The first Bellwether Trial against GM has come to an abrupt end
The first bellwether trial against General Motors over the faulty ignition switch has come to abrupt end. The plaintiff, Robert Scheuer has voluntarily dismissed his lawsuit against the automaker according to a filing in Manhattan federal court today.
Scheuer accused GM of concealing a defect in the ignition switch that caused the airbags in his 2003 Saturn Ion to not deploy when he crashed into two trees in Oklahoma in May 2014. The accident caused injuries to Scheuer's back and neck.
As we reported in December, GM tried to dismiss the case. However, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said the plaintiff had provided sufficient evidence to bring the case to trial.
So why was the case dismissed? To understand fully, we need to look at one of the claims made by Scheuer. He claims the crash caused memory loss and, in turn, caused him to misplace a $49,500 check for a down payment on a house in Tulsa, OK. This caused Scherer's family to be evicted from the house.
But paperwork filed by GM's lawyers earlier this week tell a much different story. They have found evidence that Scheuer committed check fraud when buying the house. A real estate agent found Scheuer faked a check stub totaling $441,430.72 from his federal government retirement account as a “proof of funds”. The check stub originally totaled $430.72 before the changes took place.
GM lawyer Richard Godfrey said in the filing suggests that Scheuer "misled his own counsel, as well as the court and the jury.” GM asked Judge Jesse Furman to present the evidence and bring two witnesses; the real estate agent and a forensic technology expert.
“We are assessing GM’s allegations about a situation we were unaware of,” Robert Hilliard, the lawyer representing Scheuer told Bloomberg earlier this week.
On Thursday, Furman granted GM permission to present this new evidence to the jury. Furman also said the new evidence would be “devastating,” making the suit “almost worthless as a bellwether case.” Furman urged the two parties to consider dismissing the case.
“The apparent lies the plaintiff and his wife told the jury ended the trial early, and we are pleased that the case is over without any payment whatsoever to Mr. Scheuer,” GM spokesman Jim Cain said in a statement.
Scheuer and his wife have hired criminal defense lawyers.
The dismissal of this case is unlikely to affect other cases against. What it will do is make it slightly harder to determine the value of similar claims.
General Motors is taking a big step into the shared transportation economy. Yesterday the company announced Maven, a new car sharing service that will combine and expand the various programs into one program.
“GM is at the forefront of redefining the future of personal mobility. With the launch of our car-sharing service through Maven, the strategic alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft, and building on our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity through OnStar, we are uniquely positioned to provide the high level of personalized mobility services our customers expect today and in the future,” said GM President Dan Ammann in a statement.
The first part of Maven is a car-sharing service where you can open an app on your phone and request the use of a Chevrolet vehicle for as little as $6 per hour (much like ZipCar). Maven has launched a pilot program in Ann Arbor, MI where 21 Chevrolet vehicles are sitting in parking lots around the University of Michigan campus.
Maven will also incorporate and expand a number of GM's other car sharing services. These include a residential car sharing service in New York City, and a peer-to-peer sharing program where residents can rent out their vehicles by the hour.
This announcement comes a few weeks after GM announced a partnership with Lyft and days after GM acquiring the assets of another ride-sharing company, Sidecar Technologies
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), General Motors
Press Release is on Page 2
GM Launches Personal Mobility Brand: Maven
DETROIT— General Motors announced today its next step in redefining personal mobility with a new car-sharing service called Maven, which combines and expands the company’s multiple programs under one single brand.
Maven’s mission is to give customers access to highly personalized, on-demand mobility services. The global Maven team includes more than 40 dedicated employees from the connected car technology industry as well as ride- and car-sharing professionals from Google, Zipcar and Sidecar.
“GM is at the forefront of redefining the future of personal mobility,” said GM President Dan Ammann. “With the launch of our car-sharing service through Maven, the strategic alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft, and building on our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity through OnStar, we are uniquely positioned to provide the high level of personalized mobility services our customers expect today and in the future.”
Starting this week, Maven is expanding its offerings in multiple cities and communities across the U.S. Services are customized to regional customer needs and include city, residential, peer-to-peer and campus programs:
City: Today, Maven is announcing that it is offering its car-sharing program to more than 100,000 people in Ann Arbor, Mich., initially focusing on serving faculty and students at the University of Michigan. GM vehicles will be available initially at 21 parking spots across the city.
Additional city-based programs will launch in major U.S. metropolitan areas later this year.
Maven customers will experience seamless smartphone and keyless integration with the vehicle. Maven customers use its app to search for and reserve a vehicle by location or car type and unlock the vehicle with their smartphone. The app also enables remote functions such as starting, heating or cooling and more. Customers can bring their digital lives into the vehicle through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, OnStar, SiriusXM radio and 4GLTE wireless. Each vehicle will provide an ownership-like experience with the convenience of car-sharing.
Maven pricing is simple and transparent and includes insurance and fuel.
