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Daniel Howes

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Daniel Howes' column today in the Detroit News looks at some decisions by Ford Motor Company, and what they say about the future of the auto industry and Michigan.

Howes wrote about Ford’s investments in three plants, including an engine plant, and one retooling to make the returning Ford Ranger and Bronco. But he says it's what’s happening with that third investment that says a lot about what Ford is doing. 

Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
flickr user fiatontheweb / creative commons

By now it should be obvious that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is for sale.

Not in a desperate do-a-deal-now kind of way. But in a persistent, strategically logical way.

Why? Because CEO Sergio Marchionne says as much, repeatedly. He understands better than most the capital demands of today’s global auto industry -- and FCA’s limited capacity to meet them.

online commerce giants like Amazon are taking some of the blame for a retail slump at brick-and-mortar stores.
Nicholas Eckhart / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

They used to be a shopper’s first choice.

These days, Sears and Kmart seem to be on a fast track to extinction.

MARK BRUSH / MICHIGAN RADIO

 

President Donald Trump was in Michigan yesterday, visiting the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run in Ypsilanti.

While there, he announced changes to fuel economy and emissions standards that some worry will be an “environmental apocalypse,” said Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Big Three New World

Mar 11, 2017
user paul (dex) / Flickr

GM is bailing out of Europe. The company is cashing in its Euro-chips and choosing to focus more on other markets. And GM’s not alone in that. While it might look like the Detroit car makers are turning tail and running, Daniel Howes of The Detroit News explains why it could be a good thing for Michigan.

GM Building in Detroit
ANDREA_44 / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The big story from General Motors is its decision to bail on the European market by selling off its Opel and Vauxhall units to the French PSA Group.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes thinks there will be more to come in this worldwide automotive "dating game."

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Mike Duggan knows politics.

That’s partly why Detroit’s mayor is alleging that former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr misled him about the city’s pension exposure. It’s an insurance policy.

Courtesy of City of Detroit, Mayor's Office

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan recently made some significant claims against the city's former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. Duggan accused Orr and his team of misleading the city of Detroit on the future cost of pensions.

Mike Ilitch (center) with Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander (right) and Alex Avila (left) in 2011.
Dave Hogg / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

They don’t make ‘em much like Mike Ilitch anymore.

Here was Detroit distilled, the local guy done good, the former Marine and aspiring shortstop, his Tigers career cut short by a bad knee. The guy who told his teammates he'd open pizza shops across America if his baseball thing didn't work out.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

Who would ever think there could be so much riding on a county jail?

Mortgage mogul Dan Gilbert is ready to spend $420 million to build a new criminal justice complex for Wayne County. And he only wants $300 million to do it.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

In his column for the Detroit News this week, Daniel Howes analyzed an interesting proposal offered by billionaire Dan Gilbert to Wayne County officials. Gilbert wants to secure a Downtown Detroit site where an unfinished jail currently stands.

The Quicken Loans leader says he will build Wayne County a brand new jail and court offices just east of Midtown in exchange for the site. Wayne County officials are currently vetting the offer. 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Donald Trump is not making things easy for business and state government, and that includes Gov. Rick Snyder’s Michigan.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Nearly half the country may have found the first week of Donald Trump’s presidency full of depressing news, but Detroit arguably shouldn’t be one of them.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The president rightly credited with saving Detroit’s auto industry from itself is gone. Barack Obama’s $80 billion-dollar decision remains controversial but the outcome is much less so.

President Barack Obama in Detroit on Labor Day in 2011.
screen grab from YouTube video

President Barack Obama leaves office tomorrow and he leaves behind a complicated legacy when it comes to the auto industry.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes reviews Obama’s relationship with automakers in his latest column.

  

The biggest stars at this week’s Detroit auto show aren’t the usual, splashy new car or truck. They’re the futuristic autonomous vehicle from Google and President-elect Donald Trump. Trump’s incessant tweeting this week has transfixed a global press corps and roiled the auto industry it covers.

President Donald Trump
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There's been something besides the shiny new cars, SUVs and trucks grabbing attention this week at the North American International Auto Show.

That something is the uncertain future for the auto industry under incoming President Donald Trump.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined Stateside to talk about some of the anxiety that exists in the auto industry and what some experts are saying about a potential repeal of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)

Donald Trump’s showing no sign of easing up on his whacking of the auto industry.

