The Truth About Cars » Customer Relations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 28 Nov 2014 06:54:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Customer Relations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/customer-relations/ NHTSA Orders Takata To Recall Airbags By December 2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-orders-takata-recall-airbags-december-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-orders-takata-recall-airbags-december-2/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951985 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ordering Takata to conduct a nationwide recall of its airbags, while Honda was found to have issued Takata-related recalls as early as 2002. Reuters learned the automaker called back 2,686 vehicles — including the 2000 Honda Accord and Acura TL — in March of 2002, citing a November […]

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2000 Acura TL

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ordering Takata to conduct a nationwide recall of its airbags, while Honda was found to have issued Takata-related recalls as early as 2002.

Reuters learned the automaker called back 2,686 vehicles — including the 2000 Honda Accord and Acura TL — in March of 2002, citing a November 2001 report from a dealer who witnessed an “improper deployment” of a Takata airbag in an Accord. The incident prompted both the automaker and the supplier to investigate, leading to the recall months later.

The recall, which focused on passenger airbags deploying due to improper welds, could further plunge Honda into hot water with federal regulators, especially since Honda North America executive vice president Rick Schostek testified before Congress that the first time his employer had known of an airbag failure was in 2004. The NHTSA is “actively investigating” the automaker presently, using information going back to 1998 in so doing.

The agency also formally issued an order to Takata to declare a nationwide recall by December 2 of the driver-side airbags at-fault for a number of injuries and fatalities due to catastrophic failure upon deployment. Per Bloomberg, should the supplier fail to meet the deadline, the NHTSA will force the recall, and fine the company $7,000 for every violation found. Takata representative Toyohiro Hishikawa said the company’s execs were discussing how best to respond to the letter.

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Tesla: New Model X Orders To Be Fulfilled ‘Well Into 2016′ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/tesla-new-model-x-orders-fulfilled-well-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/tesla-new-model-x-orders-fulfilled-well-2016/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951497 Planning to order a Model X before doing battle on Black Thanksgiving? You may be waiting until Black Thanksgiving 2016 before yours arrives in the driveway, red bow attached. Jalopnik reports a letter sent by Tesla to those already on the early adoption list that the Model X will come with the D’s dual-motor, all-wheel […]

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Planning to order a Model X before doing battle on Black Thanksgiving? You may be waiting until Black Thanksgiving 2016 before yours arrives in the driveway, red bow attached.

Jalopnik reports a letter sent by Tesla to those already on the early adoption list that the Model X will come with the D’s dual-motor, all-wheel drive system, that the EV SUV would be the first of its kind to have towing capability, and that those who are signing up to own or lease an X will be waiting well into 2016 before they finally turn up; the first models are due in driveways Q3 2015, for comparison.

For now, the company is beta-testing the X in its factory, with crash testing due in the future. Tesla is also working with “the best rack and accessory companies in the world to have elegant carrying solutions” for the SUV, as its optional tow hitch can also accommodate ski and bike racks with little effect on aerodynamics.

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EFF: ECU Modification May Result In DMCA Notice http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/eff-ecu-modification-may-result-dmca-notice/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/eff-ecu-modification-may-result-dmca-notice/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951321 Planning to work on your new car? Pray you don’t receive a DMCA notice upon opening the hood. Per Autoblog, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says modifying the ECUs’ code could be seen as an act of copyright violation should the automaker and/or the supplier decide to make it so. Thus, the non-profit is asking the […]

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Auto Repair

Planning to work on your new car? Pray you don’t receive a DMCA notice upon opening the hood.

Per Autoblog, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says modifying the ECUs’ code could be seen as an act of copyright violation should the automaker and/or the supplier decide to make it so. Thus, the non-profit is asking the U.S. Copyright Office to exempt hobbyists and shade-tree mechanics from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, specifically Section 1201 (which we’ve talked about before).

For now, modifications to the ECU, such as boosting fuel economy or horsepower, would void a given warranty at worse. As automakers continue toward the path of consolidation, though, the potential profit in the untapped remapping market would be enough for them to lock out competitors and grab all rights to the technology.

However, a ruling could curb those DMCA notices: a 2012 case involving Lexmark and printer cartridges resulted in the decision that “companies like Lexmark cannot use the DMCA in conjunction with copyright law to create monopolies of manufactured goods for themselves.” The ruling provides protection for the original work, but not to the extent of using security measures — such as those lovely, Red Book-violating CDs from the 2000s — to protect said work.

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Honda Admits Underreporting US Death, Injury Claims Since 2003 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/honda-admits-underreporting-us-death-injury-claims-since-2003/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/honda-admits-underreporting-us-death-injury-claims-since-2003/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950929 Due to its narrow interpretation of the TREAD Act, Honda admitted to underreporting the number of claims linked to injuries and/or deaths caused by safety issues in its products since 2003. Automotive News reports 1,729 claims — including eight related to the Takata airbag recall crisis — went unreported thanks to a combination of said […]

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Due to its narrow interpretation of the TREAD Act, Honda admitted to underreporting the number of claims linked to injuries and/or deaths caused by safety issues in its products since 2003.

Automotive News reports 1,729 claims — including eight related to the Takata airbag recall crisis — went unreported thanks to a combination of said interpretation and data entry and computer programming errors when a report was made.

