The Truth About Cars » People 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 11:00:20 +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 » People http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/people/ 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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Nissan Loses Money On Every Leaf Replacement Battery Sold http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kuhlman-nissan-loses-money-per-leaf-replacement-battery-sold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kuhlman-nissan-loses-money-per-leaf-replacement-battery-sold/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873026 2011_Nissan_Leaf_SL_--_10-28-2011

In June, Nissan announced that Leaf owners could obtain a replacement battery pack for $5,500 upon trading in the old unit. While a boon to said owners, the automaker is losing blood on the deal every time a pack is sold.

Green Car Reports interviewed Nissan vice president of global communications Jeff Kuhlman, who explained that the low price for the new pack was the result of his employer subsidizing the price, though he declined to state how much Nissan spends per replacement. Thus, no profit is being made at this time off of the exchange.

However, Nissan isn’t yet hurting on this “customer-first” initiative. According to Kuhlman, no one has taken the automaker up on its Leaf battery replacement program.

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Galhotra Takes The Reins As Lincoln’s New President http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/galhotra-takes-the-reins-as-lincolns-new-president/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/galhotra-takes-the-reins-as-lincolns-new-president/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871938 ashwani-kumar-galhotra.img.1375822969106

As one of his first major moves since becoming CEO, Ford’s Mark Fields named vice president of engineering Kumar Galhotra as president of Lincoln, effective September 1.

Automotive News reports Galhotra, who will report directly to the new CEO, will be the premium brand’s first president since Al Giombetti left the post in 2007. The move will also reduce executive vice president of global sales, service and marketing Jim Farley’s role with Lincoln, which will be focused on marketing the brand once Galhotra takes over.

The new president — an engineer and product executive who has worked with Lincoln, Ford and Mazda in the past — will bring his marketing experience to the table as Lincoln prepares to launch in China later in 2014; he headed Ford’s Asia Pacific division from 2009 to 2013, and helped bring about the new Ranger pickup to market.

Speaking of the division, engineering director Jim Holland will move from there to replace Galhotra as Ford’s vice president of engineering, reporting to global product development chief Raj Nair.

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Daimler To Enter FCV Market In 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-to-enter-fcv-market-in-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-to-enter-fcv-market-in-2017/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871914 Mercedes Blue Efficiency

While Japanese and Korean automakers like Toyota and Hyundai are jumping into the hydrogen game, Daimler plans to begin its own journey in 2017.

Automotive News interviewed Daimler head of corporate research Herbert Kohler about his employer’s hydrogen plans. Kohler briefly reflected on how Daimler were questioned on focusing upon fuel-cell technology before everyone else, stating that if an automaker wasn’t now at least considering the game, it would have to ask itself “some uncomfortable questions.”

As for the timetable of releasing an FCV by 2017, he states that while Daimler had planned to do so by 2015 at the latest, its joint partnership with Nissan and Ford to develop the technology will give all three time to bring the tech’s high costs down amid increasing volumes by the time 2017 rolls around.

Finally, when asked how much Daimler would charge for their FCV — in light of the $68,000 price tag for the 2015 Toyota FCV — Kohler says his employer’s goal is to price its FCV on par with “the hybrid version of a comparable model.”

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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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2014 Chevrolet SS To Pace 20th Running Of Brickyard 400 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2014-chevrolet-ss-to-pace-20th-running-of-brickyard-400/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2014-chevrolet-ss-to-pace-20th-running-of-brickyard-400/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871274 Actor Chris Pratt To Drive Chevrolet SS Pace Car At Brickyard

Monday, we alerted you that the 2015 Chevrolet SS will come with a manual transmission and Magnetic Ride. Today, the current SS has thrown on some red and silver pace-car clothing to lead its tube-frame brethren over the strip of bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 20th running of the Brickyard 400.

Autoblog reports the driver behind the wheel of this SS will be none other than actor Chris Pratt, whose latest film, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” will be in theaters August 1. Pratt said it was “a dream come true to drive the pace car” for the Brickyard 400, renamed the John Wayne Walding 400 by sponsor Crown Royal in honor of the Army veteran who lost part of his right leg during the Battle of Shok Valley in 2008.

The silhouette Sprint Cup version of the SS is doing well for itself since the start of its racing career in 2013, winning 16 out of 36 races in the previous season, and claiming nine of the first 10 events in 2014. Meanwhile, the Camaro and Corvette will take up pacing duties for the support events around the Brickyard 400.

