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BMW, Subaru, Mazda and Toyota offer $553 million settlement following Takata's airbag recall

The aftermath of the Takata airbag recall still largely resounds in the automotive industry, as big automotive companies like BMW, Mazda, Subaru and Toyota were extensively hit with what is considered as the largest single automotive recall of all time. The said 4 companies have had to make a settlement worth whopping $553 million with the United States government. Now that hurt a lot.

Current owners of around 16 million affected vehicles equipped with the faulty Takata air bags are candidates for financial aid in getting their vehicles checked out and fixed, with up to $500 in compensation as part of new consumer settlements that involve various automakers. BMW, Mazda, Subaru and Toyota have provided a collective statement on this unfortunate situation, explaining that the said settlement would allow a series of programs to raise recall remedy completion rates for Takata airbag inflators, including other customer benefits.

Included in this plan is an outreach program that will aid the speed of the recall and repair process, supervised through traditional and non-traditional means. For example, a rental car will serve as loaner vehicles to afflicted customers when requested, or during instances when parts for the recall are not available within 30 days. In addition, afflicted customers will be able to demand reimbursement for "appropriate out of pocket expenses that is due directly to the Takata airbag inflator recalls under out of pocket claims and the remaining distribution program.

Read the entire article BMW, Subaru, Mazda and Toyota offer $553 million settlement following Takata's airbag recall

Hyundai presents first-ever panoramic sunroof airbag

One thing that more car buyers look for is a panoramic sunroof. So naturally, automakers aim to give its customers what they want. Nevertheless, safety is a pertinent issue that has to be addressed. This is why Hyundai is making sure to answer all safety concerns regarding the glass sunroofs. Hyundai has developed a panoramic sunroof airbag, which they claim to be the first ever in the industry.

So how does this work? Well, the South Korean automaker installed the airbag inside the sunroof mechanism of the tempered glass roof. The airbag gets activated when the car’s on-board sensor detects the vehicle about to roll over when it crashes. In around 0.08 of a second, the airbag can be deployed from the front to the rear of the car, covering the entire roof surface. Now that is indeed a first.

If in any case the car rolls over, the sunroof airbag will prevent passengers from spilling out of the car. This reduces their risk of getting serious injuries.

Read the entire article Hyundai presents first-ever panoramic sunroof airbag

Hyundai Mobis develops first-ever sunroof airbags

Does your vehicle’s sunroof come with an airbag? This may be the first time you’ve ever heard that such a thing actually does exist. Since safety often tops the priority list of all car manufacturers, automotive parts suppliers are relentlessly seeking new innovations to offer to their clients.

Enter Hyundai Mobis, which brings to us what is now known as the very first airbag for your car’s panoramic sunroof. This may take a long while to be seen everywhere as the company will be focusing on premium SUVs at the moment. If eventually this becomes available worldwide, we believe these special airbags will further raise our standards for safety.

But why place it over your head? Well, its main concern is to prevent occupants from being ejected out of the vehicle’s panoramic sunroof in case of a rollover accident. At the time of an emergency, the sunroof airbag can deploy in as quick as 0.08 second which is pretty similar to what the side-curtain airbags on most vehicles accomplish. Hyundai Mobis’ patented technology will work whether the sunroof is closed or open to keep passengers safe no matter what. Imagine an airbag that goes down from the back and moves forward to cover the entire panoramic glass roof. That’s how it works.

Read the entire article Hyundai Mobis develops first-ever sunroof airbags

Owners of 2007-2016 Porsche models with light interior can be refunded for cost of sunglasses

Porsche is facing an unusual lawsuit, and no, it isn't about emission scandals, or missing parts. Neither is it an airbag issue or models that lack certain horsepower. Rather, it is the fact that the dashboard is too bright that people need to wear sunglasses to drive the car.

A group of unhappy Porsche owners got together because apparently, they all have the same complaint. That their German sports car have a gleaming dashboard, especially when the sun is out, as it reflects onto the windshield. Having said that, it makes the car difficult to drive as it hurts their eyes. Therefore, they will have to spend extra cash to get themselves a decent pair of polarized sunglasses.

