Auto

Changing Gears
12:11 pm
Mon October 17, 2011

A very brief history of the Midwest magic bullet (Part 1)

Memorabilia from the now defunct AutoWorld in Flint.

History is full of the search for magic bullets, those quick tickets to jobs and economic prosperity. Cities across our region have put great hopes and resources into magic bullets.

Some have soared; many have backfired.

This week, we’re bringing you stories of magic bullets past and present. We start with this look back.

Magic bullets are kind of like imaginary friends. We all have them in our past, but most people deny they exist.

Read more
Economy
10:25 am
Mon October 17, 2011

Consumers Energy natural gas users will spend less this winter

Blue Flame Gas inc.

Consumers Energy says its natural gas customers will be paying less this winter to heat their homes.  

Dan Bishop is a Consumers spokesman.   He says more plentiful supplies are leading to a 3 percent cut in natural gas prices.   

“In recent years there’s been a large amount of new natural gas discoveries in the United States and in Canada.  And that extra increase of supply has really put downward pressure on prices," says Bishop.  

Auto/Economy
6:10 pm
Sun October 16, 2011

Ford's largest local union approves contract

Workers at Ford's largest local union have approved a new labor contract with the company.

Ford and the UAW reached a tentative agreement on the contract earlier this month but it must be ratified by Ford's 41,000 UAW workers.

The union says 62 percent of the more than 5,000 workers at Local 600 in Dearborn favored the agreement.

Lansing
1:01 am
Sun October 16, 2011

Tax deal may lead to expansion at Lansing's Capital Region International Airport

Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Plans to turn Lansing’s airport into an ‘aerotropolis’ may soar or fall to earth this week.   

The Lansing City Council on Monday will discuss a deal to split tax revenues at Capital Region International Airport with a local township.   If the tax deal is approved, it could spur business investment at the mid-Michigan airport. 

Robert Selig is the executive director the Capital Region Airport Authority.  He says the airport will use the tax deal as part of its application for state tax credits to create an ‘aerotropolis’.   

“We’re trying to put together a marketing package that we can go nationally with to recruit businesses…that are in logistics, air cargo, distribution…and encourage them to locate in mid-Michigan and expand their businesses here," says Selig.   

Selig says the airport only has a few weeks to get its application submitted for those state tax credits.

Auto/Economy
3:59 pm
Fri October 14, 2011

Obama: Free trade agreements will boost US auto industry

President Barack Obama addresses an audience of auto workers at the GM Orion Assembly Plant, as South Korean president Lee Myung-bak (wearing a Detroit Tigers baseball cap) looks on.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 In southeast Michigan today, President Obama said free trade agreements passed this week by Congress will lead to more jobs and more economic opportunities.   

Obama and South Korean president Lee Myung-bak toured GM’s Orion assembly plant.   Obama says the new South Korea trade agreement should boost U.S. auto sales in Asia. 

public transportation
11:44 am
Fri October 14, 2011

Amtrak reports record riders and revenue in Michigan

The Wolverine train pulls into the Ann Arbor station. More than 500,000 passengers rode the 'Wolverine' line between Pontiac/Detroit and Chicago, an increase of nearly percent from the same period a year ago. Wolverine is the most popular in Michigan.
smaedli Creative Commons

Amtrak trains in Michigan had a record number of riders and revenue for the fiscal year that ended last month. Michigan Department of Transportation spokeswoman Janet Foran says Amtrak riders have increased steadily since 2008 when gas prices spiked over $4 per gallon.

Nearly 800,000 people rode one of three passenger train lines in the state bringing in close to $28 million in ticket revenue “It goes to show that people like to have transportation choices,” Foran said.

The record numbers come despite major slow-downs over the summer on the most popular line from Detroit to Chicago.

The biggest ridership increase was on the line that runs from Port Huron through East Lansing to Chicago.

Foran says the summer months and the upcoming holiday season are the busiest times for train riders.

Auto/Economy
10:13 am
Fri October 14, 2011

Lansing's credit rating is downgraded

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Lansing's credit rating. The city's rating has gone from Aa2, Moody's third-highest rating, to A1, its fifth highest. City finance director Jerry Ambrose says the downgrade impacts the interest rate Lansing would pay to borrow money.

