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According to Chris Lee, a spokesman for General Motors, the automaker is planning a 21-week suspension at its assembly plants that build full-size trucks and SUVs, namely Fort Wayne Indiana, Flint, Michigan, Arlington, Texas and Silao, Mexico.
The reason, is to allow time for the General to re-tool these facilities so they can switch over to the updated 2013 full-size pickups, of which production is scheduled to begin during the latter half of next year. The idle is slated to begin at the Fort Wayne plant in January, with a seven week idle schedule planned through October, while the Flint and Arlington facilities will start their idling process in June, with seven and five weeks planned through November and December respectively. As for the Silao facility that produces full-size trucks and SUVs, GM has said it will announce that plant’s idling schedule in the new year.
In preparation for the changeover and to ensure adequate supply for dealers, GM has been ramping up production of current Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra models, aiming for around 200,000 pickups inventory by the end of the year, giving dealers around 90 days supply of 2012 models.
[Source: The Detroit News]
Things have been changing for a few years already, and the future is not looking good for Canada. Thanks to their lower labor rates and production costs, more and more car companies are looking to move their operations down to Mexico.
Currently, Canada accounts for 16-percent of production for North America, but since 2008 Mexico, has accounted for 20-percent, and that number will likely grow.
If the trend continues, Canadians might lose their jobs well south of their border. However, not all is doom and gloom for our northern neighbors as vehicle production increased in 2011 by 2-percent to bring a total of 2.1-million units produced.
General Motors is supporting the Canadian economy by announcing that the new Cadillac XTS sedan will be built in Oshawa, Ontario (where vehicles like the Camaro are already built), and Toyota Motor Corporation has announced that it will invest C$545-million to upgrade Toyota production facilities in Ontario.
[Source: Automotive News]
As in the iconic VW Type 2, which was built in Germany from 1950 until 1979, when it was replaced the larger, angular T3/T25 (known as the Vanagon in our neck of the woods).
However, despite having been absent from Europe and North America for decades, T2 production has continued – it lasted in Mexico until 1996 and Brazil still makes them (in high roof T2c form).
In fact. VW do Brasil has just completed it’s 1.5 millionth example at the Anchieta assembly plant, with a ceremony to mark the occasion. The Bus was the first VW to be assembled in the country and thanks to its lengthy production run has become somewhat of a cultural icon in Brazil. It’s also essentially little changed since the 1970s, the biggest alteration coming in 2005 when the oil/air cooled engine was replaced by a modern water cooled 1.4-liter four cylinder unit, requiring modifications to the front of the Type 2 (namely the installation of a radiator assembly and grille opening).
In Brazil, the Bus accounts for approximately 3.3 percent of light commercial vehicle market and is offered in two configurations, Furgão (windowless cargo van) which sells for the equivalent of $26,348 and the standard nine passenger window Bus which retails for $24,142, making it attractively priced against newer, front-drive vans. It’s also been heavily exported over the years, primarily to other Latin American countries but some have made it as far as Africa and indeed in Europe. In fact, in the Netherlands you can officially buy a brand new Bus, outfitted as a modern day Westfalia camper, but with modifications and import fees the price is a lot more expensive than in Brazil, some 44,995 Euros (around $61,000).
Nonetheless, for classic VW fans and other nostalgia trippers, being able to have one new Bus rather than none at all is a bonus. However, some analysts predict that when Brazil mandates modern safety feature such as ABS and airbags in 2012, production of the venerable Bus will finally end. Too bad.
Volvo‘s Chief Executive, Stefan Jacoby, has said that the company plans to add some 10,000 additional employees to the workforce in the next decade; currently Volvo employs some 25,000 people worldwide.
Perhaps not surprisingly the vast majority of new positions will be in China, where Volvo plans to reach annual sales targets of some 200,000 units by 2020 (current levels are around 48,000 per annum).
In order to handle the projected growth, Volvo is planning to open up a manufacturing facility in Chengdu in 2013, which will boast some 3,000 employees and a maximum capacity of some 150,000 vehicles per year; a second plant is also planned, pending approval from the Chinese government.
According to Jacoby, despite the current economic crisis in Europe, Volvo hasn’t reported a slowdown because of it, since its biggest markets are Scandinavia and Germany where demand is steady and sales in southern Europe have always been marginal. “Our [order] books are filled up until spring 2012,” Jacoby said in a recent statement.
[Source: Automotive News]
When the much ballyhooed Chevrolet Volt was launched last year, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson made a commitment to sell 10,000 units for 2011.
