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2:55 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

VIDEO: Volkswagen unveils 'CrossBlue' concept at Detroit Auto Show

The Volkswagen CrossBlue concept SUV
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Volkswagen is working to continue to gain market share in the United States.

Today at the Detroit Auto Show, the company unveiled a new concept car aimed at the highly sought after North American SUV market.

The "CrossBlue," as it's called now,  is a six to seven seat SUV with a "plug-in hybrid powertrain that mates a TDI Clean Diesel engine with two electric motors."

That's right...  lift the hood, and you're not likely to know what the heck you're looking at.

But that's the future of cars. Automakers are moving toward cars with multiple power plants that can be engaged in different circumstances.

Volkswagen says the "CrossBlue" would get 35 mpg in "combined mode" (similar to the hybrid mode of today's Prius), and the equivalent of 89 mpg in all-electric mode (with a range in that mode of 14 miles).

Here's the unveiling of VW "CrossBlue" (complete with the 'demographic dancers'):

Jonathan Browning, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group America said the CrossBlue concept is "exactly the right type of vehicle for the U.S. market," but it still has a ways to go before it would be introduced here.

The car is an indication of where the company is headed.

Auto
10:25 am
Mon January 14, 2013

VIDEO: The "reinvention of Lincoln" at the Detroit Auto Show

The Lincoln MKC concept.
Lincoln Motor Company

Lincoln is hip again!

Well... at least in the movie theaters. Ford executives are hoping enthusiasm for its re-tweaked Lincoln brand grows as well (the company is using the former president in advertising campaigns for the newly named "Lincoln Motor Company").

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., President and CEO Allan Mulally, and Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales and Service Lincoln James Farley were all up on stage to unveil the new concept car at the Detroit Auto Show this morning - the Lincoln MKC.

Take a look at the unveiling:

Bill Vlasic wrote about the challenges faced by the struggling Lincoln brand in the New York Times:

As recently as the 1990s, Lincoln was the top-selling luxury automotive brand in the United States. Its large Town Car sedan and hulking Navigator S.U.V. defined the brand, and sales topped more than 230,000 vehicles a year.

But since then, Lincoln has been left in the dust by the German category leaders BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota’s Lexus division. This year, Lincoln ranks eighth in the American luxury segment, with sales down 2 percent, to 69,000, vehicles in the first 10 months of the year.

Its crosstown rival G.M. has had much better success reviving its Cadillac brand.

Auto
8:20 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Cadillac ATS wins 2013 Car of the Year Award

Members of the Cadillac team react to the win.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

A group of 49 automotive journalists from North America chose the Cadillac ATS as the 2013 Car of the Year.

The announcement was made this morning during the press preview of the Detroit Auto Show.

The Cadillac was among two other finalists, the Ford Fusion and the Honda Accord.

In a statement, Bob Ferguson, GM's vice president of global Cadillac said "this is a very meaningful honor for the entire Cadillac team, especially the men and women who build the ATS in Lansing, Michigan, and our dedicated and talented designers and engineers."

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Auto
8:02 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Ram 1500 wins 2013 'Truck/Utility of the Year' award

The Ram 1500 hiding among journalists.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

At this morning's press preview of the Detroit Auto Show, the Ram 1500 won the 2013 North American Truck/Utility of the Year Award.

The truck was chosen by a group of 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.

The Ram 1500 was up against two other finalists in the category, the Ford C-Max and the Mazda CX-5.

The Ram 1500 also won the 2013 Motor Trend Truck of the Year award.

In a statement, Fred Diaz, President and CEO of Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico, Chrysler Group LLC, said:

"For the Ram Truck Brand, this ranks as one of the proudest days in our history. Every truck-maker aspires to win the North American Truck/Utility of the Year. I tip my hat to the folks who worked behind the scenes to make the 2013 Ram 1500 a technological triumph."

Auto
12:25 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Car companies starting auto show earlier

The C7 Corvette - aka Stingray
General Motors

Press days for Detroit's North American International Auto Show "officially" begin Monday morning - but it's become something of a recent tradition to show an especially important car the night before.

That's what GM did with the seventh-generation Corvette, which it calls the "Stingray" in homage to the much-loved 1963 Corvette.

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Auto
3:06 pm
Sat January 12, 2013

Renovations to Cobo Center may steal the spotlight at the auto show

North American International Auto Show (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The North American International Auto Show in Detroit kicks off on Monday with preview days for the international press.

The show opens to the public next Saturday.   One of the highlights this year may not even be a car.

