Auto News for Dec. 11

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Volkswagen officials said it was “a chain of errors” by a small group of employees that was to blame for the diesel emission scandal. At a news conference in Wolfsburg Germany they said engineers realized they could not meet new U.S. diesel engine emission standards as VW was embarking on the promotion of the engines back in 2005, and introduced software that would allow the cars to meet emission standards. Officials cited a “mind-set in some areas of the company that tolerated breaches of rules” and they are “relentlessly” searching for those responsible.

As expected, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has imposed a $70 million dollar fine on Fiat Chrysler for “failure to report legally required safety data.” That includes reports of deaths and injuries, warranty claims, consumer complaints and field reports of safety issues. FCA is the fifth vehicle maker in the past 14 months penalized for failure to meet the requirements. The company said it accepts the penalty and will revise procedures to “ensure regulatory compliance.”

That independent fund set up by GM in regards to its faulty ignition switches said it has paid out nearly $600 million to settle almost 400 claims. That would bring the total amount that GM has spent to more than $2 billion. The defect has been tied to more than 100 deaths.

Ford will invest $4.5 billion in electrified vehicles and will add 13 of them to its portfolio by the year 2020. This would be the largest company investment in electrified vehicles in a five year period. Among the new models will be a Focus delivering an 80 percent charge in a half hour with a top range of 100 miles. “The challenge going forward isn’t who provides the most technology in a vehicle but who best organizes that technology in a way that most excites and delights people,” said Raj Nair, executive vice president. The Detroit News said Ford hinted it might display an electric car or truck at next month’s Detroit auto show.

What do you think about a 3D instrument panel now that have you have seen lots of 3D movies? The Detroit Free Press reports that Delphi Automotive and PureDepth of New Zealand will introduce such a device at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas next month. It is said to create imagines such as those seen on slot machines and reduce eye strain on long trips, all without the need for special glasses. The technology will be displayed in a Mustang GTO concept.

While we are on the technology kick, sun visors may become an endangered species. Auto supplier Continental said it has devised a film technology that can darken or lighten windows through electric control signals. “When the sun is low over the horizon, the driver’s hand instinctively goes from the steering wheel to the sun visor, which results in both impaired visibility and a brief decrease in control of the vehicle. In the future, such a situation can be detected in advance and the windows could darken automatically before the event occurs”, said Andreas Wolf, of Continental. And if the vehicle is parked, the windows would darken automatically, so the inside of the vehicle cannot be seen from the outside. (This could get interesting.) And like Ford, the technology will be displayed at the CES.

 

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