The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 03 Sep 2015 19:10:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/ Tesla Model X Referral Winner Accused of Spamming Referral Links http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/tesla-referral-contest-sure-get-ugly-hurry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/tesla-referral-contest-sure-get-ugly-hurry/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 19:02:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1160178 According to the Tesla Motors Club, the referral program that would award one Model X to a lucky loyalist in exchange for referring 10 new Model S buyers may already be over. “Kevin2686″ may likely be the North American winner for the free Model X considering he managed to refer 10 new buyers. Forum members say Kevin2686 spam […]

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Tesla Building Circa March 2015

According to the Tesla Motors Club, the referral program that would award one Model X to a lucky loyalist in exchange for referring 10 new Model S buyers may already be over. “Kevin2686″ may likely be the North American winner for the free Model X considering he managed to refer 10 new buyers.

Forum members say Kevin2686 spam posted his referral link, and indeed on a CNET news story about the promotion a user named “Tesla2000″ offered $1,000 up front and $1,000 later with a link to Kevin2686’s referral code. In Tesla’s relatively vague referral language:

“Please note that we may withhold credits, discounts or other awards where we believe customers are acting in bad faith or otherwise acting contrary to the intent of this program.”

This may not end well. 

We already know that the potential referrer would likely qualify for an income tax credit from the feds for referring 10 new Model S buyers. It now appears that, at least according to the Tesla community, the referring winner may have used unsavory means as well.

Should Tesla withhold the car for spam posting, it could be a fight over the “free” $133,000 car.

The only winner in Tesla’s referral program — at least in the U.S. — may very well be Tesla itself.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 12.36.46 PM

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Tesla’s ‘Free’ Model X for Referrals Probably Eligible for Federal Tax Credit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/teslas-free-model-x-referrals-probably-still-eligible-fed-tax-credit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/teslas-free-model-x-referrals-probably-still-eligible-fed-tax-credit/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 18:40:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159050 Details on Tesla’s “free” Model X for the first 10 referral buyers have been few since the beginning. First it appeared that the program would be limited by time, then it appeared it would be limited by country, now it appears that it’ll be limited by continent. The first person to refer ten friends in each […]

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Tesla Model X

Details on Tesla’s “free” Model X for the first 10 referral buyers have been few since the beginning. First it appeared that the program would be limited by time, then it appeared it would be limited by country, now it appears that it’ll be limited by continent.

The first person to refer ten friends in each sales region— North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific — will receive a free Founder Series Model X.

But even more unclear is exactly how Tesla will give its winner their new Model X. Depending on how that happens, there are very few scenarios in which the new Model X owner (with 10 friends wealthy enough to buy new Model S cars) wouldn’t qualify for up to $7,500 back from the feds.

A spokesperson from Tesla didn’t comment on whether the Model X referral winner would qualify for the federal tax credit. A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Energy, the government agency that administratively handles the incentive, said he was unaware of a situation similar to Tesla’s Model X incentive and said the vehicle would qualify for the tax credit if the referrer used it as a personal vehicle, and qualified under the law as the original “acquirer” — the IRS doesn’t designate that the person must “purchase” the EV.

The applicable tax code only states that for the car to qualify for the credit (IRC 30D):

  • the original use of which commences with the taxpayer,
  • which is acquired for use or lease by the taxpayer and not for resale,
  • which is made by a manufacturer,
  • which is treated as a motor vehicle for purposes of title II of the Clean Air Act [42 USCS §§ 7521 et seq.],
  • which has a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 14,000 pounds, and
  • which is propelled to a significant extent by an electric motor which draws electricity from a battery which–
    • has a capacity of not less than 4 kilowatt hours, and,
    • is capable of being recharged from an external source of electricity.

According to several accountants and CPAs, the $130,000+ cars would still be subject to significant income tax, under which there are extremely few scenarios that the qualifying referrer could escape (legally, anyway) paying tens of thousands for their finder’s fee prize.

But for the lucky one in North America who found 10 people to buy a Model S and get a Model X in return, Uncle Sam may have something for you for return for helping out the EV car business.

(Thanks TTAC legal readers!)

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Add Renault Alaskan to List of Cars Not Sold in Their Namesake Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/add-renault-alaskan-list-cars-not-sold-namesake-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/add-renault-alaskan-list-cars-not-sold-namesake-markets/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 17:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159578 Renault has released their latest global pickup concept, the Alaskan, and by global they mean almost everywhere except Alaska. Go figure. Regardless, the Alaskan looks like a beefed-up version of the Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup concept revealed in Detroit. Renault said the Alaskan is part of a new global push for their LCV business. We bet […]

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Renault_70919_global_en

Renault has released their latest global pickup concept, the Alaskan, and by global they mean almost everywhere except Alaska.

Go figure.

Regardless, the Alaskan looks like a beefed-up version of the Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup concept revealed in Detroit. Renault said the Alaskan is part of a new global push for their LCV business. We bet Mercedes will have something to say about this very soon.

While just a “concept”, expect the Alaskan to spawn a production model in short order … or maybe two models.

Mercedes, who’s been working with Nissan-Renault in a fairly cozy fashion as of late, also announced they will have a pickup for global markets that doesn’t include Alaska — or the rest of the United States. Remove the diamond logo, slap on a tri-star, and call it a T-Class.

A bi-turbo, four-cylinder diesel engine is said to live under the hood. Those turbos are asymmetrical, with the smaller of the two providing “smooth acceleration” and a larger turbo for power at higher speeds.

Renault said a new “one-tonne” pickup will be revealed early next year.

Renault_71114_global_en Renault_71113_global_en Renault_71112_global_en Renault_70946_global_en Renault_70945_global_en Renault_70944_global_en Renault_70943_global_en Renault_70942_global_en Renault_70941_global_en Renault_70940_global_en Renault_70939_global_en Renault_70938_global_en Renault_70937_global_en Renault_70936_global_en Renault_70935_global_en Renault_70934_global_en Renault_70933_global_en Renault_70932_global_en Renault_70931_global_en Renault_70930_global_en Renault_70929_global_en Renault_70928_global_en Renault_70927_global_en Renault_70926_global_en Renault_70919_global_en Renault_70918_global_en

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Chevrolet Finishes Work on 1,000,000th Corvette And It’s Pretty Rad http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/chevrolet-finishes-work-1000000th-corvette-pretty-rad/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/chevrolet-finishes-work-1000000th-corvette-pretty-rad/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:31:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159586 Chevrolet finished work restoring its 1,000,000th Corvette after it was damaged in a Kentucky sinkhole that swallowed it — and other Corvettes — at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the automaker announced. The celebratory 1992 Corvette had signatures on every part from auto workers at its Bowling Green, Kentucky plant. The restoration project […]

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Chevrolet finished work restoring its 1,000,000th Corvette after it was damaged in a Kentucky sinkhole that swallowed it — and other Corvettes — at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the automaker announced.

The celebratory 1992 Corvette had signatures on every part from auto workers at its Bowling Green, Kentucky plant. The restoration project included getting those signatures on refurbished parts, and on the two parts that couldn’t be saved, scanning and replicating the signatures.

