FTC Says Sage Auto Group Uses Deceptive Tactics

The Federal Trade Commission has charged nine Los Angeles-area Sage auto dealerships and their owners with using a wide range of deceptive and unfair sales and financing practices. The FTC’s action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California seeks to end these practices and return money to consumers. (Judge Rules Against Dealers on Disclosure of Car Loan Terms)

This is the FTC’s first action against an auto dealer for so-called “yo-yo” financing tactics: using deception or other unlawful pressure tactics to coerce consumers who have signed contracts and driven off the dealership lots into accepting a different deal. The FTC also alleges that the defendants packed extra, unauthorized charges for “add-ons,” or aftermarket products and services, into car deals financed by consumers. Continue reading

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U.S. September Vehicle Sales Down. Record Incentives

AutoInformed.com on September 2016 US Light Vehicle SalesFor the fifth time in the past seven months, U.S. new-vehicle retail sales are expected to drop in September, falling 1.4% from a year ago, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. Retail sales are projected to reach 1,185,500 units in September, while total sales are projected to fall 0.8% to 1,429,100. Continue reading

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Lithium Battery Fires – FAA Emergency Order to Braille

AutoInformed on Braille Lithium Ion Battery FAA ViolationsThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on September 16 issued an emergency order to restrict and prohibit Braille Battery of Sarasota, FL, from offering to transport by air any lithium ion battery not in compliance with the DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) or the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) technical instructions.

Braille is active in automotive performance circles for promoting lighter weight batteries. (FAA Issues Guidance on Exploding Samsung Galaxy Devices and FAA Fines Amazon $78K for Shipping Hazardous Materials) Continue reading

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Buick to Try Avenir as Sub-Brand in 2018

AutoInformed.com on Buick Avenir Badge EngineeringIs this marketing madness, brand hubris, rejection of existing customers, or is Buick’s impending attempt to spin off Aviner as a “sub brand” for the 2018 model year smart business? Maybe all of the above. Details, not surprisingly, are scarce on what could simply be fully loaded vehicles with more chrome and different badges and floor mats. Actually it’s not “sub” (Buick’s description), but apparently intended to be priced above existing Buick models. Continue reading

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Trade Agreement Data at Odds with Political Rhetoric?

AutoInformed.com on trade agreementsIn a report just released by the bi-partisan U.S. Congressional Budget Office, it is claimed that international trade “yields several benefits for the U.S. economy.” So-called Preferential Trade Agreements, aka PTAs, are treaties that claim to remove barriers to trade and set rules for commerce between two countries or among a small group of countries. As of August 2016, the United States has established 14 PTAs with 20 of its trading partners. They are – of course –  controversial, and part of the U.S. Presidential election fight between Clinton and Trump, both of whom are disliked by a majority of voters in their own parties.
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Ford Recalls Transit, Focus Models in North America

AutoInformed.comFord recalls 2014 Transit Connect vehicles to reinstall badly glued panoramic roofs, and 2013-17 Focus hatchbacks to update interior latch release software. Only ~900 2014 Ford Transit Connect vehicles have a bad bond that may exist between the panoramic roof and the vehicle body, resulting in wind noise, water leaks and, in some cases, separation from the vehicle. If the entire panoramic roof separates from the vehicle while driving, it can increase the risk of crash or injury, of course.  Continue reading

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India Honda Workers’ Hunger Strike on Week 2

AutoInformed on Honda Workers' Hunger Strike in IndiaFive fired employees of the Tapukara plant of Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) began a hunger strike on 19 September demanding reinstatement of workers and the “withdrawal of false police charges” filed against them. On 26 September, the eighth day of the protest, Vipin Kumar was hospitalized but refused to break his fast.

The hunger strike, a Gandhian method of non-violent political protest where participants do not take solid food, was launched to force the Honda management to come to the negotiating table. Continue reading

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New Texas Titan Trim Package Added by Nissan

AutoInformed.con on Nissan Titan Texas Trim PackageIn the ongoing pickup truck marketing battles that continues to see significant moves from Japanese makers, Nissan has added a new Texas Titan trim package on XD and Crew Cab 4×4 and 4×2 models. Basically a “special chrome grille” and 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels comprise the Texas package that is now available for the first time in 2017 on two Titan and four Titan XD Crew Cab grades, including 4×4 and 4×2 drive configurations. (First Look: 2016 Nissan Titan Full Size Pickup)

The addition of the Texas package is part of the ongoing expansion of the Nissan full-size pickup lineup as it enters its second year of production. Once the roll-out of all Titan cab, bed, powertrain and grade level configurations is complete, the family will cover about 85%  of the total light pickup market. Continue reading

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Wages Rising at New Car Dealerships. Turnover Problematic

