Takata Sort-Of Redesigns Its Potentially Lethal Explosive Airbags

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1st Gear: A Fix Or A Band-Aid From Takata?

Takata’s U.S. Executive Vice President Kevin Kennedy will get grilled at a congressional hearing today to update lawmakers on how they’re handling the massive recall of 34 million cars with their potentially explosive and deadly airbags. Ahead of that, the executive said they will stop producing the driver-side airbag inflators now linked to six deaths and more than 100 injuries.


That’s good! Except for this part, from the New York Times:

Takata, however, said it would not switch away from the use of a chemical compound in its propellant that experts have said can become dangerous if exposed to moisture or swings in temperature.

The company says it considers it “safe and effective for use in airbag inflaters when properly engineered and manufactured,” Robert Rendine, a Takata spokesman, said in an email.

Whatever you say, Takata! It’s not like we don’t have a reason to believe you guys.

2nd Gear: Will Folks Buy A Four-Cylinder Camaro?

For the first time ever, the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro will have a four-cylinder turbo engine with a respectable 275 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque. It’s the first time they’ve gone with half the traditional American muscle car cylinder count since the abysmal Reagan-era Iron Duke engine.


That’s kind of a big risk for General Motors. Know who’s not sure it will sell well? Global product chief and noted car dude Mark Reuss, saying to Automotive News:

For the first time in three decades, the Chevrolet Camaro gets a four-cylinder engine. General Motors officials have no idea how the four-banger will sell.

[...] “We haven’t done this before. We have no history,” Reuss said of Chevrolet offering a turbo four-cylinder in its sporty pony car. He said wildly fluctuating fuel prices did not affect the mix of engines in the outgoing fifth-generation Camaro, available with V-6 and V-8 engines.


I don’t think GM has much to worry about. The Ecoboost Mustang is already proving to be the sales star of Ford’s pony car lineup. There’s no reason to believe that won’t happen to the Camaro too.

3rd Gear: Hyundai Falters In The Home Country

Like seemingly every other automaker in the current U.S. sales boom (except poor Volkswagen) Hyundai’s been having stellar sales months lately. But how are they doing at home in South Korea? According to Bloomberg, not fantastic.


In Seoul trading yesterday they dropped to their lowest levels since 2010 after reports of an 8.2 percent year-over-year sales drop in May.

Imported cars have gained in popularity among Korean customers as they’ve become more affordable, helped by free-trade agreements with the U.S. and the European Union. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota collectively posted a 33 percent gain in deliveries in South Korea in the first quarter, according to data from the local vehicle importers association.


What’s the Korean for “Goddamn furrin’ cars!”?

4th Gear: Jeep and Ram Are Awesome, Again

Sergio Marchionne may have the sadness-feels after his love letter to GM CEO Mary Barra got rebuffed, but he shouldn’t be too despondent — he has Jeep and Ram, which once again drove Fiat Chrysler to a huge U.S. sales gain! It’s their 62nd consecutive month of sales gains. Mamma mia.


But not all is well in the land. From Automotive News:

Sales climbed 32 percent at the Chrysler brand but slid 22 percent at Dodge and 19 percent at Fiat. Dodge volume has been hurt by the discontinuation of the Avenger midsize sedan and brief suspension of Caravan minivan output to retool an assembly plant in Canada.


Dodge volume has been hurt by the discontinuation of the Avenger midsize sedan.

Dodge volume has been hurt by the discontinuation of the Avenger midsize sedan.

Dodge volume has been hurt by the discontinuation of the Avenger midsize sedan.

Once you’ve let that fact sink in, we’ll continue. You good? Okay.

5th Gear: Ford Dials Back Summer Slowdown To Make More Trucks

More trucks! More SUVs! America continues to have cheap-ish gas, so the people’s huge car demands must be met! Keep working, all of you! Do not slow down simply because it is summer! Ford’s on it, reports The Detroit Free Press:

Ford will build an extra 40,000 trucks and utility vehicles by shortening the summer shutdown at six assembly plants and another 12 powertrain and stamping plants this summer.

Top of the list: more F-150 pickups from the Dearborn Truck and Kansas City, Missouri, assembly plants which will have a single week of downtime in July instead of the traditional two weeks.


Reverse: RIP Bruce McLaren, 1937—1970

He died all too young, but he started something that became much bigger than just one man.


Neutral: Yeah or Nah on a Four-Cylinder Camaro?

I don’t see why it won’t sell well. Nobody remembers the Iron Duke anyway. Is there a reason a four-banger turbo Camaro won’t be a hit?


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.

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