Toyota recalls over 1 million hybrid vehicles globally

Toyota recalls over 1 million hybrid vehicles globally

Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor Corp has announced a global recall of some of its hybrid models, including the plug-in version of the Prius and the C-HR compact crossover SUV, as a result of an issue with the engine wire harness.

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Following revelations that the issue might result in a fire safety risk, close to 1.03 million of Toyota's hybrid vehicles in Japan, North America, Europe and other regions are being recalled, the carmaker revealed on Wednesday.

According to Toyota spokesman Jean-Yves Jault, close to half of these recalls would take place in its home market, Japan, where the transport ministry has already called for a domestic recall.

The affected vehicles, which were produced in Japan between June 2015 and May 2018, are fitted with a faulty wire harness which connects to the hybrid power control unit, that can come into contact with the covering at the connection point.

The carmaker added that should dust accumulate on the wire harness or the cover, the insulation on the wires could wear down over time due to vehicle vibrations, subsequently resulting in an electrical short circuit, which could generate heat as well as lead to a fire.

Only the Prius is being recalled in the US, with approximately 192,000 vehicles being affected.

The all new Porsche Macan starts rolling off the production line in Leipzig

The all new Porsche Macan starts rolling off the production line in Leipzig

Series production of the new Macan has begun at the Leipzig site, with the first customer vehicle successfully making its way through the body shop, the paint shop and along the assembly line.

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Parts of the factory were adapted specifically for the model. The vehicle in the exterior colour Mamba Green Metallic goes to a Chinese customer. China has become the top-selling market for Porsche and with more than 100,000 deliveries since its market launch in 2014, the Macan is particularly popular.

The continued high demand for the compact SUV means that series production is being ramped up more quickly than ever before: By the beginning of September, production of the new Macan at the Leipzig site will increase to over 420 units per day, meaning that it will match the high production rate boasted by its predecessor in just a few days.

"The Macan is the very definition of a successful model for Porsche and for the Leipzig site", said Gerd Rupp, Chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche Leipzig Gmbh. "In 2011, the model was the inspiration for a radical new beginning: That year, the plant in Leipzig was expanded into a full-sized facility to accommodate the compact SUV, featuring its own body shop and paint shop. When the factory was put into operation in February 2014, the plan was to produce 40,000 units per year. Today we produce more than 90,000 units per year for markets around the world, and since 2014, approximately 350,000 units of the compact SUV have been delivered to customers worldwide".

A number of optimisations to the exterior mean that the new Macan now has an even sportier and more modern look. The rear has been comprehensively re-designed to build upon the sleek design of the predecessor model. The three-dimensional LED light strip provides a characteristic Porsche design feature.

The body shop at the Leipzig plant was expanded specifically to create a dedicated area for the production of the rear lid. In addition, various parts of the assembly line have been optimised and adapted to accommodate the new production levels of the compact SUV.

The new Macan celebrated its world premiere in Shanghai at the end of July. The compact SUV has been a great success since its launch in 2014, and has now been significantly enhanced in terms of its design, comfort, connectivity and driving dynamics, allowing the Macan to remain the sporty flagship in its segment.

New car market in the UK rises by 23.1% for the month of August

New car market in the UK rises by 23.1% for the month of August

The UK new car market enjoyed a boost in August, as year-on-year demand rose 23.1%, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

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94,094 new cars were registered in the month as the market responded to regulatory changes, with cost-savvy buyers taking advantage of some compelling deals in what is always one of the year's smallest months.

Demand was up across the board, with consumers and fleets boosting year-on-year registrations by 23.3% and 19.7% respectively, while the smaller business sector rose 166.4%, equivalent to an uplift of around 1,500 units against August last year. Superminis remained the most popular buy, followed by small family and dual purpose cars, with the luxury saloon and city car segments recording the most notable growth, up 120.8% and 39.6%.

