GM starts to ramp up production

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The cash for clunkers program continues to have positive effects, as GM is now increasing production to meet the new demand.

With its Chevrolet Cobalt in demand because of the federal “cash for clunkers” rebate program, General Motors said today it would restart the second shift at its Lordstown plant early next month.

More than 1,000 people will return to work, bringing employment at the plant to about 3,300. The news comes just in time for some laid-off workers who were about to see their benefits reduced.

“It’s a huge relief,” United Auto Workers Local 1112 President Jim Graham said. “We’ve know for some time that this would happen. We just didn’t know when it was coming back.”

GM executives said they had to restart the shift at Lordstown, where the Cobalt is assembled, and add production at other plants because the automaker was running out of cars. The clunkers program, which offers up to $4,500 to people who trade older gas-guzzlers for new, more fuel-efficient models, had left some dealers short of cars. The program is expected to end around Labor Day.

The increased production is not limited to Lordstown.

In addition to the new shift at Lordstown, GM is restarting a shift at the Canadian plant that builds the Chevrolet Equinox, a five-passenger crossover that can get 32 miles per gallon on the highway, said Tim Lee, GM’s vice president for manufacturing.

He added that demand for GM’s small pickups and its HHR wagon are also up, so GM could add shifts to plants in Louisiana and Mexico, too.

In addition, GM plans to keep open its Lake Orion, Mich., plant until November to build the Chevrolet Malibu. That plant had been scheduled to close next month. It was set to reopen in 2011 to make small cars.

Needless to say, this is excellent news for the auto industry and for the overall economy. Areas like Northeast Ohio have been suffering from growing unemployment, and every little bit helps. This also bodes well for auto suppliers.

  

Ford announces new V-6 EcoBoost engine

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Ford’s EcoBoost engine will now include a V-6 option.

Ford’s EcoBoosted future has long been known to include a four cylinder option, and now the automaker has finally made some details official during a global product presentation today in Detroit.

Set to hit the market sometime in 2010, the 2.0-liter block will be the first engine in Ford’s EcoBoost lineup to employ a twin-independent variable cam timing system (Ti-VCT). Ford says the engine will deliver 10 to 20 percent better fuel economy than larger displacement V-6s, all while delivering similar power numbers.

The new engine will be produced in Northeast Ohio, and that’s welcome news to a region struggling with the loss of manufacturing jobs, which has only gotten worse with the economic crisis.

After two years of idling, Ford Motor Co.’s Engine Plant No. 1 re-opened Tuesday with the new leaner, cleaner EcoBoost engine.

The cutting edge 3.5-liter engine — which will equip 90 percent of Ford vehicles — is the first V-6 direct-injection, twin-turbocharged engine produced in North America and will be produced exclusively at the Brook Park site.

It’s a welcome sight at a facility that has struggled in recent times.

“This is the engine of the future. We’re really proud that the finest engine makers in the world are right here in Brook Park and the finest engines in the world are right here in Brook Park. With the new designs, there’s a lot of reasons to want to buy a Ford product. It’s a breath of fresh air and in this economy, we need to hear as much good news as possible,” said Mayor Mark Elliott.

Ford is hoping that this will give consumers more options, such as customers who are leaving large, V-8-powered SUVs but need towing capacity, who can now consider the top-level version of the Flex crossover due to the new, more powerful engine.

  

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