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GM Ignition Switch Death Toll Hits 50

Victim fund application deadline approaching.

by on Jan.27, 2015

Kenneth Feinberg, administrator fo GM's victims compensation fund, approved another round of benefits for victims.

Even as a special victims’ compensation fund approaches its deadline, the number of deaths now linked to faulty General Motors ignition switches has jumped to 50, nearly four times more than the automaker had originally estimated.

The death toll still could rise as the fund’s administrators examine evidence. So far, more than 3,000 claims have been submitted to the fund set up by GM last year to provide compensation for those killed or injured due to a safety defect the automaker has admitted ignoring for a decade.

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While it could take months to complete its review, compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg and his team plan to stop accepting new claims at the end of this week. But the death toll very well could continue to rise. (more…)

Toyota Takes Top Sales Spot in 2014

VW, GM look to make up ground and grab lead in 2015.

by on Jan.21, 2015

Toyota is the world's biggest selling automaker in 2014 with 10.23 million vehicles sold around the world.

The contest to see which automaker is king of the global sales mountain ended today with Toyota declared the winner with 10.23 million vehicles sold in 2014.

Volkswagen, which is attempting to capture the crown by 2018, came in second with 10.14 million units sold: a 4% increase over 2013. General Motors, which had held the title for decades, is third place with 9.92 million, which is a 2% jump.

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However, Toyota’s time atop the mountain is likely to end in 2015. The automaker predicted its global sales will drop in 2015 to 10.15 million units. While that may seem like an opportunity for VW to slide into the top spot this year, its U.S. sales have been sluggish. (more…)

GM Fatality Count Rises to 49

Ignition switch recall victims file 311 claims.

by on Jan.20, 2015

The number of deaths related to GM's faulty ignition switches rose to 49.

The number of deaths attributable to General Motors’ faulty ignition switch in a decade’s worth of small cars rose to 49, which is four more than the previous week.

In addition, to the jump in the death toll, which GM initially listed as 13, the number of injuries related to the switches increased by five to 72 total. Of those, seven are for very serious injuries and 65 are for minor injuries.

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The number of death claims rose to 311, which is up eight. Feinberg has declared 49 ineligible and 88 deficient. An additional 84 are still under review while 41 were submitted with no documentation. (more…)

GM Captures Key Win in Recall Case

Judge rules internal investigation notes off limits.

by on Jan.16, 2015

GM secured a major court victory when a federal judge denied plaintiffs lawyers access to the notes of its internal investigation.

General Motors scored a major court victory as a New York federal judge ruled that plaintiffs suing the automaker for compensation due to faulty ignition switch couldn’t access critical documents from the law firm handling GM’s internal investigation.

Prior to the ruling, GM denied plaintiffs lawyers access to the notes taken by Jenner & Block LLP during the automaker’s internal investigation into its ignition switch defect.

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U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman’s decision concluded that plaintiffs could not view the interview materials involved in Jenner & Block LLP’s internal investigation of the automaker. Those notes were the basis of what is now called the Valukas Report. Anton Valukas, a former federal prosecutor, oversaw the investigation. (more…)

Barra Says Low Gas Prices Won’t Change GM Plans

Automaker continues to learn lessons from recalls.

by on Jan.15, 2015

GM CEO Mary Barra told Keith Crain, Automotive News editor-in-chief, that the automaker's plans haven't changed with the drop in gas prices.

The big drop in oil prices isn’t prompting General Motors to change its plans or strategy, GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said this week.

Barra was asked about the drop in oil and gasoline prices, which are down 55% in the past six months, during a discussion at the Automotive News World Congress with Keith Crain, the publication’s editor-in-chief.

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“I can tell you this. It hasn’t changed our plans one bit. I think everyone is a little perplexed. I don’t know what it’s going to be,” Barra said in reply to the question by Crain. Barra also admitted the recall crisis made her first years as GM’s top executive very difficult. “We’ve learned a lot,” she said. (more…)

GM Forecasts Improved Profitability in 2015

Past year’s balance sheet battered by recall crisis.

by on Jan.14, 2015

General Motors CEO Mary Barra is predicting a strong 2015 for the Detroit-based automaker.

After watching General Motors get hammered for its safety lapses last year, investors have gotten some good news from the Detroit automotive giant. GM’s senior management team, led by CEO Mary Barra, predicted earnings should bounce back in 2015.

While they didn’t offer a specific earnings target, Barra and her top lieutenants told those attending an industry conference in Detroit that they are on track to meet their financial targets, in part due to the anticipated turnaround of the company’s long-troubled European operations.

