With catalytic converter theft having risen by 300 percent across the United States through the summer of 2021, regions of the country that have seen crime rates dwarfing the already brutal national average have started to introduce laws designed to prevent the issue from getting any worse.
With supply constraints persisting within the automotive industry, the knowledge that a manufacturer has induced a production stall due to a lack of parts is hardly big news. Nobody seems able to source enough batteries and the semiconductor shortage has left automakers dealing with routine factory shutdowns. But Ford seems to be confronting one of the saddest examples we’ve yet seen and has confirmed that it’s delaying trucks – seemingly because it doesn’t have enough trim badging or Blue Ovals to go around.
Honda is reportedly considering tweaking its global supply chain to create a firm distinction between the Chinese and global markets. While the whole world has seen production stymied by restrictive protocols introduced in response to COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party has retained a zero-tolerance policy that appears to have totally upended its economy and resulted in continued factory stalls. That's bad news for several Japanese automakers that have stepped up their reliance on Chinese production.
Last year, roughly 40 percent of Honda's automotive production (which includes part sourcing) came through China. This year, the company is allegedly wondering how to tear itself away from the market without losing the ability to sell cars to its massive population.
Gazoo Racing (GR) has earned itself quite a bit of cachet since Akio Toyoda decided to make it the de facto performance arm of Toyota in 2009. It’s slowly supplanting Toyota Racing Development (TRD), which is still technically running the show but currently feels more like the manufacturer’s North American off-road racing division. GR has been producing global, models that actually provide enhanced performance and output from the factory while TRD has basically become the company’s in-house parts catalog.
However, Gazoo has some performance parts of its own and Toyota has been eagerly modifying the crap out of its vehicles as a way to tease them. The brand is now ready to start selling them and has re-released last month’s dual GR 86 concepts — designed to tickle the enthusiast community — with the relevant details.
Japan was struck by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake over the weekend. The Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures were hit the hardest, offering a physical reminder of the 9.0 magnitude quake that devastated the region in 2011. Scientists have claimed that Saturday’s tremor was actually an aftershock from the horror show that occurred a decade earlier.
While still a large systemic event, authorities aren’t reporting widespread injuries or even damages. However, many citizens were left without power and numerous industrial facilities were idled for inspection. This includes automakers, with Toyota making an announcement that it will be stalling nine factories for several days this week. Though only some of that time is needed for safety assessments. The automaker is fretting over a batch of suppliers that were impacted by the quake and is anticipating a parts shortage.
As it woos the UAW with health protocol and assesses suppliers to ensure their readiness when production resumes (whenever that ends up being), Ford Motor Company says a crucial component it needs for a great number of big-ticket vehicles will be there, too.
Hoping to get all of its ducks in a row before Michigan opens itself up for business, Ford had employees working feverishly in a state that contains no Ford plants.
A South Carolina assembly plant that took major damage from a tornado back on April 13th is making headway in returning to production. It’s still a long way from normal, but the plant’s promise of “limited production” in the coming weeks should be music to the ears of Ford, which relies on the Seneca, SC facility for components for its biggest-margin vehicles.
It still isn’t known when exactly Ford plans to restart vehicle assembly in the U.S., but May 18th has been floated as a possibility. In Seneca, the tornado-toppled BorgWarner plant, builder of transfer cases for 4×4 systems, could be back in business by that point. Sort of.
Ford Performance has expanded its catalog, adding tunes for the Mustang and Ranger that should make mashing the right pedal a tad more exciting. While the pony car kit is basically an extension of the staged Power Packs already on sale, just for the 2018-2020 model years, the Ranger package is rather novel — as this is the first factory tune available for the model in North America.
It also happens to offer noteworthy performance gains.
Mexico, the birthplace of many lower-end automotive offerings, could see plants go dark by the end of the month if the global supply chain doesn’t sort itself out. Specifically, that means China, a prolific producer of parts.
Production in that country has been stymied since major lockdowns enacted in late January to halt the spread of the emerging coronavirus pandemic left factories idle. And while the country has begun relaxing measures that kept workers away from plants, China’s manufacturing heartland has been slow to rebound.
ZF Friedrichshafen has agreed to supply Fiat Chrysler with its second-largest order to date. While top honors belong to BMW, FCA will be using the same eight-speed automatic transmissions sourced for the Bavarian-based applications. “Optimized for electrification” as per ZF’s press announcement, the gearboxes are designed for longitudinally mounted engines — including those utilizing hybrid systems.
Unless you’re still tooling around in a hand-me-down rig donated by your grandfather, chances are good you’re not in possession of a car outfitted with sealed-beam headlamps. That car might also have real 5 mpg bumpers, further insulating you from lofty repair costs.
For owners of newer cars, plenty of pain awaits after a fender-bender, though advances in passive restraints have relegated most of that pain to your wallet. After smashing through potentially thousands of dollars of camera and sensor gear housed in your bumper and grille, the next thing damaged in a low-speed, front-end impact is your headlamps. New figures from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveal what you’re likely to pay for a replacement. (Hint: it’s a lot.)
However, if you’re one of the few people who shelled out for a new Lincoln Continental this year, there’s good news here.
In a story that’s been developing for some time now, Fiat Chrysler is inching closer to shedding its component supplier, Magneti Marelli.
According to a report, a private equity firm is reportedly in talks with the automaker to buy the parts business. This is a shift in direction for FCA which, in the past, was seemingly focused on spinning off Magneti Marelli rather than completing an outright sale.
While old school BMW enthusiasts love to criticize their favorite brand for spoiling itself with electronic steering and sacrificing fun for technology, proponents of other automakers claim Bavarian Motor Works has flat out ruined itself. However, the truth of the matter is that BMW still offers an array of suburb performance vehicles that many still find highly desirable — especially if their name begins with the letter M.
Even if the brand can’t use “The Ultimate Driving Machine” quite so liberally in 2018, it would be an untruth to suggest the M division is ignoring the well-heeled enthusiast community. But it doesn’t hurt to have a physical reminder, so BMW sent a rolling example of its motorsport catalog to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The “M Performance Parts Concept” is based on the lovely little M2, which was recently replaced by the more hardcore M2 Competition, and serves as a reminder that the German automaker has a genuine interest in building highly competent performers — and will help you take them to the next level for a fee.
One day, if we’re lucky, we’ll see a documentary showcasing old Saabs in their natural habitat. The slinky 9-3 plying the interstate between Burlington, Vermont and the Connecticut coast, a valiant 9000 prowling between a Denver lawyer’s office and home, and a black 900 convertible sneaking up on a rural farmers’ market.
David Attenborough will handle narration duties.
Until that time, we can draw comfort that a conservation program exists to keep this extinct brand on the road. Started last fall by the defunct automaker’s official parts supplier, the warranty program means Saab owners in the United States, Britain, and the brand’s Swedish homeland can look forward to smaller maintenance bills in the future.
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- SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
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