January 23, 2018 News of the Day: Detroit Preps for the Largest New Auto Factory in 2 Decades, Visteon Signs Agreement to Help Guangzhou Automobile Group Develop Self-Driving Vehicles

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【Summary】January 23, 2018 News of the Day

Eric Walz    Mar 01, 2018 2:04 PM PT
January 23, 2018 News of the Day: Detroit Preps for the Largest New Auto Factory in 2 Decades, Visteon Signs Agreement to Help Guangzhou Automobile Group Develop Self-Driving Vehicles

Detroit Preps for the Largest New Auto Factory in 2 Decades

DETROIT — Just days after Detroit lost out in the race to host internet giant Amazon's second U.S. headquarters, Detroit is getting back to its automotive roots. The city's mayor and the billionaire owner of auto supplier Flex-N-Gate Corp. offered a sneak preview of what will be the largest new auto factory built in the city in over twenty years.

The $160 million plant will make metal and plastic parts for Ford Motor Company's vehicles and is projected to employ more than 400 people when it opens in October. For Detroit, the plant represents a more realistic, smaller scale approach to bringing jobs back to areas of the city abandoned as manufacturers left for the suburbs, other states and overseas.

"This is the way we'll go about employing" city residents, "four or five hundred jobs at a time," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said on Monday during a walk through the cavernous plant on Detroit's east side. The plant is about 60 percent complete. Large pits in the concrete floor marked where metal forming presses will stand.

Shahid Khan, owner of Flex-N-Gate as well as NFL team the Jacksonville Jaguars, said Ford executives urged him to consider locating the factory in the city, an idea Khan said he supported. Duggan said the city helped locate the property and will pay for training workers. Khan did not say how much jobs at the factory will pay but he expressed support for the idea of a $20 an hour wage "to break the cycle of poverty."

Flex-N-Gate is looking for skilled workers for its new high-tech manufacturing factory. Jobs at the plant will require "more brain power and less muscle," Khan said, as workers operate automated presses and other equipment.

The investment resulted from a collaboration of Flex-N-Gate, Ford and the city to train city residents to work in an automated factory.

Starting off and an automotive aftermarket supplier, Flex-N-Gate switched to supplying OEM parts in 1968. The company produces plastics, metals, lighting and mechanical assemblies for automakers including Ford, Toyota, General Motors and FCA.

Visteon Signs Deal to Help Guangzhou Automobile Group Develop Self-Driving Vehicles


Visteon Corp. has signed an agreement to help Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. develop self-driving vehicles.

The state-owned automaker will use Visteon's DriveCore platform, a software package designed to identify road objects and navigate the vehicle safely, Visteon said in a statement earlier this month.

Initially, the companies will develop technology for Level 3 autonomous vehicles that can steer, brake and accelerate on the highway autonomously.

Visteon unveiled DriveCore this month at CES in Las Vegas. The software package is to be production-ready in 2020.

In addition, the companies will "explore potential commercial engagements" that use Visteon's instrument clusters, head-up displays and domain controllers.

GAC, headquartered in the south China city of Guangzhou, sold 508,000 vehicles last year, up 37 percent year on year.

Visteon, of suburban Detroit, ranks No. 67 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide parts sales to automakers of $3.16 billion in 2016.

Uber CEO Says Company Will Be Profitable Within 3 Years


Uber Technologies Inc. has had a rough year. The company's CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick was forced to step down in June of 2017 and the company has lost billions of dollars as it expands its operations. However, Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says things will turn around and Uber will be profitable within three years.

Speaking to Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Khosrowshahi said that even as the company would continue to be aggressive about expansion, it was finding ways to be more efficient.

Almost six months into his tenure leading Uber, Khosrowshahi is attempting to reverse what has been an unprecedented period of turmoil. The company is facing various government investigations, allegations of sexual harassment and increasing competition from rivals around the world. Khosrowshahi said his goal for 2018 is to "get back to normalcy" after the challenges left by former CEO Travis Kalanick. "Breakneck growth can hide cultural issues," he said.

Khosrowshahi said the company was investing heavily in autonomous car technology and that it would begin adding the cars in some cities within 18 months. The vehicles will at first only carry passengers on select routes that will expand over time.

The company is also developing air taxis that will fly riders to certain destinations within cities that Khosrowshahi predicted will be available for customers within 10 years.

Tesla Truck Spotted Driving in Silicon Valley


SUNNYVALE, Calif., — A short clip of Tesla's new electric truck was posted on YouTube. The video shows the battery-electric rig painted in a matte black driving down Elko Drive in an office park in Sunnyvale, California about nine miles from Tesla's Fremont factory.

The dark matte painted prototype truck is equipped with the more conventional dual-tire configuration on the rear axles, which differs from a truck spotted rolling around the Tesla headquarters in Palo Alto back in December that had single tires on each side of the rear axles.

The new video clearly shows the truck's operator sitting in the center of the cab, as Tesla designed its new truck with a center-mounted cockpit for the driver.

Tesla has said the Semi will get 500 miles of range at maximum weight of 80,000 pounds at highway speeds. Production is supposed to begin in 2019, though Tesla hasn't said where it intends to build the battery powered truck. Major fleet operators such as Anheuser-Busch, UPS, DHL and Pepsi have placed pre-orders for the truck, which starts at $150,000.

The video can be seen below:

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