The Truth About Cars » Trucks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:03:49 +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 » Trucks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/trucks-news-blog/ Ford Loads The Scales With Apples And Oranges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-loads-the-scales-with-apples-and-oranges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-loads-the-scales-with-apples-and-oranges/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872970 15F150SnowPlow_01_HR

From Jalopnik‘s Andrew Collins comes the discovery that Ford’s “weight savings” between the 2014 F-150 Lariat and the 2015 Lariat isn’t entirely a fair comparison.

As Collins reports, Ford confirmed that the two trucks were not quite the same. The 2014 had a 5.0L V8, while the 2015 had the all-new 2.7L Ecoboost V6.

Collins writes

Their defense; the new 2.7 is meant to be comparable to a “mid-range V8,” which the 5.0 is (the 2.7 is just 5 lb-ft of torque shy of the 5.0′s output, but the V8 makes 35 more horsepower). They’ve also been suggesting that the 2015 V8 (and 3.5 EcoBoost) may get a power bump, for what it’s worth.

But the fact remains; a 2015 F-150 5.0 Lariat SuperCrew V8 exists, and that would have been a more direct comparison against the outgoing truck.

As I maintained earlier this week, a lot of this stuff isn’t worth much, until we see a full table of engine specs, curb weights, towing and payload capacities and fuel economy figures. For now, we’re getting carefully packaged tidbits of info from Ford PR.

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Tata To Enter Global Passenger Market With Help Of Jaguar Land Rover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/tata-to-enter-global-passenger-market-with-help-of-jaguar-land-rover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/tata-to-enter-global-passenger-market-with-help-of-jaguar-land-rover/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871890 Tata-Xenon-11

Having done well with Jaguar Land Rover in its portfolio, Tata Motors is now turning to its premium subsidiary for its own foray into passenger cars and SUVs.

Drive.com.au reports the parent company is using the technical and design know-how JLR to begin growing its passenger vehicle line in Australia and beyond, though Darren Bowler, managing director of importer Fusion Automotive, assures that no badge engineering would occur between the two brands.

What would be shared, according to Bowler, would be platforms and engines, such as the global platform underpinning the upcoming Nexon SUV that could “be used as an Evoque… a Tata, [or] a Jaguar,” as well as the Ingenium family of four-cylinder engines that will soon turn up under the bonnet of many a JLR product.

In the meantime, Tata Australia plans to tackle the medium- and heavy-duty markets with the Ultra and Prima, both joining the light-duty Xenon.

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Ram Truck Lineup Adopts SAE Towing Standard From 2015 Forward http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ram-truck-lineup-adopts-sae-towing-standard-from-2015-forward/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ram-truck-lineup-adopts-sae-towing-standard-from-2015-forward/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=867234 2014-ram-3500-laramie-longhorn-front-three-quarter-03

The Society of Automotive Engineers recently introduced a new designation standardizing maximum towing ratings, with the aim of sorting out the mess automakers have made with their internal measurements of towing capacity. Called J2807, the new system’s first champion is none other than Ram, who have gone all-in with the standard.

Autoblog reports all 2015 light- and heavy-duty Ram pickups will use J2807. The new ratings are as follows:

  • Ram 1500 with 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 – 7,600 pounds
  • Ram 1500 with 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 – 9,200 pounds
  • Ram 1500 with 5.7-liter Hemi V8– 10,650 pounds
  • Ram 2500 with 6.4-liter Hemi V8 – 16,300 pounds
  • Ram 2500 with 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six diesel – 17,970 pounds
  • Ram 3500 with 6.4-liter Hemi V8 – 16,420 pounds
  • Ram 3500 with 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six diesel – 30,000 pounds

Automakers wanting to use the SAE towing standard must put their offerings through a battery of tests, ranging from handling checks, to being able to climb a grade without slipping below a designated speed. No word on when other manufacturers will adopt J2807.

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Next Nissan Titan Will Make Detroit Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/next-nissan-titan-will-make-detroit-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/next-nissan-titan-will-make-detroit-debut/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 19:56:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863145 1024px-2008_Nissan_Titan

The next-generation Nissan Titan will make its debut in Detroit, at the 2015 North American International Auto Show.

The next Titan is a make or break product for Nissan, which has seen its half-ton entrant fare poorly in the segment, failing to gain ground on Detroit’s trucks or the Toyota Tundra. But Nissan has invested a lot into the new Titan, from poaching Ram’s truck guru to getting a diesel V8 engine as an optional powertrain.

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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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Detroit Three Cutting Summer Breaks Amid High Truck, SUV Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/detroit-three-cutting-summer-breaks-amid-high-truck-suv-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/detroit-three-cutting-summer-breaks-amid-high-truck-suv-sales/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861513 The Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex used to produce Jeep Cherokee in Toledo

Thanks to high consumer demand for SUVs and light trucks, a number of Detroit Three plants are either shortening their summer breaks or eliminating them altogether.

Automotive News reports Ford cut its summer break in half at four of its plants in Chicago, Louisville, Ky. and Kansas City, Mo., all four back online this week to pump out more F-Series Super Dutys, Navigators and Escapes. Its Dearborn, Mich. plant will shut down for the majority of September in preparation for the upcoming aluminum F-150.

Over at Auburn Hills, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is foregoing summer break at both its Jefferson North and Sterling Heights plants, where the Jeep Grand Cherokee boasted its highest-selling May in 2014, 14 years after its previous best. Overall May 2014 sales for the Italo-American automaker charged up 17 percent, followed by a 9 percent increase last month, all on the back of the Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango and Chrysler 200.

Finally, General Motors will keep a third of its factories online this month. Though the beleaguered manufacturer kept its list of open factories close to its chest, the publication found four who had not reported any summer shutdowns in Arlington, Texas; Flint, Mich.; and Bowling Green, Ky.

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Ford Super Dutys To Follow F-150 Toward Aluminum Future http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ford-super-dutys-to-follow-f-150-toward-aluminum-future/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ford-super-dutys-to-follow-f-150-toward-aluminum-future/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 13:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850850 2014 Ford Super Duty

A new aluminum age is about to dawn on Truck Mountain when its ruler, the Ford F-150, adopts the alloy for its new body in 2015. However, the revolution may not stop there if the Blue Oval has anything to say about it.

Automotive News reports KGP Photography spy photographer Brian Williams happened upon an F-350 prototype at an undisclosed testing facility in Colorado, where he applied a magnet upon the truck’s bed to discover a lack of attraction. KGP associate Glenn Paulina adds:

If they’re using aluminum here, in the key punishment-point of a heavy-duty work truck, it stands to reason that aluminum is being used throughout the rest of the Super Duty prototypes — just as they have on the 2015 Ford F-150.

The tactic discovered by Williams was first acknowledged by Ford earlier this year when it did the same to the F-150, providing six prototypes to its best commercial customers for a two-year pilot program where only the automaker knew what was behind the cab.