Auto/Economy
1:01 am
Fri October 14, 2011

President Obama visits Michigan today

President Barack Obama
White House

President Obama will be in southeast Michigan today to promote a new  free trade agreement with South Korea.  President Obama is scheduled to tour General Motor’s assembly plant in Lake Orion.   South Korea’s president will accompany Obama. 

Congress this week approved a new free trade agreement with South Korea.  South Korea is the world’s 13th largest economy.  

The free trade pact is the largest such deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico in the mid-90’s. 

Ford in China
12:19 am
Fri October 14, 2011

Ford and the case of the Chinese official's hat

Want to know the real reason Ford isn’t one of the biggest car companies in China right now? 

Hats. 

That's right. David McKee says it’s because of hats. Here’s the story. 

In 1992, Ford Motor Company sent McKee to China to head a Ford components company. At the time, very few ordinary Chinese owned cars. Cars were a perk for bureaucrats. 

Read more
public transportation
4:57 pm
Thu October 13, 2011

Federal grants fund 11 public transportation projects in Michigan

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority got money to buy clean diesel buses with hybrid-electric components to increase bus service on the busy Washtenaw Ave. corridor.
fabi k Creative Commons

Nine public transportation systems in Michigan have won competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grants announced Thursday total nearly $44 million.

Read more
Economy
11:59 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Levin calls for end of offshore corporate tax breaks

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, (D)-Mich.
Jeffry Simms Flickr

A U.S. Senate report says a 2004 tax break let American companies bring back billions of dollars in offshore earnings at a very low tax rate.

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan says companies including Coca-Cola, IBM and Pfizer got a windfall, but didn’t live up to their promises:

"There was no way to make sure that when they brought the money back they would use it for what they use it for – which was to create jobs and have more R&D – research and development,” Levin says.

Instead, Levin says the companies cut jobs and research, while executive pay went up.

He says if Washington repeats the offshore tax break, the treasury will lose up to $80 billion over ten years.

Other companies that took the repatriating tax break include Altria, Bristol-Myers Squibb, DuPont, Eli Lilly, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Oracle, and Procter & Gamble.

Changing Gears
11:49 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Nonprofit company uses science to turn ideas into jobs

Woody Cook, Battelle National Security, next to a pool that is used to test underwater robotic devices.
Niala Boodhoo Changing Gears

(We're having technical problems with the "audio processing" file above. To listen, please click on the second file.)

Steve Job’s death last week has reminded everyone firsthand the notion that everyone has ideas, and very few become actual products.

That’s because ideas need a push. In some cases, a big push from science to become reality.

It sounds obvious, but when we’re talking about actual products, that translate into actual jobs, and actual economic activity, it’s worth exploring.

That’s why I was so interested to learn more about Battelle Memorial Institute.

Innovation can strike in a variety of ways.

Read more
Auto/Economy
4:38 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

UAW and Chrysler reach tentative contract deal

Chrysler and the United Auto Workers have agreed to terms for a four-year contract deal.

Chrysler is the last of Detroit’s three carmakers to reach a tentative agreement with the UAW.

The agreement follows some tense negotiations between the UAW and Chrysler, which is majority-owned by the Italian automaker Fiat.

Chrysler is smaller and more indebted than its fellow U.S. automakers, but the UAW sought a contract with similar terms to those it got from GM and Ford.

Like in the GM and Ford contracts, entry-level Chrysler workers will get a wage hike under this deal. Workers also stand to get more in bonus pay and profit-sharing.

“The overall framework, the overall labor cost agreement [compared to GM and Chrysler] is very, very comparable,” said UAW President Bob King. “We tweaked them, shifted them a little bit in each case, because of the specific needs of the individual companies.”

Also like the GM and Ford contracts, this agreement focuses more on creating and retaining jobs for U.S. workers than on boosting worker pay. Chrysler says it will invest $4.5 billion in U.S. production, and create 2100 U.S. jobs.

King thinks most of his members understand the focus on future investment.

“Our members overwhelmingly supported the goal of bringing more jobs into our plants,” King says.  “And our members understand overall that they can’t be secure unless there’s product and investment long-term in their facility.”

UAW officials hope to get Chrysler workers to ratify the deal within the next two weeks.

GM UAW workers ratified their contract by a roughly 2-to-1 margin. Ford workers are still voting.

Economy
2:52 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Prison chief: Inmates should learn building skills, work in community projects

Michigan Department of Corrections Director Dan Heyns.

There’s not a lot of industry inside Michigan’s prisons right now. Most of the jobs involve making prison or guard uniforms.

Dan Heyns says he wants to change that.

The new head of the Michigan Department of Corrections says prisoners should be learning job skills they can use when they’re released.

Heyns has formed a woring group of the state’s 33 prison wardens to look at some options for inmates. Learning the construction trade is one of them.

Another option is for prisons to partner with communities, cleaning up parks, for example.

“There are an awful lot of projects in communities – because they’re so cash-strapped – that wouldn’t get done if not for access to a reasonably cheap labor force," Heyns says.

He says the community projects would give taxpayers something in return for the $2 billion dollar annual state corrections budget.

Heyns also says construction skills would be useful for inmates to learn. He suggested former prisoners could build Department of Natural Resources huts or migrant housing units.

Auto
11:40 am
Wed October 12, 2011

GM aims new electric mini-car at millennial, urban market

The all-electric Chevy Spark will be available in California in 2013; the gasoline version will arrive in summer 2012.
Chevrolet.com

General Motors is adding another electric car to its lineup.

The Chevy Spark will be marketed as the perfect city car,  which translates to "small."

There will be a gas version of the Spark, and GM said in what it called a “surprise announcement" today it will make an all-electric version, too.

Read more
Economy
10:44 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Stabenow: South Korea free trade agreement includes auto industry provisions

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks at a recent news conference at Capital Region International Airport
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Congress is expected to vote on free trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama today.  The South Korean agreement is potentially one of the largest free trade deals in years.  

 Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says she opposed the agreement initially reached by the Bush Administration, but she says the trade pact now has special protections for the U.S. auto industry.  

Read more
Auto/Economy
7:44 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Chrysler & UAW reach tentative deal

Chrysler Group and the United Auto Workers have reached a deal on a new four-year contract that creates 2,100 new jobs.

The union says in a statement Wednesday that Chrysler will invest $4.5 billion in its plants under terms of the deal.

The union gave few other details.

But the agreement is expected to be similar to deals reached earlier with General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.

Workers at those companies gave up pay raises for most union members in exchange for profit-sharing payments.

The Chrysler deal covers 26,000 workers.

EN-V could cut gridlock
11:50 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Cute cars with a serious mission: cut smog and gridlock in megacities

Soaring rates of car ownership in China’s biggest cities are causing huge problems, from days-long traffic jams to choking smog. Even car companies say the trend is not sustainable. 

General Motors says one solution could be to reinvent the vehicle. Introducing the Miao, the Jiao, and the Shiao –  three cute, tiny cars with a serious mission.  

Car ownership in China has a dark side. Last year, a nine-day and a three-day construction-related traffic jam on the highway leading to Beijing were the most dramatic examples.

Read more
Selling cars in China different than U.S.
10:59 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Detroit automakers shift approach to sell cars in China

General Motors now sells more cars in China that it does in the United States. In a few years, it’s likely that will be the case for Ford Motor Company, too.   

But selling cars in China takes a different approach than it does in the U.S.

There's much that's familiar at Shanghai Dongchang Fude Auto Sales and Service. There’s the piped in music -- the salespeople hanging out near the front entrance, waiting to grab the next walk-in customer., and the lineup of shiny new cars on the floor. 

Read more
Auto/Economy
10:16 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Gov. Snyder wants to attract immigrants ready to start businesses

Governor Rick Snyder tells the 'World Affairs Council of Western Michigan' he wants immigrants with talent and money who are willing to invest in the United States to come to Michigan.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to attract more foreign entrepreneurs to the state. Snyder told a gathering of “The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan” he’d would like to leverage a federal immigration program to attract new jobs and investments.

The EB-5 immigration program

Read more

Pages