auto

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan celebrates the completion of "MCity" in a grand opening ceremony on Monday.

MCity is a 32-acre autonomous vehicle test track, designed to resemble a real city and suburb, with stoplights, artificial pedestrians that can be launched suddenly in front of a driverless car, and movable buildings.

Flickr user Argonne National Laboratory / Flickr

Lawmakers are still discussing how to manage the $9.4 billion in tax credits Michigan owes automakers.

The incentives started under Gov. John Engler and were mainly used during Gov. Jennifer Granholm's era. Their purpose was to keep automakers in Detroit, and Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says this plan was largely successful.

"The problem is the bills are becoming due and you've got folks in the Legislature who are arguing about what they're going to do about it," Howes says.

There's no way around paying them, and Howes says, "The debate now is what do they do going forward and what does that do to Michigan's competitiveness."

user danielctw / Flickr

Toyota is making changes to its top staff, with more North Americans rising in the ranks.

"For the first time they are elevating some Americans to some very key positions," says Daniel Howes, who recently wrote an article about the changes for the Detroit News.

Flickr user Maurizio Pesce / Flickr

As we talk about the auto industry, the "Detroit Three," it's all too easy to forget that these enormous companies began as scrappy little start-ups, birthed by innovators who were not afraid to set the status quo on its ear.

Quentin Kruger / Wikimedia Commons

It could have been a story of a company's ruin following a bankruptcy in 2005.

Instead, Delphi Automotive is "a Wall Street love story" -- but at what cost to its American workforce?

After U.S. bankruptcy, the automotive parts manufacturing company moved its headquarters from Troy to the U.K.

media.ford.com

When you hear the term "midlife crisis" most people imagine a fifty-something guy driving off in a new sports car, but it turns out women are casting their eyes on midlife crisis cars too.

A new survey from CarMax decided to determine just what a midlife crisis car actually is. Publisher of thedetroitbureau.com Paul Eisenstein says the survey found a little less than a third of people give into these urges and purchase the car of their dreams.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

It has become crystal clear: Michigan's budget will have some mighty big holes this year and into the future. That's because billions of dollars of state tax credits awarded largely to Detroit's three automakers are coming due. The credits were aimed at keeping plants and jobs in Michigan during the Great Recession.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes believes before we get caught up in finger-pointing, grandstanding and wailing, a history lesson is in order.

YouTube / YouTube

Many of the most memorable commercials during past Super Bowls have come from automakers, but fewer will be participating in the expensive marketing during the event this year.

The 2015 Ford Mustang.
Ford Motor Company

The Ford Mustang is on its way to China.

Ford says its first shipload of around 100 Mustangs has left Portland, Oregon, and is headed to China. Shipments to Europe will begin later this year.

Automotive Rhythms / Flickr

The North American International Auto Show is in full swing in Detroit.

Writer Paul Eisenstein, publisher of TheDetroitBureau.com, serves up an in-depth look at the state of alternative fuel vehicles for the January issue of Hour Detroit Magazine.

Eisenstein has covered all the news conferences and "big vehicle reveals" at the NAIAS. Amidst the luxury cars and the muscle cars like that new 650-horsepower Corvette automakers are still thinking "green" with alternative fuel options.

Alden Jewell / Flickr

Got milk? Well, back in the day, milk trucks drove door-to-door delivering the all important staple to your home.

Twin Pines, Sealtest, Borden’s, Washtenaw Dairy and Guernsey Farm are just a few of the companies that sent hardy little delivery trucks out every day, serving up home delivery of milk, cream, eggs and cheese.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Automakers are showing off everything from supercars to trucks to electrics at the North American International Auto Show this week. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton is covering the show in Detroit.

She says there are quite a few hybrids and electrics on display including the highly anticipated debut of a hybrid supercar — the Acura NSX - a "three motor sport hybrid."

Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.
Dwight Burdette / wikimedia commons

President Obama will visit Michigan this Wednesday to deliver remarks at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne. 

  Today on Stateside:

  • MLive Capitol reporter Jonathon Oosting talks about a request that has been submitted for a Christmas Nativity scene on government property.
     
  • Cadillac is moving its headquarters, along with its 140 employees, to New York City. Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes tells us what’s behind the move.
     
  • Ken Estelle, CEO of Feed American West Michigan, joins us to talk about the challenges of getting fresh food to food banks during the winter months and what you can do to help.
     
  • Finalist on the second season of NBC’s “The Voice” and former Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club, Tony Lucca discusses his experiences as a performer and how his Michigan identity has influenced his music.
     
  • Sheryl Gay Stone, author of a recent piece for the New York Times, talks to us about the challenges new Congressional members face in transitioning to D.C.
     