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GM Fleet Order Guide Reveals More On 2015 Colorado, Canyon Twins http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/gm-fleet-order-guide-reveals-more-on-2015-colorado-canyon-twins/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/gm-fleet-order-guide-reveals-more-on-2015-colorado-canyon-twins/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 12:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845833 2015-Chevy-Colorado-3

Small pickup fans considering the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado or GMC Canyon may like what they see once they comb through General Motors’ Fleet Order Guide, including more power and other niceties.

Autoblog reports the two midsize models will receive a 2.5-liter, direct-injected I4 good for 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque in extended cab models with either a six-speed manual or automatic, and a 3.6-liter V6 delivering 305 horses and 269 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed automatic for those who prefer crew cabs. Towing capacity for the extended cab twins is expected to be 3,500 pounds, 7,000 pounds for the crew cab variants.

Inside and beyond, occupants can avail themselves of the trucks’ infotainment system — in either 4-inch or 8-inch form, depending on trim chosen — rearview camera, as well as options like locking rear differential, hill descent control et al.

Future owners can have a look for themselves into what’s available for either the Canyon or Colorado. Meanwhile, diesel fans pining for information on the 2.8-liter Duramax will have to wait until 2016 to learn more about the powerplant.

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Tow Rig Capsule Review: 1999 GMT800 Silverado 2500 3/4 Ton http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/tow-rig-capsule-review-1999-gmt800-silverado-2500-34-ton/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/tow-rig-capsule-review-1999-gmt800-silverado-2500-34-ton/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=832305 10150805_10152175963728579_5737863623707006165_n
The last time I looked at my 1969 Chevrolet CST/10, it was a pile of disappointment. After reviving it and replacing a freeze plug, it proceeded to pop three more freeze plugs during warm up. Time was beginning to run out, my dad’s house had gone up to market and quickly sold. The truck was a long way away from driving out of Houston, and I needed to get it out of town. Time and money were a factor, I didn’t have time to spend money running a truck and trailer to Houston, just for the CST/10. Thankfully, three things lined up: A truck, a trailer, and a reason to drive to Houston. The truck is a customer’s, who loans the truck out in return for a few favors on the truck’s maintenance. The trailer came from my friend’s rally shop, which I moonlight at. And the Lone Star Region Porsche Club had invited me to partake in their refreshed autocross program at Houston Police Academy just before the closing deadline on my father’s house. Win-win, right? I packed the suitcase, tools and dog, hemorrhaged a gas pump to fill the truck, and blasted to Houston.

The biggest tool for this expedition was a venerable 1999 GMT800 Silverado 2500. A tried-and-true work truck, with no options other than power locks. Extended cab, with an eight foot bed – this is one of the longer wheelbase configurations, superceeded only by the four door “quad cab” with the eight foot bed.

The drivetrain is a gas 6.0L V8, the early all-cast iron version. Later 6.0′s and “LSx” truck engines moved to iron block and aluminum heads. The all-iron build of the early ones is a bit more stout against abuse. 300 hp and a flat 360 ft lb of torque work well at sea-level, providing excellent passing power and low end torque. To this day, it’s one of the friendliest gas engines in towing with its flat torque curve and excellent midrange power for highway use, and returns excellent fuel economy for a gas engine. I find the Ford 5.4 Modular and Dodge 5.7 Hemi from the GMT800 era were never quite as comfortable under load.

The transmission is a 4L80E, essentially a modernized overdrive version of the Turbo-400, the racetrack and workhorse hero for GM since the late 60′s. It also features a Tow/Haul mode, which changes the transmission mapping to ensure an easier day for the transmission and driver. Primarily, it holds third gear longer during climbs, and waits to lock the torque converter during hill climbs allowing the torque converter to torque multiply, allowing the 6.0L gasoline V8 to work harder under load. Four speed automatics seem archaic, but the gearing is well matched to for the 6.0.

Despite the air conditioning needing a recharge after a compressor replacement, the weather was pleasant enough for windows-down driving. In the GMT800′s, extended cabs do well with the rear vent windows open, which smoothly pull hot air out of the cab, negating the buffeting and noise with fully open windows. Cruise control was set at 70 mph, and three hours later, I arrived in my dad’s driveway.

trucks That weekend happened to be an impromptu Chevy truck convention. The charcoal short-cab/short-bed is my godfather’s, serving duty in Houston with my dad during his move. It’s a plane Jane Silverado 1500 half ton, with a 4.3L V6 and a 5-speed NV2500. The NV2500′s gearing allows the 4.3 to work well in its torque band, and even makes for a great short-distance tow rig with its compact dimensions and small turning radius. These positive attributes in the city detract from its appeal on longer drives. It simply doesn’t have the wheel base and weight for highway towing in adverse conditions. That said, it has towed 7 cars for me in the past six months.

Around town with the trailer unhitched, the Silverado 2500 rides well. The chassis soaks up irregular roads, never bucking and kicking -the rough and overly-stiff ride often associated with 3/4 and 1-tons is nowhere to be found. Think of something that rides like a firm Cadillac: It has the big-body teutonic feel with firm, well-controlled suspension movement. Brakes are excellent, with a firm and progressive bite from the hydraulically assisted power brakes — unique to the Silverado 2500 and 3500, as the regular Silverado 1500 uses traditional vacuum assist. This provides stronger brake boosting, and constant boost under heavy load where engine vacuum is low. The steering is well weighted, and with a direct but soft feel when centered. It’s never twitchy or sensitive, but does translate minor adjustments accurately. Sway bars thicker than Goldberg’s neck ensure that the Silverado 2500 feels well planted on the road.

And here’s the real trick of the GMT800 pickups: Supreme visibility. With a low belt line, and shorter overall height than most modern pickups, the GMT800s are very easy to drive in tight situations. Even when hitched to our 24 foot deck trailer, vehicle placement is a breeze. Interior ergonomics have always been great, for me. Everything is in excellent reach of the driver, and there’s ample storage. It’s basic GM plastics, but this 290,000 mile Silverado 2500 managed to stay pretty quiet inside. The gauge cluster is comprehensive and very easy to read. Real oil pressure, water temperature, voltage, and transmission temperature gauges flank the speedometer and tachometer. Dummy gauges, like “Cool” to “Hot” gauges you commonly see, are useless to me. They are often highly inaccurate, and wild swings in readings are not accurately counted by them, at times. With a comprehensive set of numbered gauges, a driver can spot a problem before it becomes detrimental. While mostly sharing the same cluster with the Silverado 1500 1/2 ton, the additional transmission temperature gauge for the Sivlerado 2500 and 3500 models is very much welcomed.

