TTAC News Round-up: Let's Get Political, Political; Maven is Here; Ignition Lawsuit Changes Direction

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

President Barack Obama ran a victory lap in Detroit because the bailout worked.

That, GM’s Maven goes beyond “The Tipping Point,” the ignition switch trial takes a turn for the weird, and more Obama … after the break!

Obama’s final stop at Detroit auto show includes EV tours, Ford stop

President Barack Obama visited the North American International Auto Show on Wednesday in Detroit, making his final visit to the show as a sitting U.S. president.

According to media reports, Obama visited General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and supplier ZF, before visiting Ford’s massive display. Obama’s visit to Ford was closed to reporters, according to Automotive News. Ford has opposed U.S. inclusion into the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership, which is a major, final-year agenda for the outgoing president.

During the visit, Obama touted the plan his administration put forward to save General Motors and Chrysler from the brink of failure.

“More than 1 million Americans would’ve lost their jobs at the worst possible time. Not just auto workers, but the people in communities who depend on you,” Obama said, according to Automotive News. “The teachers who teach your kids, the small business owners who know your name. Their livelihoods would’ve been at stake as well, so we decided we couldn’t let that happen.”

Obama paid particular attention to hybrids and EVs on his visit, according to reports, but more on that later.

General Motors launches Maven; that was fast

We didn’t have to wait long for GM to show us what it was doing with its trademarked Maven name: the automaker launched the car-sharing program in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Thursday.

Maven will initially consist of 21 cars, located near the University of Michigan, but GM says the program will grow to include suburban Chicago, New York City and other metropolitan areas soon. The car-sharing service will be similar to Zipcar and Enterprise.

Last year, GM announced it would invest $500 million in to ride-sharing service Lyft, and this month announced that it purchased the remnants of defunct Sidecar for $39 million.

‘There’s only one Detroit’

During President Barack Obama’s whirlwind tour through Detroit, he made a stop at the United Auto Workers-General Motors Center for Human Resources to proclaim, according to The Detroit News:

“There’s only one Detroit … and if you’re looking for the world’s best cars and the workers who make those cars, you need to be in Detroit, Michigan. That’s why I’m here.”

The comment was made after the president joked that he’d be in the market for a new car — his term ends this year and he won’t be riding in a presidential Cadillac much longer. (He’ll probably be riding in a bulletproof Suburban, like most other ex-presidents. — Aaron)

But the president’s remarks are slightly curious: Far more cars are built outside of Detroit than inside Detroit now. Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, Kia, Nissan and Subaru build actual cars in other parts of the country. Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are increasingly making more high-profit vehicles — trucks and SUVs — in Michigan, most of which aren’t cars, and kinda/sorta/maybe put the automakers back pre-Great Recession.

Of the Big Three, only General Motors makes a fair number of cars in Detroit — and even they’re bringing some of those in from China now.

It may be semantics, but it’s just an observation.

Ignition lawsuit takes a turn for the weird

After General Motors lawyers said an Oklahoma man forged a check to buy a house in a lawsuit against the automaker over its faulty ignitions, the man has retained a criminal defense attorney to defend himself against allegations of perjury and fraud, Bloomberg reported ( via Automotive News).

Robert Scheuer said a defective ignition switch in his 2003 Saturn Ion prevented airbags from deploying when it crashed. During his lawsuit against GM, attorneys for the automaker said Scheuer forged income records to buy a house from which he was later evicted.

GM lawyers alleged the fraud undermined his credibility. Lawyers for Scheuer said the allegations distract from the automaker’s defective — and lethal — switches.

EVs will probably be cheap and subsidized for a while

Reuters points out that President Barack Obama’s goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 hasn’t exactly materialized ( via Automotive News):

Since then, his administration has backed billions of dollars in EV subsidies for consumers and the industry.

Yet today — with gas prices near $2 a gallon — only about 400,000 electric cars have been sold. Last year, sales fell 6 percent over the previous year, to about 115,000, despite the industry offering about 30 plug-in models, often at deep discounts.

The forecast for EVs isn’t entirely bright in the short-term: low gas prices are expected to continue and customers’ payback for EV tech will continue to be steep and long.

That’s why Obama’s administration has often proposed raising the federal credit from $7,500 to $10,000 along with other incentives to help sell electric vehicles to a consumer that doesn’t have an appetite for EVs right now. Or as Bob Lutz put it:

“Electric vehicles are going to have to be crammed in the market at way below what it costs to make them.”

[Images: GM, Nissan]

Aaron Cole
Aaron Cole

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  • RideHeight RideHeight on Jan 21, 2016

    This thread smells like old people.

    • See 11 previous
    • Shaker Shaker on Jan 23, 2016

      @Lou_BC Thanks - there IS hope, but it lies within us as a species - Our "better angels" if you will.

  • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Jan 21, 2016

    Lou_BC, I'm disappointed that you thought I missed the metaphorical significance of RideHeight’s comment. But OK, since I wouldn't be here all this time if I didn't HAVE to be, like with one foot nailed to the floor, running around in circles.

    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Jan 21, 2016

      highdesertcat - So you understood the metaphor but continued on. Which is worse? I'm not disappointed at all. Once again...... I should of listened to VoGo.

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three