  • Jack Lessenberry and Todd Spangler examine what we can expect from Michigan’s five new members of Congress.
     
  • The Henry Ford Hospital recently designed a new hospital gown that preserves patient modesty, incorporates new fabric and uses color coding to help staff identify patient conditions. We talk to designer Michael Forbes about what inspired the changes.

*Listen to the full program above 

Colorful used cars
Zelda Richardson

Interest rates are low, gas prices are low, job growth is ticking upward and new cars are flying out of dealer showrooms.

Some experts look at the explosion of long-term auto loans being made to buyers who don't have sterling credit scores and they're uneasy about the future.

Michelle Krebs is a senior auto analyst with AutoTrader who says auto loans are not as troubling as subprime mortgages, but they should generate caution.  Listen to our interview with Michelle Krebs, senior auto analyst with AutoTrader below:

Today on Stateside: 

  • A new report from Public Sector Consultants projects Michigan will lose enough energy production for one million people in 2016. We look at what this means for Michigan residents. 

  • Chris Cook, chief restaurant and wine critic at Hour Detroit Magazine joins us to discuss how American eating and cooking went through a drastic change post-World War II. 

  • How much has the American family changed? Researchers at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research have been digging into this for a report called The New American Family: All Are Welcome and You Don't Even Have To Get Married. We talk with U of M professor of Sociology, Pamela Smock. 

  • Automakers are on track to sell 16.5 million cars and trucks for 2014. Michelle Krebs of AutoTrader.com joins us to talk about the future of long-term loans and leases that are being sold to buyers. 

  • More than half of all hospital deaths are caused by sepsis. Dr. Jack Iwashyna, research scientist at the Ann Arbor-VA Healthcare System, and Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, join us to explain what exactly sepsis is and the challenges it poses. 

auto.ferrari.com

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, FCA, will hold a public stock offering to sell off 10% of Ferrari and dole out the remaining 80% of the company to current shareholders.

Piero Ferrari will hold onto his 10%.

Michigan Radio's automotive reporter Tracy Samilton discussed this sale with us.

Samilton says that about 7,000 Ferraris are made a year, which along with their price, gives the vehicle an “unattainable mystique.”

The dispute over stretching that number to make more sales is a contributing factor to the split between FCA and Ferrari.

Wikimedia

General Motors made nearly $1.5 billion dollars in the third quarter. That was better than many analysts expected. 

General Motors already put most of the costs of its many recalls on the books in the first and second quarters.  So the third quarter looks much healthier by comparison. 

Strong profits in North America boosted the automaker's performance, driven by increases in truck and large SUV sales. 

User: Robert Heese / Flickr

Global automakers look to China to rev up their global sales, but growth in China's car sales slowed again in September. 

According to The Detroit Free Press, sales in passenger vehicles in China rose 6.4% in September from a year earlier, slowing from 8% in August and 13.9% in May. 

John McElroy is an auto analyst and host of the Autoline Daily webcast. He says the numbers are direct indicators of the economic health of the Chinese economy, which seems to be cooling down.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting tomorrow, the city of Flint will be welcoming more than a half million car enthusiasts to the city’s annual downtown showcase of classic cars.  But the city won’t be as welcoming to unaccompanied teenagers.

The city today announced a 6pm teen curfew downtown during “Back to the Bricks”.

Captain Collin Birnie is with the Flint Police Department.   He says the curfew is in response to problems with unruly teens from past years.

Wikimedia Commons

There are many different auto museums – some dedicated to displaying cars with unique engineering and designs, and others dedicated to displaying the automobile’s impact on society.

Michigan's auto museums have had little success. Flint’s "Autoworld" theme park closed two years after opening, and the Walter P. Chrysler Museum closed its doors recently.

Europe has had a different experience.

Autostadt, which means “auto city” in German, is in Wolfsburg, Germany. It averages about two million visitors per year. BMW and Porsche also have notable museums in Germany.

Why do auto museums in Europe succeed, while those in the auto capital of the world have not?

“Europeans seem to have such a deep bond with their vehicles,” says Paul Eisenstein, publisher of  The Detroit Bureau. “They are seemingly more interested in the mechanicals and what have you. They have a tendency to be drawn to automotive exhibits, museums, parks, and everything at a much greater rate than Americans are.”

*Listen to our interview with Eisenstein at 3 p.m. today. We'll post the audio for that interview here around 4:30 p.m. 

Wikimedia Commons

30 years ago, "Autoworld" opened its doors on July 4, 1984 in Flint, Michigan.

It was an indoor theme park and museum dedicated to preserving and spreading automotive achievements.  

Bill Shea, editor and reporter for Crain’s Detroit Business, said that the attraction wasn’t that popular and visitors were confused about what Autoworld was.

