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auto industry

Chrysler putting $20M into northwest Ohio plant

Apr 27, 2013

Automaker Chrysler plans to put close to $20 million into one of its northwest Ohio plants.

Chrysler says the work at the machining plant just outside Toledo will go toward new equipment and tooling. The investment won't bring any new permanent jobs though.

The spending will increase capacity for a torque converter for the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

The plant near Perrysburg makes torque converters and steering columns for several Chrysler plants in the Midwest as well as Canada and Mexico.
 

user paul (dex) / Flickr

General Motors says the car and truck buying public will be seeing big changes in the next few years when we walk into a GM showroom.
 
GM’s North America Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens recently told analysts that the automaker will redesign, refresh or replace nearly 90 percent of its vehicles in the North American market between now and 2016.

Is this strategy a matter of blazing new trails, or playing catch-up with the competition?

This is a two-sided story. Starting this year with 2011 models, the federal government’s fuel-economy standards, which have sat frozen for years, are going to get a big-time thaw. It's the biggest change since the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) law was created in 1975.

Colorful used cars
Zelda Richardson

In a recent study by L.R. Polk, none of the top ten car companies that women prefer were domestic.

Susan Ianni, the general manager of Gordon Chevrolet of Garden City, argued otherwise.

"Women here love domestic cars," she said. "It's in other parts of the country where the problem lies. Women aren't even looking at domestic cars. They aren't even on their shopping list. Women are going for the car they're driving which is probably a foreign car, so they're going back to that dealership and not giving domestic cars a chance."

So what was this study getting at and why do some women prefer foreign cars?

Today on the show, the city of Flint recently hired seven new police officers, but some say that might not be enough to make a noticeable difference on the streets.

We explore public safety in the one of the nation's most violent cities.

And, new data show women in the U.S. prefer foreign-made cars to domestics. We find out why and talk about what it will take for the Detroit Three to win over those women.

And there are almost fourteen thousand children in Michigan who have been taken out of their own homes by the state because of an abuse or neglect allegation.

Those kids rely upon the state to keep them safe and put them in an environment where they have a chance to thrive.

Six years ago, the state was sued over treatment of kids in its care. The state was back in court today to see where things stand. Michigan Radio's Sarah Alvarez brought us a report.

Carlos Lowry / Flickr

The clouds have been lifting for  U.S. car makers.

With car sales and America's economy picking up, there are some who are looking further down the road.

They have been wondering  if deeper, bigger challenges lie ahead for the companies who put the world on wheels.

One of those wondering is automotive writer Micki Maynard. She recently published a couple of pieces in Forbes Magazine exploring what she calls "The Secret Fear of the World's Biggest Auto Companies".

Micki Maynard spoke with us to explain exactly what is the "Secret Fear" of the World's Biggest Auto Companies.

To hear the full story click the audio link above.

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.

December is shaping up to be another good month for the auto companies.

Analysts expect to see strong December sales numbers for General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and other auto makers:   Rising consumer demand, new models in the showroom, big year end deals. 

Mike Wall with IHS Global Insight says they’re all reasons to expect December to be a good month. 

“We still have a fairly old fleet out there…in terms of the average age of vehicles….and we have a consumer base that is starting to reengage the market,” says Wall.

Stateside: A 2012 review of the auto industry

Dec 20, 2012

The auto industry had some big stories in 2012.

Stateside spoke with Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at edmunds.com, and Tracy Samilton, auto beat reporter for Michigan Radio about this past automotive year. 

Sales are up in Detroit's 'Big Three' automotive companies, and the companies are adding jobs.

One of the biggest themes this year was fuel efficiency, especially with the new government Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

Chinese firm acquires bankrupt battery maker A123

Dec 10, 2012
A123 Systems Inc.'s battery manufacturing facility in Livonia, Michigan. The company filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday.
A123 Systems Inc. / Facebook

A123, the bankrupt battery company with factories in Livonia and Romulus, announced Sunday that a Chinese firm will acquire most of its assets.

In an auction administered by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, Wanxiang Group Corp. purchased most of the company’s commercial business assets for $256.6 million.

The acquisition has some Republican lawmakers worried.

From the Detroit Free Press:

screen grab / WDIV

In a speech Monday in front of employees from Redford Township’s Detroit Diesel engine factory, President Barack Obama weighed in on Michigan’s impending right-to-work legislation.

