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9:05 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Ford takes calculated risk with aluminum F-150

One of the F150s owned by Plantwise at site of controlled burn.
David Mindell

Ford Motor Company revealed a groundbreaking change for its top-selling F-150 truck at the North American International Auto Show on Monday. The new truck will have a body made mostly of aluminum instead of steel.

Ford is taking the calculated risk to retain its crown as the number one seller of pickups in the world.

Ford is banking on the loyalty of F-150 owners like David Mindell, CEO of Plantwise, a company that specializes in native plant landscaping and wetlands restoration.

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Auto
5:10 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Detroit's auto show celebrates 25 years in the big leagues

Detroit's North American International Auto Show (file photo).
Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

This week's opening of the auto show at Cobo Center in Detroit marks 25 years since the show took its jump into the big time. 

What used to be the "Detroit Auto Show" became the North American International Auto Show, putting Detroit square in the center of the auto show universe. 

Detroit Free Press Business columnist Tom Walsh explores the show's history.

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F-150
9:42 am
Mon January 13, 2014

NAIAS: New F-150 with aluminum will be tough and strong, says Ford

New Ford F-150
media.ford.com

In a calculated risk meant to ensure Ford remains the leader in full-size pickups – and to meet upcoming truck fuel economy standards – the Dearborn automaker revealed a new F-150 that will shed about 700 pounds of its weight by switching much of the body to aluminum.

The company stresses that the frame of the truck will remain high-strength steel, but, "pound for pound, aluminum is stronger than steel," Ford CEO Alan Mulally told reporters after the event, which featured several F-150s bursting through a paper barrier designed to look like a concrete wall.

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Auto
9:04 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Reporter's notebook: No one crushed during new GM CEO's first scrum

GM CEO Mary Barra introduces GMC Canyon
General Motors

Media had their first chance to see General Motor's new CEO Mary Barra in action Sunday night.  Barra introduced the new GMC Canyon.

Afterwards, she went through the trial by fire known as a media scrum, her first.  Barra was surrounded on almost all sides by a huge crowd of reporters.  Her GM handlers made sure her back was to a truck, to give her an exit strategy.

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Auto
7:21 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

New GM CEO hopes to inspire science students

Mary Barra
Credit gm.com

The incoming CEO of General Motors hopes her appointment as the first woman to lead a global automaker will inspire young women and men to pursue careers in science.

Mary Barra's first appearance before reporters since getting the job eclipsed the rollout of the GMC Canyon small pickup truck.

Barra unveiled the truck and was immediately surrounded by hundreds of journalists Sunday at an old industrial site in Detroit.

She hopes her background as an electrical engineer encourages young people into studying science, technology, engineering or math.

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Auto
6:52 pm
Sat January 11, 2014

Detroit auto show 'super' boost for ailing city

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

DETROIT (AP) - Call it a 21st century paradox.

The city of Detroit is in bankruptcy, mired in debt of at least $18 billion. But the industry it's synonymous with has left its own financial problems in the rearview mirror.

This month, the industry comes to the Detroit area's aid, with an economic boost estimated near $400 million from its annual North American International Auto Show.

The impact isn't solely financial. A successful show can help give local residents and businesses confidence that the city can get back on its feet again.

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Stateside
8:44 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Daniel Howes on the upcoming North American International Auto Show

A photo from the 2012 North American International Auto Show.
Wikipedia

It's Thursday, time for the first check-in of this New Year with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Understandably, he has the auto industry on his mind as we prepare for next week's opening of the North American International Auto Show. He got an early look at the show, and he joined us today to discuss it. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Auto
7:48 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Ford CEO Mulally says he's not leaving for Microsoft

Ford CEO Alan Mulally (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Ford CEO Alan Mulally says he will not leave the automaker for Microsoft and will stay at Ford at least through 2014.

Mulally is widely credited with saving Ford after being hired away from Boeing in 2006. But in recent months there have been numerous reports that he was in the running for the top job at Microsoft, where CEO Steve Ballmer has said he plans to leave the company sometime this year.

