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Gas Prices Starting to Fall in October

Some parts of country still over $2.50 a gallon.

by on Oct.20, 2016

Unexpected refinery maintenance has caused prices in some areas to rise slightly, but gas prices are down on average.

The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has dropped for nearly two weeks after a brief spike during September, according to the information collected by AAA.

Unleaded gasoline was selling for $2.23.5 cents per gallon this week, AAA reported. The average price represents a decrease of two cents per gallon compared to one week ago, but remains five cents more than last month.

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Drivers across the country continue to see savings at the pump and are paying an average of three cents less per gallon year-over-year while the price of crude oil remains well below its historical highs, AAA said. (more…)

Lear Opens Innovation Center in the Motor City

Supplier hoping to capture city's buzz.

by on Oct.19, 2016

Lear opened its new "Innovation Center" in downtown Detroit hoping to capture some of the energy and creativity driving the city.

Mega-supplier Lear Corp. opened its new “Innovation Center” in downtown Detroit hoping to capture some of the energy and creativity sparking a renaissance in the old urban heart of the Motor City.

Matt Simoncini, Lear’s president and chief executive, told reporters Lear plans to use the new center to work on advanced products that are three to seven years away from production.

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One example of that type of product is the company’s intelligent seat that fits a driver’s contour and is also capable of monitoring a motorist’s physical condition. The seat also comes equipped with features such as individualized entertainment options and white noise. It is already in development, Simoncini said. (more…)

Apple Set to Abandon Automotive Dream

Company sets deadline for late 2017.

by on Oct.19, 2016

“We've always viewed that people love surprises," Apple CEO Tim Cook said. Surprise! It may not build a car after all.

Apple Inc. plans for the car business, code-named “Project Titan,” have fascinated the automotive industry around the world even though Apple has said little of substance about the possibility.

Now new reports are circulating that Apple has “drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions” and has even “eliminated hundreds of jobs” even though it has never acknowledged hiring folks for the uato project in the first place.

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Instead, Apple, according to several accounts circulating in the Silicon Valley media, will now concentrate on developing a system for autonomous vehicles that could be sold downstream to one of world’s car companies. (more…)

Canadian Union Sets Deadline for Ford Negotiations

Unifor facing tougher battle this time around.

by on Oct.18, 2016

Union leaders at Ford's Oakville, Ontario, plant are already saying that the pattern agreement with GM and FCA will get voted down at the facility.

With contracts with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler complete, Unifor, the union that represents Canadian auto workers, now turns its focus to negotiations with Ford Motor Co.

The union has set a deadline of Oct. 31, and tension about the two-tier wage system that was left basically intact in the in the new four-year contracts with GM and FCA.

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Unifor President Jerry Dias has said that securing investment for the two Windsor engine plants will be the key to the talks. The Windsor engine plant, which employs 1,400, needs a longer term commitment of new product to stay open, says Chris Taylor, Local 200 president, who chairs the union’s Ford master bargaining committee. (more…)

Ford Slashes Production Levels Again

Maker looking to reconcile supply and demand.

by on Oct.18, 2016

Ford plans to shut down the F-150 line at the Kansas City assembly plant as part of a plan to shrink inventory levels.

Ford Motor Co. is moving to trim production of its pickups and sport-utility vehicles as flagging sales in recent months have the maker scrambling to match demand and supply. The company’s sales were off 7.7% in September.

The automaker said it will temporarily close four assembly plants, including two in the U.S. and two in Mexico, as part of what it describes as an effort to meet year-end inventory targets.

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The four plants slated to shut down include the Kansas City assembly plant that builds the F-150 and an assembly line in Louisville, Kentucky, where Ford builds the Escape. (more…)

Workers at FCA Canada Ratify New Pact

FCA deal follows GM's pattern setter.

by on Oct.17, 2016

Employees at Fiat Chrysler's Brampton, Ontario, plant approved the new pact with the company.

Members of Unifor, the union that represents Canadian auto workers, ratified a new contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. with 70.1% of the eligible union members voting for the contract.

Nearly 10,000 FCA employees were eligible to vote on the deal, which included a commitment to overhaul the paint shop at the company’s assembly plant in Brampton, Ontario, and as well as an immediate pay increase of 2% and bonuses during the next four years.

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However, the contract left intact a two-tier wage system that requires new employees to accumulate 10 years of seniority before reaching the upper tier with the higher pay scale. (more…)

Daimler Building Engine Plant in Poland

Company continues to expand global footprint.

by on Oct.14, 2016

Daimler is building a plant in Poland that will produce four-cylinder engines starting in 2019.

Daimler AG has announced plans to spend $560 million to build a new engine plant in Jawor, Poland.

“The capacity expansion in Poland reflects the increasingly international character of our powertrain production compound. This will lead to increased flexibility and efficiency within our worldwide production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars,” said Markus Schaefer of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management, who made the announcement at a press conference in Warsaw.

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Schaefer added the new plant, which is 45 miles west of Wroclaw, was part of the company’s strategy for growth and will be ready by 2019. The plant will employ about 500 employees when it opens. Construction is set to begin next year. (more…)

VW Wants to Cut 25,000 Jobs in 10 Years

Most of the losses will come through attrition.

by on Oct.14, 2016

As VW moves to its goal of building 1 million goals annually, it hopes to cut 25,000 jobs in Europe.

Volkswagen AG is looking to eliminate some 25,000 jobs in Europe during the next 10 years as moves to reorganize and rebuild in the wake of the costly scandal created by the company’s decision to cheat on the emission tests.

So far, Volkswagen has already paid out close to $20 billion in fines and compensation to consumers and dealers. It also still faces potentially expensive lawsuits by shareholders about the lost value of the company’s stock as well as bond holders, who have claimed they were misled on the state of the VW’s financial health by the automaker’s top management.

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VW’s post-scandal strategy involves a sweeping reorganization of its production base in Europe and a focus on electric vehicles. The plan calls for producing 1 million electric vehicles a year – one quarter of its annual production – by 2025, VW executives have said. (more…)

Auto Dealers Cheer CFPB Ruling

Court rules agency's structure is unconstitutional.

by on Oct.13, 2016

NADA Chairman Jeff Carlson has critized the CPFB on a number of occasions.

A federal appeals court has ruled that, in its current form, a new agency expected to watch out for the financial interests of car buyers and other consumers fails a basic constitutional test.

The court ruled that the current structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional. The court’s ruling that the current structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional was immediately hailed by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association.

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Car dealers and auto lenders, including the “captive” finance companies operated by auto manufacturers, had been among the new CFPB’s initial targets. (more…)

Carmakers Face Tough Test as Market Flattens

Sales expected to fall just short of last year's record.

by on Oct.13, 2016

Honda's John Mendel says there is a chance that automakers will beat last year's record sales.

Manufacturers are eager to roll out new models this fall and even adding more capacity in an effort to gain an edge over rivals.

But they are also facing a highly competitive market where manufacturers are being tempted to raise incentives to protect market share, noted Stephanie Brinley, an analyst with IHS Automotive.

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“The market is going to get more competitive and we will see if (companies) fall back into their old practices,” she added. “The easy growth is gone.” (more…)