The Truth About Cars » Sign of the Times http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:00:23 +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 » Sign of the Times http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/sign-of-the-times/ Porsche 918 Hybrid Hypercar Nearly Sold Out http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-918-hybrid-hypercar-nearly-sold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-918-hybrid-hypercar-nearly-sold/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934098 Saving your pennies for a Porsche 918 Spyder? You may want to go ahead and take out a loan to get the down payment on the table, for the hybrid hypercar is nearly sold out. Automotive News reports production of the 918 will draw to a close in July 2015, while planned production is sold […]

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Saving your pennies for a Porsche 918 Spyder? You may want to go ahead and take out a loan to get the down payment on the table, for the hybrid hypercar is nearly sold out.

Automotive News reports production of the 918 will draw to a close in July 2015, while planned production is sold out through early April at the latest, according to Porsche Cars North America vice president* of marketing, Andre Oosthuizen.

Regarding how many have been made thus far, Oosthuizen declined to say more than that it was doing well for itself. He added that 30 of the $847,945 spyders were delivered to customers around the world — each bestowing Porsche a deposit of $200,000 for the opportunity to own one — thus far.

[*A little OT, but Dearest B&B, why are there so many vice presidents of things per automaker? Aren't there any presidents of marketing, design, sales, upholstery supplier relations et al? If so, where are they when the press comes knocking? - CA]

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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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Mercedes Turns Former Naval Base Into Autonomous Testing Ground http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-turns-former-naval-base-autonomous-testing-ground/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-turns-former-naval-base-autonomous-testing-ground/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933802 With the highway mostly conquered, autonomous vehicles now must navigate the cities through which they would otherwise pass by, a challenge unto itself with few proving grounds available for research. Mercedes-Benz, however, happened upon a solution not too far from its R&D base in Sunnyvale, Calif. Automotive News reports the automaker is testing its autonomous […]

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With the highway mostly conquered, autonomous vehicles now must navigate the cities through which they would otherwise pass by, a challenge unto itself with few proving grounds available for research.

Mercedes-Benz, however, happened upon a solution not too far from its R&D base in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Automotive News reports the automaker is testing its autonomous vehicles at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, a military base decommissioned in 2005 that may be redeveloped in the future.

Until then, Concord will be used as a “starter city” for autonomous city driving and navigation research and development. The strategy allows Mercedes “to run simulation tests with self-driving vehicles in a secure way, including specific hazardous situations,” per the brand’s head of autonomous driving, Axel Gern.

As for why Concord and similar spaces, such as the NASA facility Google uses to test its commuter pod, are in play over actual cities, Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski says “existing proving grounds are not challenging enough,” while real-life testing is “too challenging at this point.” Further, both spaces are owned by the federal government, bestowing researchers the opportunity to test their theories without the California legislature dictating otherwise.

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Automakers, Utilities Collaborate On Plug-In Cloud Charging Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932394 A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing. Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along […]

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Ford Focus EV Cloud Charging

A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing.

Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along with the 15 companies, Sumitomo Electric Industries and the Electric Power Research Institute, are developing a platform that would use the cloud to better manage energy usage and grid efficiency “while still meeting the needs” of PHEV and EV owners. The platform is called the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform.

OVGI would operate as follows: an owner would plug their car in as usual, then set a time for when the vehicle would be back on the road. The utility company could then send a message to the car to stop charging during peak power use, or, if doing so would hinder the vehicle’s ability to get back on the road, allow the vehicle to continue charging until it was ready to go.

In turn, the companies could offer their customers incentives to offer their plug-ins to the grid through lower rates on electricity usage. Customers can opt-out, charge elsewhere, or have the vehicle ignore the request.

The first OVGI test is occurring this week at Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Customer Service Center, where the tech will be demonstrated before federal, state, automotive and utility representatives and officials.

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Tesla’s First Battery Swap Station Opening Soon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/teslas-first-battery-swap-station-opening-soon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/teslas-first-battery-swap-station-opening-soon/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932362 While Tesla owners — and owners of all EVs, for that matter — may be waiting a couple of years before titanium oxide anodes bring battery charging levels down to the 3- to 5-minute fueling times found at a given gas station, CEO Elon Musk has another option for them to consider: Battery-pack swapping. SlashGear […]

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Tesla Supercharger

While Tesla owners — and owners of all EVs, for that matter — may be waiting a couple of years before titanium oxide anodes bring battery charging levels down to the 3- to 5-minute fueling times found at a given gas station, CEO Elon Musk has another option for them to consider: Battery-pack swapping.

