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GM picks Mich. plant to build new Silverado diesel engine

UPDATED: 1/16/18 7:14 pm ET – adds job details

DETROIT — The new 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine coming in the redesigned 2019 Chevrolet Silverado will be manufactured in a General Motors engine plant in Flint, Mich.

Production of the engine — designed at the General Motors diesel center of excellence in Turin — will start late this year or early next year. 

GM Vice President of Global Propulsion Systems Dan Nicholson would not divulge technical details of the new fuel-efficient engine, but he confirmed that the Flint engine plant would be the production site.

In December 2015, GM announced a $263 million investment in Flint for a new engine plant, but didn’t say which engine would be made there. It’s the new inline six-cylinder diesel, GM confirmed Tuesday. GM expects to retain about 400 jobs once the new engine production line is up and running. The diesel engine will replace a V-6 that went out of production.

Over the weekend, at the press debut of the new pickup, GM product chief Mark Reuss said Flint would play a “very important” role in the “long-term viability” of the pickup. He declined to offer any specifics.

“You’re going to see some announcements around Flint,” he said after unveiling the Silverado on Saturday in Detroit.

Flint Assembly produces regular and crew cab heavy-duty models of the Silverado and GMC Sierra.



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Autonomous cars loom, but the Detroit auto show goes on

The North American International Auto Show in Detroit opened to the press this week with one big question hanging in the air: How will autonomous vehicles change the industry?

The answer is still unclear. In the meantime, automakers continue to put out new vehicles of all shapes and sizes, including small cars, SUVs and the all-mighty pickup truck, which dominated the show.

All will be on display when the show opens to the public Saturday, with a charity preview on Friday night.

Here are five things we learned from the preview this week:


Pickups are the most popular vehicles in the U.S., and trucks unveiled at the show make clear that will continue for a long time.

General Motors spent heavily to update its top-selling Chevrolet Silverado pickup, cutting up to 450 pounds of weight by using more aluminum and lighter high-strength steel. The truck also gets two new V8 engines that can run on one to eight cylinders depending on how much power is needed.

Fiat Chrysler’s Ram also got big updates, losing more than 200 pounds and giving it a gas-electric hybrid engine option. Both the Silverado and Ram were given more athletic stances and meaner looks. Ford added a diesel engine to its F-150 and rolled out the midsize Ranger.

Automakers turn big profits on large pickups. Sales rose nearly 6 percent last year to almost 2.4 million, even though total U.S. auto sales dropped 2 percent. Ford’s F-Series is the country’s top-selling vehicle, followed by the Silverado and Ram.


U.S. auto sales are likely to fall to around 16.7 million in 2018 from 17.2 million last year, says Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst with the car buying site

But that would still make it one of the 10 best sales years in history, so the market remains strong.

U.S. income tax code changes this year may stimulate new auto sales, but any increase likely will be offset by rising interest rates and the abundant supply of late-model used cars that pull buyers from new vehicles, Toyota Motor Corp.’s top North American executive says.

North American CEO Jim Lentz expects a sales boost of 200,000 vehicles as tax cuts put more money in people’s pockets. But the increase could be negated as rising rates keep some people on the sidelines, and some buyers opt for a lower-cost but nice off-lease used car.

Tax cuts could boost pickup truck sales because businesses can write off the expenses immediately under the new code, Lentz said.

But he expects luxury new-car sales to be flat this year even though tax rates were reduced for higher-income earners. Any decrease could be wiped out by caps on deductions for mortgage interest and local and state taxes in big luxury-car states such as New York and California, Lentz said.


Many auto executives interviewed at the auto show say they’re afraid the U.S. might pull out of the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, but they can’t prepare for it because they don’t know what, if anything will replace it.

In ongoing negotiations with Mexico and Canada, the Trump administration is seeking to ensure that more vehicles are made in America, among other changes. But Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North American CEO, says ending the agreement would likely raise costs. That, in turn, would raise vehicle prices and cut demand, forcing manufacturing layoffs. It also would make the U.S. less competitive than the world’s other manufacturing centers, he said. Ending the agreement also could force some suppliers to stop making parts.

