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Kia Announces $1 billion Mexican Assembly Plant

Factory set to open in 2016; add much-needed production capacity.

by on Aug.28, 2014

The new plant is expected to produce several small models, including a version of the Kia Forte Koup.

Desperate to add more much-needed production capacity, Kia Motors will become the latest automaker to open a new assembly plant in Mexico.

Intended to serve markets up and down the Americas, the $1 billion plant will begin operations in just two years, and will be tooled to eventually build as many as 300,000 vehicles annually. The facility is expected to produce a number of different compact models, according to the Korean carmaker, though it did not identify specific plans yet.

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The factory will become one of a growing list of automotive assembly plants operating in the Spanish-speaking country, Mexico already on target to become the sixth-largest auto-producing nation in the world as makers such as Nissan, Audi and now Kia set up shop or expand existing production facilities.

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Colorado Drivers Proclaimed Best in America

Allstate claims Fort Collins, Colorado has best drivers.

by on Aug.28, 2014

If you live in Fort Collins, Colorado, this is a scene that is much less familiar than if you live in Worcester, Massachusetts.

With Americans buying new vehicles at a frenzied pace this year, knowing that Fort Collins, Colorado, is the safest place to drive that new car or truck might be useful information.

Allstate Insurance Co. released its 10th annual “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report,” which is based on Allstate claims data, ranks America’s 200 largest cities in terms of car collision frequency to identify which cities have the safest drivers.

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It marks the fourth time in the 10-year history of the report the city known for being the home of Colorado State University, took the honor of being “America’s Safest Driving City.” Fort Collins has placed in the top ten every year since the report’s inception. Read the rest of this entry »

Volvo Planning at Least 9 New Models

Coupe, convertible offerings on hold - for now.

by on Aug.27, 2014

The new 2016 XC90 is the lead-off for a broad product assault planned by Volvo through 2019.

It’s been 13 years since Volvo last updated its big XC90 SUV, an interminable wait in an industry where customers are demanding faster and faster product updates.

The maker this week finally rolled out a new version of the XC90, which will reach showrooms around the world next April. The big ute is the first all-new model developed under the ownership of Zhejiang Geely Holdings, the Chinese carmaker that purchased Volvo from Ford Motor Co. in 2010 – but it won’t be the last.

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Volvo is planning to introduce at least nine all-new models between now and 2019, company officials announced during interviews that followed this week’s preview of the XC90. The focus will be on the XC family of utility vehicles, more traditional wagons, and sedans, those officials stressed. But they also hinted that more products, targeting specialty niches, could follow. Read the rest of this entry »

Once-Shuttered GM Spring Hill Factory to Become Major Manufacturing Center Again

Maker plans to produce next-gen Cadillac SRX and all-new family of small engines.

by on Aug.27, 2014

Once considered the future of the U.S. auto industry, the former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, is getting a $233 million makeover to build the Cadillac SRX and possibly other vehicles.

It was originally hailed as the future of the U.S. auto industry, only to be mothballed in the wake of General Motors’ bankruptcy and the abandonment of the maker’s failed Saturn brand. But GM is about to make a major investment in its Spring Hill, Tennessee assembly plant that will turn the sprawling complex into one of its most flexible and promising factories.

The announced of a $233 million investment comes a quarter century after the Spring Hill plant first opened as the home of the once-promising Saturn brand. While Saturn was one of four brands abandoned as GM emerged from its 2009 bankruptcy, the powertrain portion of the Tennessee complex will produce a critical new line of small gasoline engines, while the adjacent assembly line will be re-tooled to handle upcoming midsize models.

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While GM isn’t ready to tip its hand on all its plans, it did confirm that Spring Hill will assemble the next-generation version of Cadillac’s popular SRX crossover-utility vehicle. At least one other midsize model is expected to go into the factory which will be flexible enough to handle a wide range of products in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Volvo Set for Downsized Powertrain Revolution

Swedish maker switches to 4-cylinders; will add 3-cylinder and a pair of Plug-ins.

by on Aug.27, 2014

Volvo has high hopes for the 400-horsepower T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain it will offer on the XC90.

The all-new XC90 SUV that made its debut this week marks the beginning of a major shift in powertrain strategy by Volvo Cars, the Swedish automaker abandoning V-6 and V-8 power in favor of more advanced 4-cylinder gas, diesel and hybrid technology.

But Volvo is set to reach even further, company officials reveal, in its bid to balance performance and fuel economy. It also is developing a new line of 3-cylinder engines, and will soon add not just one but two different plug-in hybrid powertrains to its line-up.

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“A few years ago, I would have said this was a risky strategy,” admitted Lex Kerssemakers, the maker’s global product strategy chief, but he added he is “confident” about the approach as buyers around the world migrate to smaller, more fuel-efficient engines even in big SUVs and crossovers like the 2016 Volvo XC90.

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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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New Car Buyers Less Happy with Vehicles in 2014

New Car Buyers Less Happy with Vehicles in 2014

by on Aug.26, 2014

If you bought a Mercedes this year, odds are you're happier about that than other new car buyers.

For the second year in a row, Americans are less satisfied with their new cars and trucks. Customer Satisfaction with new vehicles dropped 1.2% last year as 16 of 21 nameplates saw declines.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the makers averaged 82 points out of 100 with Mercedes-Benz getting the highest rating of 86 points. The drop is somewhat ironic given the harried pace of sales for much of the last two years.

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“There is a lot going on in the area of big incentives,” said Forrest Morgeson, director of research, told the Wall Street Journal. “Many of the car companies are getting rid of those deals to improve profitability. That is weighing on the customer satisfaction.” Read the rest of this entry »

Volvo Likely to Begin Importing from China in 2015

Maker will focus on stretched version of new S60 model.

by on Aug.26, 2014

The Volvo S60L sedan, which is assembled at the new Volvo plant in Chengdu, could be the first vehicle exported from China to the U.S.

Despite years of promises, Chinese automakers like Chery Automotive and BYD have yet to follow through by importing their products to the United States. But the long drought is expected to come to an end next year, and the first automaker to ship a Chinese-made vehicle to the U.S. now appears likely to be Volvo Cars.

Purchased by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holdings in 2010, Volvo is now operating two factories in the fast-growing Asian country, with most of the capacity earmarked for local buyers. But the Swedish brand’s chief executive officer says it is preparing to export at least one of those products next year.

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“A very likely candidate” is the long-wheelbase version of Volvo’s S60 sedan, the maker’s CEO and President Hakan Samuelsson said in response to a question from TheDetroitBureau.com, adding that a target date “sometime in 2015” is “absolutely likely.” Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »