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Politically Incorrect: Chevy versus Chevrolet

GM scrambles to clarify a “poorly worded” internal memo.

by on Jun.10, 2010

"We love Chevy." So do we.

A couple of days ago an internal GM memo was sent to Chevrolet employees asking them to remember the importance of “consistency” while communicating the popular brand, which is deeply embedded in the U.S. car culture.

However, it’s also global branding issue since Chevy has annual sales of more than 3.5 million vehicles in 130 countries. Yes, see the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet describes where most of the sales occur.

A brouhaha arose when the memo leaked in the New York Times, and the web world erupted in its full non-thinking way. (more…)

Senate Kicks Distracted Driving Back to the States

Republicans and Democrats bow to industry over public safety.

by on Jun.10, 2010

Too many voters are using cell phones or other electronic tools for politicians to ban their use.

In 2008, almost 6,000 people died in crashes that involved distracted driving.

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has approved legislation (S. 1938), to offer “incentive grants” to states that enact laws to combat distracted driving.

The problem is that the bill does nothing to stop the epidemic of distracted driving deaths on U.S. roads. Too many voters are using cell phones and other electronic devices for politicians to ban their use.

The bill sponsored by Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) imposes no new mandates. It also would be funded through existing programs, reflecting awareness in Washington of growing public disapproval of runaway deficits during an election year, which will see one third of the Senate facing angry voters.

In 2008, almost 6,000 people died in crashes that involved distracted driving, or DD, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

NHTSA defines distracted driving as anything “that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel, or interrupts your concentration while driving.” DD now accounts for 16% of all traffic fatalities. In addition, 515,000 individuals were injured – 22% of total injuries – in crashes involving distracted driving in 2008.  (more…)

Heated Washer Fluid Causes Fires on GM Vehicles

About 1.5 million 2007-2009 model-year GM cars, trucks and crossovers are recalled for a problem identified two years ago.

by on Jun.08, 2010

The "heat" on NHTSA because of Toyota lapses is forcing more recalls from all makers.

General Motors Company is recalling 1.5 million 2007-2009 model-year cars, trucks and crossover vehicles to disable a heated washer-fluid system module that goes up in flames.

Because the accessory will be disabled, GM says it will make a voluntary payment of $100 to the owner or lessee of each vehicle.

There are no known injuries or crashes related to the condition, according to GM.

However, a newly vigilant National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which slept through numerous reports of Toyota unintended acceleration deaths, is clearly a factor in this recall. (See NHTSA Ups Toyota Death Tally)

The heated washer fluid system was recalled in August 2008 because a short circuit on the printed circuit board could overheat the control-circuit ground wire. Dealers at the time installed an in-line fuse in the heated washer module wiring.

NHTSA closed its initial investigation after the 2008 recall.


Kill the Umpire! Run Over Jim Joyce and Bud Selig with the Corvette Convertible the Righty Earned

Detroit pitcher Galarraga lost a perfect game on a bad call.

by on Jun.03, 2010

The wrong call is sort of "righted" by a fast moving General Motors.

Armando Galarraga lost his bid for a perfect game last night on what should have been the last pitch of the outing because of the most egregiously bad call I’ve ever seen.

Umpire Jim Joyce’s incorrect “safe” shout and parallel arm motion on a play at first base was wrong, really wrong.

The batter was clearly out by a stride.

While the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, remained silent about the injustice and Joyce said, “I just missed the dammed call,” Chevrolet announced that it was giving the hard throwing right-hand pitcher a new Corvette convertible.

A perfect game and a darn good sports car.

Galarraga retired 26 consecutive Cleveland Indians batters on Wednesday evening.

The 27th and what should have been the final batsman, Jason Donald, hit a routine ball in the hole between first and second base. Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera moved quickly to his right and cleanly fielded the ball and threw it to Galarraga -  sprinting from the mound – who then stepped on first base well before Donald touched it.

Nonetheless, Joyce called him safe.

Galarraga just smirked and returned to the mound and retired the next batter to record a “one-hit,” 3-0 shutout, throwing just 88 pitches.

GM North American President Mark Reuss, who presented a Chevrolet Corvette to Galarraga at today’s game against the Cleveland Indians, said the way the pitcher had handled the incredible event deserved to be recognized – regardless of what record books would ultimately show.

So kudos to fast acting GM. It gave Galarraga a one-year lease on the ‘Vette.

As to the bureaucratic baseball establishment, my comments are unprintable and involve an anatomically impossible act.

Nissan Recalls Infiniti, Nissan Trucks for Bad Welds

Lower control link on front wheels can unexpectedly fail.

by on May.24, 2010

The tubing in question came from South Korea.