As Maven grows, the team will use innovative ways of connecting personally with customers. Ann Arbor Maven users will have direct access to Maven leadership and core team members via the messaging application WhatsApp to share their experiences, ideas and thoughts with the team as they help shape the Maven service.
Residential: In the first quarter of 2016, Maven will launch car-sharing services for Chicago residents in partnership with Magellan Development Group. Maven is also expanding its existing residential program in New York City (previously called Let’s Drive NYC) with Stonehenge Partners giving users on-demand access to vehicles and preferred parking options. Both programs combined will offer service to more than 5,000 residents.
Peer-to-Peer: Existing global initiatives include peer-to-peer car-sharing through the CarUnity market place in Germany. Nearly 10,000 users have signed up in Frankfurt and Berlin since mid-2015.
Campus: Various programs are running on GM campuses in the U.S., Germany and China to refine and test future Maven commercial offerings.
“Maven provides on-demand access, choice and ease of use. The right vehicle and right mobility service for the right trip at the right time,” said Julia Steyn, GM vice president, Urban Mobility Programs. “With more than 25 million customers around the world projected to use some form of shared mobility by 2020, Maven is a key element of our strategy to changing ownership models in the automotive industry.”
Learn more about Maven at MavenDrive.com. Connect with us on Twitter: @DriveMaven
General Motors announced today that by a unanimous vote by the board, current CEO Mary Barra will become the next chairman of the board. She is the first woman to hold this position, much as she was the first woman CEO of the Detroit automakers. The appointment was announced yesterday and Barra will continue to be CEO.
“I am honored to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors. With the support of our Board, we will continue to drive shareholder value by improving our core business and leading in the transformation of personal mobility.” Barra said in a statement.
Barra's predecessor, Tim Solso will stay on the board as the lead independent director.
“At a time of unprecedented industry change, the Board concluded it is in the best interests of the company to combine the roles of Chair and CEO in order to drive the most efficient execution of our plan and vision for the future. With GM consistently delivering on its targets and on track to generate significant value for its shareholders, this is the right time for Mary to assume this role,” Solso said about Barra in a statement.
Source: General Motors
Press Release is on Page 2
Barra Named Chairman of GM Board of Directors, Solso to Stay on as Lead Independent Director
DETROIT – The General Motors Board of Directors today announced it has unanimously elected Mary Barra as its next Chairman, effective immediately. She succeeds Theodore (Tim) Solso, who will continue serving as the Board’s Lead Independent Director. Barra has served as GM CEO since Jan. 15, 2014. “At a time of unprecedented industry change, the Board concluded it is in the best interests of the company to combine the roles of Chair and CEO in order to drive the most efficient execution of our plan and vision for the future,” said Solso. “With GM consistently delivering on its targets and on track to generate significant value for its shareholders, this is the right time for Mary to assume this role.” Solso indicated Barra has set a clear vision for the organization over the past two years, formed a strong leadership team from inside and outside the company, delivered strong operating results and led the introduction of breakthrough vehicles and technologies. “The Board has improved the overall governance of the company over the past two years and as Lead Independent Director, I expect to continue to build on this solid foundation,” Solso said. “The Board also plans to broaden its active engagement with shareholders as we go forward.” Said Barra: “I am honored to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors. With the support of our Board, we will continue to drive shareholder value by improving our core business and leading in the transformation of personal mobility.” Prior to being named CEO in 2014, Barra served as executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply Chain since August 2013, and as senior vice president, Global Product Development since February 2011. In these roles, she was responsible for the design, engineering, program management and quality of GM vehicles around the world. Previously, Barra served as GM vice president, Global Human Resources; vice president, Global Manufacturing Engineering; plant manager, Detroit Hamtramck Assembly; executive director of Competitive Operations Engineering; and in several engineering and staff positions. In 1990, Barra graduated with an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business after receiving a GM fellowship in 1988. Barra began her career with GM in 1980 as a General Motors Institute (Kettering University) co-op student at the Pontiac Motor Division. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1985.
A New Alliance Between GM and Ride-Sharing Service Lyft Looks Towards the Future
General Motors announced this morning a new alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft to develop an on-demand network of autonomous vehicles. GM has also invested $500 Million into Lyft as part of a round of a $1 billion round of fund-raising - one of the largest investments GM has made into a company.
Lyft is a ride-sharing company that connects passengers who need a ride with those who have a car via an app. The app also automates payments to drivers.
The goal of two companies is to build out a network of hubs around the U.S. where people can summon an autonomous vehicle via Lyft's app. The partnership with GM could give Lyft over its competitor Uber, which is also developing a network of autonomous vehicles.
In the short term, the two are planning on opening a number of hubs that Lyft drivers can rent GM vehicles. This gives GM a leg up against the likes of Diamler and Ford who are developing their own ride-sharing services. GM will also have a seat on Lyft's board of directors and access to Lyft's app.
“We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless and autonomous. With GM and Lyft working together, we believe we can successfully implement this vision more rapidly,” said GM President Dan Ammann in a statement.
