Auto

Detroit Auto Show
6:49 am
Tue January 11, 2011

Snyder to visit Detroit Auto Show

Governor Rick Snyder heads to Detroit today
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder will visit the North American International Auto Show in Detroit today. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will also attend.

The two will tour the auto show and meet with President and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Authority Michael Finney.

Media previews of the show began yesterday.  The show opens to the public on Saturday and runs through January 23rd.

Auto/Economy
5:21 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

GM's Mark Reuss talks about auto industry's future

Mark Reuss talking with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White by phone
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Today president of GM North America, Mark Reuss spoke with Michigan Radio's All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White.

The Chevy Volt won the "Car of the Year Award" at the Detroit Auto Show. White asked Reuss why the auto company has put so much into the development of the Volt.

"If you look at the electric and hybrid car piece of the industry, it's been steadily gaining in popularity as time goes on. But what does it take to go beyond hybrid? To go beyond the traditional electric car and produce something that really has an exteded range with the gasoline and the battery on board, so you don't have to worry about an electric engine on board?"

Reuss said they accomplished that with the development of the Volt, and that GM remained focused on the Volt through some rough times.

When asked about the prospects for the new car market, Reuss was upbeat because he says there are a lot of people driving older cars, so there's "pent up demand" for new cars:

"And the reason why I say this is because if you look at the cost to operate some of the newer vehicles from a fuel efficiency standpoint, they're much, much lower than some of the vehicles these people are forced to hang onto."

Reuss said, in the past, the company has been good at engineering and building trucks and some of the "truck variants," but today they're re-focusing their efforts on smaller cars: 

"We have refocused with the launch of things like the Volt, and the Sonic for Chevrolet, and then the  Verano for Buick. We've really refocused our efforts into excellence in the small and compact car markets. And you're going to see those as really good alternatives in the market as we go forward."

Reuss was asked how he views the automotive industry today. Here's his response:

Auto/Economy
5:09 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

GM's Chevy Volt is more than a car - it's a technological strategy

The Chevy Volt received a charge with today's "Car of the Year" award.
General Motors

For people who follow the car business, the big news coming from the North American International Auto Show on Monday was no surprise.    

Still, GM employees enthusiastically cheered and applauded the announcement.

The Volt is GM’s extended range electric car.  GM has big plans riding on the electric car’s small frame.  In fact, the Volt is more than a car for GM. It’s an entire strategy.

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Economy
4:23 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

Report says Michigan consumers, businesses will pay more if health care law is repealed

A new report says repealing the federal health care law will cost Michigan consumers and small businesses a lot of money.

PIRGIM, the consumer advocacy group that issued the report, says individuals could see their premiums go up by 20% by 2016 if the repeal goes through. The repeal would also increase the cost of offering employer-based health insurance over the long term by more than $3,000 a year.

Meghan Hess is with PIRGIM. She says rolling back the law "would also terminate the establishment or expansion of over 184 community health centers across the state, and these community health centers help fill gaps in access to care, giving more people the ability to seek preventive care instead of going to the emergency room."

Attorneys General in Michigan and at least twenty other states have filed a lawsuit challenging the health care law.

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Auto/Economy
1:07 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

Ford goes small and electric with its "C-segment" vehicles

Ford Motor Company, Executive Chairman Bill Ford charges the Ford Focus Electric during the vehicle's reveal in New York City, Friday, Jan. 7, 2011.
Ford Motor Company

Not to be outdone by GM and Nissan, Ford Motor Company says it is delivering on a promise to make more small, fuel-efficient cars for consumers.

At the North American International Auto Show today, the company is showcasing 10 new "C-segment" cars. The company says the vehicles are "fuel efficient smaller cars that people really want."

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Detroit Auto Show
12:30 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

Chevy Volt, Ford Explorer win NAIAS awards

The Chevy Volt wins "Car of the Year"
Charles Manley Michigan Radio

Update 11:33 a.m.:

Here's a video of Carl Brower, editor-at-large of Edmunds.com talking about the Chevy Volt winning the "Car of the Year Award."

Update: 10:11 a.m.:

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody spoke with Edmunds.com editor-at-large, Carl Brower. Brower headed the jury of auto industry journalists who picked the Volt. Brower said:

"I think the Volt represents not only a break from traditional drive train technology, but a break from the manufacturing image. It's a hybrid plus. It's beyond a hybrid. And I don't know how many people would have believed that a big domestic auto maker like GM could pull this off a few years ago."

