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. Mon, 29 Sep 2014 16:40:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 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/ Daimler Works Council Boss To Meet With UAW In Coming Weeks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-works-council-boss-meet-uaw-coming-weeks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-works-council-boss-meet-uaw-coming-weeks/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921217 Though Daimler senior management has said repeatedly that the decision to organize the MBUSI plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. was up to the workers on the floor, Daimler works council boss Michael Brecht is heading there in a few weeks to explore the possibility with the United Auto Workers. Reuters reports both the UAW and German […]

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Michael Brecht

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

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

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

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

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California Planning EV Charging-Friendly Building Codes For 2015 – 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-planning-ev-charging-friendly-building-codes-2015-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-planning-ev-charging-friendly-building-codes-2015-2016/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921193 Should you one day find yourself heading off to make a new life in California, and you own a plug-in vehicle, your home or apartment will already have the minimum infrastructure needed to install a charging port. The Long Tail Pipe reports the California Building Code is set to receive an update sometime between 2015 […]

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home-charger-leviton-620

Should you one day find yourself heading off to make a new life in California, and you own a plug-in vehicle, your home or apartment will already have the minimum infrastructure needed to install a charging port.

The Long Tail Pipe reports the California Building Code is set to receive an update sometime between 2015 and 2016, mandating new housing and parking lots must at least have “the conduit and electrical system calculations required to prepare for charging stations.” This would not only knock down installation costs — current installations require extensive work as far as wiring and upgrades are concerned, with a price tag to match — but could help spur greater adoption of electric cars and motorcycles.

Though installation would be made easier with the standards in consideration, charging could still be a pain. In a study b the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, grid operator California ISO proclaimed the grid could handle the increase in load so long as the ports are limited to 40 amp charging capacity. The fear is that were the amps to be doubled without upgrades to local transformers, the grid could overload.

The trade-off in limiting amps to maintain grid integrity is longer charging times, which could be made longer when longer-range EVs and their 60-plus kWh packs arrive sometime in 2017. The Long Tail Pipe says 40 amp would deliver times of 10 hours or greater to bring the packs to full. Though the study suggests 120-volt charging, the draft building code makes no mention of using that particular method.

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NEVS Lays Off 200 In Reorganization Plan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nevs-lays-200-reorganization-plan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nevs-lays-200-reorganization-plan/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 10:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921169 With the Saab name reclaimed by the mothership, a host of financial problems, and no product beyond a 10-year-old platform, what else is left for National Electric Vehicle Sweden to do? If you said, “Tap out,” then you just might see that hand pounding the mat rather quickly. Reuters reports the automaker has laid off […]

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National-Electric-Vehicle-Sweden

With the Saab name reclaimed by the mothership, a host of financial problems, and no product beyond a 10-year-old platform, what else is left for National Electric Vehicle Sweden to do? If you said, “Tap out,” then you just might see that hand pounding the mat rather quickly.

Reuters reports the automaker has laid off 200 workers due to a lack of work as of late, work that likely won’t be coming anytime soon. NEVS says the move was part of its reorganization plan that will be presented at a creditors’ meeting October 8.

Originally, the workers were retained since production ceased in May 2014 in the hope that financing would soon come its way to restart work immediately. The remaining staff will keep the factory in good condition should NEVS secure the needed financing to resume assembly.

At present, the automaker owes kr400 million ($56 million USD) to its creditors, and is allegedly in talks with two unknown firms — speculation says Mahindra is one of them — to gain a financial jumpstart for an electric variant of the 9-3, currently in the prototype phase.

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Lenders Monitor, Control Subprime Nexum Via Connected Vehicle Tech http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lenders-monitor-control-subprime-nexum-via-connected-vehicle-tech/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lenders-monitor-control-subprime-nexum-via-connected-vehicle-tech/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920098 In a perverse nexus where connected-vehicle technology, privacy and subprime lending intersect, consumers who fall behind on so much as a single payment, or even stray outside a given teritory, may find their vehicles shutdown by their lender from a digital panopticon. The New York Times reports that some subprime borrowers — a group that […]

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Isis Panopticon Album Cover

In a perverse nexus where connected-vehicle technology, privacy and subprime lending intersect, consumers who fall behind on so much as a single payment, or even stray outside a given teritory, may find their vehicles shutdown by their lender from a digital panopticon.

The New York Times reports that some subprime borrowers — a group that made up a quarter of all new car loans in 2013 — must agree to have a GPS-equipped starter interrupt device installed in the vehicle of a given borrower’s choosing. In turn, the lender can keep track of where its property — and the borrower — is at all times, and with a single tap or click, cut all power to the vehicle if a borrower falls behind on payments.

However, some lenders are choosing to act only days after a missed payment — instead of the 30-day grace period before a borrower is considered in-default — no matter where exactly the vehicle is at the moment of shutdown. This has led to situations where a borrower has been stranded in a bad neighborhood, at the stop light, or, in one case, on the freeway.

Further, some loan agreements include so-called “geo-fences”: a maximum range a subprime borrower can travel before the lender, again, shuts down a vehicle and sends a tow truck to recover the asset. The claim is that a borrower who travels further than the fence allows — such as to their place of employment — may not be able to make good on their payments.

The consequences of using the devices have drawn considerable attention from both consumer lawyers and state regulators. The former argue starter interrupt systems give a lender all the more reason to remotely repossess a vehicle if even a payment is missed by a day, violating state laws on the matter as a result. The latter, in turn, is examining the potential safety hazards for the borrower and other motorists if the devices become defective.

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

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Mercedes SL With R134a

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

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

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

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

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

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Chrysler Recalls 349K MY 2008 Units Over Ignition Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chrysler-recalls-349k-2008-units-ignition-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chrysler-recalls-349k-2008-units-ignition-issues/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920002 Owners of a handful of MY 2008 DaimlerChrysler products now have one thing in common with those who own certain General Motors models: An ignition-related recall. Chrysler Group says 349,442 MY 2008 vehicles have ignitions where the switch remains stuck between the “ON” and “START” positions, or slips into “ACCESSORY” or “OFF”; the latter scenario […]

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2008 Chrysler 300 LX With A Hint Of Pimp

Owners of a handful of MY 2008 DaimlerChrysler products now have one thing in common with those who own certain General Motors models: An ignition-related recall.

Chrysler Group says 349,442 MY 2008 vehicles have ignitions where the switch remains stuck between the “ON” and “START” positions, or slips into “ACCESSORY” or “OFF”; the latter scenario cuts power to the engine, steering and air bags.

The affected were assembled before May 12, 2008, and consist of the following:

  • Dodge: Charger, Magnum
  • Chrysler: 300
  • Jeep: Commander, Grand Cherokee

The recall covers 292,224 units in the United States, 18,976 in Canada, 4,947 in Mexico and 33,295 around the globe. Chrysler recommends removing everything from the ignition key, as well as confirming the switch is in the “ON” position after starting their vehicles, until affected owners are able to bring in their vehicle for free servicing.

A similar recall issued earlier this year affected 890,000 vehicles made between January 2007 and June 2010, where the switches also could slip from “ON” to “ACCESSORY.”

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German Government Unveils Bill To Spur ZEV Adoption http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/german-government-unveils-bill-spur-zev-adoption/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/german-government-unveils-bill-spur-zev-adoption/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=918418 Should you happen to call Germany home and are shopping for a car, the government would like to offer you free parking, tax exemptions for 10 years, and bus-lane privileges if you purchase an EV, FCV or PHEV. Bloomberg reports the bill, known in English as the Electric Mobility Act, would bestow those incentives through […]

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mercedes-benz-sls-amg-electric-drive

Should you happen to call Germany home and are shopping for a car, the government would like to offer you free parking, tax exemptions for 10 years, and bus-lane privileges if you purchase an EV, FCV or PHEV.

Bloomberg reports the bill, known in English as the Electric Mobility Act, would bestow those incentives through the municipalities on drivers who go green in a move meant to bolster demand for such vehicles. The German government has a goal of 1 million EVs by 2020, both to further prove the nation’s engineering might, and to meet tightening greenhouse gas emission regs.

Getting there will likely become easier over the next few months. According to industry group VDA, 17 electric models from BMW, Smart and Mercedes will enter showrooms by the end of 2014, with 12 more coming out of the factories in 2015.

The Electric Mobility Act will come into force by the spring of 2015.

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US Average Gas Price Per Gallon Falling To $3.15 By Year-End http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/us-average-gas-price-per-gallon-falling-3-15-year-end/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/us-average-gas-price-per-gallon-falling-3-15-year-end/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917594 Once upon a time, a gallon of regular could be had for under $3. Then, prices climbed as reduced production and geopolitical uncertainty played their respective roles. However, 2014 could feel like 2010 again as prices tumble back down to $3/gallon. A report issued by GasBuddy last week forecasts that the average national price for […]

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Low Gas Prices Circa 2012

Once upon a time, a gallon of regular could be had for under $3. Then, prices climbed as reduced production and geopolitical uncertainty played their respective roles. However, 2014 could feel like 2010 again as prices tumble back down to $3/gallon.

