NADA Headlines - 08/27/2013 (Plain Text Version)
Nissan Motor Co., pushing to make more vehicles at plants in the Americas, said it will have the ability to build more than 2 million autos annually in the region by early next year. The carmaker is spending more than $5 billion to expand capacity in the U.S., Mexico and Brazil, the Yokohama, Japan-based company said in a statement. Expansion in the U.S. will help Nissan almost double exports from plants in Tennessee and Mississippi, the company said in a separate release. Nissan set a target last year of getting 85 percent of vehicles its sells in the U.S. from within North America by 2015, up from 69 percent in 2011. The company’s North American operations are based in Franklin, Tennessee.
Osamu Nagata, the troubleshooting Toyota executive who now heads North American manufacturing and r&d, is on a mission to boost capacity and do it quickly -- first by expanding existing factories and then probably adding an assembly plant in Mexico. After rebounding from its 2009-10 recall crisis and the 2011 Japan earthquake, Toyota is ready to go on the offensive. "We need to catch up with market growth," Nagata said in an interview. "I am responsible for producing more." The 56-year-old Japanese executive, who goes by Simon, is also spearheading the North American rollout of Toyota's radical effort to overhaul product development and commonize parts.
Customers like domestic cars overall, but not as much as Asian models, a new survey says
The gap in customer satisfaction between the Detroit Three and Asian automakers is widening, according to a new survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The scores of five out of eight domestic brands declined in ACSI's latest quarterly survey, conducted from April 6 to May 22. The decline in customer satisfaction is not a serious threat yet for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, but could quickly become a problem if it continues to drop, said Claes Fornell, chairman and founder of ACSI. A closer look at the data show that some domestic brands actually improved from a year ago. GMC rose from 80 to 85, tied with Cadillac — just behind Subaru, Toyota and Honda at 86. Ford matched the industry average of 83, as did Chrysler brand, which jumped from 78 to 83. The three brands that declined most were Chevrolet (79 from 84 a year ago), Jeep (80 from 83) and Dodge (79 from 81).
Regulator: Loophole tripped up the C-Max
Don't blame the test. That's the EPA's message in the wake of Ford Motor Co.'s decision to restate fuel economy estimates on its C-Max Hybrid. When Ford C-Max owners were griping about worse-than-promised fuel economy last year, the conventional wisdom was that the EPA tests couldn't reliably measure the performance of hybrid cars. Consumer Reports magazine stoked the fires, claiming that half the hybrids it tested fell short of their advertised mpg numbers by 10 percent or more. Ford chimed in as well, saying it would help the EPA figure out whether its tests were inflating the fuel economy estimates for many hybrids. It was enough to make the EPA's own engineers question the accuracy of their tests, said Christopher Grundler, the agency's top auto industry regulator. But this summer, when the EPA ran the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Sonata hybrids through the same battery of tests that tripped up the C-Max, the other hybrids did fine. "It was all quite reassuring," Grundler told Automotive News. "The problem here is really not how the testing is done."
Automaker will spend $2.7 billion expanding in market
Mercedes-Benz plans to launch around 20 new or upgraded car models in China over the next two years, part of a broader turnaround effort aimed at reversing the brand's recent struggles in the world's biggest auto market. Unveiling details of the strategy today in Beijing, Daimler's new China chief, Hubertus Troska, said the company would spend 2 billion euros ($2.67 billion) over the next two years as it seeks to boost sales of Mercedes cars in China by a third to more than 300,000 cars a year by 2015. The plan, a key component of Mercedes' broader "2020 initiative," includes expanding manufacturing capacity and its sales network in a country where car density is still relatively low.
Last week, Ford Motor Company announced that it is joining up with the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in Russia on a three year project. Their mission? To study how robots communicate in space so that one day in the future, you'll have a smarter car. This is part of an ongoing effort by Ford, as well as other companies in the industry, to develop smart networks between cars, street lights, and other parts of the road to help avoid auto accidents. Other goals for such networks include improving emergency response times and easing traffic congestion. So why study the communications of robots in space? Because, for one, they're extremely redundant. Because there are multiple ways for communications to fail in space for multiple reasons, there are multiple ways to communicate. By studying how robots in space handle communications failures, auto engineers can apply that to the use of vehicles on Earth.