Automakers Take Stock After Major Metal Supplier Admits Selling Shoddy Aluminum

It’s often hard to remove an ingredient after the cake’s emerged from the oven. Because of this, news of Kobe Steel’s falsified inspection reports no doubt came with a fair bit of nervous collar tugging for executives at several automakers.

The Japanese company, which has subsidiaries in numerous countries, is a go-to supplier for the automotive and aircraft industries, providing steel, copper and aluminum components to companies as diverse as Ford and Boeing. Last week, Kobe admitted to selling substandard (or suspected substandard) materials to 500 companies, among them Ford, Volvo, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and possibly Mazda.

Oh, and Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, General Motors, Hyundai, and Renault.

Maybe you’ve heard of them.

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Ripples From Chevrolet Equinox Strike Force Slowdowns, Layoffs

The Chevrolet Equinox assembly line at General Motors’ CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, remains shuttered, and the impact from the dried-up flow of crossovers now extends across the border.

Unionized workers at the plant walked off the job Sunday night after their Unifor Local 88 bargaining team failed to reach a contract agreement with GM. Though the week began with marching and signs in Ingersoll, it ended with layoffs at an Ontario transmission plant and the promise of more in Michigan and Tennessee.

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With Mercedes-Benz Going Electrified, How Does the Company Avoid Tanking?

Everyone’s doing it. It’s as popular as the fidget spinner and Pokémon Go crazes all those [s]years[/s] months ago. In a rush to signal their environmental bonafides and display their dedication to the Next Big Thing, luxury automakers are tripping over themselves in an effort to promise an all-electrified model lineup as soon as technology and finances allow.

This time, it’s Mercedes-Benz. The world’s oldest car brand doesn’t want its rivals cashing in once governments around the globe start turning off the fossil fuel taps. So, earlier this week, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche stepped up and made a promise we’ve heard ad nauseum as of late: every model in the brand’s lineup will soon sport some form of electric propulsion, be it a hybrid setup or full-on battery electric powertrain.

For Mercedes-Benz, this means 50 hybrid or EV models, including at its irrelevant-to-Americans Smart brand. The move isn’t without a steep cost, however — Daimler is bracing for a slashing of vehicle profit margins. In some cases, the green collected from green cars could be half that of a gasoline Benz. What to do?

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This North Korea Thing Has Major Implications for Hyundai

Hyundai Motor Co. is squabbling with its Chinese partner, BAIC Motor, over efforts to reduce supplier costs. The automaker has already faced a myriad of problems with its Korean workforce and witnessed reduced volume in both China and North America this year.

However, its newest problem in the Far East isn’t simply a matter of tweaking its lineup. The issue also has political undertones as the North Korean missile crisis has pitted Beijing and Seoul at odds with each other.

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Ford GT Works Gummed Up as Company Issues Delay Notices to Customers

Handcrafted automobiles are a rarity these days but, if you add enough digits to the vehicle’s price tag, companies can still find a handful of buyers willing to fund the expensive production method. One model included on that short list is the Ford GT, the iconic American mid-engine two-seater assembled in Canada. With the help of Multimatic, Ford can usually slap one together every 24 hours under ideal circumstances.

Unfortunately, deliveries of the GT are starting to fall behind. It’s a little embarrassing, especially when you consider Ford only wants to build 250 a year, but it’s also entirely understandable, as a large portion of the assembly process seems to involve pushing the chassis around on a dolly through a mostly empty factory. You can’t rush perfection, and handcrafted perfection takes even longer.

At least, that’s what the automaker cites as the reason for the delivery delay.

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Pending Battery Armageddon Ready to Doom Future EV Production

Practically every major manufacturer is touting electric cars as the future of automobiles. There’s good reason to believe them.

With few exceptions, automakers are aggressively pushing toward battery driven vehicles to meet ever more stringent regulatory demands. Several brands plan on fleet-wide electrification within a few years and a handful already snub internal combustion engines entirely. But there may be a massive problem on the horizon ready to handicap the greener future many of us were prepared to embrace.

Volkswagen, a company that has been promoting its own electric revolution in the wake of its diesel emission fiasco, is anticipating a serious lithium-ion battery shortage by 2025. Based on targets of achieving 25 percent of Volkswagen’s total volume from electric vehicles in 10 years, Ulrich Eichhorn, VW’s head of research and development, dramatically increased projections made 13 months ago.

Previous estimates from the company had the number set at 150 gigawatt-hours of electricity.

“We will need more than 200 gigawatt-hours,” Eichhorn stated on June 30th during a presentation at Volkswagen’s proving grounds north of Wolfsburg.

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Honda Charges Up Its Electric Game With Joint Motor Company

Following early technological success in the electric car field, Honda entered the 21st century with a newfound aim to place hybrid vehicles in the driveways of global carbuyers. While rival Toyota’s hybrids have garnered the most headlines and sales, no one can criticize Honda (CR-Z notwithstanding) for the continued refinement of its electrified powertrains. Just look at the most recent Accord Hybrid or Acura’s growing list of performance-oriented multi-motor products.

Still, as fully electric vehicles began emerging on the scene, Honda found itself lagging behind. The Clarity EV, an electric version of its second-generation fuel cell vehicle, arrives this summer with a paltry 80-mile range. However, we’re promised much more in the year ahead.

As it moves forward with its EV plans, Honda also wants to have a stake in the supply of EV components to automakers — namely, electric motors. As of today, Honda and partner Hitachi have a name for their joint venture: Hitachi Automotive Motor Systems Limited.

