General Motors of Canada Ltd. has announced that its Ste. Thrse plant will cease production of Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird models in 2002 and close in September 2002. GM executives say the move is the result of a decline in the sports car segment in North America, a dramatic increase in import penetration and a substantial excess capacity in the industry.
Freightliner to close assembly plant
Freightliner LLC, DaimlerChrysler’s North American heavy truck making subsidiary, will close two Canadian heavy truck assembly plants as part of a massive restructuring of its North American operations. Factories in Woodstock, Ont., and Kelowna B.C. will be closed, resulting in the loss of more than 1,000 jobs across the country. Production by the 39-year-old Thomas Built Buses Inc. plant in Woodstock is being shifted to another plant in High Point, N.C. Western Star Trucks, which Freightliner purchased for $670 million last year, will close its Kelowna plant in the third quarter of next year. A plant in Portland, Ore., will take over production of Western Star trucks.
Firestone recall widens, Bridgestone shares are upgraded
Firestone will recall its P235/76/R15 and P255/70R16 Wilderness AT tires as a precautionary action after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that many Wilderness AT tires built before 1998 contain a safety defect. Firestone produced an estimated 3.5 million of the Wilderness AT tires, used primarily as original equipment on Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer SUVs, Ford Ranger compact pickup trucks, and as replacement tires. NHTSA’s decision applies only to 15 and 16-inch Wilderness AT tires supplied to Ford as original equipment. Shares in Japanese tire maker Bridgestone Corp ended sharply higher after the company’s decision to comply with the NHTSA request to recall the tires, and are up almost four percent since the end of last year.
Ford settles U.S. ignition part lawsuit
Ford Motor Co. has agreed to reimburse former and current owners of an estimated 22 million vehicles sold in the U.S. that are prone to stalling due to ignition problems. The deal could cost the company up to $2.5 billion, affecting most Ford, Mercury and Lincoln vehicles made from 1983 to 1995. The agreement comes after Ford recalled 19.5 million Firestone tires in the past year, which have been linked to accidents causing about 200 deaths and 700 injuries.
Federal-Mogul seeks bankruptcy protection
Auto parts maker Federal-Mogul is seeking federal bankruptcy protection in the U.S. and the U.K., citing asbestos liability. The move is a response to managing litigation claims associated with the acquisition of three companies with asbestos liabilities. T&N PLC of Manchester, England, an auto parts maker the company acquired in 1998, once used asbestos extensively in a separate building-supplies business.
Mitchell is adopting a new corporate identity and a revamped product branding. The company make-over includes a name change to Mitchell 1, to be unveiled in Las Vegas during Industry Week.
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. said it may cut up to 1,400 jobs at five U.S. plants. Up to 475 jobs would be cut at the Kelly-Springfield plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Ninety percent of the cuts would affect hourly workers and the rest would affect salaried employees.
Toyota has unveiled a concept car capable of 100 MPG fuel economy. The ES3 (for Eco Spirit cubic) concept car was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and attained a fuel efficiency of 104.6 mpg (2.71/100 km) in the EC test cycle. The 700 kg aluminum and resin body car features a turbocharged 1.4 litre direct-injection diesel engine and a continuously variable transmission.
Training initiatives roll out
SSGM business management columnist Bob Greenwood has made his Independent Garage Business Management Development Course available on the Internet. The Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre is the first in Canada to offer an industry sector specific, interactive Garage Business Management course through the Internet.
CARQUEST Technical Institute has established regional training programs that include five two-night technical training sessions and a one two-night business management course. Topics include “Oxygen Sensor Waveform Analysis”, “Advanced Computer Diagnostics” and “Selling Service Profitably”. Annual cost is $1,199 per shop, $600 per one-man shop.