Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Posts Tagged ‘Detroit Three’

As Truck Wars Heat Up Ram Ramps Up Production

Automaker’s Warren Truck plant expects to increase production by more than 70,000 vehicles in 2013.

by on Feb.13, 2013

With a reviving economy expected to increase demand for full-size pickups, Chrysler is sharply boosting production of its big Ram 1500.

Truck sales took a spectacular tumble when the economy crashed but with the housing market showing signs of revival pickups could be one of the year’s hot products — and Chrysler is ready to take advantage of the fact that it was recently named North American Truck of the Year.

The maker’s Ram brand will rapidly ramp up production of the Ram 1500 pickup truck at its Warren, Mich., from 227,000 in 2012 to more than 300,000 vehicles this year.

Keep on Truckin'!

After winning North American Truck of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show last month, Chrysler is hoping to make some inroads in a segment long-dominated by Ford’s F-150 and, to a lesser degree, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups.

(Ram 1500 wins coveted North American Truck of the Year accolade. Click Here for the story.)

But the Detroit automakers aren’t the only ones looking to regain ground in what is traditionally their most profitable segment. Toyota unveiled an updated version of its big Tundra at the Chicago Auto Show last week while Nissan dropped hints about its next-generation Titan.


Study: U.S. Aid to Auto Industry Saved 1 Million Jobs

Assistance saved nearly $100 million in personal income.

by on Nov.30, 2010

Government assistance to General Motors and Chrysler enabled orderly bankruptcy proceedings and led to the saving of more than 1.14 million jobs in 2009 alone, according to a recently released study by an automotive think tank.

The study, by the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research, estimated that an additional 314,400 jobs was saved in 2010. The government help save $96.5 billion in potential personal income losses and allowed $28.6 billion in social security and personal income taxes to be paid to the federal government.

At the time of the bailout, some pundits, and even some lawmakers, suggested that Chrysler and GM didn’t deserve the government’s help. Some even suggested that the bailout was a waste of government money.


Ford Gets Loan to “Export” to Canada and Mexico

Latest example of an emerging industrial policy from U.S. Government or just more election year deficit spending?

by on Aug.05, 2010

“I put my money on the American worker."

The Export-Import Bank of the United States will guarantee a loan to finance $3.1 billion of Ford Motor Company “export sales” to Canadian and Mexican markets. The loan from the Federal agency will underwrite the sale of about 200,000 Ford vehicles.

The announcement came as the President of the United States visited a third Detroit Three auto plant in less than a week, defending his increasingly unpopular economic polices during a mid-term election year.

This time, President Obama was at a Ford plant in Chicago that will make the new Explorer. Ford of course made billions from what is arguably the most popular sport utility  vehicle of all time, but it stayed with a heavy, relatively crude body-on-frame design for a decade after it became clear that more efficient, comfortable unit-body “crossovers” were the configuration of the future.

Unlike GM and Chrysler last week, Ford made no attempt to publicize the event, leaving all the promotion to the White House in what I take to be Ford’s latest attempt to distance itself from the wildly unpopular taxpayer subsidies that went to those two bankrupt companies last year.

Ford has now received a $5.9 billion Department of Energy credit line for the development of fuel-efficient vehicles, as part of the $787 billion government stimulus plan promulgated by the newly established Obama Administration in 2009. Part of the money went to refurbish the Explorer plant.

The Administration – under heavy criticism because of a slumping economy and high unemployment rates despite massive Federal government spending – claimed that the new export loan will help meet a previously announced goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. (See Ford CEO to Serve on President’s Export Council)


Whitacre Says CEO Search is Over. It’s He!

Chairman and acting CEO is CEO after “sort of learning this business” at Government-packed Board's request.

by on Jan.25, 2010

"My motivation for doing this has not changed."

"My motivation for doing this has not changed."

At a news conference in Detroit late this morning, GM chairman and acting CEO Ed Whitacre, Jr., said that he has agreed to take the CEO job for an indefinite period following a request by last week by the U.S. government-packed board of directors.

The announcement confirms new reports, including ours, of earlier today, and possibly calls into question the effectiveness of regulation FD, or fair disclosure, from the Security and Exchange Commission, which is designed to prevent the selective release of news material to some of a company’s investors before it’s publicly revealed to all.

U.S. taxpayers have invested $120 billion in the U.S. auto industry, with GM representing $50 billion of that amount. Management changes are without question material.

This place needs some stability,” Whitacre said. “And I guess that’s me.”

