EU outlines Brexit negotiating stance

European Council President Donald Tusk at the EU summit on approving guidelines for negotiations with the EU on Brexit, 29 April 2017

European Council President Donald Tusk has called on the UK to come up with a “serious response” on what will happen to EU citizens in Britain after Brexit.

“We need guarantees,” he said in Brussels as 27 EU leaders backed the bloc’s Brexit .

The rights of EU citizens to live, work and study in the UK is one of three topics they want dealt with in the first phase of Brexit talks.

Negotiations will start after the UK election on 8 June.

Mr Tusk put citizens’ rights centre stage at a news conference after EU leaders – minus UK PM Theresa May – nodded through the guidelines in a matter of minutes.

“Over the past weeks, we have repeatedly heard from our British friends, also during my visit in London, that they are ready to agree on this issue quickly,” he said.

“But I would like to state very clearly that we need real guarantees for our people to live, work and study in the UK.

“The same goes for the Brits,” living on the European continent, he continued.

UK citizens living in EU countries and non-UK EU citizens living in Britain are estimated at 4.5 million.

  • “Divorce” settlement – first phase of talks dealing with existing UK financial commitments to the EU, Northern Ireland border, residence rights of EU citizens
  • UK trade agreement to be discussed only when first phase of talks reaches “significant progress”
  • Unity in negotiations – individual EU members won’t negotiate separately with UK
  • No cherry picking from bits of the single market

The EU’s negotiating guidelines, first proposed by Mr Tusk in March, list citizens’ residency rights, settling Britain’s financial commitments to the EU and avoiding a “hard” border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland as the three top issues needing agreement in what are termed “separation talks”.

Only once “sufficient progress” is made on these topics can talks touch on the UK’s future relationship, including any trade deal, with the EU.

The UK government, however, has pushed for parallel negotiations on trade.

Speaking after the summit, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker again stressed that separation talks could not run in parallel with talks on a future trade deal with the UK, backing the line taken by German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she arrived in Brussels.

EU officials said leaders burst into applause as the negotiating stance was waved through at the summit.

EU leaders and officials were keen to stress the EU’s unified position on Brexit. Chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said: “We are ready… we are together.”

The fact that the guidelines approved today haven’t changed all that much in the past month shows that the EU’s claim to have a unified position on Brexit is more than skin deep.

The other 27 countries do see a common purpose in sticking together; and if anything the main changes in language – on a single financial settlement and on the rights of EU citizens in the UK – toughen up the conditions that the UK will have to meet.

Of course there are differences of emphasis in different national capitals – Poland is understandably more concerned than most about the rights of its citizens in the UK because there are so many of them; the Dutch are eager to start talks on future trade relations with the UK sooner rather than later, but they also want to ensure that the UK pays its divorce bill in full.

For now the emphasis on unity is real, and the determination for the EU to negotiate as one should not be underestimated in London.

Speaking earlier, French President François Hollande said there would inevitably be “a price and a cost for the UK – it’s the choice that was made”.

“We must not be punitive, but at the same time it’s clear that Europe knows how to defend its interests, and that Britain will have a weaker position in the future outside Europe, than it has today within Europe.”

On the issue of the UK’s financial obligations, EU officials estimate that Britain faces a bill of €60bn (£51bn; $65bn) because of EU budget rules. UK politicians have said the government will not pay a sum of that size.

Britain certainly won’t tamely accept that it has to pay a huge divorce bill – but it’s likely to find the Europeans united on the concept if not the precise amount, the BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Brussels says.

UK Brexit Secretary David Davis said in response that both sides wanted the negotiations to be conducted with goodwill.

But he added: “There is no doubt that these negotiations are the most complex the UK has faced in our lifetimes. They will be tough and, at times even confrontational”.

  • 29 April – EU leaders (excluding the UK) meet in Brussels to adopt Brexit negotiating guidelines
  • 7 May – French voters decide between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen as their next president
  • 8 June – UK parliamentary election – Brexit talks to start soon after the vote
  • 24 September – German parliamentary election, with Mrs Merkel seeking a fourth term
  • 29 March 2019 – Deadline for ending talks on UK exit terms (any extension requires agreement of all member states)
  • May or June 2019 – European Parliament election (without UK)
  • Ratification – Any Brexit deal requires ratification by all EU’s national parliaments and European Parliament

Self-driving technology could boost market for mergers and acquisitions

The race to deploy self-driving cars could bring new life to the mergers and acquisitions market.

Though political uncertainty in the U.S. and rising interest rates are expected to slow deal-making in other industries, the need for automakers, suppliers and tech companies to develop viable autonomous vehicle technology will maintain high levels of investment in acquisitions, according to a report by law firm Foley and Lardner.

“It’s possible the best days in this cycle are behind us, but there are still some legs to it,” said Steven Hilfinger, an attorney at Foley and Lardner and co-author of the report.

While the value of deals in the automotive industry decreased 34 percent from 2015 to 2016, the number of deals declined just 1.4 percent, according to the report. Hilfinger said automotive companies’ desire to capitalize on autonomous vehicles may prevent the number of deals from falling further in 2017.

77 billion reasons

Boston Consulting Group estimates that autonomous vehicles will create a $77 billion industry by 2035, with the companies that own that technology standing to make big profits. The quickest way to develop such technology, Hilfinger said, is to acquire it.

The deals in the automotive space involving self-driving cars fall into two categories: large tech companies spending billions to acquire established suppliers, and automakers and suppliers buying up early-stage mobility startups. The larger deals, like Samsung’s $8 billion acquisition of Harman in November and Intel’s $15.3 billion deal with Mobileye in March, are intended to give these nontraditional tech companies a major leg up in an autonomous future.

“These big companies are making big bets,” said Brendan Cahill, director of the automotive group at the Dykema law firm.

Automakers, on the other hand, have focused on the smaller startups cropping up in Silicon Valley as a way to acquire talent and develop more technology in-house, Cahill said. In March 2016, General Motors acquired San Francisco self-driving startup Cruise Automation for $1 billion, while Ford Motor Co. invested the same amount in Pittsburgh startup Argo AI in February.

“OEMs are buying barely more than startups in Silicon Valley and elsewhere because they want their own technology and people, they don’t want to be just purchasers of technology,” Cahill said.

Betting on technology

Given the potential safety and societal benefits of autonomous vehicles, investing in the space seems like a safe bet. However, Hilfinger said, putting their money on the wrong technology could prove disastrous for some companies.

“It’s not clear yet what ultimately will emerge as the most successful tech play,” he said. “People are trying to figure that out. Any kind of acquisition may not pay the dividends you expect.”

Yet, not betting at all may be even more harmful to a company’s future.

“It’s not a question of sitting it out,” Cahill said. “You have to do it to survive.”

Car Dogs’ have their day on screen

Joshua Vannatta felt he knew what to expect when he sat down to watch a new feature film about a day in the life of a car dealership.

The Internet sales manager at Earnhardt Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in Gilbert, Ariz., “puckered up” and awaited the sleazy salesman trope he’d seen before.

Imagine Danny DeVito in Matilda supergluing bumpers back onto cars and using a “two-directional drill” to lower the odometer reading, or Robin Williams in Cadillac Man attempting to sell a car to an elderly widow at her husband’s funeral.

“We haven’t been portrayed as anything but slimeballs on the big screen,” said Vannatta, 39, who’s been in the car business for 19 years.

Vannatta was one of about 40 Phoenix-area dealership employees who last month attended a screening of Car Dogs, a comedy-dramafilmed in the area. It will be available exclusively through DirecTV and Dish Network starting on Tuesday, May 2.

The movie is about a manipulative, cutthroat car dealer (played by Chris Mulkey) who offers his son, the general sales manager (Patrick J. Adams), a stake in a new store — if the sales team can move 35 cars by 5 p.m. that day.

That’s the plot, but what truly resonated with dealership professionals who watched Car Dogs were the long hours and hypercompetitive atmosphere among stressed-out salespeople — tempered by a sweet sense of comradeship that screenwriter Mark King calls “the brotherhood.”

Indeed, the film lands on some critical issues facing dealers as they strive to create stable, productive work forces.

King, 44, spent more than 20 years working in dealerships, starting at age 11 picking up cigarette butts off the lot, cleaning toilets and washing cars at his stepfather’s dealership group, Culiver Team, which no longer exists, in Phoenix. He wrote the script as part of a class in Los Angeles taught by Adam Collis, who directed the movie.

King says Car Dogs’ almost Shakespearean struggle between the father and his ambitious but compassionate son is not based on his relationship with his stepfather. But he says such generational clashes inside dealerships are not uncommon.

“As young men, we tend to build our fathers up and place them on this pedestal,” King said. “But what happens when you do that, and your father doesn’t turn out to be the man that you want? That’s where the initial content started.”

Car Dogs, which had a one-week exclusive theatrical screening in Phoenix, doesn’t shy away from the unsavory aspects of car retailing.

Besides the greedy dealer, there is an unethical sales manager and employees who play cruel tricks on customers, such as convincing a couple to climb inside a car trunk and then closing the lid.

But the film also depicts dealership employees talking about living paycheck to paycheck and working 17-hour days in a desperate effort to hit sales targets and keep their families afloat. And there is the vicious competitiveness amid the camaraderie.

A charismatic and conniving salesman played by George Lopez lets a rookie salesman in on his moves but shuts him down when he encroaches on Lopez’s sale. A charming and crafty saleswoman played by Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame pulls Adams’ character aside to tell him to wise up and treat his wife better — while pouncing on customers meant for the next salesperson in line.

Familial bonds

Still, Vannatta says a brotherhood exists.

“I’ve worked at dealerships where my favorite part is the family dynamic because the fact is you’re with these people more than your own family,” he said.

The attachments are strong. Vannatta points out that every night, his general sales manager says the same thing before leaving the store: “Goodbye family away from my family.”

King says he tried to convey that in his screenplay,

“I wanted to show the familial bond these guys have,” he said.

Meanwhile, the actual family members of dealership employees can suffer.

“I can’t tell you how many guys I know that lost relationships because of the hours you work,” King said. “It’s something I was conscious about in writing the script.”

Jay Carley, 53, general manager at Larry H. Miller Toyota Peoria in Arizona, also attended the screening and found parallels with his own life.

“You come to work at 6 a.m. and you don’t leave until 8 or 9 p.m., and that’s life in retail, he said. “Some people that are successful, they just work too much and don’t have time for a family. I got divorced from my first wife because of that.”

A key part of the story is the strained relations between Adams’ general sales manager character and his wife. As the manager puts in extra hours at the dealership to prove his worth to his father, his wife asks him to choose between her and the store.

Vannatta remembers once being in a similar situation.

“I needed to take a break and see what color my house is during the daylight and see my kids,” he said. “I can’t count how many people have been through a divorce because of this business, including me. It’s one of those things that consumes you, and the stress doesn’t leave, and it is what it is. That’s why you have such a big turnover ratio.”

Ted Kraybill, CEO of ESI Trends in Largo, Fla., which conducts the National Automobile Dealers Association’s annual Dealership Workforce Study and a dealership employee opinion survey, says work-life balance has been a major issue throughout the 20 years he has been doing the survey.

“We’ve kind of watched it cycle as the generations have changed, and it’s become more of a talking point and an issue,” Kraybill said.

He said the level of negative responses on work-life balance has steadily increased over the last 15 years, both in the sales and service departments.

Character types

Any dealership involves an ensemble of character types — like in the movie. Vannatta said he’s had managers similar to Adams’ character who want to take care of their employees. He’s also had managers not unlike the scummy brown-noser sales manager portrayed by Josh Hopkins.

“There’s a manager who kisses the dad’s butt the whole time,” Vannatta said of Hopkins’ character. “We’ve all had managers who have a head that can’t fit through the door. But it’s just a dynamic — there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.”

Eric Lard, 41, the F&I manager at Rodeo Ford in Goodyear, Ariz., who also was at the movie screening, feels some of the relationships in the movie were overdramatized. But he added: “It’s pretty parallel to some of my experiences in the past 15 years [such as] being overworked and underappreciated, having things promised to you that you don’t receive. There are certain owners or GMs that really only care about themselves.”

Said King: “I know all the characters; I know the guys and what it’s like to come in every morning and be on a 100 percent commission pay scale.”

At the screening, Vannatta said he laughed along with other dealership employees at certain jokes and situations portrayed in the movie. For example, the customer who tries to “unwind” from a contract for a vehicle his wife didn’t give him permission to buy, raging, “I know my rights.”

Lard said he and others got a good laugh from lines like: “This guy couldn’t buy love from his mother” when the sales manager goes over a customer’s financial info.

