Honda starts Civic exports to Australia
Honda has started shipments of the Civic diesel to Australia from its UK plant in Swindon, part of a wider Civic export programme to the country from the plant. The diesel version will go on sale in the country in April. The company is starting with modest volumes, with 6,000 Civics in total planned for export in 2013.

Honda announced a £267m ($430m) investment programme at its Swindon plant last year, the biggest spend the carmaker has made in the UK in more than 10 years.

The investment was announced at the same time Honda launched its latest CR-V model and centres around the installation of a new 1.6 diesel engine line, spending on new Civic robotics and tooling, and improvements in test and development resources around the new model.

Hail hits dealers in Mississippi
A severe hailstorm, estimated to have inflicted $20m in damage across the US state of Mississippi last week, included damage to a large number of vehicles at dealerships across the region.

The Mississippi Automobile Dealers Association (Mada) confirmed that it had sustained “unusually large hail and severe damage at several stores”.

William Lehman, president of Mada told Automotive Logistics News that a lot would probably now depend on how good individual dealership insurance coverage was and how quickly adjustors were able to assess the impact of the damage.

“Usually, whenever something like this happens, dealers generally hold ‘a hail of a sale’ within a few weeks,” said Lehman. “So, I'd have to assume there's either an opportunity to make lemonade out of their lemons or they're just trying to put this behind them and move on.”

JLR opens office in Singapore
Jaguar Land Rover has opened a regional office in Singapore to support increasing sales in the Asia Pacific region. The company sold more than 17,000 vehicles in Asia Pacific in 2012, up 38% YOY from the previous year, led by the Range Rover Evoque. “We have also seen strong interest in the new Range Rover and the new 2.0 litre petrol engine is very popular in Asia,” said a spokesperson for the company.

“Extending our global presence to Singapore confirms our commitment to pursuing the tremendous potential in this region and to supporting our importer partners," said David Blackhall, managing director, Jaguar Land Rover Asia Pacific, at an event marking the opening.

Asia Pacific is the company’s second fastest growth region after China, which is accounted for separately and saw a 71% increase in sales that reached more than 73,000 vehicles.

The company's regional hub will support its Asia Pacific Importer partners in their sales, marketing and aftersales operations.

Vehicles are transported to the region by transport providers Eukor and WWL.

The Singapore office adds to Jaguar Land Rover's existing presence in Asia Pacific, with national sales company offices in Australia, Japan and South Korea. 

Bosch boosts aftermarket supply in China
Parts supplier Bosch has invested €120m ($180m) in new facilities in Nanjing, China that will produce parts for the automotive aftermarket in the region. The company said it is the biggest investment it has ever made in expanding production capacity anywhere in the world and the Nanjing plant is its biggest spark plug manufacturing site.

The plant was officially opened last week and will reach planned capacity by 2015 when it will be able to produce 125m spark plugs a year, 80m brake pads and 25,000 testing systems, for use in workshops.

“This is a clear demonstration of the importance we attach to Asia Pacific’s high-growth markets, and above all to China,” said Robert Hanser, president of the Automotive Aftermarket division.

He went on to say that this additional production capacity would put Bosch in a position to meet the needs of workshop customers in the region more quickly and flexibly.

Bosch’s Automotive Aftermarket division has set up three distribution centres in Shanghai, Hebei Langfang and Guangzhou to provide efficient delivery of all products to its wholesalers said a spokesperson for the company.

“Our partners on the wholesaler level are providing the logistics services for the full range of workshop programmes and equipment,” added the spokesperson.

Ceva begins China-Euro rail service
Ceva Logistics has recently launched a new rail service between China and Europe.

Following trials for a customer in the technology sector on an 11,000km route between Suzhou in eastern China and the Netherlands, via Russia, Ceva reported that it had saved the customer between 13-15 days in transit time compared to ocean freight and “brought significant cost savings” compared with air freight. The average journey time is 28 days.

“This new service provides more options for customers to optimise their supply chain by integrating different transportation modes,” said Martin Thaysen, executive vice president, China. “We developed this new railway route as a unique service offering for customers to take advantage of the flexibility of daily departures from Shanghai and Suzhou, the significant cost savings compared to air freight and much shorter transit time than ocean freight.”

For the trial service, the shipment was loaded during China’s spring festival travel season, the well-known peak season of rail transport in the country. The container went through Europe at extremely cold temperatures, sometimes as low as -38 degrees centigrade. Ceva provided specially insulated packaging materials to protect the products against extreme cold temperatures. It said it would also provide packaging designed to keep products cool in summer. It also provided GPS tracking and visibility throughout the journey.