Monday, August 19, 2013

GM Expands Tennessee Factory

General Motors plans to spend $167 million in production capacity upgrades for its Nashville, Tenn. factory, the Associated Press reported.

The investment is in addition to a previously announced $183 million worth of upgrades planned for the facility, which was idled amid the economic downturn in 2009, AP said. The plant was reopened following a 2011 contract agreement with the United Auto Workers that included salary concessions for entry-level workers.

The new spending is expected to create or keep 1,800 jobs, but GM did not comment on how many new workers would be hired, AP said.

While the company also wouldn't identify the new vehicles that would be built there, the facility currently produces the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossover SUVs. These vehicles were last updated in 2009, AP said.

The plant produced more than 3.7 million Saturn cars between 1990 and 2007. Most of the facility's workers were then furloughed while the plant underwent a $600 million overhaul to build the build the Chevrolet Traverse crossover.

At its peak, the facility employed nearly 8,000 workers. By 2009, that number was down to about 630. The plant, which also makes four-cylinder engines, currently employs 2,000 people, AP said.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Montoya seeking 'winning car'

Juan Pablo Montoya, NASCAR, Foxsports.comJuan Pablo Montoya isn’t sure what lies ahead for him in racing.
But his first requirement for any potential suitor, whether it’s in NASCAR, IndyCar or Grand-Am would be to give him the opportunity to drive “a winning car.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do but I want to be in a winning car,” Montoya said. “It was a fun seven years with the Target car and (team co-owner) Chip (Ganassi) and everything. We worked really hard, we had our ups, our downs but at the end of the day, I want to win races. He wants to win races. And we wanted to try something different.
“It could be with Chip. It could be with somebody else. With Chip, something we said is ‘number one, we want to keep our friendship.' We are really good friends. We have a good relationship and that was it. It’s not that bad.”
While Montoya was disappointed by the company’s decision not to renew his contract to drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beyond this season, he didn’t appear to be surprised. Certainly, over the last seven years Montoya’s equipment at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing has been hit or miss. The driver has revolved through five crew chiefs and six teammates in that time period and, over the last year, endured a complete overhaul of management and his race team. It stands to reason that part of the lack of stability can be traced to the transient nature of the No. 42 team.
Still, it’s curious why a driver with Montoya’s immense talent in open-wheel racing — seven wins and 30 podium finishes in Formula One, an Indy 500 win, a Champ Car title and three Rolex 24 victories in seven starts — never fully acclimated to stock cars. His strength was on the road courses.
On Friday, five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said that it took him roughly five years to acclimate to the different NASCAR tracks and procedures that accompany the season. Montoya didn’t seem to think that was part of the problem.
“A lot of it was learning (how to drive the cars) at the beginning,” Montoya said. “But I picked it up pretty well. I ran pretty well. I made the Chase (for the Sprint Cup) in my third year. One of the hardest things is the amount of changes. There was never ever consistency and that was one of the hardest things. They weren’t doing it on purpose. They were just trying new things to make things better. The problem is every time you make changes, it makes it harder.”
Certainly, there would be opportunities for Montoya in open wheel if he pursued that path — perhaps even with current team owner Ganassi. When asked whether Montoya has spoken to prospective employers in NASCAR, he replied, “ages ago."
“I’ve been looking at my options for a while,” Montoya said. “I wanted to make sure we had the door open to stay at Ganassi if the opportunity was here.
“I have talked to a lot of people, put it that way. I don’t want to be specific about anybody. I know some people are interested and I just want to make sure whatever I do, as I told you, I have an opportunity to win races. I grew up winning and I’ve won at everything. I won some races here, but I miss dominating.”
Montoya will attempt to take the high road for the remainder of the season. He’s not changing his philosophy regarding life — or racing. Montoya just wants to have fun — and win.
“Right now, it’s actually fun," he said. "I’m really good friends with everybody on this team. They mean the world to me. We still have a lot of racing to go. Number one thing is keep enjoying racing and go hard at it every week.”
Article by Lee Spencer of
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chrysler Posts Higher 2Q Profits, Adjusts Forecast

Strong sales across the Ram and Jeep product lines in the U.S. helped boost second-quarter sales for Chrysler Group LLC, Bloomberg News reported.
However, spending associated with product launches and weak sales for its European brands compelled the company to cuts its full-year forecast, Bloomberg said.
Chrysler’s 2Q net income rose to $507 million from $436 million a year earlier, while net revenue increased 7.1% to $18 billion, Bloomberg said. Chrysler’s U.S. deliveries gained 8.9% in the first half of the year to 908,332 cars and light trucks, helped by a 23% gain for the Ram division and a 7.6% increase for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Bloomberg said.
Overall vehicle sales 10%, to 643,000 units versus 582,000 a year ago, and were driven largely by a 17% gain in the company’s U.S. retail sales, Chrysler said. Weakness in the company’s European operations dragged down the overall results, as did spending associated with upcoming product launches, Bloomberg said. Among those launches is the upcoming release of the new Jeep Cherokee.
Due in part to these factors, Chrysler reduced some of its full-year guidance. Chrysler now forecasts operating profit of $3.3 billion to $3.8 billion, compared with a previous target of about $3.8 billion. It now expects net income of between $1.7 billion and $2.2 billion, down from an earlier expectation of about $2.2 billion. And the company now predicts vehicle deliveries of about 2.6 million vehicles, compared with a range of 2.6 million to 2.7 million.
“The timing of product launches and capacity increases causes this year’s performance to be biased to the second half,” Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a statement. “A continued aggressive drive for excellence and flawless execution will be essential to attain the targets we’ve set for ourselves.”
Marchionne wants to buy the 41.5% of Chrysler Fiat doesn’t own and forge a global manufacturer able to challenge General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG. Fiat, which is based in Italy, rescued Chrysler through a government-brokered alliance in 2009. Marchionne obtained control of Chrysler without paying cash by pledging Fiat’s vehicles, technology and managerial expertise to the company.
Since then, Chrysler has emerged as the financial power of the Fiat-Chrysler alliance. Without Chrysler, Fiat would have reported a loss for 2012, Bloomberg said.
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Chevy Sends Service Trucks to Classic Car Event

Chevrolet is dispatching five rescue trucks to the annual Woodward Dream Cruise classic car event this weekend to help participants who experience trouble, the manufacturer announced.
Chevrolet is bringing a fleet of five Silverado pickups equipped to handle routine break-downs to the annual event, which is expected to draw 40,000 classic vehicles and 1.5 million visitors to the area.
During the week-long event, spectators line Woodward Avenue as classic car aficionados drive their vehicles along the route. In the 1950s and 60s, Woodward was often used by automakers to test out their latest models.
Chevrolet, which is a sponsor of the event, will be on hand Saturday, Aug. 17 – one of the busiest days – to help drivers in need. In addition to the trucks, the manufacturer will also set up two service locations along the road. ASE-certified technicians from five area Chevrolet dealerships will handle the repair issues, the manufacturer said.
This is the second year Chevrolet has sent a support team to the event. Last year, the squad helped more than 25 cruise participants, prompting Chevrolet increase the number of roaming vehicles two to five, it said.
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