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Inside this issue
NHTSA Faces Harsh Criticism in Senate Hearing
GM, Bullish on Midsize Pickups, Adds Workers at Wentzville Factory
Toyota Pauses on Mexico Expansion to Review Growth Strategy, Report Says
Europe Car Sales Set Growth-Streak Record on Price Cuts
3 Companies Get Calif. Self-Driving Car Permits
The World's Biggest Spender: Stephen Hung Just Bought 30 Custom-Made Rolls-Royce Phantoms for $20 Million
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Top Stories
NHTSA Faces Harsh Criticism in Senate Hearing

The highest-ranking official at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration came under withering criticism Tuesday from senators of both parties, but refused to accept blame for failing to discover defects in now-recalled General Motors cars that have been linked to at least 19 deaths. NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman repeatedly sought to place the blame squarely on GM. While key senators agreed that GM bore the primarily responsibility, they faulted the auto safety agency for failing to connect the dots — including reports the agency received from outside sources in 2007 that showed air bag failures were linked to ignition switches moving out of position. “NHTSA was actively trying to find the ball,” Friedman said. “GM was actively trying to hide the ball.”
Source: The Detroit News

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GM, Bullish on Midsize Pickups, Adds Workers at Wentzville Factory

General Motors is so encouraged by orders for its new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickup trucks that the automaker is adding a third shift and creating 750 new jobs at its Wentzville, Mo., assembly plant. The company said Tuesday that its dealers have ordered almost 30,000 new Colorado pickups. The new jobs are in addition to the 1,315 positions the company said it created in Wentzville to launch its new pickup line. The factory currently employs 2,600 workers, GM said. The new workers will begin early next year. The new worker figures, GM said, mean the company has "protected or added" 27,000 jobs at U.S. plants, representing $11.2 billion.
Source: The Los Angeles Times
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Toyota Pauses on Mexico Expansion to Review Growth Strategy, Report Says

Decision on new plant not likely before 2015

Toyota Motor Corp. is reconsidering a move to open a new compact car assembly plant in Mexico after company President Akio Toyoda told planners searching for a site to pause and review its rationale, executives familiar with the matter told Reuters. According to four Toyota and group executives, momentum had been building for a decision this summer on the expansion, with the aim of starting production of the mass market Corolla in Mexico in a few years. But Toyoda then asked the team to "re-review" the project by year's end, the people said. The upshot was that a decision on the expansion is unlikely before the start of 2015, two Toyota executives who spoke on condition of anonymity said.
Source: Reuters

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Europe Car Sales Set Growth-Streak Record on Price Cuts

European car sales rose a 12th consecutive month as price cuts by automakers and demand for compact models from Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG led to the longest stretch of growth on record. Registrations increased 1.8 percent in August to 701,118 vehicles from 688,464 a year earlier, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, or ACEA, said in a statement. The growth, the slowest this year, pared sales gains in the eight months through August to 5.8 percent. Demand for cars in Europe is reviving from a two-decade low last year that stemmed from a sovereign-debt crisis and recession in the countries sharing the euro.
Source: Bloomberg
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3 Companies Get Calif. Self-Driving Car Permits

Volkswagen's Audi brand on Tuesday was the first automaker of three companies to get new permits issued by California for the testing of self-driving, or autonomous, cars on all the Golden State's roadways. Mercedes-Benz and Google also got permits on the day that California's new laws governing the testing of automated vehicles take effect, according to the Associated Press.
Source: USA Today
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The World's Biggest Spender: Stephen Hung Just Bought 30 Custom-Made Rolls-Royce Phantoms for $20 Million

The spending habits of China's billionaires, for business and for pleasure alike, are redefining extravagance: The $330,000 worth of white truffles bought by a casino mogul; the $10 million yacht with mirrored windows; the Upper East Side townhouse bought by Zhang Xin for $26 million; the private island for hunting, stocked with $5 million worth of rifles, wild boar, pheasants and deer and the private museum of Chen Lihua, with 300 antique furniture pieces from the Ming and Qing dynasties, just to name a few. Such purchases are to consumption what extreme fighting is to college wrestling. But they didn't make the front page of the Financial Times — as Hong Kong's Stephen Hung did [Tuesday], when Rolls-Royce announced he had placed an order for 30 customized Rolls-Royce Phantoms, a $20 million purchase described by the company as the “world's single largest order of Rolls Royces ever.”
Source: The Washington Post
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Quotable
"The car-market recovery is losing its momentum month after month. This is not a very vigorous revival."

    -- Thomas Besson, a Paris-based automotive analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, commenting on auto sales in Europe, Bloomberg, Sept. 17

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