Rates dispute halts Renault-Nissan deliveries in India
All outbound movements of Renault Nissan Alliance vehicles from the Orangadam plant near Chennai in India are reported to have been suspended this week because of a dispute over freight handling rates.

The automotive joint venture is reported to be demanding a 20% reduction in rates from June 1st this year, while carriers in India are requesting a 15% increase. The clash in demands has led carriers, including Ganpati Carrying Corp. and Glovis India, to suspend services, which is affecting both domestic shipments and those for export.

A meeting is being held on Friday of this week in an attempt to resolve the matter. Automotive Logistics News will have further details in next week’s edition.

GM invests in Lansing logistics facility
General Motors has announced this week it is investing $44.5m to build a new logistics facility at its Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant in Michigan, US.

The 400,000-square-foot ‘Logistics Optimization Center’ will be built adjacent to the plant to sequence and assemble parts to make manufacturing more flexible according to the carmaker. Lansing Grand River makes three Cadillac CTS variants and the Cadillac ATS.

“This project is the latest example of how we’re doing business differently in GM today,” said Christine Sitek, GM North America manufacturing manager. “We’ve developed an innovative material strategy that increases efficiency and improves quality to benefit our customers, employees and the bottom line.”
The new logistics centre will create 200 jobs.

GM said the investment will save money and improve efficiency by streamlining the flow of materials, reducing transport and contributing to improved quality by reducing handling but would not got into further detail.

Metcash expands automotive footprint in Australia
Australian Automotive Distribution (AAD), a subsidiary of Metcash Automotive Holdings, has bought the assets and operations of wholesale car and trucks business Australian Truck and Auto Parts Group (ATAP) for $84m. ATAP specialises in brake, steering and suspension products.

The acquisition also includes Auto Brake Service (ABS), a national franchise network of 53 brake and steering and auto repairs specialists. Metcash said the combined annual sales of the purchased companies and assets is around $90m.

Andrew Reitzer, Metcash CEO, said the acquisition will add to Metcash’s automotive activity.

“Our automotive aftermarket parts business is already adding value. The acquisition by AAD is part of our clear plan to grow this business and will enable Metcash to use its core strengths in warehousing, logistics and marketing, to service a significant number of independents nationally,” he said.

“The automotive aftermarket parts retail sector is a large market worth $5.6 billion. The acquisition will provide potential for growth within Metcash’s hardware and automotive pillar. AAD will have significant scope to further consolidate the wholesale supply market, which supplies to approximately 2,500 independents.”

Metcash said the acquisition would strengthen the national footprint and distribution network of the enlarged automotive group, including adding warehouses in the states of New South Wales and South Australia. It added that the acquisition would provide scope for expansion of the ABS franchise network.

Paul Dumbrell, CEO of Metcash’s Automotive Brands Group, will lead the enlarged automotive portfolio.

The acquisition is expected to be completed before the end of this month.

Autoterminal exports offset import losses

By Barry Cross

Barcelona’s Autoterminal is experiencing double-digit growth in vehicle exports, although the domestic market is in decline. The export growth is not just being reported in the Mediterranean, but also in countries located in the Middle and Far East. This prompted the terminal to introduce a policy orientated towards transshipment at the end of 2012 and also to adjust prices, which have helped to boost exports.

Managing director Xavier Vazquez is forecasting a 4% increase in traffic for 2013 based around increased exports and transshipment. The terminal has not lost clients, but rather strengthened long-term contracts with those it has. In addition, a new Turkish manufacturer is now using the terminal to distribute its vehicles to Spain, France and Portugal.

Vazquez nevertheless laments the fact that the standard gauge rail link to the port has not generated additional traffic, though the transfer of the neighbouring container terminal to another area of the port has freed up both additional land close to Autoterminal and also made available more rail sidings.

The company's Djen Djen terminal in Algeria has seen increases in traffic of more than 20% a year. As a result, Autoterminal is to take on management of two further terminals in Algiers and third in Mostagenem.

Another project should see the company open a terminal in the Near East either at the end of this year or the beginning of 2014.

In other Spanish port news, Valencia Terminal Europa (VTE), which holds the concession for the Grimaldi terminal on Dique del Este at the Spanish Mediterranean port of Valencia, is due to open a rail connection there in June, with the first trials slated for the end of that month or early July.

Ford is expected to be a major customer and will use the link from the Ford manufacturing plant at Almussafes. The rail connection is expected to enable VTE to consolidate its role as a strategic harbour for long-distance maritime traffic.

Honda to build supercar in ex-logistics facility
Honda of America is investing $70m in a manufacturing facility for its new Acura NSX supercar that will be based at its former logistics facility in Marysville, Ohio, at the centre of its existing R&D and production engineering operations.

As part of planning for the NSX manufacturing, Honda has moved its logistics operations to an adjacent facility between the Marysville and East Liberty plants (on US highway 33).

The new 17,000-square metre Performance Manufacturing Center will be housed within the former logistics facility and will be Honda’s third automotive manufacturing plant in Ohio; there is also an assembly facility in Marysville and an engine plant in Anna, which will make the NSX powertrain. The site is also near the Honda R&D Americas Ohio Center in Raymond, which is engineering the Acura NSX for production, as well as to Honda Engineering North America’s centre for the development of new production technologies.

In addition to the plant location, Honda announced that Honda R&D Americas chief engineer Ted Klaus is leading the global team developing the new NSX, and Clement D' Souza, associate chief engineer at Honda of America, is leading the team that will bring NSX to mass production in 2015.

"This new plant will be as unique as the vehicle we will build here," said D'Souza. "In creating the plan for this plant, we looked closely at each process and determined the perfect blend of associate craftsmanship and technology to adopt a new approach to manufacturing."

Nissan supplies GM with van for US
Nissan will supply General Motors with a van for distribution to its fleet and commercial customers in the US and Canada from the autumn of 2014, following an agreement announced last week. Based on the Nissan NV200 commercial vehicle, it will be badged as a Chevrolet City Express and distributed through the Chevrolet dealer network.

“Our fleet customers have asked us for an entry in the commercial small van segment, so this addition to the Chevrolet portfolio will strengthen our position with fleets and our commercial customers,” said Ed Peper, US vice president of GM Fleet and Commercial Sales.

The vehicle will be made at Nissan’s plant in Canton, Mississippi, which started production of the NV200 in 2012, its first commercial vehicle produced in North America.

The vehicle is a previous winner of the International Van of the Year Award.