May 7th, 2010 at 12:00pm
Automakers are up in arms over a proposed safety bill making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives. Indian truckmaker Mahindra has run all of the required emissions and safety tests for its pickups but it hasn’t submitted paperwork to the U.S. government. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety wants to mandate anti-lock brakes on motorcycles. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit about how on-line start-ups like Autoblog and Jalopnik are challenging the enthusiast magazines.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, May 7, 2010. And here’s the top news.
AUTOMAKERS OPPOSE NEW NHTSA RULE (subscription required)
Automakers are up in arms over a proposed safety bill making its way through the US House of Representatives. While they support numerous points in the bill, like mandating crash recorders and a brake over ride system, they are dead-set against a provision that would give the head of NHTSA the legal authority to order a recall based on what they call “imminent hazard.” Right now NHTSA has to hold a public hearing and present its case in court, this bill would let NHTSA’s administrator David Strickland just order a recall on his own. But the Wall Street Journal reports that there is no legal definition for “imminent hazard,” and automaker worry that the administrator might be pressured to order a recall based on politics or public pressure.
CT&T TO BUILD PLANT IN HAWAII
South Korean electric vehicle maker, CT&T, announced it will build an assembly plant in Hawaii. According to the AP, the company will invest around $200 million and will build around 10,000 vehicles a year at the new location. Its vehicles top out at 40 mph and can travel between 30 and 60 miles on a single charge depending on the model. The cars will cost between $8,000 and $20,000. The vehicles are ideal for Hawaiian roads since the speed limit is 25 to 35 mph in a lot of spots and gasoline prices in the state are some of the highest in the U.S.
ANOTHER NANO COMPETITOR
Yesterday we reported that Renault will come out with a small car to compete with the Tata Nano, now Chinese automaker Geely says it will come out with a car that is cheaper than the Nano. According to Top Speed, the company will introduce a hatchback based on the IG concept it showed at the Beijing Motor Show this year. The price is expected to be around $2,700. Geely says that a Nano retails for around $3,800. But wait a minute. That’s the price of a loaded Nano, the base price starts at $2,700. So we’ll have to get more details on this one.
MAHINDRA DELAYS LAUNCH…AGAIN (subscription required)
If you’re waiting to buy a Mahindra pickup in the American market, don’t hold your breath. Ward’s reports that the Indian truckmaker has run all of the required EPA emissions and NHTSA safety tests but it hasn’t submitted paperwork to the feds. Global Vehicles USA headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, has the rights to distribute the vehicles in the American market. It keeps delaying when it is going to launch this truck, and not filing the proper paper work is only going to delay it even more.
ABS FOR MOTORCYCLES?
Surprise, surprise – the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is calling for more regulations. According to the Detroit News, the organization wants the federal government to mandate anti-lock brakes on motorcycles. It cites new studies released last March that indicate that riders of bikes equipped with ABS are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash. It claims the safety technology reduces motorcycle-related deaths by 28 percent.
GX460 REMOVED FROM “DON’T BUY”
In related safety news, Consumer Reports has lifted its “don’t buy” label from the Lexus GX460. You might remember the luxury SUV nearly went sideways in a handling test. To fix the problem, the company is updating the software on the vehicle’s electronic stability control system.
STRONACH LOSES POWER (subscription required)
One of the most successful automotive suppliers in the world is Magna, a company started in a garage in Canada by Frank Stronach, an Austrian tool and die maker who emigrated to the Great White North with only pennies in his pocket. Now he’s one of the richest men in Canada but shareholders think he has too much power in the company. The board of directors of Magna is proposing eliminating special stock in the company that allows Stronach to over rule their decisions. The Wall Street Journal reports that Stronach is going along with the plan after doing some soul searching. You may remember that Stronach also tried to buy Chrysler from Daimler and to buy Opel from General Motors.
The automotive enthusiast magazines used to rule the roost. But now they’re getting clobbered by on-line upstarts. What can they do about it? We’ll get into that right after this.
Magazines like Car And Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend and Automobile have come under enormous pressure from on-line start-ups like Autoblog and Jalopnik. But the buff books, as they’re often called, don’t seem to know how to react to them. And that is the topic on this week’s Autoline Detroit. Joining me for this show is Csaba Csere, the former editor of Car And Driver, Eddie Alterman, the current editor of the magazine, and John Neff, the editor-in-chief of Autoblog. Here’s a clip from that discussion.
You can watch that entire episode of Autoline Detroit on our website at www.autolinedetroit.tv.
And, while you’re at our website, you will want to check out our newest program, Open Line, where you can participate in the discussion. It’s live, you can access it by phone, and it is a great source of information, answers and entertainment. Check it out Monday night at 8 PM Eastern time.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.