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Ford Escape

In the past, Ford has had some serious issues with its cars and fire. Two that stick firmly in our minds are the Pinto, which Ford famously weighed out the cost of recall vs. the cost of paying wrongful death suits, and the spontaneous combustion of the second generation Taurus . So when we learned that the newly redesigned Escape had a potential fire issue, we expected swift and proactive action from Ford.

We certainly got that, but we never expected it to be to the extent that it has become. Reports have emerged that Ford is actually paying dealerships a $300 spiff to repair each and every recalled Escape , which is about 11,500 vehicles. Even our basic mathematical skills can sort out that we are talking about $3,450,000 worth of spiff payments, which does not include the cost to repair the issue.

We are curious to find out if the dealers are passing this spiff onto the service writers and technicians that are repairing the vehicles or hoarding this payment for themselves. We are willing to bet that it is the latter, as the technicians and service writers make commission off of the recall repairs and dealers rarely share spiffs any more.

In addition to this extra bonus, Ford is also recommending that dealerships wash and vacuum the SUV, and fill the gas tank. Talk about going over the top...

It is rather obvious that Ford wants this issue gone and it wants it gone as quickly and effectively as possible. Hats off to Ford for taking this sort of approach with this extremely dangerous recall.

Porsche 550

Porsche ’s future entry level models have been rumored to sport a new four-cylinder horizontally opposed gasoline engine, but Porsche Canada CEO, Joe Lawrence, is trying to nip that in the bid. Lawrence was recently at the ALMS race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park when he confirmed that the flat-four is definitely just a rumor.

At that point, everyone could basically let the flat four rumor go, but Lawrence immediately followed that statement up with the fact that he would actually like to see it sometime in the future. If everyone’s not on board with letting it go then the flat four cannot possibly be dead in the water, so we’re back to square one...again.

The four-cylinder horizontally opposed gasoline engine was initially rumored to be used for the upcoming baby Boxster (aka 550) which has been put on hold due to the lack of expected demand. What we see happening is new fuel economy regulations making it necessary for the four-pot to be used, even for the Baby Boxster when it gets dragged off the backburner, as well as for the Cayman . Automakers can’t make their decisions based on the market sometimes because the government forces their hand when it comes to strict environmental guidelines and as Lawrence said, "Porsche is not exempt from increasingly strict emissions and fuel economy regulations" and it’s "more likely that you’ll see more turbocharging in more vehicles moving forward." The government is, after all, the puppeteer in this stage show.

Source: AutoGuide
Automotive Legend Carroll Shelby dies at 89

After we lost racing and general automotive legend, Carroll Shelby on May 10th, a squabble ensued over his remains. His estranged wife, Cleo, claimed that she had the rights to his remains and the documentation that his children had, which requested that he be cremated and his ashes split between his children and his burial plot in Texas, was forged.

According to reports, Shelby had filed for an annulment of the marriage, citing that his wife had lied about her background and even her name, just before he died. Unfortunately, the annulment was not awarded posthumously, so it appeared as if the only other way to settle the dispute was in court.

Fortunately, the two sides managed to keep the case out of court by coming to an agreement on Monday and Mr. Shelby’s body will be laid to rest in the way that he requested, except for one minor compromise. The minor compromise is the fact that his estranged wife gets part of his ashes.

We’re glad to hear that the issue is settled, though we would have preferred to see his wife completely cut out of it. The most important thing, however, is that the issue is done and this legend can now be laid to rest peacefully and his children can hold their heads high that their father was laid to rest in the way he requested, though his son Michael says that they are still not happy with the results.

About 15 months ago, Renault was neck-deep in an espionage case that involved three executives allegedly selling electric vehicle information to China and funneling money into illegal accounts. It later came out, following a French investigation into the firing of the three executives, that the executives were not involved in industrial espionage and that they were wrongfully terminated.