SlashGear reports the first swapping station will come online within the next few months, offering S and X owners the option of allowing robots to swap a drained pack for a fully charged unit from underneath the car within 90 seconds. Not only is this method faster than refueling at the local ARCO, but it blows away the Supercharger’s 30-minute charging time, as well.

The pack swap would also enable owners to retrieve their original packs later on, or, should retrieval become inconvenient, pay the difference for the new pack. Critics note this could lead to supply problems, where some stations have batteries waiting for their owners to return, while others run short of new packs.

The first station will open somewhere between Los Angeles and San Francisco, though further details were scant.

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Jeep First American Brand To Enter Japan COTY Top 10 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jeep-first-american-brand-enter-japan-coty-top-10/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jeep-first-american-brand-enter-japan-coty-top-10/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932338 While the new Mazda2 — Demio to its friends in Japan — took home the overall gold in this year’s Japanese Car of the Year awards, Jeep took home a JCOTY, too, the first time an American brand has ever accomplished the feat. AutoGuide reports the Cherokee took eighth place among the top 10 list, […]

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While the new Mazda2 — Demio to its friends in Japan — took home the overall gold in this year’s Japanese Car of the Year awards, Jeep took home a JCOTY, too, the first time an American brand has ever accomplished the feat.

AutoGuide reports the Cherokee took eighth place among the top 10 list, the third Fiat Chrysler Japan product in a row to do so after the Fiat Panda and Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The crossover went on sale in Japan in May 2014.

Among the transplants, the Mercedes C-Class took a close second behind the Demio, the BMW i3 won the bronze, and the Peugeot 308 came in sixth place. Subaru’s Levorg wagon was the next highest-placing home model.

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Singapore Researchers Invent New Anode For Faster Battery Charging, Increased Longevity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/singapore-researchers-invent-new-anode-faster-battery-charging-increased-longevity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/singapore-researchers-invent-new-anode-faster-battery-charging-increased-longevity/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932306 One of the main roadblocks to wide adoption of EVs is how quickly the battery can be fully charged. While Tesla’s Supercharger could put a Model S P85D back on the road in 30 minutes to an hour, a Dodge Charger Hellcat can pull up to and away from the pump in three minutes, barring […]

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NTU Assoc Prof Chen Xiaodong with research fellow Tang Yuxin and PhD student Deng Jiyang

One of the main roadblocks to wide adoption of EVs is how quickly the battery can be fully charged. While Tesla’s Supercharger could put a Model S P85D back on the road in 30 minutes to an hour, a Dodge Charger Hellcat can pull up to and away from the pump in three minutes, barring a run inside the 7-Eleven for a cup of coffee and a couple of donuts.

That roadblock may come down sooner than later, thanks to researchers at Singapore’s Nanyang Technology University.

The university recently unveiled a new battery that could be recharged to 70 percent capacity within two minutes, and boasts a lifespan of 20 years over the two to three years of life found in current lithium-ion batteries.

The secret? Replacing the graphite anode in those batteries with a nanogel composed of titanium oxide, a chemical commonly found in soil, sunscreen and food. Invented by Professor Chen Xiaodong at the university’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, the gel will be taken to the next level with a proof-of-concept grant to help fund a large-scale prototype.

Meanwhile, at least one company has already purchased a license to develop the titanium oxide battery for production down the road. Chen himself believes his invention will enter the marketplace within the next two years, knocking down more than just the long-charging barrier in so doing:

Electric cars will be able to increase their range dramatically, with just five minutes of charging, which is on par with the time needed to pump petrol for current cars.

Equally important, we can now drastically cut down the toxic waste generated by disposed batteries, since our batteries last ten times longer than the current generation of lithium-ion batteries.

Ease of manufacturing and lower replacement costs may further widespread adoption within the industry, in turn increasing adoption rates for whatever EVs come down the line in the future; the nanogel — a mixture of titanium oxide and sodium hydroxide — is stirred together at a given temperature for easier integration into current production systems.

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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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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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Big Steel Steps Up Marketing Game Under Aluminum Shadow http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/big-steel-steps-marketing-game-aluminum-shadow/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/big-steel-steps-marketing-game-aluminum-shadow/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932026 Ford’s move to make the upcoming F-150 out of aluminum, along with GM’s plans to do the same with its trucks down the road, isn’t sitting well with the steel industry, to say the least. PickupTrucks.com reports the Steel Market Development Institute — the marketing arm of eight United States-based steel producers — recently became […]

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Ford’s move to make the upcoming F-150 out of aluminum, along with GM’s plans to do the same with its trucks down the road, isn’t sitting well with the steel industry, to say the least.

PickupTrucks.com reports the Steel Market Development Institute — the marketing arm of eight United States-based steel producers — recently became the title sponsor of the Texas Auto Writers Association’s 2014 Truck Rodeo — where the Aluminum King of Truck Mountain took home the Truck of Texas title and four other awards — in part to promote steel. Outgoing SDMI vice president Ronald Krupitzer explains:

Texans know and love their trucks. When they need a vehicle to keep up with the workload and lifestyle, advanced high-strength steel offers the perfect balance between weight and performance… we look forward to partnering with the Texas Auto Writers Association and sharing their insight on why time-tested materials, like advanced steel, will help ensure the durability, strength and safety of future vehicles.

As emphasized by SMDI president Larry Kavanaugh, the F-150 may have an aluminum body, but the truck’s frame “uses more high-strength steel than any other pickup.” The group also proclaimed said steel would remain the choice of automakers through 2025 and beyond, while aluminum will go the way of the hula hoop, Tamagotchi and the Harlem Shake after a few years of experimentation.

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Michigan May Ban Tesla Direct Sales Pending Governor’s Signature http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/michigan-may-ban-tesla-direct-sales-pending-governors-signature/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/michigan-may-ban-tesla-direct-sales-pending-governors-signature/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931978 Sitting on Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s desk is a bill that would add the state to the list of places where Tesla cannot sell its vehicles directly to the public, waiting for his pen to seal the deal. Automotive News reports Michigan H.B. 5606 was originally meant to determine whether or not automakers could stop […]

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Sitting on Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s desk is a bill that would add the state to the list of places where Tesla cannot sell its vehicles directly to the public, waiting for his pen to seal the deal.

Automotive News reports Michigan H.B. 5606 was originally meant to determine whether or not automakers could stop their dealership networks from charging consumers certain fees when it was introduced in May, only for the anti-Tesla language to be appended to the bill by the state senate prior to passage — and without notice or debate — during the first two days of October. The bill then returned to the state house, passing 106 to 1 before landing on Snyder’s desk.

On the third day, Tesla contacted the governor’s office to have “a very open and productive dialogue” with those in the Snyder administration, according to vice president of business development Diarmuid O’Connell. He added that the automaker had been watching the bill since its introduction, citing its experience with other bills where anti-Tesla language had been stealthily implemented.

Meanwhile, Michigan Automobile Dealers Association executive vice president Terry Burns applauded the bill, proclaiming that while Tesla are “more than welcome” to do business in Michigan, he would hope they do so based on state law:

One good thing about being governor, you get to do whatever you think is appropriate at the time. We hope and look forward to him signing the bill and clarifying the language, and we hope he does it soon.

As for when the governor would decide the fate of H.B. 5606, a representative said the bill was being evaluated, but nothing has been decided thus far. Snyder has until October 21 to sign.

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Saudis Accept Lower Barrel Prices In Fight Against US Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/saudis-accept-lower-barrel-prices-fight-us-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/saudis-accept-lower-barrel-prices-fight-us-production/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931394 While some OPEC nations are panicking over oil prices not being above $100/barrel, Saudi Arabia says it wouldn’t mind accepting barrels worth $90 or $80 for the next year or two, so long as it slows down production elsewhere. Reuters reports the nation is playing the short-term, low-profit game for medium-term gains, with the long-term […]

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Rock the Casbah

While some OPEC nations are panicking over oil prices not being above $100/barrel, Saudi Arabia says it wouldn’t mind accepting barrels worth $90 or $80 for the next year or two, so long as it slows down production elsewhere.

