Thursday, 31 July 2014

Lotus installs KERS into passenger car

Torotrak has begun work on a funded programme with Lotus Cars to integrate KERS into the manual transmission of a performance passenger car.

Torotrak is also working on a number of programmes to introduce Flybrid KERS in commercial vehicles. Most notably, the first KERS installation in a Wrightbus StreetLite bus has demonstrated good driveability and energy capture during on road testing in Leyland this month.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ally Jaguar XE edges closer to launch

The new Jaguar XE, set to be powered the all-new Ingenium engine range, is the only car in the class to use an aluminium-intensive monocoque. Aluminium accounts for 75 per cent of structure.

This milestone in body engineering, the culmination of Jaguar’s world-leading expertise in high-volume production of aluminium vehicles, suggests the Jaguar XE should combine outstanding design with benchmark levels of ride and handling.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Ford SUV is first with 1-litre EcoBoost

Ford’s all-new EcoSport SUV (sports utility vehicle) is the first in the world to offer a 1.0-litre engine.

EcoSport is the first Ford global model to be developed entirely in South America. First introduced in 2003 the EcoSport created the segment in Brazil and has since sold more than 770,000 in the region.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Lagonda rises phoenix-like from Gaydon

Aston Martin has once more dipped into its heritage box in search of treasures to please Middle East shareholders and customers, and bolster turnover and profit.

After the initial production (and financial) debacle of the Aston Martin Rapide, first rolled out in 2010 at the Magna Steyr facility in Graz, Austria and then repatriated back to the company’s facility at Gaydon, Warwickshire, Aston Martin has confirmed a bespoke product programme for a new super saloon aimed at reviving the historic Lagonda nameplate in a strictly limited series.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Ford leaks out 2.7-litre EcoBoost data

Ford is peeling away piecemeal, in a somewhat erratic fashion, details of its ground-breaking 2.7-litre V6 EcoBoost engine that powers the 2015 F-150 pick-up truck.

Further details it seems will be released in September at the Texas State Fair in the US.

Warwick University wins auto industry Hub

The new Hub location of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) will be at the University of Warwick, site also of the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and its chairman Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya.

 APC supports a 10-year, £1 billion industry and government commitment to the development of low carbon propulsion systems.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Unipart Automotive parts unit goes bust

Unipart Automotive, a UK-based supplier of car parts and garage equipment, has collapsed with the loss of more than 1,400 jobs across the country after failing to find a buyer.

The business, based in Solihull, operates 180 branches around the UK, trading under three brand names – Unipart Automotive, Partco Autoparts and Express Factors.

Prodrive shifts up a gear

Prodrive is relocating to a larger facility in Banbury, UK, less than a mile from its present home. 

Construction of the new building, next to the M40 motorway, begins next month and the company will move during March 2015. 

Renault to supply light CV to Fiat from 2016

Renault and Fiat have signed an agreement whereby Renault will supply Fiat with a light commercial vehicle based on a Renault platform.

The styling of the Fiat vehicle will be developed by Fiat and will feature unique and distinctive elements on the model, branded Fiat Professional.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Mustang gives second outing for 2.3-litre EcoBoost

The Ford Mustang, which goes on sale across Europe in 2015, will have a choice of the uprated 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine or the 5-litre V8.

The 2.3-litre EcoBoost gives 310bhp and 320 lbft torque, while the 5-litre V8 generates 435bhp and 400 lbft torque.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

BMW makes three-cylinder engines in UK

The first plug-in hybrid sports car from BMW is powered by three-cylinder engines exclusively produced at BMW's Hams Hall engine plant, near Birmingham.

And, Grob-Werke GmbH of Mindelheim, one of Germany’s leading automotive equipment suppliers has been instrumental in supplying machine tools for this benchmark facility.  

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

VW boosts Chattanooga with SUV, R&D

Volkswagen Group is expanding its industrial footprint in the US in line with its 2018 strategic plan by adding a new mid-size sports utility vehicle (SUV).

Volkswagen Group of America (VGA) board of directors (with the blessing of Wolfsburg, of course) has agreed to award the production of the new midsize SUV to the Chattanooga plant in Tennessee.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

VW sets JLR a 2-litre benchmark for Hotfire

When JaguarLandRover (JLR) unveils the power and torque ratings of its new 2-litre Ingenium diesel engine, industry watchers will be monitoring how close its performance comes to that of the 2-litre Volkswagen will put in the next Passat midsize sedan it will launch to the public at the Paris Motor Show in October.

With 237bhp, the 2-litre TDi BiTurbo is 62bbhp more powerful than the previous Passat, and offers 120Nm more torque.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Clarke to put Navistar up for sale?

Is it in the mind of Troy Clarke, chief executive officer of Navistar International Corporation to sell the company, once he has righted the storm-battered vessel?

