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Stateside
6:25 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

How did Michigan's auto dealership franchise system start?

Credit GM

 

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law that mandates all sales of Michigan vehicles to go through franchised dealers. It's seen as a direct shot at Tesla Motors, which wants to sell its electric cars directly to consumers. 

The governor's move is welcomed by mainline automakers and dealerships. Snyder says Michigan law already prohibited automakers from selling directly to consumers.

Michigan Radio's auto reporter, Tracy Samilton, explains that dealerships could argue that the current franchising system benefits the consumers because it creates tougher competition.

 

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3:04 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Gov. Snyder signs bill clarifying only franchised dealers can sell cars

You can buy this car online.....but not at a Tesla-owned store in Michigan
Credit Tesla Motors

Tesla lost a battle today in its bid to sell its vehicles directly to consumers.

Governor Rick Snyder signed HB 5606 today, after fierce lobbying for and against the bill, which clarifies the language in the state's law requiring auto manufacturers to sell their cars through franchised dealerships, and not through direct sales.

Electric car company Tesla wants to use a direct-sales model for its vehicles.

The Governor said it was already illegal for a manufacturer to sell its cars directly to customers in the state of Michigan.

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4:48 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Tesla's Elon Musk urges 1.1 million Twitter followers to call Rick Snyder

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a lot of Twitter followers.  1, 128,869 to be exact.

On Thursday, Musk sent a link on Twitter to a Tesla blog entry that urges people to ask Michigan Governor Rick Snyder not to sign a bill that requires cars to be sold through franchised dealerships.

Tesla wants to sell its cars directly, in company-owned stores.

So, has the Governor's office gotten many calls?  "Only about 900,000," quipped a spokesman.

The spokesman also says the Governor has "a bunch" of questions about the bill and is doing due diligence.

Auto
11:45 am
Wed October 15, 2014

In the auto sales "horse race," VW edges ahead of General Motors

VW edging closer to its desired no. 1 spot.
user PMillera4 Flickr

They're rounding the 7.5 furlong mark and the standings are:

  1. Toyota
  2. Volkswagen
  3. General Motors

The Associated Press breaks it down for us:

Volkswagen edged out General Motors for second place in the global auto sales race during the first three quarters of the year, but Toyota was expected to keep its lead to stay in first place.

GM said Wednesday that is sold 7.37 million cars and trucks worldwide from January through September. But VW said it sold 7.4 million to nudge GM out of second place.

Toyota won't release its numbers for the first three quarters until late October. But it was in first place in the first half with sales of almost 5.1 million, and it expects the full-year figure to be 10.1 million.

Toyota finished first last year with a record 9.98 million sales. General Motors Co. finished second and VW third.

Stateside
7:21 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Can Detroit automakers win in the cooling Chinese market?

Credit User: Robert Heese / Flickr

Global automakers look to China to rev up their global sales, but growth in China's car sales slowed again in September. 

According to The Detroit Free Press, sales in passenger vehicles in China rose 6.4% in September from a year earlier, slowing from 8% in August and 13.9% in May. 

John McElroy is an auto analyst and host of the Autoline Daily webcast. He says the numbers are direct indicators of the economic health of the Chinese economy, which seems to be cooling down.

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Auto
6:01 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Don't worry about what happens to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2018

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has run Fiat since 2004, Fiat and Chrysler since 2009, and the combined companies since 2014.
Credit FCA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made its New York stock exchange debut on Monday, beginning trading at $9 a share, and closing at $9.02.

Not bad, for a tumultuous day on Wall Street, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell a full 1.6%.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and FCA Chairman John Elkann rang the closing bell together - after giving a joint press conference.

Most of the questions and answers were in Italian.  So, it looks like I'm going to have to learn Italian if I want to continue to cover FCA.

