Report: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV production restarts after five-month delay

Filed under: Hybrid, Government/Legal, Japan, Recalls, Safety, Crossover, Mitsubishi, Electric

Back in March, production of both the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid and the all-electric i-MiEV ground to a halt over a pair of incidents where overheated lithium-ion batteries caused vehicle fires. Following the rocky start, The Japan Times is reporting that production of the Outlander PHEV has recommenced following the five-month stoppage.

The battery fires were tracked down to a supplier issue before more than 4,300 vehicles were recalled in June, but Mitsubishi received heavy criticism from the Japanese government for the delayed recall. According to the report, though, that hasn’t slow down enthusiasm for the plug-in crossover – Mitsubishi has received close to 18,000 for the Outlander PHEV. To keep up with demand, the automaker is planning to double production to 4,000 units a month.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV production restarts after five-month delay originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 21 Aug 2013 15:41:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Chinese Jeep production confirmed with Fiat, Guangzhou agreement

Filed under: SUV, China, Plants/Manufacturing, Crossover, Jeep

Jeep Badge

Fiat has just finalized a deal originally set up in January between it and China’s Guangzhou Automotive Group to bring Jeep production to China. It remains unclear which models will be built, although we’re wagering that it’ll be the 2014 Cherokee. What we do know, now, is where production will take place.

According to Automotive News, Guangzhou originally wanted production to take place in its home assembly plant in its namesake city. Fiat has battled to send production to a joint venture facility established between Guangzhou and Fiat in the town of Changsha. The joint facility won out, and now the factory, originally built in 2010 with a 140,000-unit capacity, will see Jeeps rolling out of it.

Currently, the GAC-Fiat factory produces the Fiat Viaggio, a jointly developed product that is closely related to America’s Dodge Dart. And while it remains unclear as to which model will join the Viaggio on the assembly line, that model is understood to ride on Fiat’s Compact platform. The only Jeep to share those underpinnings is the new Cherokee, so there’s not much connecting of dots needed to see why this scenario would make sense.

Chinese Jeep production confirmed with Fiat, Guangzhou agreement originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Honda invests $215M in Ohio Earth Dreams production

Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, Technology, Acura, Honda

Honda Ohio Operations

Honda has announced a $215 million investment in a pair of its Ohio operations, taking its total tally for North American operations up to $2.7 billion in three years. The announcement was made at the 2013 Center For Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.

$180 million of the investment is earmarked for Honda’s Anna, OH engine plant. The money will allow the facility to increase its aluminum die casting and increase production of Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology engines. Think of Earth Dreams as sort of like Mazda’s Skyactiv line, only ED is limited to a new line of engines, rather than a full suite of automotive components. Anna will also be getting a new technical center to train engineers, techs, and line workers on powertrain technology.

The remaining $35 million is slated for Honda’s main Ohio operations in Marysville. A 160,000-square-foot facility will be constructed near Honda’s current properties, which will house another technical training center to focus on automotive manufacturing. The new building will also house Honda’s North American Services group, as well as a new heritage center.

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Honda invests $215M in Ohio Earth Dreams production originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 09 Aug 2013 17:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: BMW i8 will be first production car to use Gorilla Glass

Filed under: Coupe, Hybrid, Performance, Technology, BMW

BMW i8 will be the first car to use Gorilla Glass.

What do smartphones and the BMW i8 have in common? Glass. Scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, that is. The i8 will be the first production car to use the chemically hardened material, which is more durable, lighter and provides more sound deadening than conventional laminated automotive glass. We thought it would be a natural replacement for windshields, but, according to Autoweek, BMW said it will be used for the rear window for sound deadening purposes. The Gorilla Glass will still be laminated, with two 0.7mm thick layers of it sandwiching an acoustic sheet, reports Autoevolution.

BMW reportedly claims the i8 will weigh less than 3,285 pounds, and to offset the heavy hybrid powertrain to reach that goal the automaker has implemented lightweight materials normally not found in mass-production automobiles. With a carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) monocoque used for both the (relatively) pedestrian i3 and the upscale i8, it’s not surprising BMW was also the first to jump onto Gorilla Glass, especially given the timing of a report that a high-end automaker would introduce it within the year.

Be sure to check out our First Drive review of the i8 to see if BMW’s newest sports car is living up to the hype.

BMW i8 will be first production car to use Gorilla Glass originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 07 Aug 2013 16:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2014 Toyota Corolla and Tundra production underway

Filed under: Budget, Sedan, Truck, Plants/Manufacturing, Toyota

2014 Toyota Corolla reveal

2014 Toyota Tundra Doublecab - front three-quarter view, blueAfter months of leaked photos and speculative reports, Toyota finally unveiled its 2014 Corolla to the world in early July at a star-studded California party. The confetti has been swept up and the champagne flutes washed and stored, and now the real work can begin: production. Toyota has announced that its new C-segment player has begun rolling off the lines at its plants in Mississippi and Ontario, Canada this week ahead of the planned start of sales in September. What’s more, the refreshed 2014 Tundra pickup has also segued into production in San Antonio, Texas.

Corolla production in Mississippi is still a relatively recent phenomenon, with the plant having begun assembly of the outgoing model in the fourth quarter of 2011, while Toyota’s Cambridge, Ontario plant has been churning out the compact volume king since 1988. Conversely, the Tundra has been in production at the Texas facility since 2006, and Toyota projects that the plant will build its milestone one-millionth new vehicle in September, right around the time the reworked fullsize pickup goes on sale.

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2014 Toyota Corolla and Tundra production underway originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 02 Aug 2013 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Toyota investing $30 million in Indiana for more Highlander production

Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, Toyota

2014 Toyota Highlander front three-quarter

Indiana seems like the place to be if you’re looking for work in a car factory. In May, Subaru announced plans to invest $400 million in its Lafayette, Indiana plant, creating 900 new jobs in the process and increasing capacity to 300,000 units per year. Now, Toyota has announced plans to invest $30 million in its Princeton, Indiana plant, 170 miles south of the Subaru factory, which also builds the Camry.

Toyota’s investment will create an additional 200 jobs and increase the factory’s volume by 15,000 units. Toyota announced an investment in the plant in February of 2012 that bumped volume up from 300,000 to 350,000 units. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, as the Princeton facility is officially known, produces the recently revised Toyota Highlander, the Sequoia and the Sienna. It employs 4,500 people, and this announcement represents Toyota’s tenth production increase in under two years.

Scroll down below for the official announcement.

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Toyota investing $30 million in Indiana for more Highlander production originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Jul 2013 11:08:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Production of Shelby GT350 is coming to an end

Filed under: Convertible, Coupe, Performance, Ford

One Autoblog staffer who drove the limited-edition Shelby GT350 wrote it probably was the best Mustang he’d driven, but, at some point, the fun had to come to an end: December 31 is the last day the GT350 will be available to order.

The GT350’s option list has evolved much like it did for the original 1965-67 GT350. For 2011, the 45th Anniversary edition only came in coupe form and was painted white with blue stripes, just as with the 1965 car. The 2012 GT350 was offered as a coupe or convertible, and three colors were added to the option list, just like the 1966 model. For 2013, more colors and options were added in addition to equipment and styling updates, which resulted in Wilwood instead of Baer brakes. No major changes were made for the 2014 model. From the first car in 2011, customers have been able to choose between three different configurations for their 5.0-liter V8: naturally aspirated with 440 horsepower, supercharged with 525 hp (with warranty) or supercharged with 624 hp (without warranty).

“When we unveiled this latest version of the Shelby GT350, we promised it would be built for a limited time to preserve its collectability and value,” states John Luft, president of Shelby American. He may have a point, because the original GT350, which also had a limited production run, is among the most valuable muscle cars in the world.