Charlie Chesbrough, the chief economist for Cox Automotive, said it’s hard to imagine there will be much change in production, because automakers need a long lead time to act and they know the next president could reverse Trump’s actions. But some automakers are already taking pre-emptive steps to show the administration they’re willing to boost U.S. production. Fiat Chrysler said ahead of the auto show that it will move heavy duty truck production from Mexico to Michigan in 2020.


Automakers are hedging their bets when it comes to autonomous vehicles and whether they will someday cut into or even end personal car ownership.

In interviews through the week, executives said they’re preparing for a time when people hire self-driving ride services to get around instead of spending on personal vehicles.

But they don’t know just when that will take place, so they also must continue to spend millions to develop conventional vehicles as well.

“These proclamations that we hear about the advent of electrification and artificial intelligence … are all things that, at best, are conjecture,” said Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Although some companies plan to deploy driverless cars to carry passengers in coming months, Marchionne says it will take years for the vehicles to be in widespread use.

Mark Reuss, General Motors’ head of product development says he wishes he knew exactly when and where the switch would take place. But for now, GM and other companies have to be in both places.

“We can go either way and that agility is priceless,” said Reuss.


Despite the new wheels on the show floor, one of the biggest hits is a 50-year-old Mustang GT fastback in need of a paint job. It was one of the original cars used in the 1968 film “Bullitt,” which put the Mustang on the map with a famous chase scene.

Ford Motor Co. rolled it out to help celebrate a special “Bullitt” edition Mustang, which goes on sale this summer. The faded green car got a huge cheer when it rumbled onto the stage.

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Detroit Auto Show: The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 is ready to roll


2019 Ram 1500 revealed

Sales of the Ram 1500 are on a roll and the company hopes to keep the momentum going with an all new truck that’s bigger and better in every way.

The Ram 1500 is on a roll.

Sales of the full-size pickup have grown so much in recent years that it now has the second-place Chevrolet Silverado in its sights. That target is on the move, however, with an updated Silverado on the way this year.

Good thing for Ram it has a new truck too.

The 2019 Ram 1500 features very different styling and the latest technology.


Ram is debuting an all-new 1500 at the Detroit Auto Show that has the kind of next-generation features that could push it to the next level. The truck is lighter, sleeker and more technologically advanced than ever.

The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is available with a new eTorque mild hybrid system.


It starts behind the grille – which is still pretty bold, but looks less like a semi truck’s this time around — where a hybrid system is being offered with V6 and V8 engines. It’s a mild hybrid, which means that the trucks can’t run on battery power alone, but the electric motors add boost of torque off the line, enable a fuel-saving stop-start feature and improve overall efficiency.


Taller bedsides reduce aerodynamic drag.


Branded eTorque, the system is standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission on the entry level 3.6-liter V6 that’s rated at 305 hp and 269 lb-ft, and an option on the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, which has 395 hp and 410 lb-ft and delivers a maximum tow rating of 12,750 pounds. That’s over a ton more than the outgoing Ram 1500’s and just shy of the F-150’s top 13,200-pound rating. Official fuel economy for the eTorque powertrains has not yet been determined, while the conventional V8 is rated at 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.

The redesigned 1500 will initially be available in Quad Cab and Crew Cab configurations in a full lineup of trim levels, while the last-generation truck soldiers on for a year to supply two-door and other models during the transition, in an effort to better supply expected demand.

A new rear bench slides and reclines.


The 1500 sticks with a steel body – except for the aluminum tailgate – but uses lighter high-strength steel for its frame,  plus some aluminum and composite chassis components that together reduce weight by over 200 pounds. Coil springs all four corners are matched with frequency response dampers that soak up small bumps but keep the body level in curves, while Ram’s unique air suspension system remains an option and can raise and lower the truck to increase ground clearance, ease entry and reduce aerodynamic drag.

The 1500 can be equipped with a 12-inch display and on-demand SiriusXM 360L.


The cabin is larger than before and Ram claims it has the most storage space of any full-size pickup. Some of that can be found under a reclining rear bench seat that floats over a flat floor that has a pop-out bin to secure small items. Up front, the center console has spaces for phones, tablets and large laptops and can be equipped with a wireless charging pad. Trucks with an old-school front bench, which is still available, now have a three point seatbelt integrated into the center seat for added safety. Out back, the 1500’s signature RamBox waterproof bed side storage system is still an option, but now with better lighting and a 115-volt outlet inside.

