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Feds Outline Diesel Emissions Settlement with VW

But “criminal investigation is (still) active and ongoing.”

by on Jun.28, 2016

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calls the settlement "unprecedented" under the Clean Air Act.

Describing the settlement as “groundbreaking” and “unprecedented,” federal officials outlined a $14.7 billion, three-part deal with Volkswagen that will, among other things, remove as many as 475,000 diesel vehicles from U.S. roads.

But the agreement, which could yield significant compensation for those who own those vehicles, does not end the German automaker’s legal and financial problems. VW still has to reach a settlement covering about 50,000 additional vehicles. And it could yet face criminal charges and civil fines stemming from its efforts to cheat on government emissions tests.

Clearing the Air!

The settlement “marks the largest clean air mitigation step in the history of the Clean Air Act,” declared Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally G. Yates during a news conference in Washington, D.C. But, she added, “It is by no means the final step.” Among other things, she added, “I can assure you our criminal investigation is active and ongoing.”


VW Diesel Owners Could Get over $10k Each Out of $14.7 Bil Settlement

Deal doesn’t end automaker’s problems in wake of emissions cheating scandal.

by on Jun.28, 2016

VW is expected to settle the key diesel emissions case on Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco.

Volkswagen could be on the hook to buy back nearly 500,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S., with many owners getting $10,000 or more as part of a federal settlement to the maker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal.

The deal, which has reportedly been accepted by the U.S. Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission and the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, will be the first step in resolving a case triggered by the revelation VW had equipped cars using its 2.0-liter turbodiesel with software designed to lower pollution levels when those vehicles were undergoing emissions tests.

Beyond the Headlines!

All told, the maker has agreed to a deal worth around $14.7 billion. Of that, about $10 billion will go to compensating owners of the 2009 to 2015 diesel models. Another $2.7 billion is earmarked for “environmental remediation,” according to sources. The remaining $2 billion will fund environmental efforts, including the development of zero-emissions vehicles. Earlier this month, VW said it was planning to launch “at least 30 battery-based models by 2025.


Long Decommissioned: Route 66 Lives On

The Mother Road still helps countless travelers, migrants “motor west.”

by on Jun.27, 2016

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Long stretches of "Historic Route 66" still are open to the public out West.

“It winds from Chicago to L.A., more than 2,000 miles along the way. Get your kicks on Route 66.”

Call it the Mother Road, the Main Street of America or the Will Rogers Highway. U.S. Route 66 may just be the most famous stretch of tarmac in America, and it lives on despite officially being decertified by the federal government on June 27, 1985.

Drive on In!

Perhaps only New York’s Broadway has been more celebrated on film and television and, of course, in song. The song, “Route 66,” was written by a nearly penniless wannabe song writer Bobby Troup and turned into a 1946 smash hit by Nat King Cole, the tune encouraging countless millions of Americans to “motor west,” and transform California into the country’s most populous state.


First Look: Mercedes-AMG GT R

Green Hell from Stuttgart.

by on Jun.27, 2016

A bright green bat out of hell, the GT R.

Ever since Mercedes-Benz rolled out the GT sports car a couple years back, we’ve been expecting a few variants, the typical modus operandi for the Schwabian automaker. Now, it seems, we’ll soon be getting a flood of them, including the recently introduced GT S, a “base” model due next year and, shortly after that, the Mercedes-AMG GT R that made its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England over the weekend.

Able to launch from 0 to 60 in a mere 3.5 seconds – about 0.2 seconds faster than the 2016 GT S model – you might be tempted to call it a bat out of hell. So, appropriately enough, Mercedes is introducing the new GT R with a new paint scheme called Green Hell Magno.

Performance News!

Beyond that blinding hue, you’ll be able to distinguish the new Mercedes-AMG GT R from other versions of the two-seater thanks to new, widebody trim that adds about two inches in width to the more mundane versions of the GT.


All-New Porsche Panamera Pics Leak out

2017 model gets lighter platform, new, more streamlined body.

by on Jun.24, 2016

A leaked pic of the 2017 Porsche Panamera.

Porsche has been dropping lots of hints as it prepares to formally unveil the newly redesigned Panamera next week. But it turns out you don’t have to wait for that online unveiling or the official public debut of the coup-like sports sedan at the Paris Motor Show later this year.

Along with the teaser images from Porsche, three grainy but quite revealing new pics wound up on Instagram and we’re offering readers a longer look.

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Porsche has never been shy about taking risks, whether introducing its first SUV, the Cayenne, or following with a distinctive, albeit controversial sports car sedan. The original Panamera was a true Porsche in terms of driving dynamics, but generated plenty of controversy over its bubble-back rear end.


