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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Recap July 6-12, 2015: 2016 BMW 7, GM Recalls, Sans Stick, VSA, MPG, More


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

Auto Central Chicago IL, July 12, 2015 Every Sunday, along with senior editors Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau I give you our "take" on this past week's automotive news in easy to digest nuggets.

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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Review-July 6-12, 2015

* We saw the all-new 2016 BMW 7-series in-person along with a small group of BMW-invited auto writers. The global introduction of the new BMW flagship will be at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September and the car goes on sale in the U.S. this coming October 24. New body structure is composed of carbon fiber, aluminum and steel with a weight reduction of 190 pounds. Design, innovation and luxury has been elevated in the new seven. A 445HP twin turbo V8 will propel it to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. There's also a 320 hp 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder. It will adapt to your driving style, know where you are going via GPS and you can use hand gestures to control certain functions. Prices start at $81,300 for the 740i and $94,400 for the 750i.

* AutoPacific announced its 19th annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSAs), identifying the most satisfying vehicles on the market. VSAs are based on survey responses from over 66,000 owners of new 2015 model year cars and light trucks. The 2015 winners are spread across nearly every manufacturer, with wins by 9 out of 11 automakers. General Motors received the most wins with 5, followed by Kia and Nissan, with 4 and 3 wins, respectively. Honda, Toyota, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobile), Volkswagen and Ford follow with 2 wins each. Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Hyundai each take home 1 win. The Kia K900 – Kia’s range topping luxury car – set an all time high and won AutoPacific’s President’s Award. This award is given only when the overall score tops the previous high score.

* Interestingly, in the aluminum v. steel pickup truck battle of words, the most satisfied owners of full-size pickups chose Ford trucks, according to AutoPacific. The 2015 Ford F-150 won the Vehicle Satisfaction Award for light-duty pickups with the second-highest owner score ever recorded by AutoPacific and the highest rating ever for a truck.

* The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute's latest report from Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle says the average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in June was 25.4 mpg—down 0.1 mpg from May. This decline likely reflects the increased sales of light trucks and SUVs in June. Fuel economy is down 0.4 mpg from the peak reached in August 2014. However, vehicle fuel economy is up 5.3 mpg since October 2007 (the first month of monitoring).

*The GM ignition compensation fund said it has approved two new death claims bringing the total to 121 as the fund nears an end. The fund run by lawyer Ken Feinberg said it has also approved eight new injury claims, bringing the total number of approved claims for injuries to 243. Of that total, 14 are for serious injuries and 237 are for less severe injuries.

* GM is recalling nearly 200,000 Hummer SUVs worldwide because ventilation fan motor controls can overheat and possibly start a fire. The recall covers 165,000 Hummers in the U.S. and an additional 31,000 in other countries. The models affected are 2006 through 2010 Hummer H3s and 2009 and 2010 H3Ts.

* Also, GM will recall about 51,000 model year 2014 and 2015 Chevrolet Spark and 2015 Sonic models to repair a problem with the radio software that can lock the display screen in the OnStar navigation mode.

* And lastly, GM is recalling 779,000 SUVs because the power liftgate may fall unexpectedly. The problem is linked to 56 injuries. The recall covers the 2009-12 Chevrolet Traverse, 2008-12 Buick Enclave, 2007-12 GMC Acadia and 2007-10 Saturn Outlook.

* Our friends at The Detroit Bureau report that BMW’s performance M sub-brand is ready to pull the plug on manual transmissions. The head of BMW M told Britain’s Autocar that future models may offer buyers a choice of only dual-clutch or automatic transmissions. Additionally, BMW M planners apparently have come to the point where they’re asking themselves how much power is too much? And they seem to be drawing the line at the magical number 600. "If you go on adding more horsepower and torque, it’d probably be over the limits,” according to a BMW.

* Volkswagen of America, Inc. announced that the 2015 Golf TDI Clean Diesel has set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS achievement for the “lowest fuel consumption—48 U.S. contiguous States for a non-hybrid car” with a remarkable 81.17 mpg. Traveling 8,233.5 miles around America in 16 days on $294.98 of Shell Diesel fuel, the Golf beat the previous mark of 77.99 mpg by more than 3 mpg, and also beat the hybrid vehicle record of 74.34 mpg by more than 6 mpg.

* Vehicles with clean diesel technology may be more expensive to buy or lease than those that run on gasoline, but they can save their owners thousands of dollars within just a few years, says University of Michigan researcher Bruce Belzowski. The UoM Automotive Futures group compared thousands of gasoline and diesel versions of the same or nearly identical vehicles sold at auction in 2012-13, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen passenger cars and SUVs, and Chevrolet, Ram, Ford and GMC medium-duty pickup trucks. Belzowski found that the total cost of ownership—depreciation, fuel costs, repairs, maintenance, insurance, and fees and taxes—is often much less for diesel vehicles as compared to gasoline versions of the same vehicles, mostly ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 over three-to-five years.

* Jaguar Land Rover is recalling about 65,000 SUVs in the U.S. because the doors may not latch properly and could open while being driven. The recall covers certain 2013 to 2016 Range Rover and 2014 to 2016 Range Rover Sport models.

* Volvo Cars of North America is rolling out a lifetime warranty on parts and labor for all vehicles serviced after the factory warranty at any Volvo dealership. Volvo owners will pay for initial parts replacements on vehicles with expired factory warranties, but if that part ever fails again, all subsequent repairs and replacements are made for free at any Volvo dealership under the new warranty.

* The Hagerty Insurance Valuation Team revealed this week their analysis of collector car markets show that pickups are now the fastest growing segment. Over the past five years average pickup values have risen a substantial 56%. The overall market has grown by 13% over that same time period. Not surprisingly, the number of pickups offered by the major auction companies has more than doubled. Nearly 90% of those pickups are Chevrolet and Ford models.

* Bruce Meyer, called "the quintessential car guy” by Larry Moss, Chairman of the Concours of America at St. John’s, will be honored at this years show. He will be honored for his work with a variety of automotive museums and his contributions to the car collecting community. the Concours will feature over 300 cars at a the St. John’s Center in Plymouth, MI on July 26th, five of those cars belong to Mr. Meyer.