Archive for the ‘Automotive News’ Category

Toyota Recalls 2.5 Million Vehicles in US for Window Switch Fires

Toyota is recalling 2.5 million cars in the United States due to faulty power window switches that can cause a fire in the driver’s door.

Toyota said that the driver’s side window switches may not be completely greased from the factory, which can result in the switches sticking or feeling “notchy.” If aftermarket grease is then applied, the switch could short and cause a fire. Among the included models: The 2007 to 2009 Camry, Camry Hybrid, RAV4 and Tundra; 2007 to 2008 Yaris; 2008 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid; 2008 to 2009 Sequoia; 2008 to 2009 Scion xA and xD; and the 2009 Corolla and Matrix.

Dealers will begin repairing the switches and applying “special fluorine grease” in late October, Toyota said. Affected owners can visit or call Toyota at 1-800-331-4331.

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Toyota, BMW Fuel-Cell Technology Sharing Agreement Almost Finalized

Toyota and BMW may announce the final details of their fuel-cell technology sharing agreement this week. From the Japanese automaker, BMW will lease fuel-cell technology including drivetrain and hydrogen storage technology, Automotive News reports. BMW plans to show a fuel-cell prototype by 2015 and have a production car by 2020.

A fuel-cell converts hydrogen (or other fuel) into electricity, which is then used to power a vehicle. Refueling with hydrogen can be much quicker than the hours typically required to recharge an electric car, though the U.S. currently lacks a hydrogen fueling infrastructure that might make such vehicles more appealing to automakers. Fuel-cell vehicles can also run up to five times longer between refueling than battery electric cars can between charges.

BMW i8 concept left side 300x187 imageThis isn’t the first collaboration between the two auto giants. Toyota and BMW inked a deal in December 2011 to work together on lithium-ion battery development for hybrid and PHEVs, while BMW would supply Toyota 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engines for Euro-market cars. The automakers hope to produce lighter, higher-performance batteries with the agreement.

In June, the automakers signed an agreement for joint development of a hydrogen fuel-cell system, collaboration on electric powertrains, work on lightweight technologies, and a new lightweight sports car. While Toyota and Subaru jointly developed the lightweight rear-drive GT86/Scion FR-S/BRZ triplets, some speculate that Toyota and BMW could work together on the next-generation Z4 and a new Supra.

The new agreement could give the automakers an advantage over others that are currently developing fuel-cell technology, which include Mercedes-Benz, GM, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, and Hyundai.

Toyota Recalls Another 2 Million Cars. Apology Needed.

When NASA released the results of a 10-month study on Toyota vehicles on Feb. 8 concluding that the automaker’s cars did not have an electronics problem that caused unintended acceleration, one of Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s columnists said the media owed the company an apology. There is no ghost in the machine and the intense media coverage caused a frenzy, Bloomberg BusinessWeek columnist Ed Wallace wrote. I know Ed personally and have tremendous respect for him. But I must part ways on this issue.

Toyota may not have had electronic throttle issues. But certainly the company had plenty of other problems. Just today, Toyota announced its biggest recall in a year. The Japanese auto giant recalled 2.17 million vehicles because of carpet and floor mat flaws that could jam gas pedals. Toyota has recalled more than 12 million vehicles globally since November 2009, many of them related to unintended acceleration claims. Of those actions, 5.3 million vehicles were recalled to fix floor mat problems. Some of the cars were recalled because of a sticking accelerator pedal. It may not have been electronics, but there were problems.

Toyota has had other investigations and recalls not related to unintended acceleration. Last week, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration opened an investigation into the 2006 Highlander hybrid amid claims that the SUV stalls frequently. In January, Toyota voluntarily recalled 1.7 million vehicles for potential defects in fuel pipes and pumps, Bloomberg reported. On Jan. 10, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda told reporters that the recalls have inflicted “big damage” on the company, but he maintained that its cars are safe, Bloomberg reported at the time.

Back to the apology. While it’s clear that there is no mystery magnetic glitch in Toyota’s cars and that they are as safe as anyone else’s vehicles, forget the apology. First of all, investigations are news. So long as the media reports the conclusion, it’s in the public’s interest to know what’s happening. Second, Toyota’s lost its once-astute focus on quality. Rapid expansion of its model lines and sprawling archipelago of factories has made it difficult to mind every detail, which was a principal tenet of the company.

