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Sun City, California, United States
A total of 20 Ford customers are suing the automaker in a class-action lawsuit for selling vehicles "vulnerable to unintended acceleration." According to Reuters, the suit names 30 models built between 2002 and 2010 with electronic throttle control systems but without a brake override system. Those include the 2004-2012 F-Series pickups and the 2005-2009 Lincoln Town Car. Adam Levitt, a partner with the law firm of Grant & Eisenhofer says the plaintiffs in the case want "to be compensated for their economic losses by having overpaid for cars that contained defects." Levitt contends that the plaintiffs would not have bought their vehicles or paid less for them had they known there was no brake override system in place.
Ford began installing brake override systems in its vehicles beginning in 2010. In response to the lawsuit, Ford has pointed to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that indicated that unintended acceleration is mostly caused by driver error, saying in a statement that, "NHTSA's work is far more scientific and trustworthy than work done by personal injury lawyers and their paid experts."
Belville et al v. Ford Motor Co. will be heard in US District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia.
Pots and kettles, glass houses and stones - that's a little of what we appear to have going on in the European car market. New reports say that that three European automakers have registered their opposition to a loan deal that PSA/Peugeot-Citroën is working on with the French government. Peugeot's finance arm, Banque PSA Finance, is struggling with its debts and has been downgraded by Moody's to its lowest investment-grade classification, one step above junk. This makes it more expensive for a potential buyer to finance a car through Peugeot. The last thing Peugeot needs is more difficulty selling cars in the tough European market, and the situation will only worsen if the bank's credit worthiness takes another hit.
A deal being worked on would have the French government offer €7 billion ($9B U.S.) in bonds to guarantee the bank's loans, which would give the institution some breathing room to manage its debts and lower its interest rates. Outside of that, a group of banks would provide other, non-guaranteed loans to the bank to further help its position. In exchange for state help, though, the government wants seats on Peugeot's board for worker representatives and a government liaison, along with factory and worker guarantees. The Peugeot family would maintain control of the company.
So what we have is government assistance being provided to a car company's finance arm, akin to the way General Motors' GMAC (now Ally Financial) and Chrysler Financial got help in their time of need. What we also have is Ford and Renault, and Germany's State of Lower Saxony, the second-largest shareholder in Volkswagen, voicing their concern about the proposal, because they say it could create an unfair competitive advantage for Peugeot. Everyone in Europe's down market is fighting for every sale, and if Peugeot gets help to keep its auto loan costs down, it figures to help buyers choose Peugeot or Citroën.
We've gotten our grubby little digits on the dealer order guide for the as-yet-unreleased 2014 Ford Fusion thanks to an anonymous tipster, and while there isn't much that's unexpected, there are some meaningful equipment changes to report after the rakish sedan's first year on the market.
Mechanically, the big news is, of course, the recently confirmed availability of the 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder paired with a six-speed automatic. The powertrain replaces the 1.6-liter automatic setup of 2013, though if you want a manual transmission, you'll still get the extra .1-liter of displacement.
On the equipment front, there are newly available rear inflatable seatbelts - as seen previously on the Explorer - along with a new heated steering wheel and cooled seat option on Titanium and Titanium Hybrid models (the latter two options will be late availability).