The Truth About Cars » Government http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:03:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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 » Government http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/government-news-blog/ Latest GM Recall Woes Hurt Q2 Results http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-25-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-25-2014/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873066 GM Renaissance Center

In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker takes it on the chin in its quarterly report; the analysts have their say; GM Korea could allow its workers to build the next Cruze if only they would put down the picket signs; 45 attorney generals are investigating the February 2014 recall; and CEO Mary Barra will be the keynote speaker for a connected-vehicle forum.

Autoblog reports GM made a net income of $200 million for Q2 2014, in comparison to $1.2 billion during Q2 2013. Speaking of $1.2 billion, that was how much the automaker paid in recall-related repairs this quarter, with a $900 million charge ready for future recall campaigns. Finally, $400 million has been set aside for the Feinberg compensation plan, though $200 million may be added down the road.

Meanwhile, Automotive News collected a number of analyst quotes regarding the poor Q2 2014 showing, including KBB.com’s Jack Nerad proclaiming that while the automaker may be handling recalls better these days, “it is paying for past sins in terms of the bottom line.” Michael Krebs of AutoTrader.com adds that GM “would have had an outstanding quarter” were it not for the ongoing recall parade, and both Brian Johnson of Barclays Capital (but not of AC/DC) and Morningstar’s David Whiston believing brighter days ahead in Europe and outstanding success in China.

Speaking of the Asia-Pacific, GM Korea management informed the employee’s union that if the latter calls off its impending strike over stalled wage negotiations, the next-gen Chevrolet Cruze would be built in its Gunsan facility. The factory — where the Orlando and current-gen Cruze are assembled — is one of four under GM Korea, and boasts a production capacity of 260,000 units per year.

Back at home, The Detroit News reports GM is under investigation by 45 attorney generals over the February 2014 ignition switch recall, as well as auto safety agency Transport Canada. On the federal level, CEO Mary Barra stated she hasn’t met with the prosecutors or the grand jury regarding the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigations into wire and bankruptcy fraud related to the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy proceedings.

Finally, Barra will be the keynote speaker at the 21st World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in Detroit September 7. The event, focused on connected vehicles, will attract 10,000 guests from 65 countries to share and discuss ideas, challenges and strategies regarding the burgeoning scene. Barra’s keynote will focus on the future of intelligent transportation.

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EPA In “Consideration Phase” Of Real-World Fuel Economy Testing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/epa-in-consideration-phase-of-real-world-fuel-economy-testing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/epa-in-consideration-phase-of-real-world-fuel-economy-testing/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872818 EPA HQ

As reported earlier, the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to put automakers through real-world testing of their MPG claims. However, the agency is asking this be done on the track instead of the highway.

Edmunds reports the plans are in the “consideration phase,” with the aim of bringing claims in line with what drivers experience on the road, according to an unnamed EPA spokeswoman:

EPA is considering requiring automakers to perform supplemental test-track audits of production vehicles to validate the values for aerodynamic drag and tire friction, which are important data inputs for our laboratory fuel economy testing. Augmenting EPA’s existing pre-production procedures with post-production audits of real-world factors will help further ensure that the data used in EPA labels accurately reflect the vehicles consumers find on dealer lots.

She goes on to clarify that the testing should occur on the track, and that the agency is “not considering creating public roadway test procedures” to replace the results currently gained in the lab.

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Japanese Government To Push FCVs Via $20k Subsidy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/japanese-government-to-push-fcvs-via-20k-subsidy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/japanese-government-to-push-fcvs-via-20k-subsidy/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872802 Toyota_FCV_featured

With Toyota ready to make big moves with its 2015 FCV, the Japanese government is ready with their own big move: $20,000 USD in incentives.

Autoblog Green reports the government will offer buyers of the hydrogen-powered sedan $20,000 in subsidies, which may bring down the reported $69,000 MSRP down to $49,000; EV subsidies in Japan max out at $8,500 per vehicle for comparison.

Meanwhile, the FCV will likely sell for $50,000 in the United States when it leaves the container ships next summer, and will be joined by Honda’s own FCV — name to be determined later — sometime in 2015.

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Cell Phone Bans Failing To Curb Accident Rates http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cell-phone-bans-failing-to-curb-accident-rates/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cell-phone-bans-failing-to-curb-accident-rates/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872738 texting behind the wheel of death

If any legislators were hoping banning cell phone use behind the wheel would cut down on accidents and fatalities linked to distracted driving, it may have been all for naught according to a handful of studies on the matter.