The entire process took more than four months, and more than 1,200 man-hours to complete, according to Chevrolet. That works out to about two full-time employees working 40 hours a week, but it’s still very cool.

The details get better.

According to the automaker, several of the car’s interior pieces, including its headrests, needed significant work to be restored and were re-dyed to match.

The 1,000,000th banner across its windshield was re-printed using the original file from the first banner.

Other details:

  • Its wheels were damaged but refurbished and replaced with original Goodyear Eagle GS-C tires.
  • Its scuffed and scratched instrument panel wasn’t replaced, but refurbished to preserve signatures underneath it.
  • It’s chassis and powertrain were relatively unscathed from the attack by the earth.

Chevrolet didn’t provide an estimate for the total cost of restoration, or the value of the new car.

It also didn’t provide details about whether the process was documented because that would be instantly more interesting than anything currently running on the History Channel.

1-Millionth_Front_Damage_Final_web

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Volkswagen’s CFO Poetsch Will Likely Be Its Next Chairman http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/volkswagens-cfo-poetsch-will-likely-next-chairman/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/volkswagens-cfo-poetsch-will-likely-next-chairman/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 15:50:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159530 Porsche Automobil Holding SE announced Thursday that it would propose its CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch to succeed Berthold Huber as chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board. The proposal was supported by Volkswagen AG. Huber was appointed interim chairman for the German automotive giant after Ferdinand Piech was ousted in a dustup among leadership. The announcement comes only a […]

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Volkswagen Wolfsburg

Porsche Automobil Holding SE announced Thursday that it would propose its CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch to succeed Berthold Huber as chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board. The proposal was supported by Volkswagen AG.

Huber was appointed interim chairman for the German automotive giant after Ferdinand Piech was ousted in a dustup among leadership.

The announcement comes only a few days after Volkswagen said it extended its contract with its current CEO, Martin Winterkorn, for two more years and effectively ending his bid to replace Piech. Winterkorn and Piech publicly feuded over VW’s direction, eventually leading to Piech’s surprise resignation as chairman in April.

As a member of the board of majority shareholder in VW’s parent company, Porsche SE, Piech voted alongside the rest of the board unanimously to approve Poetsch as proposed chairman.

Hans Dieter Poetsch According to Automotive News, Poetsch is a relative insider for VW’s chairman position. As chief financial officer since 2003, Poetsch would be a non-polarizing figure with detailed knowledge of Volkswagen’s day-to-day operations.

Analysts earlier suspected that Winterkorn’s retention may open the door to an outsider to be placed in the chairman’s seat.

Poetsch was appointed CFO at Volkswagen in 2003, after leaving German engineering firm Durr AG, according to the automaker. Poetsch started his automotive career at BMW in 1979, working up to head of group controlling before he left in 1987.

Poetsch could be fully installed as chairman in November, at Volkswagen’s next general meeting.

 

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Tesla’s Model X Will Hit the Streets on September 29, Will Cost $133,000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/teslas-model-x-will-hit-streets-september-29/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/teslas-model-x-will-hit-streets-september-29/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 14:49:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159482 Tesla’s third production model, its Model X crossover, will start arriving to customers who have already ordered the car September 29, the automaker announced. Customers for the crossover, which costs $133,000 to $144,000, began ordering options and colors for their cars that include premium sound and “ludicrous speed” modes. The company announced it would hand […]

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tesla-model-x-09

Tesla’s third production model, its Model X crossover, will start arriving to customers who have already ordered the car September 29, the automaker announced.

Customers for the crossover, which costs $133,000 to $144,000, began ordering options and colors for their cars that include premium sound and “ludicrous speed” modes.

The company announced it would hand over its first few cars to new owners at their headquarters in California.

The Model X is the second model of Tesla’s planned expansion of its lineup. Following the Model S sedan, which went on sale in 2012, the Model X will offer a crossover to the electric carmaker’s lineup. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that its Model 3, a lower-cost sedan that could retail around $35,000, would likely start production in two years.

The Model X is a three-row crossover with “falcon” rear doors. After it was announced in 2012, orders for the car quickly flooded in. Last year, Tesla said orders for the car extend well into 2016. Competing automakers such as Audi have already announced competitors to the Model X.

Critics have targeted Tesla’s high-priced electric cars and their applicable state and federal tax credits as impetus for reforming the incentives. Already in California, lawmakers have capped incentives in that state based on household income.

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Big Three Health Care Co-op Could Change How You Buy a Car, Get Surgery http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/big-three-health-care-co-op-change-buy-car-get-surgery/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/big-three-health-care-co-op-change-buy-car-get-surgery/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 14:20:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159426 Automakers may try to negotiate a massive health care co-op with the United Auto Workers — similar to the one it has with its retirees — and potentially change private health care in the U.S., Bloomberg is reporting. At issue are the roughly 300,000 workers and beneficiaries, and 750,000 retirees and their families who rely on […]

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UAW Member Assembling Corvette in Bowling Green Circa 2015

Automakers may try to negotiate a massive health care co-op with the United Auto Workers — similar to the one it has with its retirees — and potentially change private health care in the U.S., Bloomberg is reporting.

At issue are the roughly 300,000 workers and beneficiaries, and 750,000 retirees and their families who rely on the UAW for health care.

The pool of more than one million workers and their families could give the Big Three unprecedented negotiating power with U.S. hospitals and clinics.

The health care co-op, already in place for retirees, has significantly cut costs for the automakers. According to the Wall Street Journal, similar cooperations between employers and health care providers — Boeing, Wal-Mart and Lowe’s — have reduced health care costs by 10 percent to 20 percent.

According to Bloomberg, the $61 billion trust established in 2010 for the UAW retirees has cut drug costs, added care and retained its assets.

The potential pool of 1 million auto workers and their families would give the group considerable leveraging power in the health care marketplace and could lead to other direct employer-provider cooperations in the future, side-stepping traditional insurance administrators.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which currently handles the current auto workers, may stay on in some capacity to administer the benefits, but its role would likely shrink.

During the last round of negotiations with the UAW, automakers were cool to the idea of a health care co-op, but may be warming up to the idea in an effort to further cut labor costs on cars produced in the U.S.

Of course, there are always horror stories about similar organizations like this.

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The Dealer Who Swindled $6 Billion From General Motors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/dealer-swindled-6-billion-general-motors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/dealer-swindled-6-billion-general-motors/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1154505 In the opening moments of the above scene from the flick “Fargo,” Oldsmobile dealership sales manager Jerry Lundegaard is working up some bogus paperwork to cover his tracks with General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC). We can infer that he sold some floor-planned cars and did not pay back GMAC, which was the impetus for the movie’s storyline of […]

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In the opening moments of the above scene from the flick “Fargo,” Oldsmobile dealership sales manager Jerry Lundegaard is working up some bogus paperwork to cover his tracks with General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC). We can infer that he sold some floor-planned cars and did not pay back GMAC, which was the impetus for the movie’s storyline of his bumbling attempt to extort money from his father-in-law.

