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Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

General Motors says it will no longer support the Trump administration in legal efforts to end California's right to set its own clean-air standards.

CEO Mary Barra said in a letter Monday to environmental groups that GM will pull out of the lawsuit and it urges other automakers to do so. She said the company agrees with President-elect Joe Biden's plan to expand electric-vehicle use.

Steve Fecht / GM

General Motors says it is accelerating its development of electric vehicles, promising less expensive, longer-range electric vehicles within five years as its effort to become an all-electric car company continues.

GM says a pending breakthrough in battery chemistry will cut the price of its electric vehicles to near-parity with the cost of those powered by gasoline within five years.

The technology also will increase the range per charge to as high as 450 miles, with batteries that offer higher energy density at approximately 60% lower cost.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

General Motors is expanding its technical workforce.

By early next year, GM plans to hire 3,000 additional technical workers to help with virtual product testing and to develop software. The automaker wants to hire electrical system and infotainment software engineers to help develop electric and autonomous vehicles.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Former United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams pleaded guilty to conspiring to embezzle union funds during a federal court hearing Wednesday.

As part of a plea deal, Williams will likely be sentenced to no more than two years in federal prison. He’ll be sentenced in January. 

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is building a new factory, on the grounds of its Rouge Complex in Dearborn.

The new factory will build battery-electric F-150 trucks.

Current Ford COO (and soon-to-be CEO) Jim Farley  says the new truck will be able to haul materials to a work site, and then power all the tools with its batteries.

"This is no gimmick," says Farley. "It is a work horse, it's not a show horse, destined to a shiny garage filled with four luxury cars. It's for serious truck owners."

Farley will replace outgoing Ford CEO Jim Hackett next month.

Sonari Glinton with a Ford Bronco
Ford Motor Company

Ford's rollout of the new Bronco was one of the marquee online events of the summer. Millions of people tuned in for the online reveal, or at least caught some part of the vast advertising blitz as the grand dame of SUVs was reborn for a new generation of consumers. Ford also commissioned a new podcast, titled Bring Back Bronco: The Untold Story, to share the history of the iconic car.  The mind behind the series is journalist and former NPR reporter Sonari Glinton. 

Ford Motor Company

After three years at the helm of Ford Motor Company, CEO Jim Hackett is retiring.

He will hand leadership of the 117-year-old car manufacturer to Jim Farley, Ford's current Chief Operating Officer, as of October 1st, 2020.

Farley assumes the top job at Ford in the middle of its effort to restructure its global operations and cut costs. 

wikipedia

Fiat-Chrysler is no more.  Neither is PSA.

The merger between the Italian-American hybrid, Fiat Chrysler, and France-based PSA has taken another step, with the choice of a name for the new company:  

"Stellantis."  

Stellantis is rooted in the Latin verb "stello," which roughly translated means to brighten with stars.  

The choice of a brand new name puts to rest waggish speculation that the new company might be named some tongue-twisting combination of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot. 

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, less driving statewide during the COVID-19 pandemic means insurance companies need to distribute refunds. We find out about what this means for drivers, as well as how they’ll be affected by upcoming changes to the state’s no-fault law. Also, a look at how the history of LGBTQ Pride and the Black Lives Matter movement intersect. Plus, social media’s relationship to social change.

two cars in a rear ending accident
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

While business as usual has nearly stood still over the past couple months, folks were driving less and getting into fewer accidents. Michigan, along with Illinois, New Jersey, and other states have told insurance companies they need to refund overages in car insurance premiums paid during the pandemic. The companies have until June 10th  to come up with a plan. At the same time, the state is on the cusp of big changes to our unique, no-fault law. To sort through everything you need to know about your auto insurance bill, Stateside talked to Chad Livengood, senior editor at Crain’s Detroit Business.

United Auto Workers

A former UAW president faces prison time after pleading guilty Wednesday to charges including embezzlement, racketeering and tax evasion.

When he’s sentenced in October, Gary Jones could get up to five years on each of two counts and fined a quarter million dollars, though the sentence will likely be less, since Jones has agreed to cooperate with a federal investigation into the union.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slammed Ford Motor Company’s bottom line.

Company officials announced on Tuesday Ford lost $2 billion in the first quarter of the year. Ford blamed the loss largely on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The automaker said Tuesday that its revenue from January through March fell nearly 15% to $34.3 billion as most of its factories were shut down for the final week of the quarter.

Ford’s Chief Financial Officer Tim Stone expects the automaker will take an even bigger hit in the second quarter of 2020.

Andrea_44 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Financial rating services are eyeing Detroit automakers as the COVID-19 outbreak slams auto sales.

On Wednesday, Moody's placed General Motors on negative watch for a possible ratings cut to junk level due to the disruption around the pandemic.