Reuters reports the nation is playing the short-term, low-profit game for medium-term gains, with the long-term goal of retaining its market share for years to come in mind. The move would affect other OPEC members financially, forcing reductions throughout the industry.

In particular, lower barrel prices would put a dent in North American petroleum production, from the oil sands in Alberta and the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, to deep-sea reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.

Whatever cuts do occur, they would likely happen after the group’s meeting November 27, which may prove contentious as most members would rather raise the price than reduce production. That said, the Saudis have already cut prices for its Asian customers earlier this month, a sign of price wars to come.

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Volvo Goes Death Metal With Triple-Turbo Two-Liter Four http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/volvo-goes-death-metal-triple-turbo-two-liter-four/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/volvo-goes-death-metal-triple-turbo-two-liter-four/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930858 Channelling its inner Viking death metal chef spirit, Volvo has unleashed a concept 2-liter turbo-four delivering 450 horsepower with the help of three turbochargers. Automotive News reports the concept Drive-E engine — developed with help from Volvo Polestar Racing — would deliver more punch per liter than other engines — such as the Bugatti Veyron’s […]

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Channelling its inner Viking death metal chef spirit, Volvo has unleashed a concept 2-liter turbo-four delivering 450 horsepower with the help of three turbochargers.

Automotive News reports the concept Drive-E engine — developed with help from Volvo Polestar Racing — would deliver more punch per liter than other engines — such as the Bugatti Veyron’s 1,200-horsepower 8-liter quad-turbo — were it to go into production; Volvo says the engine is only a concept, and hasn’t said if it will build the engine.

Unlike old-school turbocharged engines that use exhaust to create power, the Drive-E “triple-boost” engine uses an electric turbo to drive compressed air into the other two turbos, quickly spooling up the power while eliminating lag.

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UAW Local Publishes Spring Hill Scab List http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-local-publishes-spring-hill-scab-list/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-local-publishes-spring-hill-scab-list/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930202 Over 40 workers at the General Motors facility in Spring Hill, Tenn. recently found themselves on a list of “scab workers” published by United Auto Workers Local 1853, a list one anonymous employee says kicked-off an effort to pressure and intimidate into joining. The Washington Free Beacon reports the list notes not only the names […]

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Over 40 workers at the General Motors facility in Spring Hill, Tenn. recently found themselves on a list of “scab workers” published by United Auto Workers Local 1853, a list one anonymous employee says kicked-off an effort to pressure and intimidate into joining.

The Washington Free Beacon reports the list notes not only the names of the 40 workers employed at Spring Hill, but where on the floor each worker performed their task. The list also included the following call to arms:

The following individuals are NON-dues paying workers. They have chosen to STOP paying Union Dues and still reap the rewards of your negotiated benefits. If you work near one of these people listed please explain the importance of Solidarity and the power of collective bargaining.

Soon after, the anonymous employee said they were approached by three UAW members, two of whom were openly hostile, one going so far as to call the employee a scab to their face. The employee was a member until recently, having paid dues to the union for three decades before quitting due to the UAW’s predilection toward nepotism, and defending employees who would have otherwise been fired if the union weren’t there. Being on the list has all but guaranteed the employee won’t ever return, and has a warning for those at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga:

What they do behind the scenes is harass non-members, those who choose not to belong. The workers [in Chattanooga] can look forward to seeing their names on a list just like this one.

Local 1853 president Tim Stannard admitted to publishing the list, but claims it wasn’t meant to put the hammer down on non-union employees, but to “explain the importance of collective bargaining and solidarity,” adding that those who aren’t members “weakens” the union overall.

Meanwhile, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorney Glenn Taubmann countered the president’s assertion. He warns that employees working at the VW plant who go against the UAW could soon find themselves on a similar list, especially with the establishment of so-called “voluntary” locals springing up nearby and in Alabama, where the union is attempting to organize the Mercedes plant in Vance.

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Toyota Raffling First US-Bound Mirai FCV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-raffling-first-us-bound-mirai-fcv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-raffling-first-us-bound-mirai-fcv/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928490 If you’d like to be one of the first in the United States to hop aboard the silver future of FCVs, but would also like to keep as much money in your wallet as possible, then Toyota has a Mirai for you. The automaker is planning to give away one of its new FCVs during […]

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Toyota Mirai

If you’d like to be one of the first in the United States to hop aboard the silver future of FCVs, but would also like to keep as much money in your wallet as possible, then Toyota has a Mirai for you.

