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Buyers Looking for Safety Help on Future Vehicles

Lane drift warning among most desired new options, survey says.

by on Jul.23, 2014

Auto Pacific's new FADS survey shows an increase in drivers wanting advanced safety systems on vehicles.

While a self-driving car may be in our future, for now drivers just want for some additional safety help as they’re motoring along America’s highways and byways, according to a new study.

The top desired features showing the largest growth are lane drift warning systems and backup collision intervention, backup cameras and drowsy driver monitoring systems.

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The lane drift warning was the biggest riser in Auto Pacific’s annual Future Attribute Demand Study (FADS). The demand jumped 26% from 2013 to 2014, the company said. (more…)

GM Rolls Out Another Six Recalls for 717,000 Vehicles

Maker's recall woes drag on.

by on Jul.23, 2014

The Chevy Camaro is one of the many vehicles targeted by the six new GM recalls.

After a brief reprieve – and hints that the worst of its safety problems had ended – General Motors has announced another six recalls collectively covering more than 700,000 cars, trucks and crossovers.

The latest move brings to more than 26 million the total number of vehicles GM has recalled since the beginning of the year. And when added to the service actions announced by competitors as varied as Ford, BMW and Toyota, the industry overall is fast approaching the 45 million mark, well surpassing the previous record, set in 2004, when 34.1 million vehicles were called back for safety problems.

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GM officials tried to put a positive spin on the latest action, global safety czar Jeff Boyer asserting that this goes to “signify how we’ve enhanced our approach to safety.”

But the seven new recalls also come as something of a setback for a company whose reputation had already taken a hammering during the first half of the year. By late June, GM officials had been dropping strong hints that they had largely addressed all the company’s outstanding safety problems.

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GM Issues Stop Sale on Used Cadillac Models

Unusual move reflects slow pace of recall repairs.

by on Jul.21, 2014

The announcement covers Cadillac CTS sedans using key, rather than keyless, ignition systems.

It’s become something of a regular occurrence for manufacturers to issue so-called “stop sales” when they suspect a new model might have a problem that could lead to a recall. Volkswagen recently ordered one for its new Golf and GTI models, and General Motors has issued several this year, including one covering its popular Chevrolet Cruze sedan.

But GM has now issued another, more unusual stop sale, this one telling its dealers to park and sit on some older Cadillac models because of potential ignition switch problems. The order covers Caddy CTS models sold during the 2003 to 2013 model-years, as well as 2004 to 2006 Cadillac SRX sport-utility vehicles. A handful of 2014 Cadillac CTS models were also included.

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The move, however, does not affect vehicles sold by non-GM dealers, whether franchised or independents, so shoppers need be aware that the vehicles have not yet been repaired and could be subject to problems until GM comes up with the appropriate fix.

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Nissan Won’t Wait for 2020 to Begin Rolling Out Autonomous Technologies, Says Ghosn

New study forecasts annual sales of 95 mil self-driving cars by 2035.

by on Jul.17, 2014

A prototype Nissan Leaf autonomous vehicle negotiates traffic at a simulated urban intersection.

Betting on huge demand from motorists in the world’s increasingly crowded mega-cities, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has laid out an aggressive timetable for bringing the maker’s autonomous vehicles to market.

Even before the first of those self-driving cars goes on sale in 2020, said Ghosn, Nissan will launch new technologies, such as automated lane controls and highway traffic management systems that will begin to supplement the driver behind the wheel.

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Nissan is aiming to take the lead in the development of autonomous technologies but is likely to face a battle as other automakers enter the field – as well as tech giant Google which will begin launching field tests this year of a new prototype self-driving vehicle it has developed. The race could find a willing public, according to a new study by Navigant Research forecasting annual sales of autonomous vehicles could reach 95 million by 2035.

“By the end of 2016, Nissan will make available the next two technologies under its autonomous drive strategy,” said Mr. Ghosn.

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Honda Adds Another 1 Mil Vehicle to Airbag Recall

Subaru also impacted by faulty Takata airbag problem.

by on Jul.09, 2014

Honda will recall as many as 1 million more vehicles due to airbag problems, including '03 Accords.

One of the largest safety-related problems in automotive history has become even bigger, faulty Takata-made airbags forcing Honda to recall as many as 1 million more vehicles, while Subaru has become the eighth automaker impacted by the problem.

More than 10 million vehicles have been affected by the defect which could cause airbags to improperly inflate in a crash, potentially sending shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment.

The Journal of Record!