Carley said the movie reminded him of dealership operations before the Internet. Today, stores tend to have more daily transactions with online shoppers. Also, he said, “There’s a bit too much cussing in it because I don’t allow my guys to cuss.”

King says a dealership can be a raucous place but also a great setting for a story about human relations.

“There’s so much tension,” King said, “and it’s such an interesting world, the car business.”

FNR-X concept spotlights Chevy’s new technology

SHANGHAI — Chevrolet’s sporty FNR-X crossover, a funky plug-in hybrid concept developed in China, is loaded with new technologies that will appear in production vehicles, possibly worldwide.

The all-purpose crossover came out of General Motors’ Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center in China and draws its FNR name from the Chevy tag line “Find New Roads.”

The low-slung silhouette exudes a sporty aura, with a narrow greenhouse, steeply raked rear window and sharp fender creases.

Chevrolet says the vehicle’s rear-hinged doors can be controlled remotely to make entry and exit easier.

Under the hood is a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, and an adaptive suspension adjusts ground clearance on demand to smooth the ride.

Chevrolet designed the FNR-X with the China market in mind, but the company may take the concept overseas as well to test international reaction, Alan Batey, head of Global Chevrolet, said on the sidelines of the Shanghai auto show here in April.

If produced, the FNR-X could hit a sweet spot in Chinese and global markets. Worldwide demand for compact crossovers is hot, while in China, increasingly stringent emissions regulations are forcing carmakers to roll out more plug-in hybrids and other electrified vehicles.

“There are parts of this vehicle that will absolutely find their way into our production vehicles,” Batey said.

The FNR-X features next-generation fuel economy, safety and connectivity technologies.

To reduce drag and improve aerodynamics, the vehicle gets active grille shutters and switchable wheel blades that automatically adjust during high-speed driving, Chevrolet said.

Front and rear spoilers also adjust to speed to smooth airflow.

Speech-activated commands, an augmented reality head-up display and an infotainment system tailored to individual preferences round out the in-cabin tech options. On the exterior, an array of optical and acoustic sensors provides highly autonomous driving ability.

For Lexus sedans, it could be do or die

SHANGHAI — Toyota Motor Corp.’s global branding chief Tokuo Fukuichi says that as customers flock to crossovers, Lexus sedans need to up their game or risk going extinct.

The luxury marque must respond to new trends two ways, he says:

1. As crossovers handle more like cars do, sedans need to deliver even better driving dynamics.

2. As premium customers become more casual in their tastes, luxury sedans must lighten up to be less formal.

Fukuichi says he even sees room for a Lexus station wagon.

“Unless we can really offer a sedan experience you cannot have with an SUV or crossover, I think the sedan may not be able to survive if it does not evolve,” Fukuichi, who also leads advanced design for Toyota Motor, told Automotive News at the Shanghai auto show here in April.

“At a certain point of time, the traditional, square, three-box sedan will go away.”

Crossovers and SUVs are winning over customers for good reason, Fukuichi said.

They offer lots of space, they are easy to get into and out of, and the driver position is up high. Most importantly, they drive like comfortable cars now, not like the lumbering SUVs of old.

Lexus can counter by giving its sedans lower centers of gravity so they handle more like coupes or sports cars, Fukuichi said. Steering response also needs to be improved.

The new LC coupe exhibits that kind of sharp steering response, especially at speeds under 20 mph, and Lexus intends to deploy that attribute across the lineup going forward, he said.

“At the initial touch, it needs to respond sharply,” Fukuichi said. “The LC is quite close.”

Sedans must evolve away from their stodgy roots, he said.

Today’s luxury buyer is as likely to climb behind the wheel in jeans and a T-shirt as to ride chauffeured in a three-piece suit. That is one reason Lexus is moving away from the old three-box silhouette toward a more fastback look in the upcoming LS flagship sedan.

“That reflects a change in the lifestyle and fashion of the typical driver of high-end sedans,” Fukui-chi said. “They are becoming more casual and so are sedans.”

The look might progress in the direction of the GT-styled Porsche Panamera, Fukuichi said. Lexus might find room for a station wagon someday, though nothing is planned, he added.

“Personally, I would like to have a Lexus wagon if we had enough resources,” he said. “Maybe not as tall as an SUV but not as short as a wagon. There could be some optimized packaging.

“If we’re going to do it, it can’t be just an ordinary station wagon,” he said.

