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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.
 |  May 08 2012, 11:45 AM

As much as it would have been fantastic to see the mighty De Tomaso Pantera resurrected, it seems the dream that graced our news section last February is falling to shambles.

Continue Reading…

 |  Dec 29 2011, 3:15 PM

While most car companies are just trying hard to produce low-emissions vehicles, Volkswagen is looking to make even their factories green. Or is that blue!

VW calls all their efficient models BlueMotion, and is taking the same approach to their factories. Their “Think Blue Factory” is an initiative they have launched to make all their factories more environmentally friendly by 2018. By way of using less energy and creating fewer wastes, VW hopes to clean their factories by reducing the environmental impact by 25%.

Hubert Waltl, a member of the board of management at VW said; “Through the growing efficiency and productivity of our plants, the Volkswagen brand is already making a key contribution to the achievements of Group strategic targets for 2018. However, we are going a step further: by 2018, we intend to make production at all our plants 25 percent more environmentally compatible.”

VW’s plant in Chattanooga, TN. was the worlds first plant to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification which means this factory meets the strictest of environmental standards. So say what you will about the new Passat, at least it is built in a modern, clean factory.

 |  Dec 16 2011, 9:15 PM

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BMW is pushing forward in the face of what many economists are fervently discussing in the business world: the possible collapse of the euro.

Such a catastrophic event is unlikely, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer told Automotive News. He reaffirmed that strong belief in another interview saying ”I don’t even want to imagine that at all, and I don’t believe it will happen.” In fact, BMW is planning significant expansion.

The company is intends to increase sales by 25 percent despite the fact that research group IHS Automotive forecasts as much as a 41 percent overcapacity for vehicles in Europe. Regardless of softening sales in the European market, BMW remained the top luxury car manufacturer this year and is planning to expand on their 1.6 million unit sales for 2011 to a whopping 2 million by 2020.

They plan to achieve that goal by further expanding into the international market. Part of that plan involves setting up a factory in Brazil, but more significantly, BMW is eyeing the growing Chinese market.

Proportionally, Chinese consumers drive about the same number of economy cars as Europeans, but the difference is that Reithofer says 75 percent of Chinese economy car owners want to upgrade for their next purchase.

“In 2012, the BMW brand will have the youngest model range of all of our core competitors by far,” Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer told reporters on Thursday evening at an event in Munich. It’s something he hopes will entice the young and increasingly wealthy Chinese market segment.

If it turns out that BMW is being too aggressive in their expansion, they can scale back produciton by 20 to 30 percent according to Frank-Peter Arndt, BMW’s production chief.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Dec 14 2011, 2:15 PM

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General Motors halted production of their popular Cruze sedan yesterday after a supplier issue hampered production.

Chevrolet says they plan to resume production as soon as possible, though they declined to disclose what the issue was. Production officially stopped around 1 p.m. EST according to a spokesperson for the Lordstown, Ohio, factory where the Cruze is produced.

Currently the Cruze is the second-best selling small car in the U.S. and the 10th-best overall. Chevrolet has been able to capitalize on consumer demand for more fuel efficient cars, given that the Cruze can achieve up to 42 mpg.

Expect whatever issue is postponing production to be addressed soon, after all the car is a hot seller and one that GM hopes to push beyond current sales to be a market leader. At the moment, it outsells the Honda Civic, though the Toyota Corolla still boasts better numbers.

Gallery: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze

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[Source: Reuters]

 |  Dec 07 2011, 6:45 PM

Ford announced that they are investing $446 million into their Sao Bernardo do Campo plant near Sao Paulo, Brazil towards the production of a new global vehicle.

Unfortunately Ford didn’t announce any more details in regards to the new model, but it will likely be something geared toward’s Brazil’s emerging middle class.

The Sao Benardo do Campo plant currently produces the Ka, Courier and F-250 models and has an annual capacity of of 160,000 cars and light vehicles in addition to 40,000 trucks.