The group created a website called DashboardGlareClassAction.com where they stated that the brightness may cause unnecessary accidents, and that the German manufacturer must do something about it. To defend itself, Porsche did say that there had been no accidents that had been reported with this complaint. What the company also intends to do to avoid further legal action from the group is that they will reimburse their customers’ sunglasses by giving them $50 to $175 depending on how much the shades are. Apparently, Porsche drivers will likely own an expensive pair of shades.

Read the entire article Owners of 2007-2016 Porsche models with light interior can be refunded for cost of sunglasses

Pedestrian protection is increasingly becoming one of the priorities in vehicular safety. In fact, Euro NCAP includes pedestrian protection as of one of the four aspects by which it rates overall safety in vehicles. Now, Mercedes-Benz is trying to get ahead of its rivals in the field of pedestrian protection by registering a patent that would allow the German premium carmaker to install external airbags.

According to its patent application with United States Patent and Trademark Office, the pedestrian protection device includes a bonnet that could be popped up or opened in order to further soften an impact. The car is fitted with a number of sensors that could detect when the vehicle hits a pedestrian. As soon as the car senses that a collision has occurred against the edge of the bonnet, this part of the vehicle would shift in the direction of the windscreen.

The pedestrian protection device also includes two airbags, which when triggered, would extend across a region of the windscreen pillar, which is also known as the A pillar. The airbag would have a cylindrical shape -- or even an oval shape -- and would be fitted inside a fabric tube. The associated actuator system is also fitted in the fabric tube. One end of the fabric tube would be connected to the edge of the bonnet or to the hinge of the hood. Meanwhile, the other end is fixed to front frame cross-member of the roof or to the A-pillar.

Read the entire article Mercedes-Benz patents a pedestrian protection system with airbags on the A-pillar

A few months ago, the United States Department of Justice charged several Volkswagen executives for the emissions cheating scandal, and one of the men was Oliver Schmidt. He was arrested back in January before his flight to Germany, and since then had been detained in US soil.

Schmidt was the former person-in-charge of the company’s regulatory compliance office. The case was filed against six other executives. On Friday, August 4, he finally pleaded guilty in the US District Court in Detroit for breaking emission laws and misleading the U.S. Government. He pleaded to a single count of “conspiracy to defraud the US to commit wire fraud and violate the Clean Air Act”.

By doing so, Schmidt could be fined between $40,000 and $400,000, while facing up to seven years in prison, before being deported back to Germany. Seven years might sound like a long time but it is a much lighter sentence than he should have faced. All in all, he was charged with 11 felony counts, and that is equivalent to a total of 169 years in prison, in other words, he will be given a lifetime sentence in prison. As expected, the 48-year-old German native took a plea deal.

Read the entire article Oliver Schmidt of VW pleads guilty in Dieselgate emissions case

German carmaker Volkswagen AG is now on the verge of closing the final chapters of its Dieselgate saga after Judge Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has granted final approval to a settlement agreement between the company and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as well as regulatory agencies compensate customers affected by the group’s 3.0-liter TDI diesel engines linked to the Dieselgate emissions cheating scandal in 2015.

This agreement became necessary because of the so-called Dieselgate scandal, which is a scheme executed by VW to sell around 590,000 diesel-powered vehicles in the US – covering model years 2009 to 2016 -- by making it appear that these units were cleaner than they actually were. Regulators have found out that VW employed a defeat device that helps these vehicles cheat on emissions tests. The latest settlement agreement is more or less similar to the one relating to VW’s 2.0-liter TDI engines.

Parties in the agreement include Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen Group of America, US DOJ, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State of California, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Attorney General.

Read the entire article Judge approves settlement deal for VW 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine scandal

Ferrari’s world is being rocked because of a lawsuit filed against Ferrari of Palm Beach alleging wrongful termination. This particular case was brought to the court by a certain Robert “Bud” Root who worked as a salesman at this local dealership.

While it initially appears to be one of the usual cases many companies face, what makes this one interesting in that Root is also alleging that the Palm Beach dealership was involved in a highly illegal practice that is odometer fraud. This is a scheme wherein the odometers of vehicles are rolled in order to give the impression that they have less mileage that they actually do. In the same suit, Root claims that since the diagnostic tool that was utilized in order to make the roll back possible was connected to the central system as part of the authorization, the brand is guilty by association.

The Daily Mail however appears to be not satisfied with that and dug deeper into the story. It appears that in January 2016, Root was fired and replaced at once by Noelle Miskulin. Miskulin was said to have later married Jay Youmans, the General Manager of the dealership. According to the report from the Daily Mail, the reason Root was fired was because he helped facilitate the scheme and thus violated business ethics. However in Root’s complaint, he did include the idea of age discrimination.

Read the entire article Ferrari gets a lawsuit for odometer rollback

One of the executives at Volkswagen tagged in the so-called Dieselgate scandal has pleaded not guilty to a list of allegations surrounding the carmaker’s actions to cheat emissions regulations in the United States.

Oliver Schmidt is facing 11 felony counts in relation to VW’s efforts to deceive regulators in the US that its vehicles powered by its diesel engines were compliant with regulations. However, it was soon discovered that a cheat device was installed to hide the fact that the emissions levels of these vehicles were higher than certified. Schmidt is accused of knowingly taking in a conspiracy -- from May 2006 to September 2015 – to defraud the US and VW customers as well as to violate the Clean Air Act.

Filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the criminal complaint alleged that Schmidt knew that VW’s diesel vehicles released higher emissions levels when on the road than when undergoing emissions tests. The complaint added that Schmidt knew that discrepancy was caused by an intentional installation of software that could detect and cheat US emissions tests.

Read the entire article VW executive Oliver Schmidt pleads not guilty to Dieselgate scandal

Tesla accuses its former Autopilot head, Sterling Anderson of stealing sensitive information and poaching Tesla employees while still working for the company. The lawsuit was filed last week in the Superior Court of California against Anderson and another Tesla employee, Chris Urmson.

Anderson has worked for the electric car company since 2014 and was appointed as the head of the Autopilot team. Tesla found out that Anderson and Urmson have started recruiting co-workers to join them in their new startup since 2016. Tesla claims Anderson has allegedly downloaded the secret files using the company’s laptop, but has apparently deleted all the traces. Due to this, the company filed a suit against the two former employees for stealing intellectual proprietary information.

Since Tesla is so advanced when it comes to self-driving technology, other car companies are trying to catch up with the pace by purchasing startups. Tesla is very much aware of how automakers have built a “get rich quick environment” because of this. It was also stated in the charges how a demoware could be bought from a team of programmers for billions of dollars. To cite an example, General Motors has acquired Cruise Automation for almost 1 billion USD in 2016. Otto, another self-driving startup firm, was bought by Uber by as much as 680 million USD in the same year.

Read the entire article Tesla files a suit against ex-chief of Autopilot division for stealing company info

We are guilty. We are likely to hear Volkswagen AG utter similar words soon following an agreement with the United States Department regarding the so-called Dieselgate scandal. Matters regarding the Dieselgate scandal recently took an amazing turn after Volkswagen and the DOJ reached an agreement in which the German carmaker will enter a guilty plea to three criminal felony counts and pay billions of dollars in penalty.

As part of the agreement, VW will plead guilty to: a conspiracy to defraud the United States and its customers in the country; obstruction of justice for destroying documents related to the Dieselgate scandal; and using false statements about the vehicles’ compliance with emissions limits with the aim of importing them into the US. Aside from pleading guilty, VW will be placed under probation for three years. An independent corporate compliance monitor will also be appointed to supervise VW for at least three years. VW will also pay a criminal penalty of $2.8 billion.

The agreement was an offshoot of the so-called Dieselgate scandal, which is essentially a scheme implemented by VW to sell around 590,000 diesel-powered vehicles in the US – from model years 2009 to 2016 -- by making it seem that these units were cleaner than they actually were. Regulators have found out that VW employed a defeat device that helps these vehicles cheat on emissions tests.

Read the entire article VW to plead guilty to 3 Dieselgate charges and to pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties

California-based company Zero to 60 Designs showed off a rather flattering tribute to the new Ford GT, but it looks like Ford’s lawyers are not taking it easy on this one.

A cease-and-desist order was sent to Zero to 60 Design for creating the Mustang GTT. The Mustang GTT looks very convincing that one would think Ford actually made it which is why the American automaker’s lawyers were quick to act.

Showcased at the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the Mustang GTT was custom fabricated in Zero to 60 Design’s facility in Corona, California, sporting a new bodywork. In just six weeks, Zero to 60 Designs was able to complete the transformation of a relatively brand-new Mustang GT coupe into this amazing creation; relatively new because it was driven for 300 miles (482 kilometers) before this transformation.

Read the entire article Ford Makes Legal Move Against Zero to 60 Design's Mustang GTT

More Toyota models have been named in the recalls involving Takata front passenger airbag inflators, bringing the total number of vehicles with Toyota and Lexus nameplates in the United States to about 2,915,000 units.

Toyota has added 1,365,000 units to the recall. These are: model years 2003 to 2007 Corolla and Corolla Matrix; model years 2005 to 2006 Tundra; model years 2005 to 2007 Sequoia; and model years 2003 to 2007 Lexus SC430 vehicles.

The recall has been issued because the front passenger airbag inflators are at risk of rupturing when deployed and leading to serious injuries in the occupants. Toyota Motor North America chief quality officer Dino Triantafyllos said that the automaker is focused on its customers’ safety and security. That’s why it will quickly and appropriately respond to any developments.

Read the entire article Toyota adds 1.36 million more units to Takata-related recall

A federal lawsuit was filed on May 7 against Ford Motor Co by Versata, a Texas software company, for having stolen its intellectual property. Versata claims that Ford benefited from its software by considerably cutting warranty costs and by bringing its vehicles to the market quicker.

Last Wednesday, Versata requested a U.S. District Court judge in Texas for an injunction against Ford, which started using the software in 1998 as part of its product-development process. The lawsuit said that at the end of 2014, Ford terminated the $8.45 million-a-year contract.

It then started using a program that was developed in-house based on Versata’s proprietary software, according to the lawsuit. Versata, which cited unspecified damages, said that Ford had gotten a software patent in 2014 based on the technology that it had licensed to Ford.

Read the entire article Ford faces Versata’s intellectual property lawsuit over ACM software

Only one day after Toyota and Nissan issued a recall of 6.5 million vehicles worldwide, there was a further expansion of the safety campaign related to defective airbags from Takata. This time, Honda is recalling about 4.89 million vehicles and Daihatsu said that about 260,000 units are affected.

If you own a Honda unit in the U.S. or Canada, you’re not part of the recall since the vehicles sold in these markets didn’t have the potentially defective airbags targeted in the latest recall. Instead, Honda’s recall affects about 1.7 million units in Japan that were built from 2002 to 2008.

The nameplates covered by the recall were produced in the U.S., Japan, and Thailand. The rest of the recalls are from the other regions. Honda said that the breakdowns of the regions will be announced locally. Meanwhile, the recall of Daihatsu-brand covers only cars built in Japan.

Read the entire article Honda, Daihatsu add 5 million vehicles to Takata airbag recalls

A recall has been announced for over 6.5 million cars sold by Toyota and Nissan around the world for the replacement of possibly defective airbag inflators produced by Takata Corp. Toyota is recalling around 5 million Corolla, Vitz/Yaris and other models sold globally. Via an email, Toyota revealed that this recall affects 35 models, which include 1.36 million units in Japan, 1.27 million units in Europe, 637,000 units in the U.S. and 18,000 cars in Canada.