Nissan is recalling more than 41,000 model year 2010 Titan, Armada, QX56, Frontier, Xterra, and Pathfinder vehicles manufactured from November 19, 2009 through March 3, 2010 for a problem with the front wheels, which could send the trucks out of control.

The lower control link assembly has two made cylindrical collars forming the inboard attachment points to the chassis. Because of improper welding, some collars may contain welds that do not meet specifications. The tubing in question came from South Korea.

Nissan told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that if the collar weld separates, the vehicle handling will deteriorate because the wheel’s camber would radically change, possibly resulting in a vehicle crash.

Nissan will notify owners and dealers will repair the vehicles free of charge. The safety recall is expected to begin during June 2010. Owners may contact Nissan at 1-800-647-7261.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to NHTSA Campaign ID number: 10V208000.

GM Recalls Corvettes for Electronic Glitch

“Active handling system” may misapply the brakes.

by on May.03, 2010

The computer can cause the car to veer suddenly.

General Motors Company is recalling more that 40,000 Corvette models that were made between March 2004 and January 2006 and equipped with a tilt and telescoping steering column.

Movement of the steering column can damage a Delphi supplied wiring connector for the steering wheel position sensor and cause an open or intermittent circuit. If this happens, the message, “Service Active Handling System” will appear in the driver information center, and a computer could apply one or more of the brakes causing the sports car to veer left or right.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had received more than 2,000 complaints about the problem, but GM maintains that very few of the complaints involved brake application.

GM says that there are no reports of injuries.

GM is now in the process of notifying owners of the safety recall. Dealers are required by law to repair the vehicles free of charge. Owners may contact Chevrolet at 1-800-630-2438 or at the Owner Center at

GM’s recall campaign number is N100118. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (tty 1-800-424-9153), or go to NHTSA Campaign ID Number: 10V172000. NHTSA Action Number: EA09002.

BMW Forms New Channel for Diesel Engine Sales

Press conference today will outline police car plans.

by on Mar.22, 2010

The agreement calls for delivery of inline six-cylinder BMW diesel engines.

BMW AG is expected to announce this morning that it will supply more than 240,000 six-cylinder diesel engines to a fledgling maker of police vehicles, Carbon Motors Corporation, which has never produced a police car.

Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing, and William Santana Li, Chairman and CEO of Carbon Motors Corporation  will sign a contract at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. late this morning.

The number of engines to be supplied appears to be wildly optimistic, given the small size of the police market – roughly 75,000 vehicles annually pre-Great Recession, and the  lack of experience at Carbon Motors in this specialized area, which is  currently dominated by Ford Crown Victoria models.

Why the U.S. government, which has large taxpayer-financed holdings as the result of bailing out bankrupt General Motors and Chrysler, and has  granted  billions of dollars in subsidized loans to Ford Motor so it can retool its plants, would want to set up a new company to compete against them using BMW supplied engines is beyond my comprehension.

The agreement calls for delivery of  245 horsepower,  inline six-cylinder BMW diesel engines, complete with cooling and exhaust gas systems and and an automatic transmission.

“Today’s agreement is an important milestone on this way and more will follow,” BMW executive board member Ian Robertson said in a statement.

Carbon Motors was founded in 2003 to produce the E7, a car said to be specifically designed for law enforcement.  It’s now, vaguely, promised in 2013 or so,  contingent on taxpayer subsidies pending at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Global News!

BMW’s turbo diesel engine technology reduces fuel consumption by up to 40% and CO2  emissions by up to 30%  when compared to comparable gasoline engines.

“This means that the Carbon Motors fleet will require only half the fuel of the current law enforcement fleet, yet with over 40% more torque,” Robertson said.   (more…)

March New Vehicle Retail Sales on Rebound

Both retail and fleet sales are projected to improve from February. Incentive war looming because of Toyota?

by on Mar.19, 2010

U.S. Retail SAAR from January 2009 to March 2010, in millions of units.

New-vehicle buyers are returning to dealer showrooms so far in March, lured by huge incentives, after Toyota recall news and bad weather kept them away in February.

March new-vehicle retail sales are projected to increase by 25%, compared with the same period one year ago, according to J.D. Power and Associates, based on transaction data from more than 8,900 dealers.

Retail transactions are the most accurate measurement of true underlying consumer demand for new vehicles, according to Power.

Most manufacturers’ retail sales are up so far in March, with Toyota, Ford and VW leading the major makers.  Toyota appears to be rebounding – in both sales and market share – to its late 2009 levels.

March new-vehicle retail sales are expected to come in at 883,300 units, which represent a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 9.9 million units. This reflects a retail SAAR increase of nearly 2 million units, compared with February 2010. Compared with March 2009, retail sales are projected to increase by 2.3 million units.