Actor Chris Pratt To Drive Chevrolet SS Pace Car At Brickyard Actor Chris Pratt To Drive Chevrolet SS Pace Car At Brickyard Actor Chris Pratt To Drive Chevrolet SS Pace Car At Brickyard Actor Chris Pratt To Drive Chevrolet SS Pace Car At Brickyard ]]>
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Ghosn Presents 2020 Autonomous Drive Roadmap http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ghosn-presents-2020-autonomous-drive-roadmap/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ghosn-presents-2020-autonomous-drive-roadmap/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869314 Carlos-Ghosn-5112012-10

Before the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan Thursday, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn issued a roadmap outlining the automaker’s path toward the first autonomous vehicles in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal reports the following steps Renault-Nissan will take towards its 2020 Autonomous Drive target:

  • 2016: The automaker will introduce a traffic jam pilot and fully automated parking systems, the former of which would allow vehicles to safely drive their passengers through rush hour and other congestion scenarios.
  • 2018: Vehicles will use multiple lane controls to safely negotiate road hazards and lane changes.
  • 2020: Vehicles will use intersection autonomy to delivery their passengers safely through intersections without the need for driver intervention.

Ghosn emphasized the difference between his company’s approach to autonomy over those like Google, who are pursuing vehicles that drive themselves:

Autonomous Drive is about relieving motorists of everyday tasks, particularly in congested or long-distance situations. The driver remains in control, at the wheel, of a car that is capable of doing more things automatically. Self-driving cars, by comparison, don’t require any human intervention — and remain a long-way from commercial reality. They are suitable only for tightly-controlled road-environments, at slow speeds, and face a regulatory minefield

He concluded that the 2020 roadmap was only the beginning, with further advancements to come on the momentum generated by the plan.

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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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Former Ford CEO Mulally Joins Google’s Board Of Directors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/former-ford-ceo-mulally-joins-googles-board-of-directors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/former-ford-ceo-mulally-joins-googles-board-of-directors/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=867202 Alan Mullaly

Once thought to be the possible next CEO of Microsoft after his time as CEO of Ford drew to a close, Alan Mulally has instead turned up in Mountain View, Calif. as Google’s newest board member.

Autoblog reports Mulally was appointed to the tech company’s board of directors July 9, and began serving on its audit committee Tuesday. CEO Larry Page was thrilled to have the former Ford CEO on board, citing Mulally’s “wealth of proven business and technology leadership experience.” Mulally himself had this to say:

I am honored to serve on the board of a global iconic company that is dedicated to enhancing our lives. I look forward to working together with the Google board and management team to continue to deliver their compelling vision.

Mulally’s presence will likely lend more street cred as far as Google’s foray into autonomous vehicles is concerned; it’s rumored Google hired Roush — known mostly for NASCAR and tuned Mustangs — to build 100 of Google’s autonomous prototypes for testing.

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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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Kalanick: UberX Could Become Cheaper Than Owning A Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kalanick-uberx-could-become-cheaper-than-owning-a-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kalanick-uberx-could-become-cheaper-than-owning-a-car/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 12:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866850 Uber iPhone

Uber wants to do more than disrupt the traditional taxi service, seeking to bring its pricing low enough to replace your own vehicle, period.

Jalopnik reports CEO Travis Kalanick spoke with The New York Times about a 20 percent cut in pricing on UberX rides in New York, and explained what he’d like to see happen as far as his service is concerned:

The whole point of price cuts is to get UberX pricing below the cost of owning a car. Let’s say you take three or four trips a day on average. If we can get the price of UberX low enough, we can get to where it’s cheaper to take Uber than to own a car.

He adds that while that’s currently easier said than done — there are only so many drivers to go around — and that the cuts are temporary, if Uber can expand its reach through lower pricing, the service would turn a profit even if it makes the cuts permanent. Kalanick also claims his vision would benefit all involved, from providing more jobs in New York to riders getting more for their dollar.

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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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Fourth-Gen Toyota Prius To Receive AWD, New Battery Packs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fourth-gen-toyota-prius-to-receive-awd-new-battery-packs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fourth-gen-toyota-prius-to-receive-awd-new-battery-packs/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866362 2014 Toyota Prius

Though it may be a while before the fourth-generation Toyota Prius leaves the assembly line, it may be worth the wait as far as batteries and drivetrains are concerned.