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Auto
2:04 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Fund approves 27 death claims related to GM ignition switch defect

GM CEO Mary Barra, center, at a Congressional subcommittee hearing on the GM ignition switch recall - April 2, 2104.
Sen. McCaskill Flickr

DETROIT - A special compensation fund set up by General Motors has approved 27 death claims and 25 claims of serious injuries in crashes involving GM cars with defective ignition switches.

The update comes from Attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who was hired by GM to run the program.

Feinberg says he has received 178 death claims since August, including the 27 approved for payment.

1,193 injury claims have been received, including the 25 that have received compensation offers.

GM knew about faulty ignition switches in Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars for more than a decade but didn't recall them until February of this year. The switches can slip out of the "on" position, which causes the cars to stall, knocks out power steering and turns off the air bags.

Feinberg will accept claims until Dec. 31.

Auto
1:31 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Ford adding 850 new jobs to help build new F-150

Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president and director of the national Ford department said, “today we celebrate the commitment to excellence that the hardworking men and women of the Rouge demonstrate every day.”
Ford Motor Company

One of the best selling vehicles of all-time will have a brand new, aluminum-centric design.

Ford announced today that it will add 850 workers to help build its new F-150 pickup truck.

More from the Associated Press:

The company says 500 of the workers will go to the Dearborn Truck plant, where the F-150 is assembled. Three hundred workers will go to the Dearborn Stamping plant and 50 workers will go to Dearborn Diversified, which makes axles and other parts.

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Stateside
5:56 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Jeep Wrangler production could leave its 70-year home in Toledo

Inside Chrysler Group’s Toledo (Ohio) Assembly Complex
Credit User: Chrysler Group / Flickr

There's a meeting today at Chrysler Headquarters in Auburn Hills.

It's between the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Sergio Marchionne and some nervous officials from Ohio.

Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes says the concern is Ohio might lose the production of the Jeep Wrangler. 

At an auto show last week, Marchionne suggested that Chrysler may take Wrangler to an all-aluminum, unibody construction. Some expect that will likely shift the model's production from its long-time home in Toledo to Michigan or Illinois.

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Auto
2:31 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

AAA says voice command systems in cars too distracting

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety tests subjects for cognitive distraction while using voice command systems
Credit AAA

"Hands on the wheel and eyes on the road" is the rule of thumb often touted by U.S. automakers as the best way to stay safe on the road.

But the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says people's minds have to be on the road, too, and the often complicated, hands-free voice systems in many cars are too distracting.

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Stateside
5:56 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Can Detroit automakers deliver on big promises for their luxury brands?

Will Cadillac become a global luxury brand on a par with Germany's Big Three?
Credit User: Erik Daniel Drost / Flickr

 

These are challenging times for the executives who run the luxury brands at General Motors and Ford.

Lincoln has been on wobbly legs for years, and Cadillac is lagging behind the competition, especially the German luxury competition.

Detroit News Business columnist Daniel Howes has been following the Michigan automakers' struggle with the luxury business. He says these companies have largely failed to get luxury buyers to take their products seriously. 

"Lincoln has failed for a long time, in a large part because Ford was not willing to spend the money to make Lincoln differentiated enough. A lot of people will tell you today that Cadillac has got the best product, but the problem is the sales are not producing," says Howes.

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Stateside
12:59 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

The past and future of the Ford Mustang

2015 MUSTANG
media.ford.com

This year marks the 50th birthday of a car that has carved out a big place for itself in American automotive history: the Ford Mustang.

Today on Stateside, we'll take a 50-year look back at the history of the pony car and look ahead to the newest generation. The 2015 Mustang is heading to showrooms next month.

Jay Follis is an automotive historian. He's director of marketing at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners in Barry County, and he's looked at the history of the Mustang in the current issue of Michigan History Magazine. Follis says before the introduction of the Mustang, Ford didn't plan on anything new.

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Auto
11:48 am
Tue September 30, 2014

Ford Motor Company gets a "D" for planning for climate change

A Chevy Volt, being charged at a solar charging station at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck facility
General Motors

Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Jr. has long been a leader on the issue of climate change.