Brazil has become an emerging market for many vehicle manufacturers. Nissan also announced previously that they’ll be building a $1.5 billion factory in Brazil to supply some of the brand new models

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Oct 03 2011, 6:01 PM

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Jeep has scrapped plans to build a replacement for their Patriot and Compass SUVs in Italy, and will instead build a subcompact Jeep product in Italy that will also be badged as a Fiat in world markets.

The car will replace the Fiat Sedici, which is itself based on the Suzuki SX4. Jeep will then build a replacement for their two small SUVs, as well as an Alfa Romeo-badged variant in Illinois.

The Compass/Patriot will eventually be replaced by a single model that will likely ride on the same architecture as the Alfa Giulietta, that will also underpin a replacement for the Dodge Caliber.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Jun 22 2011, 11:59 AM

Toyota and Honda plan to hire as many as 5,000 temporary workers in Japan for the first time in more than a year as the automotive industry recovers from the March 11 earthquake.

Toyota will be hiring between 3,000 and 4,000 temporary workers from mid-July as the company plans to increase production in October.

This is great news considering Japanese carmakers’ domestic production dropeed 60 percent in April as Toyota’s output in the country plunged 78 percent.

Honda will be hiring 1,000 temporary workers as the company plans to resume normal production numbers as well.

Toyota’s plants suffered a 50-percent production decline in April and May but are running at 90 percent capacity this month. The plan is to reach 100 percent of planned production levels by July.

“Hiring temporary workers shows that the problem with parts supply is being resolved and that the industry is on a solid recovery path,” explained Takeshi Miyao an analyst at the consulting company Carnorama in Tokyo. “There are a lot of back orders and without these additional workers, they won’t be able to catch up fast enough.”

Nissan has also begun hiring around 200 temporary workers to help restore normal production levels.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  May 12 2011, 6:11 PM

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BMW will expand its Chinese joint venture with local automaker Brilliance, in an effort to build 300,000 cars per year in China. BMW’s joint venture near Beijing currently builds the 3-Series and 5-Series, and will add the X1 crossover in 2012.

Plans call for new factories dedicated to vehicle assembly, stamping and a paint shop. These plants will be good for an additional 200,000 units according to BMW.

With China now serving as BMW’s third largest market, expanding domestic production makes sense for the brand, with BMW Chaiman Norbert Reithofer noting that “BMW vehicles are very popular in China. We anticipate that this growth will continue in the future.”

[Source: Inside Line]

 |  May 11 2011, 4:01 PM

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Chrysler announced an $843 million investment in its Indiana transmission plant as it prepares to build a 9-speed automatic transmission front front-drive vehicles.

The announcement comes on the heels of General Motors announcement of a $2 billion infusion into a number of plants, including $200 million for upgrades to its Toledo, Ohio plant to build 8-speed transmissions. Chrysler will begin selling 8-speed equipped Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans during the summer.

Chrysler expects the 9-speed transmissions, developed in partnership with ZF, to be on sale in 2013.

[Source: The Detroit News]

 |  May 11 2011, 12:40 PM

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Volkswagen‘s new Chattanooga, Tennessee plant built its first car destined for a customer Wednesday, a dark Blue Passat 2.5L equipped with an automatic transmission.

The plant should reach full capacity in 2012, at which point it will produce 150,000 Passats annually. Volkswagen says that the plant will generate $12 billion in economic growth for the region, and 9,500 jobs related to the plant. Speaking to an assembled crowd, Volkswagen Chattanooga CEO Frank Fischer said “It has been an exciting challenge for all of us to build a new vehicle and a new plant at the same time, all while establishing new suppliers; but our team members have overcome those hurdles with a passion for details that has produced automotive excellence.”

 |  May 11 2011, 11:53 AM

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Contrary to earlier reports, Mazda will not be ending production of its Mazda6 midsize sedan. Earlier reports suggested that the slow-selling model would be axed after reports emerged that production of the vehicle at Mazda’s Flat Rock, Michigan plant may cease.

