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Takata Air Bag Recall Expands to Record 34 Million Vehicles


As part of an agreement with Takata, federal regulators expanded the recall of vehicles equipped with the company’s air bags to 33.8 million in the U.S., making it the largest safety recall in the nation’s history, reports Detroit Free Press.

The move essentially doubles the number of vehicles being recalled to replace potentially lethal air bags made by the Japanese supplier. At least six people have died and more than 100 have been injured from shards of metal from exploding air bags.

Takata, for its part, officially acknowledged the defects for the first time on Tuesday, even though 17 million vehicles with its air bags already have been recalled.

Mark Rosekind, recently appointed administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said no one knows how long it could take to fix the vehicles, but “it could take some years. … We intend to make sure at the end of this process there is a safe airbag in every vehicle.”

The NHTSA recall now involves 11 automakers, including the Detroit Three, most affecting 2002 through 2008 model years. Takata is partly owned by Honda, which has the highest percentage of recalled vehicles. The total number could change as automakers sift through the specs of all of their models to determine which ones contain any of the four defective inflators, which activate the air bags in a collision.

Many consumers will have to drive their vehicles for a long time before the parts are available to fix them, with the industry unable to manufacture replacement bags fast enough. They could also be waiting months for the notification their vehicle is subject to recall because automakers must prioritize vehicles at most risk based on their age and geographic location

The announcement is the second example in as many days of Rosekind cracking down on automakers to address safety on U.S. roads. On Monday, Rosekind announced he has scheduled a hearing in July for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to explain their slow response in completing repairs in 20 different recalls.

NHTSA has been pushing for Takata to expand its air bag recall. Automakers had recalled about 17 million vehicles, many of them from Honda. The latest move largely makes this a national recall of vehicles from 11 automakers with vehicles that potentially have faulty inflators in the driver or passenger-side air bag.

“Up until now Takata has refused to acknowledge that their airbags are defective, that changes today,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Takata has agreed to declare their air bag inflators are defective.”

Takata Chairman Shigehisa Takada, in a statement, said, “We are pleased to have reached this agreement with NHTSA, which presents a clear path forward to advancing safety and restoring the trust of automakers and the driving public.”

The supplier has also agreed to enter into a consent order with NHTSA to supply all related documents and information about the defective airbags and pledged full cooperation going forward.

In return, NHTSA has suspended more than $1 million in accumulated fines — $14,000 per day since February — for not responding to all NHTSA’s inquiries. The agency has not ruled out more fines in the future and there could be further civil penalties.

Initially the exploding air bags were considered a problem only in hot and humid climates but the recall has been expanded nationally as Takata and affected automakers continue to try to identify the root cause of the problem so they can fix it.

The recall has also expanded to cover both driver and passenger side air bags in more vehicles and regions.

Automakers with affected vehicles include Honda, Toyota, Ford, BMW, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and the newly added Daimler Trucks. The automakers formed a coalition and hired independent engineering firm Orbital ATK to try to find the cause of the exploding air bags. Their investigation is in addition to those being conducted by NHTSA and Takata in an industry-wide effort to find the reason for the defect to make sure it is fixed properly.

NHTSA also is opening its own testing program to focus on ensuring the remedy is completely safe. Rosekind said while the replacement air bags are safer than the ones they replace, he cannot guarantee their long-term safety at this time.

“We are doing our best to keep focused on the investigation,” said former NHTSA Administrator David Kelly who was hired to oversee the investigation by the automakers. Efforts to determine the root cause are still in the early stages of testing, he said.

Safety officials warn consumers to keep checking their vehicle VIN number on the www.safercar.gov website because even some of the vehicles previously fixed – or excluded in the past — could be back on the recall list in the future.

Consumer who receive recall notices should call their dealer immediately.

“Folks shouldn’t have to drive around wondering if their airbag is going to explode in their face or if their car is going to be on another recall list,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee and a key figure in a congressional probe into the defective airbags. “We’ve seen the recall list double now to 30 million cars. Let’s hope Takata’s admissions today tells us the whole story.”