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But where these ingredients truly shine is on the highway with a load. Sunday, after the LSRPCA autocross, my dad and I packed up the CST/10 with boxes of spare parts, and loaded it onto the trailer.

The CST/10 weighs just under 5,000 pounds, and the trailer is about 2,400 pounds. Properly loaded, the chassis is largely unaffected by the weight. There’s more heave in the suspension over large movements, but the truck is rarely jarred by trailer movement. Braking stability is excellent “panic” stops proved stable, dead-straight, and with aggressive and effective ABS action. Everything is well-managed in poor weather, high winds and wet roads do not easily upset the Silverado 2500.

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The drive out of Houston was smooth. Thankfully, over the weekend my father and I recharged the A/C system. Life was much better after that, happily trucking along with the windows sealed tight. I took a 20 mile jog  to Cypress to visit my mother’s place, and stayed the night with a fresh start on Monday. This ended up being a good choice, as 15 miles outside of Cypress my trailer lost a wheel bearing – the hub cap had fallen off somewhere along the way. With no grease, the outer bearing fell apart, dumping the outer race and rollers on Highway 290, and quickly began to overheat. I caught it early after glancing at the mirrors to find plums of smoke coming out of the fender, and pulled aside.

Thankfully, I was only 2 miles past Hempstead, a podunk farming town off the main highway. And with an extra dose of luck, I managed to break down in front of a custom golf cart shop, which managed to have tons of space to drop trailer and backtrack to Hempstead. My dog, Quesa, happily wondered around the gravel parking lot, taking in every smell possible. Hempsted is still the old south, in the “yes sir, yes ma’am” tradition. It’s a place where you can leave a truck running while inside a parts store, to keep your dog cool, and not have to worry about anyone tampering with it.

 

10313830_10152176743973579_8805478268548247443_nBack on the highway, the Silverado 2500 is a smooth towing missile. With the cruise set at 70, we hummed down to San Marcos, where the truck would stay at a friend’s rally shop. A sleeping dog is a good sign of a smooth drive. Even with 20 mph crosswinds, the Silverado 2500 maintained a steady heading at all times. The overall fuel mileage for the entire trip, about 75% highway and 25% city, was 16.2 mpg, roughly $120. Not terrible.

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Though late, I rolled into San Marcos around sunset, and quickly unloaded the CST/10. Back to back, you can see the strong styling elements of the CST10 in the GMT800 Silverado.

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The price for one of these? Just a few grand, near me, anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 for a fantastic and livable budget tow rig. Excellent road manners, ease of service under the hood, and low running costs — these old GMT800 trucks are one of the best used-truck buys out there. With only a minor compromise in ride softness compared to the Silverado 1500, the additional hardware is worth the 2500 nameplate and both are valued near the same. Truly the last of the modest fullsize pickups.

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Endless GM Recall Parade Sign Of Industry-Wide Action To Come http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/endless-gm-recall-parade-sign-of-industry-wide-action-to-come/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/endless-gm-recall-parade-sign-of-industry-wide-action-to-come/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=828562 GM RenCen Storm Clouds

Detroit Free Press posits the endless recall parade General Motors has been leading since late February 2014 may be doing more harm than good for public perception or its bottom line. Though spokesman Greg Martin claimed the recalls were an effort to make his employer “a first-class safety organization” by focusing hard upon the consumer, a survey by AutoTrader found 51 percent of auto consumers were less confident in the industry’s overall safety record as a result of the actions by GM, up from 44 percent who thought the same five days’ earlier. In addition, the automaker will take a $400 million charge in Q2 2014 for the recalls since April 1 as of this writing, while its current stock price of $33.07 per share is a few cents above its IPO price from November 2010.

Autoblog continues on this thread, proclaiming what GM is doing is the beginning of an industry-wide shift toward issuing full recalls for any flaw in a given product, all under heightened scrutiny from the public and government regulators. For the first months of this year alone, all automakers have recalled a total of 22.4 million vehicles, the bulk of which belong to GM. Kelly Blue Book analyst Akshay Anand says the parade is a double-edge sword, particularly for the General; while such recalls are a sign automakers are being proactive in ensuring their products are as safe as they can be, consumers may perceive the effort as a sign automakers are failing to do their job well in the first place.

Automotive News follows with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, who stated in a panel discussion at the Brookings Institute this week what else might occur when the GM-led parade becomes a permanent fixture in the industry:

If effectively this frequency of recalls becomes a norm, if everybody starts doing this, then I think you will see this cost being shifted to the consumer. It will transfer itself over onto the selling price of the vehicle.

Marchionne adds automakers, in turn, will act more sensibly in handling potential defects in product, noting punitive actions — such as paying $35 million in fines to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — will have little in the way of such handling when reputation is the bigger issue for the industry as a whole.

Speaking of the main parade itself, Autoblog reports 218,000 2004 through 2008 Chevrolet Aveos have been recalled due to the daytime running light module in the instrument panel possibly overheating, melting and setting the vehicle ablaze. According to spokesman Alan Adler, the automaker is “aware of some fires” so far, and is working on a fix for the module. Adler adds that while he doesn’t know when the fix will come, GM will send a second notice to owners when the time comes to schedule repair work.

Detroit Free Press concludes by explaining why GM continues to issue recalls as it combs through its records to avoid another decade-long delay in taking such action:

  • The government has ordered the automaker to meet with the NHTSA monthly on investigations and recalls as part of the former’s $35 million settlement with the latter
  • GM CEO Mary Barra’s appointment of Jeff Boyer to global quality chief — with the mandate to report directly to her if necessary — means anything deemed dangerous or otherwise unknown, including previously unreported defects — are up for attention
  • The automaker’s investors prefer to get the bad news out of the way and accept whatever potential pain awaits in as few quarters as possible, even if no one is happy about swallowing such medicine in the first place

The Freep also provided a list of every recall from January through this week, minus the latest recall issued Wednesday; total recall to date is 18,666,842.

GM

On the sales front, Automotive News reports dealers won’t be able to sell any of the 2009 through 2014 Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia crossovers thanks to a stop-sale order issued in a recall involving the front seat belt cable in the vehicles. The order comes during one of the biggest sales weekends of the year, putting a damper on potential Memorial Day promotions. Though dealers could still close on sales without actually allowing the vehicle to leave the lot, no test drives can be carried out in affected demonstrators, making such sales more difficult. GM is offering an end-of-month incentive to maintain May sales momentum, but that may not be enough to offset the extra floorplanning costs if few vehicles can be sold until the affected units are repaired.

Back in the Beltway, Barra met with U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri and other members of Congress to discuss recent findings in the February 2014 ignition switch recall. Though spokesman Greg Martin confirmed the meetings did take place, he did not give details on all that was said between Congress and the CEO.