Speaking with the Associated Press, Ammann and Lyft Co-Founder and President John Zimmer said the two companies started having serious discussions about three months ago. Both see massive changes coming in the model of car ownership and have similar visions on how to deal with it.
Source: The Detroit News, GM
Press Release is on Page 2
GM and Lyft to Shape the Future of Mobility
SAN FRANCISCO – General Motors and Lyft today announced a long-term strategic alliance to create an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the U.S.
GM will invest $500 million in Lyft to help the company continue the rapid growth of its successful ridesharing service. In addition, GM will hold a seat on the company’s board of directors.
“We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless and autonomous,” said GM President Dan Ammann. “With GM and Lyft working together, we believe we can successfully implement this vision more rapidly.”
John Zimmer, president and co-founder of Lyft, said: “Working with GM, Lyft will continue to unlock new transportation experiences that bring positive change to our daily lives. Together we will build a better future by redefining traditional car ownership.”
Key elements of the GM and Lyft alliance include: Autonomous On-Demand Network: The joint development of a network of on-demand autonomous vehicles will leverage GM’s deep knowledge of autonomous technology and Lyft’s capabilities in providing a broad choice of ride-sharing services. Rental Hub: Beginning immediately, GM will become a preferred provider of short-term use vehicles to Lyft drivers through rental hubs in various cities in the U.S. Connectivity: Lyft drivers and customers will have access to GM’s wide portfolio of cars and OnStar services, leveraging two decades of experience in connectivity. This will create a richer ride-sharing experience for both driver and passenger. Joint Mobility Offerings: GM and Lyft will also provide each other’s customers with personalized mobility services and experiences through their respective channels.
A Subcompact model for Cadillac, While Chevrolet Considers A Midsize model
Sales of crossovers have been booming in the past year thanks to lower gas prices. Sensing a huge opportunity, General Motors is planning to add more crossovers to its various brands.
The Detroit Bureau reports that Cadillac is planning to add a crossover that will compete with the likes of the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. We first reported on this back in November as Cadillac plans to add a compact, subcompact, and full-size crossover to its lineup in the next few years. No mention was given in either report of when we'll see the subcompact crossover.
Meanwhile at Chevrolet, sources say the brand is considering a new midsize model to slot in between the Equinox and Traverse. This model would come with three-rows and compete against the likes of the Toyota Highlander and Ford Edge. Chevrolet is expected to move the Equinox slight down market and the Traverse slightly up market to give the new model some breathing room.
GM Heads To Trial Over A Faulty Ignition Switch Next Month
General Motors will be heading to court on January 11th to face the first of several planned 'bellwether' cases over its defective ignition switch.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan rejected GM's claims to dismiss the case as the plaintiff provided sufficient evidence to justify letting a jury hear whether or not the switch caused or enhanced injuries in a crash.
The case in question was brought to court by Robert Scheuer who crashed into two trees in Oklahoma on May 28, 2014. The Saturn Ion he was driving did not deploy the front airbags, which he says is a result of a defective ignition switch.
Furman's decision "paves the way for the jury to have an unfettered and full view of GM's behavior in covering up this defect," said Bob Hilliard, lawyer for Scheuer in a statement.
"We are fully prepared to go to trial, and introduce evidence showing that the ignition switch issue did not cause the injuries in this accident, or cause the airbags not to deploy," said GM spokesman James Cain in a phone interview with Reuters.
This case is important as it is the first of six 'bellweather' cases being brought to trial. These cases are sometimes used in product liability litigation where hundreds or thousands of people have a similar case. The results of the six cases will help those decide whether or not to continue with their case or settle.
If you are planning to order a Chevrolet Colorado or GMC Canyon Diesel, you might want to put those plans on hold. Members on the ColoradoFans.com have been wondering where their trucks are. Originally, it was expected that the Colorado and Canyon Diesels would begin arriving at dealers this fall, but that time has passed and trucks aren't at dealers.
Ask a member what their experience has been like and it will likely go like this: I ordered a truck weeks ago, the delivery date keeps getting pushed back, and GM and dealers aren't explaining why.
The Truth About Cars decided to investigate. They got a hold of GMC spokesman Brian Goebel who said, "Those trucks are still in final validations and we hope to ship soon.”
General Motors' was quick to point out this isn't related to the extra scrutiny that EPA has been putting on diesel models.
Gobel went on to say this 'final validation' issue only deals with the diesel models. But details of what issue is unknown. Also, Gobel pointed out that GM hasn't 'technically passed its initial on-sale date for Fall 2015.' They got about four days left before that changes.
GM Is Trying To Squeeze Out More Midsize Trucks, So Some Commerical Van Production May Move Elsewhere
General Motors' midsize trucks has become a bright spot for the company. Originally forecasted to sell around 80,000 this year, the company is now on track to selling near 120,000 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks by the end of year. The two model are also the fastest-selling vehicles this year with the average time a Colorado sat on a dealer lot landing around 27 days. The Canyon was slightly longer with a 37 day average.
