Michigan Radio: Tracy Samilton

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.

Tracy graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature. Before beginning her journalism career, she spent time working as a legal assistant at various firms in the Ann Arbor area.

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Sports
11:16 am
Sat September 27, 2014

After 7 Years, Finally, A Football Field Of Their Own

In Detroit, members of the Cody High School Comets start the football season on their own field.
Tracy Samilton Michigan Radio

The virgin Astroturf is springy underfoot, and the neon yellow goal posts stretch up into the blue September sky. The Comets should be playing well.

They're not.

After seven years of away-games, the football team at Cody High School in Detroit has their own field. The facility at Cody was in such terrible shape that they couldn't play there.

That changed Friday night. Unfortunately, the Comets homecoming did not start well.

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Around the Nation
4:52 pm
Sun August 3, 2014

Amid Lake Erie's Algal Bloom, Toledo's Water Woes Continue

Copyright 2014 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit http://michiganradio.org/.

Transcript

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

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Business
3:16 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Recall Woes Push Along GM's Cultural Reinvention

General Motors has yet to explain why it took 10 years to recall a faulty ignition switch. Some blame the culture. GM says it's working on that.
Uli Deck DPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 5:17 pm

General Motors has announced a big hit to first-quarter earnings, largely due to costs for recalls. Profits dropped nearly 90 percent from last year, with the company making a razor-thin profit of $100 million, GM said Thursday.

Meanwhile, GM has yet to explain why it took 10 years to issue one of the recalls for a defective ignition switch. Some critics believe the automaker's dysfunctional culture is to blame.

But the recall crisis could speed up a culture shift that's already underway. 

Customer-Focused

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Politics
2:20 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

After Nearly Six Decades In Office, Dingell Decides Not To Run

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 6:02 pm

John Dingell of Michigan, the longest-serving congressman in U.S. history, announced he won't run in 2014. As Tracy Samilton reports, Dingell's state will lose more than an icon when he retires.

Business
2:59 am
Tue February 4, 2014

VW Chattanooga Plant To Vote On UAW Membership

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 6:12 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Next week, workers at a Chattanooga auto plant run by Volkswagen will vote on whether to join the United Auto Workers. This is the first attempt in 13 years to unionize a plant that is not run by one of the big three Detroit automakers.

As Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports, Volkswagen has given the drive its blessing, so outside groups are stepping in to fight the union.

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Business
2:43 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Product Launches Expected To Drag Ford's 2014 Profits Down

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 10:49 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a strong finish.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Ford Motor Company closed the books on 2013 with higher than expected profits. The Detroit automaker's net earnings for the year surpassed $7 billion.

But as Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports, Ford is warning that 2014 will be more challenging.

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Around the Nation
3:17 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

All Aboard! Real-Life Polar Express Chugs Through Michigan

The Pere Marquette 1225 rolls into view in Owosso, Mich. It's been a local favorite for decades and especially gained popularity after inspiring the look and sounds of the train in a 2004 film.
James DeVleeschouwer Jr. Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 4:12 pm

Every sight and sound of the magical Christmas train in the 2004 film The Polar Express is based on a real-life steam locomotive. The Pere Marquette 1225 has its own Christmas story to tell — and it involves a very close call with the scrapyard.

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Business
4:56 am
Wed December 11, 2013

GM's New CEO Marks A Return To Tradition

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:10 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And here's even bigger news from General Motors, it has chosen a woman as its next chief executive officer, a first in America's auto industry. She's an engineer at the company insider - which could be a lot more important to GM's future than her gender.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports.

TRACY SAMILTON, BYLINE: Mary Barra follows in the wake of two CEOs from outside the auto industry. Dan Akerson ran a large private equity fund before taking the helm of GM. Before him, it was Ed Whitaker - a telecommunications guy.

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Business
1:06 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Around The World, Ford's Mustang Fuels A Dream

If American Mustang fans are hungry to see the new version, European fans are starved. Ford hasn't sold the Mustang there since 1979.
Miguel Medina AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 8:46 am

Just about every Mustang owner has a story about how their love affair with the car began.

Laura Slider's story began the day a red Mustang appeared in the driveway across the street.

"I've wanted one ever since I was 15," she says. "It was owned by a very cute boy that I liked. And then we rode in it and it was very fast and sporty and fun and pretty, and I thought, I want one someday."

Now, decades later, she has one. And, yes, it's red.

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Business
3:04 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Oil Industry And Others Cheer EPA's Ethanol Proposal

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 4:55 am

The EPA's decision not to force oil companies to replace E10, gasoline mixed with 10 percent ethanol, with E15, had a big impact on a lot of businesses. For manufacturers of motorcycles, motor boats and outdoor power equipment, it was good news. But for gas station owners who invested in expensive blender pumps, the decision hurt.

