Archive for December, 2014

Teenagers Driving Old Cars: A Deadly Combination

Older vehicles feature fewer safety technologies and lower crashworthiness.

by on Dec.31, 2014

The 2005 Saab 9-3 is one of the safest and least expensive vehicles for teen drivers, according to IIHS.

The fact that teen drivers die at significantly higher rates than other age groups isn’t a surprise to most; however, one of the reasons may be a bit of a revelation: old cars.

It’s often assumed that teenage fatalities involving vehicles – the top reason for teenage fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is car crashes – can be attributable to a dangerous combination of poor driving habits and a lack of experience behind the wheel.

Stay on Top of the News!

However, teenagers also typically drive older vehicles that often lack the safety technologies that could offset some of their inexperience. It’s when that decade-old car or truck gets added to the mix that dangerous can become deadly. (more…)

Government Lost $9.26 Billion Saving Auto Industry

Treasury made more than $2 billion on GMAC deal.

by on Dec.30, 2014

The Treasury exited GM more than four years after the maker's 2009 bankruptcy.

The U.S. government lost less than $10 billion rescuing the auto industry, which was four times less than some estimates.

The Treasury initially estimated the loss would be $44 billion, but revised it to $30 billion in 2009. Under government accounting rules, the U.S. Treasury actually lost $16.56 billion on paper because interest and dividends paid isn’t applied toward the principal owed.

Subscribe for Free!

The government was repaid through a combination of stock sales, partial loan repayments, dividends and interest payments. (more…)

2014: The Year of the Recall

Safety may remain the big story in 2015.

by on Dec.30, 2014

Barely 2 months after becoming GM's new CEO, Mary Barra was facing a Congressional investigation into the maker's ignition switch problems.

When 2014 opened, the year’s top automotive story seemed likely to be Mary Barra, General Motors’ new chief executive, and the first female CEO of a major automaker. As the year draws to a close, Barra is, indeed, still in the headlines, but enmeshed in what has turned into the year’s biggest story.

GM’s February recall of 2.6 million vehicles due to faulty ignition switches has so far been linked to more than 40 deaths. But in recent weeks, that’s nearly been eclipsed by the Takata airbag crisis that has so far led to the recall of more than 10 million vehicles and counting – federal regulators pressing to expand the service action nationwide.

Begin 2015 With a Free Subscription!

But those are only two of the many safety issues that have led the industry to recall about 60 million vehicles this year, nearly twice the previous record set back in 2004. The question is whether recalls will remain the big automotive story for 2015.

(more…)

Fiat Chrysler Recalls 67,000 Pickups

Faulty ignition lets trucks start without depressing clutch.

by on Dec.30, 2014

The 2005 Dodge Ram is part of a larger recall of 67,000 pickup trucks.

Fiat Chrysler is ending the “Year of the Recall” with a problem similar to issue that earned 2014 the nickname to begin with: an ignition problem.

The company is recalling about 67,000 pickups from model year 2006 and 2007. The trucks can be started without the clutch being depressed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Stay on Top of the News!

In May, the agency received a complaint about the death of a child due to the problem. According to the report, a child started a 2006 Dodge Ram 3500 without using the clutch and the pickup moved forward hitting another child killing him. (more…)

Legal Marijuana Forcing States to Examine Impaired Driving Laws

Concern growing about the problem of smoking and driving.

by on Dec.29, 2014

An increasing number of Americans are concerned about driving while under the influence of marijuana.

How much pot can a person smoke and then drive safely? It’s a question more and more states are grappling with as the legalization of marijuana becomes more widespread.

Those states are not alone as nearly half of Americans express similar concerns and report feeling that drug-impaired drivers are a bigger problem today compared to three years ago, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Your Automotive Source!

While 85% of Americans support marijuana-impairment laws, according to its latest survey, the definition of “impairment” is a tough one to nail down when it comes to John Q. Public as well as the law enforcement community. (more…)

Jeep Closing in on 1-Million Unit Sales Mark

Brand’s sales up more than 40% through November.

by on Dec.29, 2014

Jeep sales were up 44% through November. The Renegade is helping push Jeep toward sales of 1 million units in 2014.

