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GM Investing $1.3 Billion at Five U.S. Plants

Move means 1,000 jobs, better quality and logistics.

by on Dec.16, 2013

General Motors announced nearly $1.3 billion in equipment upgrades at five U.S. plants.

The good news for U.S. manufacturing continued today with the announcement that General Motors plans to invest nearly $1.3 billion in five U.S. plants creating or saving 1,000 jobs.

The announcement comes just days after cross-town rival Ford Motor Co. announced it would add 5,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2014, part of a global expansion program. Detroit-based automakers, collectively, have added tens of thousands of jobs since emerging from the most recent recession and a period during which they slashed employment and closed scores of plant.

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“GM is committed to a strong American manufacturing base and creating jobs in dozens of communities throughout the country,” said GM Executive Vice President and North America President Mark Reuss in a statement. (more…)

Has Volkswagen Reinvented the Automobile?

New design and manufacturing system could slash costs, time to market.

by on Oct.16, 2012

Some of the new VW Golf's biggest changes may not be readily apparent to buyers.

Every so often, a product comes along that transforms the auto industry.  Henry Ford’s Model T was one example. So was the original Volkswagen Beetle.

Despite the usual marketing hype, the third-generation Beetle that VW launched last year is far from a revolutionary breakthrough – or so it might seem at first glance.  From a designer’s view, it is a morph somewhere between the original “people’s car” and the so-called “New Beetle” of a decade back.

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Yet, a closer inspection suggests that the latest iteration of the iconic coupe is far more revolutionary than might initially meet the eye.  That’s because the real breakthrough comes in the way the newest Beetle – and virtually everything else that will now be developed by the German automotive giant – is being designed and manufactured.

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Auto Industry to Add Nearly 200,000 U.S. Jobs

Car business again a key driver of the economy.

by on Dec.01, 2011

Workers at a Ford plant in Detroit. The maker will add thousands of jobs as part of its new UAW contract.

There’s an old adage that when the economy catches a cold the auto industry comes down with pneumonia, as was apparent when Detroit’s makers struggled for survival in 2009, two of the Big Three plunging into bankruptcy. But with the overall economy now struggling to turn around it seems that the auto industry is pushing it into high gear – car sales showing newfound momentum and –according to a new study – carmakers getting ready to go on a hiring spree.

A new study by The Center for Auto Research estimates the U.S., auto industry will add 60,000 new jobs next year, and 190,000 jobs between now and 2015.

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Detroit’s three makers and their “transplant” rivals have already added or announced plans to add tens of thousands of new workers but the CAR study suggests the bulk of the new jobs it is anticipating will be added by automotive suppliers.

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Toyota Resumes Hiring at Stalled Assembly Plant

New, non-union plant to build Corolla beginning in fall of 2011.

by on Aug.23, 2010

Toyota's tenth U.S. plant opens next fall.

Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi and officials from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, Inc. (TMMMS) announced today that the company is resuming hiring at its Blue Springs plant where the next generation Corolla compact car will be built.

Toyota is now finished with the construction of the plant that was put on hold in late in 2008 when the reckless practices of Wall Street caused the collapse of the global economy.

Instead of building Prius hybrid models as previously announced, the $1.3 billion facility will make Corolla models instead, starting late next year. Initially the plant was going to produce Toyota Highlander sport utility vehicles when the project got underway in 2007. The collapse of the truck market and failure of the Tundra full-size pickup truck have forced the Japanese maker to rebalance its production in the U.S. while protecting Japanese jobs in Japan.

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The decision to hire as many as 2,000 workers in anti-union Mississippi is the latest setback for the beleaguered United Auto Workers union since Corollas were previously built in a unionized plant – NUMMI – in Fremont, California that Toyota shut in March. Corollas for North America have been built in Japan since April.

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Toyota Begins Auris Hybrid Production in UK

Sales of 30,000 annually for first full hybrid made in Europe?

by on Jun.28, 2010

Auris HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive) will be sold, eventually, in 32 countries.

The Toyota Plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire, is now making the new Auris hybrid, the first full-hybrid vehicle to be built in Europe, although some citizens of the UK might reject the “European” characterization.

Sales of 30,000 are targeted for the first year, with customer deliveries starting this July. Eventually, Auris HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive) will be sold in 32 countries.

