TrueDelta Updates Reliability Survey Results

Thanks in part to the help of people from TTAC, TrueDelta received a record number of responses to April’s Car Reliability Survey—over 22,000. Updated car reliability stats have been posted to the site for 559 cars, up from 534 three month ago. There are partial results for another 418. These stats include car owner experiences through the end of March 2011, making them at least eleven months ahead of other sources.

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TTAC Contest: What Car Inspired GM's Panel-Gap Improvements?

The auto media has been receiving its advance copies of Bob Lutz’s forthcoming book “Car Guys versus Bean Counters” over the last few weeks, and have been leaking some of the more provocative statements and conclusions from it. I too requested a book and tore through it over the past week, enjoying Lutz’s direct voice and keen insights into his time at General Motors… as well as the attention-grabbing, politically-charged statements that the rest of the media seems so fixated upon. The bad news is that I won’t be able to write a full review until we get closer to its mid-June launch date, but the good news is that our forbearance has been rewarded: despite sideswiping yours truly in one passage, a brief but rewarding email conversation has generated more mutual respect, and Mr Lutz has agreed (in principle) to a TTAC interview to accompany our review at the time of the book’s release. Sometimes observing an embargo is worth it.

But fear not: just because the promise of an interview with one of the most influential figures in the industry has us delaying our review for another month or so, we’ve got more Lutz-related material with which to build up to what I expect to be a watershed interview for TTAC. Next week I’ll be publishing a review of Mr Maximum’s previous book “Guts,” and to kick of the coming months of Lutzmania, we’ve got a very special contest that is sure to stump even TTAC’s most well-versed Best and Brightest.

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Russia's AvtoVAZ Investment Pays Off… With A Whole Lada Embarassment

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent much time and many rubles trying to turn around his nation’s struggling automakers, particularly AvtoVAZ, the makers of the infamous Lada brand. Putin is, after all, a deep believer in the national importance of automaking… which is why he drives a Lada himself. But Putin is also shrewd enough to know that automotive patriotism can have some nasty side effects, which is why his Lada has had its engine discretely swapped for an Opel mill. But apparently Putin hasn’t learned to completely insulate himself from the embarrassment that the Russian auto industry appears to manufacture with at least as much efficiency as it manufactures cars. At the launch of something called the Lada Granta, Putin’s struggles to even start the car were caught on video and posted at Jalopnik. The Moscow Times makes no reference to the humiliating episode, but mentions that Putin hinted darkly to the assembled journalists that the Granta’s trunk could fit “easily take two sacks of potatoes.” If you know what he means… and trust me, anyone who’s been to Tolyatti before does.

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Shanghai Auto Show: BYD, Get A Handle On This

This is the BYD F0. I’ll leave it to the experts which other car this resembles. It reminds me a bit of that car, but maybe only because it’s so small and red. It should be red. It’s embarrassing.

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How About That Crazy Cruze Steering Wheel Video?

As I’ve explained many times before, it can be very difficult to know when a recall is worth covering. Drawing too many conclusions from a single defect can be dangerous, as defects are a fact of any industry that balances quality and cost as closely as the auto business. But in this case, I’ve received enough emails about the video above that I’m willing to open a discussion about it here. But before you jump in, be sure to read the caveat after the jump.

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Ask The Best And Brightest: What Car Is Worse Than Its Predecessor?
There’s an interesting (if troubling) perception out there that there is no longer such thing as “bad cars.” Certainly compared to what was…
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Ask The Best And Brightest: Where Did The VW Buyers Go?

Back in 2001 VW was the comeback kid . Sales had grown over seven-fold in only eight years from less than 50k in 1993 to over 350k and change. It seemed like the company was offering everything an aspiring Yuppie wanted to buy. At least here in the States. Cute Jettas and Beetles for the successful young female (and a few males). Turbochargers, stickshifts, and GTI’s for those who coveted a sport model. Diesels for the frugal and the long-term owner. Even wagons and convertibles for those who were flipping between becoming a ‘family man’ or a mid-life crisis. VW was hip and profitable… but then the market woke up.

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TrueDelta Updates Reliability Survey Results

Thanks in part to the help of people from TTAC, TrueDelta received a record number of responses to January’s Car Reliability Survey—over 21,000. Updated car reliability stats have been posted to the site for 534 cars, up from 488 three month ago. There are partial results for another 378. These stats include car owner experiences through the end of December 2010, making them at least eight months ahead of other sources.