The admission of guilt comes from a third-party investigation’s findings in September of this year, conducted after the Center for Auto Safety accused Honda of failing to report two Takata-related incidences of death and/or injury. The results were handed over to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in compliance with a special order regarding the lapse.

Honda is already making adjustments to its reporting system, adding oral and written claims to the standard reports, and will make changes to its organization methods and staffing. In the meantime, the automaker will likely face a fine of $35 million, as well as a $7,000/day fine for every day it was in violation of the TREAD Act since 2003, a fine that could exceed the NHTSA’s maximum.

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Supply Issues Slow Takata Airbag Recall Action http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/supply-issues-slow-takata-airbag-recall-action/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/supply-issues-slow-takata-airbag-recall-action/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950777 Even if the federal government compels every automaker that uses Takata’s airbags to enter into a nationwide recall order, and even if Honda got its wish by having the government mandate every owner affected to bring their vehicles in for repair, fixing the mess created by the supplier could take as long as two years […]

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

Even if the federal government compels every automaker that uses Takata’s airbags to enter into a nationwide recall order, and even if Honda got its wish by having the government mandate every owner affected to bring their vehicles in for repair, fixing the mess created by the supplier could take as long as two years or more.

Automotive News reports Takata will increase production of replacement inflators from 300,000 per month to 450,000, an increase that could supply the entirety of the 10 million vehicles under recall in two years’ time. Meanwhile, backup from competitors AutoLiv and TRW Automotive could take that long just to have their replacements tested prior to lending aid to the supplier.

Further, some automakers — like BMW, Ford and Mazda — would have a hard time replacing Takata units with those from the other suppliers, citing design and resource issues. Should the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration find a way, however, the agency can make those automakers “to break exclusivity agreements, to share proprietary information,” per Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who reminded outgoing deputy administrator David Friedman of this fact during testimony before Congress last week.

For now, the supply bottleneck is off in the distance, mainly due to consumers not bringing in their vehicles for repairs at a clip that would strain the supply chain. That could change with a nationwide recall, however.

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Honda Calls For Compliance From Consumers Regarding Recalls http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/honda-calls-compliance-consumers-regarding-recalls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/honda-calls-compliance-consumers-regarding-recalls/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949969 Just as the federal government wants Honda and Takata to fix the airbags in the former’s vehicles, Honda would like consumers to bring in said vehicles for repair. Even if it means involving the government. Bloomberg reports Honda is asking for “some support on the state level” to make consumers comply with recall orders, per […]

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Just as the federal government wants Honda and Takata to fix the airbags in the former’s vehicles, Honda would like consumers to bring in said vehicles for repair.

Even if it means involving the government.

Bloomberg reports Honda is asking for “some support on the state level” to make consumers comply with recall orders, per Honda North America executive vice president Rick Schostek in testimony before Congress last week. One of his suggestions would be to decline registration of a vehicle under recall until the defects were repaired, in a manner similar to emissions testing.

Schostek’s suggestions have found support from the likes of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the Center for Auto Safety, with Nissan stating it was too early to comment, and General Motors, Toyota and Ford remaining silent thus far.

At present, automakers are required to notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of any problems a model may be experiencing, while owners aren’t required to do anything.

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US Data Privacy Guidelines Not Compatible With Euro Privacy Laws http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/us-data-privacy-guidelines-compatible-euro-privacy-laws/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/us-data-privacy-guidelines-compatible-euro-privacy-laws/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949937 Just as with emissions and headlamps, standards recently adopted in the United States regarding consumer data and privacy won’t be compatible elsewhere, specifically in Europe. Per Automotive News Europe, Stephan Appt, legal director of Munich, Germany-based international law firm Pinsent Masons, says the standards developed by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of […]

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Just as with emissions and headlamps, standards recently adopted in the United States regarding consumer data and privacy won’t be compatible elsewhere, specifically in Europe.

Per Automotive News Europe, Stephan Appt, legal director of Munich, Germany-based international law firm Pinsent Masons, says the standards developed by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers to both handle said data and ensure privacy “are a step in the right direction,” but aren’t enough for European authorities.

Issues concerning the standards — which were agreed upon earlier this month by BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen — include vague and broad statements within the framework, as well as consumers giving “implicit consent to allow data processing based (upon) their mere usage of vehicle technologies and services,” an act that would run afoul of European privacy standards.

Appt added that support for the guidelines shows that automakers “are taking the issue of protecting driver data seriously enough to put aside their differences and collaborate,” and hopes those in Europe would do the same to mitigate risk in violating local privacy laws.

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NHTSA, USDOT Demand National Recall Action From Takata, Automakers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949217 While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity […]

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While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity zone previously established in an earlier recall.

The NHTSA also issued a General Order to the airbag supplier and 10 automakers — BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota — requiring all to submit documents regarding “completed, ongoing or planned testing” of the supplier’s inflators outside of the current recall zone, with the goal of having all involved come correct with the agency and the American public about what they all plan to do about the airbags. Takata alone received a Special Order, regarding the propellent used in its airbags.

Responses to both orders are due by December 5.

