Home » Here’s The Terrible News Automakers Announced When They Hoped You Weren’t Paying Attention

Here’s The Terrible News Automakers Announced When They Hoped You Weren’t Paying Attention

Cummins Diesel Ram
ADVERTISEMENT

On Thursday, I noted that the Friday before Christmas is usually when companies drop the most unflattering news. Oh boy have they. We’ve got a stocking full of diesel emissions cheats, failed ventures, and stop-sales. Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum! Wait, that’s pirates.

Apologies for the lack of TMD yesterday, but it’s been quite the month at The Autopian, and the final straw was David getting a pretty terrible case of COVID on the days he was supposed to cover for other people traveling. He’s recovering, but we decided it was probably better to take it easy as a staff.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Thanks to everyone this month for pulling together to put out a lot of great stories and thank y’all for reading. We’re going to be back up to full speed in January and have a lot of big plans, plus some big stories the last week of the month (look at one from Jason on Christmas Day).

Anywhere, here are all the people getting coal in their stockings.

Cummins Hit With $1.675 Billion Fine Over Cheat Devices

Cummins Diesel Ram 2500 Hd
Photo: Stellantis

Let’s start with the biggest one. Diesel engine maker Cummins, recently on this site for some cool oil, has agreed to pay an almost $1.7 billion Clean Air Act fine for installing emissions-cheating devices on engines used by Ram for its 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickup trucks. That’s billion with a B.

ADVERTISEMENT

This is the biggest Clean Air Act fine ever. Here’s what Attorney General Merrick Garland had to say about it:

“Today, the Justice Department reached an initial agreement with Cummins Inc. to settle claims that, over the past decade, the company unlawfully altered hundreds of thousands of engines to bypass emissions tests in violation of the Clean Air Act. As part of the agreement, the Justice Department will require Cummins to pay $1.675 billion, the largest civil penalty we have ever secured under the Clean Air Act, and the second largest environmental penalty ever secured.

“The types of devices we allege that Cummins installed in its engines to cheat federal environmental laws have a significant and harmful impact on people’s health and safety. For example, in this case, our preliminary estimates suggest that defeat devices on some Cummins engines have caused them to produce thousands of tons of excess emissions of nitrogen oxides. The cascading effect of those pollutants can, over long-term exposure, lead to breathing issues like asthma and respiratory infections.

The largest environmental policy fine was the approximately $30 billion in fines and other costs related to Volkswagen’s Dieselgate, I believe.

Cummins, for their part, admitted to nothing:

Cummins Inc (NYSE: CMI) has reached an agreement in principle to resolve U.S. regulatory claims regarding its emissions certification and compliance process for certain engines primarily used in pick-up truck applications. The company has cooperated fully with the relevant regulators, already addressed many of the issues involved, and looks forward to obtaining certainty as it concludes this lengthy matter. Cummins conducted an extensive internal review and worked collaboratively with the regulators for more than four years. The company has seen no evidence that anyone acted in bad faith and does not admit wrongdoing.

What’s interesting about both Dieselgate and this Cummins issue is that it’s not clear whether either would have been noticed without the work of non-federal entities. The world learned about Volkswagen’s shenanigans via the work of scientists at West Virginia University and this Cummins settlement is ultimately the result of a California Air Resources Board investigation.

All these companies bear responsibility for their actions, but it’s worth asking how everyone thought they could get away with it for so long (and did).

ADVERTISEMENT

GM Issues A Stop Sale On Chevy Blazer EVs

2024 Chevrolet Blazer Ev
Photo: GM

I’m excited to drive the electric Chevy Blazer EV because it looks like a compelling product and it even won the MotorTrend SUV Of The Year. The rollout, though, has been consistent with other Ultium products, which is to say… not great.

Last week, our pal Kevin Williams got stranded in one at an Electrify America station in rural Virginia. Edmunds got one as a long-term tester and has had 23 problems in just 1,600 miles of driving.

Now the inevitable has happened, per Automotive News:

Chevrolet on Friday issued a stop-sale on the 2024 Blazer EV to fix a software quality problem.

The issue is not safety-related and affects “a limited number” of the electric midsize crossovers, Chevy said, without giving a specific quantity. The stop-sale covers vehicles in transit and on dealership lots.

Chevy said engineers are working on a fix for the software issues, which include sporadic problems with screens inside the vehicle and, rarely, during charging attempts at some public DC fast chargers.

It’s interesting that this isn’t an over-the-air update, but GM has also had issues with those on their EV platforms.

Hyperloop One Is Dead

Hyper Loop Test
Photo: Virgin Hyperloop

Remember that brief period of time when people thought hyperloops would be the future of transportation? That’s probably over, as Hyperloop One (formerly Virgin Hyperloop) is dead and selling off assets according to Bloomberg.

ADVERTISEMENT

I like this wrap-up from The Verge:

During the pandemic, nearly all of the top executives and founders left Hyperloop One, which also shed the Virgin from its name after the company decided to eschew passenger trips in favor of cargo.

Today, no full-scale hyperloops exist anywhere in the world. Musk’s test tunnel in California is gone.

Good times.