But this has caused a supply problem for GM. The Wentzville, Missouri plant where both trucks are built has been pushed to the limits. Currently, the plant has three shifts and also builds models during the weekend. Even workers at the plant have agreed to plan to adjust break times to eliminate a six-minute lull between shifts.
This appears to be not enough and GM is now looking into other measures. Automotive News has learned that GM is looking into outsourcing production of cutaway models of Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana, the other models built at Wentzville, to AM General. This was revealed to workers by a note sent out by GM earlier in the week.
“The truck and van continue strong sales. This potential partnership would free up production capacity and allow the organization to capitalize on our ability to build midsize trucks to further satisfy customer demand,” said the note.
According to a source, cutaway vans account for one-third of total production at Wentzville.
AM General, the folks who brought you the Hummer, has been in the process of expanding its contract manufacturing business. Back in August, the company announced a deal with Mercedes-Benz to build the R-Class crossover that would then be sent over to China.
Mixed Results Are Coming In As GM-UAW Members Vote on the Tentative Agreement
Voting on the new contract for UAW workers at General Motors started this weekend and the early results are mixed.
The Detroit News reports that two plants, Lansing Grand River Assembly and Fairfax Assembly in Kansas City, voted over the weekend. Workers at Lansing approved the contract with 57 percent saying the contract should be ratified. Meanwhile at Fairfax, production and skilled worked voted no by 63 and 66 percent respectively.
While these results don't indicate the fate of the tentative contract, it does put some worry as to how the other plants will vote.
We'll be keeping an eye on the voting as it progresses.
For the fourth time, GM is calling back older vehicles with the 3.8L V6 for fires
General Motors has ordered a recall on 1.4 million older vehicles equipped with the 3.8L V6 for a fire risk again. The affected vehicles include,
1997 - 2004 Buick Regal
2000 - 2004 Chevrolet Impala
1998 - 1999 Chevrolet Lumina
1998 - 2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
1998 - 1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue
1997 - 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix
The problem deals with valve covers that degrade and can leak oil. The leaking oil can fall onto the exhaust manifold under hard braking and catch fire. Now the Detroit News reports this is the fourth time that GM recalled vehicles with this problem since 2008. GM says the previous recalls haven't worked because of the "aging and wear to the valve cover and valve cover gasket".
Now the bad news is that GM hasn't figured out a fix for this problem. But in the meantime, they are contacting owners about this problem.
Source: The Detroit News, General Motors
Press Release is on Page 2
General Motors is recalling 1,283,340 older sedans and coupes in the U.S. from the 1997 to 2004 model years because drops of oil may be deposited on the hot exhaust manifold through hard braking, which can cause engine compartment fires. GM is working on a remedy. The company is aware of post-repair fires in some vehicles but no crashes or fatalities. There have been 19 reported minor injuries over the last six years. These vehicles with 3.8-liter V6 3800 engines are affected: 1997-2004 Pontiac Grand Prix, 2000-2004 Chevrolet Impala, 1998-1999 Chevrolet Lumina and 1998-2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1998-1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue and 1997-2004 Buick Regal. Including Canada, Mexico and exports, the total population is 1,411,332.General Motors is recalling 1,283,340 older sedans and coupes in the U.S. from the 1997 to 2004 model years because drops of oil may be deposited on the hot exhaust manifold through hard braking, which can cause engine compartment fires. GM is working on a remedy. The company is aware of post-repair fires in some vehicles but no crashes or fatalities. There have been 19 reported minor injuries over the last six years. These vehicles with 3.8-liter V6 3800 engines are affected: 1997-2004 Pontiac Grand Prix, 2000-2004 Chevrolet Impala, 1998-1999 Chevrolet Lumina and 1998-2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1998-1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue and 1997-2004 Buick Regal. Including Canada, Mexico and exports, the total population is 1,411,332.
Down to the wire, GM and the UAW reach a tentative agreement
Minutes before an imposed deadline that could have led union workers to walk out and possibly lead to strike, General Motors and the UAW reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year labor contract.
Now specific details of the contract are still under wraps as the UAW's leadership will need to approve the deal before sending out to members for ratification.
In a statement released by the UAW, the bargaining committee “secured significant gains and job security protections” in its negotiations with GM.
“We believe that this agreement will present stable long-term significant wage gains and job security commitments to UAW members now and in the future. We look forward to presenting the details of these gains to local union leaders and the membership,” said UAW President Dennis Williams.
"The new UAW-GM national agreement is good for employees and the business. Working with our UAW partners, we developed constructive solutions that benefit employees and provide flexibility for the company to respond to the needs of the marketplace,” said Cathy Clegg, GM North America Manufacturing and Labor Relations vice president.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Detroit News, General Motors, UAW
Press Release is on Page 2
UAW-GM BARGAINING COMMITTEE VOTES ON PROPOSED TENTATIVE AGREEMENT
UAW-GM Bargaining Committee Votes on Proposed Tentative Agreement
UAW National GM Council Leaders to Convene for Vote on Wednesday
Terms to be announced following Wednesday vote
Detroit, Mich. – The UAW-GM Bargaining committee announced at 11:43 p.m.Sunday that they have secured significant gains and job security protections in a proposed Tentative Agreement with General Motors.