Autoblog reports the most recent study, published in Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, looked over the before and after regarding California’s 2008 ban in the year it went into effect. The findings? After six months, cell phone-linked accidents fell from 66.7 per day to 65.2. Another study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute looked over claim rates in 2009 and 2010, finding that ban or no ban, the song remained the same.

As for why this is so, associate professor of economics Daniel Kaffine of the University of Colorado posits drivers are either ignoring the bans outright, using hands-free technology that still distracts drivers, drivers are distracted by other things — ranging from the radio to the kids fighting in the back — and/or cell phone use isn’t as bad as once perceived.

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Foxx: No Penalties Issued Within NHTSA Over GM Ignition Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/foxx-no-penalties-issued-within-nhtsa-over-gm-ignition-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/foxx-no-penalties-issued-within-nhtsa-over-gm-ignition-recall/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871434 Anthony Foxx + Barack Obama et al

Though General Motors gave 15 of its employees the ax over their part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told those in the National Press Club Monday that no one in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was fired or disciplined over their part of the recall and subsequent fallout.

The Detroit News reports that while no one was penalized in the slightest within the agency, Foxx ordered a review on the NHTSA’s handling of the recall and other complaints:

I’ve asked our inspector general to go through and do an after-action on this GM situation to see if there is anything we didn’t do that we should have done. We will learn from that report, and until that time we have our team intact.

Foxx also defended the NHTSA in regards to the possibility of rehiring former employees who are currently working in the auto industry, proclaiming it has “ethical requirements that really guard against” undue influence in favor of the automakers.

Meanwhile, both houses of Congress are planning a second round of hearings with the agency later this year, with the goal to determine why it failed to link a series of complaints over ignition/airbag issues in Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions to the out-of-spec switch at the heart of the February 2014 recall.

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Chrysler Group Asks For Hitch Production Boost Amid NHTSA Inquiry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chrysler-group-asks-for-hitch-production-boost-amid-nhtsa-inquiry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chrysler-group-asks-for-hitch-production-boost-amid-nhtsa-inquiry/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870010 2002-2004_Jeep_Liberty_Sport

A day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked what was taking so long for a supplier to make enough hitches to cover 2.5 million recalled vehicles, Chrysler Group ordered its supplier to boost production.

Automotive News reports the inquiry, sent July 2, noted that it would take five years for Chrysler to repair all 2.5 million 1993 – 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002 – 2007 Libertys with trailer hitches meant to minimize the potential for fuel tank ruptures and fires in low-speed rear-end accidents. In turn, Chrysler told supplier Northern Stamping Inc. to raise its daily production rate from 2,205 to 3,511 hitches.

The affected vehicles will be able to be equipped with the hitches beginning August 1, with the last ones to receive theirs by March of 2015.

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Oil Booms Slowed Down By Weakening Roads http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/oil-booms-slowed-down-by-weakening-roads/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/oil-booms-slowed-down-by-weakening-roads/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869970 Oil Boom Shifts The Landscape Of Rural North Dakota

For the past few years, the oil booms in North Dakota and southern Texas have brought in a lot of money wherever oil could be drawn out. At the same time, the booms have taken their toll on amenities and infrastructure, the latter now the cause of slowing the boom down.

Bloomberg reports both states are increasing or seeking to increase their road maintenance and construction budgets as the literal weight of tanker truck upon tanker truck crushes current roads underfoot, slowing down oil production along with weather and exhausted wells.

North Dakota’s transportation department has boosted their budget to $800 million per year, $550 million more than the budget in 2007, while Texas’ department is crossing their fingers residents will vote yes to use $1.4 billion from the state’s oil-funded rainy day fund to go towards highway work instead. The legislature itself gave the department $225 million, with another $225 to the counties most affected by heavy truck traffic.

Aside from hindering oil production, the crumbling roads also bring more accidents — from tankers becoming stuck, to increases in fatalities — and add difficulties for other vehicles attempting to navigate what had once been a less-traveled path.

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Forty Land Rovers Seized By Homeland Security In Ongoing Investigation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/forty-land-rovers-seized-by-homeland-security-in-ongoing-investigation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/forty-land-rovers-seized-by-homeland-security-in-ongoing-investigation/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869330 Defender90

Hide your kids, hide your wives and hide your Land Rovers, because the federal government is rounding up a handful due to questionable importation paperwork.