The 1500′s signature RamBox storage compartments remain an option.


The 1500’s dashboard has no shortage of knobs and switches, but there is also a wide array of digital displays found across the trim levels and options packages that includes a 12-inch screen I the center console equipped with the latest version of Ram’s UConnect infotainment system. You can configure the layout of the desktop, just like a tablet, and it has built-in WiFi and the new SiriusXM with 360L that delivers on-demand programming along with traditional satellite radio.

The Rebel is the most off-road capable Ram 1500.


Active safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, automatic emergency braking and a self-steering parking system. A 360-degree bird’s eye view camera system is also available to help out if you prefer to park yourself.

Pricing for the new Ram 1500 was not announced, but it will be offered in six trim levels, including the Rebel with its one-inch suspension lift, off-road suspension, skid plates, and locking rear differential that was designed to roll over anything that gets in its way.


Gary Gastelu is’s Automotive Editor. Follow him on Twitter @garygastelu

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Kia reveals new Forte at Detroit auto show


Michael Sprague, CEO and Executive Vice President, Kia Motors America, introduces the 2019 Kia Forte on Monday January 15, 2017 at the North American International Auto Show at Cob Center.
Max Ortiz, The Detroit News

Few brands have delivered more surprises — or grown as fast — as Kia in recent years. The smaller sibling of Korean carmaker Hyundai has scored big in the quality and reliability charts and won rave reviews for new offerings like the Stinger, one of the finalists for North American Car of the Year.

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While Kia has moved up-market in recent years with products like the sporty Stinger and the big K900 sedan, the automaker demonstrated it isn’t abandoning its roots with the debut of the third-generation Forte at the Detroit auto show on Monday.

The new 2019 Kia Forte will face a tough challenge, entering a crowded segment of the market even as small car sales take a tumble. More and more buyers are migrating from passenger cars to SUVs, CUVs and other light trucks. Even so, the Forte remains one of the company’s top sellers and Kia is determined to keep it that way.

“The compact sedan segment is highly competitive, but with all the improvements the new Forte brings to market for the 2019 model year, it is more than prepared to take on the toughest the segment has to offer,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning for Kia Motors America.

As with other recent models, Kia is putting a premium on giving the traditionally staid sedan a more enticing look; the 2019 Forte borrows some of the cues found on the new Stinger fastback.

Peter Schreyer, global design chief and vice chairman of both Hyundai and Kia, put a premium on proportions, aiming to give the small car more of a rear-drive look. Among other things, its cowl point has been pushed back about five inches, which gives it a more athletic appearance.

Shown at the North American International Auto Show, the third-generation Forte adopts a more aggressive version of Kia’s familiar “tiger nose” grille, framed by new, Stinger-style headlights and a more muscular front fascia. There are also new intakes that feed the air curtains that curb turbulence around the front wheels, improving overall aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. The rear bumper gets a similar sporty treatment that includes new LED taillights and details reminiscent of the latest Kia Sportage crossover-utility vehicle.

The roofline also shows the Stinger’s influence, opting for a more fastback approach. And, with the overall length of the 2019 model stretched 3.2 inches — to 182.7 inches — Kia engineers were able to improve the small car’s interior space, especially in the rear seat. Cargo capacity also grew to 15.1 cubic feet, making it one of the roomiest cars in its segment.

Kia designers opted for a flowing, horizontal interior layout to give a greater sense of space to an otherwise small car. The look is generally uncluttered, an eight-inch touchscreen topping the center console and taking over the operation of numerous traditional controls. There are also more soft touch points for a bit more of a refined feel.

Along with the bigger touchscreen, the new model adds a variety of updated and new technologies, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and many on the safety and driver-assistance front, including active cruise control, forward collision avoidance assist and blind spot detection. Many of these aren’t normally found in this class.