A report issued by GasBuddy last week forecasts that the average national price for a gallon of regular could fall between $3.15 and $3.25 by the end of the year, with 30 states expected to pump gas for prices below $3/gallon during the period.

The report bases its forecast on three factors: the transition from summer to winter-blend gasoline, the latter easier to produce by refiners; lower crude prices per barrel, led in part by boosted production in areas such as Alberta and North Dakota; and a combination of overall lower consumption over the autumn and winter months, more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road, and fewer younger drivers hitting the road.

Right now, 17 states in the South, East Coast and Great Plains already have stations delivering gas at $3 or less per gallon, with the Springfield, Mo. Metropolitan Statistical Area holding the lowest average at $3.005/gallon. Meanwhile, the West Coast will likely keep the highest prices per gallon during the period, though said prices will see the most severe drops through November and December.

Finally, though 2010 is considered a convenient reference point, GasBuddy states this season’s average won’t match that year’s low point, when the average price/gallon was $2.828.

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Real-Time Data May Lead To Greater Automated Law Enforcement http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/real-time-data-may-lead-greater-automated-law-enforcement/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/real-time-data-may-lead-greater-automated-law-enforcement/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917562 Presently, V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) technologies are meant to allow a vehicle so-equipped to better navigate its surroundings, and to exchange data with other vehicles like it. If law enforcement has its way, however, the red and blue lights in the rearview mirror could soon give way to the electric […]

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V2V

Presently, V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) technologies are meant to allow a vehicle so-equipped to better navigate its surroundings, and to exchange data with other vehicles like it. If law enforcement has its way, however, the red and blue lights in the rearview mirror could soon give way to the electric eye of automated enforcement.

Autoblog reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges as much in the agency’s report on the technologies. Though the current framework isn’t meant for law enforcement, and data transmitted by current intelligent transport systems don’t provide enough to link speeding calculations to drivers, deputy administrator David Friedman says the possibility is there:

I know there is potential for law enforcement to optimize some of these things, but if we go too far, too fast in that direction, it could create some consumer backlash that could hurt its adoption. The technology is there, but our initial design is not focused on that.

Of course, automated enforcement wouldn’t obtain its information from ITS data alone, as it would augment a whole assortment of tools meant to nail speeders. Phoenix-based RedFlex is developing a camera network that would measure one’s speed between two points, while Colorado-based Laser Technology Inc. is building a dual laser/camera system that will both calculate speed and record video of the offender.

That said, the allure of real-time data may prove too great to contain on the enforcement front, putting the onus on the consumer to maintain vigilance in keeping data private, as National Motorists Association communications director John Bowman explains:

I hope people start to take notice of this stuff. We’re essentially tracked everywhere we go in almost everything we do. If people don’t push back against it like they’ve started to do with red-light cameras, I just think people will be surprised when they wake up one day and realize they have no privacy left.

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Reuss: Cadillac Move To NYC Will Elevate Brand Profile http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/reuss-cadillac-move-nyc-will-elevate-brand-profile/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/reuss-cadillac-move-nyc-will-elevate-brand-profile/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 10:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917530 Now that Cadillac and 50 of its B&B have packed up and moved out of Detroit for the American hustle of New York, what do those closest to the brand have to say about the move? General Motors product boss Mark Reuss has a couple of cents to spare. According to Autoblog, Reuss believes the […]

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American Hustle Cadillac Eldorado

Now that Cadillac and 50 of its B&B have packed up and moved out of Detroit for the American hustle of New York, what do those closest to the brand have to say about the move? General Motors product boss Mark Reuss has a couple of cents to spare.

According to Autoblog, Reuss believes the move to New York will help “elevate” Cadillac’s profile onto the radar screens of “some of the people we’d to be on,” particularly those on the coasts who are smitten with BMW, Mercedes and Lexus.

With the premium brand now calling the neighborhood of SoHo home — engineering and design left behind in Detroit — Reuss says brand president Johan de Nysschen and marketing officer Uwe Ellinghaus will be able to better re-examine where Cadillac stands in the luxury game.

