New car sales have been on the upswing, and few vehicles have experienced more success than the Jeep Wrangler. The iconic off-roader set an all-time May sales record with 14,454 units sold, and its total sales are up 34 percent on the year.
Automotive News reports Audi may make a decision on where the automaker plans to build a North American facility as soon as Wednesday of this week. The Volkswagen supervisory board is already scheduled to meet on April 18, and an unnamed source claims the new plant is on the agenda for discussion. Earlier reports indicated the manufacturer plans to build a new plant in Mexico, though Audi has been quick to denounce the notion, saying the board had yet to make a decision one way or the other. Pub
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).