Meanwhile, the UK's growing range of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric cars continued to attract buyers, with a record one in 12 people choosing one. Demand surged by a substantial 88.7%, with the sector accounting for 8.0% of the market, its highest ever level, as billions of pounds of manufacturer investment help deliver more ultra-low and zero emission models to the market.

In the year to date, the overall market remains down by -4.2%, in line with forecasts after a turbulent first eight months. However, demand remains at a high level with more than 1.5 million new cars featuring the latest in advanced safety, emissions and convenience technology joining British roads so far in 2018.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "It's great to see such strong growth, particularly in the important electric vehicle market. However, given August is always a small month in new car registrations ahead of the important plate-change month of September, it would be wrong to view the market as booming. Indeed, this past month has seen some significant variances as regulatory changes have disrupted some supplies. In the long term, however, the new emissions certification test will give consumers renewed confidence in the performance of all vehicles, helping them choose the latest, cleanest technology that best suits their driving needs, whether that be petrol, diesel, hybrid or plug-in."

Mercedes-Benz Vans opens new Sprinter plant in North Charleston

Mercedes-Benz Vans opens new Sprinter plant in North Charleston

Mercedes-Benz Vans has opened its new Sprinter plant for the North American market. After considering the high market potential for the new Sprinter in North America, the decision to build a new production facility in time for the launch of the new Sprinter model in the USA was announced in March 2015.

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The facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, is now up and running following a two year construction period. The total investment adds up to approximately $500 million with more than 900 people working at the expanded North Charleston site, that number is set to grow up to 1,300 by the end of 2020. According to estimations, suppliers will create an additional 600 new jobs in and around North Charleston.

"The USA is already the second largest market for our Sprinter today. With the new, state-of-the-art production site in South Carolina, we will be able to supply our customers in North America even faster and with more flexibility in the future. This makes better use of the dynamic market potential, placing our new plant in North Charleston as a central component of our growth strategy 'Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global,'" said Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.

"The new plant in North Charleston combines our global expertise and experience resulting in a state-of-the-art facility in every respect. It is a valuable asset that completes our global production network. Our priority at Mercedes-Benz Vans during the planning process for this facility was maximum flexibility. This enables us to react in an agile and anticipatory manner to current developments and customer desires. Additionally, it guarantees excellent quality within our proven, standardized production system," said Frank Klein, Head of Operations Mercedes-Benz Vans.

To coincide with the opening, Mercedes-Benz Vans also announced it will be producing Amazon branded Sprinter vans for the retail company's new Delivery Service Partner program at the new plant. Small business owners will work with third-party fleet management companies to procure their customised vans and get special leases in order to keep their startup costs low.

The new factory expands upon the existing Mercedes-Benz Vans assembly plant with additional facilities, including body shop, paint shop and final assembly. The company is implementing its most innovative production technologies and concepts at the location, making it one of the most modern of its kind in North America.

The expansion of the production facility has tripled its footprint, now covering 222 acres or nearly 10 million square feet. The production and office building area comes now to around 41 acres or 1.8 million square feet., supplemented by free and logistics space.

Like other locations within the Mercedes-Benz Vans production network, the plant in North Charleston is equipped with driverless transport systems, which can travel more than 40 miles in one shift. They are controlled through networking with the plant's IT system and via RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology).

Among the biggest transformations is the paperless, digital production documentation, based on RFID technology. It means the position of a specific component can be pinpointed precisely at any given time with contactless, automatic identification and localisation. This information allows employees in logistics and production to feasibly adjust to process changes.

Schuler and Porsche found JV to manufacture car body parts

Schuler and Porsche found JV to manufacture car body parts

Porsche and Schuler are to build an innovative press shop together for the car factory of the future. Representatives of both companies signed the contract on September 4 for the foundation of a corresponding joint venture.

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The joint undertaking was approved by the European Commission back in mid-August. Approval from other competition authorities is currently pending.

The purpose of the joint venture between Schuler and Porsche is to build a Smart Press Shop. The intention is for the new, highly flexible press shop to produce complex body parts using pioneering technologies; the focus will be on aluminium outer skin panels, as well as the production of smaller batch sizes.

"With this joint venture, Porsche is making important decisions regarding the sports car production of the future. We took the first step back in 2015 with the acquisition of the Porsche Werkzeugbau subsidiary, and the joint venture with Schuler AG represents a logical progression", says Albrecht Reimold, Member of the Executive Board for Production and Logistics at Porsche AG. "The aim of this undertaking is to use future technologies and innovations to make processes more efficient. The significant interplay between design, development, body planning, tool manufacturing and production within the Porsche Group will have a considerable effect on the quality of our sports cars."

"Together, Porsche and Schuler are building a press shop that sets new standards in two respects, in terms of both the efficiency of industrial production, and the digital networking and readability of data streams throughout the production process", says Domenico Iacovelli, CEO of Schuler AG.

The systematic further development of process know-how in the field of metalforming will be achieved in part by the end-to-end networking of production data and the use of machine learning. Porsche and Schuler are setting new standards in areas including predictive maintenance and intelligent production control.

The joint venture will utilise Schuler's new Servo 20 Technology. It raises maximum output from 18 to 20 strokes per minute while reducing energy consumption per stroke and part.

A newly developed die-changing concept makes it possible to produce small batch sizes with a high degree of economic efficiency. Further features of the new line include an optimized servo drive in the downstream presses and a reduced footprint.

The joint venture will be run as an independent company legally constituted as a limited-liability partnership in the GmbH & Co. KG format. The shares are held in equal parts by Schuler AG, a subsidiary of the Andritz Group, and Porsche. Porsche and Schuler are each investing tens of millions in the joint venture, which will create more than 100 new highly skilled jobs.

The site of the new company's headquarters has not yet been determined. The aim is for the choice of location to significantly reduce CO2 emissions by minimising the distance body parts must travel.

Suzuki bids adieu to the Chinese market

Suzuki bids adieu to the Chinese market

Japanese carmaker, Suzuki Motor Corporation, announced that it would be exiting the world’s biggest auto market, China, due to dwindling sales in the recent past.

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Suzuki would be transferring its 50% stake in Changan Suzuki, the joint venture under which the company used to operate in the market, to Chongqing Changan as soon as the legal procedures are completed. Suzuki will continue licensing of production and sales of Suzuki models to Changan Suzuki.

The Chinese small car market has fallen from 35% in 2003 to 6.7% in 2017. Small cars occupy a major part in Suzuki's portfolio of products. The fall in demand hence affected the company in a major way.

Suzuki's efforts for revival by launching attractive models like the Vitara and the S-Cross also had little to no impact on increasing the sales for the company in China. The company's sales fell by 27% in 2017.

With a rising purchasing power, the Chinese market is moving toward larger SUVs and cross-overs.

Suzuki entered the Chinese markets 25 years ago with one of its best-selling models globally, the Alto. The Japanese auto-maker had previously existed the US market in 2012.

On the other hand, other Japanese automakers such as Honda and Toyota have been making efforts to increase their footprint in the exponentially growing auto market in China. Honda recorded an increase of sales by 16% in China.

BMW Group starts building new Driving Simulation Centre in Munich

BMW Group starts building new Driving Simulation Centre in Munich

The BMW Group’s new Driving Simulation Centre is taking shape in Munich’s Milbertshofen district. In mid-August, the company began construction of the world’s most advanced facility for the simulation of real-world driving situations at the FIZ Research and Innovation Centre in the north of the city.

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The new building provides for virtual testing of advanced driving assistance systems and innovative display and control concepts. This will strengthen the development expertise of the BMW Group in the field of autonomous driving.

Construction of the new Driving Simulation Centre is part of the FIZ Future masterplan, which calls for the BMW Group's central development facility to grow by some 50% through several stages up to 2050. The foundation stone for the first phase was laid in autumn 2017 and now the start of work on the new Driving Simulation Centre marks a further stage in the project.

