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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.
 |  Apr 15 2011, 4:55 PM

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Hyundai and Kia remain unscathed by the parts crunch that is affecting Japanese auto makers, with both companies running their United States-based plants at full capacity and overtime shifts to help meet demand at certain plants.

“We’ve been fortunate,” Robert Burns, a spokesman for the Hyundai plant in Alabama, told Left Lane News. “Our parts development team is closely monitoring all our suppliers, but at this point there’s been no disruption.”

Toyota, Subaru and Honda announced significant cutbacks to their production schedules at North American plants due to parts shortages, and this development has left Hyundai and Kia, already riding a wave of good fortune, in an even better position to capitalize on a currently rebounding market and changing perceptions about both brands.

 |  Apr 13 2011, 4:08 PM

Mere days after the world’s largest automotive microchip producer struggled to avert a production crisis due to their factory being disabled by the March 11th earthquake in Japan, the second largest producer of automotive microchips is now said to be abandoning their own factory in the area and is looking to add capacity at other plants.

Freescale Semiconductor Inc had prior plans to close their plant, located near the epicenter of the earthquake in Sendai, but decided to forgo repairing the damage sustained by the plant due to its severity. Since the target for the closing was December of this year, Freescale had already begun preparations for closing the plant, including stockpiling parts, but the disruption will still have significant repercussions for the industry. Freescale controls about 20 percent  of the market for microchips. A Chandler, Arizona plant operated by Freescale will help the company fill demand in the interim.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Apr 11 2011, 1:15 PM

While much of the automotive industry is watching what car manufacturers have to say about production shortages in Japan, a key supplier of microchips is transferring production from their battered facility in Japan’s earthquake zone, to seperate facilities in Japan and Singapore – but the move could cause months long delays of crucial components, halting production for a number of vehicles in the process.

Renesas Electronics Corp controls 41 percent of the marketplace, and their chips are used in everything from engine control units, parking brake systems, stability control programs, in-car entertainment and power steering systems. Even one missing part can cause production lines to shut down, and these crucial parts may not ship for as long as 4 months from now. Replacing these components is especially difficult, since they are often designed to work with specific vehicles from the outset. Furthermore, bureaucracy and other administrative processes involved with changing suppliers adds even more time and complexity to the task, wasting precious time.

Automotive News cited the Lexus LS460, a technology intensive vehicle, as one of Renesas’ biggest projects, with 80 percent of its microchips coming from the firm. A shortage of these chips would cripple production of the car, and this phenomenon is not isolated to Toyota alone. While Toyota refused to comment specifically, it is known that they have compiled an inventory, and found 150 crucial parts that did not have a guaranteed supply.

The result of this situation, as well as other manufacturers and suppliers facing similar problems could spell chaos for an industry already prone to feeling the effects of secondary events like rising gas prices or a lack of consumer credit. In the same way that these factors torpedoed the American car industry on the demand side in 2008, these issues could pose a similar problem on the supply side for Japan’s own auto industry.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Apr 08 2011, 3:47 PM

Toyota is the latest automaker to adjust their North American production schedules, with plants idling on April 15, 18, 21, 22, and 25. Toyota’s engine and component factories will follow a similar schedule, while their Georgetown, Kentucky facility will remain open on April 21.

Employees at the plants will have the option of report to work for training programs, use vacation time or take unpaid days off. While Toyota claims that 85 percent of their parts are sourced from North America, the fact is that one missing part, no matter how inconsequential, can halt an entire production line for indefinite periods of time, and this phenomenon is something that will be a common occurrence during these next few months.

 |  Apr 08 2011, 3:14 PM

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General Motors will idle their Arlington, Texas plant due to a parts shortage, although details were not given as to what the specific issue was.

The factory builds vehicles like the Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade. A UAW representative told Automotive News that two 10-hour overtime shifts would be cancelled. So far, the standard 10-hour shifts from Monday to Thursday appear unaffected, although the overtime hours have been a constant at the plant for over a year.

A GM spokesman said that the shifts would be “rescheduled” although further details were not provided.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Apr 08 2011, 11:45 AM

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Honda plants in North America could be operating at well below capacity as a shortage of parts from Japan threatens to cripple the automaker’s output for as long as 90 days.

Speaking with Automotive News, Honda’s executive Vice-President John Mendel estimated a 60 to 90 day slowdown, with 30 days being an optimistic forecast. Honda has already cut production in half at 5 of its 6 North American plants due to a parts shortage, and 90 percent of Hondas sold in North America are assembled here. While 600 of its 710 suppliers are based in North America, a single missing part can result in a production stoppage.