Jalopnik reports 40 Land Rover 90s, 110s and Defenders were rounded-up by the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday as evidence in a federal investigation over illegal importation of the iconic SUVs into the United States. Owners of the 40 dispute the agency’s claims, one owner stating his 110 was a 1983 model — citing the vehicle’s VIN — despite police claiming it to be 2000 model.

The seizures may be a part of an ongoing investigation into an importer in North Carolina who brought in Defenders younger than 25 years into the U.S., though none of the parties involved can comment. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement representative Vince Picard says the 40 owners “will have an opportunity to seek restitution for their losses.”

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Barra Defends GM Top Lawyer In Second US Senate Hearing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/barra-defends-gm-top-lawyer-in-second-us-senate-hearing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/barra-defends-gm-top-lawyer-in-second-us-senate-hearing/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869290 General Motors CEO Mary Barra Testifies Before Senate Committee About GM's Recalls

Under fire from the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee for not having fired General Motors’ top counsel Michael Millikin, CEO Mary Barra defended her decision to keep him on the company payroll during Thursday’s hearing over the February 2014 ignition recall crisis.

Automotive News reports Barra believed Millikin, who has served as GM’s general counsel since 2009, to be “a man of incredibly high integrity” in spite of a number of his charges failing him and the automaker, five of whom were among the 15 let go from the company last month as a result of the Valukas report.

For his part, Millikin testified that he has enacted a number of changes into how his department functions, including bringing in an outside firm to review the automaker’s litigation practices, as well as bringing to his attention any lawsuits linked to a death and/or injury as a result of GM’s products. Millikin also claimed he was not aware of the issues surrounding the out-of-spec ignition switch until the February 2014 recall was issued.

Other highlights in today’s hearing include the testimony of GM supplier Delphi CEO Rodney O’Neal, proclaiming that said switch, despite being out-of-spec, “met the requirements” put forth by the automaker; Kenneth Feinberg’s testimony, where he explained to the Senate committee how he would help affected consumers find the proof needed to process a claim, as well as stating the list of eligible vehicles under the Feinberg plan was one of the few parts of the plan decided upon by GM; and consumer advocate Ralph Nader calling upon the automaker to bring aboard an independent ombudsman who could serve as a firewall from retribution for employees wanting to blow the whistle on a potential problem, then report the problems to the CEO.

The Senate committee will hold a separate hearing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over their part of the February 2014 GM ignition recall, though no date has been given thus far.

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Blumenthal, Casey Introduce Hide No Harm Act http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/blumenthal-casey-introduce-hide-no-harm-act/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/blumenthal-casey-introduce-hide-no-harm-act/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869266 Sens Casey + Blumenthal

Wednesday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced the Hide No Harm Act of 2014, which would criminalize the act of corporate concealment.

Automotive News reports the act would deliver prison terms of up to five years and fines for corporate executives who know about a given product’s defects and their potential to do harm, yet do nothing to warn their consumer base or employees.

Blumenthal noted that the act — meant to serve as a deterrent to future cases should Congress approve the bill — would not apply to the ongoing General Motors debacle, believing current criminal law was the right fit for the case.

The Hide No Harm Act of 2014 is co-sponsored Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, and provides legal protections for executives who do notify regulators and consumers about potential problems.

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Hyundai, Tesla In Spat Over Funding Of Supercharger Network http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/hyundai-tesla-in-spat-over-funding-of-supercharger-network/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/hyundai-tesla-in-spat-over-funding-of-supercharger-network/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866874 Tesla Supercharger Night Party

Hyundai’s head of U.S. product planning Michael O’Brien may have written a check his mouth can’t cash when he claimed Tesla’s Supercharger network was paid with taxpayer dollars.

Green Car Reports says during a discussion of his employer’s view on hydrogen fueling infrastructure, O’Brien stated that Hyundai has not received any funding from the federal government for its hydrogen vehicles, while Tesla’s Supercharger network was paid with “grants and loans from the government.”

In turn, this assertion infuriated Tesla’s vice president of business development Diarmuld O’Connell:

Those sites have been paid for entirely by Tesla Motors — which continues to spend money in expanding the network. This stands in stark contrast to certain foreign carmakers, including Hyundai, who have no manufacturing presence in California but expect the state’s taxpayers to spend up to $200 million to set up hydrogen stations.

For his part, O’Brien did acknowledge hydrogen would only take off “when other states start investing in infrastructure.”