Rich Newsome, an attorney representing seven victims of faulty Takata air bags, including Corey Burdick, a Florida man disfigured and blinded in one eye by shrapnel from an exploding air bag in May, called it a victory for consumer protection.

But, he said, “today’s expanded recall is already too little, too late for people injured and their families. Hopefully today’s news will push the agenda for recall reform to the forefront and result in legislation that will help NHTSA identify these kinds of defects before regular families with defective cars are needlessly harmed in the future.”

Automakers say they will continue to work with NHTSA and share test results. Honda said many of the recalls announced Monday already were included in previous safety campaigns and the automaker is “reviewing the information released (Monday) to determine what new actions may be required.”

Honda owners can check their recall status at www.recalls.honda.com or call 800-999-1009. Acura owners should go to www.recalls.acura.com or call 800-382-2238 and press option 4.

“A recall of this scope illustrates the potential for massive automaker expense and consumer inconvenience when a common, mass-produced part is defective,” said Karl Brauer, analyst with Kelley Blue Book.

“While this is the largest consumer recall in history it’s likely we’ll see future vehicle recalls of similar, if not larger, size as the automotive industry becomes more globalized.” Brauer said.

Takata boosted production to 450,000 replacement kits per month in March, up from 350,000. Other suppliers are also ramping up capacity to meet the demand the recall has created as the industry works to address the problem collectively.

Autoliv, another global supplier of airbags, said Tuesday it could make more airbag inflators than it has already promised to the industry.

In January, Autoliv committed to providing several automakers with as many as 25 million airbag inflators and could begin delivering them later this year.

“Our focus has really been to help the industry and the customers in this situation and clearly if we would be asked to supply more we would work to do that as rapidly as we could,” said Thomas Jonsson, spokesman for Autoliv.

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Ally Financial Named Mitsubishi’s Preferred U.S. Auto Lender


Ally Financial Inc., the former lending arm of General Motors, will become the preferred financing source for Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in the U.S, reported Bloomberg.

Ally will replace Mitsubishi’s captive finance company and provide lease and retail financing and insurance offerings at about 380 Mitsubishi dealerships, the Detroit-based bank said Monday in a statement. Terms weren’t announced.

Ally is seeking to replace business after General Motors Co. said in January it will use its own lending unit for leases on brands including Buick, Cadillac and GMC. Shares of Ally have declined 17 percent since its initial public offering last year.

Sales of new Mitsubishi vehicles in the U.S. rose 20 percent through March to 23,790, or 0.6 percent of the market, according to researcher Autodata Corp. That’s about an eighth of the 172,312 F-Series pickups sold by Ford Motor Co. dealers and less than a quarter of the 100,505 Toyota Motor Corp. Camry sedans delivered.

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Mitsubishi Motors Recalls 920,000 Vehicles Over Light Switch Glitch


Mitsubishi Motors Corp is recalling about 920,000 vehicles globally for a glitch in the light switch that could prevent headlights and blinkers from working, the car maker said on Thursday, Reuters reported.

No accidents or injuries have been reported as a result of the glitch, Mitsubishi said.

In Japan, the car maker is recalling around 703,900 vehicles, including certain Lancer and eK minicar series, manufactured between 2003 and 2008. Overseas the company is recalling about 115,000 vehicles in Australia as well as in several other countries.

The base of the light switch could crack, which may result in the headlights and blinkers malfunctioning, Mitsubishi Motors spokesman Nobuhiro Kudo said.

The car maker will either replace a plastic part inside the light switch or the entire light switch, a process that will take up to 30 minutes. The company declined to disclose the costs associated with the recall.

Mitsubishi was warned by the Japanese transport ministry last year that it must conduct vehicle recalls more quickly after multiple problems were discovered in the past. The Japanese automaker sold around 1.05 million vehicles globally last financial year that ended in March.

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Haystak Selected as Preferred Provider for Mitsubishi Dealer Websites


FORT MYERS, Fla. and CYPRESS, Calif. — Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) has selected Haystak Digital Marketing as one of only three preferred website providers for Mitsubishi dealers.

MMNA’s program, launched to help streamline the website experience across Mitsubishi’s 382 U.S. dealerships, will offer dealers access to comprehensive website solutions at special rates, while providing a more consistent customer experience across all tiers, officials said.

“Consumers spend the majority of their car shopping time online, so it is incredibly important for automotive marketers to use the latest technology and solutions available to reach those shoppers,” said Duncan Scarry, general manager and founder of Haystak Digital Marketing. “We are proud to be selected as one of the preferred website providers by Mitsubishi Motors and look forward to working with their dealers to build exceptional websites that help them connect with consumers whenever and wherever they shop.”

The HAYSTAK KORE360 website platform uses responsive technology that automatically detects the type of device used to access the website, making it easy for dealers to reach consumers whether they use a desktop, tablet or smartphone.

Haystak will offer a three-year, fixed-price model for website solutions with additional products available for purchase.

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Industry Records 1.4% Sales Increase in March


After three months of harsh winter storms, new-vehicle sales in March rose 1.4% from a year ago to 3.74 million units, according to Autodata Corp. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) stood at 16.4 million, up from last March’s 15.3 million rate and up from 15.34 million in February. The following is a breakdown of sales performance by manufacturer:

BMW: The BMW Group reported an 8.1% increase in March sales vs. one year ago, with sales totaling 35,839 units. On a year-to-date basis, sales were up 2.8% from a year ago on sales of 81,228 units in the first three months of the year. BMW Brand Sales increased 18.6% from a year ago to 32,107 units. On a year-to-date basis, sales increased 11.5% from the same period last year to 72,377. Sales for MINI USA dropped 39.8% from a year ago to 3,655 units sold. On a year-to-date basis, sales were down 38.4% on volume of 8,657 units.

Chrysler: Chrysler Group LLC reported its best March sales since 2007, with sales increasing 13% from a year ago to 193,915 units. The Jeep (up 47%), Ram Truck (up 29%) and FIAT (up 24%) brands each posted year-over-year sales gains vs. a year ago, with Jeep posting the largest gain of 144% despite the recall of the Jeep Liberty. Chrysler is the only brand to show a decrease of 23% on year-over-year basis.

Six Chrysler Group vehicles set sales records in March, including the Jeep Compass, Patriot, Dodge Journey and FIAT 500L. The Jeep Wrangler and Ram Cargo Van also logged their best ever March, while the Dodge Grand Caravan had the largest year-over-year percentage sales increase of any Chrysler Group models in March.

Ford: The domestic automaker realized its best March sales in eight years. Retail sales totaled 244,167 units, a 3.3% increase from a year ago. The Ford Fusion posted a record sales month with 32,963 cars sold, up 9% from last year’s record month, while the F-Series broke the 70,000-unit mark in March.

Led by the MKZ, Lincoln sales increased 72% from a year ago — the brand’s best-ever sales month. March also marked the sixth straight month of positive sales for Ford’s luxury brand. And over the last five months, Lincoln sold 43,445 units, a 27% increase over the same period one year ago.

General Motors: The domestic automaker reported a 4.1% sales increase vs. one year ago, with the company delivering 256,047 vehicles in March. On a year-to-date basis, however, sales declined a slight 2.3%. Officials said they expect to see solid economic growth in the upcoming months.

Sales for the Chevrolet Silverado, the 2014 North American Truck of the Year, were up 14%, while sales of the GMC Sierra were up 23%. Deliveries of the Corvette were up 221% from a year ago. As for Cadillac, the brand’s CTS sedan drove an 11% increase in retail sales for CTS models, while sales of the SRX were up 37% from a year ago.

Sales of the Buick Regal were also up 52% from a year ago, while sales of the Encore increased 71% vs. March 2013.

Honda: American Honda reported a 2% decrease in sales from a year ago, with sales totaling 133,318 units. The company’s Acura division, however, realized a 10.4% increase in sales vs. one year ago, with sales totaling 15,580 units. Leading the way was the MDX, which realized an 80% sales increase from a year ago. Sales of the brand’s flagship model totaled 5,793 units. Additionally, sales of Acura trucks rose 45.8% from a year ago, with sales totaling 10,387.

