Auto

Auto/Economy
11:51 am
Tue June 7, 2011

GM Chief concerned about the economy, and Ford looks to Asia

 The CEO of General Motors, Dan Akerson, told reporters today that he's concerned about the "jobless economic recovery" and high federal deficits.

From the Associated Press:

The CEO told reporters before the company's stockholders meeting Tuesday that the government should have a 10-year plan to cut its roughly $14 trillion deficit. He says that would bring much needed stability to markets.

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General Motors Invest in Warren
10:45 am
Tue June 7, 2011

GM to build high-tech computer command center in Warren

General Motors will invest 130-million dollars in a new high-tech computer command center in Warren. 

The announcement follows a string of other investments by GM in North America. 

GM says the high performance computers at the new command center in Warren will help the company keep pace with the increasingly complex computer simulations required to build cars. 

It will also allow the company to keep its own data and customer data more securely.   

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Auto
10:11 am
Tue June 7, 2011

Drivers have big impact on gas mileage

Poor driving, a trunk full of junk, and flags on the roof can adversely affect your miles-per-gallon.
Chevrolet

When it comes to fuel economy, Roger Clark says, "how you drive matters."

Roger is a fuel economy expert with Chevrolet. He has a few tips for getting more miles per gallon without buying a new car. We tested his driving style against Monte Doran’s, also with Chevy. Roger and Monte drove matching Chevy Cruzes and took identical routes. Both did a little highway and a little city driving on a weekday around 5pm. Roger followed his own fuel saving tips and Monte did exactly the opposite.

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Auto/Economy
12:29 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Leaks and outages bump up Michigan gas prices

ExxonMobil in Joliet, Il. is one of three refineries in the Great Lakes region that had unexpected problems in the last two weeks.
User: yooperann Flickr

Gas prices in Michigan are up 17 cents per gallon even though oil prices fell below $100 a barrel Monday.

Patrick DeHaan is with gasbuddy.com. He says gas prices in the Great Lakes region are between 30 and 60 cents higher than the national average.

“A rash of refinery and pipeline problems is leading prices higher as already tight gasoline supply becomes even tighter with these refinery and pipeline outages that we’ve seen in the last two weeks.”

Three refineries in Illinois and two crude suppliers to the Great Lakes region had unexpected problems, including power outages and leaks.

DeHaan expects Michigan gas prices will go back down in the next couple of weeks.

Emily Fox- Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
10:11 am
Mon June 6, 2011

Dow Chemical to form carbon fiber joint venture

NEW YORK (AP) - Dow Chemical Co. says its European subsidiary has agreed to form a joint venture with Turkey's Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii to make carbon fibers.

Strong and lightweight, carbon-fiber based materials are in demand for use in alternative energy projects like wind power.

They're also used in vehicle and infrastructure products. Dow is based in Midland, Mich.

Economy
11:12 am
Sat June 4, 2011

Any Way You Stack It, $14.3 Trillion Is A Mind-Bender

Stacked in dollar bills, the U.S. debt would stretch to the moon and back — twice. How can a brain deal with such big numbers?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat June 4, 2011 7:23 am

The U.S. government is $14.3 trillion in debt. When we first neared the trillion-dollar mark in 1981, President Ronald Reagan said that the height of our debt amounted to a stack of $1,000 bills about 67 miles high. That's somewhere in the thermosphere.

Today, that pile of $1,000 bills would be floating in space, more than 900 miles above the Earth. There aren't any $1,000 bills in circulation anymore, so here's an astronomical analogy about today's debt: If you stack up 14.3 trillion dollar bills, the pile would stretch to the moon and back twice.

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History
4:30 pm
Fri June 3, 2011

Historical: Union power, past and present (audio)

Seventy years ago, Ford Motor Company recognized the UAW.  Ford was the last major automaker to recognize the union, and that decision marked the starting point of the union’s “Golden Age.”

In this interview, Michigan Radio's Jenn White talks with Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio’s political analyst about unions past and present. And what lessons can be learned from those "golden years."

