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GM Paying $1M SEC Fine to Settle Ignition Switch Scandal

Fine resolves matters at the federal level, but the case still drags on.

by on Jan.18, 2017

A replacement for the faulty GM ignition switches.

General Motors is hoping to begin closing the door on its ignition switch scandal with the payment of a $1 million penalty to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC was one of the many government agencies to pursue GM after the maker was found to have improperly responded to internal data showing a faulty switch design could cause some of its vehicles to shut off unexpectedly. The defect has been blamed for at least 124 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The securities probe focused not on safety but whether improper accounting kept the company from properly disclosing the potential financial impact of the defect to shareholders.

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The fine is relatively modest when compared to the more than $2 billion the defect has so far cost the largest of the Detroit automakers. That includes a $900 million settlement GM reached with the U.S. Justice Department to close a criminal investigation in September 2015. The automaker also paid a $35 million penalty to the National Highway Safety Administration.

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VW Not Horsing Around With Diesel Allegations in Germany

German maker fighting back against recent ruling.

by on Jan.18, 2017

Volkswagen is now dealing with the repercussions of its diesel emissions scandal at home now.

Just as Volkswagen AG appears to be in the final stages of settling its diesel-emissions scandal in the U.S., the automaker is facing a load of trouble in its home country.

A panel of three judges in the German city of Hildesheim ruled that the automaker must take back a Skoda Yeti with the 2.0-liter TDI engine purchased in 2013 and pay the owner more than $28,000 for it.

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Suggesting the emission scandal was a scam and comparing it to another recent high-profile event in which horse meat was used in lasagna, the court said, “VW intentionally committed fraud and can’t defend itself by saying it hasn’t clarified who was responsible for software that allowed the vehicle to cheat on emissions tests,” according to Bloomberg. Read the rest of this entry »

Singaporean Hypercar Takes Aim at Bugatti Performance Numbers

Flowery Dendrobium set to bloom at Geneva Motor Show.

by on Jan.18, 2017

The Vanda Dendrobium is named after a genus of orchids native to Singapore.

It looks like something Batman might drive, hails from Singapore and has the nearly unpronounceable name Dendrobium, but start-up Vanda Electrics is betting there’s a market for the new battery hypercar it’s set to debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

The concept model making its debut on March 7th will join a rapidly growing list of high-performance and exotic plug-based models that have been announced in recent months – from the all-electric Faraday Future FF91 to the hybrid-assisted Formula One hypercar under development by Mercedes-Benz.

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Vanda’s website suggests it was “set up to look into the future of electric transportation.” Until now, that has had it focusing on relatively mundane projects like a 25 mph urban delivery vehicle and an e-scooter. But while the Singapore-based company’s teaser release provides few details, it last year hinted it was working on an electric exotic that could hit 250 mph.

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Daimler Acquires Mobile Payment Firm

German company gains foothold in competitive market.

by on Jan.18, 2017

Bodo Uebber, a Daimler board member, says "Mercedes pay" is a fundamental part of the company's digitization strategy.

Daimler Financial Services AG has announced it plans to acquire the electronic payment services provider PayCash Europe SA. The move is a sign of the increasing competition among makers looking for ways to allow users of mobility services, such as ride-sharing, car-sharing, etc. to pay for those services.

With a new foothold in the ePayment business, Daimler AG is preparing to its own electronic payment services provider under the “Mercedes pay” brand name. Terms of the acquisition by Daimler Financial Services AG were not disclosed.

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However, the acquisition signals an intensification of the fight for digital payment services by automakers, which see it as a crucial element of expanding transportation services such as ride sharing. Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomous Vehicles Could Save US Drivers Billions Annually

Study shows U.S. drivers could save $306 billion.

by on Jan.18, 2017

The development of autonomous vehicles is dependent upon new technology coming to the auto industry.

The ongoing push for autonomous vehicles has largely centered on convenience and safety; however, a new study shows there may a third, very compelling reason: billions of dollars.

According to Global Positioning Specialists, driverless technologies represent a savings of $306 billion annually in lost gross domestic product — just in the United States.

