Everything You Need to Know About the Ford Tranny Defect

Thankfully, this Ford tranny defect happened several decades ago, so it’s nothing we should be worrying about today. But given the recent scandal going on with Volkswagen, it’s always a good idea to look back on history and see some notes regarding the automotive industry. Perhaps it may keep us on the right footing when things go wrong, as we’re sure VW’s looking carefully into their future for the market.

Let’s Move on From the Pinto and Go to This Horrible Debacle of a Ford Tranny Defect!

Ford just doesn’t get much luck, does he? Recalls seem to be the common deal for such an Ford tranny defect-1automaker, and even while the Ford Pinto was nothing but a disaster, it turned out that Ford faced another catastrophe in a recall back in 1980 once the NHTSA discovered Ford’s automatic transmissions between 1966 and 1980 were defective — as in the Ford tranny defects would cause the cars to go in reverse. Yes, go ahead and let your jaws drop. Everyone’s nightmare behind the wheel.

Sadly, this was another case where Ford simply neglected to deal with the issue since 1972, knowing that there was this apparent Ford tranny defect. Shame on you, Ford. The company even rejected an improvement to the design that would cost them an easy three pennies per vehicle and opted to just simply pay off victims and families a hefty $20MM sum for their troubles.

At the time, it seemed more convenient to do just that. But in hindsight…. Really, what was Ford thinking?

Of Course, This Ford Tranny Defect Fiasco Didn’t End With Such a Settlement

It turned out that the Ford tranny defect actually caused well over 700 accidents, over 250 injuries and over 20 accident-related deaths. The NHTSA couldn’t just sit there — they were going to declare an apocalyptic 23MM-car recall, which would’ve likely sent Ford to the grave, but who came to the automaker’s rescue? None other than President Reagan who issued out a compromise as Ford pleaded poverty in the worst way.

What was the solution? Ford ended up issuing out 23MM stickers to all Ford owners, reading “make sure the gear selector lever is fully engaged in park” and to also “fully engage the parking brake” before turning off the car. Smart. And that was apparently enough to dodge the disastrous recall that would’ve been heard globally.

Ford got super-lucky.

Everything You Need to Know About the Audi Scandal

Sorry to say, but this Audi scandal’s long gone as a memory of the ’80s, although the fact is this — this scandal wasn’t even really a scandal, per se, but Audi certainly did take some massive heat for it. Want to know what it was about?

The Audi Scandal of the ’80s: When Cars Drove Wild

We’re of course talking about acceleration, something those Audi vehicles had some trouble with, apparently. Audi very nearly had to exit the American market of the auto industry as a result, much like how Volkswagen might have to regarding their emissions test scandal. Audi scandal-2However, the scandal was only due to a sucker punch of an exposé when CBS’s “60 Minutes” interviewed Audi owners claiming that their cars would accelerate without drivers putting any pressure on the gas.

Scary thought. Makes one think about those haunted Stephen King cars (“Christine” or “Maximum Overdrive,” anyone?).

Talk about an apparent scam, though, setting off such a panic after Audi went ahead and sold more than 75K cars in the U.S. and facing sales trickle of a measly 12K cars in 1991. But here’s the kicker: the video proved to be a scam all itself as viewers weren’t even told that the Audi car was modified with an air compressor forcing the vehicle into gear so that it would look like it was accelerating uncontrollably. Sneaky.

Still the Damage Was Done Thanks to This Audi Scandal

And it took the automaker nearly 20 years to recover from this obvious Audi scandal, through no fault of their own, though. Even when Audi ran some pretty snotty ads quizzing potential buyers about their cars that “if you can pass this test…. You’re ready for an Audi,” making it seem like buyers wouldn’t know where the gas pedal was, Audi still survived.

And it turned out Audi was absolutely right — tests proved that people would confuse the gas and brake pedals, vindicating the automaker as a continuing competitor in the automotive market. I guess that’s a precursor to the hanging “chad” of Florida voters when Gore ran against Bush? Hmm….

Everything You Need to Know About the Ford-Firestone Fiasco

Thankfully, this bitter problem has been long gone in the annuls of scandalous automotive history, but Ford to this day probably still does remember the issue back then regarding those Firestone tires. What was the deal with the Ford-Firestone disaster? Check it out….

The Ford-Firestone Problem Was All About the New Explorer

It was the ’90s, an age when SUVs ruled the landscape like the thunder lizards. Who knew that this T. Rex of a scandal would rock the nation in 2000 when Ford partnered with Firestone to herald in the new era with the Explorer, replacing the dangerous Bronco II, an SUV prone to Ford-Firestone-1rollovers. Not something you’d want to experience.

Ford-Firestone thought they had it right. And for a while there, they did. The Ford Explorer sold like hotcakes until it turned out the NHTSA sought to investigate occurrences of blowouts leading to rollovers. So what did Ford do?

Ford blamed Firestone.

What did Firestone do? They blamed Ford! You can see the issue ensuing and a battle between dinosaurs of this automotive industry shock the world.

The issue had to be addressed given the fact that there had been 100 deaths worldwide due to rollovers, so someone had to be held accountable. Ford-Firestone was on the brink of implosion as the tire company recalled 6.5MM tires while pointing the finger and saying that the heat, low tire pressure and the Ford Explorer’s weight were all the causes of those accidents. Of course, Ford Motor Company struck back, sticking to their opinion — they said those Firestone tires sucked.

Like All Battles, It Ended ‘Amicably’

Of course, executives for Ford-Firestone collectively battled each other in court, trying to come up with some consensus on who was at fault, but in the end, it just turned out that Ford-Firestone was no more back in 2002. Parting ways, it just seemed the right decision given the millions of dollars paid out for lawsuits. The issue just no longer mattered!

What’s funny is this — neither company to this day has admitted full responsibility for the rollover issue.

Everything You Need to Know About the Toyota Scandal

When looking at auto scandals, such as the one Volkswagen’s facing right now, you have to wonder just what could possibly be the worst — is it the tires like with Firestone and Ford? Or perhaps it’s all about the cutthroat marketing with GM and Chrysler? No. It has to be something that could very well jeopardize human life. Acceleration. And we saw something like that before regarding Audi (although that automaker was indeed vindicated).

This Toyota Scandal Is Exactly About That: Acceleration

To be clear, that’s unintended acceleration. When your car seems to be gaining in speed and you don’t even have your foot on the pedal, there’s a problem! And it turned out that only Toyota scandal-1just three years ago, Toyota had agreed to pay the government an astonishing $1.2B, avoiding prosecution in the automotive industry for years of proof showing unintended acceleration occurrences with your Toyota and Lexus models.

This payout happened to be the largest criminal penalty ever. And with no surprise, the Toyota scandal did result in the carmaker blaming the issue on everything but the kitchen sink —

  • Driver Errors
  • Floor Mats
  • Lack of Proof

Sadly, it turned out that the Toyota scandal had been blanketed by the fact that the company was effectively hiding documents about the one central flaw — the gas pedal assembly! Executives of Toyota had to take one good look at their hands and realize that the skin’s smeared with the stains of many facing the flaw and potentially realizing death due to accidents that could be prevented.

It’s a Miracle Toyota Still Manufactures Vehicles Today

That’s tenacity and professionalism, something Volkswagen can take notes on regarding the Toyota scandal of that decade. Toyota admitted fault, recalling 9.3MM vehicles worldwide. Replacing those gas pedal assemblies took a lot of money, but in the long run it was well worth it for the automaker. And the truth shall set you free.

Everything You Need to Know About Those Takata Airbags

There’s a reason why we don’t see problem with airbags these days — it seems like the auto industry would learn their lessons and know that automotive safety is paramount. That’s why we have this Takata airbags scandal to learn from:

What Exactly Went on With Those Takata Airbags?

The Japanese automotive supplier knew all about airbags for years, actually. But something got missed in a memo saying that the Takata airbags between 2000 and 2008 weren’t doingtakata airbags-1 the job they were supposed to do, risking the lives of many drivers. And this was a big deal precisely due to this fact: Takata airbags were installed in vehicles for ten of the globe’s greatest automakers!

That’s about 17MM vehicles, for those wanting turnkey mathematics. Talk about a big Takata airbags scandal resulting in arguably one of the heftiest recalls known to the automotive industry. We can guess that Volkswagen can relate regarding their emissions scandal….

The problem with those Takata airbags was the fact that they were apparently affected by moisture, also deploying with excessive force. This could cause fatal injuries when the Takata airbags were meant to provide safety. The New York Times, of course, exposed the issue, alleging that Honda and Takata knew about that fatal flaw, which resulted in the government fining Honda a pretty wicked $70MM. What’s sad about that is this: Honda wasn’t even responsible!

It was Takata, facing fines of $14K for each day they didn’t cooperate with the federal investigation.

But Here’s the Scariest Thing About This Scandal….

Because of how expansive this worldwide scandal is regarding the Takata airbags, it turns out that there still may be as many as 30MM vehicles out there with those exact same airbags. You better be careful; you might be driving a death trap. Pretty frightening, don’t you think?

Everything You Need to Know About the GM Ignition Scandal

Karma kills in the auto industry, people — it’s been seen a million times, and when you consider nearly a century ago GM got vicious with a scandal sending the monumental Chrysler Airflow to its grave, turnabout’s fair play as this GM ignition scandal could potentially make Volkswagen quiver in its boots over the current emissions scandal the German automaker’s facing. What happened to GM almost a decade ago? Very simply put, General Motors wasn’t careful, and the GM ignition scandal hit them hard.

The Gist of the GM Ignition Scandal

It was back in 2007 when Chevrolet ended up having to recall 98K vehicles for failing to meet federal safety standards. Nothing too serious, though. It’s when you get to the millions when the auto industry essentially says you’re screwed, and GM was far from that.Gm ignition scandal-1

However, in 2010, a faulty power steering system caused the recall of 1.3MM vehicles. Without a doubt, GM was feeling the heat. Their recall numbers hit well above the million range, but would you believe that even that wasn’t enough poison? Try this:

The Chevy Cobalt could’ve easily buried the company if it wasn’t for some coughing up the costs and potentially contributing to the bankruptcy of one of America’s most prolific automakers. The Chevy Cobalt was infamous for the GM ignition scandal due to a faulty ignition switch. How important is this switch? Well, it only ensures that the car stays on. If something’s wrong with that switch, your car could easily just shut down while driving, deactivating your safety systems like the airbag and anti-lock brakes. You can see where we’re going with this….

Of course, like with all other scandals, the automaker knew about this GM ignition scandal way back in 2004, surmising that the cost completely outweighed the effort to remedy it. Big mistake. Although in 2006, GM finally decided to eat their own words and fix the situation resulting in 13 deaths, issuing out a 2.6MM recall of the Cobalt as well as the Pontiac G5.

Sadly, GM also faced a $10BB civil suit, a lawsuit they were able to ‘dodge’ to some degree due to the fact that the “old” bankrupt GM before the corporation restructured should be held responsible. Smart tactic.

Still, It’ll Be a Long Road for General Motors

Old GM or new doesn’t matter. History says a lot about lost money, lives and defective auto parts. Perhaps they should’ve been a little nicer to the Chrysler Airflow all those years back!

Everything You Need to Know About the Tucker

What is the Tucker? Oh, only one of the hidden gems of the automotive industry, surprisingly eclipsed equally by its subsequent failure. You can’t blame the man, though, behind the myth and the machine, Mr. Preston Tucker, for his drive and desire to put his own footprint and skidmark in the auto market with tenacity and fervor. If only he had thought things through just a bit more, he might’ve had a real goldmine there….

The Tragedy That Was the Tucker

Enter: the “honeymoon stage” of a birth of a new innovation in the auto industry, as the Tucker was launched back in 1948 to the imagination of the public of a new era. Think bold. Tucker-1Think streamlined and styled to herald a new future in the commute of a brave American empire like General Motors. Preston Tucker really did have something in his dream, honestly, given how successful he was as a designed of a gun turret for the United States Navy.

With the advanced safety features and a charismatic fundraising campaign, Tucker took his, well, Tucker and did a bit of a grassroots initiative, traveling in his car, selling stock and dealership franchises to make that name for himself. He even took down payments on cars to put into production. Ambitious. But risky.

It was risky given the fact that Tucker’s company really started with no capital at all — something any normal businessman would’ve even think of doing, no matter how successful the idea might be predicted to be. So you can’t blame Mr. Tucker for doing his best to at least keep the lights on for his auto factory by selling options and accessories to customers who had purchased vehicles that weren’t even built, yet!

You can see the big ending here: delays in production occurred. Pretty much par for the course. But because customers got antsy, the government got involved and indicted Tucker and his board of directors for fraud, effectively shutting his company down. You honestly can’t sell cars to people that haven’t been manufactured, yet! How’s that for an auto scandal, Volkswagen?

The Tucker: an Inherent Tragedy, But Not Because of the Car Itself

There’s no doubt that the Tucker would’ve been a tremendous standard in the auto industry. But after just 51 of those Tuckers built and the factory closing shortly after, it’s a sad fact that you may never see a Tucker even sitting in a garage today. You might see it in a museum, though.

Everything You Need to Know About Travis Kalanick

When it comes to the auto industry, influence is paramount. Who are the key players? Who’s opening new doors for a market ripe for advancement in everything from transportation to design? Aside from certain scandals and legal problems involving disability rights, Uber CEO Travis Cordell Kalanick just might be at the forefront of an empire where taxi-cabs die off and numerous people can earn money just for driving around! What a novel idea….

A Breakdown on Who Travis Kalanick Is

We did mention certain scandals — not that it tarnished the man who is Travis Kalanick muchTravis Kalanick at all, given this is an American entrepreneur sitting at the Forbes list at 290 of the 400 richest Americans of 2014 (estimated net worth of $5.3 billion). However, he had his fair share of trouble given Scour, his peer-to-peer file-sharing service, faced a major lawsuit with the Motion Picture Association of America and a couple other organizations due to copyright infringement. Travis Kalanick, though, was a smart cookie and had Scour filing for bankruptcy to protect assets, saving the man from an utter downfall.

