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A 2005 Toyota Camry.
ownersmanualblog.com

FLINT, Michigan – A judge has accepted a settlement involving the family of a 77-year-old Flint-area woman killed when her 2005 Toyota Camry slammed into a tree after alleged sudden acceleration.

Terms of the settlement that was approved Friday between the family of Guadalupe Alberto and the automaker aren't being released. Genesee County Judge Archie Hayman in Flint says it's been a "long road" for the family and his prayers are with them.

The Flint Journal reports that Alberto's daughter, Lilia Alberto, says a payment from the settlement will be distributed among family members.

Lawyers for both sides declined to comment after the hearing. Toyota said earlier this month that it was satisfied that a mutually acceptable agreement was reached.

Guadalupe Alberto died instantly in the April 2008 crash in Flint.

A Ford assembly plant in Kansas City.
Ford Motor Company / Flickr

Ford Motor Company's first quarter 2014 profit fell 39% from the same period last year due to a combination of factors, including currency problems in Venezuela, and higher costs for warranty claims and recalls.

Ford made $989 million net income in the first three months of the year.

Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks says some of the decline was foreseen.

The automaker is launching more vehicles (23) this year than any time in its history.

Ford Motor Company

All signs point to a big change at Ford Motor Company.

Although the automaker has not made an official announcement, there is much speculation today that CEO Alan Mulally is reportedly ready to retire before the year is out and COO Mark Fields will ascend to the top spot.

Michigan Radio's auto reporter Tracy Samilton joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin / Creative Commons

DETROIT – General Motors is adding 35 product safety investigators as part of a larger restructuring in response to a series of safety recalls.

GM says the new investigators will more than double the size of its current team, to 55.

The company is also dividing its global vehicle engineering organization into two sections. A product integrity section will oversee vehicle and engine engineering as well as safety, while a separate department will oversee parts engineering and advanced vehicle development.

GM's product development chief Mark Reuss says the changes were made to ensure that potential problems are spotted and handled more quickly.

The government is investigating why it took GM more than a decade to recall small cars with a defective ignition switch.

Ford Motor Company

The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, and The Detroit News report that Ford Motor Company will soon announce that Mark Fields, Ford's Chief Operating Officer, will be its next CEO – and give a firm date for current CEO Alan Mulally's departure from the company he has led since 2006.

Mulally has consistently said he'd stay at the helm of the second-largest auto company in the U.S. until the end of 2014.  But the reports say Mulally will now leave earlier.

Documents detail another delayed GM recall

Apr 19, 2014
GM

DETROIT (AP) - Government documents show that General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and warranty repair claims. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration didn't seek a recall of the 2004-2007 compact cars even though it opened an investigation more than two years ago.

An image from the consumer alert issued for the GM ignition switch recall.
NHTSA

DETROIT (AP) - A federal judge in Texas has denied an emergency motion that would have forced General Motors to tell owners of 2 million recalled cars to stop driving their vehicles until their ignition switches are repaired.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos issued her order Thursday in Corpus Christi. Attorney Robert Hilliard, who represents some owners, had argued that the GM cars could at any moment lose power and expose their occupants to serious injury or death.

GM had urged the court not to intervene and instead let a recall overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proceed. The carmaker said extensive testing had shown that if the recall instructions were followed, there was no risk that the ignition switch would fail.

GM has linked the switch to 13 deaths.

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin / Creative Commons

General Motors is asking a bankruptcy judge in New York to take a look at its "shield" – the shield that protects it from liability lawsuits that stem from crashes or defects that happened before its bankruptcy.

Veteran auto analyst Michelle Krebs joined us today. She explained what GM is trying to find out. *Listen to the audio above.

carhumor.com

There was an encouraging report last month from the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute about fuel economy.

We hit a record high in February in terms of gas mileage for new vehicles sold in the U.S.: 25.2 miles per gallon. It's the fifth-straight month gas mileage for new vehicles has topped 25 mpg.

That got us wondering how we're faring in the quest to squeeze out better mileage from our cars and trucks, and in the quest to create electric, hybrid, natural gas and fuel-cell vehicles and technologies.

