Chrysler Refuses to Recall So-Called Defective Vehicles

Chrysler has announced that it is denying the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s call for the American carmaker to recall 1.56 million vehicles due to an alleged increased risk of drivers and passengers experiencing fiery deaths if the suspect vehicles are struck from behind.

NHTSA has asked the third-largest American auto maker to install trailer hitches on Grand Cherokee’s from model years 1993 to 1998 and Jeep Liberty’s from 2002 to 2007 to protect the vehicles’ delicate rear ends. However, striking a blow for freedom, Chrysler replied to the NHSTA request with a written statement saying that the trailer hitches:

“…cannot, and will not, mitigate the risk of the high energy rear collisions identified in your recall request letter. [Instead, the hitches will only] incrementally improve the performance of certain of the subject vehicles in certain types of low-speed impacts.”

Meanwhile, the executive director of Center for Auto Safety, Clarence Ditlow, says that NHTSA is right on the mark and is calling for the agency to formally declare the defect so that Chrysler will have to recall the vehicles. In fact, the aptly-named Ditlow says that the explosive problem may be include other Chrysler vehicles that have fuel tanks behind their rear axles.

Fiat’s Poor Truck Sales Lead to Drop in Q1 Profit

Dropping truck and construction vehicle sales have forced Fiat Industrial to lower its revenue expectations for the first quarter of the year.
Sales of the Italian company’s trucks and construction vehicles fell by 22 percent in this recently completed quarter. Net profit for the entire company ended the quarter at 138 million euros or about 39 million euros fewer than what Fiat Industrial ApA earned in profit in the first quarter of 2012. At 5.8 billion euros, total revenue did not change much from 12 months ago mostly due to increasing sales of farming equipment.

The Automotive Patent Troll Celebrates 109 Years of Destroying America

The automotive patent troll first struck 109 years ago this October 22 when he sued Henry Ford. This first troll, a terrible beast whose memory shall forever cast a dark shadow on the red, white and blue heart of the American innovator, carried the cursed name of George Selden, and he sued the prince-like Ford claiming that the latter had copied his car design that he had patented in 1895.

The court battle raged on for a full eight years, before Selden was made to slink away with no extra coins to plunk into the coffers he hid beneath his bridge.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Toyota Camry Still Top Selling Car in the U.S.

America’s best-selling car for 2012 will almost certainly be the Toyota Camry. If so, this will be the 11th straight year that Toyota’s top selling model has earned this honor.

So far this year, Toyota has sold more than 67,000 more Camrys than Honda has sold Accords, the car in second place. Even more remarkable is that Toyota believes that its Camry sales will be more than 15 percent higher than the Japanese automaker’s target. In total, Toyota feels that it will sell around 400,000 Camrys in America this year. As of the end of September, it has moved 314,788 Camrys in the U.S., an increase of 37% over what it had moved in the same period in 2011.

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Obama Sings the Praises of Auto Bailout before 2nd Debate

Readying for this week’s presidential debate, President Barack Obama practiced staying awake for 90 straight minutes while giving his weekly radio address. A large part of his comeback plans seems as if it might center on the controversial auto bailout. “We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt,” Obama said in his weekly radio address.

“We bet on American workers and American ingenuity, and three years later, that bet is paying off in a big way,” Obama said, presumably not referring to the at least $25 billion that the Treasury Department said in August the tax payer would lose over the auto bailout. Romney had and continues to oppose tax payer money going to the automakers.

In the weekly address, Obama also touted the trade agreements his administration has signed that will place more American cars on the roads in “places like South Korea.” He added that he was likewise proud of the fuel efficiency regulations he has helped put in place saying, “after 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and light trucks will average almost 55 miles per gallon – nearly double what they get today.”

SRT Viper to be Sold at a Chrysler Dealer (Probably Not) Near You

Gold-leafed words flaking off the smelter lips of Ralph Gilles, CEO of the SRT brand, are carrying a whisper that does not delight: the gloriously delicious SRT Viper will only be sold at from 100 to 150 of the more than 2,300 Chrysler dealers in the nation.

To earn the honor to sell such a vehicle, Gilles says that dealers have to “have the fire, the passion… that’s the unofficial requirement – that you have a love affair with the cars and you just love fast cars.” 

While this passion need may knock some folks out of the running, it certainly puts this writer at the front of the pack. Mr. Gilles, I’ve got an empty bay in my two-car garage. Give me the honor of selling your supercar.

$5 Billion Battle to Replace U.S. Army’s Humvee

Beating out a trio of other competitors, Oshkosh Corp., Lockheed Martin, and AM General, the maker of the current Humvee, have each been awarded $60 million contracts to build demonstration models that will be evaluated as possible replacements to the Humvee. Whichever company wins the ultimate contract will be given around $5 billion to build 20,000 of the new vehicles for the Army and 5,000 for the Marines. Moreover, the winning bidder may end up producing its vehicle, to be called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, for other approved nations as well.

While meeting the specification to be less costly per unit, the new vehicle will be engineered to survive and protect its occupants from mines and roadside bombs, travel effectively and quickly over varied and rough terrain, and feature more interior space than the current Humvee has. The testing vehicles will be provided to the army over the next 12 months. Then the Army will test them for two years before the contract is awarded.

At least they didn’t go with the Ontario-built Evade, which looks armored but isn’t.

Auto Bailout Cost Jumps to $25 Billion

The overall cost of the 2008-2009 automotive federal bailout has increased by 15 percent to $25 billion in a large part due to General Motors’ lack of success. Even the White House is being forced to admit that its projections about how much the automakers would be able to repay have been wrong. The Obama administration says that that it now doubts that the American taxpayer will be able to recoup about $25.1 billion of the bailout.

Reflecting its poor performance, GM’s stock price sits around $20 a share, which is much less than the government’s estimated breakeven point of $53 a pop.

Gas Prices Down, Hybrid, Electric Car Sales Up

The world is a topsy-turvy place. Just when things should be headed upwards, they take a dive and when they should be doing a drop they make a leap upwards. So it is with green vehicles and gas prices.

Despite gas prices being half a buck off their peak earlier in the year, sales of hybrid and electric car sales shot up a staggering 164 percent in June over the same month in 2011, according to Kelley Blue Book. Obviously, this is the exact opposite impact on green vehicle sales that dropping gas prices should have. The Chevy Volt led this charge with its 221% increase.

We Are Being Killed on the Road!

Following ten years of happy decreases, the numbers of highway deaths jumped higher in the first three months of 2012. About 48% of the country says that Obama is to blame, while 49% say that Romney is clearly the culprit. The remaining three percent are blaming a warmer-than-usual winter.

Highway fatalities surged 13.5% the first quarter of 2012 according to numbers gathered and released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Hopefully a dead cat bounce, this is a turnaround from last year when road deaths reached their lowest point in 60 years.     

So far this year, there have been 1.1 deaths per 100 miles driven, a major increase from the 0.98 deaths there were for the same number of miles driven in 2011.  As reported in the link below, Tampa is one of the worst cities for fatal accidents.

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