Sonari Glinton

Sonari Glinton is a NPR Business Desk Correspondent based at our NPR West bureau. He covers the auto industry, consumer goods, and consumer behavior, as well as marketing and advertising for NPR and Planet Money.

In this position, which he has held since late 2010, Glinton has tackled big stories including GM's road back to profitability and Toyota's continuing struggles. In addition, Glinton covered the 2012 presidential race, the Winter Olympics in Sochi, as well as the U.S. Senate and House for NPR.

Glinton came to NPR in August 2007 and worked as a producer for All Things Considered. Over the years Glinton has produced dozen of segments about the great American Song Book and pop culture for NPR's signature programs most notably the 50 Great Voices piece on Nat King Cole feature he produced for Robert Siegel.

Glinton began his public radio career as an intern at Member station WBEZ in Chicago. He worked his way through his public radio internships working for Chicago Jazz impresario Joe Segal, waiting tables and meeting legends such as Ray Brown, Oscar Brown Jr., Marian MacPartland, Ed Thigpen, Ernestine Andersen, and Betty Carter.

Glinton attended Boston University. A Sinatra fan since his mid-teens, Glinton's first forays into journalism were album revues and a college jazz show at Boston University's WTBU. In his spare time Glinton indulges his passions for baking, vinyl albums, and the evolution of the Billboard charts.

This week, an increasing number of consumers are going online to take advantage of Black Friday deals.

Sales for what's known as one of the biggest shopping days of the year were up 20 percent this year, and most of those online shoppers were using smartphone apps.

If you want to get a glimpse of just how difficult it is out here for retailers, just ask 11-year-old Ava Bassarat, who's on a mission to buy an iPod Touch.

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The epic scope of the Volkswagen scandal brings this question into focus. Is there a viable future for diesel cars in the United States? NPR's Sonari Glinton took that question to some experts.

Volkswagen was recently brought to its knees when scientists discovered the company had installed a device in its diesel-powered cars to fool emissions tests. Its stock price tanked, its reputation has been damaged and its CEO resigned on Wednesday.

So who made the discovery that sent the German car giant into a tailspin? A group of scientists at West Virginia University.

For the Detroit automakers, there's likely no bigger prize than being the No. 1 truck. Pickups represent the lion's share of profits and the industry's recent growth.

Sales of cars surged in December, and analysts believe that the year's total will exceed 17 million, making it the fifth straight year of growth for the industry.

Cheap gas prices helped make that happen, as sales of trucks, SUVs and luxury vehicles rose rapidly. Jeep's sales, for instance, were up 40 percent on increased consumer demand for crossover SUVs. Meanwhile, demand for hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles shrank.

Scott Painter, founder and CEO of auto sales website TrueCar, says those trends aren't necessarily good for the industry as a whole.

The first 2015 Ford F-150 rolled off the assembly line this week, and it is no normal truck. The new F-150 pickup is the first with an aluminum body, making it hundreds of pounds lighter than its predecessors.

Ford isn't taking this gamble on just any truck — the F-150 is the company's most important vehicle. Morgan Stanley estimates the F-Series truck line and SUV derivatives represent 90 percent of Ford's global profits.

Most auto recalls usually involve one carmaker at a time, but a massive recall this week affects not just one, but 10, ranging from BMWs to Toyotas.

At the center of it is Takata, a little-known but extremely important auto parts maker. The company makes more than one-third of the air bags in all cars.

The recent drop in gas prices may be good for consumers, but it's not such good news for hybrid car sales.

Even before gas prices started to slide, hybrid sales were falling — all while sales of trucks, SUVs and luxury sedans have been on the rise.

That relationship between gas prices and sales is "rather remarkable," says John Krafcik, president of the website TrueCar. "During months when gas prices are low, less fuel-efficient cars tend to take a greater share of the market and vice versa. It's a fairly one-to-one relationship."

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At a Senate hearing today, there were calls for General Motors top lawyer to step down. Recent media reports have made clear that company lawyers knew faulty ignition switches were causing fatal accidents. Despite that GM blocked internal efforts to issue a recall and they kept information from federal safety regulators. The ignition defect is responsible for at least 13 deaths and will cost GM billions of dollars. NPR's Sonari Glinton has the latest.

The car industry is required to raise the average fuel efficiency of its vehicles to 54.5 miles a gallon by 2025. But consumers have been reluctant to adopt hybrid technology that'll get the industry there quicker.

That means the car companies have to find other ways to get fuel savings.

If you were to guess, how important would you say fuel economy is to the car business? How much of the research and development is going into making cars more efficient?

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And I'm Melissa Block. Google is getting into the car business - the self-driving car business, that is. Google is throwing away the steering wheel in the pedals, building prototypes of a cozy two-seater designed for city driving.

