Twister Trashes BorgWarner Plant; Volkswagen Receives Close Call

Powerful tornadoes ripped through the U.S. South and Southeast late Sunday and into the early morning hours of Monday, leaving behind a toll in human lives and property damage that’s still being assessed.

As the country — and world — suffers through the many disruptions borne of the coronavirus pandemic, one can’t forget that more conventional natural disasters, in all their power and fickleness, are capable of wreaking havoc on industries and supply chains, too.

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Mexican Production Under Threat As China Struggles to Come Back Online

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.

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Report of Forced Labor Has Automakers on the Defensive

In a report that harkens back to the grim days of World War 2-era Germany, several automakers are accused of benefiting from forced labor.

An Australian think tank claims upwards of 80,000 Uighurs, a persecuted ethnic minority in northwest China, have been transported from state-run re-education and internment camps to the factories of Chinese suppliers. Among the companies said to benefit from the forced labor are Apple, Sony, Nike, Volkswagen, BMW, and General Motors.

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Dark, Contagious Clouds Gather Over the Auto Industry

With South Korea, Italy and Iran now reporting growing coronavirus outbreaks, it looks like this is going to be one of these long-haul illnesses that sends everyone to the store to stock on up on milk and bread. As you might have guessed, automakers have continued issuing warnings as the virus’ range continues to expand. On Wednesday, Toyota announced that its Japanese plans will undoubtedly be impacted by parts shortages over the next few weeks as Chinese suppliers remain dormant.

The worst of the outbreak is still located in Wuhan, where the virus is spreading out toward China’s coastal cities. Reliable figures for the number of people affected are difficult to come by. The Communist Party of China (CPC) and World Health Organization (WPO) both claim China had this one in the bag, with new cases always reported as “slowing” — an assertion you would be forgiven for doubting. COVID-19 seems anything but under control. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told U.S. citizens to prepare for the worst as the stock market stumbled over fears of a global pandemic.

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Final Piece Falls Into Place at Lucid Motors

First came the renderings, then the concept car, then the money, then the factory, then the braintrust. Now, Lucid Motors has a supplier to power it all.

On Monday the Silicon Valley electric vehicle startup, which hopes to shake up the premium EV market with its plush and powerful Air sedan, announced a partnership with a trustworthy battery maker.

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Japan Readies Auto Industry for Coronavirus Complications

Yep, we’re still talking about the damned coronavirus. But how could we not, with the situation being obfuscated from all sides as the outbreak just seems to worsen? Both Japan and South Korea have reported their first deaths relating to the virus; meanwhile, the unsettling theory that 2019-nCoV was created in a Chinese laboratory has grown by leaps and bounds.

While the mainstream media has dismissed this as an unfounded conspiracy, loads of circumstantial evidence published by reputable sources leave one wondering. Our favorite is that the exotic meat market initially pegged as the disease’s point of origin was across the the street from (get this) a viral disease laboratory. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) has repeatedly pushed for the virus’ origin to be found, saying “We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases,” only to be framed as an alarmist crank.

There was also a Chinese coverup (similar to SARS) that kicked off when police detained eight doctors in Wuhan for attempting to warn the public of a potential outbreak. The point here is that nobody seems ready to give (or even search for) answers in China. Naturally, this has left people confused and scared, rather than just scared.

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Bad Omen: Shutdown Extended in China's Manufacturing Heartland

If you recall our piece from yesterday, automakers like Nissan are counting on Chinese workers to return to their factories on February 21st, thus preventing a widespread parts shortage that could idle plants on a global scale. That date would be the first day of resumed work in Hubei province following a government-mandated shutdown of all facilities — a tactic aimed at halting the spread of novel coronavirus.

If workers return Friday, the thinking went, the supply chain disruption currently afflicting the world’s automakers won’t be too bad. Well, bad news.

China now says Hubei won’t come online until March 11th.

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GM Downplays Virus Threat to Lucrative Truck Lines

We’re not talking about a digital threat here; no, it’s more just one more headache caused by the viral outbreak rampaging through the Chinese manufacturing heartland — the source of so many components crucial to domestic auto production.

At General Motors, a supply chain disruption is the last thing the company needs after weathering an expensive 40-day strike at its U.S. plants last fall. The automaker is now attempting to allay fears of idled plants in the wake of an ominous social media post.

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This Stings: Coronavirus Comes for the Fiat 500L

Of all the production upsets born of coronavirus-caused supply chain disruptions, the idling of Fiat Chrysler’s Kragujevac, Serbia assembly plant is certainly not near the top. Not for American consumers, anyway.