8:23 a.m.:

It's just been announced that the Chevrolet Volt has won the 2011 North American Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show.  The Ford Explorer won truck of the year. The awards were announced this morning.

The Associated Press reports:

Finalists for the car award were the Volt, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Leaf. Truck finalists were the Dodge Durango, the Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Forty-nine auto journalists from the U.S. and Canada made the picks. The vehicles are judged on innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value.

The NAIAS opened this morning for media previews.  The show is open to the public on Saturday and runs through January 23rd.

Auto/Economy
12:28 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

Marchionne says he expects a Chrysler IPO later this year

Sergio Marchionne talks with reporters at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody just attended a press conference with Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Marchionne told reporters that his goal is to pay back the government loans by the end of this year.

Chrysler owes around $7.5 billion to the U.S. government.

He said he was heartened by the response to GM's IPO last year and the investor interest in the auto industry makes a Chrysler IPO more likely.

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Auto/Economy
11:32 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Chrysler proclaims a "resurrection"

CEO Sergio Marchionne says Chrysler is back.
user dgtmedia-simone wikimedia commons

Chrysler made the case for its self-proclaimed "resurrection" at the North American International Auto Show.

The company put on an optimistic show as it debuted 16 new Chrysler products. The automaker had only a bare-bones presence at the auto-show last year.

Sergio Marchionne is Chrysler's CEO. He said the display shows the company is once again a viable competitor in the North American car market:

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Auto/Economy
11:17 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Report: Ford to hire more workers

The Wall Street Journal and the Detroit Free Press are reporting that Ford plans to announce the creation of 7,000 more jobs at today's auto show. From the Wall Street Journal:

Ford Motor Co. on Monday is expected to announce it will hire 7,000 workers in the U.S. over the next two years, according to a person familiar with the matter. Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields is expected to confirm the news at the auto maker's presentation before the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, this person said.

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Auto/Economy
10:23 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Images from the Auto Show

A banner hanging outside the auto show early this morning.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody was up early this morning taking some pictures at the auto show. You can scroll through them above, or check out this little video below:

The 'press preview' of the auto show is taking place today and tomorrow.  The show opens to the public on Saturday, January 15th.

Detroit Auto Show
7:29 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Media preview begins today for the North American International Auto Show

The North American International Auto Show, 2008
Corvair Owner Flickr

The North American International Auto Show begins this week in Detroit. It opens to the public on Saturday and runs through January 23rd. The media, however, get a preview of the show beginning today. It's the biggest annual media event in the state as thousands of journalists from around the world travel here to cover the show.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton gave us a preview:

The auto industry had two bad years in 2009 and 2010, and so did one of its biggest shows: the North American International Auto Show. Some car companies like Porsche didn't even have displays.  But, Porsche is back, and so are some of the traditional glitz and optimism.  Baron Meade, Chairman of the show, said, "I would set the stage of this show as the start of the next real Golden Age of the Automobile."

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton, Sarah Hulett, Sarah Cweik and Steve Carmody will all be reporting from the show throughout the next couple of weeks.

Auto/Economy
3:00 pm
Sun January 9, 2011

Toyota invests $50-million in new safety research center in Ann Arbor

 Toyota Motor Corporation has launched a new $50-million dollar safety research center in Ann Arbor, as the company seeks to recover from last year’s massive recalls of millions of cars. 


The money will pay for research on ways to reduce driver distraction, and better protect the most vulnerable passengers including children.  Chuck Gulash is senior executive engineer at Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor. 

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Economy
12:19 pm
Sun January 9, 2011

Michigan has to repay billions it borrowed for unemployment benefits

Michigan borrowed more than $3.8 billion to pay unemployment benefits
Graph courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Michigan and several other states have had to borrow money from the federal government to pay for unemployment benefits. And now, the federal government wants states to repay.

Unemployment benefits are funded by Michigan businesses through a payroll tax.  When the recession caused the state’s unemployment rate to skyrocket (as high as 15% at one point), the state had to borrow more than $3.8 billion to pay jobless benefits.