Three of the 10 automakers involved with the General Order — Ford, GM and Honda — may likely have the hardest time replacing Takata completely. Per Bloomberg, the trio worked closely with the supplier to develop special features for their vehicles — Ford’s Adaptive Steering system, GM’s front center airbags — features that would take a while to work out with a new supplier if a deeper relationship were to take hold.

Meanwhile, only 6 percent of the 8 million vehicles equipped with Takata’s airbags have been repaired thus far, a rate critics of the supplier and its client base find appalling. The pace isn’t likely to quicken, however; Toyota says it would take a year at minimum to test and replace its units with those from other suppliers, while Nissan said doing the same for itself wasn’t feasible.

Returning to the Beltway, Reuters reports Takata had presented documents to the NHTSA linked to a 2009 accident involving its airbags, only for the agency to decline, as it had closed its investigation on the supplier and Honda, whose vehicle was involved in said accident. The NHTSA informed the news agency that the documents “would not have added to the agency’s understanding of the issues involved in that particular investigation.”

Speaking of Honda, senior executive Rick Schostek admitted before Congress that his company failed to notify the NHTSA or its customer base about the issues with Takata’s airbags, promising to offer consumers a loaner if their affected vehicles are repaired quickly due to supply shortages. As for Takata’s Hiroshi Shimizu, Automotive News says he went on the defensive, going so far as to claim that it was “hard” for him to “answer yes or no” to several questions asked by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, much to the dismay and bemusement of the committee members.

Prior to the call for a nationwide recall, the regional-specific actions, as well as the NHTSA’s order to consumers to have their airbags replaced immediately, contributed to public anxiety over whether or not the airbag before them would disfigure or kill in an accident. According to Bloomberg, Takata itself believes a national recall would only further exacerbate those fears, potentially diverting resources “from where they’re needed, putting lives at risk.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports the Monclova, Mexico facility where the defective units were assembled had issues from the moment it opened its doors in 2000. Aside from the units made in 2001, 2002 and 2012, an explosion in 2006 — one some workers claim was fueled by the same ammonium nitrate used in Takata’s airbags as a propellent — jump-started a production run where quality slipped against hourly quotas. Whether the top brass knew of the problems, however, is a different story, as it never sent permanent staff to Mexico from its headquarters in Japan.

Over in Germany, BMW is working with the supplier to have its airbags made closer to home in Freiberg, transferring production from Mexico. The move only applies to BMW, who expects additional production to come online by mid-December. Alternative arrangements would take two years and “divert attention from current recall efforts,” per the automaker.

Finally, U.S. Air Force First Lieutenant Stephanie Erdman gave her testimony before Congress, detailing what had happened to her when a vehicle turned in front of her 2002 Honda Civic in September 2013. According to The Detroit News, the resulting injuries and ongoing surgeries led to a lawsuit against Honda, whose certified dealership in Destin, Fla. failed to notify Erdman of the February 2010 driver’s side airbag recall or what would happen if the airbag deployed in the wrong conditions, nor did the dealership replace the unit in question. She also feared that once the spotlight subsides on Takata et al, the problems would still be there, and urged Congress to continue to hold all accountable for their actions.

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Grand Cherokee, Durango Going Grayscale Until February 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949153 Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months. Automotive News reports […]

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Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months.

Automotive News reports the grayscale look will be in until at least next February due to upgrades at Chrysler Group’s Jefferson North Assembly’s paint shop in Detroit. The upgrades would allow the shop to paint vehicles with more complex colors than it could prior to the changeover.

The changeover, which follows those at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ subsidary’s Warren Truck and Sterling Heights facilities, will also shut production down for three weeks beginning December 22, the first time the plant has been shut down for that long in several years.

Until then, shoppers can comb through the lot to find a red or maximum steel SUV of their dreams: around 19 percent of 24,500 unsold 2015 Grand Cherokees and 8 percent of 719 unsold Dodge Durangos come in colors outside of the grayscale range.

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Accuracy Issues Real Reason For Free Hydrogen For FCV Owners http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/accuracy-issues-real-reason-free-hydrogen-fcv-owners/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/accuracy-issues-real-reason-free-hydrogen-fcv-owners/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949129 Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell owners will be able to refuel their new FCVs for free for three years, but only because it’s hard to put a price on hydrogen. According to Autoblog, a seminar held at the Mirai launch regarding hydrogen revealed the fueling stations currently in place in the United States […]

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Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell owners will be able to refuel their new FCVs for free for three years, but only because it’s hard to put a price on hydrogen.

According to Autoblog, a seminar held at the Mirai launch regarding hydrogen revealed the fueling stations currently in place in the United States aren’t able to accurately measure how much hydrogen is pumped into a given vehicle. Without that accuracy, no FCV owner can be charged for the fuel, a problem the California Air Resources Board is working to fix. Deputy Executive Officer Alberto Ayala explains:

If you think about it, it’s a real simple yet real practical challenge. If you’re going to pay for X amount of hydrogen, you’re actually getting that amount of hydrogen… We are at a point where we are solving multiple remaining questions [with hydrogen infrastructure], and that just happens to be one of them.

