The Truth About Cars » History http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 31 Oct 2014 19:42:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » History http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/history-news-blog/ Spotlight Shines Brighter On Takata Airbag Failures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/spotlight-shines-brighter-takata-airbag-failures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/spotlight-shines-brighter-takata-airbag-failures/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938913 Investigators unearth more reports of deaths and injuries linked to catastrophic detonations of Takata’s airbags; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets a deadline for the supplier to submit related documents; and attorneys urge a U.S. district judge to act quickly on a class action against Takata and four of its client automakers. Automotive News […]

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takata sign holder

Investigators unearth more reports of deaths and injuries linked to catastrophic detonations of Takata’s airbags; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets a deadline for the supplier to submit related documents; and attorneys urge a U.S. district judge to act quickly on a class action against Takata and four of its client automakers.

Automotive News reports a number of cases linked to Takata airbags are coming to the surface as investigators begin their probes into the supplier. A common thread through the cases — such as an incident in Atlanta that left a woman with a speech disorder, as well as caused a number of strokes and one seizure, as a result of a piece of shrapnel from the unit slicing through her carotid artery — is settlement. Most of the cases are being settled out-of-court, just before prosecutors can gather the evidence needed to go after Takata, and just before such cases enter the public eye.

Over in the Beltway, Reuters says the NHTSA has set a deadline of December 1 for Takata to submit documents and answers to questions under oath as part of the agency’s probe into the defects. The order also cites an October 17 report by the news organization about manufacturing issues at the supplier’s Mexico facility, particularly a reference to an email written in March of 2011 that proclaimed “a part that is not welded = one life less,” as well as the discovery of chewing gum in a unit. The agency also wants a list of every death and injury caused by the airbags.

Finally, attorneys representing their clients in a class action suit against the supplier have asked Miami-based U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King to move their case quickly forward. One of the attorneys, Peter Prieto, stated the urging was necessary due to the danger the airbags create among the public. Eighteen plaintiffs in 10 states are involved in the suit, which also names Toyota, Ford, BMW and Honda as defendants. The next hearing will be on December 8.

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Treasury: GM Bailout Suit Would Hinder Future Actions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/treasury-gm-bailout-suit-hinder-future-actions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/treasury-gm-bailout-suit-hinder-future-actions/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938857 Should companies in the future need to be bailed-out by the federal government, they may not be so forthcoming with the necessary information if General Motors’ confidential documents linked to its own bailout see the light of day. Bloomberg reports the U.S. Treasury is doing all it can to protect the information submitted by GM […]

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Should companies in the future need to be bailed-out by the federal government, they may not be so forthcoming with the necessary information if General Motors’ confidential documents linked to its own bailout see the light of day.

Bloomberg reports the U.S. Treasury is doing all it can to protect the information submitted by GM prior to investing $49.5 billion into the automaker during the early days of the Great Recession:

Disclosure of the disputed information would also impair Treasury’s ability to obtain necessary information from companies in the future. [The] Treasury’s ability to act as a lender would be hampered.

The information is at the heart of a lawsuit filed by the Center for Auto Safety in 2011. Over 50,000 records were obtained thus far, but the advocacy group wants information on how much of a role the Treasury played in preventing pre-bankruptcy claims made against GM over vehicles linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall from moving forward.

Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Auto Safety, disputed the idea that future companies in need of help would be dissuaded from “begging for billion in taxpayer dollars” were the desired documents revealed.

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Lincoln To Undergo $5B Five-Year Extensive Revamp http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/lincoln-undergo-5b-five-year-extensive-revamp/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/lincoln-undergo-5b-five-year-extensive-revamp/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936098 Over the next five years, every Lincoln in the showroom presently will either be redesigned or replaced as part of an overall effort by Ford CEO Mark Fields to return to the premium brand to glory. Reuters reports the plan comes with a significant investment: over $5 billion during the next five years. The money […]

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Over the next five years, every Lincoln in the showroom presently will either be redesigned or replaced as part of an overall effort by Ford CEO Mark Fields to return to the premium brand to glory.

Reuters reports the plan comes with a significant investment: over $5 billion during the next five years. The money will be spent to not only revamp the product portfolio, but to help position the portfolio against those of BMW and Mercedes-Benz at home and in China. $2 billion has already been spent in the previous two years, split between preparing the brand for the Chinese market, and refreshing and expanding the lineup before the plan kicks into gear.

The centerpiece of the restoration plan is the D6 platform, which will provide a base for front-, rear- and all-wheel drive sedans and crossovers as early as 2019. Though the platform will be shared with Ford, D6’s purpose is to help set Lincoln apart from the Blue Oval portfolio, and to make the brand more competitive with a stronger base to build upon.

The first models to be built upon the modular architecture include a mid-size sedan and a seven-passenger crossover that could take up with both the MKZ and MKT could leave off. Before then, however, a few redesigns and replacements are set to come, beginning with the redesign of the MKX and replacement of the MKS between the springs of 2015 and 2016. Following up in 2017, the Navigator would gain a new platform from the upcoming 2015 Ford F-150, with aluminum panels to match, while the MKC would get a redesign in 2018.

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NHTSA Under The Gun Again Over Handling Of Takata Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-gun-handling-takata-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-gun-handling-takata-airbag-recall/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936018 Not long after undergoing scrutiny over its part of the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration once again is under the gun, this time in its handling of the Takata airbag crisis. Automotive News reports that the agency’s mostly hands-off approach, allowing automakers to use field actions to […]

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Acting NHTSA administrator David Friedman explains that General Motors will agree to a record fine of $35 million in civil penalties in Washington

Not long after undergoing scrutiny over its part of the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration once again is under the gun, this time in its handling of the Takata airbag crisis.

Automotive News reports that the agency’s mostly hands-off approach, allowing automakers to use field actions to recall vehicles in a handful of states and territories where the possibility for catastrophic failure is greatest, is following the same track as the one that ultimately led GM to recall 2.6 million vehicles made in the early to mid-2000s, though on a greater scale.