The automaker is planning to give away one of its new FCVs during the 24th Annual Environmental Media Awards October 18 at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. The caveats are as follows:

  • You must be a California resident (due to infrastructure limitations)
  • You must buy a raffle ticket at Bidding For Good; $100 for a single ticket, $500 for six

The money raised from the raffle will go on to benefit EMA-related programs, while the new owner will be paying taxes on their new hydrogen car, assuming tax credits don’t knock off everything first. Otherwise, you can buy your own when the Mirai party pulls into the Port of Long Beach late next year.

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Tesla: The “D” Stands For Dual-Motor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-d-stands-dual-motor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-d-stands-dual-motor/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 10:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928330 You’ve waited for this, now here it comes: Tesla is dropping in a second electric motor up front for more power and better weight distribution in the Model S. Its name? D. Road & Track reports all three dual-motor models of the S — 60D, 85D and P85D — will have a 118-horsepower mid-size electric […]

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Tesla P85D Backside

You’ve waited for this, now here it comes: Tesla is dropping in a second electric motor up front for more power and better weight distribution in the Model S.

Its name? D.

Road & Track reports all three dual-motor models of the S — 60D, 85D and P85D — will have a 118-horsepower mid-size electric motor powering the front wheels. The same motor will also move the rear pair in the 60D and 85D, while customers who opt for the raw power of the P85D will have the same 470-horsepower motor in the back as the original P85.

The power duo under the P85D will deliver a combined 690 horsepower and 687 lb-ft of torque when the hammer is dropped, moving from nil to 60 in 3.2 seconds — spanking Charger Hellcats and Panameras off the line — with the quarter disappearing in 11.8 seconds. CEO Elon Musk stated his team benchmarked the McLaren F1 for the top-end model’s acceleration performance.

As for range, the 85D will pull into the Supercharger after 295 miles, five short of the magical 300-mile barrier. The 60D will do the same after 225 miles, and the P85D arrives after 275 miles.

Aside from the new models — all of which are available for order at this moment, with delivery set for December for P85D models, February for the others — the Model S and future vehicles will have Autopilot, a semi-autonomous drive system that will take over from the driver when needed, doing everything from speeding up and slowing down in heavy traffic, to switching lanes after the driver signals where they wish to go. The system — which is in every Model S assembled from two weeks ago forward, and will be enabled via software update in the next few months — uses a forward-facing camera and an array of 12 sensors, providing a 360-degree view of the world up to 16 feet away.

Finally, stopping all of this new power comes from an electromechanical braking setup — the Porsche 918 is the only other vehicle to use the technology — which Autopilot can engage in whatever manner is most appropriate in a given situation, from hard panic stops to red-carpet style gentle braking. Tesla can fine-tune the system for desired brake feel, as well.

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Marchionne: New No. 1 Manufacturer Could Arise From Mergers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/marchionne-new-1-manufacturer-arise-mergers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/marchionne-new-1-manufacturer-arise-mergers/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 14:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928018 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne — who will be retiring from the company after the next five-year plan runs its course after 2018 — believes mergers between automakers will one day result in a new No. 1 automaker. According to Bloomberg, the driving factor in creating an automaker above Toyota on the global manufacturer […]

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Sergio Marchionne - FCA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne — who will be retiring from the company after the next five-year plan runs its course after 2018 — believes mergers between automakers will one day result in a new No. 1 automaker.

According to Bloomberg, the driving factor in creating an automaker above Toyota on the global manufacturer podium will come down to money and competition, as automakers will likely need more of the former to develop and produce new vehicles while also fending off all comers, merging with potential partners as needed.

As far as FCA is concerned, chair John Elkann says the company would be ready to consolidate resources with another within the next five to 10 years “if it makes sense” to do so. The company would look outside of Europe for a partner if and when the time comes.

For now, FCA plans to take sixth place by expanding sales on the strength of new models, such as the upcoming Jeep Renegade and the reintroduction of Alfa Romeo to the United States market. The automaker aims to deliver 7 million units in 2018, compared with 4.4 million in 2013.