Stateside
4:32 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Looking at the year ahead for the auto industry

The North American International Auto Show is even tough for the Michelin Man.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

The 2014 North American International Auto Show is just around the corner.

Reporters from around the world will descend on Detroit's Cobo Center next week for the media preview days, the big black-tie Charity Preview is on Jan. 17, and the doors open to the public on Saturday, Jan. 18.

With that in mind, we wanted to see what the upcoming year might bring for the auto industry. For that we turn to Michelle Krebs from Edmunds.com, and Michigan Radio’s auto reporter, Tracy Samilton.

*Listen to the audio above.

Auto
6:45 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

Fiat to own 100% of Chrysler by January 20

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat and Chrysler
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Fiat began the new year with a pretty big announcement: It will soon have full ownership of Chrysler.

The Italian automaker owns 59% of Chrysler, and will buy the 41% stake owned by the VEBA -- a trust set up to pay for union retiree health care -- by January 20.

The company will pay $3.65 billion. The company will also pay the VEBA an additional $700 million, split into four equal payments, made over the next four years.

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Auto
9:55 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Ford calls 2013 one of best financial years ever

Ford Motor Company

DETROIT (AP) - Ford says it expects 2013 to be one of the best financial years in its history with a pretax profit of about $8.5 billion.

The automaker expects 10% revenue growth, improved market share in all regions except Europe and stronger cash flow than a year ago.

The company released its forecast Wednesday ahead of a presentation to analysts by Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks.

Ford also expects next year to be solid. It plans to launch the highest number of new vehicles in a single year in more than a century.

Auto
4:34 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson says they've 'been trying to fix this airplane while in air'

Dan Akerson speaking at the National Press Club.
NPC screen shot from YouTube

Outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson spoke to the National Press Club this afternoon cataloging all the changes the company has made to make it profitable once again.

The U.S. Treasury sold the last of its holdings in the company earlier this month. The government said they lost about $10 billion on its bailout of over $49 billion.

Akerson said over the last four years, the company has invested more than $10 billion in its U.S. operations, including $1.27 billion announced today.

"There's that $10 billion again. But we're investing it - that will keep paying dividends to the American public that supported this company in its darkest hour," said Akerson. 

Akerson said the company is still in the early chapters of the comeback story and that they still have a lot to prove to people who left the brand for other car companies.

Akerson will step down as CEO on January 15, 2014. Akerson was with the Carlyle Group prior to taking the helm at GM in 2010. The global auto industry will see its first female CEO when Marry Barra takes over in January.

You can watch Akerson's address to the National Press Club below:

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Auto
1:25 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

GM to invest $1.27 billion into plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana

GM's Flint Assembly will get an upgrade.
GM

GM made the announcement today and said the investments in the manufacturing plants "will create or retain about 1,000 jobs."

The investments will be made in these five plants:

  1. Flint Assembly 
  2. Romulus Powertrain Operations
  3. Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly
  4. Toledo Transmission Operations
  5. Bedford Castings in Indiana

GM says the investments "will support production of a new V6 engine, new 10-speed transmission and an existing 6-speed transmission. They will also fund assembly plant upgrades, including a new paint shop and logistics optimization center."

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Auto
7:56 am
Mon December 16, 2013

GM making a 'significant' announcement in Flint today

Workers on the line at GM's Flint Assembly plant (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

General Motors plans to make a “significant manufacturing” announcement in Flint today.

General Motors officials have declined to say what they plan to announce at the Flint Assembly plant.

But they have confirmed that Governor Rick Snyder and GM North America President Mark Reuss will be there.

The announcement in Flint coincides with an appearance by outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., where he’s scheduled to speak on the automaker’s plans for future investment in the U.S.

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Stateside
4:05 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

With this week's announcements, is there a new future for Michigan's auto industry?

