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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5:47pm

Tue July 24, 2012
Business

Ford's Little Engine That Could Challenge Hybrids

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 9:37 am

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.

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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4:39am

Fri July 20, 2012
Business

GM Retirees Face Friday Pension Deadline

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 2:42 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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5:39pm

Thu June 14, 2012
Economy

New Schedules Push Graveyard Shift Off The Clock

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 10:54 pm

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

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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3:20pm

Thu May 10, 2012
Around the Nation

Hear That? Annoying Hum Has Canada Making Noise

Originally published on Thu May 10, 2012 10:50 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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3:01am

Wed April 18, 2012
Business

Rough Patches Behind It, Toyota Tries To Accelerate

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 8:23 am

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

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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12:30pm

Mon March 26, 2012
Around the Nation

Car Guru: Stop Downshift In Manual Transmissions

Originally published on Mon March 26, 2012 7:17 pm

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

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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12:01am

Wed March 14, 2012
Looking Up: Pockets Of Economic Strength

Auto Parts Suppliers Hiring As Fast As They Can

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 8:17 am

Workers build cars on the assembly line at the Ford Motor Co.'s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., in December. As auto sales boom, parts suppliers are having a tough time finding the labor they need to catch up, having lost workers during the recession.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Part of a series

Detroit automakers are creating thousands of new jobs amid a sales boom. And as they expand, their suppliers are racing to keep up, adding tens of thousands of new jobs.

At Bridgewater Interiors in Warren, Mich., for example, the pace is intense. Hundreds of union employees scurry to fill a growing list of orders. The factory floor is packed with stacks of foam cushions, seat covers and headrests.

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12:01am

Thu January 12, 2012
Business

Luxury Tractor Makes Debut At Detroit Auto Show

Craftsman's CTX tractor series is the first to be featured at the Detroit Auto Show. The newly unveiled line is equipped with many automobile-inspired features, including cup holders.
Mercedes Mejia

At the 2012 North American International Auto Show, it's clear that the industry's love affair with alpha-numeric designations hasn't waned. There's the ATS, the 700C, the MKZ. Now comes the CTX, a new line of Craftsman riding lawn mowers. They are fast, powerful and loaded with amenities.

"Everybody knows that Detroit's the national stage for cars — Motor City is where autos come from. So this show made perfect sense to come here and launch the tractor," says Onney Crawley, Craftsman's director of brand management for lawn and garden.

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5:03pm

Wed January 11, 2012
Business

Cadillac Gears Up To Take On German Automakers

Start Your Engines: With Cadillac's unveiling of the ATS — a compact luxury car — the Detroit automaker put itself in direct competition with BMW's 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz's C-Class.
Geoff Robins AFP/Getty Images

This year's auto show in Detroit could set the stage for a shake-up in the fiercely competitive — and hugely profitable — luxury car scene. That's because there's a new kid on the block, and its name is Cadillac.

The General Motors company says its new small, high-performance ATS will allow it to compete for the first time with Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. But getting a brand-new luxury car like the ATS ready for market can be a grueling process.

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12:01am

Wed January 4, 2012
Business

Fiat's First Year Back In The U.S. Marred By Missteps

Originally published on Wed January 4, 2012 12:36 pm

In its 2011 re-entry into the U.S. market, Italian automaker Fiat opened 130 dealerships — or studios, as the company calls them — that sold only the Fiat 500, displayed here outside the Fiat of Lakeside dealership in Macomb, Mich.
Carlos Osorio AP

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