Renault found out exactly what crow tasted like, as they compensated the fired executives for lost salary and defamation, but apparently there was a little leftover crow, as 15 months after this all took place, the company’s COO, Patrick Pelata, has submitted his resignation. This isn’t the first time Paleta has submitted a resignation, as he entered one shortly after the case went sour, but Renault’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, rejected the resignation. Renault accepted the resignation, but instead of outright losing Pelata, Renault placed him in an advisory role in the Nissan -Renault Alliance.

This time, however, the resignation will stick, as Renault has announced that effective August 16th, Paleta will step down from his post in the alliance. According to reports, there is no information on where Pelata will land, but we are certain he will find a new home, despite the false espionage case.

We’ll let you know where he ends up as soon as we find out.

Posted on by Brad Anderson 17

With De Tomaso finally biting the dust just days ago, reports are flying that the company’s chairman, Gian Mario has been arrested facing allegations claiming that $9.2 million in public funds were misused when De Tomaso tried to turn the company around.

The reports come from Reuters and also state that another two former employees from De Tomaso have been arrested with the man once responsible for leading De Tomaso’s human resource department being one of them. Amidst the allegations include ones stating that these employees may have unfairly received public funds and then transferred the funds directly into their personal bank accounts.

These claims are yet another thorn in the brand’s recent fall from grace and despite many hoping that De Tomaso could turn these misfortunes around, it seems that the company will never be a part of the automotive industry again.

The claimed misuse of funds are actually similar to those of former Lotus CEO Dany Bahar who is also being investigated , and if Mario and the other two employees being investigated are found to be guilty, then prison time could be in order.

Source: Reuters

For the better part of the last decade, Volkswagen Automotive Group has been snagging up various automakers and auto groups in an attempt to build an empire that would likely make Darth Vader cower in fear. It looks like one of VW’s Stormtroopers is turning its back on the “Dark Side,” as Suzuki , a company that VW bought some $2.1 billion worth of shares in 2009, is taking VW to court in an attempt to force VW to return the 19.9 percent of Suzuki stock that it owns.

The issues that run between the two are your typical automotive wah-fest, as Suzuki is boo-hooing over the fact that VW did not share enough technical information with Suzuki, which was a stipulation of the stock sale. VW, on the other hand, is crying foul because Suzuki opted to source a small-displacement engine from Fiat instead of VW. Oddly enough, VW is fighting Suzuki to keep its shares, while Suzuki has filed suit against VW in a London court to force VW to sell its shares back.

Another odd turn of events is the fact that Suzuki is willing to pay market value to VW for said shares, giving Volkswagen a cool $300K to $400K in profit.

Overall, this is a very strange turn of events, as we are not quite sure exactly what in the world VW would want with the Suzuki Suzuki brand under its umbrella. The brand has been really struggling in the last decade and looks to eventually go the Isuzu route and pull out of the American market altogether . Then again, VW has been apt for turning around struggling car companies, a la Audi.

We’ll keep you posted on any new happenings in this legal battle.

Source: MotorTrend
Toyota Prius

We do our best to keep you in the loop when it comes to new and cool developments in the automotive world. One of the hottest topics going right now in the U.S. is automated driving. Though it is still several decades away from being a national reality, although some states are legalizing autonomous cars, we are still seeing some progress. The leader in this technology to date in the U.S. is the Google Prius, but other automakers - such as Cadillac and Ford - sniffing around the automated car sector.

In Japan, however, they are taking the bull by the horns and setting up an outline for national implementation of an autonomous driving system. According to a report from Tech-On, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) is starting to piece together how to make automated driving a reality in as little as eight years.

Starting immediately, the MLIT will start piecing together the problems related to automated driving and neatly package it in an interim report that is due for release in March of 2013. Some of the issues at hand have to include: driver attentiveness, driver override ability, handling of accidents, and infrastructure development.

The MLIT has already employed the help of Toyota , Nissan , Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (A.K.A. Subaru ), Honda , and Mazda in this project. Heading up the entire team is Yasuo Asakura, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

For now, this is all just talk and we will see if anything ever comes of it. If this is actually a serious deal, it could drastically accelerate the timeframe that we in the industry have set for automated cars. We will keep a close eye on this situation and update you if any new details come up. Until then, enjoy your steering wheel, while you still can.

