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

Happy 60th Birthday, Karmann Ghia

Type 14 Cabrio and Coupe

Type 14 Cabrio and Coupe

• Volkswagen Karmann Ghia prototype shown internally in 1953

• Osnabrück-made sportster started the Volkswagen brand’s move upmarket

Wolfsburg, Germany –  Thanks to the Karmann Ghia, Volkswagen had a car in the mid-1950s in its line-up that was positioned above the Beetle, allowing the company to appeal to a broader customer base. It is now 60 years since that prototype was shown internally, on the occasion of the Paris Motor Show. The car went into full production in 1955. Today the one-off prototype is one of the stars of the Volkswagen Osnabrück Automobile Collection.The genesis of the car came from Wilhelm Karmann, who hired Luigi Segre of Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin to transform his idea into reality in early 1953—at first without even consulting Volkswagen. Initially, a convertible sports car was envisaged, but the prototype was actually a coupe.

In October 1953, the car was taken to a small garage in Paris and shown by Ghia to Karmann, who had traveled to the city for the Paris Motor Show. Wilhelm Karmann was thrilled, and in November of that year he showed the attractive small car to the otherwise conservative Volkswagen chief Heinrich Nordhoff. Karmann was able to do this because a close relationship already existed between the two Wolfsburg companies—Karmann had been building the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet since 1949.

The prototype won over Volkswagen’s managing director. Once the costing was worked out, a decision was soon made to go into full production. The delay between decision and production allowed for some body detail changes and interior refinements to be made, although the basic form remained as Ghia had designed it. Volkswagen Beetle running gear underpinned all 450,000 Karmann Ghias, known internally as the type 14, made between 1955 and 1974.

Ultimately, Wilhelm Karmann’s dream of a convertible version also became reality: at another internal presentation in Wolfsburg, the cabriolet—once again designed by Luigi Segre and his team—made a big impact. Full production of the convertible version began in 1957. By the time Karmann Ghia production ended in 1974, 362,601 coupes and 80,881 cabriolets had rolled off the line. Like the Beetle itself, the “Beetle in a sports coat” was also a huge success story.

The one-off coupe prototype is part of the Volkswagen Osnabrück private collection, but can be admired outside of the factory on special occasions such as the 5th Schloss Bensberg Classics (from September 6-8). The Karmann factory is now part of the VW Group as Volkswagen Osnabrück GmbH and produces the Golf Cabriolet, the Porsche Boxster and Cayman, and the Volkswagen XL1.

Honda’s big picture: Save drive-in movies across USA

Honda Project Drive-In

BY GERRY MILES

In a move to save part of the American culture that may be eliminated by digital technology, Honda’s “Project Drive-In” is hoping to give at least 5 drive-ins digital projectors to keep the cinema and car culture alive.

The end of 35 mm (millimeter) film projectors will come about at the end of the year. The switch to a digital format is cost-prohibitive for many theaters, and is estimated at $75,000 per screen Honda said.

By web surfing to http://www.projectdrivein.com, voters can determine the five drive-ins that will receive a new digital projector from Honda. Voting began Aug. 9 and runs through Sept. 9 at 9 p.m. PT.  The winning theaters will get a special screening of Sony’s “Cloud with a Chance of Meatballs 2”.

“Cars and drive-in theaters go hand-in-hand, and it’s our mission to save this decades-old slice of Americana that holds such nostalgia for so many of us,” said Alicia Jones, Manager of Honda & Acura Social Marketing at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Drive-ins first opened in 1933 to mass popularity and reached their peak after World War II during the 1950s and ’60s when there were more than 4,000 across the country. Jones continued, “We’re committed to helping the remaining drive-in theaters flourish with the move to digital projection.”

To help build awareness and give folks the big picture of how drive-ins may go dark,   Honda will launch pop-up drive-ins at its dealerships across the country.

Record $31.6 M paid for 1954 Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Silver Arrow

German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, August 1, 1954. Winner Juan Manuel Fangio at the wheel of the open-wheel Mercedes-Benz W 196 R with start number 18.

German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, August 1, 1954. Winner Juan Manuel Fangio at the wheel of the open-wheel Mercedes-Benz W 196 R with start number 18.

  • Original winning car of Manuel Fangio dating from 1954 is auctioned off
  • Auction by Bonhams takes place as part of the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2013

BY GERRY MILES

A record $31.6 million was paid this past weekend for a rare open wheel race car: a Mercedes-Benz type W 196 R Grand Prix racing car – an original grand prix car of Juan Manuel Fangio dating from 1954 and to date the only post-war Silver Arrow in private ownership.

