Chrysler

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

At the North American International Auto Show today, the Chinese-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group, or GAC Motors, announced plans to build Jeeps to sell in the Chinese market.

GAC Motors is a state-owned automobile business located in the city of Guangzhou in southern China.

More on the announcement from Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press:

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."

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.

Chrysler shutters car museum

Dec 3, 2012
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:

GMC SUVs in a car lot
user ep_jhu / Creative Commons

GM, Ford, and Chrysler all say November sales were the best they've seen in a long time.

More from the Detroit News:

General Motors Co. said Monday it had its best November sales month since 2007, as its 186,505 sales rose 3.4 percent over the same month in 2011...

Ford Motor Co. posted November sales of 177,673, an increase 6 percent, with retail sales jumping 12 percent...

Chrysler Group LLC earlier reported its best November sales since 2007, as it sold 122,565 vehicles in the month, up 14.4 percent from the same month in 2011.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton will have more for us on these numbers later today.

General Motors was a deeply troubled company in 2008.

Eh.  Make that deeply, deeply, deeply troubled.

So was its finance arm, GMAC, which had plunged head-first into subprime mortgage lending, in addition to automotive lending.  That left the company awash in billions of dollars worth of bad mortgages.

The federal government had to figure out a way to bail out both companies - because GM wouldn't survive if it didn't have a place to send customers for car loans, and if its dealers didn't have a place to get financing to buy the inventory.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

I-96 shooter suspect to undergo competency exam

The man accused of randomly shooting at motorists along Interstate 96 made his his first appearances in court yesterday. Raulie Wayne Casteel was arrested last week for the shootings.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

Making his first physical appearances in court, the 43-year-old father from Wixom had pre-examination conferences Wednesday in district courts in Howell and Novi. He faces numerous felony charges, including assault with intent to murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent and intentionally firing a firearm from a vehicle.

Neither of Casteel's attorneys would comment after the hearings.

Chrysler to announce new jobs today

More signs of recovery for Chrysler. From the Detroit Free Press:

Chrysler will provide more evidence today that its recovery is in full swing as it details plans to invest $238 million in three Michigan plants and add about 1,250 jobs so it can ramp up production of its engines and pickups.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and UAW Vice President General Holiefield are scheduled to be at Chrysler's Mack Avenue Engine I plant this morning for the announcement.

Firearm deer hunting season starts today

Hunters are taking to their favorite spots as firearm deer season begins today.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports, fewer licenses are being handed out this season:

The day before the start of firearms deer season is usually the busiest day at retailers who sell hunting licenses. The state has reduced the number of antlerless deer licenses because of a viral disease, known as Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease or EHD.   The disease has been present in Michigan for decades.   But this year, weather conditions led to an unusually early outbreak of the disease.

State officials say virus has killed more than 13,000 deer this fall in more than 30 Michigan counties.

Chrysler's third-quarter profits up 80 percent

Oct 29, 2012

A third-quarter earnings report from Chrysler shows that profits are up 80 percent from last year.

The automaker earned $381 million over the past quarter, up from $212 million for the same period last year.

Brent Snavely from the Detroit Free Press has more:

Chrysler adds third shift, 1,100 jobs at Detroit plant

Oct 26, 2012
Chrysler-Group / flickr

A third shift beginning next week at Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit will add about 1,100 new jobs.

The new shift is being added to keep up with increased demand for the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Brent Snavely from the Detroit Free Press has the story:

Adding the third crew now was driven by the mounting cost of overtime Jefferson North's workers have logged in recent months. Newly hired workers start at a lower wage to which the UAW agreed in its 2011 contract.

General Motors says its U.S. sales rose about one and a half percent last month, as a big jump in car sales was offset by falling truck sales.

Ford says its U.S. sales were flat in September, like GM, Ford was weighed down by lower truck sales even as sales of its cars rose.

But Chrysler had the best September of the Detroit Three, with a 12 percent increase in sales.

More from the Detroit News:

Henry Ford Community College

It's been a long time since the days you could succeed on the factory floor with "a weak mind and a strong back," as the adage goes.

Modern manufacturers need people who use their minds more than their bodies.  

Today, manufacturing workers need to be computer literate, solve problems when the robots on the line shut down, and work in teams.