In 1941, the UAW signed contracts with General Motors and Chrysler, but Henry Ford remained opposed to unionization. After several days of strikes Ford gave in and soon after the first contracts took effect.

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Auto/Economy
2:17 pm
Fri June 3, 2011

Pres. Obama marks the end of government ownership of Chrysler

Pres. Barack Obama addresses auto workers at a Chrysler assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio
(photo by Bridget Bodnar/Michigan Radio)

President Obama congratulated a crowd of Chrysler auto workers today in Toledo for their hard work as he stood surrounded by an assembly line of Jeeps. He stressed the importance of the 2008 bailout of Chrysler and G-M to the rest of the auto industry, including Ford:

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Mackinac 2011
11:46 am
Fri June 3, 2011

GM can't tell U.S. Treasury when to sell its stock, says top exec

Reuss says the government’s part-ownership of GM matters to American taxpayers and customers.
media.gm.com

President Obama will visit a Chrysler plant in Ohio today, a day after the U.S. Treasury reached a deal to sell its remaining 6.6% stake in Chrysler to Fiat. 

Meanwhile, the Treasury still owns 26% of General Motors.  But GM North American President Mark Reuss says it’s up to the U.S. Treasury to decide when to get out of the car business completely. 

Reuss says the government’s part-ownership of GM matters to American taxpayers and customers.   It also matters to GM executives and workers.

But it's not up to GM when the Treasury sells its stock.

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Economy
4:25 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Gun Lake Casino’s first payout to state, local governments top expectations

Wayland Township Supervisor Roger VanVolkinburg accepts a check Thursday from Gun Lake Casino.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The state and several local governments are getting more than $2.5 million from Gun Lake Casino. It’s the first revenue-sharing payment since the casino opened in February.

More than $500,000 goes to one city, six townships, Allegan County and a public school district near the casino about 30 minutes south of Grand Rapids.

Wayland Township Supervisor Roger VanVolkinburg is not the only one who underestimated how big the first check would be.  

“Well my estimate was $200,000 years ago so it’s was a little off. (laughs) I’m sorry.”

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Auto/Economy
2:33 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Ford announces its smallest engine ever

A Ford Focus being built in Germany. Ford's not saying yet which cars will get their new 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine.
Ford Motor Company

In the car world, engine size matters. It used to be the bigger the engine the more appeal it had (more power, and more vrooom!).

But now Ford is going small by announcing the "the smallest engine Ford has ever built."

Ford says the fuel-efficient 1.0-liter engine is a "three cylinder engine that delivers the same performance as a four-cylinder."

Ford says the engine is still being tweaked and is not in cars yet.

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Economy
1:10 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Borders given more time to come up with a reorganization plan

Borders has more time to submit a bankruptcy plan. The company might have a buyer willing to take on more than half the remaining stores.
user brewbooks creative commons

When Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last February, it had until mid-June to submit its own reorganization plan. Now a judge has given the company an extension.

Joseph Checkler of the Wall Street Journal says such requests are routine:

A judge on Thursday gave Borders Group Inc. more time to control its own bankruptcy case, after a lawyer for the bookseller said the company hopes to have a plan in place to sell most or all of the company's stores by the end of the month.

A lawyer for Borders didn't rule out that the company could eventually come up with a plan to reorganize but said a plan to sell stores to a third party is more imminent. The company says it is in talks with "multiple buyers" interested in "most up to all" of Borders's remaining stores.

Judge Martin Glenn of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan approved the extension, a largely procedural move that gives Borders until October to file a reorganization plan and until December to solicit votes on that plan without having to worry about competing proposals from creditors or others.

The Journal reported that the private-equity firm Gores Group is interested in buying more than half the remaining 405 Borders Bookstores.

A lawyer for Borders said the company expects to announce a buyer in the next "two to four weeks."

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Auto/Economy
4:17 pm
Wed June 1, 2011

Toyota recalls 52,000 Prius hybrids

Toyota is recalling 106,000 Prius hybrids globally (52,000 in the U.S.) The recall is for 2001-2003 models.
Photo courtesy of Toyota

Toyota has issued another recall, this one due to steering issues in its first generation Prius hybrids.

