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Aston Martin will decide on site of new plant in Q3 of 2015

An announcement on where Aston Martin’s new plant will be located will likely be made in the third quarter, according to CEO Andy Palmer. This plant will produce the new DBX crossover. Among the countries being considered are the U.S. and the UK. Palmer mentioned Alabama as a contender but there have been other states that also approached Aston Martin about the project.

At the Automotive News Europe Congress, Palmer said that Aston Martin is a “relatively small company” but he admits that there is clamor from many states and countries for the automaker to choose them. Last month, Palmer practically said that Alabama had the deal as it was the “obvious choice” because of its proximity to Daimler’s factory in Vance that rolls out Mercedes-Benz SUVs.

The automaker has set a goal that by 2019, it will have the launch of its first crossover. This is included in its plans to raise its yearly auto sales to 15,000 from 4,000 units in 2014. He said that he doesn’t have any room for expansion at its plant in Gaydon, central England. This is where Aston Martin makes all of its vehicles.

Read the entire article Aston Martin will decide on site of new plant in Q3 of 2015

Volvo’s new U.S. plant to roll out only top-selling models

Volvo’s new factory in the U.S. will only produce vehicles that bring in the most sales in this market. This doesn’t include the recently redesigned XC90 crossover, according to Volvo’s U.S. chief Lex Kerssemakers. He said that only the model that will be in the “highest demand in the U.S.” will be chosen. He mentioned that the brand’s hottest vehicles in the U.S. are the compact XC60 crossover and the S60 compact sedan.

In the first four months of the year, XC60 sales increased by 54% to 7,754 units. He didn’t say just how many models the automaker will eventually build in the U.S. The automaker had announced that its new $500 million plant located in Ridgeville, S.C., near the Charleston port, will produce 100,000 units initially.

Like other German automakers, the vehicles that will be built at this new plant will be exported. Kerssemakers said that it is “too early” to say what portion will be exported and if this plant will be lone source throughout the world for a specific model. The engines are sourced from Sweden.

Read the entire article Volvo’s new U.S. plant to roll out only top-selling models

Volvo chooses South Carolina as site of its first US plant

Berkeley County, South Carolina, has been chosen as the site where Volvo Cars will have its first plant in the U.S. An investment of $500 million is being made for the Swedish brand to get a bigger share of the premium market in North America. Construction will start this year with production expected to begin in 2018.

The annual target output from this plant is 100,000 vehicles. Chinese automaker Geely GEELY.UL, which acquired Volvo Cars from Ford in 2010, is making this investment to rebuild a brand that got into trouble during the economic crisis. Volvo Cars Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said that this clearly shows how committed the company is to reviving its U.S. business.

Volvo is making this move while the luxury car market in North America is becoming tougher. Competitors have been boosting capacity. Many of them have chosen Mexico due to its lower wages, access to the U.S. and some other export markets where there are free-trade agreements, and its non-unionized workforce.

Read the entire article Volvo chooses South Carolina as site of its first US plant

Toyota pursues plan to build plant in China, in talks for further expansion

Plans to build Toyota Motor Corp.’s new assembly facility in China in 2017 are already underway but the automaker is in further talks to increase its output even more. Toyota is considering an expansion in northern China, the site of its joint venture with FAW Group, to achieve annual sales of 2 million units, according to Hiroji Onishi, CEO of Toyota’s China business.

Last week, Toyota said that it aims to spend around 52.5 billion yen ($439 million) to boost production with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. in 2017. At the Shanghai auto show, Onishi shared to reporters that talks with partners are ongoing about Toyota’s growth over the medium term but that no concrete decision has been made.

Work at the Guangzhou plant will mark the return of Toyota to expansion as it has frozen all major expenses in 2013 and hasn’t built a new assembly plant around the world since then. President Akio Toyoda sees the increasing demand for more cars from the existing plants and has signed off on the plan to raise production.

Read the entire article Toyota pursues plan to build plant in China, in talks for further expansion

A statement released by Hyundai Motor Co. last Wednesday denies a plan to build a plant in Mexico. In a Bloomberg report that came out on Tuesday, Pedro Albarran, managing director for Hyundai Motor de Mexico, had said that Hyundai may construct a factory in Mexico as soon as the automaker’s domestic auto sales increase in the country.

The top Mexican official, who heads sales and marketing but not manufacturing, added that Hyundai hopes for Mexico to become a “very important base” for its global production. He said that the brand will soon produce Hyundai units in Mexico but then it will have to wait for annual domestic sales to surpass 50,000 units before opening a factory.

