Honda builds 20 millionth vehicle in U.S.

Honda Celebrates 20 Millionth Automobile Built in the U.S.10 Millionth U.S.-made Honda Accord Manufactured In Marysville, Ohio –

BY GERRY MILES

It’s worth noting a production record of note after the 10 millionth U.S.-built Honda Accord rolled off the assembly line at its first U.S. auto plant in Marysville, Ohio. All four Honda auto plants in America celebrated the cumulative production of 20 million automobiles in the U.S. Honda also marked the achievement at two engine and two transmission plants that build the powertrains used in Honda’s U.S.-built cars and trucks.

The Marysville Auto Plant is the historic site of the first Honda Accord produced in America on Nov. 1, 1982, and the first Japanese auto plant to begin production of automobiles in the United States. Since then, Honda has established automobile manufacturing operations in East Liberty, Ohio, Lincoln, Ala., and Greensburg, Ind.

Those plants today manufacture 11 different models, including four passenger cars and seven light trucks. A fifth U.S. plant, the Performance Manufacturing Center, is under construction in Marysville, Ohio, and next year will become the exclusive global production location for the next generation Acura NSX.

Honda’s U.S. plants produced a record 1,309,917 automobiles in 2013, an increase of 7.4 percent from the previous annual mark set in 2012. Honda is supported by a network of 533 suppliers in the U.S., with purchasing of parts and components last year exceeding $23 billion.

Honda’s four U.S. auto plants are supported by engine manufacturing in Lincoln, Ala. and Anna, Ohio, and the production of automatic transmissions in Russells Point, Ohio, and Tallapoosa, Ga. These plants have produced 23.77 million automobile engines and 18.64 million transmissions in the United States. In 2013, nearly 95 percent of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the U.S. were produced in North America.

Over the past three years, Honda has invested approximately $1.6 billion in its U.S. auto plants to expand production and implement new technologies in products and manufacturing systems.

Honda U.S. Automobile Production
Honda of America Mfg.
Marysville Auto Plant 11.4 Million – since 1982
East Liberty Auto Plant 4.75 Million – since 1989
Honda Manufacturing of Alabama 3.1 Million – since 2001
Honda Manufacturing of Indiana 750,000 – since 2008

Infographic: Honda U.S. Vehicle Production

Toyota agrees to $1.2B recall settlement

BY GERRY MILES

No one really likes stories like these, at least I hope not, but Toyota has reached an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to resolve its investigation initiated in February 2010 into the communications and decision-making processes related to the company’s 2009-2010 recalls to address potential “sticking” accelerator pedals and floor mat entrapment. As part of the agreement, Toyota will make a payment totaling $1.2 billion.

Call it what you will. The easy way out of a dire situation, check-book casualty calamity claims, or buying justice – just to name a few. In the end, if you or I were Acme Large Co., and facing all of the legal wrangling Toyota is over the alleged claims, you, too, might do the prudent thing given the deep pockets available and cut your losses. Quickly.

I’m not one to cow tow to large firms as it seems there’s always a smoking e-mail or memo from someone deep inside most Acme Large Firms to prove there had been an earlier fly in the ointments that got brushed over.

In Toyota’s case of the so-called sticking floor mats, I think otherwise. Like many folks nabbed for speeding who toss a drink on their lap to say they need a bathroom break to the state police, I tend to think that some of the claimants may have sped up and claimed similar problems. In the words of a former White House official who said “never let a tragedy escape as a teachable moment” or something similar, I think many jumped on the legal case bandwagon(s).

“At the time of these recalls, we took full responsibility for any concerns our actions may have caused customers, and we rededicated ourselves to earning their trust,” said Christopher P. Reynolds, chief legal officer, Toyota Motor North America. “In the more than four years since these recalls, we have gone back to basics at Toyota to put our customers first.”

