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2021 Cadillac Escalade
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The Associated Press says President Joe Biden will reinstate Obama-era fuel efficiency rules to address climate change.

But environmentalists say those standards - which the Trump administration scrapped  - are not enough. 

Steve Fecht / General Motors

General Motors is planning a one week halt in production at its truck plants in Michigan, Indiana, and Mexico. That's because of a global computer chip shortage that recently worsened.

The computer chip shortage began during the pandemic last year.   

dashboard of an autonomous vehicle
media.gm.com/media

The U.S. government's highway safety agency has ordered automakers to report any crashes involving fully autonomous vehicles or partially automated driver assist systems.

Courtesy United Auto Workers

United Auto Workers Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry has been elected president of the union.

Curry, 55, was picked by the union's International Executive Board on Monday. He will replace Rory Gamble, who retires on Wednesday.

Gamble led the 397,000-member union through a bribery and embezzlement scandal and the coronavirus pandemic, in which the union agreed to keep auto factories running with numerous safety precautions. He was the union's first Black president, and Curry will be the second.

Ford Motor Company's headquarters in Dearborn.
Ford Motor Company

Ford introduced the world this week to the Maverick — a smaller, hybrid truck. Concurrently, the demand for the electric F-150 Lightning is soaring with 100,000 pre-orders placed. This suggests new possibilities for Ford, an iconic Michigan brand and the global leader in trucks. 

Automotive reporter, Sonari Glinton, is the host of Now What’s Next. He thinks that the stereotypical consumer for electric vehicles is now changing with the introduction of vehicles such as the Maverick and F-150 Lightning. 

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

A potential second tragedy is looming for Michigan auto accident survivors with brain and spinal cord injuries. 

On July 1, Michigan's new auto insurance law makes deep cuts in payments to providers of long-term care for these and future survivors. Many care providers are expected to close by then, or not long after. And in many cases, alternate care is simply unavailable. That could leave hundreds of people, especially those dependent on ventilator support, facing severe consequences -- including a heightened risk of death. 

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Updated 06/07/21 12:21 pm 

A potential second tragedy is looming for Michigan auto accident survivors with brain and spinal cord injuries. 

On July 1, Michigan's new auto insurance law makes deep cuts in payments to providers of long-term care for these and future survivors. Many care providers are expected to close by then, or not long after. And in many cases, alternate care is simply unavailable. That could leave hundreds of people, especially those dependent on ventilator support, facing severe consequences -- including a heightened risk of death. 

Pascal Meier / Unsplash

Pedestrian deaths from car crashes spiked nearly 20% in Michigan last year, according to preliminary data from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The Association's Russ Martin said people drove much less in 2020 due to the pandemic. But the crisis seemed to worsen drivers' behavior, with more speeding and distracted driving.

"Whatever happened in the pandemic has caused an unexpected increase in the number of people killed," said Martin. "Not just pedestrians but all kinds of crashes. And so we in the safety community of course find this very shocking, but also very remarkable, and we need to figure out how can we address this in the future."

Stellantis

U.S. automakers are seeing a ripple effect of production line slow-downs and shut-downs due to the ongoing computer chip shortage.

Autotrader Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs says a major reason for the shortage is because automakers canceled orders when the pandemic began last year, as production lines were shut down initially.

She says the companies did not expect demand for vehicles to surge back so quickly.

Now, they're at the back of the line, as chip suppliers fill orders for other high-demand goods, like i-Phones, laptops, and video games.

Ford Motor Company

The Ford Motor Company is making plans to begin transitioning thousands of employees from working remotely to back in the office.

But the automaker is leaving the door open to those who want to continue to work remotely.

Ford has more than 30,000 employees working remotely.

an electric plug attaches to an electric vehicle
Chuttersnap / Unsplash

Senator Debbie Stabenow has introduced a new bill that would provide billions in tax credits aimed at incentivizing auto manufacturers to make products that would reduce carbon emissions.

The senior Democrat introduced the American Jobs in Energy Manufacturing Act on Monday. She says the bill would provide support to the private sector in making the transition to clean energy in legacy manufacturing communities.

A new logo for the newly formed Fiat and Chrysler company.
FCA

Fiat Chrysler officials have pleaded guilty for the company’s role in a corruption scandal.

The automaker says it did make more than $3 million in bribery payments to United Auto Workers union leaders.

The deal, reached in U.S. District Court, will require the company to pay a $30 million fine.

Cadillac

General Motors has joined a growing list of global auto companies that have had to pause or slow production of a number of their vehicles due to a shortage of computer chips.

The chips, often made in Taiwan, control many of the functions of a modern car, including starting the engine, the infotainment system, electronic steering and electronic braking.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, General Motors has announced that it's working toward a fully electric fleet. Two journalists talk us through what the change could mean for consumers, as well as the auto industry. Also, a Michigan National Guard Specialist discusses the recent reversal of the federal ban on transgender people serving openly in the military. Plus, a look at the disproportionate losses women have suffered in the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Walter Reuther at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs.

The United States now honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of remembrance each January. However, while he was alive, his public disapproval ratings were as high as 75%. Many Americans disliked him for a variety of his stances, from expanding civil rights protections to opposing the Vietnam War. Still, King found supporters of his work throughout the nation, among them Walter Reuther, the president of the United Auto Workers union.

wikimedia commons

The merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and French-based Groupe PSA is now complete.

The new company will be called Stellantis, and be led by CEO Carlos Tavares and Board Chairman John Elkann.

Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Autotrader, says the merger is intended to help increase global sales, reduce costs, and invest in new technologies like electrification.

Wikimedia commons

Ford Motor Company is shutting down its three manufacturing plants in Brazil as part of a global cost cutting strategy that began in 2018. 

The cost-cutting is aiming to achieve an 8% EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) as well as greater free cash flow, in part to boost Ford's long-flagging stock price.

The shutdowns will result in the loss of about 5,000 jobs in Brazil.

Calm Vistas / wikimedia commons

Organizers of the North American International Auto Show say they're calling it off this year. But there will be an outdoor replacement of sorts.

Organizers of the NAIAS decided in 2019 to move it to the summer, with the inaugural summer show to be held in June of 2020.  Then, the pandemic hit, and the June date for the show was postponed, and then postponed again. 

Now, the show will not happen in 2021 at all, at least not in its traditional setting of Detroit's TCF Center, formerly known as Cobo Center. 

An iconic Detroit automaker is merging with another European auto company.

Shareholders of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Peugeot decisively voted Monday to merge the U.S.-Italian and French carmakers. The deal has been in the works for more than a year.

Ford Motor Company

AutoTrader estimates car companies will sell significantly more new vehicles in 2021 than they did in 2020, and, more of those vehicles could be electric.

Right now, only about 2% of total new car sales in the U.S. are EVs.  Analyst Michelle Krebs of AutoTrader says major car companies plan to boost the number of electric car models they offer. 

creative commons

Analysts like Michelle Krebs of AutoTrader threw their 2020 U.S. new vehicle sales forecasts out the window when the pandemic struck the U.S.

Many were fearing the worst - a catastrophic plummet to sales similar to the worst years of the Great Recession. 

And indeed, in March and April, new vehicle sales did fall into the basement.

"But as quickly as they plummeted they started rising again," says Krebs.  "It's been remarkable how the consumer, the dealers and the auto manufacturers have been so  resilient and adaptable."

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.

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