Sedans now account for just 29 percent of Lexus sales in the U.S. The brand’s car sales tumbled 35 percent in the first three months of the year, compared with a 2.8 percent decline for trucks.

Nismo’s global expansion could bring performance pickup

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Nissan Motor Co., seeking traction for its Nismo performance tuner subbrand, is embarking on a massive global expansion to double the number of nameplates getting the Nismo treatment and deliver a sixfold increase in sales over the next five years.

The push could expand the line of Nismo offerings to new body types including crossovers, minivans and — in the U.S. especially — pickups. Nissan also wants to build a network of Nismo performance dealerships in the U.S. as special brand promotion centers and offer Nismo performance driving academies to U.S. consumers.

Nissan currently offers seven Nismo nameplates, including versions of the GT-R, Juke, 370Z and Sentra. It wants to double the number of nameplates by 2022, says Takao Katagiri, CEO of Nissan Motorsports International Co., the Nissan subsidiary overseeing Nismo.

Nissan aims to boost Nismo sales to 100,000 in the early 2020s, from 15,000 last year.

“Demand for these types of cars is about 5 to 10 percent of every market,” Katagiri said at Nismo’s global headquarters and r&d center near Nissan’s head office in Yokohama.

“It’s the same all over the world,” he said. About 9 percent of Nissan Note hatchback sales in Japan are the Note e-Power Nismo hybrid version, he added.

Nismo sales reached 2,300 vehicles in the U.S. in the fiscal year ended March 31, down from 3,000 units the year before due to slowing sales of the aging Juke Nismo RS, Katagiri said. He expects sales to increase in the current year with the addition of the Sentra Nismo.

The U.S. and Europe hold the greatest potential for sales growth over the next couple of years, Katagiri said. But China, Southeast Asia and Latin America are possible markets.

Nissan will add body types, possibly including a Nismo pickup for the U.S., he said.

“We see potential in the expansion of categories,” Katagiri said, adding that Nismo will begin targeting lifestyle vehicles beyond the Nismo mainstays in sedans, coupes and hatchbacks.

Select outlets will be tapped as Nismo performance dealers.

These shops will get special display areas, demo cars and special training for technicians. There are already 26 performance dealers in Japan but none yet overseas.

Nismo will broaden its lineup beyond its Nismo-appointed core models to include a top tier of high performance models and a lower rung of Nismo factory options, Katagiri said. Katagiri did not offer timelines or details for those plans.

In Japan, Nismo begins the buildout this year by launching the Nismo Driving Academy, a high-performance driving school for owners.

Nismo will hold eight academy days this year at racetracks around Japan, including driving days at the country’s two Formula One courses: Fuji Speedway and Suzuka Circuit. Nissan aims to bring the Driving Academy to the U.S. and Europe but has not decided on a timeline. c

Tesla must complete brake fix to regain top safety rating, Consumer Reports says

DETROIT — Tesla Inc. needs to complete fixing its Model S sedan emergency braking system to regain Consumer Reports’ top safety rating, the magazine said on Friday, noting that a recent update by the luxury electric car maker was not enough.

The magazine, which provides an annual rating of vehicles sold in the United States, said on Wednesday the sedan had lost its top ranking in the ultra-luxury car category for failing to install the feature that it had promised to owners as standard equipment.

The Model S fell to third place in Consumer Reports’ ratings behind the Lexus LS and the BMW 7 Series.

Consumer Reports said both Tesla models previously came with standard automatic emergency braking, a feature that helps reduce accidents. The software issue affects more recent vehicles built since late October 2016.

The magazine said Friday that the Model S sedan it owns had received an automatic emergency braking software update Thursday, but the new version only operates up to 28 miles per hour (45 km).

That is far less than the current 90 mile per hour limit for the prior Tesla AEB system included on vehicles built before late October.

The magazine cited a statement from Tesla that “over the next several weeks” the car maker would increase the speed limit “until it is the most capable of any vehicle in the world.”

The company last week recalled 53,000 Model S and Model X vehicles to fix an unrelated parking brake issue.

MPs say ‘dominance’ of big home-building firms must end

Houses under construction in Bristol

MPs have called for an end to the dominance of big home-building firms to fix the “broken” housing market.

said the eight biggest firms built more than half of all new homes.

MPs said the government should do more for smaller builders who do not have the scale to bid for big projects.

But the Home Builders Federation, which represents large and small businesses, said only big firms could spread the risks large-scale projects pose.