The bargaining committee unanimously voted to send the proposed Tentative Agreement to local union leaders who make up the union’s UAW National GM Council. The Council will meet in Detroit on Wednesday to discuss and vote on the agreement.
“We believe that this agreement will present stable long-term significant wage gains and job security commitments to UAW members now and in the future,” said UAW President Dennis Williams. “We look forward to presenting the details of these gains to local union leaders and the membership.”
UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada called the agreement transformative as it gives our members a clear path. “The significant gains in this agreement are structured in a way that will provide certainty to our members and create a clear path for all GM employees now and in the future. The agreement not only rewards UAW-GM members for their accomplishments, but it protects them with significant job security commitments.”
Until the UAW National GM Council votes to approve the deal, it is classified as a Proposed Tentative Agreement. The contract language becomes a Tentative Agreement once the Council votes and they have requested details to be held until they review and vote on the proposal. Following Council approval, the UAW will release details of the Tentative Agreement to its membership and the ratification process will begin. A vote of the UAW-GM membership will decide whether or not the deal is finalized.
The union plans to make the details of the agreement available immediately after the UAW National GM Council votes on the tentative agreement Wednesday and will have no comment until that time.
GENERAL MOTORS STATEMENT REGARDING A TENTATIVE AGREEMENT BETWEEN GM AND THE UAW
DETROIT – General Motors and the United Auto Workers reached a tentative agreement at approximately 11:43 p.m. EDT on October 25, 2015.
"The new UAW-GM national agreement is good for employees and the business,” said Cathy Clegg, GM North America Manufacturing and Labor Relations vice president. “Working with our UAW partners, we developed constructive solutions that benefit employees and provide flexibility for the company to respond to the needs of the marketplace.”
Terms of the four-year agreement are not being shared publicly to allow the International UAW to inform their membership about the agreement and conduct a ratification vote. If ratified, the agreement would cover about 52,600 GM employees in the United States who are represented by the UAW.
GM won’t comment further until the contract is ratified.
GM Announces Recall For 3,000 Trucks and SUVs with A Ignition Switch Problem
General Motors has issued a recall for 3,296 pickups and SUVs for a problem for the ignition switch.
The Associated Press reports that the key in the switch can get stuck in the "start" position and then slip to "accessory" if bumped. This is due to the lock gears in the ignition have a larger diameter than the specifications allow. If this happens, this will cause the loss of power assistance to the brakes and steering, along with possibility of no airbag deployment. This seems very familiar to another ignition switch problem on older GM compacts last year.
The models affected include,
2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
2015 GMC Sierra 1500
2015 Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty
2015 GMC Sierra Heavy Duty
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe
2015 Chevrolet Suburban
Unlike the recall last year which caused GM to pay a large amount in fines due to the problem being kept under wraps, this one was quickly identified. The AP says an employee had this problem and notified officials at the automaker via the Speak Up for Safety program. GM found five other cases of this fault, but no injuries or deaths were reported.
GM says in a statement that dealers will replace the ignition-lock housing on the affected models.
Source: Associated Press via The Detroit News, General Motors
Press Release is on Page 2
GM Statement General Motors is recalling 3,073 full-size trucks from the 2014 and 2015 model years in the U.S. Some of these vehicles may have an ignition lock actuator gear with an outer diameter that exceeds specifications, which may make turning the ignition key difficult. The ignition key could get stuck in the "start" position. This may be more likely at higher interior ambient temperatures. If the vehicle is driven with the key stuck in the "start" position, and the vehicle experiences a significant jarring event or the vehicle's interior temperature cools, the ignition lock cylinder could move out of the "start" position, rotate past the "run" position, and move into the "accessory" position, leading to loss of power steering assist, power brakes and potentially air bag deployment in certain crashes. Dealers will replace the ignition lock housing. The affected vehicles are the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado LD, and GMC Sierra LD models and 2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD, Suburban, Tahoe, and 2015 GMC Sierra HD. GM is aware of five shutoffs but no crashes, injuries or fatalities related to this condition. Including Canada, Mexico and exports, the total recall population is 3,296.
Mary Barra Says GM Is A Leader In Autonomous Vehicles..
Mary Barra, General Motors' CEO tells USA Today in an interview that the company is "among the leaders" in the development of self-driving cars. Now this claim seems a bit dubious since the only pieces of self-driving technologies that GM is working on is the Super Cruise system that will be debuting on the Cadillac CT6. and the company disclosing that it's running a fleet of driverless Volts at the Warren Technical Center. The remaining efforts are being kept confidential at the moment.
"Things are moving quickly in autonomous (cars) because there's so many different pathways and the standards aren't even set. A lot of people can claim leads because people are making advancements in different areas," said Barra.