Consumer Reports has found a decline in the quality of interior finishes in Toyotas for the past three or four years, David Champion, the magazine’s director of automotive testing, told Bloomberg for a Jan. 12 story. The company whose customers once relied on Toyota for bullet-proof quality and reliability suddenly suffered a rash of problems. In fairness to my old pal Ed, some media reports accepted the unintended acceleration claims as gospel. But that alone does not exonerate Toyota. Sorry Ed, but it’s the customers – not Toyota – who deserve the apology. Toyota’s executives have apologized, and justifiably so.

Auto industry to feel impact from Japan’s troubles

Auto industry to feel impact from Japan’s troubles
The full impact is a month or two away, but Berkshire County drivers seeking new vehicles or parts eventually may encounter shortages.

So far, the effects of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster on Japan’s manufacturers have been limited here, though supplies of computer chips and other components used in vehicles have been curtailed worldwide.

Some Ford models are now unavailable in black or red because the pigment for the metallic paint comes from Japan, said Gary Johnson, chairman of Johnson Dealerships Inc. Noting that many parts for Ford vehicles are manufactured there, including audio systems, Johnson said he has yet to be notified of any delays. His Nissan dealership also has been unaffected up to now.

At the Haddad Motor Group, which sells Toyotas, Subarus and Hyundais at separate facilities, owner George Haddad said he hadn’t heard of much disruption except for Internet-access shutdowns at Subaru caused by rolling power blackouts.

“We try to think positively,” he said. “It’s too soon to see an impact, and I’m hoping everything comes back online. In another month, we should feel something.”

He explained that monthly allocations of new vehicles trucked to dealers could be affected by disruptions in Japan.

His Hyundai line, manufactured in South Korea and the U.S., uses few if any parts or components from Japan, Haddad added.

Interrupted production of the Toyota Prius should catch up, he said, as factories are reopened in the coming days. He also reported an abundant supply of parts from pre-earthquake shipments.

At Bedard Bros. in Cheshire, where two of the seven lines are Japanese, Brian Bedard said he has a 60-day supply of Hondas and Suzukis on the lot.

He was advised late Monday that Honda expects a disruption of parts and supplies after April 1. He expects a possible impact locally in 30 days, but any effects on the monthly allocation of vehicles to dealerships are unlikely until June.

Jim Salvie, owner of the Berkshire Mazda franchise on Pittsfield’s East Street “auto mile,” predicted that temporary production shutdowns and parts shortages “won’t hurt us until June or July.”

Because parts and supplies are shipped by slow-moving boats, the real drop-off has yet to be felt by factories in the U.S., Europe and Asia, according to the Associated Press. That will come by the middle of April.

“This is the biggest impact ever in the history of the automobile industry,” said Koji Endo, managing director at Advanced Research Japan in Tokyo.

Much of Japan’s auto industry — the second largest supplier of cars in the world — remains idle. Few plants were seriously damaged by the quake, but with supplies of water and electricity disrupted, no one can say when factories will crank up. Some auto analysts predict it could be as late as this summer.

IHS Automotive expects that one-third of daily global automotive production will be cut because of supply chain disruptions. That means about 5 million vehicles worldwide won’t be built, out of the 72 million vehicles planned for production in 2011.

The uncertainly has suppliers, automakers and dealers nationwide scrambling. And it exposes the vulnerability of the world’s most complex supply chain, where 3,000 parts go into single car or truck. Each one of those parts is made up of hundreds of other pieces supplied by multiple companies. All it takes is one part to go missing or arrive late, and a vehicle can’t be built.

Auto-industry analysts think buyers will soon see higher prices and fewer choices.

Customers already face rising prices for models like Toyota’s Prius, which is made only in Japan. Fears of falling supply have some dealers nationwide driving a hard bargain with customers who want the fuel-efficient hybrid as gasoline prices rise. Recent discounts of 5 to 10 percent on that car are disappearing.

Toyota Recalls Another 2 Million Cars. Apology Needed.

When NASA released the results of a 10-month study on Toyota vehicles on Feb. 8 concluding that the automaker’s cars did not have an electronics problem that caused unintended acceleration, one of Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s columnists said the media owed the company an apology . There is no ghost in the machine and the intense media coverage caused a frenzy, Bloomberg BusinessWeek columnist Ed Wallace wrote

Detroit auto show: Think small

By David Welch

The mood in Detroit is considerably better at this year’s North American International Auto Show than it was a year ago when General Motors was hunting momentum and Chrysler’s very survival was in question. I’ll get into the new models and concept cars as they roll out. In the meantime, here are a few notable comments from the auto executives I tracked down at the show.

