Managing Automotive

News, knowledge, and insights for the automotive industry.

Managing Automotive
Industry Interests, Litigation
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Maine decision interpreting dealer franchise law

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court handed down a decision on Tuesday, November 29 where Ford Motor Company will end up owing a dealer in Maine (and any other dealers in Maine with similar claims) millions in damages for unilaterally terminating a dealer incentive program without providing proper notice under state law.

Read the decision here.

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Industry Interests
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U.S. judge delays court hearing on Volkswagen 3.0-liter diesels

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer delayed a court hearing set for Volkswagen AG's plan to address 80,000 polluting Audi, Porsche and VW 3.0-liter vehicles. In a court order, Breyer said negotiations are continuing between the German automaker, regulators and lawyers representing owners, and he set a Dec. 16 hearing, saying he had been advised that a delay "may produce a resolution of the outstanding issues." Reuters had reported that VW had reached an agreement with U.S. regulators for a mix of buybacks and fixes for the 80,000 vehicles, but still needed to reach agreement on other issues including compensation for owners.

[Reuters]

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Industry Interests
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Nissan banks on ‘hyper-personalization’ revenue

Nissan is going to offer internet access, safety technology and myriad accessory options the Japanese automaker calls “hyper-personalization,” not only in new models but also for vehicles people already own. That means more than access to the music or seat colors of your choice. Advances in 3-D printing, for instance, will make possible all kinds of designs for your car, based on practically anything, such as Pokemon or images of your children, similar to how people can customize their sneaker, Nissan Motor Co. Corporate Vice President Kent O’Hara, who oversees the after-sales business, said. 

[Detroit News]

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Industry Interests
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Peters pitches Mich. as self-driving ‘proving ground’

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters is pushing federal regulators to designate a mobility center that is under development in Ypsilanti Township as a “proving ground” for self-driving cars. The U.S. Department of Transportation through Dec. 19 is accepting through applications for facilities that want to be designated as “qualified proving grounds for the safe testing, demonstration and deployment of automated vehicle technology.” Facilities have to open for testing by Jan. 1, 2018, to be considered for the designation. Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said the American Center for Mobility that is being built on the 355-acre Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township should be a top contender for the designation.

[Detroit News]

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Industry Interests
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Record Nov. U.S. sales predicted amid big holiday promotions

U.S. auto sales are on pace for the strongest November ever, four forecasters say, breaking the industry’s streak of three consecutive monthly declines and keeping open the possibility that 2016 can squeak ahead of last year’s record. Big promotions over the long Thanksgiving weekend and two extra selling days in the month are expected to push sales up 4 percent from November 2015, according to Kelley Blue Book and Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson. LMC Automotive is projecting a 5 percent increase, while Edmunds.com estimates a 2.7 percent gain.

[Automotive News]

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Industry Interests
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U.S. letter reveals details of GM self-driving vehicle system

General Motors Co's semi-autonomous "Super Cruise" system will allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel for extended periods, but will stop the vehicle automatically if drivers are not attentive, according to a government letter made public. The largest U.S. automaker in September 2014 unveiled planned technology to allow drivers on highways to let the vehicle take over driving itself. But if the road has too many twists and turns or the vehicle detects the driver is not paying attention, it issues a series of alerts. 

[Reuters]

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Industry Interests
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VW extends $21 billion loan to weather diesel fall-out

Volkswagen has agreed to extend a 20 billion-euro ($21.2 billion) bank credit line, it said, part of the German carmaker's efforts to maintain its financial strength while it counts the full cost of its emissions scandal. Europe's largest automaker secured the one-year bridge loan last December after the biggest corporate scandal in its history wiped billions off its market value and made it much more expensive for Volkswagen to borrow in the debt market. "We have now decided to extend the credit line until June 2017," VW told Reuters in an email.

[Reuters]

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Industry Interests
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Feds caution GM on auto stopping cars with Super Cruise

U.S. regulators are cautioning General Motors Co. about its planned semi-autonomous Super Cruise system that will slowly bring a car to a halt if the system senses the driver is inattentive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said GM’s proposal to stop cars with unresponsive drivers and then automatically activate hazard flashers is compliant with federal automotive standards. But the agency wants to make sure activating the emergency flashers isn’t misinterpreted by other drivers and doesn’t present “an unreasonable risk to safety.”

[Detroit News]

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Industry Interests
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Record number of car buyers 'upside down' on trade-ins

The wave of easy credit and longer auto loans has left a record percentage of consumers trading in vehicles that are worth less than what they owe on their loans. In auto finance parlance, these folks are underwater, or upside down. They already are affecting the market as automakers boost incentives and subprime lenders monitor their delinquency rates more closely.

[Detroit Free Press]

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Industry Interests
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Self-driving truck hits road as Ohio discusses research

A self-driving truck will begin traveling on two Ohio roads after state officials announce details of new investments to support innovative transportation technology. A vehicle from self-driving truck maker Otto will travel a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 on Monday in central Ohio between Dublin and East Liberty, home to the Transportation Research Center, an independent testing facility. It will travel in regular traffic, and a driver in the truck will be positioned to intervene should anything go awry, Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning said, adding that “safety is obviously No. 1.”

[Detroit News]

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