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Workers strike, reach deal at Saline auto parts plant

Jun 21, 2019
Automotive Components Holdings Company Saline Plant
Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

About 1,900 workers went on strike at the Faurecia interior parts plant in Saline at 12:05am. This strike comes after previous contract between the UAW local 892 union and Faurecia expired. Negotiators failed to reach an agreement before the deadline of 12:01am.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

General Motors is investing $150 million to boost production at its Flint assembly plant. Company officials made the announcement at the plant on Wednesday.

The plant produces the automaker’s profitable heavy duty pick-up trucks. GM announced earlier this year that it would add another 1,000  jobs in Flint for the rollout of the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

In Flint Wednesday, GM President Mark Reuss said it’s important for the automaker to minimize logistical costs across its supply chain.

Automakers are asking the Trump administration and California to restart negotiations over future fuel economy standards, worried about disruption in their business model if the two sides can't come up with a new, single national standard.  

The problem facing automakers is partly of their own making. Car companies in the U.S. asked a newly elected President Donald Trump to relax the Obama administration's finalized fuel economy standards for 2020 through 2025. 

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Michigan's two biggest utilities have launched pilot programs to boost the number of electric vehicle charging stations in the state. 

From commuting to longer-distance trips, the programs aim to help electric car owners go anywhere in the state, without worrying about where they will charge the battery next.

DTE Energy and Consumers Energy will offer rebates of $400 to $500 to EV car owners to install home chargers. That roughly covers the equipment cost, but not the electrician's bill. 

Randy Stern / Creative Commons/Flickr

French automaker Renault's board will meet Tuesday to consider a merger offer from Fiat Chrysler.

It would create the largest automaker in the world based on sales, but that's only if Renault's current partner, Nissan, stays in.

Phil Konstantin / Wikimedia

Auto analysts say new tariffs against Mexico threatened by President Donald Trump would be  damaging to the auto industry, and make vehicles more expensive for consumers.

Trump has threatened to slap escalating tariffs on Mexico until that country stops undocumented immigrants from reaching and crossing into the U.S.

Michelle Krebs is an analyst with Autotrader.

Whitmer for Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer used a business conference on Mackinac Island to unveil a contest on Wednesday. The goal is to develop the next generation of vehicles that will move people from place to place.

The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce always puts the future of transportation and the auto industry at the center of the discussion at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

Whitmer says this was the right place and time to throw down a challenge with development money to back it up.

The Trump Administration's budget would eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Today on Stateside, the Michigan House and Senate both passed bills this week that would allow drivers to opt out of the unlimited medical benefits mandated by current law. But critics say that giving up those benefits would do more harm than good. Plus, we talk to the author of a murder mystery novel that takes place on a fictional Michigan university campus.


Lawsuits against Ford Motor Company over cars with alleged defective transmissions are piling up.

The so-called "dual clutch" transmissions are in 2011 to 2016 Fiestas and 2012 to 2016 Focuses.  


A car safety group says passengers in the back seat need better seat belt systems. 

David Harkey is President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

He says technology in the front restraint systems of newer model cars tightens the seat belt in the split second after a crash. 

Ford Motor Co. sign
Mike Mozart / Flickr

Ford Motor’s Rodney Dangerfield days may be over.

You remember him – the ol’ comedian who always complained he “got no respect.” Neither did Ford for the past few years: its stock price stuck in neutral, despite minting money with SUVs and F-Series trucks; its product strategy doubted; its CEO, Jim Hackett, considered a lame duck from the start.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan equipped with Waymo’s fully self-driving technology.

Seventy-five percent of people are too afraid to ride inside a fully self-driving or autonomous car. That's according to a new survey by the insurance group, AAA.

Greg Brannon is AAA's head of automotive engineering and industry relations. He says media reports about high-profile accidents involving self-driving vehicles drove those fears back up, after they'd fallen a bit in surveys conducted over the past few years.

Phil Konstantin / Wikimedia

President Donald Trump continues to threaten to close down the border with Mexico to stop immigrants from reaching the U.S.

Such a move would shut down the U.S. auto industry "within a week," according to Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research.

Nearly every model of vehicle assembled in the U.S. utilizes some parts made in Mexico, and millions of vehicles are assembled in Mexico for export to the U.S.

A shutdown would also hurt many other aspects of the economy, including agriculture, says economist Charles Ballard at Michigan State University.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Insurance Office defines auto insurance premiums as unaffordable if they exceed two percent of an area's median household income. A study from the University of Michigan finds that, by that measure, average auto insurance rates are unaffordable in 97 percent of all Michigan zip codes. Joshua Rivera, with the University of Michigan's Poverty Solutions program, puts that number in context, and talks about why the state's auto insurance rates are among the highest in the nation. 

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


Today on Stateside, Governor Whitmer orders an audit of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association after it hikes the yearly fee on auto insurance policies by 15 percent. Plus, we explore two important pieces of our state's African-American history housed at the Library of Michigan.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

General Motors CEO Mary Barra says the automaker will build a new electric vehicle at its Orion Assembly Plant - where it already builds the all-electric Bolt. She says details about the vehicle will come later.

Barra, who's been head of General Motors since 2014, says GM will invest $300 million in the plant and add 400 jobs.

"EVs are going to help us drive our vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion," says Barra. "And allow us to deliver cleaner air and a healthier planet."

Tracy Samilton

Delegates to the United Auto Workers' Special Convention on Wednesday completed voting on resolutions for the next four-year contract with automakers and other UAW-represented companies.

The resolutions will guide union negotiators as they hammer out the terms of the deal. One resolution seeks to place more limits on automakers' use of temporary workers.

UAW retirees protesting
Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

United Auto Workers delegates from across the country are meeting in Detroit this week.  

The convention will set the terms for talks on the next four year contract with Detroit automakers and other UAW represented companies.


Hyundai and Kia are recalling more than half a million vehicles because of defects that can cause fires.  The new recalls are part of a more than three year string of recalls for engine failures and fires. 

Wind turbine
Ken Whytock / Flickr

General Motors says it is buying enough wind energy from DTE Energy to power its Warren Tech Center and most of its headquarters in Detroit. 

auto factory
Fiat Chrysler

Detroit got some very good news on Tuesday.

Fiat Chrysler says it plans to build a new assembly plant in Detroit, invest in five other Michigan plants, and hire 6,500 additional workers.

Michelle Krebs is an analyst with Autotrader. 

"Detroit hasn't seen a new assembly plant in a long time, decades," says Krebs, "so this is absolutely fabulous news for Detroit, for Michigan and for Fiat Chrysler and Jeep."

Fiat Chrysler says the nearly $4.5 billion expansion will help it meet growing demand for Jeep SUVs and RAM trucks. 

calypsocom / Flickr

General Motors says it’s extending the life of its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant for another seven months.

The company had planned to close the plant in June, but GM said Friday it will now keep it open through January 2020.


Ford Motor Company says it has hired an outside firm to investigate an issue raised by employees about the company's analytical modeling that is part of the process for establishing fuel economy and emissions compliance.

The issue is highly technical. The company says it is investigating the employee concern regarding the "road load" specifications used during testing done on a machine called a dynamometer.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s auto industry is bracing for potential tariffs on imported auto parts.

The U.S. Commerce Department delivered a report on Sunday to the White House on the national security implications of imported vehicle and auto parts. The “Section 232” national security report could potentially create the grounds for the president to impose a 25% tariff on imported vehicles and auto parts.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s mayor calls Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law “morally indefensible.”

Mayor Mike Duggan took his campaign to change the law to the state capitol Wednesday.

Duggan outlined what he says are the problems with Michigan’s high auto insurance rates to the state Senate Insurance and Banking Committee.


Honda, Ford and Mazda are working against time to find owners of cars with potentially deadly Takata airbags.

These are old vehicles - made in 2001 to 2003, in Honda's case - with the very earliest versions of the defective air bags, known as "alpha" airbags.

Chris Martin of Honda says the propellant in the airbags becomes unstable over time when exposed to heat and humidity.

He says there's up to a 50% chance the airbags will explode in an accident.

General Motors

It's been a couple days of good and bad news for General Motors employees.

GM announced Tuesday it's adding a thousand workers to build heavy duty trucks at its Flint Assembly plant. That's just as the automaker begins laying off 4,000 white collar workers, over the next two weeks.

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

General Motors is expected to start laying off about 4,000 white-collar workers on Monday.

The cuts come after GM's November announcement of dramatic restructuring. Multiple media outlets are reporting these upcoming layoffs are fewer than initially thought.

David Kudla is the CEO of Mainstay Capital Management. He says GM bought out thousands of white-collar employees close to retirement.


People heading to the North American International Auto Show will be able to see some ready- or nearly -ready-to-buy cars, as well as concepts. 

Some of the concepts are electrics. Car companies say electrification is likely to significantly change how cars look both inside and outside.

Karim Habib is executive design director for Infiniti, which is showing a concept electric car, the QX Inspiration, at the show. 

He says electric cars don't have big engines in the front. That's because batteries, typically underneath, power the car.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

United Auto Workers members gathered outside Detroit’s Cobo Center Friday evening during the North American International Auto Show’s annual charity preview event.

They held a protest and candlelight vigil in solidarity with General Motors workers who face layoffs or relocation.

That’s because GM plans to close five U.S. plants this year, including two in Michigan: Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, and Warren Transmission.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer rallied with union members before the event. She promised to “stand with” with them, saying workers had to give up a lot to keep GM afloat over the past ten years.