By on August 23, 2019

BMW Spartanburg Assembly Plant Factory

The trade war between the United States and China heated up again Friday, with the People’s Republic pulling a U-turn on its treatment of U.S.-built vehicles. Come mid-December, China will hit inbound U.S. vehicles with a 25-percent tariff. Auto parts will see a 5-percent tariff.

The new — well, resurrected — auto tariffs are a reactionary measure, coming after U.S. President Donald Trump proposed, then delayed, the levying of a 10-percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods. While some import taxes will hit in September, the full range of tariffs is expected to come into effect on December 15th. China’s auto tariffs, first levied last year and lifted earlier this year as an olive branch gesture, are part of a larger raft of tariffs impacting $75 billion of U.S. goods. A 5- to 10-percent tariff hits non-auto U.S. goods on September 1st.

It’s no wonder every automaker wants to build Chinese-market vehicles within that country’s borders. (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2019

The closure of Flint, Michigan’s sprawling Buick City complex was emblematic of the destructive transformative forces at work in the American auto industry in the late 20th century and early 21st. The 264-acre facility was once the largest automotive plant in the world, a status that did nothing to ensure its continued survival. It closed for good in 2010.

Now comes word that the birthplace of so many LeSabres could sprout manufacturing jobs in the near future — 2,000 of them. Great news for Michigan’s automotive workforce and Flint’s coffers, but the plan won’t get off the ground without the Postal Service’s approval. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2019

Today marks the first entry into a two-part Question of the Day series where we’ll step back in time. The purpose of the journey? To fix the mishaps committed by automakers. First up are the missed opportunities.

(Read More…)

By on June 24, 2019

What would you call a car designed in France out of parts from a Jeep, then built in Portugal by a company which previously ceased to exist?

UMM.

(Read More…)

By on May 10, 2019

Volkswagen seems to be feeling pretty good about itself today. After announcing pre-orders for the ID.3 hatchback, the first vehicle from VW’s new electric sub-brand, the company reported it was already having issues coping with demand. Within 24 hours, the automaker said it had received more than 10,000 reservations throughout Europe, creating some extra work for its IT department.

“Sometimes, the IT systems are unable to handle the large number of users accessing the system at the same time,” VW said in a release. “This leads to long waiting times and interruptions in the registration process in some markets. Volkswagen is working hard to eliminate the hitches. Nevertheless, more than 10,000 registrations were received throughout Europe during the first 24 hours.”

While it sounds phenomenal, as the company repeatedly noted ID.3 demand is already exceeding expectations,  it’s nowhere near Tesla territory. But the American firm is somewhat of an outlier with an almost miraculous ability to get the public excited about new product and a longer history of EV manufacturing. By comparison, VW is still testing the waters — even though it has already agreed to preform a cannonball by 2025 and sell 1 million connected, zero-emission vehicles every year. (Read More…)

By on January 9, 2019

Brits have now been grappling with their Brexit situation for what now seems like an interminable amount of time, with no shortage of digital ink and political hot air spilled about the subject.

Looking past all the posturing, however, a disorderly departure from the EU could contain serious ramifications for companies making products in Britain, and fancy-pants Aston Martin has initiated a contingency plan to handle a “no deal” Brexit. Prepping for a worst-case scenario, the company is stockpiling cars in … Germany.

(Read More…)

By on December 6, 2018

While General Motors is busy “unallocating” some of its plants, Fiat Chrysler is opening a new one. How’s that for optics?

The company will reportedly convert an existing facility, the so-called Mack Avenue Engine II plant, one which began making small V6 engines in the year 2000 but was idled about five years ago. This new vehicle assembly plant is slated to make the three-row Grand Cherokee.

Wait, what?

(Read More…)

By on November 28, 2018

By a wide margin, the most important automotive-related news this week has been General Motors’ impending closure of five manufacturing facilities across North America. Accompanying the closures are losses of thousands of jobs and the discontinuation of six passenger car models over the next year or so.

Who’s to blame here?

(Read More…)

By on November 14, 2018

While the current-generation BMW 2 Series isn’t ready for the grave, the company intends to put its next incarnation into assembly by 2021. That’s ages away for a consumer but precious little time for an automaker to make production decisions.

