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Today’s FirstUp

October 23, 2014 

BMW to Lower MPG Ratings on 4 Mini Cooper Models

BMW AG is lowering the estimated fuel economy labels on four 2014 Mini Cooper models after tests by the U.S. EPA, the agency said today. The EPA completed a fuel economy audit on the Mini Cooper and found actual mpg lower than the figures BMW submitted for certification, a statement said. As a result, reports Automotive News, the EPA supervised a new round of tests by BMW. The agency also conducted its own testing of the Mini Cooper at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich. The agency is ordering BMW to relabel four 2014 Mini Cooper models – the Mini Cooper hardtop with a manual and an automatic transmission and the Mini Cooper S hardtop with a manual and an automatic transmission – that proved to have lower fuel economy than the mpg label showed. “While this necessitates change, the 2014 MINI Hardtop still delivers outstanding fuel efficiency,” BMW said. “We have sent new labels for 2014 models in stock to our dealers.” BMW will have all four models’ combined and city mpg ratings fall by 1 mpg, while highway estimates will drop 1 to 4 mpg depending on the model. Read more about why BMW is lowering the mileage ratings on four Mini Cooper models here

House Committee to Review Air Bag Recalls
According to The Detroit News, the House Energy and Commerce is reviewing the recall of at least 7.8 million vehicles since 2013 with faulty air bags that could explode and send shrapnel into passengers. At least two deaths in Honda vehicles are linked to faulty Takata Corp. air bags and two more deaths are under investigation, including the death of a woman in Florida earlier this month. NHTSA is most concerned about air bags in high humidity states and many of the recalls have been regional recalls in the warmest areas of the country. Late Tuesday, NHTSA said it was expanding its urgent warning for owners to get vehicles repaired to 7.8 million vehicles at 10 major automakers — up from 4.7 million at six automakers that it had announced Monday. The committee has spent much of the last year reviewing General Motors handling of ignition switch defects. The committee held two hearings and its chairman, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has been considering introducing auto safety reform legislation, while Democrats in the House and Senate have already introduced legislation. For the latest on a House Committee’s plans to hold a hearing over Takata air bag recalls, click here

The Strategic Logic of Trade
In recent decades, writes U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in an essay in Foreign Affairs, leaders have come to see the economic clout that trade produces as more than merely a purse for military prowess: they now understand prosperity to be a principal means by which countries measure and exercise power. Trade’s contribution to the U.S. economy has never been more significant than it is today. The Trans-Pacific Partnership presents an unprecedented opportunity to update the rules of the road. Discussing the importance of trade promotion authority, Froman writes that Congress’ involvement could be further enhanced and institutionalized by the passage of trade promotion authority, which would allow Congress to guide trade policy by laying out the United States’ negotiating objectives, defining how the executive branch must consult with Congress about trade agreements, and detailing the legislative procedures that will guide Congress’ consideration of trade agreements. At the same time, by ensuring that Congress will consider trade agreements as they have been negotiated by the executive branch, trade promotion authority would give U.S. trading partners the necessary confidence to put their best and final offers on the table. For more of USTR Froman’s take on the importance of trade, click here

Eight Automakers Join in Electric Car Charging Test
Eight automakers participated in a test to see if utility companies can tell plug-in electric cars to temporarily stop charging to avoid overloading the power grid, reports USA Today. Several electric utilities and Sumitomo Electric tested to see if they can send a message to electric vehicles via the cloud. The test last week was designed to ask the cars' owners for permission to temporarily suspend charging as way to keep the power grid from becoming overwhelmed. The car's owners, who would receive incentives for participating, could refuse the request, according to Ford. Ford says other automakers participating included Honda, BMW, Chrysler Group, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, and Toyota. All sell at least one model of electric car. The test was aimed at solving one of the big problems confronting power providers as electric cars creep toward becoming a bigger proportion of cars on the road: how to keep them from overloading the power system, which could lead to local blackouts or brownouts. The technology demonstration took place at the Sacramento Municipal Utility Districts Customer Service Center in California. For more on an electric car charging test by automakers, click here

Toyota Says Potential Mexico Plant Still Far From Approval
According to Automotive News, Toyota Motor Corp. said the group assessing whether to build a factory in Mexico is far from getting clearance from top management. “There is a team studying it, but I’ll be honest with you, it’s still far from being an approved project,” Steve St. Angelo, head of Toyota’s Latin American operations, told reporters in Tokyo. Low labor costs and favorable trade accords with the U.S. and some Latin American countries are luring more foreign auto producers to Mexico. Kia Motors Corp., BMW, and a Daimler AG-Nissan Motor Co. venture each announced $1 billion-plus factories since June. “Akio is very firm on us about growing in a sustainable way,” St. Angelo said. “He doesn’t want us to go through another recession and have to shut down plants.” Toyota factories in Latin America have heeded the calls by Toyoda and are operating at more than 100 percent capacity utilization by using Saturday shifts, St. Angelo said. An option to squeeze more production from existing plants would be to transition them to three-shift operations rather than two. For more on a potential new Mexico plant for Toyota, click here

Around the Web
Register for AIADA's 45th Annual Meeting in San Francisco [Register]
BMW i8 with 500+ Horsepower in the Cards? [Autoblog]
Audi's All-Digital Instrument Cluster [WardsAuto]
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