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Obama Talks Connected Vehicles, Highway Funding http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/obama-talks-connected-vehicles-highway-funding/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/obama-talks-connected-vehicles-highway-funding/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 10:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866778 Barack Obama + Connected Vehicles

Amid touring the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. and having a go at a driving simulator based upon a Saturn SL, President Barack Obama talked about connected vehicles and increasing highway funding before reporters in attendance Tuesday.

Autoblog and Bloomberg report the President spoke for 14 minutes on both subjects, though the majority of his speech focused upon the U.S. Highway Trust Fund. Obama warned that if Congress fails to come to a decision as to how the trust will be funded, 700,000 jobs and 100,000 active projects could be shuttered when the well runs dry next month. He offered some praise regarding bipartisan bills in both houses offering a solution, though Obama urged Congress to focus on the long term instead of “kicking the can down the road for a few months.”

On the connected vehicle front, he proclaimed his support for any new technology that could improve driver safety, referencing his 16-year-old daughter Malia alongside results of a study where 5.5 billion hours and $120 billion in time and fuel are lost annually due to traffic congestion. Obama also joked about his brief ride in the aforementioned simulator, finding the experience disorienting in relation to his diminishing driving experience.

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Delphi “Not A Target” Of DOJ Investigation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/delphi-not-a-target-of-doj-investigation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/delphi-not-a-target-of-doj-investigation/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866378 Delphi HQ Sign

Though under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service over abode issues, Delphi says it is not under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over its part of the February 2014 General Motors ignition recall.

The Detroit News reports representative Claudia Tapia confirmed a report by Reuters that her employer is “not a target,” but a witness in the affair. Like GM, the supplier has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, the office aided by a federal grand jury. Delphi has also turned over documents to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of the latter’s own inquiry into what went wrong and when regarding the ignition switch linked to 13 fatalities, 54 accidents and 2.6 million recalled vehicles.

Later this week, Delphi CEO Rodney O’Neal will appear with GM CEO Mary Barra before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in a second round of hearings; the committee also sent the supplier a detailed questionnaire about its role.

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EPA Mandates Real-World Testing For All Automakers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/epa-mandates-real-world-testing-for-all-automakers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/epa-mandates-real-world-testing-for-all-automakers/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 11:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866258 EPA HQ

In light of re-estimated mileage per gallon claims by Ford, Hyundai and Kia, the Environmental Protection Agency seeks to prove the claims of all automakers through real-world testings.

Automotive News reports a proposal by the agency would mandate automakers to road-test their vehicles in order to verify that the mpg claimed in the lab is achievable on the street. The proposal would also make manipulation of lab results to deliver higher figures difficult at best.

Though a number of automakers already use real-world testing, the EPA is establishing “a regulatory requirement for all automakers,” according to agency director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, Chris Grundler.

The test itself would become more rigorous, emphasizing air resistance and rolling friction at the test track over computer modelling.

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Japan Three, Others Meet With President Over Supplier Aid Pledge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/japan-three-others-meet-with-president-over-supplier-aid-pledge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/japan-three-others-meet-with-president-over-supplier-aid-pledge/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865777 Barack Obama playing pool

A number of U.S. and multinational corporations met with President Barack Obama Friday to shine a light upon their pledge to pay their suppliers within 15 days as part of an initiative to help small businesses expand and bring on more employees.

Automotive News reports representatives for Nissan, Toyota and Honda, including Honda North America executive vice president Rick Schostek, were in attendance for the 90-minute meeting about the pledge, based upon a similar program with government contractors, whereupon the federal government promises to quickly pay its contractors if the latter does the same for the smaller suppliers that help them.

The original initiative affected 172,000 small businesses, bringing $1 billion for workforce investment since its launch in 2011. Friday’s meeting was to reaffirm the pledge, as well as to introduce the program to the public sector.

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Saudi Arabia Latest To Fleet-Average Fuel Economy Mandate Party http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/saudi-arabia-latest-to-fleet-average-fuel-economy-mandate-party/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/saudi-arabia-latest-to-fleet-average-fuel-economy-mandate-party/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 10:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865705 Saudi youths demonstrate a stunt known as "sidewall skiing" in the northern city of Hail

As in the United States, Europe and Japan, Saudi Arabia is now mandating new vehicles be more fuel efficient. Like the U.S., however, the Saudis will put the onus on the automakers without raising a cent on fuel prices.