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It's All Forgiven: Toyota Tops Consumer Reports Top Picks Of 2011

Consumer Reports released its top picks car list for 2011. According to Consumer Reports, these are the most reliable cars you can (and should) buy. With some notable exceptions, it’s a foreign affair. Out of 10 cars recommended, eight are foreign, or make that Asian: 6 Japanese cars are top picks, followed by two Korean and two American cars. European cars are conspicuously absent.

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Toyota Wraps Up Pedal Entrapment Issue With 2.17m Unit Recall

Having been exonerated of any mysterious electronic causes of unintended acceleration, Toyota puts the issue behind it with a final recall of over 2m vehicles for issues related to gas pedal entrapment. At the same time, the NHTSA closes its investigation. According to an official release, Toyota

will conduct a voluntary safety recall of approximately 20,000 2006 and early 2007 Model Year GS 300 and GS 350 All-Wheel Drive vehicles to modify the shape of the plastic pad embedded in the driver’s side floor carpet. In the event that the floor carpet around the accelerator pedal is not properly replaced in the correct position after a service operation, there is a possibility that the plastic pad embedded into the floor carpet may interfere with the operation of the accelerator pedal. If this occurs, the accelerator pedal may become temporarily stuck in a partially depressed position rather than returning to the idle position.

And that’s not all…

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"This Is The Motor City. This Is What We Do."
Chrysler’s extended Super Bowl ad for its 200 sedan is making waves in the American auto business, for “bringing back the pride” in America…
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Weekend Head Scratcher: When Is An Extended Warranty Worth It?
Kurt Wiley writes in:Having been a long time reader of TTAC, I now pose a question to the Best and Brightest:Should one who likes the driving experience offe…
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VW Will Bring The European Jetta To America… If We Buy Enough American Jettas First
I was not the only journalist to feel a little let down by Volkswagen’s latest Jetta. After building a name in the US by offering classy European-style…
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Toyota Whistleblower Dimitrios Biller Slapped With $2.6m Judgement
The story of Dimitrios Biller has been one of the more colorful sideshows in last year’s media-scourging of Toyota, complete with a “book of secr…
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Forbes Touts Consumer Reports: Porsches Will Last 200,000 Miles

The other day, when a popular blog mentioned that the Porsche Boxster was judged to be the car most likely to last 200,000 miles I did a double take. You don’t have to spend very much time in the comment sections of the major car blogs or on enthusiast forums to know that German cars have, at least to enthusiasts, a reputation for being prone to frequent and expensive maintenance and repair. Likewise, a simple internet search for [porsche boxster engine problems] puts paid to any notion that the average Porsche owner has an 85% chance of his or her car lasting to the 200K mark.

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Tata Nano Sales Drop To Nano Levels
Bloomberg reports that the world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano has seen its sales drop from the point where it had to hold a lottery to choose buyers…
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TrueDelta Updates Reliability Survey

Thanks in part to the help of people from TTAC, TrueDelta received a record number of responses to October’s Car Reliability Survey—nearly 19,000. Updated car reliability stats have been posted to the site for 488 cars, up from 459 three month ago. There are partial results for another 370. These stats cover through the end of September 2010. Other sources of car reliability information will not cover the third quarter of 2010 until the summer or even fall of next year.

Among early 2011s, we now have full results for the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Sorento. Though in its first model year, the thoroughly redesigned Sonata has been better than average. This is not a given for Hyundai—the Genesis sedan with tech package and the Genesis Coupe both had glitchy first years. The Sorento has been about average so far.

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Carmageddon's Real Victim: Auto R&D Down $12b in 2009

The car business has endured a lot of bad news over the last several years, as finance-fueled sales crashed with the credit market, and automakers around the world scrambled for government aid. The so-called “Carmageddon” has touched everyone even remotely involved with the automotive industry, not to mention everyone who pays taxes, but from a strictly consumer perspective, it hasn’t been all bad. Certainly the deals have been good, as programs like Cash For Clunkers and the wind-down of several brands have helped savvy shoppers find some of the best deals in a long time. So here’s the reality check: according to Booz & Co.’s Global Innovation 1000 study, spending on research and development by the auto sector was down $12b last year. That’s $12b that should have been spent making your car faster, smarter, safer, cleaner, better that’s no longer being spent. Still feeling untouched?