Around the Nation
3:27 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Museum Raises Money To Save 'Rosie The Riveter' Plant

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 10:03 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Rosie the Riveter, with one of the most famous clenched fists in American history, embodied the message of hardworking women during World War II: We Can Do It. Now a nonprofit is hoping to carry on that legacy. In a little more than a month, the historic Michigan factory where Rosie and thousands of other women built B-24 bombers could face the wrecking ball. That's unless the Yankee Air Museum can raise enough money to salvage part of that massive plant.

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Business
3:27 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Ford Lowers Mileage Rating On C-Max Hybrid

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 3:45 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with an EPA crackdown.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: Ford Motor Company will reduce the fuel economy sticker on its new C-Max hybrid to 43 miles per gallon, down from its earlier estimate of 47.

As Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports, the change has generated a new review of fuel economy testing standards.

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Environment
3:11 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

EPA To Crack Down On Accuracy Of MPG Claims By Car Makers

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 3:43 pm

For auto companies, that Environmental Protection Agency-approved MPG sticker on a new car is a high stakes and expensive process. These days it can be damaging to a company's image if customers can't achieve that great fuel economy in their own commutes.

History
12:10 pm
Sun August 4, 2013

Museum Tries To Save The Plant Where Rosie Riveted

The former Willow Run Assembly Plant, in Ypsilanti Township about 40 miles west of Detroit, is where Rosie the Riveter worked during World War II.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 4:38 pm

The historic Michigan factory where the iconic Rosie the Riveter and thousands of other women built B-24 bombers during World War II could face the wrecking ball two months from now.

A modest nonprofit is trying to raise enough money to salvage some of the massive plant, which Ford sold to General Motors after the war. The Yankee Air Museum figures the factory is the perfect place to start anew, after a devastating fire destroyed its collections in 2004.

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Business
3:39 am
Tue July 30, 2013

BMW's Electric Car Cut From A Different Cloth

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 5:46 am

BMW has finally unveiled its electric car. When you think of the parts and engineering, you'll get that it's a BMW, but when it comes to the looks ... not so much, one auto analyst says.

News
5:07 am
Sun July 28, 2013

At Henry Ford's 150th Birthday Party

Originally published on Sun July 28, 2013 10:31 am

Transcript

SUSAN STAMBERG, HOST:

Amid all the gloom in Detroit, some people were celebrating this weekend. It's the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company. There was a big party at the Ford Stage in Dearborn, and people gathered there to remember the inventor who, by the way, was known for his passion for folk dance. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton sent us this audio postcard.

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Business
1:23 am
Mon April 1, 2013

EPA's Push For More Ethanol Could Be Too Little, Too Late

A decal advertising E85 ethanol is displayed on a pump at a gas station in Johnston, Iowa.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 6:50 am

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could soon issue a final ruling that aims to force oil companies to replace E10, gasoline mixed with 10 percent ethanol, with E15.

This move could come just as widespread support for ethanol, which is made from corn, appears to be eroding.

Mike Mitchell was once a true believer in ethanol as a homegrown solution to foreign oil imports. He owns gas stations, and he went further than most, installing expensive blender pumps that let customers choose E15, E20 and all the way up to E85.

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Business
3:33 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Profit-Sharing Checks Replace Autoworkers Raises

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 8:44 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Ford Motor Company also announced its earnings yesterday, saying it had a pre-tax profit of $8 billion for 2012. And that gives union employees a reason to celebrate. They will each get a profit sharing check of $8,300 - a record high amount.

There's also some good news coming for General Motors workers, as Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports.

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Business
2:22 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Toyota Regains No. 1 Sales Position

Originally published on Tue January 15, 2013 4:43 am

After careening from back-to-back crises — recalls and the tsunami — Toyota is No. 1 in worldwide sales again. Toyota says it sold at least 9.7 million vehicles in 2012. General Motors reports it sold 9.3 million. Both companies say it doesn't really matter which one is in the top spot.

Business
2:25 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Ford To Try Bringing Luxury Back To Lincoln

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 4:08 pm

Ford Motor Company is changing the name of it Lincoln brand to the Lincoln Motor Company. Ford is also planning to sell the hybrid version of their flagship sedan, the new MKZ, for the same price as the gasoline version.

Business
3:10 am
Thu November 1, 2012

GM Quarterly Earnings Exceed Expectations

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 4:41 am

Even facing economic headwinds in Europe and South America, GM's quarterly earnings came in well above analysts' estimates, and its stock soared.

All Tech Considered
4:02 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Study To Test 'Talking' Cars That Would Warn Drivers Of Unseen Dangers

Connected car technology could warn drivers when vehicles ahead of them suddenly brake.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 7:55 pm

Experts predict that our cars will one day routinely "talk" to one another with wireless communication devices, possibly preventing huge numbers of traffic accidents.

On Tuesday, the world's largest study of connected car technology launched in Ann Arbor, Mich. The technology is designed to help drivers avert all sorts of common dangers on the road.

