Chrysler is coming down hard on some of their Jeep dealers. The Monroe Dodge Superstore in Monroe, MI, just down the road from Toledo, wanted to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Jeep. The first Willys-Overland Jeep was built 1941 at their plant in Toledo. The good folks at the Monroe Dodge Superstore thought hard about a good catchphrase. Then, the lightbulb went off. Presto, 600 T-shirts were printed, emblazoned with “Imported from Toledo.” They immediately heard from Chrysler. Not in a good way.
China’s Chongqing Changan is entering the lion’s den. The Chinese joint venture partner of Ford, Suzuki, and PSA will open a research center in Detroit and draw from the rich talent pool. Changan will become the first Chinese automobile company to establish such a center in the US, Gasgoo says.
Occasionally, when talking to other car folks, I’ll hear, “well, you live in Detroit”. It can mean different things. Sometimes it’s an accusation of jingoist bias in favor of the domestic automakers. I plead guilty in not wanting to see lots of my neighbors and customers unemployed. Other times, it’s more wistful, more envious. For a car guy, Detroit can be Mecca and nirvana on Christmas morning with a cherry on top. I don’t have to fly in for press events at the Big 3 and because there are so many automotive writers around here, even the foreign brand press fleet is stocked pretty nicely.
Though not as common as they once were, you can still take a factory tour at Ford’s [not quite so] giant [anymore] Rouge complex, and while you’re in Dearborn it’s definitely worth your while to visit the Henry Ford Museum. Just one note, you won’t find it listed under that name. A few years ago, for some insane marketing reason, the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village decided to rebrand itself, choosing “The Henry Ford”. I suppose that goes over big with museum curators – I’m sure that everyone in Manhattan knows what the Guggenheim is, but in a region that has hospitals and schools named after Henry Ford (I & II), dropping Museum from the eponymous Henry Ford, is just confusing and a little too precious.
We can’t pretend to be overly enamored with former “car czar” Steve Rattner, who oversaw the auto bailout before being disgraced for his role in a New York pension fund pay-for-play scandal. Still, the guy was in the thick of things during last year’s negotiations over Detroit’s rescue, so he knows where the bodies are buried. And in his new book, Overhaul, which has been released to select outlets ahead of its October 14 publication, he tells a whole lot of stories about the months of bailout proceedings that led to the rescue of GM and Chrysler. Of course, Rattner has an agenda in all this, namely proving thatThe auto rescue remains one of the few actions taken by the administration that, at least in my opinion, can be pronounced an unambiguous success
so he’s not necessarily an unbiased source. But with grains of salt at the ready, let’s dive into his spilled guts and see if what secrets lie beneath.
One of the reasons why I started writing for TTAC was that, as a lifelong resident of the Detroit area I was tired of watching people with little direct knowledge of this region using stereotypes and caricatures to demean my neighbors. Typically people outside the region will describe Southeastern Michigan as a place of unemployment, indifferent workers, crime and racial disharmony. As with most prevarication, there’s an element of truth to those stereotypes, but it’s not the whole truth.
I can understand finding that kind of behavior in comment threads online, but it’s distressing when what is generally considered the leading newspaper in the country, the New York Times, lazily relies on a ‘usual Detroit template’ when covering an event in this area.
Editor’s Note: Part One of Michael Karesh’s review of Sixty To Zero can be found here.
Journalists write stories. A coherent story is a partial truth at best. If it’s portrayed as the whole story, it’s a lie.
In Sixty to Zero, veteran auto industry journalist Alex Taylor III provides an unusual level of insight into the relationships between top auto industry journalists and the executives they cover. He acknowledges getting too close to these executives more than once, and blames this for several embarrassingly off-base articles. But even in his most self-reflective moments, Taylor fails to recognize an even larger source of distortion.
Collectively, the the Detroit Three have enjoyed precisely one market share turnaround in the last several years: Ford in 2009. This year, Detroit’s market share looks downright stagnant. Chrysler’s got a tiny bump going on, but Ford’s lost its fizz and GM is skidding bottom… at best. On the other hand, if this graph is just too gloomy for you, hit the jump for one of the first glimmers of (market share) hope for Detroit in years.
I understand the economic argument for the off-shoring of production, but I think the practice is reprehensible. U.S. automakers have benefitted greatly from federal largesse and should feel morally compelled to retain and create as many domestic jobs as possible.
As one of the strongest proponents of the Detroit Bailout, Rep John Dingell (D-MI) carries some weight when he makes statements like this. But how can Detroit rise again by ignoring the undeniably strong “economic argument” for outsourcing? In a Bloomberg BusinessWeek feature, Thomas Black shows why production numbers are on the rise in Mexico, and makes the case that the Detroit automakers will only increase their reliance on Mexican production when they are free from government ownership.
To be perfectly honest, I wrote about half a post on GM’s decision to give Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a new Corvette after he was robbed of a perfect game by a bad call, before deciding not to run it. Why? Well, the story is classic Detroit: Galarraga’s victimhood is exactly the image GM would like to associate itself with (remember, everything was going fine before the credit markets collapsed), and The General owed the Tigers anyway because of owner Mike Ilitch’s decision to not charge GM for ad space on the stadium’s fountain when it was in bankruptcy (Ilitch added free Ford and Chrysler ads in the interest of fairness). In short, there was plenty of room for some trademark TTAC cynicism… and yet I couldn’t quite bring myself to twist the knife.
To qualify for Japan’s cash-for-clunker program, new vehicles must meet the 2010 fuel economy standard of 35.5 mpg, making 87 percent of Japanese-made vehicles on sale in their home market eligible for the credit of up to $2,800. In fact, the Japanese program doesn’t even require a clunker (MY 1996 or older) to trade in, although without giving up an inefficient vehicle, the best credit available is a mere $1,132. But the American Automotive Policy Council calls these rules “unfair,” telling the Freep:
We urge the U.S. government to make clear that it cannot tolerate this outright discrimination, particularly at a time when it has provided substantial direct financial support for Japanese automakers in this market
Huh? Is the AAPC talking about America’s cash-for-clunker program, which (like Japan’s) sent Honda and Toyota sales soaring? Or the $1.6b DOE “ATVML” loans that Nissan got, which were dwarfed by the same program’s generosity towards Ford? Or perhaps the $82b+ TARP bailout that… oh wait, that all went to Detroit. Ok, let’s forget about America’s “substantial direct financial support for Japanese automakers” for a second and figure out just how unfair this Japanese program is.
The Freep is reporting that GM’s Renaissance Center headquarters could be at risk if so-called “retention tax credits” aren’t amended. GM is consolidating more of its workforce at its Warren Technology Center, and 1,500 of the RenCen’s 4,000 GM workers are reportedly making the move out of downtown. The remaining 2,500 workers would stay only if a Michigan Economic Growth Authority “retention” tax credit makes it worthwhile. The necessary amendments to this tax credit have been made, but MEGA still has to approve the package. A memo to the Growth Authority reveals the stakes:
2,500 is the maximum that they can also take for this portion of the credit. General Motors has submitted an application stating that the headquarters is at risk without this credit.