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Mazda Lawsuit Brings Shoulder Belt Adoption Debate To Supreme Court

A lawsuit against Mazda is moving to the United States Supreme Court, reports Bloomberg, challenging whether automakers should have been required to install shoulder belts in all of its seats prior to current regulations requiring the improved belting systems took effect in 2007. The case centers on a 2002 accident in which Than Williams was killed when a Jeep Wrangler hit her family’s 1993 Mazda MPV. The Williams MPV had only lap belts because shoulder belts weren’t required by federal law until 2007. A California court has already barred the lawsuit from coming forward, arguing that federal regulations supersede any local rulings, and that then-legal seatbelts should protect manufacturers from personal injury liability. However a recent case casts some doubt on the precedents in the Mazda case…

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2010 Consumer Reports Survey Analysis: Part One: Insufficient Data

Last week Jack Baruth reviewed the press release that attended Consumer Reports’ latest auto reliability survey results. But don’t run out and buy a Porsche for the sake of reliability just yet. And it might even be safe to buy a Chrysler.

Jack was surprised that Porsche ranked second among makes. On top of this, the Boxster was reported to be the most reliable car. What CR didn’t include in the press release about its coverage of Porsche models:

Number of 2009s with enough responses: 1

(a solid black blob for the 911)

Number of 2010s with enough responses: zero

Consumer Reports’ response to virtually any critique has long been the large size of their sample. Yet their coverage of recent Porsches is almost nonexistent. CR’s predictions are based on however many of the three most recent model years they have sufficient data for. The prediction for the 2011 Boxster is entirely based on the 2008, because that’s the only year they have enough data for. Yet the 2009 included significant revisions. They have no reliability ratings for the Panamera or the all-new Cayenne. So they have little basis for ranking the entire Porsche’s 2011 line. Even so, they rank Porsche second from the top.

Data limitations don’t end with Porsche. CR also did not receive enough responses for…

  • Most 2009 and 2010 Audis. For the A8 they can rate only the 2004. For the S4, only the 2005.
  • Many 2009 and 2010 BMWs, including the 135i and 535i singled out as unreliable in the press release. Consequently, BMW’s brand score is heavily based on the 2008 model year.
  • Most 2010 Cadillacs.
  • Six 2010 Chevrolets.
  • Many 2010 Hyundais, Kias, and Mazdas.
  • Any 2009 or 2010 Land Rover, including the new LR4.
  • Five of the last eight model years of the Merecedes S-Class.
  • The 2009 or the 2010 Mercedes GL-Class. Based on the 2008 alone they predict that the 2011 will be the least reliable SUV.
  • Any 2010 Mitsubishi. And among the 2008s and 2009s, they can rate only the Outlander.
  • Any 2009 or 2010 Saab.
  • The 2010 Scion tC and xD—even with Toyota products their coverage isn’t complete.
  • The 2010 Subaru WRX. They still single the WRX out as the one Subaru to avoid. From TrueDelta’s survey and forums I’ve learned that the engines in early 2009 WRXs have been prone to failure. But this problem was fixed during the 2009 model year, and should not affect the 2010s, much less the 2011s. Unfortunately, CR’s predictions don’t factor in known common problems that have been fixed.
  • Any 2010 Suzuki, including the new Kizashi.
  • Any 2010 Volvo aside from the XC60. And most 2009 Volvos. But the press release still mentions Volvo as one of the two consistently reliable European brands.

In general, coverage of recent model years is much less complete than for 2008 and earlier. The severe downturn in car sales two years ago appears to have severely impacted Consumer Reports’ ability to gather enough data on the 2009 and 2010 model years. As a result, they make predictions for many 2011s based entirely on the 2008 model year, but do not clearly note this. In these cases any improvements (or declines) over the last two years have no impact. And yet they still conclude that some manufacturers have improved over the past year, while others have not.

Chrysler allegedly falls in the latter camp, with the press release reporting that it “remains the lowest-ranked manufacturer.” Chrysler has responded that, based on warranty claims,the quality of its products has greatly improved over the past two model years. Who’s correct? According to CR’s own results, quite possibly Chrysler. By CR’s count, Chrysler offers 28 models.