“Specifically, we have taken a number of steps that have enabled us to enhance quality control, respond more quickly to customer concerns, strengthen regional autonomy and speed decision-making. And, we’re committed to continued improvement in everything we do to keep building trust in our company, our people and our products. Importantly, Toyota addressed the sticky pedal and floor mat entrapment issues with effective and durable solutions, and we stand behind the safety and quality of our vehicles.

With the lack of reported incidents since then – none in the news come to mind – it seems the fury over the sticking pedals is over. Let’s hope so.

Among the substantive actions the company has voluntarily taken since the recalls are:

  •  • Launching rapid-response teams to investigate customer concerns quickly;
  •  • Committing $50 million in 2011 to launch Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan to partner with more than 16 universities and institutions across North America on safety advances that will be shared to benefit the entire auto industry and society;
  •  • Expanding its network of field quality offices to improve customer responsiveness;
  •  • Enhancing regional autonomy, including naming the first American CEO of Toyota’s North American Region as well as Chief Quality Officers for North America and other principal regions – all of whom have direct lines to President Akio Toyoda;
  •  • Improving its quality control process; and
  •  • Extending the new vehicle development cycle by four weeks to help ensure reliability and safety.

Under the agreement, the Government agrees to defer prosecution and then dismiss its case, as long as Toyota makes the required monetary payment, abides by the terms of the agreement and continues to cooperate with the Government. The agreement also provides for an independent monitor to review policies and procedures relating to Toyota’s safety communications process, its process for internally sharing vehicle accident information and its process for preparing and sharing certain technical reports.

Toyota will record $1.2 billion in after-tax charges against earnings in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014 for costs relating to the above agreement.

 

Maserati, Heidi Klum and Sports Illustrated get along swimmingly

Beyond the Swimsuit" brings together 'day in the life' scenes that befit one of the world's most famous women, Heidi Klum, the thrill-seeker with GranTurismo MC Trofeo Race Car.

Beyond the Swimsuit” brings together ‘day in the life’ scenes that befit one of the world’s most famous women, Heidi Klum, the thrill-seeker with GranTurismo MC Trofeo Race Car.

BY GERRY MILES

Far be it for an automaker to miss a marketing chance to pair a lovely model with one of its motorized, sexy, sleek and desirable automobiles. At least, that’ll be the rationale when said marketer justifies the price of using an A-list celebrity model in Sports Illustrated’s famed 50th Swimsuit Edition.
Maserati, did just that with the North American roll out of the all-new 2014 Ghibli, Quattroporte and GranTurismo lines in a 7-page pictoria, “Beyond the Swimsuit” in the introduction part of America’s most anticipated magazine issue.
Now it’s oft-said that when a high-priced model stands in front of the car, the car becomes invisible. So what about the placement in the magazine that’s now rich with swimsuit-clad models in the front of the mag? Won’t folks just start flicking to the full-page color pics of the, ahem, bikinis?
Granted they’ve got Heidi Klum wearing 100,000% more material than the other models …
"I had a great time driving the new Maseratis for their new campaign shot by Francesco Carrizoni” Heidi Klum pictured with the Maserati Ghibli S Q4

“I had a great time driving the new Maseratis for their new campaign shot by Francesco Carrizoni” Heidi Klum pictured with the Maserati Ghibli S Q4

