Toyota recalling 342k Tacomas due to faulty seatbelt pretensioners

Filed under: Truck, Recalls, Safety, Toyota

2008 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab front three-quarter

Toyota is voluntarily recalling 342,000 Tacoma Access Cab pickups, produced between 2004 and 2011. The wide-ranging recall is due to faults in the screws that attach the belt pre-tensioner to the belt retractor. There are concerns that the screws can loosen themselves over time, especially if the access door is opened and closed with too much force. It’s important to note that the recall only covers the driver and front passenger seat, and is limited to just the Access Cab trucks. Other body styles aren’t affected.

If the screws come loose, the pre-tensioner and retractor spring could separate from the belt entirely, which would be bad news in a crash. There’s no mention of injuries or accidents due to the faulty pre-tensioners. Owners affected by the recall will be notified soon, and asked to come in for recall service.

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Toyota recalling 342k Tacomas due to faulty seatbelt pretensioners originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 07 Aug 2013 15:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Chrysler to idle three plants early for summer shutdown due to parts shortage

Filed under: SUV, Truck, Plants/Manufacturing, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep

2011 dodge ram tradesman

2011 Ram 1500 Tradesman – Click above for high-res image gallery

Other than the temporary shut down of General Motors’ Shreveport, Louisiana plant and the loss of some paint colors, domestic automakers haven’t yet felt the brunt of parts shortages due to the March 11 earthquake in Japan. According to a report from The Detroit Free Press, that changes shortly for Chrysler. Spokeswoman Jodi Tinson tells the Freep that three plants will idle earlier than expected in an effort to “conserve parts from suppliers impacted by the situation in Japan.”

Chrysler’s Warren Truck plant, which builds the Ram 1500 and Dakota, and Toledo North, which builds the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro, will both shut down for the weeks of June 20 and June 27. The original plan was for the plants to go idle for the weeks of July 11 and July 18. The Toledo Supplier Park, which builds the Jeep Wrangler, will shut down for the week of June 20 instead of the week of July 11.

A fourth facility in Saltillo, Mexico, which builds Ram models from the base 1500 through the heavy-duty 5500, will also lose overtime on May 20, May 27, June 10 and June 24. In a move that is likely to annoy the United Auto Workers, Chrysler is also dropping the plants’ planned week of downtime.

At this point, it is unclear if Chrysler will endure more downtime as a result of parts shortages, but it appears that Team Pentastar has more than enough supplies of key vehicles to keep dealers happy for weeks if problems persist.

Chrysler to idle three plants early for summer shutdown due to parts shortage originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 16 May 2011 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Toyota Q4 profits fall 77% due to quake

Filed under: Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Toyota, Earnings/Financials

toyota emblem logo

Toyota has announced profits of $314 million for the first three months of 2011, down 77 percent versus the automaker’s fiscal fourth quarter a year earlier. Toyota still managed a profit in spite of the March 11 earthquake that shuttered most Japanese plants, yet the $314 million is only a fourth of what analysts were expecting Toyota to make. Toyota’s sales were predictably low for the quarter, and revenue was hurt as a result.

Toyota’s profits for its fiscal fourth quarter may be disappointing, but the automaker is likely to release still worse numbers for the period through June. The automaker is still struggling through supply issues, with many plants running at only 50-percent capacity if they’re running at all. Further, the automaker says that dealers in the U.S. and China are likely to see less product in the coming months, which could lead to much lower revenue.

On a brighter note, Toyota now says that production should ramp up to 70 percent of capacity by June, up from previous estimates of July or August. That should help get Toyota back on its feet faster, which is good for everyone.

For the year, Toyota earned $5.9 billion, or nearly three times the profit of fiscal year 2009. Revenue was also up by .2 percent to $237 billion on sales of 7.3 million vehicles, up by 71,000 units compared to 2009. Sales in the U.S. were down by 67,000 units.

Hit the jump to read over the Toyota press release, which includes volume and revenue breakdowns by region.

Continue reading Toyota Q4 profits fall 77% due to quake

Toyota Q4 profits fall 77% due to quake originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 11 May 2011 15:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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WRC Jordan Rally delayed due to political unrest, stormy seas and engine trouble

Filed under: Motorsports, Middle East

Sebastien Loeb

Sebastien Loeb drives the 2010 Jordan Rally

Mounting a rally is never easy to begin with. Organizing one in the Middle East amidst the greatest popular upheaval in the region’s considerable history, however, is another matter entirely. We recently reported on the potential effects which demonstrations and revolutions across the region could have on motorsport competition, and now it’s all come home to roost.

Only two months after protests forced the cancelation of the Bahrain Grand Prix, a number of unpredictable factors have caused the delay – but not the cancellation – of the WRC rally in Jordan. Although the Hashemite Kingdom itself has remained relatively stable, getting the cars and equipment there this year proved a unique hassle. Teams were cautioned against trying to go through the Suez Canal due to the situation in Egypt, and with protests kicking into high gear in Syria, Plan B was out, too. Organizers ended up shipping by sea from Italy to Israel, only to be faced by further setbacks.

Stormy weather reportedly dictated it unsafe for the ship to dock in Haifa – Israel’s northern port on the Mediterranean – leaving it stranded one kilometer offshore. When the harbor finally gave the all-clear for the ship to dock, one of its engines wouldn’t start, forcing tug-boats to bring it in and shutting down all traffic in the port in the process. The shipment was then delayed in customs and took fourteen hours to finally reach the Jordanian coast of the Dead Sea where the garages are being set up.

The rally is now set to begin on Friday, two days behind schedule, but ready to go nonetheless. Meanwhile, the ship has since been impounded by the Israeli ministry of transportation until its engine can be repaired, forcing organizers to make alternative arrangements for getting their cars and gear back to Italy for the Sardinia rally on May 5.

[Source: Autosport | Image: McKlein/Citroën]

WRC Jordan Rally delayed due to political unrest, stormy seas and engine trouble originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 14 Apr 2011 18:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2011 Dodge Challenger torched on assembly line due to unattended heat lamp?

Filed under: Coupe, Performance, Plants/Manufacturing, Dodge

Dodge Challenger assembly line fire

In March, Chrysler served up a smoking-hot 31 percent sales increase in compared to the same month in 2010. Unfortunately for the automaker, the “heat and serve” theme continued this week, as there were two stories about flaming Chrysler products Monday alone. First we told you about a Dodge Durango turned car-b-que in front of hundreds of onlookers at a Washington D.C. parade. Then came news that China has suspended importation of the Jeep Wrangler due to complaints of vehicle fires.

Now we have a photo of a Dodge Challenger (above) posted by Moparts forum poster Mccannix that allegedly went up in flames at the Brampton, Ontario assembly plant. There is no official cause for the fire, though as you can tell from the picture above the Challenger must have been really cooking.

One unsubstantiated report claims that a heat lamp got too close to some paperwork, which started the blaze. Even sadder is the fact that the high-end wheels tell us that we’re likely looking at a burnt SRT8. A moment of silence, please.

Gallery: 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392: First Drive

2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 3922011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 3922011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 3922011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 3922011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392

Photos copyright (C)2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

[Source: Moparts via Jalopnik]

2011 Dodge Challenger torched on assembly line due to unattended heat lamp? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Kia Optima Hybrid delayed due to Hyundai Sonata Hybrid pushback

Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Plants/Manufacturing, Technology, Hyundai, Kia

2011 Kia Optima Hybrid

2011 Kia Optima Hybrid – Click here for high-res image gallery

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid was supposed to go on sale in December, but at the eleventh hour, the company decided on a last-minute engineering change to enhance safety. When the automaker learned that President Obama planned to sign a bill that would ban a switch that can disable a noisemaker designed to warn blind pedestrians, the Korean automaker decided it was best to remove the switch. The move delayed mass availability of the Sonata Hybrid from December to late April.

But what about its twin, the Kia Optima Hybrid? Ward’s Automotive reports that the mid-size hybrid has been delayed until late in the second quarter, or about five months after its scheduled January launch.

Will the substantial delay of the Optima and Sonata Hybrids hurt sales and satisfaction? We’re sure there are probably some impatient buyers out there who don’t understand why they have to wait, but in the long run, we’re likely looking at a mere bump in the road.

Gallery: 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid

2011 Kia Optima Hybrid2011 Kia Optima Hybrid2011 Kia Optima Hybrid2011 Kia Optima Hybrid2011 Kia Optima Hybrid

[Source: Ward’s Automotive – sub. req.]

Report: Kia Optima Hybrid delayed due to Hyundai Sonata Hybrid pushback originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 31 Mar 2011 11:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Study: Worldwide auto production could drop 30% due to quake in Japan

Filed under: Japan, Plants/Manufacturing

Auto production in Japan

You’ve likely seen plenty of news lately about how Japanese automakers have been affected by the March 11 earthquake in Japan, but what about the rest of the industry? The Detroit News reports that research firm IHS Automotive thinks that global auto production could drop by 30 percent, and nearly every major automaker will be affected.