Automotive News reports the new hybrid will have two choices for battery power. According to senior managing officer of powertrain development Koei Saga, both a low-cost nickel-metal hydride unit and a larger-capacity lithium ion pack — for longer electric-only range — will help provide power. Though Saga was cagey regarding economy numbers, he claimed that the new packs’ economy would “surprise everyone.”

Meanwhile, the power won’t be directed toward just the front wheels. Saga says there’s a possibility that AWD could be in the cards for the new Prius, which will be underpinned by the company’s Toyota New Global Architecture.

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Schaeffler: Run On Two Cylinders Instead of Three http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/schaeffler-run-on-two-cylinders-instead-of-three/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/schaeffler-run-on-two-cylinders-instead-of-three/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 12:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863281 Ford-Fiesta-EcoBoost

Cylinder deactivation is available on a handful of Chrysler and General Motors V8s, as well as Honda V6s, cutting power to a set of cylinders in order to boost efficiency in the short-term. However, one supplier wants to take this further by using the technology on turbocharged three-cylinder motors, deactivating one cylinder while the other two do all of the work.

Ward’s Auto reports German supplier Schaeffler, which brought the switchable valve lifters to the Chrysler and GM cylinder-deactivation programs, is looking to help its customers develop three all-new three-cylinder engines that will put aside one cylinder under certain conditions. Manager of valvetrain systems David Kehr hopes the first prototype will be available for driving in six months, and believes the tech is ready for small engines thanks to advances in NVH:

It will make sense when the consumers don’t even know it’s there. To tell someone you’re going to do it, they’d probably have a lot of apprehension. But even with all the cylinder-deactivation applications that have hit the market, I would argue most people don’t even know it’s there.

The supplier plans to use electronic “rolling” cylinder deactivation, changing the amount of cylinders in play — and which ones — based on driver behavior. In turn, this would boost fuel economy over the long-term, even though it would also add cost to the engines that receive the tech. Thus, the focus will be on three-cylinder units as the cost of adding cylinder deactivation is much lower than even on a four-cylinder unit, let alone using ICEs with electric power in a hybrid configuration to do the same thing.

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Mazda2 RE May Appear Soon, But Only In Select Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mazda2-re-may-appear-soon-but-only-in-select-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mazda2-re-may-appear-soon-but-only-in-select-markets/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863249 Mazda-2-Range-Extender1

The oft-rumored Mazda2 RE PHEV, powered by a range-extending rotary engine, may soon become reality, appearing sometime after the next-gen hatch debuts in showrooms between October and the new year.

Motoring.com.au reports the PHEV won’t be making its global debut with the rest of the new Mazda2 family in August, nor will it likely appear in showrooms where government support is lacking, according to Mazda Australia Managing Director Martin Benders:

The only markets in which you can justify bringing something like that out, to get at least a reasonable amount of volume to justify setting it up as a saleable model, are ones where there’s government support for those types of models.

Benders adds that the current crop of Skyactiv engines do a better job of reducing CO2 emissions and boosting fuel economy than the more expensive PHEV technology, with subsidies and sales quotas hindering the case for hybrids in countries where the support isn’t there. However, Benders doesn’t believe government money should be used to promote the technology, preferring the market to decide what lives and what dies.

As for the new-gen Mazda2, which will take its cue from the Kodo design language found in vehicles like the Mazda3 and Mazda6, power will be supplied by a 1.5-liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine and a matching turbo diesel; the latter will likely not make it to the United States when the new compact arrives next year.

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Feinberg Plan To Be Funded Out-Of-Pocket By GM http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/feinberg-plan-to-be-funded-out-of-pocket-by-gm/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/feinberg-plan-to-be-funded-out-of-pocket-by-gm/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 11:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862929 Recalled GM ignition switch

Kenneth Feinberg’s victim compensation plan for those severely affected by the ignition switch linked to 13 fatalities, 54 accidents and a recall of 2.6 million vehicles will not be funded by liability insurance, according to General Motors director of financial communications David Roman.

Automotive News reports the no-cap fund will be paid “through cash on hand,” which could amount to at least as much as $1 million per claim. Nir Kossovsky, CEO of Pitsburgh, Penn.-based Steel City Re, states that although this strategy will prove expensive, “it beats the alternative” of litigation as far as restoring reputation is concerned.

