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3:49 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Google and Ford have cars driven by robots, but will cars think for themselves someday?

Ford's new transit van being tested using robotic driving components.
Ford YouTube

Ford Motor Company recently started testing its cars with the help of robots.

The company does robotic testing on vehicles for durability at the Michigan Proving Grounds in Romeo, according to a recent story from MLive.

Michael Wayland reported that Ford has used robots to test drive eight of its vehicles, including several truck models as well as the Fiesta.

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Auto
3:05 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Chrysler officials change their minds, will go forward with Jeep recall

2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, one of the model years recalled.
Chrysler

It was called a "rare and risky" move to refuse a recall after the government requested it, but it seemed Chrysler was poised to do just that today.

Now, the automaker says executives have "resolved their differences" with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and will voluntarily recall the vehicles in question.

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Auto
10:06 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Chrysler expected to formally refuse Jeep recall today

Chrysler

DETROIT (AP) - Chrysler is expected to file papers Tuesday explaining its refusal to recall 2.7 million older Jeep SUVs.

The U.S. government asked Chrysler earlier this month to recall Grand Cherokees and Libertys because the position of the fuel tank leaves it susceptible to rupture in a rear-end crash. The ruptured tank can spill gasoline, which can ignite if an ignition source is present.

The agency says 51 people have been killed in accidents involving the older Jeeps.

But on June 4, Chrysler publicly rejected the recall, saying the Jeeps are safe and the government is creating a new standard for gas tank strength. Tuesday is the deadline for Chrysler to file its formal response to the government's request.

Auto
1:53 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Chrysler to change pension system for 8,000 salaried workers

Chrysler is freezing contributions to its U.S. defined benefit pension plans for salaried employees, and will switch to a defined contribution plan instead.

Chrysler will determine the amount it will contribute - and that amount is not being publicly disclosed - and employees will choose from a number of investment strategies, such as stocks and bonds, annuities, etc.

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Stateside
5:12 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Baby boomers hold the 'key to success' for automakers

Analysts say car sales are climbing.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

An interview with John Wolkonowicz, an independent auto analyst.

When you look at much of popular media these days, it often feels as though the advertisers of America are eyeing that young audience. If you're over 55, you could certainly be forgiven for getting the idea that advertisers and agencies don't much care what you want to buy.

Well, a new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute proves that, at least when it comes to buying cars, it's those often overlooked, sometimes-invisible over 55's who are doing much of the buying.

The study found the 55-to-64 year old baby-boomers are 15 times more likely to buy a new car or truck than the 18-to-24 year olds.

John Wolkonowicz, an independent auto analyst, joined us from Boston today to talk more about why baby boomers seem to hold the key to success for automakers.

Listen to the full interview above.

Auto
12:20 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

IHS buys Southfield company, R.L. Polk & Co. for $1.4 billion

Mark Brush Michigan Radio

IHS Inc. announced on Monday that they would buy the automotive data firm R.L. Polk & Co. for $1.4 billion.

Polk has a long history in southeast Michigan.

Founded in 1870 in Detroit, the company started keeping statistical data on the automotive industry in the 1920s.

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Auto
3:51 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Fuel economy in new vehicles reaches record high

New cars are burning less gas.
Credit carhumor.com

The average fuel economy for U.S. built vehicles reached a new high in May, at 24.8 miles per gallon. This is good news for drivers when gas station signs are showing prices near and above $4 a gallon.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) says consumers are not only being more fuel-efficient savvy, but car companies are listening.

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Auto
12:37 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Your government owns 16% of GM, officials hope to own less soon

GM's headquarters in downtown Detroit.
GM Media

Late last year, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced it would sell all its remaining stock in General Motors in 12 to 15 months.

Today, the Treasury is announcing a plan for another big sell-off.

Officials say, "subject to market conditions," they intend to sell 30 million additional shares of GM common stock "in conjunction with GM’s inclusion to the S&P 500 index effective as of the close of trading on June 6, 2013."

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Auto
5:11 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Chrysler says 'no' to NHTSA recall in rare move

A 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Credit Bull Doser / Wikimedia Commons

In a rare move, Chrysler is saying "no" to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on a recall.

The agency wants the Detroit automaker to recall 2.7 million vehicles.

NHTSA claims a defect increases the risk of fire in rear crashes involving Jeep Grand Cherokees built in the 1993 to 2004 model years  and in Jeep Liberties built in the 2002 to 2007 model years.

Chrysler says the agency's reasoning is deeply flawed and the vehicles are safe.

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Stateside
5:20 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Mad Men could be GM's dream come true

The Chevy Vega is featured on this season of Mad Men
user: Cauldon Graphix Flickr

An interview with professor Michael Bernacchi.

Mad Men's Don Draper is known on the AMC show as being the best guy to create an ad campaign.

He's known for lines like, "What you call love was invented by guys like me...to sell nylons."

Don's company, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, has done creative campaigns for companies like Lucky Strike, Maidenform, Heinz and Hilton Hotels.

In the most recent season, much of the company's time was spent securing an auto client -- Jaguar.