Meanwhile, GM CEO Mary Barra had this to say to The Detroit News and other reporters after her appearance on a panel at the annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York:

When you look at how important Cadillac is, we need to have that team dedicated — thinking Cadillac day in and day out. When you think about New York, it’s the perfect place to be. It’s where a lot of luxury is defined. It’s trend-setting — so I think it’s going to be very, very positive.

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Toyota Camry To Have Aluminum Hoods By 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-camry-aluminum-hoods-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-camry-aluminum-hoods-2018/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916882 As Ford prepares to stake its future on an aluminum F-150, Toyota is looking to do the same for at least a single part on its best-selling vehicle. Automotive News reports the automaker will begin stamping aluminum hoods for the Camry in 2018, introducing the metal to its customers in North America with the hood […]

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2015-Toyota-Camry-XSE-107-626x382

As Ford prepares to stake its future on an aluminum F-150, Toyota is looking to do the same for at least a single part on its best-selling vehicle.

Automotive News reports the automaker will begin stamping aluminum hoods for the Camry in 2018, introducing the metal to its customers in North America with the hood and liftgate of the Lexus RX 350 in 2015. The move is part of an overall plan “to use aluminum on future vehicles for hood, closures and parts for lightweighting,” according to representative Jana Hartline, who adds the automaker will “increase usage of mix metals and resin materials to enhance lightweighting efforts.”

The plan will be enacted through a joint venture between its trading company, Toyota Tsusho Corp., and Kobe Steel, with Toyota being one of the JV’s first clients. The venture aims to produce 100,000 tons of aluminum sheet annually, and plans to build its operation near producer Wise Alloys of Muscle Shoals, Ala. to help tackle constraints resulting from the increased popularity — a result of tightening CAFE regulations — of the metal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Paris 2014: Citroën C4 Cactus Airflow 2L Revealed Prior To Live Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-citroen-c4-cactus-airflow-2l-revealed-prior-live-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-citroen-c4-cactus-airflow-2l-revealed-prior-live-debut/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916090 In the 1930s, Chrysler experimented with aerodynamics to deliver a product that could slip through the wind better than the vehicles of the day, bestowing upon the public the Airflow. Alas, not too many people were ready for the future, leaving the concept a commercial failure. Today, Citroën is giving the name and concept a […]

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CL 14.129.002

In the 1930s, Chrysler experimented with aerodynamics to deliver a product that could slip through the wind better than the vehicles of the day, bestowing upon the public the Airflow. Alas, not too many people were ready for the future, leaving the concept a commercial failure.

Today, Citroën is giving the name and concept a second try, with fuel economy and the environment in mind.

Revealed prior to its live debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show, the C4 Cactus Airflow 2L’s own aero — including shutters for the grill and wheels, air extractors, underbody panels — help the concept deliver a rating of 2 liters — or 2L — per 100 kilometers (0.52 gallons/62 miles) traveled.

Regarding weight, aluminum, high-yield steel and composites contribute to a reduction of 100 kilograms (220 pounds) in comparison to the production C4 Cactus; total weight is 865 kg/1,907 lbs.

Finally, the Airflow 2L’s Hybrid Air drivetrain uses air power from its on-board compressor to move the concept around when the three-pot PureTech engine isn’t burning gasoline, with the ability to use both when necessary.

CL 14.129.002 CL 14.106.001 CL 14.106.003 CL 14.106.006 CL 14.106.009 CL 14.106.010 CL 14.106.013 CL 14.106.014 CL 14.106.015 CL 14.106.018 CL 14.106.019 CL 14.121.001 CL 14.120.003 CL 14.120.001

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Virginia Company Unveils Text-Detection Device http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/virginia-company-unveils-text-detection-device/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/virginia-company-unveils-text-detection-device/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916050 From the commonwealth where radar detectors are verboten, and speeding has more in common with sex crimes than physical graffiti, a local company has developed a device that can detect the sort of signals a phone might emit when its owner is texting. The Virginian-Pilot reports ComSonics of Harrisonburg, Va. has tweaked technology used by […]

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Fairfax County Virginia Police + Radar Gun

From the commonwealth where radar detectors are verboten, and speeding has more in common with sex crimes than physical graffiti, a local company has developed a device that can detect the sort of signals a phone might emit when its owner is texting.

The Virginian-Pilot reports ComSonics of Harrisonburg, Va. has tweaked technology used by cable repairmen to find damaged wiring to detect transmission data from a phone sending a text. The device, as explained by calibration services manager Malcolm McIntyre, can differentiate between texting, phone calls and data transmissions by frequency.

