. Read More >

By on December 12, 2018

Image: GM

Two senators in Ohio, home to the unfortunate Lordstown Assembly plant, want answers from General Motors. Following the automaker’s announcement that it will withdraw the plant’s sole product — the Chevrolet Cruze — in March of 2019, leaving the factory’s remaining 1,500 workers out of a job, politicians on both sides of the border want to know what GM’s plans for electric and autonomous mobility mean for their constituents.

If GM’s truly planning on springing a wave of electric vehicles on American buyers, Congress wants assurances that American workers will build them. Read More >

By on December 11, 2018

2018 Ford EcoSport - Image: Ford

Russia, a large country covered mostly in taiga forest and tundra, still loves the Lada 4×4 (née Niva) four decades after its launch, but Ford’s EcoSport isn’t getting the same kind of affection four years after its launch.

Ford’s EcoSport, which burst onto the North American subcompact crossover scene at the beginning of the year, began production at a joint facility in Russia in 2014 but, as that country’s car buying climbs in the wake of a recession, buyers aren’t springing for the EcoSport like they once were. Ford’s throttling back production while claiming regular downtime. Critics blame the model’s price, as well as its diminutive size.

Surely no such critics exist on this side of the Atlantic. Read More >

By on December 5, 2018

Months of speculation fueled by the increasingly chummy relationship between Ford and Volkswagen has given way to new possibilities. The two partners, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding earlier this year, might leap further into bed than initially thought.

To hear VW CEO Herbert Diess tell it, the two automakers might soon share American assembly space. And can Tennessee expect a new plant? It’s on the table. Read More >

By on December 4, 2018

Oshawa Assembly, Image: General Motors

Despite ongoing turmoil in the country’s oilpatch, with the government of Alberta paying to have white Dodge Durango R/T SUVs project a constantly updating tally of money lost due to discounted Canadian oil prices onto the sides of downtown Ottawa buildings, the big economic story north of the border remains General Motors.

After squashing rumors of a plant closure during the last round of union bargaining, the automaker announced late last month that the city of Oshawa, Ontario’s worst fears would indeed come true. Oshawa Assembly will close by the end of 2019, leaving some 2,500 GM workers out of a job.

It’s not the kind of situation a newly minted company president wants to preside over, but that’s the plate Travis Hester was handed from the bigwigs in the Renaissance Center. Read More >

By on December 3, 2018

For two decades, the name “Prius” was all a committed Toyota buyer needed to know when searching for a compact hybrid vehicle. Soon, there’ll be two options, not counting the plug-in Prius Prime.

The automaker’s decision to offer a hybrid version of the still strong-selling Corolla was not made to usher its famed hybrid model into the shadows; rather, there’s two key reasons for it. Sure, the Corolla nameplate carries an enviable reputation and boatloads of name recognition, but Toyota’s also willing to admit that the Prius’ attributes just weren’t resonating with a certain segment of the American public.  Read More >

By on December 3, 2018

Hyundai Grille Emblem Detroit Auto Show, Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars 2017

Reservation holders of a base-model Tesla Model 3 aren’t the only consumers who’ve grown tired of waiting. Aficionados of the Hyundai brand have been champing at the bit for a Korean pickup ever since the delightful Santa Cruz concept debuted at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, only to see their dreams of ownership placed in a hazy limbo.

In October, Hyundai Motor Company CEO Wonhee Lee suggested the model still isn’t greenlit, despite earlier assertions to the contrary, with R&D still in the initial phases. With the brand’s U.S. comeback still an uncertain thing, top brass were on the fence about the model’s ability to carve out its own compact niche in the burgeoning downsized truck market. Now, we hear it’s totally a sure thing.

Oh, and there could be a Kia pickup, too. Read More >

By on November 28, 2018

2017 Ford Escape Assembly Factory Production, Image: Ford Motor Company

Have you heard about that other American automaker — the one that doesn’t callously ruin lives? This question, no doubt percolating inside the craniums of U.S. lawmakers and pundits, doesn’t need to be spoken to be heard.

