auto industry

Detroit skyline as viewed from Windsor, Ontario
flickr user Michael Stout / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The ties between Michigan and Ontario just got stronger. 

Governor Rick Snyder and Ontario Premier Kathleen Winne recently signed an agreement to set up an alliance between the auto industries of Michigan and Ontario. 

Ontario Minister of Economic Growth and Alliance Brad Duguid joined us today to talk about the two regions' strengths and weaknesses in the auto industry, and why, given the choice, Ontario and Michigan chose to work together rather than compete with each other. 

1948 Tucker sedan
Courtesy of Steve Lehto

In the 1940s, Preston Tucker had a dream. The car salesman from Ypsilanti wanted to give a war-weary America a brand new car. A car for the future.

But that dream was torpedoed by the Securities and Exchanges Commission, which chased him down with accusations of fraud.

Tucker's is one of the most interesting and sad stories in American business history. 

Writer Steve Lehto explores the rise and fall of this fascinating entrepreneur in his newest book, Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow.

Road to self-driving cars depends on people

Jul 16, 2016

The talk of the auto industry this year isn’t about Detroit’s record profits. Rather, it’s about racing to field vehicles that drive themselves.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

The road to self-driving cars isn’t just about technology.

sign in Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you were to ask the average Michigander what the origins of Flint’s downfall were, you might get a few different answers. Some of those answers would likely be related to the auto industry – specifically, when General Motors left the city in the 1980s.

The color of this Buick Avista concept car caught the eye of Cynthia Canty at the 2016 National American International Auto Show.
Photo by Steve Fecht for Buick

    

When looking for a new set of wheels, does the color make the car? Or does the color take a back seat to the car's design or what's under the hood?

Car enthusiasts who attended the North American International Auto Show in Detroit had a number of vehicles catch their eyes and the color of the car, likely, played a big role in that.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Nexteer workers are back on the job.

Less than 24 hours after members of UAW local 699 walked out of the Buena Vista plant, the strike is over. 

The union announced on its Facebook page Tuesday night that it has reached a tentative contract with the auto parts supplier.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

UAW workers at a major General Motors parts supplier have resoundingly rejected a new contract.

Nexteer is based in Saginaw County.   The company employs more than 3,000 employees.  Almost all of them voted against the contract.

The results of Sunday’s voting: 3103 against to 80 for.

DETROIT (AP) - Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers union have reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract.

  The UAW said the agreement was reached Friday morning. The contract covers 53,000 workers at 22 U.S. plants.

striking UAW workers
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The United Auto Workers union says its workers at General Motors will strike if it can't agree on a new contract with the company by 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

  Both sides are still negotiating. The union made a similar threat in recent discussions with Fiat Chrysler before agreeing to a new four-year contract.

Doug Coombe

Every Sunday during the spring and summer months, you can swing by John’s Carpet House in Detroit, and hear some of the best local blues musicians jam for free. But John's Carpet House is not a house, it's actually a field, located in an area called Poletown, where I-75 and I-94 meet.

The music happens all day long, as a roster of musicians rotate on and off the tiny stage that’s set up in a grassy area.

UAW President Dennis Williams chats with GM CEO Mary Barra at the kickoff of the 2015 contract negotiations
Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors


The United Automobile Workers and Fiat-Chrysler open contract talks today. General Motors talks started Monday, and Ford begins late next week.

According to Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes, these talks are new territory for the Detroit Three and the UAW.

Ford Autonomous Test Vehicle
Ford Motor Company

Automakers spend money and time developing high-tech car features, hoping to make their offerings stand out from the pack.

But are those automakers on the same page as consumers? A study released by JD Power & Associates, a research firm, says consumers are most interested in technology that makes us safer. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A former home of Michigan’s auto industry will soon train future automotive engineers.

Kettering University is moving ahead with plans to turn part of Flint’s old Chevy in the Hole site into an automotive research hub.

“This is the next generation,” says Robert McMahan, the president of the Kettering University, “The next phase in (Chevy in the Hole’s) long legacy.”

Auto sales grew in 2014
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

UNDATED (AP) - Demand for small and midsize SUVs is driving up auto sales.

  General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and Nissan all reported U.S. sales gains in April as buyers flocked to crossover SUVS that handle like cars and sit up higher. But the gains came at the expense of small and midsize cars.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The United Auto Workers is taking a big step this week to prepare for upcoming contract talks with automakers. Hundreds of delegates from more than 800 locals are meeting with top union leaders at Cobo Center for the UAW Special Convention on Collective Bargaining.

Dohn Hoyle, the director of public policy of The Arc: "There's not been anything that we've seen ... that leads us to believe that the governor's original [mental health funding] plan makes any sense."
Matthileo/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When Governor Rick Snyder was answering your questions earlier this week here on Michigan Radio, he waded into the issue of more than $9 billion in outstanding tax credits owed to businesses that stayed in Michigan and re-invested in their operations here. And that has tipped Michigan's budget into a deficit.

The program began in the Engler Administration but was widely used in the latter part of the Granholm Administration. Critics call it "corporate welfare," but Snyder disagreed with this terminology, saying the companies benefiting from this program helped create jobs.

Courtesy of GM

The Next Idea

It can often be difficult to imagine just how much the latest innovations will truly affect our lives. The smartphone’s contributions, for example, are now obvious; the Segway’s, not so much.

One industry, however, that offers some of the clearest examples of how technology and new innovations will fundamentally change our world is the auto industry.

