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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Would-Be Automaker Drops Plans For LA Plant

November 28, 2011 6:45 am

MONROE, La. (AP) — Start-up auto maker Next Autoworks Co. withdrew its application Wednesday for more than $320 million in federal loans to fund a plant in Ouachita Parish, ending a project more than two years in development. A company statement said the U.S. Department of Energy notified Next Autoworks on Tuesday that its loan application with the agency's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program would not be approved.

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GM To Offer Free Loaner Cars To Volt Owners

November 28, 2011 6:42 am | by Tom Krisher, AP Autos Writer

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors says it will offer free loaner cars to Chevrolet Volt owners if they're concerned about the cars catching fire. The move comes after last week's announcement that the government is investigating fires involving the Volt's lithium-ion batteries. The company says it will contact the owners to reassure them that the cars are safe.

Toyota Unveils High-Tech Concept Car

November 28, 2011 4:47 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota's president unveiled a futuristic concept car resembling a giant smartphone to demonstrate how Japan's top automaker is trying to take the lead in technology at the upcoming Tokyo auto show. Toyota Motor Corp. will also be showing an electric vehicle, set for launch next year, and a tiny version of the hit Prius gas-electric hybrid at the Tokyo Motor Show, which opens to the public this weekend.

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Deere 4Q Profit Up 46 Percent

November 28, 2011 4:45 am | by Josh Funk, AP Business Writer

Deere & Co. says strong sales of its farm equipment helped boost its fourth-quarter profit by 46 percent and says it expects robust demand will lead to further growth next year. The quarterly results beat Wall Street expectations, and Deere shares rose more than 3 percent in afternoon trading.

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For Returing Vets, Green Energy Jobs Await

November 28, 2011 4:42 am | by Andy Brownfield, Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ben Noland served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years, then spent 18 months looking for a job. "I've probably put my resume in to 300 places in the past year," the 33-year-old Kenton resident said. "The farthest I've ever got was a phone interview." Noland finally landed a job installing solar panels at Tipping Point Renewable Energy, a Columbus-based solar power company that is hiring only military veterans for its installation crews at a time when unemployment among former service members is outpacing that of civilians.

WSU Expert: Boeing Uncertainty Slows Economy

November 28, 2011 4:39 am | by Heather Hollingsworth, Associated Press

The uncertainty surrounding the Boeing Co.'s plans for its Wichita defense facility will reverse two or three months of economic progress and recovery, according to an expert at Wichita State University. Jeremy Hill, the director of the university's Center for Economic Development and Business Research, said Boeing's announcement that options being reviewed as part of a study include "the potential closure of the Wichita site" will spook consumers and businesses.

AT&T, Telekom Press Ahead With T-Mobile Deal

November 28, 2011 4:35 am | by The Associated Press

Deutsche Telekom and AT&T vowed Thursday to press ahead with the planned sale of the German company's T-Mobile USA unit to the U.S. cell phone operator despite concerns raised by American authorities. Nevertheless, AT&T said it plans to take a pretax accounting charge of $4 billion in the current quarter to reflect the break-up fees that would be due to Deutsche Telekom if regulators block the deal.

Feds Probe New Battery Fires In Chevrolet Volt

November 28, 2011 4:34 am | by Joan Lowy, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is investigating new fires involving the lithium-ion batteries in General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt to assess the fire risk in the electric car after a serious crash. One Volt battery pack that was being closely monitored following a government crash test caught fire Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement Friday.

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CLC Plans $16.5M VA Expansion

November 23, 2011 7:38 am

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Commonwealth Laminating & Coating Inc. is planning a $16.5 million expansion of its manufacturing operation in Henry County. Gov. Bob McDonnell says in a news release that the expansion will create 40 jobs. The company manufactures solar-control window films and precision high-performance coatings.

