Daily Edition: Mar. 13, 2006

March 12, 2006

Kia Picks Georgia for New U.S. Factory

The long bidding war for the new Kia plant is over - and Georgia is the winner. The South Korean automaker will spend $1.2 billion to construct a new assembly plant near the Georgia-Alabama border outside West Point, Ga., about 80 miles southwest of Atlanta.

Since last year, Kia Motors, an affiliate of South Korea's top automaker Hyundai, has been looking for a site in the U.S. to set up a production line. Georgia had been a frequent loser in the bidding for new automotive plants. Just last year, DaimlerChrysler officially quashed plans to build a Sprinter plant outside Savannah. Ford had identified a site in MeriwetherCounty where the company intended to build a new plant, only to later cancel plans; then Ford later announced the closing of its Atlanta plant. Last year, Kia officials were said to have chosen a site in eastern Mississippi for the plant, but that may have been done to encourage other states to sharpen their bids.

Kia and the state of Georgia will formally announce the project today at a ceremony in West Point. The factory will be Kia's first in the U.S., and it will start producing vehicles in 2009. Kia expects to build 300,000 vehicles each year at the plant, which will employ 2500 workers and will be built on a 2200-acre parcel.

Kia is planning to boost North American sales from 350,000 units this year to 800,000 units a year by 2010.

Daily Edition: Feb. 27, 2006 by TCC Team (2/27/2006)
Geneva opens, Georgia may get Kia nod, XM and Sirius hurting.



To Announce Production at Subaru Factory

Meanwhile, Toyota is expected to announce today that it will begin producing Camry sedans at the Subaru plant in Lafayette, Ind. Since Toyota absorbed the former GM interest in Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries, analysts have speculated that Toyota would leverage its interest in Fuji to add its products to the plant, which now builds Subaru's Outback, B9 Tribeca, and Baja models. Toyota is expected to receive about $94 million in state and local incentives to retool the plant for its vehicles. The plant originally was a joint venture between Isuzu and Subaru and had been built with a 260,000-unit capacity in mind. Isuzu sold its interest in 2003.

2007 Subaru B9 Tribeca Noses Ahead by Marty Padgett (2/9/2006)


Honda Wants New JapanPlant

Meanwhile, Honda Motor Co. may also be looking to expand its production footprint. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is beginning talks that could bring the construction of Honda's first new plant in Japan in 30 years. The plant would be used to build a new range of fuel-efficient engines, the paper adds.


CAW Approves Camaro Changes

Members of Canadian Auto Workers Local 222 in Oshawa, Ont., have approved a series of work rule changes that could lead to General Motors announcing soon that it plans to move ahead with plans to build a new Chevrolet Camaro.

The Camaro was one of the big favorites of journalists and car buffs at  the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. GM's executives have promised they will decide quickly if they will turn the concept Camaro into a production car before end of the decade.

With the feasibility study still in the works, GM negotiators recently settled in for eleven days of intense negotiations with CAW representatives from the Oshawa assembly complex where GM now has three assembly plants. CAW officials have said that the negotiations are a prelude to a decision on actually building the Camaro.

CAW Approves Camaro Changes (3/12/2006)
Plant rules will enable Canadian factories to build Zetas, including Camaro.


Suzuki Plots Future Without GM

For Suzuki, the decision by General Motors Corp. to reduce its stake in the Japanese automaker could help it reassert its independence without doing any damage to the company's operations in North America.

Last week GM announced plans to sell off most of its stake in the Japanese automaker. GM's equity stake in Suzuki Motor Corp. drops from 20.4 percent to 3 percent. GM expects to get $2 billion and net between $550 million and $750 million from the sale, GM officials said. GM has invested about $1 billion in Suzuki since 1981, said GM spokeswoman Gina Proia.

Suzuki is a bit player in the U.S. market. And until now, GM's help in reorganizing and rebuilding its dealer network in North America complemented the help from GM's Korean Daewoo subsidiary, which produces the Forenza for Suzuki, one of its most popular models. In addition, GMAC also provides financing for Suzuki dealerships and Suzuki reciprocates by selling GM's Chevrolet models through Suzuki dealers

Going forward, the GM-Suzuki CAMI joint venture based in Ingersoll, Ont., will produce the new XL7 crossover, which is scheduled to make its debut at the next month's New York Auto Show and arrive at the company's dealerships next fall.

Suzuki Plots Future Without GM (3/12/2006)
Tiny automaker plans on big expansion abroad.


GM Adds to Tailgate Recall

General Motors will recall another 900,000 vehicles for problems with tailgate cables. The latest recall, the AP reports, is distinct from the one that resulted in a recall of about four million 2000-04 GM trucks and SUVs because of the different material found in tailgate cables. In both instances, the cables can corrode and break, leading to injuries. The new recall involves the 1999-2000 models of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups. Some 84 injuries have been linked to the problem, but no accidents or deaths.

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