Though the text-detecting device is “close to production,” according to McIntyre, privacy concerns, legislative red tape, and adoption by law enforcement are likely to slow down progress for now.

Virginia commonwealth law states phone calls by drivers are legal, while texting is illegal. Should the device enter into the fight, however, enforcement of the law may become more muddied, since anyone in a given vehicle could be sending texts; the device likely will not be able to nail down the exact position of the transmission.

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Chevrolet, Honda Give CNG Passenger Cars Another Chance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chevrolet-honda-give-cng-passenger-cars-another-chance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chevrolet-honda-give-cng-passenger-cars-another-chance/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=915178 Aside from a few trucks, some taxis and a fair number of buses, natural gas doesn’t receive a lot of play in the alternative energy game in comparison to darlings such as electric power and hydrogen. Despite this condition, Chevrolet and Honda are both ready to push natural gas onto commuters and efficiency-minded consumers alike. […]

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Aside from a few trucks, some taxis and a fair number of buses, natural gas doesn’t receive a lot of play in the alternative energy game in comparison to darlings such as electric power and hydrogen. Despite this condition, Chevrolet and Honda are both ready to push natural gas onto commuters and efficiency-minded consumers alike.

The Detroit News reports Honda recently introduced a new generation of its Civic Natural Gas model, featuring amenities like heated leather seats and premium sound systems the previous model lacked. Chevrolet, on the other hand, plans to bring a dual-fuel Impala to the party in a few months, being able to use either CNG or gasoline depending on the situation.

Though both brands are willing to give CNG passenger cars another shot, not too many others are as willing. Most automakers believe there’s no money or demand to be found in the alternative fuel, legislators are too focused on the in-crowd of energy solutions, and environmentalists are playing the long game instead of being in the present.

As for the vehicles themselves, both models will come straight from the factory with the same warranties as their gasoline-powered siblings, with the expectation of greater confidence in CNG from the consumer as a result. The Civic and Impala will likely drum up competition among other CNG vehicle manufacturers for the first time in a decade, as well.

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Howes: No Escape Yet From Recall Woes For General Motors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/howes-escape-yet-recall-woes-general-motors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/howes-escape-yet-recall-woes-general-motors/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=915162 After running the gauntlet of congressional hearings, numerous recalls and personnel firings under the dark cloud of scandal created in the wake of the February 2014 recall crisis, General Motors believes it’s ready to turn the page, that everything is now in the rear view. Not so fast. The Detroit News‘ own Daniel Howes states […]

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GM RenCen Storm Clouds

After running the gauntlet of congressional hearings, numerous recalls and personnel firings under the dark cloud of scandal created in the wake of the February 2014 recall crisis, General Motors believes it’s ready to turn the page, that everything is now in the rear view.

Not so fast.

The Detroit News‘ own Daniel Howes states that the next chapter of the story has just begun, with the combination of this week’s congressional hearing — where National Highway Traffic Safety Administration director David Friedman experienced the lash from the Senate Commerce Committee — and the revelation of 131 fatality claims submitted to the victim compensation plan GM hired compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg to run.

The transparency and independence granted to Feinberg — including weekly updates on the number and types of claims submitted and approved/rejected — and the open-ended nature of the fund itself as far as compensation is concerned are both likely to further dent the automaker’s reputation until the last claims are put through the paces mid-2015.

Further, with investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission nowhere near close to completion, as well as the possibility of Attorney General Eric Holder bringing the hammer down on GM or its lower-level execs in the same manner as Toyota suffered, it may be a long time before the automaker’s reputation recovers to what it once was.

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Tesla Appeals NJ Franchise Statute, May Win Via Legislation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/tesla-appeals-nj-franchise-statute-may-win-via-legislation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/tesla-appeals-nj-franchise-statute-may-win-via-legislation/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=915130 Months after the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission forced Tesla to stop directly selling its vehicles to the public, the automaker’s appeal moves closer to its day in court. Automotive News reports the appeal, made in March of 2014, proclaims that Tesla has a right to sell its cars with its business model, as the […]

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Tesla Model S Burnout

Months after the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission forced Tesla to stop directly selling its vehicles to the public, the automaker’s appeal moves closer to its day in court.

Automotive News reports the appeal, made in March of 2014, proclaims that Tesla has a right to sell its cars with its business model, as the state’s franchise statute does not apply to the automaker — no franchise agreements were ever made — the MVC overstepped its bounds by enforcing the statute, and the statute itself violates the state’s constitution in part.

