Mazda and Toyota establish joint-venture company to build cars in the US

Mazda and Toyota establish joint-venture company to build cars in the US

Mazda Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation have established their new joint-venture company "Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A., Inc." (MTMUS) that will produce vehicles in Huntsville, Alabama starting in 2021.

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The new plant will have the capacity to produce 150,000 units of Mazda's crossover model that will be newly introduced to the North American market and 150,000 units of the Toyota Corolla. The facility is expected to create up to 4,000 jobs. Toyota and Mazda are investing $1.6 billion towards this project with equal funding contributions.

"We hope to make MTMUS a plant that will hold a special place in the heart of the local community for many, many years," said Mazda's Executive Officer Masashi Aihara, who will serve as President of MTMUS. "By combining the best of our technologies and corporate cultures, Mazda and Toyota will not only produce high-quality cars but also create a plant employees will be proud to work at and contribute to the further development of the local economy and the automotive industry. We hope that cars made at the new plant will enrich the lives of their owners and become much more than just a means of transportation."

"The new plant, which will be Toyota's 11th manufacturing facility in the US. not only represents our continuous commitment in this country, but also is a key factor in improving our competitiveness of manufacturing in the US," said Hironori Kagohashi, executive general manager of Toyota and MTMUS's Executive Vice President. "We are committed to realising a highly competitive plant and producing vehicles with the best quality for customers by combining Toyota and Mazda's manufacturing expertise and leveraging the joint venture's synergies. Based on this competitiveness, we will make every effort to becoming a best-in-town plant that will be loved by our hometown," he added.

In collaboration with the state of Alabama and the city of Huntsville, MTMUS will soon begin land preparation for the new plant, and the full-scale construction of the plant is expected to start in 2019.

Overview of Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A., Inc.

  • Location: Huntsville, Alabama
  • Ratio of capital contribution: Mazda Motor Corporation: 50%, Toyota Motor Corporation: 50%
  • Date of establishment: March 1, 2018
  • President and executive vice president: President: Masashi Aihara (Executive Officer of Mazda Motor Corporation)
  • Executive Vice President: Hironori Kagohashi (executive general manager of Toyota Motor Corporation)
  • Production capacity: 300,000 units per year (150,000 units each for Mazda and Toyota)
  • Production model: Mazda: crossover model that will be newly introduced to the North American market
  • Produciton model: Toyota: Corolla
  • Start of production: 2021
  • Employment: Up to 4,000 team members.
Volkswagen Poznań plant in Poland builds two-millionth Caddy

Volkswagen Poznań plant in Poland builds two-millionth Caddy

Volkswagen Poznań's (a subsidiary of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles) Antoninek factory produced its two-millionth Caddy – a fourth generation Caddy Maxi Trendline 7-seater in Candy White (1.4-litre TSI, EU6 BMT, 92 kW).

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Impressively, in the last year alone around 165,000 Caddy vehicles were produced (+3.8%), the highest ever number since the formation of Volkswagen Poznań in 1993.

The landmark vehicle went to Polish aid organisation 'St. Brother Albert'. The employees of Volkswagen Poznań and Volkswagen Group Polska also collected donations (including clothing) for the aid organisation and handed them over to people in need. Motto: "How much goodness fits into a Caddy?"

Dr Josef Baumert, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles responsible for Production and Logistics: "Two million Caddy vehicles built in Poznań and another increase in the annual production volume are indicative of committed employees and thus of a very efficient site."

The new record was at the same time also the result of continually optimised manufacturing processes, stressed Baumert. The increasing use of digital technologies would in future bring forth a multitude of new production methods, business models and improved working conditions.

Baumert: "These are opportunities we should seize together, also in order to tailor production even more closely to individual customer wishes and to create added value with intelligent solutions."

Dietmar Mnich, Poznań Plant Director explained: "Our entire attention on this special day is on the employees of the plant in Antoninek, where the Caddy has been produced with great success for more than 15 years. Initially in the third, now in the fourth generation of vehicles. The underlying principle of this plant is to repeatedly reinvent itself and focus on the future. For manufacturing the Caddy has a great deal to do with the conscious feeling that you are making a very special car – an all-rounder for the needs of everyday life."

Piotr Olbryś, Chairman of the NSZZ 'Solidarność' Trade Union at Volkswagen Poznań, said: "The two millionth Caddy is a great success for the company and a symbol of the commitment of every man and woman working here. Through their daily work they have contributed decisively to our vehicles being produced in the highest of quality and seen on the roads everywhere. We are proud of that."

