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  1. General Motors took a page out Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' playbook by continuing the build the outgoing-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra alongside the next-generation models in an effort to keep sales up. But sooner or later, the previous-generation models will end production. When is that? During GM's third-quarter earnings call, CFO Dhivya Suryadevarat said the automaker would begin winding down production the K2 crew cab models early next year, followed by double cab and regular cab models beginning in "the early second half of next year." GM's Oshawa, Ontario plant has been helping with the production of the outgoing models. According to Automotive News, Oshawa receives unfinished Silverado and Sierra double cab bodies from the Fort Wayne, Indiana plant. Models are painted and undergo final assembly. Known as the "Oshawa shuttle," it started at the beginning of the year and would add heavy-duty pickups and a second production shift in the summer. GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter told AN the program is expected to "run into late 2019 based on market demand." Production of the next-generation (T1) pickups began in July at Fort Wayne, followed by double cab models last month. GM's Silao, Mexico plant will begin production of the regular and crew cab models in January. Unlike FCA, which experienced a number of problems with the launch of the next-generation Ram 1500, GM was able to deliver 45,000 next-generation pickups in the third-quarter. The big question is what happens to the hourly workers building the trucks at Oshawa. GM declined to comment, but AN speculates they could be laid off or moved to other positions. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  2. Earlier this year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that it would be moving production of the next-generation Ram HD trucks from Saltillo, Mexico to the Warren Truck Plant in Michigan. This was due to the U.S. Government threatening steep tariffs on Mexican-made vehicles. Saltillo would continue producing global commercial vehicles. But with a new Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico; FCA is having second thoughts about moving production. CEO Mike Manley told Reuters that he wants Ram Trucks to move out of third place with truck sales. “We need to get ourselves into second” place. Frankly, I don’t care which of the two I take share from,” he said. Thus, he is reconsidering the decision made by his predecessor and keep some Ram HD production in Mexico. “With a combination of Warren and Mexico building what we call the classic truck, we have enough production to increase output next year if it’s required. In my opinion it will be required. We are gaining share. Obviously I am looking for that to continue, but it’s an incredibly competitive segment,” said Manley. The new agreement between the two countries calls for no import cap, so long as the vehicle meets a certain amount of content from various countries. Source: Reuters
  3. 2018 has not been kind to Holden. Sales have been stagnant and the brand saw its worst monthly sales of 3,927 cars in July. Market share has also been dropping to below five percent during the year. Now, the brand has halted production of the Commodore and Equinox in an effort to reduce a massive stockpile of vehicles. According to Wheels, Holden ordered way too many vehicles before it ceased local manufacturing in late 2017. But the past year has proven to be difficult with sales dropping and causing vehicles to sit in paddocks and holding yards, gathering dust. “The sales were going like that,” said Holden chairman Dave Buttner, motioning to the ground. “… and the tap hadn’t been turned off, so the production’s still coming towards us - and that horrified me as an old [product] planner.” How bad is it? Holden has only sold 3,621 Equinoxes through the first nine months of 2018. Competitors sell a similar amount in a timeframe of six weeks. “You have to be able to turn production down, but the idea is that you don’t have to do that often. This is a fairly unique situation where we allowed the stock to keep coming towards us. Being an old manufacturing guy I’m fully cognoscente of the burden that puts on a manufacturing plant," said Buttner. “We’ve had good cooperation from the plants but it wouldn’t be something I’d like to repeat on a regular basis because from a credibility point of view you don’t build it by doing that.” Holden has asked the Opel factory in Germany (now owned by PSA Group) to not build anymore Commodores until next year. It is unclear if Holden asked the same for the timeframe to the GM factory that builds the Equinox. How is Holden planning to reduce the massive backlog of vehicles? Motoring.com.au says it will not be through a fire sale. “I’m confident we can finish the year strongly. There is not going to be any fire sale. Or any increase in demonstrators. If we do that then we’ll get what we deserve. We want to start next year with a clean slate, start rebuilding and get on with the job,” Buttner told the outlet. We wouldn't be surprised if Holden does provide some offers to help move models. Source: Wheels, Motoring
  4. When Ford introduced the GT, they made it very clear it would be a limited run affair. 500 models would be built over the course of two years. Then the company expanded the amount to 1,000 vehicles that would be built over four years. Now, Ford has expanded the pool of GTs again. An additional 350 GTs will be built, bringing the grand total to 1,350. This also means a longer production run. Previously, Ford was going to wrap up production in 2020, but has pushed it back to 2022. If you were one of the many people who applied for a GT and didn't get one, Ford will be opening the application process one more time beginning on November 8th and have it running for 30 days. Prospective owners will find out if they got the approval early next year. “By extending the Ford GT production run for a limited period, we’re able to maintain the exclusivity of the ultra-desirable supercar while offering the ownership experience to a greater number of customers,” said Hermann Salenbauch, Ford Performance director. Somehow, we doubt many Ford GT owners will have the same view. Source: Ford Ford Increasing GT Production To Make Ownership Dreams A Reality For 350 More Supercar Fans Due to the popularity of Ford GT, Ford is raising the number of supercars it will build to 1,350 – up from 1,000; Ford GT production will run for a total of approximately six years Ford is re-opening the final owner application process for select global markets on Nov. 8; prospective owners can submit their applications at FordGT.com for 30 days Previous applicants need to confirm or modify their original application to be considered in this final application window to own a Ford GT Dearborn, Mich., Oct. 18, 2018 – Ford Motor Company is increasing Ford GT production to 1,350 vehicles after more than 6,500 applicants raced to sign up for the original 1,000 cars allotted in 2016 – even before the car recaptured LeMans glory later that year. “The response to our Ford GT has been unprecedented, with initial demand outstripping supply by more than six-to-one,” said Hermann Salenbauch, Ford Performance director. “By extending the Ford GT production run for a limited period, we’re able to maintain the exclusivity of the ultra-desirable supercar while offering the ownership experience to a greater number of customers.” Ford is re-opening the application window to customers hoping to join the exclusive group of Ford GT owners starting Nov. 8 for select global markets. Prospective owners will be able to submit their applications for 30 days at FordGT.com. Successful applicants will work with the Ford GT Concierge Service for a personalized purchase experience of cars produced in the 2020 to 2022 calendar years. Production of the Ford GT – powered by a twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine and featuring a carbon fiber architecture, active aerodynamics and 216 mph top speed – began in December 2016.