The winning bid was made over the telephone to an unidentified bidder who paid 17.5 Million GBP, including premiums the price jumps to 20,896,800 GBP.

:The result of the auction just goes to show the exceptionally high level of respect enjoyed by historical Mercedes-Benz vehicles among collectors”, said Michael Bock, Head of Mercedes-Benz Classic. “We would like to congratulate the unidentified bidder on their purchase and will be only too happy to lend them support – if they so wish – during the next stages of their acquisition.”

A release from M-B notes there are but 10 examples of the 14 vehicles which were previously built of this model still in existence:

  • 6 W 196 R models belong to the Mercedes-Benz Classic collection
  • 3 vehicles are in museums in Turin, Vienna and Indianapolis
  • the vehicle which was put up for auction in Goodwood, with chassis number 006/54. This vehicle already was the only remaining original Silver Arrow from the post-war period which is in private ownership.

Prior to auction, experts from Mercedes-Benz Classic carried out extensive checks on the Silver Arrow, which was donated by the then Daimler-Benz AG to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu (England) in 1973 and sold by the museum 1980, as part of a manufacturer’s expert report.

Brand historians produced a detailed expert’s report confirming the vehicle’s originality and authenticity. “Our expert’s report means that the new owner need have no uncertainties whatsoever about this racing car”, said Michael Bock. “It fully and unequivocally confirms the history and originality of the vehicle.”

Global Prius Sales Top 3 Million

2012 Toyota Prius

2012 Toyota Prius

BY GERRY MILES

Although it seems hard to believe, it also doesn’t because the car has been around so long, so many iterations are out that in hindsight, having produced 3 million copies of the Prius doesn’t seem to be that big a deal. But it is.

At the end of June, Toyota announced that worldwide sales of the quirky hybrid – the one that had a packed 1997 NY Auto Show press conference where journalists did NOT have to be told to quiet down as the price was anxiously announced years ago at $19,995 – had eclipsed the 3 million vehicle sales mark.

The second gen Prius arrived in 2003 and stayed as is until the third generation rolled out in 2009.  TMC says it applied for 1,261 patents relating to the third-generation Prius, achieving progress worthy of the Prius name (derived from a Latin word meaning “to go before”).

Since the development of the first-generation Prius, TMC has positioned hybrid technology as a core technology required for the development of various types of environment-friendly vehicles and has placed emphasis on the development and production of core components such as motors, inverters, batteries and electronic control units (ECUs), giving rise to substantial investment in Japan.

TMC will continue to conduct R&D and invest in facilities in Japan for the development of hybrid and other cutting-edge technologies and achieve sustainable growth by deploying these Japan-developed technologies across the globe.

In the fiscal year ending March 2014, TMC expects to spend a consolidated 890 billion yen(4) (790 billion yen(5) unconsolidated) on environmental technology development, and strengthening new platform and major component development.

In the same period, TMC also plans to make consolidated capital expenditure investments of 910 billion yen (up seven percent year-on-year), with 440 billion yen invested in Japan (up nine percent year-on-year).

Investments in R&D infrastructure include a new R&D facility (651 hectares) and the Powertrain Development and Production Engineering Building (a 12-story structure with a total floor area of 100,000 m²) in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, that will serve as a next-generation powertrain development base, as well as the Aerodynamics Laboratory (capable of producing winds of 250 km/h) located in the Honsha Technical Center.

Future capital investments by consolidated subsidiaries include an investment by Primearth EV Energy Co., Ltd. (PEVE) for expanding battery production capacity at its Omori Plant in Kosai City, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Rolls Royce’s 2013 Alpine Trial successful recreation

ROLLS-ROYCE CELEBRATES SUCCESSFUL 2013 CENTENARY ALPINE TRIAL

ROLLS-ROYCE CELEBRATES SUCCESSFUL 2013 CENTENARY ALPINE TRIAL

BY GERRY MILES

A recreation of what was a test of strength, workmanship and endurance has drawn to a successful close with the 2013 Alpine Trial whereby 47 Silver Ghosts rolled through the Alps and back again over 16 days and some 1,800 miles.

History was brought to life by the intrepid owners as they piloted their machines with consummate skill up challenging Alpine passes and across the borders of five countries, before emerging in Vienna just as the original competitors did exactly 100 years before. The 2013 Centenary Alpine Trial was also graced with British Royalty, Lords and Ladies, Ambassadors and participants from 12 countries as far flung as Australia and the United States.

