1.FORD :--Ford Motor Co said it will halt production at its car plant in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu after workers staged a lunchtime sit-in protest on Thursday, demanding leave and health benefits, as the country battles the coronavirus.
The automaker will stop work at its Chennai plant on Friday and Saturday as it continues to engage with the union on other health and safety demands, Ford said in a statement.
“The safety of our workforce remains our topmost priority,” a Ford India spokesman said, adding that the plant had been shut from May 14-May 22 at the behest of workers.
The sit-in protest is the latest expression of discontent and reluctance among factory employees in the southern state, home to India’s flourishing automobile industry, to work amid a surge in virus infections.
On Wednesday, the Chennai Ford Employees Union expressed concern in a letter to management after 230 workers caught the virus.
“The company should pay all medical expenses of workers affected by the coronavirus,” the union said in Wednesday’s letter, reviewed by Reuters, and called for the plant to be shut until the state government removes lockdown restrictions.
It also sought compensation of 10 million rupees ($137,890) each for the families of two workers who died of the virus.
The union was still in discussion with the company about its demands, one of the sources said.
South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co and France’s Renault (PA:RENA), as well as its alliance partner Nissan (OTC:NSANY) Motor Co, halted production earlier this week in Tamil Nadu.
With more than 30,000 cases a day, Tamil Nadu is one of the states worst hit in India’s second devastating wave of infections. Factories turning out automobiles are among those it has allowed to stay open during lockdown.
Ford has two car manufacturing plants in India to meet domestic and export needs.
The Tamil Nadu facility, with an annual capacity of 200,000 units, makes the EcoSport and Endeavour sport-utility vehicles.
The other, in the western state of Gujarat, can produce 240,000 cars a year.
2.General Motors –General Motors Co said Thursday it will soon be restarting production at five assembly plants around the world that have been idled due to a global semiconductor chips shortage.
GM said it is restarting operations at four plants in the United States, Mexico and Canada starting next week. Two plants in Mexico – San Luis Potosi Assembly and Ramos Assembly – that build the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Blazer will resume production on May 31.
GM said its “supply chain organization continues to make strides working with our supply base to mitigate the near-term impacts of the semiconductor situation.”
GM shares were up 4% in early trading.
Next week GM will also resume full production on May 31 at its Bupyeong 1 Assembly in South Korea, which produces the Chevrolet Trailblazer and Buick Encore GX and has been operating at 50% capacity since April 26, and return the Changwon assembly plant to two shifts.
GM’s CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, that builds the Equinox will resume production earlier than expected on June 14 and run through July 2. The plant has been idled since February 8.
Lansing Grand River will restart production of the Chevrolet Camaro earlier than expected on June 21. The plant has been down since May 10.
GM said it continues to leverage every available semiconductor to build its most in-demand products, including full-size trucks and SUVs, but said the situation continues to remain fluid globally.
Earlier this month, consulting firm AlixPartners said the global semiconductor chip shortage will cost automakers $110 billion in lost revenues this year, up from a prior estimate of $61 billion, as it forecast the crisis will hit the production of 3.9 million vehicles.
3. MICROSOFT: -U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will meet top officials from 12 companies and groups including Microsoft Corp , Mastercard and the World Economic Forum on Thursday to promote economic opportunity in Central America’s Northern Triangle countries, a White House official told Reuters.
President Joe Biden has tasked Harris with leading U.S. efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, to deal with an increase in migration into the United States. Since then, Harris has taken a series of steps to improve conditions and lower migration from the region.
During the meeting on Thursday, Harris will urge businesses to make “new and significant commitments” to boost economic opportunities in the region, said the White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The meeting will be attended by top executives from yogurt maker Chobani, food giant Nestle’s Nespresso unit, financial companies Bancolombia and Davivienda as well as language-learning website Duolingo.
Nonprofits Accion and Pro Mujer, along with the Tent Partnership for Refugees and Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health will also attend.
The 12 companies will announce measures to support such efforts, the official said. For example, Microsoft has agreed to expand internet access to as many as three million people in the region by July 2022 and Nespresso plans to begin buying some of its coffee from El Salvador and Honduras with a minimum regional investment of $150 million by 2025, the White House official said.
4. HYUNDAI MOTORS:-Hyundai Motor Group will slash the number of combustion engine models in its line-up to free up resources to invest in electric vehicles (EVs), two people close to the South Korean automaker told Reuters.
The move will result in a 50% reduction in models powered by fossil fuels, one of the people said, adding the strategy was approved by top management in March.
“It is an important business move, which first and foremost allows the release of R&D resources to focus on the rest: electric motors, batteries, fuel cells,” the person said, without giving a timeframe for the plan.
While Hyundai did not specifically address a Reuters query on its plans for combustion engine models, it said in an email on Thursday that it was accelerating adoption of eco-friendly vehicles such as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and battery EVs.
The automaker added that it aims to gradually expand battery EV offerings in key markets such as the United States, Europe and China with a goal for full electrification by 2040.
Hyundai Motor Group, which houses Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Corp and Genesis, aims to sell about one million EVs per year by 2025 to achieve a 10% share of the global EV market.
Facing tightening CO2 emission targets in Europe and China, all major automakers are accelerating their shift to EVs.
The huge cost of developing electric motors and increasing the driving range of car batteries has already led some to say their days of investing in conventional engines are over.
5.AIRBUS- The head of Europe’s Airbus urged suppliers to prepare industrially and financially for steep increases in jet output floated earlier on Thursday, and said the industry was returning towards pre-crisis trends for its most popular airplanes.
Airbus sees demand for single-aisle medium-haul jets like the A320neo as fundamentally strong, gradually resuming a trajectory seen before COVID-19 triggered production cuts.
“It is just there. The pent-up demand is very strong for those flights,” Chief Executive Guillaume Faury told Reuters in an interview
“That is why we are sharing (production scenarios) with them and we are asking them to be prepared, and they have the means to do that. There is a lot of liquidity in the market.”
Faury’s comments came as Airbus firmed up plans for increased output in 2021 and issued a mix of firm targets and provisional scenarios that could almost double single-aisle output by 2025, sending its shares sharply higher.
Investors hailed a bounce-back for an industry battered by the coronavirus crisis, but several suppliers have talked of a standoff with Airbus about who should pay for investments needed to get single-aisle output back to pre-crisis levels and beyond.
Faury said the unusually detailed output plan would reassure suppliers that everyone was sharing the same burden.
“The aim is to give the supply chain a clear understanding…and make sure that they have no doubt that what we are asking them to prepare is consistent with what we are asking other suppliers to prepare,” he said.
“I think we should not overestimate our level of confidence, but we should not also not underestimate the fact that after the crisis it is no longer a crisis,” he said.
Analysts say tough negotiations over the balance between upfront machinery investments and the promise of profits from future high volumes is common. But the discussion has intensified after the crisis hit the finances of many suppliers.