Posts By: Philip Thomas

By on April 17, 2014

 

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The House Energy & Commerce Committee recently released the documents GM submitted for investigation, which includes emails and internal reports documenting GM’s response to reports of their early Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models inadvertently shutting the car “off” while driving due to an ignition cylinder that was, simply, too easy to turn out of the “run” position; and in the case of several accidents, allowed the ignition cylinder to rotate out of the run condition before or during accidents, causing the airbags to not deploy when required.

The documents, totaling 619 pages (some with repeat info), reveal just how deep seated “old GM” was in their cost cutting ways (Driving down supplier costs to the point of sacrificing quality, admittedly poorly designed ignition cylinder, and removing internal quality control on the parts), and just how blind sided “new GM” was during their investigations. It also confirms how suspended engineers Ray DeGiorgio and Gary Altman were involved in the ignition switch response, and fuzzy problem solving. Full text and an analysis of key documents below. (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2014

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Last weekend, Chevrolet issued a stop-sale 2013-2014 Chevrolet Cruze equipped with the 1.4L turbo-four with no initial reason for the action. A stop-sale is an order given by a manufacturer to dealers to cease the sales of a specific model of car to repair a problem. It can be anything from minor quality issues, up to major mechanical maladies. While not an uncommon event, this comes on the heels of a tidal wave of expanded recalls and investigations centered around the maligned Delta-Platform cars. TTAC was able to obtain a copy of the stop-sale notice for the B&B, which pinpoints the failure to the front-passenger half-shaft not meeting GM specifications, with the half-shafts possibly fracturing as the result.  (Read More…)

By on March 19, 2014

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Ford dropped a heavy light weight military-grade aluminum gauntlet with a metallic thud when they announced that the aluminum-intensive F-150. With up to 97% of the body being made of aluminum, and with Ford’s claims that it has dropped 700 pounds off the truck’s curb weight, the industry took notice. So much so, that GM announced their plans for an aluminum Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra shortly after the North American International Autoshow, where the F150 was debuted.

According to WardsAuto reported that some analysts are not quite as impressed, and are unsure whether or not it will make as large of an impact as expected.

(Read More…)

By on March 14, 2014

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General Motors released their updated chronology to the recall effecting the 2007 and earlier Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR; Pontiac G5 and Solstice; and Saturn Ion and Sky. Most of the new chronology works just to update the document with the expanded recall, but there’s a key update:

During the Saturn Ion development in 2001, a preproduction model had  an ignition cylinder problem that was caused by, you guessed it, “low detent plunger force,” the result being that it takes a low amount of effort to knock the key out of the “run” position.

(Read More…)

By on March 10, 2014

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Racing is more than the story on track. If there’s thing I’ve learned in the last few years of rassin’ adventures is that the real battle in racing is the one leading up to getting the car on track. Not just the mechanical struggle of preparing a car to drive in conditions its creators had never anticipated, but in the personal struggles the teams could never had anticipated, too.

Some may have noticed we’ve been quiet on our Lemons exploits last fall, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Plain and simple, the deal for our 450SLC fell apart in such spectacular fashion that we decided to tactfully push it under the rug and move on with plans for our own in-house team. Sure, we’d wasted a ton of money, travel, and time off work, but what would the point be of publicly humiliating the person who had let us down?

That was our opinion, anyway. But Brandon Spears, owner of the Syndicate Lemons team, “builder” of the 450SLC we’d arranged to rent, and the letter-downer in question, had a different opinion about letting sleeping dogs lie.

(Read More…)

By on February 27, 2014

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“The process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been. We are deeply sorry and we are working to address this issue as quickly as we can.” – Alan Batey,  president of General Motors North America

Yesterday, GM expanded their ignition switch recall to include the other models mentioned in the #05-02-35-007A Technical Information Service Bulletin (“ISB”). These include:

  • 2005 – 2007 Chevrolet HHR
  • 2006 – 2007 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2003 – 2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2007  Saturn Sky

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also launching a probe into why GM took so long to issue a recall. GM also released their chronology of the ignition cylinder issue and years of investigation to TTAC, which we will break down for your digestion along with the full text, after the jump.

(Read More…)

By on February 25, 2014

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As far as automotive marketing goes, a truck story is always going to appeal to your emotions. More so than any passenger car, truck buyers ask more from their pickups, put them through more strenuous tasks and treat them in a very different way.

It’s fitting, then, that Australia’s Ute has a similarly heart warming story, one that we can all connect with – even if the Ute was never sold here. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2014

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GM is recalling 778,000 units of the 2005 through 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 over an issue where the ignition cylinder inadvertently turns out of the “Run” position, there by turning the car’s main electrical systems “off”. These systems include the engine, anti-lock brakes, and airbag systems. According to USA Today, GM knew of six deaths, and twenty-two other wrecks related to the ignition failure, and was aware of the defect since 2004.

