If you're a couple of years late launching your car, and it gets only tepid reviews, and then its frontal crash safety is rated at just two stars out of five, it might be safe to say your company has a few challenges.
That's the situation for Coda Automotive, which yesterday confirmed that it had laid off about 50 people, or 15 percent of its 330-person staff.
The company's senior vice president of government relations and external affairs, Forrest Beanum, issued a statement saying:
Coda has released approximately 50 employees or 15% of our workforce across all functions to streamline our operations and right-size the Company. The Company is taking this action to better position our business going forward. We remain committed to the continued development and distribution of our products.
The quality and safety of our products is of paramount importance. Coda vehicles meet all applicable U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and achieved an overall 4-star rating in National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing. ( Continue… )
Honda will recall approximately 807,000 vehicles in the United States and approximately 63,000 in other countries due to a problem with the key ignition.
The problem is a potential malfunction with the ignition interlock feature, which keep keys locked into the ignition when a car is not in park. Without it, a key can be removed when the vehicle is in drive, neutral, or reverse, and the car could move when it shouldn’t.
“The ignition interlock mechanism can be damaged or worn during use,” Honda America’s statement on the recall reads. “If this happens, it may become possible to remove the ignition key when the automatic transmission shift lever is not in Park. If the transmission is not in Park and the parking brake is not set, the vehicle could roll away, and a crash could occur.”
Honda has received several customer complaints about the problem, and says in its statement that it knows of two incidents that may have resulted in minor injuries.
Honda will notify vehicle owners by mail this coming February. At that time, customers affected by the recall can take their vehicles to Honda dealerships for a repair at no charge.
Also in early February, Honda owners will be able to determine if their vehicles need a repair by visiting the Honda and Acura recall websites, www.recalls.honda.com and www.recalls.acura.com, or by calling (800) 999-1009 for Honda owners or (800) 382-2238 for Acura owners, and selecting option 4.
This isn’t the first recall for Honda involving the ignition interlock issue. Some 384,000 Honda Accords from the 2003 model year were recalled for the same problem in August 2010. In 2003, Honda recalled 583,000 Hondas and Acuras for the ignition defect, and another 483,000 in 2005. In an investigation of the problem, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration received 42 complaints from drivers whose vehicles had rolled away. Sixteen vehicles came to a stop only after hitting something.
Aside from the ignition interlock issue, Honda has wrestled with other recalls this year. The company has had to issue major recalls on things ranging from faulty overhead electrical wiring to leaky power steering to power window switches that pose a fire risk, as the Monitor reported in October.
According to Honda, the current recall is unrelated to the previous ones.
You might not know it from general media coverage, but plug-in electric-car sales are actually doing pretty well.
Still, people get impatient, and electric-car and environmental advocates want more, faster.
So what are the best ways to boost adoption of plug-in cars?
Education and awareness are the two key factors, said Brian Wynne, president of the Electric Drive Trade Association, on a conference call today.
And it turns out the best way to make people aware that electric cars are now a viable option is to let them get in the cars and drive them.
That's what the industry sometimes calls "getting butts into seats." ( Continue… )
The technology, which Volvo plans to phase out over the coming years, includes a mid-size vehicle platform, several safety systems and cabin filter technology.
Volvo, of course, is set to introduce a new modular platform dubbed SPA that will spawn most of its future lineup.
Two weeks ago, we mentioned that the Hyundai/Kia fuel-economy fiasco was turning heads in Congress and suggested that this could cause the Environmental Protection Agency to take a closer look at other vehicles.
That's now happening.
As our colleagues at Green Car Reports noted, auto critics and consumers began contesting the C-Max's fuel economy claims some time ago. In test drives, GCR averaged around 40 mpg, which is roughly what C-Max owners have received over longer periods of driving.
it's always nice when the big boys say, "You're right."
Now Consumer Reports has confirmed that finding, based on its own testing, in videos and a blog post published yesterday.
Both vehicles are rated at 47 mpg combined by the EPA.
As the magazine's post says, "These two vehicles have the largest discrepancy between our overall-mpg results and the estimates published by the EPA that we've seen among any current models."
That's a pretty damning statement.
