Auto News for Dec. 22 – Big BMW Fine

BMW has been fined $40 million by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to issue a timely recall of vehicles that “did not comply with minimum crash protection standards.” This involves 2014 and 2015 Mini Cooper models that NHTSA said failed to meet regulatory minimums for side-impact crash protection. Administrator Mark Rosekind said this is the second time in three years that BMW has been penalized for failing to launch recalls and inform consumers in a timely fashion when a safety defect or noncompliance is discovered. The $40 million penalty includes $10 million in cash, a requirement that the company spend at least $10 million meeting the order’s obligations, and $20 million in deferred penalties that will come due if BMW fails to comply with NHTAS orders or commits other safety violations. The automaker said it is “committed to further improving its recall processes to better serve its customers.”

The morning rumor mill has it that Google and Ford will announce at the Consumer Electronics show an agreement to work together on the development of a self-driving car. Yahoo Autos was first with the report. Elon Musk predicts fully autonomous vehicles could be a reality in two years. But one wonders about the legal issues surrounding them.

Over the river and through the woods has seldom been this inexpensive. AAA reported Monday that U.S. average gas prices dropped below $2 a gallon for the first time since March 25, 2009. The national average price was $1.998 per gallon and the motor club said cheaper gas has saved consumers more than $115 billion so far this year. That works out to more than $550 per licensed driver. As AAA put it, “We’re going to party like its $1.99”

The market share of leased new vehicles could hit a record this year, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. The record was set in 1997 when 27.4 percent of new vehicles were leased. The new record could be as high at 27.8 percent.

Mercedes has named Dietmar Exler as president and CEO of its operations here in the states. Steve Cannon is leaving MB but will remain as a consultant through January. And Mazda has announced that the president of its North American Operations, Jim O’Sullivan, will retire after 13 years in his post. He will be succeeded on New Year’s Day by Masahiro Moto who has been serving as a Managing Executive Officer at Mazda. O’Sullivan will be the longest serving senior executive of any car company in the U.S. at the time of his retirement. O’Sullivan is pictured.

James O'Sullivan, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations. (04/12/05)





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