Auto

DTE adds electric vans to fleet
11:55 am
Mon August 15, 2011

Detroit Edison adds electric vans to its fleet

Transit Connect Electric Van
staff media.ford.com

Detroit Edison is taking the next step toward an electric car future. The electricity provider will power some of its own fleet using electricity.

Some of Detroit Edison's service calls will now be made by technicians driving Ford Transit Connect electric vans.

The van's range is about 80 miles - that's enough for an average day's worth of calls, says Detroit Edison President Steven Kurmas.

 Kurmas says more of the vans may be added to the fleet later.

Read more
Auto/Economy
5:25 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Detroit Police and businesses launch new downtown security initiative

Detroit Police and local businesses are teaming up for a new downtown security initiative.

Project Lighthouse involves more than 20 businesses in the city’s central business district. They’ll give police access to more than 300 private security cameras in the area.

Rick Fenton, Vice President of Corporate Security for Ilitch Holdings, says the initiative evolved out of private sector collaboration with federal agencies and police to monitor big downtown events.

Read more
Economy
12:03 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Heating assistance for low-income Michiganders might be in trouble

(flickr sgreech)

Thousands of Michiganders could lose access to tens of millions of dollars in home heating assistance this winter. Last month, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Consumers Energy no longer has to collect money from its natural gas customers for a low-income energy assistance program.

Read more
Auto/Economy
5:46 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

President Obama talks economy, political gridlock in Holland

Obama toured a Saft-Johnson Controls joint venture in Holland before speaking to an invitation-only crowd of about 200 people.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

President Obama toured an advanced battery manufacturing plant in Holland Michigan this afternoon. The newly retooled plant will produce batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles.

The facility is one of two new advanced battery plants in Holland that recieved money from president Obama’s stimulus package. The president called the plant “one the most advanced factories in the world.”

He says the new plant is leading the way in the advanced battery industry.

“That just doesn’t mean jobs in Michigan you’re buying equipment and parts from suppliers in Florida and New Mexico and Ohio and Wisconsin and all across America.”

Listen to Obama's full 25 minute speech here.

Read more
Auto/Economy
5:12 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

A-123 may hire more in Livonia after getting big GM contract

More jobs building batteries could be on the way at A-1-2-3’s factory in Livonia.  The company just won a big contract with General Motors. 

A-123 builds batteries for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.  

The company recently hired its thousandth employee at the Livonia plant, and the new contract will likely mean more jobs in the future, perhaps hundreds more jobs.   

But General Motors is not revealing anything about the kind of vehicles it will put the A-123 batteries in, or where those vehicles will be sold. 

Read more
Economy
4:25 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

Port Huron parachute maker to hire 275 people

GMA Cover Corp. of Port Huron is has an urgent military contract to make about 20,000 parachutes, and needs workers who know how to sew.
jusben MorgueFile

Business is about to get much better for a Port Huron Company -- and it needs about 275 workers, fast.

GMA Cover Corp. makes cargo netting and parachutes.

The company just got a big military contract to make about 20,000 parachutes in the next six months, so GMA needs people with sewing experience.

Read more
Economy
1:01 am
Thu August 11, 2011

Foreclosure filings down in Michigan, analyst gives some credit to government programs

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan’s foreclosure rate continues to fall. A new report shows another month with a sharp decline in foreclosure filings in the state. RealtyTrac reports home foreclosure filings in Michigan declined by 15% from June to July. The filings were down 42% compared to July 2010.   

A foreclosure industry analyst says one reason for the decline is banks are taking advantage of government programs designed to keep people from losing their homes. Government anti-foreclosure programs have been the target of critics who say the programs have not kept people from losing their homes.  

But Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says this year’s downward trend in home foreclosure filings is probably due at least in part in part to the much maligned anti-foreclosure programs.  He says banks and other lending institutions are becoming more interested in taking part in those programs. 

“A short sale…a loan modification….is looking a lot better in their eyes than it was even last year.   It’s looking like a much better alternative than foreclosure to them.”

