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Toyota is making changes to its top staff, with more North Americans rising in the ranks.

"For the first time they are elevating some Americans to some very key positions," says Daniel Howes, who recently wrote an article about the changes for the Detroit News.

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Freezing temperatures and drifts of snow likely took a small bite out of U.S. auto sales last month, but most automakers are still reporting gains thanks to the strong economy.

General Motors' sales rose 4.2% over last February, while Chrysler's sales were up 5.6%. Nissan's sales were up 2.7%. However, those gains were smaller than analysts had predicted.

wikipedia/National Park Service

The number of pedestrians killed on U.S. highways last year is expected to remain largely unchanged from 2013, based on preliminary data.

But a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association says Michigan's pedestrian deaths rose significantly.

In the first six months of 2013, 47 pedestrians lost their lives on a Michigan road.  That number was 66 for the same time period in 2014.

NHTSA/ibtimes

Recalls of automobiles for safety and other defects are up.

In 2014, automakers recalled a record 63.9 million vehicles in the U.S., more than any year in history. 

That means about 25% of the cars on the road were the subject of at least one recall in 2014.

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As we talk about the auto industry, the "Detroit Three," it's all too easy to forget that these enormous companies began as scrappy little start-ups, birthed by innovators who were not afraid to set the status quo on its ear.

meddygarnet/Flickr / wikipedia

The average length of a car loan was 48 months a few years ago, according to the auto industry consulting firm AutoPacific.

These days, it's 66 months.

"There are quite a few 96-month loans out there, which is kinda scary to think," says the group's Ed Kim.

Quentin Kruger / Wikimedia Commons

It could have been a story of a company's ruin following a bankruptcy in 2005.

Instead, Delphi Automotive is "a Wall Street love story" -- but at what cost to its American workforce?

After U.S. bankruptcy, the automotive parts manufacturing company moved its headquarters from Troy to the U.K.

twincountytire.com

Many Michigan motorists will find themselves stuck with a dead battery Monday morning.

Frigid overnight temps are expected to leave many a battery ice cold, leaving motorists struggling in vain to get their engines to turn over.   

AAA is expecting a lot of calls from Michigan motorists who need to have their car batteries jumped. 

D.H. Parks/Flickr / wikipedia.org

Automakers and their suppliers are growing increasingly worried about a standoff between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The union represents longshoremen at West Coast ports, where tons of retail, agricultural, and auto sector materials are shipped in and out every week.

Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

A month after showing the Bolt as a concept at the North American International Auto Show, General Motors has announced it will produce the electric car at its Orion Township plant.

media.ford.com

When you hear the term "midlife crisis" most people imagine a fifty-something guy driving off in a new sports car, but it turns out women are casting their eyes on midlife crisis cars too.

A new survey from CarMax decided to determine just what a midlife crisis car actually is. Publisher of thedetroitbureau.com Paul Eisenstein says the survey found a little less than a third of people give into these urges and purchase the car of their dreams.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

It has become crystal clear: Michigan's budget will have some mighty big holes this year and into the future. That's because billions of dollars of state tax credits awarded largely to Detroit's three automakers are coming due. The credits were aimed at keeping plants and jobs in Michigan during the Great Recession.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes believes before we get caught up in finger-pointing, grandstanding and wailing, a history lesson is in order.

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General Motors reports earning $2.8 billion last year, despite issuing a record number of recalls.

GM recalled more than 26 million vehicles in the U.S., and 30 million globally.

GM CEO Mary Barra says the recall crisis was "galvanizing."

"We have built what I believe is the best safety organization in the industry, and we are instilling a zero-defect mindset across the company," she told analysts and investors during a conference call on the fiscal year's financial results.

Ford Motor Company

The new F-150 appears to be a slam dunk for Ford Motor Company.

Ford officials say, based on the strong demand for the pickup in January, the company will hire 1,550 additional workers at its facilities that build the truck.

Ford Motor Company

Between 300 and 500 Ford Motor Company workers will soon be getting a raise - a big raise.

Ford is bumping the workers from the so-called Tier 2 starting wage, now about $19.50 an hour, to the Tier 1 wage of $28.50 an hour.

1995-1996 Toyota Camry.
IFCAR / wikimedia commons

MINNEAPOLIS - A federal jury has ordered Toyota Motor Corp. to pay nearly $11 million to victims of a fatal wreck after deciding a design flaw in the 1996 Camry was partially to blame for the Minnesota crash.