The committee also said local authorities should prepare land for home building.

That would include providing the infrastructure needed, such as roads and public transport.

“The housing market is broken, we are simply not building enough homes,” said Clive Betts MP, chair of the committee.

“Smaller builders are in decline and the sector is over-reliant on an alarmingly small number of high-volume developers, driven by commercial self-interest and with little incentive to build any quicker.

“If we are to build the homes that the country so desperately needs, for sale and for rent, then this dominance must end.”

The committee found that smaller builders struggled to obtained land for development, as local authorities focused on large sites which only big companies could afford to take on.

The Homebuilders Federation said: “We fully support the committee’s call for measures to assist smaller builders, encourage new entrants and scale up specialist housing sectors, such as the retirement housing market.

“The vast majority of the big increases in housing supply in recent years have come from the larger, mainstream builders – but we need more builders of all sizes and specialisms if we are to tackle our acute housing shortage.”

In February the government promised to build more affordable houses and help people buy and rent, after admitting the current market was broken.

The included giving councils powers to pressure developers into starting building on land they own.

Ministers also pledged to make renting more “family-friendly” with longer tenancies offered.

However, Labour called the measures announced “feeble beyond belief”.

Tesla looks to Mexico to lure engineers for California plant

SAN FRANCISCO — Tesla Inc. is recruiting engineers from Mexico to work on robotics and other automated equipment at its California factory, according to LinkedIn postings viewed by Reuters, as part of a hiring push to ready the plant for mass production of the upcoming Model 3.

The electric vehicle maker, which prides itself on its “Made in America” credentials, aims to build 500,000 cars a year by 2018 at its plant in Fremont, Calif., south of San Francisco. That would be a six-fold increase from 2016.

A recruiting poster published on LinkedIn by Tesla’s senior technical recruiter, David Johnson, listed 15 types of engineers the company would be seeking at a May 5-8 recruiting event in Monterrey, Mexico.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its Mexico hiring plans.

The Silicon Valley carmaker is under the gun to accelerate production and save money as it readies for volume production of the Model 3 in September. The company’s future profitability hinges on its success, and high hopes for the mass-market vehicle have helped push Tesla shares up 47 percent since January.

Mexico boasts a substantial pool of educated manufacturing engineers, with 19 automotive plants owned by global automakers including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Volkswagen.

Tesla’s Johnson wrote in a post that he hoped to interview manufacturing and mechanical engineers with experience in “Body in White” (BIW) manufacturing. That is the stage of assembly in which sheet metal components are welded together to make up the outer frame of the car.

“Check this out if you are interested to work with the most complex and automated equipment in our Fremont plant! We are looking for controls, robotic and weld engineers!” posted another Tesla employee, Dominik Knapp, on his LinkedIn page.

Tesla has been actively hiring in the past few months for assembly-line jobs at the Fremont plant. But finding manufacturing engineers, who are in even shorter supply than software engineers in Silicon Valley, is a tougher challenge.

Doug Patton, president of SAE International, a professional association of automotive engineers headquartered in Pennsylvania, said Tesla’s search for engineers in Mexico underscored a dearth of talent in the industry.

“There are many more jobs than engineers, this is an engineering problem across the board,” he said.

U.S. automakers and suppliers will sometimes bring employees from Mexican plants to the United States for short-term assignments, but Patton said he had not heard of any company recruiting on a “wholesale basis” as Tesla appeared to be doing.

Tesla’s vice president of production, Peter Hochholdinger, has experience in Mexico, having been involved in the launch of Audi’s high-tech plant in Puebla.

Ford gets visit from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

DETROIT — In his first visit to Michigan, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg stopped by Ford Motor Co.’s Rouge Complex in Dearborn and a brew pub in downtown Detroit.

It was a part of the social media giant’s CEO’s “Personal Year of Travel Challenge” to interact with more people and discover how they are living, working and thinking about the future.

Ford employees revealed to the 32-year-old billionaire how they are transforming and integrating new technology into design, product development and manufacturing, according to a statement on Thursday.

The social media pioneer experienced a modern-day Ford assembly line, helping assemble for Ford F-150 pickup truck.

Detroit public radio station WDET also spotted Zuckerberg at Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery in Detroit’s Midtown.

And of course, Zuckerberg posted a message to his Facebook profile.