Correspondent, Detroit
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Apr 1, 2015

Ford exec indicates desire for level playing field on labor costs

DETROIT, April 1 (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co’s Americas
chief indicated on Wednesday that the No. 2 U.S. automaker will
be looking to bring its labor costs in line with those of its
smaller rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles when
it opens talks this summer with the union representing its
hourly workers.

Joe Hinrichs, speaking at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch
conference, said the subject of entry-level workers, who are
paid less than their veteran co-workers, will be a subject of
talks with the United Auto Workers. Ford, Fiat Chrysler and
General Motors Co will negotiate new deals to replace
ones expiring in mid-September.

Apr 1, 2015

Porsche blames driver in crash that killed actor Paul Walker

DETROIT (Reuters) – The driver was to blame in the fiery crash of a Porsche sports car that killed actor Paul Walker in California in 2013, not design defects with the car, attorneys for the German automaker said this week.

Walker was a passenger in a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT driven by Roger Rodas, who lost control of the vehicle before it careened into trees and a utility pole in Santa Clarita, northwest of Los Angeles, killing both men.

Apr 1, 2015

GM to earn $350 million over three years from 4G technology in cars-CFO

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) will generate $350 million in improved profit over the three years to 2018 from its rollout of 4G LTE mobile broadband in its cars and trucks, the No. 1 U.S. automaker’s chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

Chuck Stevens, speaking at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference, called GM’s OnStar 4G LTE connection an “untapped, under-appreciated opportunity.”

Mar 26, 2015

Exclusive: New Chevy Malibu’s task – meet GM’s aggressive sales goals

DETROIT (Reuters) – The Chevrolet Malibu has been a symbol of General Motors Co’s (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) competitive woes for nearly 20 years due to designs that critics often lambasted as boring. Now, the No. 1 U.S. automaker is telling suppliers a redesigned version of the midsize sedan will deliver a long-awaited sales jolt.

GM executives have told suppliers to prepare for sales in North America of 250,000 new Malibus a year, 25 percent above last year’s levels, and have the ability to go as high as 300,000 cars a year, according to three supplier sources familiar with the plans.

Mar 26, 2015

Fed officials say rate hike plan intact despite weak U.S. data

DETROIT (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve should remain on track to raise interest rates later this year despite the U.S. economy’s weak start to the year and a stock market sell-off this week, two Fed officials said on Thursday.

In separate events in Frankfurt and Detroit, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said U.S. monetary policy might need to be adjusted in light of the economy’s steady improvement since the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

Mar 23, 2015

GM to make next generation Chevrolet Cruze in Mexico

MEXICO CITY/DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) will build its next-generation Chevrolet Cruze small car in Mexico, the company said on Monday, as automakers look to expand there to take advantage of low labor costs and free trade agreements. GM will invest $350 million to produce the Cruze at its plant in Coahuila, as part of the $5 billion investment in its Mexican plants announced last year.

GM also said it will continue manufacturing the model at its factory in Lordstown, Ohio. GM so far has identified only three plants globally that will make the next-generation Cruze, including in China.

Mar 11, 2015

Exclusive: GM capital plan may delay credit rating upgrade

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co’s (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) decision this week to give back up to $10 billion to shareholders over the next two years will likely delay one of its important goals: achieving a top-tier credit rating that would benefit its growing auto finance unit.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker has been building its GM Financial unit through acquisitions and more aggressive marketing to dealers. Automakers use in-house lenders to offer discounted financing on new cars and trucks for consumers and dealers. Reaching a single A credit rating would give GM greater flexibility to fund GM Financial at lower cost.

Mar 11, 2015

Hyundai Motor plans to boost U.S. capacity as SUV sales rise: sources

DETROIT/SEOUL (Reuters) – Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) plans to expand its U.S. factory, three people familiar with the matter said, hoping to ramp up production of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) as lower oil prices boost demand for gas-guzzling trucks.

Sales of the South Korean automaker’s sedans like the Elantra and Sonata are slowing in the United States as consumers take advantage of lower fuel prices to switch to bigger, less fuel-efficient SUVs.

Mar 10, 2015

Apple seeks to dismiss lawsuit filed by electric battery maker

By Dan Levine and Ben Klayman

(Reuters) – Apple Inc asked a U.S. court on Tuesday
to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed by battery maker A123 systems
over engineers hired by Apple, saying A123’s claims were too
speculative to proceed, according to a court filing.

Apple is exploring how to make an electric car and has been
hiring engineers with deep expertise in automobile systems.
Around June 2014 Apple began aggressively poaching A123
engineers tasked with leading some of the company’s most
critical projects, A123’s lawsuit said.

Mar 5, 2015

Two GM workers sue carmaker for not allowing unpaid religious days

DETROIT (Reuters) – Two General Motors Co workers at its Arlington, Texas, assembly plant have sued the No. 1 U.S. automaker and are seeking class-action status, claiming the company violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by denying them unpaid religious days off.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Forth Worth, Texas, charged the company with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act “by denying a reasonable religious accommodation” to James Robinson III, a Seventh-day Sabbatarian, and Chris Scruggs, a Messianic Jew, who had previously taken off religious holidays without pay.

    • About Ben

      "Ben Klayman is based in Detroit and in April was named leader of the global automotive team for Reuters. Previously, Ben covered the business of sports as well as consumer and retail for three years and led the manufacturing/housing team for four years. He also covered the telecommunications sector for three years. He joined Reuters in Detroit in 1998 to cover autos. Prior to joining Reuters, he worked at a series of daily newspapers in Ohio and Maryland. Ben graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1989 with a bachelor's degree in English literature."
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