Ford Motor Company

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Let's skip the lawsuits and go straight to the top

That's the idea behind Gov. Snyder's call for the Michigan Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the state's new right-to-work law.Rick Pluta explains where the legal challenges could come from:

One is whether exemptions in the law for police and firefighter unions violate the equal protection clause of the U-S Constitution. Another is whether the state Civil Service Commission has the autonomy under the Michigan Constitution to ignore the right-to-work law.

Opponents of the right-to-work legislation called the governor's move cynical, saying the legislation by-passed the normal committee process when it was written and now the Gov. is asking for it to by-pass the court system. The Supreme Court has a Republican majority of 4-2. It will likely be a 5-2 majority after Snyder appoints another Justice to fill a vacancy.

Ford made $5.67 billion in net income for 2012

It was a good year for the automaker. From the Detroit News:

It was in North America where Ford posted a 10.4 percent profit margin in 2012, and because of that success, 45,800 United Auto Workers hourly members will receive profit-sharing checks worth approximately $8,300, which will be paid in March.

Snow yesterday, rain today

Good conditions for flooding. From the National Weather Service:

An area of rainfall will accompany a warm front through southeast Michigan today... with another round of heavier rainfall expected to arrive tonight. This in combination with the melting snow and rapid runoff on frozen ground will allow area rivers and streams to rise and bring the potential for localized flooding of some low lying and poor drainage areas.

Jeff Kowalsky


For the average person, there's a lot of "wow" at the North American International Auto Show.

But for reporters and auto company executives, that "wow" can sometimes be more like "ow."

Especially during the impromptu, free-for-all press conferences that are known as "scrums."

Problem is, nobody tells you what a scrum is before you attend your first Detroit auto show.

They all wait until it's too late to back out. It's almost a kind of hazing.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

When you walk onto the showroom floor at the North American International Auto Show, the bright lights and polished shine of the cars surround you.

You'd think a wash, wax, and polish for the cars would be good enough.

I mean, these things are indoors. What can muck them up?

Dust. That's what.

And not just dust... fingerprints too! (for heaven's sake)

So at the North American International Auto Show, you see a small army of people hovering over the cars with feather dusters, a little towel, and a spray bottle.

Carlos Bryant has been keeping the Bentleys looking sharp at the Detroit auto show for more than a decade.

Ford

Ford is known for putting on a glitzy press conference at the Detroit Auto Show.

The media and auto industry officials filed into Joe Louis Arena to see what the company would unveil.

Company officials spent a good portion of the 25 minute press conference showing off their new line of Transit vans.

But the sparks flew when they lowered their concept truck, the "Atlas," from the ceiling of the arena.

Take a look:

Why trucks? Well, a good portion of the company's profits come from their truck line, with the Ford F-150 leading the way.

Lincoln Motor Company

Lincoln is hip again!

Well... at least in the movie theaters. Ford executives are hoping enthusiasm for its re-tweaked Lincoln brand grows as well (the company is using the former president in advertising campaigns for the newly named "Lincoln Motor Company").

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., President and CEO Allan Mulally, and Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales and Service Lincoln James Farley were all up on stage to unveil the new concept car at the Detroit Auto Show this morning - the Lincoln MKC.

Take a look at the unveiling:

Bill Vlasic wrote about the challenges faced by the struggling Lincoln brand in the New York Times:

As recently as the 1990s, Lincoln was the top-selling luxury automotive brand in the United States. Its large Town Car sedan and hulking Navigator S.U.V. defined the brand, and sales topped more than 230,000 vehicles a year.

But since then, Lincoln has been left in the dust by the German category leaders BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota’s Lexus division. This year, Lincoln ranks eighth in the American luxury segment, with sales down 2 percent, to 69,000, vehicles in the first 10 months of the year.

Its crosstown rival G.M. has had much better success reviving its Cadillac brand.

Ford

Ford Motor Company says it will hire 2,200 salaried workers this year.

It's the company's largest single-year increase of salaried workers in more than a decade.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford's President of the Americas, says the company doesn't anticipate trouble finding the right kind of people.

That's in contrast to before the recession when car companies sometimes couldn't find enough people interested in a career in the auto industry.

"Look at the types of technology you get to work on now, the vehicle is becoming so advanced, with computers, with software, with voice recognition, with sensors, that we are attracting a level of interest in people because of what's happening with the product itself becoming far more advanced," said Hinrichs.

Ford has about 28,500 salaried workers in North America.

