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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

Listen to the full interview with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White and Bernard Swiecki of CAR.

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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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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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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Auto
1:12 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Japanese auto supplier set to invest $150 million in Michigan

DENSO International America flickr

Japanese auto supplier Denso has announced a four-year, $1 billion expansion in North America, including a $150 million investment in Michigan.

According to plans revealed at the North American International Auto Show on Tuesday, the auto supplier could hire a combined 400 new workers at its technical center in Southfield and manufacturing plant in Battle Creek.

Nathan Borney of the Detroit Free Press has more:

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9:57 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Ford talks trucks at the Detroit Auto Show

Ford's new concept truck, the "Atlas."
Ford

Ford is known for putting on a glitzy press conference at the Detroit Auto Show.

The media and auto industry officials filed into Joe Louis Arena to see what the company would unveil.

Company officials spent a good portion of the 25 minute press conference showing off their new line of Transit vans.

But the sparks flew when they lowered their concept truck, the "Atlas," from the ceiling of the arena.

Take a look:

Why trucks? Well, a good portion of the company's profits come from their truck line, with the Ford F-150 leading the way.

Auto
7:35 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Nissan in the spotlight (for good and other reasons) at the Detroit Auto Show

Nissan Leaf
Nissan

Nissan found itself in the spotlight at the North American International Auto Show today.  But not entirely for reasons that would please company executives.

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5:57 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Thomas Edison and Bob Lutz share an awkward moment

Former auto exec Bob Lutz at the VIA Motors unveiling.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

At the unveiling of the all-electric VIA Motors truck, former auto exec Bob Lutz held a conversation with a holographic presentation of Thomas Edison.

VIA Motors is a privately held electric vehicle development and manufacturing company. The company is working to develop a purely electric truck under the VTRUX brand name.

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3:01 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Toyota tops GM in global auto sales

A.N.M flickr

With projected vehicle sales of 9.7 million in 2012, Toyota has once again dethroned General Motors as the world’s top-selling automaker.

GM increased its global vehicle sales to 9.29 million but could not keep pace with the Japanese automaker as it unveiled new versions of its popular Camry model.

German automaker Volkswagen followed close behind with 9.07 million in global sales.

Christine Tierney of The Detroit News has more:

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2:55 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

VIDEO: Volkswagen unveils 'CrossBlue' concept at Detroit Auto Show

The Volkswagen CrossBlue concept SUV
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Volkswagen is working to continue to gain market share in the United States.

Today at the Detroit Auto Show, the company unveiled a new concept car aimed at the highly sought after North American SUV market.

The "CrossBlue," as it's called now,  is a six to seven seat SUV with a "plug-in hybrid powertrain that mates a TDI Clean Diesel engine with two electric motors."

That's right...  lift the hood, and you're not likely to know what the heck you're looking at.

But that's the future of cars. Automakers are moving toward cars with multiple power plants that can be engaged in different circumstances.

Volkswagen says the "CrossBlue" would get 35 mpg in "combined mode" (similar to the hybrid mode of today's Prius), and the equivalent of 89 mpg in all-electric mode (with a range in that mode of 14 miles).

Here's the unveiling of VW "CrossBlue" (complete with the 'demographic dancers'):

Jonathan Browning, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group America said the CrossBlue concept is "exactly the right type of vehicle for the U.S. market," but it still has a ways to go before it would be introduced here.

The car is an indication of where the company is headed.

Auto
10:25 am
Mon January 14, 2013

VIDEO: The "reinvention of Lincoln" at the Detroit Auto Show

The Lincoln MKC concept.
Lincoln Motor Company

Lincoln is hip again!

Well... at least in the movie theaters. Ford executives are hoping enthusiasm for its re-tweaked Lincoln brand grows as well (the company is using the former president in advertising campaigns for the newly named "Lincoln Motor Company").

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., President and CEO Allan Mulally, and Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales and Service Lincoln James Farley were all up on stage to unveil the new concept car at the Detroit Auto Show this morning - the Lincoln MKC.

Take a look at the unveiling:

Bill Vlasic wrote about the challenges faced by the struggling Lincoln brand in the New York Times:

As recently as the 1990s, Lincoln was the top-selling luxury automotive brand in the United States. Its large Town Car sedan and hulking Navigator S.U.V. defined the brand, and sales topped more than 230,000 vehicles a year.

But since then, Lincoln has been left in the dust by the German category leaders BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota’s Lexus division. This year, Lincoln ranks eighth in the American luxury segment, with sales down 2 percent, to 69,000, vehicles in the first 10 months of the year.

Its crosstown rival G.M. has had much better success reviving its Cadillac brand.

Auto
8:20 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Cadillac ATS wins 2013 Car of the Year Award

Members of the Cadillac team react to the win.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

A group of 49 automotive journalists from North America chose the Cadillac ATS as the 2013 Car of the Year.