Chrysler going public
Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said he wants to take Chrysler public in the second half of this year. Fiat won’t sell any of its Chrysler stock. The sellers will be the United Auto Workers retiree healthcare trust, and possibly the U.S. Treasury Department and Canadian government.

The Italian automaker owns 25% of Chrysler. The UAW owns 63.5% of Chrysler. The U.S. Treasury holds 9.2%, while Canadian municipalities have a 2.3% stake. Marchionne told reporters that he wants to pay back $7.5 billion in debt to the U.S. and Canadian governments in 2011 and then go public. Following GM’s successful IPO, Marchionne says Chrysler can launch its IPO following a couple quarters of profitability. “I’d love to do it in the second half of this year.”

IPO yes, but electric cars… maybe not
Marchionne bucked the trend among auto executives by casting some doubt on the potential of electric cars. Fiat plans to sell an electric version of its tiny 500 hatchback, he said. But that’s not where the market will be. If carmakers want to meet fuel economy regulations and boost efficiency, they’re better off just wringing more mileage out of gasoline engines, he said. “I’m reluctant to embrace full electrics as a solution,” Marchionne said. “The dollars spent for reduction in fuel use is not there. We have to be careful not to chase a rainbow.”

BMW’s U.S. boss throws down the gauntlet
BMW and Audi have gone toe to toe with their advertising efforts, taking shots at each other in the past. Audi had a billboard featuring the A4 that read, “Your move, BMW.” In response, BMW put up its own billboard for the 3-series saying, “Checkmate.” Audi has been gunning for its German rivals with its own brand of German engineering and sporty luxury cars. Jim O’Donnell, CEO of BMW US, took a shot at his rivals. With 220,000 cars sold in the U.S., BMW more than doubled Audi’s take in the market. Audi is “too worried about having a go at Mercedes and BMW,” O’Donnell said. “They have to learn to swing first. I think their whole communications strategy is wrong.”

GM tries to make money on small cars
For Detroit’s carmakers, small-car profits have been almost as elusive as a playoff appearance by the Detroit Lions. GM-North America President Mark Reuss said in an interview that GM should be able to make money on cars like the Chevy Cruze compact and Sonic subcompact, which are built in the U.S. with union labor. The company’s break-even point has fallen drastically since bankruptcy wiped away billions in debt and healthcare obligations. GM is wagering that cars like the Cruze and Sonic will offer a sportier ride and more creature comforts, so they should get a better price. The Buick Verano, which also had its debut at the show, will be built with many of the same parts as the Cruze. Its higher price should help the entire small-car program make money, he said.

The gamble is that cars like the Sonic–which have traditionally been cheap, entry-level transportation–can fetch a higher price by offering more horsepower, better ride and handling and features like MyChevrolet, a phone app that allows drivers to unlock doors, start the engine and check the vehicle’s diagnostics remotely. Ford is making the same bet with its Fiesta, which can sell for more than $20,000. Chevy has not priced the Sonic, but GM won’t set a ridiculously low price on the model, Reuss said. “If we’re going to make the cheapest, silliest car in the U.S. and try to make money on it, that isn’t going to work,” he says.

Daily Options Trading for Advance Auto Parts (AAP)

NEW YORK (Market Intellisearch) — Unusual volume of call and put contracts crossed the tape today. Total of 4,312 call contracts and 570 put contracts were traded in the marketplace. Today’s traded Put/Call ratio is 0.13. There were 7.56 calls traded for each put contract.

Summary of all Unusual Trading Activities

The following alerts were raised:
- Unusual Call Volume
- Unusual Put Volume
- Low Put/Call Ratio

A significant increase in the trading volume of a stock’s option often is a precursor of movement by the underlying stock. In such instances, Put/Call Ratio can be used as an investor sentiment indicator, where a high ratio implies that the overall investor sentiment is bearish and a low Put/Call ratio implies that the overall sentiment is bullish.

Shares of Advance Auto Parts edged up $0.68 (+1.11%) to $62.08. The stock closed at $61.40 in the previous trading session and opened today at $61.77. The price of the stock ranged between a low of $61.53 and $62.43 respectively. The trading volume of 575,987 is below the 90 day average volume of 904,944 shares. AAP is trading above the 50 day moving average. The stock’s 52 week low is $36.11 and 52 week high is $61.45. The stock has a P/E ratio of 18.53 and a dividend yield of 0.39%.

Price Performance Metrics for Advance Auto Parts:
-- Week:    4.05%
-- Month:   14.78%
-- Quarter: 39.84%
-- 6 Month: 53.10%
-- Year:    45.74%

Is the Chevy Volt an EV or a Hybrid? Who Cares?