Jerry’s store may have been “out of trust” with GMAC on a few dozen 1987 Cutlasses, but that pales in comparison to the scheme concocted by New York car dealer John McNamara.

Between 1980 and 1991, McNamara convinced GMAC to advance him $6.2 billion to pay for 248,000 conversion vans that did not exist. It was one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history and ended up costing GMAC $436 million, equal to $725 million in today’s dollars.

We would like to show you a photo of McNamara but none are to be found. That may be because it is believed he went into the Witness Protection Program a few years after his conviction for fraud in 1992. Just picture Lundegaard with a really big brain.

McNamara’s brilliant swindle was deliciously simple. It was based on one undeniable truth he learned from his years of owning a Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealership on Long Island: General Motors and GMAC were too incompetent and too bureaucratic to figure out that they were being scammed.

Born in 1940, John McNamara took over his father’s Port Jefferson, NY Buick dealership in 1978 (car company employees reading this are all now thinking, “Ah, he was a dealer’s son, that explains it all!”) In 1990, he approached GMAC with a request for them to floorplan conversion vans that he was going to have built and then exported. He informed GMAC that his store was going to buy the vans from an Indianapolis conversion company called Kay Industries. McNamara told GMAC he had a buyer for the all the units in Cyprus and they would distribute them throughout Southeast Asia.

Kay Industries was not a recreational vehicle factory but rather an empty office that McNamara had set up, furnished only with a phone that forwarded calls to his operations in Long Island.

There were probably around 30 or so van conversion outfits in the U.S. at the time, the majority of them being located 150 miles north of Indianapolis in Elkhart, Indiana, the center of the domestic RV industry. Using an Indiana address gave McNamara’s fake company credibility, but using an Elkhart address would have been too risky as there would have been too many General Motors reps sniffing around.

McNamara’s Buick store would “buy” the vans from Kay Industries and proceeded to produce MSOs with fake VINs which they forwarded to GMAC to obtain the financing. (It is not clear but we assume the vans were all Fords and Dodges because even the bold McNamara would not risk using Chevrolet and GMC vans so as not to risk GMAC from cross-checking VINs with General Motors.) The vans were then “sold” to another sham McNamara company, an auto export firm called Harbor East Equities, which in turn “sold” them to the bogus Cyprus firm Cydonia Trading Ltd.

So Kay Industries started cranking out thousand of vans per month, instantly becoming one of the highest volume converters in America and GMAC dutifully handed over an estimated $25,000 per phantom unit to McNamara, all based on bogus paperwork.

conversion-van-factory courtesy sherrodvans.com

A real van conversion factory; McNamara’s facility was an empty office in Indianapolis.

GMAC was oblivious to the implications of a previously unknown company building a high volume of units, despite them working with other van conversion firms. No GMAC official ever drove the 240 miles from their Detroit headquarters to visit Kay Industries. No calls from GM Detroit headquarters to the General Motors Indianapolis zone office were ever placed (“My God, Bob, GMAC is flooring a zillion Ford and Dodge conversion vans out of a factory in your backyard. Go visit them and get them to switch to Chevy and GMC chassis!”)

Instead, GMAC modified its computer systems to accommodate the added volume. They would occasionally shut down their Long Island zone office so employees could concentrate on processing McNamara’s paperwork. Those sessions were nicknamed by employees as, “Mac Attacks,” or “Give McNamara Another Car (GMAC)” days. They gave him 60 days to pay, twice their norm. The bank probably profited $50 million on floorplan interest over the years from McNamara, so they were intent on giving their important client the best service possible.

Meanwhile, McNamara was spending the money like a drunken, well, car dealer. He purchased a golf course in Florida, a private jet, over 100 properties and a Nevada gold mine. In a delicious irony, he bought an auto finance company, one of over 70 firms he owned or in which held a partnership. His net worth soared to over $300 million.

For ten years McNamara paid GMAC back the floorplan loans with interest like clockwork using proceeds from GMAC’s newer loans, but naturally had to increase his volume to maintain his lifestyle. He became a mini-Bernie Madoff, always betting that the stream of cash would never end.

By 1991, Kay was “producing” an astounding 53 percent of all conversion vans built in America. In December of 1991, Kay actually out produced all other U.S. van customizers combined by building 17,000 units on paper. John McNamara’s greed was out of control.

That milestone month triggered the beginning of the end for McNamara. A GMAC bean counter raised a red flag over Kay’s $425 million month and the company soon noticed that the VINs in question never turned up in registration reports. They asked McNamara where the 17,000 vans were located and he said 11,000 were still at the plant being converted and 6,000 were already shipped overseas.

We can only imagine the look on the face of the GMAC official who went to check out Kay Industries and discovered the empty office and realized his company had been snookered. The company notified the Department of Justice.

Vans Courtesy speedhunters.com

McNamara was arrested in April 1992 and charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. His assets were seized but he did make his $300 million dollar bail, presumably money he somehow made outside the scam.

McNamara later testified that it was “easy” to fool General Motors. When GMAC would conduct surprise floorplan checks at his store, he claimed to always be tipped off as to when they would be coming and would manage to convince them that the vans existed.

This testimony from a later case involving McNamara from an article in the The New York Times may explain why the scam went undetected for so long:

Once, Mr. McNamara said, he received a call from a financing agency official in Detroit, who told him that the company’s computers would not accept the serial numbers the dealer was supplying. “The computer was spitting out the serial numbers,” Mr. McNamara said, adding that the G.M.A.C. employee asked him what he wanted to do about it.

“I asked, what’s easiest for him?” Mr. McNamara recalled. “He said, ‘To override the computer and accept the serial numbers.'” Mr. McNamara said he told the worker it seemed a fine idea to him, and it was done.

He also stated that he gave free service and deep discounts on vehicles to local GMAC officials, a charge GMAC denied.

He would plead guilty in September 1992 and faced 20 years in jail and an $800 million fine.

This is where the story gets blurry. McNamara mysteriously was allowed to remain free and got to keep around $2 million in assets. Lead prosecutor assistant U. S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, now U. S. Attorney General, admitted that McNamara was leading a personal life similar to pre-conviction. He opened an auto parts supply company and continued to live in his Long Island mansion. McNamara transferred all of his homes to his then-girlfriend Diane Dangerfield. (Based on her great name alone, Hollywood should have made a movie about this story.)

It turns out the Feds wanted him to finger some local politicians he admitting to have paid off for favors on his building projects in exchange for a reduced sentence of 5 years and a chance to enter the federal Witness Protection Program. Three of those officials were later acquitted of bribery in 1995.

After that, the news stories stopped. Where is the now 75-year-old John McNamara?

When GMAC pulled McNamara’s line of credit, they would not get reimbursed for $436 million dollars worth of vans. Their reaction to this embarrassing loss was to force the retirement of, or reassign and discipline, a handful of managers. In what must be the greatest corporate spin of all time, GMAC said their internal investigation of the McNamara case “did not reveal systemic problems with GMAC’s operating and control procedures in its core business functions.”

