GM

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A jury has awarded no damages in the second of six bellwether cases against General Motors related to its ten-year delay of a recall of cars with faulty ignition switches.

The bellwether trials are intended to help courts around the country try to settle hundreds of similar cases, which allege physical or financial damages due to the defective switches.

The jury found that the plaintiff, who was not seriously injured in the accident, lost control of her car because of icy conditions, not because of the faulty switch. 

sign in Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you were to ask the average Michigander what the origins of Flint’s downfall were, you might get a few different answers. Some of those answers would likely be related to the auto industry – specifically, when General Motors left the city in the 1980s.

Chevrolet Corvette
Anthony Brown / Michigan Radio

During the press days of the North American International Auto Show, Detroit's Big Three unveiled their latest 2016 models and made announcements about what's to come. Here are the highlights of what GM, Ford, and Chrysler brought up on stage and displayed on their stands.

MARIORDO / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Autonomous vehicles promise to dramatically reduce congestion in large cities and save thousands of lives, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

That's why the Obama administration will ask Congress to budget $3.9 billion over the next ten years to help spur the development of the technologies that enable cars to drive themselves.

ford, dash board, car
antefixus21/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The march of technology continues, bringing us closer to the day when owning your own car may be less important than on-demand transportation services.  And closer to the day when we expect our cars to be super-connected to just about everything.

Automakers are laying the groundwork for this new era, as seen in some  announcements this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A major General Motors parts supplier is on strike.

Members of United Auto Workers local 699 walked off the job at Nexteer in Saginaw County just after midnight.   

Nexteer supplies steering and driveline systems to General Motors.   It also supplies parts to Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota.

UAW President Dennis Williams chats with GM CEO Mary Barra at the kickoff of the 2015 contract negotiations
Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors

This summer, as contract talks with the Detroit Three kicked off, United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams warned that negotiations are "never easy."

He was right.

Last week, the union came within a hairsbreadth of having a contract with Ford Motor Company sent back by rank and file with a big "NO DEAL" stamp on its face. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Union local presidents will learn more about a tentative deal between General Motors and the United Auto Workers Wednesday.

But not much is public about the deal yet. 

Just hours after the tentative deal was announced, the first next generation Camaro rolled off the assembly line in Lansing.

UAW President Dennis Williams chats with GM CEO Mary Barra at the kickoff of the 2015 contract negotiations
Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors

The United Auto Workers has reached a tentative four-year contract with GM, averting the possibility of a strike for now.

The union had also set a strike deadline with Fiat Chrysler during a second round of negotiations, after the first tentative contract reached with that automaker was rejected by workers.

A strike deadline puts pressure on both sides, which view a strike as a failure of contract talks.

Neither GM nor the UAW are providing details.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Contract talks are continuing between General Motors and the United Auto Workers union as a midnight deadline approaches.

  GM spokeswoman Katie McBride said Sunday afternoon that talks were on a fast pace and the company still hoped to get an agreement by midnight.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The United Auto Workers union says its workers at General Motors will strike if it can't agree on a new contract with the company by 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

  Both sides are still negotiating. The union made a similar threat in recent discussions with Fiat Chrysler before agreeing to a new four-year contract.

The Chevy Bolt from above.
GM

General Motors Co. says it's cutting the second shift at its Orion Assembly plant in suburban Detroit in a move that's expected to result in about 500 hourly worker layoffs.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra
flickr user David Pinter / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said Wednesday that, “GM is a vastly different company today than just five years ago,” and then went on to announce profits that were a little better than had been estimated.

But how much does that mean when times are good for all the car makers right now?

In the paper Thursday, Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes wonders if GM is as vastly different as Barra claims.

I know a couple who bought two brand-new General Motors cars in the mid-1980s. She bought an Oldsmobile station wagon, and he bought a beautiful sleek Buick.

They carefully maintained them, didn’t abuse them, and the cars fell apart. The Oldsmobile finally died after barely seventy thousand miles. The Buick had massive electrical problems for which the company refused to take any responsibility.

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

Auto sales are humming along. In fact, May brought the best light-vehicle sales ever recorded for that month: over 1.6 million units.

So, what's with the "immediate retirements" of top bargainers for General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles?

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes worries that "the wheels are starting to wobble" for Detroit's auto industry.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra.
Dave Pinter / flickr

General Motors CEO Mary Barra confirmed she received an email from Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne suggesting that the two companies merge.

She says the email was vetted by her executive team and GM's Board of Directors.

And the answer to the suggestion was "no."

Marchionne says the global auto industry needs to consolidate to realize better economies of scale, but Barra says GM is doing just fine on its own in that regard.

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An annual study says suppliers have a poor relationship with General Motors, Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Nissan, mainly because those automakers were adversarial in their dealings with them.

John Henke of Planning Perspectives says the results of his annual OEM-Supplier Relations Study was disappointing and surprising, because in recent years, GM and Chrysler had been making improvements with supplier relations.

