The Truth About Cars » Congress http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 28 Jul 2015 22:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Congress http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Feds Investigating General Motors Over ‘Certified’ Used Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/feds-investigating-general-motors-certified-used-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/feds-investigating-general-motors-certified-used-cars/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 20:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124233 General Motors disclosed in its quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the automaker for selling used cars under recall, the Detroit News is reporting. According to the automaker, the FTC notified GM that it was investigating “certified pre-owned vehicle advertising where dealers had certified vehicles allegedly needing recall repairs.” […]

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General Motors Renaissance Center HQ

General Motors disclosed in its quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the automaker for selling used cars under recall, the Detroit News is reporting.

According to the automaker, the FTC notified GM that it was investigating “certified pre-owned vehicle advertising where dealers had certified vehicles allegedly needing recall repairs.”

The filing acknowledges the investigation is connected with the 2014 recall of 2.59 million cars with faulty ignition switches that could turn the car off while driving, disabling its airbags. So far, 124 deaths have been linked to the defect.

The investigation is significant partially because a bill winding through Congress would significantly change penalties associated with defective cars. This week, a Senate committee shot down a proposal that would have forced used car dealers to complete recall repairs on vehicles for sale. A similar measure compelling rental car companies to fix defective cars in their fleets survived.

GM is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice as well as attorneys general in every state for issues related to the faulty ignition switches. GM could be fined and face criminal penalties from the Justice Department.

“We continue to investigate these matters and believe we are cooperating fully with all requests for information in ongoing investigations. Such investigations could in the future result in the imposition of material damages, fines, civil consent orders, civil and criminal penalties or other remedies,” GM wrote in their filing.

 

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Senate Bill Proposes Recall Warning Light on Your Dash http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/senate-bills-propose-sweeping-reforms-nhtsa-recall-policies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/senate-bills-propose-sweeping-reforms-nhtsa-recall-policies/#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 22:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1113297   Two proposals for reforms to how the U.S. handles safety recalls and penalizes automakers are winding through a Senate committee. A proposal backed by three Senate Democrats would make automakers include a recall warning light in the dashboard of new cars to notify owners of a safety recall and lift the cap on delayed recall […]

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

 

Two proposals for reforms to how the U.S. handles safety recalls and penalizes automakers are winding through a Senate committee.

A proposal backed by three Senate Democrats would make automakers include a recall warning light in the dashboard of new cars to notify owners of a safety recall and lift the cap on delayed recall fines and more. A less-aggressive proposal put forward by Republicans would require dealers to notify owners if their cars have been recalled, something most automakers already do but aren’t required by law.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 25 percent of recalls are never completed.

The Democrat-backed bill may not have life beyond headlines, however. Included in the bill were sweeping proposals to empower NHTSA to expedite recalls, charge and prosecute auto executives for fatal safety flaws and grant NHTSA special investigative powers, according to the Detroit News.

The larger proposal would also require new- and used-car dealers to apply all recalls to vehicles before they’re sold. Currently, dealers are only required to perform recall fixes on cars that haven’t been sold yet.

Some of the measures may have legs beyond the bill’s demise, however. The Democrat proposal includes making mandatory crash avoidance systems and allow NHTSA to investigate people who hack vehicle electronics that could “endanger public safety.”

The Democrat proposal also lifts the 10-year cap on automakers’ responsibilities to pay for or fix defects in their cars. The Republican proposal doesn’t lift that cap.

The recall reforms are partly due to extremely public, and extremely embarrassing, recall issues with General Motors and airbag maker Takata.

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NHTSA To Gain Broader Powers Upon Transportation Bill Approval http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nhtsa-gain-broader-powers-upon-transportation-bill-approval/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nhtsa-gain-broader-powers-upon-transportation-bill-approval/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 12:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033457 A transportation bill sent to Congress Monday would grant the NHTSA the authority to stop automakers from selling vehicles with dangerous safety problems. Automotive News reports the bill — the $478-billion, six-year Grow America Act penned by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx — would give the agency “imminent hazard authority” to ground vehicles “in cases […]

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A transportation bill sent to Congress Monday would grant the NHTSA the authority to stop automakers from selling vehicles with dangerous safety problems.

Automotive News reports the bill — the $478-billion, six-year Grow America Act penned by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx — would give the agency “imminent hazard authority” to ground vehicles “in cases where there is an imminent risk of injury or death,” which would be used before a determining a problem exists, and without input from the affected automaker or supplier.

The bill also triples the funding and doubles the staffing for the NHTSA, increases the fine it can levy from $35 million to $300 million; introduces a pilot program to improve the recall process on the owner’s end; requires dealers to check for recalls every time a vehicle comes in for servicing; and mandates that all used and rental vehicles with open recalls to be repaired before sale or rental.

