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after a well-publicized fatal crash involving a Lexus ES 350, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has withdrawn a proposal calling for mandatory brake-throttle override systems.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

By on April 22, 2019

fca

Your author tries not to create too much of a stir with his vibrant and eventful Chevy Cruze, but sometimes it’s hard. Still, there’s at least an attempt to keep the peace, ensuring owners of alternative-fuel vehicles feel respected in the presence of my potent 1.4-liter studcarriage.

Others aren’t quite as respectful, as documented in certain videos. “ICEing” Teslas isn’t cool. As public charging stations proliferate, it’s bringing the two sides into direct conflict with each other — especially in areas where parking is a limited commodity. What to do? Impose fines and hope for the best, it seems. (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2019

If Nissan and Renault were a living, breathing couple, they’d be the duo all of your other friends whisper about. They’d be the couple with the big house and seemingly successful children that everyone knows fights bitterly in the evenings — screaming at each other before retiring to their separate bedrooms. The relationship, while healthy in terms of financial productivity, has grown toxic on the corporate end of things.

Less than one month after Renault’s new chairman claimed a merger would be out of the question, the French automaker is once again pushing for integration. Nissan is having none of it and plans to reject the proposal outright, according to reports from Nikkei(Read More…)

By on April 11, 2019

Image: GM

A Chevrolet dealer in Chattanooga has a PR problem on its hands, and an FBI task force has a case to get to the bottom of.

Mountain View Chevrolet finds itself at the center of a bizarre story in which a disabled customer claims a salesman kidnapped him and threatened to kill him and his family if he didn’t withdraw large sums of cash from local banks. (Read More…)

By on April 8, 2019

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited

A lawsuit filed against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles way back in 2015 has reached its conclusion. In order to temper the ire of shareholders angered by the company’s EcoDiesel blunder and earlier suspension recall controversy, FCA has agreed to hand over $110 million, closing the door on a contentious chapter of its history. (Read More…)

By on April 8, 2019

This seems like a silly public service announcement to have to make, but it’s imprudent to post videos of yourself breaking traffic laws. Beau Alan Rogel of Rankin County, Mississippi found that out the hard way after live streaming his attempt to break 180 mph in his wife’s 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350.

In the midst of his feat, a viewer decided to contact police and notify them that Rogel was traveling at excessive speeds, helpfully mentioning where he could be found. The video, which he reposted on YouTube, includes the moment where he is pulled over and (understandably) denies everything he had just been explaining to his audience. (Read More…)

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