By on August 20, 2019

General Motors Renaissance Center

There are so many accused and convicted players in the United Auto Workers corruption scandal, it would make for confusing viewing were it made into a film. Already, federal prosecutors have fingered or convicted numerous high-ranking UAW officials tied to the Fiat Chrysler file. Now, investigators are moving on to General Motors.

Apparently, not many stones needed turning before investigators uncovered rot underneath. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2019

We’re not singling out the good people of Erie, Pennsylvania, but it’s possible some General Motors dealers in that city may feel a pressing need for extra cash. On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted the owner of Lakeside Chevrolet-Buick and a former finance manager on charges of fraud.

You’ll recall a few years ago when another GM dealer in the city saw its owner and general manager indicted in a phony loan scheme. In the most recent case, the owner formerly held the title of president of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, and the indictments flowed following accusations of phoney sales reports and unpaid floorplan loans. (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2019

mercedes-benz logo

Suspected emissions manipulation could net Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, a steep fine, but it seems the automaker already anticipates the expenditure. According to a report out of Germany, the auto giant stands to face a fine potentially topping $1 billion, which is a relative bargain compared to the bill handed to rival Volkswagen Group over its widespread emissions cheating.

It’s bad news Daimler doesn’t need in these turbulent times. (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2019

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took exception to Tesla’s suggestion that a person is less likely to suffer injury in its vehicles than those built any other manufacturer, documents reveal. Advocacy group PlainSite obtained the docs via a FOI request, shedding light on both the NHTSA’s concern re: Tesla’s safety claims, as well as subpoenas issued in the pursuit of information following several Tesla crashes.

Last October, the NHTSA fired off a crease and desist letter to Tesla after the automaker claimed the agency’s crash data showed its Model 3 surpassed the five-star ranking issued for the model. This was a misleading statement and improper use of data, the NHTSA said. Since that time, crashes involving Tesla vehicles have earned the company additional scrutiny from the road safety regulator. (Read More…)

By on July 30, 2019

UAW-Chrysler National Training Centre (Norwood Jewell on left), Image: UAW-Chrysler National Training Center

Ahead of an August 5th sentencing date, federal prosecutors hoping make an example of former UAW vice-president Norwood Jewell (seen above, on the left) rolled out a raft of visual evidence to back up their case for a jail term.

Jewell was not the “Miller Lite kind of guy” his legal defense wished to portray; rather, the former head of UAW’s Fiat Chrysler division made gluttonous use of FCA funds earmarked for the two groups’ joint training center, prosecutors argued. Jewell was all too happy to accept the financial grease FCA poured on its labor wheels, they added. He wanted to be a “big shot,” and FCA made sure he lived the life of a touring rapper. (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2019

FCA

There’s drama in Auburn Hills tonight. And, by the sounds of it, for many days leading up to this point. Reid Bigland, Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. sales boss and the appropriately imposing head of the cash-cow Ram brand, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against his employer.

Bigland, who joined Chrysler in 2006 and soon found himself heading up Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Dodge, plus serving as CEO of FCA Canada (a role he maintains), claims the company’s HQ is awash in bad blood. The exec says he’s being punished for not taking the fall in a federal investigation into FCA’s sales reporting. (Read More…)

By on May 24, 2019

U.S. lawmakers are considering legislation that would require automakers to install technology on all new vehicles that would alert drivers to check for children before exiting a vehicle. If passed, the bill would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to write new rules within two years mandating the introduction of “a distinct auditory and visual alert” to remind drivers to check the back seat. It also calls for a study to assess the feasibility of retrofitting older vehicles with the system.

Lawmakers claim that more than 800 U.S. children have died from heatstroke over the last two decades as a result of being left unattended inside an automobile. (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2019

2016 Toyota RAV4 Interior steering wheel

Your author failed his first driver’s test, but the blame falls not on an overall lack of precision and orientation on the part of the driver, but General Motors’ atrocious first-generation anti-lock braking system. “Stop” pedal bending to the floor, the sedan rolled sedately through the snowy intersection at a glacial 5 mph, happily confident in the knowledge that preventing even a millimeter of tire slide was a better outcome than actually stopping within a reasonable distance.

Opening the door and dragging my foot on the ground, Flintstones-style, may have proved more effective in slowing the car.

Michigan drivers might still face such a scenario when the time comes to secure their license, but proposed legislation might ensure they never have to take the dreaded parallel parking test. (Read More…)

By on May 14, 2019

2018 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT Pedals, Image: Lexus

A decade after a well-publicized fatal crash involving a Lexus ES 350, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has withdrawn a proposal calling for mandatory brake-throttle override systems.

The NHTSA proposed the regulation after several incidents involving Toyota vehicles with jammed accelerator pedals, but now the federal agency says it’s no longer needed. Automakers responded in the absence of a hard rule, eventually equipping all vehicles with the feature. Problem solved?

Not so fast, say safety advocates. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2019

A class-action lawsuit filed against Ford Motor company in 2017 is close to bearing fruit for nearly two million current or former owners, but Ford could find itself on the hook for far more than the $35 million reached in an earlier settlement.

The automaker is awaiting the results of an appeal by nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen, which felt the 1.9 million Ford Focus and Fiesta buyers whose lives were disrupted by wonky PowerShift transmissions would only end up getting shafted, once again. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2019

2019 Ford Ranger at MAP - Image: Ford

The new Ford Ranger only went on sale in January, but the midsize pickup is already the focus of a class-action lawsuit. The complaint, filed earlier this week, alleges the Blue Oval “deliberately miscalculated and misrepresented factors used in vehicle certification testing in order to report that its vehicles used less fuel and emitted less pollution than they actually did.”

Them’s fightin’ words, especially in the post-Dieselgate era. It also doesn’t help that Ford was forced to lower its fuel economy ratings on six models and dole out compensation to their drivers about five years ago. Is it deja vu all over again? Well, not quite.

(Read More…)

By on May 7, 2019

Porsche cayenne diesel

Porsche, builder of SUVs (but also some sports cars), wasn’t eager to draw out the nearly four-year-long diesel emissions scandal any longer. The automaker has agreed to fork over a third bundle of cash to rid itself of the scandal foisted on the brand by its Volkswagen AG parent company.

Well, that’s not entirely correct. German prosecutors are still probing VW Group brass, both current and former, but the mechanical and regulatory side of Porsche’s involvement will pass into history after it pays $599 million. (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2019

That headline was unavoidable, by the way. On the same day Ford Motor Company released a better than expected first-quarter earnings report, it also revealed the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into its emissions certification process — a probe that could see fuel economy ratings rolled back.

Wall Street seemed much more interested in the financial news, however, giving the company’s stock a much-needed lift. In the Glass House, Jim Hackett must be smiling. (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2019

Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Pullman

Daimler, maker of top-end Mercedes-Maybach automobiles, is on the hot seat after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was spotted scooting around in brand new armored limos at recent international summits.

Sales of luxury automobiles to the despotic regime are banned under a UN Security Council resolution passed in 2013, and Daimler does not count it as one of its customers. Still, the country’s leader travels in uncompromising Germanic style. (Read More…)

By on April 23, 2019

If memory serves correctly, your author was approaching a height of 5’4″ as he neared his 12th birthday. Still, even before that early growth spurt, transportation to and from various locales meant fastening a lap belt in the back seat of my dad’s Ford Fairmont, assuming no one had called shotgun.

It was a simpler — and much more dangerous — era for youthful passengers, despite being a move up in safety from generations that came before. Today, height-challenged kids in the great state of Washington are staring at a future that promises even greater levels of embarrassment, all in the name of safety. (Read More…)

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