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Overseas Markets Clamoring for New Mustang, Ford Officials Claim

Strong demand could see addition of third shift at Flat Rock plant.

by on Aug.29, 2014

Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs poses with the first of the 2015 Mustangs off the line.

The first of the new 2015 Ford Mustangs rolled off the assembly line this week, and though the new pony car won’t go on sale in Europe or Asia until next year, overseas dealers have already snapped up their allocation of the sixth-generation Mustangs, according to Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of The Americas.

The Mustang has traditionally been a car for North America, but it has nonetheless developed a loyal following in markets around the world, with a number of dealers trading in so-called “gray market” exports. That strong following convinced Ford it could start marketing the newly redesigned coupe and convertible pony cars globally.

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“We’re not yet (officially) taking orders in other parts of the world yet because we’re going to start here in North America filling up the pipeline. But we’re seeing very strong demand” in Asia and Europe, Hinrichs told reporters after the ceremony marking the official launch of production of the sixth-generation Mustang, which is being prepared for sales in 120 countries.

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Ford Plant Readies to Meet Global Demand for Mustang

Maker gives nod to original pony car in 2015 model.

by on Aug.28, 2014

Ford's Flat Rock, Michigan, plant is ready to start churning out the 2015 Mustang. The company is celebrating 50 years of Mustang production.

One of the biggest launches in Ford Motor Co.’s recent history is getting underway as the all-new, sixth generation Ford Mustang rolls off the line for the first time at the company’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, this week.

“Mustang is and will continue to be an automotive icon,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of The Americas. “Expanding its availability globally affords our customers around the world the opportunity to have a true firsthand Mustang experience – one unlike any other.”

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In April, Ford celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original Mustang. To commemorate the event, each 2015 model will be adorned with a badge on the instrument panel that includes the galloping pony logo and the words “Mustang – Since 1964.” (more…)

Toyota Expands Tech Center as Part of North American Reorganization

Maker getting as much as $8.6 million in incentives in Michigan.

by on Aug.27, 2014

Toyota is getting as much as $8.6 million in incentives to offset the cost of a $32.5 million expansion of its tech center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

As Toyota moves ahead with plans to reshape its North American operations, the automaker may get as much as $8.6 million in incentives to offset a $32.5 million expansion of its technical center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Toyota is moving 250 purchasing jobs from Kentucky to Michigan necessitating the larger facility. In addition to the expansion in Michigan, the maker is moving its headquarters from southern California to a suburb of Dallas, Texas.

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The State of Michigan is providing a $4 million grant while York Township, near Ann Arbor, is also considering a 12-year property tax abatement valued at $4.6 million. (more…)

Ram Diesel, Toyota Highlander Hybrid Win Consumer Reports Nods

Both deliver unexpected mileage, magazine says.

by on Aug.27, 2014

The Ram EcoDiesel delivers sedan-like mileage, according to Consumer Reports testers.

Consumer Reports has placed Fiat Chrysler’s Ram 1500 EcoDiesel at the top of its full-size pickup truck ratings due to its performance in fuel-economy tests, while the influential magazine also lauded the Toyota Highlander SUV.

The choice of the Ram Diesel underscores the growing intensity of the competition in the full-size pickup segment, which is undergoing a technical revolution as truck makers roll out new, more fuel-efficient powertrains and make other significant improvements meant to boost fuel-economy.

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Ford Motor Co. will launch a new, aluminum-bodied F-150 this fall that sheds up to 700 pounds and is expected to gain significant mileage, but the all-new truck wasn’t included in this round of tests by Consumer Reports.

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GM Moves Forward with Grand IT Plan

Maker opens new innovation center in Arizona.

by on Aug.26, 2014

General Motors recently opened its newest IT Innovation Center in Chandler, Arizona.

General Motors continues moving forward with its ambitious three-year plan to overhaul its information technology services by bringing them back in house with the opening of its next innovation center.

The automaker opened its newest IT innovation center in Chandler, Arizona and hired 500 employees to staff the facility. Overall, the company expects to hire 1,000 employees during the next two years.