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Irrelevant 'Most-American Car' Ranking Changes Criteria, If Only to Flesh Out Results

While there are some who still proudly use the old slogan “ Buy American,” the concept is only loosely applicable to automobiles. While you can certainly support American brands, every automobile on the road is an amalgamation of parts from all over the world — and has been for quite some time.

This year, the automotive research website Cars.com, which began ranking the country’s “most-American” vehicles in 2006, was forced to change its criteria after only three models qualified under the old system of measurement.

For 2017, Cars.com has added country of engine origin, country of transmission origin, and U.S. factory employment relative to a company’s sales to its previous criteria of American parts content and final assembly location. It was also forced to lower the overall percentage of domestic parts a car needs to qualify by a full fifteen percent — from 75 to 60 percent.

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Future-proofing: Cummins Wants to Sell You More Than Just Diesels

It’s hard to hear the name Cummins and not immediately think of a Ram pickup struggling valiantly to pull a gnarled tree stump out of the unyielding earth. Certainly, the company’s diesel inline-six and V8 engines are to the truck world what Nike is to professional sports.

While Cummins’ fossil fuel-powered engines and power systems show no signs of becoming passé, a company ignores the future at its own peril. The green revolution is afoot, we’re told, and internal combustion power will one day occupy the niche currently inhabited by electric propulsion. With this in mind, Cummins has a plan.

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U.S.-Built Mercedes-Benz Models to Become More American

Call it the Americanization of Mercedes-Benz. While the German automaker has assembled C-Class, GLE and GLS models in Alabama for some time (and, more recently, Sprinters in South Carolina), recent pressure from the Trump administration has led the automaker to reconsider what goes into those vehicles.

After being characterized by President Trump as “very bad,” it’s possible other German automakers operating in the U.S. could follow Mercedes’ lead in a bid to avoid further heat.

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Ask Jack: Just Once, Can't We Figure Out What We Keep Doing Wrong?

It’s time to refill the hopper on the questions that keep you awake at night. Send them to askjack@calamarco.com. Help me help you. If you’ve sent me a question and you don’t yet have an answer, feel free to send it again or just remind me to look for your email. You would be amazed at the volume of correspondence I get every day, most of it from people who want to learn how to get press cars. Why would you ask me that? Ask a mommyblogger.

With that out of the way, let’s get to a question that, truthfully, should be asked a lot more often than it currently is being asked, both by customers and manufacturers.

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Tread Trends: GM Switches to Artisan Tires Using Sustainable 'Green Rubber'

General Motors has announced it will choose “sustainable natural rubber” for the 49 million tires it buys each year. The automaker claims it is establishing a set of buying principals to ensure sustainably harvested materials and is encouraging other automakers to follow suit in a bid to reduce deforestation.

It won’t suddenly make driving your Chevrolet good for the environment, but it should give drivers bragging rights — allowing them to claim their tires killed fewer critters before even getting the opportunity to run any over.

However, environmental smugness is occasionally warranted. With tire manufactures representing 75 percent of the natural rubber market (according to the World Wildlife Fund), an overall shift toward sustainability would provide a measurable impact on deforestation. But what is General Motors getting out of this move and what will the price of environmental awareness be?

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Keep Us In Business or We'll Blow Everything Up: French Supplier to Automakers

They do protests a little differently in France. A French supplier of brackets, bumper and steering column components to Renault and PSA Group might soon close down for good, so the shop’s unionized employees figured it would be best to turn its protest efforts up to “11.”

That apparently means destroying the equipment used to make those essential parts, as well as threatening lives by rigging the factory to explode.

So. Much. Passion.

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Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Head North After Eight-Year Absence

General Motors hasn’t made an official announcement about the new product destined for Ontario’s Oshawa Assembly plant, only saying that pickups would be sent there for final assembly. However, much like with Ford’s returning Bronco and Ranger, it often comes down to union brass to spill the beans about product allocation.

In this case, the union representing both autoworkers and employees at a seat supplier has provided proof of Oshawa’s new product. Two truck models snatched out of Oshawa by GM’s 2009 bankruptcy will indeed return.

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Mitsubishi Electric Fined Millions for Role in Auto Parts Bid-rigging Conspiracy

A major auto industry supplier has found itself on the receiving end of a multi-million-dollar fine north of the border, following an investigation into an international bid-rigging conspiracy.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice leveled a fine of $13.4 million against Mitsubishi Electric on Tuesday for its role in the illegal agreement. The supplier pleaded guilty to three charges, making it only the most recent Japanese supplier to face expensive justice for landing a juicy — but dodgy — parts contract.

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  • Tassos Why do you ask, "will this work for CHEVY"?? Who cares if it does not work for them? The question is, "will this work for GM as a whole, and for the Corvette brand in particular, and the answer is a resounding YES.
  • VoGhost I don't really care about sub-branding. I care about great product. GM should focus less on the branding and more on the great product part of the equation. Barra was appointed CEO on the premise of 'no more boring cars'. It hasn't worked out that way.
  • 28-Cars-Later Tim - I seriously did not log in just to complain but this site is completely jacked up now from a website design perspective. I always whitelisted for ten years but I had to turn on No Script because its just so horrible now, and with it on the layout looks even worse. I'm truly stunned by the callous design choices coming from on high, just wow.
  • 28-Cars-Later Corey I need talked down here:https://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/cto/d/pittsburgh-1999-cadillac-eldorado-etc/7561280135.htmlI talked to the seller, he said his father had it sent to a specialty shop to had the head bolts done which is the main design flaw in these. I need another car like I need another hole in the head... still...
  • Lou_BC The birfield joints on these older units tend to need a rebuild and are very expensive to replace.