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Tracy Samilton

A Chinese automaker finally appears poised to break into the lucrative American market.

That's after years of Chinese car companies showing not-ready-for-prime-time cars at the North American International Auto Show.

Misty Johnson / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The big story at the North American International Auto Show is big vehicles. The spotlight is on the trucks: SUVs and crossovers that American buyers want. And that demand leads to questions about fuel economy standards, and whether automakers are pressuring the Trump administration to backtrack on strict rules set in the final days of the Obama administration.

Top environmental groups say Ford is part of that effort. Bill Ford, Ford’s chairman, says that’s not true. He says Ford is committing to spend $11 billion by 2022 to develop partially or fully electrified vehicles. Those fuel economy standards could be weakened by the EPA and by bills introduced in the House and Senate.

The 2018 Honda Accord
honda.com

The big winners of the annual Detroit International Auto Show are here.

It was announced Monday morning that the Honda Accord was voted Car of the Year, the Volvo XC60 Utility of the Year, and the Lincoln Navigator Truck of the Year.

The winners were voted on by a panel of more than 60 jurors, who made their picks based on "segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar."

Part of the new Chevrolet Silverado lineup at the 2018 Detroit auto show.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The North American International Auto Show’s media preview week got started in Detroit this weekend.

Expect to hear a lot about trucks at this year’s show. GM got things rolling Saturday night with the debut of its new Chevrolet Silverado lineup.

With country music and nostalgic videos on loop, GM reminded us that it’s been doing trucks for 100 years. It’s a market that’s increasingly profitable and competitive in North America.

YouTube screengrab

Fiat Chrysler has announced it will shift production of heavy-duty Ram trucks from Mexico to metro Detroit by 2020.

Fiat Chrysler says the move will bring Ram production to the Warren Truck Assembly Plant, along with a $1 billion investment and 2,500 new jobs. There will also be a $1.5 billion investment in the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant to build the next-generation Ram 1500 truck, creating an additional 700 new jobs.

The automaker also announced it will give one-time, $2,000 bonuses to its U.S. employees.

Eric Neitzel / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

 

Time's running out on the American car.

That's the conclusion drawn by Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes after the automakers released their year-end sales results, and after some news coming out of the Ford Glass House.

The State of the Takata Airbags

The largest automotive recall in history continues, and millions of cars with potentially deadly airbags are still on the road.

A federally appointed independent monitor overseeing the recall in the U.S. just issued a new report, entitled "The State of the Takata Air Bag Recalls."  You can find a link to that report here.

But first, a warning about that report if you're at all squeamish. 

The monitor, John Buretta, didn't hold back when describing the gruesome injuries of the 13 (now 14) known victims killed in the U.S. when the Takata airbags in their cars exploded, sending shards of metal at high speeds towards them.

Detroit's Renaissance Center
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

 

 

 

Just weeks after being linked with a federal grand jury probe into auto industry corruption, a retired UAW vice president has resigned his seat on the board of General Motors.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes co-reported this story with his colleague Robert Snell. Howes joined Stateside today to share his updates.

Delphi car
Marco Verch, https://goo.gl/3xb6Mt / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Re-inventing the future by reckoning with the past and dealing with the realities of the present.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says that's what we're seeing with a major change in the big auto supplier Delphi.

2018 Lincoln Navigator
David Pinter / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Word came from the LA Auto Show this week: Ford's luxury brand Lincoln is doing a reboot.

They're ditching the confusing letters-only name of MKX, and giving their midsize SUV a real name: Nautilus.

General Motors

The Trump administration has quietly set aside plans to require new cars to be able to wirelessly talk to each other, auto industry officials said, jeopardizing one of the most promising technologies for preventing traffic deaths.

Courtesy of the Dick Tyler Collection in the Michigan History Center Archives

Happy 60th birthday to an iconic Michigan landmark: the Mighty Mac!

State archivist Mark Harvey joined Stateside to fun facts about the Mackinac Bridge in honor of its birthday.

wrecked car
Robbie Howell / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Why does Michigan have some of the highest auto insurance premiums in the nation?

Crain’s Detroit Business and Bridge Magazine dug into the heart of the question that affects every single driver in our state by analyzing insurance data over a 14 year span. They found that repairing people costs a whole lot more than repairing cars. Most of your auto insurance now goes to PIP, or Personal Injury Protection.

wikipedia

Honda is stepping up its effort to get some of the most dangerous recalled cars in the country repaired.

