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Manufacturing Economy

From research labs to dealership lots, the auto sector supports nearly 8 million U.S. jobs.

Exports. The auto industry is America’s largest exporter. Over the past six years, automakers and suppliers have exported nearly $600 billion worth of vehicles and parts. They beat the next best performing sector (aerospace) by $74 billion. Last year alone, automakers and suppliers out-exported the aerospace industry by $20 billion.

Raw Materials and Parts. The U.S. auto industry is one of the largest consumers of domestic raw materials and parts. Last year, automakers sold nearly 13 million cars in the U.S., and each contained between 8,000 to 12,000 parts, using more than 3,000 pounds of iron, steel, rubber, glass and semiconductors. Approximately 686,000 Americans work at the plants, offices and research labs that produce those parts and materials.

American Research & Development. Designing those 8,000 to 12,000 auto parts and helping put them together makes autos among the most engineering-intensive industries in the world. In fact, eight out of the world’s top 25 corporate investors in research and development are automakers. GM and Ford each invest more each year on research and development than Boeing, Amgen and Google – and 80 cents of every dollar they invest in research and development is spent here in the U.S. Thanks largely to this investment, nearly one in 10 engineers and scientists in private sector R&D work for an automaker or supplier.

Jan 31 2014
Written by James R. Healey | Posted on USA Today

Ford Motor says it's investing $80 million and adding 350 jobs at its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, to boost production of F-series Super Duty models about 15%, or 55,000 trucks a year.

Super Duty is Ford's name for F-250 and F-350 truck models, sometimes known as three-quarter-ton and one-ton models, and the even heavier-duty F-450 and F-550. Super Duty trucks almost always are sold as work trucks, albeit often well-appointed -- thus high-profit -- models.

Ford says demand for Super Duties is rising as the economy recovers.

Jan 31 2014
Written by Associated Press, | Posted on Washington Post

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it plans to invest $80 million in its Kentucky truck plant to churn out more F-Series Super Duty trucks. The ramped-up production will add 350 jobs, the automaker said.

The investment will boost production capacity by 15 percent, or about 55,000 units, as the company retools and upgrades the plant, Ford said. Improvements are planned in the body and paint shops, it said.

“This is a sizable leap forward in capacity,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas.

Jan 30 2014
Written by BRYCE G. HOFFMAN | Posted on The Detroit News

Chrysler Group LLC made $1.8 billion in 2013, continuing to prop up its financially struggling parent company and demonstrating why the merger announced Wednesday is so important to Fiat SpA.

With Chrysler’s contribution, the Italian automaker made 1.95 billion euros ($2.67 billion) for the year. Without Chrysler’s contribution, Fiat would have posted a loss of 911 million euros ($1.25 billion).

But even with a common name — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — and a new logo, limits remain on how much of Chrysler’s cash Fiat will be able to tap.

Filed Under: Manufacturing Economy
Jan 29 2014
Written by James R. Healey | Posted on USA Today

Ford Motor made good money the fourth quarter, $1.3 billion in operating profit, capping what the automaker said was "one of the company's best years ever," with a full-year operating profit of $8.6 billion, up from $8 billion the year before.

Fourth-quarter net income was $3 billion, padded by a one-time special tax benefit of $2.1 billion, which outweighed a one-time charge of $311 million. Net income for the year was $7.2 billion.

The quarter's results came out to the same 31 cents per share as a year earlier, which was several cents higher than analysts had forecast.

Filed Under: Manufacturing Economy
Jan 29 2014
Written by Karl Henkel | Posted on The Detroit News

Dearborn — With a $7.2 billion profit for 2013, Ford Motor Co. has now earned more than $42 billion in global profits during the past five years, more than wiping out the $30.1 billion it lost during the height of the auto crisis and setting a solid foundation for growth in new markets around the world.

But Ford may have reached a financial apex in the current auto cycle.