Green Car Reports says as part of the 2012 Saudi Energy Efficiency Program, new vehicles on sale will receive a fuel economy label beginning in August, followed in late 2016 with a mandate to follow fleet-average targets; the target for 2020 is 28.2 miles per gallon, lower than the 40 mpg mandate for that year in the U.S.

The reason for all of this is because energy use in the kingdom is rising at a rate of 4 percent to 5 percent annually as a result of economic growth, though the increases are outpacing said growth.

Other proposals include the possibility of a Cash For Clunkers program, temporary mass transit solutions until permanent transit offerings open to the public, and improvements to heavy-duty vehicles such as aero and no-idling mandates.

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AlixPartners: 2014 May Be The Peak Of U.S. Auto Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/alixpartners-2014-may-be-the-peak-of-u-s-auto-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/alixpartners-2014-may-be-the-peak-of-u-s-auto-sales/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862905 Toyota Sales Lot

The good news? Automakers are enjoying a sales boom in the United States the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Great Recession brought the hammer down, with June 2014 sales alone surpassing those in July of 2006. Should the boom continue, 2014 will close as the industry’s best year in a long time, with over 16 million vehicles sold when the calendar ticks over to 2015.

The bad news? This year may be the last year U.S. sales ever climb this high.

Autoblog reports a study by AlixPartners suggests sales will peak later this year, then head back down the mountain on the beaten path of rising interest rates — diminishing purchasing power in the process — then veer toward the long trail built upon the Millennials’ alleged preference of Uber and Car2Go over individual ownership.

In the near-term, director Dan Hearsch warns the lines of cheap credit today will dry up over the next two to three years:

The biggest factor would be this credit bubble, and without making an exact projection of when that will happen, that, to use is the window when you’ll see an impact on car sales. The other side of it is cyclical and predictable. … We’re a little more pessimistic because of these other factors.

Further up the path, rising fuel prices will temporarily give hybrids and EVs a boost in sales, but improvements in the ICE and the ongoing issues with EVs — range, higher upfront costs and production of battery packs — will mitigate whatever gains are made unless the technology comes into parity with the ICE.

Finally, AlixPartners expects 80 percent of all vehicles sold in North America by 2017 will be connected vehicles, and advises governments and OEMs to prepare for the day autonomous vehicles take their first outings beyond Google’s research facility, as such vehicles will be key to future sales.

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EPA: Rolling Coal Is Verboten According To Clean Air Act http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/epa-rolling-coal-is-verboten-according-to-clean-air-act/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/epa-rolling-coal-is-verboten-according-to-clean-air-act/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862201 coal-rolling d-bag number 69

Once upon a time, tractor pull attendees who witnessed diesels churn out black smoke under the strain of a very heavy trailer decided to make their diesel-powered pickups do the same thing, sans said heavy trailer. The practice came to be known as “rolling coal,” and until last week, was nothing more than a potential subject for a country song or two amid lyrics about drinking lots of beer and getting with the blue-eyed blonde of the singer(s) dream(s).

However, rolling coal has taken on a political guise as of late, usually (and literally) aimed at Prius owners allegedly trying to force their asphalt realities upon the coal enthusiasts. Of course, the Environmental Protection Agency has something to say about the whole thing: No.

Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah! reports Talking Points Memo got a hold of EPA representative Liz Purchia about the legalities of pretending to be a 19th century choo-choo train on the highways of the 21st century. In short: rolling coal is a violation of the Clean Air Act. The systems used to create black smoke on purpose, including computer software “that alters diesel fuel injection timing,” are illegally overriding emissions control, something the CAA frowns upon, to say the least.

That said, enforcement of the CAA is on the manufacturer level; thus, while it is illegal to roll the coal down that old dirt road, the only punitive action may come from the police officer who just had a ton of black smoke blown directly in their face.

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General Motors Digest: July 8, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-8-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-8-2014/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861585 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In today’s General Motors Digest: Replacement ignition switches are shipping to dealership service bays in boxes that may not reflect the contents inside; GM hands over 2 million documents to the United States House of Representatives; and certain truck owners are on their own as far as rusty brake lines are concerned.

Automotive News reports in a June 24, 2014 memo by the automaker to its 4,300-strong dealership network, GM would be shipping the ignition switches related to the February 2014 recalls in ACDelco boxes “due to the unprecedented volume of parts being shipped and the resulting shortage of GM Parts boxes.” The memo was composed to allay doubts of authenticity that might arise when the shipments arrive. As of June 25, 2014, 296,462 of the 2.6 million vehicles affected by the recall have been repaired, while GM expects to have the parts ready for the majority of the affected by October.