His latest target is Toyota. Apparently Detroit’s automakers aren’t the only ones building cars in Mexico for sale in the United States. 

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The U.S. auto industry came into the crosshairs of President-elect Donald Trump's Twitter feed this week. Trump aimed a Tweet straight at General Motors, grumbling about GM's building of the Chevy Cruze in Mexico.

The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant has been producing the Chevy Volt since 2011.
user calypsocom / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It was recently announced that General Motors will cut the second shift from its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant next March. Nearly 1,200 workers will be affected.

This comes on the heels of GM's announcement that five of its U.S. assembly plants -- including Detroit-Hamtramck and Lansing Grand River -- will close down for anywhere from one to three weeks in January.

That will temporarily idle over 10,000 workers.

Very cold Detroit is hot again.

Look at what the people whose business is to place bets on the next new thing are doing. They’re coming to Detroit, and doing it with a regularity and purpose that are changing the narrative of the city and Michigan.

Nothing’s stopping Donald Trump from bullying businesses.

He bashes Ford Motor and Carrier, the air-conditioning maker, for shipping jobs to Mexico. He accuses Boeing of using contracts for a new Air Force One to rip off American taxpayers. He asks for a list of all U.S. companies planning to move jobs outside the country.

All of which shows a president-elect using his new bully pulpit to bend business to his will — and strengthen his populist chops in the industrial Midwest.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It was Theodore Roosevelt who declared the Presidency was a "bully pulpit." Our incoming 45th President clearly agrees.

Donald Trump doesn't take the oath of office for 49 days, but he's already used his favorite tool, Twitter, to send some crystal clear messages to businesses and unions.

A rally in Indiana protesting Carrier's announcement to move its manufacturing plant to Mexico.
United Steelworkers

Donald Trump descended on Indiana this week to praise Carrier Corporation’s decision to partly reverse its plan to ship 2,000 jobs to Mexico.

The president-elect and his running mate, Mike Pence, credit Trump’s deal-making prowess, of course. But the real prowess belongs to Indiana’s use of the almighty dollar. It’s the fungible asset that drives where business invests to create jobs and build communities. Or doesn’t.

Willow Run Factory and B-24 bombers.
U.S. Army Signal Corps

It’s been 74 years since Ford Motor finished building its Willow Run plant to build B-24 Liberator bombers. Now the site credited with helping to win World War II is preparing a new chapter in the transportation revolution that Henry Ford’s Model T sparked a century ago.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Business leaders are coming to terms with the brave new Trumpworld and the hometown automakers think they may have a new ally in the White House.

Ford Motor CEO Mark Fields says the automaker’s brass is in “constant communication” with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team.

Republican presidential candidate at a campaign stop in Warren, Michigan.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Call it the revenge of the Rust Belt.

The little people of the industrial Midwest paved Donald Trump’s electoral college path to the presidency in red, straight through the heartland. He promised to represent the “forgotten” men and women left behind by globalization and trade, and to rewrite the economic rules governing the past generation’s consensus on trade. 

Lower Community College / Creative Commons

The presidential race is not over in Michigan.

Donald Trump doesn’t think so. New polls show his 13-point gap has been narrowed to three points in just two weeks. That’s why two of his kids hit the state again. It’s why his running mate was here. It’s why Trump is looking to land here sometime over the weekend.

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Car and truck sales are plateauing in the lucrative U.S. market, but you wouldn’t know it from the big jump in auto profits.

General Motors exceeded Wall Street expectations this week with record third-quarter earnings of $2.8 billion. Ford Motor showed that discipline can have its price. And Fiat Chrysler demonstrated that exiting small-car production may not be as costly as first feared.

Inside the Chevy Bolt.
GM

Detroit should not be in the business of gloating.

Its automakers have closed too many plants and cut too many jobs. They’ve lost too much market share and destroyed too much capital. They’ve disappointed too many investors to claim the high ground in the global auto industry.

That image is not likely to change until they successfully weather an inevitable slowdown. The industry also needs to parry the competitive threats posed by Silicon Valley, the coming mobility revolution and the battle for young, tech-savvy talent. Could Detroit be holding its own?

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