Enter: Red Swoosh, another file-sharing service that was bought out by Akamai Technologies back in 2007 for a nice sizable amount — $19MM. This takes us to the current revolution Travis Kalanick has founded, enterprising and innovative in the idea that takes the transportation — and automotive — industries into a whole new level.

Enter: Uber. We’re pretty sure everyone’s heard about this mobile app and service, making waves all over the U.S. and allowing just about anyone to access qualified drivers utilizing their own vehicles to basically pick up ‘strangers’ (literally) and take them anywhere they want to go. Think of it as a supremely flexible taxi-cab type service, but expanded to achieve national dominance outside of any region. The idea is, indeed, astonishing.

As You Might Already Know, Though, Travis Kalanick Catches Some Flack

Did we mention the current legal proceeding about disability rights for some riders who require everything from a guide dog to a wheelchair? Yeah. However, Travis Kalanick’s been on the up-and-up and making the appropriate policies to ensure he’s under legal compliance with the code of the legal act in question. Kudos to you, Mr. Travis Kalanick.

It’s pretty clear, though…. Whatever your opinion of Uber is. This is a man capable of morphing the landscape into something without bounds. It’s no wonder he’s climbed high as an influence of the automotive industry. Better watch out for him.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Johan de Nysschen

When it comes to global and monumental careers, nobody measures up to the likes of Johan de Nysschen. Head-hunted, virtually. A game-changer, trendsetter, a standard-bearer. There’s a reason why the man’s executive bio is so extensive within the auto industry as it is and why he remains as one of many auto influences who not only propelled companies but also cross-functionalized operations between two completely different manufacturers: Infiniti Global Limited, and most recently, General Motors. Now that’s an accomplishment.

A Complete Rundown on Johan de NysschenJohan de Nysschen

This was a man serving as President of Infiniti Global Limited in 2012, a man representing global business operations for the brand over in Hong Kong, but remarkably enough, made a truly alarming switch: he ended his tenure there and jumped clear across the world to become the President of Cadillac and VP of General Motors in 2014, taking with him all the expertise he has for everything automotive.

Let’s just say Cadillac and GM have something going here, what with all the hoopla of the lost revenue and struggles of the American brands of automaking in danger of going down the tubes. Mr. Johan de Nysschen has his work cut out for him, but if anyone can do it, it’s him.

It’s All About Desire — and Johan de Nysschen Has It

Want to know more about why Cadillac and GM may be in very good hands? This is a man who served in the plastics and automotive components industry from 1981 to 1990, served as general manager for Audi South Africa in 1993 to 1999, and then became President of Audi of America, Inc. as well as Volkswagen Group of America in 2004. Pretty impressive resume, don’t you think?

He’s also an avid auto, motorcycle, and wine enthusiast. Figures. As if he has time to focus on ‘hobbies’ these days….

Everything You Need to Know About Ralph Gilles

If there’s anything the auto industry is, it’s this: creativity. From creativity doth innovation and design be revealed, and that’s the mantra of American-Canadian automobile designer Ralph Gilles believes in. It’s the beginning of excellence in the auto industry for good reason. the best auto brands out there consumers will select revolve around what trends are making it in the eyes of desires of the many, hence why Ralph Gilles remains as one of many influences in the automotive industry today.

The History of Ralph GillesRalph Gilles

You know a man like Ralph Gilles knows what he’s doing in his field if he at one point was the President and CEO of the SRT brand as well as the senior VP of Design for Chrysler. He was just recently, in fact, promoted to Head of Design for Fiat/Chrysler back in April of this year, and for good reason: the man’s behind the design of the popular 2005 Chrysler 300 as well as the 2014 SRT Viper, two very high-performance and styled cars made for the flashy without sacrificing the performance.

Ralph Gilles didn’t get that way by osmosis, though. Since the age of 8, the boy draw concept vehicles with an air to dream, and that’s really what it takes to put an automotive footprint in the sand and make a dream a reality. People love dreams — especially when driving them.

Why the Auto Industry’s Looking Up Because of Geniuses Like Ralph Gilles

Aside from the fact that Gilles has been promoted and replaced and promoted so many times — being Senior VP of Design in 2008, President and CEO of Dodge in 2009 before taking on the role of Chrysler’s senior VP of Design and CEO of Chrysler’s Street and Racing Technology division — the fact that he’s dipped his fingers in so many aspects of American automotive design is reason enough why he’s included in this prestigious list of thought leaders for 2015.