There’s been much made about Ford’s secret/not-so-secret plan to purchase a major chunk of Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, including its greatest landmark — the monstrous, long-abandoned Michigan Central Station. Until now, however, the only words we had to go on were whispered by sources who preferred to keep their names out of the media.
Thankfully, Edsel B. Ford II decided to pipe up today.
Officially, there’s more than 220 Ford Motor Company employees ready to move into a refurbished former factory on Michigan Avenue in Detroit’s Corktown district sometime this year. A nice little burst of employment for a long-neglected, now-resurgent neighborhood, but it might be just the beginning.
The automaker is reportedly in talks with numerous property owners to create a campus totalling at least 1.1 million square feet, with the towering — and famously abandoned — Michigan Central Station as its anchor.
Detroit’s skyline-defining riverfront Renaissance Center is better known to car enthusiasts as the RenCen, home to General Motors, which has owned the seven tower complex for more than 20 years. Less well known is the fact that the RenCen was the brainchild of Henry Ford II. Shocked by the aftermath of the 1967 riot that devastated many Detroit businesses, the Deuce, as Henry Ford’s grandson was known, saw the RenCen as means of revitalizing the city’s economy. Construction began in 1971 and the facility opened in the summer of 1976. By then, however, the domestic auto industry was hit with the 1973 OPEC oil embargo just as it was struggling to meet new federal emissions and safety standards. Car guys call it the “Malaise Era,” and it was the start of four decades of decline of the Motor City.
That decline, however, genuinely appears to have finally bottomed out. Class A commercial real estate is in high demand downtown and commercial development is spreading to other areas of the city. Unemployment in Wayne County, Detroit’s home, is down to just 4.5 percent, compared to 17.4 percent in 2009.
Now, almost 50 years after Henry Ford II envisioned the RenCen as reviving Detroit, comes word that the car company with his name over the door may well revive and restore one of the most iconic images of Detroit’s decline.
Hot on the heels of a vehicle reveal most of us thought would occur in Detroit next month, another hot seller has officially broken cover before the January show.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has given the Jeep Cherokee a snazzy new set of duds just in time for the new year. Previously styled with an alarming mix of narrowed lights and Hannibal Lecter grille, the restyled 2019 Cherokee adopts the corporate look that first appeared on the Grandest of Cherokees before migrating to the Compass last year.
For the company’s sake, hopefully Mahindra & Mahindra’s second attempt to enter the U.S. market won’t go the same way as the first.
The Indian automaker is reportedly planning a 400,000-square-foot assembly plant in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, and has scheduled a press conference with government officials for November 20th. As we all know, local representatives and their higher-ups don’t like braving the cold unless there’s a promise of jobs and cameras.
A previous attempt to tap into the U.S. market went nowhere, ending in a lawsuit. If this plan comes to fruition, it would make Mahindra’s auto plant the first built in the Detroit area in decades — and would provide American consumers with some new SUV options.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Ram will drop a new half-ton pickup at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. It’s a big gamble redesigning a cash cow, lest the truck faithful turn up their noses at the new styling.
In the past, manufacturers have hedged their bets by simultaneously producing both the new and old styles, such as when Ford offered both the F-150 and F-150 Heritage in 2004. Now, Ram appears poised to deploy the same strategy in 2018, according to bossman Sergio Marchionne.
The only people who like towing companies, it seems, are those who make money off them.
A Detroit-area towing company is accused of doing something that will make the rest of us hate towing companies even more, if the allegations are true.
It all started last year, with multiple investigations into Detroit police officers suspected of taking bribes in exchange for giving business to select tow companies.
Nationwide Recovery, the company at the center of this story, sued the city of Detroit in July of this year, claiming that the city pulled its permit illegally. Nationwide claims it had nothing to do with the bribery scheme and so its permit shouldn’t have been revoked. The city of Detroit said that wasn’t true and went to federal court to explain why.
The fun and games stop being fun when stuff gets real. Nothing is as real as death.
Not long ago we featured a story about a fatal incident on Detroit’s east side, the result of two fellows street racing a motorcycle against a go-kart. More recently, a Michigan State Trooper has been suspended pending Detroit Police and Michigan State Police investigations of an Aug. 26 incident resulting in the death of a 15-year-old male riding an ATV on a public street. The trooper used a taser on the youth, from his moving cruiser, after the teen allegedly refused to pull over. After being tased, Demond Grimes crashed his ATV into a pickup truck. He died after being taken to a hospital.
