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Last week in Crain’s Detroit BusinessChad Livengood wrote about how Detroit factory workers are charged more than lawyers for auto insurance. Livengood joined Stateside to explain a new study that looked at why rates are so high in the city. 

The study, conducted by California researcher Douglas Heller, tested six major insurance carriers using a 30-year-old female profile. It found the rates she received varied widely depending on her level of education, job title, and area of the state she lived in.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Automakers released second-quarter earnings for 2017 this week, and Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says, on the whole, American companies are doing good business.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has the most reason to smile, according to Howes. He says FCA profit margins are rising both globally and in North America. And he says demand for cars is continuing to decline in favor of larger SUVs and trucks.

A deployed airbag.
Bee Forks / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal judge has chosen a new "special master" to oversee Takata restitution payments. 

That's after the first proposed special master, Robert Mueller, was appointed to lead an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  

Harvard University professor Eric Green will be in charge of disbursing nearly $1 billion in payments to people and companies harmed by Takata's defective airbags. From the court notice:

GM headquarters
Mark Goebel / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? In this case, the "old dog" is the Big Three automakers.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes thinks we're about to find out, for better or for worse.

He says auto sales are down for six consecutive months over last year. One critique of the Big Three automakers is that they are not able to manage a downturn in sales.

A red Dodge RAM pickup
Fiat Chrysler

Fiat Chrysler is being sued for an alleged defect in the emissions systems of some trucks that can result in a 25% drop in fuel economy, according to a lawsuit filed by the firm Hagens Berman.

The lawsuit says Fiat Chrysler sold hundreds of thousands of 2013 to 2017 RAM 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks with faulty emissions systems. 

Owners who brought their trucks in for a repair of the systems found that the fix resulted in dramatically lower fuel economy.  

Today, we hear from someone working to develop industry standards in the "Wild West" of autonomous cars. And, we take an audio tour of the University of Michigan's driverless shuttles debuting this fall.

red ford focus
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Ford has announced for the third time where the next generation of the Ford Focus car is going to be assembled: China.

Daniel Howes tells Stateside what this means for the city of Wayne, where the car model is currently being assembled. He also talks about potential future moves for Ford.

cars on the highway
KEN LUND / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

We keep hearing about the technological advances that are making the dream of self-driving cars become a reality.

It's not just about developing the technology to do it. It's also about making sure that autonomous vehicles are safe. And that safety will come from the standards that are set for connected and automated vehicles.

line of chevy volts
Courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is adding to its fleet of automated cars. The company hopes to maintain what it says is a big advantage in a crucial technology of the future.  

GM put 50 self-driving Bolt EVs on public roads late last year.  At GM's Orion Township plant, CEO Mary Barra showed off some of the 130 next-generation self-driving Bolts that will soon be added to the fleet.

The Chevrolet Bolt, a long-range electric car
GM

Less than eight months after General Motors made its initial 100% renewable energy commitment, the Detroit automaker's CEO, Mary Barra, says the timeline will be sped up.

"That's a stake that we put in the ground and now we plan to move that back," Barra said at a press conference held prior to GM's annual shareholders meeting.

A spokesman for GM confirmed the plan, but says there is "no new timetable to announce at this point."

GM headquarters in Detroit
JODI WESTRICK / MICHIGAN RADIO FILE PHOTO

A battle between General Motors and an activist investor will come to a head this week.

David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital hedge fund quadrupled its stake in GM in the first quarter of the year.    It now owns more than 3% of the automaker’s stock.  

Spectators watching a car race
Mike Boening Photography / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Tom Perkins, a reporter for Detroit Metro Times, kicked off his conversation with Stateside by detailing a satirical gearhead protest happening outside of the Michigan International Speedway:

Time lapse photo of cars on road
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“A slap in the face of good governance” that puts our health and environment at great risk.

That’s what Dave Cooke thinks about President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to EPA funding. Cooke is senior vehicles analyst in the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The White House wants to basically zero out the budget for the EPA’s Vehicle Lab in Ann Arbor. But what is the Vehicle Lab, and why should we all care how it’s funded?

Cadillac CTS
Yahna S. / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

General Motors has partnered with the Michigan Department of Transportation to create usable vehicle-to-infrastructure technology. This technology detects potential traffic hazards and advises drivers on how to safely proceed. 

For now, it's exclusive to certain developmental models of the Cadillac CTS. Some Cadillac vehicles already utilize a form of this technology which suggests maneuvers like lane changes to drivers. 

General Motors spokesperson Chris Bonelli says the new infrastructure technology will not be intrusive for the driver. 

Emilio Labrador / Flickr

New car sales have reached a plateau, according to Michelle Krebs of Autotrader. 

Krebs says May's sales could be flat or just slightly higher compared to last year.  That follows several months of sales being down slightly.

