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Hyundai, Nissan Combine to Recall 1.1 Million Vehicles

Latest actions push number of recalls to 45 million in 2014.

by on Jul.30, 2014

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is subject to a safety recall.

Add another million to the running tally of vehicles in a record-setting 2014 as Hyundai and Nissan announced actions totaling 1.1 million cars today: Hyundai recalling 889,000 vehicles and Nissan more than 226,000.

Hyundai is recalling 883,000 Sonata sedans from 2011-2014 due to a faulty shift cable. The cable may disconnect allowing the car to roll away after parking or preventing it from being shifted out of park.

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The maker received nearly 1,200 warranty claims due to the problem. Dealers will inspect the cable and repair the connection between he shift cable and shift lever at no cost to the owner. It also recalled nearly 5,700 2015 Sonatas for brake problems, asking owners to park the vehicles. It was the second time this year the 2015 model has been recalled. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiat Profits Plunge 55%

CEO Marchionne points to runaway incentives costs.

by on Jul.30, 2014

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said the automaker needed to have great results in the next two quarters.

Fiat says its second-quarter profits plunged 55% as the maker’s U.S. partner Chrysler struggled to move old product with new incentives, while the Fiat side of the company dealt with a slowdown in South America.

Fiat, which expects to complete its takeover of the U.S. maker in October, earned a net profit of 197 million Euros, or $264 million, for the three-month period ending on June 30, compared with 435 million Euros a year before. On an EBIT – or earnings before interest and taxes – basis, the numbers dipped to 961 million Euros, or $1.3 billion, from 1.1 billion Euros a year earlier.

Insight!

“We had a crappy first quarter, a halfway decent second, and we need to have outstanding quarters in the third and fourth,” Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, said bluntly during a conference call. Read the rest of this entry »

GM Smacked with New Lawsuit Alleging 29 Deaths

Maker’s crashworthiness honor offset by new suit.

by on Jul.30, 2014

A new lawsuit against GM claims the compensation fund designed Kenneth Feinberg doesn't go far enough.

General Motors’ ignition switch recall has triggered a new lawsuit in which the plaintiffs are claiming that 29 people have died and 627 were injured in accidents in which the defective part was a factor.

The lawsuit, Abney vs. General Motors, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which is emerging as the venue for cases against GM. The quasi-official number of deaths blamed on the defective ignition switch now stands at 13, according to figures from GM and the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration.

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The suit also attacks GM’s efforts to settle out of court with injured motorists through a procedure established by New York attorney Kenneth Feinberg. It covers claims that would not be eligible for the program, according to Robert Hilliard, the lawyer who filed the suit. The ineligible claims, according to Hillard, include accidents involving cars not among the 2.6 million vehicles initially recalled for switch issues and accidents in which the car’s airbags deployed. Read the rest of this entry »

Hyundai Tells Drivers to Park 2015 Sonata

Major brake problem forces recall; Toyota pressured to recall Camrys.

by on Jul.30, 2014

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata's being recalled for the second time since its introduction. This action involves faulty brakes.

Hyundai issued its second recall on its 2015 Sonata and ordered drivers to park the newly introduced sedan due to a problem with its brakes. At the same time, the pressure on Toyota to do the same with thousands of Camrys is ramping up.

The South Korean automaker is recalling 5,700 Sonatas built from April 25 to June 16 due to a manufacturing error that may cause either or both of the front brake calipers to fracture making it more difficult to stop the car. The fix requires replacement of the faulty brake calipers.

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Hyundai recalled the Sonata last month for a faulty wiring harness that could limit the effectiveness of the power steering. Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota Maintains Global Sales Lead – Barely

VW closing gap as GM settles into third spot.

by on Jul.30, 2014

Strong demand for new models, such as the redesigned Corolla, helped Toyota retain the sales lead for the first half of 2014.

While its lead has been narrowing, Toyota Motor Co. retained its crown as the world’s best-selling automaker during the first half of 2014.

The maker edged out rivals Volkswagen AG and General Motors in the global sales sweepstakes as demand for its cars, trucks and crossovers surged to 5.097 million between January and June, a 4% increase fueled by growth in markets ranging from U.S. and Europe to China and the Japanese home islands.

Data Driven!

That was not only an all-time record but exceeded forecasts – while positioning Toyota to meet a goal of becoming the first automaker ever to sell 10 million vehicles in a single year. VW is also shooting for the 10 million mark, though preliminary data indicate it only tallied sales of 4.97 million vehicles during the first half, GM following at 4.92 million.

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Cadillac Counting on New Product to Reverse Slump

New Caddy boss expected to accelerate product expansion plans.

by on Jul.30, 2014

The new Cadillac crest - minus the wreath - debuts on the 2015 ATS Coupe.

