automotive manufacturing

Business
6:00 am
Tue February 11, 2014

High stakes for Michigan's pilot apprenticeship program

An engineer works with a student apprentice at Toyota.
Toyota UK Flickr

Tracy Samilton's report on apprenticeships in Michigan.

Michigan imports a lot of things from Germany, from craft beer to high-tech appliances.

Now, the state's trying to import Germany's highly successful apprentice system.

The hope is that employer-paid apprenticeships could address two problems: high-skilled jobs that go unfilled – and four-year college degrees that are becoming unaffordable.

One such program is already underway, teaching students how to manage automated assembly lines.

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Stateside
4:20 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Is Australia's car manufacturing industry about to reach the end of the road?

GM and Chrysler suffered through bankruptcy in large part because it relied so heavily on SUV sales.
user ep_jhu Creative Commons

Ford and General Motors both recently decided to stop producing cars in Australia. Now, that country's car manufacturing industry is about to reach the end of the road. That's after today's announcement that Toyota will close its operations there as well.

Stateside's partner the BBC has more from business correspondent Russell Padmore.

Auto
12:19 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Chrysler becomes subsidiary of Fiat

2014 Fiat 500 Abarth
media.chrysler.com media.chrysler.com

MILAN (AP) - The Italian carmaker Fiat says its acquisition of the final Chrysler stake is complete, making the U.S. car company a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fiat.

Fiat SpA said Tuesday that it closed the deal announced Jan. 1 with the cash payment of $1.75 billion to a union-controlled trust fund. That's on top of an initial $1.9-billion payment, which was arranged through a special distribution from Chrysler. Fiat also made the first installment on an additional $700 million payment.

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Transportation
9:59 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Expect to see driverless cars test-driving on Michigan roads soon

A Toyota Prius, modified by Google to function as a driverless car
Credit Wikipedia

Governor Snyder has signed a law that opens up Michigan’s roads as testing grounds for driverless cars.

More and more, it seems that these autonomous vehicles — “intelligent” cars that can drive themselves and even communicate with each other — will be a big part of our transportation future.

At least, that’s what Gov. Snyder and the state’s carmakers are banking on. And they want to stay ahead of the curve in research and design.

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Politics & Government
8:15 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Snyder touts business-friendly efforts at Michigan Automotive Summit

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder says Michigan has become a more business-friendly place since he took office—and that’s good news for the automotive industry.

The Governor addressed industry leaders at the Michigan Automotive Summit in Detroit Wednesday.

Snyder says that in the emerging global economy, there will be a “go-to place” to on each continent to make things. And he thinks Michigan is poised to be that place in North America—but the state needs to embrace, not reject, its manufacturing past.

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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
10:25 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Battery maker A123 files for bankruptcy protection

A123 Battery in Passenger Vehicle Application
.a123systems.com/media-room-photos.htm

DETROIT (AP) - The U.S. operations of electric car battery maker A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy protection and its automotive assets are being acquired by Johnson Controls for $125 million.

The announcement Tuesday comes one day after A123 warned in a regulatory filing that it likely would miss some debt payments and could be headed for bankruptcy court.

A123, based in Waltham, Mass., got a $249 million U.S. government grant to help it build a battery factory in Michigan.

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Auto
1:31 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Chrysler will idle Mack Avenue Engine II plant

The the 3.7-liter, V6 engine built at the Mack Avenue Engine II is used in Jeep Liberty vehicles, seen here.
Jeep Liberty Facebook.com

The Detroit Free Press' Brent Snavely reported today that Chrysler plans to close its Mack Avenue Engine II plant in Detroit this September. The company plans to replace the engine built there with a different one made in Chrysler plants in Trenton, Mich. and in Saltillo, Mexico, reports the Detroit News.

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Business
1:01 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Michigan leaders seek business partnerships with Turkey

Turkish flag
user alexeyklyukin flickr

Michigan and Turkey share a passion for cars, spend a lot of time farming, love entertaining visitors and both have a close connection with water.

More than 50 Michigan leaders went to Turkey earlier this month for a four-day conference titled the “Turkey-Michigan Forum: University-Industry Collaboration and R&D Trends.” Attendees came from the private sector, public sector and academia.

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Detroit Auto Show
1:07 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Honda revives NS-X sportscar, will build it in Ohio

The concept Acura NS-X.
Micki Maynard/Changing Gears

Honda made history in 1990 when it introduced the high powered Acura NS-X sports car. But it discontinued it in 2005 to focus on more fuel efficient models.

Now, NS-X is coming back. And instead of Japan, where it built the original car, it will build it in Ohio.

Honda made the announcement this afternoon at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It showed a concept version of the NS-X unveiled by its CEO, Takanobu Ito.

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Michigan and China
9:07 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Michigan and China: A roundup of our stories

The Chinese flag.
Philip Jagenstedt Flickr

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton has been reporting recently on a series of stories about Michigan's evolving relationship with China.

From cars to crops to hats, these sometimes unusual Chinese connections could have a big impact on the state's economic future.

Here is a brief roundup, in case you missed any of the stories.

October 11: Selling American cars, China-style

Chinese dealerships with their aggressive sales staffs, shiny floors, and canned music may evoke their American counterparts, but Tracy Samilton says U.S. automakers are trying to cash in on China's booming demand for cars by tailoring their approach to suit local tastes and attitudes.

From working to maintain a solid brand reputation (the opinions of family and colleagues is probably the most important factor for Chinese car buyers), to explaining features to inexperienced drivers, Detroit car companies are betting on China as a key to their futures.

October 11: Tiny cars to tackle big problems

Megacities like Beijing and Shanghai already struggle with dense smog and days-long traffic jams clogging roads and highways, but  China's voracious appetite for cars and steadily increasing urban population only promise to make things worse.

Tracy Samilton reports that, among other solutions, General Motors' China division is experimenting with small electric vehicles that seat two, roll on two wheels, and can drive themselves, not to mention take up one fifth the parking space needed for a regular car.

October 14: Ford and the case of the Chinese official's hat

While Ford is currently working hard to be a top competitor the Chinese auto market, they lag behind other international automakers including General Motors.

Tracy Samilton tells us that part of the reason for this gap can be traced back to hats.

More specifically, in the early 1990s, Ford lost out on a contract to supply Chinese officials with a fleet of limousines because the unusual body shape of the Taurus knocked the hats right of the dignitaries' heads.

October 23: Exchanging students and changing perspectives

Engineering students in Shanghai and Ann Arbor are learning more than what is printed in their textbooks thanks to a University of Michigan Joint Institute program that sends Michigan students to study in China and brings Chinese students here to do the same.

Students from both sides of the program told Tracy Samilton about local hospitality, the allure of college football, and that a big part of the experience is about learning from their host culture and not just in the classroom.

November 7: From Michigan's fields to Chinese dinner tables

Detroit cars are certainly a major component in Michigan's economic connection with China, but as Tracy Samilton reports, there is also an increasing Chinese demand for Michigan crops and other food products.

Chinese livestock producers use Michigan grown soybeans and wheat as feed, but consumers are also developing a taste for Michigan foods from blueberries to cereal to baby food, bolstered in part by U.S. safety and quality standards.

November 8: Pure Michigan in China?

Both the Michigan tourism industry and the state capitol are hoping to make Michigan a destination for international tourists, especially for those  from China.

While some, including Governor Snyder have big plans to attract Chinese visitors by showcasing Michigan's natural beauty and automotive history, others say that most Chinese people probably haven't even heard of Michigan, and as Tracy Samilton reports, bad translations are not helping.

And an audio documentary...

As a way to bring these stories together, a team of Michigan Radio producers created an audio documentary on the Michigan-China connection that features content from all of these stories along with interviews with Kenneth Lieberthal, the Director of the John L. Thornton China Center, Wei Shen, Managing Director of Bridge Connect, and Rebecca Linland, the Director of Automotive Research at HIS Automotive.

- John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
2:00 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Mixed economic messages: It's all about perspective

automotiveauto.info

If the constant stream of what seems like contradictory economic news leaves you feeling confused, join the club.

Headline No. 1: “Midwest economy slows.”

No. 2: “Michigan surpasses 48 states in growth.”

And No. 3: “Michigan has fourth-highest number of layoffs.”

These are all true stories about the third quarter.

Bob Tomarelli is an analyst with IHS. He says the stories just reflect different aspects of the economy.

“It is doing better," Tomarelli says. "It is recovering at a decent pace, a very quick pace. But things are still not great because it was hit so very hard.”

Tomarelli says most of the 100,000 jobs added in the third quarter were in professional business services and manufacturing. But he says that boost is probably temporary.

So while they are getting a nice short-term burst that’s adding to payrolls and creating some jobs, or at least bringing some jobs back, it is not expected to keep up at that pace, and in the long run is actually expected to decline.”

Most of Michigan’s 29,000 layoffs were in government and financial sectors.