We recommend you check out the rest of the article as Barra talks about Apple, Tesla, and the current relationship with NHTSA.
GM's Upcoming Diesel For Their Midsize Trucks Go Under Further Scrutiny
The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon Diesels are feeling the backlash of the Volkswagen diesel scandal. According to Automotive News, General Motors has been told by EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB) will not certify the trucks until they have undergone tests in the lab and on the road.
“The EPA and CARB told us they are going to do on-road testing," said Scott Yackley, assistant chief engineer for Chevrolet Trucks.
GM says the additional testing could push back the launch of the diesel trucks, which are expected to launch in the fourth quarter. But GM is confident that the trucks will pass the tests.
“Part of our development process is on-road and off-road [laboratory] testing,” said Yackley.
A $900 Million Settlement is reached between General Motors and the U.S. Government
General Motors has agreed to a $900 million settlement with the U.S. Government over a criminal case dealing with faulty ignition switches.
According to Reuters, prosecutors charged the company with wire fraud and scheming to conceal material facts from a U.S. regulator. The company acknowledged that it didn't reveal the issue to safety watchdogs or customers in due course. Along with the fine, GM will have an independent monitor to oversee its recall and safety-related practices for the next three years. If GM follows this along with other obligations, the criminal charges will be dropped.
“They let the public down... They didn’t tell the truth,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a press conference this morning in New York City.
"The mistakes that led to the ignition switch recall should never have happened," said GM CEO Mary Barra in a statement. "We have apologized and we do so again today."
Now at this time, the Justice Department hasn't charged any individual over the ignition switch problem. This has caused some criticism to come out.
“GM killed over 100 people by knowingly putting a defective ignition switch into over 1 million vehicles. Yet no one from GM went to jail or was even charged with criminal homicide. This shows a weakness in the law not a weakness in the facts," said Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Auto Safety.
Bharara hasn't ruled out charging individual GM employees, but explained there are "legal and factual" challenges to bringing them to trial. "The law does not always let us do what we wish we could do."
Separately, General Motors has agreed to $575 million settlement dealing with civil lawsuits.
The Department of Justice is currently evaluating whether or not to charge General Motors with criminal wire fraud due to the company's failure to recall vehicles with faulty ignition switches. The Wall Street Journal has learned from sources federal prosecutors in New York are zoning in the wire-fraud charge due after it was determined that GM made misleading statements and concealed information about the faulty switch.
Sources go on to say the DOJ hopes to reach a settlement by late summer or early, though that could change. Prosecutors are also looking into other kinds of possible criminal charges.
When asked about the report, CEO Mary Barra said,
“It is their timeline. We are going to continue to cooperate to the fullest extent we can. But beyond that, I think anything else is pure speculation and it does no one any good.”
Barra confirmed that she spoke and fully cooperated with DOJ investigators last year about the ignition switch defect.
Source: The Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required), The Detroit News
Buyers can't get enough of GM's midsize trucks. The company says that the Chevrolet Colorado only sit on dealer lots for an average 12 days before being snapped up. This is causing dealers to asking to ask for more trucks. GM's Wentzville, Mo plant is already pumping out as many as they can. But GM has a found a few ways to wring out a few more models.
Automotive News reports that the plant has recently instituted a broader schedule reshuffling which saw a unpaid lunch break be cut to eliminate a six-minute production lull which means an extra 18 minutes of production in a three shift day and more importantly - an extra 3,500 trucks per year. GM is also hiring as many as 1,000 'flex' workers to fill weekend shifts which should boost production by more than 2,000 trucks per month. This comes after the plant brought on a third shift in March to help with the massive demand.
With this increase in truck production, something had to be cut. In this case it was GM's full-size vans. For every two trucks built, one van rolls off the production line.
Last year, federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the F.B.I. opened an investigation into General Motors into its handling of the ignition switch defect. The investigation focused on whether the automaker failed to comply with federal safety laws stating that an automaker must disclose vehicle defects in a timely fashion and misleading federal regulators on the full extent of problem. The result of their investigation showed that GM did commit criminal wrongdoing.
The New York Times reports investigators from the Justice Department have found criminal wrongdoing in the failure of GM of disclosing a defect tied to at least 104 deaths. People briefed on the inquiry say the two parties are negotiating what misconduct the company would admit to and a settlement. The Times says the amount will eclipse the $1.2 billion paid by Toyota last year for not disclosing its problem with unintended acceleration. Now the settlement will include a so-called 'cooperation credit' as GM helped out in the Justice Department's investigation.
“We are cooperating fully with all requests. We are unable to comment on the status of the investigation, including timing,” said GM in a statement.
Also under investigation are former GM employees, some who were dismissed last year could face criminal charges.
GM Will Still Be Under the Close Eye of NHTSA for Another Year
Last May, General Motors agreed to a consent order from federal safety regulators over its decision on waiting too long recall 2.6 million vehicles with faulty ignition switches. Part of the order was to disclose detailed safety issues and meet with officials from NHTSA monthly. This could be extended up to three years. Well after a year of being under scrutiny, NHTSA has decided to extend it one more year.
The Detroit News obtained a letter from NHTSA to GM dated on May 14th. The letter, written by Timothy H. Goodman (a lawyer for NHTSA) to GM North America general counsel Lucy Clark Dougherty said the agency would be extending the order. Now this isn't because NHTSA is disappointed in how GM handling recalls now. But "to continue the dialogue those requirements have facilitated on important safety issues," as the agency has seen this to be a productive tool.
"GM learned a hard lesson last year. We expect to see the improvements they've made continue and that their new approaches are applied to every GM safety issue and every recall. Today's action will help keep them on the right track," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement.
At the moment, GM can't make a case for a pocket rocket
It seems a month can't go by without another automaker announcing a new pocket rocket. Currently we have the Ford Fiesta and Focus ST; Honda Civic Si, Subaru WRX and WRX STI; Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S, and Volkswagen GTI. So that leaves us and a number of enthusiasts wondering - where is GM's contender?
General Motors' vice president of product development tells Automotive News that at the moment, there isn't a business case for one.
"Capital is not a black hole. On those cars, the price point begins to approach the segment of the next car up. We would spend a lot of money and resources, and what are we really doing?" said Reuss.
AutoPacific Inc. analyst Dave Sullivan agrees with Reuss' reason, stating that the added cost and complexity of fitting a bigger engine and manual transmission into either the Sonic or Cruze is prohibitively expensive. But Sullivan does point out that they can pull items and help from their European division. Case in point is the Opel/Vauxhall Astra OPC/VXR with a turbocharged 2.0L four with 276 horsepower.
For the time being, Reuss says that the company is offering a wide selection of accessories to boost performance for not that much cash. Case in point is the $995 performance stage kit and exhaust package for the Sonic. But if you press Reuss, he says a production pocket rocket could be in the timeline.
"The real question is: Is that a big priority? For now, no. Forever? I wouldn't say that."
General Motors will not have to face a number of lawsuits and as much as $10 billion in damages over a ignition-switch defect that led to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber announced yesterday that the bankruptcy shield, which protects new GM from claims originating before its 2009 bankruptcy and restructuring will be upheld. Now this ruling applies to a small number of suits dealing with crashes before July 2009. Most of the suits filed against GM deal with economic losses, such as diminished resale value.
Judge Gerber said people claiming economic losses may “assert otherwise viable claims against New GM for any causes of action that might exist arising solely out of New GM’s own, independent, post-acts, so long as those plaintiffs’ claims do not in any way rely on any acts or conduct by Old GM.”
GM was happy with Gerber's decision, saying "properly concluded" that claims based on old GM's conduct are barred.
Lawyers who are representing plaintiffs against GM aren't pleased with the decision.
"This ruling padlocks the courthouse doors. Hundreds of victims and their families will go to bed tonight forever deprived of justice. GM, bathing in billions, may now turn its back on the dead and injured, worry-free," said Bob Hilliard, a Texas lawyer who is representing a number of plaintiffs against GM.
Source: The Detroit News
What's Going on Cadillac and Chevrolet? Let's Ask Mark Reuss
Whenever you get the chance to sit down and chat with General Motors' executive vice president Mark Reuss, you know that some interesting tidbits will come out of it. Case in point is a piece published by Car and Driver where Reuss shoots the breeze on Cadillac and Chevrolet.
What are GM's priorities at the moment? Reuss explains it like this: “to grow Cadillac, and get Chevrolet back in the car game, really feed Buick and GMC, get Opel straightened around, and get our international operations profitable.”
Now New York put Cadillac in the spotlight with the introduction of the CT6. Reuss explained that CT6 isn't the brand's flagship and “there’s a car above this.”
Car and Driver asked about the possibility of a sports car for Cadillac. Reuss squashed that idea.
“The brand’s got to be ready to do something like that. Right now it’s not. I don’t think doing a car like that is going to change the brand image today, either."
Reuss was also adamant about where the luxury brand currently stands.
"Year one. I think we’re talking to ourselves if we think that we’re on the consideration list of people, in volume, in the luxury segment. So let’s get real about it, and keep hammering, and keep building great cars and trucks, and people start to notice and want to try something different, and that’s our opportunity. There’s a whole generation out there whose moms and dads drove BMWs and Audis and Mercedes, and they didn’t drive Cadillacs. We need to get on that consideration list with great cars and trucks. In that sense, from a product-development standpoint, we’re more than year one. From a brand standpoint, we’re year one.”
As for Chevrolet, Reuss revealed the fate the long-rumored Chevrolet Code 130R: It isn't happening.
“We looked at that and we looked at our competitors who were doing things like that and what the market told us was that was not a good idea. The volumes of those things were terrible."
Source: Car and Driver
General Motors is making some major changes in Russia. The automaker announced today that it will withdraw Opel and mainstream Chevrolet models in December, and focus on the premium segment of the Russian market with Cadillac and iconic Chevrolet models (Camaro, Corvette, and Tahoe).
