Tracy Samilton

Auto Reporter/Producer

Tracy Samilton covers the auto industry, business, and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio.   She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly "bitten by the radio bug," and never recovered.  She took over the auto beat in January, 2009, just a few months before Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy.  Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio.   Her coverage of Michigan's Detroit Three automakers has taken her as far as Germany, and China. 

Tracy graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature. 

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.

BNU Free Documentation License
Rsheram / Wikipedia

The Michigan Supreme Court says ignition interlocks are helping to keep convicted drunk drivers from repeating the offense of driving while intoxicated.

Michigan has 41 specialized DWI/sobriety courts, which aim to help drunk drivers stay sober, stay out of jail, and stay in their jobs, because they can still drive to work.

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.

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.

General Motors

Last year, GM's Warren Technical Center was designated a National Historic Landmark.

That was the good thing that happened.

But a bad thing happened that same year. Many buildings and infrastructure on the sprawling campus were damaged by severe flooding.

Pixabay

A fair housing group is suing the owner of several apartment complexes for refusing to rent one-bedroom apartments to testers who said they had a child. 

Pam Kisch is head of the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan.

She says this particular kind of discrimination is pretty common, even though it's been illegal since 1988.

KitAy/Flickr / Wikipedia Creative Commons license

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 31.5% of people with student loan debt in the U.S. are at least a month behind in their payments.

And according to another Federal Reserve Bank (New York), 17% of those people are in default.

It's also not a problem just for young people.  Two-thirds of student loan debt is now owed by people over the age of 30.

Tesla

Tesla will acquire Riviera Tool in Cascade Township, renaming the company "Tesla Tool and Die Factory."

The Silicon Valley-based auto and battery manufacturing company has used Riviera as a supplier before, but the acquisition means Tesla will become the factory's only customer.

Michigan Radio

There's a big, untapped market in emerging countries for services and products made by Michigan companies.

That's the message of OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.  OPIC steps in where private banks are loathe to tread, offering market-rate loans to small and medium-sized businesses that want to expand into emerging markets overseas.

farming equiptment
Helen Hanley / creative commons

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is teaming up with three states –  Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana –  and 40 groups to jointly tackle cyanobacteria, that scourge of Lake Erie that briefly shut down Toledo's water supply last summer.

Cyanobacteria thrives on phosphorus and other nutrients in runoff from farms. The hope is to deprive cyanobacteria of some of the food it needs to reproduce in massive quantities.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Large animal farms will no longer be allowed to give or sell excess manure to smaller farms between the months of January and March.

Brad Wurfel is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  He says the larger farms know not to do this, but sometimes the smaller farms will spread the manure on frozen, snow-covered fields. 

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Researchers say there would be beneficial side effects from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Power Plan. 

The plan is intended to lower carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30% by the year 2030.  CO2 is a large factor in climate change.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

General Motors is planning to invest more than $5 billion in its U.S. facilities over the next three years. 

The money won't mean a huge number of new jobs.  A total of about 650 new positions will be added.

But GM's head of North American Manufacturing Cathy Clegg says it does mean a long-term commitment to jobs already at the facilities.

Consumers Energy / Flickr/user

The fight is on over how to make sure Michigan's electric grid remains reliable.

The state's two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, will close nine coal-burning electric power plants by next April to comply with regulations on mercury emissions.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Michigan is saying goodbye to nine of its smaller and older coal-burning power plants.

DTE Energy is closing two facilities. Consumers Energy will shutter seven more, which are nicknamed the "Classic Seven." I recently toured one of these aging workhorses of electricity, B.C. Cobb in Muskegon.

JBleeker / Creative Commons

The hybrid honeymoon may be over, at least while gas prices remain low.

Fewer than half of hybrid and electric car owners who traded the vehicles in during the first quarter of 2015 bought another hybrid or electric, according to Jessica Caldwell with Edmunds.com. 

Car accident.
Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr

Car insurance rates in Michigan are 136% higher than the national average, according to an analysis by Insurance Quotes, a subsidiary of Bankrate.com.

Probably the biggest reason, says Insurance Quote's Laura Adams, is that Michigan is a no-fault state

That means insurance companies have to pay the cost of any car accident a customer is involved in, regardless of which driver is at fault. 

Harvey Henkelmann / wikimedia commons

Updated:  9:45 a.m. April 20, 2015

Crude oil production has skyrocketed in the U.S. in recent years, primarily from the Bakken oil fields, where new technologies have made it possible to access reserves that were previously out of reach.

There aren't enough pipelines to carry all that oil, so trains are doing a lot more of the transporting.

dickelsberg/police patches / wikimedia commons

The Michigan State Police will hold a recruitment day in Troy on Saturday, April 25 to try to boost the number of female applicants for trooper positions.

Only about 10% of Michigan State Police troopers are women.  

Sgt. Michele Sosinski is with the recruiting division at the agency. She says there are many benefits internally to having women serve alongside men.

"And of course, we want to reflect the communities that we're serving, and with half of Michigan being female, we're nowhere near that number."

Jessica Mullen / Flickr.com

Most industries like to reward their most loyal customers.

But a consumer watchdog says more and more auto insurance companies are punishing loyalty, by charging a higher premium for it. 

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Michigan's experiment with partially deregulating its electricity market could be over.

Bills to rescind the law which allows 10% of DTE Energy and Consumers Energy customers to leave for an alternate (i.e., cheaper) supplier are moving through the State House.

They're sponsored by the Chairman of the Energy Policy Committee, Republican Aric Nesbitt of the 66th District.

John Lloyd/Flickr

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.

Auburn Elementary

In many undergraduate education programs, students spend a lot of time in the university classroom to prepare them for their student teaching in the final year. 

Until that placement, theory sometimes has little chance to meet up with practice.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The Ohio state Legislature has passed bills to try to cut down on the nutrients flowing into Lake Erie that feed cyanobacteria. 

Cyanobacteria looks like algae, and some forms are toxic. 

A cyanobacteria bloom shut down Toledo's water supply briefly last summer. 

Manure, untreated sewage, sediment, and phosphorus all encourage the growth of cyanobacteria.

The legislation establishes fines against farmers caught applying manure on a frozen field or right before a heavy rain.

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."

pixabay

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. 

Elderly woman
Borya / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A University of Michigan and VA Ann Arbor hospital study suggests simple measures could reduce multi-drug-resistant infections in nursing homes.

Dr. Lona Mody says there's much at stake for nursing home residents, as well as others.

"Nursing home patients may be transferred back to the hospital for a problem or for an acute illness,  and bring that organism with them to the hospital," says Mody.

Tamar Charney / Michigan Radio

Twelve people died in collisions between cars and trains in Michigan last year. 

That's a big increase from last year, when three people were killed in such collisions.

Sam Crowl is with Michigan Operation Lifesaver, a railroad safety group.

He says one issue may be that some trains now travel as fast as 110 miles per hour.

"It's hard to tell how fast that train's traveling when it's coming right at you," says Crowl. "It will clear the crossing in less than a minute. So there's no reason to try to take a chance to beat the train and get killed."

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan State Police is issuing 58 speeding tickets to people involved in a series of massive pileups on I-94 near Battle Creek in January.

The 193-car pileup happened on both sides of I-94 near Battle Creek during a snowstorm on January 9.  

Lt. Dale Hinz says many people were driving too fast for the conditions.

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.

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