It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for June 7, 2013. Jeep says 'no' to the NHTSA, the 2014 Toyota Corolla is here, GM and Lincoln adopt different philosophies on free maintenance, and glowing Mercedes-Benz logos invade the streets - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. Jeep Defies NHTSA Recall Request
It's always awkward when a federal agency accuses your vehicles of harboring a major safety flaw. It's even less comfortable when they issue a recall based on statistical probability and not a defect with a particular component that has actually been identified. But people squirm the hardest when a car company simply says 'no' to that recall request and leaves the vehicles in question in the hands of owners.
This is currently the case with Jeep, as the brand - and its parent company, Chrysler - have elected not to comply with the NHTSA's request that it recall 2.7 million Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUVs. The NHTSA claims that Jeep Grand Cherokee models built between 1993 and 2004, as well as Jeep Liberty examples produced from 2007 to 2007 have a flaw in their fuel tank placement that puts them at greater risk for fires when involved in a rear end collision. The Administration points to the number of fire deaths that have occurred during the course of the last two decades as proof, but Jeep is holding out until the NHTSA actually proves that there is a specific problem with the design in question. Meanwhile, these vehicles remain on the road.
02. New 2014 Toyota Corolla Breaks Cover
The 2014 Toyota Corolla has been unveiled, and it presents compact sedan buyers with a far more visually interesting shape when compared to the current, and aging, model. The new Toyota Corolla is also much larger than ever before, and in fact dwarfs several of its competitors when it comes to interior space thanks to a wheelbase that as been extended by four inches. The 2014 Toyota Corolla, which goes on sale this coming September, will attempt to reverse a sales slide with a pair of 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine options, a new continuously-variable automatic transmission, and better fuel mileage than the outgoing edition of the car.
03. GM Steps Up With Free Maintenance
After luring in truck buyers with a range of similar promotions in recent months, General Motors has elected to go whole-hog and extend its free maintenance program to almost ever vehicle underneath its corporate umbrella. What this means is that for 2014, buyers and those leasing Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC vehicles will enjoy two years of free oil changes, tire rotations, and inspections (up to 20,000 miles). Cadillac buyers already benefit from a four-year / 50,000 mile free maintenance program.
There are a few exceptions to the maintenance plan, but they are common sense-related: for example, electric vehicles won't require oil changes. The plan is also retroactive and transferable, so anyone who has already purchased a 2014 GM product will start enjoying free maintenance as of now, and can pass on the savings when selling or trading-in their automobile.
04. …And Lincoln Cuts Its Own Free Maintenance Package
In the face of GM's free maintenance initiative (and Cadillac's pre-existing program), it doesn't look good when cross-town rival Lincoln goes in the opposite direction. 2014 Lincoln models will still enjoy free oil changes and the like, but only for two years or 24,000 miles. This is roughly half of the four year / 50,000 mile program that had been available on all Lincoln models in 2013. The move is being positioned as one that dovetails with popular two-year lease terms, and while some dealers are on board, the Automotive News is reporting that others are questioning the wisdom of removing a perk from the Lincoln ownership portfolio.
05. Glowing Mercedes-Benz Grille Logo A Sign Of The Apocalypse?
Apparently, it's no longer enough to increase the size of the Silver Star until it reaches pizza-plate proportions. It would seem that Mercedes-Benz has elected to pursue the nuclear option and make a glowing version of its grille logo available on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the GL-Class, the CLS-Class, and the M-Cass. The Star emblem makes use of LED lighting in order to cut through the darkness, and even better, it can be retrofitted to older models of the CLS-Class and the M-Class. The grille logo glows when you unlock the car, but the aftermarket will certainly waste little time in wiring it up so that it looms ominously in your rearview mirror like a luxury constellation on a deserted highway.