WUOMFM

Daniel Howes

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The future arrived Friday, courtesy of General Motors.

Just in time for the Detroit auto show. Imagine that.

Yep, that alleged archetype of American industrial decline says it will have a fully self-driving car on the road next year.

Not in three years, like its rival Ford. Not in whenever, like Elon Musk and his Tesla. Next year.

But let’s be clear: This isn’t the end of road for anything. It’s barely the beginning of the revolution transforming the auto industry.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The American car is dying.

And it took an Italian to point it out.

That’d be ol’ Sergio Marchionne. He’s the heretical CEO who shocked the industry when he said Fiat Chrysler would stop producing cars in its U.S. plants. They’d be converted to building higher-margin SUVs because that’s what Americans want in more shapes and sizes. 

Eric Neitzel / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

 

Time's running out on the American car.

That's the conclusion drawn by Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes after the automakers released their year-end sales results, and after some news coming out of the Ford Glass House.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

For way too long, the Detroit narrative arced only one way – and it was down.

It’s the nation’s poorest major city. It’s home to “ruin porn,” an American affliction so fascinating to condescending Europeans. Nearly half of the city’s adults are functionally illiterate, we’re told. And economic revival of this moribund municipality is about as likely as achieving peace in the Middle East.

Detroit People Mover
Sönke Biehl / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

 

 

Daniel Howes, Detroit News business columnist, joined Stateside to look at Detroit's year in review. He shared his takeaways about Detroit's progress post-bankruptcy and what to look forward to in Detroit's future from the auto industry and its neighborhoods.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

After nearly 20 years of waiting, nostalgia-mad Detroit got what it’s long been waiting for. Mortgage mogul Dan Gilbert, architect of downtown’s revival, cut the ribbon on the site of the ol’ J.L. Hudson’s store.

It’ll be a, quote, “city within a city.” It’ll be a “vertical” statement. It’ll be the tallest building in Detroit, overtaking that one built by the last pair of heavyweights who aimed to change the city's direction by sheer force of will.

Max Fisher and Al Taubman meant well with the Renaissance Center. But their timing stunk. Gilbert? Not so much.

Detroit's Renaissance Center
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

 

 

 

Just weeks after being linked with a federal grand jury probe into auto industry corruption, a retired UAW vice president has resigned his seat on the board of General Motors.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes co-reported this story with his colleague Robert Snell. Howes joined Stateside today to share his updates.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

With apologies to Mark Twain, rumors that Detroit’s clunky ol’ auto industry can’t compete for talent and can’t compete with Silicon Valley may be greatly exaggerated.

A set of surveys by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto unit, out this week, shows an auto industry regaining favor with would-be employees and the people who influence them. It shows a 14-point gain when asked whether young people would consider a career in the auto space.

Delphi car
Marco Verch, https://goo.gl/3xb6Mt / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Re-inventing the future by reckoning with the past and dealing with the realities of the present.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says that's what we're seeing with a major change in the big auto supplier Delphi.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The global auto industry descended on La-La Land this week, and the biggest buzz came from – wait for it – General Motors.

Not because its electrified nemesis, Elon Musk’s Tesla, didn’t carve out a corner of the Los Angeles Convention Center. It did. By parking a long-awaited Model 3 compact – in the corner. America’s greenest state is Tesla country.

But even belief bordering on religious faith in Tesla can’t change the fact that grubby ol’ GM appears to be beating Musk’s baby to the autonomous punch.

Imagine that.

2018 Lincoln Navigator
David Pinter / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Word came from the LA Auto Show this week: Ford's luxury brand Lincoln is doing a reboot.

They're ditching the confusing letters-only name of MKX, and giving their midsize SUV a real name: Nautilus.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Our Canadian friends at Enbridge Energy may have a Trump problem with their Line 5. You’ve heard about Line 5 by now. It’s the pipeline – laid in the mid '50s – before the Mighty Mac connected the Upper and Lower peninsulas.

Just a few months ago, tiny patches of coating were said to be worn off the pipeline. Now the company is telling the state and anyone else who cares – and in the Great Lakes State a lot of people care – there’s more missing.

A dive team works on Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It’s been a steady drip-drip-drip of revelations from Enbridge Energy about its Line 5 — the oil and gas pipelines running beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The latest revelation is that there are more spots where the protective coating has worn off — lots more spots, even though a year ago we were told there weren’t any coating gaps.

The latest admission from the Canadian energy company drew a quick response from a plainly exasperated Governor Snyder, who called Enbridge’s “lack of transparency” to be “deeply troubling.”

But what are we hearing from Michigan's business leaders?

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Mayor Duggan cruised to re-election on Tuesday. 

Now comes the hard part.

During the city's bankruptcy, heavyweights used the city's dire economy to do what the mayor couldn't do in his first term. 

That included restructuring the city's budget, retiring debt, and renegotiating labor contracts with the city’s unions for the first time in decades.

Now, the mayor has to sustain the momentum behind Detroit’s reinvention. He needs to work with his departments — and persuade business investors — to broaden the redevelopment push into the city’s neighborhoods.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The United Auto Workers may be facing a crisis of credibility.

Credit the justice department. What started as an investigation into corruption at Fiat Chrysler’s union training center is now broadening to General Motors and Ford Motor. As my dad would say: This is no joke.

For decades, the UAW enjoyed a reputation mostly free of financial scandal and corruption allegations. Now many of its ranking leaders and their charitable non-profits are part of subpoenas seeking records and raising one big question:

Who’s benefiting?

UAW-GM Center for Human Resources
Bill VanderMolen/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Four months ago, corruption charges were filed against a former Fiat Chrysler labor executive, and the wife of the late UAW vice president General Holiefield. They're accused of funneling millions intended for training UAW workers into their own pockets.