“We started our next 100 years of craftsmanship by kicking off 2014 with the launch of one of the best received Super Bowl commercials, “Strike,” featuring all new Maserati Ghibli, and extending the brand to another massive cultural icon, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 50th Anniversary issue,” said Harald Wester, CEO of Maserati SPA.”We’ve prepared a new line-up of Maserati cars with the glamorous Quattroporte, the 4-door daily performer Ghibli, and the sporty GranTurismo Convertible, and this massive effort deserves the largest audience platforms to take notice.
“Maserati enters this new era backed by strong product and with ambitious sales goals driven by proven growth in the North American market, where the brand experienced triple digit gains in the past year. First unveiled to the U.S. in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Ghibli is Maserati’s first-ever mid-size four-door luxury sports sedan vehicle. Available with all-wheel-drive and starting at $66,900, the Ghibli is powered by a Ferrari built twin-turbo V6 engine capable of over four hundred horsepower. Advanced suspension, Brembo brakes and extensive use of aluminum ensure comfort, with an ease of performance ready when called upon. Within its striking aerodynamic silhouette, the cabin offers rich Italian leathers, woods and other high quality materials at the heart of the Maserati brand.
The Maserati Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna Limited Edition concept, featured in the spread, is the result of close collaboration between two companies that are linked by history, tradition and spirit of exclusiveness. Its exterior features a special effect paint finish that simulates the fluidity and purity of metal, by using ultra-fine aluminum pigments. The platinum metal color effect finish is warmly nuanced to express the car’s classic and sophisticated, yet technically advanced character. Inside the cabin, classical warm hues like mocha and grey are re-interpreted in a modern key to emulate Zegna’s latest men’s fashion collections, conveying a formal, sophisticated character. Interior components such as seats, door panels and roof lining are finished in genuine soft leather, in addition to a velvet-smooth, bright fabric that, due to Zegna’s vast experience and know-how, guarantees the level of performance needed for automotive applications. A twin-turbo V8 producing over five hundred horsepower ensures authentic Maserati performance in a sophisticated, elegant package befitting the long traditions of Zegna and Maserati.

Maserati strikes again just two weeks after its successful Super Bowl spot with a special 7-page feature in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 50th Anniversary Issue. The story of Maserati’s introduction to the North American market with its new car line-up is one of beauty, hard work, dedication and an element of surprise. Maserati brings this story forward with Emmy Award Winning actress and Super Model Heidi Klum in a salute to all the women who achieved great things – “Beyond the Swimsuit.”

Beyond the Swimsuit" brings together 'day in the life' scenes that befit one of the world's most famous women, Heidi Klum, the Hollywood star and business woman with the Ghibli S Q4

Beyond the Swimsuit” brings together ‘day in the life’ scenes that befit one of the world’s most famous women, Heidi Klum, the Hollywood star and business woman with the Ghibli S Q4

Shot by Italian Master Photographer, Francesco Carrozzini, the 7-page pictorial piece “Beyond the Swimsuit” brings together ‘day in the life’ scenes that befit one of the world’s most famous women, Heidi Klum, the Hollywood star with the glamorous Quattroporte Zegna Limited Edition, the business woman with the Ghibli S Q4, and thrill-seeker with GranTurismo MC Stradale Trofeo Race Car. This is also a nod to a brand with proven tradition and one of the highest standards of quality in the industry,  which has been hard at work engineering automobiles that will usher them into the next 100 years of innovation—automobiles with their own power and personality that are capable of striking against the status quo. This campaign strikes against the stereotypes of modeling by showing what many of these women went on to become more than just models, the ones who have elevated themselves past a simple beauty shot, into being successful, powerful, driven women—a Maserati type woman.

Ghibli, Maserati’s first-ever mid-size four-door luxury sports sedan, available in all-wheel-drive, starts at $66,900 and is powered by a Ferrari-built twin-turbo V6, capable of more than 400hp.

Ghibli, Maserati’s first-ever mid-size four-door luxury sports sedan, available in all-wheel-drive, starts at $66,900 and is powered by a Ferrari-built twin-turbo V6, capable of more than 400hp.

Honda to broaden hybrid lineup in US

2014 Honda Insight

2014 Honda Insight

 TORRANCE, Calif. – Honda is reinforcing its commitment to a clear product strategy focused on further advancing fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicle technologies that are better aligned with customer needs and that strengthen the company’s U.S. sales momentum.