As for the powertrain, the Forte gets Kia’s second-generation 2.0-liter Nu four-cylinder engine. To save fuel, it uses Atkinson Cycle technology and is paired with the Korean marque’s first in-house designed continuously variable transmission. All told, look for combined fuel economy in the 35 mpg range, Kia said.

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Record crowd, riveting cars at auto show’s first party – Detroit News

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There was nearly $10 million in outrageous automobiles on display at the first party of the North American International Auto Show Saturday night, and Nick Sullo was making plans for about a third of it.

An Aston Martin and Maserati salesman from Cleveland, he was keeping a respectful few feet away from a two-tone, 1,500-hp, 260-plus-mph Bugatti Chiron, but his heart was already in the driver’s seat. “If I had $3.2 million,” said Sullo, 35, “I’d probably buy it.”

A record-smashing crowd of 800 people joined him for dining and gawking as the 12th annual party known as the Gallery alit at the Cobo Center atrium. Formerly at the MGM Grand, where the largest crowd was 500 or so, the $250-per-ticket event featured the North American debut of the 2018 Rolls Royce Phantom and any number of other non-debuting Ferraris, Bentleys, Jaguars and such that made buying a lottery ticket seem like a very good idea.

Only a few of the vehicles at the Gallery will be on display when the auto show opens to the public Jan. 20, which is one of the night’s selling points.

Ric DeVore, the regional president for PNC, was particularly smitten by a metallic red Acura NSX. It comes with 573 hp and a starting price of $156,000, but on the bright side, it gets an economical 22 mpg on the highway.

DeVore snapped a cell phone picture of it and texted it to his wife and daughter with the reminder, “I have a birthday coming up.”

His daughter, Allison Kivimaki, sent a quick response: “I could maybe afford the air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror.”

The evening included a silent auction benefiting C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. In a setting where a small-batch, California-built Karma felt like a bargain at $130,000, some of the auction items looked like steals.

A signed Jim Harbaugh football jersey went for the minimum bid, $800. A signed Gordie Howe jersey drew no offers at $1,200 — cheaper than what shows up in a Google search.

Clearly, it was more of a sports car crowd than a sports crowd. And a luxury car crowd, and a supercar crowd, and apparently a convertible crowd; the $346,300 Rolls Royce ragtop, if it’s not heresy to call it that, seemed to be drawing more attention than the $417,825 Phantom.

Both were white. The cupcake in the hand of LaTonya Baker of Southfield at the post-dinner dessert station was mostly brown, and it gave her evil ideas.

“Part of me,” said Baker, a 36-year-old IT manager, “wants to take one of these and go sit in a Rolls, just to see what happens.”

The urge passed. The cars stayed put.

“I heard there was a Lamborghini,” Baker said to her friends. “Let’s go find it.”

Twitter: @nealrubin_dn

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Ford unveils revived Ranger pickup at Detroit auto show

Shortly after officially announcing its return, Ford showed off its new midsize Ranger pickup at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 14.

Ford also had its new Edge ST SUV and the 2019 Mustang Bullitt – based on the 1968 Steve McQueen file – on display during the press conference at the Cobo Center in Downtown Detroit.

Before the Ranger was brought onto the stage, Ford had the crowd use key fobs to vote on what they wanted to happen in the video presentation. 

“Ready to help Ford take our rightful place in the midsize truck segment from a different vantage point?” Raj Nair, Ford President of North America, asked during the presentation.

He later added that the midsize truck will come with a steel frame, as “real trucks don’t have fascias.”

Production will start later this year at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne. Ford last made the midsize Ranger pickup in North America back in 2011. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker announced the Ranger and Bronco would return to North America at last year’s auto show.

The Ranger is expected in 2019, and the Bronco in 2020. 

The new Ranger will come equipped with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, 10-speed auto transmission and high-strength steel frame backbone, and available in 2WD or 4WD. The 2019 Ford Ranger will come in XL, XLT and the Lariat trims, which will be available with chrome, sport or the FX Off-Road packages in either SuperCab or SuperCrew cab setups. 

The automaker says the new Ranger will come with the optional FX4 Off-Road package, which has a terrain management system to the F-150 Raptor’s. This means the technology will send power or brakes to each wheel as needed so drivers can keep their eyes on steering while off-road driving. 

