Auto News: Ford Recalls 200,000; GM Orion Plant Gets 300 Jobs GM

Auto News: Ford Recalls 200,000; GM Orion Plant Gets 300 Jobs

Also, Toyota unveils its window-walled design for a new headquarters in Texas.

Ford announced today that it is recalling more than 200,000 Transit Connect vehicles built in Spain and Escape vehicles built in Louisville, Ky., for a safety issue with the instrument panel cluster.

 Most of the vehicles were sold in the United States, with a small percentage in Canada and Mexico.

When the vehicle starts up, the instrument cluster, warning chimes, messages and warning lights “may not work,” Ford said in a press release issued today. The company stated that it is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the problem.

Affected vehicles include certain 2014-2015 Transit Connect vehicles built at Valencia Assembly Plant in Spain from May 13, 2014 to December 10, 2014, and certain 2014-2015 Escapes built at the Louisville Assembly Plant from May 19, 2014 to February 6, 2015.

Dealers will update the panel software without charge to the vehicle owner.

'Mystery Vehicle' at GM Orion Plant to Create 300 Jobs

General Motors announced this week that it will invest $245 million in its Orion, Mich., assembly plant, adding 300 new jobs, for production of an as-yet unnamed new vehicle.

It’s one of several changes happening at the Orion plant. Late last year, GM  announced that Orion will produce the Chevrolet Bolt EV, an all-electric vehicle that is currently in the prototype stage. Production on the Bolt is expect to begin at Orion in 2017. GM is investing $160 million in the Orion plant for the Bolt production line.

In November 2014, 160 employees were laid off at the plant, to “better align with market demands,” according to GM. About 100 more will be laid off beginning in July as the company scales back production of its Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano subcompact cars with a drop in consumer demand in the U.S. for smaller vehicles as gas prices have fallen.

No word yet on what the new vehicle will be, just that it is “unlike any in the plant’s 32-year history,” GM stated in a press release.

“Orion has a unique culture that encourages employees to offer solutions to problems that positively impact the business,” the statement continued. “For example, a team of hourly, salaried, and skilled trades’ workers from the paint shop recently developed a process monitoring tool for robotic paint applicators that alerts operators to potential failures before they happen.”  Orion’s approach to preventative maintenance “is now being applied to other GM manufacturing sites.”

Toyota Unveils Design for New U.S. Campus

Seven glass-walled buildings, with overhang roofs for shade relief from the Texas sun, will circle a central plaza at Toyota’s new North American campus in Plano. The architectural renderings for the campus, designed by the Texas based firm Corgan Associates, were released today.

The company will seek LEED Platinum certification for the campus from the U.S. Green Building Council, its highest level of certification for environmentally sustainable construction. Construction will incorporate local and regional materials and plants native to the area that require little water, as well as water catchment and storage features for irrigation. Solar panels will, in part, power the buildings.

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