Hyundai started sales in Mexico last year with 12,000 units. It forecasts that by 2018, its sales will exceed 50,000. Albarran said that an announcement about this plan may be made before then. In Hyundai’s statement disputing the claim, it clearly said that it “does not have any plan of building a factory in Mexico.”

Read the entire article Hyundai releases statement to dispute plan to build plant in Mexico

Ford Motor recently opened a $1 billion factory in Gujarat, India, aimed at tripling its exports from this country as it continues to suffer from declining sales. This plant, which spans more than 460 acres, has been very heavily automated as the automaker seeks to increase local production to be sold overseas.

With this plant, Ford will be able to almost double its annual production capability in India to 440,000 vehicles and 610,000 engines. Among the products of this factory are compact cars like the EcoSport and the Figo Aspire. At the plant opening, Ford CEO Mark Fields talked about how India is highly “cost competitive” – which is especially significant for small vehicles.

He didn’t say when Ford will be able to bring its exports to triple the present rates. For Ford to be competitive in Asia, specifically in India, it has to focus on compact cars. In India, small models make up 1 of every 2 units sold of passenger cars and utility vehicles.

Read the entire article Ford opens $1 billion Gujarat, India plant amid plans to triple its exports

Jaguar Land Rover Group is mulling opening an assembly plant in North America as it bids to keep up with growing demand for luxury vehicles around the world. The possible expansion was confirmed by Tata Motors Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata to the South Carolina Automotive Summit. He said that the plant’s final location will be something that JLR will have to decide.

His comments are linked closely to anonymously sourced media reports early February, which said that officials from the state of Georgia in the United Staets were seeking to land a JLR factory. The Birmingham Post recently reported, citing unnamed company sources, that Austria and Turkey were being explored, not the US.

Tata remarked that he is not part of the decision-making process on the site selection as he already retired as chairman of the Tata group in late 2012. He, however, still oversees Tata’s philanthropic activities, which has seats on the company’s corporate board. JLR is among the last premium brands that decided lately to invest in assembly plants in North America.

Read the entire article Jaguar Land Rover considering a North American auto plant to keep up with the demand

Jaguar Land Rover is considering opening a new production site in either Austria or Turkey as it bids to increase its capacity, according to a report by the Birmingham Post, citing highly placed company sources. The carmaker had been mulling to open a site in the southern part of the United States, but it executives are getting attracted by the lower-cost factory developments in Turkey and Austria.

The British group, now owned by Tata Motors, is trying to expand its production outside the United Kingdom, its traditional turf. According to the Birmingham Post, JLR is hesitant to expand its production beyond its three plants in the UK due to high wage costs as well as recent pay disputes with trade unions.

In October 2014, JLR opened a new site China in October and in 2016, the carmaker intends to start production in Brazil. A source even told the Birmingham Post that Europe could be “currently ahead of America." The carmaker sold 462,678 vehicles globally in 2014 and is aiming to top 500,000 this year.

Read the entire article Jaguar Land Rover mulls new site in Austria or Turkey

Mercedes-Benz has broken ground on its BRL500-million ($183 million) new car plant in Iracemapolis, Brazil. The German luxury carmaker will commence production of the C-class sedan at the site early 2016, with the output of the GLA compact crossover to follow months later.

In a statement, Mercedes said that initial phase will target an annual capacity of 20,000 vehicles, with possibility of a further significant expansion if the market “develops as it hopes." Mercedes production chief Markus Schaefer said in the statement that local production will enable it to better tap the potential of the emerging Brazilian market and to respond more flexibly to the customers’ wishes.

The level of automation at the Iracemapolis site will be significantly lower than in traditional Mercedes site, with around 600 jobs to be created at the site and another 3,000 to be generated by regional suppliers and service providers. Carmakers in Brazil sold 3.3 million light vehicles sold in 2014, making the country the world's fourth largest market after China, the United States and Japan.

Read the entire article Mercedes-Benz breaks ground of new car factory in Brazil

Volvo Car Corp. mulls building an assembly site in the United States and well as importing a "strategic flagship" sedan from China, people privy with the carmaker’s plans told Reuters. The strategic flagship car would follow the S60L midsize sedan that would be sold in the US this year.

Volvo has been behind BMW AG and Mercedes-Benz in establishing US production, which has allowed the German brands to be insulated in case of currency fluctuations. Executives at Volvo’s parent, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., told Reuters that the carmaker may also export the large strategic flagship sedan underpinned by a newly developed platform called "scalable platform architecture.”

