Auto Industry | St. Louis Public Radio

Auto Industry

This interview will be on St. Louis on the Air during the noon hour Thursday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh will speak with St. Louis native and celebrated author William Knoedelseder.

Knoedelseder’s latest book, “Fins: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit,” recounts the dawn of the American auto industry in 1920’s Detroit.

GotCredit | Flickr |

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis just released a report about various kinds of debt and how it is impacting different populations in St. Louis, Memphis, Little Rock and Louisville. Spoiler alert: yes, student loan debt is still crippling the younger generation…as are car loans.

As the report points out, the delinquency rate for young borrowers has increased since before the recession. Such delinquency rates can mean a host of problems in accessing credit and the ability to save as young Americans start their adult lives.

(St. Charles County Dept. of Corrections)

The St. Charles County man who once helped run the largest seller of extended auto warranty contracts will spend eight years in federal prison for bilking customers out of millions of dollars.

Darain Atkinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax charges in April. He was sentenced to the maximum of eight years today, and must also pay $4 million in restitution.

Where the bailouts stand, in 1 graphic

Sep 10, 2012

Planet Money breaks down the "how much they got" and "how much they've paid back" of the bailouts of the financial system and auto industry. Check it out via the link.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would expand tax breaks for auto parts manufacturers.

Ford and General Motors already have access to the incentives.  State Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger (R, Lake St. Louis), the bill’s sponsor, says it would expand the benefit to smaller auto parts builders.

(St. Charles County Department of Corrections)

Updated at 4:08 with comments from Attorney General Koster and Darain Atkinson's attorney.

Updated 3:58 with statement from the Better Business Bureau:

“US Fidelis left a trail of dissatisfied consumers from across the United States.  Today’s guilty plea by Darain Atkinson in St. Charles County illustrates the risks of unethical business behavior and the importance of the work of groups like the Better Business Bureau in exposing the underhanded practices in our marketplace,” Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO said.

Mo. gov. details proposed auto supplier incentives

Jan 20, 2012
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Gov. Jay Nixon wants to offer larger incentives to a wider variety of automobile parts suppliers as part of a plan to rebuild the automotive industry in Missouri.

Nixon's administration provided details to The Associated Press of a plan the governor has been touting in broad terms for the past couple of weeks.

Nixon is seeking to expand special automotive industry incentives approved in 2010 that have been used to persuade Ford and General Motors to expand operations at Missouri plants. The 2010 law also authorized incentives for suppliers to automakers.

Morning headlines: Monday, January 2, 2012

Jan 2, 2012

Last provision of Mo. law aimed at curbing auto extended service contract industry takes effect

Republican Senator Scott Rupp sponsored the legislation after he says he received lots of complaints about the businesses in his suburban St. Louis district. 

The last portion of the law to take effect requires the extended contract service providers, and their employees, to apply for a license with the Missouri Department of Insurance.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 3, 2011 - Taking advantage of the coincidence of the 100th birthday of Chevrolet and good news for the General Motors Wentzville plant, Gov. Jay Nixon took the long view Thursday in the celebration of new jobs and a new vehicle coming to the facility.

You've likely seen the commercials for vehicle service contracts on TV promising to save customers thousands of dollars in repairs to their older cars and trucks.

And St. Louis is like the Silicon Valley of those vehicle service contract companies. But while the industry continues to thrive, Missouri's Better Business Bureau logged almost 1,000 complaints about it last year alone.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 8, 2011 - President Barack Obama delivers remarks on a program to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles to be built between 2017 and 2025, in Washington July 29, 2011.

More fuel-efficient engineering may lead to higher sticker prices for new vehicles on the market in the next few model years.

The Better Business Bureau received more than 200 complaints nationwide about an auto warranty marketer based in suburban St. Louis.

Stop Repair Bills of St. Peters also is getting an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau.

The company markets auto repair plans, but Bill Smith, a trade practice investigator with the BBB, says customers are missing the fine print.

(Seal image from:

The first federal  salvo in the legal battle over the sales of extended auto service warranties will be fired by Stephen R. Wigginton, the federal prosecutor for the southern district of Illinois.

Wigginton's office will not say who the charges are against, but the "law enforcement action" targets robo-calls the unnamed company made, not the extended auto service contracts themselves.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 22, 2008 - WASHINGTON - Now that an assistance package is finally on the way to Detroit's automakers, after weeks of pleading from the Big Three and plenty of heated political rhetoric from both sides of the congressional aisle, a fundamental question remains:

Will this save the U.S. auto industry?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 19, 2008 - Missouri Sen. Christopher Bond praised the Bush administration on Friday for its plan to lend money to General Motors and Chrysler.

Bond, a Republican who had joined with Democrats to push for help for the carmakers, said the loans would help protect millions of American jobs and prevent irreversible harm to the U.S. economy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 19, 2008 - Here's what the great auto industry meltdown of 2008 looks like to Darin Gilley, president of Local 1760 of the United Auto Workers: His local has gone from 650 to 15 current active members and is on the verge of dissolving; he is unemployed.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 21, 2008 - The auto industry is pulling out all stops to secure a place at the public trough. In the latest development, Congress has given the automakers an ultimatum: No plan no bailout.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 20, 2008 - Writing satire in this country is getting to be challenging as the Republican National Committee audits the contents of Sarah Palin's underwear drawer. Or the Bush administration - neo-conservatives who swept into office promising the usual bromides of limited government and fiscal responsibility - saves us from the perils of socialism by urging the Treasury Department to purchase the banking industry.

Commentary: When is a bailout counterproductive?

Nov 18, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - In the past few months, the government has intervened in the market at an unprecedented level, putting cash into financial service firms by direct loans or purchase of their preferred stock. And more is promised.