Carmakers take action to avoid stockpiles in India
Tata Motors and General Motors have suspended vehicle production at their factories in India to avoid a growing problem with vehicle stockpiling because of declining demand in the country.
GM India said it was "aligning production on a daily basis" to avoid inventory build up and would suspend production for one day this week at its plants in Gujurat and Maharashtra. The company also suspended production for a day last week at both plants.
GM has cited high interest rates, a rise in fuel and commodity prices, growing inflation and negative market sentiments as factors that continue to put pressure on the automotive market.
Petrol prices in India have surged while diesel continues to be sold at discounted rates leading consumers to choose diesel-fuelled vehicles over petrol versions. In response carmakers in India, including Suzuki, Toyota, Fiat, Hyundai and Honda have adjusted production to make fewer petrol cars or export excess stocks.
Tata Motors, meanwhile, stopped its truck factory at Pune for three days last week blaming lower economic activity and manufacturing as well as lower investments. The move followed a similar stop at its east India factory at Jamshedpur for two days at the end of June where it produces medium and heavy trucks.
SAIC expands operations in US
Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation has opened a new engineering and purchasing centre in suburban Detroit that will also focus on logistics for the import and export of components, as well as sourcing from 150 suppliers in North America. Engineers at the centre will also help design and develop vehicle parts.
The 2,800-square-metre North American Operations Center is located in Birmingham and will eventually employ around 100 staff.
The opening ceremony was attended by senior executives from SAIC's joint venture partner General Motors, SAIC Motor in Shanghai, major automotive suppliers and partners from the US and China, as well as the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder.
SAIC said its decision to expand its operations in Michigan was based on proximity to  important global automotive partners, including GM, its proximity to world-class automotive parts suppliers and a highly trained workforce.
CALA visits ro-ro facilities at Le Havré
Fourteen members from the China Automotive Logistics Association (CALA) were part of a delegation that visited the port of Le Havre's ro-ro facilities last week to assess the merits of potential vehicle and parts distribution into Europe. CALA is a division of the Chinese Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.
The delegation, which included representatives from Foton Logistics, Dongfeng and FAW International Logistics amongst others (see below), were guests of HAROPA, the economic interest group that represents Le Havre port, the port of Rouen (100km inland from Le Havre) and Ports de Paris, a state institution established to develop waterway traffic and port activity across a network of 70 ports along the waterways of the Ile-de-France.
The visit included a tour of the terminals operated by Groupe CAT, Gefco and Walon, as  well as the Port 2000 container complex.
The visit follows a visit by HAROPA delegates to Shanghai in June, led by Hervé Cornède, commercial and marketing director at the port of Le Havre, to promote the HAROPA's cross-industry logistics offering.
The full list of companies represented in the visit to Le Havre is as follows: Foton Logistics; Borui Auto Service; Dongfeng; Heilongjinag Runyang logistics; Tianjin Yuanshun logistics; Anhui Jac Logistics; FAW International logistics; Hubei and TPS Beijing.
See the latest edition of Finished Vehicle Logistics magazine for FAW Logistics' managing director, Ken Shanggang, starting on page 68
MHI completes first hybrid car carrier
Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has announced the completion of the world's first newly-built hybrid car carrier, Emerald Ace, at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) shipyard in Kobe, Japan.
The Emerald Ace is designed to generate zero emissions while at berth and is equipped with a hybrid electric power supply system that combines a 160kW solar generation system, jointly developed by the MOL, MHI and the Energy Company of Panasonic Group, with lithium-ion batteries that can store some 2.2MWh of electricity. Conventional power generation systems use diesel-powered generators to supply onboard electricity while berthed.
On the Emerald Ace, electricity is generated by the solar power generation system while the vessel is under way and stored in the lithium-ion batteries. The diesel-powered generator is completely shut down when the ship is in berth, and the batteries provide all the electricity it needs, resulting in zero emissions at the pier.
The vessel's hybrid system represents a significant step forward in realizing ISHIN-I, the concept for the next-generation car carrier that MOL announced in September 2009.
In other news, MHI recently won the Ship of the Year 2011 award from the Japan Society of Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers for the MV Tonsberg, operated by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and the first of four vessels ordered by the Norwegian forwarder from MHI. It is the sixth time that MHI has won the award.
The vessel is equipped with ballast water treatment and waste-heat recovery systems, as well as an electronically controlled engine, which WWL said makes it one of the most fuel-efficient, environmentally sustainable ships on the market.
Gefco secures ITM company award
The Institute of Transport Management in the UK has awarded Gefco's UK division with its Transport Company of the Year 2012 award.
"It is increasingly rare to find a company that is wholly committed not only to growing its business across the board, but also to innovation, customer satisfaction, environmental and social responsibility and staff development," said the ITM in an official statement.
Tristan Balayn, managing director of Gefco UK said: "We are delighted that Gefco UK has been awarded this prestigious accolade. We are very proud of the levels of service and commitment we offer all our customers, underpinned by our core company values.
Over the last year, we have seen our business expand into new sectors and grow into new markets, while at the same time consolidating and building on our core automotive strength," he continued. "To be named ITM's Transport Company of the Year is testament not only to the high levels of satisfaction felt by our customers, but also is a recognition of the dedication and hard work of each one of our employees, without whom we would not have received this award."
Gefco has four automotive centres in the UK, located at Sheerness, Corby, Sandtoft and Portbury. Each site offers dedicated new and used vehicle storage and distribution facilities, along with fully comprehensive technical facilities for new and used car preparation.