While Mazda confirmed that the Mazda6 would remain in the lineup for some time (and will get Mazda’s new SKYACTIV powertrains), it’s possible that production at the Michigan factory may move elsewhere, and this event was misconstrued as the end of the Mazda6′s life. Mazda may move production to Mexico to take advantage of less expensive, non-union labor, as the Flat Rock plant is shared with Ford, which pays its workers $8 per hour more than its non-union counterparts.

[Source: Car and Driver]

 |  May 10 2011, 4:27 PM

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General Motors will invest $2 billion across 17 plants, as the company retools existing plants to build new products and hire more workers. GM confirmed that their Toledo, Ohio plant would receive $250 million in improvements and create 250 new jobs.

CEO Dan Akerson didn’t announced which plants would be infused with new capital, but the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant that builds the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS will almost certainly be one of them. The plant also builds the Chevrolet Volt, making it to be a prime contender for GM’s attention.

GM announced prior investments in other plants, including the Corvette’s factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky, but the latest round of capital is considered separate from these announcements. Some have speculated that GM’s reluctance to announce their plans could also be a means to gain publicity and avoid affecting upcoming negotiations with the UAW.

[Source: The Detroit News]

 |  May 09 2011, 11:03 AM

General Motors has quietly phased out production of the Cadillac STS. The last sedan drove off the Lansing Grand River assembly line last week.

The ending of STS production will not result in any layoffs, however, as all workers will retain the same hours and will continue to build the CTS. The STS and the high performance STS-V have been made at the factory since August 2004. Since then, 125,000 STSes have been produced.

Next year workers will begin production of a new small Cadillac says brand spokesperson Jordana Strosberg. GM officials call the new car the “alpha platform,” but it will reportedly be called the ATS when it hits dealers.

Replacing both the STS and DTS in Caddy’s lineup is a new full sized luxury sedan based on the XTS Concept, although official production of this car has yet to be confirmed.

[Source: LSJ]

 |  Apr 14 2011, 3:07 PM

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Lotus may build their next generation Esprit sports car outside of the United Kingdom after its request for a $50 million loan to build a new factory was rejected by an investment arm of the British government.

The loan was intended for a new factory in the Norfolk area of Britain, which would employ 1200 people and build models like the new Elan and Esprit. Other automakers have been given loans by the government, and Lotus released a statement saying “following this decision Group Lotus is currently exploring all available options including the possibility of submitting an updated bid for round two of the RGF, which is set to close on July 1.”

If a British facility cannot be procured, Lotus may build the new cars as Valmet’s factory in Finland or Magna-Steyr’s plant in Austria, where the Porsche Boxster and Aston Martin Rapide are respectively built.

[Source: Auto Express]

 |  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, 12:17 PM

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Subaru will re-start their large car production plant, nearly a month after an earthquake caused parent company Fuji Heavy Industries to shut the factory down.

The factory builds the Legacy, Impreza and Forester, which comprise the bulk of Subaru’s U.S. lineup. The plant will only be running at 50 percent capacity initially. Subaru claims that they have an adequate supply of parts on hand, but admits that the situation is still not yet concrete and production may stop again if necessary.

Subaru recently cut production at its Indiana plant by 50 percent due to a parts shortage. The factory makes the Legacy and Outback, two popular models in North America.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  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, 8:17 PM

In response to a crippling parts shortage from the Japan earthquake, Nissan is idling its American and Mexican plants for 6 days.

The engine and vehicle assembly plants will be closed in April, and Nissan did not say how many of its cars will be lost. But to make up for this deficit the automaker will run its plants later this year during scheduled shutdowns, when the parts supply will be improved.

The plants affected are Nissan’s two plants in Smyrna and Decherd, Tennessee, and its factory in Canton, Mississippi. The Mexico plants in Cuernavaca and Aguascalientes will be closed for five days.

 |  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]