Ford Motor Company

I recently interviewed Sheryl Connelly, Ford Motor Company's manager of Global Trends and Future.  Call her "futurist" for short.   Sheryl spoke with me about how she goes about "predicting" the future, and how it helps Ford develop and market its vehicles, and about Ford's latest report, "Looking Further With Ford: 13 Trends For 2013."

Q:  I want to talk with you first about your job.  What has Ford tasked you with doing?

A:  What most people don't realize is that it takes three years to bring a vehicle to market, so even if we come up with some sort of breakthrough or innovation today, it may not resonate or be relevant by the time the rubber hits the road.  And since we can't predict the future, what we do is track trends, in social, technological, economic, environmental and political arenas, because we think this will give us some insight into the forces that will shape consumers attitudes and behaviors.  It's never looking at automotive; in fact we try to stay away from that for the work that I do, so we come up with the insights, and then I pass it off to the designers, engineers and the marketing teams, that take their subject matter expertise and turn it into something meaningful in terms of product offerings.

Q:  So how do you track trends?  Are you constantly on Twitter or how do you do it?

A: Well, I've been doing it for nine years, so it's gotten a little easier over time, but it's really about pattern recognition -- looking for recurring themes, and seeing things that re-emerge and starting to have an eye for something, what are the drivers behind this, why does this seem like it's going to be important, and will it have staying power?

Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

If you want to get fit but don’t have equipment, you get a gym membership.

But what if you want to create something but don’t have a workshop or the tools to make it happen?

Well, there’s a place in Detroit called TechShop, and it functions a lot like a gym for carpenters, welders, designers, engineers and the like.

TechShop is a new facility that recently opened up in Allen Park near Detroit.

Members pay about $100  a month to access hundreds of thousands of dollars in tools and equipment. They can also take any of the 100 or so classes offered every month to teach members how to use the tools.

Ford sees strong November sales

Dec 3, 2012
Credit User resedabear Wikimedia Commons

Ford Motor Company enjoyed brisk sales for November.

Leading the charge for Ford are small cars, which enjoyed a 76 percent gain in sales over last year. 

Hybrids and plug-ins accounted for almost half of Ford vehicles sold nationwide.  Ford officials say it’s the best year for small cars since 2000.

Ford

Ford's luxury brand is being renamed Lincoln Motor Company today. Ford execs introduced the new "The Lincoln Motor Company" during an event at New York City’s Lincoln Center Plaza this morning.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reported that's the name the company had when Ford acquired it in 1922:

Ford's Lincoln brand is troubled.  Sales are poor and the quality of the brand has eroded in recent years.  

Ford promises it will revitalize the Lincoln Motor Company brand, just as it revitalized the Ford brand, and Lincolns will become desirable cars once again, starting with the new 2013 MKZ.   

The hybrid version of the M-K-Z get 45 miles per gallon combined and Ford will sell it for the same price as the non-hybrid.  Other unusual features include a retractable glass roof and a push-button gear shifter.

Three other new Lincolns are in the works.

The company says as proof that it plans to invest in the brand, the company plans to air a spot during the next Super Bowl in February. The ad will be developed "in an unprecedented way," they say.

GMC SUVs in a car lot
user ep_jhu / Creative Commons

GM, Ford, and Chrysler all say November sales were the best they've seen in a long time.

More from the Detroit News:

General Motors Co. said Monday it had its best November sales month since 2007, as its 186,505 sales rose 3.4 percent over the same month in 2011...

Ford Motor Co. posted November sales of 177,673, an increase 6 percent, with retail sales jumping 12 percent...

Chrysler Group LLC earlier reported its best November sales since 2007, as it sold 122,565 vehicles in the month, up 14.4 percent from the same month in 2011.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton will have more for us on these numbers later today.

Andrew Duthie / Wikimedia

The Ford Fusion has won the Green Car of the Year award.

The award is given by the magazine Green Car Journal.

Ford also had another vehicle up for the award, the C-Max, a hybrid vehicle. 

From the press release:

The groundbreaking 2013 Ford Fusion not only significantly reduces petroleum use, CO2 emissions and overall environmental impact, but is priced to encourage the kind of sales volume that can truly influence environmental improvement

The 2013 Fusion offers five engine choices, including two with "Ecoboost" technology, a 47 mpg hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid that's expected to top 100 mpg equivalent.

Other finalists included the Dodge Dart Aero, Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV and the Toyota Prius c.

