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The Leonard Lopate Show

FDR, Detroit, and Arming America During World War II

Monday, June 23, 2014

In 1941 President Roosevelt realized we needed weaponry to fight the Nazis—most important, airplanes—so he turned to Detroit and the auto industry for help. The Ford Motor Company went from making automobiles to producing the airplanes, which made all the difference between winning and losing the war. A. J. Baim discusses how they did it. His book The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm and America at Warcenters on Henry Ford and his tortured son Edsel, who, when asked if they could deliver 50,000 airplanes, made an outrageous claim: Ford Motor Company would build a plant that could make a “bomber an hour.”  

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The Takeaway

The Future of the Mustang & the Auto Industry

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fifty years ago this week Ford Motor Company unveiled the Mustang. Ford is remembering that day in the company's history amid the changing future of the American auto industry.

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The Takeaway

The Myth of the 8-Hour Workday

Monday, January 06, 2014

A hundred years ago, the Ford Motor Company instituted an eight-hour workday, but in today's world of globalization, smartphones and increasing competition, working only eight hours seems like a dream come true.

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The New Yorker: Fiction

Richard Ford reads Harold Brodkey

Friday, May 03, 2013

Richard Ford reads "The State of Grace," by Harold Brodkey.

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The Takeaway

In Praise of The Edsel

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

In the annals of disappointments, Ford's Edsel holds a special place. The Edsel, once the name of the heir to the Ford Empire, eventually became the word for dud. The man who designed the Edsel, Roy Brown Jr., died last week at 96.

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Transportation Nation

While Detroit Gains Ground, Japanese Automakers Stumble in China

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

A Toyota dealership in Qingdao was burned by protestors in a dispute over an island chain claimed by both China and Japan.

(Paul Eisenstein - The Detroit Bureau) General Motors and Ford Motor Co. have ended 2012 with all-time sales records in China — but the news is nowhere near as good for Japanese makers.

Stung by a dispute between China and Japan over a chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, Toyota, Nissan and Honda have all suffered a sharp decline in sales in what has become the world’s largest automotive market.

While General Motors has yet to release its final figures for 2012, the maker already passed its previous peak by the end of November, the 2.59 million vehicles it sold for all of 2011. GM has set a goal of boosting sales in China to 5 million by mid-decade.

[Related story: GM Sets Another New Sales Record in China – And it’s Not Alone.]

Ford, meanwhile, has confirmed its sales in China rose 21% last year, to 626,616, also an all-time high. The maker was a relative latecomer to the Chinese market but has been aggressively expanding both its product portfolio and production capacity over the last several years.

“Record 2012 sales highlight the positive response our customers have for our full portfolio of high-quality, safe, fuel-efficient and smart vehicles,” John Lawler, chairman and CEO of Ford Motor China, said in a statement. “Their enthusiasm for Ford cars validates our aggressive plan to introduce 15 new vehicles, double production capacity and double our China dealership network — all by 2015.”

Chrysler has also been pushing into record territory, though its volumes have been much smaller than its cross-town rivals. That’s ironic because Chrysler was the first Western maker to build vehicles in China, or more precisely through its Jeep subsidiary. But its original operation was assumed by former partner Mercedes-Benz following the break-up of the ill-fated DaimlerChrysler AG.

[Related story: Chinese Reportedly Eyeing Stake in Daimler AG]

Under new partner Fiat SpA, Chrysler is again making an aggressive push to expand in China.

Japanese makers were also slow to enter the Chinese market, in part to long-standing enmity between the two nations dating back to Japan’s brutal occupation of its neighbor during World War II. That simmering disdain came back to a boil when the Japanese government decided to buy what it calls the Senkoku Island chain last September.

That set off rioting in China, the bigger nation also laying claim to what it calls the Daioyu Islands. A number of Japanese-owned vehicles were destroyed and a Toyota dealership was even torched in what many observers believe were government-tolerated, if not sanctioned, riots.

Japanese industry executives had previously telegraphed the likelihood of declining sales in China which, they also cautioned, would hurt their earnings for the rest of the 2012 fiscal year – which closes on March 31, 2013.