Number of 2009s with enough responses: 14

Number of 2010s with enough responses: 7

The problem, once again: CR’s coverage is far less complete than their overall sample size (1.3 million) suggests it should be. Chrysler’s rating is heavily based on the 2008 model year. And their products were mostly unreliable that year.

In two cases for which CR has enough data, the minivans and the Dodge Journey, the ratings improve from “much worse than average” for the 2009s to “about average” for the 2010s. This said, if other models have similarly improved, and if CR had had enough data on them, it still wouldn’t have been enough. The predicted reliability formula (which is confidential) appears to equally weight the model years, even though the most recent year is most likely to predict the current year. So a bad 2008 and 2009 can easily outweigh a much better 2010, and do for the minivans and the Journey. Even when CR does have enough data for all model years it often takes three years before an improvement is fully reflected in their predictions. When they don’t have enough data on the most recent years, it can take forever.

With such sparse data on the 2009s and 2010s, and some indication that the reliability of Chrysler’s products has improved while at least one Porsche has gone in the other direction, Consumer Reports probably should have reported that Chrysler’s and Porsche’s relative positions are currently unclear. Instead, they applied a formula that doesn’t take trends into account and that ignores substantial holes in their data. Porsche benefits. Chrysler does not.

Coming in Part II: Should you EcoBoost?

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Gone In 14 Seconds: Why The Cadillac Escalade Is America's Most-Stolen Vehicle

We’ve known that the Cadillac Escalade was America’s most-stolen vehicle, but we never asked why. The answer: GM didn’t put steering locks on a number of Escalade and other GMT9000 Ute model years, and shifters on these models are easily pushed out of “Park.” These weaknesses (and their ineffective fixes) allow thieves to push Tahoes, Denalis and Escalades to a safe spot where parts stripping can be done in a matter of minutes. And as the report details, Onstar is rarely effective at stopping quick snatch-and-strip-style thefts, because the damage is typically already done by the time vehicles are reported stolen. Hats off to WXYZ TV for looking past the statistics and finding the truth behind the Escaladae’s stealability. GM is reportedly working on a new steering column replacement for these vehicles.

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Lawsuit Alleges Toyota UA Coverup
Bloomberg reports that a lawsuit accuses Toyota of a widespread coverup of unintended acceleration in its vehicles. The suit alleges that“Toyota techn…
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How To Dodge The Journey's "Competitive Issues"

Reaction to recently-released images of the updated Dodge Journey interior has been varied, but if there’s a consensus, it’s that improvement is undeniable, but that Dodge will need to update more than the interior in order to make the Journey truly competitive. And that’s the diplomatic way of putting it. One reader even wrote in (in the spirit of International Caps Lock Day) to say


Point taken: the Journey needs to be improved. So why is Dodge selling the (as yet unimproved) crossover as “World’s Best Vehicle(?)” Sure, they’re trying to be cleverly ironic, but doesn’t it just highlight the fact that you’d need to be cross-shopping a bare metal armored car in order to think highly of the Journey? On the other hand, we’re not exactly sure how we’d sell the benighted Journey ourselves. Hit the jump for more questionable (or not?) cross-shopping, courtesy of Dodge’s too-cool-for-reality Mad Men.

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Toyotas, The Taliban And Maple Leaf Tattoos: An Unusual Tribute To The Toyota Hilux

From conflict-torn Afghanistan [via Newsweek] comes this strange tale of Taliban tribute to the “the vehicular equivalent of the AK-47”: the Toyota Hilux (more famous among Western car nuts for its infamous Top Gear adventures).

As the war in Afghanistan escalated several years ago, counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen, a member of the team that designed the Iraq surge for Gen. David Petraeus, began to notice a new tattoo on some insurgent Afghan fighters. It wasn’t a Taliban tattoo. It wasn’t even Afghan. It was a Canadian maple leaf.

When a perplexed Kilcullen began to investigate, he says, he discovered that the incongruous flags were linked to what he says is one of the most important, and unnoticed, weapons of guerrilla war in Afghanistan and across the world: the lightweight, virtually indestructible Toyota Hilux truck.

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Testing Times For Toyota Aren't So Testing?

When the whole “acceler-gate” scandal broke out, there were, pretty much, two reactions.