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Google’s Autonomous Car Drives Sans Passenger, Hides Behind Security http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/googles-autonomous-car-drives-sans-passenger-hides-behind-security/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/googles-autonomous-car-drives-sans-passenger-hides-behind-security/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927994 Remember when Google wanted to keep its autonomous-car crash interventions under wraps? The tech giant is now keeping some of its testing private, as well, as its cars are driving around with no human aboard. According to Forbes, onlookers at a park near Google’s Mountain View, Calif. caught sight of the company’s car sans passengers, […]

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Remember when Google wanted to keep its autonomous-car crash interventions under wraps? The tech giant is now keeping some of its testing private, as well, as its cars are driving around with no human aboard.

According to Forbes, onlookers at a park near Google’s Mountain View, Calif. caught sight of the company’s car sans passengers, but were ushered aside by security so as no hard evidence of testing could be posted online.

As for why the commuter pod was tooling around with no soul to keep tabs on its progress, a likely idea, according to writer Mark Rogowsky, is an autonomous taxi being used by transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft whenever the car’s owner isn’t using it. A report by Morgan Stanley cited by Rogowsky states that a car is used for only 52 minutes per day, sitting idle the rest of the time. Were a vehicle to be put into service by a TNC, it would see more road time, providing more transportation options in so doing.

Though Google isn’t in a rush to bring a product online tomorrow, automakers like General Motors, Mercedes and Tesla will press ahead with partial-autonomy tech, which could arrive as soon as 2016. Meanwhile, the main piece in the puzzle — a 360-degree laser — continues to fall in price, recently dropping from $85,000 to $7,999. Rogowsky believes another 80 percent to 90 percent price cut will come in the near-future, helping to reduce the overall cost of autonomy.

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Chinese-Built Volvo S60L Bound For US Market In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chinese-built-volvo-s60l-bound-us-market-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chinese-built-volvo-s60l-bound-us-market-2015/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927706 CEOs and senior execs going on shopping runs to Staples may soon be able to leave their MKTs at the parking garage when the Chinese-made Volvo S60L arrives next year. Automotive News reports Volvo plans to ship 5,000 units to the U.S. annually, with sales to begin in H2 2015. The move will save the […]

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Volvo-S60L_P

CEOs and senior execs going on shopping runs to Staples may soon be able to leave their MKTs at the parking garage when the Chinese-made Volvo S60L arrives next year.

Automotive News reports Volvo plans to ship 5,000 units to the U.S. annually, with sales to begin in H2 2015. The move will save the Sino-Swede automaker considerable cash, as the vehicles will be imported from a factory not involved in a joint venture like Volvo’s competitors, according to CEO Hakan Samuelsson.

He also says Volvo will position the S60L as an “executive car,” offering more features and options in its 112.5-inch wheelbase than the S60, which will take its place as a sportier variant.

As for quality, product development chief Peter Mertens said the longer S60 fared better than the European-built standard model based on the company’s internal quality audits.

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McCullough: Diesel Evoque Under Consideration For US Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mccullough-diesel-evoque-consideration-us-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mccullough-diesel-evoque-consideration-us-market/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927682 Mrs. Beckham’s contribution to the automotive world, the Land Rover Evoque, may gain diesel power in the United States sometime soon. AutoGuide reports the plan to place a diesel engine under the bonnet of the crossover is “being considered,” according to Jaguar Land Rover North America marketing vice president Kim McCullough. At present, only the […]

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victoria_beckham_range_rover_evoque_f655

Mrs. Beckham’s contribution to the automotive world, the Land Rover Evoque, may gain diesel power in the United States sometime soon.

AutoGuide reports the plan to place a diesel engine under the bonnet of the crossover is “being considered,” according to Jaguar Land Rover North America marketing vice president Kim McCullough. At present, only the 2-liter EcoBoost powers the U.S. market model, as the 2.2-liter diesel sold elsewhere cannot meet emissions here.

JLR’s £500 million ($804 million USD) engine production plant will begin production early in 2015 of a 2-liter Ingenium diesel, which will first find a home in the U.S. under the bonnet of the new Jaguar XE. The Ingenium turbo-four gasoline engine will also likely replace the EcoBoost sometime in the future, though McCullough declined to confirm anything more.