  5. Some concept cars are just flights of fancy. Take for example the Genesis Essentia that bowed at the New York Auto Show earlier this year. This low-slung coupe boasted a transparent hood, set of butterfly doors, copper wheels, and electric powertrain. The concept proved to be quite popular, prompting Genesis to make a production version. Erwin Raphael, executive director of Genesis North America told reporters at a gathering that the automaker is planning to bring the Essentia as a production model. It would be built in limited numbers and carry a hefty price tag. "We are very committed to the Essentia. We love the car. We think the car will do very well," said Raphael. Raphael didn't give a possible timeframe, but Manfred Fitzgerald, global head of Genesis told Motor Trend the production Essentia could arrive in 2021 or 2022. The ability to bring the car out so soon is due to almost all of the design elements on the concepts being feasible for production - the butterfly doors are one of the exceptions. Raphael mentioned the Essentia could be the sports car that Genesis has promised or a new seventh model in their growing lineup. No mention of a powertrain for the production version. The Essentia rides on a electric architecture that Genesis is experimenting with as works to try and get an electric vehicle launched by 2021. Source: Motor Trend
  6. Ford's original plan for the GT was to build the model for two years, with 250 units being built each year. Then Ford extended the production run to four years and expanded the total number of vehicles built to 1,000. So how is Ford doing on their production targets for the GT? According to Motor Authority, they haven't gone as planned. This information was first brought to light by a GT message board claiming Ford didn't reach their 250 unit goal for 2017. Motor Authority reached out to Ford and a spokesman confirmed that only 137 GTs were built last year. Why the delay? "This is a hand-built supercar, which we are committed to deliver flawlessly. We built into our process an extended ramp-up due to several factors such as global homologation testing and supplier constraints," the spokesman said in a statement. Multimatic, the company that is building the GT for Ford explained they "hadn't built cars on this scale before" and it them some time to meet its goal of building one car per work day. The company only reached this goal in the middle of last year. Issues with suppliers and minor issues also played a role. Multimatic did say that everything is on schedule for the full run of 250 vehicles for 2018. At the current pace, this would only mean Ford would produce 888 Its, 112 units short from their original goal. The Ford spokesman said they are sticking with their goal of 1,000 vehicles. This likely means Ford will extend production one more year to meet it. Source: Motor Authority
  7. Volkswagen's Chattanooga, TN plant will soon have two more vehicles rolling off the line. Hinrich Woebcken, VW's North American CEO told Autocar that the upcoming I.D. Buzz and Crozz EVs for the region will be built at Chattanooga. “For strong product momentum, they need to be produced in the USA. It’s not possible to come into a high-volume scenario with imported cars. We want to localise electric mobility in the US,” said Woebcken. Woebcken also revealed that the models would be 'Americanized'. Source: Autocar
  8. Since 2014, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne proclaimed that Jeep needed a three-row luxury SUV to better compete with the likes of the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. But this SUV, known as the Grand Wagoneer hasn't materialized. Numerous delays and debates about the design has caused the launch to be pushed time and time again. These delays have a number of dealers concerned that Jeep may miss its opportunity with this new model. "I think our window of opportunity is closing. We could have killed with [the Grand Wagoneer] if it had been available when they first told us about it, but it's a much tougher sell with interest rates and gas prices going up," said an unnamed FCA dealer to Automotive News. John Murphy, research analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said last week at a meeting of the Automotive Press Association that the "Goldilocks" era in auto retailing was coming to a close. Murphy said the next five years would be tough on auto sales due to a number of factors, especially for those trying to sell high-end models. Higher interest rates Increasing gas prices Raw materials becoming more expensive Increasing competition in the light-truck sector The current plan is to launch the Grand Wagoneer in 2019, but production could be pushed back till late in the year or even into 2020. This is due to FCA's plan to keep building the current Ram 1500 at their Warren Truck Plant until the end of year. But depending on demand, this could extend production into 2019, pushing back the time needed to retool the plant for the Grand Wagoneer. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  9. Nissan's goal in the U.S. for quite some time was increasing its market share. To do this, the company piled on the incentives and sold more vehicles to rental car fleets. While fine in the short-term, the long-term effects would hurt profitability and brand image. This isn't helped by sales declining 6.5 percent this year and a growing supply of vehicles on dealers - Kelly Blue Book reports an 88-day supply of Nissan vehicles. Nissan is changing its plan for the U.S. Back at the 2018 NADA Show in April, Nissan's U.S. sales chief Dan Mohnke told dealers the company would focus on boosting profitability by reducing inventory. One way to do that is cutting back on production. The Nikkei Asian Review reports Nissan is slashing production as much as 20% at their North American plants. The cuts are already taking place at Nissan's two plants in the U.S. (Canton and Smyrna, TN) and three in Mexico. No layoffs are expected, instead, workers will have an extra day or two off of work. The cuts are expected to end in the fall when production of the next-generation Altima kicks off. It is expected that the production cut will drop Nissan's U.S. sales for the year by three percent. Source: Nikkei Asian Review