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Energy
3:14 am
Fri August 3, 2012

States Ask Detroit: 'Build Us A Natural Gas Car, Please'

Honda's CNG Civic is the only natural gas-fueled sedan currently available in the United States. With so few CNG passenger cars on the road, pumping stations are few and far between.
Tracy Samilton for NPR

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 3:31 am

More than 20 state governors are taking an unusual step to boost the natural gas vehicle industry. Independent of the federal government, they're asking Detroit carmakers to build them a new kind of car: a midsize sedan that runs on compressed natural gas instead of gasoline.

The governors are hoping to boost demand for natural gas cars with their collective buying power. Combined, the states say they could ultimately buy thousands of CNG vehicles to replace their current vehicle fleets — if those cars were available.

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Business
4:14 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Ford's Little Engine That Could Challenge Hybrids

The 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany featured Ford Motor Co.'s new three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which will hit the U.S. market next year.
Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 7:37 am

Ford Motor Co. intends to prove that good things come in small packages — really small packages. The company has taken engine downsizing to a new level with its new three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which has been introduced in Europe and is set to hit the U.S. market next year.

The EcoBoost offers more power than many conventional four-cylinder engines, with fuel economy numbers a hybrid could envy. Early fans are calling it a modern "little engine that could," and Ford is betting that American customers are ready to embrace a three-cylinder engine.

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Business
2:39 am
Fri July 20, 2012

GM Retirees Face Friday Pension Deadline

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 12:42 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

You've got to escape from your Escape.

Now, today is an important day for more than 40,000 salaried retirees of General Motors. They're facing a major financial decision. This evening marks the deadline for accepting a pension buyout.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton explains.

TRACY SAMILTON, BYLINE: The GM retirees have two choices: either take a lump-sum payment - which can range from 400,000 to $800,000 - or their pensions will be shifted from GM's books to the private insurance company Prudential.

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Economy
3:44 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

New Schedules Push Graveyard Shift Off The Clock

A worker builds cars on the assembly line at Ford's Chicago Assembly plant, which has adopted the "three crew" work schedule. The new third shift can increase efficiency in factories, but it can also wreak havoc on sleep needs and home lives.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 8:54 pm

As car companies struggle to meet growing demand, the third shift is making a comeback. But many factories running on three shifts are doing it differently from in the past. And that new "three crew" shift pattern could make what's normally a hard job even harder.

At Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, employees work 10-hour shifts four days a week. The so-called A crew gets days, while the B crew gets afternoons. But the C crew shift rotates its start time every week. On Fridays and Saturdays, workers start at 6:00 a.m. On Mondays and Tuesdays, they start at 4:30 p.m.

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Around the Nation
1:20 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Hear That? Annoying Hum Has Canada Making Noise

Originally published on Thu May 10, 2012 8:50 pm

Thousands of people in Windsor, Ontario, say they are being invaded by an obnoxious noise emanating from outside Detroit. They call it the "Windsor Hum," and it's really two sounds — a deep, very low-frequency hum, like a diesel truck idling in your driveway, and a deep, vibrating pulse that you feel more than you hear.

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Business
1:01 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Rough Patches Behind It, Toyota Tries To Accelerate

A crane lifts a Toyota to the top level of New York's Javits Convention Center on April 2, before the New York International Auto Show.
Joe Polimeni PR Newswire

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 6:23 am

Paul Schubert and his wife decided to buy a new car last summer — a really fuel-efficient one. After a lot of research, they settled on a Toyota Prius. But there was a problem: They couldn't find one.

The tsunami that devastated Japan in March had dried up supplies of the Prius, which is made in Japan, and a dealer told them they would have to wait — "about four months," Schubert says. "And we thought, well, it'd be, probably, end of November, early December before we were going to have a car."

The Schuberts still had a working car.

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Business
2:00 am
Tue April 3, 2012

U.S. Automakers Aim To Eliminate Lemons

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 12:01 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, from a classic American company to a classic industry. It turns out automobiles are improving, so much so in fact, that the U.S. seems to be entering a golden age of vehicle quality and reliability.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton has this story about the demise of the lemon.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Please step into the door.

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Around the Nation
10:30 am
Mon March 26, 2012

Car Guru: Stop Downshift In Manual Transmissions

Fewer people are buying cars with manual transmissions, and most young people now learn how to drive an automatic only.
Ian Kobylanski via Flickr

Originally published on Mon March 26, 2012 5:17 pm

Seventy years ago, 70 percent of U.S.-made cars came with a stick shift. The number is less than 9 percent today.

But at least one man is on a quest to reverse that slide.

Eddie Alterman loves automobiles. He's a gear head. He's the top editor at Car and Driver magazine. His whole career, he has watched the sales of cars with stick shifts decline. And when Ferrari failed to offer a manual option for the new 458 Italia, he said, enough's enough. Basta.

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