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Nutson's Automotive News Recap July 27-August 2, 2015; FCA Not So Fine, Recalls, New Scion, More Dodge Muscle, New "Top Gear" Clone Goes Amazon


By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - August 2, 2015; Every Sunday, along with fellow 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 1,911,009 automotive news, automotive stories, articles, reviews, archived news, video, audio, rants and raves just search The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive.

Hey Boston TV viewers, you can now enjoy The Auto Channel TV Network "Free and Clear" on WHDT Channel 3 in Boston and on your local cable systems. Just added Naples Florida, along with all South Florida auto fans who can continue to watch The Auto Channel TV Network on WHDT-TV Channel 9 in West Palm Beach as well as cable channel's 17 and 438, channel 9 Miami. WHDN launched its full schedule (including The Auto Channel)of digital broadcasting in the Naples-Fort Myers market on PSIP channel 9.1 channel. Enjoy and thanks for the positive feedback and ratings...see you next week, LN

Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Review - July 27-August 2, 2015

* We were invited to a Scion press preview this past week to drive two new entries from the Scion brand. The all-new 2016 Scion iA subcompact four-door sedan priced starting at $15,700 and the all-new 2016 Scion iM 4-door hatchback priced starting at $18,460. Both come to market in September. Look for full road test reports here on TACH very soon. #ScioniA #ScioniM

* Volkswagen has taken the lead over the long-standing leader Toyota in global auto sales for the first half of 2015. VW sold 5.04 million vehicles beating Toyota's 5.02 million. GM is third with 4.86 million vehicles sold.

* Dodge announced this week plans to increase output of the hot-selling Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat muscle cars for 2016. Boasting 707 horsepower the production of Hellcats have not been able to keep up with demand. While actual numbers have not been announced for the next model year the company will streamline the ordering process by opening dealer order banks early - the second week in August. Production of the cars begins in September.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles moved too slow with recalls. NHTSA hit them hard and FCA will pay the largest fine ever of $105 million. Additionally, they must submit to oversight and buy back around 200,000 vehicles it has recalled. Owners of more than a million Jeeps Cherokee that are prone to deadly fires will be offered to trade their vehicle in for above its market value, or receive a financial incentive to get them fixed.

* Concept Vehicle of the Year honors announced this week went to the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept truck and the new Ford GT, both introduced at the North American International Auto Show in January. Mark Phelen, Detroit Free Press auto critic and panel member, presented the awards during the prestigious Concours d'Elegance of America in Plymouth, MI. The Santa Cruz caused much buzz at the auto show and was triggered by Hyundai's interest in getting into the U.S. truck market in the near future, and the Ford GT will put Ford back into serious competition at Le Mans. The awards recognize vehicles most likely to shape the future of the auto industry. More than two dozen jurors participated in a selection process that involved a total of 30 vehicles, each introduced to North America during this season's auto shows in Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Toronto and New York.

* A survey by OSV Ltd shows that although the auto industry is heading towards an autonomous car revolution, the overwhelming majority of the UK population do not want a driverless car. The results from the survey were quite overwhelming! Seventy-five percent of the UK population said they did not want an autonomous car. People from England are even more against driverless cars with 82% saying they wouldn't want one. People from Scotland are slightly more keen than other countries in the UK with 26% admitting they would want a driverless car.

* IHS Automotive reports that the average age of vehicles on American roads has risen to 11.5 years. They also reported that there are 257.9 million registered vehicles in the road, up 5.3 million from the last year. The average period of ownership is now 77.8 months, or almost six and a half years. The average age of our national vehicle fleet is expected to keep rising in spite of the resurgence in new vehicle sales. Cars just last longer these days.

* The 10 Best Back-To-School Cars have been named by They're available for $20,000 or less and they are: 2015 Honda Fit, 2015 Kia Soul, 2015 Mazda3, 2016 Honda HR-V, 2015 Nissan Versa Note, 2016 Scion iM, 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, 2016 Ford Fiesta, 2015 Subaru Impreza and 2015 MINI Hardtop 2dr.

* FCA is recalling 322,000 model year 2011-2014 Dodge Charger cars worldwide to prevent unintended side-curtain air bag deployments after recalling about 844,000 trucks last week for the same issue. The air bags can deploy if vehicles doors are kicked or slammed with excessive force, according to FCA.

* Ford's new aluminium-bodied F-150 pickup, best selling vehicle in the U.S. for decades, underwent crash testing this week with mixed results. The 4-door Supercrew model aced the IIHS crash tests but the smaller Supercab fared poorly in the small overlap front testing. Normally, the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) only tests one version of each vehicle, but chose to do the extra test on F-150 because of its huge sales numbers. They've promised to test other pickups to make the comparisons fair.

* Last week saw the induction of the Class of 2015 in the Automotive Hall of Fame. The AHoF, located in Dearborn, Michigan right next to The Henry Ford complex, honors the most important people in a wide variety of automotive categories. This year's inductees include: Roger Penske, auto racing titan and auto industry entrepreneur; Ratan Tata, Indian auto mogul; Elwood Haynes, auto pioneer; and Luca di Montezemolo, former chairman of Ferrari.

* Chevy announced this week upcoming availability of the new turbo-diesel version of the Colorado pickup. Rated at 369 pound-feet of torque, it is most powerful and the cleanest diesel ever offered in a mid-size pickup. The 2.8-liter Duramax engine in the 2WD version is capable of towing 7,700 pounds. No official EPA fuel economy ratings were released but it should exceed the gas powered truck. On sale this fall the diesel will cost about $3,700 more than the gasoline version.

* We learned this week that Jeremy Clarkson, fired from the popular "Top Gear" TV program for assaulting a producer, will join his former colleagues, Richard Hammond, James May and producer Andy Wilman, to produce a new show for Amazon Prime. The yet-to-be-titled show begins airing in 2016. Top Gear will begin filming soon with Chris Evans hosting and it too will begin airing new shows in 2016.