Toyota Pauses Production at 9 Plants Following Weekend Earthquake

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.

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Ford Bronco Production Delay Update: May 3 is Target Date

Late last year we reported that thanks to the coronavirus and its impact on suppliers, Ford Bronco production would be delayed, saying “customers will receive a delivery window in May 2021. First customer deliveries will now begin in summer 2021 instead of spring 2021.”

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2021 Ford Bronco Delayed Until Summer 2021

The automotive world’s most anticipated product is now delayed again. No, not the All-New Ford EcoSport. In a communication to dealerships, Ford confirmed that the 2021 Ford Bronco would be delayed until Summer 2021. The rollout change was forced by COVID-19 challenges that some of Ford’s suppliers are facing. In a communication sent to dealers that a tipster provided to TTAC, Ford also provided an update on some Bronco options.

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New Details Emerge for Rivian R1T, R1S Configurations

Details of the upcoming Rivian R1T and R1S electric vehicles leaked just hours ahead of the company sharing some equipment options for the various trims and announcing that the online configurations (allowing you to build your own) will launch on November 16th.

As of now, Rivian’s plan involves offering identical trims for the R1T pickup and R1S SUV — splitting the two body styles into Adventure and Explorer packages. While the former is a bit more upscale, both come with a panoramic roof, vegan upholstery, and are big on connectivity. Wi-Fi is embedded and allows for Rivian to issue over-the-air updates. There’s also the First Edition model, which is effectively a gussied up version of the Adventure going to true believers that booked their EVs well in advance.

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Toyota Plots Record Production Push to Counter How Crappy 2020 Has Been

Toyota is reportedly seeking to supercharge vehicle production to record levels in the latter half of 2020 as a way to help offset how lousy the rest of the year has been. Its previous six-month record was achieved in 2015 and resulted in 4.53 million sparkling new automobiles. But Toyota would like to eclipse that this year and is targeting 4.6 new vehicles between July and December, with the biggest assembly push coming in the final quarter.

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Tesla Takes $331 Million in 5th Consecutive Profitable Quarter

Tesla continued to prove itself as the electric automaker par excellence by posting its fifth profitable quarter in a row on Wednesday. The California-based (for now) automaker reported a net income of $331 million and a 39 percent improvement in revenue to $8.8 billion.

Of course, a huge amount of that money came via regulatory credits Tesla sold to its rivals. By nature of being an EV manufacturer, the company was able to sell $397 million in environmental absolution while helping its own bottom line. Though third-quarter deliveries were quite strong as automotive revenue jumped 42 percent to $7.6 billion.

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2020 Chevrolet Corvette Production Resumes, Gold-Chain Set Relieved

Last week, we told you a parts shortage had halted production of the Chevrolet Corvette C8.

Now the lines are rolling again.

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GM Runs Out of Corvette Parts, Production Paused

The C8 Chevrolet Corvette has certainly seen its share of hardships. Despite the vehicle receiving almost unanimous approval from those fortunate enough to get some cockpit time, it has been subject to numerous delays through no fault of its own. Union negations held last fall resulted in a 40-day UAW strike that pushed assembly of the mid-engine Corvette from the tail end of 2019 to the start of 2020. Of course, this butted its launch up against a global pandemic that forced General Motors to shut down production facilities for two months. Shutdowns likewise affected parts suppliers who were also made subject to government restrictions, causing bottlenecks across the industry.

Combined, these issues have forced GM to reduce the number of planned options. Many parts were proving too difficult to source with any reliability and the cars have become notoriously difficult to procure. While the manufacturer has said it would continue building the 2020 model year for as long as possible, supply is unlikely to meet demand until 2021. But the headaches haven’t abated just yet; GM has been forced to stall production on the C8 this week after running out of the necessary parts.

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Ford Ending Production of Mustang Shelby GT350/R

Even the most capable of race horses eventually reach that day where they’re taken out behind the stables to be shot or stabbed — whatever happens to them after they’ve passed their prime. The same is true in the automotive realm, with the only difference being that the cars are not eventually turned into food for my cat.

Ford has decided to end production of the track-focused Mustang Shelby GT350/R this year. Introduced in 2015, the model uses a 5.2-liter “Voodoo” V8 with a flat-plane crankshaft for some of the nicest naturally aspirated action money can buy. On the current model year (which will also be the last) 526 horsepower is sent through a Tremec six-speed, with performance further aided by a transmission cooler, limited slip rear axle, track-worthy suspension, upgraded Brembo brakes and super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber.

If you’re one of the few individuals who needs a good track-day vehicle, you could certainly do worse. And now you’ll have to because dealer orders already ended.

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U.S. Vehicle Inventories Exceptionally Lean Going Into Fall

Not that it should be any surprise with pricing creeping up, but U.S. vehicle inventories are some of the lowest we’ve seen in roughly a decade. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get a solid estimate on supplies as many automakers no longer have the balls to conduct monthly reports, at least not any they’re willing to share. The few that still do have been a little light on the lot, however.