Likely spooked by potential trade issues looming over the horizon, BMW is reportedly considering shifting the America-bound 2 Series to a Mexican plant — specifically, the company’s new San Potosi facility, home of the new 3 Series.  (Read More…)

By on May 14, 2018

All-new 2019 Honda Insight

The first-generation Honda Insight was a rare false-start for the company, marketed as a hatchback that had more doors than seats (three and two, respectively). Its atomic-egg styling enveloped a 67 horsepower 1.0-liter gasoline engine paired to a 10kW electric motor. The second-gen model, a more conventional car in terms of its styling and capacity, also fell a bit flat compared to the segment-leading Prius.

Honda’s betting the third time’s the charm, kicking off the mass production start of the all-new 2019 Honda Insight today at its plant in Indiana. Will this Insight electrify buyers or fizzle out? At first glance, it would at least appear they’ve got the styling right this time. Not everyone wants to shout that they’re driving a hybrid.

(Read More…)

By on January 10, 2018

India City Street

Every year, nearly 40,000 people lose their lives on American roadways. Tragic as that may be, it’s small potatoes when you consider India hovers around 150,000 annual fatalities. While you could attribute the difference to the 1.32 billion people living in the country, the truth is that car ownership in India is far less common than in the United States.

Here, there are about 255 million functioning vehicles, leaving the majority of the population with access to some form of four-wheeled transportation. However, in India, the number is closer to 55.7 million — which only gives 42 people out of every 1,000 access to an automobile.

Confronted with a situation that can only be described as catastrophic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to impose harsher penalties for traffic violations and requiring automakers to add safety features to cars sold within the region. While that’s a fine start, it doesn’t address the core issue: a nationwide lack of discipline behind the wheel.  (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2017

nissan emblem badge logo

Earlier this year, the big bosses at Nissan expressed their desire to grab a full 5 percent of pickup truck market share in the United States. However, chasing arbitrary targets has now fallen in favor of smart growth.

Still, lighting a fire under the brand seems to have worked, with Nissan moving nearly 1.5 million units in 2016, almost a million more annual sales than 15 years ago. With those numbers in mind, the company is acknowledging it’ll soon need a new assembly plant in America.

(Read More…)

By on November 4, 2017

Mahindra KUV100, Image: Mahindra & Mahindra

For the company’s sake, hopefully Mahindra & Mahindra’s second attempt to enter the U.S. market won’t go the same way as the first.

The Indian automaker is reportedly planning a 400,000-square-foot assembly plant in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, and has scheduled a press conference with government officials for November 20th. As we all know, local representatives and their higher-ups don’t like braving the cold unless there’s a promise of jobs and cameras.

A previous attempt to tap into the U.S. market went nowhere, ending in a lawsuit. If this plan comes to fruition, it would make Mahindra’s auto plant the first built in the Detroit area in decades — and would provide American consumers with some new SUV options. (Read More…)

By on November 1, 2017

Tesla Model 3

Tesla’s Model 3 production problems are well documented, including the recent firings/layoffs. Now we’re hearing that while Tesla has conceded it has production “bottlenecks” (and blamed some of the issues on suppliers failing to meet their deadlines), the company may also be shooting itself in the foot with mismanagement.

A TTAC reader with insider knowledge claims a design change to an aluminum frame component has idled production for nearly two weeks. In addition, an Indeed.com job posting from about 45 days ago sought temporary contract workers to program the robots on the assembly line.

That last bit is notable, as typically the hiring for that job would have wrapped up much sooner in advance of the production launch.

(Read More…)

By on October 17, 2017

FCA Brampton Assembly Line Challenger & 300 - Image: FCA

As the fifth round of NAFTA talks come to a close, Mexico and Canada continue to reject the United States’ demands regarding automobiles, diary, dispute panels, government procurement and the sunset clause. Among the more recent automotive proposals kicking up dirt is the U.S.’s wish to include steel in NAFTA’s tracing list and increase the mandatory local content of every car built in North America. The attempt has annoyed foreign officials and left the industry fretting about increased production costs and complexity.

The increasingly tense nature of the talks has left many wondering if President Trump will make good on his earlier threat to leave NAFTA. However, plenty of analysts are of the mind that a deal will eventually be reached between the three countries. (Read More…)

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