Mendel highlighted the dire situation in Japan, stating ”In some places, they are still recovering bodies. And even if you have a warehouse full of finished microchips, the roads are ruined, and you are in the radiation zone. What are you going to do?” Honda is estimated to have a 47 day supply of vehicles, and the company is also monitoring parts order by dealers to make sure that hoarding and other shady practices do not occur.

Honda currently imports the Fit and CR-Z from Japan.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Apr 06 2011, 3:15 PM

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While Ford and General Motors have both seen plants shut down due to the natural disasters in Japan, and the resulting impact on the country’s auto parts industry, Chrysler‘s vehicle production has remained unaffected by these events.

“We have not experienced any disruptions to regularly scheduled production as a result of the issues in Japan,” said Chrysler spokeswoman Katie Helper.

While some overtime shifts have been cancelled to preserve parts, and a work stoppage occurred at Chrysler’s minivan plant (unrelated to the Japanese disasters), the company claims that everything is on schedule and is not suffering from any disruptions due to the earthquake and tsunami. We’re glad to know that consumers will be able to enjoy an uninterrupted supply of Chrysler 200 cars even if the rest of the industry goes belly-up.

[Source: KickingTires]

 |  Apr 05 2011, 3:22 PM

As part of an effort to raise money for the Red Cross’ Japanese disaster relief fund , artists affiliated with the EMI record label are auctioning off various knick-knacks, with everything from stereo equipment to handbags to vacations up for grabs.

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably most interested in the 1987 Ferrari 412 that’s being auctioned off by EMI and French electronic music group Daft Punk. The car was used in the video for “Electroma”, and the license plate will be signed by both members of Daft Punk.

[Source: EMI]

 |  Apr 04 2011, 5:29 PM

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After a brief announcement on March 23rd stating that the natural disasters in Japan may affect North American production, Toyota has announced that it is still “too early to predict” whether plants in Canada and the United States, which build both Toyota and Lexus cars, will face shutdowns due to a shortage of parts from Japanese factories.

Toyota claims that most of their factories on this side of the Pacific use North American sourced parts, and that stocks of Japanese parts are still plentiful. However, the depletion of these stockpiles and the failure to restart production at Japanese part plants could mean shutdowns occurring here. While most of the news surrounding the condition of the Japanese auto industry is speculation, the hypothetical consequences of such a shutdown could be catastrophic.

Economic effects, like a lack of work for plant employees, a dearth of cars for dealers to sell and the associated economic effects of a crippled auto industry could occur at a time when an economic recovery is in a fragile infancy, and a blow of this nature could be very hazardous to our economic health.

[Source: Left Lane News]

 |  Apr 01 2011, 2:39 PM

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The Toyota Prius, beloved of eco-conscious of buyers in California, is in short supply in the Sunshine State, as high gas prices and production disruptions due to Japan’s natural disasters have caused dealers to either run low on supply or be completely out of stock.

Dealers, who report as little as a 14-day supply of the car (compared to an industry average of 90 days) are worrying as analysts predict that shipments of the car from its factory in Japan could lag by as much as 2,000 units through April. While Toyota has offered aggressive lease deals and incentives for the Prius, the average transaction price has gone up substantially, as dealers report a rapid sales increase in conjunction with rising gas prices. Toyota will not be continuing their incentives when they expire on April 4th.

[Source: Los Angeles Times]

 |  Apr 01 2011, 11:39 AM

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A shortage of parts means that Subaru‘s Indiana plant will have its production cut in half through the end of the week, and the company will assess the situation on a day to day basis to examine whether a continuation is necessary.

Each of the two shifts will have 4 hours cut from their length. The plant builts the Legacy, Outback and Tribeca models, strong sellers for the brand. Toyota also builds the Camry at the same plant but said that its production was not affected. Subaru was attempting to set a sales record in 2011, after a strong year in 2010 which saw it make substantial gains. But Subaru’s status as a smaller automaker and a smaller supplier base to draw on means that it could be more vulnerable to disruptions than larger automakers like Honda and Toyota.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Mar 30 2011, 2:47 PM

The Toyota plant which builds the Yaris subcompact for export markets will remain closed for another month, as the factory recovers from the massive earthquake which struck northern Japan.

While the plant has had repairs completed and electricity has returned, the supply of natural gas has not been restored. Toyota’s other plants are expected to remain closed until at least April 14th, but the Yaris plant in Miyagi prefecture will stay shuttered until the end of April. Toyota has resumed production of its Prius hybrid, but is only operating at 50 percent capacity.

Toyota released a statement claiming “Depending on vehicle type, there may be a significant impact on our production capabilities.” No start date was given for any of their factories, but a source told Automotive News that the company was attempting to secure a gas supply from neighboring regions. Parts supplies also remain an issue, and the company is attempting to resolve these problems from their Toyota City headquarters.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Mar 29 2011, 11:36 AM

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A Japanese factory that makes batteries for the Chevrolet Volt is back online today after being temporarily shut down since the March 11th earthquake.

