Production Shifts: Land Rover to China; Volt, Sprinter to U.S.?
European automakers are joining General Motors in moves that will bring high-profile products to new production centers. Out of England, word from Jaguar Land Rover is that the Range Rover Evoque’s move to China will not diminish production volumes in the U.K. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz announced it will bring production of its Sprinter commercial vans to the United States or another NAFTA country. Rounding out October production news, GM offered a preview of the 2016 Chevy Volt, a car that will soon have each of its major components manufactured in the United States.
China’s hunger for Evoque
Jaguar Land Rover sees the Range Rover Evoque topping its sales list among consumers in China, Automotive News Europe reports. Production of the Evoque makes perfect sense for China, which has accounted for one in five sales of the vehicle for the automaker since its launch in 2011. A newly opened factory in Changshu will begin production of the SUV, but the automaker told reporters at a news conference that the number of vehicles built in England will not diminish. Company officials said the expansion of the market in China is enough for both factories to deliver new Evoque models without redundancy.
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans
Mercedes is another European automaker looking to bring production closer to its target market. Daimler announced the next generation of its Sprinter will be produced in one of the NAFTA countries, with the U.S. as one of the possible sites. Automotive News reports a growing demand for Mercedes commercial vehicles in the U.S. that has led its parent company to seek ways of improving production efficiency. As it stands, Mercedes produces Sprinters at one of two factories in Germany before being dismantled, shipped across the Atlantic, and reassembled in South Carolina to avoid excessive tariffs.
Outside of Germany, the United States offers the biggest market for Sprinter cargo, passenger, and utility vans. U.S. consumers bought approximately 23,000 vans in 2013, Daimler reps told Automotive News. As a point of reference, that is more sales than the Cadillac Escalade, Nissan Leaf, or Mitsubishi Lancer in 2013. Mercedes has good reason to cut down on a wasteful, lengthy shipping process.
Previews of 2016 Chevy Volt
Among the vehicles debuting at the Detroit auto show in January, the 2016 Chevy Volt is attracting a great deal of early attention. GM says Volt drivers have reported getting more range than the 35 miles the EPA allowed the company in electric rating and that 80% of their trips don’t involve gasoline. Improvements planned for the upcoming model involve a more powerful, quieter 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. New range figures will emerge along with the new hybrid electric vehicle in Detroit.
On the production front, CEO Mary Barra told the Detroit Economic Club that the 2016 Volt will join other models under the corporate banner that have all major components manufactured in Michigan. To get there, General Motors will produce the next Volt’s electric drive system in Warren, Michigan. (It is currently produced in Mexico.) That leaves the Volt’s 1.5-liter engine. For the first year of production, GM will source the engine from its plant in Toluca, Mexico. After that, the GM plant in Flint will take on the job and make the 2016 Volt about as American as they come.