  10. Last week, Ford halted production of their F-Series pickup after a fire ravaged a supplier's plant in Southwestern Michigan. While Ford and supplier Meridan said everything was ok, analysts said it the shutdown could hurt Ford if it lasted more than a week. Last night, Ford announced that it would restart production of the F-150 at their Dearborn plant on Friday. Production at Kansas City and Louisville will come back online on Monday. Getting to this point took a lot of work for both Ford and Meridan. According to Automotive News, Ford was the first automaker on site after the fire and was able to retrieve all of the tooling over a 48-hour period. One of dies used was shipped to Meridan's plant in Nottingham, UK. To get it there was a bit of a challenge since it weighs 87,000 pounds. Ford was able to charter an Antonov cargo plane (one of just 21 planes in the world that handle this task) and get it shipped to the UK in just 30 hours. Faced with unexpected adversity, the Ford team, including our global supply partners, showed unbelievable resiliency, turning a devastating event into a shining example of teamwork. Thanks to their heroic efforts, we are resuming production of some of our most important vehicles ahead of our original targets," said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's executive vice president of product development and purchasing in a statement. Ford declined to say how much production was lost during the shutdown. James Albertine, an analyst with Consumer Edge Research said the week before that Ford could lose up to 15,000 trucks due per week due to the shutdown. The company is planning to make up for some of the lost production by shortening the summer shutdown at the Dearborn and Kansas City plants. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Ford Ford Restarting F-150, Super Duty Production Ahead Of Schedule After Fire At Magnesium Parts Supplier Ford is resuming production of the F-150 pickup at Dearborn Truck Plant on Friday. Ford team has also successfully repaired the supply chain for Super Duty; production targeted to restart by Monday for Super Duty at Kentucky Truck Plant and F-150 at Kansas City Assembly Plant Ford marshaled a global team of experts, that included partners and suppliers, following a May 2 fire at Meridian Magnesium Products in Eaton Rapids, Mich., to quickly refurbish and relocate tooling needed to produce parts for the Ford F-150, Super Duty and five other vehicles – Ford Expedition, Explorer, Flex and Lincoln Navigator and MKT Because of this quick action, Meridian is producing truck parts again at its Eaton Rapids facility. Plus, Ford airlifted tooling to a Meridian facility in the U.K. to produce parts for F-150, which will further speed production ramp-up Ford Expedition, Explorer, Flex and Lincoln Navigator and MKT production continue uninterrupted Company reaffirms 2018 adjusted EPS guidance range of $1.45 to $1.70; expects adverse impact of $0.12 to $0.14 per share in second quarter due to lost production DEARBORN, Mich., May 16, 2018 – Ford Motor Company is restarting production of the popular F-150 at Dearborn Truck Plant Friday after just over one week of downtime. The company has also successfully repaired the supply chain for Super Duty, with production targeted to restart by Monday at the Kentucky Truck Plant as well as the Kansas City Assembly Plant that also makes F-150 pickups. This follows the massive May 2 fire at the Meridian Magnesium Products facility in Eaton Rapids, Mich. “While the situation remains extremely dynamic, our teams are focused on returning our plants to full production as fast as possible,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president, Global Operations. “The ramp-up time to full production is improving every day.” Ford teams, together with suppliers including Walbridge and other contractors, worked nearly around the clock to get America’s best-selling vehicle franchise back on line as quickly as possible. The teams removed 19 dies from Meridian’s badly damaged facility, and in one case, moved an 87,000-pound die from Eaton Rapids, Mich., to Nottingham, U.K., via an Antonov cargo plane – one of the largest in the world – in just 30 hours door-to-door. A die is a tool used to cut or shape material using a press. “Faced with unexpected adversity, the Ford team, including our global supply partners, showed unbelievable resiliency, turning a devastating event into a shining example of teamwork,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s executive vice president of Product Development and Purchasing. “Thanks to their heroic efforts, we are resuming production of some of our most important vehicles ahead of our original targets.” Work started immediately in the aftermath of the May 2 fire. Teams removed and remediated safety concerns – including dangling siding – and restored electricity, gaining approval to access the site while debris still smoldered inside. This allowed Ford and Meridian to safely retrieve and relocate tools to more quickly resume part production and work to minimize the financial impact of the stalled plants. Ford recovered, repaired and validated most dies that were at the Eaton Rapids facility, and Meridian is now producing parts for the F-150 at two locations – Eaton Rapids and Nottingham, U.K. Production of bolsters for Super Duty is also restarting at the Eaton Rapids plant. Under normal circumstances, moving tooling the size of a bolster die would