We the People Say Again Farewell to Despots and Treason

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on Trump DespotismGeneral Washington himself in December of 1777 reveled on a day of “Thanksgiving” after the defeat of the British at Saratoga during what is known as our War of Independence. That war was conducted when we were still a loose confederation of colonies who rebelled, in part, because we were resisting the taxation needed to pay for the ongoing folly of foreign wars and entanglements of our government run by the rich, privileged British Monarchy. We the People wanted to govern ourselves.

In these times that once again trouble men’s and women’s souls, we the people would do well to remember that We Are What We Were. Our revolutionary war was won – against all odds by citizen soldiers or irregulars who forced a standing British Army to surrender in the field for the first time since the tyrant Napoleon. This happened with some help from the French because the Crown and its privileged generals were fighting an idea first put forth in our Declaration of Independence, then codified in our Constitution that “We the People” would govern ourselves and elect our leaders and smoothly transfer power to successive administrations. The idea was bigger and more powerful than the British Army and Navy. It remains a bigger and better idea when used against other forces of oppression.

Now, once again, the courtiers of privilege and wealth are presiding over our fate and using hatred, false patriotism and militias of fascists to enrich themselves, expand their unearned privileges and oppress our Citizen Patriots who voted some of the haters out of office. The rest need to go too, especially all the Republicans who wanted to and continue to try to overthrow our votes and cancel our elections. Our new battles of Lexington and Concord will now take place in voter registration procedures and polling places, and our courts. This is our birthright – we will govern ourselves according to our Constitution. Continue reading

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Boeing to Pay More Than $2.5 Billion for 737 Max Fraud

The Boeing Company has a “deferred prosecution agreement” with the Department of Justice to resolve a criminal charge related to a conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group (FAA AEG) in connection with the FAA AEG’s evaluation of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane. The deal was announced yesterday as the U.S. Capital was under siege by Trump supporters or treasoners who were sent there by Trump and the Republican party to overturn the election that Trump lost.

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on Boeing 737 Max Plea Deal

William Barr when he headed his injustice department under Trump.

The Justice Departments reputation and adherence to the law is subject to considerable debate under the pardoner in Chief – soon to be ex-president Trump and the former Attorney General (resume laundering by resigning 23 Dec 2020) and Republican lawyer William P. Barr. He is also known here as no-holds Barr for his relentless interference in Justice Department principles and law enforcement procedures to protect Trump, aka the Man Who would be King. Boeing, debatably, profited from such interference when the Trump Administration refused to ground the 737 Max despite growing incidents and fatalities. It’s a reasonable bet that Boeing  and Barr wanted to cut its ties with Trump after he lost the presidential election last November. Continue reading

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CARB Settles AltAir Paramount Abuses of Low Carbon Fuel

This legal tangle goes back to November 2020, when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and AltAir Paramount LLC reached a settlement where AltAir agreed to pay $132,500 in penalties for violations of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) regulation. CARB adopted the Low Carbon Fuel Standard  to incentivize innovative fuels that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The LCFS requires quarterly and annual reports to be submitted completely and accurately. CARB alleged that AltAir for the 2017 Reporting Period, and sold, supplied, offered for sale, and transported fuel into the State of California, but failed to report and submitted a report containing inaccuracies, misreported, or entered false quarterly and annual report information, which led to a failure to eliminate annual deficits. These are violations of the LCFS regulation. Continue reading

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IndustriALL Global Union – Labor Will Defend US Democracy

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on Trumps Coup Attempt and Labor's Defense of US Democracy

“Attempting to overthrow a democratic election through violence is fascism. The labor movement has always been and remains an implacable opponent of fascism and defender of democracy.”

IndustriALL this morning said: “On 6 January, supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building and entered the Senate chamber to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. Trump’s supporters attempted to overturn the result of a democratic election, unfavorable to them, with a spectacle of violence and intimidation. This is both a predictable escalation of the violent rhetoric that has flourished under Trump, and a shocking attack on democracy.

“IndustriALL Global Union stands in solidarity with all those fighting to defend democracy in the US, and in particular with the US labor movement. Continue reading

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Volkswagen of America Q4 Sales up 11%, 2020 Sales Down 10%

Volkswagen of America’s Q4 2020 sales increased 11% to 94,330 in its best Q4 since 2014. This was largely because it had the best quarter ever for SUV sales, which increased 22%. Continue reading

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Toyota Motor North America Reports December 2020 Sales Increase 22.9%. Yearly Sales Drop -11.3%

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on 2020 Toyota Motor US Sales

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Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) posted December 2020 sales of 249,601 vehicles, an increase of 20.4% on a volume basis and up 7.5% on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis compared to December 2019. For calendar year 2020, TMNA reported sales of 2,112,941 vehicles, a decrease of 11.3% on a volume and a decrease of 11.9% on a DSR basis.

Toyota division posted December sales of 211,378 vehicles, up 22.9% on a volume basis and up 9.7% on a DSR basis.  For the year, Toyota reported sales of 1,837,900 vehicles, down 11.9% on a volume basis and down 12.4% on a DSR basis. Continue reading

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Ford Motor 2020 US Sales Plunge -16%

ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on Ford Motor 2020 US Sales

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Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) today reported its fourth quarter and full-year 2020 U.S. sales results. Ford says Q4 total industry sales totaled approximately 4.3 million vehicles – a decline of 2.8 percent over a year ago. In Q4 Ford Motor sales dropped 9.8%, a disastrous result for management.

For the year Ford sales dropped -15.6%. Ford sales were hurt by lower F-150 inventories from the ongoing consequences of the Q2 coronavirus production stoppage, which resulted in an awful F-150 transition to a revised pickup. Super Duty sales maintained pace and were up 14.1% while F-150 sales were off, gulp, -32.7%, which will make for a grim Q4 2020 financial loss. At the moment Ford executives appear to be in the automotive industry equivalent of  an FBI witness protection program – no more sales results press conferences.
Continue reading

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GM 2020 US Sales – Infected by Covid –  Are Down -12%

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on 2020 GM US Vehicle Sales

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General Motors (NYSE: GM) sold 771,323 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2020. Total sales for Q4 were up 5% year over year. GM claimed its best fourth quarter retail sales since 2007, with deliveries up 12%. Sales for the calendar year were 2,547,339 units, with total deliveries down 12% year over year and retail deliveries down 6%. Retail sales for the industry began to recover in May and reached pre-pandemic levels during the fourth quarter. Sales to fleets are recovering – but remain sharply lower, especially daily rental deliveries. Average GM transaction prices set fourth-quarter and full-year records at $41,886 and $39,229, respectively.

GM estimates it gained market share in total, retail and fleet deliveries for both the fourth quarter and calendar year. GM ended 2020 with inventory of 410,875 units, including in-transit units, down 205,148 units year over year. Fourth-quarter incentive spending as a percentage of ATP was 10.7%, close to the industry average, according to J.D. Power PIN estimates. Continue reading

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GM to Convert More than 650 US Temp Employees to Full-Time

General Motors says that more than 650 hourly employees at its sites in the U.S. will transition from temporary to regular full-time employment during January 2021. These employees work at nine GM manufacturing plants and other sites in Michigan, Indiana, Texas and Missouri.

General Motors offers some of the best-paying manufacturing jobs in the United States, including top-of-the-line health care benefits with low out-of-pocket costs compared to other employers in any industry. The temporary employees transitioning to regular full-time status will see medical plan cost-share improvements, the addition of dental and vision coverage, company contributions into their 401(k) plans, profit sharing and life insurance coverage.  Continue reading

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One-Millionth Subscriber Joins Subaru Connected Services

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on Subaru Starlink

Connected Services can be accessed through the vehicle, smartphone or computer.

Subaru of America says it has enrolled the one-millionth subscriber into Starlink Connected Services. Subscription-based services are part of Subaru’s In-Vehicle Technology program that with variations is increasingly offered by other automakers in hopes of generating revenue.

The  Subaru system claims to provide multimedia content, smartphone connectivity, navigation, extra safety, and everyday convenience. Looming as these systems increase are privacy and security concerns as well as the re-selling of customer data, which critics argue the customer owns. Continue reading

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VW Beetle Ensnared in Takata Airbag Recall


There’s a bug in the airbag propellant so to speak.

Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 105,652 model-year 2012-2014 Volkswagen Beetle and Beetle Convertible compacts. The Takata supplied driver’s side air bag inflator may explode due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to high absolute humidity, high temperatures, and high temperature cycling.The exploding airbag sends shrapnel into the interior, whihcd can cause serious or fatal injuries.