The Obama administration says manufacturing companies added jobs for the first time since the 1990s - more than 500,000 jobs in the past 30 months.

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

Yesterday, the Canadian Auto Workers union said that 90 percent of unionized Chrysler workers voted to approve a new deal with the company.

Ford and GM workers in Canada approved their deals last week.

So what did they get?

Here's a good write-up on the negotiations between the Canadian Auto Workers and Detroit's Big Three automakers from the Detroit Free Press' Brent Snavely.

A 2011 Chrysler Town & Country rolls off the final inspection line at Chrysler Group LLC’s Windsor Assembly Plant.
Chrysler

21,000 unionized auto workers in Canada are another step closer to job stability until at least 2016.

Last night, union workers at General Motors plants in Canada approved a collective bargaining agreement between the Canadian Auto Workers and the auto company.

Ford workers in Canada approved their deal earlier this week. And Chrysler workers will vote this weekend.

CBC News in Windsor reports on what these deals mean:

Lead in text: 
The CAW union and Chrysler have reached a tentative deal similar to the agreements reached with GM and Ford. Ford workers in Canada ratified their agreement earlier this week. GM workers are expected to do so sometime tomorrow. More from CBC Windsor.
Auto
Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers.
Canadian Auto Workers union

One more agreement, and the Canadian Auto Workers will be on the road to deals with all three U.S. automakers.

The CAW and Chrysler are working on finalizing a labor contract this week.

Ross Marowits of the Montreal Gazette reports the two sides are close to reaching an agreement.

The chairman of the CAW master bargaining committee for Chrysler said the two sides made significant progress over the last 24 hours.

“I think we’re closer and closer by every minute and every hour and again we’re just working at this closing up those loose ends,” Dino Chiodo said Wednesday in an interview from Toronto.

“Unless things completely fall off the rails, which I don’t see happening at this point, I think we’re moving along very well and I’m confident that sometime today or tomorrow we’ll be able to achieve the final task of wrapping this up.”

The bargaining teams are expected to meet tonight after 7 p.m. The CAW and General Motors have reached a tentative agreement. Unionized GM workers in Canada are expected to vote on the proposed agreement today and tomorrow. Ford workers in Canada approved their agreement this past Monday. Altogether, the CAW represents around 21,000 auto workers from the "Big Three."

Canadian Auto Workers union at a rally.
CAW / Facebook

Ford's union workers in Canada have approved a four-year contract with the company.

And the Canadian Auto Workers union have a tentative agreement with GM.

Now, talks with Chrysler continue this week.

CBC Windsor has the latest on the talks:

The CAW's president, Ken Lewenza, knows it's not going to be easy with Chrysler. Company executives have made it clear they want an agreement that lowers labour costs to match those in the United States.

Lewenza said it could be days before there is a tentative agreement between the two sides.

"We can get a deal. I've a great deal of respect for [Chrysler CEO Sergio] Marchionne and his management team," Lewenza said. "I don't hide that and I think he's got respect for our union. But at the end of the day, you can only respect each other when you dot the I's and cross the T's."

If talks stall, the CAW can strike.

But with a deal signed with Ford, and a final deal with GM expected to be approved by GM union workers in Canada  this week, a strike at Chrysler plants in Canada doesn't seem likely.

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.

We’ve got a lot going on in Michigan, to put it mildly, and I would guess that you haven’t been paying much attention to the union negotiations that have been going on in Canada.

That’s understandable -- but they could have a significant impact on the economy in this part of the world. The Canadian Auto Workers union used to be part of the UAW, before breaking off and becoming independent in the 1980s.

Chrysler's Windsor Assembly Plant.
Chrysler

The head of the Canadian Auto Workers union says General Motors is waiting for a counter proposal from the union, and he says there has been significant progress toward a new labor deal.

CAW President Ken Lewenza says the union will make the offer today. He also says progress has been made with Chrysler.

The union reached a tentative deal with Ford earlier this week.

From CBC News Windsor:

Lead in text: 
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.
Economy
Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers.
Canadian Auto Workers union

Just five days remain before an existing contract between the Canadian Auto Workers and Ford, GM, and Chrysler  expires. 

Members of the union previously authorized their leaders to call a strike - but it's a double edged sword for the union.