Going into fall, we’d expect to see supplies around the 60-day mark with about a quarter of those vehicles representing the upcoming model year. Mainstream brands seem to be running with a lot fewer cars this month. On Monday, Automotive News estimated that September was probably representing the lightest industry-wide supply of vehicles since October of 2011. Meanwhile, Cox Automotive has the industry sitting on 56 days worth of cars — noting that national inventories shrank to 2.26 million vehicles, or about 870,000 fewer from the year before.

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Frunk Yeah: Lucid Air Debuts, Starts at $80,000

Minus an unpleasant amount of virtue signaling, the Lucid Air debut was pretty good. But this is technically a commercial so what else could we have possibly expected? Lucid is an electric vehicle brand so it’s required by law to succumb to the growing list of EV clichés. Building this car the way Lucid does won’t just be better for the environment, “it will be better for all mankind.” We need to rally together because the world is ending. This startup is changing by building an extravagant automobile — that was the gist of the presentation anyway.

“We’re a California company,” explained the car’s interior designer. The Golden State was apparently so important that the interior color palates are based entirely on the way the sun plays off California’s various regions at different times of the day. They even held the event on the state’s birthday and made sure to mention it.

You get the idea. It started out a complete drag. And yet the car itself was quite interesting and the technical portions of the presentation excelled at explaining why someone might actually want this car over literally everything else that’s on the market right now.

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Nissan Announces 'Breakthrough' in Carbon Fiber Production

Once reserved for aircraft and the world’s most expensive sports cars, carbon fiber has been gradually wriggling its way into the mainstream. On Thursday, Nissan announced it had whipped up a method to manufacture carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) more easily and shorten production time by around 80 percent — adding that it planned to take advantage of the material in order to build increasingly lightweight cars.

The manufacturer also suggested the new process will reduce the cost of manufacturing CFRPs, addressing the industry’s favorite excuse for why they don’t use it more often. That said, the financial inconvenience of implementing carbon fiber is really a byproduct of how labor intensive it is. Most parts are laid into molds one layer at a time with the help of an expert and use vacuum pressure to ensure the resin sets evenly, since they can’t be machine pressed. Yet Nissan felt stamping was the way to go with carbon fiber and claims to have figured out how it should be done.

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UAW Slams GM for Allowing Office Staff on Assembly Lines

Alleged absenteeism stemming from the coronavirus outbreak encouraged General Motors to place salaried volunteers on assembly lines in Wentzville, MO. This has not gone over well with the UAW, which suggests GM’s decision to utilize non-union staff is in direct violation of its 2019 labor contract. The union claims white-collar workers have no business being on assembly lines and has issued a formal warning to the automaker.

Established in 1983 as a stamping and production facility, the site is currently responsible for General Motors’ full-size vans (e.g. Chevrolet Express) and midsize trucks (Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon). The facility has room for 4,560 employees — most of whom are hourly. Those employees are split between the the usual three shifts, with GM claiming difficulties in keeping them populated.

In July, the company said it might have to reduce the plant to just two shifts before pressure from outside convinced it otherwise. This led to the automaker seeking about 200 temporary workers and placing ads with local outlets.

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Lone Sprinter: Daimler to End Freightliner Badge Job

Mercedes-Benz’s Sprinter commercial van has worn several badges, but come the end of next year, there’ll be only one. As the automaker works to slim down its sprawling global lineup, the lesser-known Freightliner variant will cease production.

Manufactured via knock-down kits in South Carolina, the Freightliner van, like Dodges of yore, will fade to black, but Sprinters will remain in the M-B stable.

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Report: Sun to Set on Mini Cooper Drop-top

Going topless is becoming increasingly difficult for new car buyers. Soon, the only convertibles on the North American market will be dedicated sports cars, and there’ll be precious few of those, too.

This depressing statement stems from a report that claims the next-generation Mini Cooper will say goodbye to its convertible variant, leaving the brand with far less whimsy than before.

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  • Ajla GM didn't do this even when Corvette sales and cocaine use were at their peak.
  • Dwford How many more wealthy performance car buyers does Chevy think they can drag into their showroom full of middle of the road crossovers? I guess they will find out
  • SCE to AUX It's been done before, with varied success:Ford --> LincolnHyundai --> GenesisGM --> XLR (Cadillac), ELR (Cadillac)VW Touareg --> Porsche CayenneI suspect GM is trying to avoid the Mustang fiasco (which is working for Ford, BTW), by not making the Corvette name a sub-brand - only its hardware.(In the Mustang's case, YTD 46% of "Mustang" branded vehicles are the Mach-E, but they share no hardware. GM's plan is much different and less controversial.)Back to the sub-brand: the XLR and ELR experiments were total duds, borrowing hardware from the Corvette and Volt respectively. Both sullied Cadillac's name - not Chevy's.
  • Art Vandelay I don’t care what they do with the brand. But I do want to see how a mid engined platform spawns a 4 door and a crossover
  • Varezhka If they’re going to do this, might as well go all the way and make it a standalone brand instead of a Chevy sub-brand. They already have a unique emblem, after all. Shouldn’t there be enough empty former Hummer, Saab, or Cadillac dealer showrooms to house them?