Additionally, the NHTSA hasn’t ordered Takata itself to recall its defective airbags, mainly as it waits for more data to confirm the airbags are likely to act more like Claymores than safety devices under high humidity. In fact, the two parties entered into an agreement in June where affected automakers would conduct said field actions in only areas where those conditions are most prevalent — such as Florida and Puerto Rico, where six reports of failure were recorded. The airbags collected would then be tested, with the results sent to investigators.

As the recall widens its net further, the NHTSA is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, whose secretary, Anthony Foxx, received a letter from Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ed Markley of Massachusetts — both heavy critics of the NHTSA’s handling of the GM recall — urging Foxx to order the agency to be more assertive:

NHTSA should immediately issue a nationwide safety recall on all the affected cars, regardless of where the car is registered. We have become increasingly troubled and alarmed by the confusing and conflicting advice being issued by NHTSA and the glacial pace of the agency’s response to this public safety threat.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, still investigating the GM recall, is now ordering an investigation into the Takata recall.

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Nissan, Honda Recall More Takata-Equipped Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-honda-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-honda-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935674 The Takata airbag recall continues to grow, with Nissan adding 260,000 2008 through 2012 models worldwide to the list. Automotive News reports the recall total for Nissan linked to the airbags since 2013 totalled nearly 700,000 prior to the additional vehicles called back. The recall affects vehicles outside of the United States, including the Cube […]

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2014 Nissan Versa Note Exterior

The Takata airbag recall continues to grow, with Nissan adding 260,000 2008 through 2012 models worldwide to the list.

Automotive News reports the recall total for Nissan linked to the airbags since 2013 totalled nearly 700,000 prior to the additional vehicles called back. The recall affects vehicles outside of the United States, including the Cube and Micra/March, with the majority of the models located in the automaker’s home market of Japan.

Meanwhile, Honda is replacing the defective units in 3.5 million vehicles in 11 states in the U.S. where high humidity could lead to an airbag exploding with metal shrapnel taking dead aim at all inside. The company also recalled 425,825 units, adding onto the 6 million that have been recalled over the issue since 2008.

Finally, General Motors and Toyota are issuing warnings to their customers not have anyone sit in the front passenger seat until the airbag unit is replaced.

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NYC Taxi Association Take Taxi Of Tomorrow Fight To Albany http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nyc-taxi-association-take-taxi-tomorrow-fight-albany/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nyc-taxi-association-take-taxi-tomorrow-fight-albany/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935650 Clutching dearly onto their fleet of Panthers, New York’s taxi industry is heading up to Albany to contest the $1 billion plan to replace their vehicles with Nissan’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” NV200. Bloomberg reports the Greater New York Taxi Association will contest the appellate court ruling made this summer that declared the program — meant […]

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Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow

Clutching dearly onto their fleet of Panthers, New York’s taxi industry is heading up to Albany to contest the $1 billion plan to replace their vehicles with Nissan’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” NV200.

Bloomberg reports the Greater New York Taxi Association will contest the appellate court ruling made this summer that declared the program — meant to bring 15,000 of the new taxis to the streets of Manhattan over the next 10 years — was flawed from the start:

The Taxi of Tomorrow as planned forces owners to purchase a single foreign-made vehicle, which is neither fuel-efficient nor wheelchair accessible.

The lawsuit process began in 2012, after the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission chose the NV200 as its new champion, and mandated all medallion owners to buy the vans to replace their Ford Crown Victorias at $29,700 a pop. The plan was blocked twice prior to the June 2014 ruling in favor, once for the lack of hybrid models, and again for overreach by the commission.

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US House Committee Reviewing Takata Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/us-house-committee-reviewing-takata-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/us-house-committee-reviewing-takata-airbag-recall/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935402 With around 7.8 million vehicles from various automakers under recall thanks to defects in airbags supplied by Takata, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee is reviewing the proceedings. The Detroit News reports the committee requested a briefing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “on the status of the Takata recalls and the agency’s […]

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Takata Sign

With around 7.8 million vehicles from various automakers under recall thanks to defects in airbags supplied by Takata, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee is reviewing the proceedings.

The Detroit News reports the committee requested a briefing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “on the status of the Takata recalls and the agency’s investigation,” and plans to meet with automakers “to discuss supplier issues,” as well.

The recall, originally affecting 4.7 million units from six automakers, expanded Tuesday to cover 7.8 million units from 10 manufacturers. Further, the NHTSA included General Motors vehicles made in 2002 and 2003 that weren’t supposed to be on the list — they didn’t have Takata airbags — and the website meant to help consumers determine if their vehicles are affected is having issues, though the agency believes high traffic isn’t the problem.

The recall affects a handful of areas with high humidity, where the defective airbags could explode in a manner conducive to producing metal shrapnel, lacerating and/or killing all inside the cabin of the vehicle. Consumers are urged to bring in their vehicles for repair, and if parts aren’t available, will be asked to keep passengers from sitting up front until the deactivated airbag is replaced.

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UAW, Political Leaders Uniting To Keep Wrangler In Ohio http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-political-leaders-uniting-keep-wrangler-ohio/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-political-leaders-uniting-keep-wrangler-ohio/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933842 With the possibility of an aluminum Jeep Wrangler being built elsewhere, the United Auto Workers and political leaders are coming together to convince Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to keep the icon in Toledo, Ohio. Automotive News reports the gathering will occur Monday at the UAW Local 12, with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, […]

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With the possibility of an aluminum Jeep Wrangler being built elsewhere, the United Auto Workers and political leaders are coming together to convince Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to keep the icon in Toledo, Ohio.

Automotive News reports the gathering will occur Monday at the UAW Local 12, with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, and Toledo mayor D. Michael Collins joining the group of workers, local leaders and members of the community to launch a campaign to keep the Wrangler at the Chrysler Assembly Plant, where 1,700 (out of a total of over 6,000) help assemble the icon with the help of 800 employed by neighborhood suppliers.

The campaign is set to begin as FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne warned that should the next-generation Wrangler be based upon an aluminum unibody, it would be built elsewhere:

If the solution is aluminum, then I think unfortunately that Toledo is the wrong place, the wrong setup to try and build a Wrangler, because it requires a complete reconfiguring of the assets that would be cost-prohibitive. It would be so outrageously expensive that it would be impossible to try and work out of that facility.

