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Inside this issue
Toyota Reports Surprise Record Profit on U.S. SUV Demand
BMW Second-Quarter Profit Jumps 26% Boosted by Record Car Sales
Lightweight Vehicles Pay Manufacturing Dividends to Automakers
U.S. Launches Safety Inspections of Southern Auto Suppliers
JLR Still Tops When it Comes to Aluminum
Ford Looks to Build New Factories in Fast-Growing Africa
Technology, Skills Moving Auto Industry Forward and Creating Jobs
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Top Stories
Toyota Reports Surprise Record Profit on U.S. SUV Demand

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's biggest automaker, reported profit unexpectedly climbed to a record last quarter as surging SUV sales in the U.S. eclipsed shrinking demand in Japan. Net income in the April-to-June period rose to 587.8 billion yen ($5.7 billion), trumping the 497.3 billion yen average of 12 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker maintained its 1.78 trillion yen profit forecast for the fiscal year ending in March 2015. Chief Executive Officer Akio Toyoda is clinging to a lead over Volkswagen AG as the world's top-selling carmaker on surging demand for sport utility vehicles including its revamped Toyota Highlander and Lexus GX models. Toyota's performance in the U.S. market has softened the blow from falling sales in Japan after the nation's first sales-tax increase in 17 years.
Source: Bloomberg

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BMW Second-Quarter Profit Jumps 26% Boosted by Record Car Sales

Automotive margin highest in three years, ahead of Audi, Mercedes

BMW said its second-quarter operating profit rose 26 percent, as new models, a rebounding Europe and strong China sales boosted earnings. Earnings before interest and taxes jumped to 2.6 billion euros ($3.49 billion) from 2.07 billion euros a year earlier, BMW said in a statement. BMW's automotive EBIT margin, the best gauge to compare profitability with peers, was 11.7 percent, up from 9.6 percent a year earlier. The margin was the highest since the third quarter of 2011 and surpassed figures of 9.9 percent at Audi and 7.9 percent at Daimler's Mercedes-Benz Cars unit.
Source: Automotive News

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Lightweight Vehicles Pay Manufacturing Dividends to Automakers

Lightweight vehicle materials are delivering significant side benefits to automakers striving to improve fuel economy. Toyota, for example, has found that its pursuit of lighter bodies through high-strength steel has resulted in production lines that are less expensive to build, said Takefumi Shiga, general manager of Toyota Motor Corp.'s No. 1 Body Division in Japan. The side benefits will take some of the sting out of adopting costlier lightweight materials, such as aluminum, high-strength steel and carbon fiber.
Source: Automotive News
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U.S. Launches Safety Inspections of Southern Auto Suppliers

Alarmed by what it calls higher than normal incidents of injuries and safety lapses, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration has launched an inspection of auto parts plants across Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, a top agency official said. The federal safety agency plans to send field agents to inspect some 2,900 factories -- literally every auto parts plant in those three states -- over the coming year. But as suppliers gather in Northern Michigan for an annual industry outlook conference, they may be surprised to discover that safety troubles in the South are not out of line with Detroit. Labor data indicates that Michigan's parts industry is faring worse than its Southern counterparts.
Source: Automotive News
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JLR Still Tops When it Comes to Aluminum

With total global sales of 425,000 vehicles last year, Britain's Jaguar Land Rover is well behind German rivals BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. But there is an asterisk next to the sales figures for luxury car companies. Today, no one makes more aluminum-bodied vehicles than JLR. Its latest, the Jaguar F-Type sports car, is a global hit, as are the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. All have aluminum bodies. Next month, JLR will introduce in London the Jaguar XE, a compact BMW 3 series-sized sedan, also to be made from aluminum. It could be the company's highest volume aluminum vehicle when it goes on sale next year. Novelis Inc. is the exclusive aluminum supplier to Jaguar for the XE.
Source: Automotive News
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Ford Looks to Build New Factories in Fast-Growing Africa

Ford Motor Co. plans to expand its manufacturing plants in Africa, where the automaker is introducing models like the Mustang sports car and forecasts industrywide sales will grow 40 percent by 2020. “Everything is pointing toward a surge in the African economy,” Jim Benintende, Ford's head of operations in the Middle East and Africa, said in an interview on the eve of the U.S. Africa-Business Forum in Washington. “We're really focused on this region like never before.” Ford's increased focus on the region mirrors that of other major U.S. corporations such as General Electric Co., which yesterday announced plans to invest $2 billion in the region by 2018 and double its workforce there. The summit is aimed at boosting economic ties to help nurture growth in the continent that boasts the world's lowest income and, according to the African Development Bank Group, the fastest growth.
Source: Bloomberg

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Technology, Skills Moving Auto Industry Forward and Creating Jobs

It's not your father's shop floor. Automotive manufacturing has changed, executives from suppliers and automakers said Monday on the first day of the Center for Automotive Research's annual Management Briefing Seminars held near Traverse City [Mich.]. Grimy shop floors with man-powered assembly lines have given way to clean, high-tech centers where robots and Google Glass headsets are as common as air wrenches. And as innovation allows manufacturing to integrate technology, the skills needed to work in the industry are changing, too.
Source: The Detroit News

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Quotable

"There's a perception manufacturing is still in the Dark Ages, that people are still banging on hammers putting things together. That's not true. We are the leading edge."

   
-- Jason Prater, vice president of development for Plex Systems, commenting on the changing auto manufacturing industry, The Detroit News, Aug. 4

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