She says one reason is the cost of everything, including a new car, is going up, but incomes aren't.  The average price for a new car is now $30,000. 

"The price of shelter, of health care, of education have gone up even more," says Krebs, "and yet household income has stagnated."

wikimedia commons

The law firm that previously sued Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, and Fiat Chrysler for alleged cheating on diesel emissions says General Motors did the same thing.

Hagens Berman has sued GM on behalf of a potential class of approximately 700,000 owners of Chevy and GMC diesel trucks, claiming the automaker cheated to bypass federal standards for allowable emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx.)

The U.S. EPA says the pollutants are linked to asthma, heart disease, smog and global warming, among other ills.

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

Slumping stock was the undoing of Mark Fields as CEO of Ford Motor Company.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes said Fields’ successor Jim Hackett must rally his team to full battle mode, even though times are good and profits are fat.

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

He has headed up the world's biggest office furniture company and hired Jim Harbaugh as head football coach at the University of Michigan.

Now, Jim Hackett is replacing outgoing CEO Mark Fields as the new head of Ford Motor Company.

automotiveauto.info

President Trump followed up on a key campaign promise last week and formally notified Congress of his intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Some economists say there's more of a downside than an upside to opening up the landmark deal, especially for Michigan.

Charles Ballard is an economist at Michigan State University. "My advice to anybody talking about renegotiating NAFTA, if you have to use a scalpel, use a scalpel.  Please don't use a meat ax," Ballard said.

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GM is abandoning its 2015 plan to invest a billion dollars in India.  The automaker says it will continue to build cars at its Indian factories, but will export them to other countries.  Its brands will not be on the showroom floors of India.

The about-face makes sense to Rebecca Lindland of Kelley Blue Book.  She says the Indian car market is slowing, and Indian consumers rarely buy GM's most profitable vehicles - SUVs and trucks.  Instead, they tend to purchase very small vehicles, and GM makes next to no money selling those.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Auto companies posted their second consecutive monthly sales decline in April.

Some analysts believe this is a sign the automakers’ seven-year winning streak is coming to an end.

Since 2010, Ford, General Motors and other automakers have seen their monthly sales grow and grow. Automakers sold a record 17.55 million vehicles in 2016.  

However, the car companies have been relying more and more on discounts and deals to bring buyers in.   But even that hasn’t been enough lately.

Case in point: April, which was not a good month for the auto companies.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Controversial legislation to scrap unlimited, lifetime medical coverage for car crash victims is back up for consideration in Lansing.

Proponents of the current system say the law makes sure victims are taken care of. But Republicans have been trying for decades to scale back the state’s unlimited medical coverage for people injured in car crashes.  

The proposed legislation would let consumers pick their levels of coverage.

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard says auto no-fault overhaul is one of his party’s biggest priorities.

Fiat ensignia on a vehicle
Martin Abegglen / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's a double dose of good news for Fiat Chrysler.

First-quarter profits are coming in, and Fiat Chrysler net profits are up 34% over year-ago levels, including a strong showing in Europe.

Lincoln

 

The big auto shows are a chance for automakers to show everyone what they're all about.

 

Automakers are making huge investments in electric cars and autonomous driving technology.  But muscle cars and big, luxurious SUVs were the stars at this week's New York International Auto Show.

 

 

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes spoke with Cynthia Canty about the New York show’s “shameless celebration of size and horsepower.”

vintage cars at Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum
F.D. Richards / Flickr

President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the federal funding for a group that works to preserve Michigan’s automotive history. The MotorCities National Heritage Area covers 16 counties and includes museums, parks and entertainment venues, including the Henry Ford Museum, the Michigan International Speedway and the Michigan Theatre in Jackson.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/christopherbibbs/2380738854/

Detroiters pay some of the highest auto insurance rates of anyone in the country. A significant share of the city’s residents do not make enough to pay for continuous insurance coverage. That presents problems when it comes time to get a vehicle registered.

As a result, many have turned to a legal workaround called 7-day auto insurance. Now, that loophole may be closing. 

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Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

U.S. Army officials are touting the potential of a new prototype vehicle from General Motors.

The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and is whisper-quiet.  Army officials say it may be especially helpful for special forces in need of a stealthy vehicle.   

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters was on hand as GM officials literally handed over the keys to Army researchers. The Michigan Democrat praises the technology in the vehicle.

A Tesla electronic car at a charging station
Austin Kirk / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's a tiny company packing a big punch with investors.

Electric car maker Tesla now has a higher market value than Ford. It's just behind General Motors at the top of the list. 

Ford Motor Co. headquarters
Ford Motor Company

U.S. automakers sold 1.56 million new cars and trucks in March. That's down 1.6% from this time last year.

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.

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