Revving Up Production in US Market and Abroad

Several automakers announced during press previews at the L.A. Auto Show more aggressive plans to increase production at US assembly plants, partly to offset currency fluctuations and also to meet demand in the US and overseas. Highlights include:

• Volkswagen Group, which has a relatively new plant in Chattanooga, TN, where it builds the Passat that was named “Motor Trend Car of the Year,” is investing in the US market, according to Jonathan Browning, CEO and president, because VW expects to sell more than 300,000 vehicles in the United States this year. VW’s new CC, which will go on sale in the first quarter of 2012, is expected to be a “Top Safety Pick” with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Browning said.

Infiniti’s Andy Palmer, executive vice president, said the brand anticipates selling a range of vehicles in several more countries. including Malaysia, where it has set up a showroom in Kuala Lampur, and in Singapore, this year., Australia is on tap for next year and Chile will also be a new market for the Nissan premium brand in the future.

• There are plans from parent firm Nissan Group to expand its North American production capacity since the two plants in Smyrna, TN, and Canton, MS, are nearly at limit and two plants in Mexico are scraping by to meet demand in North and South America.

• Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co. executive vice president and president of the Americas, pointed out that the Ford brand this year is making its most aggressive product introductions in company history. During the L.A. Auto Show press event, he unveiled a new 2013 Mustang; the Focus ST with an EcoBoost engine that produces 250 hp; the Fiesta ST concept with special performance engine, in addition to a new Escape and Flex. Escape with its EcoBoost engine options will offer better mileage than rivals, according to Fields—including the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or Chevrolet Equinox.

Hyundai and Kia each added more entries to boost their already strong presence in the US market. The redesigned, nearly premium 2012 Azera has had an exterior facelift and sports lots of trappings with a value price point, said Mike O’Brien, Hyundai vice president of product and corporate planning.

Auto Brand Marketing Programs Take Advantage of Social Media

In remarks at the press previews for the L.A. Auto Show, Jim Farley, Ford group vice president of marketing and communications, said the new 2013 Ford Escape will be introduced with social media. In fact, it already was featured in social gaming before the L.A. Auto Show press previews with host Jenny McCarthy. The reveal of the new model was featured online and in front of thousands in Hollywood through one of the largest social gaming developers—Zynga. A real-world reality show will be created with six teams next year that will incorporate online participation in a similar fashion to the Fiesta Movement and Focus Rally, Farley said.

 

 Please watch a video with insight on current trends in the auto industry from one of our J.D. Power experts at the L.A. Auto Show:

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