National Fuel Cell Research Center director Scott Samuelsen adds that this was once the issue with gasoline, with agencies like California’s Department of Food and Agriculture and Department of Weights and Measures setting standards for fuel pumps, then routinely inspecting said pumps to ensure they remained accurate. Once “the right meter” to measure hydrogen is in place, the new consumer fuel source would fall in line.

A solution to this problem is expected to arrive within a year’s time at the latest.

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Honda To Replace Takata Airbags Nationwide If Consumers Complain http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/honda-replace-takata-airbags-nationwide-consumers-complain/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/honda-replace-takata-airbags-nationwide-consumers-complain/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946634 Worried that the airbag in your Honda may shred your face instead of saving it? Complain loud enough, and the automaker will replace the unit in question. In a statement made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this month, The Detroit News reports Honda will replace units nationwide if its customer base complains, […]

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Worried that the airbag in your Honda may shred your face instead of saving it? Complain loud enough, and the automaker will replace the unit in question.

In a statement made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this month, The Detroit News reports Honda will replace units nationwide if its customer base complains, despite being limited at the moment to the 2.8 million under recall in high-humidity states, whose Takata airbag modules are at-risk for catastrophic failure:

It is our practice to repair these vehicles outside of these regions at the request of concerned customers. Additionally, we have a customer service procedure that addresses our individual customer needs and concerns and encompasses, as appropriate, the replacement of air bag inflators and the provision of or reimbursement for temporary alternative transportation.

Representative Chris Martin explained the move wasn’t made to bring in vehicles that were “secretly included” in the recall, but give peace of mind to those who own vehicles outside the recall effort. He added that a similar statement was posted on the automaker’s owner’s website, explaining to consumers of “certain” vehicles could bring in their cars for new airbags “as appropriate,” along with reimbursement for temporary transportation needs. Martin closed by stating Honda had “no reason to believe that there is a concern” for similar issues with the airbags outside of the recall area.

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GM Victim Compensation Program Deadline Extended http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-victim-compensation-program-deadline-extended/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-victim-compensation-program-deadline-extended/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946618 The victims and families affected by the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall can breathe a little easier, as the deadline to file a claim with the victim compensation program administered by attorney Kenneth Feinberg has been extended. Autoblog reports the deadline is now January 31, 2015, per a recommendation to GM by Feinberg. […]

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The victims and families affected by the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall can breathe a little easier, as the deadline to file a claim with the victim compensation program administered by attorney Kenneth Feinberg has been extended.

Autoblog reports the deadline is now January 31, 2015, per a recommendation to GM by Feinberg. The move would allow both parties to be able to reach “every eligible person impacted” by the switch at the center of the February 2014 recall.

Since the window for accepting claims opened in August, a total of 2,105 were filed through last Friday, including 217 fatality, 128 severe injury and 1,760 less-severe injury claims. Among them, 72 claims were found eligible for compensation (33 fatality, 5 severe injury, 34 less-severe), while 292 claims (27 fatality, 30 severe injury, 235 less-severe) were under review.

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Expanding Portfolios Overwhelm Automakers, Consumers Alike http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/expanding-portfolios-overwhelm-automakers-consumers-alike/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/expanding-portfolios-overwhelm-automakers-consumers-alike/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946586 With as many plentiful lineups as the eye can see, consumers are beginning to feel overwhelmed, as are the manufacturers who are coming to realize that too many choices are just as bad as offering too few. Yahoo Finance reports automakers like Porsche, Audi and BMW are reaching a point where their respective lineups may […]

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With as many plentiful lineups as the eye can see, consumers are beginning to feel overwhelmed, as are the manufacturers who are coming to realize that too many choices are just as bad as offering too few.

Yahoo Finance reports automakers like Porsche, Audi and BMW are reaching a point where their respective lineups may soon — if not already — overlap themselves, prompting consumers to go as far as to use Excel just to find the exact model and array of features they desire.

Auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast the growth among German automakers would peak at 230 total models in 2018, then begin to flatten out as they cut production costs and improve differentiation among their portfolios, while also injecting what they sell with the latest technologies available at the time.

However, while automakers like Porsche and PSA Peugeot Citroën are implementing caps or drastically cutting down their offerings, others, such as Mercedes-Benz and Opel, plan to add more vehicles to their lineups. The expansions could lead to situations where models can only be seen in virtual showrooms — such as what has happened for BMW — as well as most consumers walking away from buying any vehicle or feeling less satisfied with the one they do buy, due to feeling overwhelmed.

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Tesla Fights Georgia Dealers Over Direct Sales Model http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/tesla-fights-georgia-dealers-direct-sales-model/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/tesla-fights-georgia-dealers-direct-sales-model/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 12:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946194 Tesla’s ongoing battle to directly sell its wares to the public has come to Georgia, where the automaker is asking for a dismissal of a petition by the state’s dealer association seeking to ban Tesla from conducting such sales. Atlanta Business Chronicle reports the petition, filed with the Georgia Department of Revenue by the Georgia […]

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Tesla’s ongoing battle to directly sell its wares to the public has come to Georgia, where the automaker is asking for a dismissal of a petition by the state’s dealer association seeking to ban Tesla from conducting such sales.