take approximately 10 days just to get the proper import and export approvals. However, Ford and its suppliers managed to cut the total time for the entire move to 30 hours, including trans-Atlantic flight time. When the team removed the die from the Eaton Rapids factory, it was shipped to Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio. Rickenbacker had both the capacity to handle such a large piece of equipment and allowed an Antonov An-124 Russian plane, one of the largest planes in the world – typically used to transport trains, dump trucks and even a 25-foot sea yacht – to take off as soon as the equipment was loaded. Nearly 4,000 miles away, a team in Nottingham was waiting to receive the die and take it to Meridian’s nearby factory. In between, the Ford team received a U.K. import license for the die – a mere two hours before the plane touched down. Parts produced at Nottingham are being shipped via daily flights on a Boeing 747 jet until production in Eaton Rapids returns to pre-fire levels. Inventories of Ford’s best-selling F-Series pickups and other vehicles remain strong and customers won’t have a problem finding the model they want.
  11. A fire at a supplier's plant last week is causing some headaches for Ford. The company has halted production of the F-150 at Kansas City Assembly Plant, and F-Series Super Duty at Kentucky Truck and Ohio Assembly due to a parts shortage. F-150 production at Ford's Dearborn plant is expected to be idled either today or tomorrow. The supplier, Meridian Lightweight Technologies makes instrument panel components for the F-Series trucks. Last Wednesday, the company's factory in Eaton Rapids, Michigan caught fire. The cause is still being investigated, but the Lansing State Journal reports the fire started in an area known as the "tunnel," a place where workers put magnesium scraps on a conveyor belt to be melted down. The fire caused a number of explosions to take place in the factory. Two people were injured and 150 workers were evacuated. The situation at the moment is ok according to Ford and analysts if the shutdown only lasts a week. There is an 84-day supply of trucks and Ford is working with Meridan to figure out the “next steps.” But as AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan points out, this could cause some serious problems for Ford if it lasts more than a week. "They should be able to weather a short-term shutdown. But if this goes longer than a week, it could really hurt second-quarter performance," Sullivan tells the Free Press. Ford isn't the only automaker that is being affected by this. General Motors has halted production of the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana at their Wentizville assembly plant in Missouri. FCA told Automotive News that the fire has affected the output of the Chrysler Pacifica, built at their Windsor, Ontario plant. They are "adjusting production schedules as needed to minimize plant downtime (and) will make up any lost production." Mercedes-Benz in a statement said, "we have cancelled production shifts in certain areas and adjusted production hours for our team members this week," at their Vance, Alabama plant - home to C-Class, GLE-Class, GLE-Coupe, and GLS-Class production. BMW told Automotive News that production of the X5 at their South Carolina plant will be affected somewhat, but their current supply of parts should keep them running for the time being. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Detroit Free Press, Lansing State Journal
  12. Back in December, we reported that the Cadillac ATS sedan would be no more for the 2019 model year via a General Motors VIN Decoder document. Only the coupe would stick around. Cadillac declined to comment at the time. Yesterday, new evidence to the sedan's departure came to light via GM's fleet order guide. The Truth About Cars tried to get a comment from Cadillac about this new information, but wasn't able to. That changed this morning. “This year will bring forth significant changes to our product portfolio, most notably with the introduction of the all-new XT4 SUV as well as concluding the successful lifecycle of the ATS Sedan in North America. The ATS Coupe, which is on a later lifecycle, will continue into 2019,” wrote Cadillac spokesman Donny Nordlicht in an email to The Truth About Cars. The ending of ATS sedan production is to allow GM to start the retooling process at Lansing Grand River Assembly plant for the "next generation of Cadillac sedans”. We're assuming this means the upcoming CT5 - replacement for ATS, CTS, and XTS - will be built here. Source: The Truth About Cars, 2
  13. It has been a rough start for the 2019 Ram 1500 production line. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said on an earnings call last week that the Sterling Heights Assembly plant, home to the 2019 model is only operating at 60 percent of where the company wants it to be. Automotive News learned from sources at the FCA and suppliers that the plant was building around 1,000 trucks per day last week. "That's not where we need to be. We allowed enough time in 2017 to get that installation up, but it's proven to be challenging," said Marchionne. Why the low production rate? A union source explained there are a few reasons. One is that suppliers are having a difficult time with providing parts for two-generations of the Ram 1500 - FCA is planning on building the last-generation model to help keep sales up while production ramps up on the next-generation 1500. The Sterling Heights' plant is also undergoing construction for the 2019 Ram 1500, which cuts the number of trucks that can be built. Also, the union source said that some workers still lack proper training on building the new model. Another source said that more than 2,500 2019 Ram 1500s were sitting in holding areas due to an electrical issue. Once fixed, the trucks will be shipped out to dealers. Getting production up and running for the 2019 Ram 1500 is important for FCA. Marchionne said it and the redesigned Jeep Wrangler need smooth launches if the company wants to achieve its financial goals for this year. To this end, the company is planning on spending more than $300 million to get the production ramp-up back on track. Automotive News also obtained a revised production calendar from March that indicates FCA will run the Sterling Heights plant every weekend and holiday through Labor Day. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  14. The bad luck is continuing at Tesla. Buzzfeed News reports that Tesla has temporarily shut down the Model 3 production line at the Freemont plant for a week. Employees at Tesla tell Buzzfeed the announcement came suddenly and they have the choice of using vacation days or stay home without pay. Some will get the chance to work in other parts of the plant. A Tesla spokesperson said the shutdown is due to the company wanting to “improve automation.” This is the second time this year that Tesla has shut down the Model 3 production line. Back in late February, reports came out that Tesla had shut down the Model 3 production line. "Our Model 3 production plan includes periods of planned downtime in both Fremont and Gigafactory 1. These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates. This is not unusual and is in fact common in production ramps like this," said Tesla in a statement at the time. It should be noted this exact statement was issued again after news broke about the second shutdown. This comes on the heels of an interview last week with CBS' This Morning where CEO Elon Musk admitted the Model 3 had too much new technology and relied too much on robots in the production process. Source: Buzzfeed News, Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  15. Lincoln only established itself in China back in 2015, but it is proving to be quite successful. Last year, Lincoln sold 54,124 models in the country. But the brand has big ambitions and believes it could sell more models in the world's largest auto market if they started building models there. According to Reuters, Lincoln is planning on building up five new vehicles in China by 2022. Officially, Ford has announced a new crossover for the Chinese market in 2019. But sources tell the news service that the automaker is planning on building the upcoming Aviator in China by late 2019 or early 2020. This will be followed by the successors to the MKC and MKZ, and the Nautilus 2021. Wrapping up Lincoln's China production plans is a small, coupe-like crossover expected in 2022. “Our localization plans to support the China market are on track and will serve to further drive Lincoln’s growth in China. Beyond that, it would be premature to discuss our future product and production plans or timing,” said Lincoln spokeswoman Angie Kozleski when reached for comment. Moving production to China would help Lincoln immensely. Currently, Ford imports Lincoln models from the U.S. to China. This means they get hit with a 25 percent tariff and aren't able to compete with the likes of Cadillac and the Germans. Even if China does reduce the tariff on imported vehicles - something Chinese President Xi Jinping promised earlier this week, it might not make a big enough difference for Lincoln to close the gap. “As long as Lincolns are not manufactured in China, the brand’s sales will no doubt suffer continuously,” said Zhu Kongyuan, Secretary General of the China Auto Dealers Chamber of Commerce. Not helping matters is the war of words between the U.S. and China, and the possibility of a trade war on the horizon. Source: Reuters
  16. Saturday night at Tesla's Fremont, California assembly plant was a sight to behold. "...packed with people Saturday evening as the last hours of the quarter drew to a close. Red couches and tall white tables were set up outside, a DJ played music and a truck selling Vietnamese food was on hand," Bloomberg reports. Was Tesla was celebrating an important milestone? No, the company was using this to try and motivate their workers to get more Model 3s out the door to provide some good news for investors. The past week could be considered one of the worst for the electric car maker. Moody's downgraded Tesla's credit rating further into junk status due to production issues and growing obligations. The NTSB has opened a new investigation into Tesla after a driver was killed when his Model X crashed into a barrier and caught fire. "Unclear if automated control system was active at time of crash. Issues examined include: post-crash fire, steps to make vehicle safe for removal from scene," the NTSB wrote earlier in the week. Yesterday, the NTSB said it was "unhappy" with Tesla releasing information into the crash on their blog. The NTSB has a long history of guarding their investigations very closely. Part of this is due to the board being a small agency, which means it relies quite heavily on the participants involved in an investigation. On Thursday, Tesla recalled 123,000 Model S vehicles built before April 2016 for a power-steering issue. Yesterday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted a number of tweets, saying the company had gone bankrupt. It was an April Fool's joke, but it did not go over so well. In early trading this morning, shares in Tesla dropped as much as 5.7 percent. Tesla estimated they would deliver 10,000 Model 3s by the end of the first quarter. We'll likely find out in the next few days whether or not Tesla was able to pull this off when their first-quarter report comes out. But a number of analysts believe Tesla came up short. Source: Bloomberg