(Read More…)

By on February 20, 2014

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A niche vehicle is one that serves a very specific set of buyers with a vehicle that’s defined by a specialized and uncommon or unique role; and is often knowingly sold in low numbers to satisfy that dedicated group. Sometimes it’s to test a market: The Miata created its own niche in the 1990′s, and became a role model for modern product, like the S2000 and BRZ/FRS. Other are more esoteric niches, like the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Sometimes, niche cars bring buyers to a brand that they would not have thought about before.

Currently, one of our most popular niches is the hybrid segment, dominated by the Toyota Prius. Chevrolet threw their hat into the ring, inadvertently, with the Volt. Though primarily an electric car, it does run the gas engine as a series hybrid with engine lockup if needed for maximum efficiency. The sales have been mediocre, pushing just over 23,000 units in 2013. The Prius? It sold over 145,000 units in the same time period..

Is it any wonder, then, why 43% of Cadillac’s dealers aren’t willing to take the up-market, $75,000 (before $7,500 Federal tax credit) Cadillac ELR? It’s a niche of a niche. And it’s an expensive one for dealers to take a risk on.  (Read More…)

By on February 18, 2014

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The Wall Street Journal today announced that GM is planning on producing aluminum-bodied pickups for the next generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, due for 2018. This comes on the heels of Ford moving the 2015 F150 to an all-aluminum body, with around 97% of the body structure being aluminum (Including the load floor of the bed), which Ford claims has saved 700 pounds off the curbweight of the F150. GM plans to weld panels together as opposed to Ford’s riveted and bonded aluminum panels, to seek further weight savings.

(Read More…)

By on February 18, 2014

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Last week, Rueters reported that Wanxiang, a Chinese parts supplier, had won the bankruptcy auction for Fisker Automotive. The bid was valued around $149.2 million. The deal comes to close after a bidding war between Wanxiang and Hybrid LLC — a group who includes Richard Li, a Fisker investor and Hong Kong billionaire. In November, Fisker asked for Hybrid Technology LLC to purchase the bankrupt company for $25 million, but creditors objected the deal in November and brought Wanxiang into the case in December.

Today Delaware, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross approved of the sale to Wanxiang. He stated that the auction “shows that a fair process is a good thing.”
(Read More…)

By on February 17, 2014

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Where would NASCAR be with out another fantastic Daytona mishap?

Last Saturday was the start of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with the Sprint Unlimited, a 75 lap non-points event that’s seen as the pre-season race for the Daytona 500. It offers a unique racing format, in that the 75 laps are split up into three segments, with fans deciding the distribution of laps for the final segment: 10, 15, or 20 laps with the middle segment taking up the difference; along with fans voting for the starting order and restarting order for the final shoot out segment.

18 cars started, and by caution on Lap 55, only 8 remained due to a nightmarish (or excellent, depending on your expectations of NASCAR) crash-filled race.

Not even the Chevrolet SS pace car could escape the drama, when its auxiliary electrical system for the caution lights apparently caught fire in the trunk.
(Read More…)

By on February 14, 2014

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Ssangyong has had a colorful history, to put it lightly. In 1999, the Korean brand entered bankruptcy as its Chinese majority owner, SAIC Motor Company cut Ssangyong loose. Ssangyong made a frenzied attempt to cut its workforce down, and faced one of the worst labor strikes in the Korean auto industry’s history. In retaliation for the cuts, the workers of Ssangyong’s Pyongtaek production plant set fire to the plant, and later occupied it for two months. Riot police, including helicopter support, was called in eventually to clear the plant.

With Ssangyong in shambles, Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra bought a 70% stake in the company in 2011 and immediately went to work on labor issues. Since the acquisition, Ssangyong has not suffered any labor downtime and the once rioting workforce now appears to be diligently rebuilding the auto maker, one car at a time.

In 2013, Ssangyong returned and racked up its highest sales, with 145,649 cars sold last year. 81,679 of those sales were made in overseas markets; and a spokesman for Ssangyong confirmed to WardsAuto that the Korean Automaker is looking to expand its product to the U.S. market.

(Read More…)

By on February 14, 2014

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BMW’s first front wheel drive Ultimate Driving Minivan Machine is set to debut at Geneva next month. It rides on the BMW Group’s new UKL platform, which is also the same platform for Mini’s third generation Cooper and the next generation BMW X1. The top engine in the 225i is said to be a 231 horse power 2.0L turbo four cylinder, while a diesel powered 218d is optional; and power is routed though a standard six speed manual (yay) or automatic transmission for all engines.

The 2-Series moniker comes from its larger size and price over the 1-Series variants sold overseas.
(Read More…)

By on February 13, 2014

WardsAuto reports that the next generation 2016 Toyota Tundra pickup will receive the Cummins 5.0L V8 turbodiesel for 2016, the same engine that will be powering the next Nissan Titan pickup, due for 2015. While Toyota had been working on a diesel engine with Hino, Toyota’s heavy-truck division, the economic crash of 2008 shelved the plans. […]

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