Atlanta Business Chronicle reports the petition, filed with the Georgia Department of Revenue by the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association in late August of 2014, demands Tesla sell its Model S and other models through a franchise network, the automaker’s alleged violation of the Georgia Motor Vehicles Franchise Practices Act serving as the foundation for said petition. Tesla, of course, said that wasn’t the case:

GADA’s arguments rely on a wholesale misapplication of the FPA. The FPA only regulates conduct between franchisors and their affiliated franchisees, and does not apply to Tesla, which has no franchisees.

GADA also asserts that Tesla cannot directly sell to the public because of another cited statute — one that allows direct sales only if a given vehicle is “manufactured or assembled in accordance with custom-design specifications of the customer” — proclaiming Tesla offers no such thing to its customers. Representative Derrick Dickey stated that his employer is eager for Tesla to follow the letter of the law, “just like every other automobile manufacturer that sells new vehicles in Georgia.

The case is expected to be heard in court early next month. Until then, Tesla will continue to sell directly to the public under an exemption for ZEV models, which currently limits a given automaker to just 150 per year.

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Mercedes-Benz Tops In J.D. Power Satisfaction Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-tops-j-d-power-satisfaction-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-tops-j-d-power-satisfaction-survey/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 15:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945105 Another day, another customer survey. This time, it’s J.D. Power with its annual Sales Satisfaction Index Study, with those surveyed placing Mercedes-Benz at the top of the podium. AutoGuide reports the German premium brand scored 726 out of 1,000 points as far as how pleasurable the car-buying experience turned out. Taking the gold among the […]

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2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 front

Another day, another customer survey. This time, it’s J.D. Power with its annual Sales Satisfaction Index Study, with those surveyed placing Mercedes-Benz at the top of the podium.

AutoGuide reports the German premium brand scored 726 out of 1,000 points as far as how pleasurable the car-buying experience turned out. Taking the gold among the mainstream brands, MINI scored 727 out of 1,000, marking the fifth straight year the BMW brand took the top spot on the podium.

Infiniti, Jaguar — last year’s top finisher — Lexus and Porsche round out the premium top five, while Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Fiat did the same among mass-market brands.

As far as the overall car-buying experience is concerned, J.D. Power found an improvement of 12 points among mass-market brands, and a 16-point improvement among premium brands. The main factor for both sides was a knowledgeable sales representative who could understand a customer’s needs, especially with more “tech-heavy” offerings on the lot and in the showroom, per vice president of the automotive retail practice, Chris Sutton.

This year’s survey collected 29,805 responses from those who bought or leased a new vehicle between April and May of this year.

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Takata Chairman In Hiding, Mexican Plant Increasing Airbag Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/takata-chairman-hiding-mexican-plant-increasing-airbag-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/takata-chairman-hiding-mexican-plant-increasing-airbag-production/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 12:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945033 Takata’s chairman goes missing amid the company’s airbag recall crisis; the company boosts production of replacement modules at its Mexico plant; and the United States Senate plans to hold hearings regarding the airbag recalls, while also demanding a full reform of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the agency’s role in both Takata’s and […]

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Takata Car Seats

Takata’s chairman goes missing amid the company’s airbag recall crisis; the company boosts production of replacement modules at its Mexico plant; and the United States Senate plans to hold hearings regarding the airbag recalls, while also demanding a full reform of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the agency’s role in both Takata’s and General Motors’ respective recalls.

Autoblog reports Takata chairman and CEO Shigesha Takada — whose grandfather founded the company he currently helms — has not been seen since June of this year, giving only a published statement that Takata would work with authorities regarding the defective airbags. Takada won’t be turning up anytime soon, either; the company plans to send COO and president Stefan Stocker to an upcoming analyst briefing in place of the missing chair.

South of the border, Automotive News reports the supplier is adding two new production lines at its Monclova, Mexico facility to help boost supplies of replacement modules. The new lines are expected to go online in January, contributing to the 1.47 million units expected to ship out by February. Takata recently called upon competitors Autoliv and TRW Automotive to help with the production, though that could take months while the suppliers build, test and validate their respective contributions for use by Takata’s client base.

Over in the Beltway, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold its first Takata hearing next Thursday, which will include testimony by the supplier, Honda and the NHTSA. The supplier also stated that it had received a subpoena from a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, ordering it to produce documents related to the airbag recalls. This is in addition to the NHTSA’s own request for documents, which must be answered by December 1.

Speaking of the NHTSA, Edmunds reports Sens. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Bill Nelson of Florida sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday, urging him to initiate a full reform of the agency:

NHTSA must alter its practices to require automakers to publicly release more information about accidents that could be caused by safety defects, upgrade its own safety databases, and do a better job of enforcing compliance with transparency measures intended to provide early warnings about potentially danger defects to the public.

The senators are calling for an end to regional recalls in light of the Takata action, citing that affected vehicles could move into and out of regions where high humidity — the condition needed for catastrophic failure to occur — is prevalent, as well as for safety regulators to pull potentially dangerous vehicles “off the road,” such as those affected by the respective recalls by Toyota, General Motors and Takata.