Hitachi Automotive operates the three plants, one of which produces batteries for the Volt. GM has apparently ordered 100,000 battery packs for the Volt. The other two produce various vehicle components, including Tokico-brand suspension parts, engine computers and fuel systems.

A Hitachi spokesman in Japan told Automotive News that the plants were running at about 70 percent capacity. The plant is expected to reach full capacity by next week.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Mar 28 2011, 1:09 PM

Having left Japan just one day before the tsunami-inducing earthquake wreaked havoc, a large shipment of Nissan LEAF Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) has just arrived in Long Beach, Calif.

Nissan’s Luna Spirit vehicle-carrying transport ship was safely on the open ocean when a 500 MPH wave passed under it, at about 3-inches high.

About a week after the tsunami, Nissan announced more than 1,500 LEAFs were either in transit or in a U.S. port.

With the estimated 1,500 new BEVs now in the U.S., this will be make possible the first substantial delivery of LEAFs to the U.S. which at this juncture have had less than stellar sales.

Short supply has been said to be the primary reason why a waiting list of about 2,000 U.S. pre-orders remains unfilled.

In January, Nissan reported 87 LEAFS delivered, and in the 10-percent shorter month of February, just 67 LEAFS were sold. In all, just 173 LEAFS have been delivered to the U.S. according to the Japan Auto Dealers Association (JADA).

This U.S. allotment plus 3,657 LEAF sales primarily in Japan will mean over 5,000 LEAFs will have been produced. This makes it one of the highest production BEVs yet produced. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has previously stated that plug-in vehicles will account for a quarter of Nissan’s sales by 2020, and the LEAF represents the first step towards that goal.

[Source: Plugincars.com]

 |  Mar 28 2011, 12:19 PM

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While we won’t have final March sales numbers until Thursday evening, but for the first time since February of 2010, Ford looks set to beat GM in sales figures, with 210,000 units sold.

GM won’t fare so badly, with a projected 208,000 cars and trucks moved in March. GM’s slump – and Ford’s success – has been attributed to a reduction on incentives by the General, and Ford’s bump in factory money. GM was previously the industry leader in incentives.

While Japanese automakers like Toyota, Honda and Nissan reported strong showings, the natural disasters in Japan may prove to be a thorn in their side, and Edmunds has already reported a downturn in sales for March, based on these events, as well as higher gas prices.

[Source: Edmunds]

 |  Mar 25 2011, 3:35 PM

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Mazda is planning to close down their assembly plants again, while stopping orders from dealers in the United States for their made-in-Japan vehicles.

The Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda5, MX-5, RX-8, CX-7, CX-9 are all affected. Only the Mazda6 and Tribute will remain in production at their American plants, although the situation could change in light of the parts suppliers affected by the earthquake. As of March 1st, the company had a 94-day supply of vehicles, but the automaker declined to comment on specifics.

In 2010, imported cars accounted for 83 percent of Mazda sales, a much higher number than other Japanese automakers, who build a significant proportion of their cars in North American plants. Mazda’s factories in Japan are located in Hiroshima and Hofu, at the opposite end of the country from where an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident are taking place.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Mar 25 2011, 2:05 PM

The latest hiccup deriving from Japan’s earthquake may cause global automotive production to fall by as much as 30 percent, as parts suppliers remain crippled by the quake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan.

“We could lose up to 5 million vehicles in a worst-case scenario,” said Michael Robinet of IHS, in an interview with Bloomberg. “This will affect income for the entire year if this continues for an extended period of time.” Robinet said that global production levels are currently off by 13 percent, and a projected disruption of 12 weeks could cause that number to more than double. Companies are currently searching for alternative parts sources, but analysts have highlighted the third week of April as a critical point at which production could drop dramatically.

Currently, Honda and Toyota have extended their plant shut-downs, while domestic automakers like GM have closed plants across the globe due to a shortage of parts.

[Source: Bloomberg]

 |  Mar 24 2011, 12:29 PM

Honda‘s manufacturing plants will remain closed, while the heart of their company, the research & development facility in Tochigi, Japan, will undergo months of repairs after being severely damaged by the earthquake that devastated Japan earlier in March.

Honda originally planned to keep their plants closed until March 27th but has decided to extend the closures until April 3rd. Workers at Tochigi will be transferred to other locations.  The company released a statement claiming “based on the expectation that it will take several months until the complete recovery of these facilities, Honda decided to temporally transfer some functions such as the automobile product development, development of manufacturing technologies and procurement to Honda operations in other locations such as Sayama, Suzuka, and Wako.”

