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GM Investing $1b in US Plants, Adding or Saving 7,000 Jobs

Plan in the works before election, maker emphasizes.

by on Jan.17, 2017

GM has already invested $21 bil in its U.S. plants since 2010, adding 6,000 manufacturing jobs.

General Motors has confirmed widespread reports on Tuesday that it would invest another $1 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations, but significantly increased the number of American jobs it plans to add.

The factory project will result in the creation or retention of 1,500 jobs, while another 450 jobs will be returned to the U.S. as GM transfers back production of axles from a plant in Mexico. In addition, the automaker will add 5,000 more jobs in finance and advanced technology “over the next few years,” it said in a Tuesday morning announcement.

Breaking News!

“As the U.S. manufacturing base increases its competitiveness, we are able to further increase our investment, resulting in more jobs for America and better results for our owners,”  said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “The U.S. is our home market and we are committed to growth that is good for our employees, dealers, and suppliers and supports our continued effort to drive shareholder value.”

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GM Investing $1b in U.S. Plants – Stresses Move Not Driven by Trump

New move to add or retain 1,000 jobs.

by on Jan.17, 2017

CEO Mary Barra said last week that GM will not alter investments to please the new president.

General Motors is expected to announce a $1 billion investment in its U.S. factories on Tuesday, a move that will allow the nation’s largest automaker to create or retain about 1,000 American jobs, according to several sources. Specific details about where the investment will be targeted have not been disclosed yet.

The announcement will come exactly two weeks after President-elect Donald Trump threatened to impose a “big border tax” on GM for importing the hatchback version of its compact Chevrolet Cruze model from Mexico. And it follows other investment U.S. announcements made this month by cross-town rivals Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Setting the Record Straight!

But GM sources stressed that the new investment by the automaker was not driven by the incoming president’s threats – a position echoed by GM General Counsel Craig Glidden in a story by the Wall Street Journal.

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AMG, Maybach, Buoying Mercedes as it Takes Global Luxury Lead

Is an all-electric AMG in the cards?

by on Jan.16, 2017

The Mercedes-AMG GT R takes on winter's worst in the latest expansion of the Forza racing game.

Once rare, Daimler’s AMG division seems intent on turning out high-performance versions of just about every possible Mercedes-Benz model – sometimes two or more, as it demonstrated at the Detroit Auto Show with the launch of several new Mercedes-AMG GT variants.

The latest AMG models are not just faster than ever, they’re flying out of showrooms at a record pace, with little indication of any slowdown in sight as the brand that began in a German garage marks its 50th anniversary.

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AMG isn’t the only brand-within-a-brand success story for Daimler. If anything, however, Maybach may be an even bigger surprise, having come back from the dead just two years ago as the marque for Mercedes’ most exclusive models. The reincarnated brand is now selling more cars in China each month than it did worldwide in its previous life.

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New Achates Engine Design Could Double Mileage

Opposed-piston engine could get there without breaking the bank.

by on Jan.16, 2017

A 2.7-liter version of the Achates opposed-piston engine making 270 hp and 479 lb-ft.

With the Environmental Protection Agency upholding the tough, 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, automakers are going to face a tough challenge. Barring a reversal by the incoming Trump Administration, they’ll have to deliver an average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The general consensus is that this will mean widespread use of electrifications – from conventional hybrids to pure battery-electric vehicles. But a small research and engineering firm, based in San Diego, thinks it has a viable – and far more cost-effective — solution that could deliver nearly twice the mileage of conventional gas engines – as much as 37 mpg for even full-size pickup trucks.

Tech News!

The Achates opposed-piston engine “will be 50% more efficient than the leading gas turbocharged direct-injection engine on the market today,” said Dave Johnson, a former Ford Motor Co. engineer who now serves as CEO of Achates Power.

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EPA Finalizes 54.5 MPG Standard

Move hands issue off to Trump Administration.

by on Jan.13, 2017

President Barack Obama pushed to keep tougher fuel economy standards expected to phase in 2022 over automaker objections.

After an extensive midterm review, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has locked in place the strict, 54.5 mile per gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard set to phase in between 2022 and 2025.

The decision, which regulators had signaled was likely in late November, could set up second-guessing and a reversal by the regulation-averse Trump Administration coming into office later this month. The tough new standard had been strongly opposed by the auto industry and its supporters that claimed it could price vehicles out of reach of many American motorists.

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EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy dismissed such concerns, in a statement noting, “My decision today rests on the technical record created by over eight years of research, hundreds of published reports including an independent review by the National Academy of Sciences, hundreds of stakeholder meetings, and multiple opportunities for the public and the industry to provide input.” (more…)

Takata Pleads Guilty in Airbag Scandal

Justice Department plans to go after executives too.

by on Jan.13, 2017

The Justice Department reached a $1 billion settlement with Takata due to its faulty airbags that resulted in the largest recall in U.S. history.

