Filed under: Maintenance , Government/Legal , Chrysler , Honda , Toyota The ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice into price fixing in the automotive industry has nabbed one more company breaking the law. Japanese parts giant NGK Spark Plug Company agreed to plead guilty to a felony count of pricing fixing and bid rigging in the in the US District Court in Detroit. Its punishment is a $52.1 million criminal fine and to continue to cooperate with the DOJ’s sleuthing into the problem. According to the DOJ, NGK conspired to fix prices on spark plugs, standard oxygen sensors, and air fuel ratio sensors on vehicles from major automakers in the US, including the former DaimlerChrysler , Honda and Toyota , in a scheme that ran from at least January 2000 to July 2011. The charge claimed that the company and its co-conspirators held meetings where they agreed on bids and price quotes that were submitted to the automakers. With the latest plea, the DOJ has caught 28 companies and 26 executives for price-fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry, and they have collected $2.4 billion in criminal fines. In 2013, the feds brought nine Japanese suppliers down at once, to collect $740 million. Scroll down to read the DOJ’s complete announcement of the case. Continue reading Japanese spark plug giant NGK pleads guilty to price fixing, to pay $52M fine Japanese spark plug giant NGK pleads guilty to price fixing, to pay $52M fine originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .
Filed under: Hybrid , Etc. , Crossover , Porsche , Toyota Our controversial automotive beliefs Everyone’s got an opinion, and some of ours are more unfavorable than others. Whether its one staffer’s pro-vote for the Smart Fortwo, or another’s dislike of a certain Hellcat-powered Challenger, these not-so-popular beliefs are often kept off the pages of Autoblog . Until now. Read our confessions, here. Quick Spin: 2015 Porsche Macan S We already gave Porsche’s Macan Turbo a proper shakedown over in Europe, but back at home, west coast editor Michael Harley was able to take the less-powerful, less-expensive Macan out for a proper drive, on- and off-road. Yes, we hit both track and trail in the new baby Porsche. Have a read in our Quick Spin. CR pushes for Camry recall There’s a potential problem with certain Camry Hybrid models from the 2007 to 2011 model years, but Toyota hasn’t issued a recall – yet. The folks at Consumer Reports are urging the Japanese automaker to call back some of these sedans due to problems with the brakes.
Filed under: Sedan , Technology , Toyota , Electric Toyota is requesting an exemption from federal safety regulations that govern electric cars as it prepares to launch a small-scale hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle fleet. The Japanese automaker is targeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 305 , which covers the packaging of high-voltage parts in electric cars. According to Uncle Sam, these systems need to be isolated so that passengers and first responders aren’t electrocuted in the event of a crash. That seems pretty smart, but it’s become a problem for Toyota’s upcoming production fuel cell vehicle, as the mechanism that prevents electric shocks in low-speed crashes will apparently simply keep Toyota’s car from even functioning. Instead of the federally approved system, Bloomberg reports that Toyota plans to insulate the high-voltage wires and cables in the car, along with shielding electrical components like the fuel cells, electric motor and batteries with (presumably non-conductive) metal barriers. It’s unclear if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will bow to Toyota’s request, but the government safety watchdog might be swayed in light of the fact that the company is targeting a very small number of sales – 2,500 per year – and it still has a plan in place to protect first responders and vehicle occupants. Toyota asking NHTSA for fuel cell car safety exemption regarding electric shocks originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Sedan , Technology , Toyota Toyota has finally unveiled its FCV hydrogen fuel cell sedan and its Japanese price. We won’t have to wait too long to see the first of these revolutionary vehicles on the roads. It will go on sale in Japan in April 2015 and will come to the US and Europe later that summer. In Japan, the FCV will be priced at roughly 7 million yen before taxes ($68,810 at current exchange rates). However, Toyota makes it clear in the press release that we shouldn’t try to extrapolate US MSRP from that figure, saying that official pricing for the US and Europe has not yet been determined. As will be the case in the US, sales in Japan will be limited to parts of the country that already have a hydrogen refueling infrastructure (that means you, California). The production version of the FCV looks almost identical to the concept from last year’s Tokyo Motor Show . There is a new vertical strip of LEDs at each corner of the front air intake and real sideview windows, instead of the nubs on the prototype. The weird squiggles from the rear trim are also gone in favor of a more production-ready look, but the taillights survive the changes mostly intact. The automaker is keeping most of the specs about the FCV a secret for now as well, but it is confirmed a few key details.
