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4:59 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Stateside: What lies ahead for auto companies?

The Renaissance Center is home to GM one of the worl's largets auto manufactures
Carlos Lowry Flickr

The clouds have been lifting for  U.S. car makers.

With car sales and America's economy picking up, there are some who are looking further down the road.

They have been wondering  if deeper, bigger challenges lie ahead for the companies who put the world on wheels.

One of those wondering is automotive writer Micki Maynard. She recently published a couple of pieces in Forbes Magazine exploring what she calls "The Secret Fear of the World's Biggest Auto Companies".

Micki Maynard spoke with us to explain exactly what is the "Secret Fear" of the World's Biggest Auto Companies.

To hear the full story click the audio link above.

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1:26 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Akerson getting a $2.1 million raise? GM denies the report

GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson.

General Motors hopes to rid itself of the 'Government Motors' stigma over the next year or so. After announcing a big sell-off at the end of 2012, the U.S. Treasury has been quietly working on selling off the rest of its stake in GM.

But the government still wants a say in what the company pays its top executives.

The Detroit Free Press' Todd Spangler and Nathan Bomey reported early this morning that GM wants to give Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson a $2.1 million raise:

General Motors is proposing an $11.1-million compensation package for Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson this year, $2.1 million more than it paid him in 2012, according to documents obtained Monday by the Free Press.

But those reports have since been denied by General Motors, here's Bomey's report from later this morning:

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2:04 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Safety investigators look into Ford engine problems

2008 Ford Escape.
wikimedia commons

U.S. safety regulators will investigate problems with stalling or surging engines, in about 725,000 Ford cars and SUVs.

The probe includes affects Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUVs from the 2009 through 2011 model years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Ford have received almost 1,500 complaints about the problem.

Meanwhile, regulators are considering whether to investigate a complaint from an auto lab in Virginia, that the steering can fail on the Toyota Prius.

A probe would affect the Prius gas-electric hybrids from the 2004 through 2009 model years.

10:19 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Maserati not coming to Detroit

Lead in text: 
Having a Maserati built in Detroit was seen as a symbolic win for the comeback of manufacturing in Michigan. But now it turns out that won't be happening.
Fiat SpA will not build a Maserati in Detroit after all. The Maserati Levante, which shares a common architecture with the new 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, was supposed to have been built at Chrysler Group LLC's Jefferson North Assembly Plant starting later this year. The decision had been heralded by Gov.
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10:37 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Chocolate. Ford Motor Company. Chocolate.

An "aerated" chocolate bar. Because a photo of a piece of aerated plastic would not get you to click on this story.
Hershey's

Car companies like Ford Motor Company aren't above using gimmicks if it will get reporters to notice something they're doing.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. 

This one worked.

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10:06 am
Fri February 15, 2013

GM profit down, but "seeds planted" for growth, says CEO

New 2014 GMC Sierra. This vehicle and 2014 Chevy Silverado will be big profit generators for GM
General Motors

General Motors made nearly $5 billion in 2012.

That's down a lot from 2011, when the company made $7.6 billion.

But GM CEO Dan Akerson says it was a strong year for the company nonetheless.

He says G-M "planted the seeds of growth in every region of the world."

The Detroit automaker reduced its pension obligations, bought an international finance division, and put new cars in the pipeline for 2013 and beyond.

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5:38 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Vehicles hit all-time dependability record

2010 Ram Laramie
Chrysler

J.D. Power reports that average vehicle dependability was better than any year since the study began in 1989.

The study looks at problems reported for three-year-old vehicles.  So, the 2013 study looks at vehicles purchased in 2010.

On average, there were 126 problems reported for every 100 vehicles - or, put another way, not much more than one problem per vehicle.

Lexus once again led the pack, improving from 86 problems per 100 last year, to 71 this year.

Porsche followed with 94, and Lincoln was third best, with 112.

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10:52 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Ford wants (big) piece of Toyota's Prius hybrid pie

Ford C-Max hybrid
Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company set an all-time record for hybrid sales in December, selling nearly 8,000.  About half were C-Max sales, and about half, the hybrid version of the Fusion.

The company also beat its previous January record for hybrid sales by more than 500%.

Granted, the total number of hybrid sales for the company isn't much compared to its higher-volume sellers.  Ford sold more than 19,000 non-hybrid Fusions in January, dwarfing the hybrid Fusion sales of 3,043.

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4:12 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

GM has its best sales month in China

Shanghai GM. GM's Chinese unit sold 154,220 vehicles in Jan. 2013.

General Motors reported today it sold more than 300,000 vehicles in the month of January, 2013 - it's best month in China ever.

From a GM press release:

General Motors and its joint ventures sold more than 300,000 vehicles in a single month for the first time ever in China last month. January sales totaled 310,765 units, an increase of 26.0 percent from the same month in 2012 and 15.9 percent above the previous all-time monthly high of 268,035 units in January 2011.

Domestic sales by Shanghai GM and SAIC-GM-Wuling, and their Buick, Chevrolet and Wuling brands all set new single-month records as well in January.

The company wholly owns two foreign enterprises in China, and has 12 joint ventures.

It employs more than 55,000 people in China.

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12:02 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Group questions MPG claims for turbo engines

Ford CEO Alan Mulally with 3 cyl turbo engine
Ford Motor Company

Many of the claims for better fuel economy from new turbo-charged engines are more hype than reality, according to tests by Consumer Reports, the independent consumer advocacy group.

The agency tested a number of vehicles that offer regular four or eight cylinder engines, and compared them to the turbo-charged version.  Turbo-charging is a technology that gets more power from a smaller engine with direct injection of extra spurts of air and fuel.