Auto show vice chairman Bob Schuman is pretty confident that everyone who goes to the show will be talking about the new Corvette, Chevy's top of the line sports car.   But they may also be talking about the ongoing Cobo renovation. Cobo has a new atrium that opens up the convention center to a view of the river and the Windsor skyline.

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Auto
11:27 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Ford plans to hire 2,200 salaried workers this year

Ford headquarters in Dearborn.
Ford

Ford Motor Company says it will hire 2,200 salaried workers this year.

It's the company's largest single-year increase of salaried workers in more than a decade.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford's President of the Americas, says the company doesn't anticipate trouble finding the right kind of people.

That's in contrast to before the recession when car companies sometimes couldn't find enough people interested in a career in the auto industry.

"Look at the types of technology you get to work on now, the vehicle is becoming so advanced, with computers, with software, with voice recognition, with sensors, that we are attracting a level of interest in people because of what's happening with the product itself becoming far more advanced," said Hinrichs.

Ford has about 28,500 salaried workers in North America.

Auto
10:35 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Jeep Grand Cherokee cleared in fire probe

staff media.chrysler.com

DETROIT (AP) - U.S. safety regulators have cleared the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee after an investigation into possible engine fires.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began checking 107,000 of the SUVs in July after getting complaints about power steering hoses coming loose and leaking fluid onto the engine.

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Auto
11:20 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Commentary: Autos and our future

Lessenberry commentary for 1/4/13

We got what looked like good news for the auto industry yesterday. Americans bought fourteen and a half million new vehicles last year -- nearly two million more than the year before.

True, that’s still considerably below total sales five years ago, before the Great Recession nearly put Chrysler and General Motors out of business forever. But still, it is progress. Except that those figures mask something troubling.

More cars were sold, but the Detroit three continue to lose market share. 50 years ago, in discussions about the auto industry nobody ever talked about foreign vs. domestic market share.

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Auto
9:47 am
Fri January 4, 2013

GM recalls 55,000 vehicles to fix shifter problem

2013 Cadillac Escalade
media.gm.com

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors is recalling nearly 55,000 pickup trucks, SUVs and vans because they can roll away unexpectedly.

The recall affects certain 2013 models of the Chevrolet Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe, Avalanche and Express. Also included are the GMC Sierra, Savana and Yukon as well as the Cadillac Escalade.

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Auto
3:09 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Fiat seeks to gain another stake in Chrysler from VEBA

Italian automaker Fiat, already Chrysler's majority owner, has announced plans to acquire another stake in the Detroit car company.

Fiat currently owns 58.57 percent of Chrysler.  The rest is held by VEBA - the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association.  The VEBA was given stock in Chrysler in lieu of cash payments to cover union retiree health care costs, which were shifted to the UAW in 2007.

Fiat says it intends to exercise an option for 3.3% of VEBA's stock, for $198 million.

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Auto
11:44 am
Thu January 3, 2013

Judge allows Ohio GM workers to sue over back pay

GM MEDIA

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - A federal judge says General Motors workers in northeast Ohio can move forward with a lawsuit against the automaker and the United Auto Workers.

The union's request to dismiss the lawsuit was turned down late last week.

Nearly 30 workers at GM's Lordstown factory say they were improperly classified as temporary employees after losing their jobs and then being rehired.

They say the change in classification cut their pay by more than 40 percent and are seeking back pay of $3 million to $4 million.

A local union official at the Lordstown plant where GM makes the Chevy Cruze has said that the workers weren't misrepresented.

Both the union and the company have denied the allegations in court documents.

Auto
10:37 am
Thu January 3, 2013

Commentary: Forgetting our heritage

Lessenberry essay for 1/3/13

The North American International Auto Show will be starting at Detroit’s Cobo Center in a couple weeks, and anyone who cares about cars can go see virtually every new model in existence.

This has been an annual tradition for more than a century. But I’ve thought for a long time that we don’t do nearly enough to celebrate the amazing heritage of our signature industry.

Think about it. Motor vehicles, primarily cars, are what transformed Michigan from a farm state not all that different from Iowa into the industrial powerhouse that put the world on wheels.

That’s fascinating, and there are few of us whose lives are not connected to the auto industry in some way.  But where do you go to learn about and celebrate that heritage? Sadly, fewer and fewer places.

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Auto
11:56 am
Wed January 2, 2013

Ford "futurist" pays attention to everything but cars

Sheryl Connelly, Ford's Futurist
Ford Motor Company

Interview with Sheryl Connelly, Ford Motor Company's futurist

I recently interviewed Sheryl Connelly, Ford Motor Company's manager of Global Trends and Future.  Call her "futurist" for short.   Sheryl spoke with me about how she goes about "predicting" the future, and how it helps Ford develop and market its vehicles, and about Ford's latest report, "Looking Further With Ford: 13 Trends For 2013."

