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Archive for December, 2014

GM, Audi, JLR Halt Car Deliveries to Russian Dealers

bestautolenders1Last week, some automakers were forced to stop car deliveries to their dealerships in Russia after the ruble’s sharp decline. These included General Motors Co., Audi and Jaguar Land Rover.

The collapse of the Russian currency was the result of declining oil prices and Western sanctions imposed due to the country’s continued dispute with Ukraine. The ruble has lost as much as 20 percent against the U.S. dollar last week and more than 40 percent since June, when Russia had its biggest financial crisis in 16 years.

The aforementioned automakers have decided that the best way to deal with Russia’s situation at the moment was to temporarily suspend deliveries to dealers.

GM halted deliveries to dealers on December 16, a move that the company’s Russian unit said would help “manage its business risk” in a time when the ruble is volatile. The Detroit automaker also raised prices. However, GM said that it will deliver Cadillac, Chevrolet and Opel vehicles that have already been purchased at the agreed-on price.

As of this writing, GM has yet to set a date to resume wholesale deliveries of its vehicles to Russian dealers.

“We will continue to follow the developments closely and adjust our business, if needed,” the automaker said in a statement.

Audi also stopped sales in Russia on December 16. The Volkswagen AG-owned luxury unit said it is “thoroughly analyzing the further development of the ruble’s exchange rate” and that it is considering possibly raising its vehicle prices in response to the currency volatility. Audi Russia’s spokesman Aleksey Kozhukhov told Bloomberg News that the unit will restart after it creates a new price list.

Audi Russia announced that it has postponed vehicle deliveries to this week. It also said it will temporarily shut down its manufacturing facility in Kaluga from December 22 to January 12 for a regular holiday break.

Meanwhile, Jaguar Land Rover announced that its sales subsidiary in Russia has halted vehicle sales to dealers on December 17. The Tata Motors-owned British automaker was expected to resume deliveries on Friday, the same day it was expected to again review the situation.

Toyota has not suspended sales in Russia, but it could raise prices. Toyota Europe spokesman Jean-Yves Jault said that the automaker “will be forced to implement price increases to adjust to market prices but have not yet finally decided by how much or when exactly — but soon.” He said Toyota does not plan to halt sales.

Automakers have suffered significant losses in Russia this year and is expected to lose millions more in the current economic situation. Auto sales dropped 12 percent in the first 11 months of 2014.

Photo credit: Andrey Rudakov / Bloomberg via Getty Images




 


 

Chrysler Group Scrapes ‘Chrysler’ Name for FCA US

FCA-LogoChrysler Group LLC is no longer to be referred to as such, as the automaker officially dropped its ‘Chrysler’ name in exchange for FCA US, according to its parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCA). The company also mentioned that its Italy unit Fiat Group Automobiles SpA has been renamed to FCA Italy SpA.

The name change, which takes effect immediately, began last month when FCA started replacing its Chrysler Pentastar logos with FCA. The move has also been made to stay consistent with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ name, which it officially adopted back in October when it debuted at the New York Stock Exchange.

According to Fiat, the corporate name change will not affect the whole operation in FCA’s Auburn Hills, Michigan headquarters. Likewise, the Chrysler name would still be used on vehicles carrying the brand name, such as the Chrysler 300 and 200.

The statement also mentioned that FCA US LLC is proud of its joint heritage and that it continues to uphold Walter P. Chrysler’s legacy as well as the Fiat heritage.

Kelly Blue Book’s editorial director Jack Nerad noted that the name change is critical not just for Fiat but for the Chrysler brand as well. According to him, by leaving the Chrysler brand as the only ‘Chrysler’ name, the brand will be easily recognized by the public, which in turn will allow it to better compete with more popular US auto brands, such as Ford and Chevrolet.

He also noted that the corporate name change will help both Fiat and Chrylser to better dodge the impact of a negative publicity, especially if recalls are made or if problems arise.

Chrysler is one of the three big American automakers, alongside Ford Co. and General Motors Co. It was established in 1925 and merged with Daimler-Benz AG in 1998, which resulted for the company to adopt the DaimlerChrylser name. However, after nine years of partnership, the two companies parted ways, resulting for Chrysler to revert to its original name, Chrylser LLC. In 2011, Fiat became a majority shareholder in Chrysler. The Italian automaker eventually gained full control of Chrysler in January this year after a deal valued at $4.35 billion was made.

Photo credit: media.chrysler.com

 


 

General Motors to Invest More in Mexico Plants Over Six Years

General-Motors-Building-1On Thursday, General Motors said it will be pouring in $5 billion in its four manufacturing facilities in Mexico in the span of six years, starting from 2013 through to 2018. This investment is expected to create up to 5,600 jobs in the region.

The Detroit-based automaker noted that the investment includes the $1.4 billion that was already used in the past two years. The remaining $3.6 billion will then be implemented for the next four years.