Toyota N. American Production Normal For 2 Weeks

November 23, 2011 7:36 am

DETROIT (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. will continue to run a normal production schedule at its North American factories for at least the next two weeks, including overtime, the automaker said Wednesday. Toyota said it will make decisions on future production based on parts supplies. Toyota had begun cutting overtime in North American plants in October due to parts shortages from catastrophic flooding in Thailand, but the company's factories continued to run Monday through Friday on two shifts.

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City Drops Immigration Case Against Mercedes Exec

November 23, 2011 7:33 am

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Authorities said Wednesday they dropped a charge against a German Mercedes-Benz executive who was arrested under Alabama's new crackdown on illegal immigration after a police officer caught him driving without identification required by the law. While Tuscaloosa police arrested the man last week for not having proper citizenship documents while driving a rental car in the city, city attorney Tim Nunnally said in an email the charge was dismissed after the man later provided the documents in municipal court.

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Chinese Electric Bus Maker Plans ID Factory

November 23, 2011 7:30 am

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A Chinese maker of electric buses said it hopes to move its U.S. office to Boise this year and could eventually manufacture some of its vehicles in southwestern Idaho. Zonda USA, the small liaison of Zhongda Industrial Group in the United States, isn't saying just where or when a manufacturing plant would be built or how many jobs such a move would create.

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APS Planning New Solar Plant In AZ

November 23, 2011 7:26 am

YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona Public Service has unveiled plans to develop a new solar plant in Yuma that will provide 17 megawatts of power, or enough for 4,250 homes. The Yuma Sun (http://bit.ly/s9EYCH ) reports the plant site is in east Yuma on property provided by the utility company.

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Midsize Car Sales Shrink As Buyers Go Small

November 23, 2011 7:24 am | by Dee-Ann Durbin, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) — You can't drive far without seeing a Toyota Camry, Honda Accord or Ford Fusion. Midsize sedans have been America's favorite cars for decades. That's changing. More people are choosing small cars like the Chevrolet Cruze and even smaller ones like the Honda Fit because they're worried about gas prices and car payments.

Nokia Siemens To Lay Off 17,000 Worldwide

November 23, 2011 4:25 am | by Matti Huuhtanen, Associated Press

HELSINKI (AP) — Nokia Siemens Networks is slashing 17,000 jobs worldwide by 2013 — nearly 23 percent of its work force — as it strives to cut costs by euro1 billion ($1.35 billion). The mobile infrastructure company said Wednesday the measures are part of "an extensive global restructuring program," which includes streamlining the organization to improve long-term competitiveness and profitability.

Gates Back On Stand In $1B Microsoft Antitrust Trial

November 23, 2011 4:22 am | by Paul Foy, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Microsoft's Bill Gates insisted that changes to Windows 95 that undermined a rival word processor were meant to protect the Windows operating system from crashing and not to hurt a competitor. Gates completed a second day of testimony Tuesday defending his company against a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit filed by Novell Inc.

More People Seeking Unemployment

November 23, 2011 4:19 am | by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking unemployment benefits ticked up slightly last week after two months of steady declines. But the increase isn't enough to reverse the downward trend. The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell to its lowest level since April.

October Durable Goods Orders Fell 0.7 Percent

November 23, 2011 4:15 am | by Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Business orders for long-lasting manufactured goods fell for a second straight month in October. While much of the weakness came from a big drop in demand for commercial aircraft, a key category that tracks business investment spending fell by the largest amount since January.

Brownback To Fight For Boeing Jobs

November 23, 2011 4:14 am

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he and the state's congressional delegation want to meet with Boeing Defense officials to understand why the company would consider leaving Wichita. Boeing has said it's studying the future of the plant, including a possible closing.

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FCC Chair Opposes AT&T Takeover Of T-Mobile

November 23, 2011 4:11 am | by Ryan Nakashima, AP Business Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has come out against the merger of cellphone giant AT&T and T-Mobile USA. Julius Genachowski made his position known in a document he circulated to fellow commissioners Tuesday. Genachowski recommended sending AT&T Inc.

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