Michigan, it’s more than just Great Lakes, the Big Three and the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. To the surprise of many, GM, Ford and Chrysler aren’t the only games in town. Practically every major OEM and supplier company has offices, technical centers or test facilities in the mitten state, and Toyota is making a major investment its facilities.
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A testing program that began a year ago in Ann Arbor, Mich. will continue six months beyond its originally planned lifespan.
The debate on taxing hybrid owners to help recover lost gas taxes has hit the state of Michigan, home of the U.S. auto industry.
General Motors plans to buy “Factory One,” a 133-year-old building in Flint, Mich. that officials says was the maker’s birthplace.
GM is adding roughly 400 jobs to its suburban campus in Pontiac, a suburb of Detroit, in an effort to speed development in the next phase of its propulsion development.
Anti-drunk driving campaigns are as common as cheap beer these days, but this one might be the most… interesting one yet.
As brands go, Chrysler isn’t much for making hybrids and EVs, but that’s changing. The automaker just announced that it delivered four plug-in hybrid Town & Country mini vans to the city of Auburn Hills, Mich. as a two-year demonstration project.
Chrysler says it’s pouring $15.8 million into the project, which will be supplemented by another $10 million from the Department of Energy but only 25 vehicles will be built, which means each unit is a million-dollar car.
Think twice before buying the next chrome part for your car, the plant that made it could be poisoning people. That was the case for the folks in Highland Park, Mich.,whose long-standing protest is finally gaining the attention of state officials.
“Everyone is entitled to a good quality of life,” said Shareef El-Mubarak, president of the Masjid Al-Nur Mosque and Community Center, which is blocks from the closed Chrome Craft plant. “I want to know if something is there, what kind of effect it could have on residents, and any long-term impacts to the children who have played here for years.”
Chrome Craft closed its doors in late 2009, but racked up 39 violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act during its operation. According to one former employee, toxic chemical spills at the plant were routine, both inside and outside the building. Area residents suspect that those spills compromised water and soil safety and are demanding an inspection.
Until now, the cause saw little progress, but the activist group gained recognition from the Michigan Department of Environment Quality after delivering testimony.
Moving into the future, it seems residents will finally have answers about spilled chromium, a known carcinogen and how it has affected their lives.
The company that owned and operated the plant, parts supplier Flex-N-Gate, is in turn owned by billionaire business success story Shahid Khan, who recently acquired the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“We won’t let the 1 percent make the 99 percent clean up their dangerous mess,” a local pastor said.
Ohio Governor John Kasich and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon made a visit to Detroit this week during the North American International Auto Show in an effort to bring U.S. automotive manufacturing to their respective states.
John Kasich said, “Contrary to popular opinion, the auto industry is getting stronger.” Ohio currently possesses the second-largest automotive industry work force in the nation behind neighboring Michigan. Home to Chrysler Group, Ford Motors and Gerneral Motors, Michigan also is the home to most of the world’s automotive parts suppliers. It is also in Michigan where government regulators are tasked with policy making in auto safety, emissions and fuel economy.
The chief engineer of Honda Research and Development in Detroit, Toshiaki Shimizu said, “People may have the wrong idea. Detroit is not becoming less important. It is more important. It remains the center of the automotive industry. We all come here because we must.”
Well aware of Michigan’s relevance, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon spoke to a number of auto executives to reach agreements that prove to be mutually beneficial. Ford committed to $1 billion over a span of four years to upgrade Ohio’s driveline manufacturing plants. Honda will invest $400 million in improvements to its Ohio facilities to prepare for the production of its new Acura NSX hybrid sports car. Chrysler will add another 1,100 jobs and invest $1.7 billion into its Jeep plants of Toledo, Ohio. GM continues to build its Chevrolet Cruze in the Lordstown, Ohio, plant and will put in another $204,000 to upgrade its Toledo transmission plant.
On his first day in office, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon assembled the Automotive Jobs Task Force to attract investments to the state. In October, Ford announced that it will spend $1.1 billion and add another 1,600 workers to assemble the Transit van alongside the F-150 Ford pickup trucks at the Kansas City, Missouri plant. GM will also invest $380 million into its Wentzville, Missouri plant, adding another 1,660 jobs as it expands assembly to include the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.
Nixon explains, “we are here not just to talk to the manufacturers, but also to the suppliers. As the manufacturers invest and production rises, we are asking the suppliers what we can do to help them make the investments they need to make to support this.”
[Source: Detroit News]
Everything is big news in a small town, especially the chance at being featured in a Super Bowl commercial. For one small town, that possibility may become a reality if General Motors decides to run an ad they shot featuring Hamtramck, Michigan.