Was it supposed to be a museum or a theme park?

This led people to ask why a group of people invested $80 million into the endeavor.

Organizers hoped Autoworld would revitalize the inner city of Flint, develop Michigan’s tourism industry, and preserve the automotive history in the city.

But, in 1987, the attraction closed its doors permanently. Here's a video of them imploding the building from ABC News:

*You can hear our interview with Bill Shea today at 3 p.m. We'll add the interview to this post at 4:30 p.m.

OCC

The robotics students at Oakland Community College are getting a gift today. 

General Motors is donating robots that were once used to make cars on its assembly plant floors. They are going to the school's industrial robotics program at the Auburn Hills campus. 

The equipment is valued at $20,000  and will be used for hands-on training for students learning how to program and maintain robots.  

Dr. Timothy Meyer is chancellor at Oakland Community College. He says the donation will help prepare students for manufacturing jobs that can help boost the local economy. 

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin / Creative Commons

DETROIT – General Motors is adding 35 product safety investigators as part of a larger restructuring in response to a series of safety recalls.

GM says the new investigators will more than double the size of its current team, to 55.

The company is also dividing its global vehicle engineering organization into two sections. A product integrity section will oversee vehicle and engine engineering as well as safety, while a separate department will oversee parts engineering and advanced vehicle development.

GM's product development chief Mark Reuss says the changes were made to ensure that potential problems are spotted and handled more quickly.

The government is investigating why it took GM more than a decade to recall small cars with a defective ignition switch.

screen grab / U.S. House of Representatives

Two engineers have been put on paid leave at General Motors as the company has an outside attorney investigate why it took more than 10 years for GM to recall millions of cars with faulty ignition switches.

GM says the switches have been linked to at least 13 deaths.

More on the suspension of the engineers from the Associated Press:

The company says in a statement Thursday that the action was taken after a briefing from former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas. He's been hired to figure out why GM was so slow to recall the cars.

Ford Motor Company

It's a car-eat-car world out there, and Boston Consulting Group says the competition is only going to get more fierce.

BCG's new study finds that companies that are more innovative will have an important competitive advantage. 

Analyst Xavier Mosquet says a majority of people say they want to buy a car from a company they perceive as innovative.

But, it may not be easy to meet their expectations. 

user dgtmedia-simone / wikimedia commons

Remember "DaimlerChrysler"? Well, that didn't go so well.

Maybe "Fiat Chrysler Automobiles" will fare much better.

The company that owns Chrysler Group LLC, Fiat SpA, announced the name change today: 

Today, the Board of Directors of Fiat S.p.A. (“Fiat”) approved a corporate reorganization and the formation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (“FCA”) as a fully-integrated global automaker...

In order to establish a true peer to the major global automotive groups, in both scale and capital market appeal, the Board has decided to establish Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., organized in the Netherlands, as the parent company of the Group. FCA’s common shares will be listed in New York and Milan.

The newly formed company's stock will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Current Fiat shareholders will receive one share of FCA for each Fiat share they're holding.

The newly named company released its new logo as well today. A logo they say "lends itself to an extraordinary range of symbolic interpretations."

CEO of Fiat and Chrysler Sergio Marchionne called the corporate reorganization "one of the most important days in my career at Fiat and Chrysler."

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The 2014 North American International Auto Show is just around the corner.

Reporters from around the world will descend on Detroit's Cobo Center next week for the media preview days, the big black-tie Charity Preview is on Jan. 17, and the doors open to the public on Saturday, Jan. 18.

With that in mind, we wanted to see what the upcoming year might bring for the auto industry. For that we turn to Michelle Krebs from Edmunds.com, and Michigan Radio’s auto reporter, Tracy Samilton.

*Listen to the audio above.

Carlos Osorio / Associated Press

She began her career at General Motors as an engineering co-op student in 1980.

33 years later, Mary Barra has made history by being named the next CEO of GM — the first time a woman has been placed in the top spot of a major automaker.

GM made the groundbreaking announcement today that CEO Dan Akerson has moved up his retirement to January 15, after discovering his wife is battling advanced-stage cancer.

But who is Mary Barra, and what does this appointment mean to America's auto industry?

Listen to the full interview above. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Hydrogen fuel cells, compressed natural gas, all-electric… what kind of cars are we going to be driving in a few years?

The LA Auto Show wrapped up… and the next big show is the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Hall in Detroit in January.

There, of course, is a lot of well-orchestrated hype at these big auto shows. If you’re looking for a clear direction on what we’ll be driving in the future, it’s still a mixed bag. But, new advances are dominated by efficiency improvements in the internal combustion engine.

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