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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest May 9-15, 2016


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

AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, May 15, 2016; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, Senior Editor and Chicago Car Guy 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 mega-tweet sized nuggets. If you wish to know more just click on the link that will take you to the full story as published here on The Auto Channel.

If you are a car and driving fan like we all are here at The Auto Channel, you can easily wish to "catch up" on these stories as well put them in context with the past 20 year's 1,978,107 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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The Past Week's Automotive News Highlights In Easy To Digest Chunks
May 9-15, 2016

* Chevrolet is launching, an all-new lifestyle-oriented website focused on its small car offerings, the Spark minicar, Sonic and Trax small SUV. will host content designed with a younger customer in mind and do it in a way that allows visitors to engage and discover Chevy on their own terms. At the heart of it is “Small Talk,” three short episodes featuring the Sonic, Spark or Trax, produced by Funny Or Die and hosted by comedian Al Madrigal. The videos will also be hosted on Funny Or Die.

* GM is planning to discontinue sales of the Buick Verano in the U.S. next year, according to media reports, as Detroit's automakers continue to pare back passenger car production in the U.S. and place a greater emphasis on crossovers and SUVs. GM will to continue to produce and sell a new version of the Verano that debuted last year in China but will stop selling the older version of the Verano in the U.S. next year, according to a report by Automotive News. The plan is part an overall shift in resources towards the development and production of crossovers and away from cars.

* Nissan will buy controlling interest in Mitsubishi for $2.2 billion, we learned this week, as Mitsu continues to deal with a debilitating scandal over mis-stating fuel economy numbers. The two companies have been working together on a variety of projects for the past five years. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn calls it “a breakthrough transaction and a win-win.” Details of the deal are sketchy but it appears that Nissan will not be involved in routine operations at Mitsu. Rather, they will share platforms, technology and some business functions.

* A fix is about to be proposed on the 85,000 Audi, VW and Porsche 3.0-liter V6 diesels pegged by the EPA as out-of-compliance with emissions requirements. Unlike the 2.0-liter diesels with cheating software that defeats testing protocols, the 3.0 problems are related to a catalyst warmup system that was not disclosed. Sounds like the fix will be a new catalytic converter but it also looks like the companies will offer to buy back the vehicles as well, though that is not part of the initial plan. The talks for the 3.0-liter fix are a part of the broader discussion between U.S. regulators and VW to fix the more than 450,000 2.0-liter emissions-cheating VW diesels.

* Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has many futuristic projects on his agenda. In addition to electric cars and rocket ships he and his Hyperloop team are working on a high-speed, vacuum-tube (more accurately: low pressure tube) transportation system planned for service between Los Angeles and San Francisco in the not-to-distant future. A major test of the propulsion system took place this week at the Air Force’s maglev (magnetic levitation) test track in Nevada. If completed the Hyperloop could get passengers between those two cities in 30 minutes at 700 mph.

* Seeing great long-term potential in “ride-hailing” technologies Apple announced this week a $1 billion investment in Chinese Didi Chuxing Technology Company. Didi is also a major investor in San Francisco-based Lyft, a company with a $500 million strategic alliance with General Motors. Broad interest in non-traditional transportation systems within the auto industry is being shown by just about all the major players as they try to anticipate what the future of mobility may be.

* Subaru is recalling 48,500 new vehicles in the U.S. because of a potential steering issue and warned owners not to drive them until they are inspected and repaired if needed. The recall covers the 2016-17 Legacy and Outback.

* Two Toyota Sienna minivans, the R-Tuned and the SE+, recently competed in the Brock Yates One Lap of America. After driving 3,000 miles across 13 stares and competing in 17 timed race competitions at 8 unique venues the Sienna R-Tuned finished first in class and 21st overall. #SiennaTuned

* GM has told dealers not to sell about 60,000 of its 2016 large crossovers, the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, because their Monroney labels overstate the vehicles' fuel economy ratings by 1 or 2 mpg. The mistake occurred due to a data transmission error. New labels will be affixed to the vehicles.

* Good news this week for enthusiasts of old cars - the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills will reopen to the public beginning June 4-5. The 55,000-square-foot facility contains a collection of over 300 vehicles representing the history of Chrysler including many of the company's historic concept cars. Brant Rosenbusch, manager of the collection, acknowledged the intense interest in reopening the museum after it closed to the public in 2012. Currently the museum will be open two weekends per month. For details go to:

* Formula 1’s newest track is expected to also be the fastest. The Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan, designed by Hermann Tilke, will host a European Formuala 1 race on June 19th and features a long straight where cars will hit an estimated 211 mph (340 kpm). The new 20-turn track is a “city circuit” and will have two other very high-speed sections. You can see the layout and a promotional video at: