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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Electric Car Maker Aptera Closes Its Doors

December 5, 2011 4:24 am | by Dee-Ann Durbin, AP Auto Writer

Electric car maker Aptera Motors is closing after failing to woo enough investors to bring a new sedan to market. Aptera CEO Paul Wilbur said the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company closed its doors Friday and laid off all 30 of its employees. The company was hoping to get a $150 million loan from the Department of Energy but needed to raise matching funds, Wilbur said.

Saab In Talks With Youngman, Chinese Bank

December 5, 2011 4:21 am | by Malin Rising, Associated Press

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Swedish Automobile, the owner of Saab, said Monday it is in talks with an unnamed Chinese bank and an auto company about getting them to buy stakes to help the troubled car brand. Swedish Automobile, or Swan, said the negotiations with the bank and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co.

China Manufacturing Contracts In November

December 2, 2011 6:25 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer

SHANGHAI (AP) — China's manufacturing contracted in November for the first time since early 2009, as weak export orders and a slowing economy at home sapped demand for most products, a government survey shows. The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said Thursday that its monthly purchasing managers index fell an greater-than-expected 1.

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Chattanooga VW Plant Gets LEED-Certified

December 2, 2011 6:24 am

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Volkswagen's manufacturing plant in Chattanooga has been named a LEED-certified factory, making it the only auto making plant in the world to receive the platinum designation, the German automaker announced Thursday. LEED promotes sustainable building and development practices through rating systems.

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Biomass Manufacturing Plant Planned For VA

December 2, 2011 6:22 am

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A manufacturer of processed biomass fuel in the U.S. and Europe is planning to establish a wood pellet manufacturing operation in Southampton County. Gov. Bob McDonnell said Wednesday that Enviva plans to invest $75 million for the project, creating 64 jobs. The project is contingent upon the property where the plant will be located being rezoned by Southampton County.

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RIM Writes Off Value Of Tablet Inventory

December 2, 2011 6:20 am | by Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Research In Motion Ltd., the struggling maker of the BlackBerry phones, is writing off much of its inventory of PlayBook tablets, since it has to sell them at a deep discount. The Canadian company on Friday said it's taking a pre-tax charge of $485 million in the just-ended quarter to account for the declining value of the tablets.

U.S. Trade Panel Considers Solar Dispute With China

December 2, 2011 6:16 am | by Matthew Daly, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal trade panel is considering a complaint by U.S. solar manufacturers who accuse Chinese companies of "dumping" solar products on global markets to depress prices. Seven U.S. solar companies filed a case with the Commerce Department and International Trade Commission in October.

CAT: IL Has 'Rudderless' Business Climate

December 2, 2011 6:11 am | by David Mercer, Deanna Bellandi, Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — One of the largest companies in Illinois is calling the state's business climate "rudderless" and "dysfunctional" after lawmakers failed to approve a package of tax perks to help several businesses threatening to leave the financially strapped state. Caterpillar Inc.

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Australian Court Bans Galaxy Tab Sales

December 2, 2011 4:14 am | by Kristen Gelineau, Associated Press

SYDNEY (AP) — Apple Inc. won a small victory on Friday in its global patent battle with rival Samsung, after Australia's highest court temporarily extended a ban on sales of Samsung's Galaxy tablet computers in the country. Samsung Electronics Co. is desperate to begin selling the Galaxy in Australia in time for Christmas sales, but the High Court's decision means the device can't go on the market until at least Dec.

Union Says CEO Compared Workers To Tumor

December 2, 2011 4:12 am

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Union representatives of locked-out employees at American Crystal Sugar Co. are criticizing the company president and CEO for what they call anti-worker sentiments. The union released audio recordings Wednesday of CEO David Berg telling shareholders a story about a friend with cancer and saying, "We can't let a labor contract make us sick forever and ever.

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GM To Buy Back Volts

December 2, 2011 4:10 am | by Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — General Motors will buy Chevrolet Volts back from any owner who is afraid the electric cars will catch fire, the company's CEO said Thursday. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, CEO Dan Akerson insisted that the cars are safe, but said the company will purchase the Volts because it wants to keep customers happy.

EU Claims Compliance With WTO's Airbus Ruling

December 2, 2011 4:08 am

GENEVA (AP) — The European Union said Thursday it has complied with a World Trade Organization ruling that called for an end to unfair government aid to aircraft maker Airbus. U.S. trade officials and rival Boeing Inc. responded that they would study closely the EU's submission to ensure all illegal subsidies had been removed.

Unemployment Falls To Lowest Rate Since March 2009

December 2, 2011 4:07 am | by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest level in more than 2½ years. More people out of work either found jobs or gave up looking and were no longer counted as unemployed. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate dropped sharply to 8.

Honda Announces Global Recall For Air-Bag Problems

December 2, 2011 4:04 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Honda Motor Co. is recalling 304,000 vehicles globally for air-bags that may inflate with too much pressure in a crash, send metal and plastic pieces flying and cause injuries or deaths. Honda said there have been 20 accidents so far related to this problem, including two deaths in the U.

MO Jobs Chief Defends Review Of Sweetener Maker

December 1, 2011 8:58 am | by David A. Lieb, Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's economic development chief defended the state's review of a Chinese firm that failed to follow through on a pledge to open an artificial sweetener factory in rural Missouri but insisted Wednesday that it would have been a waste of taxpayer money to more thoroughly screen the company.

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Economy Improving Despite Weak Job Growth

December 1, 2011 8:54 am | by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is picking up. If only job growth would follow. A spate of data Thursday showed U.S. factories grew last month at the fastest pace since June, construction spending increased for a third straight month, and both retail sales and auto sales rose in November.

Machinists Reach Tentative Deal With Boeing

December 1, 2011 8:51 am | by Gene Johnson, Sam Hananel, Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — As Boeing executive Jim Albaugh spoke to an aerospace conference in New York, recent strikes by the company's workers in Washington state weren't far from his mind. "We've had strikes three out of the last four times that we've gone to the table with the union," he noted Wednesday morning.

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U.S. Auto Sales Look Strong In November

December 1, 2011 8:47 am | by Dee-Ann Durbin, Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writers

DETROIT (AP) — People are finally replacing the cars and trucks they held on to during the economic slump, giving a boost to U.S. auto sales in November. Chrysler, Ford and Nissan were among the companies reporting double-digit gains from last November, which is normally a lackluster month because of colder weather and holiday distractions.

Toyota, BMW To Work On Greener Car Battery

December 1, 2011 8:44 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Auto giants Toyota and BMW said Thursday they have agreed to collaborate on research for cleaner, next-generation car batteries, underlining the growing push in the industry for green technology. The agreement brings together Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's No. 1 carmaker and a leader in gas-electric hybrids, and BMW AG of Germany, a European maker that has a strong luxury brand image in both Japan and Europe.

Union Says Crystal Sugar Profits Mean Better Contract

December 1, 2011 8:40 am

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A banner year has produced big profits for American Crystal Sugar Co. and big paydays for its executives. Locked-out union workers at Crystal plants in three states say that's evidence the cooperative can afford to make a better contract offer. The company's net revenue for fiscal 2011 was $1.

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