That said, the case may not need to see the light of day, as two bills in the state senate would allow Tesla to continue doing business its way, with some limits. The first would give the automaker four stores to itself — two of which are already in operation — with any more to be franchised. Two service facilities would also be required of Tesla were the bill to pass. The second bill would update the franchise statute.

Both bills are expected to be voted upon by late September at the earliest.

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IRS Plug-In Vehicle Credit Cap Data Lacking Accuracy, Detail http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/irs-plug-vehicle-credit-cap-data-lacking-accuracy-detail/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/irs-plug-vehicle-credit-cap-data-lacking-accuracy-detail/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=915098 In 2008, Congress passed a tax bill that would provide a credit of up to $7,500 for customers who purchase plug-in vehicles as a way to encourage adoption of cleaner vehicles. The credit would last in full for the first 200,000 units an automaker sold, then phased out over the course of 12 months. The […]

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A general view of the Internal Revenue Service Building in Washington

In 2008, Congress passed a tax bill that would provide a credit of up to $7,500 for customers who purchase plug-in vehicles as a way to encourage adoption of cleaner vehicles. The credit would last in full for the first 200,000 units an automaker sold, then phased out over the course of 12 months.

The problem? The agency responsible for handling the credit, the Internal Revenue Service, has no clue as to where things stand as far as that cap is concerned, despite every automaker that sells a plug-in model reporting the figures every quarter, as required by law.

AutoblogGreen reports that despite the fact that no automaker has yet to hit the cap, the IRS website meant to help consumers in their decision as to whether or not to purchase a plug-in vehicle is as dysfunctional as the legislative branch that passed the tax credit in the first place.

From the vehicles listed on the site — only six out of 24 vehicles from various manufacturers are listed — to the reported number of vehicles sold not matching up with what the automakers send to the agency per quarter, the IRS is dropping the ball on consumers who might want a plug-in in part because of the credit. This lack of attention to detail could knock new owners upside the head when the credit they thought they were going to receive ends up being less than desired.

When asked why the current situation exists, along with how the IRS receives and interprets its data regarding the credit cap, a representative stated that for a model to be listed on the site, a waiver must be submitted to the agency by the automaker in question. Both Chevrolet and Tesla, however, would beg to differ, as best explained by Tesla representative Liz Jarvis-Shean:

We’re compliant with reporting our quarterly US sales to the IRS and submit this information to the IRS shortly after each quarter’s close. One would assume that if Model S owners were having issues with this, you’d have heard about it.

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Supplier Believes Lightweight Steel Has A Place In Light-Duty Pickups http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/supplier-believes-lightweight-steel-place-light-duty-pickups/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/supplier-believes-lightweight-steel-place-light-duty-pickups/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914322 Though Ford is going all in on aluminum for its upcoming F-150, with General Motors following suit soon after, one supplier believes lightweight steel can be just as effective as the alloy best known for holding beer and keeping turkeys juicy in the oven. Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal is offering two such solutions for helping light-duty pickups […]

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Though Ford is going all in on aluminum for its upcoming F-150, with General Motors following suit soon after, one supplier believes lightweight steel can be just as effective as the alloy best known for holding beer and keeping turkeys juicy in the oven.

Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal is offering two such solutions for helping light-duty pickups meet ever-tightening CAFE mandates, going so far as to rebuild a 2009 model using newer steel components for a 23 percent reduction of 384 pounds in comparison to a similar 2014 model.

In contrast, the 2015 F-150 gains a 732-pound loss over the outgoing 2014 version on the truck scale, a result of extensive use of aluminum in the body panels throughout the new truck.

No matter the solution, both offerings would likely find a place at the table as every automaker fights to hit a CAFE-mandated fleet average of 54.5 mpg by 2025. That said, aluminum may be going up to bat more times than lightweight steel alloys in order to meet the target.

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Rolls-Royce Receives Largest-Ever Fleet Order For Macau Luxury Hotel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/rolls-royce-receives-largest-ever-fleet-order-macau-luxury-hotel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/rolls-royce-receives-largest-ever-fleet-order-macau-luxury-hotel/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914250 If one were so inclined to visit Macau for a bit of gambling, they could hitch a ride to their hotel through one of the many cabs running throughout the city. However, those who will stay at entrepreneur Stephen Hung’s Louis XIII hotel upon its opening in 2016 will be able to paint the town […]

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If one were so inclined to visit Macau for a bit of gambling, they could hitch a ride to their hotel through one of the many cabs running throughout the city. However, those who will stay at entrepreneur Stephen Hung’s Louis XIII hotel upon its opening in 2016 will be able to paint the town red in a red Rolls-Royce.

