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Auto blogSun, 22 Sep 2013 11:02:00 EST
Ford announced that it's investing $682 million in its Oakville assembly plant in Ontario, Canada, to make it a global manufacturing plant, which the automaker also says secures 2,800 jobs there. Including this injection of cash, Ford has invested over $2 billion in Canada in the last decade, starting with nearly $1 billion for Oakville in 2004, and over $570 million for its Essex Engine Plant in 2010.
The move to make Oakville a global manufacturer of Ford vehicles means, "If consumers suddenly shift their buying habits, we can seamlessly change our production mix without having to idle a plant," says Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas.
Ford says that the latest investment will help it meet North American demand for the Oakville-produced Edge crossover, which is on track this year to beat 2007's US sales record of 130,000 Edges. The Ford Flex and Lincoln MKX and MKT are also manufactured at the plant.
Ford has already confirmed that the 2015 F-150 (pictured above) was just the beginning for its more extensive use of aluminum. CEO Alan Mulally said it himself during the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. We've even already seen the future Raptor testing with an aluminum body. But a recent discovery from an intrepid spy photographer might indicate that the lightweight metal is coming to the Blue Oval's Super Duty pickups in their upcoming generation, as well.
According to Automotive News, a spy shooter in Colorado spotted a prototype for the next-gen F-350 testing. He happened to have a magnet on hand and got close enough to check the truck out. When he held it up to the metal in the bed, it didn't stick, which signaled to him a switch from steel to aluminum.
Obviously, this claim raises some questions. Given that it was a test vehicle, one possibility is that the Blue Oval is just evaluating the feasibility of switching to aluminum for the Super Duty trucks, not necessarily committed to it yet. Ford has been testing it quite exhaustively, after all. In fact, much of the rest of the truck in question was covered in camouflage, so it's possible that the magnet failed to work along the rest of the body not because it was aluminum, but because it wasn't powerful enough to get through the disguising material. Thus, the lightweight metal's use could be far less substantial than on the new F-150. Still, it was a clever idea for the cameraman to check things out and might have given us the first hint about brand's next heavy-duty models.
Among automakers with a big US presence, General Motors is the worst to work for, according to a new survey from Tier 1 automotive suppliers, conducted by Planning Perspectives, Inc.
The Detroit-based manufacturer, which has been under fire following the ignition switch recall and its accompanying scandal, finished behind six other automakers with big US manufacturing operations. Suppliers had issues with trust and communications, as well as intellectual property protection. GM was also the least likely to allow suppliers to raise their prices in the face of unexpected increases in material cost, all of which contributed to 55 percent of suppliers saying their relationship with GM was "poor to very poor."
GM's cross-town competitors didn't fare much better. Chrysler finished in fifth place, ahead of GM and behind Dearborn-based Ford, which was passed for third place this year by Nissan. Toyota took the top marks, while Honda captured second place.