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NHTSA To Congress: Pull Recalled Used, Rental Vehicles Off The Road http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nhtsa-congress-pull-recalled-used-rental-vehicles-off-road/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/nhtsa-congress-pull-recalled-used-rental-vehicles-off-road/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1006322 The next vehicle the TTAC Zaibatsu or the B&B rent could be safer if Congress heeds the call of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. AutoGuide reports the NHTSA is calling upon Congress to pass legislation that would bar rental companies and used-car dealerships from renting or selling any vehicle under recall without first being […]

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Rental Car Corridor - SeaTac International Airport

The next vehicle the TTAC Zaibatsu or the B&B rent could be safer if Congress heeds the call of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

AutoGuide reports the NHTSA is calling upon Congress to pass legislation that would bar rental companies and used-car dealerships from renting or selling any vehicle under recall without first being repaired; current legislation only asks of such things for new vehicles prior to sale.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that “requiring rental car agencies and used car dealers to fix defective vehicles before renting is a common-sense solution” that would improve road safety. Foxx adds that Congress should follow the lead of both safety advocates and the rental-car industry in taking a stand on the issue.

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Congress Unsure On NHTSA Funding Increase http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/congress-unsure-nhtsa-funding-increase/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/congress-unsure-nhtsa-funding-increase/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 14:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994242 Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says funding is needed to boost staffing, some in Congress aren’t so sure on the proposal. The Detroit News reports the proposal, part of President Barack Obama’s FY 2016 budget plan, would triple the NHTSA’s funding from $10.7 million to $31 million, helping to boost the total staff […]

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United States Capitol

Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says funding is needed to boost staffing, some in Congress aren’t so sure on the proposal.

The Detroit News reports the proposal, part of President Barack Obama’s FY 2016 budget plan, would triple the NHTSA’s funding from $10.7 million to $31 million, helping to boost the total staff of the agency’s Office of Defects Investigation to over 100 employees. Chair of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, isn’t sure such an increase is necessary, however:

We think there are ways too that you could reform and accomplish some things (without higher funding). Clearly, we want to work with them, but it’s going to be tough in this budgetary environment with all the constraints that we’re dealing with to get significant increases in funding for any agency.

Thune adds that the NHTSA’s mission “is a awfully important one,” and wants to ensure the agency can do the job expected of it. Meanwhile, Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Bill Nelson of Florida both praised the increase in the agency’s budget, though McCaskill wants to see more done still. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut adds that Congress should heed the call for a larger staff, and provide the NHTSA with “the most robust possible resources.”

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Toyota Marketing Mirai With $8K Hydrogen Credit Despite Expiration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989970 Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened. Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would […]

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Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened.

Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would fall to $49,500. Other state and local credits would drop the price further, as well; California customers would pay just $44,500 for their FCVs, for example.

The problem, per the automaker’s energy and regulatory affairs director Robert Wimmer, is predicting where the tax process would go:

The two challenges we have now are that both houses of Congress are Republican and also that there has been talk for a while about comprehensive tax reform. If that moves forward, then extenders would probably be put on the back burner as comprehensive tax reform is discussed.

Even if the credit was reinstated, it may only last as long as year or two instead of the three years Toyota wants for the first-gen Mirai. The automaker has been lobbying Congress to act, though Wimmer could not say to what extent.

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Hearings, Recalls Et Al Darken Takata’s Doorstep http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/hearings-recalls-et-al-darken-takatas-doorstep/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/hearings-recalls-et-al-darken-takatas-doorstep/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954497 Takata and those associated with its airbag recall crisis are heading back into the fire this week, one that could grow into a firestorm soon enough. Detroit Free Press reports the supplier is expected to submit its responses to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration detailing how and when it knew of the first signs […]

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Billboard advertisement of Takata Corp is pictured in Tokyo

Takata and those associated with its airbag recall crisis are heading back into the fire this week, one that could grow into a firestorm soon enough.

Detroit Free Press reports the supplier is expected to submit its responses to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration detailing how and when it knew of the first signs of trouble regarding its airbags, as well as the delay in reporting the defects to the agency. Further, Takata will be asked how long it will take to replace the airbags of 7.8 million affected vehicles with safer units; competitors Autoliv and TRW Automotive have previously stated they would help supply replacements.

The NHTSA issued an order last week that the supplier recall those units nationwide by December 2, with resistance to be met with a mandatory recall that could take months and several hearings to make happen. The agency is also in the process of replacing current deputy administrator David Friedman with Obama nominee Mark Rosekind, who must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before taking over.

Finally, Takata and Friedman will also give testimony in a second round of congressional hearings before the lame-duck Congress calls it a day for the rest of the year.

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DOT Dozen Call For Congress To Focus On Long-Term Of Infrastructure Funding http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dot-dozen-call-for-congress-to-focus-on-long-term-of-infrastructure-funding/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dot-dozen-call-for-congress-to-focus-on-long-term-of-infrastructure-funding/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874273 Alongside 11 former U.S. Department of Transportation secretaries, current secretary Anthony Foxx urged both houses of Congress to find a long-term solution to the funding of the U.S. Highway Trust Fund beyond what is under consideration at present. According to Autoblog, Foxx notes that while he and his comrades — going back 35 years and […]

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New Mexico bridge ramp construction

Alongside 11 former U.S. Department of Transportation secretaries, current secretary Anthony Foxx urged both houses of Congress to find a long-term solution to the funding of the U.S. Highway Trust Fund beyond what is under consideration at present.

