Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - Nov 2-8, 2015: George Barris Passes, U.S. Sales Up, Recalls, Genesis Launched
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, November 8, 2015; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, Senior Editor and Chicago Bureau Chief along with fellow senior editors Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau, give you TACH's "take" on this past week's automotive news in easy to digest nuggets.
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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - November 8, 2015;
* VW Group got hit again by the EPA now being charged with using defeat devices on their 3.0-L six cylinder diesel engines used in the VW Touareg, Porsche Cayenne and a number of Audi models. However, the VW Group denies the charges, quoted as saying no software was used "in an inadmissible way." Porsche and Audi issued a “stop-sale” order this week effecting all 3.0-liter diesels in the wake of the VW/Audi 2.0-liter TDI emissions scandal. The EPA action only listed 2015 models but the same engine is used in 2014 to 2016s. Porsche issued a statement to current owners saying they can “continue to operate their vehicles normally. It appears, we are thinking, that the internal departments responsible for assuring emission regulation compliance within the VW Group have no control over what the engine developers are doing.
* Ford and Michelin are entering into an official relationship for Ford Performance vehicles. Producer of some of the world’s highest-performing sports car and off-road tires, Michelin will provide tire fitments for the Ford Performance vehicle lineup, including Ford GT, Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R Mustang, Fiesta ST, Focus ST and RS, and F-150 Raptor.
* The top trending vehicle models in four categories were announced at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. This year's SEMA Award for the Hottest Car was awarded to Ford Mustang, the Ford Focus took the Hottest Sport Compact honors, the Ford F-Series was named Hottest Truck and the Jeep Wrangler received the Hottest 4x4-SUV award.
* U.S. auto sales in October rose 14 percent to 1.455 million units. Light trucks (that's SUVs and pickups) are very hot and there's been some increased incentives. GM, FCA US, Ford, Hyundai-Kia, Subaru, Toyota and Nissan all had double digit gains. The annualized sales rate rose to 18.23 million, the highest since July 2005. GM posted a 16% increase with a welcome 13% increase at Cadillac and a 0.2% slip at Buick. FCA’s light trucks led that company to a 15% gain with Jeep positing a 33% surge helped by increased incentive spending across the board. Overall volume at Ford rose 13% in spite of a 4% slip at Lincoln.
* Mercedes is recalling 126,000 of its C-300, C-350, C-63 from 2008 and 2009 and GLK-350 4-Matic from 2010 to fix an air bag problem.
* Honda is recalling 145,000 motorcycles to fix a dragging rear brake. Models affected are the GL1800 from 2001 to 2010 and 2012 to 2015, GL1800A from 2001 to 2005, and the GL 1800B from 2013 to 2015.
* VW is recalling 92,000 to fix a power brake problem on Beetle, Golf, Jetta and Passat models from 2015 and 2016 with the 1.8L and 2.0L gasoline engine.
* The Jeep Renegade was named the 2016 Car of the Year in Brazil by Autoesporte magazine (Editora Globo) as part of the most prestigious automotive industry awards in Brazil, which has been hosted annually by the magazine since 1966. The award was presented in a ceremony on Wednesday night at Villa Verico in São Paulo.
* Legendary California “Kustom" car king George Barris passed away this week at the age of 89. He was most famous for creating the Batmobile for the 1966 Batman TV show, a car he built from a Lincoln Futura concept car in just 15 days. Barris moved from Chicago to Southern California as a young child and made his first full custom while in high school going on to build so many more he became perhaps the most famous customizer of all time. Barris' first car made for Hollywood culture was in 1958 for the Alfred Hitchcock film North by Northwest. He continued to attend a variety of car events until very recently. His son Brett posted the news on social media saying he died peacefully surround by family. Barris helped define California’s car culture with colorfully designed vehicles ranging from the stunningly beautiful to the simply outrageous.
* Honda offered a few reporters and pundits an opportunity to get behind the wheel of the 2016 Clarity fuel cell vehicle that boasts a range of around 435 miles, a range that will certainly be needed until fueling infrastructure begins to be built. Honda uses one fuel tank positioned behind the rear seat and a smaller one under the seat in order to get that range. Slightly larger than an Accord sedan it has nearly the same interior space in spite of the tanks. The expensive sedan will be available in Japan in 2016 - Europe and the U.S. will get it sometime later. No date specified.
* Like Toyota launching Lexus, Nissan launching Infiniti and Honda launching Acura, Hyundai this week launched its new luxury brand - Genesis. Hyundai has had three models called Genesis, two sedans and one small coupe, but they were not their own brand. Now that is all changed and they promise a six-model lineup by 2020 that will be distinctive in design. The common element with the current Genesis models is that they are rear-wheel drivers. The new Prestige Design Division is headed by former VW AG designer Luc Donckerwolke.
* Embattled airbag manufacturer Takata was hit with a $70 million cash fine…the largest civil penalty in history, and an order that says a “safety monitor” will supervise the company for 5 years with another $130 million in fines possible. The order also specifies that the company will not use ammonium nitrate as a propellant in the airbags unless they can prove it is safe. That propellant is blamed for airbag malfunctions that have been blamed for 8 deaths and 100 injuries. As part of the deal Takata admitted knowing about the problem but taking no action.
* Nissan and Toyota dropped Takata as an airbag supplier after a similar move by Honda on Tuesday. Other Japanese automakers, including Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors and Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subarus, said this week that they were considering phasing out Takata’s airbag technology.