One final note: when John McNamara was first confronted by federal officials he reportedly said, “What took you so long to catch me?” Or as Jerry Lundegaard said above, “I’m cooperating here!”

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Dan Gurney Patents New “Moment Cancelling” Engine http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/dan-gurney-patents-new-moment-cancelling-engine/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/dan-gurney-patents-new-moment-cancelling-engine/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158410 With a resume as accomplished as Dan Gurney has, he would be well within his rights to retire to a life of leisure. The man is 84 years old, after all. However, Gurney stays busy at his All American Racers shop in Santa Ana, California and he recently announced that he’s been granted a United […]

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With a resume as accomplished as Dan Gurney has, he would be well within his rights to retire to a life of leisure. The man is 84 years old, after all. However, Gurney stays busy at his All American Racers shop in Santa Ana, California and he recently announced that he’s been granted a United States patent on what he calls the “moment cancelling” engine.

Gurney claims that by using two transversely oriented, counter-rotating crankshafts, the vibrations inherent in reciprocating piston engines will be reduced and reliability and efficiency will be improved, along with what he says will be turbine smoothness.

In its most basic form in a two-cylinder engine, each piston’s connecting rod spins it’s own crankshaft, with the two cranks spinning in opposite directions, cancelling out forces that would normally cause the engine to shake. Gears are used to combine and take power from the two crankshafts. Multiple cylinder engines are also possible, with the odd numbered pistons connected to one crankshaft and the even numbered pistons connected to the other.

Gurney says that the engine design has exceeded expectations when simulated in the digital domain and that he expects to have a physical prototype — an 1,800cc vertical twin — running by the end of this year. There’s a website, momentcancelling.com, describing the project, where you can peruse the simulation data and read about Gurney’s enthusiasm for the engine. The patent is #9,103,277, and you can read it here. Mr. Gurney says that the new motor would be suitable for most current motorcycle and automotive applications.

Interestingly, Gurney points out how power output was relatively low on the design brief’s priority list. The primary goal of the moment cancelling engine, according to its inventor, is smoothness, simplicity and compactness.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Piston Slap: Mad Vulcan Powah? (Part II) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/piston-slap-mad-vulcan-powah-part-ii-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/piston-slap-mad-vulcan-powah-part-ii-2/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 12:30:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1156506   Tony writes: Sajeev, My new wife brought to the marriage her ’07 fleet-queen Taurus. She’s not a car pamperer by any means, but she does change her oil. This car got flogged like a racehorse in its previous life. Its body tightness is well-nigh gone, it unpredictably emits a strange unidentifiable groan from the […]

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I’d buy that for a dollar. (photo courtesy: www.clubedotaurus.com)

Tony writes:

Sajeev,

My new wife brought to the marriage her ’07 fleet-queen Taurus. She’s not a car pamperer by any means, but she does change her oil. This car got flogged like a racehorse in its previous life. Its body tightness is well-nigh gone, it unpredictably emits a strange unidentifiable groan from the depths of the dashboard center on moderate acceleration, the dime-size floormats are practically ground into dust, and the trunk barely agrees to open even when unlatched.

But the heart of the problem is in the engine bay. At 130k, the engine light has been chronically on for the past year-plus and the car flunks smog tests. A couple of good independent mechanics have variously identified the problem as being the catalyst or other things; I’ve read the PVC system is a typical offender in aging Vulcans, and these guys were smart enough to check it. Each of the last two test intervals, the mechanic coaxed the car through the test to keep it legal for another two years.

For all that, the car doesn’t drive badly, and it’s quit over the road only once as she’s continued to rack up the miles. It’s also got enough visible wounds outside and inside that it’s virtually worthless in resale. I know the typical answer in this situation would be “drive it until it drops dead.”

But one thing that gives me pause is that stranding incident — a year ago the engine sprang a leak and starting puking its coolant all over the ground, prompting an emergency service. I don’t remember which gasket it was (head?), but I heard it was endemic to that engine and set her back about a thousand bucks.

I’ve got my wife pegged as a dream customer for a 3-year-old Prius, since she’s born for its combination of stratospheric gas mileage, eternal reliability and utter void of driving entertainment. I’m not made of money, but I suspect the price of these will jump back to its old higher level when the price of gas does. She doesn’t mind the Taurus a bit unless it fails.

Keep flogging the old bull? Try to outguess the Reaper? Thoughts?

Sajeev answers:

ZOMFG SON, if I met a woman with such a sweet ride, I would totally marry her so I can do this to her Vulcan Taurus.

 

While an Eaton M90 blower fixes everything on your wife’s sweet ride, the sad reality is that neither of us could make it happen. How sad!

I heard the last Vulcans had a cylinder head defect leading to OBD-II trouble codes, and I reckon yours is in the same boat. So yes, it’s a case of run it ’til it dies. If the Taurus is still a decent runner and it’s worth more to you than anyone else, I wouldn’t scoff at replacing the long block with a low mile junkyard unit. That might get you another relatively trouble free 80-100,000 miles in an otherwise reliable vehicle. Maybe. If that’s what you really want.

That said, as gas prices continue to spiral down, I suspect a used Prius (or Nissan Leaf) on the cheap is in your future.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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QOTD: When Will Autonomous Cars Outnumber The Manually Driven? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/qotd-when-will-autonomous-cars-outnumber-the-manually-driven/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/qotd-when-will-autonomous-cars-outnumber-the-manually-driven/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 11:50:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159354 I’ll admit it. I, the millennial managing editor of an automotive blog, would absolutely rely on an autonomous car for my day-to-day errands or long-distance commutes. Why wouldn’t I? I can kick back, relax, talk with people, get some writing done, or anything else I could possibly do on an airplane. As long as all the […]

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Google Autonomous Vehicle Prototype Circa December 2014

I’ll admit it. I, the millennial managing editor of an automotive blog, would absolutely rely on an autonomous car for my day-to-day errands or long-distance commutes. Why wouldn’t I? I can kick back, relax, talk with people, get some writing done, or anything else I could possibly do on an airplane. As long as all the other vehicles on a roadway are autonomous, it’ll be safer, too!

Why do I think this way? The majority of the driving we do is boring. I can just imagine hailing an autonomous car on my phone, waiting for it to arrive to my home, and setting it to drive me wherever I want in relative comfort. Why should I need to stay alert at a four-way stop if technology can make that a thing of the past?

Except it probably won’t work quite like that.

Instead, we are seeing autonomous tech come out in trickles.

While the Google autonomous car project is the one garnering the most press at the moment and Tesla is also in the running for headlines, Cadillac, Audi and other manufacturers are putting semi-autonomous technology in their cars right now or in the not too distant future.

Cadillac Super Cruise will be here next year on the CTS and CT6. This is probably the best application of our semi-autonomous near future. Long-distance driving is great when you get to enjoy your surroundings. It isn’t so great when you’re staring down the rear bumper of an RV with F-150 taillights.

