Lordstown Lost: General Motors Offloads Shuttered Chevy Cruze Plant
That didn’t take long. With General Motors now in possession of a ratified four-year labor agreement, a plant the automaker closed down earlier this year, and one it had no intention of restoring to its past glory, is out of its hands.
Ohio’s Lordstown Assembly, which fell victim to dwindling passenger car sales (by the time of its closure, the facility was operating on one shift — down from three earlier in the Chevrolet Cruze’s life), has been sold to Lordstown Motors Corp., the automaker said Thursday.
Like GM's Current Midsize Trucks? Good, Because Colorado and Canyon Are Hanging Around Until 2022
General Motors evidently hopes you like the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon the way they are.
The midsize truck twins, which arrived in second-generation form nearly three years ago, won’t be replaced for another five years.
The Name Game: Volkswagen's Manly Crossover Hero is Called 'Atlas'
A figure of Greek mythology with very strong back muscles will find his name plastered on Volkswagen’s upcoming three-row crossover.
According to Automobilwoche, German affiliate of Automotive News, Volkswagen has decided to name their high-hopes, Chattanooga-built model the Atlas.
Dodge Challenger Gains All-Wheel Drive This Fall
The Dodge Challenger is well known for fouling empty parking lots with smoke-belching burnouts, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles clearly feels its muscle coupe needs four-wheel traction.
Horsepower lovers in northern climes are likely celebrating the news (reported by Automotive News) that the Challenger will gain an all-wheel-drive variant.
Ford Planning a Mustang to Take on Hellcat and ZL1 in 2018
Ford plans to add top-shelf muscle to its Mustang lineup and take the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 down a peg.
Spy photos of a camouflaged Mustang variant published by Motor Authority shows a winged, high-performance beast that should appear in 2018. The existing Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 is a hot number, but its power output doesn’t measure up to its Detroit competition.
Can Hyundai USA Sell 50,000 Copies Of The Santa Cruz Per Year?
In a sense, the debut of the Santa Cruz Concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this past January was surprising because of its level of production readiness and execution. On the other hand, to those who were aware Hyundai had for years been contemplating the idea of a pickup truck, the Santa Cruz wasn’t a shock at all.
Now, with word that Hyundai is likely to soon green-light production, the case for marketplace success is quickly called up for debate. Even with the arrival of new midsize pickup trucks from General Motors, the non-full-size pickup truck market remains relatively small at just 15% of the overall pickup truck category and 2.2% of the overall industry’s volume through the first four months of 2015.
What Can The Chattanooga CrossBlue Do For You?
Dodge Brand Phase-Out Watch: There Will Be No Dodge Viper
Once upon a time, the Dodge brand was brimming with pride. In the mid-to-late 1990s, Dodge had it all: affordable compacts, big front-drive cruisers, the hottest trucks on the market, and of course, the Viper. And when the times were good, all of those part melded into one brash, exciting, quintessentially American brand. From Neons and Intrepids, from Rams to Vipers, Dodge could do it all, as long as “it all” included a healthy dash of in-your-face attitude. But over the years, as Dodge’s shining moment faded into memory, the brand has managed to become both less viscerally appealing and less well-rounded. And when Fiat’s leadership stripped Dodge of the Ram “brand,” shucked its designs of their truckish cues, and repositioned Dodge as a more “youthful” and “refined” sporting brand, it seemed as if Dodge as we knew it was dying. Since hearing of Fiat’s plans to bring Alfa stateside, and with Dodge appearing to have lost out in brand alignment product battles, we’ve been wondering for some time now if Dodge isn’t headed out to pasture. Now there’s even more evidence that Dodge is being hollowed out en route to replacement with Alfa, as Automotive News [sub] reports
Absent from the redesigned SRT Viper will be the name Dodge… Viper has been linked to Dodge since the Dodge Viper RT/10 concept debuted in 1989. The first Dodge Viper SRT-10 went on sale in 1992, and over the years 28,056 Vipers were produced, according to Chrysler.
Not any more. Essentially, SRT becomes a brand with its own vehicle, in this case the SRT Viper.
That’s right, Dodge won’t have a Viper or a Ram (or, more prosaically, an Avenger or Caravan). Some might argue that, absent these components, the Dodge name doesn’t mean much of anything anymore. Certainly it doesn’t seem that Dodge can have a particularly bright future without any links to its last moment of glory.
