General Motors

General Motors reported today it sold more than 300,000 vehicles in the month of January, 2013 - it's best month in China ever.

From a GM press release:

General Motors and its joint ventures sold more than 300,000 vehicles in a single month for the first time ever in China last month. January sales totaled 310,765 units, an increase of 26.0 percent from the same month in 2012 and 15.9 percent above the previous all-time monthly high of 268,035 units in January 2011.

Domestic sales by Shanghai GM and SAIC-GM-Wuling, and their Buick, Chevrolet and Wuling brands all set new single-month records as well in January.

The company wholly owns two foreign enterprises in China, and has 12 joint ventures.

It employs more than 55,000 people in China.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Judge says prisoners sentenced as juveniles should get parole hearings 

Judge John Corbett O'Meara says a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down mandatory no-parole sentences applies retroactively to Michigan inmates already behind bars.

There are more than 350 inmates in Michigan prisons serving life without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles, and there's been a lot of debate about whether these inmate should get a shot at parole.

The Detroit Free Press has the story of one of those prisoners this morning.

...life has never been simple for Jennifer Pruitt. Her 37 years have been punctuated by turmoil -- a tough upbringing, a life sentence for murder, repeated rapes in prison and glimmers of hope that quickly got dashed.

Road funding discussions get underway in Michigan legislature

In his State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder made roads a top priority. He called for new revenue to support road building. Whether that will mean higher taxes or higher fees for Michigan residents remains to be seen. Jonathan Oosting of MLive reports the discussions will get underway soon:

... a joint resolution introduced by Republican Sens. Randy Richardville, Roger Kahn and Bruce Caswell offers a simple starting point for discussions: A constitutional amendment to raise the state sales tax from 6 percent to 8 percent. As a trade-off for the increased sales tax, a related bill would eliminate the state's 19-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax.

Such a tax increase would require voter approval. Other plans, such as increasing gas taxes or registration fees, are being considered as well.

Investment in Pontiac, GM plans expansion

General Motors announced its consolidating some of its research and development operations and expanding its Global Powertrain Engineering Headquarters in Pontiac. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports the company is expected to invest $200 million in the Pontiac facility.

GM estimates the move will move about 400 jobs now in various facilities to Pontiac. The investment is part of a GM commitment to invest $1.5 billion in North American facilities across the state and the country.

GM officials say employees will start transferring to Pontiac as soonas the middle this year, and the expansion will be completed in mid 2014.

GM

General Motors is expanding its Global Powertrain Engineering Headquarters in Pontiac, and consolidating some major research and development operations there.

The company says investing $200 million in a new test wing there will allow them to bring work that’s being done all over the country under one roof, and move faster in developing next-generation powertrain technologies.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Good crowds at this years' Detroit auto show

Another North American International Auto Show has wrapped up, and ticket sales were up yet again. The show drew more than 795,000 people, the best crowd since 2004 according to Chevy dealer and NAIAS committee member Scott LaRiche.

"We have seen an actual spring board over the last few years, and we're slowly climbing up there towards that 800,000 mark, and realistically,if you look at it from the standpoint of the media that attended, over 5,500 media, we did break the 800,000 mark," said LaRiche.

Now the car companies are on to the Chicago for that cities auto show.

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's trial continues after weekend jail stay

The Kilpatrick corruption trial continues after the former Detroit mayor had to spend the weekend in jail on a separate matter. From the Associated Press:

Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been released after spending the weekend in prison for violating parole in a 2008 conviction that booted him from office.

The Michigan Corrections Department says Kilpatrick violated parole by not disclosing all financial transactions last fall. He still owes Detroit $855,000 in restitution and must report details about his income and expenses.

Kilpatrick will go from jail to federal court where the corruption case against him and several of his associates has been going on since September.
  Toyota is King again
  The Detroit News says so:
  Now it's official: Toyota is once again the world's top automaker. 

Toyota Motor Corp. released its tally for global vehicle sales for last year Monday at a record 9.748 million vehicles — a bigger number than the estimate it gave last month of about 9.7 million vehicles.It was already clear Toyota had dethroned General Motors Co. as the Detroit-based automaker fell short, selling 9.29 million vehicles.

 GM first lost their top-selling title to Toyota in 2008, then GM regained the title in 2011 after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. 2012 showed that Toyota is up and running again.
  Since we're talking about this horse race, we should note that Volkswagen is close behind as the world's third largest automaker.

Jeff Kowalsky


For the average person, there's a lot of "wow" at the North American International Auto Show.

But for reporters and auto company executives, that "wow" can sometimes be more like "ow."

Especially during the impromptu, free-for-all press conferences that are known as "scrums."

Problem is, nobody tells you what a scrum is before you attend your first Detroit auto show.

They all wait until it's too late to back out. It's almost a kind of hazing.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

After General Motors bought 200 million shares back from the U.S. government last month, the government's stake in GM was down to about at 19 percent.

Today, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it has a "pre-arranged written trading plan" for selling its remaining 300.1 million shares of GM stock.

The process is expected to take place over the next year to 15 months ("subject to market conditions"), and will end almost four years of partial government ownership of the car maker.

GM / Facebook

In another blow to the Flint area, GM announced it will close its Weld Tool Center in Grand Blanc.

The plant is located just southeast of the city of Flint.

Workers at the plant make robotic welding tools used to build cars like the Chevy Cruze, the Volt, and the Sonic.

GM spokesman Tom Wickham said the plant's 323 hourly workers and 28 salaried workers will be offered jobs at other GM plants in the region, according to MLive:

The employees were notified this morning the plant would be shut down, Wickham said...

There are no immediate plans as to what the facility will be used for in the future, Wickham said.

Shaun Byron of MLive talked with some of the workers at the plant who were shocked by the news:

Brad Keskinen of Davison worked with GM since 1977 and at the Grand Blanc Township plant since 2007.

“I’m really disappointed. I thought we had a smart, productive workforce. But it’s evident that the work model was set up for failure,” Keskinen said. “And the announcement comes to a shock to us.”

GM recorded the 'economic impact' of the plant as follows:

  • Wages: $46.5 million (2011)
  • Payroll Taxes: $9.7 million (2011)
  • Property Taxes: $866,000 (2011)

Operations at the plant are expected to wind down in July of this year.

The plant was first built by the U.S. government in 1942. Sherman and Pershing tanks were built there.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors says it expects only a modest increase in pretax profits this year, as it rolls out many new cars and trucks worldwide.

The company also expects global auto sales to grow modestly this year, driven by the U.S. and China.

The company told investors at a Deutsche Bank industry conference in Detroit that its pretax profit margin in North America should rise from 8 to 10 percent in the next three or four years. Profit margin is a measure of how much the company earned after costs of doing business.

GM posted nearly $4 billion in net income during the first nine months of last year, including almost $1.5 billion in the third quarter. The company will announce fourth-quarter and full-year earnings in a few weeks.

Toyota tops GM in global auto sales

Jan 14, 2013
A.N.M / flickr

With projected vehicle sales of 9.7 million in 2012, Toyota has once again dethroned General Motors as the world’s top-selling automaker.

GM increased its global vehicle sales to 9.29 million but could not keep pace with the Japanese automaker as it unveiled new versions of its popular Camry model.

German automaker Volkswagen followed close behind with 9.07 million in global sales.

Christine Tierney of The Detroit News has more:

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A group of 49 automotive journalists from North America chose the Cadillac ATS as the 2013 Car of the Year.

The announcement was made this morning during the press preview of the Detroit Auto Show.

The Cadillac was among two other finalists, the Ford Fusion and the Honda Accord.

In a statement, Bob Ferguson, GM's vice president of global Cadillac said "this is a very meaningful honor for the entire Cadillac team, especially the men and women who build the ATS in Lansing, Michigan, and our dedicated and talented designers and engineers."

media.gm.com

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors is recalling nearly 55,000 pickup trucks, SUVs and vans because they can roll away unexpectedly.

The recall affects certain 2013 models of the Chevrolet Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe, Avalanche and Express. Also included are the GMC Sierra, Savana and Yukon as well as the Cadillac Escalade.

The North American International Auto Show will be starting at Detroit’s Cobo Center in a couple weeks, and anyone who cares about cars can go see virtually every new model in existence.