Hung’s purchase of 30 Rolls-Royce Bespoke Extended Wheelbase Phantoms is not only the largest fleet order of such vehicles ever for the luxury automaker, but two of the fleet will be the most expensive units ever assembled.

Twenty-eight of the bespoke fleet will have plenty of interesting touches to the exterior and interior — likely designed to match the hotel through and through — including bespoke clocks from Graff Luxury Watches. The remaining duo will also boast added gold-plated accents decorating the Phantoms’ skin and interior space.

As for when one might be able to hitch a ride in one of these Phantoms, the fleet will go in service at the same time the Louis XIII hotel opens its doors in 2016. For its part, Rolls-Royce will have a hand in designing the parking and driveway spaces for the fleet to navigate, as well as train chauffeurs on how to properly drive and handle the bespoke vehicles.

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131 Fatality Claims Filed With GM Compensation Fund Thus Far http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/131-fatality-claims-filed-gm-compensation-fund-thus-far/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/131-fatality-claims-filed-gm-compensation-fund-thus-far/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913714 Yesterday, we reported General Motors accepting there were 19 fatalities linked to a defective ignition switch originally tied to 13 deaths and 31 accidents, thanks in part to the compensation fund established with the aid of administrator and attorney Kenneth Feinberg. More could be on the way, however, as 131 fatality claims have been submitted […]

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GM ignition diagram

Yesterday, we reported General Motors accepting there were 19 fatalities linked to a defective ignition switch originally tied to 13 deaths and 31 accidents, thanks in part to the compensation fund established with the aid of administrator and attorney Kenneth Feinberg. More could be on the way, however, as 131 fatality claims have been submitted thus far.

The Detroit News reports a total of 482 claims have been filed with the compensation fund since August 1, 2014, when the window for accepting claims was first opened. Some of the claims may end up being denied due to not adhering to the requirements for filing, such as the vehicle involved. That said, the two dozen administrative officials and economists involved in sorting out the claims haven’t yet said how many of the claims will be denied.

Compensation for approved fatality claims will be at least $1 million plus lost economic value per life, along with $300,000 each for surviving spouses and children for pain and suffering. Claims will continue to be accepted until the end of the year, which may see the official death toll increase by the time all claims have been examined in mid-2015.

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UAW, Unifor Strike Out Against Two-Tier Wages http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/uaw-unifor-strike-two-tier-wages/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/uaw-unifor-strike-two-tier-wages/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913690 Last weekend, 760 UAW workers at the Lear facility in Hammond, Ind. — where Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant receives its seats — went on strike against two-tier wages, winning a tentative contract that eliminates the system. This, in turn, may be a sign of more such actions to come as the union seeks to end […]

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UAW Lear Strike

Last weekend, 760 UAW workers at the Lear facility in Hammond, Ind. — where Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant receives its seats — went on strike against two-tier wages, winning a tentative contract that eliminates the system. This, in turn, may be a sign of more such actions to come as the union seeks to end the two-tier system throughout the industry.

Automotive News reports the last time a strike occurred was in 2007, when workers at General Motors gently applied the brakes on production for 41 hours after a concessionary contract that introduced two-tier wages to all of the automaker’s U.S. facilities. Since then, a hard recession and rough recovery have kept striking off the table.

In 2014, however, economic conditions have improved to the point where both UAW and Unifor are more than willing to throw down to get what they want. Unifor president Jerry Dias went so far as to threaten supplier Johnson Controls and GM with production stoppages and strike actions if the supplier went through with its plan to close an interior plant in Ontario. In turn, Johnson Controls kept the plant open and gave workers some additional bonuses.

As contracts between the Detroit Three and the unions come up for negotiation beginning in January 2015, the elimination of the two-tier system will be on the table. Whether striking will come into play depends on how willing the automakers are on keeping the system in place.

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Friedman: GM, Not NHTSA, Most To Blame For Recall Crisis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/friedman-gm-nhtsa-blame-recall-crisis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/friedman-gm-nhtsa-blame-recall-crisis/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913658 It was a long day for David Friedman and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during congressional testimony Tuesday, admitting before a Senate panel that his agency has more work to do to improve itself, and that General Motors made “incredibly poor decisions” as far as recalls were concerned. Automotive News reports Friedman and the […]

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David Friedman

It was a long day for David Friedman and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during congressional testimony Tuesday, admitting before a Senate panel that his agency has more work to do to improve itself, and that General Motors made “incredibly poor decisions” as far as recalls were concerned.

