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Automotive News Digest; Week Ending November 3, 2018; Executive Producer Larry Nutson


AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - November 4, 2018; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, Senior Editor and Chicago Car Guy along with fellow senior editor Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau, give you The Auto Channel's "take" on this past week's automotive news, in easy to "catch up" with news nuggets.

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The Auto Channel Automotive News In Digest Format - Week Ending November 3, 2018
Executive Producer Larry Nutson

* October vehicle sales were forecasted to drop, according to all the experts. However, they didn't and were up 0.4%. The SAAR came in at 17.59 million. VW, Toyota, FCA, Subaru and Hyundai/Kia were up. Nissan, Ford, Honda and GM (this according to forecasters) were down. Incentives were up, helping sales. But vehicle financing is at a high of 6.2% (APR), the highest level since January 2009, and is causing sales to slow. Higher prices are also slowing sales down.

* After a report in the Wall Street Journal on Friday revealing GM would scrap the "Book by Cadillac" vehicle subscription program a spokesman for the brand, Andrew Lipman, issued a statement that the program "is not canceled,” rather just being “stopped for a short period of time” while they make changes based on experience during the short life of the program. Lipman called it “hitting the pause button.” Many luxury brands with a substantial line of products are experimenting with this new way of marketing their vehicles which allows subscribers to drive different models of a brand.

* Reporting by Reuters this week previewed a report Herbert Diess, VW Group CEO, will present to the company’s supervisory board, a 10-year plan that will include partnerships with Ford and other automakers that would potentially lessen the importance of Audi as a development center for the multi-brand automaker. Technologies related to electrification of powertrains and autonomous vehicles are particularly costly in terms of R&D and VW is loosing leadership, particularly in the latter.

* Citing looming headwinds, GM CEO Mary Barra is offering voluntary buyouts to a select group of about 18,000 salaried employees and global executives in addition to cancelling or postponing hundreds of millions of dollars in facilities updates and expansions in order to strengthen the company’s cash position. Barra said she is concerned about both internal and external challenges in trade policy and economic conditions around the world that are beyond the company’s control.

* GM To Compete With Ford MB and BMW, going to launch two types of eBikes next year. The bikes will be equipped with electric motors that will allow bikers to ride or pedal with some assistance and will come in folding or compact models. GM is having a contest to come up with a brand name for the bikes. The winner will receive $10,000 in its contest. Winners will be announced in early 2019.

The bikes will be equipped with electric motors that will allow bikers to ride, pedal or pedal up steep terrain with some assistance. The bikes will come in two types: a folding bike and a compact bike.

* The North American International Auto Show in Detroit has experienced more than its share of struggles as the entire auto show business is in flux. They’ve been slowly but steadily loosing exhibitors and product launches. Toyota, though, announced it will be using the Detroit show for the reveal of the much-anticipated Supra sports car that was co-developed with BMW along with the new Z4 that was introduced at Pebble Beach in August. Powertrain and other technical details are not yet available .

* Tesla continues to have the Feds on its back. The Wall Street Journal reported that FBI agents are contacting former Tesla employees to interview them. The paper cited anonymous people familiar with the matter. A published report says the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation into whether electric-car maker Tesla has misstated production figures about its Model 3 sedan and misled investors about its business.

* The electric vehicle startup Faraday Future is close to running out of money as it forces some workers to take unpaid leave. Nick Sampson, one of the automaker's founders, resigned and reportedly said Faraday Future is "effectively insolvent" in an email to employees. The automaker has halted some operations at its headquarters in Gardena, California, and factory in Hanford, California. Faraday Future CEO Jia Yueting reportedly said in an email to employees that workers who started on or after May 1 of this year will be placed on unpaid leave until the automaker receives new funding.

* The top trending vehicle models in five categories were announced today at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, NV. Selected by manufacturing exhibitors of the world’s premier automotive trade show, the SEMA Vehicle of the Year award winners are: SEMA Car of the Year: Ford Mustang, SEMA Truck of the Year: Ford F-Series, SEMA 4x4/SUV of the Year: Jeep Wrangler, SEMA Sport Compact of the Year: Ford Focus and SEMA Powersports Vehicle of the Year: Polaris RZR Turbo S.

* Also at SEMA this week, fifty years after the original COPO Camaro special order performance models were introduced, we saw Chevrolet’s eCOPO Camaro Concept, an electrified vision for drag racing. Developed by GM and built in partnership with the pioneering electric drag racing team Hancock and Lane Racing, the concept race car — based on the 2019 COPO Camaro — is entirely electric powered, driven by an electric motor providing the equivalent of more than 700 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque. Chevrolet estimates quarter-mile times in the 9-second range.

* And in the four-figure range, the Mopar brand is stampeding into the 2018 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show with a brand-new HEMI®-engine-powered beast: the “Hellephant” 426 Supercharged Mopar Crate HEMI engine, which turns the crank at a mammoth 1,000 horsepower and 950 lb.-ft. of torque. The “Hellephant” 426 Supercharged Mopar Crate HEMI engine is a Mopar-first for a 1,000-horsepower crate engine kit offered by an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).

* Also at SEMA, the new 2019 Ford GT Carbon Series, the lightest version of Ford’s performance halo car made its debut, With dual exposed stripes, A-pillars and lower body panels its 39 lbs lighter but still has air conditioning and a radio. Ford also showed eight custom F-150 and seven modified Ranger pickups.

* Internationally known glass artist Dale Chihuly and noted car and motorcycle collector Brown M. Maloney have been named “Master Collectors” and will be honored by America’s Automotive Trust at the LeMay, America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington. The first recipient of that honor was Nicola Bulgari in 2012. Both Chihuly and Maloney will have some of their vehicle on display at the LeMay. Maloney is a leading motorcycle collector and will have 125 of these on display

* Harley-Davidson is recalling nearly 178,000 motorcycles in the U.S. because they can get stuck in gear due to a clutch problem. Affected models include the 2017 and 2018 Police Road King, Road King, Road King Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited, Ultra Limited Low, Ultra Limited Shrine, Police Electra Glide, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Road Glide Ultra, Road Glide, Road Glide Special, Freewheeler, Tri Glide Ultra, CVO Limited, and the CVO Street Glide.Also covered are the 2017 Softail Slim S, Fat Boy S, CVO Pro Street Breakout, and the 2018 115th Anniversary Ultra Limited, 115th Anniversary Street Glide, 115th Anniversary Street Glide Special, 115th Anniversary Tri Glide Ultra, 115th Anniversary CVO Limited and CVO Road Glide.

* Fiat Chrysler is recalling around 88,350 2019 Jeep Cherokee SUVs because they can stall. The recall affects Jeeps with the 2.4-liter engine.

* Toyota is recalling 1 million vehicles worldwide because the air bags could inflate without a crash or fail to work if there is one. The recall covers 17,000 Scion xA vehicles in the U.S. from 2004 through 2006 model years.

* In Formula One racing, Lewis Hamilton won his second straight championship and his fifth overall. Hamilton finished in fourth place in the Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City.