Report: VW nearing $3B settlement with Justice Department over Dieselgate

Volkswagen TDI diesel vehicles owned by Phil Grate and family, Seattle, Washington

Volkswagen TDI diesel vehicles owned by Phil Grate and family, Seattle, Washington

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Volkswagen may be nearing a settlement over its criminal and civil investigations with the U.S. Department of Justice for $3 billion, Reuters reported.

The agreement hasn’t yet been finalized but could be announced as early as next week, according to the report. A spokesman for Volkswagen didn’t immediately comment on the report.

It’s unclear if the settlement would include any jail time for executives or employees, however similar agreements between the Justice Department and automakers such as General Motors and Toyota have avoided jail time. Prosecutors alleged that Volkswagen employees may have concealed evidence from investigators related to the company’s widespread diesel emissions scandal.

In 2015, VW admitted that hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered cars and SUVs exceeded allowable emissions levels by using an illegal “defeat device” to pass tests. The automaker agreed to buy back more than 300,000 cars and pay billions to the EPA for those claims. In addition to a possible settlement, VW also faces a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission that could push the eventual penalties and costs for the emissions scandal well past $17 billion in the U.S. alone.

The settlement with the Justice Department would be one of the largest for an automaker. General Motors settled with the department in 2016 for $900 million over faulty ignition switches that contributed to the deaths of more than 100 people, and Toyota settled with the DOJ for $1.2 billion in 2014 after a probe into unintended acceleration in its cars.

According to the Bloomberg report, VW is aiming to settle with the department before President Barack Obama leaves office.

Separately, Bloomberg reported that the EPA has approved a fix for some affected VW vehicles including 2015 Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Golf Sportwagen, Jetta, Passat, and 2015 Audi A3 models equipped with the EA288 engine. I

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QOTD: Does Faraday Future Deserve The Dogpile?

FF 91 Reveal

Faraday Future, the Chinese-answer-to-Tesla car company whose travails have been worth of three concurrently running soap operas even though they have yet to put a single car anywhere near a showroom, debuted a sorta-concepty-production thing this week. And boy oh boy did the knives come out. But why?

Totally femmed-out Brooklyn hipster Andrew Hawkins whined about FF’s lack of humility, as if the mere act of assembling a uniquely engineered car wasn’t to running a “tech culture” website as landing on the moon is to accidentally shitting on your own feet. Jalopnik called the FF’s presentation “embarrassing” and “interminable”, perhaps forgetting that once upon a time they devoted an entire day to an archival shot of Steve McQueen’s flaccid penis. Even the New York Daily News, which until this moment was primarily notable for featuring the work of Shaun “Talcum X” King, a person who identifies as white or black depending on the opportunities facing him at the moment, called the FF 91 reveal cataclysmic.

You will search long and hard for any comparable venom unleashed by the press on any other automobile manufacturer doing business in the United States, particularly if the manufacturer in question is able to put people up in a five-star hotel for a lifestyle press event. TTAC’s former Editor-in-Chief Ed Niedermeyer, a fellow with whom I have had no small number of disagreements over the years, calls this a prime example of The Wobble. I think he might be right. I also think that the minute Faraday Future starts sending people to Tenerife for three-day press events, all of this negativity will blow away like so many dandelion seeds before a hurricane wind.

But I could be wrong. This could all be very principled criticism. What say you, B&B? Should Faraday Future be lampooned? Encouraged? Held to a higher standard? Pushed back into the Pacific by main force of arms?

Does it even matter?

[Image: © 2017 Seth Parks/The Truth About Cars]

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2018 Subaru WRX and WRX STI, Faraday Future FF 91, 2020 Audi Q8: The Week In Reverse

Subaru announced the 2018 WRX and WRX STI; Faraday Future unveiled the FF 91; and we spotted the 2020 Audi Q8. It’s the Week in Reverse, right here at Motor Authority.

The Ram 1500 in Rebel trim is without a question pretty terrific. The main issue? If you aren’t a fan of red, the interior was a bit too much. However, that changes now with the newly announced Black model. As you guessed it, it’s all blacked out.