And 2. Witch-hunt. Witch-hunt. Witch-hunt!

Well, irrespective of who was right, an investigation of the whole affair needed to happen. The US government did an investigation of their own and didn’t like the results. But Toyota also did an investigation of its own. They found something.

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GM Customer Drives 450 Miles For Ren-Cen Refund

What do you do when a company you own (through your trusty Treasury Department) won’t help you out over the phone? Out of luck with his dealer and pissed off at the “condescending” attitude of GM’s phone support staff, one former Marine and “lifelong GM customer” drove from Virginia to Detroit in order to get The General to take responsibility for chronic power steering pump failures in his wife’s Chevy HHR. His initial reward: more condescension, and the privilege of getting escorted from the premises of GM’s Headquarters. But Marines don’t quit that easily…

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Toyota Settles Saylor Crash Case
Toyota and the families of four people who died when dealership loaner Lexus ES crashed after a reported unintended acceleration event, have settled out of c…
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C&D's "Surprise" Plastic Paean To The Volt

Since TTAC is already “ noted for dissing its mainstream competitors for cosseting carmakers,” we might as well not try to resist temptation on this one… because Car And Driver may have just outdone themselves. It starts with the one of the best headlines in ages:

10Best Surprise: Plastics Make the Chevy Volt’s Interior Possible

Surprise? Where? But in spite of the painfully unambitious headline, what follows is a symphony of strange. The ultimate point of which appears to be that C&D is absolutely thrilled about GM’s decision to make the Volt’s interior out of plastic. Yes, really.

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Stump The Best And Brightest: The Fiat 500's American Changes Edition

This is the interior of the forthcoming Fiat 500 Sport, built in Mexico for the US market [UPDATE: Fiat’s PR team insists that this is not the US-market version… we will revisit the story when real photos come out]. After the jump, you can find a photo of the Italian market Fiat 500’s interior. Spot the differences (there’s one big one we’re thinking of) and win the respect of TTAC’s Best & Brightest. Help us understand why these changes were made, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming the next TTAC comments section superstar.

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Toyota Admits To Black Box Reader Error But Insists It's Not A Defect
Toyota is admitting that its black-box recorder readers have an error that can cause erroneous speed readings, as demonstrated by a 2007 Tundra crash in whic…
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The Cruze Is "Solid," But Is Chevy's Marketing?

Earlier today, I noted that

Revitalizing a once-dominant domestic brand is a lot harder than telling the quality-improvement story of a once-reviled Korean value brand

and I think this video helps prove the point. For a brand like Hyundai, highlighting product details helped change perceptions… but then, Hyundai has never asked Americans to think of their cars in especially emotional, patriotic, or culturally significant ways. They’re just high value cars that have become better and better over time. For GM and Chevrolet’s new top marketing execs (freshly poached from Hyundai), the plan seems to be to follow the Hyundai “quality story” gameplan, with a little awkwardly hip flair. For a brand that’s been “the heartbeat of America,” “like a rock” and more, this latest video seems stuck in “excellence for everyone” (i.e. generic and directionless) territory.

Besides, when the word “solid” is used in marketing materials to describe a “ 3,100-3,300 lb” compact car, it sounds a little like a Mom calling her kid “big-boned.”

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Toyota Studies Pedal Design

I am looking under every rock and asking the question: Is there anything wrong or unusual about our pedals? We are continuing to look to see if there is something that we could do differently.

Toyota’s Steve St. Angelo tells the WSJ [sub] that Toyota is reviewing its pedal designs in search of a cause for its recent Unintended Acceleration scandal. Thus far, Toyota’s UA issues have been traced only to sticky pedals and floormat interference. Attempts to trace UA to malfunctioning throttle units have thus far been abortive, with a government research panel finding that brake misapplication occurred in many of the Toyota UA incidents.

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TrueDelta Updates Reliability Survey

Thanks in part to help from TTAC readers, TrueDelta received a record number of responses to last month’s Car Reliability Survey—nearly 18,000. Updated car reliability stats have been posted to the site for 458 cars, up from 404 three month ago. There are partial results for another 351.

These stats cover through the end of June. Other sources of car reliability information will not cover the most recent months until the summer or even fall of next year.

