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Archive for June, 2014

Feds Investigating Nissan Versas, Dodge Rams

More than 600,000 cars subject to latest NHTSA query.

by on Jun.30, 2014

NHTSA is investigating 360,000 Nissan Versas from 2012-2014 for unintended acceleration issues.

Federal safety regulators continue to pressure automakers as they announced two separate investigations involving more than 600,000 Nissan Versas and Dodge Rams.

In the case of the Versa, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reviewing complaints that an interior trim panel is causing unintended acceleration. The query impacts 360,000 Versa, Versa sedans and Versa Notes from 2012 to 2014.

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According to the four complaints, the trim piece catches the edge of a driver’s shoe, trapping the foot and interfering with the ability to use the brakes. Nissan officials said the maker will cooperate with the investigation. (more…)

Six New Recalls at GM – All-Time Record for US Industry

Latest problems involve 7.6 mil vehicles sold in the States, most for ignition key issues.

by on Jun.30, 2014

The 2014 Cadillac CTS is just one of 7.6 million vehicles named in a recall by General Motors today.

Hours after the details of a new victims’ compensation program was announced for those killed or injured as a result of an ignition switch defect, General Motors has revealed it will stage another six separate recalls covering 7.6 million vehicles sold in the U.S.

That move not only brings to nearly 26 million the number of GM vehicles recalled since just the beginning of the year, but also brings to nearly 39 million the overall tally of vehicles recalled by all automakers operating in the U.S. this year, exceeding the previous annual record by almost 15% – and in just six months.

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The vast majority – nearly 7.4 million of the vehicles covered by the latest GM recall blitz involve what the automaker describes as “unintended ignition key rotation,” a problem in which a driver can inadvertently nudge the key or key ring and turn the car off. If that happens, it will likely lose its power brake and steering assist while the airbags would be disabled. GM says it knows of seven crashes, eight injuries and three fatalities related to the latest recalls, all in vehicles with the ignition key problem. (more…)

U.S. Automakers Obliterate One-Year Recall Record… In Six Months

Latest GM recall blitz obliterates old mark.

by on Jun.30, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra has presided over the bulk of the largest number of recalls in U.S. auto history.

Most of the time breaking a record is followed by celebration and jubilation; however, with the recall of 7.65 million vehicles today — nearly 8.5 million worldwide — General Motors helped U.S. automakers secure a record none of them want to be part of: the most vehicles ever recalled in a single year. Worse than beating the record is that it only took six months to do it.

With the latest action, the new total is 39.85 million vehicles, easily surpassing the previous one-year record of 33.01 million set in 2004.

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GM’s latest announcement covers six new recall campaigns — bringing to more than 40 the total number of separate safety-related service actions it has taken this year. GM alone has been responsible for the recall of more than 26 million vehicles since January. By comparison, the entire industry called back just 27.96 million vehicles last year.

Keenly aware of the growing damage to its reputation, GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement, “We have worked aggressively to identify and address the major outstanding issues that could impact the safety of our customers.” But Barra also signaled GM’s recall blitz is not necessarily over, adding that, “If any other issues come to our attention, we will act appropriately and without hesitation.”

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Op-Ed: Assessing Detroit’s Brand Addiction

Why the good cop/bad cop game isn’t working anymore.

by on Jun.30, 2014

A 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, one of the GM vehicles covered by the maker's ignition switch recall.

Does the game of good cop/bad cop still work in Detroit?  What happens when the bad cop (General Motors) keeps making bad decisions, and the good cop (Chevrolet) has no authority and no voice of its own?

In mid-March, the bad cop tried to dig out of its hole as new GM CEO Mary Barra met with reporters to discuss recent product recalls.  “I want to start by saying how sorry personally and how sorry General Motors is for what has happened,” she said in reference to the accidents linked to faulty ignition switches.

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I think we can all agree with Barra’s framing: this is a GM problem.  Specifically, the inability of the company’s bureaucracy to deal with the ignition switch issue that was uncovered as early as 2001.  One can study many things in this case, from GM’s internal crisis response to product quality to governance issues.  What leapt to mind for me was GM’s devotion to being a “house of brands” that tries to isolate crises to a specific marque, or to the corporate level when the problem is found in multiple brands.

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No Cap to GM Victims’ Compensation Fund – Anyone Injured, Killed Eligible

Thousands could receive “prompt” payouts, says program’s administrator.

by on Jun.30, 2014

GM victims' fund czar Kenneth Feinberg.

There will be no limit to the amount of money available for a new victims’ compensation program set up to cover those injured or killed due to crashes caused by the faulty ignition switches in General Motors vehicles, announced Kenneth Feinberg, the new program’s administrator.

The program, to be funded by GM, will begin taking claims from victims or their families on August 1st, has been designed to deliver “prompt” payment for those considered eligible, said Feinberg during a news conference in Washington, D.C. He noted that the voluntary program will not provide for punitive damages but could still deliver compensation running up to $7 million or beyond based on a series of hypothetical situations Feinberg outlined.

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Significantly, the program will be open even to those who had previously settled a lawsuit with GM due to an ignition switch crash. And, Feinberg noted, “Any contributing negligence of the driver, intoxications, speeding, texting, will be irrelevant under this program. This is about GM and ignition switches…not anything about the driver.”

(more…)

Kia, Audi, Jaguar Lead Annual Total Quality Index

Mercedes SL-Class takes top score in listing.

by on Jun.30, 2014

The Audi Q5 is one of three quality leaders produced by the German maker in this year's Total Quality Index from Strategic Vision.

With news of a record-setting number of recalls filling the eyes and ears of car and truck owners, finding out what brands produced the highest quality vehicles this year likely tops list of information wanted new vehicle buyers.

Strategic Vision released its 19th annual Total Quality Index winners today: Kia is the leader for non-luxury brands while Audi and Jaguar deadlocked for the luxury market.

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“What we learn from this year’s Total Quality results is the need for complete understanding of how buyers are influenced and it’s not just by counting problems,” says Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision. (more…)

100s, Perhaps 1,000s, Likely Eligible for GM Victims’ Compensation Plan

Administrator will have free hand in deciding who gets payout.

by on Jun.30, 2014

GM compensation fund czar Kenneth Feinberg.

When General Motors formally unveils the victims’ compensation fund later today, it’s expected to give a free hand to the administrator who will have to decide on how to pay out to those involved in crashes linked to the maker’s faulty ignition switches.

According to several sources, as well as published reports, administrator Kenneth Feinberg could eventually wind up paying out more than $1 billion, not only to the families of those killed in crashes caused by the ignition switch defect, but also to those injured, whether passengers or pedestrians, as well as those in vehicles struck by the now-recalled GM vehicles.

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“He will have complete independence” from GM to decide who will receive compensation, and for how much, the automaker’s CEO Mary Barra said during a U.S. House subcommittee hearing earlier this month. Barra added that the compensation program will cover “everyone who lost a loved one due to this issue, or who suffered serious physical injury.”

(more…)

Hyundai Counts on Alabama Plant

Breaking bottlenecks is critical as the new 2015 Sonata rolls out.

by on Jun.30, 2014

The body of a new 2015 Hyundai Sonata rolls down the assembly line at the Alabama plant.

Hyundai has begun delivering the new 2015 Hyundai Sonata to dealers across America from its bustling assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama, a factory stretched well beyond its rated capacity as the Korean carmaker struggles to keep up with consumer demand.

The Montgomery plant, which has 3,000 employees, now operates on three shifts five days per week and last year built a total of 398,000 vehicles – nearly 100,000 more than what it was built to handle when it opened a decade ago.

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Dave Zuchowski, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor America, noted the ability of the Montgomery plant to expand production beyond the rated capacity has been critical to Hyundai’s ability to meet customer demand in recent years.

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Ford Let’s World Focus on New ST Pocket Rocket in UK

Focus ST debuts at Goodwood Festival of Speed.

by on Jun.27, 2014

The new 2015 Ford Focus ST gets a lower, wider stance to improve handling and give it a more aggressive look.

Ford introduced the 2015 iteration of its Focus ST pocket rocket at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the United Kingdom.

The Festival of Speed, or FoS as it’s known in England, is an annual hill climb featuring historic motor racing vehicles that is held in the grounds of Goodwood House, West Sussex, England.

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The Dearborn, Michigan-based maker has put out some form of the high performance Focus ST since 2002 selling more than 140,000 of the speedsters worldwide. (more…)

Nissan, Daimler Reveal Plans for Joint Mexican Luxury Car Plant

At cost of around $1.4 bil, lines will start rolling in 2017.

by on Jun.27, 2014

Daimler AG's Dieter Zetsche, left, and Renault-Nissan's Carlos Ghosn shake hands after announcing plans to build luxury cars in a plant in Mexico.

Announcing the biggest project in their four-year-old alliance, Daimler AG and Nissan Motor Co. have confirmed they will jointly set up and operate a new luxury car plant in central Mexico. At a cost of 1 billion Euros, or close to $1.4 billion, it will begin operating by 2017, the makers’ two CEOs revealed during a joint news conference.

There will be two separate lines, one for each brand, at the new luxury car plant – which will be erected on a portion of the new factory complex Nissan opened in the city of Aguascalientes last November. The factory will eventually employ “nearly 5,700” workers and will have capacity to produce about 300,000 vehicles annually, said Daimler’s chief executive Dieter Zetsche and Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn.

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“Our biggest project yet,” stressed Zetsche, “it takes our partnership to the next level.” (more…)