This has been an annual tradition for more than a century. But I’ve thought for a long time that we don’t do nearly enough to celebrate the amazing heritage of our signature industry.

Think about it. Motor vehicles, primarily cars, are what transformed Michigan from a farm state not all that different from Iowa into the industrial powerhouse that put the world on wheels.

That’s fascinating, and there are few of us whose lives are not connected to the auto industry in some way.  But where do you go to learn about and celebrate that heritage? Sadly, fewer and fewer places.

GM

General Motors announced today that the next generation of the Camaro will be built at the Lansing Grand River (LGR) Assembly Plant. The Cadillac CTS and ATS are currently assembled at the Lansing plant.

The move could take a few years, according to the Detroit News.

The current model Camaro is built in Oshawa, Ontario.

The announcement sparked concerns that the move would lead to job losses at the plant in Canada.

Dana Flavelle of the Toronto Star reports the effect on jobs is not known yet.

“At this stage, there’s no immediate impact on employment. In the longer term, we really can’t speculate at this time,” GM Canada spokesperson Faye Roberts said in a conference call with reporters.

The timing will depend on when the product life cycle of the current generation Camaro comes to an end. “We haven’t said a specific time,” Roberts said.

In a statement, GM said "lower capital investment and improved production efficiencies" were reasons for their decision.

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin / Creative Commons

The U.S. Treasury Department and General Motors announced today that company will buy 200 million of the U.S. government's 500.1 million shares in GM.

GM will pay $27.50 for each share. That's 7.9 percent more than yesterday's closing price of GM stock.

The sale, expected to be completed by the end of the year, will reduce the government's stake in the company to around 19 percent.

A New York Times analysis casts doubt on the effectiveness of all those tax breaks Michigan cities have been giving to corporations in return for new jobs - or just to keep them from leaving town.

The story prominently features tax breaks given to General Motors, before the automaker filed for bankruptcy.

In the end, the money that towns across America gave General Motors did not matter.....

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.

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.

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:

Both Ford and General Motors announced steps this week to reduce their losses in Europe.

The region is experiencing a disabling recession that's expected to last at least through 2015.

Car sales are abysmal in Europe, down more than 30-percent from normal demand.

Ford says it may lose a total of one billion dollars in the region for the entire year.

General Motors' losses might be more than that.

The announcement is expected later today.

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin / Creative Commons

General Motors says it will close its hydrogen fuel-cell research operation near Rochester, N.Y., and move it to Michigan, along with most of the 220 salaried jobs currently in New York.

The company says most of the 220 salaried workers in Honeoye Falls, N.Y., will be offered the chance to move to GM's engine and transmission research unit in Pontiac.

Spokeswoman Kimberly Carpenter says the move will pull together all of its experts on ways to move vehicles. The company will save some money by not renewing a building lease in New York.

She says GM will continue to focus on electric vehicles and fuel cell development. GM has been testing fuel-cell vehicles that run on hydrogen with no harmful emissions.

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:

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:

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.

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.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors is offering big discounts to boost sales of the Chevrolet Volt, an electric car that struggled to attract buyers until its price began dropping early this year.

Discounts run as high as $10,000 per Volt, according to figures from TrueCar DOT com, an auto pricing website. They include low-interest financing and subsidized leases.

A 2008-2010 Chevy Malibu. One of the models being recalled by GM.
IFCAR / wikimedia commons

The Detroit News reports GM is issuing two recall campaigns.

The smaller recall affects bulb indicators on 2013 Chevrolet Sonics.

The larger recall has to do with four-speed automatic transmissions on 2007-10 Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn Aura and Pontiac G6 models.

More from the Detroit News:

The Detroit automaker said Friday it is recalling 426,240 Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn sedans in the United States to repair a condition in which the transmission gear position may not match the gear on the shifter. That could lead to the vehicles rolling when drivers think they are in park.

"The driver would be able to remove the key from the ignition, but the door locks may not unlock automatically and the PARK indicator lamp would not be illuminated. The driver may not be able to restart the vehicle and the vehicle could roll away," GM said.

An investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sparked the discovery of the transmission problem.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports the problem has caused four accidents that GM knows about, but no injuries have been reported.

Dealers will either replace the transmission cable or put reinforcement on it.

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:

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