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October 24, 2014
Edmunds.com Pulls Anti-Haggling Ads After Dealer Complaints
According to Automotive News, Edmunds.com has pulled a YouTube ad campaign that spoofed price haggling but that dealers found offensive. “Our digital videos illustrating the ‘Absurdity of Haggling’ missed the mark,” Edmunds President Seth Berkowitz said in a statement today. “Some of our partners were deeply insulted, expressing that our attempt at humor reinforced outdated stereotypes. That was obviously never our intent.” Berkowitz added that the ads, which were posted two days ago, had created a distraction at the company. “We are terminating the videos and getting back to working with our dealer partners to improve the car buying process for car shoppers around the country,” Berkowitz wrote. Edmunds.com’s videos were titled “Haggling is absurd!” They are no longer available on YouTube. In them, a grocery checkout clerk tries to gouge shoppers on items such as bread and squash and haggle with them when they refuse to pay the asking price. Edmunds.com says in the videos that the scenes were taped with four hidden cameras. The scenes ended with the punch line: “You wouldn’t haggle for your groceries, so why do it when buying a car?” Read more here about Edmunds.com’s decision to pull anti-haggling ads after dealer protests.
Study: Handheld Phone Enforcement Doesn't Cut Crashes
High enforcement of bans on hand-held driver phone use bans led to a drop in violations, but no decline in insurance claims for crashes, a study released today said. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at claims after two high-profile federally funded enforcement efforts by local and state police in the Hartford, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y., between April 2010 and April 2011. According to The Detroit News, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration project was aimed at cracking down on hand-held phone use and texting. After high-intensity enforcement, the number of drivers observed holding a hand-held cellphone to their ear fell 57 percent in Hartford and 15 percent in the comparison communities of Bridgeport and Stamford, Conn. In Syracuse, the number of drivers observed engaged in hand-held phone conversations declined 32 percent. At the same time, the practice also decreased in the comparison community of Albany, N.Y., by 40 percent. However, IIHS "didn't find a corresponding reduction in crashes reported to insurers from the program counties relative to the comparison counties, even though the rates of cellphone use and texting decreased in both program cities." For more on the effectiveness of handheld phone bans, click here.
The Michigan-Designed Toyota Camry
The 2015 Toyota Camry, the nation's best-selling car, traces its roots to Toyota's Technical Center outside Ann Arbor, Mich., a facility that continues to grow in importance, according to The Detroit Free Press. The new Camry was substantially restyled and re-engineered by about 400 engineers and designers at the center in York Township. Their role illustrates the growing influence of Ann Arbor-area operations within Japan's No. 1 automaker. "Our engineering team feels like it has ownership of this car," said Monte Kaehr, Camry chief engineer. Body panels, suspension, brakes, and much of the interior were overhauled for the 2015 model year. Kaehr said the new Camry, with an aggressive grille and sharper contours for an athletic stance, represents the role North America is playing in jazzing up Toyota's designs which have often been criticized for being bland. "In the early days at TTC, we would have a Japanese chief engineer, who came here for a period of time and led development of the car, with our local staff," he said. Now, five American chief engineers are charged with vehicle development in York Township. Read more about the Camry’s Michigan roots here.
Audi Recalls 850,000 A4s for Air-Bag Fix
Audi AG, the German luxury car maker, has issued a world-wide recall of 850,000 Audi A4 sedans, urging their owners to bring their cars in to repair a defective air bag, a company spokesman said Thursday. According to The Wall Street Journal, the move makes the Volkswagen AG subsidiary the latest global automaker to launch a recall. Audi said the problem with its air bags isn’t related to the global recall of millions of cars containing defective air bags manufactured by the Japanese company Takata Corp. The problem with Audi’s air bags is related to a software glitch that can prevent the air bag from opening in a collision, the company said. “We are looking into a number of accidents to see if the air bag was involved,” an Audi spokesman said, adding that the Ingolstadt, Germany-based company knows of no injuries or deaths related to the air bag problem. The Audi spokesman said the recall affects the Audi A4 sedans, Avant, and AllRoad versions from 2011 through October 2014. The spokesman said Audi only needs to perform a simple software update to correct the problem. For more on Audi’s own airbag recall, click here.
Takata's Airbag Crisis May Spur Automaker Shift to Autoliv, Daicel
The defect in Takata Corp. airbags opens the supplier to risk of losing business to rivals including Autoliv and Daicel in a crucial portion of the market for the safety devices, reports Automotive News. The market for airbag inflators – the component at the root of deadly defects – is likely to shift away from Takata to suppliers including Autoliv and Daicel, potentially allowing the two suppliers to control more than half the market by 2020 as Takata's share shrinks, said Scott Upham, an analyst who has followed air bags since they were first going into cars a quarter-century ago. Takata is vulnerable despite the difficulties automakers usually face in changing their choice of parts suppliers. Carmakers can swap out the inflators, which account for about 60 percent of the cost of the complete air-bag system, even if they decide to stick with Takata for other parts of the device. Automakers are rushing to recall millions of cars to fix air bags that can inflate with too much force and fling metal at passengers. Honda, Takata's biggest customer, said it's verifying again its selection of the company's air bags over concerns about quality and supply. For more on Takata’s challenges, click here.
Around the Web
2015 Mercedes-Benz S Class Coupe Review [Yahoo! Autos]
BMW Teases New X5 M & X6 M Performance SUVs [MotorAuthority]
2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek Gets More Infotainment, Safety Tech [Autoblog]
Parents: Doing This is Sabotaging Your Teen Drivers [USA Today]