It is being built in a central area between the Projekthaus and the Aerodynamic Test Centre. Covering a total floor area of 11,400 square metres, the facility will comprise 14 simulators and usability labs employing 157 people. BMW Group Research is planning to start work here in 2020. The investment in the new Driving Simulation Centre is estimated at around €100 million ($117 million).

At the heart of the new Driving Simulation Centre are two innovative driving simulators specifically designed to meet requirements for testing highly complex automated driving systems. The new high-dynamic simulator is able to generate longitudinal and transverse acceleration forces of up to 1.0 g. It is used to test new systems and functions by replicating highly dynamic evading manoeuvres, full braking and hard acceleration.

An extremely detailed rendering of real-world driving characteristics is provided by the second unit, the high-fidelity simulator: braking and accelerating while cornering, driving in roundabouts and rapid series of multiple turn-off manoeuvres can be reproduced with high precision in this simulator's almost 400-square-metre motion area. This means that complex urban driving situations, which present a particularly wide range of challenges for automated driving systems, can now be replicated under laboratory conditions.

The systems to be tested are fitted in a vehicle mock-up attached to a platform inside the dome of the driving simulator. Mounted on an electromechanical hexapod system, the dome can be moved both longitudinally and transversely by an electric drive while also being turned.

In order to give the drivers a realistic visual experience of the simulated driving situation, the dome housing the mock-up is equipped with a projection screen. Precise synchronisation of the projected driving images with the movements of the vehicle creates a highly realistic perception of the simulated driving situation, in which the visual impressions of what is happening on the road and the longitudinal, transverse and vertical acceleration forces acting on the test person merge to create an almost flawless overall dynamic impression. The virtual test drive scenario is completed by a sound simulation which is also matched precisely to the situation portrayed.

In this way, it is possible to create test conditions which until now could only be experienced with real vehicles on the road. When seeking to optimise innovative systems, laboratory testing also has the advantage that selected driving situations can be repeated as often as required. This significantly increases the validity of the results.

Furthermore, the driving simulator makes it possible to act out test scenarios which occur only rarely or under unusual circumstances in real life, or which would involve risks and so could not be created for test purposes in a real-world driving environment. Conversely, findings obtained in the course of real-world road testing can be checked and validated in realistic laboratory simulation.

The new Driving Simulation Centre is therefore ideally placed to meet the ever greater requirements arising from the growing complexity of systems for automated driving. In future, it will allow different driving situations to be reproduced in significantly greater numbers and in more detailed form.

Gearbox shortage leads to intermittent halts in production of Peugeot 308

Gearbox shortage leads to intermittent halts in production of Peugeot 308

Severe shortage of six-speed manual gearboxes led to the stoppage of production of the Peugeot 308 for a couple of days at PSA’s plant in Sochaux, Eastern France.

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Although the production has started at the time of writing, the French automaker warned of further stoppages in the coming weeks.

The stoppage in production is being attributed to the summer production slowdowns at the group's production facility Valenciennes, Northern France. The company is working towards ramping up the production of gearboxes at the Valenciennes site.

Peugeot is said to be calling in workers from other production sites across France to reduce the time required to achieve ramped up production of the said gearboxes.

Grope PSA believes that the temporary production halts would not affect its sales volumes in the second half of 2018.

Volkswagen FAW opens new SUV assembly plant in Tianjin

Volkswagen FAW opens new SUV assembly plant in Tianjin

The Volkswagen Group is strengthening its SUV offensive in China with the launch of the new FAW-Volkswagen Tianjin Plant.

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The new production facility will produce SUV models for the Volkswagen brand and Audi brand, expanding Volkswagen Group China's production capabilities in the region. The Tianjin plant will offer significant production synergy and raise efficiency together with the new Volkswagen FAW Platform Tianjin Branch, a component plant launched in June, which will supply the chassis for the SUV models built in the FAW-Volkswagen Tianjin Plant.

