Japan Waiting on US for Signal on Trade Talks

Abe believes Trump won't raise tariffs before two sides talk.

by on Feb.20, 2019

Trump and Abe discussed the trade imbalance between the U.S. and Japan during Trump's visit.

Japanese officials believe the Trump administration will avoid slapping higher tariffs on Japanese cars and auto parts that are imported into the United States as it faces off with China and the European Union on various trade issues.

While the majority of vehicles that Toyota, Honda and Nissan sell in the United Sates are built at factories in the U.S., they also import large number of finished vehicles as well as key components, such as engines and transmissions.

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In total, Japan’s auto industry would suffer a value-added loss of about 8 billion euros or $9 billion and Germany would lose 7 billion euros, according to a new study by the German research institute Ifo. South Korea’s auto industry would suffer a loss of more than 3 billion euros. The Ifo study looked at long-run effects, about 90% of which typically occur in five years and 99% in 10 years. More »

Ford Cutting Operations in Brazil, Closes Oldest Plant

Automaker not waiting on tie-up with VW to improve business.

by on Feb.19, 2019

São Bernardo do Campo is Ford's oldest plant in Brazil. It makes the Fiesta and will be closed later this year.

When Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG announced they were talking about potential partnerships in the near future, one area many believed they would discuss was their businesses in South America.

The South American market has been tough sledding for much of the last decade and the two sides had linked up before with AutoLatina, which ceased operations in 1995.

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However, Ford isn’t waiting on a tie-up with VW to make moves down there, saying today it plans to close its oldest plant in Brazil resulting in 2,700 layoffs as it exits the commercial truck business in South America. More »

General Motors Investing $56M in Two Michigan Plants

Moves come after salaried personnel layoffs.

by on Feb.19, 2019

GM CEO Mary Barra meets with a Romulus plant employee during an announcement of a $20 million investment there.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra must be feeling a little Oprah Winfrey these days; however, she’s handing out millions of dollars to GM plants instead of new cars.

Just a day after the company announced plans to invest $36 million in Lansing, Michigan plant, the GM today announced it will invest $20 million in its engine plant in Romulus, Michigan, a suburb just south of the company’s Detroit headquarters.

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The cash infusion will purchase new equipment to increase the plant’s capacity for future 10-speed transmission production. Romulus currently builds V6 engines and 10-speed transmissions used in several GM cars, trucks and crossovers, the company said. More »

Honda Shutting Down Lone UK Auto Plant

Maker says Brexit not the reason, but move highlights problems.

by on Feb.19, 2019

Honda announced plans to close its manufacturing plant in Swindon. It means the loss of 3,500 jobs.

Honda will close its only auto plant in Great Britain in 2021 becoming the latest automaker to say it was leaving and turning what was once a trickle into a torrent of closures due to Brexit. The facility makes the Civic.

The Swindon plant closure means the loss of 3,500 jobs and a tenth of all vehicles produced in Britain. However, despite early reports, Honda officials claim Brexit had little to do with the move. Honda officials said the company was focusing manufacturing in the areas where it has the largest sales, and Europe isn’t one of those.

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“We had to consider the rise of electrified vehicles, and the different speeds at which electric vehicles will be taken up in North America and Europe,” said Honda Chief Executive Takahiro Hachigo. “This decision was not informed by Brexit.”  More »

UAW Local 961 Sues to Stop Transfer of FCA Plant to Supplier

Local believes bribery scandal may have influence transfer decision.

by on Feb.19, 2019

Members of UAW Local 961 filed suit to prevent the transfer of FCA's axle plant in Marysville, Michigan, to supplier ZF.

Members of United Auto Workers Union Local 961 in suburban Detroit have sued both the UAW International and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to prevent the automaker from transferring an axle plant in Marysville, Michigan, to the giant German automotive supplier ZF.

The lawsuit asks a federal judge to halt the transition of the plant, which makes axles for the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram pickup, and give the Local the opportunity to determine if any of the corruption cases in which both UAW and FCA officials have plead guilty to violations of federal labor law might have tainted the transaction.

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So far, five UAW officials and three FCA employees, including former FCA vice president of labor relations Alphons Iacobelli, have plead guilty in the federal investigation that originally began nearly several months before the original indictment was made public in 2017. More »

First Drive: GMC Sierra AT4

Off-road version of full-size truck could expand its appeal.

by on Feb.19, 2019

The new GMC Sierra AT4 rides higher than a stock truck and also offers plenty of high-line features.