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NHTSA Confirms That Toyota Black Box Data Points To Driver Error… Again
This isn’t so much a news item as a “Congress finally figured it out” item. A preliminary report by the National Research Council, recently…
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Ask The Best And Brightest: Does The Outgoing Explorer Earn Its "Exploder" Nickname?
This week’s “Haggler” column in the Sunday New York Times was ripped from the pages of TTAC’s beloved Piston Slap series, with a Wend…
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If BMW Gives You Lemons ...

Nitrobahn reports that Kimmel and Silverman, a law firm, has noticed that cases that have the fuel pump on BMW cars as Exhibit A are on the increase. According to both, bad fuel pumps have been found in 1, 3 and 5 series BMW’s. Kimmel and Silverman have fought these cases on behalf of claimants and have been awarded refunds and cash recoveries.

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What's Wrong With This Picture: Das Auto (Auf Deutsch) Edition
Just how American is the new Volkswagen Jetta? When a German car company comes out with a new car, they usually release it in Germany first, so the Teutonic…
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Industry Opposes Mass "Right To Repair" Legislation Over Chinese Piracy Fears

Legislation aimed at improving the transparency of Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) has passed the Massachusetts state House of Representatives, and awaits approval by the Senate. If approved, Bill 2517 [full text in PDF format here] would require that

The manufacturer of a motor vehicle sold in the commonwealth shall make available for purchase to independent motor vehicle repair facilities and motor vehicle owners in a non­discriminatory basis and cost as compared to the terms and costs charged to an authorized dealer or authorized motor vehicle repair facility all diagnostic, service and repair information that the manufacturer makes available to its authorized dealers and authorized motor vehicle repair facilities in the same form and the same manner as it is made available to authorized dealers or an authorized motor vehicle repair facility of the motor vehicle.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is opposing the bill, according to the DetN, because it believes the bill is motivated by parts manufacturers who want access to parts in order to reverse engineer and sell them. Literally. And yes, it is China’s fault.

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Toyota Critic Kane Peddling Recalled NHTSA Data?
Carquestions is at it again, digging into the businesses of vocal Toyota critic Sean Kane, and finding that he may just be selling NHTSA data that has been…
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What's Wrong With This Picture: Toyota Owners And Their Floormats Edition
An anonymous Toyota Tech sent us these recent images of a 2008 Prius and its highly questionable pedal-floormat interface. Did nobody tell this guy that Toyo…
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Unintended Acceleration In Toyotas: The Ghost In The Data

We didn’t make it down to the first meeting of the NHTSA-National Research Council panel tasked with studying unintended acceleration, but apparently we weren’t the only ones. A scan of the MSM confirms that a number of “more study is needed” stories were filed for the occasion, a good two weeks ago now, but we’ve been pointed towards the presentations for that meeting [ available for download here, all 128 slides in PDF format here], and we feel comfortable drawing a few conclusions from them. In fact, we’d even argue that this data puts a lot of the controversy over unintended acceleration in Toyotas to rest.

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Questions Arise Over Toyota Black Box Study
Carquestions noticed a troubling issue with the latest Wall Street Journal report on the investigation of Toyota’s black-box data: the report cites its…
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In The Wake Of Gilbert's Testimony, Toyota Dropped Support For Southern Illinois University

Much of the hysteria over a possible electronic cause for the Toyota unintended acceleration scandal (aka “the ghost in the machine”) stemmed from an ABC report featuring Southern Illinois University professor David Gilbert. Gilbert demonstrated to ABC’s Brian Ross that unintended acceleration could be triggered in Toyotas without generating an error code, but the report didn’t address the likelihood of this happening. Furthermore, ABC was found to have used misleading footage in that report. Gilbert went on to testify in one of the least convincing panels ever convened before congress, and even after Toyota held an event aimed solely at debunking his suspicions, Gilbert has persisted in believing that something is wrong with Toyota’s electronics. As a result, the AP [via CBC] reports that Toyota has pulled funding for two internships at SIU, two Toyota employees resigned from its automotive technology program advisory board, and another demanded that Gilbert be fired. The AP seems very keen to call these retaliations “smears,” but given recent revelations about the government investigation into Toyota’s electronic throttle control system, it seems that Gilbert and SIU are simply reaping what they’ve sown.