Currently in the Antoninek plant Caddy production totals around 720 vehicles a day, while in 2003 it was around 520. In addition to the Caddy the commercial vehicle variants of the T-series (including pick-up, panel van and Kombi) are also made at Volkswagen Poznań. The company is the largest employer in the Wielkopolska region with a workforce of nearly 11,000, of which around 2,700 work in the new Crafter plant in Białężyce near Września, about 50 km east of Poznań.

About the Caddy

In 1978, a Golf with an open cargo bed was unveiled in the USA before Volkswagen began production of the Caddy for the European market in 1982. The second generation came onto the market in 1995. Since 2003, the Caddy (third and fourth generations) has been built at the Poznań plant in Poland.

Innovative sensor jacket trains industrial robots at Volkswagen plant

Innovative sensor jacket trains industrial robots at Volkswagen plant

Volkswagen's Gläserne Manufaktur (Transparent Factory in Dresden, Germany) and Dresden-based start-up Wandelbots have established a novel joint venture in human-robot collaboration (HRC).

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This was announced at the "South by Southwest" technology festival in Austin, Texas in the US. It aims to establish and operate an innovative testing station at the Gläserne Manufaktur in order to test new HRC applications in vehicle end assembly to prepare them for serial production.

The plan: to efficiently train industrial robots using an innovative sensor jacket fitted with sensors and actuators. The activities in Dresden will cover the assembly, logistics and maintenance of Volkswagen's electric Golf production.

This young start-up, spun off from the TU Dresden, considers the partnership with Volkswagen to be a "breakthrough". "For the first time, we have the opportunity to test out our product with a major industrial partner," said Christian Piechnick, Founder and Managing Director of Wandelbots, at the US conference.

"From this partnership, Volkswagen hopes to bring automation projects to bear in industrial applications more quickly and with significantly reduced expense," said Marco Weiss, Head of New Mobility & Innovations for Gläserne Manufaktur, and based in Austin.

Saxony's Minister President Michael Kretschmer (at right in picture) welcomed the new partnership. "We are very pleased about this ground-breaking partnership. It shows how quickly leading research from Saxony can be applied to industrial practice – an exemplary partnership."

The State of Saxony has supported Wandelbots through the Smart Systems Hub Dresden and with the regional campaign "So geht sächsisch" – loosely translated, "how it's done in Saxony". Part of this campaign has involved presenting innovative start-ups and ambassadors such as Eric Weber from Leipzig-based SpinLab in Texas in order to promote Saxony as a centre of industry and its leading role in digitalisation

"With its funding schemes, our state offers the ideal conditions for founders and entrepreneurs," said Kretschmer. "With industry steeped in tradition, strong representation of Germany's renowned Mittelstand, leadership in research and a lively start-up and entrepreneur scene, this region continues to produce new talent time and again." He added that efforts would be ongoing to unite start-ups and industry in order to bring value creators to Saxony.

State capital Dresden also supports young founders. "Dresden is a leading digital location for base IoT technologies. No other region in Europe offers such extensive technological expertise in the fields of semi-conductors, software and connectivity. To enable new products and technologies to achieve a breakthrough, we as a city provide innovative projects and start-ups with financial support. This is how we have supported Wandelbots, which has advanced the digitalisation of production with smart automation technology and shown how man & machine can work together hand in hand in the future," said Dr Robert Franke, Head of Economic Development of the State Capital of Dresden, in front of the media in Texas.

Wandelbots is working on a product that enables industrial robots to be programmed quickly with the aid of smart clothing, for which items of clothing are fitted with various sensors and actuators. The sensors detect human movements in real time, while the actuators provide haptic feedback. The sensor data is wirelessly transmitted to a software program, which controls a robot based on the movement data.

"This allows a robot to be taught a clearly defined task by way of example and imitation," explained Christian Piechnick. The software running in the background was able to generate an automation process based on data from multiple training runs, and the robots were also capable of adapting independently to the individual requirements of their human colleagues, Piechnick added.

Daimler Buses expects significant growth in unit sales and earnings in 2018

Daimler Buses expects significant growth in unit sales and earnings in 2018

Daimler Buses sold 28,700 buses and bus chassis worldwide in 2017 (2016: 26,200) and defended its absolute market leadership in its most important core markets: EU30 (European Union, Switzerland, Norway), Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.

