TTAC News Round-up: Infamous GM Engineer Speaks, You Only Get One With Dinner, and Hydrogen's Hedged Bet

The man in the middle of GM’s faulty ignition switch has finally spoken, and the word “mistake” came up at least twice.

That, does anyone have the number for Google, GM and Honda may join forces, and take a cab … after the break!

Former GM engineer says ‘mistakes were made’ in faulty switch

The engineer at the center of a massive recall, hundreds of lawsuits and 124 deaths linked to a faulty ignition switch that could turn off said Friday in videotaped testimony that he “made mistakes in development of that part,” according to Reuters ( via Automotive News).

Ray DeGiorgio worked for GM for 23 years and helped develop a faulty ignition switch that could turn off and disable safety systems in millions of cars. Five years later, when officials recognized the part’s failure, DeGiorgio’s signed off on a change to the part — but not the part number — to address the problem. Lawyers have said that not changing the part number is evidence of a cover-up by GM.

DeGiorgio hasn’t spoken much publicly (he once told the New York Times in his driveway that he “ didn’t lie, cheat or steal”) and his deposition will be key in the first of many lawsuits against GM.

ttac news round up infamous gm engineer speaks you only get one with dinner and

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: We haven’t forgotten about self-driving cars, guys

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ head of safety said Friday that the automaker is committed to developing autonomous drive technology, despite being seemingly dead last behind Ford and General Motors, who’ve announced several self-driving advancements.

Our engineers are actively exploring autonomous-vehicle technology and its implications. For strategic reasons, we don’t discuss future product plans. However, we currently offer several automated driver-assist features, such as our sensor-fusion forward collision warning systems. These activities help demonstrate our commitment to advancing the development of autonomous-vehicle technology.

Or, “Does anyone have the number for Google?”

Michael Dahl’s statement is related to a 52-week low for FCA stock, which has been battered recently because of a lawsuit and investors’ worries that the company can’t keep up with others in autonomous technology.

Honda, GM may consider joint fuel cell plant

Honda and General Motors may jointly build a fuel cell plant to cut costs and make available sooner alternative fuel cell cars, according to Reuters ( via Automotive News).

The incredibly small market for hydrogen-powered cars has meant automakers such as Toyota, BMW, Daimler and Nissan have hesitated in developing a fuel cell plant on their own. Hydrogen-powered cars are most popular in Japan — where GM is not — and have a very small presence in California, mostly due to lack of infrastructure to fuel them.

Feds want states to lower BAC to .05

The National Transportation Safety Board said it wants states to lower their blood-alcohol content limits from .08 to .05 to help cut back on fatal crashes where alcohol is involved.

According to the safety administration, the risk of a fatal crash has more than doubled by the time a person becomes legally drunk, and lowering the BAC threshold could reduce the number of people killed on roadways.

The proposal is part of a larger push by the agency to reduce the number of impaired drivers on the roads.

While all states use the .08 BAC as the legal limit many states vary in enforcement, threshold for enhancers, repeat offenders and adoption of an interlock device — which we’ve talked about a lot here.

According to NBC, when Australia dropped its BAC from .08 to .05, provinces reported a 5 to 18 percent drop in fatal crashes.

Automakers join in safety pact

Eighteen automakers — every major automaker that operates in the U.S. — joined a voluntary safety pact Friday to focus on better vehicle safety, improved access to early warning data and increased cybersecurity in cars, according to Reuters.

The broad consensus was made after another busy year for vehicle recalls and fines, and an increasing focus by federal regulators on car safety and automakers’ responsibility for their cars.

Critics of the pact said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should have held their discussions in public with input from outsiders.

“From seatbelts to catalytic converters to airbags to fuel economy standards, automakers have proven time and time again that they do nothing voluntarily,” Democratic Sens. Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.

[Images: Dodge, GM]

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  • DenverMike DenverMike on Jan 16, 2016

    The DUI "industry" is still huge, but hurting. But do you really think they don't have lobbyists in DC? Without looking it up, DUI arrests and DUI related deaths and injuries have to be at an all time low. It's the states that want/need more DUI money, along with private prisons, all wanting the Feds to look like the bad guy And it's all straight-up "business" for everyone involved in DUIs. My handyman got a DUI and they kicked him out of the drunk tank the next morning, free on his own recognizance. Yeah, no bail! They must have ran his credit score. A no account, complete deadbeat. A liability in the DUI game. 15 old misdemeanor warrants at the time too. $100,000+ worth! Driving on a suspended's, failure's to appear, etc. They instantly kick him out, every time he's arrested and he never shows up for court dates. With nothing to lose, they can't make any money off of him. With lowered DUI rates, the industry has to be missing out on billions of dollars yearly or monthly, and are not helped by increased marijuana use and prescribed opiates/anti-depression meds. Yes the Fed want to make us all safer, but have to also want more DUI money landing on poor, broke and bankrupt states, with more crashes landing an easier DUI conviction

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jan 17, 2016

      It's interesting how the alternative fuel community is quite divided on this issue (just like the Republicans). As an EV driver who is 'between EVs' for the time being, I side with the EV fans who criticize the H2 efforts. There isn't - and won't be - any infrastructure, and the energy equation is not even close for FC vehicles. Toyota, Hyundai, and friends expected the states to pay for fueling stations, but that's not going to happen. Not to mention the higher complexity of FC vehicles, safety questions, and higher cost to buy. It's really just a political boondoggle, and I predict the Mirai will go down as Toyota's greatest flop. There are 14 H2 stations in the entire US, which is up from 9 a couple years ago. If Tesla had built the Supercharger network at that rate, they'd be out of business by now. At the moment, this map indicates 247 Tesla Superchargers in the US:

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.