Tests have shown that the early-issue Takata airbags in these vehicles have up to a 50% chance of exploding in the face of the driver in a crash:

NHTSA

General Motors is paying out more money after delaying a recall of cars with a potentially deadly defect.  

The automaker has settled with states for $120 million, after states sued for damages related to the automaker's ten-year delay of an ignition switch recall. 

The switches could easily be bumped or jostled into the off or accessory position.  That also turned off safety systems like air bags. 

More than 124 people were killed in accidents in which the switches turning off was a factor. 

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Liz Wetzel never thought she'd work at General Motors, or any car company for that matter. 

She was an art student after all. 

But when her dad noticed there was a lack of female designers in the Pontiac studios where he worked, he suggested she pursue automotive design. 

Car dashboard
Pixabay

Many infotainment systems are placing very high demands on drivers, according to new research. 

Of 30 infotainment systems tested, virtually all broke the two second rule for many tasks, meaning don't take your eyes off the road more than two seconds to fiddle with the radio or navigation system. Some tasks took drivers more than 40 seconds.  Gary Bubar is with AAA.  He says the message for drivers is clear.

"Use your common sense," he says.  "Understand that just because the systems are there we don't need to use them while we're driving."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been without an administrator since January.

Reuters reports former NHTSA officials, consumer groups, lawmakers and some business leaders are urging the Trump Administration to appoint someone.

Amit Narang is with Public Citizen.  He says the situation means tire safety regulations have been put on the back burner.

Alan / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Will General Motors and Ford be able to rise to the challenge of self-driving cars? 

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes isn't sure. 

Two deer cross a road in front of an oncoming car
State Farm Insurance / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

It's October, and deer are in the mood for love. That means Michigan drivers are at greater risk of hitting a deer. October through December is mating season for deer, so they're extra active and on the move.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A major auto parts supplier officially broke ground today for a new plant in Flint.

Lear Corporation plans to manufacture seats on the site of the former Buick City plant. The new plant will employee hundreds of people.   

“There’s a lot of negative news today,” Ray Scott, executive vice president, Lear, and president, Lear seating business, told the crowd on hand for the ceremony. “To have a positive story is really a wonderful thing.”

Over the next year, Lear plans to transform 33 acres of blank concrete into a new 156,000-sq. ft. production facility that will assembly seats for GM trucks.

GM Canada

Roughly 2,700 General Motors union members walked off the job nine days ago at the CAMI Plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, which assembles GM's best-selling crossover, the Chevy Equinox. 

The strike is now affecting jobs in the U.S.

Engines for the Equinox are made in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and also in Flint, so now there are layoffs at those two plants. GM wouldn't say how many. 

Pixabay

 

If you’re a Michigander, odds are the only thing you complain about as much as the weather is the cost of your car insurance.

And you’re right to.

 

GM Canada

More than 2,700 union workers at GM's CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ontario walked off the job early Monday morning.

The plant builds GM's best-selling crossover, the Chevy Equinox.  GM also builds the Equinox in Mexico. 

Tracy Samilton

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced new voluntary guidance for developers of self-driving cars, along with guidance for state legislatures in responding to the rapidly developing technology.

Chao made the announcement at Mcity, Ann Arbor's driverless car test track.  She says the federal government needs to stay out of the way of developers of a technology that has the potential to save thousands of lives a year.

a chevy bolt
General Motors

The U.S. House will vote on bills after Labor Day that would let automakers test self-driving cars in every state, replacing the current state-by-state patchwork of regulations, and allow cars without steering wheels and other human-operated controls.

Two Michigan members of the House, Democrat Debbie Dingell and Republican Fred Upton, helped draft the bills.

Vimeo

The Michigan Department of Transportation and a foundation started by a grieving father are splitting the cost to add a protective cable median barrier on a stretch of I-96.

Steve Kiefer is a GM executive who lost his son Mitchel in an accident caused by a distracted driver who was texting.

"Mitchell's car was struck from behind with such force that it was driven across the median into oncoming traffic," Kiefer said at a press conference.  "Mitchell's car was broadsided by a truck and Mitchell was killed instantly."

adwriter / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Change is in the wind at Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined Stateside today to explain what's behind Great Wall Motors' interest in buying Fiat Chrysler.

State Farm / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

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.

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