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GM's embattled top lawyer Millikin to retire

Autoblog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 21:00

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General Motors' top lawyer, Michael Millikin, will retire in early 2015, the Detroit automaker announced Friday.

Calling the move a voluntary decision, Millikin, 66, will stay on until a replacement is found. Millikin, whose career at GM has spanned nearly 37 years, has served in a number of roles for the company, largely staying out of the spotlight. That changed dramatically when he was called to testify on Capitol Hill this summer to explain GM's handling of recent ignition-switch recalls, which have cost the company millions of dollars and badly dented its public image. As of October 14, GM had approved 27 payouts for deaths related to the recalls, and Millikin himself has come in for significant criticism for his handling of the recall issue on GM's behalf.

Millikin has been the Detroit automaker's general counsel since 2009 and held a variety of legal and other posts within the company, including serving on the boards of Opel and GM Korea. He joined the company in 1977. GM said it will immediately begin a search for his replacement.

In a statement, GM CEO Mary Barra praised Millikin's long career and noted his work leading the automaker's response after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Mike has had a tremendous career, spanning more than 40 years, with the vast majority of it at GM," Barra said. "He has led global legal teams through incredibly complex transactions, been a trusted and respected confidant to senior management, and even led the company's global business response team following the tragedy of 9/11."

Scroll down to read the official announcement.

Continue reading GM's embattled top lawyer Millikin to retire

GM's embattled top lawyer Millikin to retire originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class Maybach slated for LA debut

Leftlane - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 20:42
New flagship sedan to measure 18 feet long, with plenty of luxury upgrades over S600.

2016 Nissan Maxima spotted for first time

Autoblog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 20:27

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Nissan teased the look of the next-generation Maxima at the 2014 Detroit auto show with the Sport Sedan concept, and it was quite a looker with an aggressive front end and cool floating roof. Now, we're getting out very first glimpse at the production version in some new spy shots. Although, It's plastered with camouflage, underneath you can still see the concept's design inspiration.

Starting from the front, the biggest influence from the concept is the V-shaped grille with smaller inlets on each side and jagged headlights. Running back from there, on one side the Maxima mule has a black A-pillar, which at least suggests that the floating roof is making it to the production model too.

In profile, it's hard to make out, but the hard creases that run down the side of the Sport Sedan appear to be underneath this camouflage, and there's a ton of masking around the rear pillar seemingly to hide the shape. However in the close-up photo, you can get a better view, and it doesn't look quite as sharp and coupe-like as on the concept.

At this point, the back also lacks the concept's angular rear bumper in favor of something more conventional. All the cladding there makes it hard to tell what is hidden underneath, though.

The Sport Sedan concept has a version of Nissan's 3.5-liter V6 with over 300 horsepower and a CVT powering the front wheels. Though, our spies think it's possible the production version could offer a hybrid 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder to give V6-like power, like the Pathfinder Hybrid.

From these early spy shots, it certainly looks like Nissan is trying to bring the major parts of the concept to the road. We can't wait to see the Maxima without so much being hidden. Until then, check out the gallery for a first look.

2016 Nissan Maxima spotted for first time originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Nissan readies $20K Micra Cup racer, but only for Canada [Video]

Leftlane - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 20:11
Cheapest Canadian car gets a safety cage, Nismo suspension, racing seats.

Angry dad smashes son's Mitsubishi with Xbox

Autoblog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 20:01

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It's normal for parents to get frustrated with their kids sometimes. Moms and dads have high hopes for the success of their brood, and when the youngsters let them down, it hurts. That's not an excuse to be destructive, though. Especially not to the point of destroying a Mitsubishi Montero Sport with an Xbox 360 like in this video.

The clip claims to be about a dad upset that his kid doesn't have a job and stays home playing video games. The guy takes his anger out not just on the console but also his son's car. The Mitsubishi definitely takes its fair share of the punishment here even after the Xbox is broken.

If this were real, it would be a pretty horrifying fight to watch. But while we can't be entirely certain, we're almost positive that this argument is completely staged for a number of reasons. The major one is that the same uploader also has videos with millions of total views of the same "Psycho Dad" dropping an Xbox in a pool, running over games with a lawn mower and taking an axe to a laptop. Furthermore, just looking at the clip itself, people don't generally wait for the other person to stop talking when yelling at each other. It also seems a bit suspicious that the kid directly speaks to the audience at one point.

If you're still curious to watch, be warned that there is quite a bit of explicit language in the video.

Continue reading Angry dad smashes son's Mitsubishi with Xbox

Angry dad smashes son's Mitsubishi with Xbox originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ford recalls 53 2015 Mustangs ahead of mass availability

Leftlane - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 19:40
Recall affects only a handful of early-production Mustangs.

Tesla pushes hard against Michigan's anti-direct vehicle sales bills

Autoblog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 19:15

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While Tesla has been fighting against direct-vehicle sales bans in a number of states, the California electric vehicle company doesn't ask for help every time it finds itself in a skirmish. Last year, it did send out some ravens calling for assistance in Ohio. It has done so again to deal with a fast-moving situation in Michigan.

A new bill, House Bill 5606, would not allow a vehicle manufacturer to "directly or indirectly own, operate, or control a new motor vehicle dealer." It would also prevent Tesla from opening one of its we're-not-selling-cars-here 'galleries' in the Mitten State. Local news station WSJM talked to State Representative Aric Nesbitt (who introduced the bill) and he maintains that the bill is not "anti-Tesla at all." It just clarifies other laws, he said, adding that "if Tesla wants to have a real debate on current structure and state statute, I look forward to sitting down and meet[ing] with them, but them spreading lies about my bill, that's not a constructive use of their time."

Lies, eh? Tesla did call the legislation "harmful to consumers" and described the way it says the bill came about in somewhat conspiratorial terms:

On the last day of the legislative session, the dealers managed to make a last-minute change to the bill in an attempt to cement their broader retail monopoly. Using a procedure that prevented legislators and the public at large from knowing what was happening or allowing debate, Senator Joe Hune added new language in an attempt to lock Tesla out of the State. Unsurprisingly, Senator Hune counts the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association as one of his top financial contributors, and his wife's firm lobbies for the dealers.

A number of Michigan auto dealers are big contributors to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who has yet to announce if he will sign the bill. He has until Tuesday to decide. You can read the full text of Tesla's call for help below.

Continue reading Tesla pushes hard against Michigan's anti-direct vehicle sales bills

Tesla pushes hard against Michigan's anti-direct vehicle sales bills originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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GM's top lawyer retires amid recall controversy

Leftlane - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 18:36
Michael Millikin to leave in 2015, following criticism over role in recall fiasco.

Nissan Canada offers box-fresh racecar for $19,998 [w/video]

Autoblog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 18:30

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Nissan is seriously emphasizing its commitment to motorsports with projects like next year's GT-R LM endurance racer at Le Mans and the company's participation with GT Academy. At least in Canada, the automaker is adding another opportunity to get people onto the track with the new Nissan Micra Cup one-make race series. Sure, the Micra might not as quick as a GT-R, but this series offers Canadians a chance to start racing for a reasonable price. Nissan claims the events have "the lowest running cost of any Canadian series," and we can't think of a cheaper turnkey new racecar in all of North America.

The cars are all based on the not-for-US Micra 1.6 S M/T model with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine making 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque and a five-speed manual gearbox. The only real performance upgrades are a Nismo suspension kit, new exhaust, improved brake pads and sticky Pirelli tires. For added safety, the interior is entirely stripped out and is replaced with a full roll cage with a driver protection net, FIA-approved racing seat with five-point harness, fire extinguisher and front and rear tow hooks. The whole, race-ready package will set competitors back $19,998 Canadian dollars before taxes.

The inaugural Micra Cup series begins in May 2015, and the first season is exclusively taking place in Quebec, with the promise of moving to other provinces if it's a success. Each event includes a half hour of practice, a half hour of qualifying and a pair of half-hour races. Nissan is estimating impressive fields of over 25 cars of competitors.

Drivers obviously shouldn't expect to set any track records in these little hatches, but they do look like a ton of fun to pitch around a circuit. Scroll down to see the Micra in action and read the full release.

Continue reading Nissan Canada offers box-fresh racecar for $19,998 [w/video]

Nissan Canada offers box-fresh racecar for $19,998 [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Watch Jimmy Kimmel become an Uber driver for an afternoon

Autoblog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 17:45

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Despite red tape and outright bans in some areas, on-demand taxi services like Uber and Lyft are becoming hugely popular ways to get a ride in bigger cities. So what's it like to drive for one of these services? Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel wanted to find out with a dash of humor thrown in. He became a registered Uber driver and started picking up fares ... at least one, anyway.

