Nutson's Auto News Digest - Week Ending July 4, 2020
It Happened Last Week: China's Wuhan Virus Still Affecting Our Auto Universe; US Sales First Half Results; Auto Advertising On Facebook Cut; Congress Touts EV's With Tax Rebates; Ward's Best Interiors; Toyota Brand Most Valuable; DieselGate Still Lives; UAW Changes?; Byton EV Bye Bye?; New Model Reveals Virtually; New Bronco Goes Mousy; New Lincoln Continental To Go Away; Cancelled, 2021 Geneva And Woodward Cruise; Volvo Recall; RIP Car Guy Dicken Wear
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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending July 4, 2020; Important, Concise or pithy automotive news, opinion and back stories in expertly crafted easy to digest news nuggets.
* The U.S. auto industry has closed the books on the first half of 2020. Sales are down in various brands due to Covid-19 by anywhere from 20% up to near 50%. U.S. auto sales in June struggled to a 12.9 million vehicle annualized pace, according to WardsAuto, down sharply from a year ago when the sales pace was 17.2 million vehicles.
* Subaru of America has followed Porsche, Nissan, Mitsubishi and BMW this year and is switching to quarterly sales reports. GM, Ford and FCA also report quarterly.
* Ford Motor Co. is joining Honda, Starbucks and Coca-Cola in an advertising boycott against Facebook sites as part of an effort to urge the social media giant to regulate misinformation and hate speech critics say divides a troubled nation. The list is growing of global companies that plan to "pause" advertising on Facebook and also on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. for the next 30 days.
* House Democrats are laying out a new plan for cutting emissions. The blueprint calls for expanding the $7,500 EV tax credit and lifting the the cap after both General Motors and Tesla hit the 200,000 individual manufacturer cap. It also would mandate sales of zero-emission vehicles by 2035.
* The winners of Ward's 10 Best Interiors have been announced. This is the 10th year of the competition, which focuses on all-new or significantly redesigned vehicle interiors available in the U.S. The 2020 winners in alphabetical order (price listed as tested): Audi e-tron ($85,790), Bentley Flying Spur ($283,275), BMW X6 M Competition ($131,745), Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ($78,820), Hyundai Venue ($23,305), Kia Telluride ($47,255), Lincoln Aviator ($81,790), Mercedes-Benz GLB ($57,470), Nissan Sentra ($24,800), and Toyota Highlander ($51,654).
* Mercedes-Benz has overtaken Toyota and BMW to claim pole position as the world’s most valuable automobile brand, following 24% year-on-year growth to US$43.9 billion, according to the latest Brand Finance report. Following Mercedes-Benz the top 10 are: Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda, Porsche, Ford, Audi and Renault.
* Reuters reports Dieselgate is the scandal that doesn't end. Now, German authorities have expanded their probe of diesel emissions cheating to auto supplier Continental. Authorities searched offices of Continental and Volkswagen as part of an investigation of why 1.6 liter VW diesel engines violated emissions rules. Police and prosecutors searched facilities in eight German cities. The Hanover prosecutor said the searches were extensions of previous Dieselgate probes.
* United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble and Matthew Schneider, the federal prosecutor leading an investigation of corruption within the union, met and indicated they are discussing some form of independent oversight of the union's activities. The UAW would clearly prefer a settlement of the investigation that stopped short of a full federal takeover. Gamble has promised reform in the wake of the wide-ranging probe of financial misconduct by former top UAW officials that has also raised allegations that UAW officials cut favorable contract deals with Fiat Chrysler in return for bribes.
* Our friends at The Detroit Bureau say the once-promising battery-car start-up Byton is suspending operations for the next six months, but the prospects for the company then being able to get back to business seem slim, according to sources both inside and outside the company. Byton was founded in 2017 by a group of former BMW and Nissan executives ultimately backed by more than $800 million, most of it raised through China. The company was looking to build two all-electric models, starting with the M-Byte.
* Kia did a web-based unveiling of the completely new 2021 K5 midsize sedan that replaces the Optima. A 180-HP 1.6-L Turbo and a 290-HP 2.5-L Turbo and all-wheel drive will be offered. The K5 will be on sale late this year. VW also unveiled the freshened Tiguan making its world premier in the digital world of Covid-19. It'll arrive in the U.S. in Fall of 2021 for the 2022 model year.
* Another virtual reveal brought us the 2021 Dodge lineup that is packed with muscle---8,950 horsepower worth of muscle. New is the 807-HP Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock, the 797-HP Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye and the 710-HP Durango SRT Hellcat. Dodge is dominating the American Horsepower Wars and the Brotherhood of Muscle is Strong.
* Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. said that it plans to end production of the luxury Lincoln Continental sedan in the U.S. at the end of 2020. A 2021 model year vehicle will be offered to the China market before the sedan says goodbye.
* We've all been waiting patiently for the new Bronco. Covid-19 had other plans and now as we approach the reveal date Ford says they will use multiple Disney-owned channels to reveal Bronco. The automaker partnered with Disney's creative agency to produce three-minute films that will air in a simulcast on July 13 on ESPN, ABC and National Geographic. Academy Award-winning director and acclaimed cinematographer, photographer and professional climber Jimmy Chin is collaborating with Disney CreativeWorks and Ford.
* Volvo is recalling 2 million cars globally to fix a seat belt issue. The recall affects more than 300,000 vehicles in the United States and covers several models produced between 2006 and 2019.
* There will be no 2021 Geneva International Motor (GIMS) Show in March. The 2020 show was canceled due to Covid-19. A majority of Geneva exhibitors who took part in a survey, stated that they would probably not participate in a 2021 edition in and that they would prefer to have a GIMS in 2022. Additionally, the present organizers of the show are selling it to Palexpo SA, the exhibit hall in Geneva. The economic impact of the show is estimated at 200 million Swiss Francs ($210 million).
* The 2021 Woodward Dream Cruise is officially cancelled. Back in April we reported that the nine local communities along Woodward Avenue would not hold events. Now the entire thing is not happening. But...there still may be cruisers out on Woodward that week. Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge was also canceled because of the pandemic.
* Dicken Wear may have been one of the most influential characters in motorsports and the automobile business that you never heard of. Some of racing’s biggest stars in the last 30 years were part of his karting programs; his grandfather, J.S. Inskip was the American coachbuilder for Rolls Royce – and one of the founders of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA); he took a group of Pixar animators on a trip on old Route 66 to inspire the backdrop for the Disney movie Cars. His entire life was spent in the automotive and motorsports industry. Dicken passed away on Father’s Day morning after an 18-month battle with prostate cancer.
* Double header racing for the first time ever came to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past weekend with an IndyCar race and also the NASCAR Brickyard 400. Roger Penske was happy to finally have some racing at the track he now owns. And, no fans in the stands; it's TV or nothing for now.
* We hope you had a safe, meaningful and happy July 4th Independence Day holiday weekend with your friends and family while practicing social distancing and wearing a face mask.
Stay safe. Be Well.