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Federal safety officials have been campaigning for past several years to expand the use of self-driving technology with a goal of eliminating traffic fatalities. Read the rest of this entry »

Bigger, Faster, Mini Reveals John Cooper Works Countryman

Shanghai for Mini's new performance crossover.

by on Jan.17, 2017

The JCW version of the new Countryman.

The latest-generation Mini Countryman is the biggest model that the British automaker has ever brought to market. And now, Mini is about to launch the most powerful version of the all-wheel-drive crossover it’s ever produced.

Sharing the turbocharged engine found in other JCW models, the 2018 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman All4 will churn out a hefty 228 horsepower, enough to sprint from 0 to 60 in just 6.2 seconds, or nearly a full second faster than the current Cooper S Countryman All4.

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But Mini has some other tricks up its sleeve, outfitting the new JCW Countryman with a sport-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, 18-inch light alloy wheels and new sports seats and a sportier steering wheel.

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Gasoline Price Climb With Start of the New Year

OPEC cuts still impacting prices.

by on Jan.17, 2017

Gas prices continue to rise as OPEC's production cuts appear to be having their intended effect. (Photo credit: Brendan Strong)

The average price of gasoline across the U.S. continues to increase, reaching an average of $2.37 per gallon, the most expensive it has been since June 2016, just as the fuel economy of new vehicles purchased in the U.S. declined during 2015.

AAA’s weekly survey of fuel prices observed that gasoline prices have moved higher by three cents per gallon on the week and 17 cents per gallon on the month.

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Retail prices have increased for 40 of the past 42 days as a result of market reactions to the OPEC oil cut agreement. Traders and industry alike will keep a close eye on OPEC compliance as they await the release of the first output report which is expected in mid-February, AAA reported. Read the rest of this entry »

Hyundai Next to Roll Out US Investment Plan — $3.1B

Follows GM's $1 billion announcement earlier, and also notes plan isn't Trump influenced.

by on Jan.17, 2017

Hyundai expects to invest in its plant in Montgomery, Alabama, as part of a $3.1 billion, five-year plan.

Announcing investment plans for the United States appears to be the latest trend by automakers with Hyundai Motor Group being the latest announcing plans for $3.1 billion, including a new plant, to be spent in the U.S. during the next five years.

The South Korean company’s move, which represents a 50% increase in the money it drives into the U.S., comes just hours after General Motors outlined $1 billion in new investment in the U.S. expecting to develop as many as 2,000 new jobs.

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President-elect Donald Trump has been using Twitter to put automakers – and other countries – on notice that if they don’t start building more vehicles in the U.S., he plans to slap their imported vehicles with a 35% tariff. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Changes Coming for 2018 Ford Mustang

More power, more tech, revised appearance.

by on Jan.17, 2017

Ford is giving the Mustang a midcycle refresh for the 2018 model, including engine upgrades and performance improvements.

Less than three years after the all-new, 50thanniversary Ford Mustang rolled into showrooms, the pony car is set to get some major updates.

That includes new front and rear-end design changes meant to improve aerodynamics and give the Mustang a “more athletic look,” Ford says. There will be engine upgrades delivering more power, with a 10-speed gearbox also boosting mileage, a new MagneRide suspension, and a number of new safety and infotainment technologies.

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The 2018 Ford Mustang “refresh” is more extensive than the typical midcycle makeover, reflecting both increased competition and the growing market shift from passenger cars to SUVs. The goal is to keep Mustang the world’s best-selling sports coupe, Ford officials said. Read the rest of this entry »

Honda Commits to $372 Million Canadian Investment

Despite uncertainty posed by incoming Trump administration, Honda presses ahead.

by on Jan.17, 2017

Honda's investing $372 million into its facility north of Toronto that produces the Civic despite uncertainty generated by Donald Trump.

Despite the anxiety created by the uncertainty about the trade policies of the incoming Trump administration, Honda Motor Co. plans to move forward with a $372 million project to refurbish and expand its Canadian Assembly plant located north of Toronto.

Honda will invest $372 million in its Alliston factory, with financial support from the federal government and province of Ontario. The governments of Canada and Ontario will each contribute $30 million during three years.

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In addition to retaining 4,000 jobs in Ontario, this funding will support advanced and clean technologies and position Honda Canada Manufacturing’s Alliston plants to be globally competitive for years to come, the Ontario Ministry of Development noted in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »