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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

FCA US Recalls More Than 469,000 Cars, SUVs Globally

bestautolenders10FCA US started the month of March with a small recall. The Auburn Hills automaker previously known as the Chrysler Group issued a recall for more than 2,200 cars worldwide over fuel-delivery parts that could possibly leak.

The recall campaign covers an estimated 2,211 vehicles, specifically 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT coupes (pictured) and Dodge Charger SRT sedans which are powered by 6.2-liter V8 engines. The automaker learned of the possible fuel leak through a dealer which conducted a pre-delivery vehicle inspection. The components have undergone leak-testing, but the company’s engineers found out through its own investigation that some hose seals were not installed properly.

Majority of the recalled vehicles—about 2,012 units—are in the United States. FCA US knows of no crashes or injuries related to the issue. Dealers will replace the suspect fuel-delivery parts.

The hose seal recall comes after a larger callback issued by FCA US on Friday. The company said it is recalling about 467,480 sport utility vehicles (SUVs) worldwide over a fuel-pump issue.

The models covered by this recall are 2012 and 2013 Dodge Durango SUVs as well as non-NAFTA 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs that have 3.0-liter diesel engines under the hood. The campaign does not cover the models equipped with EcoDiesel engines.

Like in the March 1 recall, most of the vehicles covered by the fuel-pump-related callback are in the U.S. There are 338,216 affected units in the U.S. FCA US knows of no related accidents or injuries.

This recall is related to a previous recall issued last September, which affected 230,760 2011 Durangos and Grand Cherokees with gasoline engines. FCA US discovered that the fuel-pump relays have a tendency to be deformed and are therefore more likely to compromise fuel-pump function. Deformed fuel-pump relays can cause engine stalls and could prevent a vehicle from starting. The automaker noted that the latter condition is more common in this most recent callback.

FCA US also pointed out that the suspect component is found inside the Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM), which is involved in other vehicle functions. The company clarified that other functions including airbag deployment are not affected by the suspect part.

The automaker will address the problem by installing a new relay circuit that makes the fuel-pump relay more durable. It will soon notify affected customers of when they can bring their vehicles for service but for now, it advises owners who experience engine stalls and no-start conditions to contact their dealerships.

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Honda Welcomes Deal in U.S. West Coast Port Dispute

bestautolenders9Friday brought some good news to Honda Motor Corp. and other automakers affected by the U.S. West Coast ports labor dispute. A union of dockworkers and a group of shipping companies have reached a tentative deal, allowing auto production operations to return back to normal.

Both parties announced the agreement in a joint statement released late Friday. The deal was reached several days after U.S. President Barack Obama sent Labor Secretary Tom Perez to California to help broker a deal between the two sides. The agreement came after nine months of negotiations.

The labor dispute shut down the 29 West Coast ports and delayed shipments, hurting a number of industries. Among those affected is the auto industry. Automakers like Honda were forced to resort to air freight in order to get components for its North American assembly lines.

Last week, Honda announced that it was cutting back production at some of its North American factories due to parts shortage. Its plants in Indiana, Ohio and Ontario, Canada were scheduled to reduce output from February 16 to 23. Company spokesman Mark Morrison explained that while the automaker had used other means of transportation to minimize production disruptions, the prolonged shutdown of ports had forced them to slow output. Honda sources most of the components used in its vehicles built in North America from domestic suppliers.

Before the deal was confirmed, Honda said on Friday that it will continue to reduce production at two North American plants from February 24 to March 2 because of parts shortage. One of these is the Greensburg, Indiana factory, which builds the Honda Civic and Acura ILX. The other is the Alliston, Ontario facility which also produces the Civic along with the Honda CR-V and Acura CSX.

According to Honda, this production slowdown in both factories will cost the company 5,000 vehicles.

On Saturday, the Japanese automaker welcomed the deal. It claimed that the shipping delays cost the company 25,000 vehicles in February (loss in the period between February 16 to 23 was 20,000 units).

Morrison told Reuters that the automaker will continue using air shipments from Japan to supply parts to its North American assembly lines as port operations normalize. He also said Honda’s production operations in Ohio will resume to full capacity starting February 24.

Honda is not the only Japanese carmaker affected by the ports closure. Toyota Motor Corp. limited overtime at some facilities while Nissan Motor Corp. admitted to being affected by the dispute. Subaru also had to airlift components to maintain full production.

Photo credit: JD Hancock/ Flickr/ CC BY



Apple is Working On Its Own Electric Car

bestautolenders8After considerable success in the development of portable music players, smartphones and tablets, Apple seems ready to move on to the next big project. If reports are to be believed, Apple’s next project will be one with wheels.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Apple is developing its own automobile. According to the Journal’s sources, the tech giant has a thousand people working on a project codenamed ‘Titan.’ Project Titan is said to be the development of an electric vehicle that looks like a minivan, said one source.

While Apple works on many products, some of which never go into production, it seems the company is serious about its latest undertaking. The size of the team and the people involved in the project are proof. Most of the people working on the car project have worked with vehicle manufacturers, including the team leader. Sources said that Apple CEO Tim Cook put product design vice president and former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky in charge of the project. The company also hired industrial designer Marc Newson (who created a concept car for Ford) and Johann Jungwirth (who headed the R&D lab of Mercedes-Benz).

