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Sam VarnHagen / Ford Motor Co.

DETROIT (AP) - Ford Motor Co. is investing $1.2 billion in three Michigan facilities, including an engine plant where it plans to add 130 jobs.

President Donald Trump applauded the move in an early morning tweet.

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

By now it should be obvious that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is for sale.

Not in a desperate do-a-deal-now kind of way. But in a persistent, strategically logical way.

Why? Because CEO Sergio Marchionne says as much, repeatedly. He understands better than most the capital demands of today’s global auto industry -- and FCA’s limited capacity to meet them.

Reporters getting a closer look at the Chevy Bolt concept.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Update, March 15, 2017:

Published reports indicate President Donald Trump will announce a re-opening of the mid-term review process for fuel economy regulations for 2022-2025, rather than an automatic relaxing of the fuel economy regulations that were established by the Obama administration during its completed mid-term review process.

Fiat Chrysler will bus some of its Michigan hourly workers to the Trump event in Willow Run today.  The workers will receive their regular pay. 

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President Donald Trump is scheduled to appear at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti on Wednesday.  The center is a federally-designed testing site for autonomous cars.

While there, Trump could announce a new policy to relax fuel economy regulations on the auto industry. 

Automakers have asked to be let off the hook for fuel economy regulations that take effect between 2022 and 2025, and it appears the President plans to do just that. 

user H.L.I.T. / Flickr

Michigan has a new law directing the Michigan Department of Transportation to increase speed limits to 75 miles an hour on up to 600 miles of rural highways in the state.

Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says there's decades of research proving that more people will die as a result.

For every five miles' increase in the speed limit on interstates and highways, says Rader, fatal crashes increase 8%.

Takata airbags.
NHTSA

DETROIT - Attorneys for people suing air bag maker Takata and five automakers say the car companies knew that the company's products were dangerous yet continued to use them for years because they were inexpensive.

The allegations against Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford and BMW were made in a document filed Monday with a federal court in Miami. The court is handling pretrial evidence-gathering in dozens of lawsuits against Takata and the automakers. The document says the allegations are partly based on auto company documents.

automotiveauto.info

Donald Trump's trade deal policies and his strong-arming of the U.S. auto industry could help to bring back auto factory jobs, says economist Sean McAlinden, formerly with the Center for Automotive Research and now an independent consultant.

Trump has threatened companies, in particular Ford and Toyota, with stiff tariffs for building cars in Mexico, although nearly all major car companies also build cars in Mexico. 

He has also withdrawn the U.S. from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and he plans to renegotiate NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

From top to bottom: Charlie Day, GmanViz, EvinDC / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The CEOs of the Detroit Three automakers had breakfast with President Trump this morning. On the agenda today: creating jobs and reducing regulations.

It’s a “golden opportunity” for the auto industry, said Daniel Howes, Detroit News business columnist.

That’s even though Detroit automakers took a lot of heat from Trump throughout his campaign.

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

Car companies are doing their public relations best to avert angry tweets by President-elect Donald Trump, who has been threatening steep tariffs on cars made in Mexico.

Today, General Motors announced it would invest $1 billion in U.S. plants and projects and create 7,000 U.S. jobs.  That appears to be a total of 1,500 "new and retained" jobs related to the billion-dollar investment: 450 jobs from in-sourcing truck axle work from Mexico, and 5,000 jobs primarily related to GM's decision in 2015 to in-source much of its IT operations to Warren, Michigan.

The GM Bolt EV, The Chrysler Pacifica, and the Honda Ridgeline won the awards.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

GM’s Chevy Bolt beat out the Genesis G90 and the Volvo S90 for the 2017 North American Car of the Year award. 

Sharon Carty of Automotive News was one of the jurors for the award.  She says it's no surprise the Bolt got the award.  It's the first long-range mass-market electric car to make it to the market.

"And it's great inside, it's super modern," says Carty.  "It's gonna definitely be a Tesla fighter." Tesla has announced plans for a mass market long-range electric car, but the vehicle hasn't yet been launched.   

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Google self-driving spin-off Waymo will show its fully automated Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans at the 2017 North American International Auto Show.

"With the integration of Waymo's hardware and software," says Waymo CEO John Krafcik, "these Pacificas have become the most advanced cars on the road."

Krafcik says the lidar (an environment sensing system that uses lasers), radar, and other self-driving technology, along with the artificial intelligence software, were all developed in-house by Waymo engineers.

Stateside 1.5.2017

Jan 5, 2017

In conversation with a sheriff and a researcher, we hear how immigration raids affect communities and law enforcement. And, we learn why most people are "either all in or all against" the proposed nuclear waste site near Lake Huron.

Dave Doe / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

The North American International Auto Show begins its media previews on Sunday in Detroit. The show opens to the public on Jan. 14.

Along with the gleaming displays of new vehicles, the show will be a gathering place for innovators from many backgrounds, focusing on the future of mobility.

Jeremy Korzeniewski / Autoblog.com

The Consumer Electronics Show, an annual display of the world's most fantastical gadgets, starts tomorrow in Las Vegas.

Traditionally, the show has been devoted to gizmos that belong in your house or your hand: video game systems, televisions, home appliances, cell phones, and so on. Michigan’s largest manufacturing and engineering firms – the auto-makers and their suppliers – haven’t had much to contribute.

But with the growing role of technology in the automotive industry, particularly as it relates to mobility, Michigan companies are taking a bigger role at the CES.

General Motors

In another tweet targeting a U.S. company, President-elect Donald Trump is threatening to slap a tax on General Motors for importing one model of a compact car to the U.S. from Mexico.

