Category Archives: Auto Industry

Ford To Invest $1.2B At Three Michigan Plants

DEARBORN — Ford Motor Co. says it will invest $1.2 billion at three Michigan plants, among other things, financing the return of the Ford Ranger midsized pickup and the Bronco midsized SUV.

The largest part of the investment, $850 million, will take place at the home of assembly of those two models, the Michgian Assembly Plant in Wayne.

Continue reading Ford To Invest $1.2B At Three Michigan Plants

Tech Startups, Co-Working On M2 TechCast

ROYAL OAK — A lineup of small business and entrepreneurship experts will provide the latest information on a wide variety of business topics on the Monday, Feb. 27 edition of the M2 TechCast podcast.

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GM Reports Record Full-Year Earnings Per Share

DETROIT — General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) Tuesday announced record full-year 2016 results driven by strong retail demand for full-size trucks and SUVs in the United States, continued industry growth in China and effective cost performance across the globe.

The company reported revenue of $166.4 billion for the year, a record, up 9.2 percent from 2015. Net income for the year was $9.43 billion, down from $9.69 billion in 2015. Earnings per share was $6, up 1.5 percent from a year earlier, also a record, up from $5.91 a share in 2015, based on more shares outstanding in 2015.

For the fourth quarter, revenue was also a record, $43.9 billion, up 10.8 percent from a year earlier. Net income was $1.84 billion or $1.19 a share, down from $6.27 billion or $3.92 a share a year earlier. Last year’s net income was aided by a one-time, $4 billion tax gain.

Based on GM North America’s 2016 financial performance, approximately 52,000 eligible GM U.S. hourly employees will receive up to a maximum profit sharing payout of $12,000.

Continue reading GM Reports Record Full-Year Earnings Per Share

Michigan Tech Boosts Engine Research For Auto Industry

HOUGHTON — The auto industry tends to be fiercely competitive.  So what would bring multiple companies together on research projects?

How about the chance to direct the nature of the research and having access to the engineers, scientists and students doing it — and the final results?

That’s what Michigan Technological University’s new Light Duty Engine Consortium is offering, and three industry leaders have been quick to jump on board.

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A tech nerd’s view of the Auto Show, day two

I went back to the North American International Auto Show briefly Tuesday, fighting through the slush, and caught all the stuff I missed on Day One. Looking at everything in this show really does take a while.

For the Day One photos, visit

How did I miss this baby-blue V10 dreamboat on Day One?
I’m usually a Buy American kind of guy, but I could see becoming a two-Audi family. Here’s the TT boy racer for me…
…and the A8 luxury sedan for my wife.
An Italian SUV??
Yep. Hey, they do have to get around in the Alps.
My pick for Best in Show — Volkswagen’s all-electric modern-day take on the classic microbus. My college friend Maggie’s hippie van has come a long, long way.








The Detroit Grand Prix makes an appearance at the Auto Show.
The all-new, longer, wider, lower, and substantially sexier Toyota Camry for 2018.


The Chinese automakers make an appearance.




What’s the name of this Chinese car again?! Is that a cross between Trump and Chachi?
Anyway, here’s the whole car.


Once again, while I’m usually a buy-American guy, I think the Mazda 3 is the best-looking cheap car out there by a country mile. The next few photos show it in several configurations. Really classy, and reasonably priced to boot.


Big trunk on the Mazda 3 hatchback. Insert your favorite mobster whack-a-guy joke here.



Cool truck? Absolutely. $55,000 worth of cool? Pass.
Here’s Ford’s new taxicab, a Transit Connect minivan hybrid.
The back of the Transit Connect minivan taxi. When will someone turn one of these into a small RV?
The Ford SUV. Also known as sex on wheels.
The Honda Ridgeline was named Truck of the Year. I wanted to hate it, but couldn’t. Here’s the instrument panel. Kinda reminds me of some of the busy electronic IPs of the 1980s.


It IS a really cool looking truck. And more than $10,000 cheaper than the Ram, even all tricked out.


I wanted to hate the Honda Fit minicar too, but couldn’t. It seemed way roomier inside than my Ford Fiesta. Here’s the instrument panel.


The Fit. I sure wouldn’t pick that color.
The latest Cadillac concept. Like all Cadillacs, it looks like it’s ready to attack you.




The BMW i8 with the doors open. Where’s the flux capacitor?
Direct to you from the 1917 Detroit auto show…



Ghosn sees no Trump trade trouble, links CES to NAIAS

DETROIT — Carlos Ghosn is one of the busiest men in the global auto indsutry. After all, the Brazilian-Lebanese-French businessman is only chairman and CEO of France’s Renault, chairman and CEO of Japan’s Nissan, and chairman of Mitsubishi.

And in a speech at the North American International Auto Show here Monday, Ghosn observed the similarities between the Detroit auto show and the last trade show he attended, last week’s CES tech show in Las Vegas.

Continue reading Ghosn sees no Trump trade trouble, links CES to NAIAS

A tech nerd’s view of the North American International Auto Show

DETROIT — Yep, it’s back again. It’s New Year’s, and that means the North American International Auto Show is once again being held at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.

More than 5,000 journalists from all over the world are being hosted Monday and Tuesday during Press Preview Days. On Wednesday and Thursday, thousands more industry figures will be there for Industry Preview Days. The annual Charity Preview takes place Friday, and the show opens to the public Saturday, running through Jan. 22.

For more information on the show, visit

Here are the pictures I took Monday, with commentary, on what’s up on the show floor.

Some honest to goodness dreamboats from Alfa Romeo


BMW’s electric supercar, the i8. Behind it is the much more modest and affordable, but still cool, i3.
Thousands attended Ford’s press conference in a practically unrecognizable Joe Louis Arena. The automaker cosponsored a major conference on the city of tomorrow Monday at the JLA space as well.





A new electric Ford cab.
Ford Motor Co. executive chairman Bill Ford
Ford CEO Mark Fields
An illustration of the city of tomorrow in the 100-foot Ford oval screen high over Joe Louis Arena.
Ford, Fields and (back to camera) journalist Walter Isaacson discuss the problems of the city of tomorrow.



The Michelin Media Center, which takes over the Riverfront Grand Ballroom at Cobo for press preview days. Unlimited fountain Coke Zero is a true danger to this reporter. By midafternoon I was vibrating like a tuning fork.
A 1950s Chevy Nomad graced the press lounge area.



That’s a Mercedes? OK then.


The North American Car of the Year, the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, featuring 200-mile range. Auto officials say EVs with 300 to 350-mile range are not far off. So much for range anxiety.
A new Chevy Traverse.
This nifty fold-up flat screen is part of the new Traverse.


Ford gets into the mini-SUV game with the EcoSport, due out in 2018.


The Roush P-51 edition of the Ford Mustang. A mere 727 hp. I can almost hear the cell doors clanging shut behind me. But it would be fun while it lasted.



A truly weird car of tomorrow at the ZF display. A rock garden on the dashboard and a keyboard instead of a steering wheel.




This Nissan concept has the ultimate in suicide doors.



The Nissan Rogue Sport, a new small SUV from the Japanese carmaker led by Carlos Ghosn.
A Mercedes-Benz hybrid-electric propulsion system
Chatting up the crowd at the Lawrence Tech booth in the Cobo Center atrium.








The VR system at the LTU booth lets you walk around a virtual auto design lab.




Our Vanishing Americana Dept.: The auto show spokesmodel.



Yeah, the Acura supercar. If I picked the right six numbers some week, I just might.



Ford Offers Peek At Transportation In ‘City of Tomorrow’

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.’s press conference at Monday’s opening Press Preview Days at the North American International Auto Show here offered a peek at its newest cars, trucks and vans.

But it was a whole lot more.

Executive chairman Bill Ford, CEO Mark Fields, and veteran journalist and public policy analyst Walter Isaacson gave a peek at the City of Tomorrow, which also happens to be the title of a daylong seminar Ford is co-hosting Monday in Detroit.

The event is an outgrowth of the Ford Smart Mobility initiative, which has Ford moving from merely an automotive producer to a provider of mobility products and services of all kinds, from car sharing to mass transportation.