But, in order for the autonomous future to happen — the one where we have roadways dedicated to fully autonomous cars and us humans aren’t allowed to manually drive — the autonomous cars need to outnumber the ones that don’t.

This happened back in the early 20th century. “Automobilists” as they were called back then were on the constant defensive against livery stable owners and other businessmen who had a vested interest in keeping real horsepower on city streets. Take this exchange between two groups at a meeting in New York City discussing automobiles in Central Park.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 5.08.35 PM

Lawson N. Fuller said that he had been fifty-six years in New-York, and had driven more miles in Manhattan Island than any other man in the city. “And I must say from experience,” he added. “that the vehicle which frightens my horses most is the baby wagon. Next to that is a wet spot on the road.

“Maybe your horses are nearsighted,” interrupted Alderman Bailey, with a sneer. “There are nearsighted horses, you know.”

“Yes there are nearsighted horses and near sighted mules and nearsighted asses,” replied Mr Fuller, at which the Alderman subsided in a burst of laughter from the crowd.

New-York Tribune., November 10, 1899, Page 6, Image 6

It wouldn’t be until a large proportion of the population adopted the automobile that horses became a thing of the past. And just like the stable-owner-friendly alderman in 1899 New York City, it’s the shared nearsightedness today that sees autonomous vehicles as just a blur in the distance; an unformed, not quite solidified idea of the future.

Personally, I think the autonomous future will happen a lot sooner than most of us would like to admit, and it will happen one car at a time just like the Toyota Prius. The idea of a hybrid in 1997 was a fantastical idea. Now they’re ubiquitous and have been for quite some time.

So, my prediction … in 2030 there will be more autonomous cars on the road than those of today. What say you, B&B?

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Maserati May Have Falsified Monthly Sales Before FCA Went Public http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/maserati-may-have-falsified-monthly-sales-before-fca-went-public/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/maserati-may-have-falsified-monthly-sales-before-fca-went-public/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 21:47:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159170 According to a report by Automotive News, Maserati North America may have falsified nearly half their sales in December 2014 and an undisclosed amount for other months through a demonstration car scheme that rewarded dealers for being complicit in the scheme. A lawsuit filed by Recovery Racing, owner of multiple Maserati stores in the northeastern U.S., […]

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According to a report by Automotive News, Maserati North America may have falsified nearly half their sales in December 2014 and an undisclosed amount for other months through a demonstration car scheme that rewarded dealers for being complicit in the scheme.

A lawsuit filed by Recovery Racing, owner of multiple Maserati stores in the northeastern U.S., claims a program aimed at falsely boosting sales numbers financially disadvantaged its business because of its reluctance to participate.

Court documents filed by Recovery Racing state former Maserati North America CEO Peter Grady communicated on Sept. 23, 2014, the details of a Ghibli Performance Bonus that would apply to new 2014 and 2015 Ghibis sold in a specific timeframe.

On Sept. 29, Regional Sales Vice President Rick Fuller demanded via email that dealers “punch” a 2015 Ghibli demonstrator unit, even though those units had not yet been delivered.

A “punched” vehicle is considered sold; when a digital retail delivery report — or RDR card — is filled out and submitted to the distributor. It also marks the vehicle as unavailable for dealer trade. Dealers commonly “punch” demonstrator units, but in small numbers — typically one per model available within a manufacturer’s lineup. Toward the end of a vehicle’s life as a demonstrator, the vehicle is sold as “new” to a customer — usually at a reduced price — and the RDR card is updated with the customer’s information.

A day after the first “punch” request, Fuller sent out another email demanding dealers do the same to their 2014 GranTurismo, GranTurismo Convertible Sport and GranTurismo Convertible MC demonstrator vehicles, threatening that Maserati would eliminate future incentives if dealers didn’t comply.

Maserati claimed a 300-percent increase in sales the following October with 1,367 vehicles sold, the same month FCA went public.

I’ll allow Automotive News to explain the kicker:

In December, Maserati again told dealers to punch vehicles into demonstrator status. On Dec. 31, Fuller forwarded an email indicating that Maserati of Westlake in Thousand Oaks, Calif., had sold 70 Maserati vehicles in December 2014, and Maserati as a whole had sold 743 vehicles that month, according to court documents.

But two days later, Fuller forwarded an email saying that Maserati of Westlake had sold 155 vehicles in that month and Maserati as a whole had sold 1,431 vehicles, according to the documents.

“The purported increase in vehicles allegedly sold by both Maserati of Westlake and Defendant Maserati in December 2014 was due to vehicles punched into demonstrator status and not yet sold to a retail customer,” the complaint said.

Maserati North America and former CEO Peter Grady declined to comment on the report with Automotive News.

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BlueIndy Electric Car Sharing is Born (Under a Bad Sign) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/blueindy-electric-car-sharing-born-bad-sign/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/blueindy-electric-car-sharing-born-bad-sign/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 20:14:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159138 BlueIndy, the nation’s first electric car sharing service, launched in Indianapolis on Wednesday, according to Time, but with controversy. The car service, which uses Bollore Group electric cars, has met initial opposition with the Indianapolis City Council, who’ve taken aim at the mayor who launched the project with Bollore — whose other EV car-sharing cities include […]

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Vincent Bollore with his Bluecars in Paris

BlueIndy, the nation’s first electric car sharing service, launched in Indianapolis on Wednesday, according to Time, but with controversy.

The car service, which uses Bollore Group electric cars, has met initial opposition with the Indianapolis City Council, who’ve taken aim at the mayor who launched the project with Bollore — whose other EV car-sharing cities include Paris and London.

The cars shouldn’t be parked in downtown spots, council members say.

“The mayor needs to understand that even though this is one of his pet projects, he is not above the law,” City council member Zach Adamson, told WXIN. 

The program is drawing fire from local residents as well.

The city’s buses are among the worst in the nation, according to StreetsBlog.org, and residents say the $6 million from city coffers for the service could be better spent on better public transportation. The lack of public transportation is reason alone for the service, BlueIndy General Manager Scott Prince told the Indianapolis Business Journal:

“We think it’s the perfect city to do this,” he said. “If we had the world’s greatest mass transit system today, this arguably would not be the first city we’d be launching in in America.”

Nonetheless, neighbors say the dedicated city parking spots and charging stations for the cars are an eyesore:

“I live in a historic neighborhood, and I’ve got a rental car business in front of my house,” Chas Navarra told the Indianapolis Star. “What’s the difference between having this and Hertz or Avis parked out there? How is this going to be good for my (property) valuation?”

A safety hazard:

“When it smacks you on the forehead like that, it’s really something,” Navarra said. “Do we even know if these chargers are safe or if children should be playing around them?”

Unnecessary:

“I drive my car to work Downtown,” Sean McCarthy told the Indianapolis Star. “It’s only three miles, but we have a parking garage, and traffic isn’t bad at all.

“I just don’t think Indianapolis is at that point where we have to find all kinds of other ways to get to work. It might make sense in a larger city but not here, yet.”

And a “leap of faith”:

“It’s quite alien,” Michael Thwaite, who is president of Plug-In America, told the Indianapolis Business Journal. The car “requires someone to take a leap of faith that the thing will work and it will meet their needs. It has to be better than the alternatives.”