Given that production got off to a fairly slow start at the Hamtramck plant, it seemed like a lofty goal. Since July, when the plant was revamped to allow for an increase in capacity, production has been ramping up, as have sales. By the end of last month Chevrolet had sold some 5,003 copies of the car, though with only two months left in the year, it means that in November and December it will have to shift roughly the same amount of vehicles in order to meet the projected target.
Nonetheless, despite the slim chances of that happening, GM’s vice president of sales, Don Johnson, isn’t planning on throwing in the towel just yet. During a press conference call he said “I’ve never given up on a sales target in my life. Given the momentum we’ve got right now [with the Volt], I’m not going to give up on it now.”
[Source: The Car Tech Blog]
Along with things like baseball and celebrities, America is known for its cars. It might surprise you to learn then that in a newly compiled list of the top auto-producing nations, the U.S. of A. doesn’t place very highly. In fact, according to the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association of a total 58,478,810 cars produced last year the U.S. ranks just 7th, responsible for assembling some 1.2 million cars.
As for the top spot, it might not surprise you to learn that the world’s most populous nation, China, ranks first, churning out some 13.9 million vehicles. In second place is Japan (8.3 million), then South Korea, Brazil and India.
If the European Union member states were to rate as a single country however, then they would finish in the top spot. Last year more than 15 million plus units, were produced in the EU.
Given this rather bizarre and perhaps biased survey (the list only includes cars, and not trucks, which America produces plenty of) it begs the question, with Europe currently in the economic doldrums and experiencing near record unemployment in some member states, who in the heck is buying all these cars?
[Source: Woman on Wheels]
In perhaps a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, head of the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union, Ken Lewenza has expressed some concern over a tentative new agreement south of the border between the UAW and General Motors.
The problem centers around the fact that in order to meet the new UAW bargaining agreement, part of GM’s production of its small SUVs, the Chevy Equinox and GMC Equinox might be moved from the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, down to Spring Hill, Tennessee.
At present, GM hasn’t made any official announcements regarding the move, though an article in Nashville based newspaper, the Tennessean claims the General is seriously considering such a strategy, citing economic officials.
The resulting story was enough to cause concern for the CAW, making the matter more worrisome is the fact that GM has already pulled such a move, shifting production of it’s full-size Chevy Impala sedan, from Oshawa, Ontario, to the Hamtramck plant on the outskirts of Detroit, something Lewenza says he also first heard about through the newspapers.
As regarding the Tennessee rumors, during an interview with trade publication Automotive News, Lewenza said “where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.”
[Source: Left Lane News]
This year hasn’t been the kindest to Japanese automakers Honda and Toyota. The devastation wrought by March’s earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, resulted in severe disruptions to their supply chains, causing dealer inventories to run low and other automakers to gain ground in sales.
However, after a dismal July, there are signs that both Honda and Toyota are gaining momentum; supply from Japan has improved, while factories in North America are running in overdrive in an effort to boost vehicle inventory to more ‘normal’ levels.
Even though rivals, including Detroit’s big three, have gained ground this year as a result of problems facing the Japanese duo, most seem to view Honda and Toyota’s improving fortunes quite favorably.
Don Johnson, General Motors’ US sales head, believes that more Hondas and Toyotas on dealer lots will help stimulate overall growth in new car sales, bringing back buyers who’ve been sitting on the fence. ”A lot of brand-loyal customers have chosen to sit on the sidelines until selection and price improve,” he says. “They will be coming back into the market.”
That said, it is likely to be some time before inventory levels reach pre-March totals. Randy Pflughaupt, group vice president of sales administration for Toyota, believes it will be 2012 before the automaker achieves year-over-year sales increases; Honda meanwhile, is currently running at around 95 percent of normal production in Japan, with full inventory achieved on all US product lines bar the Civic which traditionally is one of it’s most popular models.
According to a number industry analysts, it’s inventory that defines the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in the marketplace and right now, as it stands, Domestic brands are leading the way, Chrysler boasting a 72 day supply on its vehicles, allowing it to post a 20 percent gain in sales during July, as Honda and Toyota combined, slipped 6.9 percent. Ford, with a 54 day supply has seen sales jump by 13 percent for the bread and butter brand and 40 percent for Lincoln in the same period. GM, with a 73 day supply has reported gains of some 8 percent.
