General Motors Recalling 3.5 Million Automobiles Due To Faulty Brakes

General Motors is recalling 3.46 Million SUVs and Pickups due to a vacuum pump issue in some 2014-18 Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra, and GMC Yukon models.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the vacuum created by the vacuum pump may decrease over time, thus interfering with the braking process. According to a 2018 investigation done by the NHTSA, this issue is said to have caused nine crashes and two injuries since the problem first began.

While this issue is said to occur only in “rare circumstances,” the danger of malfunctioning brakes is not one to take lightly. So what is GM doing to fix the problem? According to GM, dealers will reprogram the electronic brake control module with a new calibration that will improve how the system utilizes the hydraulic brake boost assist function when vacuum assist is depleted. 

A normal-functioning brake vacuum pump  uses a vacuum to multiply the drivers pedal effort and apply that effort to the master cylinder. The vacuum can be generated in two distinct methods, dependent on the type of internal combustion engine, or other motive force (as in electric vehicles).

All in all, this is GM’s first major recall since May, 2014 when 2.1 Million vehicles were recalled including the 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky vehicles.

While this issue is still under investigation, the brake malfunction continues to pose a serious threat to consumers. If you or someone you know owns a recalled vehicle, contact your dealer right away. The sooner you get your brakes fixed, the sooner you can be on the road enjoying the car you love.

Nissan introduced the first mass-market battery powered electric vehicle, “The Leaf” ten years ago.  However, Nissan has been surpassed by competitors with EVs that have longer range and more power. Now, Nissan wants to catch up by launching a second EV in the United States with a bigger range and more power than the Leaf.  The vehicle will also have updated technologies.

The new EV is expected to arrive in the second half of 2021, and will be one of eight battery-powered models Nissan plans to launch globally in the upcoming years. At a dealer meeting in August, Nissan gave their retailers a look at the EV.  It has been reported that the vehicle is a 5-seat car with a 300-mile range that can go from 0 to 6 in under 5 seconds.

The vehicle is described as a compact crossover that looks similar to the Rogue on the exterior, but more like the Murano on the interior. Their second EV will launch joins other automakers who are doing similar such as Audi, Tesla and Jaguar. Analysts believe the electric crossover segment is likely to keep growing for the next few years.

Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research, said “the market is more likely to want an electric crossover in 2021 than it is in 2019.”

Because of the range, the vehicle will be competitive with non EV vehicles.  Nissan was the first to market a battery-powered vehicle with the Leaf in 2010.

Automakers Agree To Back-Seat Alerts Amid Rising Hot-Cat Incidents

In an effort to prevent the rising number of child heatstroke related deaths, an alliance of car makers announced an agreement to include rear-seat alert systems in almost all new trucks and cars. The auto industry resisted in years past, but decided pending legislation in congress would make it a mandate soon.  The push comes after 53 children died in hot cars last year, a record.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers—trade groups that represent the bulk of domestic- and international-made cars and trucks in the U.S. market said they will add the rear-seat reminder systems on new cars by 2025.

The alters will include visuals to remind drivers to check the back seat before leaving the car. Many also consider motion-detection technology crucial to back-seat alert systems.  The systems automakers will implement can include door sequencing technology that will detect when a rear door is opened at the beginning of a trip, sending an alert if the door is not opened again at the end of the trip.

“Most of these deaths are caused by children being unintentionally left in vehicles, our members are taking action to prevent these tragic losses,” Association of Global Automakers chief executive John Bozzella said in a statement. “I’m not saying this is a perfect solution and technology will always improve, but this gets us a long way toward where we need to be, and gets us there quicker than hoping the bill gets floor time in the House and Senate, gets to conference, and gets to the President,” says Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, who sponsored the bill along with Senators Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “This is a huge win and babies are going to live because of this.”

Many groups have pushed for these changes for years, and the solution also addresses 25% of heat-strokes where children get into cars on their own and get trapped. Hyundai and Kia already offer motion-detection, Nissan and Honda also deployed similar technologies last year.

Nissan to Discontinue Pickup Sales

For years, Nissan has been vowing to change the American full-size pickup market with a vehicle that challenges Ford, Ram and Chevrolet.  However, Nissan told its U.S. dealers last week that it will discontinue sales of the Titan XD and other Titan configurations such as single-cab models.

Nissan planners and executives said Nissan’s first-generation Titan in 2003 was a low-volume affair because the nameplate lacked key variations for serious truck buyers.  Without options like V-8 diesel, Nissan would not be a contender for pickup cross-shopping.

In the United States, pickup sales have been growing.  For the past six months, the Titan only took 1.5% share of the full size pickup segment, with 18,026 sales. That is a decline of over 23 percent from last year. Ford however, sold 448,398 full-size pickups entering June.

There is a perception that full-size pickup buyers typically buy American brands. In a letter last week to Nissan retailers obtained, Nissan Division Vice President Billy Hayes said Nissan remains committed to the full-size pickup market.

“We are simplifying the Titan lineup to focus our efforts on models that maximize opportunities to attract retail customers in the market for a full-size truck,” Hayes said. “With a stronger, more focused lineup, we can maximize the impact of the investment we are making.”

He told retailers Nissan will unveil “a dramatically refreshed Titan” at the Texas state fair in September and reveal “a new Titan XD” later in the fall.

Volkswagen and General Motors Rid Their Line of Hybrid Vehicles, Toyota and Ford Plan to Keep Hybrids

For over two decades, auto makers have used hybrid vehicles as a means to help them comply with regulations on fuel consumption and give customers green buying options. Now, Volkswagen and General Motors say they see no future for hybrids in their U.S. lineups.  Both companies are changing the majority of their future investment to fully electric cars rather than hybrids fueled by a gasoline engine and an electric motor.  The companies feel the hybrid is only a “stopgap” to meeting upcoming tailpipe-emissions requirements in Europe and China.

General Motors plans to launch over twenty fully electric vehicles world-wide in the next four years, including several plug-in models in the United States, specifically for Cadillac and Chevy brands. Volkswagen has also committed to producing more battery-powered models, including a small plug-in SUV and an electric version of its minibus in 2022.

“If I had a dollar more to invest, would I spend it on a hybrid? Or would I spend it on the answer that we all know is going to happen, and get there faster and better than anybody else?” GM President Mark Reuss said in an interview.

Toyota and Ford are continuing their work on hybrids, rather than fully electric vehicles.  Last week, Continental AG , one of the world’s biggest car-parts makers, said it would cut investment in conventional engine parts because of a faster-than-expected fall in demand. Both Ford and Toyota have made hybrids a core party of their future plans for all markets.

Ford announced that they even have plans to add hybrid versions of popular models such as the F-150 pickup truck and the Ford Explorer in an effort to increase fuel economy in the near-term, while developing fully electric vehicles in the long-term. However, many auto companies typically lose money on each electric car they sell due to the high cost of lithium-ion batteries.  Lack of places to plug-in as well as battery range have both bee concerns of buyers considering electric vehicles.  Many analysts have reported that those two factors have made all-electric cars a risky investment and strategy for automakers.