As for the diesel Evoque, she believes greater acceptance of diesels overall in the U.S. market could help Land Rover navigate its way through increasing fuel-efficiency targets, with Ingenium diesels landing in U.S. market Jaguar and Land Rover models as the product cycle moves forward.

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European Auto Execs Warn Too Stringent CO2 Regs Could Kill Local Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/european-auto-execs-warn-stringent-co2-regs-kill-local-industry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/european-auto-execs-warn-stringent-co2-regs-kill-local-industry/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 11:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927626 While hot hatches and hypercar hybrids caught the attention of everyone at the 2014 Paris Auto Show, senior executives for some of Europe’s major automakers warned all who would listen that potentially stronger greenhouse-gas regs could prove “fatal” to the European auto industry. The Detroit Bureau reports European Union legislatures are considering issuing targets of […]

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peugeot-rcz-enhanced-with-new-exhausts-and-custom-luggage_3

While hot hatches and hypercar hybrids caught the attention of everyone at the 2014 Paris Auto Show, senior executives for some of Europe’s major automakers warned all who would listen that potentially stronger greenhouse-gas regs could prove “fatal” to the European auto industry.

The Detroit Bureau reports European Union legislatures are considering issuing targets of 65 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer driven by 2025, a 30-gram drop from the target of 95 grams/km in 2021. The drop would be the equivalent of a vehicle in the United States netting 84 mpg, nearly 30 miles per gallon more than the CAFE target of 54.5 mpg set for the U.S. market at the same time as the 65-gram/km mandate would go into effect.

To make this a possibility, senior execs, like Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Sergio Marchionne, claim significant investments would need to be made to meet the mandate. Winterkorn specifically stated that for every gram of CO2 cut to meet the target, his company must spend €100 million ($140 million USD) “without knowing when these investments pay off.” Observers also claim that while bigger automakers can handle the investment, smaller ones would likely be crippled if not die-off in doing the same.

On the other side, critics proclaim that automakers have been obsessed with the apocalypse of their industry since the 1970s, when the first clear air bills became law. Every time, the industry has been able to meet the challenges before it, and continue to do so today with the use of turbos, direct injection and advanced transmissions.

Marchionne acknowledged those statements, but added that it would ultimately be put on the backs and wallets of the consumers who want the latest and greatest, emphasizing that it would be delusional to think otherwise.

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UAW Establishes New Local Near US Daimler Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-establishes-new-local-near-us-daimler-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-establishes-new-local-near-us-daimler-plant/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 14:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926489 Just as in Chattanooga, Tenn., the United Auto Workers has established a local in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for those working on the floor of the Daimler AG-owned MBUSI plant in nearby Vance. Reuters reports Local 112, like Local 42 with Volkswagen AG, will work to prove to Daimler that its U.S.-based employees support the UAW, with […]

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UAW Local 112 Signing

Just as in Chattanooga, Tenn., the United Auto Workers has established a local in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for those working on the floor of the Daimler AG-owned MBUSI plant in nearby Vance.

Reuters reports Local 112, like Local 42 with Volkswagen AG, will work to prove to Daimler that its U.S.-based employees support the UAW, with the aim of being recognized by the automaker, followed by the union’s ultimate goal of organization. The local will also have support from German union IG Metall and Daimler’s own works council, the Daimler World Employee Committee.

While VW claims neutrality — yet unofficially welcomes the union’s efforts to organize — Daimler holds firm on its neutral stance, proclaiming “that the culture… established is [the] best path forward for a successful future.”

As for how many workers have joined the new local, UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel says the local has more than half of the members of the Volkswagen local. UAW opponent and MBUSI employee Sonny Hawthorne — who was barred from attending the official press conference, yet invited to speak outside to the press — says the union has the support of 25 percent to 30 percent of the floor.

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GM Puts Stop-Delivery Order On Colorado, Canyon Twins http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gm-puts-stop-delivery-order-colorado-canyon-twins/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gm-puts-stop-delivery-order-colorado-canyon-twins/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 11:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926401 If you ordered one of General Motors’ new mid-size pickups, your delivery may be a bit late, thanks to an airbag recall. Automotive News reports dealers received a note last week from GM informing them that the automaker had notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of an “upcoming safety and noncompliance recall” involving the […]

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Chevrolet Colorados + Car Carrier

If you ordered one of General Motors’ new mid-size pickups, your delivery may be a bit late, thanks to an airbag recall.