Global sales of the Jeep brand are expected to top 1 million units for the first time ever when the numbers are added up by Fiat Chrysler next week. However, the company isn’t resting on its laurels, FCA is charging ahead with ambitious plans for the future.

FCA Chief Sergio Marchionne laid out the goal of 1 million units for Jeep during the Detroit Auto Show at the beginning of 2014. Through November, the brand’s sales are up 44%, which puts it on track to hit the mark.

The Leader in Global Automotive News!

In fact, the company’s massive plant in Toledo, Ohio, hit an all-time production high this year, surpassing 500,000 vehicles built just a couple of weeks ago. While much of the news from Jeep has been good, the brand has come under some new criticism from Consumer Reports. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited wound up at the bottom of CR’s New-Car Value ratings. (more…)

McConaughey Makes Return for Lincoln

Ad campaign generated parodies – and strong sales.

by on Dec.29, 2014

Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey will have a big presence for Lincoln – again.

He’s been the target of parodies from the likes of Jim Carrey and Ellen DeGeneres, but the folks at Lincoln apparently like what they’ve seen from actor Matthew McConaughey because they’re bringing him back for a sequel.

The Academy Award-winning actor will start pitching the upscale maker’s MKZ model later this week, part of Lincoln’s  effort to regain some momentum after years as a second-tier player in the otherwise booming U.S. luxury market.

A Real Performer!

The first round of ads, which focused on the new Lincoln MKC, might have generated a fair share of parody, but they also drew people into the maker’s showrooms, said the maker’s marketing manager Andrew Frick. (more…)

Tesla Extends Range…on Roadster

Musk’s forgotten child gets some updates.

by on Dec.26, 2014

The Tesla Roadster 2.0 is getting an upgrade to 3.0 to extend the car's range from 245 miles to 400 miles.

Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, has been making noise on Twitter about an announcement regarding the company’s first vehicle – the Roadster – for more than a week and now he’s let the cat out of the bag: it can go nearly 400 miles on a charge.

The improved results are coming from a new prototype package the company calls Roadster 3.0. Those changes include an improved lithium ion battery that has 31% more energy, a retro-fitted aero kit to improve the vehicle’s coefficient of drag and low-resistance tires that are 20% better than their predecessors. Tesla officials declined to elaborate on pricing or availability. The Roadster originally had a range of about 245 miles on a charge.

On Top of the News!

“Combining all of these improvements we can achieve a predicted 40-50% improvement on range between the original Roadster and Roadster 3.0,” the company wrote in a blog post. “There is a set of speeds and driving conditions where we can confidently drive the Roadster 3.0 over 400 miles. (more…)

Shake-Up at Takata – But Supplier Still Resisting All-in Recall

President steps aside; chairman takes over. Execs take pay cuts

by on Dec.24, 2014

More turmoil at Takata.

Embattled Japanese airbag supplier Takata is shaking up its top management team – even as top managers take pay cuts of as much as 50%.

But the company is so far maintaining its position that there is no need to expand the recall of airbags linked to a potentially deadly problem that can result in the devices spewing shrapnel into the passenger compartment after a crash.

Stay on Top!

As part of the shake-up, Takata Corp. President Stefan Stocker will step aside, his duties being assumed by Chairman Shigehisa Takada, heir to the founders of the company. Stocker will remain a member of the Takata board.

(more…)

First Drive: 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth

No room, no worries when driving this pleasing pocket rocket.

by on Dec.24, 2014

The 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth is big fun in a little package, in large measure due to its 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo.

No vehicle is perfect and the Fiat 500 Abarth has its share of shortcomings.

For starters, it can only carry two passengers. You can add to the list that it barely has enough room for the groceries of someone living alone and it’s dwarfed by most of the vehicles on the road, which can be unnerving at times.

Your Automotive Source!

And it’s a blast to drive! (more…)