“The Centenary Alpine Trial has clearly embraced the Spirit of Adventure that is synonymous with Rolls-Royce, and I applaud the participants for their resolve and determination,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO. “The 1913 Alpenfahrt led commentators to declare that Rolls-Royce built the ‘Best Car in the World’. The 2013 Centenary Alpine Trial reinforced that message, and demonstrated that the Company continues to do so to this day.”

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars was presented with the Archduke Leopold Salvator trophy by the 20‑Ghost Club, in recognition of the spirit the Company had shown in supporting and actively participating in the Trial. The trophy, a precious claret jug, was one of the original awards presented to Rolls-Royce at the 1913 Alpenfahrt.

The adventure has been fully documented throughout, with over 1000 spectacular photographs, a daily blog and innovative use of the History Pin website. See the following links:

The entry for the final day’s blog is reproduced below:

DAY 16, THE CENTENARY ALPINE TRIAL DRAWS TO A CLOSE IN MAGNIFICENT STYLE

The gathering of several Rolls-Royces in any one location is guaranteed to draw onlookers, but the congregation of 47 magnificent machines in glorious morning sunshine outside the Panhans Grand Hotel stopped all local traffic with the gathering crowds. The palpable sense of achievement, celebration and of history being made sang through the crisp Alpine air.

The preparation for the final run followed the exacting re-enactment that had thread through the entire event, with the drive from Semmering back into Vienna mirroring the same journey exactly 100 years previously, on Saturday 29 June 1913. And so, with a sense of mixed emotions at the closing stages of this great event, the cars made their way in convoy to the historic capital city.

Wafting their way round the final glorious sweeping curves, as the cars reached the outer city carriageway they accelerated to a comfortable 100km/h or more, easily matching the speed of much more modern machines. Everyone present marvelled at the engineering prowess of the beautiful motor cars, many built more than a century before.

Onlookers clapped and cheered as the convoy approached central Vienna, and made their way to the final destination and scene of the start just 16 days previously, the Kursalon. A warm welcome from the The Markgraf Pallavicini and a glass of crisp Champagne followed, with the cars swamped by onlookers and members of the local media.

The spectacular finale took place at the Palais Pallavicini, with the sounds of chinking Champagne glasses mixing seamlessly with celebratory tales from the road and exquisite live opera pervading every corner of the historic building. The Radley car and the 2013 Alpine Trial Centenary Ghost sat side-by-side in the courtyard as stable mates, resplendent in their Works Team colours.

Amongst the awards given on the evening, The Rolls-Royce Motor Cars ‘Spirit of Adventure’ summed up the atmosphere and ethos of the entire event. Bob Kilburn’s 1921 Silver Ghost Tourer, with bodywork by Barker, had suffered a fuel tank rupture in the early stages of the Trial due to an accident caused by another driver. Undaunted, and with a stubborn persistence to refuse to accept that the car had ‘failed to proceed’, Bob rigged a temporary fuel system using jerricans and a fuel pump bolted to the running board, giving a maximum range of just 30km per top-up.

Bob was presented with the award, to a standing ovation by all those present, by Richard Carter, Global Communications Director, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. Bob humbly dedicated the award to all those that had taken part in the Trial, and characteristically shrugged off the acclaim with a cheery smile.

The 1913 Alpenfahrt led commentators to declare that Rolls-Royce built the ‘Best Car in the World’. The 2013 Centenary Alpine Trial reinforced that message, and demonstrated that the Company continues to do so to this day.

To honor the Queen Mum, Jaguar Land Rover rolled out a celebration of its motoring heritage

Current and heritage Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles on The Mall

Current and heritage Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles on The Mall

BY GERRY MILES

In a celebration of 60 years since Her Majesty The Queen’s Coronation, Jaguar Land Rover, official motor partner to The Coronation Festival, drove a selection of its Royal heritage vehicles along a central London route.

Echoing the original procession driven by the Queen in 1953, the route passed famous landmarks such as Horse Guards Parade, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament and Marble Arch, then regrouped back on one of the UK’s most celebrated roads, The Mall.

The Royal heritage vehicles which took to London’s streets included the 1953 Land Rover Series 1 Royal Review – the first bespoke Royal Land Rover – and a 1955 Jaguar MARK VIIM Saloon, once owned by the Queen mother.

A collage of pictures, supplied by Jaguar Land Rover, are neat and posted here for your review and enjoyment. Cheerio.