What would normally be a simple announcement of a production increase at one plant and a decrease at two others took on a symbolic nature this week. Ford wants to build more large SUVs but requires fewer cars. Thanks to a quirk of geography, no layoffs are planned — something that can’t be said of GM’s scorched earth plan, right? Read More >

By on November 27, 2018

Image: GM

We’d love to create our own reality, but it’s not achievable. Not while other people exist. I’d prefer a vehicular landscape populated with vinyl-topped sedans and formal personal luxury coupes and regular cab pickups, but alas, the personal buying choices of millions of consumers have stymied those childhood dreams.

With a few rare exceptions, coupes are now the domain of ballsy muscle cars, not front-drive compacts. Sedans were vanishing even before GM’s Monday decision to cull half-a-dozen four-door models. Fiat Chrysler said goodbye to the compact and midsize field a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, Ford has no plans to populate the roadways with anything other than the Mustang and a bevy of light trucks in the near future.

Sad times for lovers of the traditional car, for sure. Still, General Motors’ decision to shutter underperforming plants in pursuit of higher-margin light trucks (and whatever EV or AV action the future holds) shouldn’t come as a surprise. One look at historical sales figures shows the writing was on the wall for General Motors’ crop of soon-to-be-discontinued sedans. Read More >

By on November 26, 2018

Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant Cadillac CT6 - Image: GM

But first, some Cyber Monday deals…!

Just kidding. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of that, God willing.

It didn’t take long for the usual suspects north of the border to respond to General Motors’ looming plant closures with ridiculous “solutions” — nationalizing GM Canada, for example, no doubt with the goal of repeating the successes of British Leyland in the late 70s and early 80s. Who could doubt the profit-generating prowess of the public sector?

Elsewhere, fiery rhetoric from autoworkers’ unions greeted news of GM’s plan to shutter five plants in the U.S. and Canada. But without new product allocations, and with demand for traditional sedans sinking fast, there’s little hope of seeing these facilities return to their golden days. Read More >

By on November 26, 2018

Image: General Motors

Heavy-duty streamlining has reached the production level at General Motors. After last night’s bombshell (though not unexpected) report claiming Canada’s oldest auto plant would cease operations late next year, more news is trickling out about the automaker’s production future.

Add Ohio and Michigan to the list of locales expected to lose an assembly plant. Read More >

By on November 16, 2018

Image: Toyota

You’ve seen teasers all week, suffered through breathless commentary from NASCAR drivers, but it’s finally time. The big day has arrived. On Friday, Toyota pulled the remaining wraps off its Camry TRD and Avalon TRD, highlighting the features of its tricked-out sedans ahead of their official debut at the LA Auto Show.

Jokes aside, the TRD treatment applied to this pair is more than just an appearance upgrade, even if buyers aren’t the recipient of additional ponies. Positioned as an aspirational model for those who want more from their sensible, front-drive sedan, the TRD duo is designed to hold the road and stop faster. They’re also made to draw eyes to two models that, despite their heritage, remain just as vulnerable to changing consumer tastes as other sedans.

But are these really “the track-tuned sedans that enthusiasts have been asking for,” as Toyota claims?
Read More >

By on November 16, 2018

Image: Toyota

The best-selling passenger car in America for the past 15 years isn’t selling like it once was, and it’s all your fault. With the car-buying populace increasingly wooed by do-everything crossovers and trucks, the Toyota Camry isn’t flying off dealer lots in the same volume as before, and, because of this, the automaker has made the decision to slow production of the mighty midsizer.

What are people buying instead of the Camry? A lot of things, but loyal Toyota owners are increasingly heading over to the RAV4 for their grocery-getting duties. Read More >

By on November 15, 2018

2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Culver City - Image: Cadillac

As one hat joins the wardrobe, another leaves the closet for a trip to the goodwill store. Cadillac’s flagship CT6 appeared at dealers in early 2016 with a range of powerplants in tow, most notably a plug-in hybrid promising 31 miles of gas-free driving. Big, traditional, American luxury sedans needn’t be dinosaurs, Cadillac said of the lightweighted plug-in.

Well, an asteroid just fell on a new, green Detroit. Read More >

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