By on May 23, 2017

Matthias Müller, Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Volkswagen has attempted to portray itself as a kinder and more responsible automaker in the wake of its emissions cheating scandal. However, CEO Matthias Müller says convincing middle management to change has proven exceptionally difficult. VW has been pushing to become — or at least seem like — a more transparent company that has decentralized its rigid management hierarchy.

“There are definitely people who are longing for the old centralistic leadership,” Müller stated during a meeting with business representatives on Monday. “I don’t know whether you can imagine how difficult it is to change their mindset.”

It’s been 20 months since the diesel emissions scandal entered the news cycle and Müller took over as chief executive. Throughout that time, VW’s top executives have tossed mid-level employees under the bus on numerous occasions. While there is little reason to doubt some might have trouble adjusting to a new corporate climate, it would be nice to hear top brass taking any semblance of responsibility once in a while — even on something minor like this.  (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2017

2016 Hyundai Sonata, Image: Hyundai Motor America

He lost his job for it, but Kim Gwang-ho, a 25-year Hyundai veteran at the automaker’s Seoul, South Korea facility, knew he needed to speak out.

The engineer blew the whistle on his employer, reporting the automaker to both South Korean and American officials after uncovering evidence Hyundai was covering up a defect in several of its models. Kim even published internal documents to back up his claim.

Kim, 55, was fired from his job, but authorities took note. As a result, a further 240,000 vehicles — totaling 12 models — have been added to a recall already 1.4 million strong. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2017

Uber (freestocks.org/Flickr)

Despite having put in as much testing time as most of the major players, experts have remained skeptical of Uber’s autonomous driving program. This isn’t because it lacks the necessary technology or hardware, but because it lacks a stable corporate environment. There have been no shortage of ugly headlines surrounding the company this year, and it’s beginning to hemorrhage essential staff members. This week, Uber lost its vice president of global vehicle programs, Sherif Marakby, and sustained another blow to its self-driving aspirations and pride.

While the ride-haling service has declined to elaborate on the reasons for Marakby’s exit, he had only been with the company since last April. After twenty-five years with Ford, Uber poached him specifically for his expertise in autonomous development and electronic safety systems.

This loss follows the departure of Uber’s president, vice president of product and growth, senior director of engineering, its head of communications, head of AI labs, and numerous members of its self-driving programs — all within the last few months. (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

Uber (freestocks.org/Flickr)

Uber’s president Jeff Jones is quitting the car-hailing business after a brief six-month stretch.

Jones’ choice of a swift departure is essentially down to the company’s controversy laden decisions and apparent degenerate corporate culture. In addition to allegations of widespread sexual harassment, Uber has managed to routinely anger local governments by ignoring autonomous testing laws and by employing algorithms that denied service to potential investigators, regulators, or law enforcement officials. It’s also been accused of property theft, and CEO Travis Kalanick is exhibiting behavior unlikely to win people over.

It’s a real shit show.

(Read More…)

By on August 13, 2016

Volkswagen Wolfsburg

The powers that be at Volkswagen aren’t big fans of the Pokémon Go app. While most people think of it as a fun and nerdy augmented reality game, the automaker’s executives see it as a one-way ticket to industrial espionage.

Because of this, Volkswagen’s 70,000 employees are forbidden from installing the app on their company phones, according to the German publication Bild (via Carscoops). (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2015

Winterkorn, Piech, Piech - Picture courtesy Volkswagen

VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn gained a few key supporters in the leadership conflict between he and chairman Ferdinand Piëch.

(Read More…)

By on June 18, 2014

2002-Chevrolet-TrailBlazer-SUV_Image-08-800

To say General Motors has a failure to communicate among itself and with the outside is an understatement that grows with each passing day, especially in light of how it treated a whistleblower in 2003 over its handling of a recall regarding fuel leaks in the automaker’s line of compact SUVs.

(Read More…)

By on June 4, 2014

Kenneth Feinberg

The Detroit News reports Kenneth Feinberg, whose services were retained by General Motors regarding compensation for victims of the out-of-spec ignition switch linked to 47 accidents and at least 13 fatalities, stated an announcement regarding compensation is “a few weeks away.” Feinberg adds that while his client may be making its own statement on the matter, “it will not include any details about a compensation plan since no such plan yet exists.” The attorney has worked on similar programs in the past, including those affected by the 2011 BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster, Agent Orange, asbestos and the attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. in early September of 2001.

(Read More…)

By on March 25, 2014

800px-Pontiac_G5_coupe

General Motors is facing two separate lawsuits related to failures of the ignition switch recalled last month, while also preparing to bring their case before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee next month, led by a representative who honed his skills upon Firestone.

Meanwhile, reports of a quiet swap between the defective ignition switch and an improved switch in 2006 – a swap that may have violated internal protocols -may have serious repercussions for GM and now-bankrupt supplier Delphi.

Finally, a test drive gone wrong results in a GMC Yukon left to burn, whose prompt investigation is only the beginning of a long learning process in how GM handles safety in the future.

(Read More…)

By on December 17, 2013

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Despite giving the old college try for decades, Volkswagen is still confounded by the lack of cachet their namesake brand holds among the hearts and minds of many an American. With VW of America CEO Jonathan Browning stepping down and returning to the United Kingdom at the end of this year, the Wolfsburg automaker hope one of their own, successor Michael Horn, will be able to finally crack the code of success in the United States.

(Read More…)

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