Nissan took the biggest hit, sales declining 5.3% for calendar-year 2012, to 1.2 million vehicles. Nissan has been the most aggressive of the Japanese makers operating in China, among other things setting up the new Venucia brand with its partner there, Donfeng Motors.

Toyota suffered a 4.9% drop in volume last year, to 840,000. Honda’s China sales slipped 3.1%, to 599,000. Prior to the dispute over the Senkoku/Daioyu Islands, Toyota had expected to see a 10% jump in sales in China, reaching 1 million for the first time.

The market for Japanese products has begun to improve, Toyota China spokesman Niu Yu telling the Wall Street Journal, “Sales are getting better day by day, but it’s still hard to say when we can get back to the pre-protest level,” said.

But it’s unclear how quickly there will be a full recovery. Nissan, for example, suffered a 41% drop in demand in October, shortly after the dispute began, but sales were still off 24%, year-over-year, in December.

Follow The Detroit Bureau on Twitter.

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Transportation Nation

Big Three Automakers Post Double-Digit Sales Gains

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Ford Focus Electric (CC) by Flickr user Kevin Krejci

The recovery has been very good to the U.S. auto industry.

General Motors said Tuesday its August sales were double the company's expectations and are up 10 percent over 2011 numbers. Ford reports its numbers were up 13 percent. And Chrysler had its best August in five years, posting gains of 14 percent.

These numbers come at a fortuitous time for President Obama, who is making the $85 billion bailout of the auto industry a key talking point of his re-election campaign. Speaking Monday at a United Auto Workers rally in Ohio, Obama told the crowd: "If we had turned our backs on you, if we had thrown in the towel like that, GM and Chrysler wouldn’t exist today."

Read more about auto sales at NPR.


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Transportation Nation

More Car Ads For the Apocalypse

Monday, February 06, 2012

It was, presumably, meant to be humorous -- a Chevy can survive anything, even the apocalypse. Or so the message of last night's Super Bowl ad for Chevy Silverados implied. As a driver passes destroyed highways, a burning Bob's Big Boy, and arrives at a plaza in front of what looks like three bombed-out banks, the soundtrack thrums "looks like we made it." Twinkees apparently also made it. Women did not, bad news for repopulation prospects.

But given the fact that this isn't the first car ad to assure owners they can survive crumbling infrastructure, maybe its part of a darker message: the world may be falling apart (or blowing up), but you can protect yourself by buying the right car.

The other ad, for Audi, profiled here, exhorts users to buy an Audi, because "highway maintenance is underfunded, costing drivers $65 billion a year, and countless tires, which drivers never actually check, because they’re busy, checking email. This is why we engineered a car that makes 2,000 decisions every second."

By the way, it appears Ford is challenging the Chevy apocalypse ad's claim, Ad Age is reporting. "We don't agree with some of GM's claims in their ad, particularly around durability," Ford's Mark Levine told the publication.

Not sure how you verify that your car can survive an apocalypse.

 

 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Senate Transpo Bill Moving Forward, Ron Paul Challenges Rivals To 25-Mile Bike Ride, Hoboken Eyes Bike Share

Friday, January 27, 2012

Top stories on TN: a Chinatown bus company that ignored a shut down order in December now has a restraining order to prevent it from operating. A new Chevy Volt ad conveys the message 'it's morning in Hamtramck.' And a senator is introducing a bill that would require a new health study of x-ray body scanner machines used in airports.

Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ (photo by incendiarymind via flickr)

Ray LaHood's gloomy prognosis for a long-term surface transportation bill has set off a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill...(Washington Post)

...and improved his outlook, at least for the Senate bill. (Politico)

Question to Ron Paul in Thursday's Florida Republican presidential debate: Are you fit enough to be president?  Answer: "I'm willing to challenge any of these gentlemen up here to a 25-mile bike ride any time of the day in the heat of Texas."  (Video; YouTube)

New York State legislators are frustrated by the State DOT's lack of information on funding major infrastructure projects. (Poughkeepsie Journal)

...which worries some: just where is this $15 billion going to come from? (AP via Wall Street Journal)

Hoboken and Jersey City may collaborate on a bike share system. (Jersey Journal)

California is preparing to force auto manufacturers to slash smog-producing tailpipe pollution by three-fourths, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that more than one out of seven cars sold can run on electricity within the next 13 years. (Bay Citizen)