“This change in our business model in Russia is part of our global strategy to ensure long-term sustainability in markets where we operate. This decision avoids significant investment into a market that has very challenging long-term prospects,” said GM President Dan Ammann.
GM will still offer parts and service for those who own an Opel and mainstream Chevrolet vehicles.
Along with the departure of Opel and certain Chevrolet models, GM will idle its plant in St. Petersburg by the middle of this year.
Source: General Motors
Press Release is on Page 2
GM to Change Business Model in Russia
Focus on Cadillac and iconic Chevrolet vehicles
Wind down Opel brand and sale of mainstream Chevrolet cars
Idle GM Auto manufacturing facility in St. Petersburg
Part of GM’s strategy to ensure long-term sustainability in global markets
DETROIT – General Motors today announced plans to change its business model in Russia. GM will focus on the premium segment of the Russian market with Cadillac and U.S.-built iconic Chevrolet products such as the Corvette, Camaro and Tahoe. The Chevrolet brand will minimize its presence in Russia and the Opel brand will leave the market by December 2015.
“This change in our business model in Russia is part of our global strategy to ensure long-term sustainability in markets where we operate,” said GM President Dan Ammann. “This decision avoids significant investment into a market that has very challenging long-term prospects.”
Opel Group CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann said, “We do not have the appropriate localization level for important vehicles built in Russia and the market environment does not justify a major investment to further localize.”
The GM Auto plant in St. Petersburg will halt production by the middle of 2015. GM is planning to idle the plant. Furthermore, the contract assembly of Chevrolet vehicles at GAZ will be discontinued in 2015.
The GM-AVTOVAZ joint venture will continue to build and market the current generation Chevrolet NIVA. GM’s global luxury brand Cadillac will be set up for growth in Russia over the next several years as it prepares for numerous product introductions.
Chevrolet and Opel will work closely with their dealer networks in Russia to define future steps while ensuring the company will honor its obligations to existing customers in the coming years. “We can assure our customers that we will continue to provide warranty, parts and services for their Chevrolet and Opel vehicles. We want to thank our customers and dealers for their loyalty to the Chevrolet and Opel brands,” said Neumann.
“We had to take decisive action in Russia to protect our business. We confirm our outlook to return the European business to profitability in 2016 and stick to our long-term goals as defined in our DRIVE!2022 strategy,” said Neumann. By 2022, the company plans to raise its market share in total Europe to 8 percent and to reach a profit margin of 5 percent.
As a result of the decision to change the business model in Russia, GM expects to record net special charges of up to approximately $600 million primarily in the first quarter of 2015. The special charges include sales incentives, dealer restructuring, contract cancellations and severance-related costs. Approximately $200 million of the net special charges will be non-cash expenses.
Powertrain warranties on Chevrolet and GMC vehicles will be 40,000 miles shorter starting in model year 2016.
In a memo released to dealers yesterday, General Motors announced that beginning with 2016 model year vehicles, the powertrain warranty will be shortened from 100,000 miles to 60,000 miles on Chevrolet and GMC models, while still remaining in effect for 5 years. Buick's existing 6 year / 70,000 mile powertrain warranty remains in effect. General Motors began offering 5 year / 100,000 mile powertrain warranties in 2007 at a time when public confidence in the company was low. There is no mention of Cadillac in the memo, so it looks like they will keep the 5 year / 100,000 powertrain warranty they currently offer.
Also being scaled back is the amount of included maintenance. Current Chevy, Buick, and GMC vehicles come with 4 scheduled maintenance visits included in the first 2 years of ownership. That will be cut back to 2 scheduled maintenance visits beginning for model year 2016.
GM says this move brings the warranties for these brands more in line with their direct competition.
This is where the brands stack up for most of their respective models:
Fiat: 4 years / 50,000 miles
Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, Honda, Nissan: 5 years / 60,000 miles
Ram, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep: 5 years /100,000 miles
Toyota: 6 years / 60,000 miles
Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi: 10 years / 100,000 miles
Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar/LR, Volvo, Porsche: 4 years / 50,000
Cadillac: 5 years / 100,000 miles
Buick, Acura, Lexus, Lincoln: 6 years / 70,000 miles\
We obtained a copy of the memo which you can read below. (click to enlarge)
There is some good news appearing from General Motors' ignition switch mess. The Detroit News reports that GM dealers have repaired 1.36 million ignition switches globally out of 2.36 million it believes are still in use, or about 57.8 percent of vehicles around the world. It should be noted that the 2.36 million amount is down from the 2.59 million GM recalled back in February and March.
"The difference between the 2.59 million produced and recalled, and the populations being sought is made up for by scrapped vehicles or vehicles no longer traceable by registration," said GM spokesman Alan Adler in a email.
In the U.S., GM dealers have repaired 1.14 million vehicles out of the 1.96 million vehicles involved in the recall. That still leaves around 823,000 cars still needing to be fixed. Adler admits get those vehicles into the service center will be difficult.
Source: The Detroit News