Becoming an Uber driver requires owning a new-enough insured vehicle and passing a registration procedure that includes a background check. None of that was too daunting for Kimmel, and he hopped into something suitably innocuous - a Chevrolet Cruze - to try out an afternoon on the job.

We only get to see Kimmel interacting with one person, but his fare seems suitably surprised when he notices the celebrity driver. This isn't a bad idea for a bit, but we wouldn't mind seeing it go to the next level with someone like Jay Leno picking up people in some crazy machine from his garage. Check out the video to watch Kimmel trying out a new job.

Continue reading Watch Jimmy Kimmel become an Uber driver for an afternoon

Watch Jimmy Kimmel become an Uber driver for an afternoon originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Driveclub [w/video]

Autoblog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 16:59

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I've been waiting to play, to really play, this game for a long time. If you're a Playstation 4 user reading Autoblog, short odds say you have, too.

Driveclub is the first splashy, big-budget, heavily promoted racing title for the PS4. It was initially supposed to be a launch title for that system almost exactly one year ago, before a series of delays pushed the debut back until, well, last week. The product of the minds at Evolution Studios (you might recognize the outfit for its MotorStorm and WRC franchises), Driveclub has been touted as the driving/racing game most perfectly crafted to take advantage of the social, always-online nature of this new generation of consoles.

The eponymous "club" is the hook on which the game hangs; a collection of you and five of your tightest gamer homies, winning races, creating and completing challenges, earning money-like Fame points and all wearing the same paintjobs. With all of that wrapped up in what the studio calls an "incredible, authentic and immersive driving experience," and powered by Sony's impressive hardware, expectations for Driveclub have been high to say the least.

So, fresh from a few weeks of non-stop Forza Horizon 2 play - the surprisingly direct competitor for the Xbox One ­- I booted up and got to work. (Yes, guys, this counts as work).

Continue reading Driveclub [w/video]

Driveclub [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Detroit Electric teases UK-built SP:01 electric roadster [Video]

Leftlane - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 16:58
Startup refines branding as the Lotus-based SP:01 approaches production.

Ford Focus RS ready to make our hot hatch dreams real

Autoblog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 16:28

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Ford's current hot hatch siblings the Fiesta ST and Focus ST are already two pretty great entries into the segment, but there's always a desire for a little more. Thankfully, it looks like the Blue Oval is ready to satiate that need because it's continuing to test the even more powerful Focus RS around Europe. According to our spy shooters, these shots come from near the Nürburgring.

As with previous photos, Ford engineers continue to heavily camouflage the front end of the RS prototypes, but there's a big difference here. Unlike earlier ones, this example appears to have a closer-to-production-ready front bumper rather than just a horizontal strip for the license plate. That may point to development getting somewhat closer to wrapping up. Although, this one lacks the larger rear wing from prior testers, and the exhaust also appears to be a work in progress with the rear diffuser covered in mesh in these latest shots.

The RS is rumored to be using the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from the 2015 Mustang, but power is reportedly turned up from 310 horsepower in the 'Stang to somewhere between 325 hp and 350 hp for the Focus. Routing all that just through the front wheels could be a recipe for serious torque steer, and all-wheel drive is potentially being used for better traction.

Unfortunately, no release date is known for the RS yet, but we keep seeing evolution in the test mules. Indications point to it eventually going on sale for the US market, too. Until then, see what you think of these latest spy shots in the gallery.

Ford Focus RS ready to make our hot hatch dreams real originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Land Rover kicks off Discovery Sport production

Leftlane - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 16:11
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is now in production.

Honda accused of not reporting all airbag problems

Autoblog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 16:00

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The Takata airbag recall that has afflicted a number of automakers may have just taken a very bad turn for Honda, which has already recalled over one million vehicles. Clarence Ditlow and the Center for Auto Safety have accused the Japanese manufacturer of failing to report two "injury-and-death" incidents. To determine just what happened, the company has initiated a third-party audit.