Ford is sponsoring City of Tomorrow with The New York Times, TED, the nonprofit that sponsors seminars on arts, culture, and the economy, and Vice, a print magazine and website focused on the arts, culture, and news.

Bill Ford said the automaker is interested in the broader topic of mobility becuase of the challenges of pollution, climate change and urban gridlock, which will hamper economic growth — and therefore auto sales, but also the quality of human life. “We need the world’s best entrepreneurs” tackling these topics, he said, not just automakers. “There is no silver bullet, one size does not fit all.”


Ford’s press conference was held in a practically unrecognizable Joe Louis Arena, half of which was curtained off. The ice surface was covered in carpet, with big overstuffed leather chairs for Ford executives and VIPs and desks and chairs for the assembled crowd. A curtain blocked off half the arena, to which was attached a giant screen bearing perhaps the biggest Ford blue oval ever projected — at least 100 feet wide. The general public sat in the hockey arena’s upper deck. Perhaps 5,000 people attended.


During the car and truck part of the event, Ford executives rolled out a slightly redesigned Ford F150 pickup, America’s best-selling vehicle. They also announced the return of a midsized truck, bringing back the Ford Ranger nameplate in 2019. (The modernized Ranger is already the best-selling midsized truck in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, but for reasons unknown, Ford hasn’t sold it in the United States until now.) Ford also announced it’s bringing back a midsized four-wheel-drive vehicle with serious off-road capability under the Ford Bronco nameplate in 2020. Both the Ranger and Bronco will be assembled at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, good news for Ford’s Michigan work force and the state’s economy.

Ford also announced it would roll out 13 new electrified vehicles in the next five years, including a hybrid F150 and Mustang, two new hybrid police cars, a Transit Custom plug-in hybrid van, an all-electric small sport utility vehicle with a 300-mile range, and, by 2021, a fully autonomous electric vehicle.


The company is also piloting wireless charging of EVs.

Ford officials noted that 90 percent of all traffic crashes in the U.S. are caused by driver error, and that vehicle autonomy will go a long way to reducing that figure. Ford also said that autonomous vehicles will bring mobility to the elderly and people with disabilities.

On the environmental front, Bill Ford said it was the company’s goal to produce cars with net zero carbon emissions, zero waste to landfills, zero net water use, and zero use of conflict minerals.

Ford Tops Auto Industry for U.S. Patents Granted in 2016

DEARBORN — Ford Motor Co. said Friday that it leads the auto industry with nearly 1,500 United States patents granted to its employees in 2016.

The total stood at 1,442 as of Dec. 8. The automaker said that’s a 25 percent increase from its 2015 patent output. Worldwide, Ford’s 2016 patent total has reached 3,200.

Continue reading Ford Tops Auto Industry for U.S. Patents Granted in 2016

Chinese Auto Firm To Create 150 Jobs In Washtenaw County

ANN ARBOR — A Chinese auto supplier will build a new United States research and development center in Washtenaw County’s Pittsfield Township, state and local economic development officials said.

SF Motors Inc., a subsidiary of the Chinese carmaker and auto supplier Sokon Industry Group, will invest more than $10.7 million in the project, which is projected to create 150 new jobs. SF Motors is based in the San Francisco area.

“Ann Arbor attracts global attention from companies like SF Motors because it’s one of the few places in the world that has a confluence of mobility innovation and talent,” said Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor Spark, the economic development agency for Washtenaw and Livingston counties. “The significant investment that SF Motors is making in the Ann Arbor region is a sign of confidence. The company recognizes that this region can support its long-term growth as it works to bring its electric vehicle technology to market.”

Said SF Motors CEO John Zhang: “Michigan is at the cutting edge of new automotive technologies as well as being an engineering powerhouse and we want to be a part of this great community.”

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. awarded the project a  $1 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

“Despite the transformation of the automotive industry in the world, Michigan remains the global center for automotive research and development,” Sokon chairman Xinghai Zhang said. “The establishment of our engineering R&D center in Michigan is an integral part of our global business strategy. We are thankful for the support the State of Michigan has shown us and look forward to working with the local government for years to come.”

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