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Posted on April 22, 2014 by Chris Bruce
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed its investigation into faulty electric power steering motors affecting 334,728 Saturn Ions from 2004-2007, because General Motors has issued a recall for them. The group's research found that the part failed at a high rate in the vehicles.
GM recalled over 1.3 million vehicles a few weeks ago, including the Ion, because the power steering could suddenly fail. If broken, the cars could still turn, but it took greater effort. The automaker is also covering 96,324 2003 Ions with a lifetime warranty for their motors, but it's not immediately replacing them.
NHTSA opened its investigation into the motors in September 2011, and it found 4,787 complaints and 30,560 warranty claims that showed failure for the Ion alone. It estimated a complaint rate of 14.3 incidents per 1,000 vehicles and warranty claim rate of 9.1 percent. The investigation also found evidence of 12 crashes caused by loss of steering, two of which resulted in injuries.
According to The Detroit News, the Ion wasn't initially going to be included in the recall. During the House's hearing into GM's ignition switch recall, it presented an email from October 2011 to Mary Barra that notified her of the bad steering motors and said the "Ion data did not justify being included" in the recall. At some point, the automaker apparently changed its decision. NHTSA's investigation report can be downloaded as a PDF.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Dan Roth
Episode #377 of the Autoblog podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth and Steven Ewing talk about the New York Auto Show, the Beijing Motor Show (and a tangent or two). We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the new rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #377:
Hosts: Dan Roth, Steven Ewing
- Intro and Garage - 00:00
- New York Auto Show - 29:43
- Beijing Motor Show - 55:31
- Q&A - 01:03:46
Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly
Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com
Review the show in iTunesPermalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Chris Bruce
Despite all of the national publicity and Congressional hearings, General Motors may never fix all of the roughly 2.6 million vehicles involved in its ignition switch recall. The automaker may never get the chance - many owners simply don't have recalled vehicles serviced, regardless of the danger.
Since the automaker announced the first recall, it took months for Delphi to have enough improved parts on hand to supply them to dealers. With parts in place, GM's repairs were scheduled to begin on April 7. The company isn't discussing specific data on the number of vehicles repaired so far. "We're on track," said GM spokesperson Jim Cain to Autoblog about its progress. "Every day, parts availability improves."
However, there still could be hundreds of thousands of affected vehicles without the repair on the road in the coming years. According to a report by CNN Money, GM generally sees recall rates of 80 percent of cars within a year and 85 percent within two years. This is higher than the industry average of about 66 percent of models actually getting serviced. But even if 85 percent of them are repaired, it means about 390,000 cars on the road will still be left in need of the fix.
There are many reasons why an affected vehicle might not be repaired. Some people don't think they have the time to take their car in, despite the fact that GM struck a deal with several rental car agencies to ensure owners a loaner vehicle while the affected models were being fixed. It can also be hard to track down owners of older vehicles for recalls. The company might be trying to fix these cars for a long time to come.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Michael Harley
It may be impossible to spend a day in Chevrolet's new C7 Corvette without someone asking what you think about the iconic sports car - magnetism is an understatement. I was approached by strangers in a grocery store parking lot, parents waiting for their children after school and enthusiasts on a canyon road after I had pulled to the side to take in the view.
All sneak up with a curious smile on their face, take a deep breath and then start spitting out questions like an overly aggressive prosecuting attorney. Is this the new Corvette? What do you think of it? Is it fast? How much does it cost?
While a closed-roof coupe offers a protective shield from the verbal onslaught - it's hard to field questions through a solid roof - the droptop Stingray Convertible allows the full inquisition to rain down each time one slows to a stop. These opportunities include incessant chatter with complete unknowns at stoplights, street corners and even while stuck in traffic.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
If you're one of the legions of racing fans disappointed by the lack of noise from the new turbo V6s in Formula One and nostalgic for those old-school V10s, we have good news for you. According to reports, a new racing series is in the works that would bring back not only retired F1 cars, but also retired F1 stars.
The project , according to European trademark applications, is called Historic Formula One, and it's already gaining support and potential participation from the likes of three-time world champion Nelson Piquet, former champ Nigel Mansell, race winner Gerhard Berger and Martin Brundle (a former F1 driver, Le Mans winner and race commentator).
The series is being organized by none other than Bernie Ecclestone himself, the controversial and embattled billionaire in charge of Formula One. Ecclestone also runs the GP2 and GP3 series that give potential future F1 drivers a ladder to climb. The addition of the Historic Formula One championship to the portfolio would give those on their way out a chance to continue competing.
While it may be too early to say what cars they would be driving and what format the races would take, the signs at present seem to be pointing towards the V10 racers that reigned supreme in the 1990s and into the new millennium. As for the events in which they'd compete, we could be looking at support races for the existing grands prix to give fans an extra spectacle on the same ticket.
This wouldn't be the first time we'd see a racing series for old F1 cars and drivers, but could emerge as the most successful. The last was the Grand Prix Masters series ran one race at Kyalami in 2005 and another two (Qatar and Silverstone) in 2006 before shutting down. There are many other individual events at which owners of retired F1 cars compete, but seldom in an organized series with retired stars at the helm.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Brandon Turkus
Volkswagen has followed up on a stop-sale order from earlier this month, announcing a voluntarily recall of 26,400 vehicles that are powered by the brand's 1.8-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The new mill replaced the despised 2.5-liter five-cylinder in the Jetta, Passat, Beetle and Beetle Convertible last year. Weirdly, though, of the 26,452 units covered in the recall, only 1,655 are customer vehicles.
