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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."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Lithium-ion battery maker LG Chem is planning on doubling the size of its workforce in Holland this year. The plant makes batteries for the Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR.

LG Chem is expanding to make batteries for a new customer. But a company spokesman won't say who the new customer is.

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Vehicles don't last forever, and old vehicles need extra maintenance.

That's the take-home message from a four-year investigation into brake-line failures on very old GM trucks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation focused on complaints of brake failures in GM trucks built between 1999 and 2003.

GM had an event-filled year. The company announced more shifts at assembly plants, like at this one - the Wentzville Assembly plant in Missouri. It also dealt with the fallout from the ignition switch recall.
GM

UAW members gathered in Detroit this week to let local delegates air their views about what the union should demand in contract talks with U.S. automakers later this year.

The discussion has centered on the two-tier pay system that's been in place for the last eight years.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

No union member likes the fact that pay for entry-level workers at GM, Ford, and Chrysler is capped at about $19 an hour.

Not the workers themselves, known as "tier two."

Not the higher-paid workers, known as "tier one," like Jeep assembly line worker Samantha Price, who says the system creates inter-personal conflict at her Toledo plant "every day.  Every single day."

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The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association says it will lower the fee that gets tacked onto all drivers' insurance policies. 

Starting this July, the fee will drop from $186 to $150 per car annually. The announcement comes after some lawyers complained earlier this month that the fee was too high.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The United Auto Workers is taking a big step this week to prepare for upcoming contract talks with automakers. Hundreds of delegates from more than 800 locals are meeting with top union leaders at Cobo Center for the UAW Special Convention on Collective Bargaining.

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What if every new car came equipped with a device that would not let a drunk or impaired driver start it?

That's the question researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute asked in a new study. 

Dimland

Honda is expanding a recall of cars with Takata airbags that have the potential to explode.

Six people have been killed by shrapnel from airbags deploying with excessive force in Honda vehicles.

Other automakers are affected by the issue, but none as much as Honda.

FLICKR USER FOXXYZ / FLICKR

Now that spring is in the air, many people around the state may be planning a visit to Detroit – maybe to watch the Wings (hopefully) in the playoffs, to catch a Tigers' game, or maybe to tour the DIA. 

As Detroit has emerged from the largest municipal bankruptcy in United States’ history, there's been a strong narrative of a new Detroit, attracting energetic entrepreneurs and business owners.

This includes a growing bar and restaurant district along Michigan Ave. in Corktown, just west of Downtown.

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The average car loan was 44 months in 2006. 

Today, it's 66 months - and even longer car loan terms of 72, 84 or 96 months are no longer rare.

Analyst Ed Kim of AutoPacific says one reason is cars have become more expensive, due to "must-have" infotainment systems, and costly technology that improves safety and fuel efficiency.

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Thirty-eight percent of the main city and county streets and state highways are in poor condition, according to the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council - a significant jump  from last year's 33 percent.

The Council sends out 100 teams of drivers every year to assess the condition of Michigan roads. 

The Epoch Times

Honda Motor Company will run newspaper and radio ads as well as Facebook posts to get the word out about a potentially lethal defect in millions of its cars.

Since 2008, Honda has recalled 5 million vehicles with airbags manufactured by Japanese supplier Takata.  The airbags can rupture during deployment, sending shrapnel towards the driver and in some cases the front seat passenger.

FCA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is dealing with higher than expected demand for its Dodge Challenger Hellcat and Dodge Charger Hellcat.

The company complains that some of its dealers are setting customers up for disappointment, by taking too many orders.

Many dealers will get only one Hellcat delivered a month, which could leave customers waiting months for their Hellcat.

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GM will have less cash on its books, after making a deal with an activist investor unhappy with the company's stock performance. 

GM agreed to buy back $5 billion worth of its stock, to appease investors led by Harry Wilson. Wilson was a member of the Auto Task Force in 2009 which took GM through bankruptcy. 

He'd threatened to run for GM's board as a hostile candidate, to try to force GM to make an $8 billion stock buyback. 

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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.

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Freezing temperatures and drifts of snow likely took a small bite out of U.S. auto sales last month, but most automakers are still reporting gains thanks to the strong economy.

General Motors' sales rose 4.2% over last February, while Chrysler's sales were up 5.6%. Nissan's sales were up 2.7%. However, those gains were smaller than analysts had predicted.

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The number of pedestrians killed on U.S. highways last year is expected to remain largely unchanged from 2013, based on preliminary data.

But a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association says Michigan's pedestrian deaths rose significantly.

In the first six months of 2013, 47 pedestrians lost their lives on a Michigan road.  That number was 66 for the same time period in 2014.

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Recalls of automobiles for safety and other defects are up.

In 2014, automakers recalled a record 63.9 million vehicles in the U.S., more than any year in history. 

That means about 25% of the cars on the road were the subject of at least one recall in 2014.

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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.

meddygarnet/Flickr / wikipedia

The average length of a car loan was 48 months a few years ago, according to the auto industry consulting firm AutoPacific.

These days, it's 66 months.

"There are quite a few 96-month loans out there, which is kinda scary to think," says the group's Ed Kim.

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.

twincountytire.com

Many Michigan motorists will find themselves stuck with a dead battery Monday morning.

Frigid overnight temps are expected to leave many a battery ice cold, leaving motorists struggling in vain to get their engines to turn over.   

AAA is expecting a lot of calls from Michigan motorists who need to have their car batteries jumped. 

D.H. Parks/Flickr / wikipedia.org

Automakers and their suppliers are growing increasingly worried about a standoff between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The union represents longshoremen at West Coast ports, where tons of retail, agricultural, and auto sector materials are shipped in and out every week.

Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

A month after showing the Bolt as a concept at the North American International Auto Show, General Motors has announced it will produce the electric car at its Orion Township plant.

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.

Brandon C / Flickr

General Motors reports earning $2.8 billion last year, despite issuing a record number of recalls.

GM recalled more than 26 million vehicles in the U.S., and 30 million globally.

GM CEO Mary Barra says the recall crisis was "galvanizing."

"We have built what I believe is the best safety organization in the industry, and we are instilling a zero-defect mindset across the company," she told analysts and investors during a conference call on the fiscal year's financial results.

Ford Motor Company

The new F-150 appears to be a slam dunk for Ford Motor Company.

Ford officials say, based on the strong demand for the pickup in January, the company will hire 1,550 additional workers at its facilities that build the truck.

Ford Motor Company

Between 300 and 500 Ford Motor Company workers will soon be getting a raise - a big raise.

Ford is bumping the workers from the so-called Tier 2 starting wage, now about $19.50 an hour, to the Tier 1 wage of $28.50 an hour.

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