However, litigation will be the rule of the day for the automaker. One of the attorneys involved, Jere Beasley of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles PC in Montgomery, Ala. says he has been contacted by 300 people alone in June wanting to pursue a lawsuit. He adds that while the compensation plan is mostly sound, Beasley takes issue with Feinberg’s sole authority over how claims will be handled, as well as the heavy burden of proof placed upon the claimants.

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Ford: Automotive Industry Must Prepare To Rethink Transportation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-automotive-industry-must-prepare-to-rethink-transportation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-automotive-industry-must-prepare-to-rethink-transportation/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862177 Bill Ford in Turkey

Sharing the pages of The Wall Street Journal’s 125th Anniversary issue with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Summers and Taylor Swift, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Jr. sees a future for the automotive industry so bright, he’ll need to wear shades.

The chairman wrote in his op-ed for the paper that the automobile will become “part of a larger ecosystem,” and the industry must act accordingly. He explains that this challenge “represents a $130 billion business opportunity” to develop solutions to growing transportation concerns, such as a vehicle’s interactions with a city’s multi-modal infrastructure as a result of more people moving back into cities.

Ford also believes ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are signalling a shift from individual ownership, going as far as to proclaim the practice “may not be the primary model of vehicle ownership in the future.” He adds that future vehicles will be heavily connected with each other for high optimization of his future transportation ecosystem, noting the early phases of the connected car are already in existence.

Finally, the chairman states driving itself will need to be redefined thanks to autonomous vehicles taking the wheel — or lack thereof, in Google’s case — from the driver in more and more situations. In turn, drivers who would have handed over their keys in their twilight years would now have more time and greater mobility through autonomous technologies, as well as those with physical disabilities.

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Mitsubishi: U.S.-Bound 2016 Outlander PHEV “Will Be Completely Different” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-u-s-bound-2016-outlander-phev-will-be-completely-different/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-u-s-bound-2016-outlander-phev-will-be-completely-different/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862137 03-2014-mitsubishi-outlander-fd

Perhaps as a result of what Mitsubishi had learned thus far since the introduction of the Outlander PHEV in Europe, Japan and Australia — as well as a MY 2016 redesign — the United States-bound PHEV “will be completely different,” according to both Mitsubishi Motors North America Executive Vice President Don Swearingen and U.S. PR boss Alex Fedorak.

Autoblog reports the SUV — now set to arrive in November 2015 — will have an interior with materials that look and feel “less value-oriented,” while its battery monitor can look each cell along with the overall pack. It will also likely take its styling cues from the GC-PHEV and XR-PHEV concepts, both debuting at the 2013 Tokyo Auto Show last November.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Outlander Sport may soon possess a 2.4-liter I4 to go with its 2-liter variant as Fedorak and his employer’s dealer network discuss what needs to be done to make the bigger engine a better sell; early results point to stronger highway overtaking ability.

Finally, although Mitsubishi’s long-term goal is to evolve into “an SUV/crossover-type company,” cars will still have a role in the near-term, especially the Mirage compact. Despite most publications giving the Mirage a good thrashing — though our rising superstar managing editor had a different sort of thrashing in mind — Fedorak claims the compact is outselling both the Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris; the latter is ahead of the Mitsubishi by 265 units through the end of June.

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Kato: EVs Need Nobel Prize-Quality Battery Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kato-evs-need-nobel-prize-quality-battery-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kato-evs-need-nobel-prize-quality-battery-technology/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861553 Mitsuhisa Kato + Toyota FCV

Toyota’s global R&D head Mitsuhisa Kato has little regard for the current crop of EVs, proclaiming the technology to make them viable in his eyes has yet to be invented.

Automotive News reports that although his team will still do R&D work on EVs, Kato believes there are few customers seeking a vehicle with short cruising ranges:

The cruising distance is so short for EVs, and the charging time is so long. At the current level of technology, somebody needs to invent a Nobel Prize-winning type battery.

He added that while EVs could be brought to parity with ICE vehicles, doing so using current technology would establish “a vicious circle” over costs and charging times.

Toyota itself is moving away from EVs into hydrogen with the upcoming 2015 FCV; the outgoing RAV4 EV and eQ will be gone from the global lineup by the time the FCV arrives in January of next year.

