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Inside this issue
Asian, European Brands Dominate Satisfaction Survey, but U.S. Brands Close Gap
U.S. Factories Keep Losing Ground to Global Rivals
GM Fund has Received 100 Death Compensation Requests
Ford Begins 'Massive Undertaking' to Make Aluminum Pickup
Mazda Making Big Changes Fast
Auto-Shop Class is a Win-Win for High School Grads, Dealerships That Need Mechanics
Click here for more auto industry news at NADAFrontPage.com. .
Top Stories
Asian, European Brands Dominate Satisfaction Survey, but U.S. Brands Close Gap

Asian and European brands dominate the top of an annual survey of U.S. customer satisfaction with auto brands, though overall satisfaction with the industry dropped for the second year in a row. And while customer satisfaction with domestic auto brands fell to a five-year low, Detroit 3 brands still managed to narrow the persistent gap with Asian and European rivals, according to the 2014 American Customer Satisfaction Index. The latest survey found that overall customer satisfaction with automotive brands declined 1 point to 82 on a 100-point scale.
Source: Automotive News

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U.S. Factories Keep Losing Ground to Global Rivals

After paring capacity, moving abroad, steelmakers, truck manufacturers find it difficult to switch gears

America's shale boom has raised hopes of a revival in U.S. manufacturing, in part fueled by cheaper energy. But U.S. factories still are losing ground to rivals in Asia and Europe. Much of the problem stems from steel, trucks, car parts, industrial machinery and furniture. The U.S. deficit on trade in goods swelled in the first half to $371.59 billion from $354.64 a year earlier. Imports rose 3.3%, while exports increased 2.6%. Manufactured exports, excluding petroleum and coal, rose just 0.8%—far below last year's modest 2.1% gain. Without a strong, sustainable increase in exports, U.S. factories are unlikely to have the kind of resurgence forecast by some pundits. But achieving that growth is difficult as China and other countries have pursued aggressive export strategies and the U.S. has lost manufacturing skills and suppliers after shifting production overseas.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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GM Fund has Received 100 Death Compensation Requests

General Motors Co. ignition switch compensation fund has received 284 claims through Friday, including 100 claims for deaths. The fund began accepting applications for funding on Aug. 1. Camille S. Biros, deputy administrator of the fund, said it has received 184 claims for physical injuries and 100 for deaths. The fund hasn't made any determinations if the deaths are eligible for compensation. The 100 death claims are far above the 13 linked to the issue by the Detroit automaker. A week earlier, the fund reported receiving 212 claims including 87 for deaths. Once the fund determines applications are “substantially complete,” it plans to make compensation decisions within 90 days for simpler claims and 180 days for more complicated ones. The fund will accept applications through Dec. 31.
Source: The Detroit News
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Ford Begins 'Massive Undertaking' to Make Aluminum Pickup

Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, has begun an eight-week closure of its Dearborn, Michigan, F-150 pickup plant to overhaul it for a new, aluminum-bodied version of the top-selling vehicle line in the U.S. “This is historic for the industry, not just for Ford,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, told reporters at the company's product development center in Dearborn. “To take the No. 1 selling vehicle for 32 years -- it will be 33 soon -- and convert it like this, at this volume, to aluminum, is historic and unprecedented.” Michigan workers assembled their last 2014 F-150 early on Aug. 22 and crews began tearing up the plant to make way for the new equipment necessary to manufacture parts out of aluminum, Hinrichs said. The conversion began one day ahead of schedule, he said, and this weekend, 1,100 trucks will stream into the plant to deliver the new tools. By mid-October, the factory will be building the “production version” of the 2015 model, he said.
Source: Bloomberg

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Mazda Making Big Changes Fast

Mazda6 will get back-to-back updates

Mazda continues to roll out product changes at a pace that's more associated with the world of apps than autos. The company is working to make significant product updates quickly, with some vehicles undergoing major changes in back-to-back years, such as the Mazda6, which gets a new interior in 2015 and new sheet metal in 2016. It was redesigned in 2013 for the 2014 model year. Right now, Mazda is in the middle of what it calls its "sixth generation" product, defined by the initial deployment of its Skyactiv vehicle platform architecture and powertrain portfolio and its "kodo" design language. Kodo is Japanese for "soul of motion." The seventh generation, for which Mazda will roll out all-new platforms and sheet metal for all of its products over five to six years, starts in 2018 with the redesigned Mazda3.
Source: Automotive News
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Auto-Shop Class is a Win-Win for High School Grads, Dealerships That Need Mechanics

Two years out of high school, Evan Fischbach is earning $40,000 a year. His secret: shop class. Fischbach, 19, has known he wanted to work on cars ever since he took an automotive class in his junior year of high school in Saline, Mich. His college-educated parents wondered if he was aiming too low. Then when Fischbach was still a junior, a local auto dealer desperate for mechanics hired him as an apprentice in the service bay. Now he's earning about three times as much as the average 19-year-old high school grad and slightly more than the national median, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Friends weren't interested in auto shop when I suggested it and now I think they wished they had tried it,” said Fischbach, who works at LaFontaine Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram. “I'm not rich, but I'm not hurting, either.”
Source: Automotive News
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Quotable

"This is historic for the industry, not just for Ford."

   
-- Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, commenting on converting the No. 1 selling F-150 to aluminum, Bloomberg, Aug. 25

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