• October sales to be strongest since 2001

    October 24, 2015
    This month is shaping up to be the strongest October on record since 2001, new data indicates. If new car sales continue at their brisk pace, the U.S. market could flirt with an all-time sales record.

    According to LMC Automotive, October sales could hit 1.38 million vehicles, representing an 8 percent improvement over the same month last year. Edmunds is even more bullish on the month, calling for October sales of 1.42 million units.

    LMC also increased its full-year forecast to 17.3 million vehicle. TrueCar, meanwhile, bumped its annual prediction to 17.4 million units. Those figures would be close to the United States’ annual sales record of 17.402 million units set in 2000.

    “The tenacious pace of auto sales since May, combined with the current favorable position of the U.S. economy, is increasing the level of upside potential to 2015 by 100,000 units, while nearly wiping out any downside risk,” Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC, said in a statement, according to Automotive News. “Looking forward, the forecast for 2016 is 17.6 million units, but growing economic stability and consumer confidence could easily push light-vehicle sales toward 17.8 million next year.”

    The Big Three domestic automaker — General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler — are expected to gain market share in October while Toyota and Honda are predicted to lose market share. Despite a recent diesel engine scandal, VW is expected to have flat sales for the month.

  • VW investigation finds no defeat software for EA288 engines

    October 24, 2015
    Volkswagen’s internal investigation has reportedly concluded that the EA288 family of diesel engines does not use emissions ‘defeat’ software.

    The company previously claimed its Euro6-compliant EA288 engines do not implement any software tricks to cheat emissions tests, however the inquiry initially left open the possibility that such software may have been used for earlier Euro5-optimized variants.

    The company has now cleared all Euro5 and Euro6 variants, noting that “no software constituting an improper defeat device as defined in law is installed in vehicles with EA288 engines.”

    It is unclear if the automaker is investigating possible use of similar software in other engine types, though the scandal currently appears to be focused solely on the EA189 mills that sparked the fiasco when the Environmental Protection Agency last month went public with its accusations of non-compliance.

    Engineers may have adapted the cheat software to work with several different engine variants and individual models, affecting nearly 11 million vehicles sold across the globe. US-market vehicles are expected to receive a urea-injection system or upgraded catalytic converter, while other markets could receive just a software update to bring emissions down to levels compliant with local regulations.

  • German lobby accuses GM’s Opel of dirty diesels

    October 24, 2015
    General Motors’ European Opel division has found itself at the center of its own diesel scandal after DUH, Germany’s environmental lobby group, claimed on Friday that automaker’s Zafira MPV pollutes more than allowed under European Union laws.

    Citing testes conducted by University of Applied Sciences in Bern, Switzerland, DUH says the 1.6L Zafira diesel meets Euro-6 emissions limits while testing on a two-wheel dynamometer, but fails the same test when all four wheels are attached to a rolling road. The tests found that the Zafira spewed 2 to 4 times the amount of NOx levels allowed under Euro-6 when all wheels were spinning.

    The DUH said it did not have a “a technically plausible explanation” for the variation in NOx emissions, but Volkswagen recently admitted to installing cheating devices on its diesel cars that detected when the vehicle is being put through an emissions test. VW’s software cleaned up a vehicle’s tailpipe emissions during testing only to have the vehicle emit up to 40 times the legal limits of pollutants during normal driving.

    For its part, Opel called the cheating allegations “false and unfounded.”

    “The DUH’s findings imply a subtle suspicion of manipulation on our behalf,” an Opel spokesman told Automotive News. “We strongly deny this accusation.”

    More automakers could be swept up on the wake of the VW diesel scandal as DUH says it plans to test more vehicles from other automakers.

  • GM drops shift at Chevy Sonic, Buick Verano factory

    October 24, 2015
    General Motors has confirmed plans to eliminate a shift at its Orion Assembly Plant, which produces the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano.

    The company already slowed assembly lines in January as low gasoline prices held back sales of small cars. Summer shutdown was then extended by an extra week, but the interruption appears to have failed to slow inventory growth.

    Gas prices partially recovered between February and July, before sliding back down in August and September. Sonic sales collapsed last month, dropping by 55 percent compared to September 2014, while Verano deliveries fell by 39 percent.

    To further correct the oversupply, GM will end the second shift at Orion. Only the first shift will continue building both models. Approximately 500 hourly workers will be affected, though most will be reassigned to help add another shift at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

    “We are confident we will be able to make transfer offers to Detroit-Hamtramck or other GM locations for the vast majority of those who are affected by the shift reduction,” spokesman Bill Grotz said in a statement to The Detroit News.

    The Detroit-Hamtramck factory currently builds the Chevy Volt, Impala and Malibu, along with the Cadillac ELR, all on the same production line. It will also be used to produce the Cadillac CT6 early next year.

  • FCA teases AWD Dodge Challenger for SEMA

    October 24, 2015
    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has released a few teaser images for its upcoming SEMA lineup.

    The renderings show a Chrysler 300, a Fiat 500, a Ram 1500 Rebel and a Dodge Challenger. Additional details remain unclear, though the Challenger has been adorned with a GT AWD badge indicating power delivery to all four wheels.

    The company has reserved a large chunk of floor space within the Las Vegas Convention Center to showcase customized vehicles from its Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Fiat brands. The lineup will be outfitted with numerous Mopar accessories already available to buyers, along with some tweaks that are not offered from the factory.

    “Nearly 20 vehicles, as well as hundreds of Mopar parts and accessories, will fill the 15,345-square-foot Mopar SEMA exhibit,” the company notes.

    A live webcast of the Mopar event will be aired on November 3 at 7:25pm Eastern.