As automakers in the U.S. struggle to keep selling new cars to American consumers at a record clip, Toyota Motor Corp. plans to turn to rental car companies and other fleet operators for a boost. Toyota will nearly match last year's total sales to fleet customers, which means the company has some catching up to do. Deliveries to rental car companies and other fleets were down by about 20 percent during the first six months of the year, according to Jim Lentz, chief executive officer of Toyota's North American operations.
A former Audi AG manager is being charged with fraud by the Justice Department for his alleged role in helping Volkswagen AG skirt U.S. emissions standards, a person familiar with the matter said. Giovanni Pamio is facing charges of conspiracy, fraud and violating the Clean Air Act in a criminal complaint filed in Detroit, said the person, who asked not to be named because the matter hasn't been made public. Pamio is the eighth person charged in the U.S. case, which has cost Volkswagen more than $24 billion in government penalties and owner restitution.
A proposed class of Dodge Ram owners has sued Fiat Chrysler and Cummins Inc. in Michigan federal court, claiming Fiat knowingly sold hundreds of thousands of trucks with defective Cummins diesel engines that dramatically reduced fuel efficiency and engine performance. The drivers allege that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC and Cummins have known since at least 2014 that the selective catalytic converter, or SCR, was defective in Dodge Ram 2500s and 3500s with 6.7-liter Cummins diesel engines built for model years 2013-2017. The SCR system breaks down, clogging the engine’s diesel particulate filter with soot and requiring more fuel to be used in an attempt to burn off that soot, the complaint says.
Until now, states have been driving self-driving vehicle regulations, but the federal government appears poised to take the wheel in a move that could have sweeping effects on interstate travel and commerce, vehicle manufacturing and the United States’ position as a global competitor. “For this technology to reach its potential, you’re going to need some certainty and not have this patchwork of state and local regulation,” said Michael Drobac, a senior adviser on technology and public policy for McGuireWoods LLP. The U.S. House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection discussed 14 separate proposals for federal regulation of autonomous vehicles.
Peer at the instrument panel on your new car and you may find sleek digital gauges and multicolored screens. But a glimpse behind the dashboard could reveal what U.S. auto supplier Visteon Corp found: a mess. As automotive cockpits become crammed with ever more digital features such as navigation and entertainment systems, the electronics holding it all together have become a rat's nest of components made by different parts makers.
A California federal judge declined to certify a proposed class of Acura owners who accused American Honda Motor Co. of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by making unsolicited calls, finding that not all claims were uniform because some plaintiffs had consented to receive the calls. U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall said that although named plaintiff Samuel Katz had not consented to the calls, Honda had shown that some plaintiffs had signed lease agreements in which they consented to receiving calls. He said this meant Katz’s claims were not typical of the class and the issue of consent would be better determined on an individualized basis rather than under the umbrella of a class action.
Ford Motor Co. plans to create a Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Research team aimed at boosting technology development for the automaker as autonomy and mobility become more important parts of the company. Ken Washington, Ford vice president of research and advanced engineering and chief technology officer, wrote that “the impact of robotics and artificial intelligence on the way we get around — even in just the next five to 10 years — is potentially enormous,” and the new team will help Ford focus on developing elements to help the company meet its goal to change how people move. The team brings parts of Ford’s research wing onto one team to evaluate vehicle sensor technology, machine learning methods and the development of personal mobility devices, drones and “other aerial robotics to enhance first-and-last mile travel,” according to Washington’s blog.
The Federal Trade Commission and consumer protection agencies in more than 60 other countries that are part of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) today unveiled an update of ICPEN’s website – www.icpen.org – to help members identify and respond to consumer challenges that cross international borders. ICPEN is an international network of consumer protection authorities that aims to protect consumers from fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair commercial practices around the world by sharing information about cross-border issues and encouraging global cooperation among law enforcement agencies. ICPEN’s updated website, which includes a mobile-friendly version, provides consumers with information on how to avoid scams and shop safely online. The site also includes information about how consumers can find help and file a complaint in cross-border disputes.
Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people. The company's bankruptcy filings cleared the way for a $1.6-billion takeover of most of Takata's assets by rival Key Safety Systems, which is based in Detroit but owned by a Chinese company. Takata's inflators can explode with too much force when they fill up an air bag, spewing out shrapnel. Apart from the fatalities, they're responsible for at least 180 injuries worldwide.
British sports car maker Aston Martin has scaled back production plans for its first electric model after cash-strapped investment partner LeEco pulled out of the project, Chief Executive Andy Palmer told Reuters. The result, though, may be an even more exclusive car, aimed at customers who consider Tesla's top of the range $130,000 Model S to be a little too run of the mill. Aston Martin will build only 155 of its RapidE, about a third of the initial plan, and lean more heavily on Formula One engineering specialist Williams after the withdrawal of Chinese TV and smartphone vendor LeEco, Palmer said.
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