According to Bloomberg, CAS claims Honda failed to report fatalities in 2009 and 2013, a point Honda doesn't seem to contest, indicating that it didn't report so-called "verbal claims."

"It is our understanding that some manufacturers choose to include these types of verbal claims, and that these constitute the majority of the injury-and-death claims that they report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration," the company told Bloomberg via email. "We believe this practice accounts for the vast majority of the difference between the total number of injury-and-death claims reported by Honda compared to certain other manufacturers."

The CAS, meanwhile, argues that this failure to report deaths and injuries skews the company's quarterly Early Warning Reports, which are used by NHTSA to find trends that could indicate a potential safety issue.

"The whole purpose is to get to major defects quicker," Ditlow told Bloomberg. "You can't protect the public if a company doesn't turn over EWR reports."

While NHTSA confirmed to Bloomberg that it's in touch with Honda, analysts are raising concerns over the potential damage to the company's reputation.

"The damage to their reputation could be very big," Tokyo-based auto analyst Seiji Sugiura told Bloomberg, adding that the company "should take responsible action, especially in the U.S., because it's their most important market."

Honda accused of not reporting all airbag problems originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Autoblog Podcast #401

Autoblog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 15:45

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Episode #401 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Michael Harley, and Chris Paukert talk about the 2015 Ford F-150, the Ferrari F60 America, and the recently-unveiled Tesla Model S P85D. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!

Autoblog Podcast #401:

In The Autoblog Garage:

2015 Chevrolet Colorado
2015.5 Volvo S60 T5 Drive-E FWD

Hosts: Dan Roth, Michael Harley, Chris Paukert
Runtime: 01:42:09

  • Intro and Garage - 00:00
  • 2015 Ford F-150 - 34:47
  • Ferrari F60 America - 50:46
  • Tesla Model S D Trim - 01:00:34
  • Q&A - 01:14:50
Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly

Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com

Review the show in iTunes

Continue reading Autoblog Podcast #401

Autoblog Podcast #401 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Audi stalling Lamborghini Urus final greenlight?

Leftlane - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 15:20
Audi bosses do not share Lamborghini's enthusiasm, sources claim.

LeBron James to rep Kia K900

Autoblog - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 15:15

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"I was a Kia K900 driver and fan before we decided to become partners, so I'm really excited to be Kia's first-ever luxury ambassador." - LeBron James

LeBron James is taking his talents to Kia.

The 10-time NBA all-star has signed on with the Korean automaker as a spokesman for Kia's first luxury sedan, the 2015 K900. While the move isn't as shocking as his 2010 defection from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat (he re-signed with the Cavs this summer), it has raised eyebrows, as James is a noted car collector who has owned a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and other high-end models.

Still, James said that he was a fan of the K900 before he signed on as a pitchman. Perhaps telegraphing the upcoming deal, he posted a photo of himself in the car in August, saying: "Rolling around in my K900. Love this car!"

Kia said James reach out to the company to sample the K900. "I was a Kia K900 driver and fan before we decided to become partners, so I'm really excited to be Kia's first-ever luxury ambassador," he said in a statement. He added: "For me, a partnership has to be authentic and real to who I am, and that's what makes this one so special."

Kia is a longtime sponsor of the NBA and serves as its "official automotive partner." In 2009, James received a Kia Borrego for earning MVP honors, though he donated it to the Akron (OH) Urban League.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. James, who will officially be called a "luxury brand ambassador," joins fellow NBA star Blake Griffin, tennis player Rafael Nadal and professional golfer Michelle Wie in Kia's lineup of celebrity endorsers. James will appear in TV advertisements, including a spot called Fit For A King, which launches in November as the NBA season tips off.

Kia hopes the partnership with James will raise the profile of the K900. Though it's expected to be a relatively low-volume car, Kia sold just 56 of them in September and has sold 1,106 units this year. As Kia's flagship, the K900 aspires to compete with sedans from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and others. It offers powerful V6 and V8 engines paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, a luxurious cabin with wood and leather features, and design flourishes like LED lights and a prominent chrome grille. It starts at $59,500.

For more, scroll through Kia's press release down below.

Continue reading LeBron James to rep Kia K900

LeBron James to rep Kia K900 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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VW recalls nearly 450,000 vehicles for rear suspension issue

Leftlane - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 14:30
Damaged rear trailing arms can result in sudden suspension failures.