The little town of about 20,000 people is all a twitter over their chance at the spotlight. Chevrolet chose the town (where the Volt is assembled) to film a spot promoting the Volt, though they haven’t actually decided to air the ad during one of the most watched events on TV.
“We create a lot of different spots. The final decision will come in a few weeks,” said Patrick Morrissey, a GM spokesperson to The Detroit News.
If the ad runs, it means some exciting exposure for the town named after the first American commander in charge of Fort Shelby, the fortification of Detroit. In fact, Hamtramck is almost surrounded by Detroit, despite being an independent city.
From what interviewed residents can guess, GM is hunting for something to generate the same chest-thumping pride and patriotism Chrysler’s wildly popular “imported from Detroit” ad ignited last year. If you’ve forgotten, it featured Eminem driving a Chrysler 300 to the Lose Yourself track originally from the movie 8 Mile.
Even if the Hamtramck residents don’t make the Superbowl cut, GM says it plans to run it elsewhere. Apparently, the film crew spent enough time filming to “make a documentary” according to some residents. The real question now, is who will be featured in the final product? The final call about which ads will air might not come until right before game time. One thing is certain, Hamtramck is going to have Super Bowl fever this February.
[Source: Detroit News]
There was a time, not so long ago, when Porsche decided they didn’t need to participate at the North American International Auto Show because Detroit, Michigan wasn’t the right demographic market for their products.
Oh, how times have changed. Not only has Porsche returned to the venue, but they are staging a World Premiere of one of their most important models, the latest 911 Cabrio (991 Coupe pictured above).
Those who will be in Detroit (that includes us) will be the first to lay eyes on the drop-top version of the 991-generation model Cabriolet.
Bernhard Maier, a Porsche AG board of management member for sales and marketing said; “The USA is and remains an important market for Porsche with good growth prospects. Detroit was deliberately chosen for the world premiere of the new 911 Cabrio because the USA is far and away our largest 911 Cabrio market.”
The latest generation of 911 will go on sale on our turf next month, with the Cabrio following a few months later. So if you’re rich and you know it, you now know when to visit your local area Porsche dealer.
Rifling through boxes at an estate sale paid off for Bobby Goins after he recently found a 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Ghia Cabriolet tucked away and forgotten.
The car, which was barely visible except the emblem, had been sitting in a garage for 40 years. Pickers find forgotten cars frequently, but unless it’s really notable they don’t make it to the media. Last September we brought you a story about a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing being found in California, but this latest find beats the Benz.
According to information from FerrariChat.com, Goins only knew it was a Ferrari, but had no idea what model it was or its value. He soon found out exactly what he had, but there was one catch: it had a Corvette engine. The could have compromised the value from a restoration perspective, but against all odds, the original engine was located in Wisconsin.
Though the amount he paid for the car wasn’t disclosed, Goins sold the car for $150,000 to someone who plans to fully restore it and set it on display at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The actual numbers behind the layoffs are, however, in dispute. Tom Zimmerman, the plant’s unit chairman for UAW Local 723, said in an interview with Automotive News that more than 25 percent of the plant’s 400 hourly workers were laid off.
Jodi Tinson, a Chrysler spokesperson, said that only 30 people had actually been laid off, and that another 35 were assigned different jobs in the plant.
Regardless of which figure is accurate, there is no denying that Fiat sales failed to meet expectations in the U.S. The company originally projected 50,000 units annually, but had sold less than 32 percent of that by October 31.
Chrysler will unveil the North American version of the Fiat 500 Abarth at this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show, featuring a 160-hp turbocharged version of the 1.4-liter engine.
Gallery: 2012 Fiat 500
[Source: Automotive News]
Today’s story exemplifies that what you see in cartoons should not be attempted in real life. Case in point, the 24-year old motorist seen in the video below, who tried to stop his pick-up truck using his feet, Fred Flintstone style.
Other motorists reported the dangerous driver trying to use his feet to stop his pick-up truck, and while according to some witnesses he managed to succeed twice, his luck ran out at the intersection of 13-Mile and Groesbeck Hwy. in Michigan, and collided with two vehicles.
To think that would be enough, this brake-less and brainless driver continued on. A police officer pulled alongside him and suggested he put the truck into park, but that didn’t work either and he collided with two other vehicles.
Apparently the man in question works as a roofer and said he didn’t want to disappoint his customer and was going to his job.
Police haven’t released the name of this ingenious fella, but they arrested him for driving under a suspended license and reckless driving. He was later released on $500 interim bond and will appear before a judge in September.
Watch the video after the jump to see his actions in action.
Now you can bid to have your very own at the RM Auctions event on July 30th. The event will take place at The Inn at St. John’s, in Plymouth, MI.
A car like the Facel Vega would struggle to exist in today’s market, but in the post-WWII era, regulations were fast and loose and the auto industry was seen as a way to kickstart Europe’s struggling economy.
