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Fiat Chrysler will pay a record $105 million fine for multiple recall violations. That's bad enough.

"Fiat Chrysler does not have the deep pockets General Motors has, or Toyota," says Michelle Krebs of Autotrader, referring to two other car companies slapped with large civil penalties for recall violations.  "It certainly will pinch."

NHTSA

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has slapped Fiat Chrysler with a $105 million civil penalty for multiple violations of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

The penalty surpasses the previous record, a $70 million civil fine against Honda last year, over recall violations related to vehicles with defective airbags.

Courtesy photo / Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 1.4 million vehicles to prevent hackers from being able to remotely control the cars and trucks.

A couple of professional hackers worked with a reporter for Wired magazine to remotely access the computer system in a Jeep Cherokee. The magazine has posted a video showing what hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek could do.

They kill the engine, disable the brakes, mess with the A/C and the radio.

Harsha KR / Flickr/creative commons

It can certainly be risky to keep an older loved one behind the wheel if he or she is no longer driving safely.

It can also be risky to take away the keys. Social isolation and the many ills associated with social isolation can be the result.

Ford Motor Company

The United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Company are officially in talks for their next four-year contract.

This time, the kickoff ceremony was held off Ford and UAW premises, at Cass Tech High School. The site was chosen to highlight Ford and the UAW's team effort to help the Detroit community.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/raidokaldma/12617680335
Raido / Flickr.com

Fiat Chrysler says it has a software remedy available to customers, after two hacking experts took remote control of a Jeep Cherokee using the Internet.

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek used the Jeep's UConnect system to gain access to the moving vehicle, which was being operated by WIRED's Andy Greenberg.

Clement Bucco-Lechat / Wikimedia/creative commons

It's getting harder and harder to find a car that's worth hating.

For 20 years, the J.D. Power APEAL study has scored brands and vehicles on a scale of 1,000 to determine how gratifying they are to own and drive.

Renee Stephens, V.P. of U.S. automotive quality, says two decades ago, it wasn't unusual for some brands and cars to score in the mid 500's.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan held an opening ceremony for Mcity, a realistic test environment that will be used to develop autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles can navigate without human input. 

Mcity is a 32-acre controlled environment that includes intersections, traffic signs, a highway entrance and exit, and construction obstacles.

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.

Atlanta Jeep Ram Dodge

Earlier this year, Fiat and Chrysler cars ranked at the very bottom of  the 2015 Initial Quality Survey by J.D. Power.

That survey rates brands based on how many problems new car owners experienced in the first 90 days of ownership.

Now, turn that survey on its head, and you'll basically have the results of the 2015 Total Quality Index by Strategic Vision.

Fiat Chrysler was the number-one automaker in the survey, with six vehicles that were rated best for total quality:  The Fiat 500, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Durango, and Ram truck.

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company will build the new Lincoln Continental at its Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant, which currently builds the Mustang and Fusion.

Ford did not provide details, including whether there would be additional hires. Flat Rock has about 3,100 employees now.

Lincoln is bringing back the Continental name for its new flagship sedan, expected in 2016. 

Fiat Chrysler

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is still wrangling over what to do with the new Wrangler.

The current Wrangler is made in Toledo. 

It could be a victim of its own success.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Why is it that the poorest people in Michigan, the ones who face the biggest struggle to find jobs and get to those jobs, are paying the highest auto insurance rates in the country?

Fiat Chrysler

Is there trouble in store for Fiat Chrysler come September?

Some analysts believe so, saying the automaker faces the greatest risk of a strike by fed up Tier 2 workers at Chrysler.

Tier 2 workers make roughly half the pay of the higher-seniority Tier 1 workers – while doing the same job.

Tier 2 workers also get a lower level of benefits, and they do not get health insurance upon retirement.

Both union leaders and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne agree that it's unfair.

Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors


The United Automobile Workers and Fiat-Chrysler open contract talks today. General Motors talks started Monday, and Ford begins late next week.

According to Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes, these talks are new territory for the Detroit Three and the UAW.

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

Ford is moving production of the Focus and C-Max out of the Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne by 2018. 

The automaker isn't saying where the Focus and C-Max will go, but it's likely to be Mexico. 

The industry trend is to build less profitable small cars there because of Mexico's lower labor costs. 

In a statement, Ford says "We actively are pursuing future vehicle alternatives to produce at Michigan Assembly and will discuss this issue with UAW leadership as part of the upcoming negotiations." 

UAW

Bargainers for the UAW and the Detroit automakers will get down to brass tacks the week of July 13.

The tug of war will be between workers who expect to get back some of what they gave up during the downturn of 2008-09, and auto executives who can't fall back into the practices that got them in such trouble. 

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes believes it's all going to come down to who's looking ahead through the windshield or at the past in the rear-view mirror.