“Whoever has the cars, outsells everybody,” declared Ralph Martinez, a Chrysler dealer principal from Wilsonville, Oregon. “People are out there buying,” he said, but “they’re going to places that have a good selection.”
[Source: Automotive News]
General Motors has announced that it will be idling it’s Flint, Michigan and Fort Wayne, Indiana assembly plants in an effort to clear out it’s current high inventory of full-size pickups.
Both facilities will be idled beginning July 4, for a two week period, as quoted by GM spokesman Tom Wickham, speaking with news source Bloomberg.
At present GM has an inventory of approximately 282,000 trucks, which translates to a 110 day supply, almost double the industry average. In addition to using the idle time to whittle down the current inventory, the General will also use it to prepare both facilities for 2012 model-year pickup production.
Although in recent, years, one approach to moving trucks off dealer lots and reducing supply is via incentives, GM’s North America President, Mark Reuss, said the company will stick to production rather than price cuts to drawn down inventory.
Prestige automaker Aston Martin has confirmed that it will be moving production of it’s four-door super sedan, the Rapide from the Magna Steyr facilities in Graz, Austria, to Gaydon, Warwickshire, in the United Kingdom.
The move comes as facility restrictions at Gaydon, in place when Rapide production originally began have now been lifted.
According to AM’s CEO Dr. Ulrich Betz, “ things are very different (from 2008) – Gaydon is more established, more flexible and more efficient. While our overall volume has not changed significantly, we now produce a far richer model mix – eight model lines (plus five variants) compared to three model lines (plus two variants) in 2008 – so Rapide production is now possible.”
Betz went on to thank Magna Steyr and its employees for developing a very strong working relationship with Aston Martin, while helping the firm set “benchmark quality” standards for Rapide production.
Production of AM’s four-door is scheduled to begin at the Gaydon facility in the second half of next year.
Given what many see as slow economic recovering, unstable fuel prices and supply problems from Japan, it probably isn’t surprising that May’s auto sales were rather soft.
That said, figures, expected to be released tomorrow will likely reveal a 12.1 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, based on an average from 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. This follows on the heels from 12.6 million total vehicle sales in January, based on research from Autodata Corp.
However, predictions are that as the economy potentially goes stronger, and Japanese suppliers get back on track, total vehicle demand for this year is expected to be the highest since 2008, when some, 13.2 million cars and light trucks were sold.
Although Japanese automakers are working through their supply issues, price increases and reduced sales incentives by some automakers, notably Ford still have the potential to eat into sales and profit margins.
Nevertheless, the overall outlook remains optimistic. Among the automakers; Toyota says it expects production to return to around 70 percent of normal levels by June, while Honda says it will resume full capacity by August. Meanwhile, Chrysler, having managed to pay off some $7.6 billion in government loans during the month of May, says sales increased around 9.5 percent during the same period.
The biggest worry among many is GM, which is struggling to move it’s now aging full-size pickups and SUVs; nevertheless, in trading, GM shares were up slightly on the New York Stock Exchange this morning, settling at $31.28 per share.
Honda Motor Company; which has been one of the hardest hit of all Japanese automakers in the wake of the massive earthquake in the home islands, has announced that Japanese production will resume on April 11.
This follows on from news that shipping of Honda components destined for factories outside of Japan was to resume on April 4; however in both cases, the company remains cautions. In the case of vehicle production; Honda said that it will likely only reach 50 percent of pre-earthquake capacity, at least in the short term.
Vehicles built in Japan for the North American market include the Fit subcompact; Insight and CR-Z hybrids; the Civic Hybrid and some CR-V models, availability of which is likely to remain affected for the next several months.
[Source: EGM Cartech]
It’s official, the very last Mercury has now left the building. On Tuesday, January 4th at 8:00 am, said vehicle, a 2011 Grand Marquis, finally rolled off the line at the St. Thomas plant, which has been building these body-on-frame behemoths for 25 years.
Originally the car was slated to be completed before the new year, but delays in parts shipments, caused by severe weather in Southwestern Ontario, pushed production into the first days of the new year.
Even until the very end, the Grand Marquis remained a highly profitable vehicle for Lincoln-Mercury dealers as well as the best selling car in the lineup. As was probably expected, there was little fanfare or celebration, as the car was rolled on to the transporter, to be delivered as part of a fleet order.
Although the Merc represented the last Grand Marquis built at St Thomas, it isn’t quite the end of Panther chassis production. Ford Crown Victorias will continue to be assembled there, primarily for police and taxi fleets, until September, when the plant is scheduled to close.