Filed under: Recalls , Safety , Honda , Mazda , Nissan , Toyota UPDATE : Honda, Mazda and Nissan have all issued statements about the airbag issue, which you can now find below . Interestingly, only Honda is actually using the word “recall” in its statement, with Nissan calling it a “field action” (like Chrysler), and Mazda referring to it as a “special service program.” Honda has also added various Accord, Pilot and Ridgeline models to the list, as well as Acura MDX, TL and CL. Mazda, meanwhile, has added certain Mazdaspeed6 and MPV vehicles to its list. We expect a full list of Nissan vehicles later this week. Three million more vehicles can be added to the worldwide tally to be repaired for the faulty airbag inflators supplied by Takata . Honda , Nissan , and Mazda have all issued recalls to replace the bad part, including about 1.2 million of them in North America. NHTSA has been investigating all three companies, plus Chrysler and Toyota, for potentially affected vehicles. Honda is recalling roughly 1.02 million Civic , CR-V , Odyssey and Element models In North America, built between April 2000 and October 2002. Mazda needs to repair 14,794 units of the RX-8 and Mazda6 , and Nissan has 228,000 vehicles in North America to be fixed. Chrysler is also starting what it calls a “regional field action” to replace the inflators in the 2006 Dodge Charger , according to a company spokesperson.
Filed under: Sedan , SUV , Truck , Recalls , Safety , Hatchback , Toyota Was your Toyota inspected under the company’s recall campaign for faulty airbag inflators last year? You might have another trip ahead to have it repaired again. The automotive giant says that it found “the involved serial numbers provided by the supplier were incomplete, and did not include all of the potentially involved inflators,” according to its official announcement. That means more replacements are needed. Toyota’s April 2013 inflator recall covered the Corolla , Matrix and Tundra from the 2003 and 2004 model years, the Sequoia from 2002 to 2004 and the Lexus SC 430 from 2002 to 2004. At the time, the company said it would need to inspect about 510,000 vehicles in the US but only expected to replace around 170,000 inflators. However, the latest announcement increases that figure to about 766,300 vehicles in the US. Toyota spokesperson Cindy Knight told Autoblog that the new amount is the combination of owners who need to have their vehicle looked at again and those who didn’t come in for the initial recall. The company learned about the problem when Takata, the supplier, provided it with an improved list of the faulty part’s serial numbers. According to The Detroit News , the latest recall affects about 2.27 million vehicles from them worldwide .
Filed under: Technology , Honda , Mazda , Mitsubishi , Nissan , Subaru , Suzuki , Toyota Toyota , Honda , Mazda , Nissan , Subaru , Mitsubishi , Suzuki and Daihatsu have announced an alliance that will see a push to improve fuel economy from both gas-powered and diesel-powered engines by as much as 30 percent before the end of the decade. The newly assembled Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines put the roughly $20-million project together, with the Japanese government committing to half the cost while the eight manufacturers will chip in the rest. According to Automotive News , the automakers will team up and share basic research on internal-combustion engines in a bid to cut costs. Eventually, the results of the research will find its way into a production vehicle, although it’s unclear just when we’ll see the fruits of this partnership on the road. While the manufacturers have aimed to make improvements by 2020, that goal is part of a larger, 10-year road map, which aims to improve the thermal efficiency of internal combustion engines to 50 percent. Currently, thermal efficiency in gas engines is at 39 percent while diesel is at 42. The actual targets of improvements will be quite different based on the type of engine. Diesel mills, traditionally a weak point for Japanese manufacturers, will see a focus on reducing NOX emissions and particulate matter, while gas engines will aim for more complete combustion cycles while reducing knock. Toyota, Honda, Nissan and more collaborating to increase fuel efficiency originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 25 May 2014 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .
Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota They say everything is bigger in Texas, and apparently that includes the Toyota’s effect on the economy. The giant Japanese automaker’s new headquarters in Plano, TX, will add an estimated $7.2 billion to the state over the next 10 years, according to a new study commissioned by the city and cited by Bloomberg . The benefits appear to be an absolute steal compared to the direct incentives that Plano and the state are giving Toyota . The report finds that by the time the automaker’s campus is complete in 2018, it could have 3,650 full-time workers there at an average salary of $104,000. The city has prepared $6.75 million in grants, plus property tax discounts, according to Bloomberg . In addition to that, the state is offering the business $40 million in incentives from its Texas Enterprise Fund. This is still a fraction of what Toyota is estimated to bring in. Toyota announced in April that it would move its US operations to Plano after being headquartered in California since 1957. The move affects thousands of employees from the sales and engineering divisions. The first workers will arrive there this fall, but Toyota will eventually have a whole campus in Plano by late 2017.
Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing , Crossover , Toyota , Earnings/Financials , Tesla , Electric The future of the Toyota RAV4 EV appears to be in doubt. Tesla supplies the EVs battery packs, and it says that production ends later this year. ” Toyota is expected to end the current RAV4 EV model this year,” Tesla said in its quarterly financial filing obtained by Bloomberg . “Our production activities under this program are expected to end in 2014,” the company said. This timeline fits closely with the original production plans for the RAV4 EV. When the $100-million project was first announced, Tesla said that it expected to supply battery packs for the vehicle from 2012 to 2014 . Building components for the Japanese automaker continues to bring in money, though. In the company’s Q1 2014 letter to shareholders , it said: “Automotive revenue included $15 million of Toyota powertrain sales.” According to Bloomberg , Toyota has sold just 1,594 RAV4 EV models from 2012 through April 2014. Initially, the business had estimated that it would sell 2,600 units of the electrified crossover . Toyota has not officially said that it plans to end production of the RAV4 EV yet.
Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing , BMW , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Mercedes-Benz , Nissan , Toyota , Volkswagen Among automakers with a big US presence, General Motors is the worst to work for, according to a new survey from Tier 1 automotive suppliers, conducted by Planning Perspectives, Inc. The Detroit-based manufacturer, which has been under fire following the ignition switch recall and its accompanying scandal, finished behind six other automakers with big US manufacturing operations. Suppliers had issues with trust and communications, as well as intellectual property protection. GM was also the least likely to allow suppliers to raise their prices in the face of unexpected increases in material cost, all of which contributed to 55 percent of suppliers saying their relationship with GM was “poor to very poor.” GM’s cross-town competitors didn’t fare much better. Chrysler finished in fifth place, ahead of GM and behind Dearborn-based Ford , which was passed for third place this year by Nissan . Toyota took the top marks, while Honda captured second place. PPI also surveyed suppliers of Volkswagen , BMW and Mercedes-Benz , each of which has considerably smaller manufacturing presence relative to the American and Japanese brands (there are only three US factories between the three of them). Mercedes and VW were ranked behind GM, while BMW would have been just behind Toyota. According to Reuters , this survey serves to illustrate a big issue facing American manufacturers – Japanese brands aren’t just on good terms with suppliers, but their relations are actually improving. PPI boss John Henke said the popularity of Toyota and Nissan among suppliers increased considerably, indicating that we “could be entering an era in supplier relations that doesn’t bode well for the US Big Three.” Tier 1 suppliers call GM the worst OEM to work with originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 12 May 2014 16:29:00 EST.