The Auris, not on sale in North America, comes in 3- and 5-door hatchback models derived from the Corolla platform. The hybrid will start it sales life as a 5-door hatch. (See Toyota Auris HSD Concept Appears at Frankfurt)

The design of Auris HSD has evolved from the Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. Prius  was launched in Japan in 1997 and in Europe and North America in 2000. Prius is now in its third generation. Auris is very close in size and performance to the Prius, creating a potential marketing problem. I assume Toyota will offer the Auris for fewer Euros, and keep the Prius the premium nameplate.

Auris is similar in size and performance to the Prius, creating a potential marketing problem.

Prius, of course, much to the astonishment of the European and American automotive establishments was a major technological breakthrough  – providing huge fuel economy benefits, as well as a “Green” marketing triumph for Toyota.

Toyota plans to introduce full hybrid drive technology across the company’s entire model range by the early 2020s.

“It is a proud day for Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK as we celebrate the official start of production of the Auris with Hybrid Synergy Drive, yet another premium quality model to be Built in Britain,” said Katsunori Kojima, Managing Director of TMUK.

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Toyota Restarts Work on Mississippi Plant

New, non-union plant to build Corolla beginning in fall of 2011.

by on Jun.17, 2010

Mississippi taxpayers provided almost $300 million in incentives to the Japanese company.

Toyota is resuming construction of its Blue Springs, Mississippi plant that was put on hold in late in 2008 as the reckless practices of Wall Street caused the collapse of the global economy.

Instead of building Prius hybrid models as previously announced, though, the $1.3 billion facility will make Corolla compact models instead. Initially the plant was going to produce the Toyota Highlander sport utility vehicle when the project got underway in 2007.

The decision is the latest setback for the beleaguered United Auto Workers union since Corollas were previously built in a unionized plant – NUMMI – in Fremont, California that Toyota shut in March. Corollas for North America have been built in Japan since April.

The decision to close NUMMI was controversial, to put it mildly,  since California is Toyota’s largest market by far, and the home of Toyota’s U.S. headquarters.

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Toyota said in a statement that it would hire 2,000 “team members” and build the Corolla sedan beginning in the fall of 2011. Through May of this year, Toyota has sold more than 118,000 Corollas in the U.S.   (more…)

A Tiny B-Sized Vehicle Will Be Built In Michigan

GM claims its flexible manufacturing operations and UAW concessions make a competitive, small car built in U.S. possible. All other U.S. B-cars are currently imports.

by on Jun.26, 2009

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The Chevrolet Aveo and G3 Pontiac are currently imported for sale in the U.S., as are all other B-cars.

Troy Clarke, president of General Motors North America confirmed this afternoon that its assembly plant in Orion Township and stamping facility in Pontiac, both in Michigan, will build its future small sub-compact B-car and another larger C-size car, of roughly the size of the Toyota Corolla.  

The volume car in the plant, at about 100,000 units annually will be B-sized, a class that includes the current Chevrolet Aveo and G3 Pontiac, which are currently imported for sale here. Other B-size cars in the U.S. include the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa, on sale for years now, as well as the upcoming Ford Fiesta, which is belatedly due next year.

This is one of the toughest most competitive segments in the world, and one that is dominated by offshore brands that have government protectionist policies, and high fuel and car registration taxes to support them.

GM is part of this global trend  that has clearly hurt the U.S. economy. GM Daewoo Auto & Technology (GM Daewoo) in May sold domestically in Korea 8,155 vehicles and exported 35,823 vehicles. Established in 2002, GM Daewoo now produces vehicles and kits for Chevrolet, Buick, Opel, Vauxhall, Pontiac, Holden and Suzuki that are offered in more than 150 markets on six continents.

Conventional wisdom has long held that American manufacturers cannot make money on small cars, especially if they are built in the U.S., where labor rates and productivity have been non-competitive with foreign, and especially Asian manufacturers. But the numerous concessions made by the union, in recent years, and recent givebacks meant to turn around the domestic industry, have changed the equation.

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Chevrolets’ Avea is currently selling in the U.S. at about 40,000 units annually, a mere footnote in sales charts, and Clarke frankly admitted that GM is banking on rising fuel prices to increase demand and make the car profitable. He also said the attributes of the new — as yet unnamed B-car — would also help sales of the car, which is said to be an upgrade on the current B-size platform that is based on a Korean design from Daewoo. The new B, like its predecessors, will be built globally at “several plants.”

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