One such example was FACEL (Forges et Ateliers de Construction d’Eure et de Loire S.A.). FACEL was a manufacturer for pretty much everything in postwar France, and among the things they made were car bodies for different manufacturers like Bentley, Delahaye, Panhard and Simca.
When Panhard canceled its order, FACEL’s CEO Jean Danino decided to make up for the slack by building his own car. The car was to have its own unique body and chassis, but power came from the Chrysler 354 cubic-inch, “Firepower Hemi” V8 motor. This four-barrel carbureted engine was capable of producing 325-hp. Power was sent to the back wheels via a Chrysler three-speed torque-flite transmission.
The end result was a luxurious coupe called the FACEL Vega FV4 Typhoon, a car that won much praise for its styling and performance in its day. The car being auctions next week is a 1958 example, finished in silver over red. The seller describes the car as “not show quality but certainly very attractive.”
Only 3000 Vega FV4 coupes were made, so it will always be a rare and interesting piece of automotive history. RM predicts this car will go for about $80 – 100,000.
[Source: RM Auctions]
Maximum Bob would have run as a Republican, under the platform of revitalizing the state’s sagging economy. But once he realized how much money is thrown at such a campaign, he abandoned the idea: he, like GM and the entire state of Michigan, was strapped for cash. Coupled with the endless meetings with advisors and a campaign trail where he’d have to both deal with journalists and kiss babies—and possibly Michael Moore—and he presumably pronounced the entire idea as a “total crock of sh-t.”
Still, it would have been amusing to see Lutz negotiate the idea of GM’s bailout against the same Republicans who rallied against it.
[Source: Automotive News]
General Motors is pumping $109 million into its Ecotec program in Michigan, in order to support ongoing production of the 1.4-liter engine shared by three Chevrolet models as well as keeping/adding 96 jobs in Michigan.
$84 million of that money goes to GM’s engine plant in Flint to increase production capacity, while the rest is earmarked for Bay City, which produces the Ecotec’s connecting rods and camshafts. This latest effort is part of GM’s 2-billion-dollar initiative to preserve more than 4,000 jobs in 17 facilities across 8 states.
“This investment marks the second major increase in engine and engine component output in less than six months,” said Terri Burden, Flint’s plant manager, “a sign that GM is moving quickly to meet growing demand for more fuel-efficient cars.” Earlier this month GM announced a $131 million investment in its Bowling Green, Kentucky Corvette Factory.
Currently, the 1.4-liter Ecotec resides under the hood of the Cruze and the Volt—which adds turbo power as well—but the upcoming Sonic is eagerly awaiting the Ecotec’s potency.
General Motors will recall 2,000 laid off workers by September according to a Detroit News report, allowing the company to start hiring new workers for its American plants.
While G.M. representatives would not confirm any timeline, Joe Ashton, UAW VP in charge of GM, confirmed that the workers would be back, stating “We will have full employment in September for the first time in a long time,”
Many of the workers are situated in Southeast Michigan, an area devastated by the decline of the auto industry. GM is adding a third shift of 750 employees to its Flint truck plant, a second shift of 600 workers to its Lansing plant to build the Cadillac ATS and recalling 1,550 workers to its Lake Orion small car plant.
New workers will have to contend with a wage of $14-$16 an hour, roughly half of what recalled and current employees will make. The two-tier wage system is a point of contention among union members, but the contract under which is was implemented is scheduled to expire this year and will be re-negotiated by the union and the Big Three this summer.
[Source: Detroit News]
Mazda is considering ending their joint venture with Ford based in Flat Rock, Michigan. “We have been studying various measures to improve business of Auto Alliance International, but nothing has been decided,” Mazda spokeswoman Kozue Nitta told Reuters.
The mid-size Mazda6 is currently built at the Michigan facility, and the car is selling poorly despite critical acclaim. Mazda has the ability to produce 120,000 cars per year at the plant, but 2010 sales of the car only totaled 45,000 units. Ford has cut its stake in Mazda from a high of 33.6 percent in 1996 to 3.5 percent in November, 2010.
Alfa Romeo’s Giulietta hatchback isn’t slated to come to North America until it’s redesigned in 2014, but a whole truck-load of them was spotted in Michigan, heading north on I-75. We can only presume that the cars were heading to Chrysler HQ for some kind of evaluation, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen.
Companies regularly bring in foreign models for evaluation purposes. Manufacturers do it all the time when developing cars, and suppliers like to bring in Euro-market diesel cars to show off the technology’s potential.
So what were the Alfas doing in Michigan? We’re not quite sure, but we’re putting a bounty on pictures of any Michigan-plated Giuliettas you are able to snap.