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Michigan auto industry newsletter ends after 96 years

February 1, 2019

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan’s nearly century-old weekly newsletter about the automotive industry has closed.

The Detroit-based Ward’s Automotive Reports issued its final publication Jan. 28, The Detroit Free Press reported.

“It brings a small tear to my eye,” said David C. Smith, a retired Ward’s editorial director. “WAR broke a lot of news because it had data and statistical expertise nobody else had back then.”

The newsletter was launched in 1924 as Cram’s Report, publishing production figures for auto plants across the city and fed investors news about the then-emerging industry.

Cram’s president Al Ward directed employees to wait outside factory gates to get details from plant workers about their work.

“Al Ward was the genius behind it all,” Smith said. “He hired reporters who’d go out to get the news, not just wait around for what the companies wanted to tell them.”

Ward later purchased the company and changed the newsletter’s name.

Ward’s Automotive Reports eventually became the main news source for data on plants, suppliers and engineering centers. The information helped suppliers and dealers plan production, research prices and monitor competition. The newsletter’s success led to several other spinoff publications.

Ward’s will continue to offer the data the newsletter’s physical product provided online through a product called Wards Intelligence, said John Sousanis, the managing director of Wards Intelligence.

“WAR established Ward’s expertise in the market for decades,” he said. “That DNA is still in all our information. Our mission is to provide data about the auto industry to the auto industry.”

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

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