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Auto
4:15 pm
Sun May 26, 2013

Federal agency investigating Ford pickups for engine issue

Ford F 150
denton-texas.olx.com

DETROIT (AP) - The federal government is investigating Ford F-150 pickups with EcoBoost engines after drivers reported that the engines lost power during acceleration.

The government estimates around 400,000 F-150 pickups from the 2011 through 2013 model years are involved.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received 95 reports of engines losing power during hard acceleration, such as when passing. The incidents often occurred in rainy or humid weather. NHTSA has no reports of crashes or injuries.

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Auto
4:09 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Why automakers' claims of 'my truck pulls more than your truck' here to stay, for awhile at least

Toyota Tundra, pulling something heavy. Uh, make that super-heavy.
Toyota

U.S. automakers have finally agreed on a uniform standard to determine the towing capacity of a pickup truck, veteran auto journalist Bill Visnic tells us in his article in Edmunds.com.

Except, now that they've created it, automakers are backing away from actually using it.

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Auto
5:03 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Ford, Chrysler to keep some plants humming this summer

Car companies closed a lot of North American factories in the past ten years as the auto industry restructured.

That has made Jim Tetreault's job even more of an art and a science.

Tetreault is Ford's head of North American manufacturing.  He's responsible for maximizing the number of vehicles that any of the Detroit automaker's remaining plants can produce, while minimizing the downtime at each facility.

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Auto
11:12 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Chrysler/Fiat CEO apologizes to group for ethnic slur

Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, in a BLACK sweater (we're shocked!)
Chrysler

An anti-bias group says it has received a written apology from Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne for his use of a pejorative word to refer to Italians.

The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition says Marchionne apologized for using the word "wop" during a press conference at the Detroit Auto Show.    Marchionne was commenting on the long-delayed introduction of the new generation of Alfa Romeos.  He stated, “I won't put an American engine into that car. With all due respect to my American friends, it needs to be a wop engine.” 

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Auto
5:55 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Buick, oldest surviving U.S. brand, celebrates 110th

new Buick Regal
General Motors

Buick will be 110 years old on Sunday.  But the brand nearly didn't survive.

In 2009, GM's bankruptcy forced the automaker to cut brands.  The company tried to find buyers for Saturn, Hummer, and Saab, but eventually those sales fell through.

The company also decided it had to choose between Pontiac, and Buick.  Pontiac's customers on average were younger - that's a desirable thing for a brand - and it was outselling Buick.  Yet, GM chose Buick.

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Auto
5:21 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Most small SUVS flunk new kind of crash test

2014 Subaru Forester
Subaru

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports "not stellar" results for the latest group of vehicles to undergo a new "small overlap frontal crash" test.

The test sees how well a vehicle protects an occupant in a situation where just a part of the front of the car hits something. One example would be two vehicles approaching each other, and one strays a little bit over the center line, causing an offset accident.

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Auto
7:54 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Ford owners sue, saying EcoBoost engine defective

DETROIT (AP) - Three Ohio drivers are suing Ford Motor Co., claiming the company's six-cylinder EcoBoost engine is defective.

The lawsuit says the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine can shudder, shake and rapidly lose power while drivers are trying to accelerate. It says more than 100 drivers have complained about the engine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Auto
3:06 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Could GM's Billy Durant become as famous as Henry Ford?

Billy Durant
GM archives

Every school child knows the name Henry Ford, and his contribution to the auto industry.

Billy Durant never achieved anywhere near Ford's fame. 

Durant was one of the progenitors of the company we now know as General Motors.

Durant's role in the building of the American auto industry could become better known, depending on just what GM decides to do with Durant's first factory in Flint.  GM recently acquired the building for an undisclosed amount.

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Auto
11:08 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Chinese automakers and businesses quietly move into Detroit

automotiveauto.info

This morning, the New York Times reported on the slow and steady increase of Chinese companies setting up in metro-Detroit.

The NYT's Bill Vlasic reports it has been a largely unannounced trend – and given the public opposition experienced by Japanese automakers – it is most likely an intentionally quiet entrance.

Chinese-owned companies are investing in American businesses and new vehicle technology, selling everything from seat belts to shock absorbers in retail stores, and hiring experienced engineers and designers in an effort to soak up the talent and expertise of domestic automakers and their suppliers.

Overall, most Chinese suppliers are interested in expanding their direct business with Detroit car companies. Many Detroit car companies rely on low-wage countries like Mexico to get common car parts. Chinese companies are trying to change that.

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Auto
6:32 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Elio Motors nearing launch of $6800, 84 mpg car

Paul Elio with his creation
Elio Motors

As you read this article, just remember, people laughed at Henry Ford, too, when Ford said he wanted to make a motorized vehicle that anyone could afford to buy.

More than 100 years later, Paul Elio has the same dream.  

While Ford's Model T had four wheels, Elio's car has three -- two in front, and one in the back.  And the car will seat only two people, but not side by side.  The passenger seat is directly behind the driver's seat.

That configuration, Elio says, largely explains the car's eye-popping fuel economy of about 84 miles per gallon on the highway. 

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