Apple is also reportedly poaching employees from electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a Bloomberg report that the Cupertino, California-based company has been trying to poach some of their employees, though it only managed to poach a few.

The Journal said that the Project Titan team is working in a private lab some distance away from Apple’s headquarters. The team members are looking into things related to car manufacturing, such as materials and robotics.

Other reports seem to confirm the Journal’s story. Before the Journal’s article came out, BusinessInsider already cited an Apple employee who said that the tech company had something that will “give Tesla a run for its money.” Meanwhile, the Mac Observer also had a source who said that there is an 80 percent chance Apple had a car project in the works.

On Saturday, Reuters reported that Apple is currently exploring the development of a self-driving electric car. Citing a senior auto industry source, the news agency said that the company is seeking the help of experts working at automakers and automotive suppliers to learn how to make such vehicle. The source said that Apple has sought advice not only regarding production methods and connected car technologies but also the potential for automated driving.

Photo credit: Daniel Dudek-Corriga/ Flickr/ CC BY



Ford Dealership Donates a Car to Detroit Factory Worker with Marathon Commute

bestautolenders7Factory worker James Robertson made the headlines last week as the man with the unusually tedious commute. Now, he need not walk such a long distance—a Ford dealership awarded the devoted employee with a brand new car.

Anyone who has heard or read about Robertson’s story (which was first reported by the Detroit Free Press) knows that there is no one else more deserving of such gift. The 56-year-old lives in Woodward in Detroit and is employed at Schain Mold & Engineering, which is located in Rochester Hills. The distance he travels to and from work is 23 miles—and he travels 21 miles on foot. He rides buses part of the way (because these do not the cover his entire route) and sometimes gets a ride from friend Blake Pollock.

Robertson’s 23-mile commute takes four hours. He works a 2pm -10pm shift, so he leaves home at 8am and arrives home at 4am. Robertson revealed that he started his marathon commute 10 years ago, when his 1988 Honda Accord gave up on him. With a job that pays $10.55 an hour, he cannot afford to purchase (as well as maintain and insure) a replacement.

Probably the most amazing part of his story is that despite the grueling journey he has to endure five days a week, regardless of the weather conditions, he has perfect attendance at work.

Upon learning Robertson’s story, people across the globe rallied to help him. Wayne State University student Evan Leedy spearheaded the fund-raising effort through The goal was to raise just $5,000 to help the factory worker buy a car but the amount soared to over $310,000.

The sum will allow Robertson to purchase a luxury model, but a luxury model is not what he has in mind. The hardworking Detroit resident prefers something modest—a Ford Taurus.

A Ford Taurus is exactly what Robertson got on Friday. Accompanied by Pollock and Leedy, he thought he was going to the Suburban Ford of Sterling Heights to see which car he could buy. Instead, he was presented with the car he wanted. The dealership gave him a red 2015 Taurus as a gift. The model had a sticker price of more than $35,000.

As for the money Leedy raised, it will be set aside to help Robertson pay car insurance and maintenance for years. It will also be used for other expenses, such as health and dental care.

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Honda Confirms Takata Airbag Inflator Ruptured in Texas Crash

bestautolenders6On Thursday, Honda Motor Co. said that one of its vehicles equipped with airbags made by Takata Corp. was involved in a fatal crash in Texas. At the time of the announcement, the automaker did not say if the airbag inflator ruptured during the accident. On Friday, Honda confirmed that it did.

The crash happened on January 18 in Spring, Texas. 35-year-old Carlos Solis IV was behind the wheel of a 2002 Honda Accord sedan. Also in the car was an 11-year-old cousin. According to reports, the low-speed crash killed the driver but left the younger passenger unharmed. The cause of death has not been determined, but the county medical examiner’s preliminary report indicated that the victim suffered “blunt force injuries to the neck.”

The Solis family has filed a case against Honda, Takata and All Stars Auto Sales, the dealership from which the victim purchased the 2002 Accord. According to the lawsuit, Solis bought the car from the aforementioned used-car dealership in April 2014. The Accord collided with a 2003 Infiniti G35 sedan, and the lawsuit described the crash as “relatively minor.” However, the outcome was anything but—the lawsuit cited a police report which stated that a piece of metal from the airbag hit the driver in the neck.

Honda’s confirmation of the airbag’s rupture suggests that the defective Takata airbag inflators have claimed another life. Before the Texas accident, Takata airbags have been linked to five fatalities. The airbags deploy with excessive force and their inflators explode, spraying metal fragments that can fatally injure vehicle passengers.

Last week, Takata said it was working with Honda to find out the truth about the accident. The parts maker stressed that public safety remains its main priority. Takata has yet to determine the cause of the deadly inflator defect.

Honda said that the 2002 Accord involved in the Texas crash was among the vehicles called back in 2011 for a faulty driver’s side front airbag inflator, but has not yet been serviced by the time Solis bought it. A company spokesman said that Honda sent many recall notices via mail to the Accord’s original owner and admitted that it has not yet mailed notices to the current owner.

Solis purchased the Accord on April 25, 2014, long after the original recall. However, the car was again recalled as part of a regional campaign in June. Texas was among the high-humidity regions included in the regional callback.

Photo credit: Melissa Clark/ Flickr/ CC BY



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