Mustang In "Misery" As Mazda Goes Mexican
Mazda has confirmed [to Reuters via Automotive News [sub]] what has been rumored for a while (especially in the Mexican media): open a new plant in Guanajuato, Mexico, near VW and GM’s Silao facilities. Production starts this fall and the line starts rolling in 2013, according to “people familiar with the matter.” In the meantime, Mazda6 production at the Flat Rock, MI joint venture plant continues until mid-2012, at which point Mazda will make a decision that it’s still “studying,” but it won’t be building the Mazda6. Interestingly, Mazda’s new Mexican plant is only being built for “at least” 50k units of
compact cars, initially for sale in Mexico and South America, and eventually export to North America.
Could the next-generation of Mazda midsizers be hecho en Mexico as well? It’s possible, but we won’t know until Mazda announces more details about the new factory. Meanwhile, nobody’s expecting Mazda to hang around Flat Rock… least of all Ford.
Are You Ready For: A Neo-xB… With A Twist?
See that? Looks a bit like a first-generation Scion xB, doesn’t it? It’s actually a new Kia, codenamed “Tam,” built on its new A-segment Picanto Morning platform, but featuring first-gen xB-style tall-body MPV packaging. The Picanto’s wheelbase is actually slightly smaller than the xB’s, and there’s another key difference here as well: see that rear door? Look where the handle is placed. That’s right, it’s a slider! But that’s not all…
Impala Production Shifts To Detroit, Creates "Nervousness" In Oshawa
When I visited GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant back in October, I was greeted with a few surprises. One was a small fire that flared briefly on my sweater after a cinder from the Volt’s body-welding station struck me. The other was the sight of GM’s latest, most high-tech green car being assembled on a line that was filled with GM’s oldest-school dinosaur cars, the Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne. The scene was no doubt intended to inspire appreciation for the changing face of GM, but the scarcity of Volts amid the oceans of giant front-drive barges (production was just beginning) made it clear that it would be a while before Volt production would occupy much of the sprawling facility. With the DTS and Lucerne headed for retirement, the new 2013 Malibu will be taking up residence at Detroit-Hamtramck later this year, even as Volt production capacity is increased to hit next year’s 60k unit goal. And now GM is announcing that the next generation of Chevy Impala will be built at Detroit-Hamtramck as well, leaving folks in Oshawa saying “eh?” (or words to that effect).
Are You Ready For: A Smaller Sprinter?
Ford sold 8,834 Transit Connects in 2009, with sales of the small, Euro-style panel and passenger vans hitting 27,405 units last year. With 9,852 already sold in the first third of 2011, it seems the original German delivery van-slingers in the US market, Mercedes, are taking notice of the segment. The Dodge-branded Sprinter, a larger vehicle, saw peak sales of 21,961 back in 2006 has seen sales fall dramatically in recent years, and in 2010 Mercedes wrestled the vans back to its brand, only to sell a meager 8,599 (a nearly 1,500 unit improvement over Dodge’s last year with the product). In other words, the lesson of recent US-market Euro-style delivery vans seems to be that bigger (i.e. more direct competition with American BOF offerings) is not better.
Wild-Ass Rumor Of The Day: Ram Developing Minivan-Based Compact Pickup?
When Chrysler Group Design boss Ralph Gilles said yesterday that “nothing has changed from the Five Year Plan,” I failed to mention one of the issues that made his statement less than entirely accurate: the planned “mid-sized pickup” which was supposed to debut as a 2011 model. The planned unibody pickup was labeled as “under consideration” at the time, and since nobody has mentioned it since (and because Honda’s Ridgeline has been losing sales), most industry watchers seemed to think the idea was stillborn. Not so, reports wheels.ca. Citing insiders and suppliers briefed on the program, Wheels says the new truck will be built in Windsor, Ontario on Chrysler Group’s minivan platform as
an insurance policy that the plant will continue on three shifts at full capacity.
Which isn’t as thrilling a justification as, say, “the compact pickup market has been shamefully neglected for years, and rising gas prices and CAFE standards make well-developed, modern, fuel-efficient pickups a no-brainer,” but it will have to do. And since Chrysler is reportedly targeting only 15k-20k units per year, it’s not particularly surprising either. In honor of Chrysler’s return to front-drive, compact pickups, be sure to check out the Curbside Classic on its progenitor, the Dodge Rampage.
Fiat Five Year Plan: More Profit From Ferrari, Cheaper Maseratis
Given Ferrari’s pricing politics, it seems safe to assume that Ferrari/Maserati is a fairly profitable enterprise for its 85 percent owner, Fiat. Indeed, with over $2.5b in combined revenues last year and an 11.5 percent operating margin, the Italian sportscar brands aren’t exactly dying of economic downturn-related causes. But at today’s presentation of Fiat’s five year plan, CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed that his firm has big plans for Ferrari/Maserati, and gave unprecedented planning details as proof of the brands’ path towards even greater profitability.