The announcement was made this morning during the press preview of the Detroit Auto Show.

The Cadillac was among two other finalists, the Ford Fusion and the Honda Accord.

In a statement, Bob Ferguson, GM's vice president of global Cadillac said "this is a very meaningful honor for the entire Cadillac team, especially the men and women who build the ATS in Lansing, Michigan, and our dedicated and talented designers and engineers."

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8:02 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Ram 1500 wins 2013 'Truck/Utility of the Year' award

The Ram 1500 hiding among journalists.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

At this morning's press preview of the Detroit Auto Show, the Ram 1500 won the 2013 North American Truck/Utility of the Year Award.

The truck was chosen by a group of 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.

The Ram 1500 was up against two other finalists in the category, the Ford C-Max and the Mazda CX-5.

The Ram 1500 also won the 2013 Motor Trend Truck of the Year award.

In a statement, Fred Diaz, President and CEO of Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico, Chrysler Group LLC, said:

"For the Ram Truck Brand, this ranks as one of the proudest days in our history. Every truck-maker aspires to win the North American Truck/Utility of the Year. I tip my hat to the folks who worked behind the scenes to make the 2013 Ram 1500 a technological triumph."

Auto
12:25 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Car companies starting auto show earlier

The C7 Corvette - aka Stingray
General Motors

Press days for Detroit's North American International Auto Show "officially" begin Monday morning - but it's become something of a recent tradition to show an especially important car the night before.

That's what GM did with the seventh-generation Corvette, which it calls the "Stingray" in homage to the much-loved 1963 Corvette.

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3:06 pm
Sat January 12, 2013

Renovations to Cobo Center may steal the spotlight at the auto show

North American International Auto Show (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The North American International Auto Show in Detroit kicks off on Monday with preview days for the international press.

The show opens to the public next Saturday.   One of the highlights this year may not even be a car.

Auto show vice chairman Bob Schuman is pretty confident that everyone who goes to the show will be talking about the new Corvette, Chevy's top of the line sports car.   But they may also be talking about the ongoing Cobo renovation. Cobo has a new atrium that opens up the convention center to a view of the river and the Windsor skyline.

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11:27 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Ford plans to hire 2,200 salaried workers this year

Ford headquarters in Dearborn.
Ford

Ford Motor Company says it will hire 2,200 salaried workers this year.

It's the company's largest single-year increase of salaried workers in more than a decade.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford's President of the Americas, says the company doesn't anticipate trouble finding the right kind of people.

That's in contrast to before the recession when car companies sometimes couldn't find enough people interested in a career in the auto industry.

"Look at the types of technology you get to work on now, the vehicle is becoming so advanced, with computers, with software, with voice recognition, with sensors, that we are attracting a level of interest in people because of what's happening with the product itself becoming far more advanced," said Hinrichs.

Ford has about 28,500 salaried workers in North America.

Auto
10:35 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Jeep Grand Cherokee cleared in fire probe

staff media.chrysler.com

DETROIT (AP) - U.S. safety regulators have cleared the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee after an investigation into possible engine fires.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began checking 107,000 of the SUVs in July after getting complaints about power steering hoses coming loose and leaking fluid onto the engine.

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11:20 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Commentary: Autos and our future

Lessenberry commentary for 1/4/13

We got what looked like good news for the auto industry yesterday. Americans bought fourteen and a half million new vehicles last year -- nearly two million more than the year before.

True, that’s still considerably below total sales five years ago, before the Great Recession nearly put Chrysler and General Motors out of business forever. But still, it is progress. Except that those figures mask something troubling.

More cars were sold, but the Detroit three continue to lose market share. 50 years ago, in discussions about the auto industry nobody ever talked about foreign vs. domestic market share.

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9:47 am
Fri January 4, 2013

GM recalls 55,000 vehicles to fix shifter problem

2013 Cadillac Escalade
media.gm.com

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors is recalling nearly 55,000 pickup trucks, SUVs and vans because they can roll away unexpectedly.

The recall affects certain 2013 models of the Chevrolet Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe, Avalanche and Express. Also included are the GMC Sierra, Savana and Yukon as well as the Cadillac Escalade.

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3:09 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Fiat seeks to gain another stake in Chrysler from VEBA

Italian automaker Fiat, already Chrysler's majority owner, has announced plans to acquire another stake in the Detroit car company.

Fiat currently owns 58.57 percent of Chrysler.  The rest is held by VEBA - the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association.  The VEBA was given stock in Chrysler in lieu of cash payments to cover union retiree health care costs, which were shifted to the UAW in 2007.

Fiat says it intends to exercise an option for 3.3% of VEBA's stock, for $198 million.

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