A jury comprised of the nation's top environmental leaders including Natural Resources Defense Council president Frances Beinecke, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, Ocean Futures Society president Jean-Michel Cousteau, and Global Green USA president Matt Petersen, plus Tonight Show host and auto enthusiast Jay Leno and Green Car Journal staff select the 2013 Green Car of the Year through a majority vote.

This summer, Automotive News got ahold of a document that Ford Motor Company sent to a number of outside agencies, in which the company outlined its plans for the Lincoln brand - including a name change to "Lincoln Motor Co."

That's the original name of the company which was acquired by Ford in 1922.

I called a Lincoln spokesman to try to confirm the name change, but was told firmly, "there is no name change right now."  I got the distinct impression he wasn't very happy about my question.

Ford Motor Company

At least for now, Ford Motor Company has put to rest months - no, make that years - of intense media speculation about when its CEO Alan Mulally will leave the company.

Ford says the 67-year old executive, widely credited with saving the company, will NOT be leaving his position until at least the end of 2014.

Mulally, a 37-year veteran of Boeing, took the helm of Ford in 2006, as the struggling Detroit automaker faced the prospect of bankruptcy, like its rivals Chrysler and General Motors.

Guessing when Ford CEO Alan Mulally will retire has become a favorite game for some auto beat reporters. But now Ford and Mulally have taken all the fun out of it.

Ford restructures in Europe, cuts 5,700 jobs

Oct 25, 2012
Ford

Ford is cutting 5,700 jobs in the U.K. and Belgium as it tries to return to profitability in Europe.

The company is expecting annual losses of over $1.5 billion in Europe.

Alisa Priddle of the Detroit Free Press has more:

The actions will cut capacity by 18% or 355,000 vehicles a year which should result in annual savings of $450 million to $500 million, the company said today.

Both Ford and General Motors announced steps this week to reduce their losses in Europe.

The region is experiencing a disabling recession that's expected to last at least through 2015.

Car sales are abysmal in Europe, down more than 30-percent from normal demand.

Ford says it may lose a total of one billion dollars in the region for the entire year.

General Motors' losses might be more than that.

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company won't confirm an Automotive News report that its Lincoln brand will be re-badged as "Lincoln Motor Company."

Auto News reported this summer that it had obtained a document sent by Ford to a number of marketing firms, in which Ford said it intended to rename the venerable brand -- with a venerable name.

Ford Motor Company acquired the Lincoln Motor Company in 1922.

media.ford.com

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 154,000 Fiesta subcompacts to fix a problem with the side air bags.
 
The company says that if the front passenger seat is empty, the side air bag won't inflate to protect rear-seat passengers in some crashes.
 
Ford says it doesn't know of any crashes or injuries linked to the problem.
 
The recall affects Fiestas from the 2011 through 2013 model years. They were built in Mexico from Nov. 3, 2009 to Sept. 21, 2012.

Dealers will reprogram the computer that controls the side air bag so it inflates even if no one is in the front passenger seat. The repair will be done for free

Ford Motor Company hopes to earn a place on the hybrid map in the U.S. with its new C-Max.

The company knows that won't be easy. 

No one comes even close to the dominant sales position of the Toyota Prius line of vehicles - the original Prius, the smaller Prius C, and the larger Prius V.

Ford's new C-Max has a major bragging point:  it beats the fuel economy of the Prius V by 7 miles per gallon on the highway.

The Prius is beloved by its owners; it has one of the highest loyalty ratings of any car. 

So Ford has chosen a gentle style of humor over an aggressive pitch to sell the C-Max.

Ford today launched a series of ads using a cartoon character, "La Linea," -- a revival of the classic 1970s character from a popular Italian animated children’s series.

The ads show the character overcoming the performance limitations of a Toyota Prius, by driving a Ford C-Max.  You can see one of the ads here:

“The ads are done with just the right tonality of competitiveness versus a strong competitor. It clearly positions our product in a fun way,” says Matt VanDyke, director, U.S. Marketing Communications, Ford Motor Company .

General Motors says its U.S. sales rose about one and a half percent last month, as a big jump in car sales was offset by falling truck sales.

Ford says its U.S. sales were flat in September, like GM, Ford was weighed down by lower truck sales even as sales of its cars rose.

But Chrysler had the best September of the Detroit Three, with a 12 percent increase in sales.

More from the Detroit News:

Henry Ford Community College

It's been a long time since the days you could succeed on the factory floor with "a weak mind and a strong back," as the adage goes.

