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Diesel Scandal an “Existence-Threatening Crisis,” Concedes New VW Chairman

Many buyers likely to steer clear, warns survey.

by on Oct.05, 2015

VW is expected to formally name Hans Dieter Poetsch as its new chairman this week.

The company has halted sales of some of its most popular product lines and already set aside more than $7 billion, but that’s likely only the beginning of the problems facing Volkswagen AG as it struggles to deal with a scandal triggered by the revelation it knowingly cheated on diesel emissions testing.

The situation is serious enough that new VWAG Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch is warning it could be an “existence-threatening crisis for the company.”

A Global Perspective!

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VW sold 482,000 vehicles equipped with a so-called “defeat device” in the U.S., the maker acknowledging the suspect software was installed on 11 million vehicles sold worldwide over the last seven years. The disclosure has triggered a flood of class action lawsuits, potential criminal investigations and even a claim filed by Harris County, Texas for $100 million due to the potential environmental damage the cheating may have caused.

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Range Rover Puts Evoque Convertible Through its Paces

Ragtop SUV caught during testing.

by on Oct.05, 2015

Land Rover claims it will maintain the off-road capabilities of the Evoque in its ragtop form.

Since its launch in 2012, the little Range Rover Evoque has become the Land Rover brand’s best-selling model ever, so it’s no surprise the British maker is looking to expand Evoque’s appeal. But it remains to be seen what sort of reaction there’ll be when a soft-top version of the compact ute comes to market early next year.

No surprise, Land Rover is hoping to build interest and expectations with a few shots of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible being put through its paces at the brand’s proving grounds near Eastnor Castle, in Herefordshire, UK.

In the Know!

“Land Rover prides itself on being a class leader when it comes to all-terrain capability and the Evoque Convertible is no different,” said Mike Cross, Land Rover Chief Engineer, in a statement accompanying these images.

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NHTSA Calling for Cash to Help with Foiling Vehicle Hackers

Agency pleads for more funds, but eschews using outside experts.

by on Oct.05, 2015

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind is asking for more funding to foil cyber hacking in vehicles, but refusing to use outside experts to help find and fix problems.

Plenty of noise has been made by federal officials related to cyber security in cars, trucks, crossovers and SUVs in the wake of two hackers in Pittsburgh managed to run a Jeep Cherokee into a ditch in St. Louis with a few simple keystrokes.

Few have been louder about the issue than Mark Rosekind, administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but while sounding the alarm for “getting out ahead” of cyber-security issues, he’s also calling attention – loudly – to the fact the agency is understaffed.

Your Source for Auto Safety News!

Right now, there are seven staffers on the agency’s cyber-security team: four in Washington D.C. and another three in East Liberty, Ohio. That plucky group is charged with monitoring, testing and resolving issues with all aspects of cyber-terrorism as it relates to vehicles. Read the rest of this entry »

VW Diesel Scam Could Prove Deadly

Study warns higher pollution levels could kill up to 20 people annually.

by on Oct.05, 2015

Not-so-clean diesel? A VW Jetta TDI.

When the Texas county that includes Houston sued Volkswagen over its diesel emissions scam last week, skeptics criticized the move as little more than a political cash grab. But a statistical analysis suggests that Harris County may have at least something of a legitimate claim.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, VW used a so-called “defeat device,” software embedded in the computers used to control its 2.0-liter diesel engines, to help it pass government pollution tests. Otherwise, said the EPA, nearly 500,000 vehicles produced up to 40 times the allowable level of emissions such as smog-causing oxides of nitrogen.

By the Numbers!

And over the past seven years, since VW began fitting its cars with the suspect WA 189 diesel engine, that added pollution could have led to as many as 94 deaths, or anywhere from five to 20 annually, according to a study Carnegie Mellon University conducted for the Associated Press.

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Ford Avoids Strike as FCA Ponders Next Move

Union members make desires known for new pact.

by on Oct.05, 2015

Ford President Joe Hinrichs was thumbs up earlier this year and has reason to be now as the automaker and UAW averted a strike at the Kansas City plant.

Ford Motor Co. has avoided a strike at a critical truck plant by settling on the local issues at the Kansas City Truck plant where the United Auto Workers had authorized a walkout if talks failed.

The two sides, which beat a looming deadline by two days, were haggling over issues regarding safety, seniority and manpower at the 4-million-square-foot plant. The plant produces the maker’s hot-selling F-150 as well as its Transit van and a strike could have been very costly.

The Full Story!