According to VW, the affected models were built between February 1 and April 6 of this year, and feature bad O-ring seals in the transmission oil cooler. Apparently, the faulty O-rings could cause a fluid leak, as they won't seal between the oil cooler and transmission. VW is blaming a material change from a supplier for the problem.
There have been no fires, injuries, accidents or fatalities relating to this issue, which VW will be fixing free of charge. Customers will need to report to dealers to have the O-rings replaced.
Take a look below for the official press release from Volkswagen.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on April 21, 2014 by Chris Bruce
The Golf R 400 Concept with 395 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque might be one of the coolest concepts at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show. The absolutely scorching hatch can hit 62 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 174 miles per hour. All of that power comes out the EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that is nearly ubiquitous in VW Group's cars with all-wheel drive. The even better news about the R 400 is that it might actually see production.
According to Car and Driver, Volkswagen head of research and development Heinz-Jakob Neusser confirms that there will be a production version. However, there is no word whether the model is coming to North America. Neusser also claims that the engine in the R 400 is only mildly revised over the Golf R to take the extra boost. There is also the possibility the powerful four-cylinder could make it into other VW Group models.
It's great to hear that the Golf R 400 is more than just a styling exercise. It does a fantastic job at looking understated yet powerful, with the big wheels and bumper but few other body modifications. Now, let's hope VW deems North America worthy of its halo hot hatch.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Brandon Turkus
Hyundai introduced an all-new crossover concept to the crowds at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, showing the ix25, a near-production concept that heralds the arrival of a new compact CUV for the People's Republic.
Boasting Hyundai's "Fluidic Sculpture 2.0," the ix25 is a handsome little soft-roader that we could see slotting in nicely below the vehicle we call Tucson (the rest of the globe knows it as the ix35), and would serve as the entry point for Hyundai's Chinese CUV range. Under hood sits a familiar 2.0-liter, "Nu" four-cylinder, which we've sampled in assorted Hyundais and Kias over the years.
At 168 inches long it's ten inches shorter than a Ford Escape and five inches longer than the Soul, from sister company Kia. Despite these differences, the ix25 Concept's wheelbase is less than an inch longer (eight-tenths to be exact) than the Soul's 101.2-inches. More notably, the ix25 is roughly the size of the new Chevrolet Trax.
Considering the rapidly growing popularity of the B-segment CUV in the US market - initiated by cars like the Soul, popularized by the Buick Encore and brought to the masses by the impending arrival of the Trax and Jeep Renegade - it seems like it'd be a logical move for Hyundai to bring the production ix25 to North America. Hyundai's already said that it's looking at the B-segment, meaning we could see the ix25 on our shores sooner rather than later. (Ditch the alphanumeric handle and call it "Mesa," and it'd fit in nicely with Tucson and Santa Fe, we think.)
Take a look below for a very brief gallery from Hyundai, as well as the official press release on the ix25 Concept.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Chris Bruce
The Ford Everest Concept SUV at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show shows the future of the Blue Oval's truck line in China. While a concept for now, we're told that JMC, Ford's Chinese joint-venture partner, will build a production version sometime in the near future.
With design from Ford's Asia Pacific design team, the handsome seven-passenger SUV shows off some very muscular styling with wraparound headlights that hook into the contours of the angular trapezoidal grille. The beltline rises up the body in the rear and makes the back appear higher than the front. The rear is made from hard, chiseled contours that give the truck a very tough look. The Everest looks ready for some rough roads.
Ford is keeping the interior and mechanical details about the Everest a secret for now, but the SUV is rumored to share some components with the overseas Ranger pickup. The company has no plans to sell the truck in North America. Scroll down to read the official announcement, including the few details on its production.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Michael Harley
Audi took the wraps of its TT Offroad Concept at the Beijing Motor Show, after teasing us with sketches earlier this month. "The Audi TT offroad concept provides a glimpse of how we might imagine a new model in the future TT family," says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development. "It combines the sporty genes of the TT with the strengths of a compact Audi SUV."
The latest in Audi's eTron show cars reminds us an awful lot of the the Audi Allroad Shooting Brake concept that debuted a few months ago at the Detroit Auto Show. In addition to very similar physical appearances, the two share the same plug-in hybrid propulsion systems (the "plug-in" part is a bit misleading, as the concept simply needs to be parked over an inductive pad to take advantage of Audi Wireless Charging technology).
Proving that hybrid power never has to be a compromise, the TT Offroad Concept packs a 292 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder under the hood. The combustion engine is assisted by two electric motors (rated at 40 kW at the front and 85 kW at the rear) to provide a total system output of 408 horsepower and nearly 480 pound-feet of torque. With all-wheel drive, the concept hits 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and tops out at 155 mph - while returning a provisional fuel efficiency of 123 miles per gallon equivalent.
Inside the four-place cabin is Audi's forthcoming Virtual Cockpit Technology with a customizable 12.3-inch TFT display projecting high-quality 3D graphics to the driver. Other technology includes three Audi Smart Displays, which serve as mobile infotainment systems both in and out of the car, and a cabin ionizer to remove allergens from the cabin atmosphere. And, when owners tire of driving the TT Offroad Concept, they may tool around with a 1:8-scale radio-controlled car kept in a custom storage box in the trunk.Permalink | Email this | Comments