The Honda division recorded sales of 117,738, with the Accord leading the way with March sales totaling 33,962 units. Sales of the Civic and CR-V both eclipsed the 27,000-unit mark, while Odyssey sales rose above the 10,000-unit mark.

Hyundai: The Korean automaker reported a slight 1.9% decreased in March sales, which totaled 67,005 units. On a month-to-month basis, however, sales were up 37% from February. Leading the way was the Santa Fe, which realized a 36.7% sales increase from a year ago. Sales of the Tucson rose 13.6%, while Equus sales were up 13.8%. Sales of the Sonata and Veloster were up 6.8% and 3.3%, respectively.

Mazda: The automaker reported its best-ever sales for March, with sales increasing 9% from a year ago to 34,903 units. The MX-5 also realized its best March since 2009, with sales increasing 31.1% from a year ago to 751 units sold. Additionally, ALG reported that the 2014 Mazda3 has the highest residual value in its segment, while KBB.com listed the entire Mazda brand as the most affordable nonluxury brand to own over a five-year period.

Mercedes-Benz: The German automaker reported its best first quarter sales ever, with March sales rising 11% from a year ago to 30,091 units sold. The Mercedes-Benz brand alone sold 29,316 units in March, a 12% increase from a year ago. On a year-to-date basis, sales rose 5.8% to 77,238 units.

The E-Class took the top spot with 6,335 units sold, a 58% increase from the same month last year. Sales of the C-Class totaled 5,660, while sales of the M-Class totaled 4,052 units, up 15.7% from March 2013. Sales of the company’s flagship S-Class totaled 2,299 for the month, up 89.1%.

Mitsubishi: The OEM reported its best March in six years, with sales increasing 70% from a year ago and 24% on a year-to-date basis. In total, the automaker sold 8,996 units in March. Outlander realized its best March sales since 2008, with sales rising 59.9% for the month and 22.4% year to date. Additionally, Lancer sales in March were up 72.4%, while sales of the Lancer Evolution were up 27.1%.

Nissan: The Japanese automaker reported an 8.3% increase in March sales vs. a year ago, with sales totaling 149,136 units — the company’s best month in 12 of the last 13 months. Sales of the all-electric Nissan LEAF set a March record, with sales increasing 12.1% from a year ago to 2,507 units. Nissan Altima sales totaled 35,921 units in March, its best sales month since March 2013. Sales of the Nissan Juke also reached a new monthly high, with sales increasing 77.3$ from a year ago to 6,943 units.

Infiniti reported sales of 12,494 units in March, an increase of 12.5% vs. one year ago. Sales of the all-new Infiniti Q50 luxury sports sedan totaled 3,795 units, while overall sales of Infiniti sports sedans, including the Infiniti G37, rose 27.9% for the month.

Toyota: Toyota Motor Sales reported a 4.9% increase in March sales vs. one year ago, with sales totaling 215,348 units. Toyota division sales were up 2.5%, totaling 186,755 units. Lexus sales increased 23.3% from a year ago to 28,593 units.

By model, the Toyota Camry posted sales of 42,000 units, while sales of the all-new Corolla totaled 30,000 units. Sales for Toyota’s truck division were up 10%, while the RAV4 realized its best-ever first quarter with more than 20,000 units sold. As for Lexus, the IS posted a 117% increase, while sales of the GS were up 32%. Sales of the RX closed in on the 10,000-unit mark, while sales of the brand’s luxury utility vehicles were up nearly 20% from a year ago.

Volkswagen: March sales for the German automaker were down 2.6% from a year ago, with sales totaling 36,717 units. Sales of the Jetta Sedan totaled 13,687 units for the month, up 6.3% vs the prior year, while the Passat realized its best March ever with sales totaling 11,050 units.

Audi realized its best-ever March and its 39th consecutive record sales month. Audi sales finished 7.5% ahead of the 13,253 units sold in March 2013. Through the first quarter, sales totaled 35,228, a 3% increase from one year ago. Sales of the A6 increased 26.7% from a year ago, while sales of the Q7 increased 45.8%.

