Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place at 9:00 AM every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: A New Process To Certify Guardrails
You might not have known it, but the guardrails that line our highways have to go through a certification process before they can be on the roads. They have to be crash tested to ensure that they will handle a crash in the safest way possible.
But the standards to certify these guardrails are murky. There is a set way to get a brand new model on the roads, but once that is done, there are ways to make tiny updates to the models without the government requiring them to be retested. Not anymore.
In 2012, questions arose regarding the safety of a guardrail made by Trinity Industries, one of the most prominent makers of guardrails. It turns out that they had been making minor changes to one of their models, the ET-Plus, without getting them recertified. They were found to have committed fraud by not telling NHTSA about the changes, which were cost cutting in nature.
So, starting next year, all guardrail makers need to recertify their products even for the most minor of changes. The manufacturers also have to disclose if they have financial interests that are shared with a crash testing lab.
2nd Gear: Europe Is On A Roll
Just a few years ago, the talk of the auto industry was just how dire the conditions were in Europe. Sales were dwindling, brands were in trouble, and the entire market looked like it might be on the brink of collapse.
Europe has now had 20 straight months of growth from the auto industry, with sales up 6.9 percent over a year ago with the industry up 8.2 percent overall for the year.
Of course, this growth is being balanced by the huge decline in Russia due to the weak Ruble.
3rd Gear: No Probe Into Jeep Fires
The probe into 2.7 million Jeeps with issues that have cause at least 60 fires will not be reopened by NHTSA.
Originally, NHTSA had thought about reopening the investigation since a very low percentage of Jeep owners had their cars repaired in the recall.
What they are doing instead is a public hearing this July to address FCA’s behavior in 20 recalls that include this one. So, instead of a probe into one instance, there’s kind of a public witch hunt to determine what happened in a whole bunch of recalls.
4th Gear: Hyundai Might Build Another Factory In India
Hyundai hasn’t really expanded in the last couple of years. That’s all about to change. The Korean automaker has grand plans for a number of new plants, including two plants in China, a Kia plant in Mexico, and a new plant in India which could be for either Hyundai or Kia.
Hyundai is India’s second largest automaker already, so another plant there would only help them grow. But if they decide to make it a Kia plant, it’ll help expand their marketshare across two brands.
In addition to the plant in India, they’re also considering another plant in the USA. That’s a lot of capacity.
5th Gear: GM Ignition Death Toll Reaches 104
In your weekly GM ignition switch update, the fund has now approved 104 deaths (four more than last week) and 191 injuries (seven more than last week).
The fund still has 495 claims to review along with 1,378 claims that need more documentation.
Los Angeles, California, is the first stop on a cross-country road show launched on this day in 2007 by Smart USA to promote the attractions of its “ForTwo” microcar, which it had scheduled for release in the United States in 2008.
What other safety standards does NHTSA need to update?
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