Charles Griffith is the climate and energy program director at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

screen grab / U.S. House of Representatives

Two engineers have been put on paid leave at General Motors as the company has an outside attorney investigate why it took more than 10 years for GM to recall millions of cars with faulty ignition switches.

GM says the switches have been linked to at least 13 deaths.

More on the suspension of the engineers from the Associated Press:

The company says in a statement Thursday that the action was taken after a briefing from former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas. He's been hired to figure out why GM was so slow to recall the cars.

2007 Cobalt, one of the recalled models
GM

A recall crisis at General Motors hasn't slowed sales of Cobalts, HHR's and other cars with a defective ignition switch.

In fact, the cars are selling for more than they did just a month or two ago.

Alec Gutierrez of Kelly Blue Book says used car prices go up in the spring.

"So, it's a matter of a rising tide lifting all boats," he says.

The new head of General Motors, Mary Barra, goes to Capitol Hill Tuesday to begin two days of testimony.

It's the first time she'll be questioned about a safety defect that's been linked to at least 13 deaths and has sparked a 2.6 million-vehicle recall.

At issue for the Detroit CEO is a classic question: What did GM know about the problems with ignition switch problems in its cars, and when did the company know it?

And just as important for GM and government regulators is the follow-up question: Why did no one act sooner?

General Motors

This week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will testify in Washington about last month's recall for a defective ignition switch. The defect is linked to at least 13 deaths and 30 injuries. GM has known about it since at least 2004.

Testifying will be a test of Barra's leadership – she's been in charge of GM a mere two and a half months. But Barra may be unable to answer the most haunting question: Why did GM delay the recall for so long?

The question is on the minds of lots of customers, as well as politicians.

United Auto Workers membership grows slightly

Mar 29, 2014
UAW/Facebook

NEW YORK (AP) - A filing with the U.S. Department of Labor shows the United Auto Workers' membership grew by nearly 9,000 people last year. 

UAW's membership in 2013 was 391,415, compared to 382,513 in 2012. The union has been steadily adding members since 2009, when General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Ford CEO Alan Mulally's compensation rose 11 percent to $23.2 million in 2013, as the company reported record profits in North America.

Mulally earned $2 million in salary, the same as 2012. But he earned more in bonuses, at $5.9 million, and in stock and option awards, which totaled $14.7 million.

The company's board said Mulally exceeded profit and cash flow targets. The company also earned a record pretax profit of $8.8 billion in North America.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors is adding 824,000 small cars to its ongoing recall tied to defective ignition switches.

The company will add vehicles from the 2008-2011 model years to a recall that initially covered cars only through the 2007 model year.

The Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Ion and Saturn Sky are all involved in the recall.

GM says around 5,000 of the faulty switches were used for repairs on 2008-2011 model year cars. GM says it's expanding the recall to make sure it finds all the switches.

Next week will bring a big test for new GM CEO Mary Barra.

She will present herself to Congress for a two-day grilling over the ever-growing ignition switch crisis, a problem that GM says is linked to 12 deaths.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes thinks Barra has a whole lot of heavy lifting to do to get this "new" GM out of the shadow of the missteps of the "old" GM. He joined us today for our weekly check-in.

Listen to the full interview above.

General Motors

GM released four additional videos featuring CEO Mary Barra to try to answer the most common questions customers have about an ignition switch recall that was delayed for nearly 10 years.

The most pressing question is probably: "Is it safe to drive my car?"

GM has recalled more than 1.5 million late-model Cobalts, HHRs, Pontiac Solstices, Saturn Skys and Saturn Ions.

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin / Creative Commons

General Motors has been in the headlines recently over its recall of more than 1.5 million vehicles due to ignition switch problems that are being blamed for some 13 deaths.

Toyota is also in the news after having agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle with the Justice Department over a delayed recall of millions of its vehicles.

But are U.S. consumers facing recall fatigue?

Sonari Glinton covers the auto industry for NPR, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

General Motors

Members of Congress will have tough questions for the new CEO of General Motors.

Mary Barra is expected to testify in front of the Energy and Commerce Committee next month.