Source: Tech-On

Former porn star, err, “adult film star,” Jenna Jameson hasn’t made a new flick in many years, but we are fairly certain there are plenty of her classics circulating the computer screens of men everywhere. Well, it looks like her exit from “the industry” hasn’t treated her too well, as she was stuck leasing a Maserati Quattroporte S back in 2010.

Leasing of this luxury auto is not the story though; the real story is that she hasn’t paid the $2,299 lease payment since January. Using our crack mathematical skills, that puts her six months behind and owing $13,794 in late payments.

According to a report by TMZ, the finance company, Maserati Financial Services, attempted to repo the circa $130,000 425-horsepower sedan, but were apparently unsuccessful. Now MFS is outright suing Jameson to return the vehicle and pay an astronomical $107,000 in damages.

We are a little intrigued by the $107K in damages. What kind of damages has MFS undergone from not being able to repo a $130,000 car? We understand suing for the $13,794 in back payments, late fees, and even suing for fruitless repo fees, but what else could possibly add up to that number? Plus, if Jameson can’t afford to pay a $2,300 car payment, what make MFS think it can possibly milk $107,000 out of the ex-actress? We also have to ask, who leases a car anymore?

We’ll keep an eye on this one for you and let you know when we get any more details, as they are a little scarce right now.

Source: TMZ

For the most part, business deals are massaged with care and come together with relative ease and little drama. We guess the Germans must do things a little differently, as the VW takeover of Porsche was anything but easy and drama-free. In fact, it was closer to the exact opposite.

Seven years ago, Porsche was sitting pretty and decided it wanted to expand, but bit off way more than it could chew when it tried to buy out Volkswagen Volkswagen . This attempted takeover split Porsche’s ownership group and eventually resulted in Porsche falling into extreme debt and abandoning the takeover plan.

In 2009, the script flipped and VW ended up indirectly owning 49.9 percent of Porsche and striking an agreement in 2009 to buy up the remaining 50.1 percent. That agreement turned south when VW realized that the resulting tax payments for the purchase were its responsibility. Well, after some nifty dance steps with the taxman , VW managed to avoid paying taxes on the purchase and the deal was all but complete.

Now we can finally announce that the deal is 100 percent complete, and VW is now the sole owner of Porsche AG. The total purchase deal is going to send €4.46 billion ($5.59 billion) and a single common share of VW stock to Porsche SE. Volkswagen plans to integrate Porsche into its automotive group on August 1, 2012. Porsche SE will also receive an additional €320 million ($401 million) in lost dividend payments and net synergies, due to the rapid integration of Porsche AG into VW’s ownership group – basically VW is paying off Porsche SE to gain quicker control of its automotive group.

With this, VW’s impressive automotive group grows yet again. We are starting to wonder how big Volkswagen AG can really get before it’s too big for its own good.

Click past the jump to read the full and complicated presser from VW.

The devastating Waldo Canyon wildfire is no laughing matter, so much in fact that it forced the cancellation of the 2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb , which was originally scheduled for July 8.

While we certainly hope and pray for the safety of all those involved, we were happy to find out that the race has been re-scheduled for August 12. Barring any conflicts from all the participants for the event, we can all expect a full cast of all the 211 competitors that will be ready to run the race up the clouds.

This year, we can expect to see the usual cast of racers at Pikes Peak led by no less than the legend himself, Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima . A number of other drivers will also be in attendance, including Walter Röhrl who will be driving the iconic Audi Sport quattro A1 up the hill.

For now, pencil in August 12 as the date, although that could still change if the wildfire hasn’t been contained at that time.

So cross your fingers, people. While we’d love to see Pikes Peak take place on its re-scheduled date, we wouldn’t want to see it if it means that it could still be dangerous for all parties involved.


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