One has to think so, going by statements he made to editorial staff of Transport Topics recently. But judge for yourself from reports of his comments which gave hints of a sell-off.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Williams’ ‘new’ tech centre and Jaguar C-X75

UK Prime Minister David Cameron officially opened Williams’ new Advanced Engineering facility on 11 July in Grove, Oxfordshire.

The business has been operating since 2011. Its first project was the Jaguar C-X75, one of the most sophisticated hybrid supercars made.

Friday, 11 July 2014

JLR half-year sales rise 14%

JaguarLandRover (JLR) has delivered its strongest half year sales performance, retailing 240,372 vehicles, up 14 per cent against the same period last year. 

The company delivered more vehicles in the past six months than in the whole of 2010.  In the month of June, Jaguar Land Rover retailed 39,594 vehicles, 17 per cent up year-on-year.

Kia looks to US for diesel growth

Kia is looking to introduce diesel engines to the US as part of its long-term plan to continue growing by entering new segments.

The arrival of the K900, a Mercedes S-Class-sized luxury saloon, in the US in February and the launch of the company's first commercially available all-electric car, the Soul EV, towards the end of this year are two pointers as to how Kia is expanding its range to appeal to new customers.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Navistar sets aside $1.38bn for warranty claims

According to Troy Clarke, chief executive officer of Navistar International Corporation, the OEM has “capacity” to satisfy warranty claims by using a balance-sheet reserve of $1.38 billion dedicated to warranty work.

In an item published in the 14 July 2014 issue of Transport Topics, following an interview with Transport Topics editors and reporters, Clarke said that part of the company’s turnaround includes working through a backlog of warranty claims made against the company’s MaxxForce engines made from late 2010 and into 2012 — before Clarke became chief operating officer.

VW first-half sales top record 3m

Volkswagen passenger cars brand delivered over 3 million vehicles in the first half year for the first time in the company’s history.

A total of 3.07 (January-June 2013: 2.95) million vehicles were handed over to customers worldwide, an increase of 3.8 per cent.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Ally 2-litre diesel Hotfire breaks cover first

The first Hotfire engine from JaguarLand Rover (JLR) will be a lightweight 2-litre diesel with an aluminium cylinder block.

Hotfire will come to market weighing 80kg less than today’s equivalent engines.

Audi revives UK development – 30 years later

Audi has revived a concept developed by GKN over 30 years ago – namely glass-fibre reinforced polymer springs for vehicles.

Audi’s new, lightweight suspension coil springs are made of glass fibre-reinforced polymer (GFRP), and will appear in an executive class Audi model before the end of the year. GKN tried to introduce GFRP leaf springs in light trucks in the 1980s.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

SOP soon for Ford gearbox plant in China

Start of production (SOP) is expected this year in Ford’s first transmission plant in Chongqing, China, set to initially have the capacity to produce 400,000 units a year.

Last year, Ford China announced it had sold 935,813 ‘wholesale vehicles’ in the region in 2013 compared with 626,616 in 2012, an increase of 49 per cent.

Monday, 7 July 2014

VW scores record UK van sales

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VCV) has recorded its best ever half-year sales performance in the UK. 

A total of 20,907 light commercial vehicles were registered to the end of June, representing an 11.3 per cent increase in sales compared to 18,782 registrations over the same period last year.

VW to build two new car plants in China

China is growing fast for Volkswagen AG which is to build two new vehicle plants together with partner FAW.

“China has become our largest and most important market. To satisfy the demands of our customers in the country, we are engaging in a further substantial expansion of our capacities in China together with our Chinese partner FAW-Volkswagen,” said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen AG at a ceremony to sign the declaration of intent.

550 UK jobs boost at Vauxhall

Vauxhall will take on 550 new employees at its manufacturing sites in Ellesmere Port and Luton, the first significant new-hire programme for a decade.

Around 300 new jobs will be secured at the Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire.  The plant currently operates on two shifts but as sales volumes build more employees are required to cope with increased output at the facility. The new jobs will be phased in over the first quarter of 2015.

OEMs have learnt “to play the game” – Torotrak

What is the biggest challenge facing the automotive industry?

The big issue challenging all vehicle manufacturers is the next step in emissions regulations, claims Jeremy Deering, chief executive officer of Torotrak Group.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

SOP date set for Ford's 2015 F-150 truck

Ford Motor Company’s Dearborn Truck Plant will shut down from 25 August to 21 September to allow engineers to retool for the upcoming 2015 F-150 truck which features an aluminium structure. The order bank opens 16 July.

The plant has built over 2.6 million iconic F-150s since it opened the Dearborn, Michigan facility in 2004. The plant has 3,600 employees who adopt a three-crew operating pattern to put together 1,200 F-150 trucks a day.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Hyundai to boost output in Brazil?

Hyundai could be on the point of increasing production at its Sao Paolo plant in Brazil, if a recent report in the Korea Herald can be believed. 