About halfway through the President’s address, intended to promote his plan for averting the fiscal cliff, Obama took up the issue of right-to-work, the Detroit Free Press Reports:

Stateside: Chinese cars yet to motor along U.S. roads

Dec 3, 2012
user Ritzo ten Cate / Wikimedia Commons

China continues to be the world’s largest automotive market.

However, Chinese car manufacturers are still several years away from putting their products in the U.S. market, according to Michael Dunne.

Dunne is the president of Dunne and Company, a strategic marketing group helping auto companies expand in Asia.

Dunne addressed the status of China’s car industry, citing economic tensions with Japan.

Stateside: Labor unions' future reliant on cooperation

Nov 13, 2012
Pobrecito33 / Flickr

Labor unions have suffered something of an image crisis over the past decade.

People blame their presence for convoluting many political and economic conversations.

But, according to Harley Shaiken, the unions’ place in society is far from extinct.

Shaiken is a professor of education and geography at University of California, Berkeley.

He addressed the problems currently facing labor unions as well as their past triumphs.

“Overall the public opinion polls are favorable when people are asked if they would join a union,” said Shaiken.

According to Shaiken, the economic gloom of states’ economies cannot entirely be blamed on labor unions.

GM share price up on better-than-expected earnings report

Oct 31, 2012
Andrea_44 / Flickr

GM shares were up Wednesday on the back of a stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings report.

The automaker reported a net income of $1.48 billion, down just 14.5 percent from last year despite major losses in Europe.

As a result, GM stock had increased by 9.66 percent to $25.53 a share by 2:20 p.m.

Melissa Burden with the Detroit News has more:

Ford restructures in Europe, cuts 5,700 jobs

Oct 25, 2012
Ford

Ford is cutting 5,700 jobs in the U.K. and Belgium as it tries to return to profitability in Europe.

The company is expecting annual losses of over $1.5 billion in Europe.

Alisa Priddle of the Detroit Free Press has more:

The actions will cut capacity by 18% or 355,000 vehicles a year which should result in annual savings of $450 million to $500 million, the company said today.

The recent bankruptcy of battery company A123 has some questioning the profitability of electric cars like the Nissan Leaf.
user cliff1066 / flickr

Tuesday’s bankruptcy announcement by A123 Systems Inc. has many taking another look at the prospects of the electric car.

Conservative commentators have taken the opportunity to bash the Obama administration for its green energy investments.

In 2009, A123 received a $249 million grant from the Department of Energy.

Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers.
Canadian Auto Workers union

The Canadian Auto Workers and GM announced a tentative contract Thursday night reports The Globe and Mail:

The deal extends by one year the life of a car-assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., that was scheduled to close next year and adds a new shift of workers at a neighbouring plant. That means GM’s employment level in Canada should be roughly the same as it is today – or about 7,000 people – in 2016.

After reaching a tentative four-year deal with Ford on Monday, CAW officials have agreed on an indefinite extension of negotiations with Chrysler and GM.

Kate Wells

Vice President Joe Biden took the spotlight at Detroit’s Labor Day parade. It's one more sign that the auto bailout is shaping up as a central theme of the Obama-Biden campaign.

Last week Republican nominee Mitt Romney asked Americans if they were better off today than four years ago. Now comes part of the Democrats’ response: you sure are if you’re an auto worker.

User IFCAR / Wikimedia Commons

In mid-September, General Motors will temporarily close the Detroit-Hamtramck plant that makes the Chevrolet Volt for about a month.

user hotblack / MorgueFile.com

A credit reporting agency says the rate of overdue auto loans is at the lowest rate in more than ten years.

TransUnion says the rate of U.S. auto loan payments at least 60 days overdue fell in the second quarter to 0.33 percent. That's down about 25 percent from the same period last year and 8 percent from the first three months of this year.

Michigan is well below the national average, with 0.21 percent of borrowers delinquent on their car loans.

Michigan politics: The week in review

Aug 4, 2012
Brian Charles Watson / Wikimedia Commons

In this Saturday's Week in Review, Michigan Radio's Rina Miller speaks with Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about auto earnings, the new state model for measuring K-12 academic achievement, and the primary election coming up on Tuesday.

RM: U.S. car companies announce their profit statements this week. How are things looking, Jack?

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Ford Motor Co. says its net income fell by 57 percent to $1 billion in the second quarter as losses in Europe and Asia mounted.

The company lowered its full-year profit forecast. Ford still expects a strong operating profit, but it will be lower than 2011. Previously the company had expected to make about the same amount.