Q:  I want to talk with you first about your job.  What has Ford tasked you with doing?

A:  What most people don't realize is that it takes three years to bring a vehicle to market, so even if we come up with some sort of breakthrough or innovation today, it may not resonate or be relevant by the time the rubber hits the road.  And since we can't predict the future, what we do is track trends, in social, technological, economic, environmental and political arenas, because we think this will give us some insight into the forces that will shape consumers attitudes and behaviors.  It's never looking at automotive; in fact we try to stay away from that for the work that I do, so we come up with the insights, and then I pass it off to the designers, engineers and the marketing teams, that take their subject matter expertise and turn it into something meaningful in terms of product offerings.

Q:  So how do you track trends?  Are you constantly on Twitter or how do you do it?

A: Well, I've been doing it for nine years, so it's gotten a little easier over time, but it's really about pattern recognition -- looking for recurring themes, and seeing things that re-emerge and starting to have an eye for something, what are the drivers behind this, why does this seem like it's going to be important, and will it have staying power?

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Auto
10:11 am
Wed January 2, 2013

2013 auto sales will be strong, firm predicts

GM MEDIA

  DETROIT (AP) - An auto industry research firm says an improving economy and a host of new models should push U.S. auto sales above 15 million this year.

   The Polk research firm says auto sales should continue to lead the country's economic recovery. Polk predicts 15.3 million new vehicle registrations this year, up nearly 7 percent from 2012.

   Automakers release December and full-year sales for 2012 on Thursday. Analysts predict sales of around 14.5 million, the strongest year since 2007.

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Auto
2:01 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Ford will add more than 2,000 jobs, invest $773M in Michigan plants

The 2013 Ford Fusion
Andrew Duthie Wikimedia Commons

Ford is creating 2,350 new jobs in Southeast Michigan. The Ford Motor Company announced a new plan to invest $773 million into six Michigan plants.

As part of last year's agreement with the United Auto Workers, the car maker pledged to create 12,000 new hourly jobs across the country.

Todd Nissen is a spokesman for Ford. He says his company is growing across the country.

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Auto
2:42 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

GM's new Camaro will be built in Lansing, Canadian union upset

GM says the next generation Chevy Camaro will be assembled in Lansing.
GM

General Motors announced today that the next generation of the Camaro will be built at the Lansing Grand River (LGR) Assembly Plant. The Cadillac CTS and ATS are currently assembled at the Lansing plant.

The move could take a few years, according to the Detroit News.

The current model Camaro is built in Oshawa, Ontario.

The announcement sparked concerns that the move would lead to job losses at the plant in Canada.

Dana Flavelle of the Toronto Star reports the effect on jobs is not known yet.

“At this stage, there’s no immediate impact on employment. In the longer term, we really can’t speculate at this time,” GM Canada spokesperson Faye Roberts said in a conference call with reporters.

The timing will depend on when the product life cycle of the current generation Camaro comes to an end. “We haven’t said a specific time,” Roberts said.

In a statement, GM said "lower capital investment and improved production efficiencies" were reasons for their decision.

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Auto
11:50 am
Wed December 19, 2012

'Government Motors' no more?

GM's headquarters in Detroit.
John F. Martin Creative Commons

The U.S. Treasury Department and General Motors announced today that company will buy 200 million of the U.S. government's 500.1 million shares in GM.

GM will pay $27.50 for each share. That's 7.9 percent more than yesterday's closing price of GM stock.

The sale, expected to be completed by the end of the year, will reduce the government's stake in the company to around 19 percent.

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Auto
1:51 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Toyota pays record fine for delaying recall, failure to report defects

Floor mat pedal entrapment in the Lexus RX35 led to a recall and Toyota's most recent fine.
IFCAR wikipedia

Toyota Motor Corp. will pay a record $17.35 million fine for its failure to report a safety defect to federal officials and for delaying the subsequent recall.

The fine, levied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is the highest civil penalty relating to recall violations ever paid out to the organization, the Detroit Free Press reports.

More from the Freep:

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1:14 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Chrysler shutters car museum

A 1984 Plymouth Voyager at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum.
harry_nl flickr

Chrysler announced last week that it would be closing The Walter P. Chrysler Museum located at its Auburn Hills headquarters.

The museum, which opened in 1999, will merge with the Chrysler Foundation by the end of the year.

Chrysler Group LLC will purchase the 67 historic vehicles housed in the museum, the oldest being a 1902 Rambler Runabout Roadster.

The collection of classic cars will be be closed off to the public except for special events and exhibitions.

From the press release:

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