By on May 22, 2020

2020 GMC Sierra 2500 HD SLT

While General Motors earned the right to resume production in Mexico on Thursday, parts procurement in the gradually reopening North American economy remains a serious roadblock.

U.S. plants came online May 18th following two months of pandemic-prompted downtime. Of topmost importance to all members of the Detroit Three are their hot-selling pickup lines, though UAW- and state-approved health protocol calls for a slow ramp-up, with all plants operating on reduced shifts. Parts supply will dictate those ramp-ups; in GM’s case, boosted pickup production in the Midwest will have to wait. (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2020

Mexico spent plenty of time discussing the phased reopening of automotive plants last week. The presumption was that the nation would have to establish guidelines for industrial work zones that would allow some to resume production after May 18th, with timing coinciding with U.S. facilities that will be in desperate need of parts and vehicles. However, last minute changes left everyone wildly confused.

On Thursday, the Mexican government said the industrial sector wouldn’t be eligible for reopening until June 1st. The following day, it explained that the date didn’t actually mean much for automotive outfits, adding that companies could reopen at any time if they verified an adherence to new safety protocols. Thanks to another announcement over the weekend, most of the residual confusion has subsidized. Mexican facilities can reopen, provided they have the correct paperwork on file. (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2020

fca

As predicted, supply issues are hampering the automotive industry’s relaunch. The good news is that practically everyone on the planet understood this would be a problem, but it’s undercut by the preliminary damage created by coronavirus lockdowns.

While automakers had sizable cash reserves with which to endure an economic shutdown, many suppliers did not. Small part suppliers have struggled with liquidity as larger equipment manufacturers try to figure out how to ramp up production and address their own supply headaches. As it turns out, shutting down an entire economic sector is a lot easier than restarting one after it’s been kneecapped. (Read More…)

By on May 13, 2020

Mexico is considering reopening factories after May 18th, now that automakers and the U.S. government have requested it resume production at plants serving the American market. With supply chains needing time to catch up, vehicle assembly will be precarious until parts can be reliably sourced. And Mexico is an essential part of that industrial recovery plan, necessitating some light coordination with the United States.

Despite seeing a spike in new COVID infections, Mexico released a plan to ease restrictions on Wednesday. Making sure U.S. manufacturers have what they need has been incorporated into that strategy, with a few conditions. While industrial employees will soon head back to work, Mexico made no assurances that it will prioritize supplying the rest of North America with automobiles or their components.  (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2020

Reports indicate Tesla has idled production in Shanghai, despite plans for the facility to resume production this week. Workers had been given time off for a five-day break that incorporated China’s International Workers’ Day (May 1st), with production expected to resume on the 6th. However, the facility made the surprise decision to remain closed.

Staff have been informed that the facility will not reopen until May 9th, according to inside sources. While this may lead one to wonder if the factory has found itself at the epicenter of a new coronavirus outbreak, there’s likely another explanation. Local outlets report Giga Shanghai as suffering from part shortages. (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2020

gm

Your author can’t explain why his neighbor purchased a new Chevrolet Blazer Premier, but he can understand why General Motors felt the need to insert a new crossover between the Equinox and Traverse. CUV white space = $$$, I think the famous equation goes.

With this in mind, the existence of the new Chevrolet Trailblazer, slotted between the Trax and Equinox, is equally understandable. Boasting a brace of three-bangers and more space and MPGs than a Trax, the decidedly non-BOF Trailblazer serves as a larger stepping stone to the Chevy brand.

Timing, however, was not the Trailblazer’s strong suit. (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2020

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) and Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) have issued a letter to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer saying they’re ready to start delivering components to manufacturers.

Despite Detroit automakers signaling a readiness to resume production, Whitmer has extended stay-at-home orders through May 15th — lifting some earlier restrictions on business and travel. However, the automotive industry still doesn’t have an official date to get things moving again, just a series of business plans outlining a gradual ramping up of production once lockdown mandates end.

Suppliers say that isn’t good enough. They want a clear-cut pathway toward industrial redemption. (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2020

2018 Lincoln Navigator

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. (Read More…)

By on April 29, 2020

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. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2020

ford

An outbreak of tornadoes through the Gulf states and into the Southeast early last week saw one twister shatter a sprawling BorgWarner assembly plant. Known for building all-important transfer cases for four-and all-wheel drive vehicles, the Seneca, SC facility lay in near-ruins  following the direct hit, though it wasn’t known which manufacturers sourced components from the plant.

Well, it turns out one recipient of Seneca-built parts is Ford — and it uses a lot of them. (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2020

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. (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2020

fca

As the global health crisis pivots toward becoming an economic one, the automotive industry is understandably eager to know when it can begin producing cars again. The situation isn’t going to be as easy as throwing open a few breaker boxes and giving the thumbs up. A mile-long list of problems, many of which lack easy answers, will first have to be tackled before things return to normal.

Supply chains will be slow to move — and potentially severed — as other nations wait longer to walk back social distancing measures. Not all factories will resume operation at the same time, and not all parts suppliers or shipping agencies will have made it through the coronavirus pandemic intact. It’s also uncertain how quickly customers will return to the market. In tougher financial times, customers may remain hesitant in making large purchases; meanwhile, localized quarantines will undoubtedly continue suppressing sales in certain markets. Then we have the elephant in the room — the vast amount of money this colossal reboot is going to require.  (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2020

Subaru Legacy 2018 Logo Emblem Grille

Subaru is joining the long list of automakers closing shop on account of the coronavirus. Japanese production is being suspended at the automaker’s main plaint in the country’s Gunma prefecture from April 11th through the first of May. It’s also idling the Oizumi engine facility as it announces plans to extend the suspension of its U.S. facility in Indiana. The plant will now be idled through April 20th.

While some of the closures are due to social distancing obligations, the rest is down to parts allocation. Subaru is heavily reliant on components manufactured in China, and it’s still not clear how things are actually going there. What is clear is that Subaru (and plenty of other manufacturers) can’t do without its robust industrial sector operating at full strength. Subaru CFO Toshiaki Okada said in February that “it’s impossible to manufacture cars without China.”  (Read More…)

By on February 26, 2020

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.  (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2020

infiniti nissan factory japan

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. (Read More…)

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