AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
A swath of GM dealers chose to bet the farm in the hope of keeping their franchises amid the automaker’s massive 2009 restructuring, but that decision is turning out to be a bad one for at least eight locations.
The Supreme Court today denied Korean automaker Kia’s appeal in a case dating back 11 years over the brakes in its Sophia sedans degrading too quickly.
American Honda’s lawyers are hoping to overturn the highly publicized court award to Heather Peters, who netted $9,867 after suing Honda stating that her Civic Hybrid failed to get the promised 50-mpg. As a result of her successful small claims suit, 1,700 Civic Hybrid owners have opted out of a class action settlement, presumably to take Honda to small claims court themselves.
Honda will be heading back to court on Thursday and the court will once again hear testimony from both sides in what is basically a retrial. But unlike the small claims trial, Honda has legal representation and Peters will be presenting new evidence she has discovered. Peters also renewed her law license and has already testified in the first part of the hearing with Honda’s lawyers questioning her.
The Japanese automaker is hoping the appeal will curb other Civic Hybrid owners from filing their own small claims suits similar to what Peters did successfully.
[Source: The Detroit News]
The matter, which will go to mediation on March 27, stems from a dispute between Chrysler and clothing maker Pure Detroit. The two sides have until April 3 to work it out – if not, it’s back to the courts to battle it out.
The “Imported From Detroit” slogan gained popularity after Chrysler’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial, and was followed with a line of merchandise put out by the automaker. In March 2011, Chrysler sued Pure Detroit for sales made when the clothing company put out a line of T-shirts of its own adorned with the “Imported From Detroit” slogan. Pure Detroit hit Chrysler back with a countersuit, stating that Chrysler doesn’t have a valid trademark because the phrase is geographical, descriptive and misleading.
Which company do you think is right? Should Chrysler get sole ownership of the slogan or does Pure Detroit have a valid argument? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.
[Source: Detroit News]
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson is paid to piss you off, it’s what he does best. Maybe someone should have forwarded the memo to Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk.
Musk probably should have taken Top Gear’s pot shots with a laugh and kept doing business, but it’s easy to understand why he might be feeling defensive. His company keeps hitting nasty potholes in the road to success, like the “bricking” problem that apparently compromises the battery system in Tesla vehicles, a costly repair.
This Top Gear drama started back to December 2008 when the show gave a mixed review to the Tesla Roadster. Their program said the car failed to meet its advertised 200-mile range, instead only achieving 55 miles. That figure came from running it on a track where any vehicle would have less than optimal range, electric or otherwise. They also bashed the Roadster for having deficient brakes.
Brakes and range aside, it’s essential to remember that Top Gear is first and foremost an entertainment program. The episode depicted crew members pushing a “dead” roadster into a hangar, though the facts emerged during Tesla’s lawsuit. Surprise, surprise, the car wasn’t dead and the shot was used for effect.
This isn’t terribly dissimilar to the infamous Bugatti Veyron versus McLaren F1 drag race episode, where the show managed to eek out a Veyron victory, only after several F1 first-place finishes. Again, Top Gear is for show first, reporting second.
British Justice Tugendhat threw Tesla’s claims out in October, 2011, saying the company’s lawyers needed to amend their malicious falsehood claims.
The final chapter, (one would assume), in this one-way pissing match closed today. Justice Tugendhat dismissed Tesla’s revised claim which said there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that each of the Claimants [Top Gear] had intentionally and significantly misrepresented the range of the Roadster by claiming that it had a range of about 200 miles in that its true range on the Top Gear track was only 55 miles”.
Hopefully Tesla can move past this cat fight and focus more on the bricking issue at hand. Small car startups have enough problems without taking British TV bullies to court.
Check out Tesla CEO Elon Musk discussing the Top Gear episode in the video after the jump.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
She’s had it with Honda, and Heather Peters, a former lawyer, hopes her unusual legal approach will garner as much as 10 times the cash reward and potentially serious consequences for the company if others follow her lead.
Peters, unlike the hundreds of Civic Hybrid owners who joined class action suits, decided to take Honda to small claims court over her 2006 Civic Hybrid achieving sub-par mileage. The car is said to get 50 mpg, but according to Peters, her car never came close and only managed 30 mpg as the battery wore.
Her choice seemed more attractive after finding out that people taking part in the suit would probably only receive about $200 cash and a $750 to $1000 rebate incentive to buy a new Honda. She aims to be awarded the maximum $10,000 allowed as of 2012 in California small claims court.
