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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, 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 »

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%. Read the rest of this entry »

Volvo Unveils New XC90; Bets its Future on Redesign

Volvo to offer plug-in hybrid, new safety and connectivity features.

by on Aug.26, 2014

The new Volvo XC90 shown with the Swedish maker's President & CEO Hakan Samuelsson.

With today’s unveiling of an all-new XC90, Volvo Cars is giving the world a good look at the many changes that will likely determine the future success of the Swedish automaker.

While echoing the basic shape of the old Volvo XC90, the new ute adopts new, and more luxurious proportions, as well as a more sophisticated interior. But many of the most significant changes aren’t as readily apparent. They include an all-new platform, or architecture, that will serve as the foundation of many future Volvo products.

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The new ute, due to market next April, also gets a sophisticated, tablet-style touchscreen display to control everything from its infotainment system to its climate control. The 2016 Volvo XC90 also will see the maker introduce a wide arrange of new Drive-E powertrains, including Volvo’s new plug-in hybrid system designed to deliver both performance and fuel economy, depending on what mode it’s operating in.

Read the rest of this entry »

Over 100 File Death Claims With GM Compensation Fund

Number could still rise.

by on Aug.26, 2014

One of the replacement GM ignition switches.

General Motors continues to say it knows of 13 deaths connected to the faulty ignition switches it used in a wide range of vehicles recalled earlier this year, but the special victims’ compensation fund it has set up has already received claims linked to the death of at least 100 people.

While it remains to be seen if the fund will approve payment to all those who’ve filed, it is also expected the number will continue to increase in the weeks and months ahead.

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GM has said it anticipates paying out from $400 million to $600 million in connection with the fund, which was set up under intense pressure from safety regulators, federal lawmakers and consumer groups after the maker acknowledged it knew about the ignition switch problem for as much as a decade before ordering the February recall of 2.6 million vehicles.

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Use of Aluminum to Triple, Says Top Supplier

But soaring demand could also drive up costs.

by on Aug.26, 2014

Ford's new F-150 will be up to 700 pounds lighter than the outgoing pickup truck. Photo credit: Len Katz.

When Ford Motor Co.’s new “aluminum-intensive” F-150 pickup launches production in the coming months it will mark a critical next step in a revolution quite literally reshaping the auto industry, as a growing number of automakers switch from traditional steel to lightweight aluminum.

Most analysts now anticipate a massive shift in materials, and the world’s largest producer of aluminum sheets used for vehicle bodies expects to see demand soar in the near-term – depending on how you measure it, anywhere from 300 to 500%. While that could play out well for consumers, since lighter cars typically use less fuel, it also threatens to push the price of aluminum up, which could translate into higher vehicle costs.

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By 2020, aluminum is expected to make up 25% of total sales for Novelis, Inc., the Atlanta-based manufacturer that is the world’s largest source of aluminum sheets to the auto industry. The auto industry currently uses only 9% of that supply from Novelis which is owned by Hindalco, the world’s largest aluminum sheet supplier, based in Mumbai, India.

Read the rest of this entry »

Couple Takes out Ad to Recommend Tesla Changes

Musk says suggestions may be implemented in Model S.

by on Aug.25, 2014

Elon Musk tweeted a copy of an ad from two "very satisfied" Model S owners, who gave him a list of improvements. Musk said some of them would be implemented.

Power to the people! At least if you own a Tesla Model S.

Elon Musk, the founder and chief of the Palo Alto, California-based EV maker, tweeted a copy of an ad taken out in the Palo Alto Weekly from two Model S owners who gave him a bullet-point list of changes they’d like to see made in the Model S, tweeting, “Ad taken out in Palo Alto Daily by two Model S owners is right. Many of the suggestions will be implemented soon.”

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In the ad, they suggest safety-oriented options such as blind-spot monitors, cross-traffic monitors and front and rear sensors to detect low-lying objects, such as parking blocks. Read the rest of this entry »

Designers Unleash Love for Mustang

Pony car-inspired shirts give mavens an outlet for affection.

by on Aug.25, 2014

Detroit native Anna Sui created an airbrushed Mustang as one of 15 designs for Mustang Unleashed, a collection of t-shirts.

Buying a 2015 Ford Mustang to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its introduction may be a little unrealistic for most folks, but there is a way to show your ’Stang love for a lot less money: t-shirts.

Ford invited five fashion designers to create Mustang Unleashed, a series of 15 Mustang-inspired t-shirts featuring the legendary pony car in some way or form.

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Anna Sui; Rogan Gregory and Scott Mackinlay-Hahn of Rogan; Paula Cademartori; Tomaso Anfossi and Francesco Ferrari of CO|TE; and Pamela Love are coordinating with Loomstate, an organic and sustainable apparel maker, to design and produce the shirts. Read the rest of this entry »

Jaguar Land Rover Reportedly Sharing Platforms with Parent Tata Motors’ New SUVs

Payback time?

by on Aug.25, 2014

Reports suggest that this Land Rover Discovery concept may be the basis for five- and seven-passenger vehicles from Indian automaker Tata.

After long maintaining a strict wall between their engineering and design departments, British maker Jaguar Land Rover may finally be ready to work more closely with its Indian parent Tata Motors.

A report from India indicates two new SUVs planned by Tata will ride on a platform shared with Land Rover. The vehicles are also expected to offer a new line of powertrains developed by the Jaguar Land Rover group that will be used in such future British models as the Jaguar XE sedan and Land Rover Discovery.

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Rumors of such a project have been circulating for months on outlets as diverse as the Economic Times, Autoblog and The latest to pick up – and add some significant details – is Indian website Live Mint. It reports that Tata will use Land Rover’s platform for both five- and seven-passenger SUV models. Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »