Cruise CEO Quits Amid Safety Investigation

Cruise CEO Quits Amid Safety Investigation

Good morning! It’s Monday, November 20, 2023, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.

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1st Gear: Cruise Boss Quits

While facing a flood of distrust after one of its cars hit and killed a pedestrian, an ongoing probe into the safety of its cars and waning support for our self-driving future, General Motors-backed Cruise is about to tackle all that without a leader. The San Francisco-based tech company announced this weekend that CEO Kyle Vogt has resigned amid ongoing tensions for the company.

Vogt will be succeeded by Mo Elshenawy and Craig Glidden, who each have a president title and will now “split traditional CEO duties,” reports Automotive News. The site reports:

Vogt’s downfall marks an abrupt end to his tenure with a company he co-founded in 2013. This was his second stint as CEO. He took over last December after longtime GM executive Dan Amman departed.

Vogt announced his departure on X.

“Cruise is still just getting started, and I believe it has a great future ahead,” he wrote. “The folks at Cruise are brilliant, driven and resilient.”

Vogt departure from the company comes as it faces a probe into its safety practices across the U.S. Last month, the company announced it would stop all driver-less taxi services in America without safety drivers in place. A few weeks later, it followed that move by grounding its entire fleet while it probed its safety practices.

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Now, the company is hoping to rebuild its reputation, which was left in tatters following a spate of deadly crashes with Cruise vehicles in California, as well as backlash against their use from residents that are fed up of the autonomous cars blocking their roads.

2nd Gear: U.S. Investigates Kia And Hyundai Fire Risk

While U.S. regulators have their work cut out investigating safety at Cruise, another investigation has just been launched into 6.4 million Hyundai and Kia models that are at risk of fire.

More than 6 million Hyundai and Kia models could be affected by a brake issue, which could lead to fluid leaks that may cause fires, reports Reuters. Cars affected include the Kia Forte and Optima. Reuters explains:

The Korean automakers have issued a string of recalls since 2016 for antilock braking system issues and fires.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was opening an audit query to evaluate the timeliness of Hyundai and Kia’s defect decision making “and adherence with reporting requirements; and understand the varying defect descriptions and remedies between these recalls.”

In total, the probe relates to 16 Hyundai and Kia recalls that were announced between 2016 and 2023. NHTSA will use the investigation to check that the recalls were fixed correctly and that Hyundai and Kia met their legal obligations.

If you are worried that your car might be affected by a recall, there are a few easy ways to check if it’s the case. First up, the NHTSA has a super handy app that you can use to see if your vehicle is impacted by a recall, or you can head to the regulator’s website and plug your VIN into its recall search tool.

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3rd Gear: Tesla Doesn’t ‘Monopolize’ Repairs, Apparently

Tesla has been in court a lot recently, over things like boss Elon Musk’s pay, a crash involving its Autopilot system and now claims from buyers that it ‘monopolizes’ repairs. After a lengthy court case, a judge in California has ruled that Tesla does not, in fact, monopolize its repair process.

The electric carmaker was originally taken to court in an antitrust lawsuit accusing Tesla of forcing customers to pay high prices for repairs, reports Reuters. The suite, which was dismissed by U.S. district judge Trina Thompson, claimed that Tesla left customers with long waits and high bills by “monopolizing the market.” Reuters reports:

“To be sure, plaintiffs allege that defendant misled them about…how much maintenance its EVs are designed to need and how long that maintenance ought to take,” Thompson wrote. “But nowhere do plaintiffs allege that consumers are in fact unaware of the supposedly supracompetitive prices and exorbitant wait times.”

The lawsuit claimed that while anyone driving a gas-powered car can take their vehicle to pretty much any repair shop and get it patched up, that’s not the case when you drive a Tesla. Instead, the complainants said they were forced into big bills and long waits at Tesla-approved parts centers.

While the case was dismissed, the judge said that the claimants may “choose to amend their complaint,” which Reuters reports was compiled from five lawsuits covering drivers that had paid Tesla for repairs since March 2019.

4th Gear: Honda Recalls 250,000 Cars

Japanese automaker Honda has issued a recall for more than 250,000 vehicles due to a manufacturing issue that may damage their engines. The recall affects cars including the Acura TLX, Honda Odyssey and the Ridgeline pickup truck.

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In impacted models, a connecting rod bearing in the engine is defective, reports CNN. The defective part could cause the engine to “run improperly or stall while driving, increasing the risk of a fire, crash, or injury.” CNN reports:

This is Honda’s 14th recall this year and its fifth largest. This recall brings the number of Honda vehicles recalled in 2023 up to more than three million.

Honda said owners will be notified by letter in early January, and that dealers will inspect, repair and replace the engines for free.

The full list of models affected by Honda’s latest recall includes the 2015-2020 Acura TLX, 2016-2020 Acura MDX, 2018-2019 Honda Odyssey, 2016, 2018 – 2019 Honda Pilot and the 2017-2019 Honda Ridgeline.

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