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Automotive News – September 29, 2011

Ford may move Fusion assembly to U.S. Fewer deaths in SUV/pickup accidents. Hyundai developing advanced 10-speed power train. These and other major auto industry stories in this week’s Automotive News.

Ford May Build Fusion in U.S.

Ford logoFord Motor Co. is currently in negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) on a new long-term contract that involves adding as many as 10,000 new jobs and moving assembly of the popular Ford Fusion from plants in Mexico to the United States. Ford currently produces the Fusion at a factory in Hermosillo, Mexico, which employs 3,335 workers, according to the automaker’s website. More than 4,000 American jobs would be created by moving production to the U.S., according to the UAW. The Fusion is Ford’s top-selling car in the U.S., having sold 219,000 units in 2010. So far this year, sales of the Fusion are up 16 percent.

SUV, Pickup Death Rates Plunge

SUV CrashSince 2000, driver and passenger deaths from SUV and pickup truck crashes have dropped 64 percent, according to a report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The death rate for car and minivan passengers fell from 44 deaths per million a decade ago to 16 deaths per million in 2008 and 2009, according to the report. The institute credits design improvements — particularly the decision to align bumper heights with that of other cars as well as the installation of air bags in smaller vehicles — for the falling numbers.

Hyundai Developing 10-Speed Gearbox

Hyundai TransmissionHyundai Motor Group is reportedly developing an advanced 10-speed gearbox for use on its luxury vehicles such as its Genesis and Equus sedans. Earlier this year, Hyundai added an eight-speed automatic transmission to these same models. Like the eight-speed power train, the 10-speed gearbox is reportedly being developed in-house with the aim of improving fuel economy and helping its higher-end products meet increasing stringent environmental quality standards.

Toyota’s Japanese Output Up for First Time Since Earthquake

Toyota FactoryFor the first time since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Toyota Motor Corp. is reporting an increase in its monthly auto production. In August, output rose 10.6 percent to 626,817 vehicles, the company reported. Japanese carmakers have been hiring temporary workers to boost production to make up for output lost after the earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, causing severe parts shortages. Toyota has resumed full production at all of its North American plants this month and said it will expand U.S. output of small engines.

OnStar Won’t Collect Data from Former Customers

OnStarOnStar, General Motors’ in-vehicle navigation, emergency communication and entertainment service, has backed off plans to continue collecting data on owners even after they’ve canceled the service. The reversal was prompted by a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into the legality of OnStar’s plan, announced in early September. Originally, ex-subscribers would have had to formally “opt-out” if they wanted OnStar to stop tracking their driving habits. Now, such monitoring will stop along with their subscriptions.

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