Last Weeks Automotive News (April 19-26) Reported By Larry Nutson
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
Auto Central Chicago IL, April 26, 2015; Every Sunday, along with senior editors Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau I give you our "take" on this past week's automotive news in easy to digest nuggets.
If you are a car nut like we all are here at The Auto Channel, you can easily wish to "catch up" on these stories as well as the past 20 year's 1,834,980 automotive news, automotive stories, articles, reviews, archived news, video, audio, rants and raves just search The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive.
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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest-April 20-26, 2015
* Big sedans are still the news in China. At the Shanghai Motor Show, Ford unveiled a redesigned Taurus that we will not see here in the U.S. until fall. Cadillac's new CT6 which we saw at the NY Auto Show was shown with a plug-in hybrid.
* VW is back in the big sedan market, at least in Asia, with the “C Coupe” based on the unique-to-China MLB platform that underpins the Audi A6L sedan. The concept version shown at last week’s Shanghai Motor Show is hybrid powered but the production version due next year is expected to have a conventional ICE without hybrid augmentation. The concept car looks like a large Passat with unmistakable VW styling and will have a large rear seat to accommodate Chinese buyers' desire for chauffeur-driven sedans.
* Reports out of General Motors this week confirm Cadillac will offer a plug-in hybrid version of the new CT6 flagship sedan due next year. The technology will evolve from the Volt/ELR extended range electric system, have an electric-only range of around 37 miles and be capable of twice the mileage of the conventional CT6. The mileage calculation, of course, depends on how much of one’s driving is on full electric.
*Electric, hybrid and plug-in car sales continue to decline to a four-year low of 2.9% of all sales according to a report by the Electric Drive Transportation Association in Washington D.C. More efficient conventional power trains, range anxiety and low fuel prices are among reasons cited.
* Honda revealed more engineering details for the much-anticipated NSX super sports car at this week’s Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress. The car’s space frame will be made of sheet aluminum, high-strength steel and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics. It will have an array of 10 heat exchangers, three radiators and two intercoolers to manage thermal demands of the twin-turbo V6, traction motors and 9-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. The new NSX will be manufactured in a special facility in Ohio and we expect to see it at dealers sometime next year.
* Vehicle lightweighting is the future. Ford made a big investment in carbon-fiber with a joint venture with DowAksa. Along with aluminum we'll start to see more carbon fiber although it costs about $10-$12 per pound vs $1 for steel. Cost have been coming down and Ford's move will help to reduce further.
* We don't usually report on company politics, but the recent VW battle of the chiefs intrigued us. Supervisory board chairman Ferdinand Piech appeared to be trying to get company CEO Martin Winterkorn pushed out. However, the supervisory board's six-member executive committee voted five to one in support of Winterkorn, a defeat for Piech. Piech's cousin Wolfgang Porsche also sits on the executive committee and voted to support Winterkorn. At week's end Piech along with his wife who also held a seat resigned, or to look at it another way, was ousted. So it appears there is a bit of a family feud in the Porsche-Piech dynasty. To be continued!
* Not automotive, but about going fast. A Japanese Mag-lev passenger train broke its own speed record. Operator JR Central said the train reached 375 mph in a test run surpassing its previous 361 mph record from 2003. Maglev trains don't run on steel rails but hover above the rails using magnetic levitation. I'm ready for a train ride.
* Ford Motor Co. will recall 390,000 cars for faulty door latches. The recall covers 389,585 2012-14 Ford Fiesta and 2013-14 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ cars.
* Harley-Davidson is recalling nearly 46,000 motorcycles in the U.S. because they could stay in gear due to clutches that won't fully disengage. The recall covers certain Electra Glide, Ultra Limited, Police Electra Glide, Street Glide, Road Glide and Road King models from the 2014 and 2015 model years.
* Automated red light enforcement is waning in Florida since a district court ruling that local governments do not have authority to delegate the issuance of traffic citations to a private company. Palm Coast, Florida just deactivated 40 of their 45 red light cameras in the wake of the ruling. Critics have called the camera enforcement a revenue-generation scam as fines could range from $158 to over $400 often for just a rolling right turn. While citations are still being issued from the 5 remaining cameras the private company - American Traffic Solutions - no longer issues citations.
* The World of Speed car museum opened to the public this week with a collection of 80 cars, 20 motorcycles and two boats, mostly high-performance, racers and hot rods. The museum includes some famous racing vehicles and is the collection of Dave and Sally Bany. It is housed in an 81,000 square-foot facility in Wilsonville, OR, about 20 miles south of Portland. About half the space in the museum is reserved for automotive-related shop classes for the benefit of youngsters who no longer have that option in school.
* On April 17, the collector car hobby lost one of the men who made the hobby what it is today. Leo Gephart was the driving force to creating auctions in Arizona every January and Auburn, Ind., each Labor Day weekend. Gephart was also the man who brought professional vehicle transport services to the hobby. Although a business man best known for selling vintage cars, it was Gephart’s love for old iron that inspired him to inadvertently create the foundation for the hobby as we know it today. Gephart had owned more than 80 Duesenbergs during his career in selling vintage cars, according to an April 2008 article in Old Cars Weekly.
* Fox Sports broadcaster Steve Byrnes, who battled head-and-neck cancer, died. He was 56. Steve’s broadcasting career spanned 30 years. He joined Fox Sports in 2001, hosting and reporting for multiple NASCAR programs and serving as a pit road reporter for NASCAR on Fox broadcasts of Sprint Cup races from 2001-2014. Most recently, he was the play-by-play announcer for Fox Sports 1 broadcasts of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and co-host of the network’s “NASCAR Race Hub” show. Rest in peace Steve, we will miss you.