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Mercedes: Maybach Trim To Potentially Grace GL-Class http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mercedes-maybach-trim-to-potentially-grace-gl-class/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mercedes-maybach-trim-to-potentially-grace-gl-class/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 10:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861473 2013-Mercedes-Benz-GL450-4MATIC-main_rdax_646x396

Not content with only the S-Class receiving the Maybach treatment for a potential shout-out in Lorde’s next jam, Mercedes-Benz wants to take the Maybach trim line to the next level: The GL-Class.

Motoring.com.au reports the automaker wants to give a super-luxury makeover to the seven-passenger premium SUV as it seeks to make Maybach to luxury what AMG is to performance. Should this indeed follow the upcoming S-Class by Maybach — based upon the two-row W222 sedan over the three-row pullman at the top of the class — the GL will retain its architecture while receiving styling tweaks and S-Class technology, such as semi-active suspension with body-roll control.

Mercedes board member in charge of research and development, Dr. Thomas Weber, sees potential in the growing super-luxury SUV segment — led by the likes of Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini — for his employer to mount its own offensive, opining that it’s only a matter of “how fast and how parallel” Mercedes can bring the GL-Class by Maybach into production.

As for where the new SUV would turn up, the Middle East, Russia and the United States are among the key markets up for consideration.

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Next-Generation Jeep Wrangler To Take Fight To Soft-Roaders, Hold Rubicon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/next-generation-jeep-wrangler-to-take-fight-to-soft-roaders-hold-rubicon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/next-generation-jeep-wrangler-to-take-fight-to-soft-roaders-hold-rubicon/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860793 5-2013-wrangler-rubicon-10th-anniversary-anvil

With more SUVs preferring the high street over muddy, rocky trails, Jeep boss Mike Manley plans for the next-generation Wrangler to better compete against these soft-roaders while still maintaining its Rubicon cred.

Automotive News reports Manley’s plan to include “continued improvements of the powertrain package,” which may mean being fitted with Chrysler’s eight-speed automatic and either a smaller gasoline engine than the current 3.6-liter V6 or a diesel like that found in Ram’s 1500 EcoDiesel.

Regarding weight, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne believes aluminium would be another key ingredient in not only bringing down weight, but improving fuel economy on top of the aforementioned powertrain upgrades.

As for the solid front and rear axles that give the Wrangler its off-road prowess to compensate for increased weight and rougher highway travel, Manley didn’t say whether or not they would stay for the next generation of the iconic vehicle — due sometime in 2017 at the earliest — though he vowed Jeep would not “dilute what Wrangler stands for,” citing his killing of the two-wheel-drive Wrangler upon taking the brand’s reins.

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BMW: No M Badge For 4 Series Gran Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-no-m-badge-for-4-series-gran-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-no-m-badge-for-4-series-gran-coupe/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860745 bmw-4-series-m-sport

Those who were looking forward to a smaller version of BMW’s M6 Gran Coupe can stop holding their breath: the automaker is declining to produce the M4 Gran Coupe.

CarsGuide.com.au reports BMW’s M sales boss Jörg Bartels confirmed the decision not to proceed during the Australian launch of the new 3 and 4 series last week:

That is a negative. It was definitely considered, but there is no plan to build an M4 Gran Coupe. Part of the reason is expected production volume, but also the 4 Series Gran Coupe is built in a different factory to both the 3 Series (sedan) and 4 Series (coupe), so there is a lot of challenges there.

The M badge is set to grace both 3 and 4 series in their respective sedan and coupe configurations, as well as the M4 Convertible, while the 3 Series Gran Turismo — like the 5 Series version — will do without.

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BMW Brings New North American Plant To Mexico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-brings-new-north-american-plant-to-mexico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-brings-new-north-american-plant-to-mexico/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858569 BMW Harald Kruger + Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto

It’s official: BMW’s second North American assembly plant will be built in Mexico, with production to begin in 2019.

Autoblog reports the $1 billion USD plant will be located near San Luis Potosí, and will employ around 1,500 to produce up to 150,000 units per year, the majority of which will likely take auto trains north to the United States as noted by BMW Group board member Harald Krueger:

This decision underscores our commitment to the NAFTA region. We have been building BMW cars at our US plant in Spartanburg for the past 20 years. With a planned annual capacity of 150,000 units for the new plant in Mexico, the BMW Group will be even better positioned to take advantage of the growth potential in the entire region. The Americas are among the most important growth markets for the BMW Group. We are continuing our strategy of “production follows the market.”

As for what will be built, BMW remains silent on the subject. Early speculation points to 3 and 1 series production, as well as MINIs.

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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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