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12:45 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

GM to move fuel cell research and jobs from New York to Michigan

GM's Headquarters in Detroit.
John F. Martin Creative Commons

General Motors says it will close its hydrogen fuel-cell research operation near Rochester, N.Y., and move it to Michigan, along with most of the 220 salaried jobs currently in New York.

The company says most of the 220 salaried workers in Honeoye Falls, N.Y., will be offered the chance to move to GM's engine and transmission research unit in Pontiac.

Spokeswoman Kimberly Carpenter says the move will pull together all of its experts on ways to move vehicles. The company will save some money by not renewing a building lease in New York.

She says GM will continue to focus on electric vehicles and fuel cell development. GM has been testing fuel-cell vehicles that run on hydrogen with no harmful emissions.

C-Max v. Prius
10:51 am
Thu October 4, 2012

Ford's C-Max ads call out Toyota's Prius with gentle humor

Ford Motor Company hopes to earn a place on the hybrid map in the U.S. with its new C-Max.

The company knows that won't be easy. 

No one comes even close to the dominant sales position of the Toyota Prius line of vehicles - the original Prius, the smaller Prius C, and the larger Prius V.

Ford's new C-Max has a major bragging point:  it beats the fuel economy of the Prius V by 7 miles per gallon on the highway.

The Prius is beloved by its owners; it has one of the highest loyalty ratings of any car. 

So Ford has chosen a gentle style of humor over an aggressive pitch to sell the C-Max.

Ford today launched a series of ads using a cartoon character, "La Linea," -- a revival of the classic 1970s character from a popular Italian animated children’s series.

The ads show the character overcoming the performance limitations of a Toyota Prius, by driving a Ford C-Max.  You can see one of the ads here:

“The ads are done with just the right tonality of competitiveness versus a strong competitor. It clearly positions our product in a fun way,” says Matt VanDyke, director, U.S. Marketing Communications, Ford Motor Company .

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Auto
1:47 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Chrysler leads monthly sales numbers for Big Three

General Motors says its U.S. sales rose about one and a half percent last month, as a big jump in car sales was offset by falling truck sales.

Ford says its U.S. sales were flat in September, like GM, Ford was weighed down by lower truck sales even as sales of its cars rose.

But Chrysler had the best September of the Detroit Three, with a 12 percent increase in sales.

More from the Detroit News:

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Auto
6:52 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

What do manufacturers want from factory workers? Problem-solving skills

The "factory on wheels"
Henry Ford Community College

It's been a long time since the days you could succeed on the factory floor with "a weak mind and a strong back," as the adage goes.

Modern manufacturers need people who use their minds more than their bodies.  

Today, manufacturing workers need to be computer literate, solve problems when the robots on the line shut down, and work in teams.

The Obama administration says manufacturing companies added jobs for the first time since the 1990s - more than 500,000 jobs in the past 30 months.

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Auto
4:00 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Honda recalling 572,000 Accords

2006-2007 Honda Accord. One of the models included in the recall.
IFCAR wikimedia

Honda is recalling around 572,000 Accord midsize cars in the U.S. to fix a defective power steering hose that can leak fluid and catch fire.

The recall affects Accords from the 2003 through 2007 model years that are equipped with V-6 engines.

Honda says one fire was reported but no injuries.

From Honda:

American Honda has expanded a May 2012 power steering hose recall to additionally include approximately 572,000 model-year 2003-2007 Accord V6 vehicles in the United States.

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Auto
10:15 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Stability for Canada's auto workers, CAW gets most of what they want

Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers.
Canadian Auto Workers union

Yesterday, the Canadian Auto Workers union said that 90 percent of unionized Chrysler workers voted to approve a new deal with the company.

Ford and GM workers in Canada approved their deals last week.

So what did they get?

Here's a good write-up on the negotiations between the Canadian Auto Workers and Detroit's Big Three automakers from the Detroit Free Press' Brent Snavely.

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Auto
12:04 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

GM workers in Canada approve deal; Chrysler workers will vote this weekend

A 2011 Chrysler Town & Country rolls off the final inspection line at Chrysler Group LLC’s Windsor Assembly Plant.
Chrysler

21,000 unionized auto workers in Canada are another step closer to job stability until at least 2016.

Last night, union workers at General Motors plants in Canada approved a collective bargaining agreement between the Canadian Auto Workers and the auto company.

Ford workers in Canada approved their deal earlier this week. And Chrysler workers will vote this weekend.