UAW Local 12 president Bruce Baumhower invited 40 elected officials and local businessmen to the gathering, with the intent of establishing a task force set to address the issues that would take the Wrangler out of Toledo.

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Dwindling Cabriolet Market Affecting Automakers, Suppliers Alike http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dwindling-cabriolet-market-affecting-automakers-suppliers-alike/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dwindling-cabriolet-market-affecting-automakers-suppliers-alike/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932282 If you’re a fan of convertibles, then you may find your selection dwindling as more consumers go for a different image, affecting automakers and suppliers alike. Automotive News Europe reports manufacturers like Volkswagen and Peugeot are cutting down the number of cabriolets in their portfolios as a result of the following: Popularity: In the two […]

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Opel Cascada

If you’re a fan of convertibles, then you may find your selection dwindling as more consumers go for a different image, affecting automakers and suppliers alike.

Automotive News Europe reports manufacturers like Volkswagen and Peugeot are cutting down the number of cabriolets in their portfolios as a result of the following:

  • Popularity: In the two biggest markets for such vehicles — North America and Europe — the convertible experienced sales of 827,000 unit in 2007, but only 444,000 in 2013. The drop is likely the result of consumers moving toward crossovers and SUVs, along with other image-making vehicles like the Toyota Prius and Tesla Model S.
  • Limited market: Even when popularity was at its peak, not everyone wanted the wind in their hair. Convertibles were most popular in places like England, Sweden, California and Florida — the latter two were the result of transplants from colder, wetter regions who now wanted to soak up the sun — while few were sold in places like Dubai, China and Singapore.
  • Other options: Consumers shopping for new vehicles can have theirs with a panoramic roof, delivering blue skies to all without needing to apply a ton of Aqua Net or toupee glue before heading out. Further, SUVs and cabriolets are image vehicles that can replace each other, though such a swap hurts the latter more than the former in the new-vehicle market. Finally, convertibles have a higher residual value, and tend to do better in the used-vehicle market than when first purchased.

Thus, as automakers trim their open-top offerings, suppliers like Valmet and Magna CTS fear their time may soon come to call it a day. CEO for the largest supplier of roof systems, Webasto’s Holger Engelmann, says the market won’t be able to sustain three major players in the supply game. Both Webasto and Valmet — the third largest; Magna CTS is No. 2 — have shuttered facilities over the years amid the shrinking market, with Valmet closing its German operations by 2017.

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How The Honda Passport Got Its Name http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/honda-passport-got-name/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/honda-passport-got-name/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:17:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931842 It ceased being fun working at American Honda around the summer of 1993. Most of our senior managers in the sales division had recently been fired. In May, the New York Times published the first story about our executives soliciting bribes from dealers. The Justice Department was snooping around our US headquarters in Torrance, CA. […]

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Passport Rodeo courtesy popularmechanics.com

It ceased being fun working at American Honda around the summer of 1993. Most of our senior managers in the sales division had recently been fired. In May, the New York Times published the first story about our executives soliciting bribes from dealers. The Justice Department was snooping around our US headquarters in Torrance, CA. The year before, our geniuses in Japan had dropped the ground-breaking CRX two-seater and stuck us with the dull del Sol. Over at Acura, our Honda Division castoffs were busy trying to figure out why the tepid 5-cylinder Vigor was not selling.

We were still stuck in the Civic-Accord-Prelude-del Sol mode. “We will never build trucks,” our execs had often proudly proclaimed.  Now we found ourselves caught flat-footed as we followed the success of the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner SUVs. We needed a sport-ute yesterday, and it would take us a minimum of four years to develop one. We did what any self-respecting, high quality, loved-by-its-customers car company would do in this situation.

We called Isuzu.

We made arrangements with Isuzu to sell their Rodeo SUV in America in exchange for Isuzu rebadging some of our small cars in Japan. “Hello, Burger King? This is Lawry’s Steakhouse. We want to put our name on one of your sandwiches and sell it as our own,” said one of my co-workers in Honda’s advertising department. That may have been a little harsh, but there was a genuine lack of enthusiasm internally for the General Motors-powered Rodeo that we had code-named the “Hodeo.”

We had no time to hire a consultant to make up a moniker, as we had done with the brand name “Acura.” Instead we dug into the Honda motorcycle/ATV parts bin to come up with three potential model names already licensed to us.

This was not the first time we had used a tag from our two-wheel division: before it was an Acura, the Integra was a V-Twin sport bike built in the early 1980s (and the name was resurrected in 2007 and continues today as a scooter.) The cycle division had some really cool names. Heck, if Honda ever built a V-8 version of today’s Ridgeline pickup they could call it the Honda 305 Scrambler.

So armed with the names Elsinore, Odyssey and Passport, we headed off to test the SUV and the proposed names in a consumer focus group. We had a Honda-badged Rodeo and a half-dozen competing SUVs lined up in a warehouse in Culver City. The attendees were primarily SUV-owning men, as we were concerned that we were becoming a bit too much of a chick car company. My boss, Dave the National Advertising Manager, and I watched from behind a one-way mirror but were under a time crunch: thanks to NBC, we had great seats to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup featuring the LA Kings and Wayne Gretzky taking on the Montreal Canadiens, with faceoff being 45 minutes away at the nearby Forum.

The original Honda Passport

The original Honda Passport

The group first reinforced our internal concerns when asked their first impressions about our new SUV, (“It looks like that Suzuki or Isuzu.” “It IS that Isuzu.” “Why would Honda sell an Isuzu?” “It won’t have the same quality.”) Undaunted, the moderator from our advertising agency proceeded to ask the attendees what images the proposed names conjured up.

We started with Elsinore. The Elsinore was a 1970s Honda dirt bike named after Lake Elsinore, an area known for a legendary off-road motorcycle race. Movie star and motorcycle racer Steve McQueen rode an Elsinore. What could be a more rugged and manly name for the Hodeo?

Rugged and manly attendee Bob, a Chevy Suburban owner, asked, “Why would you name a truck after the castle in “Hamlet?”  Amazingly, others agreed with him. Elsinore was out.