"Together with the Volkswagen FAW Platform Tianjin Branch, the FAW-Volkswagen Tianjin plant is an important cornerstone of Volkswagen Group China's localisation strategy in China. I am also very proud of our great progress in green production and synergy processes, for which these two new facilities stand," said Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft as well as President and CEO of Volkswagen Group China.

FAW-Volkswagen Tianjin Plant is located in the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Zone and will produce SUV models for both the Volkswagen brand and the Audi brand, including PHEV models. The facility's daily production capacity will be 1,200 units, with an annual production capacity of 300,000 units.

"Our team has done a tremendous job," said Dr. Jürgen Unser, Vice President and Board Member of FAW-Volkswagen. "With 23 months completion time, the factory has set a new construction record. Efficient cost and investment management before and during develop-ment was a key factor. This success is also based on our diversity: Chinese managers and Volkswagen colleagues from six different countries ensured expertise with a global and local perspective in the plant management."

As a green factory, the new Tianjin plant will introduce a number of state-of-the-art sustainability measures, including world-leading volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions control technologies and solar photovoltaic technologies.

The paint shop is the first in a FAW-Volkswagen plant to use a non-VOC cleaning agent. The facility will also focus on reusing water, with a reuse rate of 98%. By recycling and utilising the waste water, the Tianjin plant will save up to 300,000 tons of water annually.

The location of the new plant near the Volkswagen FAW Platform Tianjin Branch and Volkswagen Automatic Transmission Plant Tianjin will reduce delivery times, and therefore stock levels in the production plant, resulting in lower supply costs and CO2 emissions in the supply chain.

The plant also adopts many innovative processes. A visualisation system has been adopted across the facility's workshops, which processes and analyses production yield, manufacturing status and any production malfunctions, using a comprehensive factory-level approach.

Ford puts brakes on plans to sell China made Focus Active in the US

Ford puts brakes on plans to sell China made Focus Active in the US

Amid the ongoing trade war between US and China, Ford has decided to quash its plans of selling their China-made Crossover, the Focus Active, in the US.

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The Trump Administration's recent decision to levy upto 25% duties on vehicles imported from China, prompted this Ford to make this decision.

The Focus Active would serve as a niche product in Ford's line-up in the country. Importing the vehicle from China would have led to the cost of the vehicle rising significantly.

Ford believes that abandoning the launch of the Crossover will have little to no impact to the company's sales or profits in the North American country.

Ford's plan to launch the car in Europe and China would go ahead as planned.

Ford will continue importing the EcoSport, which is made in India as well as the Transit Connect vans which are made in Spain. Around 95% of the total vehicles sold by the company in the US are assembled or manufactured in US, Canada or Mexico.

Audi Mexico’s production now free of waste-water

Audi Mexico’s production now free of waste-water

Audi has become the world’s first premium manufacturer to produce automobiles completely free of waste-water.

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At its site in San José Chiapa, Mexico, the company is using a new water treatment process that collects 100% of the waste-water produced there, purifies it and feeds large volumes of clean water back into the plant's water supply system. In this way, Audi México ensures the sustainable use of the water as a resource and minimises the environmental impact of its car production.

From the paint shop to leak tests, water is necessary in the entire process of automobile production. The waste-water generated at Audi México first undergoes chemical-physical treatment, which neutralises the water and removes particles and heavy metals, from the paint shop for example. This pre-treated water is then further processed together with the remaining waste-water from the site in a biological waste-water treatment plant, where organic components are decomposed. Finally, a combination of ultrafiltration and multistage reverse osmosis separates the remaining contaminants, including bacterial germs and alkalis.

Audi reuses the hygienic and high-quality recycled water directly at the site. The concentrated matter from reverse osmosis is evaporated and the dehydrated solids are disposed of. The company is thus assuming a pioneering technological role for waste-water treatment.