The service will eventually have 500 cars available, according to its website. The cars fit four adult passengers and have a range of 150 miles.

Membership for the service costs $9.99 a month and $4 for 20 minutes in the car. After 20 minutes, users are charged $0.20 per minute.

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Breaking the Law Is Safer When Everyone Else Is Breaking It http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/breaking-the-law-is-safer-when-everyone-else-is-breaking-it/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/breaking-the-law-is-safer-when-everyone-else-is-breaking-it/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 18:59:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159034 Google. While breaking privacy laws seems to be their global sport of choice, they sure do stick to the letter of the law when their autonomous cars are perusing American roads. Oddly, that’s a problem according to the New York Times, because the rest of us operate our automobiles in a legal gray area, bending the rules to […]

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Google Autonomous Vehicle Prototype Circa December 2014

Google. While breaking privacy laws seems to be their global sport of choice, they sure do stick to the letter of the law when their autonomous cars are perusing American roads.

Oddly, that’s a problem according to the New York Times, because the rest of us operate our automobiles in a legal gray area, bending the rules to our benefit when we know we won’t get caught.

Google’s autonomous car project is — in its simplest form — four wheels, an array of sensors and software that tells the wheels what to do based on signals from the sensor array. Because that software is programmed in a way that follows traffic law in an absolute form, human drivers don’t know how to react it — and it doesn’t know how to react to humans.

This is because, for the most part, we break traffic laws is small ways all the time.

For example, four-way stops:

One Google car, in a test in 2009, couldn’t get through a four-way stop because its sensors kept waiting for other (human) drivers to stop completely and let it go. The human drivers kept inching forward, looking for the advantage — paralyzing Google’s robot.

If the Google car had been programmed to break the law by not waiting for all other vehicles to stop, it would have made it through the intersection.

But, it isn’t just the autonomous car of the future; drivers are having difficulties with the semi-autonomous features of today found in a number of vehicles, like lane departure warning systems:

Humans and machines, it seems, are an imperfect mix. Take lane departure technology, which uses a beep or steering-wheel vibration to warn a driver if the car drifts into another lane. A 2012 insurance industry study that surprised researchers found that cars with these systems experienced a slightly higher crash rate than cars without them.

Bill Windsor, a safety expert with Nationwide Insurance, said that drivers who grew irritated by the beep might turn the system off. That highlights a clash between the way humans actually behave and how the cars wrongly interpret that behavior; the car beeps when a driver moves into another lane but, in reality, the human driver is intending to change lanes without having signaled so the driver, irked by the beep, turns the technology off.

As difficult as it will be for autonomous vehicles to seamlessly blend in with the current infrastructure — regardless of the condition of that infrastructure — the biggest hurdle will likely be something much more difficult to change: human nature.

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QOTD: Should ‘Buyback’ Cars Carry a Branded Title? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/buy-recalled-buyback-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/buy-recalled-buyback-car/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 18:04:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159010 In 37 pages of Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s consent order with the government, the unprecedented action mentions little about what life will be like for the cars re-sold by the automaker after being repaired. At issue are thousands of trucks and SUVs — Ram 1500s, 2500s, 3500s, Dodge Durangos and Dakotas, and Chrysler Aspens — that could be […]

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In 37 pages of Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s consent order with the government, the unprecedented action mentions little about what life will be like for the cars re-sold by the automaker after being repaired.

At issue are thousands of trucks and SUVs — Ram 1500s, 2500s, 3500s, Dodge Durangos and Dakotas, and Chrysler Aspens — that could be eligible for buyback from the automaker. FCA spokesman Eric Mayne told us in July that FCA has the ability to buy, repair and resell those cars under the order.

The recall order doesn’t address whether those cars would need to be identified as “buyback” cars, which the manufacturer isn’t obligated to disclose. But already, the consent order asks FCA to go above and beyond what the law requires for a while.

Unlike Lemon Law cars, which receive “manufacturer branded” titles, buyers may be relying on the dealer to tell you if the car was purchased and repaired by the manufacturer as part of the large-scale recall. And in the U.S., used car dealers are required to disclose only what they know about the vehicle’s history, including recalls, which may not be much.

FCA has (rightfully) said that the cars it buys back, repairs and re-sells would comply with all applicable safety standards outlined for the cars, and in theory wouldn’t be much different than any other successfully recalled and repaired vehicle.

However, it would be incumbent upon buyers (and even more so, dealers) to uncover their vehicle’s history — if they’re curious — and we all know CarFax is hit or miss.

So the question I have for the B&B is: Should titles reflect whether cars were purchased from manufacturers as part of a non-lemon “buyback?” Would buyers want to know recall history? Should the automaker or dealer be compelled to disclose its history?

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Crapwagon Outtake: 1987 Toyota 4×4 Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/crapwagon-outtake-1987-toyota-4x4-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/crapwagon-outtake-1987-toyota-4x4-truck/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158226 Go to any small town cruise-in, and you’re likely to find one: a tribute to the owner’s favorite “movie car.” A “Bullitt“ Mustang, or for the younger guys who like fixing stress cracks in cheap fiberglass, a “Gone in Sixty Seconds” Mustang. A “Smokey and The Bandit” Trans Am, complete with screaming chicken. A racist […]

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Go to any small town cruise-in, and you’re likely to find one: a tribute to the owner’s favorite “movie car.” A “Bullitt Mustang, or for the younger guys who like fixing stress cracks in cheap fiberglass, a “Gone in Sixty Seconds” Mustang. A “Smokey and The Bandit” Trans Am, complete with screaming chicken. A racist General Lee. If the show is at a private golf club rather than the back lot of a Sonic Drive-In, perhaps a “Goldfinger” DB5.

DeLoreans figure heavily into this mix, too. Faux flux capacitors abound. But for me, my absolute favorite movie car is Marty’s Toyota HiLux from “Back to The Future.” Gleaming in black, with polished rims, a phalanx of lights atop a useless roll bar, the truck of Marty’s dreams was also that of mine when I was seven. I recall building a plastic scale version as a poor substitute.

There are folks out there who will dress up used trucks to recall the legendary movie vehicle, like this one on eBay. I can’t imagine restoration parts are easy to come by, with a vast majority of these tough trucks being used as troop transport somewhere in less-developed lands. A recently rebuilt engine helps ease the shock of the odometer figure.

The seller wants $3,500, which might be a bit crazy for a faded, rusty, 271,000-mile, old pickup. But squint a little, ignore the independent front suspension that wasn’t available in ’85, and you can imagine yourself with a Jennifer next to you, and a Flea in the next lane over.

Seven-year-old Chris wants to turn on some Huey Lewis, and place a bid. Thirty-something Chris is listening to Dave Brubeck, however, in an effort to tune out the child within.