Next up was Odyssey, a name used for a 1970s/1980s Honda dune buggy. The attendees were confused. (“So this means you can travel long distances in an Isuzu?”) I think Bob mentioned Homer. Odyssey was out but would be used on Honda’s first minivan the following year.

The name Passport was used in the 1980s on a variation of the venerable Honda Super Cub motorbike. The group liked it far better than the other two names. That was enough for Dave and me: we decided that our first-ever SUV would be called the Honda Passport. We excused ourselves and headed to the Forum. The naming process took less than ten minutes.

The Passport ended up selling pretty well initially thanks to our strong brand image and the usual hilarious commercials produced by the legendary Larry Postaer, creative director at our advertising agency. The Passport would be dropped in 2002 and eventually be replaced by the Honda-built Pilot, named after another Honda off-road ATV.

The Honda/Isuzu alliance made a semi-believer out me that a strong car company could successfully work with a weaker automaker on product sharing and development. Of course I later joined Mercedes-Benz a few months before they bought Chrysler and would learn otherwise…

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GM Slapped With Lawsuits Totalling $10B Over Lost Value Claims http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gm-slapped-lawsuits-totalling-10b-lost-value-claims/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gm-slapped-lawsuits-totalling-10b-lost-value-claims/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932002 General Motors twice experienced the business end of a leather glove Wednesday, when over 20 million consumers demanded satisfaction via two lawsuits totalling $10 billion in claims over lost resale value as a result of the February 2014 ignition switch recall. Bloomberg reports two class actions would come GM’s way, the larger representing those who […]

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2009 Chevrolet Cobalt Kia Store

General Motors twice experienced the business end of a leather glove Wednesday, when over 20 million consumers demanded satisfaction via two lawsuits totalling $10 billion in claims over lost resale value as a result of the February 2014 ignition switch recall.

Bloomberg reports two class actions would come GM’s way, the larger representing those who bought a GM vehicle between July 2009 and July 2014, whether or not they were still in possession of said vehicle.

The smaller lawsuit, meanwhile represents those who bought vehicles prior to the automaker’s bankruptcy in July 2009, though it may be muted depending on how a bankruptcy judge in New York rules next year regarding whether or not claims for accidents and economic losses made before the bankruptcy would be allowed to move forward.

According to the filing for the larger suit, “New GM’s” claims of being focused on safety and innovation were little more than a mask, resulting in diminished values of all GM-branded vehicles as a result of both the recall and the automaker’s “corporate culture of ignoring and concealing safety defects.”

For its part, GM vowed in an email to “vigorously defend against plaintiffs’ claims that GM vehicles have reduced resale value.”

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Datsun Dealing With Low Sales In Emerging Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/datsun-dealing-low-sales-emerging-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/datsun-dealing-low-sales-emerging-markets/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931346 Last year, Renault-Nissan resurrected Datsun, positioning the brand for emerging markets — like India, Russia and Indonesia — with a portfolio of models that would attract new, young consumers whose wallets were a bit thin. It’s not quite working out thus far. Bloomberg reports deliveries of the Go hatchback in India have fallen in three […]

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Datsun mi-Do 01

Last year, Renault-Nissan resurrected Datsun, positioning the brand for emerging markets — like India, Russia and Indonesia — with a portfolio of models that would attract new, young consumers whose wallets were a bit thin.

It’s not quite working out thus far.

Bloomberg reports deliveries of the Go hatchback in India have fallen in three of the previous four months through this August, with only 607 units leaving the lot in July, briefly dipping below the sales rate of the Tata Nano in the same month. Further, from its debut in March through August, a total of 9,557 of the ₹312,270 ($5,100 USD) Gos found their way into Indian garages.

Meanwhile, Russian sales will take a hit thanks to the ongoing geopolitical Cold War retro revival delivering a two-pronged attack upon the market, with sanctions by Western states on one side, the spectre of recession along the other. According to IHS Automotive, sales may fall to a decade-low of 9 percent by the time 2015 rolls around.

Finally, Datsun has moved 6,400 Go+ Pancas thus far in FY 2014, with the goal set for 40,000 units sold by the end of March 2015. The brand recently began accepting orders for the Go hatch, while Nissan believes it can hit the mark within the year.

India may prove to be the toughest market for the upstart brand, as those interested in a new car would rather pay more than be seen in something considered “cheap.” That said, sales could pick up during the country’s festival season, which began last month and is set to end in November. Additionally, Datsun corporate vice president Vincent Cobee acknowledged that it would take a while for a new-car buyer to consider a new brand over an established one, even if they are paying $10,000 or less for the vehicle.

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EPA: Mazda Holds Highest MPG, Lowest CO2 Averages For 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/epa-mazda-holds-highest-mpg-lowest-co2-averages-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/epa-mazda-holds-highest-mpg-lowest-co2-averages-2013/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928618 Mazda’s green vibes must just feel right with the Environmental Protection Agency, as the agency has proclaimed the automaker has the highest fuel economy and lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any automaker in 2013. Edmunds reports Mazda’s portfolio netted an average of 28.1 mpg and 316 grams/mile of CO2, followed by Honda (27.4/324), Subaru (26.7/332) […]

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Mazda6_3

Mazda’s green vibes must just feel right with the Environmental Protection Agency, as the agency has proclaimed the automaker has the highest fuel economy and lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any automaker in 2013.

Edmunds reports Mazda’s portfolio netted an average of 28.1 mpg and 316 grams/mile of CO2, followed by Honda (27.4/324), Subaru (26.7/332) and Nissan (26.2/339). Nissan also had the greatest improvement in both rankings, jumping up 2.2 mpg and cutting down 30 g/mi of CO2 compared to 2012. All four are set to continue their green ways, as well, with Mazda leading the way again for 2014 at 28.8 mpg/309 g/mi CO2.

At the bottom of the list, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles delivered an average of 20.9 mpg/425 g/mi CO2. Volkswagen AG bested the other German manufacturers with 353 g/mi CO2 and 25.7 mpg, while Hyundai and Kia continue to be footnotes due to an ongoing investigation regarding fuel economy numbers.