According to Autoblog, Foxx notes that while he and his comrades — going back 35 years and 7 presidents in total — are hopeful the upcoming funding bill will go through, he states that the current unpredictability of the crisis-to-crisis method of governance over the past few years “is no way to run a railroad, fill a pothole, or repair a bridge.”

The DOT Dozen are calling, instead, for Congress to consider the long game regarding the nation’s infrastructure: 100 million new people and 14 billion tons of additional freight by 2050. There, they see some hope among the Beltway leadership to come up with ideas to remedy the issue, though finding consensus within the houses will take some time.

In the near term, Foxx explains that as much as $1.8 trillion will need to be spent by 2020 to bring surface infrastructure up to an adequate state, including the group of structurally deficient bridges whose number is great enough to connect Miami with Boston if laid end-to-end.

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Foxx: No Penalties Issued Within NHTSA Over GM Ignition Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/foxx-no-penalties-issued-within-nhtsa-over-gm-ignition-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/foxx-no-penalties-issued-within-nhtsa-over-gm-ignition-recall/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871434 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 […]

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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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Obama Talks Connected Vehicles, Highway Funding http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/obama-talks-connected-vehicles-highway-funding/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/obama-talks-connected-vehicles-highway-funding/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 10:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866778 Amid touring the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. and having a go at a driving simulator based upon a Saturn SL, President Barack Obama talked about connected vehicles and increasing highway funding before reporters in attendance Tuesday. Autoblog and Bloomberg report the President spoke for 14 minutes on both subjects, though the majority […]

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Barack Obama + Connected Vehicles

Amid touring the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. and having a go at a driving simulator based upon a Saturn SL, President Barack Obama talked about connected vehicles and increasing highway funding before reporters in attendance Tuesday.

Autoblog and Bloomberg report the President spoke for 14 minutes on both subjects, though the majority of his speech focused upon the U.S. Highway Trust Fund. Obama warned that if Congress fails to come to a decision as to how the trust will be funded, 700,000 jobs and 100,000 active projects could be shuttered when the well runs dry next month. He offered some praise regarding bipartisan bills in both houses offering a solution, though Obama urged Congress to focus on the long term instead of “kicking the can down the road for a few months.”

On the connected vehicle front, he proclaimed his support for any new technology that could improve driver safety, referencing his 16-year-old daughter Malia alongside results of a study where 5.5 billion hours and $120 billion in time and fuel are lost annually due to traffic congestion. Obama also joked about his brief ride in the aforementioned simulator, finding the experience disorienting in relation to his diminishing driving experience.

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Bipartisan Senate Bill To Raise Fuel Taxes For The First Time Since 1993 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bipartisan-senate-bill-to-raise-fuel-taxes-since-1993/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bipartisan-senate-bill-to-raise-fuel-taxes-since-1993/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=846921 For over two decades, the federal fuel tax has held at 18.4 cents for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel per gallon sold. A bipartisan bill working through the United States Senate could soon change this, especially as the nation’s Highway Trust Fund — used for funding infrastructure projects — comes closer to running dry […]

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For over two decades, the federal fuel tax has held at 18.4 cents for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel per gallon sold. A bipartisan bill working through the United States Senate could soon change this, especially as the nation’s Highway Trust Fund — used for funding infrastructure projects — comes closer to running dry by August of this year.

Reuters reports Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Chris Murphy of Connecticut want to raise both taxes by 12 cents, which would be spread out over two years prior to linking future increases to inflation. The senators also proposed tax cuts to make up for the increase, though nothing was specified at the time.

Meanwhile, some legislators want to fund the trust through a corporate offshore profit tax repatriation holiday that would resemble a 2004 proposal led by former president George W. Bush: 12 months, 85 percent deduction for dividends paid. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the holiday would bring in $20 billion during the period, but would lead to expectations for more holidays down the road.

President Barack Obama opposes this method, believing “it would give large tax breaks to a very small number of companies that have most aggressively shifted profits, and in many cases, jobs, overseas,” according to White House representative Jay Carney.

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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 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, […]

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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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Foxx, Obama Administration Urge Congress To Act On Funding Highway Trust http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/foxx-obama-administration-urge-congress-to-act-on-funding-highway-trust/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/foxx-obama-administration-urge-congress-to-act-on-funding-highway-trust/#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 14:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=820890 With 112,000 infrastructure projects and 700,000 jobs at stake, the Obama administration and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx are both urging Congress find a way to provide funding to the United States Highway Trust Fund before the well goes dry as early as August. Autoblog reports both parties offered Congress a four-year funding bill that […]

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With 112,000 infrastructure projects and 700,000 jobs at stake, the Obama administration and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx are both urging Congress find a way to provide funding to the United States Highway Trust Fund before the well goes dry as early as August.

Autoblog reports both parties offered Congress a four-year funding bill that would help raise the needed funds through tolling by individual states, and through closing a loophole on deferred corporate taxes on overseas earnings, which alone would bring $150 billion to the table.