The announcement comes just before  President Obama’s first State of the Union address this Wednesday. Obama, whose ratings among independent voters are plummeting, is expected continue his recent themes of attacking Wall Street banking plutocrats, some of whom were responsible for the wildly unpopular bailouts of the financial industry, as well as the taxpayer-subsidized reorganizations of GM, Chrysler and GMAC, among other loss-making concerns in the automobile business.

Tax Dollar Watch!

Last week GM announced that a consummate Wall Street banking insider, Stephen Girsky, is being paid almost $1 million a year.


King to be King, er, President of UAW

Gettelfinger’s top lieutenant gets nod as new head.

by on Dec.16, 2009

Bob King, Vice President, UAW Ford Department

The defeat of proposed contract changes by Ford workers this fall was blamed on mixed messages from boastful Ford executives.

After a secretive conclave in Detroit, Bob King, a well-known figure around the Detroit Three auto industry has secured the nod of a majority of the executive board of  United Auto Workers union during a member’s only caucus to become the next president.

King, 63, has served as current president Ron Gettelfinger’s top lieutenant in recent years. He also has handled several rounds of delicate negotiations with the Ford Motor Company as the union navigated the big downturn in the U.S. auto industry and the big concessions demanded from the union.

Harley Shaiken, a University of California-Berkley labor expert, said King had emerged as the logical choice to succeed Gettlefinger.

The defeat of a series of proposed contract changes by Ford workers this fall was blamed on the mixed messages flowing from Ford executives rather than King’s handling of the contract proposals. Ford executives were touting the company’s comeback at the same time they were demanding new concessions from workers. Not surprisingly, union dissidents successfully exploited the fact the company appeared to be speaking out of both sides of its mouth.

Gettlefinger won’t officially relinquish the union’s presidency at the UAW’s next convention in June, but King is expected to play a more active role as a union spokesperson.

Critics maintain that the union has been too passive in public relations matters as the American middle class continues to be decimated as job losses grow during the ongoing Great Recession, the longest and deepest in post-war history.



King’s nomination by the “Administration Caucus” also underscored the relatively secretive process by which the union selects its top officers.


UAW Labor Costs Still Not Competitive

Parity with transplants, especially Koreans, is a long way off.

by on Dec.16, 2009

Smart, flexible, innovative and tough, Gettelfinger for nine years has kept the union moving forward.

Smart and tough, Gettelfinger for nine years has kept the shrinking union relatively intact.

The revised labor contracts that were the result of the Chrysler and General Motors bankruptcies are still not competitive with non-unionized transplants in U.S., particularly those run by Hyundai and Kia that pay as little as $12 an hour, according to the Chief Economist of the Center For Automotive Research. Honda’s costs are estimated at twice that.



At GM so-called first tier jobs for existing workers with benefits cost an estimated $59 an hour.


Barack to Arnold: We’ll Get Right On It

Obama expected to announce swift action on California's request to regulate tailpipe CO2

by on Jan.26, 2009

CA Rules Would Limit CO2

CA Rules Would Limit CO2

It is being reported that on Monday President Obama will pledge a quick review of the Bush Administration’s decision last March to deny California’s request for a Clean Air Act waiver that would enable the state to put in place its stringent greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks.

On the day after the inauguration, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote Obama with such a request, backing a parallel letter from the head of the state’s air resources board to incoming EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

Mr. Obama ran on “change” and the expected announcements appear aimed at making it clear that his administration is serious in that regard. Although it may take some time for EPA to formally review and reconsider California’s waiver request, granting it would deliver on one of Obama’s campaign pledges. It would also represent a tangible step toward stronger climate regulation, one that the incoming administration can take on its own, without waiting for Congressional action.

Automakers have continued to strongly protest California’s stronger standards, arguing that a single, federal program regulating automobile CO2 emissions is much less costly. They point to Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards as the preferred approach.

The state of California, along with environmentalists, assert that the stronger standards are both feasible and cost-effective, and would result in greater emissions reductions that those from CAFE standards. (This writer testified in favor of the California standards when they were up for approval before the state’s Air Resources Board in September 2004.)

The new administration has also said it will move quickly to finalize new rules setting CAFE standards for cars and light trucks through 2015. A draft rule developed by the Bush Administration had been all but finalized in early December when the GM and Chrysler bailout pleas reached Washington. At that point, the Bush team put the rule on old, leaving it to be finalized by the Obama team. (more…)