Over in the Beltway, The Detroit News says the automaker has turned over 2 million pages of records in relation to the February 2014 recall to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of the latter’s ongoing investigation. Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, who is in the early stages of planning an auto safety overhaul bill, states that he wants to wrap up the investigation prior to making such a bill available for consideration. In an interview with WJR-AM, Upton is considering a national registry to easily track recalled vehicles in the repair stage, as well as when affected vehicles pass into the used car market.

Finally, Bloomberg reports that while General Motors has issued recalls left and right, it has not done so with 1.8 million light trucks and SUVs made between 1999 and 2003 affected by rusting brake lines. Further, the automaker says it’s the owner’s responsibility to prevent rusting and, if need be, replace the lines with a $500 MSRP kit. The defect has hit Salt Belt owners the hardest, where failed brake lines make up 43 out of 100,000 units sold, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Reuters: GM Ignition Woes Came As Early As 1997 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reuters-gm-ignition-woes-came-as-early-as-1997/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reuters-gm-ignition-woes-came-as-early-as-1997/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858601 GM RenCen Downtown Detroit

It may have taken nearly 14 years for one ignition switch issue to finally find attention, but General Motors’ ignition woes go as far back as 1997, when Chevrolet Malibu owners had their own switch problems.

Reuters reports one of the earliest complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was in April of that year, when a New Jersey woman said she had been stuck on the road seven times with her new Malibu due to the switch’s inability to turn and the key stuck in place. The defective part was replaced twice, but to no avail. Other complaints include the key being easily removable while the power was still on, and power suddenly cutting out.

By 2001, when the 2000 Chevrolet Impala experienced its own ignition issues similar to those in the Malibu and, further on, the Cobalt and Saturn Ion, GM sent a pair of service bulletins to its dealership network, offering potential solutions to remedy the problems in both vehicles. However, no recall would be issued until Monday’s order of 8.4 million vehicles.

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General Motors Digest: July 3, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-3-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-3-2014/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858049 General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

In today’s General Motors digest: GM recalls a recall; the automaker gains market share in spite of itself; its bankruptcy judge believes it may have committed fraud; the U.S. Senate gets ready for a second February 2014 recall hearing; and Anthony Foxx vows to keep the heat turned up on GM.

Detroit Free Press reports the automaker’s recall of the 2013 – 2014 Cadillac CTS over an ignition switch issue similar to the one affecting the 2010 – 2014 Chevrolet Camaro, as well as the issue that kicked off GM’s recall parade back in February, only affected 264 coupes and wagons assembled before the redesigned sedan left the factory floor; the sedan was incorrectly listed among the 8.4 million vehicles recalled worldwide Monday.

In spite of said recall parade, Automotive News says GM gained market shared in the first six months of 2014, jumping from 16.9 percent in January to 18.8 percent in June. Further, June 2014 sales climbed 1.2 percent to 1.42 million units — instead of falling 2.6 percent as some analysts had predicted — fueled by new models entering the showroom and more lease deals. In turn, the annualized selling rate rose to 16.98 million, the highest rate seen since July 2006, and one higher than 2013′s 15.9 million in the same period. GM hopes to keep up the pace by offering Cobalt owners and owners of other recalled vehicles a $500 incentive to trade-in for a certified used vehicle, and employee pricing on new models; so far, 21 percent of Cobalt owners have taken the automaker up on its offer between March and May 2014.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber, who presided over the automaker’s bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, may have to haul GM back in on fraud charges if evidence is found, pointing to then-CEO Fritz Henderson’s possible knowledge — and obfuscation — of the ignition switch problem. Should the evidence be there, Judge Gerber could force the automaker to pay billions of dollars to any of the plaintiffs in the 90-plus lawsuits now waiting for his approval to proceed, which could come as soon as September 15.

Over in the Beltway, Reuters says a consumer protection and product safety subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will hold a second hearing on the February 2014 recall July 17, though no announcement has been made as to who will be invited to testify as of this writing.

Finally, The Detroit News reports U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both vow to “keep putting the screws on [GM's safety efforts] until it gets right.” The agency, who is monitoring the automaker for the next three years as part of the latter’s settlement with the federal government, will look into the newest recalls to determine if GM issued them in a timely manner, though Foxx thinks the automaker is acting in good faith.