Gordon Trowbridge (spokesman for the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) said that in the last few days, Toyota, Nissan, and Japanese government officials have been in contact with the U.S. safety agency. He said that very soon, the NHTSA will announce "significant new steps" related to accelerating the recalls of these Takata products.

He added that it’s not yet known what the root cause is for the defect but it’s clear that high humidity is a factor. This implies that time and moisture are factors involved in this issue. According to a Takata spokeswoman, an investigation has been started on what caused the airbag problems. She also said that the company is cooperating with the carmakers.

Read the entire article Toyota, Nissan expand airbag recall to 6.5 million more cars

A lawsuit was filed in London against Tesla Motors related to a claim that it interfered with a plan by a competitor to have electric-car chargers at rest stops at highways in the UK. Last Wednesday, Judge Vivien Rose demanded that Tesla should locate and offer up documents on internal talks with other companies on establishing its own charger network for it electric cars.

In the UK, Tesla’s cars have a starting price of 50,000 pounds ($74,450). According to Ecotricity Group, Tesla entered negotiations with companies such as Tesco after it had already begun talks. Judge Rose said that it appears that in October 2014, there were meetings with motorway service providers.

This lawsuit is not surprising considering that there has been a conflict between automakers and charging network providers who want a share of growing market for electric vehicles and their infrastructure.

Read the entire article Tesla faces Ecotricity lawsuit over Charging Stations Implementation

Takata Corp. is facing a $14,000-a-day fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its failure to "fully cooperate" with the agency’s probe into its exploding airbag inflators linked to at least six deaths. Takata will have to pay $14,000 fine every day until it addresses its shortcomings in the probe.

The NHTSA has warned Takata that it will refer the situation to the Department of Justice if the Japanese supplier fails to take action, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. The fines refers from the NHTSA’s “special orders” issued in 2014 asking Takata to produce documents and answer questions under oath over its airbags -- to help NHTSA’s probe into the defect.

According to a letter to Takata attorneys sent by NHTSA chief counsel Kevin Vincent, the company has supplied more than 2.4 million pages of documents in response to the special orders, which are considered subpoenas. The document production orders also require the supplier to include descriptions to explain the content of submitted documents, but Takata has failed to do so.

Read the entire article Takata Corp. is facing daily fine of $14,000 from the NHTSA

Takata Corp. is planning to double production of its airbag inflators to 900,000 units monthly by September as it tries to meet the backlog of orders for replacement parts. According to Takata spokesman Jared Levy, the supplier has completed the ramp-up of two new assembly lines at its Monclova site in Mexico that allowed it to hike monthly production of replacement inflators from 300,000 units to 450,000 units.

He remarked that Takata’s plants around the world will produce 900,000 units a month. At a current production rate of 450,000 units a month, Takata would need a few years to fill the order backlog as its customers expanded regional recalls in the United States into a national one. While Takata is having a hard time increasing its production, its rival suppliers are taking the opportunity to fill in the gap.

In fact, Autoliv Inc., the world’s No. 1 airbag producer, confirmed in January that has inked contracts with a number of carmakers to deliver up to 25 million airbag inflators to fix possibly faulty airbags. According to Autoliv, it will produce the airbag inflators this year and in 2015, adding that its holding talks with carmakers to deliver millions more.

Read the entire article Takata to double airbag inflator production rate by September

Mark Lillie, a former engineer at Takata Corp. has told a United States congressional committee that he would be willing to testify that he gave warnings against using the ammonium nitrate to inflate its air bags. Lillie said his exit from the company was linked to Takata’s disregard of his warnings.

He told Bloomberg in a phone interview that he knew that “ultimately there were going to be catastrophic failures,” adding he didn’t want his name associated with it. Takata, in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News, didn’t directly address Lillie’s account of company discussions over the chemical compound or the circumstances of his exit.

The company has already set up an independent panel that will conduct a “comprehensive review” to ensure that its current manufacturing procedures “meet best practices in the production of safe inflators.” The company said it will share the results of the probe publicly. against using the chemical compound ammonium nitrate to inflate its air bags.

Read the entire article Former Takata engineer is willing to testify in US congress