To hear one critic tell it, General Motors got caught in an out-and-out lie when the company described labeled the Chevrolet Volt an extended-range electric vehicle. said in a headline that “GM Lied.” The Volt is really a hybrid-electric vehicle like the Toyota Prius, Edmunds said. Critics from Motor Trend and Popular Mechanics made a similar argument, though they stopped short of saying GM was dishonest

Auto Parts Suppliers for the time being not keep up with the rapid development of electric vehicles

electric vehicles

Magna International Inc. Chief Technology Officer Ted Robertson, said the rapid development of electric vehicles not only for the auto parts supplier and a potential risk, but also provide a huge return.

Electric vehicles will need a lot of new parts. Many current carburetor parts will repeat the mistake.

When the Magna Chairman FrankStronach told Robertson to design electric car, Robertson was his face on the complexity of surprised. He pointed out that electric cars have 13 new gasoline-powered car system was never used.

This includes control the high engine speed electric vehicles the special gear box, electric power steering and traction motor cooling fluid allow for recycling of electrical pumps, converters, battery and heater.

In an electric car at the informal meeting activities, Robertson told reporters an overview of a number of pure electric vehicles will disappear in the system. This includes fuel tanks and pipelines, as well as mechanical pumps. He said, “we will have with the electric pump and electric cooling system deal with.”

Still a lack of supplier

Find the parts, and other qualified electric vehicle parts supplier is not easy. This Just ask General Motors, you can know. GM’s Chevrolet Volt plug-in for the hybrid car has been battered to find suppliers, and the upcoming models on sale in November 2010.

GM Voltec project manager JohnFerris said: “The lack of major suppliers is comprehensive: the electrification of vehicles, power electronics, braking, drive and heating and cooling equipment, we are missing a major supplier.”

Ferris at the same meeting, told reporters, “We found that some suppliers had never been to the electrical goods for the automotive industry.”

Most auto parts suppliers are the traditional automotive parts and mechanical systems, drive shafts, belts and chains are the most common. If they want to Transferring electrical or electronic components, could face a high cost.

At the same time, in the automotive industry, new entrants, some consumer electronics manufacturers who have had parts, but they sometimes are not familiar with the automotive industry for large-volume, zero defect, crash testing and long-term warranty requirements.

Ferris Biao Shi, “In some cases, only a handful of (supply business) can Zhiliang, performance, technology and compliance (trade) volume of financial capability, Dadaoqiche product of Shengchannengli He Yaoqiu.”

Magna’s electric car plan

Magna is the largest auto parts supplier in North America (based on 2008 sales of original equipment parts), which is being jointly developed with Ford Motor Company a Focus-sized electric vehicles, Ford has been held in January over the Detroit Motor Show vehicles, and plans on sale in 2011. Magna is responsible for most vehicle power systems, including traction motors, transmission and vehicle controls.

In March at the Geneva Motor Show, Magna’s MagnaSteyr installed in their Mira (MilaEV) electric concept car debut. Mira electric vehicles (MilaEV) will not be a production vehicle, but the concept car for the Magna hopes to use some of the components found by the customer.

Auto parts turnaround seen in 2011

Cost-savings measures undertaken over the past 18 months and a gradual recovery in the U.S. economy will allow Canada’s automotive parts industry to return to profitability next year, according to a report yesterday from the Conference Board of Canada.

After losing $674 million in 2009, largely because of a worldwide recession and virtual collapse of the domestic auto industry, the board forecasts the parts sector will turn a profit of $378 million in 2011 with gradual increases over the next three years until profits hit $894 million by 2014.

The industry is expected to lose another $41 million this year before the recovery takes hold.

According to the report, U.S. vehicle demand is gradually recovering and cost-cutting measures implemented during the recession are improving the bottom line.

According to the report, the parts industry benefits from a high degree of collaboration with vehicle assemblers, as the just-in-time assembly process minimizes inventory carrying costs and assures financial stability through long-term contracts.

However, the large decline in auto sales during the recession exposed the downside of this relationship.

Employment is also expected to rebound, having fallen from an estimated 120,000 in 2006 to a current estimate of 89,000.

The board projects that employment will increase steadily over the next four years and reach 108,000 by 2014.

There are about 750 auto parts suppliers in Canada, with 33 of them employing more than 500 workers and about 240 medium-size companies with 20 to 500 employees, while the rest have fewer than 20 employees.