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Chevy Announces Eight-Year, 100k Mile Warranty For Volt Battery

In hopes of convincing consumers that buying a battery-electric car will not be a financial disaster for them, GM is announcing an eight-year, 100k mile transferable warranty for its Volt battery. According to GM’s release, Volt batteries have undergone

more than 1 million miles and 4 million hours of validation testing of Volt battery packs since 2007, as well as each pack’s nine modules and 288 cells. The development, validation and test teams have met thousands of specifications and validated each of the Volt battery’s components.

Tests include short circuit, corrosion, dust, impact, water submersion, crush and penetration, and extreme temperature swings combined with aggressive drive cycles, also known as “Shake, Bake and Roll.”

GM does not, however, specify a minimum-performance range for the battery, saying only that it can run on battery power for “up to the first 40 miles.” That makes it tough to understand what kind of defect or level of performance would deserve a warranty repair or replacement, which is really the key consideration. GM’s claim that this

is the automotive industry’s longest, most comprehensive battery warranty for an electric vehicle

is technically true, but it is also the same warranty period enjoyed by Toyota’s Prius hybrid. Full release after the jump.

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NHTSA Blames Driver Error For Toyota Unintended Acceleration

People “familiar with the findings” of NHTSA’s investigation into unintended acceleration in Toyotas tell the WSJ [sub] that after studying “dozens” of black boxes, the DOT has

found that at the time of the crashes, throttles were wide open and the brakes were not engaged… The results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyota and Lexus vehicles surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes.

Really? Could it be true? It wasn’t cosmic rays or a ghost in the machine causing vehicles to run completely out of control? We’re shocked. Shocked, we tell you.

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Japanese Scientists: Toyota Quality Good, But Could Use Improvement

The Toyota acceler-gate provides for extra work for the nation’s sharpest brainiacs – on both sides of the Pacific. In the U.S. , the Academy of Science has been recruited by the NHTSA. Meanwhile in Japan, Toyota drew on the expertise of Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE). Today, four experts appointed by JUSE presented the result of their review of Toyota’s quality assurance. In one short sentence:

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Does Toyota Really Spend One Million Dollars Per Hour On Safety?

Like GM’s infamous “payback” commercial, this Toyota ad walks right up to the point of a big lie, allowing the viewer to believe something while they’re actually being told something subtly different. Toyota never says “we spend a million dollars every hour on safety-related technology,” but they sure make you want to believe it. In reality, the “million dollars every hour” represents Toyota’s global R&D budget, some undisclosed portion of which is spent on safety-related technology. Toyota’s explanation of this intentionally confusing claim, after the jump.

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NHTSA To Customers: Fix It Yourself

In what amounts to a landmark policy shift, NHTSA now recommends that customers take quality problems in their own hands, and perform recalls themselves. Take NHTSA Campaign ID number 10V305000.

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High Yen Drives Japanese Carmakers To Importing More. But Is It Good?

You think Japan is import-adverse? Have a look at that chart that follows, and you will see a wondrous trend: Japanese automakers are importing more and more foreign owned cars to Japan. Some of them even from the U.S. Now, the imports will increase. Not from the US, but from ….

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GM Heated Washer Fluid Investigation Part Two
Carquestions continues his investigation of the GM HotShot heated windshield washer fluid units.
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Cadillac Introduces Free Four-Year/50,000 Mile Maintenance
With Cadillac’s sales remaining stubbornly slack, the GM luxury rband is looking for every opportunity to win back customers. Image-conscious fashion v…
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GM Hotshot Recall Blamed On Chinese Parts

Remember GM’s Heated Windshield Washer Fire Fiasco? The one where the “Hotshot” unit got so hot that cars went up in flames? It sounded like it was a dispute between GM and the now defunct Microheat. Our friends at Carquestions did a little investigative reporting. Result?

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That's Not A Sticky Pedal, Mate. This Is A Sticky Pedal
Does Fiat buy pedals from CTS? Hat Tip: The always well-informed Carquestions
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Heavens! Car Quality Slips, Survey Says

Cars are getting better and better. But wait! For the first time since 2007, the quality of new cars and trucks sold in the US slipped! OMG! Let’s hunt down the villains … (Quality of your brand after the jump.)

