The Congress led arbitration hearings for almost 2,800 GM and Chrysler dealerships that were to be closed last year will soon come to an end. Since the hearings began, many of the cases have been resolved outside of arbitration. Some dealerships dropped out of the process on their own, others decided to start selling other brands, and some could still face months of litigation in state courts. While GM agreed that it would restore more than 660 dealerships and Chrysler about 80, the actual numbers will not be known until the arbitration is complete.
Toyota Motor Corp. will be recalling 270,000 Lexus and other vehicles worldwide to fix faulty engines that could make vehicles stall while driving. The problem is with contaminated materials used to make valve springs and crucial engine components. The global recall that starts Monday affects six luxury Lexus sedan models as well as the popular Toyota Crown, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said. Of the 270,000 recalled cars, some 180,000 were sold overseas, including 137,000 in the the United States.
According to the released statement by Toyota, models that could potentially have a faulty valve spring include:
- Lexus IS 350
- Lexus GS 350
- Lexus GS 460
- Lexus GS 450h
- Lexus LS 460
- Lexus LS 600h L
- Toyota Crown
Current model years are unaffected by the recall. Lexus is moving quickly to resolve the situation and will announce an appropriate remedy as soon as possible.
In 2008 GM recalled vehicles for an overheating windshield washer heater. A fuse was installed as a rectification, however, new reports of problems with the heater overheating continue to exist. GM will be recalling these vehicles again, and will permanently disable and remove the heated washer fluid module. Below is a list of the vehicles recalled:
- Buick Lucerne
- Cadillac DTS
- Hummer H2
- Buick Enclave
- Cadillac CTS
- Cadillac Escalade
- Cadillac Escalade ESV
- Cadillac Escalade EXT
- Chevrolet Avalanche
- Chevrolet Silverado
- Chevrolet Suburban
- Chevrolet Tahoe
- GMC Acadia
- GMC Sierra
- GMC Yukon
- GMC Yukon XL
- Saturn Outlook
Owners may contact Buick at 1-866-608-8080, Cadillac at 1-866-982-2339, Chevrolet at 1-800-630-2438, Saturn at 1-800-972-8876, GMC at 1-866-996-9463 and Hummer at 1-800-732-5493 or at the owner center at www.gmownercenter.com.
BMW will be recalling over 15,000 motorcycles for three separate safety issues. If owners have any questions about the recalls, they may contact BMW at 1-800-525-7417 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153).
Certain 2007 – 2009 R 1200 and K 1200 series motorcycles manufactured between August 2006 to May 2009 may develop stress cracks on the brake lines due to vibration and strain on the line. These lines could develop leaks, and if unnoticed could drain the brake reservoir, causing the front brakes to fail. Starting in July, BMW will notify owners and dealers will install a new brake line with a protective sleeve, free of charge.
Certain 2008 – 2009 F650 GS and 800 GS motorcycles manufactured between September 27, 2007 to March 30, 2009 may have drive chains that have not been produced to the proper specifications. The chain could break over time and could become trapped between the rear wheel and the frame, resulting in rear wheel lock up. Neither a remedy nor a notification schedule has been provided by the manufacturer.
Finally, certain 2007 – 2008 G650 X Country, G650 X Challenge, and G650 X Moto motorcycles manufactured between November 29, 2006 to May 19, 2008 may have a roll gear pin mount that could bread over time. If the mount breaks, fragments could become trapped between the drive chain and the rear sprocket causing the rear wheel to lock up. Neither a remedy nor a notification schedule has been provided by the manufacturer.
The hype around Tesla Motors has certainly paid off. As Tesla went public, their stock prices have done better than originally planned. Under the ticker symbol TSLA, the Silicon Valley company’s stock opened at $17 (going up as high as $19), above the anticipated range of $14 to $16.
The company hoped to raise up to $178 million by selling 11.1 million shares, but has done better than anticipated by raising over $220 million in funding by selling 13.3 million shares. Including investments from Daimler and Toyota, and receiving a $465 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a factory, Tesla is on its way to becoming a leader in electric cars.
Tesla is best known for their first and only electric car, the $109,000 Roadster, which was introduced in 2008. Selling only about 1,100 of the cars worldwide to the rich and famous. With the IPO proceeds, the company will fund production of the company’s new vehicle, the Model S sedan, which is expected to sell for about $57,000. A federal tax credit of $7,500 for electric cars would cut the price to just under $50,000. The commercial launch is planned for 2012.
Toyota Motor Corp. has stopped the sales of and will be recalling its 2010 Lexus HS 250h hybrid. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered the recall after finding that the vehicle would leak more than the allowable fuel in a rear end collision of about 50 to 80 km.
Toyota conducted tests to verify that the Lexus hybrid was in compliance with federal safety standards before releasing the vehicle, and no problems with the fuel tank were found. Because more than 142 grams of fuel spilled in the tests conducted for the NHTSA, Toyota will attempt to replicate the test to determine why the tank leaked, which will allow it to develop a remedy.
Toyota is not aware of any incidents or accidents resulting from the defect in the HS, but once a fix is found, Toyota will notify HS drivers to bring their vehicles in for repair.
It seems that lately there has been much talk about the electric car. The automobile companies have been investing large amounts of money into electric cars with the hopes of becoming the leaders in the industry. The installation of more charging stations has not only made it more convenient to charge an electric car, but the installation of solar charging stations has made the drain on the power infrastructure less of a problem.
Still, the hydrogen car lurks in the background. Tucked away on the Torrance campus behind a security guard and a locked gate, a system designed to power Honda’s limited-production FCX Clarity sedan and other hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles uses solar panels to power a machine the size of a mini-refrigerator. This system converts water into hydrogen and oxygen gases and then pumpes the hydrogen directly into the car. No fossil fuels, no pollution, no additional strain on the power grid — and all done at home. It’s called a residential hydrogen refueler, and only one currently exists. According to statements from automakers like Honda, General Motors, Toyota, and Mercedes they hope to begin selling hydrogen-powered production cars to consumers as early as 2015.
Other hydrogen fuel-cell cars, only available by lease, exist. Made by GM, Toyota and Mercedes, most of the lessees are in “station clusters,” specific geographic areas that have hydrogen fueling stations. It’s the scarcity of these hydrogen stations that’s seen as one of the biggest barriers to mass adoption of fuel-cell cars.
The installation of these residential hydrogen refulers would solve this problem, but at what cost? Honda won’t say, but it’s a promising technology that advances the trend toward consumers detaching from a fossil-fuel economy and becoming more self-sufficient. It’s a future in which American homes are less reliant on a large-scale infrastructure — power grids, and water districts — and provide at least some of the solutions themselves via solar panels, gray-water systems, rainwater harvesting and home-based car-refueling technology.