Meanwhile, members of the Obama administration who helped assemble the rescue packages for both Chrysler and GM said they knew nothing about the out-of-spec switch at the heart of the recall maelstrom when said packages were crafted between them and the automaker’s senior execs. One member, Harry Wilson, stated that even if the task force asked GM point-blank about the switch, he doubted they would ever get a straight answer. Lead adviser Steven Rattner added that as far as he knew, the execs before him then didn’t know about the problem; therefore, neither could his task force.

Over in Texas, Bloomberg both GM and supplier Delphi have asked the Texas Supreme Court to combine four suits linked to the switch into one state case. The claim is fighting each one separately would cost the duo time and money, while combining the four and rolling subsequent cases going forward into a single case would “eliminate duplicative discovery, void conflicting pretrial rulings, conserve judicial resources, be more convenient for the parties and witnesses and otherwise promote a more just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” The cases mention involve wrongful injury and death.

With GM’s cadre of lawyers coming under the gun now, Detroit Free Press reports the automaker’s general counsel Michael Millikin has named attorney Lucy Clark Doughtery to advise Boyer and product development chief Mark Reuss. Millikin is also working with independent lawyer Anton Valukas on the internal investigation into why GM handled the recall the way it had. The general counsel’s own future with the company has been called into question, though GM claims Millikin has no “current plans to retire” at this time.

In financial news, Automotive News says GM Financial is preparing to go under its own test of scrutiny of loans originated by its dealership network in an effort to avoid punitive action by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau based on allegations of discrimination in lending rates among minority consumers. The lender’s chief compliance officer, Dan Bickmore, says his role is to help reorganize the company into compliance with the CFPB, going as far as to establish a new compliance department and boosting the lender’s complaint management process and fair lending areas. He also aims to help educate dealerships on appropriate lending policies to prevent discrimination of protected classes when drafting a loan or lease contract.

On the design front, global design chief Ed Welburn says that with GM’s line of vehicles sharing the same technology and functionality with each other, styling will be needed to help differentiate each unit. He goes on to say the automaker has committed a few design sins in the past, favoring functionality over style and charm, as well as decontenting interiors when a product was overbudget. Welburn concludes that the new guard leading GM “really cares about interiors now, and it shows,” such as the interiors in the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette and Cadillac ELR.

Finally, The Detroit News says the 2015 GMC Sierra All Terrain HD will go on sale this summer. The pickup will be available in 2500 and 3500 weight classes with double and crew cab options, with trim lines to include SLE, SLT and Z71. Power is expected to come from a standard 6-liter gasoline engine, with a twin-turbo Duramax diesel on the options list.

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GM Ready To Introduce Seat-Belt Interlock System In Select 2015 Models http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-ready-to-introduce-seat-belt-interlock-system-in-select-2015-models/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-ready-to-introduce-seat-belt-interlock-system-in-select-2015-models/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 10:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=827522 GM and OnStar Aim to Help Buckle Up America

Automotive News reports General Motors is preparing to launch a belt assurance system in a number of MY 2015 vehicles later this year, including the GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Cruze, Colorado and Silverado. The system prevents the vehicle from shifting out of park until both driver and front passenger are buckled, using weight information gathered from the sensing and diagnostic module to lock the brakes and transmission until compliance is achieved. The system is currently optional, and will be provided free of charge for those who are willing to become beta testers for GM’s latest technological offering.

The Detroit News reports the company is facing down 79 lawsuits linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall, with plaintiffs asking for as much as $10 billion in lost resale value. Some of the lawsuits are aimed at tying “New GM” to “Old GM” by dissolving the liability protections established in July 2009 when the automaker exited bankruptcy, leaving behind responsibility for accidents linked to the out-of-spec switch that occurred before “New GM” emerged. Supplier Delphi is also named as defendant in a number of the suits for their part in manufacturing the switch. All of the lawsuits are currently on hold by federal judges in California and Texas pending ruling on which of the claims will be allowable.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the February recall may upend the U.S. automotive industry as a whole, especially in its relationship with the federal government. GM’s credibility, already perceived as lacking among the public, isn’t being helped with the hiring of “Old GM” executives, the retirement of engineers with ties to the switch, or the status quo maintained in the automaker’s legal department. As the spotlight shines brighter on GM’s problems, it will likely face the same sledgehammer used by the U.S. Justice Department when the latter levied a $1.2 billion settlement upon Toyota for its own recall issues. In turn, more recalls, cautious product development and reduced profits will be experienced by all automakers, while consumers may see satisfaction from the heightened scrutiny.

Finally, Edmunds says GM and Google are partnering for ride-share pilot program at the latter’s Mountain View, Calif. campus, featuring the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV as the vehicle of choice. The EV was chosen thanks to its “small footprint” along with its ability to seat four while cornering past the ARCO and connecting with the Google mothership. GM says the program will combine “commuting data, analytics, telematics, navigation and smartphones to run a smart, real-time system that mixes and matches drivers, riders and cars during morning and evening commutes,” with convenient door-to-door service and flex-scheduling the main goals expected.

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Volkswagen’s Cervone Returns To GM As Global Communications VP http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 10:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826618 GM Next

Autoblog reports Volkswagen Group of America executive vice president of group communications Tony Cervone is returning to the GM fold as the automaker’s senior vice president of global communications. According to CEO Mary Barra, Cervone “brings an ideal mix of outside perspective and experience that compliments a deep background in GM and today’s global auto industry.” Prior to his return, he also served as the vice president of communications for United Airlines and Chrysler Group, where he spent 14 years before his decade-long previous service to GM. Cervone succeeds Selim Bingol — who resigned from the company in April “to pursue other interests,” and will report directly to Barra.

Speaking of “outside perspectives,” Automotive News chronicles the story of how a trio of Southern gentlemen helped to bring the spotlight upon the out-of-spec ignition switch at the heart of the February 2014 GM recall. Leading the charge, attorney Lance Cooper had sought answers into the death of Brooke Melton at the wheel of her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. Cooper retained a number of experts in his case, including auto shop owner Charlie Miller and materials engineer Mark Hood, both of whom discovered the switches in Melton’s Cobalt and related vehicles performed differently than those found in 2007 and later models. The evidence gathered would help cement the settlement for his client’s family, as well as pave the way for the recall.

Moving toward the present, victim compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg may end up sorting through a mountain of data as he works out the details for a compensation package between GM and the 35 families affected by the switch. Between the time the first vehicles left for showrooms in late 2002 through 2012, 1,752 individuals died in accidents involving the vehicles under the February 2014 recall. Though the link may be tenuous in most of the cases, each one may open an opportunity for affected groups to lay some of the blame at the door of GM’s comptroller.