As stated earlier, the overall average mpg for 2013 came out to 24.1 mpg, while overall CO2 emissions averaged 369 g/mi. The EPA adds that the number of vehicles topping out at 40 mpg and above jumped from three to 26, and that the top three most fuel-efficient models for 2013 are the Chevrolet Spark (119 combined MPGe), Honda Fit EV (118) and Fiat 500e (116).

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Interbrand: Toyota Most Valuable Global Automotive Brand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/interbrand-toyota-valuable-global-automotive-brand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/interbrand-toyota-valuable-global-automotive-brand/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928554 Aside from giving away FCVs at environmental media award celebrations, Toyota is Interbrand’s most valuable automotive brand on its Best Global Brands list, moving from No. 10 to No. 8 overall in 2014. Despite the $1.2 billion fine levied by the U.S. Justice Department for concealing defects linked to unintended acceleration, followed by a recall […]

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Toyota-badge

Aside from giving away FCVs at environmental media award celebrations, Toyota is Interbrand’s most valuable automotive brand on its Best Global Brands list, moving from No. 10 to No. 8 overall in 2014.

Despite the $1.2 billion fine levied by the U.S. Justice Department for concealing defects linked to unintended acceleration, followed by a recall of 6.4 million units over airbag and seat issues weeks later, the New York-based brand consultancy group says its higher ranking is a result of the following:

  • Brand perception: Though considered as a solid brand known for quality over spirit, Toyota’s campaigns as of late are helping to build a more lively image.
  • Technological advancement: Vehicles like the Mirai and Prius are just two examples of the automaker’s environmental stewardship — Interbrand ranked Toyota No. 2 in this year’s Best Global Green Brands list — while collaborations with Microsoft and BMW help to drive further developments in engineering and mobility.
  • Resource allocation and diversity: Toyota aims to increase the number of women in managerial positions to 320 by 2020, 570 by 2030. The recent relocation of its U.S. headquarters from California to Texas will mean more efficient productivity and greater collaboration between its sales, marketing and manufacturing teams.

Among the rest of the global auto players among the overall list of 100 global brands, Mercedes-Benz represents Europe at No. 10, Ford comes in for the United States at No. 39, and Hyundai raises the flag for South Korea at No. 40.

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Sit Down, Waldo: City Council Disbands Police Over Speed Trap Rep http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/sit-waldo-city-council-disbands-police-speed-trap-rep/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/sit-waldo-city-council-disbands-police-speed-trap-rep/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928410 The city council of Waldo, Fla. — population 1,000 — sternly told its police department to take a seat in the shame bus, disbanding the force after its chief and interim chief both resigned amid an investigation into the town’s reputation as a speed trap. Associated Press reports the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office will take […]

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Waldo Florida is Hot For Teacher

The city council of Waldo, Fla. — population 1,000 — sternly told its police department to take a seat in the shame bus, disbanding the force after its chief and interim chief both resigned amid an investigation into the town’s reputation as a speed trap.

Associated Press reports the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office will take up where the Waldo Police Department failed, while AAA will consider taking down billboards warning motorists of the speed trap awaiting them.

The path to disbanding began in August, when Chief Mike Szabo was suspended during a probe into allegations of ticket quotas. The same allegations would later take down interim chief, Corporal Kenneth Smith, a couple of weeks later, with both resigning soon after.

The police force was a cash machine for the city budget, providing half of the $1 million spent annually in Waldo; last year alone, 12,000 tickets between seven officers produced $400,000 in revenue.

Though the country sheriff will oversee law enforcement in the near-term, residents believe speeders and criminals will have carte blanche over Waldo. That said, the residents have recently asked the state government to post a single speed limit for their city; currently, there are six within the two square miles Waldo occupies.

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US New-Car Fuel Economy Improves For 2013, Falls For September 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/us-new-car-fuel-economy-improves-2013-falls-september-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/us-new-car-fuel-economy-improves-2013-falls-september-2014/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927914 Good news: New-car fuel economy in the United States improved to an average of 24.1 mpg in 2013. Bad news: Said economy fell to 25.3 mpg for September 2014. AutoblogGreen reports the 2013 average, as calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency, is not only an improvement of 0.5 mpg higher than in 2012, but is […]

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Man Pumping Gas

Good news: New-car fuel economy in the United States improved to an average of 24.1 mpg in 2013.

Bad news: Said economy fell to 25.3 mpg for September 2014.

AutoblogGreen reports the 2013 average, as calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency, is not only an improvement of 0.5 mpg higher than in 2012, but is the highest the yearly average has ever been. It’s also the halfway point to the 2025 CAFE target of 54.5 mpg, which would come out to an EPA sticker value of 40 mpg thanks to improvements in gasoline engines, alternative clean technologies, and the credits such things generate.

Still, it is a long way to the top if the green parade still wants to rock and roll. According to AutoGuide, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reports the September 2014 average is a 0.5 mpg drop from the all-time high of 25.8 mpg recorded in August. The group adds that the last time U.S. new-car fuel economy dropped by 0.5 mpg was in December 2011. Research professor Michael Sivak says the drop “likely reflects the increased sales of light trucks and SUVs, and the reduced demand for fuel efficient vehicles of all types because of the falling gas prices.”

EDI_mpg_September-2014

EDI_CAFE_September-2014

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Hypercar Documentary Previewed At Second Annual Jalopnik Film Festival http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/hypercar-documentary-previewed-second-annual-jalopnik-film-festival/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/hypercar-documentary-previewed-second-annual-jalopnik-film-festival/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 19:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927506 Are you a movie buff? Do you love films about the automobile? If so, and if you’re in New York during the early days of November, the second annual Jalopnik Film Festival will be held between November 5 and 6 this year. One of the headlining films for this year’s festival is “Apex: The Story […]

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ferrari-laferrari-side-doors-open

Are you a movie buff? Do you love films about the automobile? If so, and if you’re in New York during the early days of November, the second annual Jalopnik Film Festival will be held between November 5 and 6 this year.