This sedan would be exported from China in addition to the S60L. The executives disclosed that the "strategic flagship" car for export to the US might be dubbed as the S90. The new S90 would be the second vehicle underpinned by Volvo’s new vehicle platform, next to the redesigned XC90 SUV.

Read the entire article Volvo may open assembly site in the United States

Renault has commenced production operations at its new site in Oran, Algeria as it bids to benefit from the surge in North African markets. The Oran site is assembling the New Symbol sedan, which is derived from the Dacia platform, from completely knocked down production (CKD) for the local market.

According to the French carmaker, the Symbol will offer a high level of equipment and will be the first vehicle in Algeria to feature a GPS navigation system. Renault currently controls 25.5 percent of the Algerian auto market, which is in turn its tenth-largest market. According to Renault, the site currently has one production line with an annual capacity of 25,000 vehicles.

It added that it is mulling to implement a second phase that should hike output to 75,000 annually. Renault initially invested EUR50 million into the Oran site, which it owns 49 percent. The site has almost 350 employees, some of the new ones received training at Renault-Nissan alliance factories, including in Romania.

Read the entire article Renault opens new plant in Algeria to benefit from the surge in North African markets

Nissan plans to beef up its workforce at its Canton site in Mississippi by 1,000 more people to achieve production targets by the end of 2017. That means that the site would be employing 7,000 people at the time. Increasing sales at Nissan are squeezing its production capacity in North America. In fact, its sites in Mississippi, Tennessee and Mexico are now running on three shifts.

According to John Martin, Nissan North America's senior vice president for manufacturing, supply chain management and purchasing, this month’s production start of the Murano at Canton will mean an output increase from around 350,000 vehicles this year to 507,000 vehicles in 2017.

Aside from the Murano, the Canton site is also responsible for assembling the Altima, Titan, Armada, Xterra, Frontier and NV. Nissan’s Smyrna site in Tennessee is also expected to build around 640,000 vehicles this year, including the Altima, Leaf, Maxima, Pathfinder, Rogue and Infiniti QX60.

Read the entire article Nissan to add 1,000 more jobs at its Canton, Mississippi site

Honda Motor Co. turned to Mexico to better meet growing demand for its vehicles as well as take advantage of the location, the lower wages and free trade pacts that country offers. But instead of helping the carmaker iron out its demand issue, the site has added a score of problems like the ones caused by a green labor force, language barriers and an unreliable rail system, according to dealers who have met with Honda officials.

These are the same issues that led a two-month delay of the rollout of its first product, the redesigned 2015 Fit subcompact. Additionally, the vehicle was found to have some quality issues and the delayed output has caused some shortages.

According to dealers, these have prompted Honda to push back the launch of the site’s second product, the new HR-V small-crossover. Dealers were initially bound to receive shipments of the HR-V by end of 2014, but now have to wait until next spring because they could get hold of their supplies.

Read the entire article Mexico plant adds problems for Honda

Opel plans to auction equipment from its Bochum site in Germany on November 4, 2014, as General Motor prepares to close the plant to cut its excess capacity in Europe with an aim of moving back to black. The site is set to build its last vehicle on Dec. 12, 2014, according to Maynards auction firm.

Andreas Matuszczak, Maynards’ European managing director, told Automotive News Europe, that the site’s 50 presses along with 80 percent of the robots in the body shop will be auctioned. The auction firm will also place on the hammer a complete fire station with vehicles, a canteen and a healthcare ward.

Opel, however, is not selling the site’s assembly line since it will be move to its other plants. According to Matuszczak, all the presses had been bought new for the plant and are between 800 tons and 5,000 tons. He said that he expects buyers to come eastern Europe, Turkey, India or Thailand.

Read the entire article Auction of Opel equipment from Bochum site set next month

Toyota Motor Corp. admitted that while it has assigned a team to study the possibility of building a plant in Mexico, the project is far from being green-lighted by higher-ups, according to Steve St. Angelo, head of the carmaker’s Latin American operations.

Toyota is only major carmaker not having a high-volume assembly plant in Mexico, which has been luring a number of top vehicle manufacturers thanks to lower labor costs and favorable trade pacts with the US and some Latin American countries.