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Cuban New-Car Sales Total 50 During First Half Of 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cuban-new-car-sales-total-50-during-first-half-of-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cuban-new-car-sales-total-50-during-first-half-of-2014/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857145 Cuban Yank tank

Last year, the Cuban government finally made it legal for its citizens to freely buy new vehicles for the first time since Fidel Castro sent Fulgencio Batista packing in 1959. The people rejoiced right up until they saw the prices on the showroom floor this January, family sedans marked up 400 percent or above as if they were Ferraris and Bugattis.

Reuters reports that because of the markup, only 50 cars and four motorcycles left the 11 nationalized lots in Cuba during the first six months of 2014, netting a total of $1.28 million USD in new car sales. The high prices also affect foreign businesses and potential investors, all none too thrilled to seek government permission to import their own vehicles without going through the national showroom floor.

In one example cited by the news organization, a Havana Peugeot dealership wanted $91,000 for a 2013 206, and $262,000 for a 506 of similar vintage, which makes the government’s goal of investing 75 percent of all new-car sales into public transportation easier said than done; most state workers make the equivalent of $20 USD per month.

Meanwhile, used car sales are doing much better, with the average price for a used vehicle — including motorcycles — holding at $23,759. Most of the used stock originates from retired rental car fleets.

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Hydrogen Digest: July 1, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/hydrogen-digest-july-1-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/hydrogen-digest-july-1-2014/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 12:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856681 DSC_0018

In today’s hydrogen digest: Toyota asks the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a two-year exemption on its FCV; the automaker banks on subsidies to help the FCV leave the showrooms at home and abroad; and ammonia may be the secret to hydrogen’s success as a fuel.

Bloomberg reports Toyota is asking the NHTSA for a two-year exemption from FMVSS No. 305, which requires automakers to isolate high-voltage parts in electric cars in the event of a crash. The FCV doesn’t meet this rule in full because said isolation would render the vehicle inoperable, opting instead to use insulation on high-voltage cables and related components to protect first responders and occupants from potential electrical shocks in the event of a low-speed accident. Toyota claims the protections will be at least equal to those in compliance with the agency’s rule.

Meanwhile, Automotive News says the automaker is banking on subsidies at home and in markets such as the United States and Europe to help the FCV leave the showroom toward the path of success. The ¥7 million ($69,000 USD) will need a sizable credit to match its Lexus-esque pricing when it goes on sale in Japan next April; the highest subsidy is ¥850,000 (approximately $8,400). As for the U.S., where fueling infrastructure is woefully inadequate, Toyota may instead opt to lease the FCV, details of the plan still in discussion.

Finally, Autoblog Green reports ammonia may be the way toward the hydrogen future. The Science and Technologies Facilities Council in Swindon, England have discovered a process which cracks ammonia into nitrogen and hydrogen using sodium amide as the catalyst. The lower-cost process could be conducted on-board an FCV via an ammonia decomposition reactor no bigger than a 2-liter bottle of Coke, providing enough power for “a mid-range family car” while easily handling NOx-free tailpipe emissions. The STFC is now in the process of building a low-energy demonstration system to prove ammonia’s viability as a source of hydrogen fuel.

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General Motors Digest: June 30, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-30-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-30-2014/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=855849 GM Renaissance Center

In today’s General Motors digest: GM recalls over 700,000 units globally; Siemens VDO Automotive urged the automaker to look into airbag data in 2004; product chief Doug Parks was aware of the ignition problems in 2005; Feinberg compensation plan will have no payment cap; and Delphi is under the gun from both Congress and the IRS.

Autoblog and The Detroit News report the following vehicles are under recall:

  • 2013 – 2014 Chevrolet Cruze: Takata airbag inflator defect; 29,019 (U.S.), 4,066 (Canada)
  • 2014 – 2015 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra; 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, Surburban/GMC Yukon, Yukon XL: Transfer case electronically switching to neutral without driver input; 392,459 (U.S.), 53,607 (Canada), 20,874 (Other Markets)
  • 2013 – 2014 Chevrolet Caprice, SS: Potential for windshield wiper motor gear teeth to become stripped; 4,794 (U.S.)
  • 2014 Chevrolet Corvette: Insufficient welding in rear shocks of FE1, FE3 suspension-equipped vehicles; 1,939 (U.S.), 33 (Canada), 82 (Other Markets)
  • 2009 – 2012 Buick Excelle GT: Potential for high-beams to remain on under extreme circumstances; 194,107 (China)

