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Archive for September, 2017

A Year Before it Opens, Volvo Set to Double Size of New Charleston Plant

Will start with S60; second model to be announced "soon."

by on Sep.20, 2017

The new Volvo XC60 is anchoring parent Geely's ambitious global expansion plans.

The first car isn’t scheduled to roll down the assembly line at Volvo’s new Charleston, South Carolina assembly plant for another year, but the automaker already appears to be optimistic enough to plan for a second, $1 billion line.

The plant will become Volvo’s first assembly plant in the U.S., and will combine its capacity with two new facilities that have already opened in China. The Charleston facility originally was designed with just one line, and was expected to produce about 140,000 vehicles annually – relatively small by modern automotive standards. Sources indicate that will be boosted to more than 200,000 with the addition of a second line.

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“The factory is extremely important for Volvo,” Lex Kerssemakers, the CEO of Volvo North America, told TheDetroitBureau.com during an interview last month. Among other things, he said, when the original investment was announced “it sent a signal” to both consumers and dealers that Volvo was making a serious commitment to the U.S. market.

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Delphi, BlackBerry Partner on Self-Driving Car Tech

Once-time GM parts subsidiary hopes to have driverless tech in production by 2021.

by on Sep.20, 2017

Delphi has already teamed with BMW, Mobileye and Intel to develop an autonomous prototype.

Detroit-based mega-supplier Delphi is teaming up with BlackBerry Ltd., the Canadian company best known for its once-ubiquitous smartphones, to develop the underlying software needed to put autonomous and driverless vehicles on the road.

Once the auto parts unit of General Motors, Delphi has been rapidly shifting away from traditional, mechanical parts to focus on high-tech automotive systems. It already has developed a self-driving system called CSLP that could put it in direct competition with the likes of Google spinoff Waymo.

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But at a briefing at its suburban Detroit headquarters Wednesday, Glen De Vos, Delphi’s Chief Technical Officer said that the “incredibly complex” technology needed for tomorrow’s cars makes it difficult “to do this alone. We need partners.” (more…)

FCA Recalling Half-Million Trucks for Fire Issue

No injuries or fatalities tied to problem, FCA says.

by on Sep.20, 2017

Chrysler is recalling more than 494,000 Ram medium- and heavy-duty trucks with 6.7-liter V8 engines in them.

Fiat Chrysler is recalling nearly 500,000 medium- and heavy-duty Ram trucks due a water pump issue that could potentially lead to a fire.

The problem affects 2013–2017 model year Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups as well as 3500, 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs. The action covers only trucks with 6.7-liter engines, according to FCA. The problem hasn’t led to any injuries or fatalities, the company noted.

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According to reports, the automaker is “aware of a small number of incidents,” that met the “regulatory definition of fire, which includes everything from a burning odor to open flame.” Some of those fires caused damage to the vehicles in the area around the water pump. (more…)

Spy Shots: 2019 Ram 1500 Pickup

Peeling back the camo.

by on Sep.20, 2017

The new 2019 Ram 1500 is expected to get several upgrades from the previous version, including the use of ultra high strength steel.

Ecdysiasts aren’t the only ones who peel things back one glove at a time. Automakers routinely begin testing new products on public roads wearing heavy camouflage, slowing stripping layers off as they come closer to production.

So it has gone with the next-generation Ram 1500 pickup, which is expected to make its formal debut for the 2019 model-year, parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles optimistic enough about its prospects to expand production capacity. Among other things, the new Ram truck will begin rolling out of FCA’s plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan that, until recently, was producing the Chrysler 200 sedan.

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While there’s still enough camouflage here to keep some of the next Ram’s naughty bits concealed, we’ve been able to track down some key details about the 2019 pickup, starting with the fact that the 1500 will continue to be made almost entirely out of steel, FCA declining to take its lead from Ford’s big F-150 and migrate to an aluminum-intensive design. (more…)

Ford Planning Temp Shutdowns at Five N.American Plants

Move reflects worsening U.S. new car market.

by on Sep.20, 2017

Lincoln dealers have 162 days worth of Continentals on lots, over twice the industry norm.

Ford Motor Co. plans to temporarily idle five North American assembly lines to cope with slowing sales and mounting inventories.

The closures are the latest in an expanding series of production adjustments the auto industry – primarily Detroit’s Big Three – has made since the beginning of 2017, the first year since the end of the Great Recession to suffer an auto sales downturn.

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Tens of thousands of U.S. workers have so far been impacted, some facing long-term layoffs, others idled for just a week or two at a time. Ford said the factories covered by its latest move employ over 15,000 hourly workers, though it did not offer a breakout indicating how many actually will be idled.