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Merrill Lynch: Tesla Sitting On 3K Cars Despite Alleged Scarcity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/merrill-lynch-tesla-sitting-3k-cars-despite-alleged-scarcity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/merrill-lynch-tesla-sitting-3k-cars-despite-alleged-scarcity/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 11:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945017 If you’re still waiting for your Model S to arrive in your driveway, you might not be too pleased to learn there could be 3,000 cars hiding in the back room, thanks to one man seeking knowledge about Tesla’s famed scarcity. The Daily Kanban reports Merrill Lynch research analyst John Lovallo found that while the […]

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If you’re still waiting for your Model S to arrive in your driveway, you might not be too pleased to learn there could be 3,000 cars hiding in the back room, thanks to one man seeking knowledge about Tesla’s famed scarcity.

The Daily Kanban reports Merrill Lynch research analyst John Lovallo found that while the hype held up for the Model X — for obvious reasons — the same couldn’t be said for the Model S. Despite Tesla’s claim that they sold every car they had in Q3 2014 — even the ones in the showrooms — Lovallo saw a different story with the finished goods inventory. In short: Some 3,000 vehicles were either in transit or in a warehouse.

Merrill Lynch — who told its clients in its research note about Tesla that the automaker’s stock will remain labelled “underperform” for the foreseeable future — also noted that Tesla is facing difficulties in penetrating the Chinese market, “coupled with seemingly tepid European demand for the Model S.” Despite the Chinese government creating a separate pool for EV license plates, 70 percent of plate winners failed to cash-in by the end of last month, and even if everything worked out, lower-cost EVs like the Nissan-Venucia r30 and the 20-some models set to leave Volkswagen’s factories would hardly leave any money for a higher-end EV like those sold by Tesla.

The note concludes by pointing out that the automaker barely makes money from selling regulatory credits to other automakers, while not making a dime off of its vehicles, the latter an issue that “could ultimately prove to be the biggest risk for the company and the pure electric vehicle market at large.”

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Ditlow To Feinberg: Seek More Claimants, Speed Up Processing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/ditlow-feinberg-seek-claimants-speed-processing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/ditlow-feinberg-seek-claimants-speed-processing/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 15:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944769 Per a suggestion by Center for Auto Safety’s executive directory, Clarence Ditlow, attorney Kenneth Feinberg may seek claimants for the compensation plan set up by General Motors in the wake of the February 2014 ignition switch recall by pouring trhough regulators’ files. Bloomberg reports Feinberg has taken the suggestion “under advisement,” wanting to be sure […]

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Per a suggestion by Center for Auto Safety’s executive directory, Clarence Ditlow, attorney Kenneth Feinberg may seek claimants for the compensation plan set up by General Motors in the wake of the February 2014 ignition switch recall by pouring trhough regulators’ files.

Bloomberg reports Feinberg has taken the suggestion “under advisement,” wanting to be sure “the notice program and… outreach efforts reach the right people.” However, another suggestion by Ditlow — to speed up claim processing — has been passed over:

We have processed every single claim that has been submitted to us with documentation. All remaining claims –- in the hundreds -– have absolutely no documentation whatsoever.

Thus far, over 800 claims out of 1,851 received since August have been processed, with 67 found eligible for payout under the compensation plan’s protocol. Thirty-two fatalities linked to the ignition switch recall have been confirmed thus far, with 150 currently under review.

As for Ditlow’s letter to Feinberg, he says the plan, which has $600 million reserved for payouts, could become a “public relations ploy” for GM unless Feinberg et al do everything in their power to find victims, going so far as to contact all who filed a claim and employ investigators to go through policy reports linked to vehicles affected by the recall.

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GM Discloses More Fatalities, Faces Questions Amid Email Revelation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-discloses-fatalities-faces-questions-amid-email-revelation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-discloses-fatalities-faces-questions-amid-email-revelation/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944553 General Motors disclosed more deaths linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall in its quarterly report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but more headaches await the automaker as the spotlight focuses on CEO Mary Barra’s actual role in the recall in the first place. According to Automotive News, GM reported 47 deaths […]

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General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

General Motors disclosed more deaths linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall in its quarterly report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but more headaches await the automaker as the spotlight focuses on CEO Mary Barra’s actual role in the recall in the first place.

According to Automotive News, GM reported 47 deaths and 614 injuries linked to the ignition switch at the center of the recall. The breakdown this quarter is as follows:

  • Chevrolet Cobalt: 302 injuries, 26 deaths
  • Chevrolet HHR: 122 injuries, five deaths
  • Saturn Ion: 56 injuries, seven deaths

The overall total linked to the ignition issue thus far comes to 975 crashes, 1,101 injuries and 69 deaths, most occurring within the past several years.

As for the recall, the recently revealed email exchange between GM and supplier Delphi in December 2013 over a parts order of 500,000 switches — two months prior to the recall action — further showed the communication breakdown that has kept the automaker and those affected by its actions in the spotlight for most of this year. The emails weren’t a part of the Valukas report, and would have remained unknown to all but the attorneys fighting the automaker in class-action cases if a judge ruled in favor of keeping the documents confidential.

Regarding where Barra was, she and other senior GM brass all maintain that they didn’t know about the seriousness at-hand until the end of January. Barra had been the company’s executive vice president of product development, purchasing and supply chain prior to becoming CEO January 15. Further, the exchange was between mid-level employees — specifically a contract employee named Sarah Missentzis — and the supplier, suggesting that Barra still wasn’t told about the problem due to where she was in the chain of command.