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“We had a pivotal year in 2014, outlining a customer-focused strategic plan for the company and delivering on our commitments by achieving strong core operating performance,” Barra said during the Deutsche Bank 2015 Global Auto Industry Conference. “We’ll build on this momentum in 2015 and continue executing our plan to become the most-valued automotive company.” (more…)

Buick Avenir Could Shatter Expectations

Production model could share platforms with upcoming Cadillac CT6.

by on Jan.12, 2015

GM Design Director Ed Welburn as the Buick Avenir makes its unexpected debut.

By the time the official auto show news conferences begin, automakers have usually signaled what they have coming. But a few surprises manage to sneak onto the schedule, one of them coming from Buick in the form of the Avenir, a boat-tailed sedan that could soon become the resurgent Buick’s new flagship.

The new sedan is intended to underscore the dramatic changes that are helping remake a brand that seemed all but certain to disappear when General Motors plunged into bankruptcy back in 2009. Officially dubbed a “concept,” the sedan apparently shares the same underlying platform as the CT6, the premium-luxury model that Cadillac plans to bring to market in 2016.

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“This car does a god job of showing everything that we’re doing in the Buick studio,” said Ed Welburn, GM vice president of design, during a Sunday night media preview of the Avenir. “I just love walking into the Buick studio,” added the styling chief, who noted that the youngest members of GM’s design staff love working on Buicks.


GM Charges Up Second-Gen Chevrolet Volt

Longer range, better MPG, more room – but will buyers plug in?

by on Jan.12, 2015

GM CEO Mary Barra introduced the second-generation Bolt, which will get an additional 50 miles per charge. Photo credit: Len Katz.

General Motors sparked plenty of interest when, in 2010, it launched the world’s first mass-market plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt. But after an initial surge, sales have waned over the last several years, falling a precipitous 30% last year. So, Chevy can only hope that potential buyers will plug back in with the launch of an all-new, second-generation Volt at this week’s North American International Auto Show.

The 2016 model was designed to address many of the weaknesses of the original car, including its buzzy engine, sluggish performance and cramped interior. But it also will deliver significantly more range – an estimated 50 miles per charge – and improved fuel economy.

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And while the maker has yet to announce specific numbers, there is widespread speculation the 2016 Chevrolet Volt also will see a price cut putting it more into the mainstream of the compact American sedan market.


Buick Drops Top in 2016 with New Convertible: Cascada

Brand debuts first convertible in 25 years.

by on Jan.11, 2015

Buick's back in the droptop market wih the all-new 2016 Cascada. The convertible is expected to hit dealer showrooms early in 2016.

Buick’s efforts to ditch its stodgy and staid reputation took another step forward today as it rolled out its first convertible in 25 years: the 2016 Cascada, which will go on sale early next year.

The new ragtop is a convertible from the word go, not a retrofitted coupe or sedan. Set up as a 2+2 that will seat four adults, the Cascada is a departure from the division’s last convertible: the poor-selling Buick Reatta. Pricing was not announced.

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“The new, 2016 Buick Cascada is a beautiful, engaging convertible that represents the very best of the brand’s global development practices,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick, in a statement. “It’s a car that will delight customers with its fun spirit and help drive the momentum that’s fueling Buick’s success.” (more…)

New GM Electric Vehicle Could Take Aim at Tesla

Chevrolet Bolt expected to deliver 200-mile range at $30,000 price tag.

by on Jan.11, 2015

The nose of the current Chevrolet Volt, the first mass-market plug-in hybrid. It was redesigned for 2016. A pure electric Chevy Bolt could follow in 2017.

First came the Chevrolet Volt, now comes the Chevy Bolt. Even as General Motors gets ready to officially unveil an all-new version of its plug-in hybrid, various sources suggest the Detroit maker also will debut a concept version of a battery-electric vehicle at this week’s North American International Auto Show.

Significantly, the Chevrolet Bolt is expected to deliver as much as 200 miles range per charge. That would more than double what most of the current crop of electric vehicles can handle – and would be in line with what Tesla is thought to be targeting for the Model III, the mainstream EV it plans to launch in a couple years.

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And, at an estimated $30,000, GM would likely undercut the smaller Tesla model while coming in only slightly higher than some competing vehicles delivering half Bolt’s range, such as the Nissan Leaf, the Ford Focus Electric, and the current Chevrolet Spark, which can travel just 82 miles per charge.