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Randy Mott, GM senior vice president, Global Information Technology & Chief Information Officer, said the innovation centers are part of a companywide transformation to improve performance, reduce the cost of ongoing operations and increase its delivery of innovation. (more…)

Auto Industry Outperforms Other Industries in Comeback

Sector provided higher median returns since 2008.

by on Aug.26, 2014

Strong auto sales have helped automakers and suppliers provide better than average shareholder returns since the financial downturn of 2008.

Few economic sectors have mounted a more impressive comeback from the financial crisis in 2008 than the auto industry, according to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The study found that auto manufacturers and component makers delivered five-year median annual returns that were well in excess of the 21% median return for the 26 industries tracked by the group.

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On average, carmakers produced a median annual total shareholder return, which traces both dividends and share price appreciation, of 29% from 2009 through 2013, while component makers posted a median annual TSR of 33%. (more…)

Toyota Adding 300 Workers to Meet Highlander Demand

Maker spending $100 million in Indiana plant expansion.

by on Aug.25, 2014

Toyota announced it would be adding 300 workers to its plant in Princeton, Ind., to meet the sales demand for the Toyota Highlander.

Much of the news lately about automakers expanding their production capabilities seems to be tied to Mexico; however, Toyota is adding 300 jobs at its plant in Princeton, Ind. as part of a $100 million expansion to increase production of its Highlander.

The project is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2016. Toyota has invested more than $4 billion into its Indiana facilities.

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Since production of the third-generation Highlander began in the Indiana plant in December 2013, sales have been strong. From January through July 2014, Toyota sold about 90,000 Highlanders, an increase of 16% over the same period the previous year. (more…)

Car Sales Still Hot, Even as Summer Cools Down

Month likely to bring best sales - and highest prices - for 2014.

by on Aug.22, 2014

New products - such as the redesigned Toyota Corolla - are helping push car sales higher.

Robust sales of new vehicles during the early summer months have continued in  August, with demand for new cars, trucks and crossovers on pace to surpass May for the  highest levels in 2014, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

That echoes the findings of another new study showing that U.S. motorists have run up record levels of automotive loan debt this year.  John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power, notes that continued high levels of consumer expenditures on new vehicles demonstrate continued improvement of the health of the industry.

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“We expect consumer spending on new vehicles in August to approach $39 billion, the highest level on record for the month of August and second-highest month ever behind July 2005 when it was $39.7 billion,” said Humphrey. “The record consumer spending is fueled by both high sales volumes and high transaction prices.”

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GM Tech Center Still Reeling from Flooding

R&D and Design operations hard hit.

by on Aug.21, 2014

The GM Tech Center was one of the premier projects of architect Eero Saarinen.

General Motor Co. is still struggling to get its huge, suburban Detroit technical center back in operation 10 days after it was flooded by a huge storm that dumped more some five inches of rain on the Motor City.

The rain and flooding, which claimed three lives in the Detroit area, also forced GM, Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group to shut down production at some key plants around Detroit.

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But the largest disruption was at the General Motors Technical Center in the suburb of Warren, which is normally home to more than 19,500 full-time employees and contractors. Almost all of them were forced to abandon their work stations in the immediate aftermath of the flooding, which began during the late afternoon and early evening of Monday, August 11 when what has been described as a 100-year storm hammered the city.

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Auto Sales Soar – But So Does Auto Loan Debt

Sub-prime lending and delinquencies raise concerns.

by on Aug.20, 2014

Sub-prime lending has sharply increased - though it remains lower than before the recession.

Car sales may be soaring to their highest levels since the depths of the recession but, in the process, U.S. motorists are running up record auto loan debts.

The combination of rising car prices and a negligible growth in wages has only compounded the problem, buyers going deeper into debt to drive off showroom lots. Outstanding auto loans hit an all-time record of $839.1 billion during the second quarter, a whopping 11.7% year-over-year increase, according to debt tracking service Experian Automotive.

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It marks the 13th consecutive quarter auto loan has increased, according to a separate report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Overall, outstanding household debt was essentially flat, the Fed noted.

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