CBC News in Windsor reports on what these deals mean:

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11:16 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Canadian Auto Workers and Chrysler reach tentative deal

Lead in text: 
The CAW union and Chrysler have reached a tentative deal similar to the agreements reached with GM and Ford. Ford workers in Canada ratified their agreement earlier this week. GM workers are expected to do so sometime tomorrow. More from CBC Windsor.
The Canadian Auto Workers union Wednesday night announced a tentative deal with Chrysler. Ken Lewenza, the union's president, said the deal is similar to the ones struck with Ford and General Motors on Sept. 14 and 20, respectively.
Auto
5:06 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Canadian Auto Workers getting closer to a deal with Chrysler

Ken Lewenza and the CAW are now working on a deal with Chrysler workers in Canada.
Canadian Auto Workers union

One more agreement, and the Canadian Auto Workers will be on the road to deals with all three U.S. automakers.

The CAW and Chrysler are working on finalizing a labor contract this week.

Ross Marowits of the Montreal Gazette reports the two sides are close to reaching an agreement.

The chairman of the CAW master bargaining committee for Chrysler said the two sides made significant progress over the last 24 hours.

“I think we’re closer and closer by every minute and every hour and again we’re just working at this closing up those loose ends,” Dino Chiodo said Wednesday in an interview from Toronto.

“Unless things completely fall off the rails, which I don’t see happening at this point, I think we’re moving along very well and I’m confident that sometime today or tomorrow we’ll be able to achieve the final task of wrapping this up.”

The bargaining teams are expected to meet tonight after 7 p.m. The CAW and General Motors have reached a tentative agreement. Unionized GM workers in Canada are expected to vote on the proposed agreement today and tomorrow. Ford workers in Canada approved their agreement this past Monday. Altogether, the CAW represents around 21,000 auto workers from the "Big Three."

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Auto
10:23 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Canadian Auto Workers: Deal done with Ford, GM close, now it's Chrysler's turn

Canadian Auto Workers union at a rally.
CAW Facebook

Ford's union workers in Canada have approved a four-year contract with the company.

And the Canadian Auto Workers union have a tentative agreement with GM.

Now, talks with Chrysler continue this week.

CBC Windsor has the latest on the talks:

The CAW's president, Ken Lewenza, knows it's not going to be easy with Chrysler. Company executives have made it clear they want an agreement that lowers labour costs to match those in the United States.

Lewenza said it could be days before there is a tentative agreement between the two sides.

"We can get a deal. I've a great deal of respect for [Chrysler CEO Sergio] Marchionne and his management team," Lewenza said. "I don't hide that and I think he's got respect for our union. But at the end of the day, you can only respect each other when you dot the I's and cross the T's."

If talks stall, the CAW can strike.

But with a deal signed with Ford, and a final deal with GM expected to be approved by GM union workers in Canada  this week, a strike at Chrysler plants in Canada doesn't seem likely.

Auto
11:00 am
Sun September 23, 2012

GM offers big discounts to boost Volt sales

Chevy Volt (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors is offering big discounts to boost sales of the Chevrolet Volt, an electric car that struggled to attract buyers until its price began dropping early this year.

Discounts run as high as $10,000 per Volt, according to figures from TrueCar DOT com, an auto pricing website. They include low-interest financing and subsidized leases.

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Auto
12:06 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Canadian Auto Workers inch closer to deal with GM, Chrysler

Chrysler's Windsor Assembly Plant.
Chrysler

The head of the Canadian Auto Workers union says General Motors is waiting for a counter proposal from the union, and he says there has been significant progress toward a new labor deal.

CAW President Ken Lewenza says the union will make the offer today. He also says progress has been made with Chrysler.

The union reached a tentative deal with Ford earlier this week.

From CBC News Windsor:

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Ford CEO Alan Mulally
5:52 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Mulally: "My plan is to continue to serve at Ford"

Ford CEO Alan Mulally in New York on Tuesday, touting the new hybrid Fusion's segment-leading fuel economy
Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally says he has NOT told his company's board when he will retire-- contrary to recent media speculation.

Mulally's retirement date is an obsessively pursued story in the auto press.

Bloomberg, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal especially are all vying to be the first to get it right.

Bloomberg said last week that the Board of Ford Motor Company was poised to promote Mark Fields, Ford's President of the Americas.

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3:16 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Canadian Auto Workers and Ford close to agreement, others to follow?