Barra has only been on the job as CEO for three months. Now she’s facing scrutiny for how the automaker handled or mishandled a major safety recall affecting more than 1.5 million cars.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says she’s confident in Barra’s leadership.

user paul (dex) / Flickr

It was announced yesterday that Toyota has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle with the U.S. Justice Department over a delayed recall of millions of vehicles.

The Justice Department is also investigating General Motors for delaying a recall of more than 1.5 million cars. The cars have defective ignition switches that can turn the car off at high speeds.

There's also news that GM executives are being summoned to D.C. to face Congressional inquiries.

Daniel Howes, business columnist at the Detroit News, joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Saying that "Toyota intentionally concealed information" and misled the public about the danger that some of its vehicles might suddenly accelerate, Attorney Gen. Eric Holder announced Wednesday that the automaker is being fined $1.2 billion for not being forthcoming after car owners started to complain in 2009.

An image from the consumer alert issued for the GM ignition switch recall.
NHTSA

Last month, General Motors recalled 1.6 million vehicles because of faulty ignition switches linked to 13 deaths and at least 31 crashes.

That has grown into that biggest crisis GM has faced in years, and an early and severe test for its new chief, Mary Barra.

Yesterday she released a video making a public apology:

“Something went wrong with our process in this instance and terrible things happened. As a member of the GM family and as a mom with a family of my own, this really hits home for me. And we have apologized. But that is just one step in the journey to resolve this.”

Also yesterday, the automaker announced another recall: more than 1.7 million vehicles in three new campaigns.

ChemicoMays

Auto companies are reducing the total number of their suppliers to maximize cost savings -- and that can make it harder than ever for new part suppliers to break into the business.

So, automakers like Ford Motor Company are doing what they can to make sure female, minority and veteran-owned manufacturers aren't bypassed.

Carla Traci Preston is Ford's Director of Supplier Diversity Development.

user paul (dex) / Flickr

The Detroit automakers are moving into their fifth year of recovery from the disastrous bottoming-out of 2009, when GM and Chrysler had to file for bankruptcy and Ford had to mortgage itself to the hilt to avoid the same fate.

Sales are brisk, auto loans are available and the future is bright, or is it?

Are there warning signs of another auto downturn? And if so, can the state of Michigan protect itself from getting hit as hard as it did in the last collapse?

Bridge Magazine writer Rick Haglund wrote about this in a recent piece for Bridge, and he joined us today along with Kristen Dziczek from the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

General Motors plans to spend $162-million to expand its Lansing Grand River Assembly plant.

The plant produces the Cadillac ATS and CTS.

Monday night the Lansing city council will consider calling public hearings on a set of tax incentives for the expansion.

“It’s a welcome addition,” says Bob Trezise, the president of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, “It really continues to consolidate the future of auto making, high end car making in the Lansing region and in the state of Michigan.”

automotiveauto.info

We've all heard the familiar idiom "every cloud has a silver lining."

But when it comes to the healthy profits being earned by the Detroit automakers and the profit-sharing checks that will be going to autoworkers, my next guest points out, the converse is true: "Every silver lining has a cloud."

Detroit Free Press Business columnist Tom Walsh joined us today.

Enterprise

A new study says car sharing has already cost U.S. auto dealers a lot of car sales over the past few years –and the trend will accelerate in the future.

John Hoffecker of AlixPartners says car-sharing services like ZipCar reduced car purchases by 500,000  between 2006 and 2013.

The AlixPartners study focused on 10 metro areas where car-sharing services are well established.

2007 Cobalt, one of the recalled models
GM

General Motors is expanding its recall of cars for a defect that can suddenly turn off the cars and disable the airbags.

The company also admits it made mistakes during the initial recall.

The defect is a faulty switch that may have caused more than 30 crashes and 13 deaths.

In some instances, the ignition switches turn off if the car is jarred, or if the key ring has extra weight on it.

Pobrecito33 / Flickr

The United Auto Workers is blaming outside interference for its defeat this month in a union election at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The UAW filed an appeal of that vote today with the National Labor Relations Board.

In the days leading up to the vote, numerous Tennessee politicians threatened to kill millions of dollars of state incentives for an expansion of the plant if the workers voted to unionize.

In the end, plant workers voted down the union by a narrow margin.

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