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Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

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Today's Headlines

ASSEMBLY: Volkswagen AG Boosts Investment to Achieve Goals

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Shareholders are not too pleased with the Volkwagen's board decisions to continue investing heavily on plant and equipment with the aim to become the world's largest auto manufacturer by 2018.  Indeed, Volkswagen may have underestimated the competition, namely Toyota Corp., when it established that goal two year's ago.  In November 2012, the company said it would invest $65 billion (50.2 billion euro) on new models, new assembly operations, and new environmentally friendly technology in a budget that stretched from 2013 through 2015.

Yesterday, the Volkswagen Group announced that it would invest another 85.6 billion euro ($106.3 billion) over the next five year…

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AIRBAGS: Senate Hearing Raises More Questions; Few Answers

Friday, November 21st, 2014

A Congressional Senate hearing yesterday in which Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata executives appeared to answer questions left Senators and NHTSA executives stymied on how to proceed with the recall of millions of vehicles equipped with airbags that injure or kill occupants in a crash.  There are thus far five deaths attributed to the airbags and there are likely more that will be uncovered in the future.

A Takata executive told the committee that his company is trying to ramp up parts production for replacement in the airbags but he added that the company may not be able to move quickly enough to prevent more injuries or deaths. 

While Senate Comme…

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REGULATORY: Brazil's Petrobras Corruption Could Hit $1.6 Billion

Friday, November 21st, 2014

What is being dubbed by Brazilian government authorities as the largest corruption scheme in the history of Brazil, officials there recently uncovered regulatory competition violations that total some $1.6 billion.

The regulatory violations, on which we reported recently, is said to have involved kickbacks from major contracts involves what is described as a “huge” number of individuals from multiple contractors and Petrobras itself.

Joao Augusto Nardes, head of Brazil’s Court of Accounts, told the Wall Street Journal yesterday, “This case is the biggest corruption scheme evaluated in the history of the TCU, in terms of the financial amount…

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ASSEMBLY: G.M. to Invest 500 Million Euro in Opel Plant

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

From Europe this morning comes early news that General Motors Co. has earmarked $626 million (500 million euro) to expand engine production at Opel plants in Kaiserslautern and Ruesselsheim, Germany, and at a powertrain plant at Tychy, Poland.

While G.M. CEO Mary Barra made no specific connection to the engine plant expansions with new vehicles, but she also announced that Opel will begin assembly of a new SUV at Ruesselsheim.  She indicated that the new SUV would become a flagship model next to the Insignia sedan with no date fo…

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FUEL CELLS: Toray CFRTP to Become First Thermoplastic Composite Used for Automotive Structural Parts for Toyota Mirai

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Toray Industries Inc., Tokyo, announced today that its carbon fiber thermoplastic composite material has been specified for use in the Toyota Mirai, a hydrogen-powered fuel-cell sedan Toyota will begin building later this year.  According to Toray, the CFRTP was developed for mass produced automotive structural parts, a carbon paper was developed for the electrode substrate for the fuel cell stack and a high strength carbon fiber reinforcement was used for the high pressure hydrogen tank.

Toray said the CFRTP is used a part referred to as a "stack frame", which is equivalent to the vehicle floor.  Working with Toyota Motor Corp., the CFRTP achieves a short press mol…

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RECALL: Takata Seat Belt Recall a Mess

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Despite his being called to testify at U.S. Congressional hearings being held today in Washington, Shigehisa Takada, chairman of Japanese automotive safety systems Takata Corp., won't be there.  As we reported earlier this month, the chairman is reported to have gone missing and if anyone knows where he is, they're not talking.

Nevertheless, the hearings will go on and the future for Takata looks a bit murky as the number of vehicles affected by the faulty and dangerous airbag inflators continues to go.  The latest figure is 16 million vehicles produced by 10 different auto manufacturers since 2008.  Nevermind the cost of replacing the inflators - about $100 pe…

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