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Nissan, Hyundai Execs Play Musical Chairs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/nissan-hyundai-execs-play-musical-chairs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/nissan-hyundai-execs-play-musical-chairs/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:23:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158818 Hyundai’s U.S. sales chief Bob Pradzinski left abruptly Tuesday and was promptly replaced by Nissan’s U.S. sales chief — and former Hyundai exec — Derrick Hatami, Automotive News is reporting. Separately, Nissan announced that Chief Marketing Officer Dan Mohnke would assume lead sales responsibilities after Hatami’s departure. Pradzinski’s sudden departure may have triggered the moves, but it’s not […]

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Hyundai’s U.S. sales chief Bob Pradzinski left abruptly Tuesday and was promptly replaced by Nissan’s U.S. sales chief — and former Hyundai exec — Derrick Hatami, Automotive News is reporting.

Separately, Nissan announced that Chief Marketing Officer Dan Mohnke would assume lead sales responsibilities after Hatami’s departure.

Pradzinski’s sudden departure may have triggered the moves, but it’s not unusual for Hyundai, according to the report. Pradzinski assumed his No. 2 role after former CEO John Krafcik abruptly left Hyundai and became president of TrueCar.

According to Automotive News, Hyundai didn’t report why Pradzinski left other than that he “elected to step down.” Pradzinski worked for Hyundai for 26 years, appointed to head sales in January 2014.

(Sometimes it’s par for the course to be shown the door immediately in the car business if you leave to a competitor. I’m not speculating on the specific circumstances, just for context. — Aaron)

Hatami was recently Western region sales chief for Hyundai, where he helped the automaker gain a larger market foothold.

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Bark M. On The Smoking Tire, This Time With Added Soberness http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/bark-m-on-the-smoking-tire-this-time-with-added-soberness/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/bark-m-on-the-smoking-tire-this-time-with-added-soberness/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 14:59:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158514 “Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta.” Our own Bark M. found himself in Los Angeles, so why not crash The Smoking Tire Podcast and praise the Fiesta ST a bit? King Farah of Lexus was joined by Bark and Jeff Glucker of Hooniverse to talk about the Fiesta, autocross (where Bark predicts future hatemail), haters, and the GT350R […]

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FiestaSTDrive4

“Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta.”

Our own Bark M. found himself in Los Angeles, so why not crash The Smoking Tire Podcast and praise the Fiesta ST a bit?

King Farah of Lexus was joined by Bark and Jeff Glucker of Hooniverse to talk about the Fiesta, autocross (where Bark predicts future hatemail), haters, and the GT350R for starters.

If you’re allowed to drink at work, take a sip of Glenfiddich Single Malt for every f-bomb.


The Smoking Tire – Fiesta Fiesta Fiesta

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Winterkorn Continuing At VW, But Maybe Not How He Wanted http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/winterkorn-continuing-vw-maybe-not-wanted/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/winterkorn-continuing-vw-maybe-not-wanted/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 14:43:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158650 Volkswagen will extend its contract with CEO Martin Winterkorn through 2018, Automotive News is reporting, but that two-year deal may make him too old to succeed the man he ousted, Ferdinand Piech, who left the company last year after clashing with Winterkorn. At the end of Winterkorn’s contract, the man who led Volkswagen’s recent revolution in […]

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Martin Winterkorn in Shanghai - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

Volkswagen will extend its contract with CEO Martin Winterkorn through 2018, Automotive News is reporting, but that two-year deal may make him too old to succeed the man he ousted, Ferdinand Piech, who left the company last year after clashing with Winterkorn.

At the end of Winterkorn’s contract, the man who led Volkswagen’s recent revolution in America will be 71, making him too old for the top slot held by interim chairman Berthold Huber. Winterkorn was seen as the likely replacement for Piech, according to Reuters, but that job may go to an outsider now.

“This increases the chances for an external chairman, which is good news in our view,” Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst with Evercore ISI’s global research head, said in a statement to Automotive News.

The distance between Winterkorn and Piech seemed to grow over their different strategies for VW in the Americas.

Volkswagen is competing with Toyota to be the world’s largest automaker. Through six months, VW had a narrow lead delivering 5.04 million cars worldwide, compared to Toyota’s 5.02 million.

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Model X Buyers Can Spec Out Their $100K Cars, Add $10K in Speed, Still Get Rebate http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/model-x-buyers-can-spec-100k-cars-add-10k-speed-still-get-rebate/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/model-x-buyers-can-spec-100k-cars-add-10k-speed-still-get-rebate/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:20:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158082 Prospective buyers of Tesla’s coming Model X SUV can go online Tuesday and pick out their color and options for their cars, which should be arriving at the end of September, Automotive News is reporting. The online configurator popped up Monday night for potential buyers and forum users started posting pictures of their cars online. The pictures are […]

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teaser@2x

Prospective buyers of Tesla’s coming Model X SUV can go online Tuesday and pick out their color and options for their cars, which should be arriving at the end of September, Automotive News is reporting.

The online configurator popped up Monday night for potential buyers and forum users started posting pictures of their cars online. The pictures are the first from the automaker before its official reveal.

The interior pictures detail seating for seven adults and the Model X’s falcon doors that will reportedly sport sensors that keep passengers from getting out hitting the doors on low garages.

20870112889_866fbd89a7_oAccording to the Automotive News report, the Model X Signature series will start at $132,000 and can be configured with Tesla’s “Ludicrous Speed” update that’ll boost performance.

A standard Model X can also get the “Ludicrous Speed” update, but buyers would have to opt first for the performance package and then “Ludicrous Speed” beyond that.

Other features on the Model X include the option to have the car park itself, leather seating, heated and ventilated seats and the ability to return your federal rebate satellite radio.

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(Photos courtesy the automaker and Flickr user tobi_wan_kenobi.)

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2017 Fiat 124 Spider Set for November Reveal in Los Angeles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2017-fiat-124-spider-set-november-reveal-los-angeles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2017-fiat-124-spider-set-november-reveal-los-angeles/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:03:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157914 Those really keen on the Mazda MX-5, but undeterred by reliability and resale issues are in luck. The reborn Fiat 124 Spider, built upon the fourth-generation MX-5, will be revealed in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show as expected, reports The Detroit Bureau. Citing a source within the company, the reborn 124 Spider nameplate will […]

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124 Spider_010

Those really keen on the Mazda MX-5, but undeterred by reliability and resale issues are in luck. The reborn Fiat 124 Spider, built upon the fourth-generation MX-5, will be revealed in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show as expected, reports The Detroit Bureau.

Citing a source within the company, the reborn 124 Spider nameplate will be the home of two flavors — normal and Abarth — with the latter receiving the same 1.75-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine as the Alfa Romeo 4C.

While Sergio Marchionne is openly courting General Motors, the Fiat 124 Spider project with Mazda is about to bear fruit.

The “normal” Spider is expected to be powered by the same 1.4-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine found in the Fiat 500 Turbo and Abarth, 500L, 500X and Jeep Renegade. However, it’s the Abarth version that’s far more interesting.

“Abarth is all about performance, and so I’ve told my team to stop working on colors and trims. Any new version of an Abarth car should deliver some sort of a performance enhancement, otherwise it is useless,” said Fiat COO Alfredo Altavilla.