Takata Corp., the Japanese supplier whose airbags have been linked to at least 11 U.S. deaths, has agreed to plead guilty and pay fines and restitution totaling about $1 billion, the Department of Justice announced Friday afternoon.

Reflecting what U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch this week called an effort to hold “flesh-and-blood individuals,” rather than just “faceless corporations” responsible for criminal activity, three Takata executives have been indicted in the scandal. Takata acknowledged it not only produced defective airbags but took steps to conceal that information from both its automaker customers and from the public.

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“Takata was supposed to be selling products that saved lives,” said Sandra Moser, principal deputy chief of the DOJ’s Fraud Section. Instead, for more than a decade … it put profits ahead of people’s safety.” (more…)

Senior VW Managers Reportedly Warned to Stay Away from the U.S.

Five under indictment in diesel scandal remain in Germany.

by on Jan.13, 2017

Volkswagen is warning some of its executives to avoid traveling to the U.S. due to their involvement its the diesel scandal.

With six of its current or former managers facing indictment in the U.S. for their role in the company’s diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen is reportedly advising senior officials not to travel to the United States.

During a news conference this week announcing a $4.3 billion settlement of its VW investigation, U.S. Department of Justice officials said they were not only going after a “faceless” corporation, but also seeking to hold responsible “flesh-and-blood individuals.”

Global Auto News!

One Volkswagen manager was indicted last year, pleading guilty and agreeing to assist the probe. This week, six other senior managers were indicted by the DOJ. One was arrested in Florida ahead of the settlement announcement. Five others are now in Germany and, at least for the moment, out of the government’s reach. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Latest to be Charged With Rigging Diesel Emissions

Automaker’s stock price tumbles in wake of EPA allegations.

by on Jan.12, 2017

The Ram 1500 turbodiesel has won a number of awards since its 2015 introduction.

Barely 24 hours after the U.S. Justice Department announced a $4.3 billion settlement with Volkswagen AG in connection with the German maker’s diesel emissions scandal, the Environmental Protection Agency accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of rigging its own diesel engines to illegally pass emissions test.

The agency said the so-called defeat device technology “appeared to cause the vehicles to perform differently when being tested” than when in use in real-world conditions. That was the same thing the EPA, in September 2014, charged that Volkswagen had done. Since then, VW has paid out close to $25 billion in fines and penalties related to the scandal. And FCA stockholders, apparently fearing a similar financial hit, sent the maker’s stock tumbling in the wake of the latest revelation.

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Enviro News!

“This is a clear and serious violation of the Clean Air Act,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The undisclosed software results in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides from the vehicles, threatening public health by polluting the air that we breathe.”

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Scrubbing NAFTA Could Cost More Than 30,000 U.S. Auto Jobs

Workers, consumers could lose, not win, say experts, new study.

by on Jan.12, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump's opposition to NAFTA could have unexpected consequences.

If President-elect Donald J. Trump moves ahead with plans to derail the North American Free Trade Agreement, it could significantly impact the U.S. auto industry, but not in the way the incoming Commander-in-Chief had promised, according to a new study by the Center for Automotive Research.

After entering the presidential race in 2015, then-candidate Trump began targeting NAFTA as a major factor behind the loss of American manufacturing jobs. He has repeatedly called out automakers, including Ford, General Motors and Toyota, for importing Mexican-made vehicles, and threatened to either end or modify the trade deal or, alternatively, to enact a 35% tariff on goods brought in from the country.

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“Counter to the incoming Trump Administration’s goal of creating manufacturing jobs the withdrawal from NAFTA or the implementation of punitive tariffs could result in the loss of 31,000 U.S. jobs,” said CAR, a highly respected automotive research firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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The Demon Returns – as Next Dodge Hellcat

New Dodge Challenger SRT Demon could top 707-hp.

by on Jan.12, 2017

The Demon is coming - a scene from the teaser video announcing the new Dodge Demon.

For those who didn’t think the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcat models, with their 707-horsepower hemi V-8s were powerful enough, salvation is coming – in the form of the new 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon set to make its debut at the New York International Auto Show three months from now.

The Demon name is a blast from the past. It was used for one of the old Chrysler Corp.’s classic ‘70s muscle cars, though back then it was based off the old two-door Dodge Dart. Dodge hinted it might want to resurrect the name with the debuting of a roadster concept, dubbed Dodge Demon, that made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 2007.

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The new beast, it turns out, will be based off the same modern coupe as one of Fiat Chrysler’s current Hellcat models, the Dodge Challenger SRT. But it apparently has some devilish new tricks.

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