Steve Fecht / General Motors

January 15th will be Mary Barra's three-year anniversary as CEO of General Motors.  The world's first (and only) female top executive of a major automaker, her transition was a trial by fire.

Barra became CEO of one of the world's largest automakers the week GM revealed it had delayed -- for ten years -- a recall of millions of small cars with faulty ignition switches. 

The scandal cost GM dearly, and Barra took the brunt of the political repercussions, appearing in the hot seat before U.S. House and U.S. Senate committees in the summer of 2014.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The hottest topic in the auto industry in 2016?  It's no contest, says Michelle Krebs of Autotrader. 

Self-driving or autonomous cars captured most of the biggest headlines, from a deadly accident involving a semi-autonomous Tesla car, to General Motors' announcement last week that it would test self-driving Chevy Bolts on metro Detroit roads in 2017.

Krebs says some of the buzz is just that - buzz.  But she has been impressed by the pace of developments, with Google, Uber, GM, and others all in some stage of testing autonomous vehicles on public roadways.

flickr

U.S. car companies are unlikely to get much relief from strict fuel economy standards under the next administration.

That's according to Rebecca Lindland of Kelley Blue Book.

She says car companies already did most of the work required for the year 2022.  They're unlikely to throw it all away and start over if the standards change.

"You know, it's like training for a marathon," says Lindland, "and then saying, 'Oh, no, sorry, just kidding.  It's only a 10k.'"

wikimedia commons

The upcoming North American International Auto Show might be more notable for the topics of discussion than the vehicles.

That's according to analyst Michelle Krebs of AutoTrader.

She says there's a lot going on right now, like the need for car companies to transition to mobility companies, as self-driving cars come closer to being a reality.  Then there's the transition to a new president.

While still the best-selling sedan in U.S., Toyota Camry sales dropped 10% in 2016.
Toyota

In 2015, for the first time ever, compact SUVs outsold sedans in the U.S.

Consumers continued to ditch sedans for SUVs this year. For example, while still the best-selling sedan in the U.S., sales of the Toyota Camry dropped ten percent in 2016. 

Sales of other formerly popular sedans plummeted even further. 

Michelle Krebs of Autotrader says gas prices remain low, and SUVs are a lot more fuel efficient than they used to be.

car gear shift
Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Federal auto safety regulators have launched an investigation into the safety of some of Fiat Chrysler's newer model trucks and SUVs.

The investigation involves about a million 2013 to 2016 model year Ram pickups and 2014 to 2016 Dodge Durango SUVs. 

2013 North American International Auto Show
wikimedia user F. D. Richards / wikimedia user F. D. Richards

Michigan has historically had an uphill climb to attract investor dollars.

But that’s changing.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says the smart money is placing bets on Detroit and on Michigan, and that's changing the narrative of both.

flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a proposed rule that would require vehicle-to-vehicle technology, or V2V, to be standard on all cars.

There's a 90-day public comment on the proposal.

V2V technology allows cars to send wi-fi signals to each other, and another feature, automatic braking –which U.S. automakers have already voluntarily agreed to make standard – prevents crashes based on the signals. 

Ford autonomous test vehicle
Ford Motor Company

 

In the race to develop self-driving technology, Michigan and Silicon Valley are not the only games in town.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes is just back from Pittsburgh, where he got to take a look at what they’re working on down in Steel City.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A Kansas City-based developer is buying nearly 260 acres of former General Motors land in Lansing.

The vacant land is being sold by the Racer Trust, which is disposing of GM properties separated from the automaker during its 2009 bankruptcy. 

Chad Meyer is the CEO of NorthPoint Development. He says the company plans to redevelop the land for industrial use, but declined to give specifics or a timetable.

“It’s typically [the] more manufacturing investment intensive [the] project is, the longer it takes to get those details worked through,” says Meyer.

Computer rendering of overpasses at American Center for Mobility.
State of Michigan

Willow Run is more than 330 acres of crumbling concrete and weeds today. 

But the site of the B-24 bomber assembly plant during World War II will soon be transformed  into miles of roads, highways, overpasses, and nighttime lighting, where the self-driving and connected cars of the future will be developed and tested. 

At the groundbreaking Monday, Governor Rick Snyder said the project will keep Michigan in the driver's seat as the world changes.

Bill Ford at Web Summit 2015 in Dublin, Ireland
flickr user Web Summit / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

In a little over two months, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes is digging into what that could mean for our auto industry.

GM plans to layoff 2,000 employees

Nov 10, 2016
Courtesy C_osett / Creative Commons -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

General Motors says it will layoff more than 2,000 employees while making investments in current plants.

According to a statement released on Wednesday, the company said the layoffs stems from a customer shift from cars to crossover and truck vehicles.

As the customer shift from cars to crossovers and trucks is projected to continue, GM will suspend the third shift of production at both facilities in the first quarter of 2017.

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company made $1 billion during the third quarter, down $1.2 billion from its record third quarter earnings last year.

The automaker says the lower profit was driven primarily by three things:

General Motors' Chevy Bolt is expected to be in showrooms by the end of the year.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

With a new development in the march to lead the mobility movement, we check in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Howes joined Stateside to talk about his latest column "Tough auto game challenges Silicon Valley stars" where he says Silicon Valley has gotten a reality check in terms of what it takes to get a vehicle to market on schedule.

teenage driver
flickr.com

In the past decade, fatal car crashes for teen drivers ages 18 to 20 haven't declined as much as those for younger teens, ages 15 to 17.

That's according to a study commissioned by Ford Safe Driving for Life, a program to teach teens to be safer drivers.

Jim Graham is Manager of the program.  He says the problem appears to be that more teens are waiting until they are 18 or older to get their license.

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