That performance is expected to come from the aforementioned 4C mill mated to a dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

With the Abarth model, Fiat could beat Mazda to the punch. Rumors of a Mazdaspeed version of the newest Miata have been weak at best.

The Fiat 124 Spider will be the first model from the company to wear the nameplate since production and marketing of the Fiat 124 Sport Spider was assumed by Pininfarina in 1983.

The addition to Fiat’s North American lineup is expected to hit dealer lots sometime during the sunny months next year.

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Peugeot Has This Whole Concept Thing Figured Out http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/peugeot-whole-concept-thing-figured/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/peugeot-whole-concept-thing-figured/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:02:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157954 Peugeot’s geometrically marvelous and electrically powered Fractal concept car will make its way to Frankfurt this year. The 201-horsepower coupe is powered by two electric motors for each axle and has a 280-mile range, according to the automaker. Probably a wholly separate electric sub-station exists for its “9.1.2” surround sound system that sports woofers in the seats to […]

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Peugeot-Fractal-Concept-19

Peugeot’s geometrically marvelous and electrically powered Fractal concept car will make its way to Frankfurt this year.

The 201-horsepower coupe is powered by two electric motors for each axle and has a 280-mile range, according to the automaker. Probably a wholly separate electric sub-station exists for its “9.1.2” surround sound system that sports woofers in the seats to acoustically relay information about what’s ahead like we’re all bats or something.

A heads up driver information system relays information via hologram, according to the automaker, and the rest is just the best.

Perhaps the only thing usable in real life from the Fractal would be the car’s interior production process. According to Peugeot, 80 percent of the car’s interior was 3D printed, which could make its way into mass market production cars eventually as suppliers look to produce more and make less.

Either way, the rest of the automaking world could learn a thing or two from Peugeot: this is how you make a concept car. Stop it with the “crossover concepts” already.

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What If Jeep’s Mid-size Pickup Was a Ram Instead? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/jeeps-mid-size-pickup-ram-instead/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/jeeps-mid-size-pickup-ram-instead/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:16:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157666 Like an NFL expansion team in Los Angeles, music in the hallways during passing periods, “welfare queens” and the full-time McRib, Jeep’s mid-sized Wrangler-based pickup might be the only thing we ever talk about. Guess which one may happen now? According to Automotive News, the Wrangler-based pickup may make an appearance in 2018-ish, after the […]

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Jeep Wrangler Eliminator

Like an NFL expansion team in Los Angeles, music in the hallways during passing periods, “welfare queens” and the full-time McRib, Jeep’s mid-sized Wrangler-based pickup might be the only thing we ever talk about. Guess which one may happen now?

According to Automotive News, the Wrangler-based pickup may make an appearance in 2018-ish, after the iconic Jeep platform gets is overdue overhaul, moves to an 8-speed automatic (maybe diesel, too) and incorporates more aluminum into its structure.

The General Motors twins prove there’s room in the segment for something not called a Tacoma or Frontier, so a mid-size makes sense — but a seven-slot grille up front may not.

According to the 2014 long-range plan for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ram doesn’t have a mid-size on its radar until beyond 2018, at least, to replace its defunct Dakota. And Ram doesn’t have what it needs right now to make it happen — officially, at least.

“The formula hasn’t changed. The (North American) customer expects four elements in a compact or midsize pickup truck: the right size, right capability, right fuel efficiency and right price. We have yet to find a way to build a truck that meets all four of those criteria,” a Ram spokesman told us.

(Fiat will have a new mid-size pickup in 2016, but we’re more likely to get Elvis back from the dead than that car.)

The minute you start talking about a Wrangler-based pickup, Grandad’s fishing truck comes to mind; an upright-grille, standard cab and probably two-tone red and white paint with flannel-colored interiors. In other words: nothing like what mid-size pickups need to be today to satisfy fuel economy standards and expectations.

Ram has more flexibility with its design language to sculpt a body that makes more sense than a Jeep pickup ever would. Ram is also the caretaker of FCA’s trucks last I checked.

And in the words of Jack Baruth, “You really don’t want a Jeep pickup, you pansy.”

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Fiat Chrysler Posts Sales Gains In August, Keeps 5-year Streak Alive http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/fiat-chrysler-posts-sales-gains-august-keeps-5-year-streak-alive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/fiat-chrysler-posts-sales-gains-august-keeps-5-year-streak-alive/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:15:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157906 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted a 2-percent overall gain in sales for August, keeping its 65-month streak of increased sales alive, the automaker reported Tuesday. Jeep jumped the largest amount for the automaker; Jeep reported an 18-percent increase as a brand and four of its models posted sales gains. Sales of Dodge-branded vehicles slid 15 percent overall, and Chrysler-branded […]

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Jeep Compass. Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted a 2-percent overall gain in sales for August, keeping its 65-month streak of increased sales alive, the automaker reported Tuesday.

Jeep jumped the largest amount for the automaker; Jeep reported an 18-percent increase as a brand and four of its models posted sales gains. Sales of Dodge-branded vehicles slid 15 percent overall, and Chrysler-branded cars fell 14 percent.

FCA reported it sold more than 200,000 vehicles in North America for the second month this year.

The Jeep Compass was the brand’s biggest gainer over August 2014 sales. Compass improved 58 percent over the same month a year ago. Jeep also reported that sales of its new Renegade were up 29 percent over July.

Chrysler-branded cars were down overall, but the automaker said sales of its Chrysler 200 were up 30 percent over last year.

FCA said Ram-branded trucks and vans posted a 6-percent increase, led by its full-size pickup.

(According to the automaker, Fiat 500L sales were up over last year and now I’ve seen everything.)

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Report: Toledo Plant Gains a Jeep Pickup, Loses a Cherokee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/report-toledo-plant-gains-jeep-pickup-loses-cherokee/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/report-toledo-plant-gains-jeep-pickup-loses-cherokee/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 16:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157850 Automotive News is reporting that Jeep will produce a Wrangler-based pickup at its Toledo, Ohio plant and shift production of its Cherokee to another site. The details were reported by the outlet as part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ ongoing negotiations with the United Auto Workers union. Officials from FCA didn’t comment on the report.  According […]

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Jeep Wranglers Coming Down The Line In Toledo

Automotive News is reporting that Jeep will produce a Wrangler-based pickup at its Toledo, Ohio plant and shift production of its Cherokee to another site.

The details were reported by the outlet as part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ ongoing negotiations with the United Auto Workers union.

Officials from FCA didn’t comment on the report. 

According to the story, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne addressed the plan in vague details.

“We found a solution that accommodates a variety of other interests to us because of the way in which we can move some product around,” Marchionne told Automotive News. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (to know) that the only way I can move around the Wrangler is to move it into the other Toledo plant.”

Union officials said they would have liked to have kept Cherokee production in Ohio, however the plant’s unique supply structure, production requirements and Wrangler sales required Cherokee to move, according to the report.

Production of the Wrangler and its associated pickup could reach up to 350,000 units per year.

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