If the United States wants to continue to be the major player in the global economy, it needs an efficient, robust aviation system. (Marketplace)

Concerns over transportation continue to plague the London Olympics, which are just six months away. (Washington Post)

When it comes to buying cars, women do their homework -- and they generally get better deals than men. (NPR)

NY MTA head: subway stations need more entrances. (New York Daily News)

Ford Motor Co. reported $20.2 billion in net income for 2011 Friday — its best year since 199. (Detroit News)

What's so bad about a little public (sticker) shame -- especially if it helps deter illegal parking? (New York Times)

The Texas Transportation Commission approved raising the speed limit to 75 mph on about 1,500 miles of interstate highways in the state. (American Statesman, KUHF)

Alaska Airlines has ended its 30-year practice of giving passengers prayer cards with their meals. (USA Travel)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Texting While Driving Up 50%, House To Hold Hearing on CA Bullet Trains

Monday, December 12, 2011

Top stories on TN:

What Cuomo's tax bill says about transit. (Link)
And: Cuomo says he'll include transit in his infrastructure fund. (Link)
Bloomberg is still optimistic that the governor will sign the taxi bill. (Link)

Waiting for a bus in L.A. (photo by Laurie Avocado via Flickr)

A federal audit says Los Angeles's transit agency failed to fully research its impacts on riders and communities, especially when eliminating bus lines, adding service or changing fares. (Los Angeles Times)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing this week on California's high-speed rail project this week. (Link)

The pre-tax commuter benefit rewards drivers more than transit riders. (New York Times)

And: if Congress doesn't act before the end of the year, the benefit expires. (Washington Post)

New Jersey's Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program has become popular that it may be expanding to other types of communities -- diluting the original intent of the program. (NJ Spotlight)

Texting by drivers is up 50%, even as states pass laws against it. And what’s more, many drivers don’t think it’s dangerous when they do it — only when others do. (AP via Washington Post)

Ford kills a line of small pickup trucks, says demand is for full-size. (Marketplace)

The new Apple store at Grand Central Terminal is a good deal for New York's transit agency. (NY Daily News)

Deaths on Caltrain tracks are increasing--horrifying train engineers, who are the last people to see the victims alive. (Bay Citizen)

More on Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor problem. (New York Times)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Vermont Swiftly Repaired Irene-Damaged Roads; LaHood To Testify About High-Speed Rail Today

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Top stories on TN:

FAA Chief Randy Babbitt is on a leave of absence after being arrested for drunk driving Saturday night. (Link)
The White House declined to call for Babbitt's resignation. (Link)
MIT developed an algorithm to predict which vehicles will run a red light. (Link)

Repairing a post-Hurricane Irene Route 106 in Weathersfield, Vermont (photo courtesy of the Vermont Agency of Transportation)

Vermont’s success in swiftly repairing roads damaged by Hurricane Irene "is a story of bold action and high-tech innovation." (New York Times)

NYC DOT head Janette Sadik-Khan -- "the high priestess of people-friendly cities" -- went on Rock Center with Brian Williams to talk about street redesign. (NBC)

U.S. DOT head Ray LaHood will be on the hill today to testify about the nation's high-speed rail program. (The Hill)

California's high-speed rail program is starting to look iffy. (KALW)

Deepwater Horizon update: BP accused Halliburton of destroying evidence about possible problems with the cement slurry that went into drilling the oil well. (AP via NPR)

A California law going into effect next year puts a statewide cap on the amount of greenhouse gases coming out of smokestacks and tailpipes. (NPR)

NY's MTA is installing more cameras and driver partitions on hundreds of city buses. (New York Post)

England has tabled a decision on whether to begin work on HS2 -- the high-speed rail project running from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds -- until next year. (The Guardian)

Men over 45 are more likely to crash their cars on snowy, icy roads. “There may be a sense of invulnerability with four-wheel drive trucks leading the drivers to not slow down as much as they should," says a researcher who conducted the study. (Chicago Tribune via Inforum)

Sales of GM and Ford cars are on the rise in China. (Marketplace)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Blasting on Second Avenue Subway Temporarily Halted, Ford and GM Resume Rivalry, More on Tappan Zee Funding Plans