From driverless cars and 3-D printers, to shifting demographic and transportation trends, automakers are competing to find the best, most efficient innovations that will reshape everything from the way we buy (or share) cars to how we drive (or won’t) in the coming decades.

user: Alden Jewell / Flickr

With the North American International Auto Show under way in Detroit, we thought we'd dig up some archival photos of what the auto show used to look like for throw back Thursday. Click on the photo above to see more images of past Detroit Auto Shows. 

Flickr

The Next Idea

The early history of the Michigan economy is a study in diversity: fur trading, lumbering, furniture making, dairy and fruit farming, salt mining, and who can forget cereal making. But starting with the American Century, the Michigan economy has become the most one-dimensional in all of the United States. Our fortunes come and go with the automotive industry. 

The ZR2 concept features a 2.8 liter duramax diesel that will be going into the Colorado later this year.
Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Kyle Norris discuss a Republican plan to repeal the state's prevailing wage law, and whether things are looking up after a rough year for the auto industry.


Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Automakers are showing off everything from supercars to trucks to electrics at the North American International Auto Show this week. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton is covering the show in Detroit.

She says there are quite a few hybrids and electrics on display including the highly anticipated debut of a hybrid supercar — the Acura NSX - a "three motor sport hybrid."

Colorful used cars
Zelda Richardson

After six years of stagnation, it’s looking like the European car market could end the year with some growth. Our partner at the BBC Russell Padmore joins us from London to talk about what’s behind the sales, and what it means for American auto companies.

Listen to our conversation with Padmore below. 

auto.ferrari.com

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, FCA, will hold a public stock offering to sell off 10% of Ferrari and dole out the remaining 80% of the company to current shareholders.

Piero Ferrari will hold onto his 10%.

Michigan Radio's automotive reporter Tracy Samilton discussed this sale with us.

Samilton says that about 7,000 Ferraris are made a year, which along with their price, gives the vehicle an “unattainable mystique.”

The dispute over stretching that number to make more sales is a contributing factor to the split between FCA and Ferrari.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today’s announcement that General Motors plans to spend $300 million in Michigan is good news not only for GM employees, but also for auto parts suppliers.

GM had previously announced the automaker's plans to invest $240 million in its Warren transmission plant. The plant will make the electric drive unit for the next-generation Chevy Volt. 

Will Cadillac become a global luxury brand on a par with Germany's Big Three?
User: Erik Daniel Drost / Flickr

 

These are challenging times for the executives who run the luxury brands at General Motors and Ford.

Lincoln has been on wobbly legs for years, and Cadillac is lagging behind the competition, especially the German luxury competition.

Detroit News Business columnist Daniel Howes has been following the Michigan automakers' struggle with the luxury business. He says these companies have largely failed to get luxury buyers to take their products seriously. 

"Lincoln has failed for a long time, in a large part because Ford was not willing to spend the money to make Lincoln differentiated enough. A lot of people will tell you today that Cadillac has got the best product, but the problem is the sales are not producing," says Howes.

Auto sales grew in 2014
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

When the economy in Michigan is hurting, you always hear politicians talking about diversifying the economy.

But when the auto industry is doing better and the economy in Michigan is riding along with it, that talk seems to disappear.

Well, not this time. Rick Haglund recently wrote about a report that indicates the auto industry might be hitting the brakes.

Haglund joined us today. He’s a freelance journalist and contributor to Bridge Magazine, MLive and others. Michigan Radio's auto reporter, Tracy Samilton, also joined us on the show.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

WASHINGTON (AP) - A price-fixing investigation into the auto parts industry has mushroomed into the Justice Department's largest criminal antitrust probe ever, and it's not over.

The investigation was made public four years ago with FBI raids in the Detroit area.

It's led to criminal charges against dozens of people and companies, stretched across continents and reverberated through an industry responsible for supplying critical car components.

DETROIT – General Motors is recalling 2.4 million vehicles in the U.S. as part of a broader effort to resolve outstanding safety issues more quickly.

The latest action brings to 13.6 million the number of vehicles GM has recalled this year, a new record for the automaker.  

The recalls announced Tuesday include 1.3 million older-model crossovers with defective front seat belts and 1 million sedans with a shift cable that can wear out. 

GM is also recalling 1,400 new Cadillac Escalade SUVs with faulty air bags. No fatalities related to the defects have been reported, GM says. It expects to take a $400 million charge in the second quarter to repair the vehicles. 

GM agreed to a $35 million federal fine last week for delays in reporting a deadly ignition switch defect.

Arsenal of Democracy book cover.
http://wsupress.wayne.edu/

There is no question that Detroit and the automobile industry played a major role in the Allied victory over Germany and Japan in World War II. We’ve often heard southeast Michigan described as the “Arsenal of Democracy.”

But not so well known is the struggle it took to turn the auto industry toward war production, particularly as women and African-American workers stepped up to take their places on the assembly lines.

Charles Hyde, professor emeritus of history at Wayne State University, joined us today. His new book is Arsenal of Democracy: The American Automobile Industry in World War II.

Listen to the full interview above.

United Auto Workers membership grows slightly

Mar 29, 2014
UAW/Facebook

NEW YORK (AP) - A filing with the U.S. Department of Labor shows the United Auto Workers' membership grew by nearly 9,000 people last year. 

UAW's membership in 2013 was 391,415, compared to 382,513 in 2012. The union has been steadily adding members since 2009, when General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy.

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