Looking toward the future, GM and AT&T will offer a number of 4G LTE connected-car packages beginning next month to consumers, ranging from $5 for a few hours of streaming music to $50 for several showings of “Frozen” for the little ones in the back. However, demand for the service may not be what the automaker expects, as consumers who don’t have company on the road often may wonder why they need a connected car with 4G. The concern isn’t helped by the delay of an app suite — featuring offerings from NPR and The Weather Channel — which would allow owners access without using their smartphones; the delay is over quality concerns, according to GM.

In brand news, GMC is doing very well for itself as of late, being the healthiest among GM’s four brands left standing after the 2009 bankruptcy. The “professional-grade” line of trucks, SUVs and crossovers are leaving their bow-tied brethren behind for the premium market, bumping into Cadillac more often than may be comfortable for some within GM’s hallowed halls. That said, GMC’s demographic prefers to remain low-key in opposition to the flash that brings the celebs to Escalade’s yard, even if the Yukon XL Denali is within spitting distance of the Caddy’s $72,690 base price.

Leading the charge is Buick-GMC boss Duncan Aldred, who is looking forward to where GMC will go while shaking off the shadow of Buick’s “senior citizen” image within the United States. The former Vauxhall managing director sees similarities between Buick and Vauxhall/Opel, and aims to rehabilitate its image through a marketing strategy that may use “shocking and polarizing” messaging to prove his point. As for GMC, Aldred says he sees its future “as really exciting in an Audi-esque kind of way,” with plans to push the Denali line further up the mountain toward the summit.

Finally, CarNewsChina has the first official photos of the facelifted Chinese-market Chevrolet Aveo, which takes its looks from the upcoming Cruze. The Aveo will be priced between 81,800 yuan and 114,800 yuan ($13,113 to $22,732 USD), with power from 1.4- and 1.6-liter engines under the bonnet. Made by the GM Shanghai joint-venture between GM and SAIC Motor, the newly styled compact will arrive in showrooms in June for the sedan, July for the hatchback.

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2017 Mercedes G-Class To Be Effectively “All-New” After Major Makeover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/2017-mercedes-g-class-to-be-effectively-all-new-after-major-makeover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/2017-mercedes-g-class-to-be-effectively-all-new-after-major-makeover/#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 10:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=816665 2013 Mercedes-Benz G550

For 35 years, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has seen tours of duty with United Nations peacekeepers, the Pope, various hardened soldiers from Germany to Canada, and a few celebrities now and again. In that time, the SUV has changed its overall appearance once, when the W463 began leaving the factory in Graz, Austria in 1990; the previous W461 is still available for military and civil service. However, the current Geländewagen will get its second major revision come 2017 while retaining the W463 chassis code.

Autocar reports the changes will be so extensive that Mercedes claims the new G-Class will effectively be a new SUV, though it will still retain its classic look according to SUV chief Andreas Zygan:

We have to be careful with our heritage. We offer something really special. Last year — the 34th — was the best ever for G-class sales. It’s amazing, and one of our idols.

Changes for the 2017 W463 include a wider track for greater stability on- and off-road, more aluminium to reduce around 440 pounds from the current model, and a new front three- or four-link suspension setup mated to a modern electro-mechanical steering system.

Under the bonnet will either be a 3-liter diesel producing over 300 horsepower or 3-liter gasoline engine pushing over 360 horses, all going through Mercedes’ nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic as standard as a way to improve overall fuel economy. The two engines will debut a year earlier under the hood of the 2016 E-Class.

As for inside, more space will be offered alongside increases in comfort and quality, with a boost in technology for improved safety and assistance.

Finally, AMG variants — which account for half of all G-Class sales — are set to follow the newly revised SUV sometime down the road.

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GM Begins Ignition Lawsuit Talks, US Bankruptcy Court Press For Settlement http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-begins-ignition-lawsuit-talks-us-bankruptcy-court-press-for-settlement/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/gm-begins-ignition-lawsuit-talks-us-bankruptcy-court-press-for-settlement/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 11:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=815458 GM

Automotive News reports General Motors’ attorney Kenneth Feinberg met with Texas attorney Robert Hilliard at the former’s office within the Beltway to begin preliminary discussions over the claims of the latter’s 300-plus clients affected by the ignition switch recall. During the talk, no agreements were reached regarding compensation, while Hilliard viewing the first meeting as GM’s way of convincing him that it would do “the right thing” by his clients. Feinberg states he is gathering proposals for a compensation program similar to the one he orchestrated for 9/11 victims and victims of other major disasters, and should have a package ready within the next few weeks at the latest.

Meanwhile, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber urged GM to settle with plaintiffs seeking compensation from the recall, proclaiming:

Frankly, it would be great if whatever money is available for injured people could go to them, and not to litigation costs and attorneys’ fees.

The viewpoint held by Gerber comes from his partial reading of 3,500 pages related to claims filed in the 10 days prior to his pronouncement. Currently, 59 lawsuits with a price tag of $10 billion in damages have been levied against the automaker, with one group refraining from suing at the automaker’s request until the judge validates their complaints sometime before the end of July. In the meantime, a separate hearing May 29 will devise a strategy to centralize the suits before GM; Gerber said he would stay out of the way for the hearing.

In other news, GM is holding back on huge dealer orders for its large SUVs and pickups due to over two dozen supply constraints regarding V8 engines, four-wheel drive systems and other components, affecting availability for the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and 2015 Suburban and Tahoe. The constraints are frustrating for dealers in light of the popularity of the vehicles, with the automaker urging creativity to get around the supply issues, which could take as long as four weeks to resolve. Despite this, transaction prices of GM’s newly redesigned offerings netted $700 million in pretax profit for Q1 2014, while the Silverado/Sierra twins delivered a 37.7 percent haul of overall sales of all pickups sold for $40,000 and above in the same period.

Finally, CEO Mary Barra delivered the commencement speech at the University of Michigan over the weekend, as well as received an honorary degree in engineering. The university’s decision to invite Barra came under fire from two student groups, citing the recall crisis and the alleged dismissals of injured employees at a GM plant in Columbia as not representative of the university’s values behind their reasoning. As for Barra, though she did not directly bring up the recall in her speech — opting to speak about the future and all it will offer — she did offer these words of wisdom for the Class of 2014:

Remember that hope is not a strategy. Problems don’t go away when you ignore them — they tend to get bigger.

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Detroit Three Forging V6 Future Atop Truck Mountain http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/detroit-three-forging-v6-future-atop-truck-mountain/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/detroit-three-forging-v6-future-atop-truck-mountain/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 10:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=815434 ford f-150_r

For five decades, the powerplant of choice for Truck Mountain has been the venerable V8. With powerful V6 engines from Ford, General Motors and Ram being favored for more and more consumers of full-size pickups, however, the V8 could soon find itself occupying a smaller niche along the mountain.