The four most famous words that Mitt Romney never wrote are, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

You read that right.  Mitt Romney never wrote those words.  They were the headline of a New York Times op-ed column that was authored by Romney and published in the newspaper on November 18, 2008.

I doubt that most people could accurately recite so much as a sentence of the op-ed that Governor Romney actually wrote in that column.  All that anybody remembers is the headline, which I have discovered was written by a New York Times editor, not Governor Romney.

Chevy Volt vs. Nissan Leaf

May 9, 2012

There's a lot of excitement around electric vehicles. But so far sales have not been great.

Michigan Radio’s auto beat reporter Tracy Samilton decided to get some firsthand experience driving two electric vehicles - the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt.

JW: So while we are calling them electric cars there are some fundamental differences in how they work.

TS: The Leaf is a pure electric vehicle it only runs on the battery and when it runs dry you have to recharge the battery to get more out of the car. And the Volt has a battery, and you run on that as an electric car for about 35 miles, and then after that it has a generator that runs on gasoline that provides more electricity so the car can keep running. So Chevy calls it an electric car with extended range.

JW: And after spending that week with the Leaf and the Volt, what did you think?

TS: Well, they’re two totally different cars and I had two totally different experiences as you can imagine. When I got the Volt, that week that they gave it to me I actually have a vacation arranged in Pennsylvania. Well because it has the extended range I could actually take the volt to the camp sight, some 400 and some miles away. And I plugged it into my cabin, which had electricity. You know most of this was done on the gasoline but I was able to get it recharged in my cabin.

When it comes to the Leaf, it’s a different kind of vehicle, I could not have done that.

Carmakers In China Rev Up As Industry Shifts East

Apr 25, 2012

The Beijing auto show runs this week in what is now the world's largest car market, and a crucial one for Detroit companies.

General Motors just announced it will open 600 more dealerships in China, where it sells more cars than it does in the U.S. Last week, Ford announced construction of its fourth Chinese assembly plant.

For longtime American auto executives in China, witnessing the shift in the global auto industry is dramatic.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. says its credit rating has been restored to investment grade by the Fitch Ratings agency.

The automaker's debt has been at junk status since 2005. The company had to mortgage its factories and other assets to borrow billions in order to stay out of bankruptcy.

Ford issued this statement:   

“We are very pleased with today’s decision by Fitch. It is an important proof point of the continued progress the Ford team is making with our One Ford plan. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on driving profitable growth for all of our stakeholders. In fact, our One Ford plan includes achieving strong investment grade ratings and maintaining investment grade throughout an economic cycle."

Company spokesman Jay Cooney says Ford's assets will be released as collateral once a second ratings agency boosts the company's credit rating.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Lansing area business and civic leaders say they are going to work together to market hundreds of acres of vacant industrial land.

The capital city region has more than 400 acres of land left vacant by cuts in the auto industry.

Bob Trezise is the president of the Lansing Area Economic Partnership.  He says in the past the different local governments tried to develop the old industrial land separately..

JillStein.org

Michigan’s republican  primary was last week, but that doesn’t mean presidential candidates are done courting voters.

A U.S. Green Party presidential hopeful, Jill Stein met with supporters in Michigan to tout her party’s platform.

Stein talked with a small group yesterday at a Amer's deli in Ann Arbor about what she calls her “Green New Deal.”

She says the Deal focuses on living wages and green technology.

Usually, journalists are sent press releases before political events, because the organizers want reporters to cover them. Monday, I got one about an event that was already over.

That would normally strike me as a trifle unusual, until I saw that it was from the Green Party of Michigan. They had a meeting last weekend in Bay City which they said was “charged with enthusiasm.“

What did they talk about? Well, among other things, quote “the unrest palpable among the lower echelons of society.” and the “once-dismissed voters who opted to eschew either,” major party nominee.

Richardo Giaviti / Flickr

President Barack Obama is expected to visit the Washington Auto Show on Tuesday.

Obama sometimes calls his decision to rescue General Motors and Chrysler a tough choice that saved jobs in an important industry.

The auto show will give him another forum to talk about GM and Chrysler, along with the administration's attention to manufacturers and efforts to boost fuel efficiency standards.

The president's advisers view the auto bailout as a potential point of contrast with Republican Mitt Romney, who opposed Obama's decision to pour billions of dollars into the companies.

During his State of the Union address last week, Obama said the auto industry has hired tens of thousands of workers, and he predicted the Detroit turnaround could take root elsewhere.

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