Chrysler’s First Quarter Results Keep It On Track

Three years ago this month, Chrysler was about to enter a federally managed bankruptcythat saved it from liquidation.

Chrysler logo/photo by Ricardo Giaviti via Flickr

Today, Chrysler, which is based in Auburn Hills, Mich., said it earned $473 million in the first quarter, its best results since the SUV-profit fueled first quarter of 1998, and almost four times what it earned in the same period last year. Chrysler’s revenue in the quarter was $16.4 billion, up 25 percent from a year ago.

The Chrysler earnings keep it on track to reach its goal of earning $1.5 billion for 2012, and $25 billion in revenue. The results are the best since Chrysler began reporting quarterly profits again after its bailout.

The strong results mean that Chrysler’s 26,000 U.S. hourly workers will get bonuses of $1,750 each for 2011.

Read more about Chrysler’s results in The New York Times.

Is Detroit’s Comeback Over? Carmakers Lose Market Share Gains

Last year, everyone in the auto industry was chuffed about Detroit’s comeback.

American Landscape, by Sheeler

The carmakers were enjoying a healthy rebound from the bankruptcies at General Motors and Chrysler. And for a while, at least, Chrysler outsold Toyota to make the Detroit Three the Big Three again.

But this year, Detroit’s market share has been slipping, and that has ramifications all across the Midwest.

In fact, the auto companies have fallen back to the market share level they held in 2009, as GM and Chrysler were struggling. In a piece for, I look at what happened to the Detroit companies during the first quarter.

Basically, there are three issues:  Continue reading “Is Detroit’s Comeback Over? Carmakers Lose Market Share Gains”

Hey, Consumers: You’re Paying Record Prices For Many Cars And Trucks

The auto industry reported strong sales in March, and for some auto companies, the news was even better.

Buyers at General Motors, Chrysler, Nissan and Hyundai paid record amounts for new vehicles during May, according to True, which tracks statistics about buying habits.

True Car bases its calculations on transaction prices: the final amount people pay, after incentives, bargaining and trade-ins. The numbers include the whole range of vehicles that the companies sell, such as  cars, sport utilities, pickups, and minivans.

Transaction prices are way up since the beginning of 2010. Take a look at this chart by Meg Cramer of Changing Gears, which shows the industry average and what consumers at major carmakers are paying.

Continue reading “Hey, Consumers: You’re Paying Record Prices For Many Cars And Trucks”

The Auto Bailout Gets The Spotlight As Republicans, Democrats Spar

About midway through Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate in Mesa, Arizona, moderator John King of CNN turned to a topic that’s front and center in the Michigan primary: the auto bailout.

It momentarily turned into a free for all between Michigan’s native son, Mitt Romney, and Pennsylvania’s former U.S. senator, Rick Santorum, over what kind of help the federal government should have given the auto companies. You can read and see CNN’s coverage here.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama’s campaign jumped into the fray with a new television ad that began airing in Michigan, which holds its primary next Tuesday.

The ad, called Made in America, contends Republicans turned their back on the industry in 2008 and 2009, when the automakers went to Washington for federal assistance. Continue reading “The Auto Bailout Gets The Spotlight As Republicans, Democrats Spar”

Midwest Memo: The Profit-Sharing Effect, Sears Layoffs And Chrysler Turns Down A Loan

Profit sharing bump GM reported a record profit yesterday, which means UAW members at GM will get a record profit-sharing bonus. Bloomberg News says union workers at all three Detroit carmakers are eligible for bonuses this year, and that could give the Midwest economy a lift.

Hospital expansion The leader of Henry Ford Health Systems in Detroit is considering a $175 million expansion to its resort-like hospital in the suburb of West Bloomfield.

Nice way to repay Sears laid off 100 employees in its Chicago headquarters this week. It’s been two months since the state approved a $150 million tax incentive to keep the company in Illinois.

Unseasonably warm “Nice” weather isn’t helping Midwest winter tourism businesses.

Brain boom Wright State University plans a $37 million neuroscience research hub.

Cleaning up An environmental advocacy group says Ohio making progress on clean energy, but it has some harsh words for one of the state’s utility companies.

Medicuts The New York Times has a look at how proposed cuts to Medicaid will hurt Illinois

Bowing out Chrysler says it will no longer seek a loan from the federal government to develop hybrid vehicles.

Young and successful The South Bend Tribune sits down with a 29-year-old developer who’s working to revitalize the city.

3 Things To Know About Mitt Romney’s Latest Op-Ed

Yesterday, we told you that Michigan’s native son, Mitt Romney, has fallen behind former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in two pre-primary polls. Now, Romney is firing back in the Detroit News. not at his rival, but at union leaders and Obama administration officials.

Romney touches on many themes about the 2009 auto industry bailout. You can read the entire op-ed here. We picked out three things and provide some context.

1) The UAW. Instead of standing up to union officials, Romney says President Obama “rewarded them” with stakes in General Motors and Chrysler.

The stakes he refers to are held by the health care trust fund that administers benefits for UAW members. But the UAW did not get the terms it wanted. The union originally sought a greater share of GM, only to accept a counter offer from the Treasury Department.

Meanwhile, the Treasury also owns about 33 percent of GM, out of an original 61 percent stake. Continue reading “3 Things To Know About Mitt Romney’s Latest Op-Ed”

What Do We Mean When We Talk About Detroit?

Last night during the Super Bowl, Chrysler ran a follow-up to its much buzzed-about commercial from last year’s big game. The new commercial, dubbed “It’s Halftime in America” ran, appropriately enough, during halftime.

The ad makes it clear that Chrysler is sticking with its strategy to promote the Motor City as a way to promote its vehicles.

After declaring that “it’s halftime in America, the ad’s narrator, Clint Eastwood, says:

People are out of work and they’re hurting. And they’re all wondering what they’re going to do to make a comeback. And we’re all scared because this isn’t a game. The people of Detroit know a little something about this. They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together. Now, Motor City is fighting again.

The ad got us thinking: When people say Detroit, oftentimes what they mean is “the auto industry” or “metro-Detroit.” So, what exactly are we talking about when we talk about Detroit?

Continue reading “What Do We Mean When We Talk About Detroit?”

Chrysler’s Belvidere, the Timex of Assembly Plants

Call it the Timex of assembly plants. Chrysler’s Belvidere, Ill, factory takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Dodge Dart at the Detroit Auto Show

On Thursday, the carmaker said it will add 1,800 jobs at Belvidere, in northwestern Illinois, not far from the Quad Cities area. Some of the workers will make the new Dodge Dart, a revival of the 1970s nameplate, which Chrysler unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show. Others will produce the Jeep Liberty and Compass.

For Belvidere, and surrounding Boone County, the jobs are welcome. The area, where one in five people work in manufacturing, had a 14.4 percent unemployment rate in December, far higher than the national average. Continue reading “Chrysler’s Belvidere, the Timex of Assembly Plants”

Midwest Memo: Indiana Votes On Right To Work, Chrysler Profits, Detroit Has A (Tentative) Deal

Right to Work, right away Indiana is expected to be the first state in the industrial Midwest to become a Right to Work state. And it could happen as soon as today. Right to Work rules prohibit companies from negotiating contracts with their unions that make union membership mandatory. Instead, workers will have a choice whether to join the union. Business leaders say the changes will make Indiana more competitive. Union leaders say the changes will let some workers benefit from union bargaining without having to pay to support the union. They say it will ultimately weaken the union.

Pentastar profits Chrysler had its first profitable year since 1997.

Start up money A group of 44 Chicago business leaders are starting a new tech investment fund. Meanwhile, the state of Michigan is thinking of launching its own start-up fund.

Honda invests Honda is expected to announce new investments in two Ohio plants today.

A deal in Detroit The Detroit Free Press reports the city has reached agreements with its unions that could keep the city solvent, and avoid a state takeover.

Midwest Memo: The PR Problem For Manufacturing, New Jobs At Chrysler And A Deadline In Detroit

Who wants to work in a factory? The Cleveland Plain Dealer has an excellent story about what local manufacturers are doing to find new talent. Business-owners say they can’t find enough skilled young people to fill open positions. So they’ve launched a PR push to change the perception of factory work.

1,600 Jobs in Illinois Chrysler is expected to make a big jobs announcement this week in Illinois.The Chicago Tribune, quoting Dow Jones Newswires, says CEO Sergio Marchionne will announce 1,600 new job openings at Chrysler’s Belvidere assembly plant on Thursday. The story says Chrysler also plans to hire new workers at plants in Detroit and Toledo.

Deadline in Detroit Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he wants to see new concessions by the city’s unions approved by tomorrow. The city is trying to fill a nearly $200 million dollar deficit and avoid being taken over by a state-appointed emergency financial manager.

Sharing is caring Partner station WBEZ reports on a new website that seeks to create a sharing economy.