December 17th, 2009 at 1:18pm
Honda faces lawsuit from 26 states over inflated mileage claims for the Civic hybrid. Car companies are seeking out partners to cut costs. The North American Car & Truck of the Year jury announces its finalists. All that and more, plus some of John’s thoughts on Lincoln’s new MKT crossover.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Honda faces a class action lawsuit over inflated claims for its Civic hybrid. Mercedes and Renault look at working together. And the UAW nominates a new leader.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, December 17, 2009. And now, the news.
In a development that has got to be highly embarrassing for Honda, it is facing a class action lawsuit over claims that it inflated the fuel economy rating delivered by the Civic hybrid. Though the car is rated at 49 miles per gallon in the city and 51 on the highway, many drivers claim they were only getting 32 mpg’s combined. Honda offered to send them DVD’s explaining how to improve their fuel economy, and a $100 cash or $1,000 towards the purchase of a new Honda. But the Detroit News reports 26 state attorneys general call the settlement meager and want more. They point out that lawyers involved in the case will get nearly $3 million, while the 158,000 people involved in the class action suit get to split $22,500.
We’re starting to see a lot more car companies figure out how they can work together to cut cost. Daimler is out searching for a partner to share development of the smart and engines for subcompact Mercedes-Benzes, Bloomberg reports that partner could be Renault. Meanwhile, Mazda is now looking for a partner, now that it and Ford are starting to go their separate ways, and that partner could be Toyota. And of course, this all follows on the heels of Mitsubishi and Suzuki announcing that they will work together. And this is a trend that is going to involve a lot more car companies.
The worst-kept secret around Detroit became official yesterday when the UAW nominated Bob King to be its next president. The Detroit Free Press reports that King, who currently leads the union’s Ford department, will replace Ron Gettelfinger in June at the next UAW convention. He’s been with the union almost 40 years and a vice president since 1998. Of course, now he has to be elected by the membership at large, and for the first time in the union’s history, that may not be a foregone conclusion.
The finalists for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards were announced yesterday. The jury of 49 automotive journalists from throughout the United States and Canada chose the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Buick Lacrosse and the Volkswagen Golf as the finalists for the Car of the Year award. They chose the Subaru Outback, the Chevrolet Equinox, and the Ford Transit Connect as finalists for the Truck of the Year. The winners will be announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month. Full disclosure here, I am one of the jurors. And I like to point out that this is the only Car and Truck of the Year award that is not tied into any advertising or marketing promotion.
And it looks like there’s a SNOW GO problem on many midwest roads. Our friends at Autoblog report that communities with LED traffic lights, especially around the Great Lakes, are seeing weather-related backups. Since the low-watt, energy efficient LEDs are so much cooler than their incandescent counterparts they can’t melt the snow that packs up against them, so drivers can’t see the light. So far, the only answer to the problem seems to be the old tried and true method of the human hand physically moving the snow. And that can’t be fun or efficient for anyone.
Coming up next, some of my thoughts on Lincoln’s new MKT crossover, we’ll be back right after this.
Hey don’t forget to join us for Autoline After Hours when our guest will be Jim Dunne, master spy photographer. In fact, he practically invented the whole genre of automotive spy photography, and does he have a lot of good stories to tell. That’s tonight at 7 PM Eastern time, which is precisely zero hours, GMT
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.