"We are pursuing the vision of producing cars at all our sites completely CO₂ neutral and free of waste-water. We have reached a major milestone in this respect at our plant in San José Chiapa," stated Peter Kössler, Board of Management Member for Production and Logistics at Audi AG. "As an automobile manufacturer, we have an obligation to ensure the careful and environmentally compatible use of valuable resources such as water. With the new reprocessing method, we are also making a significant contribution to combating water shortages in Mexico."

Audi México uses the treated water as process water in production and to irrigate the green areas on the plant grounds. With this innovative process, Audi is already saving around 100,000 cubic metres of water per annum, equivalent to about a quarter of the plant's total requirement. In the long term, the company actually plans to save more than 300,000 cubic meters of groundwater every year.

"With the new waste-water treatment system, Audi is taking an important step towards an autonomous water cycle," said Rüdiger Recknagel, Head of Environmental Protection at Audi AG. "By the end of 2025, we want to reduce the Audi Group's environmental impact by 35% per car produced compared with the reference year 2010. This measure brings us closer to that goal."

To further reduce the use of groundwater, a reservoir with a capacity of 240,000 cubic meters is located on the site. It fills up during the rainy season of approximately six months from April to September. The rainwater is collected and treated and also used in the plant. "Audi México is the youngest site in the Audi Group. We are all the prouder to play a pioneering role in the sustainable use of water as a resource," said Alfons Dintner, Chief Executive of Audi México.

As part of its commitment to the environment, Audi México has also planted more than 100,000 trees and installed 25,000 septic tanks on an area of 100 hectares in the neighboring municipality of San José Ozumba. In the rainy season, up to 375,000 cubic meters of water are returned to the groundwater there each year.

The Audi México plant was opened in 2016 and produces the Audi Q5 for the world market.

VW Group expands footprint in Africa

VW Group expands footprint in Africa

During German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Africa, Volkswagen signed two memorandums of understanding with the governments of Ghana and Nigeria. The stated goal is to build plants in both countries and to explore the development of new mobility solutions in Ghana.

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The document was signed in Ghana in the presence of Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia. The Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okey Enelamah attended the signing ceremony in Abuja. The Head of the Volkswagen Sub-Saharan Region, Thomas Schaefer, signed both agreements on behalf of Volkswagen.

In signing the memorandums of understanding, the Volkswagen brand continued to expand its engagement in the Sub-Sahara region of Africa. Schaefer commented: "Both memorandums of understanding demonstrate one thing: the seriousness with which Volkswagen takes its commitment to Africa. We are well positioned. The situation on the continent has stabilised, and the economy is moving forward. The final hurdles for the development of the automotive industry there have been removed as a result. This is a great opportunity for us."

An assembly plant is scheduled to be built in Ghana. This would also include developing a sales and service network in Ghana as well as establishing a Training Academy for Production and After Sales.

In addition, Volkswagen carried out a feasibility study in Ghana for integrated mobility solutions which will include a review of the commercial viability of introducing rental, car sharing, ride hailing and shuttle services by way of a Ghanaian subsidiary of VWSA (Volkswagen South Africa), or the appointment of a local service provider.

The Ghanaian Government undertook to develop a comprehensive Ghana Automotive Industry Policy which will incentivise vehicle manufacturing in Ghana. This includes a preferential procurement policy for locally assembled vehicles.

In the memorandum of understanding signed in Nigeria, Volkswagen committed itself to expanding automaking operations on a step-by-step basis and to turning Nigeria into an automotive hub on the western coast of Africa over the long term.

This will include developing a training academy in conjunction with the German Government which will train the initial employees and also provide broader technical training for the community in automotive skills. It is also intended that a comprehensive Volkswagen vehicle and service network is developed in the country subject to commercial viability.

In return, the Nigerian government has pledged to accelerate the passage of Nigerian automotive policies. This includes the gradual transition from the importation of used cars to the manufacture and distribution of new passenger vehicles.

Volkswagen already has a plant in South Africa. It also builds cars in Kenya and recently began to make them in Rwanda, where community car sharing is already being offered as an integrated mobility solution and where ride hailing will also be provided soon.

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