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Hot Shots!: Inside GM's Heated Windshield Washer Fire Fiasco

It’s classic tale from the convoluted and mysterious world of the global supply chain. Crain’s Business [via Automotive News [sub]] explains how GM was forced to recall heated windshield washers not once, but twice. And we take a look at why GM took the extraordinary measure of blaming customers and GM technicians for “misdiagnosing” the problem, a strategy that makes for an interesting counterpoint to the recent Toyota recall hoopla. After all, like Toyota’s pedal problems, GM’s heated windshield washer woes are rooted in a complicated relationship with one of its suppliers… and one of its regulators.

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GM Recalling 1.5m Heated Washer Fluid Units, Will Pay Owners $100 Each

GM has announced a voluntary recall for 1.5m heated washer fluid modules due to a possible fire risk. According to the company’s press release,

Because the feature will be disabled, GM will make a voluntary payment of $100 to the owner or lessee of each vehicle.

This heated washer fluid unit was first recalled in August 2008, due to a short-circuit problem. GM became aware of another problem with the unit in June 2009, and has since become aware of five separate reports of fires caused by the unit. Hit the jump for a list of affected models.

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TrueDelta's Car Reliability Survey: Good and Not-So-Good Germans

If German cars had a stellar reputation for reliability, Lexus would not be where it is today. TrueDelta’s latest Car Reliability Survey results, based on owner experiences through the end of March 2010, provide some evidence that a corner has been turned, but other evidence that work remains to be done.

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Quote Of The Day: Toyota Terror Explained Edition

It was just this guy that thought that this was how you got something to Toyota’s research and develop office

Sgt. K.S. Dickson of the Winfield (West Virginia) State Police detachment had by way of explaining the recent bomb scares at four of Toyota’s US facilities. Apparently the suspicious packages were sent by a Nigerian inventor trying to sell his turn signal design to Toyota. After one package was “disrupted” by a police bomb squad, it was discovered that

There were no explosives in the box, just relay switches, wiring and film canisters, in addition to a letter from the Nigerian man claiming to be an engineer

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Quote Of The Day: We Get It Starting Now Edition

Look at this car, it’s horrible. How did this get through so many people?

We’ve all thought something along these lines when we first sat in a Chevy Cobalt, but few GM employees would ever say it out loud to a reporter. At least they wouldn’t until a much-improved replacement was waiting in the wings. But because the Cruze launches this year, GM execs like VP of global vehicle engineering Karl Stracke can bash on the old Cobalt to his heart’s content, knowing the Detroit News will dutifully report it as a sign that GM “gets it.”

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Chevy Decontents Key Models For 2011, Fans Not Amused

Given what it’s been through over the last several decades, GM is lucky to have any hard-core fans left at all. And yet sites like [full disclosure: GMI is owned by TTAC’s parent company, Vertical Scope] have thrived as havens of near-unadulterated GM pride, bankruptcy and bailout notwithstanding. So when true-believer sites like GMI run works subtitled GM Annual Feature “Deletions” Continue: 2011 shows that not all of Old GM’s habits are dead–yet, TTAC sits up and takes notice (as soon as we come sniffing around and find it, anyway). The piece opens:

Just the other day, we posted the product changes for every 2011 General Motors product in the United States. This has become an annual feature on GMI, as it is always interesting to see what tweaks or screw-ups GM is adding to the next model year. The main problem we find in the annual model year changeis is the practice of removing content from products. After glancing at the 2011 stuff, I was surprised to see “New GM” continuing the trend of deleting content.’

To be fair, the 2011 changes show fewer content “deletions” than previous model years; however the fact that any content is being entirely deleted from a product is almost laughable considering GM’s dire attempt to win back U.S. customers. Perhaps other OEM’s delete features as well (trust me, they do), but they also don’t have a perception problem to deal with. GM, you’re building great products now…stop deleting content off of them every year.

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  • Jeffrey An all electric entry level vehicle is needed and as a second car I'm interested. Though I will wait for it to be manufactured in the states with US components eligible for the EV credit.
  • Bob65688581 Small by American standards, this car is just right for Europe, and probably China, although I don't really know, there. Upscale small cars don't exist in the US because Americans associate size and luxury, so it will have a tough time in the States... but again Europe is used to such cars. Audi has been making "small, upscale" since forever. As usual, Americans will miss an opportunity. I'll buy one, though!Contrary to your text, the EX30 has nothing whatsoever to do with the XC40 or C40, being built on a dedicated chassis.
  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.