That said, the automaker still had a responsibility to alert consumers to, at minimum, unload their keyrings to prevent the slipping issues affecting the switches, according to attorney Robert Hilliard, the attorney who fought to have the emails go public:

Part of the recall was to tell customers to take weight off the key chain. Why delay telling customers that?

For its part, GM said the emails were “further confirmation” that its reporting system “needed reform,” an issue that the automaker has gone to great pains to correct, per representative Alan Adler.

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Lexus Europe Boss: Teutonic Trinity “Impossible” To Beat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/uyttenhoven-teutonic-trinity-impossible-beat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/uyttenhoven-teutonic-trinity-impossible-beat/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 15:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944057 While American premium brands Cadillac and Lincoln look to the Germans for inspiration — and their places on the podium — Lexus Europe chief Alain Uyttenhoven proclaimed that the Teutonic Trinity — BMW, Mercedes and Audi — were “impossible” to beat on a global scale, settling for fourth if possible. According to Just-Auto, Uyttenhoven says […]

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2014 Lexus CT200

While American premium brands Cadillac and Lincoln look to the Germans for inspiration — and their places on the podium — Lexus Europe chief Alain Uyttenhoven proclaimed that the Teutonic Trinity — BMW, Mercedes and Audi — were “impossible” to beat on a global scale, settling for fourth if possible.

According to Just-Auto, Uyttenhoven says the parent company is “out of its adolescence,” a turbulent time that included taking a one-two combo from the Great Recession and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Global sales prior to the occurrences topped out at 518,000 in 2007, with 2013 sales hitting a new peak of 523,000 units sold. That figure is just a quarter of what Audi aims to sell by 2020.

He adds that after establishing a reputation for high quality, customer service and environmental responsibility, Lexus will now focus on “emotion.” Thus, more high-performance vehicles with better driving dynamics, and likely more Predator grills. Diesels in Europe, on the other hand, will need more work:

The next big discussion will be about particulates. CO2 is not behind us, but we have to go to 99g/km by 2020. So, diesel has been growing because that CO2 average is easier to achieve with diesel. But the cost of purifying a diesel car is going to rise, so in the future, these engines are going to cost a lot more… For us, [petrol] hybrid is the answer.

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Study: Most Drivers Addicted To Texting While Driving http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/study-drivers-addicted-texting-driving/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/study-drivers-addicted-texting-driving/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 14:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944025 Add one more reason for Greg to have missed that stop sign: He was likely addicted to texting while driving, per a study commissioned by AT&T. Edmunds reports the study, conducted by Dr. David Greenfield of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, noted that three out of four individuals surveyed — from a sample […]

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texting-driving

Add one more reason for Greg to have missed that stop sign: He was likely addicted to texting while driving, per a study commissioned by AT&T.

Edmunds reports the study, conducted by Dr. David Greenfield of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, noted that three out of four individuals surveyed — from a sample size of 1,004 between the ages of 16 and 65 — simply couldn’t put the phone down to change lanes safely, look out for that semi-trailer et al.

The reason: Dopamine. According to Greenfield, those who check their cell phones every time an update blinks into existence — Facebook, Instagram, texting, etc. — receive a lift in mood thanks to the neurochemical. This could then lead into a feedback loop that could get in the way of driving to the detriment of all on the road.

Further, 90 percent of those surveyed knew it was wrong to do so, but kept texting away through the power of rationalization, with 30 percent placing said power in the belief that they can multitask like their laptops and tablets at home.

As this is a study commissioned by AT&T, the telecom giant is in the midst of a campaign promoting safe driving by putting away the phone (of which the study plays a part). The campaign, It Can Wait, includes an app available to Android and iOS users — sorry BlackBerry and Windows Mobile users — named DriveMode, which can silence text alerts once it senses speeds greater than 15 mph, shutting down once the driver comes to a stop. Over 1.8 million users have downloaded the app thus far.

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GM Parts Order Center Of New Evidence Surrounding Ignition Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-parts-order-center-new-evidence-surrounding-ignition-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-parts-order-center-new-evidence-surrounding-ignition-recall/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943945 Just when you thought the meat of the story had long since been consumed, a lovely roast was just delivered courtesy of an email chain between General Motors and Delphi regarding a large order of parts months ahead of the February 2014 ignition switch recall. According to The Wall Street Journal, the chain occurred nearly […]

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A recalled Chevy Cobalt ignition switch is seen at Raymond Chevrolet in Antioch

Just when you thought the meat of the story had long since been consumed, a lovely roast was just delivered courtesy of an email chain between General Motors and Delphi regarding a large order of parts months ahead of the February 2014 ignition switch recall.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the chain occurred nearly a year ago in mid-December 2013, when GM ordered 500,000 replacement switches from its supplier a day after senior execs discussed the issue surrounding the Chevrolet Cobalt. The automaker also asked for an aggressive timetable between production and delivery.

The emails come from a discovery order linked to a case currently being heard in New York, led by attorney Bob Hilliard. While Delphi and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both declined to talk about them, GM representative Alan Adler said his company followed protocol in submitting a complete timeline regarding the recall, and “wasn’t required to disclose details of a parts order.”