VW maintains that the Takata SDI-D driver frontal airbag inflators installed in the recalled vehicles currently do not pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety to drivers of affected vehicles. “Based on its prior conversations with NHTSA, Volkswagen understands that the Agency is concerned that after additional time, the airbag inflator may not perform properly in the event of a crash,” VW said. Continue reading

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Commerce – S. Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam Tire Dumping

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) issued at year end a preliminary decision that passenger and light truck tires imported from South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam are being sold in the U.S. at less than fair value, aka “dumping.”

The petitioner is the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO, CLC (Pittsburgh, PA). Using Census Bureau trade numbers, AutoInformed figures this involves 85,330,506 tires with a value of more than $3.5 billion. The case will drag on well into this year. Continue reading

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Miss Shilling’s Orifice Fixed Merlin Engines on Spitfires

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on Beatrice Shilling and SU Carburetors During WW2

Beatrice continued racing a 1935 Lagonda at Silverstone and took part in sportscar races at Goodwood during the 1950’s but was always known for her Merlin engine modifications.

My first knuckle-skinning love of SU Carburetters (sic) came along with sundry ground-bound Austin-Healey and MGs I owned and thrashed over New Jersey and New York roads. Little did I know, that late in 1940, years before I was born, an engineer named Beatrice Shilling introduced a modification that allowed the Merlin engine to overcome “fluff” or fuel starvation, thereby allowing war production of automotive parts to defend Old Blighty during the Battle of Britain.

In one of those odd and startling connections, we are in a war now against Covid that will require the collective sacrifice and patriotism that was on display during the British battle and subsequently – in another parallel – our struggles under the Roosevelt Administration that followed a demonstrably incompetent Republican one. Continue reading

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Aston Martin Returns to Formula 1 in 2021?

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on Aston Martin Returns to F1 in 2021

A dubious proposition then and now?

For the first time in six decades, Aston Martin will make its racing debut at the start of the 2021 Formula 1 season in Melbourne.

The Aston Martin Formula One Team will reveal in February its 2021 livery – working on sponsors – and driver line-up with four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel,  from Ferrari and infrequent Grand Prix podium finisher Lance Stroll from Williams and Racing Point –  at the home of Aston Martin in Gaydon.

The Aston Martin name had been established on the hill-climb courses of Great Britain during beginning of the last century. Lionel Martin had success at the wheel of his own car. However, Grand Prix racing around Europe promised the wider fame and sales he wanted for his company.

Whether that holds true today given the tatters that F1 was in last year remains to be proven. The 2020 F1 season is one I won’t miss. (I guess the nicest way to characterize the last race is “strategic.” This is a polite way of saying there wasn’t any racing going on. Ferrari with six straight losing seasons. Mercedes dominating qualifying and the races as it had for years on years. YAWN. Changing 2021 down-force doesn’t appear to be anything but a meaningless tweak. I know: don’t write your lede on the way to Australia in 2021. Still it reminds me of the McClaren mid-1980s domination years that badly damaged F1 with its lack of racing. ) Continue reading

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Setback – Ford Motor and Mahindra End JV Discussions

In a classic 4:15pm release on New Year’s eve designed to bury bad news, Ford Motor Company has just announced that it is ending a proposed joint-venture with Mahindra that would have been responsible for expanding the Ford brand in India and exporting Mahindra products to Ford entities globally. Ford would have continued to own the brand (a valuable asset that could be borrowed against as it did during the Great Recession), and its branded vehicles would be distributed through the current Ford India dealer network. Mahindra would have continued to own the Mahindra brand and operate its own independent dealer network in India. (See AutoInformed.com on Ford Restructuring – Mahindra Joint Venture Announced and Mahindra, Ford to Study Links in India, Emerging Markets)

The failure “was driven by fundamental changes in global economic and business conditions – caused, in part, by the global pandemic – over the past 15 months.  Those changes influenced separate decisions by Ford and Mahindra to reassess their respective capital allocation priorities,” Ford said. Ford in AI’s opinion is on track to lose $400 billion this quarter. Ford and Mahindra announced an alliance in September 2017, and it was expected to be operational by mid-2020. (Things move glacially at Ford see Ford Motor Changes CEO from Jim Hackett to Jim Farley and Weak Ford 2018 Financial Results Prove Need for Shakeup) The joint venture would have been operationally managed by Mahindra, and its governance will be composed of representatives of Mahindra and Ford. Continue reading

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