Automotive News reports dealers received a note last week from GM informing them that the automaker had notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of an “upcoming safety and noncompliance recall” involving the driver’s side airbag connection being incorrectly wired while the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins were on the assembly line:

This condition will cause the driver-side airbags to not function as designed and may adversely affect the crash performance of the driver-side airbags.

GM says it will deliver a software update to its dealerships “in the next few days,” allowing service techs to reprogram the affected airbag’s sensing and diagnostic module prior to delivery. That said, most of the affected are either at the Wentzville, Mo. assembly plant, in transit, or unsold on the lot.

Speaking of sales of the twins, the automaker reported 36 Colorados and 11 Canyons heading for the old dirt road to the beer-fueled barnyard disco in September.

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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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Paris 2014: Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-lamborghini-asterion-lpi-910-4-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-lamborghini-asterion-lpi-910-4-unveiled/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=923105 Lamborghini has joined Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren in the hybrid hypercar game with one of its own, the Asterion LPI 910-4. This particular PHEV has its power fed to all four corners through three electric motors and one 5.2-liter V10 delivering 910 horsepower through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. The V10 and one of the motors […]

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Lamborghini-Asterion-Concept-Live-1

Lamborghini has joined Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren in the hybrid hypercar game with one of its own, the Asterion LPI 910-4.

This particular PHEV has its power fed to all four corners through three electric motors and one 5.2-liter V10 delivering 910 horsepower through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. The V10 and one of the motors sit behind said transmission — with the electric in between the two — while the remaining electrics drive the front end. Nil to 60 is Aventador-level at 3 seconds flat, and tops out at 199 mph (78 mph in electric-only mode).

The hypercar also hits Prius levels of efficiency, delivering 56 mpg in the combined European test cycle; your mileage may vary. Further, the first 30 miles can be run on electric alone, with options of using all four engines or just the V10 available at the driver’s disposal.

Though it is on par with the 918 Spyder, LaFerrari and P1, the Asterion is more of a grand tourer than a track monster, with a bigger greenhouse and higher driver position than the other three PHEVs. The car also boasts a carbon fiber monocoque for less weight, though Lamborghini hasn’t said how much the Asterion weighs. The automaker adds that the concept was built with every component and technology available in-house, meaning production could start tomorrow if the lords of Sant’Agata wanted.

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Metaxas: License Plate Recognition Can Improve Originations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/metaxas-license-plate-recognition-can-improve-originations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/metaxas-license-plate-recognition-can-improve-originations/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=922465 Aside from GPS-equipped starter interrupt systems, lenders have another tool to repossess a vehicle, with the added benefit of using the data obtained to acquire better contracts: license plate recognition. According to Auto Remarketing, the CEO of Fort Worth, Texas-based Digital Recognition Network, Chris Metaxas, says his company’s LPR technology has found 55 percent of […]

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DRN LPR Guide

Aside from GPS-equipped starter interrupt systems, lenders have another tool to repossess a vehicle, with the added benefit of using the data obtained to acquire better contracts: license plate recognition.

According to Auto Remarketing, the CEO of Fort Worth, Texas-based Digital Recognition Network, Chris Metaxas, says his company’s LPR technology has found 55 percent of their customers’ assets up to 100 miles away from where the paperwork claimed the vehicle would have originally been. As most assets are with the lenders’ customers, any deviation from that is a red flag.

Thus, originators seeking to minimize risk could use LPR data to “determine the truth of a statement someone may make on an application,” in turn enhancing the process so better contracts are entered into a given portfolio:

If you think about what a bank does in translating risk mitigation into their ability to grow their book of business, the loans they write, the policies they write, it is substantial and is exponential. What you lose on the back end is only a fraction of what you write on the front end.

Earlier this year, DRN and another LPR company entered into a lawsuit against Utah governor Gary Herbert and attorney general Sean Reyes over First Amendment issues regarding legislation that prohibited such technology from being used to analyze the image of the license plate in question. The lawsuit is part of an ongoing battle between privacy advocates who claim the private data tied to a plate can have the potential to be abused, and by LPR proponents like DRN who believe license plate numbers contain no such thing, citing the public nature of the plate itself.

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