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Gas Prices, Fuel Inventories Continue Dropping

Refineries in recovery mode after Harvey, Irma.

by on Sep.20, 2017

Gas prices are now trending down with the end of the summer driving season.

Even with a chunk of the nation’s refining capacity closed and new hurricanes churning in the Atlantic Ocean, gasoline prices have headed down this week thanks to the end of the summer driving season and a heavy draw down by retailers on the record inventories.

As states recover in the South and Southeast from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, motorists in 45 U.S. states are paying less for a gallon of gas this week. At $2.62, national gas price average is the cheapest in 14 days and five cents less than last week, according to AAA.

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“Gas prices are dropping as the situation with refineries, pipelines and gasoline deliveries is positively progressing,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “It looks like pump prices will continue on this declining trend into the coming weeks as the regions affected by Irma and Harvey resume normal operations,” she said. (more…)

GM Buys More Electricity from Alternative Power Sources

Company wants all power to come from green sources.

by on Sep.20, 2017

GM is aiming to power all of its U.S. facilities with alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar.

General Motors is moving closer to its goal of using alternative energy to power its factories across the United States and end for good the company’s century-long use of electricity from coal-fired power plants.

GM announced this week the company’s plant in Ohio and Indiana, including the assembly plants that build the Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks, will meet 100% of their electricity from renewable energy by the end of 2018.

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GM said it plans to use 200 megawatts of wind energy from wind farms in Ohio and Illinois. Once the turbines come online by the end of 2018, renewable energy will power 20% of GM’s global electricity use, GM said in a statement. The goal is use a mix of onsite and offsite renewable energy solutions to reach to meet 100% of its energy needs. (more…)

Toyota Set to Reveal Electrification Strategy at 2018 Detroit Auto Show

Hybrids expected to remain key, even with new EVs in the works.

by on Sep.19, 2017

Akio Toyoda at the launch of the Toyota Prius V.

Toyota, the automaker credited with creating the world’s first mainstream gas-electric hybrid, plans to reveal its corporate electrification strategy at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next January, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.

Though it set in motion the push to battery power with the 1997 debut of the original Prius hybrid, Toyota has been slow to embrace more advanced forms of electrification, with only one plug-in model, the Prius Prime, currently in its line-up. But with governments around the world tightening emissions and mileage mandates – and even considering outright bans on the internal combustion engine, Toyota is expected to outline plans to add dozens of new hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric, or BEV, models to its line-up over the next decade.

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But don’t expect to see the Japanese giant abandon the time-tested internal combustion engine, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda cautioned during a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday. “EVs are in focus at the moment,” he said, “but customers and the market will ultimately decide which powertrains will be successful.”

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Toyota Turns Up the Heat With New GR Line of Performance Models

Gazoo Racing takes on seven models, including Prius Prime plug-in.

by on Sep.19, 2017

Toyota unveils the new GR performance line-up.

Hoping to pump a little more “passion” into the brand, Toyota is pushing for more extreme designs and, now, adding a series of new performance models.

The Japanese automaker’s Gazoo Racing unit is starting out with seven models in its new GR series, with even the Prius Prime plug-in getting a performance boost. But one model was notably absent during a Tokyo debut: the reborn Toyota Supra that is expected to make its return debut during next month’s Tokyo Motor Show.

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The debut of the new line-up comes as President Akio Toyoda continues his push to improve the “passion” quotient for both the Toyota and Lexus brands, the luxury division recently adding the new LC500 sports coupe to its line-up while also adopting a much more aggressive design for the flagship LS sedan. The Toyota brand recently adopted a much more sporty look for its top-selling Camry model.

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Labor Dispute Cripples Production of Hot-Selling Equinox

Supplies at creeping toward critical levels.

by on Sep.19, 2017

Unifor President Jerry Dias said it's time for GM to reward the workers in Ingersoll for working lean and putting out best-in-class quality products.

The strike at an assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, has crippled production of one of GM’s hottest vehicles as negotiators from company and Unifor, the union representing some 3,000 workers, appear to have made little progress towards resolution to the unfolding dispute.

Unifor President Jerry Dias had said before the walkout began that workers would strike unless GM earmarked another vehicle for the CAMI plant in Ingersoll to replace GMC Terrain, which the automaker shifted to Mexico earlier this year. So far, GM hasn’t indicated it was prepared to meet the union’s demand.

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The strike by Unifor has cut production of the Chevrolet Equinox, which jumped 84.5% in the U.S. and by 33% in Canada during August.  (more…)