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GM Suffers Legal Setback in Civil Cases

Manhattan judge allowing discovery to proceed.

by on Sep.23, 2014

Mary Barra recently said that the worst of the recall problem was behind the company. However, a recent court ruling may change that outlook.

General Motors has suffered a legal setback as plaintiffs have gained wider access to the company’s internal documents involving the defective switch that has been now been blamed for 21 deaths and the recall of more than 2.6 million GM vehicles.

In a ruling that will increase GM’s legal bills, if nothing else, a federal judge in Manhattan is allowing plaintiffs to begin the process of “discovery” in cases filed in the switch-related civil suits against GM. Discovery can proceed in cases involving accidents that occurred after GM emerged from bankruptcy in the summer of 2009.

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U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in the Southern District of New York said plaintiffs could begin requesting documents from the company related to accidents, injuries and lost vehicle value linked to the switch that allegedly occurred after GM emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. (more…)

Cadillac Moving to NYC as Part of Global Restructuring

Product blitz in the works, but luxury brand could take short-term hit.

by on Sep.23, 2014

The Cadillac Elmiraj concept is expected to have a strong influence on the new flagship, though it will go with a sedan body style.

(Copyright 2014, TheDetroitBureau.com)

Cadillac will go through a major strategic realignment that will see it spun off as a separate business unit and move its headquarters to New York City, the General Motors brand will confirm today.

While key operations, including sales, marketing and product planning, will move to the Big Apple, Caddy’s design and engineering efforts will remain in the Motor City. And they will be extremely busy in the years to come, according to Johan de Nysschen, the new Cadillac global brand chief who spoke to TheDetroitBureau.com in an exclusive interview.

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The one-time “standard of the world” is getting ready to unleash a product blitz intended to challenge its ambitious German rivals, covering everything from a new entry-level model to the upper reaches of the luxury market. There will likely be new coupes, convertibles, crossovers and performance cars, according to de Nysschen – though the South African-born executive cautioned that the cost could be significant, at least initially. (more…)

Cadillac Readying Unprecedented Product Blitz

Maker aiming to match its German rivals.

by on Sep.23, 2014

The next Cadillac CTS-V Coupe will be one of the first new models to come as Caddy broadens its product portfolio substantially.

(Copyright 2014, TheDetroitBureau.com)

There was a time when luxury brands sought exclusivity above all else, even if that meant shutting the door on some potential buyers. No longer, as Mercedes-Benz has demonstrated with a rapidly expanding line-up that will soon reach from the under-$30,000 CLA to the top-line S600 Pullman limousine that, in some configurations, could top $1 million.

While Mercedes has confirmed plans to add 30 new or updated models by 2020 – rivals BMW and Audi making similar moves — Cadillac has been subsisting on a handful of products. But that’s about to change.

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As part of a global restructuring that includes the move of its headquarters to New York City, the General Motors luxury division will unleash an unprecedented product assault aimed at catching up to its German rivals.

As with Mercedes, Cadillac could cover a far broader range of market segments, running from entry-lux to super-premium, by decade’s end, new global chief Johan de Nysschen told TheDetroitBureau.com in an exclusive interview.

(more…)

Feinberg Ups GM Ignition Death Toll to 21

Administrator approves two more claims for death benefits.

by on Sep.22, 2014

Kenneth Feinberg approved two more claims for death benefits from the GM victims compensation fund.

For the second time in less than a month, the number of deaths connected to faulty ignition switches in General Motors’ small cars has been revised upward. It now stands at 21.

Kenneth Feinberg, the independent administrator of the victims compensation fund established by the automaker, approved two more claims for death benefits moving the number from 19. Less than two weeks ago, he approved six claims to change the number from 13 to 19.

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Additionally, he substantiated four claims for serious injuries, which under the definitions established includes amputations, burns, spinal cord or brain damage. Twelve of 467 claims for hospitalization with 48 hours of an accident were also deemed eligible for compensation. (more…)

GM Boosts Production as Sales Surge for Midsize Colorado, Canyon Pickups

Maker will add 3rd shift, 750 jobs at Missouri plant.

by on Sep.16, 2014

Chevrolet will offer both a fuel-efficient I-4 engine and a more powerful V-6, with a diesel coming a year later.

With sales exceeding initially cautious expectations, General Motors plans to sharply boost production of its new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups.

GM will add a third shift at the plant in Wentzville, Missouri that produces the two midsize trucks. That move will create another 750 jobs at the factory, which also produces the Chevy Express and GMC Savanna full-size vans. GM had previously invested $513 million at the Wentzville plant to handle the addition of the new pickups, creating 1,315 jobs in the process.

Keep on Truckin'!

The maker has taken an unusually large number of early orders for the Colorado and Canyon models, it says, about 30,000 so far. There had been plenty of concern that GM might miss the mark with the two trucks considering the decline in the midsize segment over the last two decades.

