Winterkorn survives, with a concussion

Winterkorn in Beijing - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

When Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech made one of his usual tight-lipped remarks last week, and said that he is “at a distance” to VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, the media already made lists of possible successors. The 78-year-old Piech seems to lose his touch. He forgot to count the votes before throwing daggers. Hours after the remark, most of the supervisory board rallied behind Winterkorn. Today, the board’s Executive Committee said that “Winterkorn is the best possible” CEO, and that the committee will now propose to extend Winterkorn’s contract beyond 2016. Translation of “best possible:” [Continue Reading]

Friday morning car news roundup, April 17, 2015

Today is Friday

Top News



Other news, rumors and, gossip



NHTSA Shrugged

There's a new sheriff in town... and he's big on self-enforcement.

There’s a new sheriff in town… and he’s big on self-enforcement.

As the GM ignition switch scandal snowballed over the last year, there has been much debate about just how much blame NHTSA bears for not catching the decade-old defect. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce staff report [PDF] analyzes NHTSA’s failure to prevent the deaths of 84 Americans (and counting), and concluded that a number of factors prevented NHTSA from detecting patterns that GM’s own top executives claim to never have known about. With headings like “information silos ” and “organizational tunnel vision,” the failures identified in the report are strikingly similar to the culture problems blamed for GM’s malfeasance; there’s even a “NHTSA shrug” to match the “GM shrug” identified in GM’s Valukas Report.  But the report’s final page gives the ultimate version of what we might as well start calling the “American shrug”:

There are no simple solutions to the failures exposed by this recall.

Which is true enough, as far as it goes. Again, if GM’s own leadership couldn’t identify the problem amid ten years of evidence it’s fair to say NHTSA didn’t have a chance. So rather than wondering why NHTSA isn’t capable of catching the worst-case nightmare scenario, perhaps we should be setting the bar a little lower. For example, let’s ask if NHTSA can at least ensure recalled cars don’t get sold before being repaired and if it can apply its efforts consistently. Because apparently even these modest standards are too much to ask…

[Continue Reading]

Thursday morning car news roundup, April 16, 2015

Today is Thursday

Top News


[Continue Reading]

EU new passenger vehicle registrations up strongly in March, except for GM

Autobahn - Picture courtesy

March is the most important car buying moths in many parts of Europe, and car sales finally are in full bloom in the EU. New car registrations were up 10.6 percent in March, when compared to the same month in the prior year by the European auto … [Continue reading]

Toyota breaks the suspense with 1.5 new, lean TNGA plants

No cameras allowed inside - the ladies in the lobby were much prettier anyway

In April 2013, world’s number one carmaker Toyota announced a moratorium on building new plants. That moratorium is drawing to an end, in a Toyota-typical slow and watchful way. Toyota is building fewer new plants than its competitors, and it is … [Continue reading]

Wednesday morning car news roundup, April 15, 2015


Top News   Cadillac drops price on ELR plug-in for 2016 model year - Detroit News: Updates for 2016 include better horsepower and torque, faster acceleration, OnStar 4G W-Fi and performance package Toyota investments in Mexico, China to … [Continue reading]

Tuesday morning car news roundup, April 14, 2015


Top News   German automaker BMW has best March sales ever - Detroit News: The Munich-based maker of the 3-Series sedan and X5 sport-utility said Tuesday it sold 195,593 vehicles worldwide FCA Expects New 500X to Grow Brand's Sales - … [Continue reading]