Lead in text: 
The Detroit News has an update on the "Big Three" and their negotiations with the Canadian Auto Workers union. The deadline for a deal is midnight tonight.
Toronto - Talks between the Canadian Auto Workers union and Chrysler Group LLC may have turned the corner ahead of today's 11:59 p.m. contract deadline. Discussions with the Auburn Hills automaker - which shot back at Ford Motor Co.
Ford, Mulally and Fields
2:38 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Bloomberg, Reuters trying to out-scoop each other on Ford succession story

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co's (F.N) board of directors is considering keeping Chief Executive Alan Mulally involved with the No. 2 U.S. automaker after his retirement as nonexecutive chairman, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Auto
1:29 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Mulally leaving Ford? AP lists 3 reasons to worry, and 3 reasons to be hopeful

Ford CEO Alan Mulally. Ever since he turned 65, there's been speculation about his retirement.

Henry Ford's great-grandson said it plainly to the Associated Press... Ford Motor Company was once plagued by internal divisions that dragged the company down.

"At the old Ford, you had heroes and villains," [Bill Ford Jr.] said. "Now, it's, `OK, where do we have issues and how do we solve them?'"

Alan Mulally was brought in by Bill Ford Jr. in 2006 as Ford's new CEO.

Mulally has been credited with righting the ship. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton wrote about how Mulally has changed things at Ford over the last six years.

She writes about how Mulally's retirement has been a point of speculation ever since he turned 65:

...one question invariably comes up during media scrums at Ford Motor Company events. "When are you going to retire?" some reporter or other asks. Now that he's 67, the question is being asked even more frequently

Yesterday, Bloomberg News broke a story about moves the company plans to make:

Ford Motor Co. (F) directors are preparing to promote Mark Fields to chief operating officer from president of the Americas, a move that anoints him as probable successor to Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally, according to a person familiar with the plan.

Bloomberg writes Mulally is expected to retire at the end of 2013. Really? So far the company itself is mum.

But the retirement talk, has AP auto reporters Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher writing about life at Ford after Mulally.

They highlight six points about the company.

3 of which they say should worry investors, and three of which they say are encouraging signs.

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Auto
12:07 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

The man brave enough to take Alan Mulally at his word could be Ford's next CEO

ford.wieck.com

Ever since Ford CEO Alan Mulally turned 65, one question invariably comes up during media scrums at Ford Motor Company events.  "When are you going to retire?" some reporter or other asks.

Now that he's 67, the question is being asked even more frequently -- even though the man is by all accounts healthy, extremely fit, and a fierce competitor on the tennis court and golf course - and even though he seems to relish his job.  

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CAW talks
10:02 am
Wed September 12, 2012

Will Canadian Auto Workers union strike? We may know in 5 days

Canadian Auto Workers union

Just five days remain before an existing contract between the Canadian Auto Workers and Ford, GM, and Chrysler  expires. 

Members of the union previously authorized their leaders to call a strike - but it's a double edged sword for the union.

Ken Lewenza is National President of the Canadian Auto Workers.

He says the union is willing to come up with a deal that preserves the Detroit Three's Canadian labor costs as they are now.

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6:03 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

The math behind the Chevy Volt, will it ever add up for GM?

Lead in text: 
Reuters reports on the numbers behind the Volt - "There are some Americans paying just $5,050 to drive around for two years in a vehicle that cost as much as $89,000 to produce."
Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:18am EDT (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N) sold a record number of Chevrolet Volt sedans in August - but that probably isn't a good thing for the automaker's bottom line.
Auto
2:36 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Big 3 U.S. automakers facing strikes in Canada?

Jeff Smith Flickr

There's one week left in contract negotiations with the Canadian Auto Workers union, and it appears there are still some major sticking points in negotiations.

We posted last week that the union voted to authorize a strike if they determined one was needed.

Reuters reports plans for a potential strike are moving forward.

Strike captains at the union, which represents about 20,000 members at the three companies, were to meet in Toronto on Monday to advance plans for a triple strike.

"All three bargaining committees are determined to reject these demands and reach a fair deal," the CAW said in a leaflet distributed to members on Monday.

"The union recognizes the fragility of the industry and the need to stabilize fixed costs, while finding a solution rewards members' work. Unfortunately, our efforts have not been met with equal willingness by the companies to negotiate fair terms," the leaflet said.

The last time the Canadian Auto Workers went on strike was in 1996.

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