As for the new F-150, it will come with an optional 3.0-liter diesel Power Stroke engine that will come with an EPA-estimated 30 mpg later this year. 

The first-ever diesel engine offered for the F-150 comes as a 3.0-liter Powerstroke with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford reports that it is capable of 11,400 pounds of towing, a 2,020 payload, and making 250 horsepower and 440-pounds of torque. Per the estimated EPA fuel economy rating, Ford says the final figures will be released this spring.

View full coverage of the Detroit auto show here.  

The 2018 North American International Auto Show begins with press previews Jan. 14, 15 and 16. Dozens of vehicle unveilings and news conferences are planned. Industry previews are set for Jan. 17 and 18.  The show opens to the public Jan. 20 and runs through Jan. 28. More than 300 exhibitors are expected to fill the Cobo Center for the massive annual auto industry showcase.  

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Detroit Auto Show May Be Celebrating an Era About to End – The …

More worrisome is that the drops in retail sales have come even as manufacturers have resorted to heftier discounts, which eat into their profits. Sales incentives are now equal to more than 11 percent of the average vehicle’s sticker price. As recently as 2014, that figure was below 8 percent.

There are other troubling signs, too. Interest rates have started rising, which increases the cost of financing or leasing a new car. Younger buyers are showing less interest in owning cars than older generations. And the supply of low-mileage used cars is growing, giving shoppers attractive and lower-cost alternatives to new cars. Close to four million leased vehicles will be turned in and offered for sale as used models this year, up from 3.6 million in 2017.

“There’s a lot of headwinds out there,” said Mark Wakefield, global head of the automotive and industrial practice at Alix Partners, a consulting firm.

The auto industry has a long history of going from boom to bust — periods of rising sales and buoyant profits followed by inevitable sales slumps that leave idle plants and mounting losses. The last bust coincided with the 2008 financial crisis and nearly ruined Detroit. General Motors and Chrysler had to be saved by federally engineered bankruptcy proceedings.

Now analysts are now wondering if harder times are arriving again.

Alix is forecasting a moderate drop in sales this year, followed by steeper declines in 2019 and 2020. In both of those years, Alix believes sales will fall short of 16 million cars and trucks.

This uncertainty comes as manufacturers are adding factories. BMW and Audi are finishing new plants in Mexico. Volvo’s new plant in South Carolina will start building luxury sedans this year. Toyota Motor is adding a new truck plant in Mexico and just announced it would build a car factory with Mazda Motor in Alabama. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is ramping up a plant in Michigan that had been idle for more than two years, after retooling it to make pickup trucks instead of cars. Fiat Chrysler has also just expanded Jeep plants in Ohio and Illinois.


Alan Batey, GM’s North American president, introduced the new Chevrolet Silverado at an event in Detroit on Saturday, before the show’s official start.

Brittany Greeson for The New York Times

The industry runs into trouble when automakers get stuck producing more vehicles than customers are willing to buy, said Ron Harbour, an auto manufacturing expert at Oliver Wyman, another consulting firm.


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He added that one part of the industry was already in considerable distress — the car business. With Americans flocking to roomy vehicles like S.U.V.s, sales of family sedans and compacts have plunged in the last few years. Family cars like the Toyota Camry used to make up 25 percent of all new-vehicle sales. Now they account for just 15 percent.

As a result, some manufacturers are seeing a split in their operations. While running truck factories almost around the clock, they have been idling workers, cutting shifts or slowing assembly lines at their car plants. Ford, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai all cut output at car plants by 10 percent to 22 percent last year, according to data compiled by Automotive News. G.M. cut production by about 33 percent at its Lordstown, Ohio, plant, which makes the slow-selling Chevrolet Cruze compact. In Oshawa, Ontario, G.M.’s large-sedan factory lowered production by almost half.

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“I wouldn’t be surprised to see a car plant close in the next few years,” if auto sales fall below 16 million vehicles a year as forecast, Mr. Harbour said. “Somebody’s going to have to bite the bullet.”

Dan Ammann, G.M.’s chief financial officer, declined to give an outlook for the company’s car plants for 2018. “Our overall approach is to match production to demand,” he said. “So we’ll see where demand is and act accordingly.”

