Ford

Purple car at the Dream Cruise.
Kelly Kline / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Could the Woodward Dream Cruise become more than a week-long gaze into the rearview mirror? Let’s hope so.

There was an era — say, pre-2008 — when the cruise’s glorification of Detroit’s muscle cars represented the best and worst of this town’s defining industry. A decade ago, I wrote that it projected a “chronic inability to relegate the past to the past and to move on.”

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Ford announced this week it's joining forces with four tech companies and doubling its staff in Silicon Valley. 

Their goal is to put a fully self-driving - that means no steering wheel and no gas or brake pedals - on the road by 2021.

In his Detroit News column todayDaniel Howes  wrote that Ford's move is a sign that, "your father's auto industry is gone and it's not coming back."

A visit to the Automobile Laundry in 1913 would have run you $1.50, Stone told us. That's equivalent to $36.46 today.
Public Domain

So here you are, the first on your block to buy Henry Ford's Model T. 

But roads are often dirt-covered, getting your newfangled automobile all grubby. And maybe you don't feel like hauling out buckets of water to wash it. 

If you lived in Detroit in 1914, you had a solution: take your care to the Automobile Laundry, the very first automated car wash in the country. 

Ford Autonomous Test Vehicle
flickr user Steve Jurvetson / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A century ago, Henry Ford changed the auto industry with the moving assembly line. 

Now Ford Motor Company has set an ambitious goal of developing a fully autonomous vehicle for mass production by 2021.

That's autonomous as in self-driving, with no steering wheel and no gas or brake pedals. 

To make that happen, Ford has announced it's joining forces with four tech companies and plans to double its staff in Silicon Valley. 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Judging by this year’s wild campaign, accountability is a foreign concept in presidential politics. But not in, say, the auto industry.

Ask Volkswagen AG. The $14 billion price tag for its diesel deception is creeping closer to $20 billion. And new lawsuits from three states say knowledge of the long-running global fraud runs all the way to the office of the new CEO. What a surprise.

Ford Motor Company

Using plants to make plastics is an idea that’s been around for a while. Henry Ford produced an experimental car with a soybean plastic exterior in 1941.

Now, 75 years later, Ford is looking to make car parts out of another plant, a plant that’s best known for being an ingredient in Tequila.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

It’s all about the money for some Ford and General Motors shareholders. 

Their money, to be exact.

Doesn’t matter that the Blue Oval booked all-time high North American profits last year, and probably will again this year. Or that GM is making roughly a billion dollars a month selling cars and trucks. Or that both are betting shareholder cash on an emerging mobility space said to be worth more than $5 trillion.

Chevrolet Corvette
Anthony Brown / Michigan Radio

During the press days of the North American International Auto Show, Detroit's Big Three unveiled their latest 2016 models and made announcements about what's to come. Here are the highlights of what GM, Ford, and Chrysler brought up on stage and displayed on their stands.

ford, dash board, car
antefixus21/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The march of technology continues, bringing us closer to the day when owning your own car may be less important than on-demand transportation services.  And closer to the day when we expect our cars to be super-connected to just about everything.

Automakers are laying the groundwork for this new era, as seen in some  announcements this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

UAW President Dennis Williams chats with GM CEO Mary Barra at the kickoff of the 2015 contract negotiations
Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors

Just a week and a half from now, the United Automobile Workers contracts with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will expire.

In a recent column for The Detroit News, Daniel Howes points out some some things that set these talks apart from years past.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

August auto sales may be down slightly.

Automakers will release their August sales numbers Tuesday.

Charles Chesbrough is an auto industry analyst with IHS Global Insight.     He says unlike most years, this year’s August sales numbers will not include Labor Day weekend sales.

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." 

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.

Ford Motor Company's headquarters in Dearborn.
Ford Motor Company

It's never too late for fence-mending.

That's certainly the case with the Ford family and the foundation that bears its name.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes has been speaking with Ford Foundation CEO Darren Walker.

Auto sales grew in 2014
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

UNDATED (AP) - Demand for small and midsize SUVs is driving up auto sales.

  General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and Nissan all reported U.S. sales gains in April as buyers flocked to crossover SUVS that handle like cars and sit up higher. But the gains came at the expense of small and midsize cars.

DETROIT (AP) - Under pressure from U.S. safety regulators, Ford is expanding a recall of small and midsize cars to fix door latches that may not stay closed.

  The recall now covers almost 546,000 Ford Fusions and Lincoln MKZs from the 2013 and 2014 model years, and Ford Fiestas from 2011 to 2014.

Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

Click on the image above to see some of the concept cars on display at this year's auto show.

- Paige Pfleger, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Tracy Samilton/Michigan Radio

Ford Motor Company's Dearborn truck plant is back online.

The automaker stripped the plant to its bare bones to remake it for building an aluminum F-150.

The lighter truck will get significantly better fuel economy, as well as better hauling and towing capacity.

During a media tour of the new body shop, Chief Engineer Ron Ketelhut pointed out that some things are missing –sparks, for example, and a deafening wall of noise.

Instead of welding the body together, (noisy, dirty, and hot work), the robots use rivets.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A veritable "who's who" of the global automotive industry has signed on to support the University of Michigan’s new automated vehicle initiative.

The “Mobility Transformation Center” is a public-private center that will look at how to make automated vehicles commercially viable.  