The Internet is coming to your car. Later this year, General Motors will put Internet connectivity directly into its vehicles. It's the largest auto company to do so.

Of course, safety advocates have some concerns about more distractions for drivers.

The promise of technology is always the same one — that it's going to make our life easier. But anyone who's tried to make a hands-free call in the car knows that's not always true. A task as simple as asking your device to call your mom can be an exasperating experience.

The new head of General Motors, Mary Barra, goes to Capitol Hill Tuesday to begin two days of testimony.

It's the first time she'll be questioned about a safety defect that's been linked to at least 13 deaths and has sparked a 2.6 million-vehicle recall.

At issue for the Detroit CEO is a classic question: What did GM know about the problems with ignition switch problems in its cars, and when did the company know it?

And just as important for GM and government regulators is the follow-up question: Why did no one act sooner?

General Motors is coming under mounting criticism for its handling of a serious defect. Last month, the company recalled 1.6 million vehicles because of faulty ignition switches linked to 13 deaths. The cars, made from 2003-2007, could stall or fail to deploy their airbags.

It's an issue GM has known about for a while, and now Congress wants to know why it took the automaker almost a decade to warn the public about it.

The United States has threatened economic sanctions against Moscow, but America is light on financial leverage in Russia: The country represents less than 1 percent of U.S. trade, and few major U.S. companies have significant investments there.

But one company with a long history in Russia is Pepsi.

So how did the American soft drink giant get its foot in the door to build a major market in Russia?

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If there is such a thing as a home rink advantage, that makes the competition in the women's figure skating program fierce. Russian fans erupted with glee for Adelina Sotnikova on Wednesday. And then there's Yulia Lipnitskaya, a 15-year-old Russian phenom who has thrilled Russian fans and stunned the figure skating world.

Scott Hamilton, a 1984 figure skating gold medalist, has been watching Lipnitskaya closely.

"She's beyond her years. Like, you look at her and she qualified [to be age-eligible] for the Olympics by days," he says.

What's the hardest sport at the Winter Games — biathlon, aerial skiing, snowboarding, or high-flying slopestyle?

Jeremy Abbott thought it was one of those until an Olympic official told him otherwise. "Hands down," he was told, "absolutely, figure skating is the hardest."

Abbott may not completely agree, but he says it's the rare affirmation he's gotten as a male figure skater.

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, it's not all hybrids and battery-powered cars. Some car companies are making significant investments in a fuel that's not new at all — diesel.

The newest diesel engines are far cleaner than their predecessors, and they get many more miles per gallon. The question is, what's holding customers back from switching gas pumps?

When you look around the auto show, there's a lot of energy and there's a lot of money being spent again. The one topic that keeps coming up, of course, is fuel economy.

Before turning the page on 2013, All Things Considered wanted to tell you stories you haven't heard — unknown stories about people you've heard of, and unknown people who have affected your lives in ways you can't imagine.

This week on-air and online, the tech team is exploring the sharing economy. You'll find the stories on this blog and aggregated at this link, and we would love to hear your questions about the topic. Just email, leave a comment or tweet.

Getting young, healthy people to sign up for health insurance is seen as critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act. It's precisely those people who will help offset the cost of the older, sicker ones.

But while cheap health insurance and subsidies based on income are intended to make the program appealing to the young, what if they haven't even heard of the health care law? Or don't want to buy even an inexpensive policy?

Over the last year of so, Tesla motors has received some really good press. But this past week, it's been knocked off its pedestal.

"We're a country that likes to put things up on pedestals and then tear them down from pedestals. We do that with people, I think we do that with things," says Jack Nerad, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book.

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JPMorgan Chase will have to pay more than $900 million in fines for the way it handled the London Whale trading scandal. Last year, the company revealed that its traders in London had lost $6 billion, and then concealed the losses from executives.

While large fines aren't unusual, it is unusual that federal regulators forced the bank to admit to wrongdoing. But this is exactly what happened. NPR's Sonari Glinton has more.

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If economists looking at the housing sector are generally optimistic, those who follow the auto industry are practically brimming with glee. Right now, the average age of cars on the road is the oldest ever recorded, at 11-and-a-half years, which means at some time, people will have to buy newer ones. As NPR's Sonari Glinton reports, that time may be now.

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General Motors is selling a lot of cars in China. The company set a sales record there in July.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports China is in the front line in the battle for automotive global dominance.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: In China this year, forecasters predict nearly 20 million cars will be sold. In the U.S., the bet is we'll sell about 15 and a half million.

Mike Wall is with IHS Automotive.

MILE WALL: Yeah, you really can't overstate the importance of China in the overall global automotive landscape.

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