  17. BMW has plans of launching 25 electrified models by 2025 - 12 of those being fully electric. But don't expect to start seeing mass production of those 12 models anytime soon. BMW CEO Harald Krueger told analysts in Munich that its current electric vehicle technology is not profitable enough to scale up to volume production. “We wanted to wait for the fifth generation to be much more cost competitive. We do not want to scale up with the fourth generation,” said Krueger. The difference in costs between the fourth and fifth-generation according to Krueger "was a “two digit number” in percent terms." BMW is currently developing a sixth-generation of electric technologies that encompasses research into battery cells, and will hopefully bring down the costs. Currently, BMW's only EV is the i3. The lineup will expand beginning next year with the MINI E. This will be followed by the iX3 crossover in 2020. A sedan based on the iVision Dynamics concept will also be joining the lineup, though when exactly is unclear at this time. Auto Express which first reported this news says it will come out in 2020. But when asked by Automotive News Europe, Krueger said, "we shall see." Source: Reuters, Auto Express, Automotive News Europe (Subscription Required)
  18. The redesigned Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator have been moving quite rapidly off dealer lots. In January, sales of the Expedition rose 59 percent while the Navigator saw a jaw-dropping 132 percent increase. But this is proving to be a problem for Ford as their dealers can't get enough of either model to satisfy consumer demand. A source told Automotive News that CEO Jim Hackett has banned Ford employees from ordering Expeditions and Navigators to help get more out into the world. The source said restricting employees from ordering a mainstream vehicle is very rare. "We could have sold a lot more in January if we had them," said Mark LaNeve, Ford's vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service during Ford's monthly sales call earlier this month. Ford will be addressing this issue with a $25 million investment into their Kentucky Truck Plant today. The investment will allow the plant to produce 25 percent more Expedition and Navigator models. "It's important for this plant to produce more vehicles. In this segment, people will pay for a great product. The dealer feedback has been even stronger than we've hoped for," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of global markets. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Ford Press Release is on Page 2 FORD INCREASING PRODUCTION OF ALL-NEW LINCOLN NAVIGATOR, FORD EXPEDITION TO MEET GREATER-THAN-ANTICIPATED CUSTOMER DEMAND Ford is increasing production of two entirely new SUVs – the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition – to meet surging customer demand A new $25 million investment brings Ford’s total investment at Kentucky Truck Plant to $925 million and allows the company to increase manufacturing line speed; company has boosted production targets for full-size SUVs approximately 25 percent since fall This additional investment and advanced manufacturing upgrades all help the company improve its operational fitness. Upgrades include 400 new robots, enhanced data analytics to help the plant operate more efficiently and a new 3D printer that enables workers to make parts and tools more quickly and cheaper LOUISVILLE, Ky., Feb. 12, 2018 – Ford is increasing production of two popular full-size SUVs to meet surging demand for both all-new models. The company is using advanced manufacturing technologies and an upskilled workforce to increase line speed at its Kentucky Truck Plant to build even more Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition SUVs, boosting production targets approximately 25 percent since last fall when the SUVs hit the market. “The response from customers regarding our new full-size SUVs has been exceptional,” said Joe Hinrichs, president, Global Operations. “Using a combination of Ford’s advanced manufacturing and American hard work and ingenuity, we’ll deliver more high-quality Lincoln Navigators and Ford Expeditions to customers than originally planned.” A new $25 million investment for additional manufacturing enhancements brings Ford’s total investment at Kentucky Truck Plant to $925 million and allows the company to increase manufacturing line speed. This investment and advanced manufacturing upgrades are examples of the company’s quest to improve its operational fitness. Upgrades include 400 new robots, a new 3D printer that enables workers to make parts and tools more quickly and cheaper as well as enhanced data analytics to keep the assembly line moving as efficiently as possible. Surging customer demand Lincoln dealers simply can’t keep the entirely new Navigator on dealer lots; the luxury SUVs are spending an average of just seven days at the dealership before they are sold. Customers are trading in Land Rover and Mercedes vehicles in exchange for a Navigator, and nearly 85 percent of all Navigator buyers are choosing high-end Black Label and Reserve models. Customer demand for the highly-equipped Black Label and Reserve series contributed to an average transaction price increase of more than $21,000 in January versus a year ago. Navigator retail sales were up triple digits in every region of the country last month. Navigator sales more than doubled last month, thanks to growth in key markets including Florida, Texas and California, a competitive conquest rate of 40 percent and new interest from younger consumers. Expedition also is off to a strong start, with the top-of-the-line Platinum trim models representing 29 percent of sales – pushing transaction price increases up $7,800 in January. Expedition retail sales were up nearly 57 percent last month and vehicles are spending just seven days on dealer lots. To ensure customers can get vehicles as quickly as possible, Kentucky Truck Plant assembly line workers are working overtime and voluntary weekend shifts.