The New York Times reports Ford is leading the way toward a V6 future, with 57 percent of all 2014 F-150s possessing an EcoBoost V6 under the bonnet, 47 percent of which have the 3.5-liter twin-turbo delivering the goods with 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque; the remainder opt for the naturally aspirated 3.7-liter, capable of 302 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. The shift toward the V6 — which began upon increased EcoBoost production last autumn — is in stark contrast to 2013, when over 50 percent of F-150s sold had V8 power.

Further, Ford expects the 2015 all-aluminium F-150 to have a V6 in over 70 percent of trucks sold. To prepare for this sea change, the Blue Oval is dropping the 6.2-liter V8 while adding a 2.7-liter EcoBoost in its stead, leaving only the 5-liter V8 for those who tow heavy loads frequently.

Meanwhile, General Motors and Ram are unleashing their own V6 offerings to customers clamouring for the right balance of fuel economy and power. In particular, Ram’s EcoDiesel 3-liter holds a class-leading 28 mpg on the highway, while the 1500 HFE’s 3.6-liter — once outfitted with stop-start and an eight-speed automatic — holds the top spot for fuel economy in its class with 25 mpg on the highway. As for sales, GM’s new 4.3-liter V6 accounts for 20 percent in 2014, while Ram’s lineup may approach 30 percent by year-end.

In regards to the future, the Detroit Three are forging a path toward the 30-mpg full-size truck through nine- and 10-speed automatic transmissions and four-cylinder engines — such as the 2.5-liter I4 found powering the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon mid-size twins — in addition to the V6 strategy.

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Marchionne: No Money In Small Diesel Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/marchionne-no-money-in-small-diesel-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/marchionne-no-money-in-small-diesel-cars/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:15:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=790097 sergio-marchionne

Bucking a trend that has been gathering steam beyond its traditional European stronghold, FCA head Sergio Marchionne said that FCA’s upcoming product plan, due to be revealed in May, would be light on diesel engines for B and C-segment cars.

Automotive News reports that Marchionne sees no money in placing a clean diesel powertrain into a compact car if it would prevent the compact offering from being “economically viable”:

You can do this on a larger vehicle because of the costs associated with those vehicles. It’s much more difficult to join with a car like [the Chrysler 200 sedan] and keep the margins above normal. Other manufacturers are making the cars. The question of whether they’re making money is a question you should ask them specifically.

FCA has V8 diesels under the hoods of Ram’s heavy-duty pickups, and V6 oil-burners in the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee. But in Europe, diesels are prominent in Fiat and Alfa Romeo vehicles, particularly in countries where the fuel is subsidized (and gasoline prices are rather high). It would be difficult to imagine these smaller diesels going away entirely, but the oil-burning powertrains will certainly not make it to North America.

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Chevrolet Offers Incentives, Extends Truck Month To Take Back Sales Crown http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/chevrolet-offers-incentives-extends-truck-month-to-take-back-sales-crown/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/chevrolet-offers-incentives-extends-truck-month-to-take-back-sales-crown/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:02:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=788658 2014-Chevy-Silverado _12_

Though Ram knocked Chevrolet off the monthly sales throne for the first time since August 1999, the brand is ready to reclaim their part of Truck Mountain by offering incentives and extending their annual Truck Month into April.

Automotive News reports brand vice president Brian Sweeney threw down an additional $1,000 on the hoods of 2014 Silverado double-cabs in pursuit of “the heart of the pickup market.” Furthermore, Chevy’s second Truck Month boosts incentives offered last month, dropping a maximum discount of $8,974 into the bed of the Silverado 2500 HD crew cab or $8,162 for the light-duty double cab V8 model.

Lease offerings were also boosted for the reclamation battle, as one email from a Northeastern United States gave details for a regional lease agreement of $269 per month with $1,900 due upon signature; the Ram’s terms were $259 per month, but with a higher down payment of $2,999 upon signature.

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Barra, Friedman Testify Before US House Committee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/barra-friedman-testify-before-us-house-committee/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/barra-friedman-testify-before-us-house-committee/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=786393 Mary Barra

General Motors CEO Mary Barra and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acting administrator David Friedman both testified before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee in the first of two congressional hearings focused on GM’s 2014 recall of an ignition switch whose issues the automaker nor the agency chose to act upon in a swift manner in the decade leading up to the recall.

The Detroit News reports the hearing between the committee and Barra lasted two and a half hours, and while the atmosphere was calm for the most part, the elusive answers Barra gave to some questions proved frustrating to the bipartisan committee. A possible reason for the vague responses provided by Barra: Any incorrect answers could come back to haunt the company via a charge of misleading Congress by the Justice Department, who is already conducting an investigation into GM’s handling of the recall.

She also pleaded her case for patience from the federal government while the internal investigation into the recall continues, and repeatedly stood by her talking points throughout the questioning. However, when the committee asked if GM would commit to delivering the final report from the internal investigation to Congress, Barra said her company would turn over “what’s appropriate.”

Meanwhile, she revealed GM had hired attorney Kenneth Feinberg to guide the company’s executives for the next 30 to 60 days into deciding how the automaker will proceed to do “the right thing” by their customer base. Feinberg, who helped establish compensation funds for those affected by 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing and the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill, may direct GM to create such a fund for affected owners whose vehicles were involved in crashes prior to the company’s bankruptcy filing in 2009, though Barra said she couldn’t commit to such a fund under questioning, opting to let Feinberg find “the best way forward.”

Following Barra’s testimony, Friedman took his turn before the House committee, defending his agency’s decision not to move forward with a formal investigation into the ignition switch issue, citing lack of data from General Motors in 2007.

He also explained that the NHTSA had voiced concerns about a number of problems GM hadn’t disclosed, such as the silent part-swap in April 2006 or the automaker’s talks with Delphi over air bags. In turn, the committee asked Friedman why his agency missed a number of red flags and failed to connect the dots in what the agency did learn from their dealings with GM. He said his agency followed proper protocol in its final decision in that there was insufficient information to press forward with a formal investigation. Friedman added that the NHTSA aims to improve this process, as well as increasing penalties for actions such as those demonstrated by GM.

The families affected by the recall witnessed the proceedings from the back of the hearing room, hoping to receive satisfactory answers from Barra as reminders of what the automaker’s poor choices had cost them hung above their heads. One of the affected, Mary Ruddy of Scranton, Penn., put it thusly:

I did not care for the answers from Ms. Barra. I thought she was very evasive, and if she’’s that evasive with the United States government… then how can we expect them to be honest with the general public.

Ruddy’s husband, Leo, also bemoaned Barra’s tactics before the committee, summing up the experience as if “it was like talking to Sgt. Schultz ["Hogan's Heroes"] — ‘I know nothing.’”

The Ruddys were among the families who met with members of Congress before a press conference calling for the establishment of a victims’ compensation fund, pulling affected vehicles off the road, strengthen current auto safety legislation, and a criminal investigation of GM by the Justice Department.