The last permanent shutdown of an auto plant in the United States occurred in 2016 when Mitsubishi Motors shuttered a factory in Normal. Ill. Before that, Ford closed a truck plant in St. Paul, Minn., in 2011.

Trouble could mount if any automakers resort to further incentives to gain market share and avoid production cuts, a strategy G.M., Ford and Chrysler employed in the 2000s. All ended up reporting huge losses.

In the past week, executives from Honda, Subaru and other companies have acknowledged they aim to gain market share even though the market is likely to shrink.

“The two things to watch are crazy incentives and overproduction,” Mr. Jackson, the AutoNation chief executive. “They’re ruinous.”

One factor that could mitigate any difficulties in car manufacturing is the outsized profits that companies are earning on trucks, which now make up two-thirds of all new vehicles sold. “The high mix of trucks is going to keep profits at near-record levels, and that’s going to help them get through this downturn on the car side,” Mr. Jackson said.


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He also noted that G.M., Ford and Fiat Chrysler streamlined their operations over the past 10 years and were now better able to withstand shocks to their operations.

At the Detroit auto show, which opens to the media and industry visitors on Monday, the new models being presented reflect the industry’s focus on trucks. Three of the most anticipated new models are pickups: the Chevrolet Silverado, the Ram 1500 from Fiat Chrysler, and the Ford Ranger. Other vehicles to be unveiled include the Mercedes-Benz G-Class S.U.V., the Honda Insight hybrid, the Toyota Avalon and the Acura RDX.

This year’s event has less buzz than in recent years, perhaps because of the industry’s uncertain outlook. Several auto brands, including Audi, Cadillac, Chrysler and Lincoln, are not presenting any new vehicles, and Porsche, Jaguar and Land Rover aren’t even attending the show.

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Cold New Jersey to blame for closure of decades-old auto shop

Dear John: If it is not too late for the auto shop owner, I have no money, but I spent 35 years raising money for charities.

He is not a charity, but his plight could bring in the $2,000 or more on one of the many crowdfunding sites out there today.

I would be happy to offer my services pro bono to select a site and write the request for funds. The key is a combination of publicity and e-mail lists. Maximum time recommended is 40 days to 45 days.

Feel free to share my contact information with him. My blood is boiling despite our frigid temperatures. Damned bureaucracy.

Keep up the good work, and thanks for defending Vanna White. P.F.

Dear P.F.: I will forward your note. And thanks for the concern.

But it’s probably too late, since they can’t paint cars when the temperature gets below 70 degrees in the building. So, four decades of this guy’s hard work have ended because New Jersey Resources couldn’t show a little sympathy.


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Kenton students advance to national auto tech competition

Two students from the Kenton Career Technical Center will advance to a national automotive technology competition, after winning a local event on Saturday.

The two-person team of Kyle Huttenmaier and Alex Prims won the 2018 Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association’s Ron Smith Memorial Auto Tech Competition, held at an Erie Community College facility in Orchard Park. The students’ instructor is Gary Willis.

The competition allows high school students to showcase their skills and prepare for careers as automotive technicians. Huttenmaier and Prims will take part in the National Automotive Technology Competition in New York City, held in conjunction with the New York International Auto Show in April. The national competition distributes more than $3 million in scholarships and prizes.






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These are all the cool cars we can’t wait to see at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show

Lamborghini UrusLamborghini

  • The Detroit Auto Show media preview starts on Monday of next week.
  • Automakers will be putting a lot of new pickup trucks and SUVs on the show floor.
  • There might even be a few surprises.

The 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), better known as the Detroit Auto Show, is pulling into Cobo Center in downtown Motown next week.

The show will run through January 28, with several days of press previews before it opens to the public. We’ll be there to report on all the fun.

Detroit comes hot on the heels of CES this year and kicks off a 2018 that’s expected to see lower new-vehicle sales in the US than in the previous three booming years. That’s led to plenty of speculation about what we’re going to see on the show floor: plenty of trucks and SUVs, the bestselling vehicles these days.

Here’s all the cool shiny sheet metal we’re looking forward to:

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