Automotive News reports Friedman and the NHTSA came under harsh criticism before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee’s consumer protection subcommittee during this second round of testimony. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri made the deputy administrator aware of the panel’s overall frustration with the excuses for why the NHTSA did not act swiftly in forcing GM to recall vehicles affected by an out-of-spec ignition switch now linked to 19 deaths and 31 injuries.

In turn, Friedman deflected criticism of the agency by placing the blame upon the automaker, proclaiming the execs “were more worried about [the NHTSA] getting information about problems than they were about actually fixing problems.” He added that a “new normal” has since been established upon all automakers, whereupon any defect is immediately reported to the agency, and that it would have “zero tolerance” on those who fail “to act quickly and aggressively” on reporting such flaws.

Regarding the original case, Friedman said that his agency lacked “ample information” in 2007 to determine whether or not a defect was to be found in the aforementioned ignition switch, despite a report by a House committee issued earlier in the day stating the opposite.

After testimony, Sen. McCaskill stated she found Friedman’s statements troubling, proclaiming he was more concerned with rebutting the news media than with taking responsibility for his and his agency’s role in the GM recall crisis.

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Geely FIA-Certified To Supply Engines For Global Formula 4 Series http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/geely-fia-certified-supply-engines-global-formula-4-series/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/geely-fia-certified-supply-engines-global-formula-4-series/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 10:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913634 While Formula 1 fans contend with the new, quieter turbo era — a result of rule changes regarding power for the 2014 season — Chinese Formula 4 fans may be celebrating in the stands next year when Geely-powered competitors roar off the starting line. In a partnership with Narcar, the automaker will begin supplying its […]

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While Formula 1 fans contend with the new, quieter turbo era — a result of rule changes regarding power for the 2014 season — Chinese Formula 4 fans may be celebrating in the stands next year when Geely-powered competitors roar off the starting line.

In a partnership with Narcar, the automaker will begin supplying its 2-liter naturally aspirated motor to the Chinese and global Formula 4 series beginning in 2014. The engine is currently found in both the GX7 SUV and Emgrand EC8 sedan.

Geely’s entry as engine supplier marks the first time any Asian manufacturer has been certified by the by the FIA to provide engines for Formula 4, and will be joining three European manufacturers on the global stage from 2015 forward.

Meanwhile, the engines will help power the local Formula 4 series when the seven-race season begins later this year. The automaker recently provided chassis and engine support to the China Formula Grand Prix, which has been ongoing since 2006.

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2015 HSV GTS Maloo Ute Officially Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-hsv-gts-maloo-ute-officially-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-hsv-gts-maloo-ute-officially-unveiled/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913090 Last month, Holden Special Vehicles announced plans for the most brutal ute to ever be assembled as a send-off to the Holden Commodore Ute before all local production draws to a close in 2017. This is that ute: The 2015 HSV GTS Maloo. The limited edition ute pulls from the same parts bin used to […]

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Last month, Holden Special Vehicles announced plans for the most brutal ute to ever be assembled as a send-off to the Holden Commodore Ute before all local production draws to a close in 2017.

This is that ute: The 2015 HSV GTS Maloo.

The limited edition ute pulls from the same parts bin used to create the equally limited and powerful GTS Sedan, based upon the Commodore sedan. This includes the 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V8 — capable of dropping 577 horsepower and a near-equal 546 lb-ft of tree-removing torque out behind the bed — lightweight six-piston calipers mounted to 15- and 14-inch two-piece rotors, and torque vectoring. Power will be directed to the rear 20-inch wheels through a TR6060 (MG9 spec) six-speed twin-clutch manual or optional 6L90E six-speed auto.

At the ready inside, the owner can adjust the GTS Maloo’s electronic stability, torque vectoring, launch control and more through the HSV Driver Preference Dial, while HUD, lane-departure and performance systems provide the driver with the data and safety they might need.

Two colors — a bronze/red and an iridescent olive green — and two leather trims — dubbed Onyx and Red Hot, respectively — round out the looks in addition to the GTS’s aggressive face.

Only 250 will be built — 10 of which are heading over to nearby New Zealand — with production and availability due by November of this year. Price of admission will likely be around $79,000 USD.

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