The automaker announced Friday that the plant, home to the unloved Fiat 500L, will be offline until sometime late in the month. If U.S. inventory suffered, would anyone notice?

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Ripples From Virus Outbreak Hit Korean Plants

Automakers — and their accountants — are playing the wait-and-see game as the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow in China, throwing the assembly of crucial vehicle components into disarray.

Korean automaker Hyundai has now announced its domestic plants have gone dark, citing supply chain disruptions born of the virus and the aggressive lockdowns enacted to curtail its spread.

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Virus Doesn't Bode Well for an Already Ailing Market

Just as airlines around the world cut ties with China, automakers who do business in the coronavirus-hit country are scrambling to deal with the outbreak — delaying production, keeping employees at home, and crossing their fingers.

Any predictions that 2020 would be a better year than 2019 — a potential springboard year for automakers busily tailoring their lineups to better serve the rapidly evolving Chinese market — are now due for revision.

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Suppliers, Unite: BorgWarner to Buy Delphi Technologies

This new era of electrification has caused many an automaker to eye a competitor’s business, and suppliers are no different. Announced Tuesday, BorgWarner has decided to buy Delphi Technologies, uniting the two businesses to better capture the growing market for hybrid and electric vehicles.

The powertrain giant pegs Delphi’s enterprise value at $3.3 billion, making this acquisition its largest to date.

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Report: Battery Shortage Has Mercedes-Benz's Newest EV Struggling to Clear the Tower

The countdown to Mercedes-Benz EQC production last year was preceded by stories about the model’s anticipated range and uncontroversial styling, but when the time came to get EQCs into the hands of buyers, the electric crossover had trouble leaving the launch pad.

Not long after reports emerged of the EQC’s U.S. arrival being delayed by a full year, a German outlet claims Mercedes-Benz has chopped its 2020 production target in half.

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Joint Battery Plant a Go for Down-on-its-luck Lordstown

A battery plant mentioned in General Motors’ recently ratified UAW labor contract will soon become a reality in the hard-hit city of Lordstown, Ohio. That locale recently saw the lights go out at GM’s Lordstown Assembly, which closed its doors this spring after the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Cruze. The plant’s now in the hands of a fledgling electric automaker.

On Wednesday, GM announced the spending of $2.3 billion and the creation of 1,100 jobs in Lordstown — a necessary move to supply the automaker with battery packs for its electric vehicle push.

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Already Crunchy Ford Goes Even More Vegan

Always the innovator in creating car parts out of plants that aren’t trees, Ford Motor Company plans to burnish its green cred with a new building material: a composite created partly from dried coffee bean husks.

Following the automaker’s soybean experiments of the early 1940s, Ford adopted soybean-based foam for its seat cushions back in 2008. Now, coffee chaff will help add strength and lower energy use for the manufacture of headlight housings and other components. Its supplier partner on this project? McDonalds.

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  • Sayahh Story idea or car design competition: design a compact sedan, a midsize sedan, coupe and/or wagon specifically for people 6'4" through 7'2". Not an SUV nor a crossover nor a raised chassis like the US Toyota Crown or Subaru Outback.
  • Sayahh I only check map app only when absolutely necessary and only at a red light. An observation: lots of ppl leave 2 car lengths (or more) between themselves and the car ahead of theirs so that they can text or check the internet (because they are afraid they might roll forward and hit the car in front of them?) This drives me crazy because many ppl do it and 3 cars will take up almost 7 car lengths and ppl cannot get into the left turn lane when it's bordered by a cement "curb." Worse is when they aren't even using their phone and have both hands on the stewring wheel and waiting for the green light. Half a car length is enough, people. Even one car length is too much, but 3 or 4 car lengths? At 40 MPH, maybe, not at 0 MPH please.
  • 6-speed Pomodoro My phone never leaves my pocket while driving. This is fine in my daily with bluetooth and also fine in my classic car, but people get mad in a hurry that I'm ignoring them.
  • BklynPete Maverick has had recalls but overall seems reliable. Consumer Reports recommends it for whatever that's worth, buyers think they're better than sliced bread, they're sold out, and look like a long-term success.I suppose you're right that DCT can be laid at Mulally's feet too but as COO Fields was in charge of product. When he got Mulally's job, Fields brought back mgmt siloes and lost shareholder value. Maybe Fields took the fall for other's bad decisions. But ultimately as CEO the axe had to land on him. I cannot believe that Farley won't meet the same fate if 2023 warranty claims make Ford lose money again.
  • Inside Looking Out All that is BS. Nissan just tries to buy time. By 2028 every Tesla will have fusion reactor under the hood. Commercial fusion reactor is under development as we speak 5 miles away from my home in Sandia labs in Livermore.