Week in Review: Lawsuits, Bans, and Spy Shots

The majority of this week in the automotive industry may have been focused on the General Motors recall and whether or not the company is liable, but the week also offered up much more. While we continue to get new info about the charges, this week also showed us how Audi stole the top luxury seller position from BMW and Mercedes-Benz for the first two months of the year. Legislation was also brought against Tesla in New Jersey, restricting their sales operations. Volkswagen Group announced its plan to debut 100 new models across all of its brands, while the week rounded out with spy shots of the 2017 Ford Super Duty and 2015 Nissan Murano. We know you don't have all the time in the world to read everything we write, so we've gathered the week's top stories so you can catch up on all you missed.

Monday, March 10

General Motors has been making some major waves over the past few weeks with its decision to finally recall select vehicles with faulty ignition switches. In a not-so-surprising turn of events, the automaker may not be held liable for any issue brought to the attention of the company before it declared bankruptcy back in 2009. GM signed an immunity pact when filing for bankruptcy, making all accidents and incidents before that time the responsibility of "Old" GM. Other stories surfaced this week, and we learned that while new cases have been brought to the attention of the company, criminal charges may be issued against GM for not fixing the situation sooner. Especially considering the amount of time the company knew about the defect.

Tuesday, March 11

Audi can pat itself on the back for a job well done as it beat out Mercedes-Benz and BMW to become the world's top luxury automaker through the first two months of the year. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was quoted by Automotive News as saying, "Competition in the premium segment is more intense than ever. We're ahead of our two main rivals in the first two months, but this doesn't really interest me much. Our focus in on future growth." Even with this small success, Audi doesn’t plan to sit idly by and wait for its competition to fight back. The automaker will invest over $30 billion within the next five years to become the world's annual luxury-car sales leader. It looks like the sales leader title has taken the forefront--ahead of profit, brand perception, and quality--in the fight between luxury automakers.

Wednesday, March 12

This week, New Jersey passed legislation to stop Tesla Motors from implementing its direct sales practices. As of April 1, all sales will be stopped unless the electric automaker sets up a franchise agreement. Currently, Tesla has two showrooms open in the state. New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers President James Appleton told Bloomberg that the "statute is on the books to protect consumers," and that "Tesla's business model crushes competition." This decision was rapidly pushed through the legislature, with no public comment until after the vote. As of right now, Tesla doesn’t have other companies it's in competition with simply because it owns its entire supply chain. This whole thing smells fishy.

Thursday, March 13

Automotive financial reports are about as dry as the sand along our beaches, but we reached an interesting paragraph when reading through Volkswagen Group's latest report. The Volkswagen Group brands plan to launch more than 100 new models, successors, and product enhancements, with many of them making their way to U.S. shores. The statement went on to say that "This will include such key models as the new Passat, the Audi A4 and Audi Q7, the Porsche Macan and the plug-in hybrid version of the Porsche Cayenne." We expect that much of the Volkswagen/Porsche/Audi lineup will improve over the course of this year, but we think VW may have something up its sleeve. Whether that's an assault on the U.S. market or not, we know the automaker is looking to gain leadership in any market it can.

Friday, March 14

We love us some spy shots, and this week we were lucky to get a group of them. First up, we caught the 2017 Ford Super Duty out winter testing in full camouflage. We're still not sure if Ford will be using the aluminum body that was introduced on the 2015 F-150 for its larger truck, but what we do know is that the exterior has undergone some major changes. We expect the automaker to take full advantage of the direct-injected 6.2-liter V-8 that's under the hood of the current model, along with a range of engine options. Added to that, we caught the 2015 Nissan Murano out testing, looking very reminiscent of the recently-debuted Resonance concept. The production model may not be as dramatic as the concept, but it does retain certain elements. We expect the new Murano to make its official debut next month at the 2014 New York Auto Show, so stay tuned for more.