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Watch a video short about a desk toy who uses Google Street View to take a virtual road trip. (Link)

Houston's red light camera squabble has yet to be resolved. (Link)

Drag racers and drug smugglers drive Houston's car thefts. (Link)

Welding work on the 2nd Avenue Subway (photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Blasting on the Second Avenue Subway project was temporarily halted after complaints about smoke and dust from nearby residents. (New York Times, New York Daily News)

More on paying for the Tappan Zee Bridge project: Governor Cuomo is looking for alternative financing (Bloomberg) -- but says talk of leveraging pension funds for infrastructure is "premature." (Poughkeepsie Journal)

Two California representatives want federal help with a struggling airport. (Los Angeles Times)

NPR finishes up its series on fuel economy with a look at making gasoline-powered engines more efficient. (NPR)

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey received a negative credit rating outlook. (The Record)

Florida's rejected high-speed rail funding is now California's gain. (Politico)

Ford and GM have a bitter rivalry that sometimes devolves into name calling. (Wall Street Journal)

If you see a NYPD officer rappelling down the Roosevelt Island Tram, don't be alarmed -- it's only an exercise. (NY1)

And: a map of every U.S. road accident victim between 2001 - 2009 (Guardian)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Car, Truck Sales Up; Perry Dogged by Trans-Texas Corridor

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Transit ridership is up in 2011. (Link)

FAA workers will get back pay for this summer's shutdown. (Link)

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Following Transportation Nation story, Politico says, yeah, Rick Perry's campaign could be sidetracked by the Trans-Texas Corridor. (Politico).

Car sales soared for GM and Chrysler...(Los Angeles Times)

...and Hyundai's benefiting from an ad campaign that plays into people's worries about the economy. (NPR)

AND sales of trucks and SUVs are up. (AP via Boston.com)

Meanwhile: Ford, UAW reach tentative agreement. (Detroit Free Press)

Some Chinese are questioning whether infrastructure growth is worth a tradeoff for safety. (Marketplace)

NY's MTA said it will increase service on the L train after one politician said it has not kept pace with the line’s “meteoric” increase in ridership. (DNA Info)

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel held an 'aviation summit.' (Chicago Sun Times)

Chicago bicyclists can now be ticketed for biking while texting or talking on cell phones. (Chicago Sun Times)

Lobbyists for the Trans-Canada pipeline and staffers from the State Department appeared to have a cozy email relationship. (NY Times)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Ford Denies White House Pressure To Pull Ad, and Shanghai Subway Collision Renews Doubts

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Top stories on TN:

A deputy DOT commissioner said no American manufacturers produce a type of rail used in streetcars and light rail -- and he wants that to change. (Link)

At some point, Rick Perry will be asked to defend his Trans-Texas Corridor infrastructure project. (Link)

Opponents of a bike lane in Brooklyn asked a judge for permission to appeal the rejection of their lawsuit. (Link)

(Photo by Kate Hinds)

Yesterday's subway collision in Shanghai has revived safety concerns about China's infrastructure boom. (Los Angeles Times)

The Brian Lehrer Show talks NYC subway station cell phone service this morning. (WNYC)

The government is delaying the release of new mileage and greenhouse gas emissions standards. (The Hill)

Ford denies that the White House pressured the automaker to pull an ad in which an actor, posing as a customer, tells a staged news conference that he would never buy a vehicle from a company that received a government bailout. (Detroit Free Press)

OnStar reverses gears, backs away from its earlier decision to track former customers. (Marketplace)

Transportation construction lobbyists are in favor of Obama's jobs bill. (Politico)

The Times Square pedestrian plaza redesign, unveiled.  (NY Times, DNA Info, NY Post)

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The Takeaway

Auto Contract Negotiations Begin

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Contract negotiations between Chrysler and the United Auto Workers Union kicked off on Monday, as the industry fights to stay competitive with foreign automakers. Fellow "Big Three" companies General Motors and Ford will also begin negotiations with the UAW later this week. Will the parties involved be able to reconcile their demands and reach a suitable agreement before contracts expire in mid-September? Paul Eisenstein, publisher of The Detroit Bureau, has been following the negotiations.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Floodwaters Threaten Refineries, NYC Cabbies Extradited Over Fare Scheme, and DC Will Pay You To Live Near Work

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mississippi floodwaters are heading south to Louisiana -- home to more than 10% of the nation's oil refining capacity. (Marketplace)

NYC has extradited (from Kansas City and Miami) two former taxi drivers accused of intentionally overcharging passengers by illegally setting their meters to an out-of-town rate. (WNYC)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiles Todd Long, the state’s powerful director of planning for transportation. AJC describes him as "an unelected bureaucrat (who) is the initial gatekeeper for the $8 billion referendum that many say will shape metro Atlanta’s future for decades to come."