Ford Motor Company

Alan Mulally will hand over his Ford CEO job to Mark Fields next Tuesday. 

Fields has been with Ford since 1989 and the chief operating officer since 2012.

Mulally came to Ford as an auto outsider and many questioned his ability to turn the struggling company around.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes was one of the doubters. Howes is now happy to say he was wrong. And Mulally has created big shoes for Fields to fill

Ford Motor Company

All signs point to a big change at Ford Motor Company.

Although the automaker has not made an official announcement, there is much speculation today that CEO Alan Mulally is reportedly ready to retire before the year is out and COO Mark Fields will ascend to the top spot.

Michigan Radio's auto reporter Tracy Samilton joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Peter Martorano / Flickr

There is no small touch of irony in the fact that as Detroit filed for bankruptcy, the U.S. car makers are enjoying boom times. Sales for the Big Three in July were the highest in seven years. GM, Ford and Chrysler are adding shifts and hiring workers. Good times.

But not for the city that gave birth to what we know as the U.S. auto industry.

Tom Walsh, business columnist for the Detroit Free Press, and Sonari Glinton, National Desk Reporter from NPR who has covered transportation and the auto industry, joined us today.

Wikimedia Commons

A new campaign is underway to try and save the original Model T plant in Highland Park. The Woodward Avenue Action Association launched an online fundraising drive asking supporters to pledge five dollars to turn the old assembly line into a museum and visitor's center.

Five dollars was the daily wage Henry Ford paid his workers so they could afford to buy the car they made.

Deborah Schutt with the Woodward Avenue Action Association says the Model T factory is an important piece of Michigan history. Schutt wants to use National Archives footage of the plant in action to remind visitors of the state's automotive heritage.

"This is where Henry Ford instituted the five dollars a day wage," she said. "What that allowed them to do is actually purchase what it is that they produced, which had a profound effect and really launched the middle class in America."

Ford Media

DETROIT (AP) - Ford says it has paid the government $17.35 million to settle a dispute over allegations that Ford delayed a safety recall.

The company says it paid the fine to avoid a lengthy dispute with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The agency alleged that in May of 2011, Ford knew about a safety defect in Escape SUVs from the 2001 to 2004 model years. Yet the company didn't recall the vehicles until July of 2012.

Ford recalled nearly 485,000 Escapes with V-6 engines to fix sticking gas pedals that could cause crashes.

Wikipedia

While Detroit embarks on the beginning days of its bankruptcy, the city’s Big Three automakers are reemerging from their own financial crises. It was four years ago that GM and Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

And as this month marks the 150th year after Henry Ford’s birth, we take a look at what it takes to run a big auto company, and the future of Michigan’s automakers.

Bob Lutz has held top positions at GM, Ford, Chrysler, and BMW. His most recent position was that of Vice Chairman of GM from 2001 to 2010.

His newest book gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the bosses Bob Lutz has worked for, some of the most legendary names in auto history. It's called Icons and Idiots, out from Portfolio/Penguin.

Bob Lutz joined us today to talk about his book.  

Listen to the full interview above.

thecarconnection.com

Analysts are expecting a robust month for auto sales.

Jesse Toprak is an analyst with TrueCar.com.  He says July sales were good across all categories.

“But two extreme segments stand out, we see very high demand for small cars and small SUVS, and a very healthy demand for large pickup trucks,” says Toprak.

Toprak says the increase in pickup sales is being driven by small business owners, and an uptick in home renovations.

Henry Ford at 150

Jul 29, 2013
Image from the Collections of The Henry Ford

Ford Motor Company celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henry Ford this week.

Bill Ford, Jr. is Henry Ford's great-grandson, and Executive Chairman of the company

Ford says the founder would have been pleased that his company is still a family business, 150 years later.

“I know Henry Ford would have been incredibly proud of the way his grandchildren led the company through the most difficult times,” says Ford

Ford Motor Company took out a $24 billion loan in 2006, using its trademark blue oval as part of the collateral.

Ford

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Ford and Toyota are ending joint research into hybrid systems for trucks and SUVs. The companies said Tuesday that they will each develop the systems independently.

Ford and Toyota agreed to the partnership two years ago after the CEOs of both companies met by chance in an airport. Engineers talked frequently and paid visits to each other's labs.

But Ford product development chief Raj Nair said both companies need to focus on finishing development and putting the systems into vehicles. Ford wants to offer hybrid trucks and SUVs by the end of the decade.

There is currently no full gas-electric hybrid system on the market for rear-wheel-drive vehicles like trucks. The hybrid systems in Ford and Toyota cars are made for front-wheel-drive vehicles and don't have enough power for trucks. 

denton-texas.olx.com

DETROIT (AP) - The federal government is investigating Ford F-150 pickups with EcoBoost engines after drivers reported that the engines lost power during acceleration.

The government estimates around 400,000 F-150 pickups from the 2011 through 2013 model years are involved.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received 95 reports of engines losing power during hard acceleration, such as when passing. The incidents often occurred in rainy or humid weather. NHTSA has no reports of crashes or injuries.

Toyota

U.S. automakers have finally agreed on a uniform standard to determine the towing capacity of a pickup truck, veteran auto journalist Bill Visnic tells us in his article in Edmunds.com.

Except, now that they've created it, automakers are backing away from actually using it.

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