Bloomquist says the glut of repossessed homes will continue to depress home sale prices through probably 2015. He says keeping more homes from being repossessed may help reduce the glut of homes clogging the housing market.

Auto/Economy
8:58 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Holland hopes to become leader in advanced battery manufacturing

Graphic demonstrating Michigan's 'smart coast'.
Michigansmartcoast.com

LISTEN HERE

Thursday President Obama heads to Holland, Michigan. Mr. Obama will tour a new plant that will make lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid cars.

Michigan’s newly-branded “smart coast” welcomes Obama for the second time in 13 months. Last summer he came to the ground breaking of a different battery plant.

Randy Thelan is president of the non-profit, economic development group in the region, The Lakeshore Advantage.

“We are the advanced energy storage capital of all of North America and we see this as a great opportunity going forward.”

Advanced energy storage is a fancy phrase for long-lasting lithium-ion batteries.

Read more
Economy
5:18 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Upton, Camp named to debt panel

imelenchon Morguefile

Two Michigan lawmakers have been named to a powerful committee that will work on a plan to reduce the nation’s budget deficit.

Michigan Congressmen Dave Camp and Fred Upton -- both Republicans -- will be on the 12-member bipartisan panel charged with creating tax and spending policies.

The panel was created from a compromise reached by last week’s debt-ceiling legislation, and it has to come up with a plan by November 23.

Rep. Camp admits it’s a huge undertaking:

Read more
Economy
1:01 am
Wed August 10, 2011

Treasury Dept: state retirement funds sound, despite stock market decline

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The people who manage more than 50 billion dollars in state retirement funds say the recent stock market drop should not be a serious long term problem.    More than 400 thousand former state employees, teachers, state troopers and  judges receive checks from the state managed retirement funds. 

Terry Stanton is with the State Treasury Department.   He says the retirement fund  is managed to absorb the changes in the financial world. 

Read more
AUTO
6:21 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

GM is less complicated and less wasteful, investors told

General Motors executives says the company is becoming less complicated, and less wasteful, than it was in the past.   

GM CEO Dan Akerson says that simplicity -- along with a "fortress" balance sheet, and a lower cost structure will help GM break even in bad times, and make money in good times. 

Akerson and other top executives gave investors an in-depth briefing of the company's post-bankruptcy progress and plans for the long-term future.

GM has reduced its brands in the U.S to four, will focus on Chevrolet and Cadillac as its primary global brands, and will use regional brands such as Opel to help the company compete in specific markets like Germany.

GM's drastically reduced debt load also frees the company to follow through with product plans.  In the past, the company had to abandon car programs during recessions because of the pressing need to make debt payments.

"We think, just on cancelled product programs, we’ve probably blown a billion dollars a year in the last few years, as a result of having to pull back from things we’d already started," said Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann.

GM regained its number one global sales position in the first six months of this year.  But Akerson says being number one is not the goal.

He says GM must make the customer the first priority.  And GM will focus on profitability, not market share.

GM's head of global marketing Joel Ewanick said GM will also set its sights on a new "stretch" challenge: being the first automaker to get one of its brands on the list of the top twenty-five most recognized global brands. 

That list includes a number of U.S. brands, including Apple and Coca-Cola.  But no car company's brand has yet made it onto the list.

Read more
Economy
1:09 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

General Electric hopes to hire 1,100 technology workers by 2013

User: ismh flickr

General Electric hopes to bring 1,100 jobs to a Michigan technology center by 2013. The 2 year old center is located outside of Detroit.  GE is developing new software and other technology.

Deia Campanelli is with GE’s Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center.  

"Michigan has an exceptional number of talented experienced professionals, and the state has some strong advanced manufacturing capabilities and information technologists that are really just on the forefront of where industry is headed. So it makes putting jobs in Michigan a really easy decision."

Campanelli says the center has hired 660 workers to date. 90% of those hires are from Michigan.