In fact, Kia Motors Corp., BMW and a Daimler AG-Nissan Motor Co. partnership each has disclosed $1 billion-plus factories since June this year. President Akio Toyoda, however, has not been a fan of expansion after a massive growth lead to a loss in the fiscal year ending March 2009 as well as recalls of over 10 million vehicles for unintended acceleration.

Read the entire article Toyota plant in Mexico still far from being approved

Ford Motor Co. will add 1,200 new jobs and a second shift at its Kansas City Assembly Plant to support expanded output of the Ford Transit van. This means that Ford would more than fulfill a promise made to United Auto Workers union in 2011 to create 12,000 new hourly jobs in the United States by 2015 and it has already created 14,000 hourly jobs over the period.

The plant will have over 6,000 workers once all the new jobs are filled in, according to a Ford spokeswoman. The commitment to creating 12,000 hourly jobs in the US by 2015 was part of the 2011 UAW-Ford contract negotiations.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, remarked in a statement that the addition of a second shift at the site -- which also builds the Ford F-150 Regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew pickups – will both add more jobs and cater to growing demand for Transits throughout North America.

Read the entire article Ford to create 1,200 new jobs at Kansas City Assembly Plant

The president of Toyota Motor Corp., Akio Toyoda, wants the team tasked to search for a location for building a new compact car assembly site in Mexico to re-review the move by yearend, four executives privy with the matter told Reuters. Toyota had targeted to start production of Corolla in Mexico in a few years.

The executives remarked that while momentum had been building for a decision this summer on the expansion, but the carmaker’s top honcho wants planners to reconsider the move. "There’s absolutely no unused capacity lying around anywhere in North America?”

Toyoda was quoted by one of the executives as asking. The executive said Toyoda noted that adding capacity to trigger growth is what had placed Toyota into trouble before. Two Toyota executives told Reuters that it is high likely that a decision would not be made this year.

Read the entire article Toyota president wants a review of possible expansion in Mexico

Nissan’s 53-year-old assembly site in Oppama (Yokusuka, Japan) has been underutilized for some years, but the carmaker is breathing a new life into the facility by transforming it into a proving ground for car manufacturing techniques for overseas production. For instance, some halls at the Oppama were turned into a global training center.

This center has been educating foreign workers with Nissan’s production methods. Chinese apprentices were made to assemble toy Lego vans that represent Nissan vehicles. According to Hiroshi Ichikawa, a manager in charge of global training at Nissan Motor Corp., this will help these apprentices who have never produced a vehicle before learn how to build an actual one.

This learning strategy is distinct with Japan’s major carmakers and is an indication on how they try to shore up operations at their home turf. Nissan recently added a global pilot line to test-assemble vehicles that soon will be produced at Nissan’s other sites overseas like in Mexico, India and the United States.

Read the entire article Nissan transforms old underused plant into global center

Toyota Motor Corp. has sent some people to scour Mexico for possible locations for a production site, sources privy with the matter told Bloomberg. Toyota executives recently held a meeting with federal officials to discuss possible construction of a new site in the country, said one of the sources. Toyota remains that only global carmaker not having a full assembly plant in Mexico.

Carmakers have been flocking to Mexico mainly because of its low labor costs, trade agreements and proximity to the United States. In fact, a number of major carmakers -- Kia Motors Corp., BMW AG and a Daimler AG-Nissan Motor Co. venture – are investing into three $1-billion sites in the country.

While Toyota is mulling a site in Mexico, the size and the timing of the investment has yet to be determined, one of the sources said. Tony Saldana, a spokeswoman for Toyota, told Bloomberg in an e-mail that Toyota is “always evaluating opportunities in North America in line with market demand,” adding that no decisions have been made.

Read the entire article Toyota may set up a new manufacturing site in Mexico

Kia Motors Corp. is set to announce plans to build an assembly plant in the Monterrey area, Mexico, two sources privy with the matter told Automotive News. The announcement will be made at the offices of Mexico's economy ministry, one of the sources said. Another source who was briefed on the plans divulged that the site is expected to be operational in 2016.

News reports had said that Kia will make at least a $1.5-billion investment in the site that will be able to produce 300,000 vehicles annually. A production base in Mexico should allow Kia to improve its ability to supply vehicles to the United States, where its sales and that of Hyundai Motor America have been restricted by limited global capacity in the past two years.

Kia and Hyundai assembly site in Georgia and Alabama are currently operating at or above their official capacity, which means additional site in Mexico would allow the carmakers to build more for the US market.

Read the entire article Kia to announce plans to build new site in Mexico
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