In the Senate, an alternative bill is in the works that would retain funding levels at $105 billion annually with interest for six years, though sourcing the funds would come at a later date. Meanwhile, Republican legislators aren’t keen on raising taxes to fund the trust, especially during the 2014 election season.

As for why the fund is running dry, an 18.4-cent-per-gallon fuel tax issued in the 1990s hasn’t been raised in over 20 years to keep up with increased fuel efficiency among new vehicles, with more increases coming down the CAFE pipeline.

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Obama Administration Delivers $302 Billion Transportation Funding Proposal Before Congress http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/obama-administration-delivers-302-billion-transportation-funding-proposal-before-congress/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/obama-administration-delivers-302-billion-transportation-funding-proposal-before-congress/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 11:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=812826 A $302 billion, four-year plan to fund the U.S. Highway Trust Fund — and, in turn, any road and transit projects on the table during the period — was brought before Congress by the Obama administration through the U.S. Department of Transportation. Bloomberg Businessweek reports the proposal would add $87 billion on top of what […]

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Syracuse Road Construction - Utah DOT

A $302 billion, four-year plan to fund the U.S. Highway Trust Fund — and, in turn, any road and transit projects on the table during the period — was brought before Congress by the Obama administration through the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports the proposal would add $87 billion on top of what is currently in the trust fund in order to bring much-needed dollars to the many bridges and transit systems seeking rehabilitation while creating “millions of jobs” and, thus, boosting the economy, according to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. The fund, currently subsisting on gasoline and diesel taxes, would be funded by a temporary tax increase on overseas earnings by companies, which is the method proposed by President Barack Obama back in February 2014 in his budget request.

Meanwhile, both houses of Congress are seeking six-year funding proposals, though none have any financial resources to draw upon thus far. Further, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have claimed there currently are not enough votes to raise the 18.4-cent tax levied per gallon of gasoline to boost the trust fund’s coffers. One such proposal, made in 2012, failed due to being unable to decide upon a funding source, resulting in a two-year stop-gap measure funded through general tax revenue to keep construction projects moving forward.

The proposal also requested an increase in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s maximum fine for automakers who fail to issue recall notices on defective vehicles in a timely manner. The current maximum fine of $35 million would rise to $300 million “to ensure when a violation occurs it is more than a rounding error,” Foxx explained.

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Foxx Pushes NHTSA $300 Million Maximum Fine Hike Before Congress http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/foxx-pushes-nhtsa-300-million-maximum-fine-hike-before-congress/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/foxx-pushes-nhtsa-300-million-maximum-fine-hike-before-congress/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 10:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=812602 As part of a $302 billion, four-year plan to fund both infrastructure and highway funding, U.S. Transportation Secretary asked Congress to allow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to boost its maximum fine from the current $35 million levy to $300 million. Automotive News reports that in addition to the increased maximum fine, Foxx’s proposal […]

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Anthony Foxx + Barack Obama et al

As part of a $302 billion, four-year plan to fund both infrastructure and highway funding, U.S. Transportation Secretary asked Congress to allow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to boost its maximum fine from the current $35 million levy to $300 million.

Automotive News reports that in addition to the increased maximum fine, Foxx’s proposal also would prevent rental companies and dealerships from lending or renting affected vehicles under a recall. NHTSA administrator David Friedman lauded the proposal, stating the increase would serve as a deterrent against future recall delays and related tactics by automakers:

As the nation’s top regulator of the automotive industry, we hold manufacturers accountable for defect and compliance issues regarding their products, and are seeking to further our ability to do so in the future.

Past attempts to pass similar legislation, including a $200 million maximum levy put forth by the Obama administration, have met resistance from both the automotive industry and its dealers. With House Republicans wary of putting more tax dollars into the declining Highway Trust Fund, and industry lobbyists ready to fight they call “an unnecessary deterrent,” the new plan will face an equally difficult road to resolution.

During the 2013 fiscal year, the NHTSA levied a total of over $35 million in fines, including $17.5 million from Ford paid last June for a delayed 2012 recall of 485,000 2001 through 2004 Ford Escapes/Mavericks over a defect in the vehicles’ cruise control leading to stuck-throttle issues.

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GM Dealers Deal With Part Backlog, CEO Asked To Back Rental Car Bill http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-dealers-deal-with-part-backlog-ceo-asked-to-back-rental-car-bill/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-dealers-deal-with-part-backlog-ceo-asked-to-back-rental-car-bill/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:03:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=791337 Automotive News reports the repairs of some 2.6 million vehicles affected by the 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall will be delayed by one week as the needed part slowly enters into the automaker’s dealership network. Though most dealers thought they would be receiving the part Monday, GM spokesman Kevin Kelly insisted the part was […]

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Automotive News reports the repairs of some 2.6 million vehicles affected by the 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall will be delayed by one week as the needed part slowly enters into the automaker’s dealership network. Though most dealers thought they would be receiving the part Monday, GM spokesman Kevin Kelly insisted the part was set to arrive sometime during “the week of April 7″:

We plan to send letters this week informing affected customers that parts are arriving at dealerships and to schedule a service appointment with their dealer. Repairs are likely to begin to follow soon after the customer letter mailing.

