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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.”


GM Remains in Tight Race for Global Sales Leadership

VW holds tiny lead, but Toyota has yet to weigh in.

by on Jul.17, 2014

GM is hoping new product - such as the Chevy Colorado, shown here with product chief Mark Reuss - will help it regain global sales leadership.

Despite recalling millions of vehicles and watching billions of dollars in new legal claims pile up during the first half of the year, General Motors is still in a relatively close race for global sales leadership with rivals Volkswagen and Toyota.

GM has reported selling 2.5 million vehicles around the world during the second quarter of 2014, with year-over-year sales in the United States and China, the company’s two largest markets, growing by  7% and 8%, respectively. Globally, GM’s total sales were up 0.5% for the second quarter. In the first half, GM sold 4,921,928 vehicles, up 1.4%.

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Volkswagen AG, thanks to strong sales in China and a solid performance in Europe as well as gains by Audi and Porsche, held a whisker-thin lead with sales of 4.97 million vehicles worldwide during the first half of the year. VW is actively targeting global sales leadership – but the race likely won’t be determined until later this month when Toyota Motor Co. weighs in with its own figures.


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.


Six More GM Recalls Include New One for Ignition Switch Problems

Over 3 million vehicles impacted by latest action.

by on Jun.16, 2014

Though given plenty of kudos in recent months, the 2014 Chevy Impala is covered by the latest recall due to an ignition switch issue.

General Motors has announced six more recalls – including a new one covering nearly 3.2 million vehicles that could shut off inadvertently if their keys carry extra weight and experience “some jarring event.”

That comes nearly four months after GM announced it would have to replace faulty ignition switches in 2.6 million vehicles – and only days after the maker recalled every Chevrolet Camaro it has built since 2010 because the design of the key could cause the car to shut off if bumped by a driver’s knee.

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As with the Camaro recall, the latest problem is the result of a faulty key design, rather than a defective ignition switch, however. But the results could be the same: a vehicle suddenly losing power, making it difficult to steer or brake. And the airbag system “may” not deploy, GM cautioned.


Four New GM Recalls Include One for 500,000 Camaros

Muscle car’s key fob problem can cause loss of power.

by on Jun.13, 2014

The latest version of the Chevy Camaro is part of the big new GM recall.

General Motors is ending the week with yet another four recalls, including one with echoes of the defective engine switch problem that has already resulted in the recall of 2.6 million GM vehicles and which has been linked to at least 13 deaths.

By far, the largest of the four new recalls involves the Chevrolet Camaro, 511,528 of which have been sold in North America since the start of the 2010 model-year. According to GM, a driver sitting close to the steering wheel can inadvertently bump the key fob and knock the ignition switch out of the “On” position, resulting in a loss of vehicle power.

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GM has separately announced three recalls covering 69,839 vehicles sold in North America as far back as 2004.

“Discovering and acting on this issue quickly is an example of the new norm for product safety at GM,” Jeff Boyer, the new vice president of GM Global Safety, said in reference to the Camaro problem.


GM Unleashes its Most Powerful Production Car Ever with 650 HP Corvette Z06

Maker claims more punch than a Porsche 911 Turbo S or Ferrari F12.

by on Jun.06, 2014

GM Product Chief Mark Reuss reveals the Corvette Z06 at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

We’ve always been told to “err on the safe side,” a good mantra for automakers who have, over the years, had a habit of over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to performance numbers.

The folks at Chevrolet clearly wanted to under-promise and over-deliver, it turns out, when they suggested the new Corvette Z06 would deliver “at least 625 horsepower” during the sports car’s Detroit Auto Show debut last January. It turns out that the newly released numbers for the Z06’s LT4 engine stretch all the way up to 650 hp and a full 650 pound-feet of torque. To save you the effort of looking that up, this is the most powerful production car General Motors has ever delivered to the public.

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“The LT4 Small Block sets a new benchmark for power and torque at GM,” said Steve Kiefer, vice president, GM Powertrain Engineering. “The engine also puts the new Corvette Z06 on par with the most powerful supercars offered in America, while delivering performance with impeccable manners that make it suitable for daily driving.”

By comparison, the “base” 2014 Corvette Stingray makes “only” 450 horsepower – boosting that to 460 hp with the Z51 performance package – and 465 lb-ft of torque.


Autobrake Systems Earn 8 Models Top Safety Ratings

Collision warning technology showing marked improvement.

by on May.29, 2014

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is one of four GM models on the IIHS list, and the only mainstream vehicle.

While autonomous vehicles may still be years away from production, one of the key technologies that will allow vehicles to drive on their own already has begun to find their way into today’s production vehicles, helping eight 2014 models earn top ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The group includes seven luxury vehicles and one large mainstream model. Notably, a full half of the vehicles that earned the IIHS Superior rating are built by General Motors, a company that has been struggling to salvage its reputation in the wake of an ignition switch scandal and the recall of nearly 14 million vehicles since January, more than in any single year in its history.

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All eight of the top-rated models share at least one critical technology: forward collision warning with auto-braking. That is a step up from earlier models that could detect a potential crash and warn the driver. The newer systems also can apply the brakes if a driver doesn’t respond quickly enough.


The 10 Most Stolen — and Recovered Vehicles

Honda again leads the list.

by on May.27, 2014

The 2013 Honda Accord was the most stolen - and recovered - vehicle according to LoJack.

Crime, in general, has taken a sharp drop in recent years, and one reason has been a crackdown on car theft.  While there are a few hot spots left in the country – most of them in California, according to federal data – that crackdown has been paying off.

It’s not just tougher penalties and sting operations aimed at so-called “chop shops” that trade in stolen vehicles. Police across the country are getting a high-tech helping hand from advanced systems that can track and, in some cases, disable a stolen car making it easy for police to arrest thieves and recover the vehicle.


A new study by LoJack, the largest of the Stolen Vehicle Recovery System, or SVRS, vendors, reveals which vehicles are both the most stolen and the most often recovered. Some familiar names pop up, including three from Japanese maker Honda. In fact, its Accord model topped the LoJack list for the fifth year in a row.


Another Big Recall at GM

This time, 140,000 Chevy Malibus targeted due to defective brakes.

by on May.15, 2014

The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu is facing its second recall for brake problems in a week.

For the second time in barely a week, brake problems are forcing the recall of the recently updated Chevrolet Malibu.

The latest problem involves a vacuum hose that can become disconnected resulting in problems bringing the 2014 Chevy sedans to a stop. A total of 140,067 Malibus are covered by the latest recall.

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Just last week, General Motors announced a smaller recall covering both the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse models because the factory may inadvertently have put rear brakes on the front wheel, an error that could eventually cause premier brake wear or even brake failure. That recall involved just 8,590 vehicles.


Ford, Chrysler Recall 1.5 Million Vehicles

GM also orders another – small – recall.

by on May.10, 2014

Ford's Escape has faced a number of recalls since it was redesigned two years ago.

In the wake of General Motors’ controversial recall of 2.6 million vehicles due to faulty ignition switches it appears automakers are being far more sensitive to potential safety problems – and Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group are the latest to announce recalls that collectively total about 1.5 million vehicles.

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GM is also adding to its expanding recall count – which reached a total of 7 million vehicles during the first quarter alone. It has now added another 9,000 midsize sedans to the list.

This week’s big safety news comes from the other members of Detroit’s Big Three, however.