While the end of 2013 will mark the conclusion of a great modern-day muscle car, Shelby American wants us to remember one of the late Carroll Shelby’s favorite sayings: “Our favorite car is the next one we build.” That and the other vehicles in the company’s lineup, such as the GT500 Super Snake and Raptor, will continue to be offered for sale.

For more details on the GT350, scroll down for the press release.

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Production of Shelby GT350 is coming to an end originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 26 Jul 2013 10:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Chrysler extending production of current Dodge Avenger, Jeep Wrangler, Grand Caravan

Filed under: Minivan/Van, Sedan, SUV, Plants/Manufacturing, Dodge, Jeep

2013 Dodge Avenger - front three-quarter view

Are you hesitant to pull the trigger on a brand new Dodge Avenger in hopes that a new one will be coming? Well, don’t hold your breath. According to The Detroit News, Chrysler will be extending production of the current Avenger sedan through the end of 2015.

Originally, we heard that the company would kill the Avenger to better focus its midsize sedan efforts on the Chrysler 200 replacement. But then new reports stated there would indeed be an Avenger successor, and that we could see it as early as next January. This Detroit News report cites supplier sources confirming the extension of Avenger production, though Chrysler has not released an official statement on the matter.

These same suppliers say that the current Jeep Wrangler will live on through mid-2018 – that’s right, another five years. The Detroit News reports that a replacement for the iconic, go-anywhere Jeep was due in mid-2016.

Lastly, the report mentions that the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan will remain in production through late 2017, though its Chrysler Town & Country counterpart will be replaced by an all-new vehicle for the 2016 model year. This only further backs reports that the Grand Caravan will be killed from the Chrysler Group portfolio, with the T&C remaining the only minivan in production at the company’s Windsor facility.

Chrysler extending production of current Dodge Avenger, Jeep Wrangler, Grand Caravan originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Jul 2013 15:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Acura aiming for Chinese production by 2016

Filed under: China, Plants/Manufacturing, Acura, Luxury

Acura SUV-X Concept live at 2013 Shanghai Motor Show

Not wanting to be left out of the emerging luxury car bonanza in China, Automotive News is reporting that Acura could begin producing vehicles in the Asian country by 2016. Like Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Acura will reportedly build vehicles in China using a local partner – Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. in Acura’s case – while Cadillac and Infiniti will build their own vehicles locally.

Guangzhou already produces Honda models in China, but the article says that the first Acura produced in that country could be a new compact model based on the Acura SUV-X Concept (shown above), a showcar revealed in April at the Shanghai Motor Show. China’s luxury car market is expected to grow to 2.7 million units a year by the end of this decade, which would put it on pace to make it the largest premium car market in the world.

Acura aiming for Chinese production by 2016 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 19 Jul 2013 14:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Lincoln poised to double MKZ Hybrid production

Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Plants/Manufacturing, Lincoln

2014 Lincoln MKZ - front three-quarter view, maroon

The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid has been something of a hit for Ford since the beginning, exceeding the company’s modest projected 15-percent take rate for more than two years (we say “modest” because that still means an overwhelming majority of Lincoln customers are passing up on the gas-electric powertrain even though it costs the same as the standard model). Either way, Lincoln builds 700 MKZ Hybrids at its plant in Mexico each month, but has sold 715 of them in each of the past three months. That’s why, according to a report in The Detroit News, when the restyled 2014 MKZ Hybrid arrives (non-hybrid pictured), Ford is doubling production compared to 2013. Instead of the hybrid model being 20 percent of production, the new hybrid will make up 40 percent.

Ford is doing well with hybrids in general – its portion of the electrified vehicle segment jumping 12 points in a single year to 16 percent. Assuming Ford doesn’t change the pricing strategy (along with the changes Ford is making to calibration to improve fuel economy), the sedan could continue to “[show] other luxury hybrids how it’s done” when it goes on sale later this year.

Lincoln poised to double MKZ Hybrid production originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Jul 2013 14:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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