AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Back in 2009, customer satisfaction with major automakers reached an overall ranking of 84 out of 100 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). That mark has been reached again this year, showing that new car buyers are satisfied with major automakers.
Job security in the automotive industry has been questionable for many workers, though in last two years, things have begun to turn around, and now auto companies are hiring once again.
Ohio Governor John Kasich and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon made a visit to Detroit this week during the North American International Auto Show in an effort to bring U.S. automotive manufacturing to their respective states.
John Kasich said, “Contrary to popular opinion, the auto industry is getting stronger.” Ohio currently possesses the second-largest automotive industry work force in the nation behind neighboring Michigan. Home to Chrysler Group, Ford Motors and Gerneral Motors, Michigan also is the home to most of the world’s automotive parts suppliers. It is also in Michigan where government regulators are tasked with policy making in auto safety, emissions and fuel economy.
The chief engineer of Honda Research and Development in Detroit, Toshiaki Shimizu said, “People may have the wrong idea. Detroit is not becoming less important. It is more important. It remains the center of the automotive industry. We all come here because we must.”
Well aware of Michigan’s relevance, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon spoke to a number of auto executives to reach agreements that prove to be mutually beneficial. Ford committed to $1 billion over a span of four years to upgrade Ohio’s driveline manufacturing plants. Honda will invest $400 million in improvements to its Ohio facilities to prepare for the production of its new Acura NSX hybrid sports car. Chrysler will add another 1,100 jobs and invest $1.7 billion into its Jeep plants of Toledo, Ohio. GM continues to build its Chevrolet Cruze in the Lordstown, Ohio, plant and will put in another $204,000 to upgrade its Toledo transmission plant.
On his first day in office, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon assembled the Automotive Jobs Task Force to attract investments to the state. In October, Ford announced that it will spend $1.1 billion and add another 1,600 workers to assemble the Transit van alongside the F-150 Ford pickup trucks at the Kansas City, Missouri plant. GM will also invest $380 million into its Wentzville, Missouri plant, adding another 1,660 jobs as it expands assembly to include the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.
Nixon explains, “we are here not just to talk to the manufacturers, but also to the suppliers. As the manufacturers invest and production rises, we are asking the suppliers what we can do to help them make the investments they need to make to support this.”
[Source: Detroit News]
Living up to it it’s rogue reputation on vehicle emissions, California is once again locking horns with automakers regarding upcoming smog and fuel economy standards, specifically its Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) plan.
The Golden State’s plan, requires auto manufacturers to achieve significantly increased sales of electric or hybrid vehicles (up to 14 percent by 2025, from the current 1 percent of all cars and trucks sold in CA) or risk hefty fines; however the industry says that having differing regional standards simply complicates matters and would rather have California fall in line with a national proposal of fuel economy standards which, incidently automakers achieved with 2012-2016 targets.
“A single national program allows us all to devote our maximum efforts on focusing on carbon dioxide reductions rather than devoting efforts to the extra challenges of meeting a patchwork of state regulations,” declared Wade Newton a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
However legislators at the California Air Resources Board have said they are planning to stick with their original plan, even though it has been modified seven times since 1990.
“We need to get on a path where advanced technology vehicles dominate and we have no intention of backing away from ZEV,” stated CARB’s chief deputy executive officer Tom Cackette.
Further complicating matters are requests by auto manufacturers for a ‘graduated’ schedule of national fuel economy increases, instead of yearly increases as proposed by the Obama Administration. In addition, a lack of EV infrastructure in many cold weather states, would make the California targets, currently adopted by nine other US states including New York and Massachusetts (where cold, snowy winters are a way of life), very difficult to achieve.
Interestingly, all 10 states that follow the CARB ZEV plan, currently represent 30 percent of the entire US vehicle market, which means that hefty fines resulting from failure to meet the ultra stringent requirements will likely be passed onto consumers in the form of significantly higher vehicle prices, which could result in greatly reduced overall demand for new cars and trucks.
The Obama Administration has said that it wants to propose national fuel economy standards by September this year, around the same time CARB is planning to update its own. However, given the current state of bickering between automakers and legislators, it appears both sides still have a long way to go in order to reach a solid, worthwhile agreement.
[Source: Automotive News]
In an official press release, the Renault-Nissan Alliance stated that the office will “build staff organically, to focus on specific projects and business developments as they emerge.”
The office is part of the automaker’s $5.4 billion commitment to sustainable transportation and will play an integral role in vehicle Information Technology research, including graphic user interface displays, in-car connectivity features already employed on the Nissan LEAF EV (shown above) as well as Smart Grid R&D.
Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, during a speech at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), said that “the [Renault-Nissan] Alliance is at the vanguard of the auto industry’s shift to sustainable transportation. Having a greater footprint in one of the world’s headquarters for clean tech research will extend our lead further.”