The key to that dire prediction will be the speed with which Japanese suppliers can get back to making parts for the industry. IHS Vice President Michael Robinet reportedly told DetNews that if suppliers aren’t online within six weeks, global vehicle production could drop by 100,000 units per day. With average total production sitting at 280,000 to 300,000 units per day, 100,000 represents about 30 percent of all vehicles built. Robinet adds that if parts don’t start coming online quickly, automakers will begin feeling the pinch by mid-April.

IHS points to electronics and transmission components as the most likely to run dry. And that 30-percent figure could morph into 40 percent if automakers can’t get replacement parts within eight weeks.

Sobering statistics, indeed. We’re thinking automakers are hoping Japan can rebuild factories as quickly (and miraculously) as it can rebuild highways.

[Source: The Detroit News]

Study: Worldwide auto production could drop 30% due to quake in Japan originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 24 Mar 2011 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid delay due to modifications of virtual engine sound

Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Government/Legal, Hyundai

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery

In mid-October, Hyundai announced that its 2011 Sonata Hybrid would be eligible for a $1,300 tax credit. The electrified midsize sedan was scheduled to hit dealerships in late 2010 and the first 60,000 buyers in line to plop down some cash for the Sonata Hybrid would’ve pocketed that credit. However, there was a hitch: the Sonata Hybrid was delayed, dashing any chance of snagging the $1,300 credit.

What caused the delay? Well, according to Hyundai chief executive officer John Krafcik, a last-minute modification to the vehicle’s “virtual engine sound” system, made “amazingly late in the process” was the culprit. The automaker initially developed the Sonata Hybrid with a feature that would allow drivers to disable the vehicle’s pedestrian warning system, but after the Senate and House voted to approve a measure requiring hybrids and plug-in vehicles to automatically emit audible sounds at low speeds, Hyundai’s manual disable functionality had to be axed.

According to Green Car Reports, that modification required changes to the vehicle’s wiring harnesses, user-interface software and owner’s manual, which caused the lengthy delay. Hyundai delivered the first 2011 Sonata Hybrid in January.

Gallery: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: Second Drive

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Photos copyright (C)2011 Zach Bowman / AOL

[Source: Green Car Reports]

Report: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid delay due to modifications of virtual engine sound originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 24 Feb 2011 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: BMW X1 U.S. debut delayed due to high demand in Europe

Filed under: Europe, Crossover, BMW, Luxury

2011 BMW X1

2011 BMW X1 – Click above for high-res image gallery

American buyers may have to wait a little bit longer before sinking their teeth into the upcoming BMW X1. According to Automotive News, the CUV has been more popular in Europe than the German automaker originally anticipated, and as such, BMW is experiencing a bit of a supply crunch. As a result, North American buyers won’t be seeing the X1 at the end of this year as originally expected. Instead, it’s beginning to look like the vehicle won’t show up here until early 2012 at the soonest. Automotive News reports that the X1 went on sale in Europe in November of 2009.

Since then, the high-riding hatch has sold out in every market it’s touched. BMW says that it fully expects the X1 to be a low-volume model here in the land of the free, with sales lodged somewhere in the same realm as what the current 1 Series Coupe and Convertible. Even so, the company says that it’s shooting for around 8,000 units per year. With the larger, more popular X3 just now hitting dealerships, the X1 will likely serve to fill a slot for buyers looking for a compact luxury crossover.

Gallery: 2011 BMW X1

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]

Report: BMW X1 U.S. debut delayed due to high demand in Europe originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 19 Jan 2011 14:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mini Beachcomber stalled due to pesky safety regulations?

Filed under: Safety, Crossover, Mini, Rumormill, Off-Road

Mini Beachcomber Concept

Mini Beachcomber Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

If you were hoping to be able to take to the sand in the production version of the Mini Beachcomber sometime soon, we may have some bad news for you. According to the minds at Autocar, the open-air Mini may have encountered some fatal trouble when it came to getting by crash standards. The report says that in order for the Beachcomber to get past government regulators, the company would have been forced to incorporate additional side bracing to protect occupants in the event of a collision. According to the UK, the decision makers at Mini have determined that doing so would have compromised the vehicle’s styling too much to be worth it.

As you may recall, the Beachcomber was intended to be a modern interpretation of the old Mini Moke, a funky looking machine that seemed more at home on a golf course than a highway. Based on the Countryman architecture, the Beachcomber would have been a less hardcore alternative to the famously doorless Jeep Wrangler. Whether or not Mini finds a way to skirt these crash regulations remains to be seen, but we wouldn’t be surprised if this particular concept is banished to realm of never-produced.

Gallery: Mini Beachcomber concept

[Source: Autocar]

Mini Beachcomber stalled due to pesky safety regulations? originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 07 Jan 2011 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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