“New product is the lifeblood of any brand,” said Jim Vurpillat, the marketing director for Cadillac, as he took a break during a media drive of the luxury maker’s new ATS Coupe.  He and the rest of Cadillac’s management team certainly have to hope so after the unexpected slide the General Motors division has taken so far this year.

The ATS Coupe, a new line of performance models, a flagship sedan, a compact crossover and other new products are moving their way through the Caddy pipeline. But the brand could see the pace of that rollout accelerate in the near future under the guidance of a new global brand boss who will officially join the Caddy team later this week.

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Johan de Nysschen, most recently the CEO of Nissan’s Infiniti division and before that head of Audi of America, was brought in as part of a plan to give Cadillac more independence from GM. And company insiders suggest that the South African-born executive negotiated a deal that will also give Caddy more of the product it needs to compete against aggressive German rivals Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, as well as Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln and luxury upstart Hyundai.

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All But One of a Dozen Small Cars Fall Short in Crash Test

Mini Countryman nabs a “good” rating from IIHS.

by on Jul.30, 2014

The 2014 Mini Countryman was the only vehicle to earn a "good" rating in the latest IIHS small car crash tests.

For those worried about the safety of today’s small cars, the latest round of crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety didn’t provide much good news.

Out of an even dozen vehicles included in the test, only the Mini Countryman earned a “good” rating. And among the plug-based vehicles included in the tests for the first time, only the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid managed to eke out an “acceptable” rating – while also earning a Top Safety Pick+ award.

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“The Mini Cooper Countryman gave a solid performance,” says Joe Nolan, the Institute’s senior vice president for vehicle research. “The Countryman’s safety cage held up reasonably well. The safety belts and airbags worked together to control the test dummy’s movement, and injury measures indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a real-world crash this severe.”

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Copenhagen Wheel Makes Any Bike an EV

New wheel may change daily commute.

by on Jul.29, 2014

The Copenhagen Wheel was developed by researchers at MIT and is being distributed by Superpedestrian. It makes any bicycle an electric bike increasing speeds to 20 mph.

For some, the idea of riding a bike conjures up one of two images: skin-tight biker shorts and shirts and helmets as part of a high-speed march along winding roads a la Lance Armstrong or a leisurely loll on a two-wheeler with a basket and a squeeze horn through a park or neighborhood that involves as much coasting as it does pedaling.

However, if Superpedestrian gets its way, thousands – maybe even millions – of people will completely rethink how they use a bicycle with the company’s new Copenhagen Wheel. The wheel was designed by a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s SENSEable City Laboratory in concert with the city of Copenhagen, which is one of the bike-friendliest cities in the world. The lab then licensed it to Superpedestrian for additional development.

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The wheel can be attached to any bike and increases the speed of the bike. By using an array of sensors, it develops an algorithm based off the rider’s pedaling pattern to seamlessly boost the speed of the bike when the rider is pedaling. Read the rest of this entry »

US Gas Prices Take Big Dive Last Month

Drop comes despite unrest in Middle East.

by on Jul.29, 2014

Not that drivers of the Jetta Hybrid were getting gas often, but now they're paying even less as prices at the pump have dropped.

Despite the tension in the Middle East, gasoline prices have dropped more than 16 cents per gallon in the past month, according to records compiled by AAA.

Gasoline prices vary by region but overall the average price for regular gasoline dropped more than 9 cents per gallon in the two weeks ended July 25 to $3.5795 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc., which surveys about 1,200 gasoline stations around the country.

Fueling Up on News for Less!

A recent U.S. Energy Information Association report indicated the average price of crude oil dropped by $1.04 per barrel and estimated average price of regular gasoline fell by 6 cents per gallon across the United States in the past week and is now 10.7 cents per gallon cheaper from a year ago before the turmoil began.

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American Motorists Want Self-Driving Cars, Says New Study

Desire to give up control drops when kids involved.

by on Jul.29, 2014

CEO Carlos Ghosn outlines Nissan autonomous vehicle plans during a Tokyo news conference.

Americans haven’t necessarily fallen out of love with the automobile. They just don’t enjoy the art of driving as much anymore, and a growing number of Americans seem ready to hand over command to autonomous vehicles.

A new study finds that fully three-quarters of licensed U.S. motorists would be very likely to consider, if not buy, self-driving vehicles. And if offered lower insurance rates, the figure jumps to a whopping 86%, found website Insurance.com.

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“People are aware that they already drive cars controlled partly by computers,” said Insurance.com Managing Editor Des Toups. “Now they see features like collision avoidance on new models and hear about Google cars hitting the roads in a couple of years. An autonomous car is not science fiction anymore.” Read the rest of this entry »