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.
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]
With sales of the Chevrolet Cruze slowing down, General Motors will idle their Lordstown, Ohio plant to help bring supply levels of the Cruze down.
Dealers currently have a 73-day supply of the Cruze, higher than the industry average. GM hopes that demand will catch up with supply by closing the plant for a week. The Lordstown plant has been running three shifts plus a weekend shift for much of the year. The Cruze enjoyed strong sales in 2011 but the resurgent supply of cars like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic has seen consumers flocking back to imports, negatively impacting sales of the Cruze.
[Source: Automotive News]
As the European and U.S. suffer from an economy of alarming volatility, automakers are constantly seeking emerging markets to attain sustainable growth. Mazda, introducing its automobiles in Mexico only six years ago, have now established a new production facility, in joint venture with Sumitomo Corporation, in Salamanca, Mexico.
According to Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi, “Since Mazda established its sales network in Mexico six years ago, we have experienced a remarkable acceptance from the people of Mexico. Last year Mazda sold over twenty-five thousand vehicles and captured over three percent market share. We are excited to be constructing this new facility here in Mexico with our partner Sumitomo Corporation. It will be vital to bolstering our expansion in Central and South America.”
Expected to be operation by 2014, the plant will possess manufacturing lines for both the engine and vehicle. Although plant will focus production on Mazda2 and Mazda3, don’t be surprised if it will take on the responsibility of producing the Mazda6 for United States as well.
Volvo Cars plan to discontinue production of the Volvo C70 convertible at the Pininfarina Sverige AB plant of Uddevalla, Sweden, by 2013. Established as a joint venture between Italian design house Pininfarina and the Swedish Automaker since 2005, the plant is responsible of building only the C70 model and employs 600 workers for the task.
Volvo CEO Stephan Jacoby explained that while the plant produces high quality vehicles, it isn’t cost effective at current levels of production. “A Car manufacturer of Volvo’s size cannot, from a financial standpoint, justify a plant that manufactures one single model in the low volumes we have today… The production capacity in Uddevalla is only utilized to 65%.”
According to Volvo, the 600 workers of the Uddevalla plant will be moved to other facilities after its closure. However, there has been no word on the C70′s fate. Once the Uddevalla plant is closed, Pininfarina and Volvo will end their joint venture, shifting plant ownership solely to Volvo.
GALLERY: Volvo C70
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]
General Motors will idle its Fort Wayne, Indiana plant for one week in November to help bring pickup truck production in line with slowing demand.
The plant will be idled for the week of November 7th, and no Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra pickups will be produced at that time. GM has reported a 108 day supply of full-size pickups for the month of August, while an 80-day supply is considered a normal figure. GM said that sales of the Silverado and Sierra are up 7 and 18 percent respectively.
[Source: Automotive News]
Today, Ford Motor Company announced the official end of the Panther Platform, which has served as the underpinning of numerous Ford products, including the Ford Crown Victoria and the Lincoln Town Car, since 1979.
Arguably one of the most successful products in automotive history, sales amongst fleet buyers for the Town Car remained strong and the decision from Ford to end production derived simply from the platform’s age.
The termination not only marks the end of an icon, but it will also have a significant effect on the Ontario, Canada plant as well. The plant responsible for decades of Panther production has a combination of 1,100 Panther assembly line workers plus numerous suppliers who must face a loss of 15,000 jobs. Ford added that production at other Ontario plants will not be reduced or affected.
GALLERY: Panther Platform Products
Chevrolet cranks up its production capacity for the fourth quarter as the Azia Avto plant in Kazakhstan agrees to support the production of three new Chevy models.
As the largest automaker in Kazakhstan, the Azia Avto plant is responsible for more than 87 percent of all passenger cars in the country. GM considers Kazakhstan and areas of post-Soviet Russia as one of the most promising for future growth as Chevrolet has already earned the top step for the best-selling automaker there for multiple years mainly due to their affordable prices.
Among the new cars scheduled for assembly at Azia Avto are the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback, the Captiva SUV and the seven seat Orlando minivan.
GALLERY: Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback
Today was a great day for MINI, as the two millionth Cooper rolled off the assembly line, ten years after the start of production. British Prime Minister David Cameron was even present at the Oxford plant to drive the car out of the factory.
The MINI convertible was complete with special paintwork and extras. David Cameron declared that the ceremony that, “It’s a real privilege to drive this true British icon off the production line today. The 2 millionth MINI to be made here in Oxford is a fantastic symbol of the UK’s strength in the global automotive industry and a great British manufacturing success story. MINI is not just a symbol of our industrial past, but also the great industrial future we want to build.”
When production began at the Oxford Plant in 2001, 2,400 employees worked a single shift producing 300 cars a day. Today production has expanded to include 3,700 employees working two shifts, five days a week, building 900 cars a day. The maximum capacity of the plant has also increased from 100,000 units per year in 2001, to 200,000 units ten years later. Currently, the MINI is delivered to customers in more than 90 countries across the globe.
Jürgen Hedrich, head of Plant Oxford said: “This marks a tremendous milestone for Plant Oxford and its employees. Oxford has been the heart of MINI production for ten years. Our employees are proud to be part of this brand’s success.”
Mazda will shift production of their mid-size Mazda6 from the current AutoAlliance International plant (a joint venture with former owner Ford) to Mazda’s facility in Hofu, Japan.
“Currently, production of the Mazda6 [known as Atenza in Japan] exists in three locations,” said Takashi Yamanouchi, Representative Director and Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Mazda Motor Corporation. ”At our Hofu Plant in Japan, AutoAlliance International in Michigan, USA, and at FAW Car Co., Ltd. in Changchun, Jilin province, China. Our intention is to transfer production of our next CD-car for North America from AAI and consolidate it at Hofu in order to improve production and investment efficiencies and optimize our business.”
Mazda is currently collaborating with Ford to study the longevity of the AAI plant, but will continue to build the current model Mazda6 until its life cycle is over.
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]
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]
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.”
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
BMW is considering an assembly plant in Latin America, specifically Brazil, but its exact plans remain up in the air. BMW currently builds motorcycles at a plant in Manaus, and is debating whether to expand its facility to include auto production, or starting an all new plant exclusively for cars.
BMW would likely begin with assembling knock-down kits of their cars and expand the plant as necessary. While a full-blown facility with a stamping plant, paint shop and assembly line would normally require high volumes, BMW officials noted that their South African operation is successful even when producing 50,000 cars per year, about half of what is normally required for a large plant to be profitable. The company also maintains assembly sites for knock-down kits in countries like Egypt, India, Russia and Malaysia.