The announcement comes a day after Honda announced a separate recall due to a separate problem involving the headlights on some of the vehicles sold by its Acura luxury brand. Ford, meanwhile, announced six separate recalls on Tuesday covering over 100,000 vehicles. All told, more than 41 million cars, trucks and crossovers have been recalled since January 1, already a record well ahead of the 34.1 million vehicles recalled in 2004.

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Nearly Every GM Model Targeted for Recall This Year

Maker hits 54 separate recalls in just six months.

by on Jul.01, 2014

One of the very few new GM vehicles not recalled this year: the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox.

The numbers are daunting: 54 separate recalls in just six months impacting nearly 26 million vehicles sold in the U.S., nearly 29 million worldwide. For General Motors that works out to one separate recall nearly every three days. It has a record for any individual manufacturer, and has pushed the overall U.S. auto industry to an all-time record, manufacturers collectively recalling about 39 million vehicles in just six months, 20% more than the previous peak set for all of 2004.

When GM’s recall frenzy began, back in mid-February, with the first recall related to faulty ignition switches, senior executives like CEO Mary Barra were quick to point out that the problems were largely focused on products built by the “Old GM,” before the maker’s 2009 bankruptcy, such as the now abandoned Chevrolet Cobalt. If anything, newer models, such as the 2014 Chevy Impala, they stressed, were winning rave reviews and endorsements from the likes of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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But while GM’s recall frenzy continues to sweep up older products – including this week’s callback of 6.8 million vehicles dating back to 1997 for “unintended ignition key rotation” – a growing number of new models are also being targeted. In fact, a search of GM and federal recall records by TheDetroitBureau.com shows that only three of more than three dozen General Motors products, along with a few model variants, have so far not been subject to recall in 2014.

The only key models not among the list of 54 recalls are: (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.”

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Defective Takata Airbags Force “Stop Sale” on 2013-1014 Chevy Cruze Models

Recall likely to follow in short order.

by on Jun.25, 2014

The Chevrolet Cruze is the latest products to have problems with faulty Takata airbags.

This story has been updated with additional information on the number of vehicles covered by the stop-sale.

General Motors has issued a “stop sale” to its dealers advising them to stop selling any 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Cruze sedans on their lots due to a potential airbag defect, with a recall likely to follow, according to several company sources.

That announcement comes just days after Nissan, Honda and Mazda were forced to recall 3 million vehicles worldwide due to airbag problems – a continuation of a recall that has, over the last year, impacted about 10 million vehicles, making it one of the largest ongoing safety issues in automotive history. Toyota had to expand an airbag recall of its own earlier this month.

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GM spokesman Jim Cain confirmed the stop sale and noted that the maker estimates about 33,000 vehicles are involved, some, but not all, Cruze sedans produced during the 2013 and 2014 model-years.

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3D System Helps Honda Accurately Simulate Crash Tests

Virtual crashes can be run “at the push of a button.”

by on Jun.25, 2014

A life-like, 3D Honda crash simulation.

There was a time when an automaker might have to build dozens of costly prototypes just to crash them in an effort to meet federal safety standards. These days, most of the work is done by computer simulation. But the challenge is to ensure that what goes on in the virtual world accurately reflects what would happen not only in a physical crash test but in the real world.

Honda has turned to a new 3D software system that promises to make crash simulations more realistic while saving both time and money in the process of developing new vehicles.

Virtual Reality!

“With this technology, we have gained the potential to improve the quality of decision making and reduce the time required for finalizing a vehicle design by greatly increasing the ease of communicating and understanding the results of a crash test simulation,” explained Eric DeHoff, the technical leader for computer aided engineering, in the Crash Safety Group of Honda R&D Americas, Inc.

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New NHTSA Investigation Puts Spotlight on a Growing List of Airbag Problems

Feds probe airbag problems in 1.1 million more vehicles.

by on Jun.13, 2014

The 2003 Toyota Corolla is one of about 20 models covered by the latest recall related to defective Takata airbags.

With Toyota not only expanding a recall due to defective airbags but also bringing back some vehicles it had previously repaired, U.S. safety regulators have launched an investigation into the airbags produced by Japanese supplier Takata – a move that could impact not only Toyota but a number of other major manufacturers.

Credited with saving thousands of lives, airbags have also been implicated in a number of recent recalls and even blamed for causing some deaths and injuries. And industry observers caution that with the number of airbags found in the typical vehicle rising, the problem could become worse in the years ahead.

Safety News!

Many, but not all, of the most recent problems have centered around the so-called supplementary inflatable restraints produced by Takata. The new investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration focuses on approximately 1.1 million vehicles sold by Toyota, Nissan, Chrysler, Honda and Mazda. Defective inflators could cause fires or even send debris shooting into the passenger compartment like shrapnel.

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