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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Analysts Weigh In On Cost Of Toyota's Recall Fiasco

March 16, 2010 9:33 am | by Tomoko A. Hosaka, Associated Press Writer

TOKYO (AP) — A massive global recall, mounting legal bills and a battered reputation add up to a very expensive problem for Toyota. How expensive? Depends who you ask. With new developments emerging almost daily, predicting a final pricetag for the Japanese automaker is a daunting calculation that only some analysts have attempted.

Unions Bash Kraft CEO On Cadbury Takeover

March 16, 2010 9:32 am | by Jane Wardell, AP Business Writer

LONDON (AP) — British union leaders and lawmakers lashed out at Kraft Inc. Chief Executive Irene Rosenfeld for failing to appear before an inquiry on the U.S. company's takeover of British confectioner Cadbury on Tuesday. The Unite union also criticized Rosenfeld for failing to meet directly with workers at Cadbury sites across the country to reassure them about the company's plans after it backtracked on a promise to keep open a local factory.

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US Steel CEO Takes 83 Percent Salary Cut

March 16, 2010 9:31 am | by Sandy Shore, AP Business Writer

DENVER (AP) — United States Steel Corp. CEO John Surma's compensation package plummeted more than 83 percent last year as he took a salary cut and refused stock awards. The reduction came in a year the company struggled with withering demand for steel. Surma, who also is board chairman, received total compensation of $1.

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AK Steel Sues Ex-Workers For Stealing Trade Secrets

March 16, 2010 9:30 am

WEST CHESTER, Ohio (AP) — AK Steel Holding Corp. has filed a lawsuit alleging three ex-employees of its Rockport, Ind., plant stole company trade secrets. The lawsuit filed March 11 says Donald Earley resigned as a senior process engineer last year and accepted a job with ThyssenKrupp Steel USA.

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We Applies For $255 Million Wis. Biomass Plant

March 16, 2010 9:30 am

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) — We Energies has filed for regulatory permission to build a $255 million biomass power plant near Wausau. In its application to the state Public Service Commission, the utility says the plant would supply steam to Domtar's paper mill in Rothschild and create up to 150 jobs.

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Judge Overturns Suit Against Ford For Sudden Acceleration

March 16, 2010 9:29 am | by Meg Kinnard, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's highest court on Monday overturned an $18 million verdict againstFord Motor Co. in a fatal crash, ruling that one expert shouldn't have been allowed to testify about cruise control problems. Sonya Watson, 17, was paralyzed after losing control of her Ford Explorer in December 1999.

Toyota, UAW Reach Tentative NUMMI Closure Agreement

March 15, 2010 11:25 am

FREMONT, Calif. (AP) — The United Auto Workers union has reached a tentative agreement to shut down California's sole remaining auto plant which employs 4,600 people. The terms weren't disclosed Monday but will include payouts for workers at the Fremont-based Nummi plantwhich is slated to close on April 1.

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Industrial Prodcution Edges Up, Manufacturing Slips

March 15, 2010 5:02 am | by Daniel Wagner, AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Industrial production edged up 0.1 percent in February, beating expectations and marking the eighth straight monthly increase. But the key manufacturing sector produced less —for months a rare bright spot — produced less, muting hopes for a speedy recovery.

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Lawmakers Bash China Ahead Of Election Day

March 15, 2010 4:58 am | by Foster Klug, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — China is once again the country Congress loves to hate. After a lull last year, U.S. politicians jockeying ahead of crucial November elections have stepped up attacks on China as a way to win support from voters worried that the Asian power is taking American jobs. China-bashing eased during President Barack Obama's first year in office, partly as a nod to the administration's attempts to get Chinese help settling nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran, and on important environmental and economic initiatives.

Foreign Investment In China Slows In February

March 15, 2010 4:45 am

BEIJING (AP) — Foreign direct investment in China rose at its slowest rate in seven months in February, the Commerce Ministry reported Monday. Investment for February was $6 billion, up 1.1 percent from a year earlier, a period in the depths of the global crisis. Many companies closed in February for the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, which distorts economic data.

Toyota, Nissan Create Electric Car Association

March 15, 2010 4:40 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota and three other Japanese automakers together with a power company have set up a group to promote electric vehicles by standardizing recharging machines and marketing the technology abroad. Representatives of Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

Feds: Runaway Prius Story Not 'Feasibly Possible'

March 15, 2010 4:27 am | by Elliot Spagat and Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government said Monday it cannot explain a reported incident of sudden, high-speed acceleration in a Toyota Prius on a San Diego, Calif., freeway last week. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement that it continues to investigate but "we may never know exactly what happened with this car.

Conn. Considers Waiving Student Loans For 'Green' Jobs

March 15, 2010 4:23 am | by Stephen Singer, AP Business Writer

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Paul Goulet hopes Connecticut will help him get from under nearly $8,000 he's borrowed for college after losing his job in a paper manufacturing plant. Goulet, 55, is a student in environmental studies at Goodwin College in East Hartford, aiming to find work in wastewater treatment.

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Chinese Lead Factory Posions 88 Children

March 15, 2010 4:22 am

BEIJING (AP) — At least 94 people living near a lead factory, most of them children, have tested positive for lead poisoning, state media said Monday, prompting authorities to order the closure of the plant. Hundreds more people are still waiting for test results. Reports of lead poisoning have emerged around the country since last year, highlighting the heavy environmental cost of China's rapid economic development.

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Sole N.D. Refinery Plans Monthlong Maintenance Shutdown

March 12, 2010 10:09 am

James MacPherson, Associated Press Writer BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's only oil refinery is planning a monthlong shutdown for maintenance and upgrades beginning next month though officials say customers should not see any fuel shortages or price increases. The planned $125 million project at Tesoro Petroleum Corp.

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Britain Disappointed With Shady Tanker Contract

March 12, 2010 4:08 am | by Jennifer Quinn, Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) — The French and British leaders accused the United States of protectionism on Friday over a contract to build a new Air Force refueling tanker. A European-led consortium pulled out of bidding this week for the $35 billion contract, saying the Pentagon was favoring rival American bidder Boeing.

LG Chem To Build Chevy Volt Batteries In Michigan

March 12, 2010 3:54 am

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — Korean battery-maker LG Chem Ltd. and its U.S. subsidiary Troy-based Compact Inc. will make battery cells for electric vehicles at a plant in western Michigan. The companies announced in a statement Friday that at its peak the $303 million factory in Holland will produce enough battery cells for 50,000 to 200,000 vehicle battery packs, including the Chevrolet Volt.

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CPSC Recalls Coil Nailer For Eye Injuries

March 12, 2010 3:46 am

WASHINGTON, March 12 (Kyodo) — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Friday Hitachi Koki Co. of Japan is voluntarily recalling its coil nailers for free repairs due to the risk of serious injury. The CPSC, a governmental body, said about 50,000 coil nailers imported from Japan by Hitachi Koki U.

NHTSA Seeks Heavier Hand In Car Investigations

March 12, 2010 3:40 am | by Ken Thomas and Stephen Manning, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Government vehicle safety regulators may seek greater authority to investigate defects in cars and trucks and are weighing a range of new safety requirements in response to Toyota's recall of more than 8 million vehicles over brake and acceleration problems. David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said Thursday his agency will take a "hard look" at the power it has to set safety standards for automakers.

GM's Lutz: Hybrid SUVs, Electrics Are Automotive's Future

March 12, 2010 3:38 am | by Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writers

WARREN, Mich. — General Motors Co. will keep making big trucks and SUVs because U.S. buyers demand them, but a major portion of them will be gas-electric hybrids in the near future, retiring Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said Friday. Lutz didn't give details, but said GM must apply hybrid technology to more vehicles in order to meet fuel-economy standards that will rise 40 percent to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

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