AutoInformed.com on Wages at New Car DealershipsAverage annual wages for employees at new-car dealerships working in all positions was $69,718 in 2015, an increase of 1% from the previous year, according to a new study released today by the National Automobile Dealers Association. Average weekly wages across all dealership positions were $1,341 in 2015, a 1.4% increase, according to NADA’s 2016 Dealership Workforce Study (DWS). Dealership productivity, measured as gross profit per employee, increased 0.4% to $8,446. The study tracks trends on compensation, benefits, retention and demographics of nearly 2,000 new-car and -truck dealerships that participated in the survey.
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South African Metalworkers Win 35% Wage Increase

AutoInformed.com on South African Metalworkers Win 35% Wage IncreaseThe National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) has settled a dispute with the Automobile Manufacturers Employers’ Organization, the trade group that includes automobile manufacturers Nissan, Ford, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Renault and VW. The Metalworkers agreement calls for a 35% wage increase spread over three years, with 10% in the first year, 8% in the second and 8% in the third. It also provides a 20% shift allowance and increases in transport and housing subsidies.

NUMSA declared a dispute with the employers’ group in July. After prolonged negotiations, an agreement was reached and signed on 12 September. This is the first time in nine years that an agreement was reached in the sector without strike action. In 2013, a strike by  the Metalworkers in both manufacturing and components caused major problems for automakers. Continue reading

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Can Another Exploding Airbag Be the Fix for Interior Deaths?

A GM analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System database (NHTSA FARS) found that interior deaths cause by far-side impact crashes or lateral crashes accounted for 11% of the belted front-occupant fatalities in non-rollover accidents between 2004 and 2009.

Also implied in the interior deaths GM studied is that much more work remains to be done from a design point of view. Problems include safety belts that don’t hold an occupant laterally. There are also the now ubiquitous center consoles and sharply defined cockpits that are causing serious and fatal injuries, as well as the seat itself, which allows deadly lateral movement. Continue reading

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Gasp! Bentley Bentayga Diesel Debuts

AutoInfromed.com on BentleyBentayga DieselBentley Motors has provided specifications for Bentayga Diesel, its first diesel model in the British brand’s history. Bentayga Diesel goes on sale next year for European customers, with other countries such as Russia, South Africa, Australia, and Taiwan following, but apparently not where the mountain peak Bentayga is located in the Canary Islands. Compared to the W12 powered Bentayga, it’s discounted by about £30,000, with prices starting at £135,800 (~$176,00 U.S.). The oil-burning Bentley is unlikely to ever appear in the States.

Is there is any appeal for the super-rich for a high mileage Bentley? The Crewe, UK-based, VW-owned purveyor of luxury cars and Bentayga trucks, claims this is also the fastest diesel SUV: 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds with a top speed of 270 km/h (168 mph). Continue reading

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Hyundai Interseat Airbag Reduces Head Injuries 80%

AutoInformed.com

The sound of the deployment of an interseat airbag is about that of a 12-gauge shotgun.

Hyundai says that it has completed the development of an interseat airbag, aka center airbag, which reduces head injuries to passengers by more than 80% during a lateral collision. An interseat airbag protects passengers on the opposite side of the contact point.

General Motors introduced the industry’s first front center airbag, aka interseat, on the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Chevrolet Traverse mid-size crossovers during the 2013 model year. Continue reading

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Controversial Federal Guidelines for Autonomous Vehicles Out

Autoinformed.comThe U.S. Department of Transportation today published a Federal policy for autonomous vehicles that are well on the way to appearing on roads.

DOT claims the overdue guidelines provide a “path for the safe testing and deployment of new auto technologies that have enormous potential for improving safety and mobility for Americans on the road.”

During 2015, 35,092 people died in U.S. traffic crashes and 2.4 million people were injured. DOT says 94% of crashes are caused in some way by human choice or error. Automation in vehicles might prevent many of the crashes that are caused by unsafe driving, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives each year.

The primary focus of the policy is on highly automated vehicles, or those in which the vehicle can take full control of driving in at least some circumstances. Portions of the policy also apply to lower levels of automation, including some of the driver-assistance systems already being deployed by automakers today. Continue reading

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Mazda Recalls Liftgate Struts on 580,455 Cars and Crossovers

AutoInfomred on Mazda CX-3 Liftgate RecallMazda North American Operations recalls 580,455 Mazda3, Mazda5 cars and CX-3, CX-5 crossovers going back to the 2012 model year because the Showa supplied liftgate gas struts can fail from corrosion. Showa discovered the deft on another unnamed client’s vehicle line.

In the required NHTSA filing just made public, Mazda said the liftgate stay dampers may corrode by salt water due to improper coating of the outer tube at the end cap. Continued use causes corrosion to advance. which leads to outer tube swelling and eventual end cap cracking. In the worst case, the outer tube may get thin, resulting in breaking off. Continue reading

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