Until then, dealerships may face service backlogs, especially with affected vehicles already on the lot that cannot be sold until they are repaired, which can only happen once customer vehicles go through the 30-minute swap. On the other hand, while dealers have noticed some frustration from their customers, the majority of their base was found to be patient with the status of the repair plan.

Over in Washington, D.C., The Detroit Press reports Senator Barbara Boxer of California sent a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra asking her to back a bill that would keep recalled rental cars under recall off of the road. The bill would require affected rentals to be grounded within 24 to 48 hours upon receipt of a safety recall notice, as well as establish a temporary protocol evaluating safety risk if parts are not available right away, and allow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the oversight to investigate rental company safety practices for the first time.

Though the bill — named after two sisters who lost their lives in 2004 when their rental car caught fire and crashed into a truck — has seen support by rental companies, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — where GM is a member — has stymied the legislation out of a fear that automakers would be forced to fix rental fleets first before individual-owned vehicles, as well as potential lawsuits from the rental companies over lost revenues.

Detroit Free Press reports the NHTSA is calling upon engineers to be the agency’s eyes and ears in the battle against defects like the one linked to the current recall crisis. Lead attorney Kevin Vincent laid his case out before attendees of this year’s SAE World Congress:

Each manufacturer is actually responsible for identifying defects… and promptly reporting those defects to NHTSA. The message I have delivered to senior lawyers at the automakers is that they need to have practices and procedures in place so that when they find a problem, they will respond.

The first line of defense against safety defects is not my agency — not NHTSA. You are truly the first line of defense… to prevent safety defects from reaching the American public.

The safety agency has been taken to task as of late regarding the GM recall as well as those related to Jeep, and has been asked by the Center for Auto Safety to investigate an airbag deployment issue with 2003 through 2010 Chevrolet Impalas.

Automotive News says the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox and its GMC Terrain twin both received a top safety pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in surviving the group’s new small-overlap crash test designed for midsize SUVs. The results were linked to improvements in the front structure and door-hinge pillars.

Finally, The Detroit News reports GM will pay a dividend of 30 cents per share for Q2 2014 on June 26 to all shareholders of record as of June 10. The dividend is the second consecutive payment made by the automaker to shareholders — the first, worth 30 cents/share for Q1 2014 earnings, was paid last month — and will cost $1.8 billion annually.

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Congress Looks To Revamp Automotive Safety Legislation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/congress-looks-to-revamp-automotive-safety-legislation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/congress-looks-to-revamp-automotive-safety-legislation/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=790065 In the wake of the 2014 General Motors recall crisis, Congress has sought to make improvements to current United States automotive safety legislation, though a number of hurdles await any pending bills needed to usher change to the automotive industry. Automotive News reports the pressure for Congress to act quickly is building against the 24-hour […]

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United States Capitol

In the wake of the 2014 General Motors recall crisis, Congress has sought to make improvements to current United States automotive safety legislation, though a number of hurdles await any pending bills needed to usher change to the automotive industry.

Automotive News reports the pressure for Congress to act quickly is building against the 24-hour news cycle, as former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator David Strickland explained in January:

Time is always the enemy for any legislative effort in response to a crisis. As you move farther and farther away from the crisis, other things happen in the world. It’s difficult to maintain momentum for things that looked incredibly important just a few months earlier.

One piece of legislation would allow the public access to automakers’ early warning reports and for the NHTSA to “disclose its inspection and investigation activities,” though industry insiders see a deathmatch between the two parties over this legislation while regulators fear less reports would be filed should public access come to pass.

Another action would boost the NHTSA’s fining ability, currently capped at $35 million. Though the current cap is short of the Obama administration’s request for a maximum $200 million fine — and in light of the $1.2 billion settlement between Toyota and the Justice Department — Strickland says the agency should have a “higher penalty authority than what it currently has, for deterrent value.” The NHTSA could also decided upon standardizing algorithms determining when an airbag goes off if the industry doesn’t self-regulate first.

However, any legislation would have to go through a number of important representatives and senators, including Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan and Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, as well as face the possibility of being attached to must-pass infrastructure bills such as the $302 billion, four-year highway bill proposed by President Barack Obama to provide much-needed repairs and replacements of U.S. roads and bridges.

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Barra Testifies Before US Senate Subcommittee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/barra-testifies-before-us-senate-subcommittee/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/barra-testifies-before-us-senate-subcommittee/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:55:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=786625 On the second and final day of testimony before Congress, The Detroit Press reports the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee fired several volleys at General Motors CEO Mary Barra over her lack of answers or greater action during the ongoing GM ignition recall crisis. Finding no allies from either side of the aisle, […]

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U.S. senator accuses GM of 'culture of cover-up'

On the second and final day of testimony before Congress, The Detroit Press reports the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee fired several volleys at General Motors CEO Mary Barra over her lack of answers or greater action during the ongoing GM ignition recall crisis.

Finding no allies from either side of the aisle, Barra faced tough questions and criticisms from the members of the subcommittee, with the toughest attacks drawn from subcommittee head Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. The senator proclaimed former engineer Ray DeGiorgio “repeatedly lied” about knowledge of the April 2006 fix of the out-of-spec ignition switch, citing GM’s “culture of cover-up” as encouragement for egregious violations of the public trust.

Barra’s alleged lack of knowledge of the issues surrounding the switch recall came back to haunt her when Senator Barbara Boxer of California declared the CEO “didn’t know anything about anything,” and wondered why someone with the resume Barra has could not know anything during the 33 years she had been a part of General Motors.

Other highlights from the Senate hearing include:

  • Barra not committing to when GM’s own investigator, Anton Valukas, could be made available for questioning by the Senate, saying the decision was his to make
  • Barra not knowing how many lawsuits have been filed in relation to the out-of-spec switch, nor having been counseled by GM’s general counsel
  • Barra stating no one involved with the recall still under GM’s employ had been fired, would take action if internal investigation determined as such
  • Senator Dean Heller of Nevada wanting supplier Delphi to testify
  • Barra clarifying her comment to the House about sharing information from the internal investigation
  • GM agreeing to share documents provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with the subcommittee

Moving over to The White House, the Obama administration aims to do all they can to get a handle on the case before them, as Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest informed reporters aboard Air Force One during the President’s visit to Ypsilanti, Mich.:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — or NHTSA — has opened a formal investigation to whether GM shared the information they had about this issue as quickly as they should. Secretary Foxx has also asked the inspector general of the Department of Transportation to conduct an audit to provide a single, comprehensive review of NHTSA’s work in this case.

Finally, The Detroit News posits that Barra’s legacy — and that of General Motors — would long be haunted by nine words uttered by an unknown GM engineer in 2005 over fixing the out-of-spec switch: “None of the solutions represents an acceptable business case.”

On the lawsuit front, attorney Dana Taschner — one of the lawyers involved in the 15 lawsuits filed in federal court on behalf of affected Chevrolet Cobalt owners — wants the cases consolidated and sent before U.S. District Judge James Selina in Santa Ana, Calif., according to Bloomberg. Tascher’s reasoning is that Selina, who is presiding over the cases linked to Toyota’s unintentional acceleration debacle, is the right judge for the job of taking GM to task:

The scope of the expanding recall and number of cars and consumers involved will result in a high volume of lawsuits filed in multiple jurisdictions warranting coordinated or consolidated proceeding.

Detroit Free Press reports safety advocate and chairman emeritus of consumer advocacy group Public Citizen Joan Claybrook is calling for reform from both GM and the NHTSA. Regarding the former, Claybrook believes Barra “has more power than any GM executive probably ever had,” and could lead the reform path toward a focus on safety over costs.

As for the latter, Claybrook — who led the agency between 1977 and 1981 — wants the NHTSA to have more resources available to do its duty to the public, change the complaint-filing process for ease-of-use by consumers, and be granted the authority to purse criminal charges against automakers who fail to recall dangerous products.

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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 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 […]

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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 Recalls 1.3 Million Additional Vehicles As Barra Heads To D.C. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-recalls-1-3-million-additional-vehicles-as-barra-heads-to-d-c/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-recalls-1-3-million-additional-vehicles-as-barra-heads-to-d-c/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 10:07:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785569 The Detroit News reports General Motors CEO Mary Barra boarded a commercial flight from Detroit to Washington, D.C. Sunday in order to prepare for two separate hearings before Congress regarding her company’s handling of the ongoing 2014 recall crisis. While in the nation’s capital, she also met with 25 family members whose relatives were killed […]

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GM

The Detroit News reports General Motors CEO Mary Barra boarded a commercial flight from Detroit to Washington, D.C. Sunday in order to prepare for two separate hearings before Congress regarding her company’s handling of the ongoing 2014 recall crisis. While in the nation’s capital, she also met with 25 family members whose relatives were killed in crashes linked to the ignition switch behind the recall.

CNN Money adds GM is about to reveal the names of the 13 people who lost their lives due to catastrophic failure linked to the defective part. The information will be made available to the public, with sensitive information — corporate secrets and personal data — redacted prior to publication. The information is part of a request by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration due April 3.

As for what Barra and NHTSA acting administrator David Friedman plan to say before the House and Senate hearings, Automotive News reports Friedman is standing firm on his agency’s effort to “properly carry out its safety mission based on the data available to it and the process it followed” in prepared remarks to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, while Barra reiterates her position on the events leading up to the recall and subsequent actions moving forward:

When we have answers, we will be fully transparent with you, with our regulators and with our customers.

Automotive News also put forth four key issues Barra and Friedman will have to explain before Congress and the general public:

  • How GM’s multiple internal investigations failed to lead to a recall sooner
  • Why NHTSA failed to launch an investigation, despite signs that a faulty switch might be causing airbags not to deploy
  • Whether and how GM’s vehicle-safety protocols have changed
  • Whether GM’s internal processes were violated or laws were broken

Tying into the fourth issue, House Democrats have found and named the engineer behind the 2006 ignition redesign as Ray DeGiorgio, who denied in a 2013 court deposition having knowledge that the part was changed. They also penned a letter to Barra stating the redesigned switch still didn’t meet spec, based on information provided by supplier Delphi confirming the switches meant for 2008 – 2011 models tested poorly alongside the switch approved in 2002 now linked to 13 fatalities and 33 crashes.