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4:58 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Automakers report double-digit gains

DETROIT (AP) -Last year's momentum in U.S. auto sales is continuing into this year.

Ford, Chrysler and GM are all reporting double-digit gains for January.

Sales at Ford rose 22 percent compared with a year earlier. GM and Chrysler each reported 16 percent gains.

Ford's sales rose on strong sales of pickup trucks and new vehicles.

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10:26 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

GM to invest $200 million in Pontiac facility

Governor Snyder at the GM powertrain announcement
Credit GM

General Motors is expanding its Global Powertrain Engineering Headquarters in Pontiac, and consolidating some major research and development operations there.

The company says investing $200 million in a new test wing there will allow them to bring work that’s being done all over the country under one roof, and move faster in developing next-generation powertrain technologies.

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4:27 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Chrysler earnings jump, Fiat's fall, in 2012

Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne
Chrysler

Chrysler has gone from being the automaker nobody wanted, to the goose that lays the golden egg for its majority owner, Fiat.

While Chrysler made $1.7 billion in 2012, Fiat lost $1.4 billion, as the fiscal crisis in Europe deepened, creating a new bottom for car sales that even the most pessimistic analysts didn't see foresee.

But while Chrysler is making money, and Fiat is losing it, the two companies' CEO, Sergio Marchionne, reiterated in an analyst and media conference call that he has no intention of stripping cash from Chrysler to help Fiat.

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10:44 am
Fri January 25, 2013

The dark side of Detroit's auto show: dreaded scrums

Reporter Sharon Carty looks in camera during a scrum with former General Motors Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre.
Jeff Kowalsky


For the average person, there's a lot of "wow" at the North American International Auto Show.

But for reporters and auto company executives, that "wow" can sometimes be more like "ow."

Especially during the impromptu, free-for-all press conferences that are known as "scrums."

Problem is, nobody tells you what a scrum is before you attend your first Detroit auto show.

They all wait until it's too late to back out. It's almost a kind of hazing.

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10:16 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Toyota, BMW working on new battery technology

2013 BMW 320i Sedan
Staff bmwusanews.com

TOKYO (AP) - Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW Group are working together on next-generation batteries for green vehicles called "lithium-air" as their collaboration, first announced in late 2011, moves ahead in fuel cells, sports vehicles and other fields.

BMW AG board member Herbert Diess told reporters Thursday the cooperation with the Japanese automaker will help both companies boost competitiveness in new technologies. The automakers said they are aiming to complete a fuel-cell vehicle system by 2020, and a concept for a mid-size sports vehicle by the end of this year.

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2:35 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

U.S. Treasury announces plan for remaining GM stock

GM's headquarters in downtown Detroit
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

After General Motors bought 200 million shares back from the U.S. government last month, the government's stake in GM was down to about at 19 percent.

Today, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it has a "pre-arranged written trading plan" for selling its remaining 300.1 million shares of GM stock.

The process is expected to take place over the next year to 15 months ("subject to market conditions"), and will end almost four years of partial government ownership of the car maker.

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1:24 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

GM to close plant near Flint, workers shocked by news

GM announced today the Weld Tool Center in Grand Blanc, Michigan will be closing.
GM Facebook

In another blow to the Flint area, GM announced it will close its Weld Tool Center in Grand Blanc.

The plant is located just southeast of the city of Flint.

Workers at the plant make robotic welding tools used to build cars like the Chevy Cruze, the Volt, and the Sonic.

GM spokesman Tom Wickham said the plant's 323 hourly workers and 28 salaried workers will be offered jobs at other GM plants in the region, according to MLive:

The employees were notified this morning the plant would be shut down, Wickham said...

There are no immediate plans as to what the facility will be used for in the future, Wickham said.

Shaun Byron of MLive talked with some of the workers at the plant who were shocked by the news:

Brad Keskinen of Davison worked with GM since 1977 and at the Grand Blanc Township plant since 2007.

“I’m really disappointed. I thought we had a smart, productive workforce. But it’s evident that the work model was set up for failure,” Keskinen said. “And the announcement comes to a shock to us.”

GM recorded the 'economic impact' of the plant as follows:

  • Wages: $46.5 million (2011)
  • Payroll Taxes: $9.7 million (2011)
  • Property Taxes: $866,000 (2011)

Operations at the plant are expected to wind down in July of this year.

The plant was first built by the U.S. government in 1942. Sherman and Pershing tanks were built there.

Auto
10:34 am
Thu January 17, 2013

GM to invest $1.5B in N. American factories

Flint Assembly Plant
staff media.gm.com

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors says it will invest $1.5 billion in its North American factories this year.

GM is revamping 70 percent of its U.S. models as it switches from the oldest lineup in the industry to the newest.

Reuss says the investment is in addition to the $10.2 billion GM already has spent on its factories since July of 2009. The company has added about 2,000 U.S. jobs since then.

GM recently unveiled new full-size pickup trucks, a completely redone Chevrolet Corvette and a Cadillac luxury version of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric car. It says more announcements are coming.

Auto
5:20 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Images from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit

Bentley prepares to unveil its new Continental GT Speed Convertible.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

The press conferences are over. The automakers have released their new models to the media.

Starting next week, the public will have a chance to see the cars for themselves.

Here are a few images from our time at the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center in Detroit.

Auto
1:44 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Henry Ford giving tours at auto show

Actors portraying Henry Ford
Ford Motor Company

This year's North American International Auto Show coincides with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Henry Ford's birth.

Ford Motor Company is giving people an opportunity to meet the great inventor and businessman.

Ford has hired actors to represent Henry Ford at different stages of his life.

People can sign up for a tour of the Ford exhibit led by one of eight Henrys.

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