One of the headlining films for this year’s festival is “Apex: The Story of the Hypercar,” a production of TangentVector and Drive. The film follows the development of several hypercars — like the LaFerrari, 918 Spyder and P1 — and those who bring the vehicles to life.

Shot in 4K Ultra HD, “Apex” will be shown as a 30-minute short preview prior to its full debut sometime next year.

More details on the festival can be found here: How To Get Your Tickets To The Second Jalopnik Film Festival.

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State, Federal Authorities Target Subprime Liar Auto Loans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/state-federal-authorities-target-subprime-liar-auto-loans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/state-federal-authorities-target-subprime-liar-auto-loans/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 10:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926369 The same subprime lending practices in the mortgage industry that fueled the run-up toward the Great Recession have found a new market to infect: used-car auto lending. According to The New York Times, state and federal authorities are investigating used-car dealerships who finance subprime consumers by creating liar loans, loans where an applicant’s information is […]

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Ameriquest Mortgage NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Ford Fusion

The same subprime lending practices in the mortgage industry that fueled the run-up toward the Great Recession have found a new market to infect: used-car auto lending.

According to The New York Times, state and federal authorities are investigating used-car dealerships who finance subprime consumers by creating liar loans, loans where an applicant’s information is misrepresented, such as inflating one’s income or falsifying their employment information.

Thus far, the investigations have found hundreds of such loans, including a case in Odessa, Texas where two employees at a dealership created over 300 liar loans; the employees are now serving time in federal prison. Meanwhile, 15 states — including Florida, New York, Alabama, Ohio, Texas and Tennessee — have lawsuits pending against dealerships whose subprime lending tactics have financially damaged borrowers who would have otherwise been passed over.

Liar lending also damages lenders and investors — the latter including public pension funds and insurance companies — who buy the loans from the dealerships who commit to such tactics, eroding confidence in the securities generated by the loans. That said, more lenders are falling head over heels to have more loans in their portfolio — sometimes paying dealers in full immediately for them — fostering the sin that led some mortgage companies to the guillotine years ago.

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Cadillac Escalade Keeps Its Name, Other SUVs, CUVs Christened XT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cadillac-escalade-keeps-name-suvs-cuvs-christened-xt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cadillac-escalade-keeps-name-suvs-cuvs-christened-xt/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=922433 Cadillac’s new alpha-numeric scheme has entered the crossover and SUV space, with the brand’s future offerings to be dubbed XT. However, like the Lincoln Navigator to the MKs, the Escalade will keep its name among the CTs and XTs. According to Forbes, Cadillac CMO Uwe Ellinghaus says both CT and XT models will have a […]

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2015-escalade-exterior-masthead-family-960x540

Cadillac’s new alpha-numeric scheme has entered the crossover and SUV space, with the brand’s future offerings to be dubbed XT. However, like the Lincoln Navigator to the MKs, the Escalade will keep its name among the CTs and XTs.

According to Forbes, Cadillac CMO Uwe Ellinghaus says both CT and XT models will have a number appended at the end of the designation to signify the size of the vehicle in relation to the rest of the lineup. The designations — created a year ago by Ellinghaus soon after becoming the brand’s CMO — form a framework for Cadillac to expand and overhaul its lineup while also eliminating consumer confusion on the showroom floor:

It’s a logical thing to give some mental space like this in your naming scheme. So many other brands have done that sort of thing, across industries. It’s not rocket science. It doesn’t fit our immediate business needs, but this simple logic will help us build this brand and enhance recognition over the long term.

One exception to the new scheme is the Escalade. According to Road & Track, product manager Dave Schiavione explained that there had been a plan to move the SUV onto the Lambda crossover platform, but was punted because Escalade owners wanted their SUV — with all of the power, towing capacity and other associated aspects — to remain an SUV. Representative David Caldwell summed it up as such:

Escalade remains. No reason to mess with it. Everything you say about it is valid.

The premium SUV will likely remain the brand’s default halo vehicle until the flagship CT6 arrives in the near future.

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Maeda: New Mazda RX Must Have Rotary Power http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/maeda-new-mazda-rx-must-rotary-power/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/maeda-new-mazda-rx-must-rotary-power/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921617 Can you imagine one day visiting a Mazda showroom to buy a new RX-7 and finding anything but a rotary engine under the hood? Neither can global design chief — and RX-8 designer — Ikuo Maeda. Automotive News reports the designer, whose father gave the world the aforementioned sports car, is hard at work on […]

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Mazda 787B + Rotary Engine

Can you imagine one day visiting a Mazda showroom to buy a new RX-7 and finding anything but a rotary engine under the hood? Neither can global design chief — and RX-8 designer — Ikuo Maeda.

Automotive News reports the designer, whose father gave the world the aforementioned sports car, is hard at work on bringing back the RX line. Though nothing is set in stone, and that the Skyactiv engine “is a wonderful powertrain,” Maeda insists the next RX must live up to its name.

However, engineers are still at a loss as to how to make the rotary engine cleaner to meet today’s more stringent emission guidelines, having been hard at work in the background since the Renesis 16X engine debuted in the back of the Taiki concept in 2007. Mazda itself hasn’t pushed the rotary back into the spotlight since giving the RX-8 the ax in 2012.

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Daimler Works Council Boss To Meet With UAW In Coming Weeks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-works-council-boss-meet-uaw-coming-weeks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-works-council-boss-meet-uaw-coming-weeks/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921217 Though Daimler senior management has said repeatedly that the decision to organize the MBUSI plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. was up to the workers on the floor, Daimler works council boss Michael Brecht is heading there in a few weeks to explore the possibility with the United Auto Workers. Reuters reports both the UAW and German […]

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Michael Brecht

Though Daimler senior management has said repeatedly that the decision to organize the MBUSI plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. was up to the workers on the floor, Daimler works council boss Michael Brecht is heading there in a few weeks to explore the possibility with the United Auto Workers.

Reuters reports both the UAW and German union IG Metall are pushing for the plant to be organized, while Brecht himself “is convinced that the employees in the company need to have their interests represented by having their voice heard,” according to a spokeswoman on the matter.