If the steering wheel is turned as far as it can go repeatedly and rapidly, Toyota says the nuts holding the steering shaft in place might get loose and make it harder to turn left.

The recall is for 2001-2003 Prius models and involves 52,000 hybrids nationwide.

Bill Visnic. an analyst with edmunds.com, says it’s been a rough couple years for Toyota in terms of recalls:

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Economy
4:06 pm
Wed June 1, 2011

Judge says bottle return marking on Michigan bottles can stay

Rex Roof Creative Commons

A federal judge says a state law requiring beer and cans sold in Michigan to have specific markings is not against federal laws.

State lawmakers amended Michigan’s bottle-deposit law in 2008. They wanted to prevent people from bringing bottles from out of state to return in Michigan for 10-cents-a-piece. That’s the highest bottle deposit in the country.

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Economy
10:48 pm
Tue May 31, 2011

Luxury yachts to wind turbines: one story of diversification in MI

A large display of a renewable energy project is displayed in front of a large photo of a Tiara Yacht hanging on the wall at the company in Holland.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The recession forced many small manufacturers to find new products to make in an attempt to survive.  That was particularly true throughout the industrial Midwest. One Michigan yacht manufacturer is taking risks in new industries to keep its factory open and employees on the job.

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Economy
4:38 pm
Tue May 31, 2011

Study: Michigan families need 3 times minimum wage to thrive

user j wynia Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A new study says a single parent in Michigan with a preschooler and a school-age child needs to earn more than three times the state's minimum wage to be economically
secure.

Wider Opportunities for Women and the Michigan League for Human Services released the report Tuesday.

The study says the wage-earner in that family of three needs to earn about $52,000 a year with benefits to cover child care, housing, health care, transportation, savings and retirement.

A state report says nearly six out of 10 jobs expected to be created in Michigan through 2018 won't enable a worker to earn that much.

The league says reducing tax credits for low-income workers and cutting spending on children's clothing allowances also are making it harder for hard-pressed families to reach economic security.

Economy
2:55 pm
Tue May 31, 2011

Detroit home prices continue slide

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Detroit’s home prices may soon take another tumble.  Standard & Poor’s Price-Shiller index says home prices in the nation’s 20 largest cities are falling once again.    Home prices in Detroit aren’t falling as fast as other cities in the survey, but then again Detroit’s home prices are already the lowest among the nation’s 20 largest cities.  

  Home prices in Detroit haven’t been this low since 1995.  

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Economy
2:30 pm
Tue May 31, 2011

Interview: Do Emergency Managers actually help?

flickr / joshuadavisphotography

Governor Rick Snyder passed new laws expanding the power of Emergency Financial Managers, and there’s been debate over whether or not Emergency Managers are able to turnaround the municipalities and districts they’re assigned to.

Michigan Radio’s Jenn White spoke with Gary Olsen, Former Director of the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. Here is the interview:

Do Emergency Managers leave their cities or districts in better financial condition?

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Auto/Economy
1:20 pm
Tue May 31, 2011

First quarter late payments on auto loans lowest since 1999

Fewer late payments on auto loans.
Emilio Labrador Flickr

Late payments on auto loans hit their lowest level since 1999 in the first quarter, providing more data that shows consumers have gotten a handle on their debt.

TransUnion said the rate of payments that are 60 days or more past due reached its lowest point since the credit reporting agency began tracking the figure, dropping to 0.49 percent.

The improvement from 0.66 percent a year ago reflects the stronger auto sales market, which is being fed by higher consumer confidence and low interest rates, says Peter Turek of TransUnion. The number of auto loans started during the quarter rose 22 percent from the prior year.

TransUnion expects late payments to continue to drop this year.

Auto/Economy
1:03 pm
Tue May 31, 2011

Fiat plans to buy Canada's stake in Chrysler

Working to free itself from government ties.
Ricardo Giaviti Flickr

The majority owner of Chrysler, Fiat, is anxious to rid the company of any government ties.

Last week, the company refinanced it's TARP loans from the U.S. government.

Then they announced plans to buy the U.S. government's remaining 6% stake.

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