Keyed to the continued rollout of a new lineup of Earth Dreams™ Technology engines, transmissions and electro-motive technologies, the strategy will be executed over the next three to four years and will include changes to the Honda lineup of advanced technology environmental vehicles, including the Honda Insight. The U.S. model Insight will be available at Honda dealerships nationwide through the end of the year, with production scheduled to end in summer 2014.

Honda’s hybrid product direction in the U.S. will move forward with greater focus on expanded application of the innovative two-motor hybrid system. The two-motor system was introduced on the 2014 Accord Plug-In Hybrid and powers the EPA-rated 50 mpg city Accord Hybrid, which is the most fuel-efficient rating for a 5-passenger sedan in America.

“No manufacturer has more experience with electromotive technologies than Honda and we are committed to applying our expertise to a wide range of products in the coming years,” said Michael Accavitti, senior vice president of auto operations at American Honda. “Our hybrid vehicle strategy will focus on new models aimed at delivering the class-leading fuel economy and performance our customers’ desire in segments that represent significant growth opportunities.”

The second generation Insight is the most affordable mass-produced hybrid vehicle on the market with a MSRP starting at $18,7251, and an EPA fuel economy ratings of 41/44/42 city/highway/combined2. It was introduced in the spring of 2009 and offered a unique blend of fuel-efficient hybrid performance, 5-door hatchback practicality, top safety ratings and a host of user-friendly features, including the first application of the Honda-exclusive ECO Assist™, a sophisticated feedback system that uses an adaptive color display to indicate overall driving efficiency. Long recognized as an affordable and practical hybrid vehicle choice for customers, the Insight was named a ‘Greenest Vehicle’ by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) for four consecutive years and a ‘Top Choice’ by Edmunds.com.

For more information on the 2014 Honda Insight, visit http://www.automobiles.honda.com/insight.

Hyundai lets images out of new Sonata

Partial view of the new Hyundai Sonata

Partial view of the new Hyundai Sonata

It’s not quite the same problem Jeep has, whereby “someone” releases images of its new vehicles just ahead of its launch, spoiling the party, but it still draws attention just the same.

Hyundai (it rhymes with Sunday), has dropped two images of its all-new midsized sedan that will be revealed at the upcoming NY Auto Show. The Korean edition will have the wraps taken over later this month.

The other day, an artist’s rendering of the interior (below) was released.

A Hyundai drawing of the new Sonata interior was recently released by the automaker.

A Hyundai drawing of the new Sonata interior was recently released by the automaker.

Stay tuned, there’s surely more to see at the carmaker tried to whet the appetite for its reveal.

Flying Spur goes Ice Dancing

FlyingSpurslideFLYING SPUR STARS AT BENTLEY POWER ON ICE EVENT

  • Luxury sedan makes debut on the snow and ice in Finland
  • Juha Kankkunen puts all-wheel drive Flying Spur to the test

Bentley’s new Flying Spur is proving to be one of the star attractions at this year’s Power on Ice 2014 event in Finland. Guests and the four-time World Rally champion Juha Kankkunen alike are enjoying the opportunity to put the 6.0-litre W12 luxury sedan to the test on a range of challenging circuits carved into the frozen lakes.

 

Juha Kankkunen

Juha Kankkunen

“Our guests have been driving the Flying Spur quickly across the ice, really enjoying themselves, and the stability and control from the all-wheel drive system has given everyone great confidence,” adds Kankkunen.

The Flying Spur has joined an array of Bentley Continental GT coupes in Finland and Juha is working alongside Bentley’s own factory-trained driving experts who are offering in-depth tuition designed to allow drivers to broaden their range of driving skills when faced by testing road and weather conditions.

Away from the thrill of learning how to drive the Bentley of their choice at high speed on ice, the four-day adventure in Finland offers guests the chance to unwind in exclusive and stylish surroundings and is one of a number of luxury experiences Bentley is offering customers in 2014. To keep up to date with all the latest Bentley’s events please visit www.events.bentleymotors.com