Finally, though the Chevrolet Silverado was knocked off of its pedestal by Ram’s offerings since 1999, Automotive News reports the fullsize pickup and its GMC Sierra twin helped boost GM’s overall U.S. light-duty vehicle sales in March by 4 percent to 256,047 vehicles. Overall retail sales also gained in March, rising 7 percent compared to the previous year.

As for the twins, Chevrolet’s sales rose 7 percent in March while GMC experienced a 21 percent growth, all of which is setting the place for upcoming product launches later this year, according to GM U.S. vice president of sales operations Kurt McNeil:

GM’s retail sales, like the weather and the economy as a whole, have been on an improving trend since early February. We expect to see solid economic growth in the months ahead, with the job market, household income and consumer spending all showing positive signs.

It is a strong backdrop for the launch of our all-new heavy-duty pickups, large SUVs and other new products, like the Cadillac ATS coupe coming this summer.

Transaction prices also went up in March, coming out on a record average of $34,000, as well as a 5 percent increase in commercial fleet sales; fleet sales fell by 5 percent in a planned reduction by the automaker.

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GM Adds 824k Vehicles To Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-adds-824k-vehicles-to-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-adds-824k-vehicles-to-recall/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785137 2009_Saturn_Sky_Redline_Ruby_Red_Limited_Edition

Over the weekend, General Motors called back an additional 824,000 vehicles whose ignition switches could slip out of the “on” position, cutting power to the engine, brakes and air bags. According to Automotive News, the recall now affects Chevrolet Cobalts and HHRs, Pontiac G5s, and Saturn Ions and Skys made between 2008 and 2011. The reasoning is that while those vehicles were made after the switch was improved in April 2006, some 90,000 vehicles may have received the faulty switch during repairs.

In addition, Detroit Free Press reports GM issued a stop sale order and recall of 190,000 2013 – 2014 Chevrolet Cruzes in the United States and Canada fitted with the gasoline-powered 1.4-liter Ecotec turbo-four. The right front axle half shaft could “fracture and separate without warning” under normal driving conditions, according to the automaker.

Meanwhile, 490,200 2014 Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras, as well as 2015 Chevrolet Tahoes and Suburbans and GMC Yukon XLs and Yukons, are being recalled in order to fix a transmission oil cooler line that, if not “securely seated and transmission oil leaks from the fitting,” may cause oil to spill onto hot surfaces, resulting in a fire such as the one experienced earlier this month during a test drive in California earlier this month.

The few who purchased or leased a 2014 Cadillac ELR may also need to bring their vehicles in for service. Detroit Free Press says ELRs made between Sept. 26, 2013 and Valentine’s Day 2014 without adaptive cruise control may suffer from an electronic stability system unable to perform certain diagnostics that would alert the driver if the system was either partially or fully disabled, which then could lead to a crash. GM will recalibrate the electronic brake control module for free in their recall notice, set to be issued April 17.

Speaking of Cadillac, Automotive News reports brand chief and former head lobbyist Bob Ferguson has been sent to Washington, D.C. ahead of two separate congressional hearings over the 2014 ignition recall crisis, helping the automaker to prepare. Though insiders have speculated Ferguson could once again return to D.C. permanently as GM’s vice president of of global public policy, the automaker offered nothing more than what Ferguson was doing for them currently.

Bloomberg, Automotive News and Detroit Free Press report GM has had a difficult time with the ignition switch used in their small cars. The switch had been altered three times in five years, beginning with the inability to start 2003 – 2006 Saturn Ions thanks to a defect related to the car’s Passlock theft-deterrent system. The fix, which included a new part number, led to the headache currently being experienced by the automaker.

However, the fix that would have cured the new switch’s ability to accidentally shut vehicles down — such as the Chevrolet Cobalt — was cancelled in 2005 by GM on the words of a project engineering manager who cited costly tooling and piece prices as reasons not to press forward. The part was approved by GM in 2002, despite Delphi — who made the part for GM — noting the switch did not meet specification, nor did the 2006 ignition that, while preventing the slip issue linked to 31 crashes and 13 deaths, was still below what General Motors had requested.

As for the agency responsible for pushing this issue into the spotlight much sooner than 2014, Detroit Free Press says a review by the Associated Press of complaints made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration between 2005 and 2014 found 164 drivers of 2005 – 2007 Chevrolet Cobalts experienced their vehicle shutting down with no warning; only the Toyota Corolla of the same vintage — recalled during the government’s investigation into Toyota in 2010 — saw more complaints.

In addition, an unnamed official who headed the NHTSA’s Defects Assessment Division recommended in 2007 an investigation as to why air bags in 2003 – 2006 Cobalts and Ions didn’t deploy, stating complaints made to the agency in 2005, along with early warning data gathered from related repairs and injuries, justified such action.

Bloomberg adds the cars linked to the faulty switch were marketed to first-time drivers, whose inexperience behind the wheel may have added to the chain of events leading to the number of crashes and fatalities documented thus far. Though GM stated in 2005 the driver could regain control by shifting to neutral and restarting, auto-safety experts and driving instructors, such as American Drivers Traffic Safety Education Association CEO Allen Robinson, said the scenario presented by the ignition failure would be hard to manage by most drivers:

It’s going to be a real problem and most people are not going to know how to deal with it.These sorts of mechanical failures are so infrequent that you can’t really prepare people for them.

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Diesels, Refinement Key To Kiefer’s Vision Of Future GM Engine Development http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/diesels-refinement-key-to-kiefers-vision-of-future-gm-engine-development/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/diesels-refinement-key-to-kiefers-vision-of-future-gm-engine-development/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:30:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776809 Steve Kiefer

General Motors head of global powertrain and former Delphi senior vice president of powertrain systems Steve Kiefer aims to steer engine development toward a brighter future, one influenced by his love for diesels, quietness and refinement.

Automotive News reports Kiefer’s vision may have begun to come to fruition this week with the debut of the new Ecotec family of engines slated to power 25 percent of GM’s global lineup by 2017. The eleven engines are based on older-though-proven technology found in the cam chains, blocks and other components, resulting in a family with lower NVH than previous engines. The new Ecotec family is a reflection of Kiefer’s method of improving existing technology to accomplish what competing engines already do — such as Ford’s EcoBoost — for little cost in development and assembly.

Speaking of Ford, both the Blue Oval and the General are collaborating on a new generation of nine- and 10-speed transmissions for their respective pickups, with the latter expected to arrive in two years. Though no word has been said on whether GM will either use diesel power or smaller gasoline engines in their fullsize trucks, Kiefer’s experience on the supply side of the industry — especially in regards to knowing what the competition is doing to be green and efficient — could prove valuable in the long run.

