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Automotive News – December 2, 2010

Toyota recalls potentially “hot” Prius hybrids. GM pumps up its muscle car production. Ford Focus slaps on the denim. These and other interesting stories from the auto industry in this week’s Automotive News.

Toyota Recalls 650,000 Prius Hybrids Over Coolant Pumps

Toyota PriusToyota has recalled about 650,000 Prius models worldwide to correct a suspected glitch in a coolant pump that could cause the hybrid cars to overheat and lose power. The recall covers Prius cars for the 2004-2007 model years, about 378,000 of which are in the United States. So far, no actual accidents linked to the suspected pumps have been reported, but after last year’s runaway accelerator problem, the Japanese automaker is taking no chances.

GM Pumps Up Muscle Car Production in Canada

2011 Chevy CameroAfter years of issuing pink slips, General Motors (GM) is adding 700 new workers to its plant in Oshawa, Ontario, near Toronto to support production of its 2011 Chevy Camera convertible “muscle car,” which begins in early 2011. The additional workers will also support increased production of the new Buick Regal, scheduled to begin in the spring, and its top-selling Equinox crossover vehicle, already in production. GM has seen demand for its vehicles increase significantly since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

GM, Chrysler to Hire 1,000 Engineers Each for New Projects

In another sign that demand for American automobiles is improving, both GM and Chrysler have aChrysler LogoGM Logonnounced plans to hire approximately 1,000 engineers to work on advanced projects. GM is looking for 1,000 electric vehicle engineers and researchers to support its new all-electric Chevrolet Volt and any future electric car projects. Chrysler is hiring 1,000 engineers for small- and mid-size vehicle projects as new product lines are expanded or accelerated.

New Ford Focus to Include … Recycled Blue Jeans

2011 Ford FocusThe new Ford Focus compact, due to go on sale in the U.S. and Europe early next year, will reportedly go “green” by using blue — blue jeans, that is. The automaker says it is using recycled cotton clothing such as denim in the Ford’s sound-deadening material and carpet backing. The cotton is equal to two pairs of blue jeans, according to Ford. This is not the first time Ford has used recycled materials in its products; in the past, it has used recycled resins for underbody parts, soy-based foam for seat cushions and recycled yarn for seat covers.

Cadillac Designer to Drive Lincoln

Max WolffMax Wolff, design director for Cadillac, has left GM to hold a similar post for Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln division. The 38-year-old Australian native will be responsible for helping Ford deliver seven “new or significantly improved” vehicles over the next four years. Lincoln is now Ford’s only luxury brand, and Wolff brings a combination of relative youth and world-class design experience to the company’s quest to take on foreign rivals such as Mercedes, BMW, Infiniti and Lexus.

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