Supplies of vehicles like the Honda Fit, CR-V and Acura TSX will be affected by the production delays. One person died and 30 were injuried when a wall at a cafeteria at the Tochigi facility collapsed. Honda held meetings at a nearby restaurant after employees were barred from entering the building for safety reasons. Honda’s parts suppliers have also told the company that it will take a week for them to resume normal production schedules.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Mar 22 2011, 2:27 PM

General Motors has halted production at their Tonawanda, New York engine plant, due to a parts shortage that has affected another factory in Louisiana.

The New York plant builds engines for the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, which are assembled at the Shreveport, Louisiana plant. While GM has acknowledged that the closure is due to an issue with Japanese parts, GM hasn’t specified what components are affected.

Of the 623 workers at the plant, 59 have been laid off due to the shortage. Some have suspected that GM is diverting the components to more profitable vehicles, as it fears an extreme disruption to its supply chain. GM plants in Spain and Germany have also been closed due to the shortage.

[Source: USA Today]

 |  Mar 21 2011, 2:12 PM

Despite being an ultra-niche vehicle, interest in the Nissan GT-R always remains strong, and car enthusiasts have been fretting about whether Japan’s natural disasters have impacted production of the revised GT-R.

According to an interview with David Reuter, Nissan Americas vice president of communications, supplies of the GT-R are safe, with roughly 70 percent of North America’s allocation on the ground already. “There are no shortages of anything specific at this point,” he told Inside Line. “As we work through the final assessments, we’ll have a better idea if we have any dips to smooth over with individual vehicle lines.”

Reuter also confirmed that the Nissan LEAF is safe, with 1,500 cars either in transit or at the port. Infiniti vehicles, which are all built in Japan, are considered most at risk for production disruption, but Reuter said that a 50-day supply of vehicles exists.

While companies like Nissan have emerged unscathed, General Motors announced major cutbacks at plants in Spain and Germany due to a shortage of Japanese made parts. While Japan’s automakers may be sending a positive message for now, the long-term situation could potentially get much worse due to factors beyond the control of the auto industry.

[Source: Inside Line]

 |  Mar 18 2011, 1:10 PM

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Mazda will resume production of vehicles on March 22nd, an encouraging sign for the Japanese auto industry as it battles a catastrophic series of events that has seen most automakers in the country suspend production.

With Mazda based in Hiroshima, hundreds of miles away from the earthquake, tsunami and on-going nuclear incidents, the company has fared better than other car companies, Mazda said it will resume production on March 22nd, with a focus on spare parts and vehicles using “in process” inventories. Mazda said that it will announced medium and long-term production in the near future, but is unable to decide at this point in time.

[Source: Left Lane News]

 |  Mar 17 2011, 3:50 PM

General Motors Shreveport, Louisiana factory that builds the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon will face a production halt until March 21st due to supply chain issues stemming from Japan’s natural disasters.

GM hasn’t specified which part is causing the stoppage, but both trucks feature a manual transmission made by Japanese firm Aisin. GM apparently has a 58 day supply of the small trucks (compared to an industry average of 60 days), but the slow selling vehicles are due to die, along with the plant, in 2012.

[Source: Kicking Tires]

 |  Mar 15 2011, 1:45 PM

Japan’s three largest automakers announced that they will donate $3.75 million each for earthquake relief. Honda says it will donate 1,000 power generators (a product made by the company) as well as 5,000 gas canisters, while Nissan is considering the donation of vehicles, provisions and medical supplies. Toyota also said that it is investigating such a move.

The three companies have all announced production stoppages of varying degrees, as have other Japanese automakers like Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki and Mitsubishi.

[Source: Carscoop]

 |  Mar 15 2011, 11:35 AM

Given the recent events in Japan, it may not be entirely surprising that there are greater priorities than building fast supercars. As such, shipments of the 2012 Nissan GT-R to America have been delayed as the country struggles to rebuild after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Nissan North America reports that there is a “sufficient supply” of 2012 GT-Rs that have already been shipped to the US, but would not reveal precisely how many. The 2012 GT-R officially went on sale a few weeks ago.  The Tochigi Plant, where the GT-R is built, has reported some damage to the building and equipment, and has suspended operations until Friday.

Nissan issued a statement on Monday declaring that “some Infiniti models and Nissan GT-R and 370Z may experience delays in shipment to the U.S. and Canada, with full impact still being assessed,” but their plans for the New York Auto Show are still on schedule.

A shipment of 600 Nissan Leafs left Japan just before the earthquake, and are on their way to the US safely, just in time to help fulfill its massive demand.

[Source: Inside Line]