The rating service says GM is vulnerable to shifts in the market, due to “unprecedented operating conditions.”

a ventilator with tubes coming out of it
Adobe Stock Images

General Motors is working with Ventec, a ventilator company based in Washington, to boost supplies of the desperately needed equipment.

Hospitals say they do not have enough ventilators to care for the expected surge of critically ill COVID-19 patients.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Updated March 18 at 3:10 p.m.:

The Detroit 3 are shutting down production for the rest of the month. The automakers made the announcement this afternoon.

Ford is halting production at its U.S., Canadian and Mexican manufacturing facilities after Thursday evening’s shifts through March 30 to thoroughly clean and sanitize the company’s plants.

GM

Update: 10:40 p.m.  

GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler have agreed to new measures to protect UAW plant workers from the coronavirus. The measures include deep cleaning of facilities and equipment between shifts, increasing time periods in between shifts, and plans to increase social distancing between workers as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Currently, many of the companies' white collar workers are working remotely.

UAW sign.
UAW

The United Auto Workers union wants Detroit's three automakers to shut down their factories for two weeks to keep its members safe from the spreading coronavirus. But union President Rory Gamble says in an email to members obtained by The Associated Press that the companies were not willing to shut factories down.

General Motors

General Motors says significant economies of scale will drive down the cost of its next generation of electric vehicles. 

On Wednesday, the automaker revealed a highly flexible platform that can be used for many different vehicles, along with its new "Ultium" batteries, developed in conjunction with business partner LG Chem.

The company says its future EVs will be profitable from the get-go, something its previous EV program could not boast.

The automaker also revealed some of its latest EV prototypes.

Delta airplane
Delta Airlines

Ford Motor Company is restricting all air travel, domestic and foreign, to reduce employees' risk of contracting COVID-19.  GM and Fiat Chrysler aren't going quite as far - yet. 

Ford says it will allow only rare exceptions to its near-complete travel restriction, which ends on March 27th - although that date could be extended.

UAW
UAW

Another former UAW official has been sentenced to federal prison for his role in the ongoing corruption investigation of the union.

A judge sentenced Michael Grimes to 28 months in prison. That’s longer than what prosecutors requested.

the Renaissance Center at night
Author BriYYZ / Wikimedia Commons bit.ly/2uVI57b

Today on Stateside, General Motors backs further into its comfort zone as it exits some markets around the Pacific Rim. We'll talk about how the company's effort to focus on strengths is playing out. Plus, we talk to comedian Joe Pera about his series that follows a mild-mannered oddball living in Marquette. 

UAW

Former United Auto Workers President Owen Bieber has died.  

Bieber led the UAW through a recession, industry downsizing and expanding global competition.

General Motors headquarters in Detroit.
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

General Motors says it's pulling out of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand as part of a strategy to exit markets that don't produce adequate returns on investments, dismaying officials concerned over job losses.

A worker handles finished auto parts on an assembly line
ADAC Automotive Muskegon operations

Today on Stateside, the coronavirus outbreak in China is beginning to have an effect on Michigan manufacturers. We hear from an executive at a west Michigan auto parts supplier about how the virus is affecting their business. Plus, we'll learn about Michigan's first African American settlers, as well as Enbridge's plan to replace a section of Line 5 under the St. Clair River.

Unsplash

General Motors is making a $2.2 billion investment in an assembly plant entirely devoted to electric vehicles, the company announced today. The Detroit-Hamtramck plant will support 2,200 manufacturing jobs.

interior of a Tesla automobile
David von Diemar / Unsplash

Michigan residents can now order a Tesla vehicle and have it serviced in state. On Wednesday, Michigan’s Attorney General and Secretary of State announced a settlement with the California-based car manufacturer.

State of the Takata Air Bag Recalls

Toyota and Honda have recalled millions more cars over problem airbags. 

Honda says it's recalling 2.7 million cars with Takata air bags that have a risk of exploding when they inflate in an accident. 

man in car looking out windshield at traffic
Unsplash

Battle Creek police officers can now pull over drivers who are holding a cell phone.

Battle Creek commissioners passed the distracted driving ordinance earlier in the year, but the police department says it wasn’t enforcing it until signs went up along roads this month.

GM

Analysts at the research firm Cox Automotive expect U.S. car sales to just tip over the 17 million mark by the end of December. That would make it the fifth year in a row that car sales have exceed 17 million.

The group says total car sales for 2019 will drop only a little from the year before, about 1.3% – but there are some signs of softening in the market.  

Cox analysts say without big boosts in sales to companies that maintain fleets, car sales would likely have dropped more. 

And automakers have been offering fairly sizeable incentives to keep sales robust.

General Motors

Today on Stateside, bribes, kickbacks, lavish spending of union dues and federal bailout money. We hear about the recent Detroit News investigation that revealed years of corruption orchestrated by Fiat Chrysler and UAW leaders. Plus, a domestic abuse survivor who became an activist focused on preventing relationship violence among young people.  

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