A Hyundai official is reported as saying the company will increase production by 5,000 units a year to 185,000 units from 2014 onwards.

Mexico: here we come, say BMW, Kia

BMW is to build a new 150,000-a-year vehicle assembly plant in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. The new plant comes online in 2019 and will employ 1,500.

BMW AG board member responsible for production, Harald Kruger, said: "Mexico is an ideal location for the BMW Group and will be another important plant within our production network. This decision underscores our commitment to the NAFTA region”.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Renault-Nissan “synergies” & CMF are working

Renault-Nissan Alliance claims record “synergies” of €2.87 billion in 2013, up from €2.69 billion in the previous year.

“Synergies” are derived from cost reductions, cost avoidance and revenue increases.

DPCA to build fourth plant by 2016

Dongfeng Peugeot Citroën Automobiles (DPCA) is to build its fourth production facility in China with start-up due in late 2016.

DPCA signed its agreement on 2 July with the city of Chengdu for the construction of the facility. The company has made the decision for a fourth plant on the basis of its strong market growth.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

More Euro-style vans for the US

Fiat Chrysler has unveiled its Ram ProMaster City – the Ram Truck brand's entry in the expanding field of Euro-style compact commercial vans aimed at small businesses and urban markets.

The leading rival is the Transit Connect from Ford and made in Turkey.  It is reckoned Ford pioneered the compact cargo van segment in 2009 with its European import and has just rolled out a redesigned second generation.

Also competing in this sector is Nissan’s NV200 small van, the base vehicle for New York City's new taxicabs.

And General Motors (GM), through its Chevrolet arm, has negotiated with Nissan to begin this year selling a version of the NV200 as the Chevrolet City Express. In Europe, Nissan teamed up with Renault. The French company did have a partnership with GM for their Vivaro/Trafic offerings – competitors to the Ford Transit.

What the North American small cvs all share is a smaller footprint and smaller engine than traditional panel vans, so offering lower purchase and operating costs. Also common are city-capable designs with large bumper systems all around and more car-like safety and convenience features.

The Ram ProMaster City is based on the Fiat Doblo from Europe and is powered by Chrysler's 2.4-litre Tigershark four-cylinder gasoline engine. It is front-drive and will use the company's new, fuel-efficient nine-speed automatic. The engine and transmission also are used in the new Chrysler 200 sedan and the Jeep Cherokee.

Built in Turkey, the City will be sold in two-seat cargo and five-seat passenger versions and be able to carry 1,883 pounds in its 131.7 cubic feet of space. The cargo area measures 60.4in by 87.2in and has a building panel-friendly 48in between the wheel wells. City goes on sale in early 2015.

The new vehicle joins the Ram van line-up that includes the larger Ram ProMaster Euro van and the Ram C/V, a commercial version of the Chrysler minivan.

According to Ram Truck, total Class 1-4 commercial van market is expected to be about 400,000 a year over the next five years, with the new compact vans taking about 25 per cent of the market.
                                           More engines, please

Meanwhile, someone, somewhere in one part of the Fiat Chrysler must be twisting hard the arm of someone, somewhere in another part of the same group.

For Chrysler Group LLC sales chief Reid Bigland recently let slip he is short of engines from VM Motori, the Cento, Italy-based company wholly owned by Fiat after it bought out GM’s 50 per cent share.

Bigland told reporters Chrysler is “working hard” to increase production in Europe of the VM Motori 3-litre V6 diesel engine that powers the 2014 Ram EcoDiesel pickup.

According to Bigland, demand for the diesel model, which is noteworthy for its compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder block and which many customers claim can exceed the 28 mile/gal fuel economy label, has exceeded expectations.

“Frankly, demand for diesel has really surprised us,” he said.

The diesel version of the Ram 1500 pick-up truck is on dealer forecourts for only 13 days. Demand for diesel versions accounts for 20 per cent of sales.

“We’re going to be able to meet that demand, it’s just going to take us a few months,” Bigland said.

Maybe Fiat will have to commit some expenditure to expand engine manufcature at Cento - or consider manufacture outside Europe.

Bigland added that he expects Chrysler to hit 51 consecutive months of sales gains in June. he sees no underlying issues with the year’s sales pace as pent-up demand, an improving economy and credit availability continue for consumers.

US auto sales so far this year are up about 5 per cent and Bigland expects overall industry sales to rise between 2 per cent and 6 per cent in 2014. He does not expect US sales to hit 17 million this year, but that sales will continue “on a slow trajectory upwards.”

“Eventually in the next two to three years, I think we will get back to a 17 million annual sales mark and then stabilize from there,” he said.

However, it only needs a serious uprising in the Middle East to throw a spanner in the works and make oil prices rocket, thus denting world economies and the best laid plans of even the slickest automaker.