Ken Lewenza is National President of the Canadian Auto Workers.

He says the union is willing to come up with a deal that preserves the Detroit Three's Canadian labor costs as they are now.

Jeff Smith / Flickr

There's one week left in contract negotiations with the Canadian Auto Workers union, and it appears there are still some major sticking points in negotiations.

We posted last week that the union voted to authorize a strike if they determined one was needed.

Reuters reports plans for a potential strike are moving forward.

Strike captains at the union, which represents about 20,000 members at the three companies, were to meet in Toronto on Monday to advance plans for a triple strike.

"All three bargaining committees are determined to reject these demands and reach a fair deal," the CAW said in a leaflet distributed to members on Monday.

"The union recognizes the fragility of the industry and the need to stabilize fixed costs, while finding a solution rewards members' work. Unfortunately, our efforts have not been met with equal willingness by the companies to negotiate fair terms," the leaflet said.

The last time the Canadian Auto Workers went on strike was in 1996.

Auto sales are booming, but don't expect this to be a continuous growth period.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

August was a good month for U.S. automakers compared to a year ago. In total, the big three sold more than 585,700 vehicles last month.

Chrysler had its best month since August 2007, according to the AP, and had sales of more than 148,000 vehicles. They say their sales were led by demand for the Dodge Ram pickup truck.

Ford sold 197,249 vehicles in August, and in a press release said high gas prices led more people to their lineup of vehicles.

“As fuel prices rose again during August, we saw growing numbers of people gravitate toward our fuel-efficient vehicles – cars, utilities and trucks,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service.

And General Motors sold 240,520 vehicles in August. More than Ford or Chrysler.

In their press release, GM said it's ready for gradual improvements in the economy.

“The single message Chevrolet communicated this summer was ‘confidence’ and it rang true with customers when they saw how our product lineup is being transformed,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations. “All four of our brands are building momentum behind new products so we’re very well positioned as the economy continues to slowly improve.”

Lead in text: 
American Axle told the Detroit Free Press this morning it plans to "add 400 to 500 jobs in the next couple years" at its Three Rivers driveline plant in southwest Michigan. The company builds drivetrains and driveline systems and components for auto and truck manufacturers. Its biggest customers are Chrysler and GM.
Auto
User: dmealiffe / flickr.com

The Canadian Auto Workers union said today its members have voted to strike against Chrysler, Ford, and GM, if necessary.

The Detroit News reports the CAW is negotiating new contracts with the automakers. Current contracts are set to expire on September 17:

The CAW is expected to meet with the automakers Monday and Tuesday in downtown Toronto.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Brewer wants IRS to investigate Durant

The Michigan Democratic Party wants the International Revenue Service to investigate Clark Durant. Durant one of the Republicans vying to run against Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow this November. Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer says Durant's salary - and his daughter's salary - use up 95-percent of the money in a charity meant to help children attend private religious schools in Detroit. Brewer says an outside attorney believes that's illegal. Durant says the claim is nothing but political theatre.   

Michigan Radio

Chrysler continues to mend.

The company's revenues increased 23 percent in the second quarter of 2012.

The company said its net income rose from $181 million to $436 million.

Last year, Chrysler's profit took a hit because the company had to pay a $551 million dollar charge to pay off its government loans early.

The good Chrysler news is expected to be followed on Tuesday by much worse news from the company's majority owner, Fiat.

Jeep Liberty
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.

Robust U.S. auto sales have been helping to keep a floor on the U.S. economy for months, and they kept up the good work in June.

Car sales surpassed the expectations of many analysts.   

The good news included Detroit car companies.  Ford sales rose 7% and Chrysler sales jumped 20% compared to June a year ago.

General Motors sales increased nearly 16%.

GM's Kurt McNeil says he expects a good second half of the year, too.

Chrysler Media

Toyota reported a sales increase in May of 87% compared to the same month a year ago - when the company's vehicle production had plummeted due to the tsunami hitting Japan in March.  

There were more selling days this month than last May, but it is still a robust recovery from the disaster, which reduced inventories on Toyota dealer lots and sent some customers to other car companies.

Toyota remains number three in overall sales in the U.S., however, just behind Ford, which saw its sales increase 13% in May.

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