"As you go into negotiations, you can't help but think that the UAW and their membership are looking at the fact that over the past four years of the current contract, GM, Ford, and what is now FCA or Chrysler, have made $67.7 billion of profits in North America." 

When Kia first began selling its cars in the U.S. in 1995, they sold mainly because they were cheap. Quality and reliability? Not exactly a Kia car's forte'.

That has changed, if this year's J.D. Power Initial Quality Study is any indication. Kia owners reported fewer problems in the first 90 days of ownership than any other brand, save No. 1 Porsche.

In another flip-flop, many Japanese brands fell below the industry average for the first time since J.D. Power began tracking initial quality 29 years ago.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Updated:  10:23 am 6-17-15

Tesla's foray into advanced battery manufacturing in the U.S. is apparently no threat to advanced battery manufacturer LG Chem of Korea.

Tesla, with the help of partner Panasonic, is building a massive lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Nevada.

wikipedia / public domain

Ford Motor Company will return to Le Mans racing after a hiatus of 46 years.

The Dearborn automaker will enter a racing version of its new GT Supercar in the grueling endurance race.

"This vehicle, really from the very beginning, was born to race," said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford at a press conference held on the grounds of the famous circuit in France. 

Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford, said watching the 1966 Le Mans - when Ford cars placed first, second and third - was one of the most exciting memories he has from childhood.

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

Auto sales are humming along. In fact, May brought the best light-vehicle sales ever recorded for that month: over 1.6 million units.

So, what's with the "immediate retirements" of top bargainers for General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles?

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes worries that "the wheels are starting to wobble" for Detroit's auto industry.

Amit Evron / Wikipedia.org

It’s a little-known chapter in the history of the Ford Motor Company.

And all that’s left today are ruins and a ghost town deep in the Amazon rainforest.

Matt Anderson tells us the story of Henry Ford’s great “social and business experiment” nearly a century ago, in Brazil. He’s the curator of transportation for The Henry Ford Research Center.

A hundred years ago, the British and Dutch controlled the world’s rubber production. The rubber tree was native to the Amazon, and the English took seedlings from Brazil to Southeast Asia for mass production.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra.
Dave Pinter / flickr

General Motors CEO Mary Barra confirmed she received an email from Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne suggesting that the two companies merge.

She says the email was vetted by her executive team and GM's Board of Directors.

And the answer to the suggestion was "no."

Marchionne says the global auto industry needs to consolidate to realize better economies of scale, but Barra says GM is doing just fine on its own in that regard.

Federal regulators will require trucks and buses to have electronic stability control.
user Nic Redhead / Flickr/creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

If you have a relatively new car, you have an important safety feature called electronic stability control in it.  But that big bus or heavy truck next to you on the road?  It probably doesn't. 

This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalized a rule that will change that.

Amanda Mills, USCDCP / Public domain

More than 10,000 people died in alcohol-related traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2013.

And a large number of those accidents involve  drivers who had never been stopped for driving under the influence before.

New technologies are being developed that have the potential to eliminate many of those accidents, if widely adopted. One version uses touch sensors on the wheel. Another analyzes the air in the cabin.

media.ford.com

The economy in China may be slowing, but Ford says its plans for future sales increases are still on track.

Ford of China head Dave Schock says the days of "frantic" double-digit GDP growth are likely over. But he says the government plans to transition the economy to a 7% rate of growth, which means plenty of opportunities to increase car sales. 

Ford is pinning its hopes on so-called Tier 3 through Tier 6 cities in China. Those are small to mid-sized cities (a small city in China can still have several million residents.) 

GM hopes the Chevy Bolt will make long range electric cars affordable.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Electric cars can't compete on price or range with gas-burning cars, yet. But they're getting closer, according to a new study from Lux Research, because of the work being done by advanced battery manufacturers.

Analyst Cosmin Laslau says advanced lithium ion batteries could hit a price target of $172 per kilowatt hour by the year 2025. That's a 35% reduction from the current price.

CDC

It doesn't matter where you live in the United States; the leading cause of death is heart disease, followed closely by cancer.

But there are more than 113 causes of death listed in the The International Classification of Diseases, and any one of those can end up on someone's death certificate. 

That means there are a lot of state-by-state distinctions hidden in the bigger numbers.

Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
flickr user fiatontheweb / creative commons

DETROIT - The U.S. government's highway safety agency says it will hold a public hearing in July to determine if Fiat Chrysler has met its legal obligations in 20 safety recalls.

Witnesses and the automaker will be able to present evidence at the July 2 hearing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

www.flazingo.com / www.flazingo.com/creative commons

An annual study says suppliers have a poor relationship with General Motors, Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Nissan, mainly because those automakers were adversarial in their dealings with them.

John Henke of Planning Perspectives says the results of his annual OEM-Supplier Relations Study was disappointing and surprising, because in recent years, GM and Chrysler had been making improvements with supplier relations.

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