Consumer Reports goes on to note that the test results are fully 20 percent lower than the EPA rating, while, "Our overall-mpg results are usually pretty close to the EPA's combined-mpg estimate."
The post containing the comments includes a chart of the differences between CR's test results and the EPA ratings for 18 different cars it has tested recently. The two Ford hybrids top the list with the greatest difference.
At the other end are the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco, which equaled its 29-mpg rating exactly, and the Honda CR-Z hybrid hatchback, in which CR's test drivers actually bettered its combined 34-mpg rating by 1 mpg.
(We would have preferred Consumer Reports to rank the differences by percent, rather than by the non-linear MPG scale, but the Fords would still have been at the top.)
Other outlets have reported similar results.AutoGuide, for instance, achieved just 40 mpg in a brief test of a Fusion Hybrid.
And Gary Gastelu, writing for Fox News, said of his Fusion Hybrid, "It took a lot of work to get it anywhere near 40 mpg, let alone that magic 47 mpg mark."
While Green Car Reports hasn't yet had a 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid to test, we've now driven the C-Max Hybrid twice.
At Ford's media drive, it delivered 37 mpg over 50 miles of mixed freeway and urban driving.
And during an abbreviated weekend test route, we got 40 mpg over 240 miles, mostly at freeway speeds.
In those cases, the carmakers had to re-rate their cars; apologize profusely to the public, to officials, and to their buyers; and issue refunds to buyers of the affected cars for the increased gasoline costs over the cars' lifetimes.
Will Ford be forced to take similar action? Stay tuned; there's clearly more to come on this story.
The White House Office of Management has approved a request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to mandate event data recorders, commonly referred to as “black boxes,” in 100-percent of new vehicles sold.
In the very near future, then, the car you drive may monitor your every action behind the wheel, from speed to steering angle to brake pressure to whether or not you and your front seat passengers are buckled up.
If that makes you paranoid, this won’t help much: if you drive a newer car, chances are there’s already some kind of black box logging your actions, something that most consumers are blissfully unaware of. Today, The Detroit News tells us, 91.6 percent of light-duty autos utilize black boxes, so the latest directive would merely take that to 100 percent.
Black boxes in automobiles are really nothing new. General Motors began capturing data as far back as 1990, and event data recorders became standard in GM products during the 1995 model year.Ford uses them, as do Toyota, Tesla and Mazda, but standardization of the data captured won’t occur until the 2013 model year.
Beginning with 2013 vehicles, the black boxes will measure 15 specific values in a common format, making it easier for first responders and crash investigators to access and interpret the data. Therein lies the concern of critics who oppose capturing such data: if it exists, what’s to stop insurance companies from subpoenaing the information to deny accident claims?
Expect ownership of the data to become a point of concern once the new regulations take effect. While we may be safe from law enforcement wirelessly accessing data from black boxes (for the near future, anyway), we know one thing for certain: insurance companies aren’t in the business of losing money, and if such data can be used to pad profits, chances are good insurers will find a way to do so.
Driving an electric car has plenty of advantages, but many owners also like the simplicity of their vehicles.
An electric motor is incredibly simple in operation. In contrast, internal combustion engines can be made up of hundreds of parts--even thousands, in particularly advanced engines.
That's why it's perhaps unsurprising to hear that new research suggests electric cars could cost 35 percent less to maintain than their combustion counterparts (via TheGreenCarWebsite).
A study conducted at the Institute for Automotive Research (IFA) at the Nürtingen-Geislingen University in southern Germany, concluded that anEV's simplicity pays dividends over longer ownership periods.
While the initial cost of electric cars is still high, they're not only cheaper to "fuel", but are expected to chew through consumable items much more slowly. ( Continue… )
Some of the biggest news of the year has been broken on social networking site, Twitter.
"Am happy to report that Tesla was narrowly cash flow positive last week. Continued improvement expected through year end", he announced.
No doubt the news is music to the ears of Tesla fans, not to mention Musk himself--but at the same time, it's important to put things in context.
While Musk expects things to improve further, this is still only one week. As such, it's a minor success, rather than a major one--and Musk no doubt knows that there's still a lot of hard work to come. ( Continue… )