But for the brand badges and subtle differences in grilles and headlights, it has typically been difficult to tell apart General Motors’ two full-size pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. But the automaker seems determined to eliminate this archetypal example of badge engineering.

When it launched new versions of the Silverado and Sierra for 2019, they boasted more dramatic visual differences, inside and out, than ever before. And they even split when it came to appealing new features. The Chevy, for one, got a power-operated tailgate, while GMC’s truck introduced a multi-function tailgate that can be opened and used in a variety of different ways, such as creating a workbench or bed extender.

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Now, GMC is itself planning to broaden out its line-up in a bid to win over more buyers. As a counterpoint to its hly outfitted Sierra Denali model, it is launching the all-new off-road-oriented Sierra AT4. We had a chance to take the new model for a test drive through the mountainous terrain southeast of San Diego recently and found it surprisingly competent, both on-road and off. More »

Ford Hit by $151.8 Million Verdict by Alabama Jury

Verdict awarded in injury trial of Alabama man riding 1998 Explorer.

by on Feb.18, 2019

An Alabama man was award $151.8 million in damages after the 1998 Ford Explorer he was riding in rolled over twice, leaving him paralyzed.

A Selma, Alabama, man left paralyzed as a result of a 2015 rollover accident in a 1998 Ford Explorer was awarded $151.8 million in damages by an Alabama jury.

The jury awarded Travaris Smith $100 million in punitive damages and $51.8 million in compensatory damages after finding on Friday that the 1998 Ford Explorer did not meet Ford’s own safety guidelines and that Ford “acted wantonly” in designing the vehicle, according to a court document seen by Reuters and Smith’s lawyers.

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Smith was riding in the SUV when its driver swerved to avoid an animal and the vehicle rolled over twice, attorneys at law firms Beasley Allen and Gamble, Gamble, Calame and Jones said in a statement. He snapped his spine and is now paralyzed. More »

Hyundai Set to Reveal Pint-Sized Styx SUV at NY Auto Show

Boxy outside will mean bigger inside.

by on Feb.18, 2019

Hyundai is ready to unveil the sixth sport-ute in its portfolio in New York in April. Until last summer, the brand had just three utes.

Hyundai is making up for lost time – and hoping to regain lost market share – with an assortment of new utility vehicles, the next one set to make its debut at the New York International Auto Show in April.

Expected to be called the Styx in most global markets, the crossover is going to serve as the counterpoint to the new, three-row Hyundai Palisade, targeting the modest but growing subcompact CUV market targeted by the likes of the Ford EcoSport.

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Hyundai sales have taken a hit during the last few years as the market has rapidly migrated from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs, and it has rushed to respond with updates of existing models like the Santa Fe, as well as all-new utes such as the Kona and Palisade. Hyundai officials have openly promised to launch yet another model this year and global design chief SangYup Lee confirmed the Big Apple unveiling in a new interview with Motor Trend. More »

Commerce Dept. Report Could Trigger Tariffs on Auto Imports

Auto industry worries, waits – and raises strong opposition.

by on Feb.18, 2019

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross submitted the department's report determining if automotive imports could be declared a threat to national security.

Just hours before the deadline, the U.S. Commerce Dept. delivered a long-awaited report to the White House that could lead President Donald Trump to enact stiff new tariffs on imported autos and auto parts.

The administration has not revealed what the report recommends, but Commerce was widely expected to support the president’s position that auto imports posed a threat to national security, a view that Trump has suggested could lead to the imposition of tariffs of as much as 25%.

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Criticism was swift and broad, the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association noting, ““Not a single company in the domestic auto industry requested this investigation.” Like other critics, the group has warned that new tariffs could backfire and not only result in the imposition of tariffs on U.S. auto exports but also slam consumers with substantially higher prices, even on vehicles assembled in the U.S. More »

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance Partnering With Google

Move marks beginning of post-Ghosn era.

by on Feb.18, 2019

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is making plans with Waymo to find ways to exploit the ever-changing mobility world.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which is preparing to hang together in the post-Ghosn era, plans to join Google’s camp for developing autonomous taxis and other services using self-driving vehicles.

The automakers intend to work with Waymo, a Google spinoff that is among the leaders in technology for self-driving cars. The companies are in the final phase of talks, and plan to announce the arrangement as early as spring, according to a Japanese news service.

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The partnership would unite a car alliance whose global sales totaled 10.8 million automobiles in 2018 with a developer whose self-driving vehicles have traveled more than 10 million miles on U.S. public roads as of October. Waymo has forged similar deals with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover, but the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance boasts greater scale. More »

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