Automotive News says in 2004, Siemens VDO Automotive engineer Douglas McConnell wrote a report urging GM to look into a possible link between airbag sensors and the loss of power via the ignition cycle. The GM-commissioned report was penned a month before the first Chevrolet Cobalts left the assembly line, and shown to five engineers working for the automaker at the time, including Matthew Craig, who currently works for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as its chief of human injury research. Declining to elaborate on the report, representative Greg Martin stated “there were several missed opportunities for GM to properly identify the problem,” citing the Valukas report to back his statement.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Doug Parks, appointed to the post of vice president of global product programs by CEO Mary Barra, was a vehicle chief engineer for the Chevrolet Cobalt program in 2005. In that role, he was a part of the cost debate over whether or not to redesign the ignition switch that would be put into the compact, stating in a May 2005 email that changing the design “appears to be the only real, quick solution.” Parks had been invited to attend two meetings in the first half of 2005 over the issue, though nothing could be determined as far as attendance was concerned.

In the present, Kenneth Feinberg’s compensation program for those injured or killed as a result of the ignition switch will pay claims to all drivers, passengers and bystanders involved in an accident with an affected GM vehicle. Further, claimants will have few hurdles to go through in being paid, including alcohol use and lack of physical evidence. Finally, the program will have no cap on the amount of money paid in total, though no word has been given by Feinberg and his time about how much will be paid per victim and their families. Claims will be accepted beginning August 1.

Finally, Automotive News reports Delphi, already under investigation by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee over its part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall, is now under the gun from the Internal Revenue Service over whether or not the supplier can be taxed as a domestic corporation. Upon emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, Delphi set up its tax base in the United Kingdom, though it retained its headquarters and executive team in Troy, Mich. Should the supplier lose its appeal with the IRS, its tax rate could rise to 22 percent effective rate, up from the 17 percent Delphi pays currently. In 2013, it paid $256 million in taxes; under the new rate, an additional $75 million would need to be paid, bringing the total to approximately $331.3 million.

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General Motors Digest: June 27, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-27-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-27-2014/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=854625 Mary Barra at 2014 Detroit Auto Show

In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker rescinds its stop-sale of 33,000 Chevrolet Cruzes over Takata air bag issues, recalls 29,019; Delphi turns over documents to a federal grand jury; Kenneth Feinberg’s compensation plan will be revealed Monday; and CEO Mary Barra says more recalls may be coming, but no more people will be fired as a result of the Valukas report.

Automotive News reports GM lifted its stop-sale order of 33,000 2013 – 2014 Chevrolet Cruzes due to a defective airbag inflator found in units provided by supplier Takata once the automaker accounted for all the affected vehicles by comparing VINs to the parts list. Detroit Free Press adds GM then recalled the affected units, totaling 29,019, all of them still under its new vehicle warranty. The defect, if not treated, could result in the inflator — and the airbag unit overall — catastrophically exploding or non-deployment of the airbag in an accident.

Speaking of suppliers, The Detroit News says Delphi delivered hundreds of documents related to its part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall to the U.S. Justice Department via grand jury subpoena. The supplier also sought confidential treatment in turning over the requested documents. Meanwhile, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee made public 80 emails and other documents by the automaker and the supplier illustrating GM’s struggles with the ignition switch, painting “a disturbing and devastating picture, a beyond-worst-case systemic breakdown that led to lives needlessly lost,” according to U.S. Representatives Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and Fred Upton of Michigan.

Automotive News reports Kenneth Feinberg, the victim-compensation expert hired by GM to compensate victims of the defective ignition switch, will announce his plan Monday at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. Though no dollar amount will likely be pegged in the announcement, the terms of the plan could sway victims into accepting compensation over filing a lawsuit against GM. The automaker did not provide its own estimate, as well.

Finally, Reuters reports CEO Mary Barra said during an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “The Today Show” that more recalls could come down the pike, based on data received. She also commented on the Feinberg plan, stating her company wants “every single person who either lost a loved one or has a serious physical injury to be a part of that program.” Detroit Free Press adds that when Lauer asked if there would be more firings linked to the ignition switch, Barra proclaimed everyone who would be let go has been let go. She emphasized that the “silos of information” that obfuscated the issue were being torn down, with employees taking notes during safety meetings that are then presented to her for review.

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