  19. When the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra begin rolling off the assembly line sometime later this year, there will be a larger number of crew cabs. GM's vice president of global product development, Mark Reuss tells Automotive News that the company has been "constrained' when it comes to the output of their crew cab pickups, a segment that has seen its popularity increase in recent years. Reuss said the company is planning to increase capacity for crew cabs with their next-generation pickups. A Chevrolet spokesman said that crew cabs have grown from more than 50 percent of GM's truck sales in 2013 to more than 60 percent. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  20. A new report from Automotive News says that Ford is planning to end North American production of the Fusion sedan at the end of this decade. According to sources, the automaker has begun to notify suppliers that it will not produce the next-generation Fusion at their Hermosillo, Mexico plant. Suppliers have also been told that Ford will stop producing the Mondeo (Fusion in other markets) at their Valencia, Spain plant. This is further complicated by a report from Reuters saying the company is consolidating production to a plant in China. Ford has since denied this report. “We have no plans to export the next-generation Fusion/Mondeo from China to North America and Europe. Fusion/Mondeo are an important part of the Ford car lineup. We will have more information to share about the next Fusion/Mondeo at a later date,” the company said in a statement. A spokesman declined to comment when asked if Ford would stop selling Fusion in the U.S., replace it with another vehicle, or build it elsewhere. Previously, Ford executives have said that the shift from cars to crossovers/SUVs will be permanent. Back in October, the company announced that it would be cutting back on the number of car nameplate it offers, but wouldn't go into details. Ford has already ended production of the C-Max Energi and plans on ending the C-Max Hybrid sometime next year. The Fiesta and Taurus are reportedly on the chopping block as well. What does the future hold for the Fusion? At the moment, it is tough to say. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Reuters
  21. More than 90 percent of Tesla Model S and X models that roll off the assembly line require fixes before they are shipped. This figure comes from nine former and current Tesla employees that spoke to Reuters this week citing data from the company's internal tracking system. At Tesla “so much goes into rework after the car is done ... that’s where their money is being spent,” said a former supervisor. Industry experts say it is critical for an automaker to get the quality right before initial production as repairs waste time and money. Other automakers such as Toyota only have an average of "fewer than 10 percent of their cars" requiring some sort of fix. Some of this can be attributed to Tesla's pressure to keep the production line moving, even when there was some sort of issue. This caused certain batches of vehicles to not have various parts such as windshields or bumpers. The understanding according to the workers is they would be fixed later. Other issues such as doors not closing or missing trim pieces show Tesla is still struggling with getting the basics right. Defects included “doors not closing, material trim, missing parts, all kinds of stuff. Loose objects, water leaks, you name it,” another former supervisor said. “We’ve been building a Model S since 2012. How do we still have water leaks?” Tesla calls models with quality issues “kickbacks” and are either fixed on the production line or head to one of Tesla’s outdoor parking lots for repair. According to the workers, one of the lots "has exceeded 2,000 vehicles at times". “Our goal is to produce perfect cars for every customer. Therefore, we review every vehicle for even the smallest refinement. Most customers would never notice the work that is done post production, but we care about even a fraction of a millimeter body gap difference or a slight paint gloss texture. We then feed these improvements back to production in a pursuit of perfection,” Tesla said in a statement to Reuters. The company declined to provide any post-assembly defect rates and denied those repair lots exist. Source: Reuters
  22. Toyota's Tj Cruiser concept is an interesting one. It takes elements of a van and SUV, and mashes them up into a capable and practical vehicle. Toyota in a press release announcing the concept hinted that it could go into production by saying it would be based on their TGNA modular platform, feature a hybrid powertrain, and have the choice of front or all-wheel drive. According to Autocar, Toyota is serious about possibly bringing the Tj Cruiser to production. Design chief Hirokazu Ikuma told the outlet that if the concept gets enough of a positive reaction from those attending the Tokyo Motor Show, it may move on to the next step of taking this vehicle to various consumer clinics to gather reactions. If the Tj Cruiser is given the green light, it would be underpinned by the next-generation TGNA platform due in 2022. Source: Autocar
  23. There have been countless rumors and leaks pertaining to the next-generation Jeep Wrangler. But now we have something official from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. An employee from FCA tweeted out a picture charting how some of its plants will retool for various products in the coming year. The picture confirms that the Wrangler will be shown in November and enter production sometime in the fourth quarter. There is also the mention of the next Ram 1500 debuting in January with production beginning sometime in the first quarter. It would be safe to assume that the Wrangler will be shown at LA and the Ram 1500 at Detroit. We also learned that an updated Cherokee will go into production early next year, but no mention of a possible reveal date. Source: Jeff Bennett on Twitter
  24. October has not been the best of months for Nissan. Earlier this month, Japan’s transport ministry revealed that at five of the company's six plants in the country had quality checks being certified by unauthorized workers. According to Reuters, vehicles destined for the domestic market have to go under a final check by certified technicians. “It’s extremely regrettable, causing anxiety for users and shaking the foundation of the certification system,” said Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Ishii at a press conference earlier this month. Nissan announced that it would be recalling 1.2 million vehicles built within the past three years due to this issue. The news has only gotten worse as the Japanese automaker announced today that it would be suspending production at all of their Japan plants for at least two weeks to investigate and address this issue. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa revealed at a briefing that this unauthorized approval continued a month after Nissan was told about this issue and said it strengthened the control of its inspection processes. “Our emergency measures were not enough. We were unable to change our bad habits,” said Saikawa There are numerous factors as to how this debacle developed including increasing the efficiency of the inspection process and plants transferring the checks to other lines. Nissan is planning on recalling an additional 34,000 vehicles for re-inspection. Production of export vehicles will continue as this issue is specific to Japanese-market models. Source: Reuters, 2, Bloomberg, Nissan Press Release is on Page 2 Regarding recurrence of final vehicle inspection issue at Nissan’s vehicle plants in Japan YOKOHAMA, Japan – As previously announced, on September 18 the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation (MLIT) notified Nissan that in the final vehicle inspection process, certain checks were carried out by technicians not properly registered to perform those duties under Nissan’s own processes. Nissan took corrective measures at Japanese production plants by September 20 to address the issue. By October 18, the investigation team (led by a third party) discovered that at its Oppama, Tochigi and the Nissan Kyushu plants, certain parts of the final inspection process were still being carried out by technicians not properly registered to perform those duties for vehicles for the Japan market. Nissan decided today to suspend vehicle production for the Japan market at all Nissan and Nissan Shatai plants in Japan. Nissan regrets any inconvenience and concern this has caused to its valued customers and other stakeholders in Japan. Findings The plants transferred final vehicle inspection check items from the final vehicle inspection line to other lines, such as the “marketability inspection” and the “offline inspection”. As a result, employees who were not internally registered as final vehicle inspectors performed final vehicle inspections. Measures planned Nissan will take the following actions with regard to the production line and vehicles that did not meet Japanese market requirements for final inspection: Production line in the plants The final vehicle inspection line will be configured as originally submitted to MLIT, consolidating all final inspection processes. Final inspection process will be separated from other processes and only internally registered final vehicle inspectors will have access to the final inspection line. Unregistered and registered vehicles Nissan is considering re-inspecting the unregistered vehicles at certified Nissan dealership facilities throughout Japan. Nissan is considering submitting a noncompliance recall report for registered vehicles. Approximately 34,000 vehicles produced between September 20 – October 18, 2017 including those produced for other makers will be subject to re-inspection. Nissan regards the recurrence of this issue at domestic plants — despite the corrective measures taken — as critical. The investigation team will continue to thoroughly investigate the issue and determine measures to prevent recurrence. Details of the above will be included in the final report to be published on a later date.
  25. The strike at General Motors' CAMI Assembly plant, home of the Chevrolet Equinox has come to an end. Today, 86 percent of Unifor Local 88 members voted yes on a new 4-year contract. With the approval, workers will resume work at the plant beginning at 7 PM tonight for early start-up, with production beginning at 11 PM. Here is what new 4-year contract include Stronger language around job security. Union said the new contract would make it more costly for GM to close down CAMI - $290 million vs. $190 million. If CAMI is shuttered, employees near retirement will still be able to get into a retirement program. Workers will get a 4 percent wage hike and $8,000 in lump-sum payments over the contract New hires on the production line will see an accelerated pace in terms of their wages increased to the max of $34.15 per hour A $6,000 performance bonus once the deal is ratified "The ratification of a new 4-year agreement between GM Canada and Unifor Local 88 at CAMI Assembly is welcome news for our company, employees and the community. We have an outstanding new product at CAMI with the Chevrolet Equinox and I am confident that we will quickly pull together to continue to demonstrate to the world the outstanding productivity, innovation and quality that is synonymous with the CAMI workforce," said Steve Carlisle, President of GM Canada in a statement. There is one thing missing from this contract, a written assurance that CAMI would be the lead producer of the Equinox. This was the major point of contention between the two during negoations. It is clear that Unifor officials are not happy with this contract. “The end result was not the result we were hoping for, it shows the true colors of GM,” Unifor Local 88 Chair Mike Van Boekel said in a statement to members. Given these actions, our demand to protect the Equinox was not only fair and reasonable, it simply made sense. Our members had every reason to make this [lead producer] demand, and did everything to demonstrate it was a demand that deserved to be met. However, at the highest levels of General Motors corporate in Detroit, they coldly refused. As a result and after much internal discussion, we decided that we could not, in good conscience, ask for more economic sacrifice from you in this fight,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. We have to wonder if GM's threat of ramping up Equinox production in Mexico issued last week was the turning point. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), CBC News, GM Press Release is on Page 2 2017 CAMI / UNIFOR NEGOTIATIONS The ratification of a new 4-year agreement between GM Canada and Unifor Local 88 at CAMI Assembly is welcome news for our company, employees and the community. We have an outstanding new product at CAMI with the Chevrolet Equinox and I am confident that we will quickly pull together to continue to demonstrate to the world the outstanding productivity, innovation and quality that is synonymous with the CAMI workforce. I want to extend thanks to the local and national Unifor teams who have worked long hours together with the GM negotiating team these past many weeks. The negotiations process requires a great deal of straight talk, creative problem solving, and compromise to achieve a positive outcome for both the membership and the Company. Success is also achieved by remembering that we are here to serve our customers proudly and deliver the very best product and services to them. Having grown up in Southwestern Ontario, the CAMI plant and the Oxford County community mean a great deal to me. The challenges of the past months have been hard on all of us but now it’s time to show the character of our region and our plant. With the recent $800 million investment at the CAMI plant and this agreement, it is up to each of us to demonstrate the unparalleled value we deliver as leaders within Canada’s auto sector. The employees at CAMI have created a culture of team involvement and continuous improvement resulting in numerous industry awards for vehicle quality and productivity. I am confident that by working as one team, that will continue for years to come. Steve Carlisle President and Managing Director General Motors Canada

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