While taking the Japanese car giant to court might seem sort of senile, Peters is far from crazy. The first fist in her corner is that she has a legal background, so she will be able to prepare a case better than your average Honda customer. Second, California small claims court doesn’t allow lawyers, so Honda will have to keep their legal crack shots at home. Third, as Richard Cupp Jr., who teaches product liability law at Pepperdine University, told the associated press, ”the judge will have a lot of discretion and the evidentiary standards are relaxed in small claims court.”
It’s true that most people probably won’t have the time, education, or energy to take Peters’ path against Honda. If she succeeds and others choose to take similar action, she estimates that it could cost Honda as much as $2 billion. For now, she’s launched a site to promote her cause: DontSettleWithHona.org.
As for her future car plans, she is willing to trade her Civic for a comparable car with a manual transmission because it’s all she trusts anymore.
Your New Year’s Day hangover is nothing compared to the headache Porsche is currently threatened with. A group of unnamed investors are suing the company for about 2.6 billion dollars over the company’s failed Volkswagen takeover attempt in 2008.
Official details are scarce in the case, but according to OTS newswire as of late Friday, the lawsuit was filed in the district court of Stuttgart, Germany. Additionally, according to a story published by Reuters with sources close to the case suggests the plaintiffs are Elliott Associates, L.P., Elliott International, L.P., The Liverpool Limited Partnership, Perry Partners L.P., Perry Partners International, Inc., DE Shaw Valence International Inc., and York Capital Management Europe (UK) Advisors, LLP.
A statement from the investors explains the suit, though Porsche is insisting the claims are unjustified.
“Porsche gained control over the price of VW common stock as it secretly built enormous derivative positions covering almost all of VW’s freely traded shares, then triggered a massive short squeeze, and finally released billions of euros worth of shares into the short squeeze for its own profit,” said the statement.
Meanwhile, Porsche spokesperson Frank Gaube rejected the notion of the suit calling it unjustified.
Volkswagen is wary of the situation as well. Porsche incurred about $13 billion in debt as a result of their failed 2008 takeover attempt, but lawsuits upheld the merger that happened a year later between the two companies. Volkswagen just seems to be waiting and hoping to avoid the maelstrom of investor anger spawned by the debacle.
[Source: Automotive News]
It is not common for a car company to take legal action against a publication or TV show based on their opinion of the product, but Tesla did just that after TopGear aired an episode in 2008, featuring the all-electric Tesla Roadster.
According to Tesla, TopGear showed their car in a less than perfect light, claiming it suffered from poor range and even had a problem with the brakes.
The program claimed that the Tesla ran out of range in just 55-miles, well short of the 200-miles its makers suggests. This according to Tesla has been an ongoing cause of concern for its to be customers and hence sued the BBC program for libel.
However, at a ruling on Wednesday at the High Court in London, U.K., the honorable Justice Tugendhat sided with the BBC and said that no TopGear viewer would have reasonably compared the cars performance on the track to compare with the cars ability on the road.
A car would be driven far more aggressively on the track, and would thus be less efficient than when used on public roads.
Tugendhat went on to say; “In my judgment, the words complained of are wholly incapable of conveying any meaning at all to the effect that the claimant [Tesla] misled anyone.”
The judgement in favor of TopGear and its broadcaster the BBC was verbally handed out on Wednesday before lunch time.
Tesla however pointed out five other counts of complaints against TopGear, saying it staged some of the footage, like when the car was being pushed into the garage and also that just a faulty fuse was made to be looked as if the brakes had malfunctioned.
The case will resume in a few weeks time. We will keep you posted on this developing news story.
[Source: The Guardian]
Even though GM admits that the 2007-2008 Chevrolet Impalas has a faulty rear suspension, they’re hoping to avoid a class-action lawsuit by turning to their bankruptcy – as in, the “New GM” can’t be responsible for the “Old GM’s” mistakes.
Seriously? The defect is in a tie-rod design that causes premature wearing of the vehicle’s rear tires. In fact, they’ve proven that it causes the rear tires to wear out after just 6,000-miles. A technical service bulletin was issued in 2008, but GM made it only apply to police-spec Impala models, stating that they’re different than the retail versions. Right.
To us, GM’s response is borderline absurd especially considering there’s concrete evidence of a defect that is affecting owner’s pockets.
New GM did not assume liability for old GM’s design choices, conduct or alleged breaches of liability under the warranty, and its terms expressly preclude money damages,” GM said in response to the suit. The suit “is trying to saddle new GM with the alleged liability and conduct of old GM.”
Shouldn’t GM relate to its consumers when it comes to not wanting to spend excessive money?
[Source: Left Lane News]
Toyota will begin its first trial related to its sudden-acceleration issues in February 2013, says a U.S. District judge.
The first of the lawsuits will happen in federal court, and will pertain to a 2010 crash that killed two people in a 2008 Camry. The families of the victims are suing Toyota, alleging that a defect in the Camry allowed it to speed up even when the driver slammed on the brakes. Toyota should have included a brake override system, says the family’s lawyers.
Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, California is overseeing most of these federal lawsuits, and believes that the wrongful death case will test evidence and liability theories for other similar cases. In legal parlance, this is known as a bellwether case.
Lawyers for a group of plaintiffs in the Toyota unintended acceleration case are challenging a NASA report that found the automaker was not at fault for the alleged issues that led to a massive recall of Toyota and Lexus vehicles.
The plaintiffs lawyers filed papers in a California court last week stating they intend to disprove the NASA report and show that Toyota is at fault. One filing by lawyer Steve Berman stated “Toyota asks this court to take judicial notice of findings and conclusions by NASA and NHTSA that are hotly disputed in this litigation. If this court took judicial notice of the disputed findings and conclusions, plaintiffs would be barred from challenging them in this litigation.” Among the points of contention were that NASA engineers only examined 280,000 out of 8 million lines of code, and a phenomenon known as “tin whiskers”, which have been known to interfere with commercial satellites.
If the case went to trial, it would not be until 2013.
[Source: Automotive News]
When Chrysler went through its unpleasant bout of restructuring in June of 2009, it shut down 789 dealerships in an effort to reduce its dealer network by 25%. Now, 64 of those dealers are filing suit against the United States Treasury Department, claiming that the government terminated those dealerships and violated the U.S. Constitution.
More specifically, the suit alleges that the government violated the Fifth Amendment–stating that property cannot be taken away and used for public purposes (restructuring a company run partially by taxpayer money) without adequate compensation–or in this case, $130 million in damages.
Toyota is asking a U.S. federal court judge to dismiss lawsuits related to the company’s unintended acceleration scandals, with the automaker claiming that the anecdotal evidence brought forward can’t accurately identify any specific defects.
More than 300 lawsuits have been brought against Toyota, with plantiffs alleging lost income, personal injuries and fatalities. A hearing is scheduled for September 19th in Santa Ana, California, to deal with the matter.
Toyota filed papers in court Monday stating“Plaintiffs infer negligence and strict liability on the part of Toyota based on unsubstantiated circumstantial information.”
In the past, if you haven’t been picky about the rental car you’re driving, perhaps you should be. You may be surprised to learn that your rental has been recalled – so why is it still on the road?
This information comes to use via ABC News, which reports these findings after a recent lawsuit against Enterprise. The case in question involved the death of two California women who were killed after their rental Chrysler PT Cruiser caught fire and struck an oncoming semi. Unexpectedly, Enterprise came out and admitted that the company routinely rents out vehicles that are under recall and haven’t been repaired. The PT Cruiser was recalled in September of 2004, because there was a chance that the power steering unit could leak, causing an engine fire.
Even though they received the recall notice a month before, Enterprise rented the vehicle to Raechel Houck, 24, and her sister, Jacquie, 20, who were on their way to visit their parents. In this case, a jury awarded the Houcks a $15 million settlement.
In further testimony, it was revealed that Enterprise often rents out vehicles under recall, and that the company has no standing policy against doing so. ABC News also indicates that other major companies like Hertz and Avis also carry out the same practice.
“When demand called, we rented out recalled vehicles, it happened, I won’t lie,” said Mark Matias, a former Enterprise area manager in San Francisco. “If all you have are recalled vehicles on the lot, you rent them out. It was a given. The whole company did it. Enterprise’s corporate offices look the other way regarding this fact.”
Other Enterprise executives testified that there was no company-wide policy requiring cars under recall to be held back from rental.
Watch the ABC News video report after the jump.
Well it ever get here? Based on the latest scuttlebutt regarding the U.S. launch of Mahindra’s compact pickup, it’s looking less likely with each passing day. Global Vehicles USA, the licensed distributor for Mahindra vehicles in this country has filed a lawsuit against the Indian manufacturer for repeated delays in bring the trucks over, which is costing Global a pretty penny, since GV has already signed up approximately 350 dealers and spent nearly $35 million in preparation for launching the Mahindra pickup Stateside.
According to Mike Geylin, spokesman for GV USA, Mahindra has repeatedly dragged its feet regarding the launch date and the lawsuit “seeks to compel the Indian company to honor it’s contractual obligations and begin shipping [the vehicles] pursuant to existing and long standing orders placed by Global Vehicles on behalf of its dealers.”
Mahindra spokesman Pawan Goenka stated that “we are going as per (our) original plan for the launch of the pickup truck (December 2010), but can’t say on the actual time of the launch as it will depend on the outcome of the litigation.” The soap opera continues…
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]