According to Ernesto Hernandez, GM de Mexico managing director, the investment will be allocated in the modernization and expansion of four of its manufacturing facilities in Mexico–Ramos Arizpe, Silao, Toluca and San Luis Potosi. The company currently employs about 15,000 people in its Mexico complexes.

The automaker did not disclose further details regarding the investment.  However, the company mentioned that it has already added 1,200 hourly salaried jobs from its 5,600 target, which means about 4,400 more new jobs will be added through 2018.

GM’s Mexico plants annually produce 890,000 engines, along with about 1.2 million transmission and 647,000 vehicles. Of the vehicles it produces, about 80 percent are exported. The company also owns an engineering center in Toluca where electrical and thermal systems as well as vehicle interiors are created.

Hernandez was quoted saying that GM has always been committed in the countries where it operates in and that it maintains its confidence in Mexico.

GM is just one of a growing number of automakers that build new plants or expand their operations in Mexico. Due to this, the country is now the seventh-largest auto producer and fourth-largest vehicle exporter in the world. From January to November this year, production of vehicles in Mexico increased by 8.7 percent from the same period last year, while exportation grew by 8.2 percent, according to the Mexican Automotive Industry Association.

During the same 11-month period, GM saw a 5 percent increase in its Mexico production and 5.6 percent increase in its exports.

Photo credit: Michael Kumm / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

 


 

Chrysler to Invest More Than $250 Million on Kokomo Plants

Chrysler-Kokomo-PlantChrysler Group LLC is looking to pour in $266 million in two of its plants in Kokomo, Indiana. The said investment will help in expanding the company’s production of its eight-speed automatic transmission vehicles.

On Monday, members of the Kokomo City Council initially approved a 10-year tax abatement on the project. According to Chrysler, they are waiting for the council to give its final approval later this month. A second and final reading by the council is expected to take place during a special meeting on the 22nd of December, according to the Kokomo Tribune.

Chrysler’s investment will help boost production in two of its four facilities in Kokomo, the council said. One of the said facilities that will benefit from the investment is the Kokomo Transmission Plant, which creates eight-speed transmissions for the Chrysler 300, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ram 1500 and Dodge vehicles.

There are no announcements yet if there will be additional hiring in relation to the expansion. However, Chrysler believes its investment will help retain more than 200 jobs. The automaker currently employs more than 7,000 workers in its Kokomo facilities and nearby Tipton, more than 2,500 of which were in the company since 2009 and about 3,400 are working at the Kokomo Transmission Plant.

The automaker overhauled the Kokomo Transmission Plant back in 2012, installing new manufacturing equipment needed for the production of eight speed transmissions. All in all, it has put more than $1.5 billion in all its Kokomo plants after recovering from bankruptcy in 2009.

Recent spending by the automaker also includes $160 million, which was allotted for the completion of its Tipton factory. The said facility began operations last spring after sitting idle since 2009.

In a statement by Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, he mentioned that the investment from Chrysler is a sign that Kokomo’s economy is thriving again. City Councilman Bob Hayes, on the other hand, said the investment will help Chrysler become more profit-centered, which, in turn, can translate to more job openings and more job security.

Photo credit: indianapublicmedia.org

 


 

Shiloh Industries to Open Auto Parts Plant in Clarksville, Tennessee

Shiloh Industries' CEO Ramzi Y. Hermiz

Shiloh Industries’ CEO Ramzi Y. Hermiz

On track with its plan to expand its aluminum casting capacity in North America, Shiloh Industries is set to open an auto parts facility in Clarksville, Tennessee this month to better serve automakers in the Southeast.

The steel and aluminum supplier to the auto industry, which is based in Valley City, Ohio, has already invested $20 million for the repair of a 75,000-square-foot facility that was previously occupied by Contech Castings. According to Ramzi Hermiz, CEO of Shiloh Industries, the company has also started hiring 150 new workers for the production of various lightweight chassis and powertrain parts.

Hermiz did not specify the clients they will be catering to as well as the other products they will be creating. However, he did mention that both Nissan and Volkswagen have increased the volume of supplies they are getting from the company. The aforesaid automakers both have auto plants in Tennessee. Aside from Nissan and Volkswagen, BMW, Magna and ZF also get their supplies from Shiloh.

Hermiz also noted that their company is looking to have additional investment in Clarksville for the production of car components made from lightweight magnesium. He also added that the new plant in Tennessee will produce a die-cast shock tower, which will be the facility’s first product and will serve as a replacement for an existing stamped-steel shock tower.

Shiloh Industries is a publicly held company that produces steel for the automotive industry. However, it has also diversified into producing aluminum products in response to growing demand in the auto industry to convert steel components into lighter-weight aluminum, which can help improve a vehicle’s fuel economy.

The company already has a nearby plant in Dickson, Tennessee, which produces steel-stamped parts, and also owns facilities in six other states in the US and one in Mexico. The Crain’s Detroit Business reported last month that Shiloh is expecting its total revenue for this year to hit $800 million and go past the $1 billion mark by next year.

Photo credit: shiloh.com

 


 

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