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Deaths Attributable to GM Ignition Switch Problem Rises

Feinberg approves payment on claims for 19 deaths.

by on Sep.15, 2014

GM victims' fund czar Kenneth Feinberg approved payouts for 19 death claims.

The number of people killed as a result of General Motors’ faulty ignition switch allowing for the deactivation of the airbags in 2.6 million compact vehicles now officially stands at 19.

The problem the ignitions centers on a faulty switch that could inadvertently turn from the “On” position to “Off” or “Accessory” when the vehicle is jostled. In such an instance, the car would stall and its power steering and brakes, as well as its airbag system, would deactivate.

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Prior to now, GM admitted to 13 deaths resulting from the problems. The new number is the result of the findings of Kenneth Feinberg, the attorney overseeing the independent compensation fund set up by GM, who has approved 31 compensation claims, including 19 deaths. (more…)

GM Issues Stop-Sale on New Chevrolet Corvette

Maker cites pair of potential problems.

by on Sep.12, 2014

General Motors issued a stop-sale order to dealers for 2,800 Corvettes. A recall is likely to follow.

General Motors dealers have been told to halt sales of 2,800 of the maker’s new Chevrolet Corvette models because of a pair of potential problems.

The move is the latest in a series of so-called Stop-Sale notices issued by the Detroit maker as it has discovered potential defects with its various models during a year of close scrutiny. It is expected that GM will follow with an official recall notice for the Corvettes.

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GM has so far this year issued 65 recall campaigns in the U.S. market covering 29.1 million vehicles. That includes 2.6 million older models equipped with faulty ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths. The maker has been hauled before Congress repeatedly, while a potential criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department moves ahead. And it has been slammed with the largest-ever fine by federal safety regulators for its decade-long delay in acting on the ignition switch problem. (more…)

Barra Leads GM Trip Exploring Growth in India

Maker searching for ways to avoid pitfalls.

by on Sep.12, 2014

General Motors CEO Mary Barra and GM India Managing Director Arvind Saxena roll out the first Chevrolet Beat for export from the GM Talegaon manufacturing facility in India.

For the world’s automakers, India is a land of unlimited potential. It has a large, well-educated and growing middle-class with an entrepreneurial tradition and a dynamic culture that has spread its influence around the world.

General Motors certainly is no exception when it comes to its interest in India. In fact, Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, and several board members traveled to the country to gain more insight into how the automaker can avoid the pitfalls other automakers have experienced.

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The auto industry in India has been hobbled by seeming intractable infrastructure problems that have limited the attraction of automobiles despite the rising incomes from India’s proficient tech culture. (more…)

Witness to History: Nothing New Under the Sun

The demise of the steering wheel and other detours on the long road to autonomous vehicles.

by on Sep.11, 2014

A prototype version of the GM Unicontrol - note the center steering wheel hub is still in place.

It’s difficult to keep up with the headlines. If my count is right, we’ve already hear from Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Nissan, all revealing plans to introduce autonomous vehicles in the coming years. And that doesn’t even include Google, the high-tech firm that is putting a fleet of prototypes on the road this year.

We’re told that electronics can take over from drivers the drudgery and skill of safely and efficiently motoring from here to there, whether commuting across town or crossing from coast to coast. But, as is stated in the circa 300 BCE Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter One Verse Nine, “there is nothing new under the sun.”  And the rush to put self-driving vehicles on the road reminds us old-timers of that.

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In 1958, I was a reporter for the Detroit Bureau of Business Week magazine, and witnessed the first steps on the long road to autonomous driving. The concept had been around for awhile. GM even promoted the idea at its lavish pavilion at the 1938 New York World’s Fair. Two decades later, it was ready to show us automotive scribes that science fiction was ready to become science fact.

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GM Makes Impact with Collision Avoidance Technology

Maker displays latest capabilities at ITS show in Detroit.

by on Sep.09, 2014

The Opel Insignia demonstrates intersection collision avoidance with a Chevrolet EN-V 2.0 second generation electric networked vehicle.

In July, the streets of Belle Isle, Detroit’s history island park in the Detroit River, saw Indy cars roaring around the road venue, but now it is hosting self-driving two-seaters that are closer to floating bubbles than open-wheel racers.

The night after Mary Barra, General Motors CEO, announced the Cadillac brand will be the first of the maker’s products to get Super Cruise, a slew of technologies that make a vehicle nearly autonomous, the maker showed off the next step in that technology, led by the second generation EN-V, Chevrolet’s electric networked vehicle.

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GM showed off its original two-wheeled EN-V concept in 2010 at Shanghai World Expo, but the latest version is a four-wheeler with all-wheel drive that uses a slew of cameras, laser radar (lidar) and V2X communications “offer a hands-free, low-speed electric driving experience.” (more…)