Looking like a cross between a Ferrari [NYSE:RACE] LaFerrari and a 488 GTB, this mystery supercar hails from Maranello, is powered by a naturally-aspirated V-12 engine, and has hood pins on its engine cover. What is it? Your guess is as good as ours.

Faraday Future finally took the wraps off its first production car, dubbed the FF 91. Specs include a 1,050-horsepower output, all-wheel drive, a 0-60 mph time of 2.39 seconds, and a range of 378 miles. Production supposedly will begin next year.

Just before making its debut in concept form at the 2017 Detroit auto show, we’ve spotted the production version of Audi’s Q8 undergoing cold weather testing. Due to hit the market in 2019, the Q8 is similar in size to the Q7, which it will share much of its running gear with, but features a more coupe-like profile.

While Subaru is in the midst of launching a redesigned Impreza, the hot versions of that car will have to wait a while for the platform and interior upgrades. Instead, the existing WRX and WRX STI receive mild refreshes with some styling tweaks, interior updates, and performance enhancements for 2018.

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So, the CVT Honda Civic Type R Isn’t Happening

New Civic Type R Prototype breaks cover in Paris

It was all very exciting. The world of continuously variable transmissions was poised to grant entry to a new star — the snarling, winged and not-yet-born Honda Civic Type R.

Hot hatch aficionados who loathe the three-pedal life rejoiced, while most others recoiled. Well, rest easy, stick fans. Thanks to some very confusing wording in a report originating from England — where the Type R is taking shape — the wrong information got across.

No, there won’t be a CVT in the upcoming Type R. 

When the model bows, expect a sole transmission offering — a six-speed manual. All’s right with the with the world, you’re thinking, unless of course you were holding out for a dual-clutch gearbox. No luck on that front, sorry.

Representatives from Honda have confirmed that the Type R, expected to appear at the Geneva Motor Show, will contain no automated transmission choice. If you’re looking for a hotter Honda with a CVT, cross your fingers and hope that the upcoming Civic Si — which goes on sale this spring — carries the option. That model makes do with a ballsier version of Honda’s 1.5-liter turbo.

While horsepower figures for both the Si and Type R haven’t been released, the rumor mill claims around 220 hp for the lesser Civic and up to 340 hp in the Type R.

[Image: Honda]

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Crossover sense and sensibility | 2017 Toyota Highlander Quick Spin

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Because not everybody cares about the lateral acceleration figures of their midsize crossover.

Continue reading Crossover sense and sensibility | 2017 Toyota Highlander Quick Spin

Crossover sense and sensibility | 2017 Toyota Highlander Quick Spin originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 06 Jan 2017 12:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Who Killed The Camry?

2015-2017 Toyota Camry SE silver

Blame the Rebels.

Nissan’s Rogue was the best-selling vehicle without a pickup bed in December of 2016, largely thanks to a massive advertising campaign that tied into one of the two recent Star Wars movies where only teenaged girls can be trusted to save the universe. Behind it, you had the usual suspects: CR-V, RAV4, Camry, Accord, Civic, Corolla. But even that state of affairs is a major change from business-as-usual a decade or two ago.

You can learn a lot about American society by looking at the best-selling car in any given year. So if we discount the Rogue’s Yavin IV-style moonshot performance, what’s changed about us since, say, 1967 — and what’s stayed the same? More importantly, who killed the Camry?

Once upon a time, the best-selling car in the America was the Ford Model T. This makes perfect sense, because the Model T was an utterly perfect device for putting a country on wheels for the first time. Simple, easy to operate, and hugely capable, the T was everybody’s first car well into the postwar period.

After that, the best-selling car in America was generally the full-sized “standard” Chevrolet. In 1965, it moved over a million units, making it nearly twice as popular as the overnight-sensation Mustang. It wasn’t until the Seventies that the Cutlass Supreme made a play for the top slot, mostly on the strength of the hugely popular coupe variant. The Chevy Citation and the Ford Escort were best-sellers after that.

By 1990, however, the holy trinity of Taurus, Accord, and Camry were in charge of affairs. The Camry eventually took the top spot and held it, on and off, for 20 years, easily fighting off a production-constrained Accord and a, um, demand-constrained Taurus. Wildly popular expansions to the lineup, like the hybrid model and the SE/XSE, should have ensured the Camry’s hegemony among actual passenger cars well into the supposedly inevitable electric-car transition phase.

Instead, the catfish-faced juggernaut finds itself scrapping with CUVs and subcompacts for a top-five slot. What’s going on? There are a few different theories that might apply.

Let’s call the first theory Lowered Expectations/Bigger Subcompacts. In this theory, Americans are short on money and optimism, so they’re making the move from the Camry to the Corolla. (The same holds true for the Accord, which is beaten in the sales charts by the Civic as often as it is not.) Surely this was why the Ford Escort took the top spot 35 years ago; a country drunk on long-hood expressions of personal-luxury power woke up the morning after the party and found a note from the President telling them to wear a sweater in the winter and choose a fuel-efficient car.

The relatively painless process of downsizing to the not-so-subcompact class has only been helping matters; a modern Corolla is really as big as an old Camry, and the new Civic is positively gargantuan. So this could be the winning theory, right off the bat.

The next explanation? How about Boomers Riding High. The Camry and Accord have long been mainstays of the Woodstock generation, but getting behind the wheel of one becomes much more difficult when you’ve got an artificial knee or a bad hip. Enter the CR-V and RAV4, which aren’t nearly as good at doing actual car things but offer the same kind of easy entry and exit the Boomers all remember from the Summer of Love. Certainly the sales leadership of what were once very niche vehicles (the RAV4 was originally marketed to ‘action sports’ types) offers support to this idea.

Last but maybe not least, we’ve got The American Snowflake. Deep inside, all of us know that we are very special people who deserve unique, curated experiences. Midsized sedans just don’t offer those curated experiences, do they? They’re the cars of our parents and our grandparents, people who were busy doing stupid, racist stuff like making America the leading economic power in the world and/or protecting it from the now-discredited Communist menace. We are too good to drive a Camry. The only way we can demonstrate our specialness is to drive something completely unique and amazing like a Prius or a RAV4, neither of which could ever be confused for regular, boring, transportation appliances like a Camry. Our active lifestyles demand ground clearance. Kaden’s soccer field has — you won’t believe it, Rechell! — unpaved parking.

Those are the theories. Which is correct? Maybe it’s all of them. But I yearn for a world where none of them would have any power whatsoever. I think about what Americans were expressing when they made the mighty V8-powered Cutlass Supreme (yes, I know not all of them were V8-powered) the nation’s leading car. I thrill to think of a country that would make a two-ton four-seater its favorite whip. We had style back then. But in a world where the automobile is increasingly seen as a problem to be solved, rather than an escape to freedom, who wants style? When our heroes are teenaged girls, why wouldn’t we be satisfied with a nice, safe, mommy’s-basement car like the RAV4?

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Honda unveils NeuV and Riding Assist concepts at 2017 CES

Honda’s theme of its 2017 Consumer Electronics Show presence is something it calls the Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem, where via artificial intelligence, robotics and big data the various aspects of one’s life are combined in order to foster safer, more productive use of time.

For example, Honda predicts a future where self-driving cars will communicate with each other and infrastructure to mitigate traffic congestion and eliminate traffic fatalities, while increasing the productivity of road users and delivering new types of in-vehicle entertainment experiences.

Honda, like a few other automakers, even predicts that cars of the future, via self-driving technology, will be able to run around town providing rides, generating income for their owners. According to the automaker, privately-owned vehicles typically sit idle 96 percent of the time, so there’s a huge potential here.

This future was previewed at CES in the form of the NeuV concept, a self-driving two-seat commuter car for urban environments. Power comes from an electric drive system and there is also a new type of interface called the Emotion Engine. Honda says this interface uses artificial intelligence to enable new ways for people to interact with cars.

The Emotion Engine learns from the driver by detecting the emotions behind the driver’s judgments and then, based on the driver’s past decisions, makes new choices and recommendations. The system can check on the driver’s emotional well-being, make music recommendations based on mood, and support the owner’s daily driving routine.

Joining the NeuV concept on Honda’s stand at CES is the Riding Assist concept. The motorcycle leverages Honda’s robotics technology and features a self-balancing system that’s said to greatly reduce the possibility of falling over while the motorcycle is at rest or traveling at low speeds.

Rather than relying on gyroscopes, which can be heavy and alter the riding experience, Honda’s Riding Assist concept uses technology originally developed for the company’s ASIMO robot, where balance is achieved from shifting weight. The front fork also automatically adjusts from a standard geometry position to one more aggressively angled, like on a cruiser, to further aid balance.

For more CES coverage, head to our dedicated hub.

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Update: Honda confirms manual-only Civic Type R

Update: In response to a report that the upcoming Civic Type R will be available with a CVT, Honda has confirmed that the car will be offered exclusively with a 6-speed manual transmission. The confirmation ends speculation that either a CVT or dual-clutch transmission, which has also been rumored, will be on the car’s options list.

Honda will finally unleash its Civic Type R in the United States later this year.

The car is due midway through the year and according to a new report will come with an available CVT instead of a dual-clutch transmission. The standard transmission will be a 6-speed manual.

The report comes from the November issue of CAR (via CivicX) and has been compiled with information provided by senior Honda staff Mirsuru Kariya, Daisuke Tsutamori and Katsushi Inoue. Kariya and Tsutamori are the head engineer and head designer for the Civic line, respectively, while Inoue is the head of Honda in Europe.

The news is a bit on the disappointing side, since we’re yet to come across a CVT we’d like in a performance setting. That said, in a car like the Civic Type R, we’d always go with the manual, even over a dual-clutch transmission.

The report also reiterates a few things we already knew about the upcoming Civic Type R. It will feature front-wheel drive with a limited-slip differential for the front axle. It will also have a lower center of gravity compared to the standard Civic Hatchback on which it is based.  

There was no mention of the powertrain, though this will most likely be a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 delivering more than 300 horsepower. The outgoing Civic Type R sold overseas offers up 306 hp.

So far all we’ve been treated to are prototype versions of the car. The production model is expected to make its debut at the 2017 Geneva auto show, which starts March 7.

Stay tuned for an update.

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Bark’s Bites: If You Won’t Buy A Cadillac, Maybe You’ll Borrow One?

PH-818009996 Cadillac Escala GM

Oh, Cadillac. Sometimes I feel bad for you, what with your rebadged Impalas, your ATS wasting away on dealer lots for $15,000 under sticker, your XT5 badges that look exactly like XTS badges — it’s enough to make a man pity you.

But then you go and do stupid shit like starting a “Luxury Subscription Service,” and I lose any sympathy I have managed to scrape together. Yes, Cadillac thinks that renting you a car (that nobody wants to buy) for $1,500 a month is a great idea, and it has all the early signs of being something that Cadillac has excelled at recently — being a complete and total failure.

In order to get some sycophantic press for their service, Cadillac enlisted those willing idiots known as “autowriters” to be beta testers for the program. Josh Rubin at Cool Hunting gave a brilliant review of the program, right above his photo gallery of Lululemon’s Men’s fashion (I am not fucking kidding you). Let’s see what Josh had to say:

“Today, BOOK by Cadillac goes live in the NYC metro area with a $1500 monthly service that removes the hassle from car ownership, with added benefits like being able to swap between the brand’s different models (all are the latest models with top level appointments) based on your specific need or whim and having the car delivered when and where you desire, and additional benefits like a concierge to help take care of other things.”

So you get both added benefits and additional benefits? Damn, bro. No wonder it costs $1,500 a month.

“The intent is to allow you to enjoy life’s experiences by eliminating the hassle, cost and inconvenience of owning a car.”

Owning a car? Ermahgerrd, amirite? That’s just, like, so flyover state. Let’s not trigger poor Josh by asking him if he knows anybody who owns a pickup truck.

“The program unveiled today maintains the key points of the pilot we participated in, but with some basic refinements that resulted from insights our twenty-some-odd cohorts offered during the regular feedback sessions we joined.”

ralph

Look, guys! I’m so important that they used my feedback to improve a program I couldn’t possibly afford!

“Our pattern was to have a regular car and then swap for special occasions, however other program participants swapped more frequently without playing favorite to one model over another. It’s that seamlessness, combined with the fact that every car we drove felt brand new, that differentiates BOOK from other car sharing services.”

It was so seamless, in fact, that Josh used the word “seamless” three times in his review of the service. Hmm, I wonder where he got the idea to use that particular word. Seamless. Seamless. Seamless. Oh, no, I’ve accidentally summoned…

“To better understand the nuances of what BOOK by Cadillac means for the brand’s business, we sat down with Melody Lee, Director of Global Marketing.”

Okay, Melody, hit us with your millennial-speak. Go!

“BOOK provides all the joy of ownership, but with the flexibility, simplicity and ease of sharing — and it does this through a seamless experience that’s tailored to our members and their needs.”

I knew it! Damn you, Melody Lee, and your seamless speaking!

“The initial New York pilot gave us innumerable insights into the preferences, behaviors and responses of today’s luxury consumer. The insights were incredibly valuable when applied for the next phase of BOOK, whether it was related to operations, marketing or customer experience. The biggest takeaway was that BOOK is not about the car; it’s about what the car can create in possibility for our customers.”

Well, duh. Of course it’s not about the car, because your cars are widely perceived to be trash. Just think of all the car I could actually own for $1,500 a month, which would allow me to buy a $65,000 car over sixty months and insure it to the gills. Here’s a list of just some of the cars I find more desirable than any Cadillac, in alphabetical order:

  • Acura MDX
  • Alfa Romeo 4C
  • Audi A6
  • Audi S5
  • Audi Q7
  • BMW M2
  • BMW M3
  • BMW X5
  • Chevrolet Corvette
  • Dodge Challenger/Charger SRT8 (or maybe even HELLCAT)
  • Ford Shelby GT350
  • Ford Focus RS
  • Genesis G80
  • Infiniti Q60
  • Jaguar F-PACE
  • Jaguar F-Type
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Land Rover Range Rover Sport
  • Lexus RC F
  • Lincoln Continental
  • Mercedes-Benz E Class
  • Mercedes-Benz C Class
  • Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman
  • Volvo XC90

For fuck’s sake, Cadillac. Will you just stop it? Stop being gimmicky and hip and trendy and so 2000 and late and just make decent cars. You can’t convince New Yorkers to like your cars. In fact, New Yorkers hate your cars. The only Cadillacs being driven in Manhattan are Escalades driven by limo services. Nobody wants to be mistaken for a livery driver.

I look forward to hearing great things about the launch of this product…and then never hearing about it again, until it is quickly and quietly discontinued.

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2017 Bentley Continental Supersports, Mercedes-AMG hypercar, Trumpchi GS7: Today’s Car News

Bentley has unveiled the fastest, most powerful model it’s ever produced. The car is the 2017 Continental Supersports, and it’s good for 209 mph thanks to a 700-horsepower output.

A new photo of Mercedes-AMG’s upcoming hypercar has surfaced. The shot was shown briefly during the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show and reveals the car from the rear.

State-owned Chinese automaker GAC is keen to get a foothold in the new car market here in the United States. It hopes to start selling cars here in 2018, one of which could be the Trumpchi GS7 due to be unveiled next week at the 2017 Detroit auto show.

You’ll find these stories and more in today’s car news, right here at Motor Authority.

Bentley Continental Supersports returns with 700 hp, 209 mph top speed

New photo of Mercedes-AMG hypercar surfaces

China’s GAC returning to Detroit auto show with 3 new cars

The best-looking cars of 2016 (that weren’t sports cars)

Second teaser for ‘Cars 3’ reveals movie’s villain

Next Nissan Leaf: ProPilot self-driving included, 200-mile range or more confirmed

2018 Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolet to make US debut in Detroit

Tesla Gigafactory is open for business

Cadillac brings subscription vehicle service BOOK to New York

Indiana too slaps electric cars with $150 fee for not using gas

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