Modern manufacturers need people who use their minds more than their bodies.  

Today, manufacturing workers need to be computer literate, solve problems when the robots on the line shut down, and work in teams.

The Obama administration says manufacturing companies added jobs for the first time since the 1990s - more than 500,000 jobs in the past 30 months.

Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers.
Canadian Auto Workers union

Yesterday, the Canadian Auto Workers union said that 90 percent of unionized Chrysler workers voted to approve a new deal with the company.

Ford and GM workers in Canada approved their deals last week.

So what did they get?

Here's a good write-up on the negotiations between the Canadian Auto Workers and Detroit's Big Three automakers from the Detroit Free Press' Brent Snavely.

A 2011 Chrysler Town & Country rolls off the final inspection line at Chrysler Group LLC’s Windsor Assembly Plant.
Chrysler

21,000 unionized auto workers in Canada are another step closer to job stability until at least 2016.

Last night, union workers at General Motors plants in Canada approved a collective bargaining agreement between the Canadian Auto Workers and the auto company.

Ford workers in Canada approved their deal earlier this week. And Chrysler workers will vote this weekend.

CBC News in Windsor reports on what these deals mean:

The CAW union and Chrysler have reached a tentative deal similar to the agreements reached with GM and Ford. Ford workers in Canada ratified their agreement earlier this week. GM workers are expected to do so sometime tomorrow. More from CBC Windsor.

Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers.
Canadian Auto Workers union

One more agreement, and the Canadian Auto Workers will be on the road to deals with all three U.S. automakers.

The CAW and Chrysler are working on finalizing a labor contract this week.

Ross Marowits of the Montreal Gazette reports the two sides are close to reaching an agreement.

The chairman of the CAW master bargaining committee for Chrysler said the two sides made significant progress over the last 24 hours.

“I think we’re closer and closer by every minute and every hour and again we’re just working at this closing up those loose ends,” Dino Chiodo said Wednesday in an interview from Toronto.

“Unless things completely fall off the rails, which I don’t see happening at this point, I think we’re moving along very well and I’m confident that sometime today or tomorrow we’ll be able to achieve the final task of wrapping this up.”

The bargaining teams are expected to meet tonight after 7 p.m. The CAW and General Motors have reached a tentative agreement. Unionized GM workers in Canada are expected to vote on the proposed agreement today and tomorrow. Ford workers in Canada approved their agreement this past Monday. Altogether, the CAW represents around 21,000 auto workers from the "Big Three."

Canadian Auto Workers union at a rally.
CAW / Facebook

Ford's union workers in Canada have approved a four-year contract with the company.

And the Canadian Auto Workers union have a tentative agreement with GM.

Now, talks with Chrysler continue this week.

CBC Windsor has the latest on the talks:

The CAW's president, Ken Lewenza, knows it's not going to be easy with Chrysler. Company executives have made it clear they want an agreement that lowers labour costs to match those in the United States.

Lewenza said it could be days before there is a tentative agreement between the two sides.

"We can get a deal. I've a great deal of respect for [Chrysler CEO Sergio] Marchionne and his management team," Lewenza said. "I don't hide that and I think he's got respect for our union. But at the end of the day, you can only respect each other when you dot the I's and cross the T's."

If talks stall, the CAW can strike.

But with a deal signed with Ford, and a final deal with GM expected to be approved by GM union workers in Canada  this week, a strike at Chrysler plants in Canada doesn't seem likely.

We’ve got a lot going on in Michigan, to put it mildly, and I would guess that you haven’t been paying much attention to the union negotiations that have been going on in Canada.

That’s understandable -- but they could have a significant impact on the economy in this part of the world. The Canadian Auto Workers union used to be part of the UAW, before breaking off and becoming independent in the 1980s.

Chrysler's Windsor Assembly Plant.
Chrysler

The head of the Canadian Auto Workers union says General Motors is waiting for a counter proposal from the union, and he says there has been significant progress toward a new labor deal.

CAW President Ken Lewenza says the union will make the offer today. He also says progress has been made with Chrysler.

The union reached a tentative deal with Ford earlier this week.

From CBC News Windsor:

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company launched the new Fusion today - in five different cities.

The big splash highlights the importance of the car to Ford.

More people buy midsize cars in the U.S. than any other size-- and midsize cars are becoming more popular in other regions of the world, too.

Ford wants to topple the dominant player, the Toyota Camry --and says the new Fusion will make even further inroads.

Pages