This week, GM announced that Mary Barra will be the company's first female CEO.
Dave Pinter Flickr

It’s been a big week for Michigan’s auto industry.

A report from Business Leaders for Michigan revealed a plan to bring 100,000 automotive jobs to the sector. And General Motors announced the next CEO of the company will be Mary Barra. She’ll be the first female CEO in the car industry.

Daniel Howes, a business columnist from The Detroit News, talks with us about this week’s announcements.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:15 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

What does GM's first female CEO mean for the auto industry?

General Motors's next CEO, Mary Barra.
Carlos Osorio Associated Press

She began her career at General Motors as an engineering co-op student in 1980.

33 years later, Mary Barra has made history by being named the next CEO of GM — the first time a woman has been placed in the top spot of a major automaker.

GM made the groundbreaking announcement today that CEO Dan Akerson has moved up his retirement to January 15, after discovering his wife is battling advanced-stage cancer.

But who is Mary Barra, and what does this appointment mean to America's auto industry?

Listen to the full interview above. 

Auto
9:49 am
Tue December 10, 2013

GM's Dan Akerson will step down, company names first woman as CEO

Mary Barra, 51, will become the first CEO in the global automotive industry.
GM

Dan Akerson, chairman and CEO of General Motors, will step down on January 15, 2014. Akerson moved up the date of his departure by several months after his wife was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

Akerson's successor will be Mary Barra. She's the executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.

The 51-year-old Barra will become the company's first female CEO, and will be the first female CEO in the global automotive industry.

Barra was the daughter of a Pontiac die maker, according to Bloomberg:

Barra, 51, whose career started on a factory floor as an intern more than 30 years ago, has been in charge of product development and quality of all GM cars and trucks for 22 months, fostering collaboration and wringing costs out of the supply chain.

In its press release, GM said Barra was a leader in the company's turnaround:

...revitalizing GM’s product development process resulting in the launch of critically acclaimed new products while delivering record product quality ratings and higher customer satisfaction.

“With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today’s GM,” said Barra. “I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”

GM announced other executive staff changes as well. Dan Ammann, 41 and GM CFO, will become company president and will manage the company's regional operations around the world. He'll remain as CFO of GM as well. A new CFO will be named at a later date.

And Mark Reuss, 50, will move into the position being vacated by Barra.

Auto
8:09 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

GM is 'Government Motors' no more

GM headquarters - Renaissance Center
John F. Martin Creative Commons

Four years after facing the possibility of its own demise, General Motors is free of the controversial government ownership that saved the Detroit automaker in 2009.

"It was an unambiguous success," says Steven Rattner, who headed the Obama Administration's Auto Task Force.

The task force shepherded GM through an unprecedented 42-day bankruptcy.

The U.S. Treasury announced Monday it had sold the last of its stock in GM, at a loss of $10.5 billion.

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Auto
3:07 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

General Motors to sponsor Flint's 'Back to the Bricks' and other related car shows

General Motors will be sponsoring the Michiana car shows and Flint's Back to the Bricks cruise next summer
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

General Motors is heading back to its roots.

The automaker announced today that it will sponsor Flint’s “Back to the Bricks” car show for the next five years. The show features hundreds of ‘classic’ cars and trucks.

“This is an event that is more than just a car cruise and a car show,” says GM spokesman Tom Wickham, “It brings people into a community…provides an economic boost to a community and we need an economic boost.”

About a half million people attended Back to the Bricks in Flint this year.

Stateside
4:47 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

What's behind General Motors' decision to withdraw Chevy from Europe?

Chevy's models will be withdrawn from European markets.
Chevrolet

Today, General Motors announced plans to largely withdraw its Chevrolet brand from Europe beginning in 2016.

The automaker says the decision was largely due to a challenging business model and the difficult economic situation in Europe.

Meanwhile, the Ford Mustang is celebrating its 50th birthday with a new design — and plans to go global.

Russell Padmore, business reporter for the BBC, joins us from London to talk about the latest auto news.

Listen to full interview above. 

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