General Motors

Last year, GM's Warren Technical Center was designated a National Historic Landmark.

That was the good thing that happened.

But a bad thing happened that same year. Many buildings and infrastructure on the sprawling campus were damaged by severe flooding.

Auto sales grew in 2014
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

UNDATED (AP) - Demand for small and midsize SUVs is driving up auto sales.

  General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and Nissan all reported U.S. sales gains in April as buyers flocked to crossover SUVS that handle like cars and sit up higher. But the gains came at the expense of small and midsize cars.

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GM will have less cash on its books, after making a deal with an activist investor unhappy with the company's stock performance. 

GM agreed to buy back $5 billion worth of its stock, to appease investors led by Harry Wilson. Wilson was a member of the Auto Task Force in 2009 which took GM through bankruptcy. 

He'd threatened to run for GM's board as a hostile candidate, to try to force GM to make an $8 billion stock buyback. 

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Freezing temperatures and drifts of snow likely took a small bite out of U.S. auto sales last month, but most automakers are still reporting gains thanks to the strong economy.

General Motors' sales rose 4.2% over last February, while Chrysler's sales were up 5.6%. Nissan's sales were up 2.7%. However, those gains were smaller than analysts had predicted.

Courtesy of GM

The Next Idea

It can often be difficult to imagine just how much the latest innovations will truly affect our lives. The smartphone’s contributions, for example, are now obvious; the Segway’s, not so much.

One industry, however, that offers some of the clearest examples of how technology and new innovations will fundamentally change our world is the auto industry.

From driverless cars and 3-D printers, to shifting demographic and transportation trends, automakers are competing to find the best, most efficient innovations that will reshape everything from the way we buy (or share) cars to how we drive (or won’t) in the coming decades.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today’s announcement that General Motors plans to spend $300 million in Michigan is good news not only for GM employees, but also for auto parts suppliers.

GM had previously announced the automaker's plans to invest $240 million in its Warren transmission plant. The plant will make the electric drive unit for the next-generation Chevy Volt. 

The Detroit Institute of Arts
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This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss big name politicians stopping in Michigan to campaign for local candidates, the latest development in Detroit’s bankruptcy trial, and GM’s record global sales despite a dismal week on Wall Street.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

ISIS, Ebola, tensions between Russia and the Ukraine, economic slowdowns in China, Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere – the profusion of gloomy headlines added up to a grim day on Wall Street yesterday, as the Dow plunged more than 450 points. 

It was the heaviest day of trading in more than three years. 

The stomach-churning day on Wall Street came exactly as General Motors announced some shiny, happy news: GM sold more cars and trucks worldwide in the third quarter than anytime since 1980.

Daniel Howes says the GM's record sales are largely powered by the relatively positive markets in North America and China. But in a lot of other parts of the world, the sales stink for GM as well as its competitors. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

General Motors is taking the lead in producing cars that can almost drive themselves.

The "driver-assist" and "vehicle-to-vehicle" technology enables cars to communicate with other cars and roadside sensors. That should help drivers avoid accidents and reduce traffic congestion.

GM CEO Mary Barra announced Sunday the automaker will begin offering V2V as an option in the Lansing-built Cadillac CTS starting with the 2017 model year.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

General Motors is being accused of not caring about the working conditions in its plants in Columbia and India.

About two dozen protesters plan to hound GM CEO Mary Barra at events tied to this week’s auto technology conference in Detroit.

Paige Shell-Spurling is organizing the protests.  She says GM is ignoring problems with unsafe factories that have left dozens of workers seriously injured.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A veritable "who's who" of the global automotive industry has signed on to support the University of Michigan’s new automated vehicle initiative.

The “Mobility Transformation Center” is a public-private center that will look at how to make automated vehicles commercially viable.  

General Motors has been in the news a lot, probably more than it wants to be. Daniel Howes, a business columnist at The Detroit News, wrote an article about the automaker's struggle to overhaul its culture in the wake of failed parts, recalls, government criticism, and more.

Howes described GM’s corporate culture in his article as “blame-shifting, lack of accountability, and a callous disregard for customers.”

He said changing the leadership and putting new people on the board of directors may be necessary, but is not enough to change the culture of the company.

General Motors

Today brought the fourth appearance for General Motors and CEO Mary Barra before angry members of Congress.

This time a Senate subcommittee took a deeper dive into the ignition switch recalls and didn't like what it saw in GM's legal department.

Michigan Radio's auto reporter Tracy Samilton followed the event.

According to Samilton, GM's chief counsel Michael Millikin was in the "uncomfortable Senate spotlight" today.

When senators asked why Millikin still kept his job, Barra said she "respectfully" disagreed with them, and she defended Millikin as a man of "incredibly high integrity."

She said Millikin "had a system in place." Unfortunately, in this instance "it wasn't brought to his attention."

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