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Ford Medium-Duty Truck Production Moving To Ohio In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-medium-duty-truck-production-moving-to-ohio-in-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-medium-duty-truck-production-moving-to-ohio-in-2015/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 14:30:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=768738 2015 Ford F-650

With the Econoline passing the torch to the Transit Connect at the end of this year, Ford is in the process of moving production of the F-650 and F-750 from Mexico to Ohio in time for the medium-duty trucks’ redesign for 2015.

Bloomberg reports the automaker is cutting ties with Navistar International in a joint venture based in Escobedo, Mexico to take full control of the two medium-duty trucks in their transfer to Avon Lake, Ohio, bringing the entire F-Series line — and the profits made up and down the chain — in-house as Ford’s president of the Americas Joe Hinrichs explains:

We’re doing this to bring the 650-750 production in-house so that we have complete design, manufacturing and engineering control over our F-series lineup. It’s so critical to be able to offer our commercial customers everything from an F-150 all the way to an F-750 and to know it’s built by Ford.

The relocation will preserve 1,600 jobs while honoring an agreement made between Ford and the United Auto Workers in 2011, with no added jobs or change in labor costs resulting from the move.

Hinrichs expects it will take less than the 13 weeks needed to transition the two F-150 plants from steel to aluminium-body production, with tooling from the Mexico plant already being put into place:

A lot of equipment has been going in on the fly. It’s not what we would classify as a new body shop, but the investment that’s being made largely is for equipment in the body shop and for tooling associated with building the 650 and 750.

The transition will occur in time for the F-650′s and F-750′s 2015 redesign, though the medium-duty trucks will remain steel-bodied.

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2015 Ford Super Duty Best In Class In Torque, Towing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/2015-ford-super-duty-best-in-class-in-torque-towing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/2015-ford-super-duty-best-in-class-in-torque-towing/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 14:10:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=766265 2015-Ford-F-450-Super-Duty-front-three-quarters

Answering the challenge made by the Ram 3500 in torque and towing capacity, Ford revealed the news that the 2015 F Series Super Duty lineup will include a more powerful diesel engine with enough boulder-tossing torque and space shuttle-towing capacity to maintain dominance over Truck Mountain.

AutoGuide reports the lineup’s new source of power comes from a 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbodiesel pumping out a best-in-class rating of 440 horses and 860 lb-ft of torque through the rear or all four wheels. The compacted graphite iron engine, complete with larger turbo and new injectors maximized for improved response, allows the F-350 to tow up to 26,500 lbs with a gross combined weight of 35,000 lbs, while the F-450 smashes the towing scale thrown down by the Ram with a capacity of 31,200 lbs via gooseneck, 26,500 lbs via fifth wheel; gross combined weight comes to 40,000 lbs.

Under the body, the Super Duty line also received extensive upgrades to the chassis, brakes, suspension, and for the F-450, commercial-grade 19.5-inch wheels and tires.

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VW Considering Larger Pickup For U.S. Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-considering-larger-pickup-for-u-s-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-considering-larger-pickup-for-u-s-market/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 13:14:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=766241 2013-Volkswagen-Amarok-Canyon-07

The Amarok may not be coming to the United States, but depending on the success of the General Motors’ twin midsize pickups, Volkswagen may re-enter the light-duty truck market with a product more suited to a U.S. audience.

Autoblog reports VW is mulling over the idea of bringing a truck to the U.S. market, though it may not be the Amarok popular around the world, according to VW Group head of powertrain development Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer:

We are just reworking our truck strategy, and this is part of thinking about it. But the Amarok fits not very well to the efforts of the market.

Speculation around the VW U.S. pickup include a revised Amarok or a separate U.S.-only model.

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Barclays: GM Suffering From Worst Large Pickup Launch In 15 Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/barclays-gm-suffering-from-worst-large-pickup-launch-in-15-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/barclays-gm-suffering-from-worst-large-pickup-launch-in-15-years/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:29:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=757225 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior

Though the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado took home North American Truck/Utility of the Year at last month’s Detroit Auto Show, the large pickup and its brother, the GMC Sierra, have suffered from “the least successful large pickup launch over the last 15 years” according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson.

Automotive News reports the truck twins “faced a full-court press” from the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500, though winter weather also played a role in lower sales across the board. General Motors executives have come to the defense of their products, proclaiming average transaction prices of $4,000 to $5,000 more than the previous generation pickups and a combined market share hovering around 33 percent over the past few months, though the latter point held between 35 and 40 percent of the market in years past.

With dealers begging for stronger promotion and better incentives for the pickups, Chevrolet will host its Chevy Truck Month promotion. The month-long sale will offer supplier pricing (dealer invoice plus destination charges and a $150 fee) on light- and heavy-duty Silverados, and will be heavily pushed during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with television advertising beginning March 18.

In addition, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC will all hold Open House events throughout the month of March. The month-long sale will offer supplier pricing on nearly every 2014 vehicle sold under each brand, with the exception of the SS and Corvette Stingray for Chevrolet.

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Diaz Promises Profitable Share Gains, More Competitive Titan For Nissan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/diaz-promises-profitable-share-gains-more-competitive-titan-for-nissan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/diaz-promises-profitable-share-gains-more-competitive-titan-for-nissan/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:20:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=757121 Fred Diaz with Cummins Diesel For Nissan Titan

Nissan North America sales boss Fred Diaz expects his employer will gain more mind and market share in 2014 in the run-up to the 2016 Titan’s debut in showrooms, a truck promised to be more competitive than the current model.

Automotive News and WardsAuto report Nissan’s market share in 2013 nudged upward to 8 percent from 2012′s 7.9 percent share. Meanwhile, January 2014 sales rose 12 percent while overall industry sales fell 3 percent, and slashed sticker prices on a number of Nissan’s most popular models helped to to lower incentives by $375 while raising average transaction prices to $95 per unit sold.

Finally, Diaz himself met with the dealer advisory board monthly, as well as held discussions with all 1,167 dealerships in the United States, to learn about and adopt necessary product changes needed to bring more profits back to his employer.

One of the products in question is the 2016 Titan, where Diaz took those suggestions to heart during his visit to Nissan’s design studio in La Jolla, Calif.:

I was pleasantly surprised, but I also saw some things that could be improved significantly. No doubt I hurt some feelings and stepped on a few toes. I was pretty tough with the suggestions I made. We just needed to do a few things with the lines and the front of the vehicle.

The upcoming Titan is expected to match 90 percent of the competition’s various features and configurations in terms of cabs and engines, including a Cummins 5-liter turbodiesel V8. Nissan is also betting on the all-American soul that the newly designed pickup will bring to the table, having been engineered in Farmington Hills, Mich, designed in California, and assembled in Canton, Miss. with the aforementioned Cummins coming down from Columbus, Ind.

Diaz expects his employer will source 85 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. to come from plants in the U.S. and Mexico. Nissan is also in the early stages of revamping its ordering system so dealers can order and receive inventory at a faster clip than current.

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