Volkswagen's Chattanooga-made Passat has won a Vincentric Best Value in America Award in the midsize sedan segment.
Vincentric measures cost-of-ownership using eight different cost factors: depreciation, fees and taxes, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost and repairs.
Using a statistical model, Vincentric identified the Best Value in America winners by measuring which vehicles had lower than expected ownership costs given their market segment and price.
The VW Beetle also topped the compact category.
"We have made great strides towards reducing the overall cost of ownership of our cars in recent years, and these awards reflect the hard work that has occurred throughout the organization," said Scott Keogh, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America.
Electrify America up to full capacity
Electrify America is restoring full capacity to its network after its high-powered charging cables cleared extensive testing from cable manufacturer Huber+Suhner, the Volkswagen subsidiary said today.
Out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of its supplier, Electrify America said it shut down many of the high-powered 150–350 kilowatt chargers in its network Friday while the company and Huber+Suhner investigated a potential safety issue.
"The safety of our customers is our highest priority. Extensive testing throughout the weekend and Monday showed that the cables have met all industry standards for use, and as a result, we are bringing our entire network back to full capacity," said Giovanni Palazzo, president and CEO of Electrify America, which is to have 484 charging stations across America by mid-2019.
Locally, it has power stations in the Ooltewah Walmart parking lot and in Manchester, Tennessee.
Consumer confidence falls to 18-month low
U.S. consumer confidence tumbled this month to its lowest reading in a year and a half, tested by the partial government shutdown and roiling financial markets. Still, consumer spirits remain robust by historic standards.
The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index fell to 120.2 in January, down from 126.6 in December and the lowest level since July 2017.
The index measures consumers' assessment of current economic conditions and their expectations for the next six months. Both declined in January. Consumers' expectations for the future dropped to the lowest point since October 2016.
The government reopened Monday after the 35-day shutdown, the longest federal closure in U.S. history. The shutdown is expected to cause slight permanent harm to the economy — about $3 billion — according to a new government report.
The January decline in consumer confidence "is more the result of a temporary shock than a precursor to a significant slowdown in the coming months," said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board's senior director of economic indicators. He noted that "shock events" such as government shutdowns "tend to have sharp, but temporary, impacts on consumer confidence."
PG&E files bankruptcy
Faced with potentially ruinous lawsuits over California's recent wildfires, Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday in a move that could lead to higher bills for customers of the nation's biggest utility and reduce the size of any payouts to fire victims.
The Chapter 11 filing allows PG&E to continue operating while it puts its books in order. But it was seen as a possible glimpse of the financial toll that could lie ahead because of global warming, which scientists say is leading to fiercer, more destructive blazes and longer fire seasons.
The bankruptcy could also jeopardize California's ambitious program to switch entirely to renewable energy sources.
PG&E said the bankruptcy filing will not affect electricity or gas service and will allow for an "orderly, fair and expeditious resolution" of wildfire claims.
"Throughout this process, we are fully committed to enhancing our wildfire safety efforts, as well as helping restoration and rebuilding efforts across the communities impacted by the devastating Northern California wildfires," interim CEO John R. Simon said in a statement.
PG&E cited hundreds of lawsuits from victims of fires in 2017 and 2018 and tens of billions of dollars in potential liabilities when it announced earlier this month that it planned to file for bankruptcy.