Jeep Electrified – SUV Maker Adding EVs, Plug-Ins

Battery-based Jeeps “under active development.”

by on Jun.24, 2016

The Jeep Renegade could be one of the first models electrified, a plug in the Chinese market.

Today’s battery-based vehicles tend to be small sedans, coupes and hatchbacks. But that’s beginning to change with high-end products like the Tesla Model S and, more recently, the Model X.

Tesla will soon have some challengers in the battery-electric SUV market including Audi, set to debut an all-electric ute in 2018. And Jeep is getting ready to weigh in, as well, according to brand boss Michael Manley.

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While Fiat Chrysler’s SUV division isn’t ready to release specific plans, Manley told that new battery-based products are “under active development,” and other company sources indicate they aren’t very far from launch.


Brexit Vote Results Worries Global Automakers

Results could plunge EU auto industry back into recession.

by on Jun.24, 2016

Rue Brittania? The vote to exit the European Union could have a major impact on automakers.

(This story has been updated regarding Jaguar Land Rover plans for a new plant in Slovakia.)

The much anticipated vote on Brexit, which will now lead to Great Britain’s departure from the European Union, is causing widespread worry in financial and business circles around the world. And among those fearing the impact are key global automakers like Toyota, General Motors and Britain’s own Jaguar Land Rover.

Calling it “the big unknown,” one industry official warned that automakers will have to give serious thought to future trade and investments, among other things. The possibility that the Brexit vote could trigger other independence movements is adding to the worries, according to financial and political analysts.

Freely Traded!

“All hell will break loose,” said Joe Eberhardt, the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover’s North American operations. “First of all it will have a short-term impact on the currency. My bigger concern is long term. Right away all the exporting companies in the UK will be facing tariffs because they are not part of the negotiated EU trade agreement. It would not be good for us.”


Fiat Chrysler Sending Out Fix for Faulty eShifters on Recalled Jeep, Sedan

Jeep investigating possible link to death of Star Trek actor Yelchin.

by on Jun.23, 2016

Jeep had been hoping to gain momentum with the Grand Cherokee's appearance in the new film, Independence Day Resurgence.

A top official at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said the carmaker wants to investigate the weekend accident that took the life of actor Anton Yelchin, best known for his role in the Star Trek movie series. He was killed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee unexpectedly pinned him against a gate at his home, apparently leading to asphyxia.

The 2015 sport-utility vehicle was one of 1.1 million FCA vehicles recalled earlier this year to fix an electronic shifter system that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration System called “unintuitive,” citing numerous complaints from owners who said they could not figure out what gear they were in. The automaker had issued a warning to owners but had not begun repairs at the time Yelchin was killed.

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“We’re waiting to be able to start our own investigation,” said Michael Manley, the president and chief executive of the Jeep brand, during a media roundtable at FCA’s proving grounds an hour outside Detroit on Thursday. “Obviously, we would like our own people to go over the vehicle.”


GM’s Fuel-Cell Tech May Soon Power Advanced Navy Project

Hydrogen power seen as key to long-range unmanned underwater vehicles.

by on Jun.23, 2016

A prototype Navy unmanned underwater vehicle could soon use a GM fuel-cell system.

Technology some see as the key to the future for the auto industry could also play a significant role for the U.S. military.

General Motors is teaming up with the U.S. Navy in the effort to develop a new generation of unmanned undersea vehicles that would rely on hydrogen fuel-cell technology to operate independently for as long as 70 days at a time. The technology would replace the more limited battery-drive systems currently in use in so-called UUVs, according to Navy officials.

Green Tech!

“If you want long endurance you really need fuel cells,” said Karen Swider-Lyons, head of the Alternative Energy Section at the Naval Research Laboratory.


Wonky Tech, Balky Transmissions: New Power Study Reveals Industry’s Biggest Quality Problems

Navigation and voice control generate the largest number of complaints, finds 2016 IQS.

by on Jun.22, 2016

Customers may be demanding the latest tech but it's also the biggest source of complaints.

You tap a button on the steering wheel, wait for the beep and read out the address you’re looking for in a suburb of Detroit. After a seemingly interminable wait, the car’s voice-controlled navigation system responds – directing you to a location in Delaware.

Wonky navigation systems, especially those using voice control, are the single biggest complaint motorists have about their 2016 cars, according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, with problems involving high-tech systems, in general, accounting for a full 24% of the “problems” reported in the new study.

Your Auto Insider!

But while traditional complaints such as faulty engines and loose exterior trim, have declined sharply in recent years, mechanical defects haven’t vanished entirely. If anything, consumers are growing frustrated by the latest generation of 8- and 9-speed transmissions, according to Renee Stephens, the chief automotive analyst with J.D. Power and Associates.