As long as there are going to be vehicles that are still under human control, there will be street racing. It’s not safe, it’s not very smart, and it’s not going to go away anytime soon. Detroit Police Chief James Craig says that his department tracks as many as 500 street races some nights. The racing usually take place at 2 or 3 in the morning on weekends. The police can track them because street racers, like police officers, are creatures of habit.
French Road, on Detroit’s northeast side, has long been used as a dragstrip by outlaws racing cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is abandoning Conner Avenue Assembly in Detroit, Michigan. The plant produced Dodge Vipers sporadically for over two decades, but low sales volume eventually led to FCA’s decision to remove the high-performing model from its lineup. In 2016, Dodge only sold 630 Vipers. A final, limited-edition 2017 run sold out in less than a week.
The two-seater doesn’t meet upcoming safety regulations due to its absence of side-curtain airbags. Rather than undergo a costly redesign, FCA chose to let nature take its course and placed the model in hospice care back in 2015. However, the future of the assembly plant and its employees were uncertain at the time.
With its Ford and Lincoln brands, the Ford Motor Company reported 240,250 U.S. sales in May 2017, a 2-percent year-over-year improvement.
General Motors, which has outsold Ford Motor Company in 14 consecutive months, sold 237,364 new vehicles in May 2017, a 1-percent year-over-year drop.
In May 2017, for the first time since March of last year, the Ford Motor Company outsold General Motors.
The Mark Fields era at Ford, a period in which the company’s value crumbled, is over. But if Fields took the blame for what ailed Ford, doesn’t he get the credit for what went right? Besides a handsome severance package, the Mark Fields era ended with Ford Motor Company out in front of General Motors.
But how did Ford make it happen? With pickups and fleets.
A Supreme Court ruling between two food companies may benefit the Detroit Three and its many domestic suppliers.
The case of TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands focused on where plaintiffs in an intellectual property or patent infringement dispute can file a lawsuit. Current U.S. law dictates that the plaintiff may file a patent infringement suit in any court district where the defendant does business. This has saturated the Eastern District of Texas with countless patent and I.P. lawsuits. Plaintiffs prefer the region because rural Texas juries are more likely to rule against big businesses and the district is known for expediting proceedings.
According to a January study by the Stanford Technology Law Review, only about 15 percent of cases heard in the court actually involved a patent invented within the district or had an accused party that had an office in the area. However, the Supreme Court is expected to put the kibosh on the practice by forcing plaintiffs to try cases near the defendant’s headquarters — meaning domestic automakers could have the home field advantage in future legal proceedings.
Earlier this week, Samsung’s SDI battery subsidiary announced a new cell designed for use in electric vehicles that will supposedly improve maximum range and possess a cutting-edge quick charge capacity.
Exhibited for the first time at the North American International Auto Show, the battery comes hot on the heels of Tesla and Panasonic’s own ultra-dense “2170 Cell” planned for use on the Model 3.
While Samsung didn’t elaborate on a specific testing platform, it claims the new battery should permit a range of 372 miles on a single charge, with an 80 percent restoration after a 20 minutes quick charge.
It wasn’t long ago that Lexus could reliably sell 20,000-plus LS sedans in the U.S. each year. Certainly, the model’s pre-recession sales performance fell under the heading of “reliable,” with over 35,000 sold in 2007.
Ever since great economic upheaval sent American buyers fleeing in increasing numbers into the arms of crossovers and SUV, the Lexus sedan that created tsunami-like ripples through the luxury car field in 1990 has seen its customer base erode. Just 5,514 U.S. buyers saw fit to take an LS home in 2016.
Could a redesign bordering on the radical be the medicine the LS so desperately needs?
You know it. Nissan knows it.
Consumers are fleeing cars in favor of high-riding crossovers. And the Rogue Sport is another one.
Despite the name, Nissan’s newest utility is less Rogue Jr. and more overseas transplant. Nissan America adapted the Qashqai, available in global markets since 2006, with a new name to meet North American tastes (though not in Canada, where it’ll still use its Turkic nomenclature). The renaming ensures we can pronounce it (and Nissan can preserve its Star Wars connection). More importantly, it hitches the new crossover to Nissan’s best selling nameplate.