As early as June of this year, the UAW has proclaimed work on a plan for MBUSI as part of an overall strategy to organize the transplants in the Southeastern United States and boost their rolls. The union recently established a local at another plant — the Volkswagen facility in Chattanooga, Tenn. — having gained enough members to “force” Volkswagen AG into recognizing the local as the exclusive bargaining agent for that facility.

Finally, though UAW president Gary Casteel wouldn’t say what he and Brecht would discuss regarding MBUSI, he said that he and Brecht had “a strong, close relationship,” and that the union considered him “a close ally.”

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EU Orders Germany To Cease Use Of R134a Within Two Months http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/eu-orders-germany-cease-use-r134a-within-two-months/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/eu-orders-germany-cease-use-r134a-within-two-months/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920050 After months of investigation regarding the German government’s support of Daimler’s continued use of R134a — in violation of a law mandating use of refrigerants “with a global warming potential no more than 150 times that of carbon dioxide” — the European Commission has given Germany two months to comply with the law, or be […]

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Mercedes SL With R134a

After months of investigation regarding the German government’s support of Daimler’s continued use of R134a — in violation of a law mandating use of refrigerants “with a global warming potential no more than 150 times that of carbon dioxide” — the European Commission has given Germany two months to comply with the law, or be fined and taken to court.

Reuters reports the Commission sent its formal request to the Bundesregierung this week, stating that if the government fails to comply, “the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.”

Meanwhile, Germany still believes it is not in violation of European Union law, and that the government would reply within two months to the Commission.

As for Daimler, a representative says the company’s position on the use of R134a has not changed, and is still at work on a CO2 replacement expected to arrive in 2017. Daimler’s stance is based on its concerns over the EU-compliant R1234yf refrigerant made by Honeywell, claiming the alternative creates a toxic gas when burned.

The edict comes a few months after Daimler successfully won the right to continue to sell R134a-equipped vehicles in France, when a ban issued by the nation’s economy minister, Ségolène Royal, was found unjustified.

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Feinberg: 21 Fatality Claims Eligible For Compensation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/feinberg-21-fatality-claims-eligible-compensation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/feinberg-21-fatality-claims-eligible-compensation/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916906 According to the latest report from the General Motors compensation program published Monday, 21 fatalities linked to the defective ignition switch that launched a thousand recalls will receive payments. Reuters reports 675 claims for serious injury or death were submitted to attorney Kenneth Feinberg’s office since August 1, when acceptance began. The office also reported […]

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2009 Chevrolet Cobalt Kia Store

According to the latest report from the General Motors compensation program published Monday, 21 fatalities linked to the defective ignition switch that launched a thousand recalls will receive payments.

Reuters reports 675 claims for serious injury or death were submitted to attorney Kenneth Feinberg’s office since August 1, when acceptance began. The office also reported 16 serious injury claims were proclaimed eligible for compensation.

Out of the claims submitted thus far, 143 were fatality claims, up from 131 reported earlier last week. Meanwhile, the 21 claims paid-out exceed GM’s own reported 13 fatalities linked to the switch used in a handful of Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn compacts in the early to mid-2000s.

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US District Court Orders Discovery For Some GM Ignition Switch Suits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/us-district-court-orders-discovery-gm-ignition-switch-suits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/us-district-court-orders-discovery-gm-ignition-switch-suits/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916226 Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman issued from his bench in the Southern District of New York an order for discovery to begin on a number of cases related to the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall. Reuters reports the order covers suits not tied to an ongoing case regarding GM’s battle to […]

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

Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman issued from his bench in the Southern District of New York an order for discovery to begin on a number of cases related to the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall.

Reuters reports the order covers suits not tied to an ongoing case regarding GM’s battle to maintain its liability shield as erected in bankruptcy court back in 2009. Furman added that discovery should only focus on requests made to the automaker for supporting documents on a “reasonable, but aggressive schedule,” with depositions to be obtained at a later date.

The order comes as 131 fatality claims were filed thus far with the compensation fund established by GM, and maintained by attorney Kenneth Feinberg and his team of experts. The fund also identified a total of 19 fatalities linked to the ignition switch found in 2.6 million Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn compact vehicles, up from the automaker’s original count of 13.

Meanwhile, the bankruptcy protection case won’t have a verdict until sometime in 2015. The automaker’s lawyers had requested discovery be delayed until after the case was resolved.

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Ian James Corlett’s ElectroPorsche: From Beater To Electrifying Showstopper http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ian-james-corletts-electroporsche-from-beater-to-electrifying-showstopper/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ian-james-corletts-electroporsche-from-beater-to-electrifying-showstopper/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909898 [AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is one I've been pursuing since a couple of days before returning to TTAC on the back of the Bumpasaurus Rex last October. As today is my 36th birthday, this is my gift to you, dearest B&B. - CA] Meet Ian James Corlett and his 1966 Porsche 912. Corlett calls Vancouver, […]

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1966 Porsche 912 EV 16

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is one I've been pursuing since a couple of days before returning to TTAC on the back of the Bumpasaurus Rex last October. As today is my 36th birthday, this is my gift to you, dearest B&B. - CA]

Meet Ian James Corlett and his 1966 Porsche 912. Corlett calls Vancouver, B.C. his home, where he works in the entertainment industry as a voice actor, director, producer, author and musician; his son and daughter, Phillip and Claire, also work in the industry as voice actors in their own right.

As for his 912, it may appear to be no more than a beautifully restored vintage Porsche, but as you’ll soon discover, there’s more than meets the eye with this particular sports car.

All photos provided by Ian James Corlett, Brendan McAleer and Wikipedia.

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“I didn’t start with the notion of electrifying a Porsche,” said Corlett. “I was gonna do an old VW Beetle, mostly because I love Beetles, and it was one of the first cars I ever had. But the electric kits and the conversions were relatively available, and lots of people had done them. So, I thought, ‘Well, that’s good, because the geometry works and it’s easy to bolt in an electric motor onto the existing transmission. So, that’s what I’ll do!'”

