GM’s Fuel Economy “Misprint” Somehow Shows Up At EPA Website

The correct fuel economy rating for this vehicle, from the EPA's website today.

The correct fuel economy rating for this vehicle, from the EPA’s website today.

GM has told its US dealerships to stop selling 2016 model-year large crossovers while it replaces Monroney stickers that show incorrect fuel economy ratings, according to a huge Automotive News [sub] scoop.  The stop-sale documents obtained by AN call the mislabeling an “inadvertent error,” and a GM spokesman tells them “an ‘inadvertent data transmission’ was responsible for the mistake.” This excuse would be thin under any circumstances, but two factors make it seem especially implausible. The first is the timing: GM was just caught using an apparent “defeat device” in Europe after months of allegations of emissions cheating. The second is the nature of the misprint: the incorrect ratings were just 1-2 MPG better than the correct numbers, strongly indicating GM was trying to get away with slightly too-good-to-be-true numbers.

But there’s even more direct evidence that GM’s “misprint” story isn’t true: a Daily Kanban review of the EPA website using the archive.org Wayback Machine shows that those (higher) incorrect numbers were displayed on the EPA website before being changed sometime this year. In other words, the fuel economy ratings that GM says were a “misprint” were submitted to the EPA and listed as the official rating before being changed to the new, lower rating.

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Despite Barra’s Denials, GM Diesel Test Results Indicate VW-Style Cheating

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We’ve suspected for some time that more automakers would be caught up in the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal, and the first new perpetrator has apparently been identified: General Motors. GM CEO Mary Barra’s insists that VW-style software cheating on emissions tests “is not a condition that exists in our vehicles,”  but the German environmental group Umwelthilfe has sponsored tests that throw that claim into serious doubt [English press release in PDF format here].

In testing of the Opel Zafira 1.6 CDTi, performed at the Bern University of Applied Sciences, GM’s diesel engine passed NEDC cycle NOx tests performed on a two-wheel (single-axle) rolling road but emitted two to four times the Euro6 limit for NOx when the same test was performed on a four-wheel rolling road. This strongly indicates that a software “test mode” exists for this engine, although Opel insists that “The software developed by GM does not contain any features that can detect whether the vehicle is being subjected to an emissions test.” But, says International Transport Advisor Axel Friedrich,  “I have no normal, technically plausible explanation for the emission behavior of the Opel vehicle.”

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Tesla And Its Customers Find It’s Not Easy Being Green

Tesla Motors and its customers are famously proud of their environmentally friendly image, but their anti-carbon and anti-oil sentiments are apparently not as absolute as their public statements and vanity license plates might suggest. In the course of investigating Tesla’s Harris Ranch, CA battery swap station, Daily Kanban found that Tesla’s solution to peak demand for grid-powered Superchargers that are also on-site does not involve stationary battery storage or customer battery-swapping at its only swap station. Instead, the company relies upon  backup Superchargers powered by diesel generators. Moreover, several Tesla customers were observed charging from the noisy, carbon-emitting backup generator even when the standard Supercharging station had numerous plugs available. This oddly un-green charging option, foisted on customers as a result of Tesla’s lack of desire to make its battery swap capabilities widely available, in turn raises unanswered questions about the environmental claims Tesla has made about its entire charging network.

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Tata Motors on Bolt vs. Bolt

Like a bolt from the blue?

Like a bolt from the blue?

When TransportEvolved pointed out that Tata Motors has a five-door hatchback called “Bolt” and suggested that this might be a problem for Chevrolet’s planned Bolt EV, we thought we would reach out to the Indian automaker for comment on the matter. Today, a Tata Motors spokesman made the following statement to DailyKanban:

“Bolt is currently a brand name registered by Tata Motors for the Indian market and we are in the process of registering it for some of our key international markets as relevant. However, we do not presently anticipate any concerns about the GM vehicle as both of these products are focused on very different markets”.

GM has assiduously avoided saying what markets outside the United States it might sell the Bolt in, and has even said it may reconsider the name Bolt altogether. Losing out on the Bolt name in India may not be a deciding factor, but, depending on what other markets Tata registers the Bolt name in, this could potentially become more of an issue. Tata may not “presently anticipate any concerns” with the name-sharing, but if GM has global ambitions for Bolt it may need to reach into its bag of brands to avoid overlap with Tata’s Bolt.

Is Private Surveillance Behind Crazy Car Loans?

Big Brother Is Repossessing You (Courtesy: Boston Globe/BostonBeta.com)

Big Brother Is Repossessing You (Courtesy: Boston Globe/BostonBeta.com)

There’s been a lot of news about the explosion in auto credit in the US, which now exceeds credit card debt and ranks second only to student debt in non-mortgage consumer credit. Every aspect of auto-backed debt -amount, term length, securitization, subprime availability- has hit new highs recently… except repossessions, which remain relatively low.  And that, say the issuers, bundlers and sellers of auto debt, is what makes the credit class so safe relative to mortgage debt. Because repossessing a car is relatively easier than repossessing a house, bad debts are easier to collect. [Continue Reading]