Meanwhile, the union was still mulling over its next move, following the decisive rejection of a tentative agreement negotiated last month with FCA U.S. Almost two thirds of the maker’s 40,000 unionized employees voted against the proposed deal. It was by far the biggest vote against a contract that did not include major concessions in 30 years. Read the rest of this entry »

Lexus Adds Two New RC Coupe Models for 2016

Japanese luxury brand aims for lower entry price – but holds back the numbers.

by on Oct.02, 2015

Lexus will offer three different engine options for 2016 on the RC, including a new turbo 200t.

Lexus is adding two new versions of its RC Coupe for the 2016 model-year, and that should be good news for those on a budget.

Echoing moves by a growing list of luxury and performance competitors, the 2016 Lexus RC line will no offer buyers a turbocharged 4-cylinder option, as well as an all-wheel-drive version of the model’s more powerful V-6.

The Last Word!

The luxury arm of Toyota also plans to offer more infotainment options for the 2016 model-year, including the optional Lexus Enform Service Connect. Among other things, the maker explains, that will allow an owner “to remotely view information about certain aspects of their Lexus vehicle,” including maintenance and other alerts.

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GM Charging into Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Plans calls for fleet of self-driving Volts at Tech Center.

by on Oct.02, 2015

Some time next year, GM will have a fleet of self-driving Chevy Volts whizzing around its tech center campus north of Detroit.

Move over Google! The tech giant that uses its California campus as a testing ground for its autonomous vehicle now has company in those types of efforts as General Motors plans to do the same at its Tech Center campus in Michigan.

The automaker plans to roll out a fleet of autonomous 2017 Chevy Volt plug-in hybrids on the site starting next year. Employees will use the vehicles to get around the 326-acre campus in Warren, Michigan, just north of Detroit.

Product, Product, Product!

“It really demonstrates a different mindset than what you might expect from the auto industry, really a Silicon Valley mindset,” she told investors and analysts Thursday at GM’s Global Business Conference. “We’re going to step things up. We’re going to experiment, we’re going to get customer input, we’re going to do it in a cost-effective way. If it works, we’re going to scale it.” Read the rest of this entry »

DeltaWing Unveils New GT Concept

Prototype takes unusual design “one step closer” to street-legal.

by on Oct.02, 2015

The DeltaWing GT's extreme design would help it achieve a wind-cheating 0.26 drag coefficient.

The radical, dart-shaped DeltaWing race car has come “one step closer” to going street legal, the Georgia-based DeltaWing Technology Group says, with the unveiling of its DeltaWing GT Concept.

The highly aerodynamic design, based on the company’s Le Mans race car, would serve as the basis for a road-going, two-seat GT car. And DeltaWing hopes to follow it with a four-door sedan version, as well, it previously indicated.

Pushing Boundaries!

“Real-world testing” is set to begin before the end of this year, DeltaWing announced in a statement, though its didn’t lay out production plans. The wind-cheating design and lightweight, spaceframe chassis would allow the GT to deliver sports car performance while still getting up to 74 miles per gallon, DeltaWing has estimated.

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Mitsubishi Reveals 2016 Lancer

Maker adds features, raises price.

by on Oct.02, 2015

Mitsubishi may be dropping its street racer, the Lancer Evolution, but it will be back for 2016 with an updated version of the sedan.

The new model will get a number of modest upgrades, including new LED accents, but it will also see a $200 increase in its starting price, according to the small Japanese automaker.

Mitsubishi has announced plans to put its primary emphasis on sport-utility vehicles, like the recently redesigned Outlander. But the return of the Mitsubishi Lancer for 2016 shows it isn’t abandoning the passenger car segment entirely.

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VW Diesel Emissions Cheating Scandal Heading to Congress

EPA prepares for “likely” recall.

by on Oct.02, 2015

The EPA has yet to order a formal recall of VW diesels, like this one, but that could happen soon.

Two weeks after revealing that Volkswagen had cheated on diesel emissions tests, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency still have not formally ordered a recall of 482,000 VW products, but that step is “likely” to take place, according to an EPA spokesperson.

Sources inside Volkswagen, meanwhile, told that the automaker is now working with the federal agency to come up with an acceptable fix for diesel models that can produce as much as 40 times the allow level of pollutants such as smog-causing NOx. VW has already said it is developing a retrofit for a total of 11 million diesel vehicles sold worldwide that contained a secret “defeat device” designed to reduce emissions levels during testing.

The Full Story!

VW’s problems have continued to escalate in recent days, and even as prosecutors in both the U.S. and Germany look into the scandal, the automaker’s top U.S. executive has been summoned to Capitol Hill where he will testify before a congressional oversight panel on October 8th.

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