Today, the Detroit News reported that federal agents have broadened this corruption investigation to include a member of the General Motors board, plus the head of the UAW's GM department. The feds are also looking into the UAW training centers funded by GM and Ford.

Flint only has one choice for its water supply

Oct 28, 2017
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

This week's boil-water disaster in Oakland County may not instill much confidence in Flint City Council members.

They’re being pushed to green-light a deal with the Great Lakes Water Authority. But they should consider the alternatives.

There aren’t any.

Not for a place marinated in the politics of water, bureaucratic incompetence at all levels of government, and the high cost of bad decision-making.

University of Michigan Professor Rosina Bierbaum says scandals like Flint's water crisis have eroded public trust in the safety of drinking water
Courtesy of Raiz Up

There's a political and legal battle happening over Flint's drinking water.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson ordered Flint's City Council to choose a long-term source of drinking water, scolding the council for taking so long to green light the city's deal with the Great Lakes Water Authority.

The Council punted this week, okaying a short-term deal with the GLWA. But the tug of war between Flint's Mayor Karen Weaver, the council, the state, and Judge Lawson continues.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Governor Rick Snyder says chasing jobs in the global economy isn’t all about pushing incentives. But that’s not entirely true.

Michigan offered Foxconn Technology Group more than $7 billion in tax breaks, savings and cash for three different projects, according to state documents detailed this week.

And the state is a partner in the regional bid to land Amazon’s second North American headquarters – a competitive interstate free-for-all certain to include whopping incentives.

What’s changed? The game.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

It’s good to be Elon Musk.

The chairman of Tesla, the electric car maker, cops to, quote, “production hell” for its new Model 3 compact. And the response from Wall Street? Mostly just yawns.

Parts of the car are being “hand-built,” – for now, anyway – and Tesla’s stratospheric shares take only a slight hit. Seriously?

Yes, it’s good to be ol’ Elon – often wrong, never in doubt and seldom punished.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Not since Henry Ford and General Motors founder Billy Durant put America on wheels has the auto industry faced the disruption it does right now.

Not because oil prices are skyrocketing. And not because consumer demand is plummeting.

Forcing the change are two inexorable forces: technology and government regulators. They’re converging quickly. And the combination is pushing the likes of GM and Ford Motor into making seemingly contradictory bets.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Heard about America’s new parlor game? Global corporations are playing regions and taxpayers off one another to land the richest deal. And Michigan is in the game. So far, anyway.

Earlier this week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed legislation obligating his state’s taxpayers to pay Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology a cool $2.85 billion in cash. That’s billion with a “B.”

What for? To offset its payroll and capital costs to set up shop in the southeast corner of that state.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Don’t let the opening days of another school year, or another Michigan win at the Big House, fool you: public education in this state is in steep decline.

Out of the 50 states, Michigan ranks 37th in eighth-grade math and 41st in fourth-grade reading, says the nonpartisan Public Sector Consultants. Strip out the state’s lowest-income students, and fourth-grade reading slips to 48th.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says Ford could stand to refresh its model lineup, and should invest more in connected vehicles.
Ford Motor Company

The advancement towards autonomous vehicles got a boost from Congress this week. Bipartisan action in the House of Representatives led to approval of a bill that could help the auto industry with its transformation to turning out self-driving vehicles.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says the bill the House approved Thursday allows automakers to test up to 100,000 self-driving cars on American roads. The bill also bars states from passing laws to stop automakers from testing autonomous vehicles.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Forget the notion that the Chinese are coming to the auto industry near you. They’re already here.

Geely has controlled Sweden’s Volvo for seven years now. Tencent Holdings owns a five percent stake in Elon Musk’s Tesla. Pacific Century Motors acquired Delphi’s Saginaw-based steering division to create Nexteer Automotive Corp. And Chinese companies spent $140 billion last year on mergers and acquisitions, second only to the United States.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Detroit is rightly seen as the center of the U.S. auto industry. But looking ahead into the years to come, the Motor City can expect to see competition from an increasingly influential player in the industry: China.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says Chinese companies are approaching U.S. markets slightly differently than other foreign companies that have built on American soil.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Rising profits and record sales are no protection from predators – or a boss trying to extract value before it’s too late.

Just ask the fine folks at Fiat Chrysler. Their company is in play for the fifth time in roughly 20 years.

From independence, it went to the Germans, then back to the Americans. They drove it into bankruptcy, and then to the Italians of Fiat and Ferrari fame. Then they tried to entice General Motors and Volkswagen into deals nobody wanted.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Don’t buy the White House spin: President Donald Trump didn’t abandon his two panels of corporate CEOs. They abandoned him.

Equating neo-Nazis and white supremacists with counter-protestors, as the president did this week, will do that.

Within hours of his comments, leading CEOs – including General Motors’ Mary Barra – worked the phones to look for a way out, preferably without incurring the wrath of the Tweeter-in-Chief.

The answer: hang together to avoid hanging separately. What’s he gonna do? Denounce en masse the corporate CEOs he wooed to his business forums?

Foxconn goes to... Wisconsin

Jul 29, 2017
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

So the maker of Apple’s iPhone pledged to pump ten billion dollars and as many as 13,000 jobs into southeast Wisconsin.

But, don’t despair, Michigan. This thing ain’t over.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

These are tricky times for the United Auto Workers.

The guy in the White House says he wants what they want: more manufacturing jobs in the United States. But he’s actually not in charge of making that happen. Instead, the opposite is unspooling – from Harley Davidson cutting production to Detroit automakers shipping assembly of once-revered nameplates overseas.          

Cars sales are tanking, prompting the union that is synonymous with Detroit to start fretting in the halls of its hometown automakers.

Pages