Corlett’s interest in all things electric began years ago during one of his “reverse midlife crisis” phases, when he happened upon a Vespa scooter whose engine lived up to its Italian heritage. Preferring to ride over working on the Vespa during the few sunny days Vancouver received in a given year, he turned to a since-defunct scooter shop in Seattle for help. There, Corlett obtained a 10-inch hub motor and custom components for the Vespa, then made the switch to electric power back home.

Another reason for going electric: To escape the leasing cycle, and to reconnect with the idea of ownership. Corlett grew up interested in European and Japanese vehicles, finding U.S.-made models of the 1970s and 1980s too big, heavy and brutal to his liking. His first cars included the aforementioned Beetle, his mother’s 1969 Datsun, a Honda Accord — his first new car — two Volkswagen Cabriolets with a Jetta in between, and ultimately, the first of many Porsche 911s.

Porsche_911_993_--_11-26-2011

Though he owned his vehicles through his first 911 — a 1994 993 model — outright, the leasing bug would soon sting him and his wallet:

Somebody introduced me to this wizard of leasing, and they said, ‘No. Actually, people just don’t realize that leasing is all about the differential between what a car is going to be worth in a couple of years, and what you paid for it. You’re only really paying for that difference.’

With the then-low depreciation rates of Porsche’s offering in mind, and the leasing guru’s flexibility in setting up the contract, Corlett found leasing was less expensive than regular car payments at the time. However, the first lease was like “the drug dealer offering [a new customer] the first one for free,” with the second and third leases as easy as the first.

Alas, the rates would soon climb, Porsche began expanding its lineup, and residual values were falling hard. After the sixth 911, Corlett was quitting leasing for good, preferring to own his cars again, as well as use the money that would have gone into a new lease toward his children’s private school tuition and other fiscal responsibilities.

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Though his search began with numerous old Beetles, Corlett took to the idea of converting a 912 to electric power after his attempt to buy a converted 912 from an aerospace engineer in the Phoenix area on eBay ended with a last-second loss to a higher bidder; converting a 911 of similar vintage was a bridge too far in his mind. This new journey would end outside of the desert city, where Corlett snagged a 1966 beater with rust galore — thanks to its previous life outside of Arizona — instead of a hoped-for “very dry, desert car.”

“It was really a two-step process,” he explained. “We needed to restore the car, and then fit it and measure it for the electric components.”

The restoration proved to be daunting for Corlett’s electric dream. Opting to perform both steps in Phoenix — the labor costs were lower than in Canada — he left the 912 with a restorer who turned out to be as nightmarish as the vehicle itself upon media-blasting by the following restorer, Arizona Street Customs, months later.

The project ultimately took three years, though Corlett admitted that “it shouldn’t have taken three years,” citing a change in focus toward a move to a new house in Vancouver, as well as project-related issues:

One of the huge delays, as an example, was the batteries. We ordered $15,000 worth of batteries, and they had to come from China. We just made a wrong choice on who the supplier was. That was eight months of waiting, because the guy would sell large amounts of batteries in containers. He waited for a container to be full before he would fulfill his order from China and ship to the U.S. That’s just big, long delay for no good reason.

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Since coming home to Vancouver late last year, the 912 has been making the rounds at events throughout the area, such as the Luxury Supercar Weekend at VanDusen Botanical Garden, and the Key West Ford Shine & Show in New Westminster, B.C., where Corlett took home trophies in the best special interest and unfinished categories. He says he enjoys being able to take part in any event that allows him to show off his masterpiece in the brief window of sunny days between June and October.

The reaction to such a conversion? “I have had nothing but jaw-drops and great comments,” he proclaimed. “Now, that’s to my face. I’m sure there are people that feel differently. I’ve been really surprised by some of the Porsche people — and I know a lot of them in town — some of them that are just hardcore, real Porsche fanatics.”

One in particular, his mechanic — a “very abrasive guy of German heritage” who’s “not too fond of electric cars, period” — enthusiastically approved of the 912 during a shakedown following a suspension adjustment, allaying Corlett’s fears of taking a classic Porsche and transforming it into a vintage EV. Nonetheless, he’s very happy with the overall response his car is receiving.

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Registration and insurance for a unique vehicle like this was easier to obtain than one might imagine. The most difficult part was importation from the U.S. to Canada, though this was waved away by declaring the 912 as just a restored vintage vehicle. Once at home, registration was simply a matter of switching the “G” — for gasoline — to “E” — for electric — on the paperwork.

Finally, though the 912 has standard insurance at present, it may soon have coverage better suited for its unique features, which would provide the benefit of being insured and appraised properly.

Range testing is ongoing as far as long drives are concerned, having gone as far south as Corlett’s P.O. Box in nearby Blaine, Wash., as well some handling issues that need to be resolved before taking it 9/10ths. In the meantime, he switches between the 912 and his 2011 BMW 135i, the latter his daily driver. His reasoning for the BMW is the same as the 911s before: the ability to go from the school and the studio during the week, to the track during the weekends when not piloting or showing the 912 EV.

As far as future electrification is concerned, an experience with the Tesla Model S has Corlett thinking of an EV suitable for his family’s needs. As the premium sedan is too large, he says the Kia Soul EV will likely fulfill the role, if only because the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive won’t be in Canada anytime soon.

By the way, he still has the electric Vespa, and he aims to have both it and the 912 out on the road to praise the sun next year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1966 Porsche 912 EV 02 1966 Porsche 912 EV 03 1966 Porsche 912 EV 04 1966 Porsche 912 EV 05 1966 Porsche 912 EV 06 1966 Porsche 912 EV 07 1966 Porsche 912 EV 08 1966 Porsche 912 EV 09 1966 Porsche 912 EV 10 1966 Porsche 912 EV 11 1966 Porsche 912 EV 12 1966 Porsche 912 EV 13 1966 Porsche 912 EV 14 1966 Porsche 912 EV 15 1966 Porsche 912 EV 16 1966 Porsche 912 EV 17 1966 Porsche 912 EV 18 1966 Porsche 912 EV 20 1966 Porsche 912 EV 21 1966 Porsche 912 EV 22 1966 Porsche 912 EV 23 1966 Porsche 912 EV Spec Sheet

The post Ian James Corlett’s ElectroPorsche: From Beater To Electrifying Showstopper appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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