The Other Exploding Airbag Problem

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Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: It’s The ARC Problem

Earlier this week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a probe into the U.S. supplier ARC Automotive over two instances of exploding airbags in older Kias and Chryslers. Two injuries have been reported, as the airbags can — much like Takata’s defective airbags — send shrapnel into the cabin when they deploy. From Yahoo:

The NHTSA said it opened the investigation on Monday of ARC airbag inflators installed on 490,000 vehicles: 420,000 model year 2002 Chrysler Town and Country minivans and 70,000 model-year 2004 Kia Optima vehicles.


And now, because Honda can’t catch an airbag break, it may affect their cars too, via Bloomberg:

Honda installed inflators made by ARC Automotive Inc. in an undetermined number of vehicles produced around 2000 to 2001, spokesman Teruhiko Tatebe said in a response to a query. The automaker, which has recalled vehicles globally to fix air bags made by Takata Corp., is checking the number of vehicles with the ARC Automotive products and whether there’s a need to recall them.

“This shows the difficulty of making safe inflators,” said Takeshi Miyao, an analyst at researcher Carnorama in Tokyo. “The authorities and the industry have also become more sensitive about the matter of air bag safety due to the Takata issue.”


Are there any airbags that don’t explode? (Update: And fire shrapnel. You know what I meant.)

2nd Gear: American Luxury Built In America

The all-new Lincoln Continental flagship sedan, set to go on sale in 2016, will be built at Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant alongside the Mustang and Fusion.


That should make the United Auto Workers union happy as they enter into contract negotiations with Ford and the other American automakers, and as they express concern that Ford’s small car production could be headed to Mexico. Via The Detroit News:

Jimmy Settles, vice president of the Ford-UAW Department, said the Flat Rock announcement followed “extensive discussions” between the union and Ford.

“It goes without saying that anytime Ford, or any domestic automaker, commits to American manufacturing, it provides a win for our members, the American middle class, and communities all across this country,” Settles said.


We hope the all-American Continental does great in its primary market, China.

3rd Gear: GM Customers Won’t See Probe Data

General Motors faces a lawsuit in federal court from customers who say their vehicles lost resale value due to the ignition switch crisis. It sounds silly, but settling a similar lawsuit cost Toyota $1.3 billion.


But GM claimed a victory in court as a judge ruled the plaintiffs won’t get access to witnesses interviewed by the government as part of the criminal investigation into the company, reports Bloomberg:

While GM was turning over documents it had given the government, the automaker had refused to turn over subpoenas and other requests made by federal investigators, the customers said. The customers said the information was relevant because the federal probes “involve the same underlying facts that are at issue in this litigation.”

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan on Wednesday denied the customers’ request.

“Plaintiffs do not have a right of access to ongoing government investigations or an entitlement to the work of criminal and regulator investigators,” Furman wrote.


4th Gear: Getrag to Magna

Auto parts supplier Magna successfully secured Getrag, the German maker of transmissions (and other things) for $1.9 billion. Via Reuters:

The move is also part of Aurora, Ontario-based Magna’s plan to win market leadership in certain key vehicle parts. Earlier this year, Magna sold most of its automotive interiors unit to Spain’s Grupo Antolin for $525 million.

“As part of our ongoing product portfolio review, we have identified the expansion of our powertrain business as a strategic priority,” said Magna Chief Executive Don Walker in a statement.


Getrag’s parts end up in Fords, BMWs, Volvos, Renaults and many other cars.

5th Gear: Where’s Elio?

GM’s former truck plant in Shreveport, La. is set to have a new tenant soon — Gulf Coast Spinning, a textile company. There’s a sign outside the plant that says “New Home of Elio Motors,” but inside there’s hardly a sign of the three-wheeler. From The Detroit Free Press:

There’s no current manufacturing happening at the plant. By all outward appearances the facility seemed empty on July 1. There were a few cars in the parking and a lone guard manned the window inside the front entryway.

Elio Motors has yet to start production at the plant more than two-and-half years after it announced its much anticipated three-wheel Elio.

The project was supposed to breathe new life into the former GM plant, which once was a vital hub of manufacturing in Shreveport. Elio’s promise was to bring new jobs — 1,500 of them.


Despite much skepticism, Elio Motors recently secured $19 million in crowdfunding.


Reverse: A Huge Scam When You Think About It

The world’s first parking meter, known as Park-O-Meter No. 1, is installed on the southeast corner of what was then First Street and Robinson Avenue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on this day in 1935.


Neutral: Can The Lincoln Continental Be A Hit In America Too?

Or is that kind of cushy American luxury past its expiration date?

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