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Revenue increased by 4% to €4.4 billion ($5.4 billion). The division's EBIT of €243 million was at the high prior-year level (2016: €249 million).

Hartmut Schick, Head of Daimler Buses and Chief Executive of EvoBus GmbH: "Our year 2017 was successful. The market recovery in Latin America made a positive contribution to Daimler Buses' 9% growth in unit sales. In Brazil alone, we sold 46% more buses in 2017 than in the previous year. In Asia, our unit sales increased by 33% and deliveries of complete buses in Europe were at the high prior-year level."

CASE strategy at Daimler Buses: investment of €200 million by 2020

"But we are working hard not only on the fully electric city bus; partially automated driving also continues to have high priority at Daimler Buses," added Hartmut Schick. "So we will invest approximately €200 million by 2020 alone in the implementation of the CASE strategy, in order to shape the future of mobility. We offer solutions enabling passengers to travel safely, flexibly and free of emissions."

At Daimler, CASE stands for the future areas of connectivity (Connected), automated driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive (Electric).

Further strengthening of core business: product offensive with new models

In addition to its clear focus on the bus of the future, Daimler Buses is of course also systematically optimizing its traditional product portfolio and strengthening the existing core business: Daimler Buses continued its model offensive in 2017, with the Mercedes-Benz Citaro hybrid for example. Hybrid drive is available for a large number of model variants of the bestselling Citaro city bus, also for the Citaro NGT, which runs on natural gas. This further reduces the fuel consumption of the already very efficient conventional Citaro, together with the new electro-hydraulic steering, depending on use and equipment levels.

Another milestone is the new version of the successful Mercedes-Benz Tourismo coach. New assistance and safety systems such as Active Brake Assist 4 (ABA4) with pedestrian recognition make the Tourismo even safer. Its fuel consumption is reduced compared with its predecessor by the optimised aerodynamics and the further improved bodywork.

The most important new product from the Setra coach brand is the new S 531 DT double-decker bus. Due to its improved aerodynamics, it consumes significantly less fuel than its predecessor. In addition, it features an emergency braking system with obstacle and pedestrian recognition as standard equipment. Another world premiere for buses is available as an optional extra: Sideguard Assist for the driver's blind spot. It uses radar sensors to monitor the lane on the right over the complete length of the bus, and provides a warning when turning of any pedestrians, cyclists or stationary obstacles in the line of the bus's turn.

Toyota – Johan van Zyl says no more diesels for Europe from 2018

Toyota – Johan van Zyl says no more diesels for Europe from 2018

At an executive meeting with media, Toyota shared the next step of its powertrain strategy in Europe which includes the phasing out of diesel passenger cars during 2018.

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The new generation Auris – to be produced in Burnaston next year – will come with three powertrains, including 2 Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) ones:

  • 1.2L Turbo – 4-cylinder direct injection turbo-charged petrol engine (116 hp)
  • 1.8L HEV Powertrain – 4th generation HEV, same as Prius and Toyota C-HR (122 hp)
  • 2.0L HEV Powertrain – New, more powerful, TNGA 2.0L HEV (180 hp)
  • Similar to the decision taken in 2016, to introduce Toyota C-HR without a diesel version, the new generation Auris will only be offered with petrol and HEV powertrains.

Strong customer demand for HEV versions on its core models means Toyota will phase out diesel engines from all its passenger cars in 2018.

In 2017, HEVs represented 41% of TME total sales, rising +38% year-on-year to 406,000 units. In contrast, Toyota's diesel mix on passenger cars was less than 10% in 2017.

Toyota will continue to offer diesel engines in commercial vehicles (Hilux, Proace and Land Cruiser) to meet customer needs.

Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe (pictured) commented: "Toyota has been pioneering Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) technology for more than 20 years. For several years, HEV versions have been the dominant powertrain where offered.

In our latest new model, the Toyota C-HR, HEVs accounted for 78% of sales last year. As part of our electrified vehicle strategy, we are progressively expanding our HEV offering with a second, more powerful 2.0-litre engine. Starting with the new generation Auris, this expanded HEV line-up is a natural reaction to our passenger car customers' demands.

Toyota's HEV mix in passenger cars already equalled our diesel mix in 2015. Since then, HEV sales substantially exceed our diesel sales. In commercial vehicles, where personal & business needs (e.g. Torque & Payload) remain, we will continue to offer the latest technology diesels."

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