Tesla Recalls 120,000+ Cars For Doors That Might Unlock In Crashes

Tesla Model X
Photo: Tesla

Tesla, which has already been getting hit pretty hard on safety-related claims, has just issued another recall, this time for doors that might unlatch in crashes.

Per Reuters:

Tesla said in its filing on Friday with NHTSA that earlier this month it saw a cabin door unlatch after impact on the non-struck side during a routine crash test.

The test vehicle was operating without the lockout functionality, which Tesla discovered was inadvertently excluded from the software updates it began issuing starting in late 2021.

The recall impacted Model S and Model X vehicles and was fixed using an over-the-air update.

ADVERTISEMENT

What I Listened To While Writing This TMD

The kids running around the house playing.

The Big Question

What else did I miss? I might update this post.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
177 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chris D
Chris D
3 months ago

“Chevrolet on Friday issued a stop-sale on the 2024 Blazer EV to fix a software quality problem.
The issue is not safety-related and affects “a limited number” of the electric midsize crossovers, Chevy said, without giving a specific quantity.”

Yup. 100 is a ‘limited’ number, as in 100% of all of GM’s attempt at an electric Blazer.  

DadBod
DadBod
3 months ago

That darn Clean Air Act is such an impediment to industry, just imagine all the job creation Cummins can’t manufacture after that fine.

Fred Fedurch
Fred Fedurch
3 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

Imagine how many job creations they could make if they had just made their vehicles compliant.

I’m a big VAG fan. Owned 8 of their vehicles over the years. I was right there piling on them for their hand in Dieselgate and applauded the fines, even though it severely crippled their future models and advancements.

Eric Smith
Eric Smith
3 months ago

I made the mistake of scrolling through the comments after reading the linked Kevin Williams’ piece on his Blazer EV breakdown at InsideEVs.

THANK YOU ALL FOR NOT BEING LIKE THEM!

Holy shit I’d forgotten what a cesspool of 12-year-old basement-dwelling incel fanbois the other sites’ comment sections are. That mistake hurt me, but also served as a valuable reminder. Truly one of the things that makes this subscription worth every penny is that on top of great writing from an awesome group of folks is the comments here are actually constructive and often educational. Even the worst most argumentative comment collections still are never an endless stream of every logical fallacy ever considered ending with “I know you are but what am I”.

Y’all keep being awesome and merry happy Xmas holiday times to you all. Please enjoy the rest of your year and may next year be better for all of you than this one was.

ProfPlum
ProfPlum
3 months ago
Reply to  Eric Smith

Kevin is a great writer, and I like reading InsideEVs, but I never read the comments there for that very reason.

MDMK
MDMK
3 months ago
Reply to  Eric Smith

EV website comment sections are interesting and filled with affluent EV activists who seemingly all charge their cars at home with solar panels, think PHEVs’ and Hybrids are a waste of batteries, and were once traumatized by gas station and quikie lube visits. There also seems to be an unofficial rule to respond with acronym “FUD” if anyone dares criticize a BEV. At least some of the commenters on sites like Inside EVs and CleanTechnica are a little more realistic about market realities.

My “favorite” is Teslarati’s where commenters fawn all over every morsel of Tesla news, question the humanity of anyone who still drives an ICE, and mock the low intelligence of anyone who dares to own a non-Tesla EV.

Isaac Fortner
Isaac Fortner
3 months ago
Reply to  MDMK

Yeah, I own two EVs, though neither are Teslas as Tesla-stans are insufferable. I’ve always avoided Teslarati and InsideEVs.

I like my EVs, but I’m not so diluted as to think they are the be all and end all of transportation. For me, buying an EV was economic calculus, not feelings.

I made a spreadsheet putting numerical weights for my exact vehicle needs and uses, then fed gas, hybrid, PHEVs, and BEVs into the spreadsheet. The Mach-E GT ended up being the winner, and I haven’t regretted it.

When people ask if they should buy an electric car, I explain my process and let them draw their own conclusions.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
3 months ago

Excuse my ignorance but if I am in an accident I want the doors to unlock so I may exit the firey death vehicle. Is it interesting that the biggest fines are given when the government gets all the money as opposed to the victims?

Eric Smith
Eric Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

We do want them to be able to open, what we don’t want is for them to open on their own during the accident which I think is what is implied by the door “unlatching”. If anyone has a clarification on the recall specifics it would be appreciated

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
3 months ago
Reply to  Eric Smith

I agree the information didn’t disclose this. Very few car doors open without pulling the handle. But several people die due to the inability to escape a fire or underwater accident.

Fred Fedurch
Fred Fedurch
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

The headline was poorly worded. That said, you DO want your doors to unlock in a crash. Last thing you want is to be incapacitated and none of the good samaritans that stopped to help has an emergency glass hammer or seatbelt cutter.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred Fedurch

Agreed also if trapped pushing out the windshield is easier than breaking the windows.

Fred Fedurch
Fred Fedurch
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

That is true, but it’s of little use to you if you’re unconscious or you have incapacitating injuries. You’re relying on untrained people to get you out of the car. Fire isn’t going to wait for someone (who’s likely frantic) to find a suitable rock or object to break your window to pop your lock and open your door.

177
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x