The verdict, which also held the driver partially responsible, was announced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Koua Fong Lee's 1996 Camry crashed into another vehicle in St. Paul. Lee testified he tried to stop, but that the car wouldn't slow.

Motor Trend

January 31 was the deadline to file a claim related to GM's ignition switch recall, and as the administrators of a special compensation fund expected, there was a last-minute surge in filed claims.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Ford Motor Company's earnings last year totaled $3.2 billion, a big drop from 2013, when the company made $6.2 billion.

But Ford executives say much of the decline is due to a record 24 new vehicle launches last year.  

"Certainly we have more costs associated with those product launches," says Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks. "(But) they were going to set us up for a much stronger 2015 and that's exactly where we find ourselves today."

If you follow auto news at all, you know this already.  Ford Motor Company's new F-150 has an aluminum body. 

Aluminum is lighter than steel, so the switch has taken up to 700 pounds off the weight of the pickup, improving the truck's fuel economy as well as the payload and towing capacity.

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Many of the most memorable commercials during past Super Bowls have come from automakers, but fewer will be participating in the expensive marketing during the event this year.

A rally last year in Canton, Mississippi for Nissan workers.
user peoplesworld / Flickr

  Amidst the buzz over the shiny new cars, trucks and SUVs on display at the North American International Auto Show are voices of protest. They represent workers at Nissan's assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi who feel betrayed by the automaker's promise of good jobs.

Wikipedia

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with the auto industry to phase out most copper from brake pads by the year 2025.

The agreement follows in the wake of California's adoption of the regulation, which is designed to protect salmon and other fish, along with aquatic plants, from the toxic effects of copper.

Every time a driver hits the brakes, the friction rubs off part of the brake pad. The fine dust of copper and other toxic materials on roadways is flushed into nearby waterways.

The 2015 Ford Mustang.
Ford Motor Company

The Ford Mustang is on its way to China.

Ford says its first shipload of around 100 Mustangs has left Portland, Oregon, and is headed to China. Shipments to Europe will begin later this year.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan State Police say they have been focusing resources on an unusually dangerous stretch of I-94 between Battle Creek and Galesburg for some time.

That was before a massive pileup of more than 190  vehicles on January 9th.

Now, police will bring even more resources to bear on the area.  An enforcement campaign this summer will expand beyond the usual speeding and drunk driving offenses.

"We're also going to incorporate some videotaping of some drivers texting while driving," says Lieutenant Dale Hinds.  "We've had quite a bit of issue with that in that area."

Automotive Rhythms / Flickr

The North American International Auto Show is in full swing in Detroit.

Writer Paul Eisenstein, publisher of TheDetroitBureau.com, serves up an in-depth look at the state of alternative fuel vehicles for the January issue of Hour Detroit Magazine.

Eisenstein has covered all the news conferences and "big vehicle reveals" at the NAIAS. Amidst the luxury cars and the muscle cars like that new 650-horsepower Corvette automakers are still thinking "green" with alternative fuel options.

Mark Brush

Every year, my neighbor knows spring is almost here because he sees me lying under my 24-year-old VW Vanagon looking for the latest leak from my “wasserboxer” engine.

It’s like Groundhog Day. If the thing starts, spring comes early. If not, we’re all one mail-order part away from warmer weather. So when that VW parts place in California sends me the new hose/temp sensor/gasket/fratastat, I fire up the van and summer starts.  

I’ve been lucky. I’ve kept the thing going. The van still has Fahrvergnügen. And we get to park it in places like this:

 

Alden Jewell / Flickr

Got milk? Well, back in the day, milk trucks drove door-to-door delivering the all important staple to your home.

Twin Pines, Sealtest, Borden’s, Washtenaw Dairy and Guernsey Farm are just a few of the companies that sent hardy little delivery trucks out every day, serving up home delivery of milk, cream, eggs and cheese.

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne rarely holds a press conference without offering at least one memorable quote.

Actually, let's make that never. FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has never given a press conference without making at least one statement that is memorable, or colorful, or shocking, or funny, or all four combined.

Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

Click on the image above to see some of the concept cars on display at this year's auto show.

- Paige Pfleger, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Today marks the first day of media preview action at the North American International Auto Show. Already, some big winners have been named. Ford won Truck of the Year award for its F-150, while the Volkswagen Golf was crowned the North American Car of the Year.

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