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The Detroit Auto Show
10:55 am
Sun January 9, 2011

Drumroll Please - Car and Truck of the Year award coming soon

Many experts expect the Chevy Volt to win the "Car of the Year" award.
user mariodo wikimedia commons

The winner of the coveted North American Car and Truck of the Year Award will be announced Monday morning at the North American International Auto Show.

The awards are unique in the United States because -- instead of being given by a single media outlet -- they are awarded by a coalition of automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites. 

The finalists for North American Car of the Year are:

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Jobs
3:11 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Report: AT&T to cut jobs in West Michigan

AT&T says fewer people are using land lines these days.
flickr - photodu.de

The Grand Rapids Press reports that AT&T plans to cut 110 union jobs in West Michigan. The paper reports:

The West Michigan job losses are part of a total of 371 jobs being eliminated by the telecommunications giant in Michigan, said Ryan Letts, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 4034.

Letts is quoted as saying they saw the job cuts coming because the telecommunications industry is changing:

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Auto
8:43 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Big 'techie' show attracts automakers

Reporters checking out the latest gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
CES

Automakers are getting ready for the big auto show in Detroit next week, but before they land there, many leaders in the auto industry are attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The show started today and will run through the 9th. Organizers says it's "the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow."

CNBC's Phil LeBeau says the show used to attract little attention from the auto industry, but that's changed since more electronic gadgets are finding their way into new cars and trucks.

LeBeau says the car makers are seeking new ways to increase their profits:

In car entertainment and connectivity, systems like Sync are increasingly must have add-ons for car buyers. And they have no problem paying for them. These systems drive higher transaction prices and greater profit margins.

Ford Motor Company President and CEO, Allan Mulally, will give a keynote address to the conference tomorrow at 11 a.m. CES Conference organizers say "Ford constantly innovates and launches new technologies, like SYNC with speech recognition, that make the driving experience safer through technology."

Jobs
4:16 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Defense Dept cuts contract, costing potential jobs in Michigan

The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle

The Secretary of Defense says he wants to cancel a defense contract that would eliminate hundreds of potential new jobs in Michigan. 

The contract would be for an amphibious vehicle for the U.S. Marine Corps. The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle was intended to replace a Vietnam era model. A Sterling Heights based division of General Dynamics is the contractor that has been developing the 40 ton vehicle.

Peter Keating is a company spokesman. He says canceling the program now will cost as much as moving forward with production. 

"We would expect our congressional delegation in Washington DC to take a look at that and in their wisdom decide if it’s something they’d like to support." 

The marine vehicle has been plagued with cost overruns and other problems since the Reagan administration.   Escalating costs prompted the U.S. Marine Corps to cut in half the number of Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles it planned to purchase. Keating insists past problems have been resolved. 

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Economy
11:33 am
Thu January 6, 2011

Is Borders Group Inc. headed for bankruptcy?

Paying rent is just one of the problems for Borders Group.
flickr - brewbooks

Sales at Borders Book stores have been slipping for several years as more buyers go to places like Amazon.com to find their titles, and as more people move into the digital reader market. Last month, the company reported that its third quarter sales were down 17.6% from the same period a year ago.

So the company is struggling to find a way to pay its bills. One way it's trying to preserve cash is to suspend its payments to publishers.

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Auto
9:41 pm
Wed January 5, 2011

Ford Catching Up To Toyota In Quality - And Perception of Quality

Another survey, another big improvement for Ford Motor Company.

Consumer Reports says its subscribers ranked Ford second only to Toyota as the best brand this year.  It’s a notable reversal of fortunes for both companies.

According to Consumers Reports, subscribing car owners perceive the Ford brand as nearly equal to the Toyota brand, and on the key factors of safety, quality and value, they rank Ford better than Toyota.  

Ford also was rated best non-luxury brand in a recent J.D. Power survey on initial quality. 

"This was long-term planning that is now paying off," says Jesse Toprak, an analyst with TrueCar.com.

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Economy
4:35 pm
Wed January 5, 2011

More Borders stores to close, including one in Michigan

Borders to close at least 17 stores nationwide this quarter
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

A Borders bookstore in Farmington Hills is set to close Friday, Jan. 7.

Borders Books is starting the New Year by closing the Farmington Hills store and at least 16 other stores nationwide. A Borders spokesperson says more closures could be announced in March.

The Farmington Hills store is plastered with bright yellow "Going Out of Business" banners. Books are up to 80% off, and everything has to go in the next two days.

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