TIME Automakers

Chrysler Recalls Up to 800,000 Jeeps Over Ignition-Switch Problems

A 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolls down the assembly line Wedn
A 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolls down the assembly line Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2004, at Chrysler's Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, Michigan. John F. Martin—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Older Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Commanders may have a faulty ignition switch

Around 800,000 older Chrysler Jeeps could be affected by a recall due to a problem with the ignition switch, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The company said it is aware of one reported accident associated with the defect, but no injuries.

The recall will affect a still-undetermined number of model year 2006-2007 Jeep Commanders and 2005-2007 Jeep Grand Cherokees. In vehicles affected by the problem, contact with a driver’s knee or other outside force can move the ignition switch from on to off, causing the engine to stall and cutting power brakes and power steering.

The company said its investigation is ongoing but that around 792,000 vehicles could have faulty switches, including 659,900 in the U.S. and others in Mexico, Canada, and elsewhere. Newer models have been redesigned are unaffected, the company said.

Chrysler’s recalls come as rival automaker General Motors has recalled nearly 28 million automobiles worldwide for similar ignition switch issues. The GM problems have been linked to at least 13 deaths, and the company has faced federal investigation over its handling of the situation.

Chrysler also announced that 21,000 vehicles, including certain 2014 Ram pickups, 2015 Jeep Cherokees and 2015 Chrysler 200 sedans, will be recalled for inspection and, if necessary, have their shocks and struts replaced.

TIME Innovation

Ford President Says Aluminum F-150 Is All Engines Go

Ford

Ford says the truck will ship on time this year, despite analyst concerns that manufacturing plant retooling will impact availability.

Investment firm Morgan Stanley is publicly fretting the truck might be delayed, but Ford says its new lightweight aluminum Ford F-150 pickup is on track and we’ll see it later this year.

“Everything is on schedule and everything is going as planned,” Ford Americas President Joe Hinrichs told reporters, speaking at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan (via Automotive News), adding that he was “very confident in this vehicle.” Morgan Stanley’s analyst Ravi Shanker had said earlier that Ford’s planned factory retooling, which it has to perform in order to produce the new pickup, would result in “slow changeover, with tight supply.”

Ford has noted the planned retooling would temporarily deplete its production by over 90,000 F-Series pickups, reducing company sales and profits. Furthermore, margins are expected to be lower on the new aluminum-bodied F-150. But Ford views all of that as necessary back-stepping to be first to market with a truck that uses a combination of “military-grade aluminum and high-strength steel,” and that’ll weigh roughly 700 pounds less than the version it’s replacing.

Note that Shanker doesn’t say the launch itself is in danger of being delayed, only that supply is going to be very tight in 2014 given manufacturing constraints. If supply is at a trickle, that could mean higher demand-driven dealer pricing, of course, culminating in a scenario where the truck’s debut looks more like a paper launch, and buyers wind up having to wait to lay hands on one until supply catches up.

TIME Automobiles

This Is Why Nokia Is Betting on Smart Cars

No longer a cell phone manufacturer, Nokia is hitching its future on automobiles. The company announced today that it will invest $100 million in smart car technologies through its venture capital business, Nokia Growth Partners. Nokia already has a significant presence in cars thanks to its mapping services, which are used to power GPS systems in four out of five vehicles, according to Bloomberg. The new investment will help Nokia grow its influence in the auto industry as cars become Internet-connected devices.

Nokia is just one of several tech companies that are trying to chart the automobile’s future. Google’s self-driving cars are getting more adept at handling city streets, while Apple is rolling out a version of its iOS operating system made specifically for cars later this year. Car manufacturers themselves are also working to develop smart cars—General Motors plans to sell a mostly self-driving car by the end of the decade.

Nokia completed the sale its mobile phone business to Microsoft for $7.2 billion last month.

TIME Advertising

Here’s a Bunch of Super Old People Telling You to Be Totally Hardcore

Awesome

+ READ ARTICLE

You’ve probably been told at some point or another that you can learn a lot from your elders. Auto manufacturer Dodge has now gathered a whole bunch of them—many more than 100 years old—to impart some of the wisdom they’ve gained over their long lives. The result is a new ad commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first Dodge. In the spot, men and women as old as 106 share the type of hard-earned knowledge that only comes from a long life on this Earth. Their responses start sweet and then…we won’t spoil it.

Dodge is hoping to expand sales of its muscle cars with updated versions of the Charger and Challenger. The Chrysler-owned brand unveiled two new versions of the cars this week at the New York Auto Show. Last year, Charger sales were up 19% to nearly 100,000 cars sold, making it one of the best-selling full-size cars. This year has been a different story: during for the first three months of 2014, sales dropped 4.4% versus the same time in 2013. Over all Chrysler Group sales last month were up 13% compared to the same month the year previous. It was Chrysler’s best March sales performance since 2007.

TIME Automobiles

5 Cars To Watch At The 2014 New York Auto Show

The New York International Auto Show begins April 18. Here's a sneak peek at some of the industry’s best cars

+ READ ARTICLE

With the Geneva and Detroit auto shows in the rear-view mirror, car aficionados are turning their attention to the New York International Auto Show, opening Friday.

From Toyota’s completely redesigned new Camry, the best-selling car in the U.S. for the last 12 consecutive years, to the Corvette Z06 convertible, let’s take a look at five models that are rolling into the five boroughs this week.

The New York Auto Show 2014 takes place from Friday, April 18th through Sunday, April 27th.

TIME cars

Spiders Force Mazda Recall, Again

Preparations Ahead Of The Geneva Motor Show 2014
The front grille and bumper of a red Mazda 6 automobile, produced by Mazda Motor Corp., is reflected in the floor of the company's stand ahead of the opening day of the 84th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, March 3, 2014. Chris Ratcliffe—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The car company said in recall announced Friday -- the second time in three years -- that the spider invasions can cause cracks and fuel leaks that raise the risk of fire, but it is not aware of any fires due to the spiders

Mazda told U.S. regulators that it was recalling 42,000 sedans with 2.5-liter engines from 2010 to 2012 because spiders that are attracted to the smell of gasoline weave webs that block an engine vent, Reuters reports.

It’s the second time in three years that spiders have forced a Mazda recall.

Mazda said in recall announced Friday that the spider invasions can cause cracks and fuel leaks that raise the risk of fire, but it is not aware of any fires because of the spiders.

 

TIME General Motors

GM Announces Another Major Recall Before Testimony

General Motors announced a recall of more than 1.3 million vehicles with dangerous power-steering problems. The company's CEO will testify on Tuesday about 2.6 million vehicles it recalled in February because of an ignition defect

General Motors announced on Monday that it’s recalling more than 1.3 million vehicles that may experience a sudden loss of electric power steering. GM’s new recall comes after 2.6 million vehicles were recalled earlier this year for ignition-switch problems linked to 13 deaths.

GM models involved in the new recall include Chevy Malibus, HHRs and Cobalts, Saturn Auras and IONs, as well as Pontiac G6s from model years 2004 to 2010. GM says it will replace the vehicles’ power-steering motors, steering columns, power-steering motor-control units or a combination of those free of charge, depending on the vehicle.

The 2004–07 Saturn ION, 2009–10 Chevrolet HHR and the 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt were also included in the earlier ignition-switch recall. Ignition switches on those vehicles and others were able to be jostled out of the “run” position by heavy key rings, shutting off engines, power brakes and steering while also disabling airbags.

GM has been criticized for its handling of the ignition-switch problem, which the company recently admitted it first learned about in 2001. A congressional subcommittee is holding a hearing on Tuesday regarding the ignition recall with GM CEO Mary Barra and the government’s chief auto-safety regulator, David Friedman. Friedman will argue GM had “critical information” that would have helped the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identify the ignition defect sooner, according to an advanced copy of his opening statement.

House members are also expected to ask why government investigators looking at GM-related data didn’t spot a safety-defect trend earlier. “NHTSA examined the available information multiple times using consumer complaints, early warning data, special crash investigations, manufacturer information about how air bags function and other tools, but did not find sufficient evidence of a possible safety-defect trend that would warrant opening a formal investigation,” Friedman is expected to say.

Barra will apologize on Tuesday to the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured. She’ll also announce steps General Motors has made in reaction to the crisis, including appointing the first vice president for global vehicle safety.

TIME

Report: U.S. Gas Prices Have Gone Up $4 Per Tank in The Last 6 Weeks

Gas pump
In thee past six weeks, gas prices in the U.S. have shot up by around $4 per average tank Getty Images

A new survey by industry analyst Trilby Lundberg finds the average price of gas is up 26 cents across the U.S. over the last six weeks—five cents just in the last two weeks—representing a nearly $4 bump on the typical tank

Regular gasoline rose five cents per gallon on average in the U.S. over the past two weeks to reach a price of $3.56.

A survey released Sunday by industry analyst Trilby Lundberg reveals prices have risen 26 cents per gallon over the past six weeks, representing a $4 bump on a typical gas tank.

Midgrade costs $3.74 per gallon on average with premium gas at $3.89 and diesel at $4.02.

Within the contiguous U.S., Los Angeles has the highest average price at $4 per gallon, while Billings, Mont., comes in lowest at $3.18.

TIME Automobiles

General Motors Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Recall

The logo for General Motors at the entrance at the site of a GM information technology center in Roswell, Ga., on Jan. 10, 2013.
The logo for General Motors at the entrance at the site of a GM information technology center in Roswell, Ga., on Jan. 10, 2013. David Goldman—AP

The lawsuit will likely be the first of many over serious safety problems in certain models that led the company to recall 1.6 million vehicles last month. Plaintiffs are demanding compensation for cars they say have lost value

Customers claiming their vehicles lost value because of serious safety problems with General Motors vehicles filed a class action lawsuit against the company Friday, likely the first of many after the auto giant’s recall of 1.6 million vehicles in February.

The proposed class action said GM knew since 2004 that ignition problems could disable its autos’ airbags, but failed to fix it, creating “unreasonably dangerous” conditions for drivers of the affected models, Reuters reports. The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for loss of vehicle use, repairs, and lower resale value, but are not claiming they were injured in accidents due to faulty design.

“GM’s mishandling of the ignition switch defect….has adversely affected the company’s reputation as a manufacturer of safe, reliable vehicles with high resale value,” the lawsuit said.

The Center for Auto Safety said Thursday that 303 deaths resulted from airbags failures in two recalled GM models. GM and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety criticized the analysis. GM has said it received reports of 12 deaths in the recalled cars.

[Reuters]

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