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. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » 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/ Foxx: No Penalties Issued Within NHTSA Over GM Ignition Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/foxx-no-penalties-issued-within-nhtsa-over-gm-ignition-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/foxx-no-penalties-issued-within-nhtsa-over-gm-ignition-recall/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871434 Anthony Foxx + Barack Obama et al

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

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

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

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

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

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Clean-Diesel Sales Up 25 Percent In The US For 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/clean-diesel-sales-up-25-percent-in-the-us-for-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/clean-diesel-sales-up-25-percent-in-the-us-for-2014/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869994 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-13

Though hardly any of the offerings can be found in a brown wagon with a six-speed manual pushing power to the back, U.S. sales of clean-diesel vehicles have climbed up 25 percent this year.

Autoblog Green reports clean-diesels are set to double their current 3 percent of total vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2018, according to Diesel Technology Forum. The group also noted the 25 percent jump is besting overall sales thus far in 2014, having only seen a boost of 4.2 percent in comparison.

As for the cause of the leap into oil-burning, consumers seeking better fuel economy find a 30 percent gain when the engine quietly purrs, especially when 27 of the 46 available clean-diesel models for the U.S. market are cars and SUVs. Winners include Audi and Chevrolet, both moving 8,100 and 3,000 units through the first half of 2014. Meanwhile, Volkswagen, lost 8 percent in sales during the same period, though still lead the way with 42,000 vehicles leaving the lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Daimler, BMW Collaborate On Wireless Charging http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-bmw-collaborate-on-wireless-charging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-bmw-collaborate-on-wireless-charging/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866826 Mercedes S 500 PHEV

Daimler and BMW just announced a collaboration to help speed up development for wireless charging of both EVs and PHEVs, with the former’s Mercedes S500 PHEV as the test subject.

Autoblog Green reports the system in question will use coils in both the vehicle and charging platform, the latter installed in a garage floor or other stationary point. The system will charge an EV or PHEV at a rate of 3.6 kW, with an efficiency rating of 90 percent.

As for the guinea pig, the S500 PHEV will come with 436 horsepower and around 480 lb-ft of torque between its twin-turbo V6 and hybrid powertrain. In turn, the sedan can travel up to 20 miles on electric-only power, and net the chauffeur 84 mpg on the way to and from his employer’s private resort. The S500 PHEV is due in showrooms this September.

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Nissan’s D-Step Tweaks CVTs To Act More Like Traditional Automatics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissans-d-step-tweaks-cvts-to-act-more-like-traditional-automatics/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissans-d-step-tweaks-cvts-to-act-more-like-traditional-automatics/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865753 2015-nissan-versa-sl-photo-590018-s-1280x782

CVTs aren’t the most popular of transmission options around despite its improvements to fuel efficiency and ride on a vehicle so equipped. Nissan hopes an upcoming software tweak will change a few minds, however.

Automotive News reports Nissan will introduce its D-Step Shift logic CVT software to more vehicles for the 2015 model year, including the Versa, Versa Note and Pathfinder. The software, already in the 2014 Rogue and 2013 Altima four-pot, helps the CVT act more like a traditional automatic when it comes to shifting, emphasis on “act.”

On board vehicles like the new Versa, the D-Step will prompt the CVT to jump ahead a gear around 4,000 rpm, creating a brief drop in driving power while lending a sense of gears changing, all to ease Nissan owners’ concerns that their vehicle’s transmission is somehow broken due to the lack of a notable gear change. More models will receive D-Step in 2016.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jaguar Land Rover Experiment With Augmented-Reality HUDs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/jaguar-land-rover-experiment-with-augmented-reality-huds/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/jaguar-land-rover-experiment-with-augmented-reality-huds/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 10:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863225 Jaguar HUD

Jaguar Land Rover is bringing a duo of augmented-reality HUDs to its respective brands, each with a different take on the technology.