The emails also don’t appear in the 315-page Valukas report, the results of the independent investigation led by attorney Anton Valukas. Valukas stated that he was hired by GM to only look for why the recall didn’t happen sooner than it had, Adler adding that the automaker did not attempt to influence the investigation. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut thinks GM might as well have done as much:

This order for 500,000 parts raises deeply disturbing questions about the validity of the Valukas report, but more important, the timeline of GM’s effort to protect its car owners. The question is why the delay and how many lives were put at risk since GM waited at least two months before issuing a recall even though it had already decided to order parts?

The emails surrounding the parts order will likely be used by a number of attorneys representing numerous class-action suits, seeking damages for everything from injury and death, to loss of resale value.

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Acura May Unleash New Integra As Early As 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/acura-may-unleash-new-integra-early-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/acura-may-unleash-new-integra-early-2017/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943465 The last time one could buy an Acura Integra/RSX new off the showroom floor was in the mid-2000s. That time could come again soon to help the upcoming NSX, and the brand overall. Car & Driver reports Acura’s chief designer, Dave Marek, said a performance brand such as his employer “needs a flagship and… an […]

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Honda Integra Type R DC2

The last time one could buy an Acura Integra/RSX new off the showroom floor was in the mid-2000s. That time could come again soon to help the upcoming NSX, and the brand overall.

Car & Driver reports Acura’s chief designer, Dave Marek, said a performance brand such as his employer “needs a flagship and… an accessible sport car. Not a sports car, but a sport car.” While the flagship — the NSX — is set to leave Ohio beginning next year, the reincarnated Integra/RSX would likely begin its return to the showroom floor in 2017 at the earliest.

Though Marek couldn’t be more specific regarding the supporting actor, he did acknowledge that Honda went the wrong way in making Acura too upscale, not at all helped by the Great Recession that turned what would have been the next NSX into a non-homologated Super GT combatant.

Meanwhile, Acura will debut a refreshed ILX next week at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, which he says is a harbinger of things to come:

There are changes coming, and then there are more changes coming. It’s not what our direction is going to be, but it’s a step in that direction. There are lots of resources and activity going into making Acura back into what it was.

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Farley, Odell Exchange Roles In Ford Exec Shuffle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/farley-odell-exchange-roles-ford-exec-shuffle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/farley-odell-exchange-roles-ford-exec-shuffle/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943409 Two Ford execs are about to have their passports stamped, as marketing chief Jim Farley and Ford of Europe general Stephen Odell are switching roles and addresses, effective on New Year’s Day 2015. Both execs will continue to report to Ford CEO Mark Fields, who had this to say on this exchanging of executives: We […]

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Jim Farley, Ford Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, Sa

Two Ford execs are about to have their passports stamped, as marketing chief Jim Farley and Ford of Europe general Stephen Odell are switching roles and addresses, effective on New Year’s Day 2015.

Both execs will continue to report to Ford CEO Mark Fields, who had this to say on this exchanging of executives:

We are excited to see Jim and Stephen take on these new roles as they bring unique skills, experience and fresh perspectives to these critical positions. These moves also underscore our commitment to develop our senior leaders through deep experience within both our business units and our global skill teams.

Farley has been in his current role since 2007, having come over to the Blue Oval after a decade of leading Toyota’s marketing efforts. Come January, he’ll be tasked with executing the One Ford plan in Europe “to achieve profitable growth through an unprecedented focus on new products, a strong brand and increased cost efficiency.”

Odell held down the fort since 2010, and was Volvo’s CEO and president from 2008 to 2010. He’s also been with the company for 34 years, and will work on building Ford’s and Lincoln’s global presence “through innovative new digital communications and transforming the retail experience for customers.”

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Jackson: Michigan’s Anti-Tesla Legislation “Unnecessary Protectionism” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/jackson-michigans-anti-tesla-legislation-unnecessary-protectionism/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/jackson-michigans-anti-tesla-legislation-unnecessary-protectionism/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=942489 Though the anti-Tesla legislation recently signed into Michigan law is only a clarification of a previous anti-direct sales law, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson finds the whole thing as “unnecessary protectionism.” The Detroit News reports Jackson said the bill couldn’t protect Tesla, as the EV automaker had no franchises that needed protection, further proclaiming CEO Elon […]

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AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson

Though the anti-Tesla legislation recently signed into Michigan law is only a clarification of a previous anti-direct sales law, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson finds the whole thing as “unnecessary protectionism.”

The Detroit News reports Jackson said the bill couldn’t protect Tesla, as the EV automaker had no franchises that needed protection, further proclaiming CEO Elon Musk could sell his cars as he saw fit:

If Elon Musk wants to make a mistake and go with an inefficient distribution system, that’s his right as an American. Let him do it. I’m not afraid… my phone will ring someday when he really wants to sell some cars.

On the other hand, Jackson — whose franchise network consists of over 220 stores nationwide and 500,000 units sold annually — took Tesla to task for lobbying against “government intervention… and protectionism,” as the automaker’s foundation was built upon state and federal incentives all around.

Other targets in his meeting with the Detroit Economic Club Thursday included fracking, the Obama administration, and the two-pronged recall parade led by General Motors and supplier Takata. Regarding the recalls, Jackson said more government intervention is needed to better handle current and future actions.

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