He was the first executive of a major auto company to call for global action on the threat, more than 15 years ago.

So it may come as a surprise that his company did so poorly on this year's CDP S&P 500 Climate Change Report.

The group gives Ford a "D" for the actions it is taking to prepare for climate change. 

Here's another thing that may come as a surprise: 

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Auto
9:07 pm
Sat September 20, 2014

GM, Chrysler recalling more than 400,000 vehicles

Jeep Grand Cherokee

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors is recalling 221,558 Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala sedans because the brake pads can stay partially engaged even when they're not needed, increasing the risk of a fire.

The recall involves Cadillacs from the 2013-2015 model years and Impalas from the 2014 and 2015 model years. There are 205,309 vehicles affected in the U.S.; the rest of the vehicles are in Canada and elsewhere.

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Stateside
6:36 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

GM recall scandal isn't in the rear-view mirror yet

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

When General Motors appointed Kenneth Feinberg as its so-called "compensation czar," it was clear the automaker hoped to have Feinberg determine damages to victims of the ignition-switch debacle, pay, and move on.

But as Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes writes today, things are not working out that way:

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Auto
1:40 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra to receive Appeal of Conscience award for handling of recall scandal

Mary Barra listens in to a call at GM's Customer Engagement Center in the wake of the ignition switch recall.
Credit General Motors

GM CEO Mary Barra will receive an Appeal of Conscience Award on September 23rd from the interfaith organization Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

Barra is being honored for her leadership in the wake of a shocking revelation in late January that General Motors had delayed a potentially deadly ignition switch recall for ten years.

The switches could be knocked out of the run position into the accessory position when the cars went over a bump.  That disabled safety features, including airbags.

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Auto
12:34 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

GM adds third shift, 750 workers, to Wentzville, MO factory

The assembly line at GM's Wentzville, Missouri assembly plant.
Credit General Motors

General Motors is adding a third shift to its Wentzville, Missouri plant to meet expected demand for the midsize trucks that are built there.

GM is introducing new versions of its midsize trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon.

The new shift is expected to start work in early 2015.

The automaker says dealers have ordered 30,000 Colorados already, "which is very high for early orders."

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Auto
10:37 am
Mon September 15, 2014

19 death claims due to GM faulty ignition switch approved for special compensation so far

Credit GM

For months, General Motors has estimated 13 people were killed as a result of accidents linked to a faulty ignition switch in Cobalts, HHRs, Saturn Ions, and some other small cars.

But it appears the estimate was low.

GM has established a special voluntary compensation program for victims or families of victims who can prove serious or fatal accidents were linked to the defective switch.

The program began taking claims on August 1.

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Auto
5:06 am
Mon September 8, 2014

GM to become first automaker to roll out "connected" vehicles

GM CEO Mary Barra announces the automaker's plans for making new "driver-assist" an option in 2017 Cadillac CTS's
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

General Motors is taking the lead in producing cars that can almost drive themselves.

The "driver-assist" and "vehicle-to-vehicle" technology enables cars to communicate with other cars and roadside sensors. That should help drivers avoid accidents and reduce traffic congestion.

GM CEO Mary Barra announced Sunday the automaker will begin offering V2V as an option in the Lansing-built Cadillac CTS starting with the 2017 model year.   

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Auto
4:58 am
Mon September 8, 2014

GM accused of ignoring unsafe factories in foreign countries

Protesters accuse GM executives of ignoring unsafe working conditions in factories in Columbia and India
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

General Motors is being accused of not caring about the working conditions in its plants in Columbia and India.

About two dozen protesters plan to hound GM CEO Mary Barra at events tied to this week’s auto technology conference in Detroit.

Paige Shell-Spurling is organizing the protests.  She says GM is ignoring problems with unsafe factories that have left dozens of workers seriously injured.

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