GM has been besieged with issues and recalls on its cars this year with many of the big recalls having to do with faulty ignition switches. GM is now facing a big issue with the airbags it uses to protect people inside some of its cars.
The automaker has reportedly told dealers in the US to stop selling the 2013 and 2014 Chevy Cruze due to a potential defect in the airbag. Airbags in these vehicles could have been assembled with a problematic airbag inflation module that may use an incorrect part in the assembly.
GM doesn't build the airbags used in these cars; they were sourced from a third party. GM and the third party are working together to identify the cars facing the issue and then the Cruze cars can go back on sale after problem cars are fixed. The Cruze is Chevy's second bestselling car right behind the Silverado truck.
The NHTSA has been more prone to launch investigations and examinations of vehicles that are on the roads around the US since the GM ignition switch issue became such a point of controversy. Recently the NHTSA has started what it calls an examination of the 2011-2014 Ford Explorer SUV.
This is specifically called an examination, not an investigation. The NHTSA has received complaints from owners of 2011-2014 Ford Explorer SUVs that claim fumes or strange odors are making their way into the vehicle. These fumes and odors are believed to be coming from the exhaust system of the vehicle.
Harley-Davidson is a popular American motorcycle maker that makes some very big and loud motorcycles that you probably see on the roads every day. The thing that all those motorcycles have in common is loud, thumping V-twin engines under the seat to propel the bike around. Harley-Davidson has unveiled an all-new electric motorcycle that gives up that big a loud gasoline engine for a battery pack.
HD says that the goal of this electric bike is to appeal to younger people who are concerned about the environment. The real question in my mind is will fans of the HD brand buy a motorcycle that lacks the company's trademark sound and style? HD doesn't plan on releasing the electric bike for at least two years.
Tesla was blocked from selling cars directly to consumers in New Jersey a while back. A new bill has now been passed by the New Jersey state assembly that may allow Tesla to resume direct sales in the state. The state Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee approved A3216 this week, which is a bill that would allow zero-emissions cars to be sold directly to the public by automakers.
There would be strings attached in this bill though. Notably the automaker would be limited to only four dealerships in the state. One of the locations would have to have service facilities for repairs as well.
Ford knows that one of the only ways it will be able to reach federal fuel economy numbers in the future is by putting its cars on a diet. Ford has already proven it can do this with the new F-150 losing hundreds of pounds by moving to aluminum body panels. Ford is now showing off an experimental Fusion that uses lightweight materials in an effort to shed weight.
The Fusion uses lots of aluminum and carbon fiber material in its construction. The finished product is a Fusion that looks the same as the current car, but weighs 23% less than normal. Less weight means that smaller engines can be used to achieve the same performance while using less fuel.
Nissan has issued a recall on 211 Leaf EVs that has to do with a defect in a weld. The defect is so severe that in some cases Nissan may end up giving the owner of the recalled Leaf a new vehicle. Nissan says that some structural welds in the front section of the Leaf may not have been made to specifications.
The bad welds could mean that the vehicle has reduced protection in an accident and violates safety standards for "electric shock protection." The defect in the Leafs was discovered in March during a quality inspection conducted at an assembly plant. Nissan says that the issue was due to an isolated process error that has been addressed.
Tesla Motors is one of the most successful EV manufacturers in the world. Tesla CEO Elon musk is working hard to bring the EV to the mainstream with cheaper vehicles that the average driver can afford. The current Model S EV can cost around $100,000 putting it out of the reach of the masses.
One of the things that is needed to bring the cost of EVs down to more reasonable levels is cheaper batteries. Musk says that the EV industry needs at least 200 gigafactories. Musk and Tesla plans to build the first of these gigafactories to help the company build cheaper battery packs for cars.
One of those hallmark toys from the 80's was the Rubik's Cube. This was the cube toy with rotating rows on its surface with different color surfaces. The goal of the toy was to rotate the cubes until you got all sides of the main cube the same color.
In practice, many children of the 80's ended up pulling the colored stickers off to complete the puzzle. The Rubik's Cube is celebrating its 40th birthday. One interesting fact about the Rubik's Cube is that it was never meant to be a toy. It was invented by Erno Rubik, an architect who wanted a working model to help explain three-dimensional geometry.
The bitcoin cryptocurrency is receiving even more attention from financial analysts, as consumers and retailers become comfortable making transactions in the digital currency. Bitcoin volatility has scared some investors away, though there is a growing amount of support from those willing to roll the dice and gamble.
"When I look at the amount of human capital working on this project, there are probably 30,000 independent programmers out there, coding and working on bitcoin and bitcoin derivatives in this open-source community," said Michael Novogratz, Fortress Investment Group Principal, from the SALT Conference.
In addition to the manpower working to support bitcoins and cryptocurrency, even more stores and e-tailers are throwing their support behind bitcoins.
Two senators have tried to get the US DOT to advise owners of Chevrolet cars affected by the ignition switch problem that led to 13 deaths to stop driving their cars until repaired. The DOT sent letters to both senators that said, "such an action is not required at this time."
The problem the senators have is that the ignition switch defect has already been tied to several deaths and it will take GM months to get replacement parts ready to repair these vehicles. Affected vehicles include Chevy Cobalt, Saturn Ion, and other models.