Porsche reported a 9.2% sales increase vs. one year ago and a 5% sales increase on a year-to-date basis. The automaker realized its all-time best March, with 3,808 units delivered. The Cayenne continued to be the automaker’s most popular model with 1,862 sold units. Sales of the Boxter and Panamera totaled 617 and 442 units, respectively.

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Autodata: February Sales Fall 1.4%


Woodcliff Lake, N.J. — Harsh winter storms continued to impact new-vehicle sales, which fell 1.4% from a year ago to 1.19 million units, according to Autodata Corp. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), however, was even with the rate recorded in February 2013 at 15.34 million units. However, the sale rate was up slightly from 15.24 million in January. The following is a breakdown of sales performance by manufacturer:

BMW: The BMW Group reported a 4.4% decreased in February sales vs. one year ago, with sales totaling 24,476 units. On a year-to-date basis, sales were down 1.2% from a year ago on sales of 45,272 units in the opening two months of the year. BMW Brand Sales increased 3.3% from a year ago to 22,017 units. On a year-to-date basis, sales were up 6.5% to 40,270. Sales for MINI USA dropped 42.8% from a year ago to 4,302 units sold. On a year-to-date basis, sales were down 37.3% on volume of 5,002 units.

Chrysler: Chrysler Group LLC reported its best February sales since 2007, with sales increasing 11% from a year ago to 154,866 units. The Chrysler (up 1%), Jeep, Ram Truck (up 26$), and FIAT (up 5%) brands each posted year-over-year sales gains vs. a year ago, with Jeep posting the largest gain of 47%.

Six Chrysler Group vehicles set sales records in February, including the Jeep Compass, Patriot and Wrangler. The Chrysler 200 and Dodge Journey also logged their best ever February, while the Ram pickup truck posted its best February in eight years with a 26% sales increase. Additionally, sales of the all-new Jeep Cherokee rose 12% vs. one year ago.

Ford: February sales for the domestic automaker fell 6% from a year ago to 183,947 units. Retail sales totaled 125,919 units, a 4% decrease from a year ago. Officials noted a late-month sales surge, which they hope means good things for March. One bright spot was the company’s F-Series truck line, which realized its best February in eight years. Sales of the pickup truck totaled 55,882 units.

Led by the MKZ and MKX, Lincoln sales increased 36% from a year ago to 6,661 units. February marked the fifth straight month of positive sales for Ford’s luxury brand. And over the last five months, Lincoln sold 34,476 units, a 26% increase over the same period one year ago.

General Motors: The domestic automaker reported a 1% decline in sales vs. a year ago, with the company delivering 222,104 vehicles in February. On a month-to-month basis, however, sales increased 30% thanks to the company’s Olympic advertisements.

The Chevrolet Sonic, Cruze and Malibu posted double-digit sales increases, while the Cruze realized its best February to date. Deliveries of the Corvette were up 149% from a year ago. As for Cadillac, the brand’s CTS sedan helped drive a 7% increase in retail sales for the CTS range, while sales of the SRX were up 23% from a year ago.

Sales of the Buick Encore nearly doubled, while Enclave and Equinox realized their best February sales ever. Additionally, deliveries of the GMC Acadia were up 2%.

Honda: American Honda reported a 7% decrease in sales from a year ago, with sales totaling 100,405 units. Bucking the trend were Acura light trucks, with sales increasing 29.8% from a year ago to 7,482 units.

The company’s Honda division recorded sales of 88,860 units, with the Accord, Civic and CR-V (up 0.1%) each recording sales of more than 20,000 units in February. Odyssey sales increased 4.6% to 8,945 units.

The Acura Division realized a 1.6% sales increase, with sales totaling 11,545 units in February. Sales of the brand’s MDX increased 54.9% to 4,563 units. The RDX posted its 22nd consecutive monthly sales record, with sales rising 4.2% to 2,911 units sold.

Hyundai: Sales for Hyundai Motor America decreased 6% to 49,003 units in February. On a month-to-month basis, however, sales were up 11% from January. Despite the tough month, two of brand’s smallest cars, the Accent and Veloster, realized a sales increase of 20%, while sales of the company’s two SUVs, the Santa Fe and Tucson, were up 12% from a year ago.

