Toyota's Way Changes the World's Factories. Now the Retool

First Up 02/07/18

Mercedes to Electrify, Make Next Sprinter a Better Workplace
Mercedes-Benz will add a battery-electric variant of the Sprinter as it updates the commercial van line for its third generation, reports Automotive News. But it's not yet clear when, or even if, the new eSprinter will be sold in the U.S. The redesigned combustion-engine Sprinter will go on sale in the U.S. by the end of 2018, and Mercedes will begin producing most U.S. versions at a new plant about to open in Charleston, S.C. The plant will ramp up production in the second half of this year. Mercedes touts new connectivity services and improvements that will make the Sprinter's cab a better workplace as key advances for the redesigned van. It also will have comfort and safety features similar to a car, the company said. Comprehensive Internet connectivity in the redesigned Sprinter will make fleet management significantly easier, Mercedes said. For more, click here

Toyota's Way Changes the World's Factories. Now the Retool
Over decades, Toyota Motor Corp. built a corporate culture that was the envy of the manufacturing world. Now the auto industry’s most-emulated company is overhauling the way it brings its vaunted production system to every corner of the business, reports Bloomberg. The automaker last month created a single group, staffed with 200 employees, to manage the Toyota Production System, centralizing a function that was spread out through the organization. Their task is to evaluate how core concepts like kaizen, or continuous improvement, can be applied to new businesses that include car sharing and consumer robots. In the last two years, Toyota has opened a Silicon Valley research center, set up a $100 million venture-capital fund and started software companies in Japan and the U.S. with plans to add a European branch this year. Read more here

Certified Pre-Owned Car Sales Start Year Up 5%
After just narrowly notching another record year, sales of certified pre-owned vehicles climbed more than 5 percent in January, reports Auto Remarketing. The CPO market began 2018 with 203,024 sales last month, according to Autodata Corp. This was a 5.3-percent hike over January 2017 — although it was also an 8.2-percent decrease from December. Domestic automakers were the highlight of the month, with CPO sales up 16.9 percent from a year ago. Domestic-brand dealers combined to move 70,274 certified vehicles, according to Autodata. That compares to a 2.2-percent spike for European-brand dealers, who sold 35,019 CPO cars. Sales of Asian-brand certified units were down 0.8 percent at 97,731. Autodata notes that with 25 selling days in January (versus 24 a year ago and 26 in December), the daily sales rate of 8,121 beat year-ago figures by 1.1 percent and was down 4.5 percent from December. For more, click here.  

Jaguar Revives D-Type Roadster as a 'Once-in-a-Lifetime' Project
Jaguar has revealed its third continuation car, the D-Type, reports Automotive News. The six-cylinder roadster joins the Jaguar Lightweight E-Type and the Jaguar XKSS continuation cars in the program the company developed in 2014 to re-issue modernized versions of its most iconic models, Jaguar said in a statement. Click here for a picture. This latest car, although made this year, will look exactly like the original D-type, which won the Le Mans 24 Hours race three times from 1955 to 1957. Tim Hannig, the director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic, characterized the car as a "once-in-a-lifetime" project. The D-Type is likely to cost more than 1 million pounds ($1.4 million), judging from previous continuations. For more, click here

U.S. Tops List of the World's Most Traffic Congested Cities
No, it’s not just you. Traffic is getting worse, especially if you live in New York, Boston, or Washington, D.C. And, reports Forbes, even though Los Angeles was ranked as the world’s most gridlocked city for the sixth straight year according to the Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard (followed by Moscow and New York in a tie for second and San Francisco in third), the peak hours commuters spent in traffic in LA slightly declined, while a trio of Texas cities saw significant improvement in traffic congestion. But the 2 percent reduction in the total time Angelenos spent in stuck traffic last year wasn’t really noticeable on a daily basis. “If you think about it in terms of hours, that’s a change of 102 hours in 2017 compared to 104 hours in 2016,” said Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist at Inrix and author of the annual Global Traffic Scorecard, released today. Find out more about the most traffic congested cities here

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Future McLaren Cars Will Be Hybrids and Autonomous [Autoblog]

Hyundai Santa Fe Revealed Ahead of Geneva Show [MotorTrend]

Watch the SpaceX Tesla Roadster Leave Earth [Autoblog]

Car Navigation Systems Plot Course Forward [NY Times