Automotive News also posits the reason behind the NHTSA not pushing forward on a recall sooner was due to a heavy focus on child deaths linked to airbags. When GM introduced a smart airbag system in their vehicles in the 2000s, the agency focused on whether or not the airbags were doing their job to protect children placed in the front seat, with the goal of assessing “real world” performance while spotting “unusual circumstances” — such as the flawed ignition switch behind the recall — that would allow for “early identification of potential problems,” according to a 2004 statement by former agency boss Chip Chidester.

In new recall news, GM recalled 1.3 million vehicles made between 2004 and 2010 whose power steering could suddenly lose electric power, with the automaker aware of “some crashes and injuries” tied to the steering. Vehicles affected include: Chevrolet Malibu, Malibu Maxx, non-turbo HHR and Cobalt; Saturn Aura and Ion; and Pontiac G6.

As for reporting issues that could lead to a recall, GM leads the way in filing early-warning reports to the NHTSA with 6,493 reports between 2005 and 2007; Chrysler and Toyota filed around 1,300 in the same period, while Honda filed 290. However, the cause behind the numbers is in how each automaker follows the 2000 TREAD Act, with GM setting an extremely low threshold for reporting in comparison to other automakers.

Finally, a number of lawsuits are being aimed directly at dismantling the liability protection GM’s 2009 bankruptcy provided to “New GM.” The tactics range from securities fraud and loss of resale value, to wrongful death.

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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 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 […]

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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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GM Hires New Safety Czar As Barra, Service Bulletins Go Under The Microscope http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-hires-new-safety-czar-as-barra-service-bulletins-go-under-the-microscope/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-hires-new-safety-czar-as-barra-service-bulletins-go-under-the-microscope/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 17:15:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=775713 General Motors CEO Mary Barra has appointed executive Jeff Boyer to the newly created position of Vice President, Global Vehicle Safety. Meanwhile, Barra and her company’s use of service bulletins in lieu of recalls will both go under the microscope, with the new CEO likely to testify before Congress next month. Automotive News and Just-Auto […]

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File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit

General Motors CEO Mary Barra has appointed executive Jeff Boyer to the newly created position of Vice President, Global Vehicle Safety. Meanwhile, Barra and her company’s use of service bulletins in lieu of recalls will both go under the microscope, with the new CEO likely to testify before Congress next month.

Automotive News and Just-Auto report Boyer will provide vehicle safety updates on a frequent and regular schedule to GM’s senior management, board of directors and Barra:

This new role elevates and integrates our safety process under a single leader so we can set a new standard for customer safety with more rigorous accountability. If there are any obstacles in his way, Jeff has the authority to clear them. If he needs any additional resources, he will get them.

Boyer, Barra and a number of GM execs are likely to testify before Congress sometime next month over the decade-delayed recall of 1.76 million vehicles affected globally by a flawed ignition switch that could deactivate engine power and airbags if the key is weighed down by unessential items, with her statements to highlight GM’s focus on the consumer in light of the recall going forward.

Meanwhile, the automaker’s use of service bulletins in lieu of potentially costly recalls — such as the aforementioned ignition recall — may cost GM more than the $35 million in fines the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could levy on the automaker in terms of reputation, though they may not be alone in sharing the blame.

In 2005 and 2006, two bulletins related to the switch were sent to dealerships with instructions for dealers to ask drivers to remove unessential items from their key rings. Bulletins in general are issued for non-safety issues affecting a vehicle, and are made know only to service shops and the NTHSA, though a 2012 law entitled Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century — requiring the NTHSA to create a searchable public database by 2013 — would have solved the problem had the agency fulfilled the mandate.

According to Center for Auto Safety executive director Clarence Ditlow, bulletins such as the two issued by GM over the switch result in only 10 percent or fewer affected vehicles undergoing necessary repairs, while recalls as administered by the NTHSA through the Motor Vehicle Safety Act pull in 70 percent.

Ditlow also says automakers — looking out for financial incentives — generally seek out other fixes short of an official recall, placing the NTHSA in the position of negotiator when a recall is needed, leading to the situation where the agency itself is under the microscope as Congress probes into why the NTHSA didn’t push hard enough for a recall as early as 2007, when two deaths in Wisconsin related to the switch were brought up before GM executives.

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Fisker Taken Out Behind Capitol Hill’s Woodshed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/fisker-taken-out-behind-capitol-hills-woodshed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/fisker-taken-out-behind-capitol-hills-woodshed/#comments Thu, 25 Apr 2013 11:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=486114 Congressional Republicans blasted current and former Fisker executives, as well as an official from the Department of Energy over missed milestones for their Department of Energy loans, which saw the company repeatedly fail to meet obligations while continuing to receive taxpayer money. Fisker has had a trouble history as an automaker, despite its namesake’s success in penning […]

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Congressional Republicans blasted current and former Fisker executives, as well as an official from the Department of Energy over missed milestones for their Department of Energy loans, which saw the company repeatedly fail to meet obligations while continuing to receive taxpayer money.

