Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Archive for October, 2017

GM Agrees to $120m Ignition Switch Scandal Settlement

Money going to 49 states and D.C.

by on Oct.20, 2017

One of the defective GM ignition switch units now blamed for causing at least 124 deaths.

General Motors has agreed to pay out $120 million to settle a lawsuit filed by 49 states and the District of Columbia over its handling of an ignition switch defect linked to at least 124 deaths and 275 injuries.

The problem was revealed in early 2014 and eventually led to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles and the firing of more than a dozen GM employees who either failed to act on early warning signs or attempted to sweep the problem under the carpet.

The Last Word!

“GM will continue ongoing improvements it’s made to ensure the safety of its vehicles,” a spokesman for the automaker said. That includes changes ordered by CEO Mary Barra after the problem was first revealed, as well as efforts that were agreed to as part of a settlement with the federal government in December 2015.

(more…)

Bentley Shuffling CEO and Senior Leadership

Durheimer replaced by Jaguar Land Rover's Hallmark.

by on Oct.20, 2017

Wolfgang Durheimer took over the helm at Bentley from former CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen.

Another company is playing musical executives, as Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer is stepping down and being replaced by former Jaguar Land Rover executives Adrian Hallmark. The move is effective Feb. 1, 2018.

In addition to Hallmark’s hiring, the company announced that is board members for engineerings, sales and marketing, and human resources, will also resign effective Jan. 1, 2018.

The Last Word!

“I would like to thank Wolfgang Durheimer for his dedication to Bentley Motors and the Volkswagen Group,” Matthias Mueller, CEO of the VW Group, said in a statement. “He has had an outstanding career and has launched some of the most important cars the Group has ever created.” (more…)

Australia’s Last Car Rolls off Holden Production Line

GM subsidiary was the last company standing.

by on Oct.20, 2017

Workers at Holden's plant near Adelaide commemorate the last car built at the plant and the last in Australia.

The “Lion” roared one last time today as the last new vehicle produce in the Australia, a Holden VF Commodore, rolled out of the GM-subsidiary’s plant in Adelaide, to mark the end of a 70-year history of producing cars there.

GM Holden Ltd. built its first car, the FX Holden, in 1948 while the last was a gleaming red Holden VF Commodore, a six-cylinder rear-wheel drive sedan, at the plant in the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth that had grown over decades. At the end, there were nearly 1,000 employees at the facility.

Global Auto News!

“It’s pretty tragic really that we’ve let go probably one of the best cars around the world,” an auto painter who identified himself as Kane told reporters, according to the Detroit News. (more…)

IIHS Implements New Offset Impact Test

Makers were ignoring front passenger to bolster driver's side.

by on Oct.20, 2017

IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller says the new passenger-side offset testing gives a clearer picture of how safe a car is.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is implementing a new passenger-side offset impact test for 2017–18 models after discovering makers weren’t always providing the same level of protection to both front-seat passengers.

Individual models will now have to earn good or acceptable passenger-side ratings in order to qualify for IIHS’ Top Safety Pick + award.

News Now!

Last year, the organization found inconsistencies in passenger-side small overlap test results on seven small SUVs from the 2014 through 2016 model years that had good ratings for driver-side protection. (more…)

Amazon HQ Bids Raise Bar for New Auto Plants

Competition creates new incentive floor for auto projects.

by on Oct.20, 2017

Toyota President Akio Toyota and his Mazda counterpart Kogai announce their alliance.

Proposals for Amazon’s second headquarters were due last night and communities from across the United States e-mailed their bids hoping to be selected as the host for a $5 billion project that could eventually produce as many 50,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The battle royal now underway for Amazon is also expected to have a major impact on other economic and job development projects, which when combined are also expected to boost the amount of cash automakers will get for new future projects

News You Can Trust!

In a culture where even the opening of the equivalent of a new warehouse for a distributing almost anything is hailed by local politicians, Amazon is expected to attract dozens of proposals. Denver has been proclaimed by the New York Times as the front runner because it’s located near the center of the country; has a skilled workforce, lots of land and a public transportation system.  (more…)

First Look: 2019 Audi A7 Sportback

Updated sheet metal, lots of new technology.

by on Oct.20, 2017

The 2019 Audi A7 Sportback is a bit lower and a bit wider, enhancing the overall look without compromising interior space.

Few cars have made more of a dramatic design statement in recent years than the Audi A7. Like rival Mercedes-Benz’s CLS, it helped usher in the era of the coupe-like sedan, though few have come close to capturing the Audi model’s elegance.

What to do for the next act? We’ve just found out, Audi introducing the new 2019 A7 Sportback during an event in Germany and, if anything, it seems to have found ways to improve the original model’s proportions.

Reviews You Can Use!

But the 2019 remake is about more than just new styling. As with its new, top-of-the-line A8, the new Audi A7 is brimming with the latest in digital technologies. Indeed, it shares many of the infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, found on the brand’s new flagship. (more…)

VW Set to Charge Up Pike’s Peak

Maker is “literally electrified” by EV racer set to challenge 12.4-mile hill climb.

by on Oct.19, 2017

Volkswagen is ready to show off its electric vehicle expertise by racing up Pike's Peak.

Few automakers are doing more to plug into the emerging market for electrified vehicles than Volkswagen, the German company announcing last month it will invest $20 billion to develop a vast fleet of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles.

The big question is whether there’s a market for all those new models, so VW is taking a page from the Automotive Marketing 101 handbook and tweaking it ever so slightly. “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday,” goes the old adage. And if it works for classic, internal combustion vehicles, why not try it for your battery cars, as well?

Stay Plugged In!

So, VW is giving us a first look at the all-wheel-drive battery-electric that it will use to challenge the grueling Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb next year, Sven Smeets, Volkswagen’s Motorsport Director telling us, ” Our team is literally electrified about taking on this incredible challenge” — which happens to mark the first time in 30 years the company will have campaigned at the Pike’s Peak Climb. (more…)

Asian Automakers Dominate in Consumer Reports Reliability Survey

Tesla, Cadillac suffer from some serious problems.

by on Oct.19, 2017

The 2017 Kia Niro received favorable reviews from owners in the latest Consumer Reports reliability study.

Asian automakers once again topped the annual Consumer Reports Automotive Reliability Survey, though there were some notable exceptions in the study which looked at the problems owners have experienced with their 2017 model-year cars, trucks and crossovers.

Toyota and Lexus, perennial charter-toppers, repeated as the most reliable brands, according to Consumer Reports, or CR, which tallied owner surveys covering about 640,000 vehicles from the 2017 model-year. But Kia, a brand long dismissed for questionable quality, came in third, a surge reflected by several other recent studies.

Subscribe Now!

At the other end of the spectrum was Cadillac, ranked the least reliable brand in the annual study by the influential non-profit publication. Cadillac’s big Escalade SUV, meanwhile, tied as the single worst vehicle, in terms of reliability. The other model at the bottom was the much-troubled Tesla Model X. (more…)

Nissan Shutting Down Plants in Japan for Two Weeks

Company violated quality check rules.

by on Oct.19, 2017

The newly introduced next-gen Nissan Leaf is one of the vehicles impacted by the company's plant shutdown in Japan.

Nissan is shutting down its six manufacturing plants in Japan for two weeks to address issues surrounding product quality levels after a recall and the Kobe Steel problems.

The Japanese automaker will revise final inspection procedures on its assembly lines to ensure they meet the transport ministry’s requirements, the company said. The moves will impact less than 10% of Nissan vehicles manufactured in Japan each month.

Global Auto News!

The company admitted that uncertified technicians performed final checks for vehicles sold in Japan. The techs were used because some inspection steps had been transferred to other inspection lines, in violation of ministry rules, according to Reuters. (more…)

Spare Me? Not So Fast

Almost a third of new vehicles no longer come with a spare tire.

by on Oct.19, 2017

Some manufacturers have eliminated the spare tire in favor of run-flat tires, such as in the Lexus LC 500.

There are few things more frustrating than being stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire – unless, that is, you also don’t have a spare.

In an effort to reduce weight, improve fuel economy and, yes, in some cases to save money, automakers have been cutting back the number of models equipped with spare tires, though they also note that they’re doing so on products like the new Lexus LC 500 sports coupe in order to give owners more cargo space.

Beyond the Headlines!

The silver lining is that today’s tires tend to be more rugged and reliable, and many vehicles are now equipped with run-flat tires that are designed to keep going for as much as 50 miles if they lose air pressure, enough to get to a service station for a repair or replacement, the manufacturers claim. (more…)