“We don’t need jobs,” said Fred Chapman, a 62-year-old toolmaker, when interviewed by Reuters about a new battery factory Ford wants to build near Marshall, Michigan. “I know what lithium is – it’s a very volatile element,” added Glenn Kowalske, a retired engineer who, according to LinkedIn, earned his degree in the 1970s.
Many automakers have dabbled with subscription services in which customers front however many hundreds of dollars a month for the ability to swap into a fresh vehicle so many times per year. Success has been limited, with most OEMs quickly withdrawing their tentative toe from the pool for a myriad of reasons.
Now, Stellantis is jumping into the game. Sort of.
If you’d been hiding under a rock and just started reading the news in the last couple of months, it’d be easy to wonder how Carvana is a thing at all. The company’s troubles seem to grow by the day, though a recent story out of Michigan shows a few bright spots for the online auto retailer.
Michigan has opted to allow digital license plates, making it the third state – after California and Arizona – to give them legal backing. The state’s legislature passed the necessary laws in 2019, making it legal for vehicles registered in Michigan to utilize digital vehicle identification while traveling throughout the rest of the nation. But the company that produces them, Reviver, has only just recently found itself in a position to furnish them.
Michigan residents living near the Stellantis Warren Truck Assembly Plant have been complaining for some time now about a fetid odor emanating from the facility, a stink that seems to have started after the place was outfitted for production of the new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. Investigations pointed fingers at the facility’s paint shop and the state hit Stellantis with an air quality violation.
Now, the company says it has completed the installation of missing ductwork and has done so a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.
Despite being one of the last hero states to not require routine vehicle inspections, Michigan is infamous for boasting the highest auto insurance rates in the whole country. Blame the double-edged sword that is the state’s no-fault insurance scheme, the region’s relatively high number of uninsured motorists, or the general popularity of personal injury lawsuits (an American pastime). Heck, blame the whole insurance industry while you’re at it because it’s the one that managed to become wildly profitable off the concept that you’ll be bankrupted if you don’t pay in.
But don’t blame Michigan’s formerly mandatory unlimited personal injury protection (PIP) requirement that’s been around for decades, because it was done away with in 2019. The previous arrangement required drivers in The Mitten State to purchase unlimited PIP insurance, allotting for those at fault (no-fault insurance schemes be damned) to provide a lifetime of medical benefits to victims. On Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration announced that the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) fund will also be issuing $400 checks to drivers in the spring of 2022 as part of a $5 billion surplus that’s being handed off to insurers.
What’s that smell? According to some residents on Detroit’s east side, it’s the Mack assembly plant. The site of production for Jeep’s new three-row Grand Cherokee L and the recently introduced next-gen, two-row Grand Cherokee is rankling the noses of people who live in the vicinity, with some calling for the state’s enviro cops to hold Stellantis to some measure of accountability.
It’s the latest in a series of escalating actions by residents and their representatives, with a hotline phone number cropping up a couple of weeks ago followed by yesterday’s proposal that included a Stellantis-funded voluntary relocation effort and home repair program.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced a plan to construct the Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit that would allow EV drivers to enjoy a scenic, coastal drive without being distracted by fears of range anxiety. Having recently returned from the Mitten state, I can say that its current charging infrastructure is about what you’d expect. You’re bound to find something in the urban hubs, likely with a little help from navigational apps. But the spaces between aren’t going to be of much help and the situation only worsens as you head north along the Eastern coastline where charging points are particularly sparse.
But it’s Lake Michigan that draws the most tourists in a given year, so Whitmer’s team has elected to plot the stations on the Western side of the state to encourage visitors. As a byproduct, leadership said this will also prove that the region is committed to electrification and serious about supporting the evolving automotive industry.
If you’re of a certain age, you likely remember the all-blue Michigan license plates with white lettering.
I know I do, despite not being a Michigander. That’s in part because the Great Lakes State wasn’t too far from my suburban Chicago abode – day trips to New Buffalo remain a treasured memory – and in part because enough tourists from the Wolverine State found their way to my fair city.
As if we needed more evidence that the people running things may actually be even dumber than we are, Michigan leadership has proposed building a separate lane for autonomous cars to run between Ann Arbor and Detroit. The special road would implement a vehicle-to-infrastructure communications network and is planned to be built alongside Michigan Avenue and I-94 as its own separate lane. Kind of like a bus line or railroad.
Reminiscent of the “ Highway of Tomorrow” that premiered in General Motors’ 1956 Motorama short Design for Dreaming, where a woman dances around the latest automotive products before the whole thing descends into futurist madness, Michigan’s more-modern concept is only slightly less ridiculous. State governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the project on Thursday, noting that it already had support from both the public and private sectors.
That doesn’t mean it will leave the realm of fantasy, however.
Auto plants across the U.S. are a beehive of activity as workers (and their bosses) seek to make up for lost time. The two-month coronavirus shutdown drained inventories, yet the virus that sparked the unprecedented closure of workplaces across the nation hasn’t gone away.
As you read yesterday, the ongoing pressures reportedly forced one Detroit-based automaker to take desperate measures just to keep the taps running. So Detroit Three automakers probably reacted with trepidation after hearing the U.S.’s most car-heavy state isn’t afraid to pump the brakes once again.
Following reports that Rivian might decide to move a large portion of its operations out of Michigan, news has reached us that it’s all but abandoning the Mitten State for sunny California.
Starting its life as Avera Motors in Florida back in 2009, the EV startup moved to Plymouth, Michigan in 2015 to poach talent from the Big Three and lay down some roots. However, the company doesn’t appear to have wormed its way into the soil all that deeply. It now plans to move a sizable portion of its operations to Irvine, California, with some employees heading to its plant in Normal, Illinois, to prepare for production.
This has got to be a slap in the face for some Michigan residents, since many were instrumental in the development of Rivian’s first models. The business fired a gaggle of people at its engineering and design center near Detroit at the start of June, only to slot in a couple of high-paid executives. Now it’s starting to look like it may pull up stakes and skip town.
Michigan auto dealers will be allowed to resume in-person sales on Tuesday, according to the latest in a long list of executive orders signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The state, which harbors the fourth-highest coronavirus death toll in the country (following New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts), has enacted some of the strictest countermeasures in the country.
This has created no shortage of pressure to both reopen Michigan so life/business can return to normal and maintain closures to avoid further contagion risks. Obviously, that’s proven difficult to do. All steps taken towards reopening come with conditions, including those established for Michigan’s dealerships.
But first, some backstory.
Multiple dam failures brought on by prolonged and intense rain in central Michigan saw a record surge of water sent down the Tittabawassee River last night. Following the breach of the Edenville and Sanford dams, water levels peaked at 35 feet in downstream Midland, MI, breaking the previous record by more than a foot.
In the affected area, the dam failures left uprooted trees and lives, unmoored buildings, a lake drained nearly dry, and a catastrophe of the automotive kind.
Until January, any Michigan resident hoping to take home a Tesla had to first leave the state. That all changed following an agreement between the state and the automaker, which sued Michigan back in 2016 to protest its protectionist law against direct sales.
Now, the closest thing you’ll find to a true Tesla dealer has appeared outside Detroit.
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- ToolGuy Here is an interesting graphic, if you're into that sort of thing.
- ToolGuy Nice website you got there (even the glitches have glitches)
- Namesakeone Actually, per the IIHS ratings, "Acceptable" is second best, not second worst. The ratings are "Good," "Acceptable," "Marginal" and "Poor."
- Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
- Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.