Mazda: The automaker reported February U.S. sales of 24,431 vehicles, a 2.4% decrease from a year ago. Year-to-date sales through February were down 6.7% vs. last year, with 43,155 vehicles sold. However, the Mazda6 experienced its second-best February since 2008 with 3,945 vehicles sold, a 46% increase from a year ago. The CX-5 realized its best sales month ever, with sales increasing 71.6% to 9,355 units sold. The company also reported that its SKYACTIV Technology accounted for 83.2% of all vehicle sales during the month, the largest percentage sold in one month.

Mercedes-Benz: The German automaker reported sales of 24,971 units for the month of February, a 3.8% increase from a year ago. This was the highest volume on record for the month, officials noted. The Mercedes-Benz brand alone achieved record February retail sales of 22,609 units, a 2.65% increase from a year ago. On a year-to-date basis, sales rose 1.5% to 45,213 units.

Sales were the led by the brand’s C-, E- and M-Class model lines, with sales totaling 5,612, 4,271 and 3,258 units, respectively. At the high end, sales of the all-new 2014 S-Class flagship model jumped 93.8% to 1,789 units.

Mitsubishi: The OEM reported a 1.2% dip in sales from February 2013, with sales totaling 5,977 units. On a year-to-date basis, sales were up 1.3% from a year ago. Sales of Mitsubishi’s core models (Outlander Sport, Outlander, Lancer, and Mirage) were up 8.9% in February and 12.7% on a year-to-date basis. Realizing the biggest sales increase was the Outlander Sport, with sales up 42.8% from a year ago.

Nissan: The Japanese automaker reported a 15.8% increase in February sales vs. a year ago, with sales totaling 115,260 units — a record total for February. Sales of the all-electric Nissan LEAF also set a February record, increasing 118.2% to 1,425 units. Also setting a new monthly record was the Rogue, with sales rising 72.6% to 17,197 units. The Nissan Juke also recorded its best monthly sales total, with sales rising 111.7% to 5,791 units.

Infiniti reported sales of 9,729 units in February, an increase of 6.4% vs. one year ago. Sales of the all-new Infiniti Q50 luxury sports sedan totaled 3,275 units, while overall sales of Infiniti sports sedans, including the Infiniti G37, rose more than 14.4% for the month.

Toyota: Toyota Motor Sales reported a 4.3% decrease in February sales vs. one year ago, with sales totaling 159,284 units. Toyota division sales were down 5%, totaling 140,429 units. Lexus sales increased 8.7% from a year ago to 18,855 units.

By model, the Toyota Camry posted sales of 29,000 units, while sales of the all-new Corolla totaled more than 25,000 units. The RAV4 realized its best February sales, with sales increasing 23% from a year ago. Also realizing its best-ever February sales month was the all-new Highlander, which posted a 30% sales increase from a year ago. As for Lexus, the IS and GX posted triple-digit sales gains, while sales of the GS were up more than 42%. The Lexus RX posted sales of more than 5,600 units.

Volkswagen: February sales for the German automaker were down 13.8% from a year ago to 27,112 units delivered. This was due, in part, to the winding down of outgoing models and the fewest number of selling days for the year, officials noted. Volkswagen’s TDI Clean Diesel models accounted for 16.8% of sales in February. Total Jetta deliveries accounted for 11,908 units of Volkswagen’s February sales total, while sales of the Passat totaled 6,997 units.

Audi sales just about mirrored last February’s sales totals, with 10,881 units sold. Leading the way was the company’s luxury SUVs, with the Q7 posting a 33.6% sales gain from a year ago. Sales of the company’s luxury sedans also stayed strong, with the A6 posting a sales increase of 27.2% vs. one year ago. Sales of the R8 were also up 40% vs. a year ago.

Porsche realized a 15% boost in sales over this time last year and a 2% increase on a year-to-date basis. The automaker realized its all-time best February, with 3,232 units delivered. The Cayenne continued to be the automaker’s most popular model with 1,260 sold units.

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