NJ Transit unveils its first locomotive powered by an engine that can operate on both diesel and electric lines. (NJ Record)

Want to live near your office? Washington, D.C.'s Office of Planning is launching a pilot program to incentivize it. (Good)

The White House says "tough love" saved General Motors (The Hill). Meanwhile, the Big Three are hiring (Detroit Free Press) -- but Toyota's profit slipped 77% (NY Times).

Breaking: Ray LaHood doesn't know the meaning of the word 'hipster.' (The Atlantic )

Cruiser culture in Boise: "They have a blue house, they want a blue bike," says a bike shop owner. (Boise Weekly)

More on New York City's "Don't Be A Jerk" bike behavior campaign in the Wall Street Journal, the NY Post, and Streetsblog.

The NY Post says NYC's bike share program plan will "visit perpetual terror" on New Yorkers.

And bikers: is your morning commute less bumpy? One Brooklyn Bridge rider says it's smooth sailing.

From WNYC's Amy Pearl: "Nothing beats the feel of freshly laid blacktop against my bike tires. It looks like they finally repaved the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge!"

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

--get ready for dueling petro-bills in Congress (link)

--NYC to cyclists: don't be jerks (link)

--Chicago's mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel releases transpo report (link)

--Texas wins $15 million for high-speed rail study (link)

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Transportation Nation

Nissan Picked As NYC's "Taxi of Tomorrow"

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Nissan's design for NYC's Taxi of Tomorrow

WNYC's Kathleen Horan is reporting the Taxi of Tomorrow will be Nissan -- and already there are calls for an investigation of a conflict of interest in the contract-letting. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and Assembly member Micah Kellner are calling for an investigation -- their letter to NYC Comptroller John Liu is after the jump.  Karsan -- one of the losing entrants (the other was Ford) had promised, if selected, to build its taxis in Brooklyn.  It had one of the most intriguing designs (moon roof, sleek lines), but city officials had expressed concerns about the Turkish company's ability to fulfill the contract.

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WNYC News

Mayor Set to Unveil New Taxi of Tomorrow Design

Monday, May 02, 2011

WNYC

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is set to reveal the automaker that won the Taxi of Tomorrow design competition — and that will be responsible for creating a taxi model that will serve the city for the next decade as the 16 models currently in use are phased out.

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WNYC News

Financial 411: Oil Prices Rise, Obama's Approval Rating Falls

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Housing Prices Still Falling

News that housing prices in most large American cities fell for a seventh straight month has analysts worried about the effect on other sectors of the housing industry.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Gas Prices Spur Increase In Driving on Empty, China's HSR System Under Scrutiny, And Will NYkers Hail a Yellow Mercedes?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ford had its most profitable quarter in 13 years. (Detroit Free Press)

AAA says the rise in gas prices has led to a rise in people running out of fuel on the roads. (KHOU)

The Crow Reservation in Montana has launched a transit program. (Billings Gazette)

George Michael song or vehicle name? Sweden is testing the "Arctic Whisper," which is "the world’s first fast-charging serial hybrid bus." (Autopia)

China's high-speed rail system is under scrutiny amid concerns that builders ignored safety in order to build ever-faster trains. (Washington Post)

Marketplace launched an "Oil Through the Ages" map.

NYC's Taxi and Limousine commission has approved a Mercedes for use as a yellow cab. (NY Daily News)

If you see a scary video, share a scary video: NY's MTA launched a Department of Homeland Security-funded ad campaign (video below).

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- Illinois will now track "dooring" collisions. (Link)

-- Will transportation apps revolutionize transit? (Link)

-- The Taxi of Tomorrow might be built in Brooklyn. (Link)

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