Fisker has had a trouble history as an automaker, despite its namesake’s success in penning iconic designs for the likes of BMW and Aston Martin. California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa compared Fisker to the likes of Preston Tucker, John DeLorean and Malcolm Bricklin, blunty telling Fisker “Quite frankly, innovative cars have a history of failing.”

But for many Republicans, their ire was aimed less at Fisker than at the Department of Energy. Sub-committee chairman Jim Jordan noted that

“Taxpayers have effectively subsidized luxury novelty vehicles for the likes of Justin Bieber, Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore,” Jordan said. “Fisker was not a well thought out startup. It had a fancy design and big names behind it, but no real business acumen. It was never destined to be a company of job creators, rather skillful rent-seekers.”

Fisker’s funding was cut off in 2011, after Fisker had received $192 million of a $529 million loan had been granted. A judge ruled that Fisker had failed to reach production and sales milestones associated with the loan. While the Karma was built in Finland, the next product, the smaller Atlantic sedan, was ostensibly going to be built in a former GM plant in Delaware. But supplier issues (including the bankruptcy of A123 Systems, their battery supplier) along with Fisker’s various recalls and mechanical problems with the Karma, helped derail Fisker’s plans.

Currently, Fisker’s prospects look quite bleak. Bankruptcy is predicted by a number of industry observers, and Fisker COO Bernard Koehler stated “whether the company will find new investors or whether the company may be obliged to seek bankruptcy protection.”

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California Congressman Alleges CAFE Benefits Bailout Recipients http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/california-congressman-alleges-cafe-benefits-bailout-recipients/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/california-congressman-alleges-cafe-benefits-bailout-recipients/#comments Fri, 10 Aug 2012 19:38:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456316 Bloomberg is reporting that House Republicans, led by California Congressman Darrell Issa, are set to produce a report that heavily criticizes CAFE as a politicized move designed to curry favor with bailed out auto makers and environmental groups. Issa called CAFE “a raw political process designed to appease environmental extremists…The impact of this process will […]

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Bloomberg is reporting that House Republicans, led by California Congressman Darrell Issa, are set to produce a report that heavily criticizes CAFE as a politicized move designed to curry favor with bailed out auto makers and environmental groups.

Issa called CAFE

“a raw political process designed to appease environmental extremists…The impact of this process will not be immediate but will be felt by manufacturers forced to make, dealers forced to sell, and consumers forced to purchase far different, more expensive and less safe vehicles,”

Singled out in particular by Issa were the influence exerted by California (which can write its own rules if it is unsatisfied with the federal government’s own rules) and environmental groups. The Detroit News reports that Toyota, along with other foreign automakers, were unhappy with the deal, and they perceived favoritism towards the home team.

Automotive News, quoting the paper, recounts how Toyota Motor Sales U.S. head  Jim Lentz told Ron Bloom, then the White House chief negotiator, how Toyota felt.

“Japan is angry. Feel like they have been screwed,” according to handwritten notes from Toyota, the News reported today. The paper said Toyota wanted credits for hybrid vehicles — similar to credits that were extended to natural gas, flex-fuel and electric vehicles — and wanted more flexibility to use car credits for meeting truck standards.”

Another sticking point for Toyota was the slippery definition of what exactly constitutes a truck. The Big Three had been using this as a way to shift vehicles, like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, into the “truck” column to help bring down their fuel economy averages on the truck side.

Toyota also argued that the definition of a full-sized pickup truck — a stronghold of Detroit automakers for years — had been written to exclude the Toyota Tundra. Lentz said the deal was an “old Detroit tactic. It may hurt me, but it hurts my competitors more,” Toyota’s notes said, the News reported. But the White House was eager for Toyota to support the deal. “It looks bad for me and bad for you if Toyota is not there,” Bloom told Lentz at one point during the process, the News reported.

 

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Florida Congressman Allen West Blames Obama For $70 Hummer H3 Fill-Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/florida-congressman-allen-west-blames-obama-for-70-hummer-h3-fill-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/florida-congressman-allen-west-blames-obama-for-70-hummer-h3-fill-up/#comments Fri, 24 Feb 2012 20:25:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=432644 Florida Congressman Allen West is blaming President Barack Obama for paying $70 every time he wants to fill up his Hummer H3. Not surprisingly, media outlets, as well as commenters on West’s Facebook page, are up in arms. The Hummer name undoubtedly carries negative connotations when it comes to fuel economy, but in the grand […]

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Florida Congressman Allen West is blaming President Barack Obama for paying $70 every time he wants to fill up his Hummer H3. Not surprisingly, media outlets, as well as commenters on West’s Facebook page, are up in arms.

The Hummer name undoubtedly carries negative connotations when it comes to fuel economy, but in the grand scheme of things, the H3 is quite mild, with its roots in the fairly light-duty Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins. The DOE’s own fuel economy site lists West’s 2008 H3 as getting between 14 and 15 mpg combined – hardly impressive for a small SUV.

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