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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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Auto
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.

Auto
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.

Auto
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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10:06 am
Wed January 16, 2013

GM predicts modest profit growth in 2013

GM Headquarters in downtown Detroit.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors says it expects only a modest increase in pretax profits this year, as it rolls out many new cars and trucks worldwide.

The company also expects global auto sales to grow modestly this year, driven by the U.S. and China.

The company told investors at a Deutsche Bank industry conference in Detroit that its pretax profit margin in North America should rise from 8 to 10 percent in the next three or four years. Profit margin is a measure of how much the company earned after costs of doing business.

GM posted nearly $4 billion in net income during the first nine months of last year, including almost $1.5 billion in the third quarter. The company will announce fourth-quarter and full-year earnings in a few weeks.

Newsmaker Interviews
5:15 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Green confidence at the North American International Auto Show

2014 Cadillac ELR, "Cadillac's luxurious take on the Chevy Volt," says Bernard Swiecki with the Center for Automotive Research.
Cars.com

With the Detroit International Auto Show only just beginning, GM and Chrysler are already receiving good news.

This year's North American Car of the Year award went to the Cadillac ATS, while Truck of the Year was awarded to the Dodge Ram 1500.

According to Bernard Swiecki with the Center for Automotive Research, these awards are more significant in their effects on confidence, rather than their impact on sales.

"Interestingly, both of these vehicles are built in Michigan, so there's a very real local connection there as well. This is kind of an endorsement that both of these critical vehicles were done right by the engineering teams. "

Swiecki mentions that confidence is shown not only in the vehicles, but in the atmosphere of this year's Detroit Auto Show, and is a clear departure from the austerity of the post-bailout shows of the past.

"In the 2009 and 2010 shows, there was almost an atmosphere of allaying the fears that 'We're not going to be here next year', and that's really not the case anymore, and it hasn't been for the last two or three years. Now it's more about a confident approach, showing future products with every certainty that 1) the companies are viable and 2) the products themselves are world-class," he said.

These American vehicles are world-class, and green, according to Swiecki, who claims that green-technology continues to be a pronounced trend in new American vehicles, such as Cadillac's luxurious take on the Chevy Volt. Green technology is even moving across vehicle platforms this year to trucks with Ford's Atlas Pickup concept, which will eventually become the next generation Ford F-150.

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Auto
4:50 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

SLIDESHOW: Workers fight the dust and fingerprints at the Detroit auto show

Carlos Bryant has been keeping the Bentleys dust and fingerprint free at the Detroit auto show for more than a decade.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

When you walk onto the showroom floor at the North American International Auto Show, the bright lights and polished shine of the cars surround you.

You'd think a wash, wax, and polish for the cars would be good enough.

I mean, these things are indoors. What can muck them up?

Dust. That's what.

And not just dust... fingerprints too! (for heaven's sake)

So at the North American International Auto Show, you see a small army of people hovering over the cars with feather dusters, a little towel, and a spray bottle.

Carlos Bryant has been keeping the Bentleys looking sharp at the Detroit auto show for more than a decade.

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Auto
2:12 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Jeeps to be built in China, Chrysler and Guangzhou announce deal

An electric concept car from Chinese automaker GAC Group at the Detoit auto show.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

At the North American International Auto Show today, the Chinese-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group, or GAC Motors, announced plans to build Jeeps to sell in the Chinese market.

GAC Motors is a state-owned automobile business located in the city of Guangzhou in southern China.

More on the announcement from Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press:

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