Autoblog reports the Land Rover’s setup will have what they dub a Smart Assistant handling nearly every function and task so as to allow the driver to focus on driving to their destinations. The assistant connects with a driver’s smartphone to do everything from reminding you to drop off the children at school, to playing those morning jams Jalopnik likes to recommend. Meanwhile, the technology is also at work on-board, noting how many passengers are with the driver, knowing how the driver drives, even adjusting the air suspension to make exiting the vehicle easier.

Jaguar, on the other hand, is taking the video game approach with the Jaguar Virtual Windscreen, turning a day at the track into a scene from Forza or Gran Turismo. The race-oriented HUD offers lap times, virtual racing lines and ghost competitors among other data selections. There will also be gesture controls and configuration options, as well.

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Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers Face Stiff Competition From New-Car Dealers’ Cheap Credit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buy-here-pay-here-dealers-face-stiff-competition-from-new-car-dealers-cheap-credit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buy-here-pay-here-dealers-face-stiff-competition-from-new-car-dealers-cheap-credit/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862945 buy here pay here

Buy-here, pay-here lots, traditionally the place to find a vehicle with little, bad or no credit, are facing some stiff competition as of late from new-car dealers offering cheap financing.

Automotive News reports in a conference call this spring by America’s Car-Mart CEO Hank Henderson, he said new-car dealerships were making finance offers on both low-end new vehicles and high-end used units his group are unable to counter:

Some of the offerings are zero percent down, no payments for 90 days. We’ve even seen no payments for a year — and then those are getting financed at 72 months, sometimes even longer.

Lenders are fueling the demand for cheap credit at new-car dealers, as well, forcing the buy-here, pay-here dealers to turn down business from consumers hoping to find as much with the latter party. That said, the approach said dealers promote — including substantial down payments and shorter terms — claims to be more economically healthy for subprime consumers than the competitive approach that could leave a consumer upside-down in the long run.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Porsche Developing Ferrari-Hunter With 600HP Flat-Eight http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/porsche-developing-ferrari-hunter-with-600hp-flat-eight/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/porsche-developing-ferrari-hunter-with-600hp-flat-eight/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862113 Porsche-988-rumors

Feeling outgunned by the Ferrari V8 family, Porsche is working on a suitable hunter that will be armed not with its long-standing flat-six, but with a new flat-eight.

Autocar reports the new vehicle — dubbed the 988 within Stuttgart — is part of a new quartet of Porsches in development, including a turbo-four version of the Boxster and Cayman, and an all-new 911. The 988 is expected to arrive in 2017, and may likely take after the 918 in looks with a long rear deck covering the mid-mounted flat-eight; all four new models will be in place by 2019.

Powering the quartet is a new family of boxers, ranging from the aforementioned 2-liter turbo-four — capable of 280 horsepower — to the 988′s 4-liter quad-turbo-eight, delivering 600 horses and ~400 lb-ft of 458 Italia-killing torque in testing.

Underpinning the quartets will be an all-new architecture that will use different backsides depending on the position of the boxer, shared front structures, and three front axles with optional hybrid/electric AWD such as the system powering the 918.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fiat Sets Date Of Shareholder Meeting For August 1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fiat-sets-date-of-shareholder-meeting-for-august-1/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fiat-sets-date-of-shareholder-meeting-for-august-1/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858633 A new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sign is pictured after being unveiled at Chrysler Group World Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan

Own any shares in Fiat S.p.A.? The automaker just announced it will hold its next general assembly of all shareholders August 1, where the topic of discussion will be the approval of the merger of Fiat with Chrysler Group to become Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Reuters reports shareholders will also be asked to approve the merger of Fiat with its wholly owned subsidiary Netherlands Fiat Investments N.V. prior to the FCA vote. The meeting would allow CEO Sergio Marchionne to list FCA on the New York Stock Exchange by October at the earliest.

Those who approve FCA’s existence will receive one FCA common share for every Fiat share they hold, while those against will have the right of withdrawal for the next 15 days, with the redemption price set to €7.727 ($10.51 USD) per Fiat share.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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