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31

Sales of the RAV4 are down five percent so far in 2012, but that won't stop Toyota from increasing North American production. Automotive News reports that Toyota will spend $80 million to retool its Woodstock, Ontario plant to increase production from 150,000 crossovers per year to 200,000. The increased production will also lead to the hiring of an additional 400 workers at the plant.

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In this case, the federal government sneezes, and central Ohio catches a cold.

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Like other European automakers, BMW is keen to welcome visitors at its headquarters in Munich, and you don't even have to buy a car to see it.

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Volkswagen AG announced this week that it will spend more than $55 billion over the next four years reducing carbon emissions from both its vehicles and factories, as the German automaker looks to increase sales by boosting its credibility as an environmentally friendly vehicle maker. You can see the beginnings of this plan in the company's Chattanooga plant, which we visited late last year.

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The United Autoworkers Union is struggling – and it is the first to admit it. With its membership dwindling after three decades of workforce cuts by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, the union has pinned its future on organizing one of the transplants. Efforts to convince workers at Japanese-owned plants, like the Nissan factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, have fallen on deaf ears in the past, but there's now hope that the UAW might succeed at one of the newer German-owned plants.

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The Detroit Free Press reports that, of the 267 automotive plants that have closed in the U.S. since 1979, 128 have reopened with a new purpose. Astonishingly enough, 40 percent of those reopened sites were purchased between 2008 and 2010 as General Motors and Chrysler underwent restructuring, thanks in part to lower land prices and a larger volume of available properties.

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Honda has experienced a very challenging 2011. The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the flooding in Thailand have conspired to badly damage Honda's ability to build vehicles here in North America. That should change soon, though, as Automotive News reports that North American Honda plants will be running at full steam by the beginning of December.

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Back in 1999, Porsche settled on the location for a new factory in Leipzig, Germany. It opened its doors in 2002 with production of the Cayenne, and further expanded in 2009 to gear up for the Panamera. As of November, 2011, the assembly plant has built some 420,000 vehicles, but that's just the start as Porsche further expands the facility to make way for the new Cajun.

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The Fiat/Chrysler relationship has yet to spawn any post-marital offspring, but that will soon change. Automotive News reports that one of those vehicles could come in the size and shape of a "baby" Jeep that will be sold in Europe.

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As far as autoworker jobs go, putting together a Ferrari has got to be one of the plum gigs. The company is consistently rated as one of the best places to work in Europe, but if the pleasant atmosphere and long espresso breaks weren't enough, you get to go home at the end of the day knowing that you put together a Ferrari. Not a pickup truck, not an economy hatchback, but a Ferrari.

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Component suppliers form a huge part of the automotive industry, and few are as big – or as old – as ZF. The German consortium dates back nearly a century, and today has some 123 factories in 27 countries. Make that 124 in 28, now, as the company has announced plans for a new facility to be built with – and for – Saab.

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Volkswagen AG has announced it will be establishing a new manufacturing unit in Osnabrueck, located in VW's home state of Lower Saxony, Germany. Interestingly enough, VW will be purchasing the land, equipment, and machinery formerly owned by Karmann -- the coachbuilder and convertible roof specialists who manufactured the classic Beetle-based Karmann Ghia coupe (Karmann filed for bankruptcy protection in April, and has been struggling since).

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There's "Buy American!" and then there's "Buy Union!" If you're among the most serious about keeping your red-white-and-blue money in the U.S. of A North America and organized labor is close to your ticker, then you'll want to check out this list put together by the United Auto Workers. It lists all of the vehicles made in America and Canada by union labor -- either UAW or CAW.

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Volkswagen Jetta 2.5 Special Edition - Click above for hi-res image gallery

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Volkswagen announced this morning that it would build a manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. where it will build a vehicle specifically for the North American market. The plant will employ 2,000 workers from the tri-state area and is expected to invest $1 billion in the local economy.

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Following-up on last week's announcement that Volkswagen was looking at Alabama for a new manufacturing facility, the German automaker's management board is expected to make their final recommendation today. Following that announcement, Volkswagen's supervisory board, headed by former VW group CEO Ferdinand Piech, will make its decision by tomorrow. Whether Huntsville, Alabama, or second-choice Chattanooga, Tennessee, gets the nod, the move is key for Volkswagen as they attempt to increase sales

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When the second quarter of 2010 rolls along, 1,400 workers at General Motor's Windsor transmission factory will be out of work. The plant, which currently produces four-speed gearboxes for GM, will be phased out at the turn of the decade, with no plans to retool the facility to produce any other components. GM's Canada President, Arturo Elias, made it clear in the announcement that the decision was not a "reflection on our excellent Windsor workforce," but instead is due to a lack of available,

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Richard Cortez, the Mayor of McAllen, Texas, called a news conference earlier this week to announce that city officials were in talks with an unnamed automaker to build a new manufacturing facility in the Rio Grande Valley. Interestingly enough, he gave few other details as he was worried about upsetting the "customer" as they have asked for silence on the project. Not to surprise anyone, but all signs are pointing at Hyundai Motor Company.

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