“New-vehicle retail sales increased robustly during the first half of March, and are expected to remain strong throughout the remainder of the month—setting the industry recovery back on track,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates.

“March sales could outperform projections if the pace does not level off as expected for the remainder of the month. However, there is some risk that the incentives offered by Toyota could spark an incentive war among several automakers. While this may lead to a temporary increase in sales momentum, it could also potentially slow the pace of long-term recovery.”   (more…)

Wall Street Journal Wrong. No New Prius Recall

Media feeding frenzy continues as false reports run rampant.

by on Mar.10, 2010

While the latest Prius incident near San Diego raises questions thus far unanswered, Toyota is not changing its previous recall on the hybrid.

The Wall Street Journal started a media feeding frenzy yesterday when it reported, inaccurately, that Toyota plans to announce a new recall for the 2004-2009 Prius to attend to the potential risk for floor mat entrapment of accelerator pedals.

Toyota told me “no new recall being planned for the Prius to address this issue.”

Whether this ultimately holds remains to be seen.

For the record, the 2004-2009 Prius was part of Toyota’s November 2, 2009 announcement of a safety recall campaign to address floor mat entrapment in millions of Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

How a major news organization, apparently, ran with such a story without checking with Toyota, and before confusing or frightening hundreds of thousands of Toyota owners is a sign of just how out of hand the Toyota matter is.  The story was then picked up by many outlets.

This mistake is nothing, of  course, when compared with the now infamous ABC News false report on Toyota unintended acceleration,  which aired just prior to a congressional hearing. In the demonstration aired by ABC on February 22, Professor Gilbert, assisted by ABC reporter Brian Ross, asserted that he had detected a “dangerous” flaw in the Toyota electronic control system that he alleged could lead to unintended acceleration. (Click Here. )


Other models involved in this previously-announced floor mat recall include 2007-2010 Camry, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2005-2010 Tacoma, 2007-2010 Tundra, 2007-2010 ES 350, 2006-2010 IS 250, and 2006-2010 IS 350.

On January 27, 2010, Toyota expanded the campaign to include the 2008-2010 Highlander, 2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Venza, 2009-2010 Matrix and 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe.   (more…)

Hyundai Exclusive Academy Award “Carvertiser”

An actor nominated for an Oscar can’t appear in a commercial during the broadcast?

by on Mar.05, 2010

More than $1 million of a thirty-second spot, with steadily declining ratings?

Given its impressive sales growth last year, ongoing through February of this year, (from an admittedly small base of 30,000 units a month) Hyundai’s vehicles are resonating with consumers. Its aggressive advertising campaigns, based on a “Big Voices in Big Places” strategy, which includes high-profile advertising in sporting events, entertainment awards shows and outdoor video boards placement tactics, is working very well thank you.

After taking over from long-time Oscar sponsor General Motors last year as the biggest Oscar advertiser, Hyundai will continue as the exclusive automotive advertiser on this year’s Academy Award ABC network broadcasts and has bought time for eight 0:30-second commercials during the annual homage to movies broadcast.

This could be a title of somewhat dubious distinction unless Oscar’s ratings are on the upswing. Broadcasts of the annual Academy Awards show are down, according to Nielsen, from a high of 55 million homes in 1997, when Titanic won Best Picture, to last year’s 36.3 million homes when … ah, hmm what was that movie … won?

Adding up the cost of $1.2 to $1.5 million per 0:30, Hyundai’s buy of eight spots – seven featuring the new Sonata and one for the award winning Genesis sedan – is impressive. However, there was some not so good news.

Not during our broadcast you don't.

Jeff Bridges, Hyundai’s voiceover since 2007, is nominated for the Best Actor award for his role in Crazy Heart; thus his mellifluous voice could not be used on the commercials.

The logical solution could have been get another, non-Oscar-nominee to rerecord Bridges voiceover, right? Yes, but not this time. The answer was to get not one but several actors to substitute their voice for that of Bridges.

“Praise for this idea,” Joel Ewanick vice president of marketing of Hyundai America, said, “Should go to Chris Perry, Hyundai’s director-marketing communications, for suggesting the idea.” On a conference call with Hyundai, Perry said, “My team working with Special Artists Agency, Jeff Bridges talent management firm, got an enviable package of seven very well known, recognizable, famous actors to substitute in our commercials, record their voiceovers, edit them into our old and new commercials, get them approved  and shipped them to ABC just in time.”

Oscar Who?

In addition, they did it in about a week and half, which is an incredible achievement in Lalaland where it often takes that long to decide where to have lunch.

So whom did Hyundai get? (more…)