-Traci Currie, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Read more
Economy
4:07 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Consumers Energy seeking rate hike

Consumers Energy customers may see their monthly electric bills increase by the end of the year.  The Jackson-based utility wants to increase the average customer’s bill by more than seven dollars a month.  Jeff Holyfield  is a Consumers Energy spokesman. 

“The increase we have requested in this rate case primarily reflects the major investments…nearly a billion dollars that  Consumers Energy is making to maintain and improve service to its 1.8 million electric customers and to improve the environment.”   

Auto/Economy
3:02 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Personal finance: When friends, family and finances mix

Should you lend money to friends and family?
user penywise morguefile

The current credit crunch has made it harder for people to get loans from a bank. Gone are the days when you could walk into your local bank branch, flash your credit score and walk out with a loan. So many are turning to their friends and family for help...but is that a good idea?

To lend, or not to lend

When Pete and Michelle Baker wanted to buy a new house, they needed money for a down payment. Their down payment was tied up in their old house, which they hadn't sold yet.

Read more
Economy
1:38 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

President Obama will make a statement on the downgrading of US credit

user: Beverly & Pack flicker.com

The White House has announced President Obama will make a statement shortly. We expect the president to address the downgrading of US credit. Click the "listen live" button above, to stream special coverage from NPR. 

MIS tests connected vehicles
10:32 am
Mon August 8, 2011

MIS to help test connected vehicle technology

About 100 people will “start their engines,” at the Michigan International Speedway this week. But it won’t be for a race. The MIS is lending its track to the U.S. Department of Transportation to test vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems.

Connected vehicle technology allows cars to communicate with other cars and the road.

Devices installed in a car warn a driver that a crash is imminent or that they’re about to run a red light.

Read more
Economy
4:01 pm
Sun August 7, 2011

National Farmers Market Week

This was taken at the Allendale Farmers Market summer 2008. The Allendale Farmer's market is open for business Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 am - 4 pm. This is only during the summer which is from about the 2nd week of June to the last Friday in October.
user tami.vroma Flickr

This is national farmers market week.   The number of farmers markets in Michigan has grown tremendously during the past decade, from 90 in 2001 to more than 250 today. 

Dru Montri is the director of the Michigan Farmers Market Association.   She says farmers markets have grown to meet consumer demand. 

Auto/Economy
3:22 pm
Fri August 5, 2011

West Michigan groups teaming up to attract businesses, jobs

A former GM stamping plant in Wyoming would be a good candidate for the special incentives. US-131 and a railway line run right next to the property.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Two economic development groups, one from Grand Rapids and another in Muskegon are asking the state of Michigan to approve a regional economic development corporation. It could provide marketing and tax incentives for a narrow purpose; to attract businesses that need property with two or more modes of transportation.

Read more
Auto/Economy
2:59 pm
Fri August 5, 2011

Honda recalling 1.5 million vehicles in U.S.

Wikimedia Commons

Honda is recalling about 1.5 million vehicles in the U. S. to update the software on the automatic transmission to decrease the possibility of transmission damage.

The recall affects certain 2005-2010 4-cylinder Accord,2007-2010 CR-V and 2005-2008 Element vehicles.

The company said Friday that without the change, the transmission's secondary shaft bearing can be damaged when the car is shifted too quickly. Honda said that can happen when a driver tries to get the vehicle dislodged from mud or snow.

Auto/Economy
10:40 am
Fri August 5, 2011

Technology's Role in New Fuel Efficiency Standards

Last week, when the government announced the new fuel efficiency standards for 2025, I heard a number of Detroit auto buffs snort that they were unrealistic, utopian, and impossible.

“There’s no way they can get a corporate fuel economy average of fifty-four miles a gallon, no way,” one man told me.

Well, my technical knowledge of cars is limited to knowing where to find the owner’s manual when one of those warning lights comes on. But I do know something about the history of technology, and the general pattern is this:

If the experts say something is going to happen in five years, that usually means it is happening somewhere, right now, and will be widespread within a year and totally triumphant in eighteen months.

If they say that something is technically impossible, that means that the first practical application may not appear for a year or so. There are exceptions, of course.  But just consider this:

Read more

Pages