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Nutson's Auto News Weekly Wrap-up | August 9-15, 2020


Here Is What Happened Last Week; August 9-15, 2020: GM Vs FCA; China Car Sales On Fire; Lyft and Uber Drivers Are Employees Say California Court; Jeep Vs Ford; Lucid, 500 Mile Range EV Launched; Ford Recall; BMW Bikes ADAS; MB $700 Million Dieselgate Settlement; Michigan To Dedicate Traffic Lanes For Autonomous Vehicles; Hot Rod Events, Dream Cruise Wuhaned; Hew Bonneville Speed Record; Dom Lagana And Passengers Injured In Driving Off The Road Crash; INDY500 News; New Corvette Pacing


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO August 16, 2020; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, The Chicago Car Guy and Executive Producer, with able assistance from senior editor Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau, compile The Auto Channel's "take" on this past week's automotive news, condensed into easy to digest news Nuggets.

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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending August 15, 2020; Last week's important, concise or pithy automotive news, opinions and insider back stories presented as expertly crafted easy to digest news nuggets.

* A federal judge in Detroit has denied General Motors' effort to revive its racketeering lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman issued an order, saying the court did not err in its earlier actions and that GM's "newly discovered evidence is too speculative to warrant reopening this case." Borman said in his order that GM's new evidence "does not create a reasonable inference that FCA was bribing individuals to infiltrate GM as part of a scheme to directly harm GM, and, therefore, does not change the court’s conclusion that GM’s alleged injuries were not proximately caused by FCA’s alleged RICO violations," a reference to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. GM is already planning an appeal. Thanks to the Detroit Free Press for this report.

* Automotive News reports China's auto sales in July climbed 16 percent from a year earlier, the fourth consecutive month of gains as the world's biggest vehicle market comes off lows hit during the country's coronavirus lockdown. Sales rose to 2.11 million vehicles in July but are still down 13 percent for the year to date at 12.37 million vehicles, according to wholesale sales data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). German and Japanese brands will benefit the most from improving demand as consumers trade up, said Steve Man, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong. GM and Ford Motor Co. may get hit by escalating tensions between China and the U.S., he said.

* A California judge granted the state’s request for a preliminary injunction blocking Uber and Lyft from classifying their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. The ruling by Judge Ethan Schulman of San Francisco Superior Court is a defeat for the ride-hailing companies, as they defend against a May 5 lawsuit by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Uber and Lyft had been accused of violating Assembly Bill 5 (“AB5”), a new state law requiring companies to classify workers as employees if they controlled how workers did their jobs, or the work was part of their normal business. Several hundred thousand “gig” workers, including many at ride-hailing companies and app-based food delivery services, are affected by AB5, which took effect on Jan. 1 and had broad support from organized labor.

* There's a bit of an battle going on over off-road "creds." Ford finally showed us the new Bronco. Jeep showed the new 6.4-liter V-8 Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept. And then Jeep unveiled its Gladiator Farout concept vehicle. Then Ford countered with five show-vehicle versions of its new Bronco. What fun! Do it in the dirt!

* Lucid Motors announced independent range verification of 517 miles on a single charge for its forthcoming Lucid Air all-electric sedan. The results confirm that the Lucid Air is the longest range electric vehicle to date. The production version of the Lucid Air will debut in an online reveal on September 9, 2020.

* Ford is recalling more than 558,000 midsize SUVs in North America due to a brake system issue. The recall covers certain 2015 - 2018 Ford Edge and 2016-2018 Lincoln MKX vehicles. The issue is front brake hoses can rupture causing fluid leakage and reduced brake system performance.

* BMW has released details about its new Motorcycle Active Cruise Control (ACC), bringing a popular automotive convenience feature to the two-wheeled realm. The new system, developed in cooperation with Bosch, is expected to debut on various BMW models in 2021. Similar systems are expected in 2021 from Ducati and Kawasaki. ACC relieves the rider from having to manually adjust to the speed of the vehicle they are following when the cruise control is set, automatically regulating the motorcycle’s speed to maintain a set distance.

* Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, says it has reached an agreement to settle U.S. claims over emissions from its diesel vehicle for over $2.2 billion. The $1.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department, EPA and California Air Resources Board covers about 250,000 Mercedes-Benz light vehicles and vans. The automaker also will pay about $700 million to settle class-action litigation brought by consumers. This legal action and settlement was the result of claims that the vehicles emitted more pollution than advertised.

* Michigan is eyeing dedicated lanes for autonomous and connected vehicles. The state is considering a possible corridor between Detroit and Ann Arbor that would speed deployment and enable safe movement of the high-tech vehicles. There was a plan that was developed for the now-cancelled 2020 Detroit auto show to have autonomous shuttles operating from Detroit Metro airport to downtown Detroit.

* HOT ROD's 2020 events, including Power Tour, originally scheduled for August 23-29, and Drag Week, scheduled for September 13-18, have been canceled for 2020 due to the ongoing prevalence of COVID-19 and safety restrictions in the different event locations.

* At the Bonneville Salt Flats in the recent Speed Week a new land speed record has been posted by 71-year old owner-driver George Poteet in his Speed Demon 715 streamliner in the AA / BFS class for piston-powered cars – thus surpassing the 2018 land-speed record of Mickey Thompson’s son Danny in the 1968 Challenger 2 Streamliner. The new record speed stands at 470.733 mph. The Speed Demon was equipped with a 555 cubic inch big-block Chevy powertrain featuring a couple of turbochargers.

* And courtesy of the Detroit News, we report the Dream Cruise is canceled, long live the Dream Cruise. While official city and corporate events for this week’s originally planned Woodward Dream Cruise were canceled back in June out of COVID-19 health concerns, the annual pilgrimage to Woodward motors on. Over the last few days, “the world’s biggest traffic jam” has attracted thousands of cruiser-faithful in lawn chairs enjoying a steady stream of sports cars, hot rods and Detroit classics ahead of what would have been the official culminating event on Saturday.

* According to Drag Illustrated, Dom Lagana, a popular Top Fuel racer, tuner and all-round lovable character in the sport, was critically injured in a single-car accident in Hendricks County, Ind. last Sunday night. The crash occurred near Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, the site of the weekend’s NHRA event, and Lagana’s passengers in the car, Richie Crampton and Jake Sanders, were also injured. According to multiple reports, Lagana suffered life-threatening injuries, while Crampton and Sanders’ injuries are not considered life-threatening. The Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office stated that Lagana was driving a ’57 Chevrolet Wagon – a popular car that Crampton and friend Jonnie Lindberg campaigned during Hot Rod Drag Week in 2018 – that went off the road and hit a utility pole.

* In Indy 500 news, Andretti Autosport swept the top four spots in the Fast Nine, setting up an intrasquad Dallara-Honda battle between Marco Andretti (fastest at 231.351 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe. They will face off against Scott Dixon, Rinus VeeKay, Alex Palou, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato today for the pole.

*And, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will be the pace car for this year race. It will mark the 17th time a Corvette has been used in the role since 1978. The 495-horsepower Corvette is capable of a 184 mph top speed but it need go only 130 mph before pulling off the track for the green flag. GM's Mark Reuss is the lucky car guy who will take the wheel at the start of the race.

Stay safe. Be Well.